Charles Stanley – Right Relationships

 

Proverbs 27:17

Becoming a godly person is a worthy goal for every believer. We know prayer and Bible study are essential in achieving this objective, but did you know that having right relationships is also a critical element in our journey toward godliness?

Since this world is filled with people who don’t share our values, we need relationships that inspire and challenge us to become the people God wants us to be. We’d like to think that all our Christian acquaintances help us achieve this goal, but sadly, many believers interact with each other only on a trivial level.

We need friends who give wise counsel based on God’s Word. Even when their advice isn’t comfortable, it’s always beneficial. They’re not afraid to speak the truth, even if it is painful to hear. When we’ve gotten off track, they lovingly confront us and point us in the right direction. And if we encounter times of suffering, they are by our side, encouraging us as we walk through fiery trials.

What kinds of relationships do you have? Can you name someone who helped you become more like Jesus? If you don’t have anyone like this in your life, ask the Lord to provide someone. We were not created to walk alone.

Bible in One Year: 1 Chronicles 1-3

 

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Our Daily Bread — Living in the Branches

 

Bible in a Year:

Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.

Ephesians 3:17 nlt

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ephesians 4:14–24

As I shared with my counselor my roller-coaster of emotions after a stress-filled week, she listened thoughtfully. Then she invited me to look out the window at the trees, lush with autumnal oranges and golds, the branches swaying in the wind.

Pointing out that the trunks weren’t moving at all in the wind, my counselor explained, “We’re a bit like that. When life is blowing at us from every direction, of course our emotions will go up and down and all around. But sometimes we live as if we only have branches. Our goal is to help you find your own trunk. That way, even when life is pulling from all sides, you won’t be living in your branches. You’ll still be secure and stable.”

It’s an image that’s stuck with me, and it’s similar to the image Paul offered new believers in Ephesians. Reminding them of God’s incredible gift—a new life of tremendous purpose and value (Ephesians 2:6–10), Paul shared his longing that they’d become deeply “rooted and established” in Christ’s love (3:17), no longer “blown here and there by every wind of teaching” (4:14).

On our own, it’s easy to feel insecure and fragile, pummeled by our fears and insecurities. But as we grow in our true identity in Christ (vv. 22–24), we can experience deep peace with God and each other (v. 3), nourished and sustained by Christ’s power and beauty (vv. 15–16).

By:  Monica La Rose

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Unhindered

My high school band director was adamant about many things, but none so much as what he called the obligatory rule of good musicianship. That is, the two most important notes in any musical composition are the first and the last. “The audience might forgive you for a bad note that comes in the middle,” he would say, “but they will forget neither your very first impression nor your final remark.”

The last word of the book of Acts in the Greek New Testament is the word akolutos. The word literally means “unhindered,” though many translations render it with multiple words because of its complexity. Others move the word from its final position for the sake of syntax. In both cases, I think something is lost in translation. Luke was intentionally making a statement with this last word of his two-volume testimony to the life of Jesus Christ. I think he intended readers to pause at the conclusion of his words, the very last note in his testimony the provocative thought of the gospel unhindered, the Spirit of God continually improvising with a tune that will not be shushed or silenced. After the stories of Jesus’s ministry were told, after recollections of his death and ruminations of his resurrection, after Jesus’s ascension and the church’s beginnings, after all the resistance, disappointment, and surprises along the way, Luke concludes: “Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, unhindered.“(1)

Through prisons and angry crowds, the book of Acts traces the birth and growth of the early church. The book begins with a few hundred believers in Christ and a collective will to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria, and to all the ends of the earth. Opposition to this witness is described at every turn. Persecution, beatings, death, and imprisonment all threatened the voice of the early church and ultimately the spread of the gospel itself. But in spite of all this, Luke epitomizes the history of the early church and the spread of the gospel by boldly describing the progression of God’s kingdom as going forth without the slightest of hindrances. The Good News of God to all the world, Luke seems to want the world to remember, goes forth despite us, goes forth in power.

For any man or woman who will hear his testimony, Luke wants to conclude his eyewitness account with the dimension of the gospel that is most striking—namely, that these evidences are far from the end of the story. Luke wants hearers to be well aware that eyewitnesses to the power of Jesus will go well beyond his own eyes, his stories, his lifetime; your eyes, your stories, your lifetime. Though variant theologies and distorted gospels will abound, though the world will delight in yet another conspiracy theory that promises to be the downfall of Christianity, Christ will go forth unhindered. For the Christian, this means we need not live defeated by every emerging plot to undermine him. And for the one who has yet to take him at his word, it is continually and powerfully an invitation. Consider living into a victory like his, walking further up and farther into the great unhindered narration of the vicariously human Son of God.

Luke begins on a note intent on crescendo: “Many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us.”(2) He sets out to sing the beginnings of the early church and the work of God from the very start to the ends of time. He wants to be clear that we are invited to be a part of a story that will not fade away. Despite all appearances, despite dim turns in melody, the story of Jesus was and will continue to be Good News that resounds without hindrance. No person or power can thwart the resonant sounds of the new life Jesus proclaims, for it is moved by a Spirit who presses it ever-onward, ringing invitingly into the unexpected places of the world. The redemptive song of Christ and the Spirit who enables creation to add its praise will continue to move forth, unhindered.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) Acts 28:30-31.
(2) Luke 1:1.

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Joyce Meyer – The Blame Game

No temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently. — 1 Corinthians 10:13 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Battlefield of the Mind – by Joyce Meyer

Years ago, a comedian’s favorite punch line was, “The devil made me do it,” to which the audience always roared. Why do you think people laughed so hard? Was it because they wanted it to be true? Did they want to free themselves of responsibility for their actions by putting it on an outside force?

It’s always easy to blame someone else or outside forces for our actions. Many people justify their own harmful habits and behavior by saying things like, “My father never said a kind word to me.” “My cousin abused me.” “People in our neighborhood made fun of me because I wore old and patched clothes.” “I never had money when I was growing up, so now as soon as my paycheck comes, it’s gone.”

Those statements are probably true, and they may explain why we suffer. All of these situations (as well as the ones not mentioned here) are terrible, and my heart breaks that people are going through so much pain in their lives.

Yet, while we can and should acknowledge the hurts we’ve experienced, we don’t have the right to blame other people or circumstances for our behavior. We can’t use them as an excuse to stay stuck, then expect to get free. In today’s verse, Paul makes it clear that all of us have our own set of temptations, and for each of us, the circumstances may be different, but the promise God gives is the same. He’s promised us a way to escape, no matter what, because He wants to set us free. The escape is provided, but we have to choose to take it.

Continue reading Joyce Meyer – The Blame Game

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Lord Forgave You

 

“Since you have been chosen by God who has given you this new kind of life, and because of His deep love and concern for you, you should practice tenderhearted mercy and kindness to others. Don’t worry about making a good impression on them but be ready to suffer quietly and patiently. Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (Colossians 3:12,13).

  1. C. Penney, a devout Christian whom I knew personally, built one of America’s leading businesses on the principle of the Golden Rule, taught by our Lord:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

He and other gentle men have developed tenderness and sensitivity to others through their years of maturing, often through many difficult and trying experiences. So should we as Christians seek to develop gentle spirits through the trials and tribulations that God permits us to go through.

Do you lack gentleness in your life?

Do you have a tendency to be arrogant, proud, boastful?

Are you overbearing or even coarse and rude with others?

By faith you can become a gentle person. By faith you can confess your sins and know that they have been forgiven. By faith you can appropriate the filling of the Spirit of Christ. By faith you can practice tenderhearted mercy and kindness to others.

The Lord has commanded us to be gentle people, so by faith we can ask for that portion of the fruit of the Spirit, gentleness and love, and know that He is changing us for the better.

As I have cautioned with regard to other Christlike traits, this is one which usually develops over an extended period of time, usually through the maturing process that comes only with time and trials and sometimes tribulation. Pray that God will give you patience with yourself as you mature into the gentle and humble person He wants you to be.

Bible Reading: Colossians 3:14-17

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: God’s promise to me is that He forgives; with His help I will forgive and practice tenderhearted mercy and kindness to others, with the prayer that I may be more and more conformed to the image of my Lord.

 

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Max Lucado – A Mess for God to Use

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Twenty years of marriage, three kids, and he’s gone. Traded in for a younger model.  She told me her story, and we prayed.  Then I said, “It won’t be painless or quick. But God will use this mess for good. With God’s help you’ll get through this.”

Remember Joseph?  Genesis 37:4 says his brothers hated him.  Far from home, they cast him into a pit, leaving him for dead. A murderous cover-up from the get go.  Joseph’s pit came in the form of a cistern.  Yours may be in the form of a diagnosis, a foster home, a divorce.  Pits have no easy exit.

Joseph’s story got worse before it got better.  Yet in his explanation we find his inspiration.  “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good. . .”  The very acts intended to destroy God’s servant, turned out  to strengthen him.

You will get through this!

Read more You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Turbulent Times

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – What Joni Eareckson Tada has learned from nearly 53 years in a wheelchair: A powerful statement that can guide us to God’s best

Joni Eareckson Tada went swimming at the age of seventeen with her sister in the Chesapeake Bay. She dove into shallow water and severed her spinal cord. As a result, she has spent more than fifty years in a wheelchair, unable to move her lower body or hands.

Joni has become a bestselling author, renowned speaker and painter (she moves the brush with her mouth), and beloved figure in the Christian world. In a podcast interview published yesterday, she was asked to explain a statement she made recently: “In the worst of times, Christians can and should be at their best.”

She replied, “I think we are at our best when we remain hopeful, confident in God and his hold on the future, and also prayerful and expectant.” Then she made this powerful statement: “I’m a big believer that God permits what he hates to accomplish things that he loves, and that’s been my mantra for almost fifty-three years in this wheelchair.

“God permits what he hates, this difficult, paralyzing injury, to accomplish something that he loves, and that is, of course, in me, a changed heart and a closer walk with my God. So, that’s it in a nutshell.”

How can we remain “confident in God and his hold on the future” in these uncertain days? I’d like to close the week by sharing help I found in a surprising place.

My “lesson from a leaf”

Numbers 4 defines the duties of the Kohathites, Gershonites, and Merarites. It is not usually identified as the most inspiring chapter in the Bible.

In fact, I read it yesterday only because I follow a plan that takes me through the Bible each year. As a result, I found this text: “When the camp is to set out, Aaron and his sons shall go in and take down the veil of the screen and cover the ark of the testimony with it. Then they shall put on it a covering of goatskin and spread on top of that a cloth all of blue, and shall put in its poles” (vv. 5–6).

I was in “skim” mode when this thought impressed me: if God cares about such minute details in our lives, we can know that he cares about the massive issues we face as well.

Continue reading Denison Forum – What Joni Eareckson Tada has learned from nearly 53 years in a wheelchair: A powerful statement that can guide us to God’s best