Charles Stanley – Using Spiritual Gifts

 

1 Peter 4:7-11

Any person who belongs to Christ has received a spiritual gift for God’s glory and the good of the church. Serving the Lord is not a suggestion but a command. When we waste the opportunity, we deprive both ourselves and others of the service God intended for us to provide.

In today’s reading, Peter separates the spiritual gifts into two categories: gifts of serving and speaking. However, within these two groups are an endless variety of ways service for Christ is put into action. Even if two believers have the same gifting, they will express it in unique ways—and with different results.

We should remember that though there are a variety of gifts, ministries, and outcomes, the Holy Spirit is the source of them all, and God is the one doing the work (1 Corinthians 12:4-6). For instance, the teaching gift has a wide range of applications. It can be used by one person to instruct toddlers while someone else uses it to teach seminary students. Both uses are essential in God’s eyes and bring Him glory.

God doesn’t rank the spiritual gifts, so never think that yours isn’t important. What He desires is faithfulness in employing it.

 

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 58-62

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — In the Father’s Ways

 

Bible in a Year:

They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.

1 Samuel 8:3

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 Samuel 8:1–9

In the 1960s, the bustling community of North Lawndale, on Chicago’s West Side, was a pilot community for interracial living. A handful of middle-class African Americans bought homes there on “contract”—that combined the responsibilities of home ownership with the disadvantages of renting. In a contract sale, the buyer accrued no equity, and if he missed a single payment, he would immediately lose his down payment, all his monthly payments, and the property itself. Unscrupulous sellers sold at inflated prices, then the families were evicted when they missed a payment. Another family would buy on contract, and the cycle fueled by greed just kept going.

Samuel appointed his sons judges over Israel, and they were driven by greed. His sons “did not follow his ways” (1 Samuel 8:3). In contrast to Samuel’s integrity, his sons “turned aside after dishonest gain” and used their position to their own advantage. This unjust behavior displeased the elders of Israel and God, putting in motion a cycle of kings that fills the pages of the Old Testament (vv. 4–5).

To refuse to walk in God’s ways allows room for the perversion of those values, and as a result injustice flourishes. To walk in His ways means honesty and justice are clearly seen not only in our words but in our deeds as well. Those good deeds are never an end in themselves but always that others may see and honor our Father in heaven.

By:  John Blase

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Love and Sorrow Meet

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself, alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

His hour had come. He had walked among them, taught them, performed miraculous signs, and he had loved and cared for them. But now, his hour had come and the cross lay ahead of him. The hour he faced would be filled with trial and suffering: Now, my soul has become troubled and what shall I say, Father, save me from this hour?(1)

Jesus would walk the long, lonely road to the cross. Rather than taking the way of self-preservation, he would offer his life, like a grain of wheat. He would die; he would be buried in the darkness of the earth, but as a result he would bear much fruit. Despite what lay ahead of him, and despite the trouble in his soul, he affirms: For this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Thy Name.

Of what was transacted there on that cross, there are many theories.(2) In formal theology, these theories attempt to get at the very nature and the very essence of what Jesus accomplished through his death. For theologians, atonement studies are a fertile field of inquiry because the meaning and impact of the atonement are rich, complex, and paradoxical. One theory, for example, suggests that the atonement stands as the preeminent example of a sacrificial life—an example that followers of Jesus are called to model in their own lives. Other theories argue that the cross is the ultimate symbol of divine love, or that the cross demonstrates God’s divine justice against sin as the violation of his perfect law. Still other theories suggest the cross overcame the forces of sin and evil, restored God’s honor in relation to God’s holiness and righteousness, or served as a substitution for the death we all deserved because of sin.

 

While the nature of the atonement may include a portion of all of these theories, Jesus’s statements as recorded in John’s gospel indicate that his death would be a path to abundant life resulting in the production of much fruit. And in this case, Jesus doesn’t construct a theory of the atonement, but instead chooses an agrarian image to indicate what would be accomplished in the cross. The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified… unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Charles Spurgeon, the nineteenth century theologian and preacher, wrote that this passage of Scripture is rich with paradoxical statements describing the nature of atonement:

“[P]aradox is this—that his glory was to come to him through shame…[that] the greatest fulness of our Lord’s glory arises out of his emptying himself, and becoming obedient to death, even the death of the cross. It is his highest reputation that he made himself of no reputation. His crown derives new luster from his cross….We must never forget this, and if ever we are tempted to merge the crucified Saviour in the coming King we should feel rebuked by the fact that thus we should rob our Lord of his highest honour.”(3)

Spurgeon expands on the paradoxical nature of death bringing forth life. It is only through the cross, just as a kernel of wheat must die in order to produce a harvest, that new life in Christ and reconciliation with God are accomplished. Most powerfully, Spurgeon notes that this teaches us where the vital point of Christianity lies, Christ’s death is the life of his teaching. See here: if Christ’s preaching had been the essential point, or if his example had been the vital point, he could have brought forth fruit and multiplied Christians by his preaching, and by his example. But he declares that, except he shall die, he shall not bring forth fruit.(4)

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Joyce Meyer – Get Your Confidence Back

 

So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them. — Genesis 1:27 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Wake Up to the Word – by Joyce Meyer

Have you ever taken time to consider what you think about yourself? Most people haven’t, but it’s an important thing to do. I can remember desperately struggling for many years with my confidence and self-esteem, but when I finally learned to see myself as God does, it revolutionized my life. My father had told me I was no good and would never amount to anything, but God tells me the truth: that I’m His, and through Him I can do greater things than I could ever imagine. And the same is true for you!

It really isn’t what other people think about us that hurts us the most; it’s what we think of ourselves. This is why it’s so important to see yourself through the perspective of God’s Word. He’s created you with unique gifts, talents, and purpose, He paid the highest price (Jesus’ life) to redeem you, and He loves you with an everlasting love. Knowing that, you can truly walk in the confidence that you are a child of God!

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me see myself the way You do. Thank You for seeing me as Your child, and for reminding me of who I am in You when I forget. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Praying in His Will

 

“This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have requests which we have asked from Him” (1 John 5:14,15 NAS). 

A very dedicated church member, who came to me for counsel concerning her prayer life, said, “I pray all the time, but I don’t seem to get any answers. I have become discouraged and I wonder if God really answers prayer.”

I showed her this wonderful promise and asked, “First of all, do you pray according to the will of God?” This was a new thought to her.

“What do you mean?” she inquired. I explained by reminding her what God’s Word says. How do our requests relate to the Word of God and to the desires which He places in our hearts? As we read in Psalm 37:4, if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He gives us the desires of our hearts, and in Phillipians 2:13 Paul states that it is God who works in us both to will and to do His good pleasure. For example, we can always know that we are praying according to the will of God and the Word of God when we pray for the salvation of souls, for God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. We can pray for the maturing of believers because God wants all of us to be conformed to the image of Christ. We can also pray for all the needs of our brothers and sisters materially, emotionally, and most of all, spiritually – because God’s Word promises that He will supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

One can know that selfish prayers for “me, myself and only my interests” are not likely to be heard because we are to seek first God’s kingdom.

If we want to receive blessings from God for ourselves, we must forget ourselves and help others find their fulfillment. In the process, God will meet our needs. This does not suggest that we should not give attention to our own needs and to the needs of our loved ones, but rather we are not to seek only that which is for our personal best.

No prayer life can be effective without a thorough knowledge and understanding of God’s Word, the basis from which we can know the will of God and thus pray with assurance that our prayers will be answered.

Bible Reading: I John 3:22-24

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will saturate my mind with the Word of God and seek to know and do His will so that when I pray, my prayers will have ready answers.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – God Is Life Himself

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Life at times appears to fall to pieces. It seems irreparable. But it’s going to be okay! How can you know? Because as John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world!” Those are God’s arms you feel. Trust him. Believe him. Allow the only decision maker in the universe to comfort you. Since he has no needs, you cannot tire him. Since he is without age, you cannot lose him. Since he has no sin, you cannot corrupt him.

Paul said in Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can be against us.” If God can make a billion galaxies, can’t he make good out of our bad and sense out of our faltering lives? Of course he can. He is not just alive, but He is life himself. John 5:26 confirms for us,  “The Father has life in himself.” He is God! And God loves you.

Read more 3:16: The Numbers of Hope

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – Statue of Billy Graham to be installed in US Capitol: The anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and the ultimate solution to the sin of racism

If you’ve been to the US Capitol, you’ll remember its collection of one hundred statues, two from each state of the Union. Some, like Helen Keller and Thomas Edison, are known to us all. Others are less famous nationally.

North Carolina currently honors Charles Brantley Aycock and Zebulon Baird Vance. However, the former was one of the masterminds of an 1898 race riot in which a local government composed of Black Americans was overthrown and replaced by white officials.

In his place, a life-sized statue of Billy Graham will be installed sometime next year. Rev. Graham is one of his home state’s most beloved figures, with two state highways named to honor him. One of Charlotte’s biggest tourist attractions is the library documenting his life and ministry and its grounds that include his gravesite and restored childhood home.

The statue will feature Rev. Graham as he looked in the 1960s, preaching and holding a Bible in one hand. His son, Franklin Graham, said, “My father would be very pleased that people thought of him in this way. But he would want people to give God the glory and not himself.”

Let’s consider the replacement of Aycock’s statue with that of Billy Graham as a parable for our day.

“It gives me a great deal of hope” 

Today is the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, which was signed into law on August 6, 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. It prohibits discriminatory voting practices, enforces the voting rights of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, gives racial minorities the right to vote across the country, outlaws literacy tests, and bars state or local governments from imposing voting qualifications.

The House of Representatives recently approved a measure to rename the legislation after the late Rep. John Lewis (D–Ga.), coinciding with a ceremony honoring him in the US Capitol Rotunda. The House voted by unanimous consent to rename the bill the “John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act.”

On March 7, 1965, Lewis led a civil rights march across the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, Alabama, in support of voting rights. He was nearly beaten to death by state troopers wielding clubs and tear gas. At the time, many Black Americans were denied the right to vote in Alabama. In Dallas County, Alabama, for example, where Black Americans made up more than half of the population, just 2 percent were registered voters.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Statue of Billy Graham to be installed in US Capitol: The anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and the ultimate solution to the sin of racism