Charles Stanley – Salvation Gifts

 

1 Peter 1:3-5

Gifts are an expression of love, yet sometimes we take them for granted. This is certainly true when it comes to salvation. Perhaps the reason is that we’ve forgotten how amazing this gift is and what it cost the Father and Son to give it.

As Christians, we know that salvation results in forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with a holy God, and adoption as His beloved children. But maybe we aren’t as familiar with its other benefits:

We become new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17). We undergo a radical internal change. Our old self has been crucified with Christ, and we have a brand-new self, which is created in righteousness and holiness.

We are joined to the body of Christ (Rom. 12:5). Not only do we have union with the triune God, but we are also united with every other believer.

We receive an inheritance in heaven (1 Peter 1:4). Salvation transforms us from those destined for hell to those who are fellow heirs with Christ in His kingdom.

Salvation is an unfathomable treasure for which we will spend eternity praising, thanking, and worshipping God.

 

Bible in One Year: Hosea 1-5

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Risky Detour

 

Bible in a Year:

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season.

2 Timothy 4:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Timothy 4:1–5

What a waste of time, thought Harley. Her insurance agent was insisting they meet again. Harley knew it would be yet another boring sales pitch, but she decided to make the most of it by looking for an opportunity to talk about her faith.

Noticing that the agent’s eyebrows were tattooed, she hesitantly asked why and discovered that the woman did it because she felt it would bring her luck. Harley’s question was a risky detour from a routine chat about finances, but it opened the door to a conversation about luck and faith, which gave her an opportunity to talk about why she relied on Jesus. That “wasted” hour turned out to be a divine appointment.

Jesus also took a risky detour. While traveling from Judea to Galilee, He went out of His way to speak to a Samaritan, something unthinkable for a Jew. Worse, she was an adulterous woman avoided even by other Samaritans. Yet He ended up having a conversation that led to the salvation of many (John 4:1–2639–42).

Are you meeting someone you don’t really want to see? Do you keep bumping into a neighbor you normally avoid? The Bible reminds us to be always ready—“in season and out of season”—to share the good news (2 Timothy 4:2). Consider taking a “risky detour.” Who knows, God may be giving you a divine opportunity to talk to someone about Him today!

By:  Leslie Koh

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Space to Fall

 

Amusement parks had always been destinations of choice for my family while I was growing up. It didn’t matter the vacation spot. We would, if there was an amusement park nearby, make it a priority visit. The reason for this priority was that we loved roller-coasters. The Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disney Land, Space Mountain at Disney World, and all the various roller-coasters at Six Flags theme parks called to us to ride them over and over again to our sheer delight.

There was one exception: The free fall ride. I do not know if it is still in existence, but when I knew it at my local Six Flags, it was a ride like an elevator without a door. Only a seatbelt harness held us in. Up six stories it climbed while our stomachs fell. Climbing higher and higher, the expanse of the park and the surrounding communities became like miniature-versions of themselves. It seemed the ride would climb as high as the heights of heaven. Then suddenly, the ascent ended. The car would tilt forward ever so slightly, so that all you could see below was the drop back to earth. For maximum thrill or terror, the car wouldn’t plunge down immediately. Riders sat for what seemed to be an eternity of waiting; suddenly, the mechanical support drew back and the elevator-like car would make its free fall back down to the ground at speeds as high as 90 mph. I only ever went on the free fall once. I hated that ride.

“Sometimes suffering feels like a free fall,” writes J. Todd Billings in his book Rejoicing in Lament.(1) It is a free fall away from all that was normal and routine in one’s life down into what seems to be a spiraling abyss of chaos and despair. After receiving the phone call in the early morning hours that my husband had suffered sudden cardiac arrest, I fell into my own free fall. While sitting in the airport waiting for my flight home, I remember saying to my mother, “My life will never be the same again.” I would free fall into another world never to return to the world I had inhabited for seventeen years with my husband. There would be no return to what was “normal.” There would only be a steadying of my legs, like I had to do after the free fall ride at the amusement park, landing in the strange new world of grief and loss that was mine.

 

Fortunately for me, I was not the first person to ever experience a loss like this, just as surely as I was not the first to ride the free fall, nor the last to experience its terror. There were many who reached out to me from similar experiences in person, and others who reached out to me through the pages of articles and books chronicling this shared journey. Of course, Christianity affirms a God who joins us in this journey, not as a fellow rider on a free fall, but as the foundation on which we might find our footing again. For author and theologian Todd Billings, this foundation has been tested in his own journey of grief and suffering as a result of a terminal cancer diagnosis. Yet, he writes:

“In a deeply paradoxical way, full of a mystery that blinds by its brightness, Jesus Christ, the God-human, displays the love of God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—by taking on our human suffering and terror. Christ, the God-human, takes on the path of human suffering so that we are not pioneers in the darkness, so that we are not in free fall. Instead, even when our suffering seems senseless, even when we feel like we are in free fall, we can look to Christ to see, hear and taste that we are still in the ever-faithful, ever-loving hands of God.”(2)

The “Man of sorrows” and the one “acquainted with grief” is the reason why Christians can affirm that nothing is able to separate us from the love of God…not even death. Jesus Christ offers those who experience the free fall of suffering a firm foundation on which to land. Becoming fully human, Jesus is made the “high priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses.” And it is here, Billings notes, in the mystery of the Incarnation “that in Christ, the impassible God becomes one with suffering flesh in order to heal it.”(3) God is not caught off-guard because of human suffering and misery, even as God in Christ identifies with all that it means to be human. “We hope because in Christ, God has taken on human suffering and death so that they are emptied of their ultimate sting.”(4)

But this is not a truth easily gained. In my own free fall into grief, despair, and pain, I needed the space to fall; if only to see and to know that there was a foundation on which I could depend, and which could sustain the weightiness of my pain. I needed to scream all the way down as I fell—screams of desperation, abandonment, anger, and loss. And it was necessary for me to lose all those supports that were, in reality, flimsy and faulty. It was only then, after this long, hard fall that I could begin to steady myself, strengthen my legs and stand up—again.

In the psalms of lament, the anguished cries of the prophets, and in the life and ministry of Jesus, there are pioneers who have gone before all who grieve and suffer. They have experienced the terror of all the twists and turns, the drops and descents of human life. They gave voice to their lament. Perhaps like myself, Dr. Billings, and all those who would wish for a different way, who would wish they didn’t have to ride the free fall of grief and loss, the paradox of the Incarnation—that God is in Christ enveloping human suffering—will yet invite sufferers to stand on this firm foundation.

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

(1) J. Todd Billings, Rejoicing In Lament (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2015), 151.
(2) Ibid., 157.
(3) Ibid., 163
(4) Ibid., 163.

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Joyce Meyer – Enjoy Life as You Grow

 

You, therefore, must be perfect [growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect. — Matthew 5:48 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Ending Your Day Right – by Joyce Meyer

Being perfect sounds good, but trust me—it’s not reality. Reality is that every one of us is a human being, and no matter how hard we try to be perfect, we’ll still make mistakes sometimes. Our hearts can be perfect toward God, but our performance will never be perfect as long as we’re on earth, and that’s okay.

You are legally and positionally perfect in Christ, but experientially, you’re in the process of changing every day from glory to glory. It’s a growing process, and it takes time.

Struggling for perfection to gain acceptance and approval from God or others only brings frustration and never-ending exhaustion. And it isn’t necessary, because Jesus accepts you just as you are. He will never pressure you to perform, or demand something of you that you don’t know how to give. So just do your best . . . and enjoy life while you’re maturing.

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me be more patient with myself, and to learn to enjoy the growing process. Thank You for being patient with me as I’m maturing. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Power to Witness

 

“But ye shall receive power, after the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8, KJV).

While I was speaking to a group of theological students in Australia, one young man became very angry and argumentative when I emphasized the importance of witnessing for Christ daily as a way of life and explained that disobedient Christians cannot be Spirit-filled. Not to witness for Christ is to disobey our Lord’s specific command. Therefore, any Christian who does not regularly share his faith in Christ cannot walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

“I work day and night to maintain good grades,” he declared, “I don’t have time to witness while in seminary. I can witness after I become a pastor.”

Many Christians make similar excuses for their lack of witness, but none are valid. Some say they do not have the gift of evangelism. Others say they are still preparing for the day when they will be witnesses. Some pastors believe it is the responsibility of their members to witness, and they are to preach and teach the Word. Yet the Bible clearly teaches that all believers are to be witnesses with their lives and with their lips. It is a command of God.

On thousands of occasions we have found that pastors, students and laymen who have never introduced anyone to our Lord become fruitful witnesses when they learn how to live a Spirit-filled life and are taught how to share their faith in Christ with others. The apostle Paul, who was a Spirit-filled witness, shares in Colossians 1:28 how everywhere we go we are to tell everyone who will listen about Christ.

Bible Reading: Luke 24:45-49

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today – and every day – I will ask the Holy Spirit to direct me to those whose hearts He has prepared, and to anoint and empower me to speak convincingly, lovingly and effectively of our Savior.

 

http://www.cru.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devos – God Wants Us to be Poor in Spirit

 

By Kids4Truth Clubs on 09/22/20

https://equipu.kids4truth.com/podcast-player/10886/god-wants-us-to-be-poor-in-spirit.mp3

 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

It was Billy’s turn to read his verse in the morning devotions. The Phillips family was reading in the book of Matthew, chapter 5. Billy read verse 3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

“Dad,” he asked, “what does ‘blessed’ mean?”

His father answered, “It means ‘happy.’”

“How can a poor person be happy? He doesn’t have anything to be happy about?” Billy wasn’t sure how this verse could be true.

His father answered wisely. “It doesn’t just say a poor person is happy. It says those who are ‘poor in spirit’ are happy because they will live in the kingdom of Heaven.”

Billy wasn’t sure what all that meant. “What does it mean to be ‘poor in spirit’?”

“It means a person is not proud. There is a saying about proud people that goes something like this, ‘He’s full of his wee self.’ That means a person who is proud is filled up with himself. He doesn’t have room for others, let alone for the Lord. All he thinks about is himself. All he cares about is himself. You know what it means to be poor, don’t you, Billy?”

“Sure. It means someone doesn’t have much of anything.”

“That’s right. In this case the person doesn’t have much of himself. His life isn’t full of himself. He has room for the Lord and others. This is true of those who are going to Heaven. They have realized they are nothing great in themselves and they need Jesus to forgive their sins. They also know they need His help to do what is right and to make the right decisions. The proud person doesn’t think that way. He thinks he is good enough by himself and doesn’t need God or anyone else. He has all he wants as long as he has his pride.”

Billy started to understand what his father was saying. “So the person who doesn’t think he is good enough by himself is the one who will come to Jesus and get saved from his sins, and then he will know he is going to Heaven. And that’s why he’s happy. But the person who doesn’t want the Lord is a proud person and will never come to Jesus because he doesn’t think he needs God. And he will not go to Heaven. He has nothing good to look forward to. And when he dies, he will never be happy again. It that what it means, Dad?”

His father answered, “That’s pretty much it, Billy.”

“Wow!” exclaimed Billy. “Last year I understood I was a sinner and not good enough to go to Heaven, and I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and save me. And I still know I’m not very good all by myself. I still need the Lord to help me not to sin and help me do what is right. That means I’m poor in spirit, and I can be happy because I know I will be in Heaven with Jesus forever. Sometimes it really is good to be poor, isn’t it Dad?”

“It sure is, Billy. It sure is.”

My response:

» Am I poor in spirit?

» Do I know I need Jesus to save me?

» Do I know I need Jesus to help me live?

The post God Wants Us to be Poor in Spirit appeared first on EquipU Online Library.

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Denison Forum – What Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote when she was thirteen years old: The privilege of declaring and defending biblical truth

 

This week, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will become the first woman in history to lie in state at the US Capitol. Her casket will be placed in the National Statuary Hall on Friday, where a formal ceremony for invited guests will be conducted.

Beforehand, her body will lie in repose at the Supreme Court Wednesday and Thursday. A private ceremony attended by her fellow justices, relatives, and close friends will be held in the Great Hall of the court building at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow. Her casket will then be brought outdoors for a public viewing under the Portico at the top of the front steps. Next week, her remains will be interred alongside her late husband in a private ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

After her death last Friday, I read My Own Words, a collection of her most significant writings. The first piece in the compilation was published in her school newspaper in June 1946. She described and assessed “four great documents” that have changed the world: the Ten Commandments, the Magna Carta, the 1689 Bill of Rights in England, and the Declaration of Independence. She then affirmed the Charter of the United Nations as a fifth.

She was barely thirteen years old at the time.

Later that month, she published in the bulletin of her local Jewish Center an article which concludes: “There can be a happy world and there will be once again, when men create a strong bond towards one another, a bond unbreakable by a studied prejudice or a passing circumstance. Then and only then shall we have a world built on the foundation of the Fatherhood of God and whose structure is the Brotherhood of Man.”

How many of us could have written that paragraph when we were thirteen years old?

How her husband described her 

The more I read about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the more I was impressed with her intellectual brilliance and her personal story.

When she was fourteen months old, her older sister died of meningitis at the age of six. Her mother died of cancer at forty-eight years of age, two days before Ruth’s high school graduation. Ruth was one of only nine women in her class of approximately five hundred at Harvard Law School.

Her husband once introduced her as a person of “great intelligence, fine judgment, personal warmth, unremitting hard work, and an advantageous marriage, which is just what I expected after our second date fifty-three years ago.”

The more I learned about Justice Ginsburg, the more I wished, respectfully, that she had used her amazing gifts in the service of a more biblical worldview.

The National Abortion Federation published a statement after her death calling her “a crucial defender of abortion rights.” A website devoted to LGBTQ advocacy headlined, “RBG Fought Like **** for LGBTQ+ Equality. It’s Our Turn to Fight for Her Legacy.”

Consistent with the relativistic claim that truth claims are subjective and personal, Justice Ginsburg advocated a view of the US Constitution as “living” and thus subject, as Justice Antonin Scalia derisively noted, to “whimsical change by five of nine votes on the Supreme Court.” Such “whimsical change” discovered a “right” to abortion in 1973 (predating her elevation to the court in 1993) and to same-sex marriage in 2015 (where she voted in the five-to-four majority).

Imagine the impact Justice Ginsburg could have made if she had reasoned according to God’s unchanging word on life, marriage, and truth.

Anselm’s definition of God and Abraham Lincoln’s riddle 

Schitt’s Creek received seven Emmys last Sunday night. One of the winners is a gay actor who plays a gay character. He told the audience, “Our show, at its core, is about the transformational effects of love and acceptance. We need it now more than ever before.” Time said, “Nothing captured our collective thirst for comfort, positivity, and familial togetherness more than the Schitt’s Creek sweep.”

Unbiblical morality has become more normalized by the Supreme Court and the court of public opinion than ever before in our nation’s history. In these perilous days, we can learn from Ruth Bader Ginsburg the importance of intellectual excellence and persuasion.

For example, let’s note that changing our opinions regarding God and his word changes neither God nor his word. As C. S. Lewis observed, denying the sunrise does not harm the sun.

Psalm 90 declares, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations” (v. 1). “Dwelling place” translates the Hebrew for a home and a refuge. God has been this for his people “in all generations” because “from everlasting to everlasting, you are God” (v. 2).

The most logical description of God I have found comes from Anselm of Canterbury (1033–1109), who characterized him as “a being, than which nothing greater can be conceived” (Proslogion 2). God cannot change or he would at times be less than God (cf. Malachi 3:6). Nor can his word change its truthfulness, for it reflects the One who revealed it (2 Timothy 3:16).

When we change our opinions regarding the truth, we do not change the truth. President Abraham Lincoln once employed a popular riddle: “If I should call a sheep’s tail a leg, how many legs would it have?” His audience answered, “Five.” Lincoln replied, “No, only four; for my calling the tail a leg would not make it so.”

When the world seems very small 

Are you living by the court of human opinion or the counsels of God? If your life were to be even more aligned with your Father’s unchanging word, what would change?

Are you using your influence to encourage those you influence to live by biblical truth? Whatever it costs us to declare and defend God’s word is a small price to pay for the privilege of partnering with the King whose Son died that we might live with him in paradise forever (Luke 23:43).

St. Gregory (AD 540–604) observed that the world seems very small to a soul who contemplates the grandeur of God.

How small does the world seem to you today?

 

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