Charles Stanley – Whom Will You Serve?

 

1 Kings 18:17-40

During the days of King Ahab, Israel was pulled in two directions. Ahab had instituted Baal worship, but Elijah challenged Israel to follow God. When He pressed the people to make up their minds about whom to serve, they were speechless.

The Old Testament presents idolatry as a serious issue, but in this modern civilized world worship of idols seems archaic and irrelevant. However, we are sometimes just like the Israelites—we can’t make up our minds about whom to serve.

If something or someone has higher value and priority to us than Christ, we are trying to serve two masters, which Jesus says is impossible. We will end up loving one and hating the other (Matt. 6:24). God’s generous gifts of relationships, possessions, and meaningful work should never be cherished more than the Giver.

The way your time is used reveals your heart’s priorities. Is a part of each day devoted to God, or is every minute consumed by the demands of life? Or consider the area of dependence. Is there anyone or anything you rely on more than God? If so, it’s time to stop straddling the fence and give your life wholly to God.

 

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 15-17

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Great Work

 

Bible in a Year:

“I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?”

Nehemiah 6:3

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Nehemiah 6:1–4

The security guard found and removed a piece of tape that was keeping a door from clicking shut. Later, when he checked the door, he found it had been taped again. He called the police, who arrived and arrested five burglars.

Working at the Watergate building in Washington, DC, the headquarters of a major political party in the US, the young guard had just uncovered the biggest political scandal of his lifetime simply by taking his job seriously—and doing it well.

Nehemiah began rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem—a task he took very seriously. Toward the end of the project, neighboring rivals asked him to meet with them in a nearby village. Under the guise of a friendly invitation was an insidious trap (Nehemiah 6:1–2). Yet Nehemiah’s response shows the depth of his conviction: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” (v. 3).

Although he certainly possessed some authority, Nehemiah may not have rated very high on the hero scale. He wasn’t a great warrior, not a poet or a prophet, not a king or a sage. He was a cupbearer-turned-contractor. Yet he believed he was doing something vital for God. May we take seriously what He’s given us to do and do it well in His power and provision.

By:  Glenn Packiam

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Unbearable Lightness of Being

I’m at an age in life when enough of it has passed that I can make some comparisons. The last five to ten years have been strange. I recently read some essays by Timothy Garton Ash about the period he calls the decade with “no name”—the turn of the millennium to the present. It is indeed a decade in which we have seen some extraordinary events, some dreadful acts of violence, an ongoing range of catastrophes, and some of the worst economic and moral failures that burst the bubble of unending prosperity and further shuttered confidence in many of our institutions.

Many years ago, the Czech writer Milan Kundera wrote of “the unbearable lightness of being.” Like many others, he sensed the hollowing out of existence, the thinning out of life, the emptying of meaning that seems to occur under modern conditions. One friend of mine calls this “cultural vaporization.” The thing is, this is not some vague idea or esoteric notion. It is a description of how life is really being perceived.

Some today seem convinced that the point of life is that there is no point. We face what Nietzsche call “Das Nichte”—or, the nothing. Our public philosophy tells us that we are the result of blind force plus chance and/or necessity. Yet our movies are filled with romantic longings, visions of other worlds, the hunger for transcendence, and love stories from other worlds where there is a greater unity of life and being. In other words, we face a massive contradiction between what one set of experts tells us is real and what many artists compel us to hope for and reflect on. And somewhere in the middle are our own, normal, day-to-day lives—lives presently struggling to survive and make sense of a pandemic.

 

Chance and choice: is that it? Does all of life come down to this? A roll of the dice, the power of freedom, and the lottery of life? Many centuries ago, an honest voice cried, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Why? He was reflecting on life. He was seeking happiness. He sought justice, he sought satisfaction, he sought the meaning of it all. And his journey was conducted under the sun—in other words, he looked at life from within life. It was as Derek Kidner called it “a world without windows.”

However, his observations do not end there. This book opens us to another perspective, one in which there is a God, and a God that sees, knows, and acts. The book does not descend into some simple resolution of life’s hard problems nor its on-going ambiguities. But what it does do is add something. It adds a presence, it includes a perspective, it invites reflection: If there is more to life than meets the eye, more than can be measured or managed by the senses, then this indeed makes a big difference today.

With such a difference, weight or weightiness would be restored. Absence would be filled, space would be occupied, and meaninglessness confronted. As Nietzsche wrote, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” This is a far cry from the new atheists who invite us to shed the childish and wicked delusions of whys and hows and accept emptiness. But what if when the God who is there and is not silent is a God of grace, a God of love, and a God of justice? To those empty, confused, suffering, or seeking, the unbearable lightness of being can be met in the abundance of his fullness, a gift by the way of grace, not effort!

Stuart McAllister is global support specialist at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Joyce Meyer – Come Close

 

Come close to God and He will come close to you…. — James 4:8 (AMPC)

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

Exercising our bodies and caring for our souls takes time and effort. Our emotions need to be tended to, we need to have fun and be entertained sometimes, and we need to enjoy being with other people. Our minds need to grow and be renewed daily. We also have a spiritual nature that needs attention. To stay balanced and healthy, we must take time to take care of our whole being—body, soul (mind + will + emotions), and spirit.

I believe intimacy with God is also a matter of time. We may think we don’t have time to seek God, but the truth is that we take time for what’s most important to us. Even though we have to fight distractions every day, if knowing God and hearing from Him is important to us, then we will find the time to do it, even if it’s only for a few minutes at a time.

I want to encourage you: Don’t try to work God into your schedule, but instead work your schedule around your time with Him. As you do that, you’ll begin to reap the benefits of more closeness with Him than you ever thought you could have.

Prayer Starter: Lord, please help me be intentional in my quiet times with You; I want to put You first in my time. Thank You in advance for giving me the grace to grow, and for coming closer to me as I come close to You. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – A Matter of the Will

 

“If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself” (John 7:17, KJV).

At the conclusion of an address I gave at M.I.T., a skeptical young man approached me. He said, “I am a scientist. I can’t believe anything that I can’t see. I must be able to go into the laboratory and test a proposition or a theory. I must prove its authenticity before I will believe and accept.

“Religion,” he said, “is a matter of faith. It has no substance and, as far as I’m concerned, no validity.”

I turned to the seventh chapter of John, verse 17 – our Scripture portion for today – and asked him to read it aloud.

“Do you understand what Jesus is saying here?” I asked.

“Well, I’m not sure,” he replied. “What is your point?”

“Your problem is not your intellect, but your will. Are you willing to do what God wants you to do? Are there relationships in your life that you’re not willing to surrender in order to do the will of God? Are there moral problems, problems of integrity that you are not willing to relinquish?”

An odd expression came over his countenance.

“How did you know?” Then he said, “I’d like to talk to you privately.” Later, as we sat together alone, he poured out his heart to me. He said, “I know that what you’re saying is true. I know that there’s a God in heaven, and I know that Jesus Christ is His Son and that He died on the cross for me.

“But,” he said, “there is sin in my life. I have been living with a young woman without the benefit of marriage for the last couple of years. Today you have exposed me for what I really am – a fraud, a sham, a hypocrite, and I want with God’s help to terminate my present relationship with this young woman and receive Christ into my life.”

I am happy to report that, soon after, he and the young woman both surrendered their lives to Christ and were married. Together they are making their lives count for the glory of God.

Bible Reading: John 7:14-18

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will confess – and turn from – all known sin that keeps me from knowing and doing the will of God. I will also share this message with others.

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Jesus Knows the Value of Every Creature

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Denalyn and I have been married over 35 years. We no longer converse; we communicate in code. She walks into the kitchen while I’m making a sandwich. “Denalyn?” I ask.  “No, I don’t want one,” she says. I’ll open the refrigerator and stare for a few moments. “Denalyn?”  She’ll answer, “Mayo is on the top shelf; pickles on the door.”  She knows me better than anyone.  She is the authority on Max!

How much more does Jesus know God?  When Jesus says in Matthew 10:31, “You are worth more than many sparrows,” you can trust him.  He knows the value of every creature.  And when Jesus says, “In my Father’s house are many mansions,” you can count on it.  He knows; He has walked them. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish…” (John 3:16).  When Jesus speaks about God, he is the ultimate authority. Trust him!

Read more 3:16: The Numbers of Hope

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – Was a Bible burned in Portland? Two sides of the story and the truth that will “set you free”

Was a Bible burned in Portland? Yes, but that’s only part of the story.

On August 1, the story began circulating that “left-wing activists” burned a “stack of Bibles” in front of the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, the previous night. The story was shared widely, especially among conservative media.

However, the New York Times reported yesterday that the individual who first tweeted the story “has amassed a large Twitter following by playing a right-wing American raconteur on social media.” The paper states that this individual added his own commentary, “wildly exaggerating” what the video showed.

The Times also reports that the video came from Ruptly, which it describes as a video news agency financed by the Kremlin. The Times article alleges that the video consisted of “images selected to mislead.” It reports that “a few protesters among the many thousands appear to have burned a single Bible—and possibly a second—for kindling to start a bigger fire.” And it references a local television reporter who “heard about the Bible burning and noted it with a single sentence in a lengthy report on that night’s protests,” linking to his report.

However, there seems to be more to the story. That reporter is named Danny Peterson with CBS station KOIN 6. He was present on the evening of July 31 and tweeted several videos and photos of protesters burning American flags. He also tweeted a photo of what he described as “a Bible being burned.” The fact-finding website Snopes spoke with Peterson, who confirmed with protesters that the book he saw burning was a Bible.

He told Snopes that the people burning the Bible and American flags did not self-identify with any particular group. However, these acts appeared to be political expressions and were not “coincidental objects that people burned in order to make a fire.” His eyewitness statement contradicts the Times report.

“The Holy Grail of all dollars” 

Was the Bible-burning episode in Portland exaggerated and publicized by the Russians? Was it reported factually by an eyewitness? Or both?

We live in a post-truth culture that believes seeing is believing and perception is reality. This perception fractures the foundations of the Christian worldview by making the Bible a diary of religious experience you have no right to impose on others.

For example, we’re told that our biblical conviction that life begins at conception is an opinion we have no right to force on women facing an unwanted pregnancy. Our biblical conviction that sex is intended for a man and woman in the covenant of marriage is allegedly an opinion we have no right to force on same-sex couples or heterosexuals outside of marriage. Our biblical conviction that life is sacred to natural death is supposedly an opinion we have no right to force on suffering people.

Since this belief that perception is reality is so prevalent, let’s take a moment to examine it.

NASA assured us that the “best meteor shower of the year” would be on display early yesterday morning. I was outside at 4:30 a.m. to witness the Perseid meteor shower but did not see a single meteor. Does this mean that the meteors did not exist? Or could light pollution in Dallas and/or my impatience in scanning the sky for only a few minutes have played a role in my disappointing experience?

A dealer is selling a 1794 US silver dollar believed to be the first coin of its kind minted by a newborn United States. One expert calls it “the Holy Grail of all dollars,” a coin estimated to be worth $10 million. However, because I know nothing about numismatics, it is worth only a dollar to me. Does this mean that my opinion is as valuable as that of experts in the field?

Tens of thousands of Palestinians spent the day on a Mediterranean beach recently when Israel allowed them to slip through its West Bank security barrier. One, a high school student, put her feet in the ocean for the first time in her life. Does this mean that the Mediterranean did not exist before she experienced it?

What happens when we “abide” in Jesus’ word? 

Solipsism is the philosophical claim that reality exists only as long as and to the degree that you are experiencing it. While I don’t know any true solipsists today, the conventional wisdom that perception is reality comes close.

According to an eyewitness, a Bible was burned as a political expression in Portland, regardless of what liberal or conservative media say about the event. The existence of meteors does not depend on my experience of them; coins can be valuable whether I value them or not; and the Mediterranean exists whether a Palestinian teenager has seen it or not.

Why are so many people so certain that biblical morality affirmed as objective truth by billions of people across twenty centuries can be dismissed as mere opinion?

One answer is that they have been deceived by the enemy (2 Corinthians 4:4). A second is that they may not want to submit to God and the morality he requires (cf. Genesis 3:5). But a third factor may be that they need to see more Christians whose lives reflect the transforming relevance of biblical truth (Matthew 5:16).

Jesus taught, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31–32). We must “abide” (meno) in his word—the Greek means to “remain, persist, live.” Our attitudes, thoughts, words, and actions must align with God’s word and will.

Then, and only then, we will know the truth and be set free by it. And others will be drawn to the truth they see in us.

Will the truth “set you free” today?

 

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