Charles Stanley – The Holy Spirit’s Gifts

 

1 Corinthians 12:1-31

Look into any healthy church, and you will find believers who are actively serving the Lord as well as some who are not. But Christ’s church was never meant to resemble a sporting event with a few participants on the field and many spectators in the stands. Although some may be uninvolved because of apathy, there are many Christians who just feel inadequate. But a believer’s limitations are no excuse, because God has provided everything we need to serve successfully.

On our own, every one of us is ill-equipped because human strength and talent are insufficient for service to God. Therefore, the Lord has given each of us specific divinely empowered abilities called spiritual gifts to use in doing the work of Christ. We can’t choose for ourselves what our gift will be; this is the prerogative of the Holy Spirit. He alone knows exactly what He wants to accomplish and enables each of us accordingly.

The Spirit’s gifts are to be used for the common good of the church. Though given to us, they’re intended for the benefit of others. Our responsibility is to start serving, and in doing so, we will begin to discover how unified the body of Christ really is.


Bible in One Year:
Isaiah 54-57

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Loved, Beautiful, Gifted

 

Bible in a Year:

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

Romans 8:16

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Romans 8:15–17

Malcolm appeared confident as a teenager. But this confidence was a mask. In truth, a turbulent home left him fearful, desperate for approval, and feeling falsely responsible for his family’s problems. “For as far back as I remember,” he says, “every morning I would go into the bathroom, look in the mirror, and say out loud to myself, ‘You are stupid, you are ugly, and it’s your fault.’”

Malcolm’s self-loathing continued until he was twenty-one, when he had a divine revelation of his identity in Jesus. “I realized that God loved me unconditionally and nothing would ever change that,” he recalls. “I could never embarrass God, and He would never reject me.” In time, Malcolm looked in the mirror and spoke to himself differently. “You are loved, you are beautiful, you are gifted,” he said, “and it’s not your fault.”

Malcolm’s experience illustrates what God’s Spirit does for the believer in Jesus—He frees us from fear by revealing how profoundly loved we are (Romans 8:1538–39), and confirms that we are children of God with all the benefits that status brings (8:16–17; 12:6–8). As a result, we can begin seeing ourselves correctly by having our thinking renewed (12:2–3).

Years later, Malcolm still whispers those words each day, reinforcing who God says he is. In the Father’s eyes he’s loved, beautiful, and gifted. And so are we.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – A German in Harlem

 

“Perhaps that Sunday afternoon,” Myles Horton reminisced about his late friend, the German pastor-theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “I witnessed a beginning of his identification with the oppressed which played a role in the decision that led to his death.”(1)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer arrived in America in 1930 to study at Union Theological Seminary, but he was less than impressed. He was firmly Lutheran and, with help from Karl Barth, had already begun to reject much of German theology that sought to demythologize and discredit allegedly unsavory elements of the Bible. Now, however, he was dropped into the hub of American theology which took many similar cues and was, lamentably, highly pragmatic, scattered, and less than orthodox. Barth referred to these forms of theology concerning God as merely speaking about humans in a loud voice; Bonhoeffer described it as “no theology” at all.(2)

One can only imagine how the energy of Harlem itself must have filled Bonhoeffer with a feeling of life and vibrancy. This was the era of the Harlem Renaissance, after all. The jazz stylings of Duke Ellington waltzed through the streets where intellectuals, poets, and artists mingled and created new forms of self-expression all their own and for their own.(3) This spirit of rebirth and defiance did not stop at the church doors, either. “[Bonhoeffer] was very emotional and did not hide his feelings, which was extremely rare for him,” Horton wrote. “He said it was the only time he had experienced true religion in the United States, and was convinced that it was only among blacks who were oppressed that there could be any real religion in this country.”(4)

“I heard the gospel preached in the negro churches,” Bonhoeffer effusively proclaimed in 1931.(5) He had come to New York with a growing conviction that the Incarnation was not just about God becoming man to die, but about Christ informing us today how to live. It was in Harlem where he began to see this holistically. The New Testament was written in a context where the church was a marginalized and oftentimes oppressed community. It seems to take something of that mindset to understand it fully. Losing that perspective turns us into spiritual salvationists rather than holistic kingdom gospelists. As the political situation in Bonhoeffer’s native Germany continued to crumble, which would give rise to the reign of the “crazed, cracked Austrian”(6) and his Nazi party, these enfleshed lessons from Harlem of life among the oppressed and marginalized would prove to be foundational in his development of incarnational ethics.(7)

The gospel Bonhoeffer heard was full-throated and full of all of the love, sin, grace, and justice of God that should have been there in the first place. It was not just a gospel that gazed into the sky, but one that was also firmly planted on earth. In his native Germany, theologians had been attempting to erase from the Bible certain embarrassing “earthy” stories, and that trend has continued even to our own day. But to the oppressed who do not have the comfort of comfort itself, there is nothing embarrassing at all about the struggle for a land in Canaan or the violent rescue of an enslaved people from Egypt. Bonhoeffer was gifted a copy of James Weldon Johnson’s Book of American Negro Spirituals by his friend Franklin, and these spirituals would quickly be incorporated into his personal liturgy and even later into the liturgy of his underground seminary at Finkenwalde, alongside old monastic practices and other holy rhythms.(8) One of his favorite songs was the spiritual “Go Down, Moses”:

As Israel stood by the waterside,
Let my people go,
At God’s command it did divide,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt’s land,
Tell old Pharaoh: Let my people go.(9)

Bonhoeffer would travel back to New York at the urging of his friends and family to seek safe haven from an increasingly hostile Germany in 1939. He was already well-known as being a resister and trouble-making enemy of the state to Nazi forces and the so-called “Reich Church.”(10) During his first visit to America, he had also toured the south and was appalled at the devastating reality of racial prejudice and injustice. Now, eight years later, he found the country in worse condition. But he also found the Black Church still standing and still singing, a beacon of light and hope and in a dark and hopeless world. His conscience groaned: “I have come to the conclusion that I made a mistake in coming to America,” he wrote to Reinhold Niebuhr.(11) He would have to go back to Germany to live and struggle with his people rather than escaping to comfort and safety. This one final lesson from Harlem sent him back to Germany on one of the last ships that would sail there for years. Just a few weeks after his return, Hitler’s blitzkrieg invaded Poland and hurled the world into its second World War.

Bonhoeffer’s decision to return to Germany was essentially the decision to walk into his own grave—not that he was given one. But this is true discipleship, this is living the gospel holistically. His love of Scripture had taught him that, and his love of African American spirituality in Harlem had showed him that. These lessons are heard in his words and seen in his actions. The Bonhoeffer we know would not have been who he became without Harlem. He no doubt imbibed the words of Harlem Renaissance poet Countee Cullen, who wrote:

How Calvary in Palestine,
Extending down to me and mine,
Was but the first leaf in a line
Of trees on which a Man should swing
World without end, in suffering
For all men’s healing, let me sing.(12)

These stark lessons remain for us today as well. Where are we letting our comfort get in the way of our calling? Where is our safety taking precedence over our sanctification? Where is our security trumping our service? If we are blind to oppression and suffering, we are blind to the call of the holistic gospel to lift up those who are being crushed to the ground. God always responds to cries, and we are told to do likewise. It is a terrifying call, I grant you, and one I often fail in answering. But this is what it ultimately means to be “in the form of Christ” in a world of horrors. “The form of Jesus Christ,” Bonhoeffer reminds us, “alone victoriously encounters the world.”(13)

 

Derek Caldwell is a writer for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

(1) Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Barcelona, Berlin, New York: 1928-1931, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 10 (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2008), 31.
(2) Ibid., 265.
(3) Bonhoeffer would devour much of this literature himself, such as the work of Harlem Renaissance poet Countee Cullen, along with other African American intellectuals like W. E. B. Du Bois.
(4) Ibid., 31.
(5) Ibid., 315.
(6) Malcolm Muggeridge, “But Not of Christ” in Seeing Through the Eye: Malcolm Muggeridge on Faith, ed. Cecil Kuhne (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2005), 29.
(7) Reggie Williams, “Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Christ,” in Bonhoeffer, Christ and Culture, ed. Keith L. Johnson and Timothy Larsen (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2013), 61-62. Also see Reggie Williams, Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus: Harlem Renaissance Theology and an Ethic of Resistance (Baylor University Press, 2014).
(8) Charles Marsh, Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014), 233-34.
(9) Interestingly, this is one of several spirituals used by Africans Americans during the era of chattel slavery that would be sung with double meaning. Slaves in the 19th century “sung on one level with intense religious commitment and on another level as a code language to protest slavery and to plan for escape” (Sondra O’Neale, “A Slave’s Subtle War: Phillis Wheatley’s Use of Biblical Myth and Symbol,” Early American Literature 21 (1986): 145). It is this exact song that Harriet Tubman used to identify herself to fellow slaves during her many courageous rescue missions back to the southern United States.
(10) Where children’s baptism services often disgustingly ended with a prayer that “this child will grow up to be like Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler” (Marsh, 283).
(11) Bonhoeffer, Theological Education Underground: 1937-1940, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 15 (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2012), 210.
(12) Countee Cullen, “The Black Christ by Countee Cullen with Illustrations by Charles Cullen,” University of Missouri Libraries, February 19, 2014. Also, for an interesting look at how different races have depicted the color of Christ in American history, consider Edward J. Blum and Paul Harvey’s The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America (The University of North Carolina Press, 2012).
(13) Bonhoeffer, Ethics, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works – Reader’s Edition (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2015), 92.

Read in browser »

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – At All Times

 

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. — Psalm 34:1 (AMPC)

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

Right now it seems like everyone around us is living in fear and dread, but as God’s children, we don’t have to. We’re not only free to live differently than the rest of the world, but we should live differently, because when we do, we’re letting our light shine. One way to do this is to simply be as positive as we can in the middle of negative circumstances. The world will notice when we’re stable in every kind of situation. I want to encourage you to make up your mind right now that your external circumstances won’t keep you from facing life with peace and joy. Make a decision not to dread anything you have to do, but to face one task at a time with a thankful attitude.

I never considered driving down the street to get a cup of coffee to be a huge privilege until after I had been hospitalized with breast cancer and had surgery. When I was released, I asked my husband to take me out for coffee and a drive through a local park. It’s amazing how much joy I felt! I was doing a very simple thing that had previously been available to me every day, yet I had never seen it as a blessing.

One day our son went on an outreach with a team of people who visit the homeless each Friday evening. After going to serve there, he was appalled at himself for the things he had murmured about in the past once he saw, by comparison, how other people were living. I’m confident that we’d feel the same way. Those without a place to live would love to have a house to clean, while we dread cleaning ours. They would be so glad to have a car to drive, even an old one, while we complain about needing to wash ours or take it for an oil change.

The point is, we can easily lose sight of how blessed we are, so we need to work at keeping it on our minds by being intentional to thank God at all times for the ways He’s taking care of us.

Prayer Starter: God, please help me to keep the right heart attitude today. Thank You so much for the ways You have and are continuing to take care of me! In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – To Seek and To Save

 

“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10, KJV).

The Word of God clearly teaches that He wants His children to live supernaturally, especially in the area of living holy lives and bearing much fruit since that is the reason our Lord Jesus Christ came to this world.

Through the years I have prayed that my life and the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ would be characterized by the supernatural. I have prayed that God would work in and through us in such a mighty way that all who see the results of our efforts would know that God alone was responsible, and give Him all the glory.

Now as I look back – marveling at God’s miraculous working in our behalf – I remember earlier days which were also characterized by praise and glory to God, even though I was not privileged then to speak to millions or even thousands. At one point in our ministry, about the only understanding supportive listener I could find was my wife.

Vonette and I used to live mostly for material pleasures. But soon after our marriage we made a full commitment of our lives to the Lord. Now it is our desire (1) to live holy lives, controlled and empowered by the Holy Spirit (2) to be effective witnesses for Christ, and (3) to help fulfill the Great Commission in our generation to the end that we may continue the ministry which our Lord began as He came to “seek and to save the lost.”

Bible Reading: Luke 19:1-9

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I determine to bring my priorities in line with those of my Lord and Savior, who came to seek and to save the lost and to encourage others to do the same.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Unstoppable Love

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

The Bible says,  “The heavens declare the glory of God!”  Our universe is God’s preeminent missionary.  Doesn’t a painting suggest a painter?  Don’t stars suggest a star maker?   Doesn’t creation imply a creator?

Now look within you.  Look at your sense of right and wrong.  Who told you a moral compass exists?  What is this magnetic pole that pulls the needles on the compass of your conscience if not God?  God did this!  The wonders above and within you testify to his existence.  But God not only made the world, He loves the world.  John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world!”  Try that on for size!  The one who formed you pulls for you.  Untrumpable power stoked by unstoppable love!

Read more 3:16: The Numbers of Hope

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

Home

Denison Forum – John MacArthur’s church violates state restrictions: Three principles to balance in serving Caesar and Christ

Pastor John MacArthur led his congregation in worship inside Grace Community Church’s 3,500-seat sanctuary in Sun Valley, California, last Sunday. They met in violation of state restrictions stating, “Places of worship must therefore discontinue indoor singing and chanting activities and limit indoor attendance to 25 percent of building capacity or a maximum of one hundred attendees, whichever is lower” (their emphasis).

Videos and pictures of the service showed the sanctuary filled to capacity with worshippers sitting shoulder-to-shoulder. I did not see anyone wearing a mask.

MacArthur said in a video statement, “We will obey God rather than men. We’re going to be faithful to the Lord and we’re going to leave the results to him.” He added, “We will not bow to Caesar. The Lord Jesus Christ is our king.”

According to Franklin Graham, officials from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health have threatened MacArthur with “repercussions such as fines and even possible arrest.” Nonetheless, MacArthur states, “We will meet as the church of Jesus Christ because we’re commanded to do that. We will sing, we will pray, we will fellowship, we will proclaim the word of God far and wide.”

Commenting on churches that have chosen to defer in-person worship until January, MacArthur said, “I don’t have any way to understand that other than they don’t know what a church is and they don’t shepherd their people, but that’s sad. And you have a lot of people in Christianity, who seem to be significant leaders, who aren’t giving any strength and courage to the church. They’re not standing up and rising up and calling on Christians to be the church in the world as I said on Sunday.”

How Greg Laurie’s church responded to the restrictions 

An hour away, in Riverside, California, worshipers at Greg Laurie’s Harvest Christian Fellowship met in a white tent half the size of a football field to comply with state orders restricting indoor worship.

Volunteers scanned attendees’ foreheads with infrared thermometers before they entered the tent, where they found rows of six chairs spaced about six feet apart. Masks were required and signs directed worshipers to wave at rather than touch one another.

An official with MacArthur’s Grace to You ministry said that moving gatherings outdoors to comply with state regulations was not an option for Grace because of the size of the congregation and the California heat. He also said, “You don’t have to shut down the whole church” just because people might catch an illness.

Continue reading Denison Forum – John MacArthur’s church violates state restrictions: Three principles to balance in serving Caesar and Christ