Charles Stanley – The Cross: The Heart of Christianity

 

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

The cross has become the symbol of Christianity, but it’s so much more than a mere piece of jewelry worn around the neck. The crucifixion of Christ is a central doctrine of our faith, and understanding it correctly is essential for eternal life. In fact, Paul was convinced the cross was the most vital subject he could address.

It’s important for us as believers to understand what happened on the cross—then we too can be thoroughly convinced of its supreme significance. It was not simply the execution of a Jewish man. What transpired in that event was the solution to mankind’s biggest problem: sin and our resulting alienation from God. The crucifixion is the divine transaction that saves us. Only the blood of Christ can cleanse us from sin and reconcile us to the Father. Although the Jews and the Romans viewed the crucifixion as the execution of a criminal, God saw the death of His Son as the perfect atoning sacrifice, which allowed for the justification of sinful mankind.

Nothing else is required to pay for our salvation. To be saved, all we must do is believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for our sins.

Bible in One Year: 2 Chronicles 24-25

 

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — The Gift of Peace

 

Bible in a Year:

You may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation.

Luke 2:29–30

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Luke 2:25–35

“I believe in Jesus and He is my Savior, and I have no fear of death,” said Barbara Bush, the wife of former US President George H. W. Bush, to her son before she died. This incredible and confident statement suggests a strong and deep-rooted faith. She experienced God’s gift of peace that comes from knowing Jesus, even when faced with death.

Simeon, a resident of Jerusalem during the first century, also experienced profound peace because of Jesus. Moved by the Holy Spirit, Simeon went to the temple when Mary and Joseph brought baby Jesus to be circumcised as required by the law for a newborn boy. Although not much is known about Simeon, from Luke’s description one can tell he was a special man of God, just and devout, waiting faithfully for the coming Messiah, and “the Holy Spirit was on him” (Luke 2:25). Yet Simeon did not experience shalom (peace), a deep sense of completeness, until he saw Jesus.

While holding Jesus in his arms, Simeon broke into a song of praise, expressing full satisfaction in God: “You may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations” (vv. 29–31). He had peace because he foresaw the future hope of the whole world.

As we celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the promised Savior, may we rejoice in God’s gift of peace.

By:  Estera Pirosca Escobar

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Love Unsought

 

We have been sharing some of our favorite A Slice of Infinity essays written by Ravi Zacharias over the years. If you would like to share your own stories, testimonies, reflections, and letters for Ravi you can share them on social media using the hashtag #ThankYouRavi or through RZIM Connect: https://ravi.care/ThankYouRavi. Ravi and his family family have been greatly encouraged by the outpouring of support during this difficult time.

 

 

How do you know that God exists? How do you know that God loves you? How do you know God is present versus absent? These questions, upon the hearts of so many, have answers as real as the formative moments in your life.

As I have aged, I seem to grow more and more prone to nostalgia. Many of us do this instinctively, clinging to memories past, perhaps looking backwards with the hope of seeing a purpose for our lives. When I travel to India, I make it a point to revisit time and again those significant marking points of my own life. As I recall these moments past but not forgotten, I hear the gentle voice of the God very much in the present. And God says: I was there. When on you were on your bed contemplating suicide, I was there. When you were but nine years old and your grandmother died, I arranged for her gravestone to hold in time the very verse that would lead you to conversion. I was there. I was there. I was there.

It is often in these harrowing moments—your parents’ divorce, your child’s birth, the death of a loved one—where God leaves a defining mark. There is reason you remember such moments so vividly. We have a choice to hear or to ignore, but regardless, God’s voice cries out in our memories: I was there. God has been in our past. God is here today. God will be there in our future. We have this promise in the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ.

God exists, as C.S. Lewis worded it so well, in the “eternal now.” And the psalmist, always writing with feet firmly planted in time, but arms ever reaching for the eternal, beautifully explains, “Thou art God from age to age the same.” While hindsight is often God’s means of gently revealing his presence all along, we can be comforted in the peril of the moment nonetheless. For as we encounter these markers in time, our sorrow is held in the beautiful mystery of one who wept with a friend, one who answered her question “Where were you?” with tears of his own. Beside Lazarus’s tomb, Jesus offered Mary a glimpse of the present love of God, though he knew of an even greater future both for Mary and for Lazarus. Christ is God’s living promise: I was with you then. I am there with you now. And I love you. I love you.

William Shakespeare once reasoned, “Love sought is good, but given unsought is better.” How do you know that God loves you? While you and I were yet wandering, Christ was wandering after us, pursuing us, even by way of the cross: love seeking the lost in human flesh. It is this sacrifice that stands as the greatest marker in all time.

Ravi Zacharias is founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

Read in browser »

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Your Plans or God’s Plans

 

You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.— Psalm 16:11 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Trusting God Day by Day – by Joyce Meyer

As we’re walking with Jesus, one thing we need to learn is how to wait for God’s plans to develop. He perfects everything that concerns us, so we’re always better off when we follow His plan and timing instead of ours.

During the three years of Jesus’ earthly ministry, many people thought He was crazy. His own brothers were embarrassed by Him, and in an effort to save their reputation, they told Him He needed to either go do His works somewhere else, or to start acting publicly and stop doing His works in secret. They tried to convince Him that it was time to show Himself and His works to the world. In other words, they wanted Jesus to impress the people with what He could do. He responded to them by saying, My time (opportunity) has not come yet . . . (John 7:6 AMPC).

How many of us could show that type of self-control? If you could do the miracles He could do and were being made fun of and challenged to show your stuff, what would you do? Would you wait until you absolutely knew it was the right time, or would you take action that was not backed by God?

It’s good to have plans, and I believe we should plan boldly and aggressively, but we must be wise enough to know that our plans will ultimately fail without God. God’s Word says, “Except the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it . . .” (Psalm 127:1). We can build without God as our foundation and watch our plans collapse, or we can choose to let Him call the shots and reap the benefits of His perfect timing and blessings.

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me trust You enough to wait for Your timing. Thank You for giving me the grace I need to follow Your plan instead of mine, and for the blessings You have waiting for me. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Best Counsel

 

“The godly man is a good counselor because he is just and fair and knows right from wrong” (Psalm 37:30,31).

Mary had gone to several psychologists and psychiatrists, and even religious leaders, seeking help, but no one had been able to help her. Consequently, she had been committed to a mental institution. Now, in desperation her family had come to seek help.

It did not take long to discover the root of her problem – she was plagued with a deep sense of guilt. Mary had been sexually promiscuous as a teenager, and prior to that she had been violated by her step-father who had taken advantage of her when she was a very young girl.

All of this tormented her greatly, but no one had taken her to the Word of God to help her understand that she did not have to carry the burden of her own sin. There is forgiveness. Scripture teaches that if we confess our sins, God is waiting to forgive and cleanse us.

There are three things we need to know about confession. First, the word “confess” means, in the original Greek language, “to agree with.” If I agree with God concerning my immorality, stealing, dishonesty, whatever it may be, I am saying, “Lord, I know it is sin.” Second, we know from Scripture that Christ has paid the penalty for our sins by shedding His blood on the cross. And third, we must repent, which means we change our attitude toward that sin. This results in a change of action. When we do this, we have the promise that what we confess, God forgives, and He cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

When Mary understood the truth of God’s promise, she and I knelt together and by faith she surrendered all of her guilt and frustration to Christ, who died for her, and she claimed God’s forgiveness.

Only God could liberate her from the darkness and gloom of Satan’s kingdom and bring her into kingdom of light – the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. Mary sensed God’s immediate liberation and began to rejoice in the assurance of forgiveness and eternal life with Christ. She became a radiant, joyful and victorious witness for our Savior.

Bible Reading: Psalm 37:22-40

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Not only will I seek the counsel of godly men and women, but I will, with God’s help, become a godly person myself. I will saturate my mind with the truth of His holy Scripture, so that I will know what is right and wrong according to the Word of God, and I will then be able to give wise counsel to others.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Finding God’s Presence

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Depression can buckle the knees of the best of us, and a pastor’s wife is no exception.  Years ago my wife Denalyn battled depression.  Every day was gray.  Her life was loud and busy—two kids in elementary school, a third in kindergarten, and a husband who didn’t know how to get off the airplane and stay home.  The days took their toll.

But Denalyn was never one to play games.  On a given Sunday when the depression was suffocating, she armed herself with honesty and went to church.  If people ask me how I’m doing, I’m going to tell them.  She answered each, “How are you?” with a candid “Not well – I’m depressed.  Will you pray for me?”  Casual chats became long conversations.  Brief hellos became heartfelt moments of ministry.  She found God’s presence amidst God’s people!  He’s waiting on you, my friend, and He will get you through this.  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.

Home

Denison Forum – Quadriplegic climbs Mount Everest at home: A question I hope you’ll ask today

Ed Jackson was a professional rugby player before a spinal injury in April 2017 shattered his career and left him paralyzed from the neck down. After months of therapy, he was able to regain some use of his body. However, he suffers from Brown-Séquard syndrome, a neurological condition in which his left side does not function well while his right side does but has no sensation.

This challenge has not deterred Jackson. To aid in his rehabilitation, he began climbing mountains. He started with Mount Snowdon, the tallest point in Wales at 3,560 feet. Last October, he climbed the Mera Peak in the Himalayas, an elevation of more than twenty-one thousand feet.

Jackson wanted to climb Mount Everest, but the coronavirus shutdown made that impossible. So he brought the mountain to himself: he decided to climb the equivalent of the world’s tallest mountain on his stairs at home to raise money for a spinal charity. His goal was 5,566 flights of stairs and 89,058 steps over four days.

Using his right leg to climb and dragging his left leg behind him, Jackson achieved his goal, raising more than $36,000 for spinal cord research. He posted later, “Right what’s next? Thinking Tour de France around the parents’ kitchen.”

Ten-year-old builds a “hug curtain” for her grandparents 

Researchers from Harvard Medical School and Emory University published a paper last week comparing COVID-19-related deaths in the US to the deadliest week of an average influenza season. Their conclusion: COVID-19 is killing twenty times more people per week than does the flu.

However, despite the pandemic’s ongoing devastation, people are finding creative ways to do what matters most to them.

For example, a ten-year-old California girl used a shower curtain, Ziploc bags, disposable plates, and a hot glue gun to create an ingenious “hug curtain” through which she could hug her grandparents. A judge in the District of Columbia is officiating virtually at weddings using her computer at home.

And a thirty-four-year-old man in New York City has created a charity to provide meals for some of the thirty-six thousand Holocaust survivors in the city. He states that 40 percent of them live in poverty.

“See, they say, how they love one another” 

Early Christians had no buildings of their own; during the pandemic, ours are vacant. Early believers had to be careful of public meetings, lest they arouse the suspicions of Roman officials; during the pandemic, believers are practicing social distancing or meeting virtually.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Quadriplegic climbs Mount Everest at home: A question I hope you’ll ask today