Charles Stanley – Jesus, the Faithful Witness

 

Revelation 1:4-8

John wrote the book of Revelation to encourage Christians being heavily persecuted by the Roman emperor Domitian. Approximately 25 years earlier Rome had destroyed Jerusalem and taken away Christians’ rights. Many believers were beginning to wonder, Where is Jesus? Is He still Lord? So John’s main purpose in writing this book was to remind believers that Jesus Christ was alive, and He was and would continue to be the same loving, all-powerful Son of God.

We also can be encouraged by remembering who Jesus is. Revelation 1:5 reminds us that He is the faithful witness, which means we can rely on every single thing He says. And not only are His words true, but according to John 14:6, He Himself is the truth. In other words, if He says He will do something, we can trust that it will happen. And that includes not only His statement that life on earth isn’t all there is, but also that He will be with us forever (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

We know Jesus’ words are trustworthy because He conquered death through the cross and His resurrection, preparing the way for all who trust Him. If you’re unsure whether Jesus is alive and active in your life, remember what lengths He went to in order to keep His word.

Bible in One Year: 1 Chronicles 16-18

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Impossible Forgiveness

 

Bible in a Year:

Father, forgive them.

Luke 23:34

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Luke 23:32–43

Liberators found the following prayer crumpled among the remains of the Ravensbruck concentration camp where Nazis exterminated nearly 50,000 women: O Lord, remember not only the men and women of goodwill, but also those of ill will. But do not remember the suffering they have inflicted upon us. Remember the fruits we brought thanks to this suffering—our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of this. And when they come to judgment, let all the fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.

I can’t imagine the fear and pain inflicted on the terrorized woman who wrote this prayer. I can’t imagine what kind of inexplicable grace these words required of her. She did the unthinkable: she sought God’s forgiveness for her oppressors.

This prayer echoes Christ’s prayer. After being wrongly accused, mocked, beaten, and humiliated before the people, Jesus was “crucified . . . along with [two] criminals” (Luke 23:33). Hanging, with mutilated body and gasping for breath, from a rough-hewn cross, I would expect Jesus to pronounce judgment on His tormentors, to seek retribution or divine justice. However, Jesus uttered a prayer contradicting every human impulse: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (v. 34).

The forgiveness Jesus offers seems impossible, but He offers it to us. In His divine grace, impossible forgiveness spills free.

By:  Winn Collier

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – At Home

To the people of ancient Israel, God’s house was an image that shaped the way they saw everything. In the minds of ancient Israelites, the house of God was the center of the world. As strange as this might sound to our ears, to their ears, the modern notion of the separation between heaven and earth would have seemed strange and wrong. God’s was a house reaching from the heavens to the liminal, tangible places on earth where God caused his name to be remembered. God’s house was seen in experiences like Jacob’s: “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”(1) It was experienced in the tabernacle that once moved among them as pilgrims, and later in their pilgrimages to the temple. Ever-expanding their vision of God’s house, altars were built over the places where God had appeared to them, marking the reach of its walls. Though at times as prodigals, their longing for home was a part of their identity as children of the house of God: “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.”(2) In the imagination of the Israelite, the house of God as it reached from heaven to earth was occupied by the Creator. As the people of God, they had been invited inside and they longed to remain. They longed for the healing embrace of home.

As with any group with a clear vision of inside and outside, belonging and not belonging, the Israelite’s understanding of the house of God could have easily become the very rationale for excluding foreigners, neighbors, and outsiders. Yet not long after God had called the people of Israel his own, God instructed them very specifically on the treatment of such people: “Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt.”(3) “The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”(4) The house of God was to be a house of hospitality, for such a spirit reflected the very God within it: “For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.”(5) Called to ever-remember their own status as foreigners, the people who were invited into the care of God’s house were to become a sign of that care themselves.

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Joyce Meyer – Blessed to Be a Blessing

 

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” — John 21:15 (NIV)

Adapted from the resource Power Thoughts – by Joyce Meyer

What are you doing to help someone else? Believe it or not, being intentional to make a difference in others’ lives is evidence of your love for God. The cycle of love that pours into your life is not complete until it’s pouring out of you to meet other people’s needs. If love has no action to back it up, then it becomes empty words with no power. God proved His love for us by giving His only Son to die for our sins, and we can prove our love for Him by letting Him work through us to feed His lambs—to help hurting people.

Don’t wait to feel like being a blessing—start doing it on purpose. Maybe you have an elderly neighbor who needs help taking care of their yard. Maybe you have a friend who’s going through a tough time right now and would love to hear from you. Or maybe you know a single mom who could really use a meal. Whoever it is, I guarantee you there’s someone in your path that you can bless today, even if it’s in a seemingly small way. As you take steps to make their day better, it will add joy to your life!

Prayer Starter: Father, please show me who You want me to be kind to today, and how I can make their day better. Thank You for Your love, and for helping me share Your love with the people around me today. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Christ Lives in Me

 

“I have been crucified with Christ: and I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the real life I now have within this body is a result of my trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20).

After many years of working with thousands of Christians, I am convinced that a person cannot enjoy the supernatural life – which is a believer’s heritage in Christ – apart from the proper balance between Bible study, prayer and sharing Christ with others out of the overflow of an obedient, Spirit-filled life.

We need to be able not only to experience this great adventure with Christ ourselves, but also to share this good news with others.

A word of caution and reminder is in order at this point. We become spiritual and experience power from God and become fruitful in our witness as a result of faith and faith alone.

The Bible clearly teaches that “the just shall live by faith” Romans 1:17. However, it is equally important to know that good works are the result of faith – “trusting in the Son of God” – and unless there are “good works” there is not faith, for “faith without works is dead” (James 2:17).

Many Christians are confused on this point. They think of works (Bible study, prayer and other spiritual disciplines) as the means to, rather than the results of, the life of faith. They spend much time in these activities, seeking God’s favor and blessing.

They may even attempt to witness for Christ and to obey the various commands of God, thinking that by these means they will achieve supernatural living. But they remain defeated, frustrated, powerless and fruitless.

As you are filled with the Holy Spirit – “Christ living in me” – and walk in His power by faith, the Bible becomes alive, prayer becomes vital, your witness becomes effective and obedience becomes a joy.

Bible Reading: Galatians 2:15-19

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will seek to remember that Christ lives in me, in the person of His indwelling Holy Spirit, and thus I have all I need for supernatural living, for victory and joy and peace.

 

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Max Lucado – You Are God’s First Choice

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

I’m entering my fourth decade as a pastor, and I’ve learned the question to ask.  If we were having this talk over coffee and you were telling me about your tough times, I’d lean across the table and say, “What do you still have that you cannot lose?”  The difficulties have taken much away, I get that.  But there’s one gift your troubles cannot touch—your destiny.  Can we talk about it?

You are God’s child.  He saw you, picked you, and placed you.  Jesus said, “You did not choose Me.  I chose you.”  I remember a groom once leaned over, just minutes before the ceremony, and told me, “You weren’t my first choice.”  “I wasn’t?”  He said, “No, the preacher I wanted couldn’t make it.”  “Oh.”  “But thanks for filling in.”

Hey, you’ll never hear such words from God.  He chose you.  Replacement or fill-in?  Hardly.  You’re His first choice.  His open, willful, voluntary choice.  “This child is mine!”  His child forever, that’s who you are.

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 – Observing Teacher Appreciation Week: Our lives are best lived for others

In 1980, the first Tuesday in May was designated Teacher Appreciation Day. In 1985, the day was expanded to a week.

Parents who have been homeschooling their children because of the coronavirus pandemic are probably ready to celebrate teachers for the rest of the year. In his now-viral YouTube series, Some Good News, John Krasinski stated: “We here at SGN would like to start a petition that all teachers get paid 1.71 million dollars. Per day.”

CNN notes: “If there has ever been a time when appreciation for teachers is sky high, it is now. With the coronavirus pandemic closing schools, parents are now de facto homeschool teachers, discovering just how hard it is to teach.”

The article lists socially distanced ways we can thank teachers for their work, from social media campaigns to yard signs, thank-you parades, purchasing e-gift cards, and funding school supplies online.

The challenge of these days, of course, is that teachers require students. Teaching is a means to the end of educating those who are taught. Teachers do not speak into the air as though their words had some independent value. They measure success by the degree to which those they teach are able to understand and apply what they learn.

Baseball games with robots playing drums in the stands 

Professional baseball games are being played in Taiwan. However, players must submit to temperature checks several times a day. Cardboard cutouts and plastic mannequins have replaced the fans in the stands. A five-member band of robots plays drums from the stands.

But it’s not the same. One team’s manager said, “It just lacks a bit of energy, that kind of excitement of a real game.” He offers his players “imagination training” in the dugout, encouraging them to envision fans watching the games from their televisions at home. He tells them, “Maybe they are not here but they are still in front of television and cheering for us.”

One could argue that baseball doesn’t need fans in the stands to be baseball. Nothing on the field has changed. Wins and losses are recorded; players get hits or pitchers get outs. Batting averages and pitching statistics are being compiled.

But baseball was never intended as an end in itself. It creates no objective good for society. The games do not produce food, energy, or other necessities. The purpose of baseball, like that of other sports, is to entertain the fans who watch.

Three essential facts about God

Like teachers and baseball players, you and I were made to serve others by a God who serves us. Jesus testified that he “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

Continue reading Denison Forum – Observing Teacher Appreciation Week: Our lives are best lived for others