Charles Stanley – Facing Doubts About Salvation

 

1 John 3:19-24

Nothing drains spiritual energy like fear. When believers are repeatedly worried about their salvation, anxiety can cloud their thoughts and distract them from God’s purpose for their life. Furthermore, it robs them of the peace and joy that the Lord promised His followers.

There are several reasons why some Christians struggle with doubts about whether they are saved:

Sin. Salvation brings forgiveness and a righteous standing before God. But when we focus on our sins and failures, we may doubt that God could forgive us.

Emotions. Sometimes we rely solely on our feelings, rather than the truth of God’s Word, to determine our salvation.

Immaturity. Due to ignorance of Scripture or the slow process of change, new believers may begin to question whether they are truly saved.

Legalism. Some Christians evaluate their eternal security by their performance. If they fall short of a standard they themselves set, uncertainty can take root.

1 John 3:19 says we can know that we are of the truth and assure our heart before God. The word assure means to pacify and calm our soul so we’re not consumed by fearful doubts that prevent us from enjoying our new life in Christ.

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 19-22

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Cultivating God’s World

 

Bible in a Year:

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Genesis 2:15

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Genesis 1:26–27; 2:15

“Dad, why do you have to go to work?” The question from my young daughter was motivated by her desire to play with me. I would have preferred to skip work and spend time with her, but there was a growing list of things at work that required my attention. The question, nevertheless, is a good one. Why do we work? Is it simply to provide for ourselves and for the people we love? What about labor that’s unpaid—why do we do that?

Genesis 2 tells us that God placed the first human in the garden to “work it and take care of it” (v. 15). My father-in-law is a farmer, and he often tells me he farms for the sheer love of land and livestock. That’s beautiful, but it leaves lingering questions for those who don’t love their work. Why did God put us in a particular place with a particular assignment?

Genesis 1 gives us the answer. We’re made in God’s image to carefully steward the world He made (v. 26). Pagan stories of the way the world began reveal “gods” making humans to be their slaves. Genesis declares that the one true God made humans to be His representatives—to steward what He’d made on His behalf. May we reflect His wise and loving order into the world. Work is a call to cultivate God’s world for His glory.

By:  Glenn Packiam

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Building Culture or Making Ruins

 

Many years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Greece and Turkey. While there, I marveled at the ancient ruins of the Greek temples and wondered at the beautiful mosaics of Christ covering the ceilings of every church—from a tiny chapel in the countryside to the great cathedral of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. During the tour, we often saw the ruins of the temples standing side by side with ancient Christian churches. Other times, our guide informed us that the Christian church was built upon the now decimated ruins of an ancient temple.

I remember feeling a bit disturbed over the loss of these ancient ruins, which would never be seen again, now built over by largely abandoned Christian chapels. And yet I understood the sweeping movement of Christianity—overturning the pagan environment of Greece and Rome and building churches and chapels as signposts of that victory.

This scene replicated across the landscapes of Greece and Turkey served metaphorically as a picture of the uneasy tension between Christianity and its surrounding culture. On the one hand, church and pagan temple stood side by side, a living picture of the parable Jesus once told about allowing wheat and tares to grow up together until the judgment. On the other hand, churches built on the ruins of pagan temples presented the image of Christianity conquering the pagan religions of the day, standing in triumph and uprooting the tares in victory.

Christianity wrestles with this same tension today, vacillating between constructive engagement in culture on the one hand and eschewing the culture on the other. The art world is often an arena for this battle. Should Christians engage in the arts? If so, how should they engage in the arts? Should there be Christian music, art, and literature? Or should there simply be Christians who make music, produce art, and write literature? In other words, should Christians build next to the pagan temple or replace the pagan temple with a church?

While the answers to these questions can often be complex, perhaps there are some insights from another picture of early Christian interaction using art from the prevailing culture. The catacombs under the streets of Rome are filled with art produced by the early Christians. Interestingly enough, however, the Christian scenes normally used non-Christian forms. Some of the portrayals of Jesus as the Good Shepherd are clearly modeled after pagan pictures in which Orpheus was the central figure.(1) It is not an accident that the early Christians chose to model their art after the pagan depictions of Orpheus. In Greek mythology, Orpheus was such a brilliant musician that “he moved everything animate and inanimate; his music enchanted the trees and rocks and tamed wild beasts, and even the rivers turned in their course to follow him.”(2) Clearly, the early Christians used this artistic rendering for apologetic reasons; like the myth of Orpheus, they believed Jesus had a cataclysmic influence on all of creation.

In every generation, art has been used as a means to communicate the Christian faith, even as an uneasy tension exists with artistic engagement. Yet, without thoughtful engagement a vacuum is left, unfilled. Without a new Orpheus, all that is left to do is bemoan the binding of the arts to darker forces. And while Christians often raise the complaint, there is also a blindness at times to the very ways in which the church is inextricably bound to culture.

C.S. Lewis once wrote about the value of Christian involvement in popular scholarship. When understood broadly, Lewis’s words are instructive for Christian engagement in the arts or in any other discipline. Flannery O’Connor, like C.S. Lewis, believed that any Christian who can make good art or write good stories or teach mathematics well will do much more by that than by setting out to make Christian art or to write Christian stories. What we need isn’t more books about Christianity, but more artists and writers and scientists and mathematicians who with excellence approach their work in any and every subject—with their Christianity latent. Perhaps building such subtle cathedrals on the landscape of culture is indeed more winsome than making ruins.

Margaret Manning is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Seattle, Washington.

(1) Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of Christianity: Beginnings to 1500, vol. 1 (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1975), 251.
(2) Encarta, Orpheus.

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Joyce Meyer – God Speaks in Many Ways

 

…It is I, [the One] Who speaks in righteousness….— Isaiah 63:1 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Hearing from God Each Morning – by Joyce Meyer

In the verse for today, God declares that He speaks, and when He does, He speaks in righteousness. We can always depend on what He says to be right. God speaks to us in many ways, including His Word, nature, other people, circumstances, peace, wisdom, supernatural intervention, dreams, visions, and sometimes just a “knowing” deep inside our hearts. He also speaks in what the Bible calls a “still, small voice.”

God also speaks through our conscience, through our desires, and even an audible voice. Always remember that when He speaks, what He says is true and it will never disagree with His written Word. We rarely hear God’s audible voice, though it does happen sometimes. I have heard His audible voice three or four times over the course of my life. On two of these occasions, I was sleeping, and His voice awakened me by simply calling my name. All I heard was “Joyce,” but I knew God was speaking. He didn’t say what He wanted, but I knew instinctively that He was calling me to do something special for Him, even though it was several years before I knew what it was.

I want to encourage you to ask God to help you hear His voice in whatever way He chooses to speak to you. Know that He loves you so much, He has good plans for your life, and He wants to talk to you and show them to you.

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me hear Your voice in each moment, however You decide to speak to me. Thank You for loving me and leading me today. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – We Help Conquer Satan

 

“They defeated him by the blood of the Lamb, and by their testimony; for they did not love their lives but laid them down for Him” (Revelation 12:11).

Down through the years, you and I have lauded and applauded the martyrs – and rightly so.

These heroes of the faith – like Chester Bitterman of the Wycliffe Bible Translators, one of the latest in a long line of martyrs – preferred death to disloyalty to God and to Christ. Their testimony literally was written in blood.

Truly, “they did not love their lives but laid them down for Him.” And by so doing, they became partners with God and with Christ in defeating the enemy of men’s souls, Satan. Satan is to be conquered not only by the blood of the Lamb, but also by reason of the testimony of the martyrs.

T.E. McCully, father of missionary martyr Ed McCully, who, along with Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, Nate Saint and Roger Youderian, lost his life to the Auca Indians on January 8, 1956, made a sage observation about the great sacrifice these young men had made.

“Sometimes,” he said, “it’s harder to be a living sacrifice than it is to be a dead sacrifice.” And this hits us all right where we live, in our walk with Christ today. The daily grind, the commitment and recommitment, the enduring of trial and testing – all of this takes a daily sacrifice. This is an opportunity for our lives to be a “sacrifice of praise” to our God.

Bible Reading: Revelation 12:7-12

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Claiming the power of the Holy Spirit by faith, I will seek to be a living sacrifice, so that my life will be part of Satan’s defeat.

 

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Max Lucado – Give Grace Freely

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Forgiveness is not foolishness.  Forgiveness, at its core, is choosing to see your offender with different eyes.  By the way, how can we grace-recipients do anything less?  Dare we ask God for grace when we refuse to give it?  This is a huge issue in Scripture.  Jesus was tough on sinners who refused to forgive other sinners.

Remember his story in Matthew 18 about the servant freshly forgiven a debt of millions who refused to forgive a debt equal to a few dollars?  He stirred the wrath of God: “You evil servant!  I forgave you that tremendous debt.  Shouldn’t you have mercy just as I had mercy on you?”  In the final sum, we give grace because we’ve been given grace.  And we’ve been given grace so we can freely give it.  See your enemies as God’s child and revenge as God’s job.

Read more Facing Your Giants: God Still Does the Impossible

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – Are these the “last days”? Why evangelicals are losing the rhetorical high ground and two ways to respond

Are these the “last days”? In Luke 21, Jesus made three predictions.

One: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (v. 10).

Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday that the Russian Navy would be armed with hypersonic nuclear strike weapons and underwater nuclear drones. Such weapons would be difficult for the US to track and intercept.

Experts say the risk of military conflict between the US and China is higher than ever. After the closing of the Chinese consulate in Houston, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated, “If we bend the knee now, our children’s children may be at the mercy of the Chinese Communist Party.”

Two: “There will be earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven” (v. 11).

Regarding “earthquakes,” a magnitude 7.8 quake struck off the coast of Alaska last week. Regarding “famines and pestilences,” as of this morning, COVID-19 has infected more than sixteen million people and caused more than 648,000 deaths. Experts say the pandemic has put 265 million people at risk of famine.

Regarding “terrors and great signs from heaven,” Hurricane Hanna made landfall in South Texas Saturday afternoon, flooding streets and knocking out power. And Hurricane Douglas is brushing the Hawaiian Islands this morning, bringing as much as eight inches of rain.

Three: “They will lay their hands on you and persecute you” (v. 12).

China is escalating its persecution of Christians: Believers are being jailed for praying online and even official churches are being closed. The Communist government is supervising a new Bible translation. Chinese citizens are being urged to use an app dedicated to President Xi’s sayings that gives the government backdoor access to their social media, contacts, and internet history.

What does “last times living” look like? 

My purpose this morning is not to predict the return of Christ. God’s word divides history into the “former times” before the Messiah comes and the “last times” after his coming. Biblically, therefore, we have been in the “last times” since Jesus’ incarnation (Acts 2:17; Hebrews 1:2; 1 Peter 1:20).

While Christians disagree about the degree to which the “signs of the times” will intensify toward the end of history, we can all agree on this fact: we are one day closer to Jesus’ return than ever before.

In the meantime, how are we to live in these chaotic days? How are God’s people to respond to political conflict, natural disasters, and rising persecution? In other words, what does “last times living” look like?

After describing some “signs of the times,” our Lord stated: “This will be your opportunity to bear witness” (Luke 21:13). “Bear witness” translates the Greek marturion, from which we get “martyr.” We are to make public our faith in perilous days whatever the cost to ourselves.

Why we are losing the rhetorical high ground 

Richard Rorty was one of the most influential thinkers of our time. He did much to promote and popularize the postmodern claim that all truth claims are subjective (which is an objective truth claim, by the way). There are “truths” but no “Truth.”

However, Rorty also acknowledged that it is difficult to live in a world with no certainties. As a result, societies develop pragmatic values that become their public “Truth.” As Nathanael Blake notes, such “Truth” is produced by emotion and intensity of belief more than by reason.

As a result, American evangelicals are losing the rhetorical high ground on moral issues.

“Freedom” and “equality” are examples of values held deeply and passionately by Americans. Consequently, pro-abortion advocates gain the cultural high ground when they accuse pro-life supporters of waging a war on “reproductive freedom.” Same-sex marriage advocates employ a similar strategy with their support for “marriage equality.” Generational shifts on abortion and a public reversal on same-sex marriage (60 percent were opposed in 2004 vs. 61 percent who support today) demonstrate the effectiveness of these strategies.

In response, Christians should declare and defend biblical values in ways that resonate with a public persuaded by emotion. For example, telling our personal story is vital and effective (cf. John 9:25). And we need to match the passion of those who champion ungodliness with our passionate love for our Lord and our neighbor.

The “god” that is our enemy 

As we do, we should admit a second fact: evangelicals will pay an escalating price to declare unpopular Truth.

The cancel-culture phenomenon shows that it is easier than ever to attack those whose beliefs conflict with public “Truth.” (For more, see my paper on cancel culture here.) If you risk bringing your Sunday values into your Monday world, you are likely to experience what Jesus predicted: “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20).

However, those who oppose biblical truth are not our enemies. Since “the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers,” we should not be surprised when they reject “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). That “god” is their enemy and ours.

In “last days living,” however long it lasts, telling our story and promoting biblical truth with courage and compassion is the greatest gift we can give the eternal souls we influence.

How generous will you be today?

 

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