Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – No Other Savior

 

“There is salvation in no one else! Under all heaven there is no other name for men to call upon to save them” (Acts 4:12).

As a young sceptic, I had difficulty believing in the resurrection, for I could not believe in the supernatural. But as I became aware of the uniqueness of Jesus and of the different quality of life that was His, I was forced to reconsider the biblical claim to His resurrection.

Since it is a matter of historical fact that the tomb in which His dead body was placed was empty three days later, I set out to discover if the tomb could have been empty on any other basis than the biblical claim that He had been raised from the dead. In my research, I learned that there were three different theories explaining the empty tomb.

First, it was proposed that He was not really dead but had fainted from the loss of blood on the cross, and that He recovered in the cool of the tomb (this notion is today expounded by certain skeptics under the name of the “swoon theory”). Second, it was conceivable that Jesus’ body was stolen by His enemies; or third, that it was stolen by the disciples.

Experience and logic have forced me to discount all three of these theories as impossibilities. First, Jesus could never have moved the stone or escaped from the guards in His weakened condition. Second, Jesus’ enemies had no reason to steal His body since they did not want to give credence to a belief in His resurrection. Even if they had stolen the body, they could simply have produced it to discount the resurrection.

Third, the disciples who deserted Jesus at His trial and crucifixion were the same men who, having seen Him after His resurrection, spent the rest of their lives telling everyone who would listen, even at the cost of their own lives, that Jesus was alive. Ask yourself this question, “Would the disciples be willing to die as martyrs propagating a lie?”

Christianity alone has a living Savior; in Him alone is salvation.

Bible Reading: Romans 10:9-13

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Several times today, as the Holy Spirit prompts me, I will remember to thank God for the gift of His Son as my personal Savior and will tell someone else that Jesus is alive and wants to be his Savior, too

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Conversation With God

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Mark 1:35 says, “Jesus went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.”

This dialogue must have been common among His friends:

Has anyone seen Jesus?

Oh, you know. He’s up to the same thing.

Praying again?

Yep. He’s been gone since sunrise.

Jesus would even disappear for an entire night of prayer. Prayer for most of us, isn’t a matter of a month-long retreat or even an hour of meditation. It’s a conversation with God driving to work, or waiting for an appointment. God will teach you to pray. We speak, He listens. He speaks, we listen. It’s prayer in its purest form. God changes His people through such moments.

Here’s my challenge for you!  Every day for four weeks, pray four minutes.  Then get ready to connect with God like never before!

Read more Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer

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Denison Forum – The faith of Kanye West: Two biblical responses to celebrity conversions

 

Kanye West is one of the best-selling artists of all time, with more than 140 million records sold. He has been described as a “rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, and fashion designer.”

His latest album, Jesus Is King, debuted at No. 1 on the charts. Every song on the album has appeared on Billboard’s Hot 100 this week as well.

His faith is making as many headlines as his albums.

West launched Sunday Service, a Christian worship group, earlier this year. Its first public performance was on Easter Sunday. At a service this past Friday, more than a thousand people reportedly raised their hands to commit their lives to Christ. A pastor who attended the service called it a “new wave of revival.”

West explained the purpose behind Jesus Is King: “Music is my job. That’s why I’m putting out the album. Serving God in everything that I can do is my job. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m on the planet is to be in service and in fear, love, and service to God.”

“He’s in the Bible. He’s in prayer.”

West has struggled with mental health issues over the years, at one point telling David Letterman that he has bipolar disorder. His wife, Kim Kardashian West, told The View that her husband’s new album was instrumental in his becoming a Christian.

“Kanye started this to really heal himself and it was a really personal thing, and it was just friends and family,” she said. “He has had an amazing evolution of being born again and being saved by Christ.” He has reportedly announced that he will only make gospel music going forward.

Criticism has been swift and sharp.

Referring to the financial contributions West is making to Sunday Service, Rolling Stone calls his new album “a megachurch masquerading as a 12-song tax-shelter bar bonanza.” An article in the New Yorker headlined: “Kanye West’s Sunday Service Is Full of Longing and Self-Promotion.” Another writer called the service “a private affair that looks more like a celebrity cult.”

However, the pastor who is traveling with West and speaking at Sunday Service meetings says Kanye West’s new faith is genuine. According to Adam Tyson, West is “living and walking with God.” The pastor has seen noticeable changes in the rapper’s life: “He’s in the Bible. He’s in prayer.”

When Tyson shared the gospel with West at their first meeting, the artist responded: “I’ve been radically saved. I believe that message and I want to get that message out to the world.”

“People want to see him fail at Christianity”

Our first biblical responsibility to Kanye West and other celebrities who come to Christ is to pray for them. Paul wrote: “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Timothy 2:1–2). We are required to pray for each other and for those in positions of cultural influence.

Actress Patricia Heaton, an outspoken Christian, says she is praying for Kanye West because she believes people want to see him fail in his new faith. “It’s very hard,” she explains. “I think when someone of his stature in the industry and someone who has his amount of fame makes that kind of proclamation, people then really watch and scrutinize everything he does to catch him falling down.” She warned that “people want to see him fail at Christianity.”

Writing for Faithwire, Tré Goins-Phillips offers these suggestions as we pray for and encourage celebrity Christians: don’t expect instantaneous maturity; don’t anticipate perfection; stop idolizing fame; allow for missteps; and be understanding and trust God.

“Don’t be like the prodigal son’s brother”

Our second biblical responsibility to celebrity converts is to serve them by “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).

Pastor Hans Fiene notes that “Christians shouldn’t be afraid of getting burned by Kanye West because our faith isn’t rooted in the fidelity of Christians but the faithfulness of Christ.” As a result, he counsels us, “Don’t be like the prodigal son’s brother.”

The pastor explains: “God has not called you to be Kanye West’s faith auditor. He’s called you to be Kanye West’s brother. So instead of trying to keep him outside the feast of salvation until he’s proven himself worthy, rejoice to enter with him into the feast where all formerly unworthy sinners are invited to eat and drink the worthiness of Jesus Christ.”

As “formerly unworthy sinners,” we are called to help each other live biblically and redemptively: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1a). But we are also to “keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (v. 1b).

In short, we are to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (v. 2).

“Compassion will cure more sins than condemnation”

I cannot determine the genuineness of Kanye West’s faith. Or of yours. Or you of mine.

But I know this: How we treat Kanye West tells the unbelievers we know how we will treat them if they join our faith.

Our Father calls us to pray for each other and help each other follow Jesus. And he calls us to model community that expects the best of one another and encourages one another when we fall short.

Henry Ward Beecher noted that “compassion will cure more sins than condemnation.” And it will lead more sinners to the Savior.

Who needs your compassion today?

 

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Charles Stanley – Failing to Listen to God

 

Genesis 3:1-13

Today’s passage offers a picture of what can happen when believers don’t listen to God. Eve knew the Lord’s instructions so well that she repeated them almost verbatim to the serpent. However, pride and desire got the better of her, and she was deceived. Eve stopped listening to God and opened her ears to the wrong voice.

Think about how many voices we hear in a given day. Articles, podcasts, and even friends and family bombard our minds with ideas and philosophies. We hear superficial messages wrapped up in pretty language. It’s easy to fall prey to deception unless we renew our mind with God’s Word.

Eve got into trouble simply by pausing long enough to take in the serpent’s words. Satan twisted God’s meaning sufficiently to tempt her away from truth and into error. He assured Eve that instead of falling over dead, she would become like God: Her eyes would open, and she would know truth!

In one way, Satan’s words were accurate, but they weren’t true. Eve’s eyes were opened; however, the knowledge wasn’t as wonderful as the serpent implied. She was awakened to her own sinful nature and the chasm that had developed between her and God. Moreover, Eve’s physical body would undergo death as a result of her sin.

Exercise caution when messages vie for your attention. Satan, who is as crafty today as he was in Eden, dresses up deception so that it sounds like truth. But the Evil One lies when he speaks (John 8:44). Tune into God and the principles of His Word instead. He speaks only what is right.

Bible in One Year: John 14-16

 

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Our Daily Bread — Do the Next Thing

 

Bible in a Year:

If you love me, keep my commands.

John 14:15

Today’s Scripture & Insight:John 14:15–21

When was the last time you felt compelled to help someone, only to let the moment pass without a response? In The 10-Second Rule, Clare De Graaf suggests that daily impressions can be one of the ways God calls us to a deeper spiritual walk, a life of obedience prompted by love for Him. The 10-Second Rule encourages you to simply “do the next thing you’re reasonably certain Jesus wants you to do,” and to do it right away “before you change your mind.”

Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). We might think, I do love Him, but how can I be certain of His will and follow it? In His wisdom, Jesus has provided what we need to better understand and follow the wisdom found in the Bible. He once said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and will be with you forever—the Spirit of truth” (vv. 16–17). It’s by the work of the Spirit, who is with us and in us, that we can learn to obey Jesus and “keep [His] commands” (v. 15)—responding to the promptings experienced throughout our day (v. 17).

In the big and little things, the Spirit motivates us to confidently do by faith what will honor God and reveal our love for Him and others (v. 21).

By: Ruth O’Reilly-Smith

Reflect & Pray

Why is it important for you to follow through on promptings that line up with Scripture? How can you seek to live a more obedient life by the power of the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit provides what we need to follow Jesus in obedience.

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Sheep Gate

 

“Shepherd” is not a career choice you often hear children dreaming about. Tending sheep is not as adventurous as being an astronaut or as glamorous as being a movie star. But to one small child in a Sunday school classroom, “shepherd” seemed the most logical answer. What do you want to be when you grow up? She wanted to be a shepherd because “Jesus is good at it and it makes him happy.” This, I thought self-assuredly, was a child who was paying attention in my class.

Later, as I put the crayons back in the cupboard and turned to get the kids in line for church, my eyes caught the picture that hung on the wall behind me each week. It was one of Jesus, holding a lamb in his arms, smiling.

The Christian narrative is full of images of sheep and shepherding. The ancient prophet writes of God, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”(1) The gospel writer notes similarly of Christ, “When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”(2) Hearing such descriptions, perhaps you recollect images of a Good Shepherd similar to the painting in my Sunday school classroom: Jesus standing peacefully among his flock, keeping watch and taking care. It is an image not far from some of those carefully painted in well-told stories: The LORD is my shepherd I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.

 

When Jesus stood among crowds and spoke of sheep, familiar images of fields and grazing sheep would have come to the minds of his hearers as well. For some, the biblical images of God gathering lambs into his arms would have crossed their minds. But these wouldn’t have been the only images that came to mind, particularly for those who heard Jesus in Jerusalem. “My sheep listen to my voice,” he said, “I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.”(3)

Standing in the temple of Jerusalem, preaching to worshipers and religious leaders, these words of Jesus about sheep would have evoked a bold awareness of sounds and activities all around them. At tables nearby, bleating sheep were being sold and carried further into the temple, where they were led through a door to the place of sacrifice. Far from the peaceful setting of a pasture, Jesus spoke of sheep in the place where they were about to be slaughtered. Unlike the shepherd among passive lambs in many of our pictures, tending these sheep requires something more than a gentle hand and a watchful eye. These sheep needed to be saved.

So it is quite telling that Jesus first identifies himself, not as the Good Shepherd, but as the gate for the sheep. In the ancient walls of Jerusalem, there was a gate on the north of the city, by which animals were brought in from the countryside for sacrifice. It was called the Sheep Gate. Once inside the city and within the temple courts, there was only one door where the sheep went in, and no lamb ever came back out after entering the temple. They traveled in only one direction, and there they were sacrificed for the sins of men and women. For first-century hearers of Jesus’s words about sheep, such knowledge added to the shock of Christ’s words: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep…. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.”(4)

In the temple filled with sheep on their way towards death, Jesus declared there was a way out: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the Good Shepherd.”(5)

Like the child in my Sunday school class, I readily imagine the Good Shepherd delights in the task of caring for his flock. He goes willingly to search for the one that has gone astray. He gently offers his arms and guidance through valleys and beside still waters. He calls us by name and smiles at recognition of his voice.

But he also breaks into courtyards where there is no longer hope. He refuses to cower through the course of our rescue, though he is accosted by our sin and humiliated by our denials. He provides a way, though it costs him everything. He is the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his friends, so that even one lamb can get away.

 

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

 

(1) Isaiah 40:11.
(2) Matthew 9:36.
(3) John 10:27-28.
(4) John 10:7,9.
(5) John 10:11.

 

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Joyce Meyer – Choose Life!

 

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore, choose life, that you and your offspring may live. — Deuteronomy 30:19

Adapted from the resource New Day New You Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

We will never enjoy life unless we make a quality decision to do so. Satan is an expert at stealing, and our joy is one of his favorite targets. Nehemiah 8:10 tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength. In John 10:10 we are told that “the thief ” comes to kill, steal, and destroy, but that Jesus came that we might have and enjoy life. Satan is the thief, and one of the things he seeks to steal is our joy. If he can steal our joy from us, we will be weak, and when we are weak, the enemy takes advantage of us.

Weak believers are no threat to him and his work of destruction. In order to live as God intends for us to live, the first thing we must do is truly believe that it is God’s will for us to experience continual joy. Then we must decide to enter into that joy.

Experiencing enjoyment in our souls is vitally important to our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Proverbs 17:22 (AMPC) says, A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. It is God’s will for us to enjoy life! Now it is time to decide to enter into the full and abundant life that God wills for us.

Joy and enjoyment are available just as misery is available. Righteousness and peace are available and so are condemnation and turmoil. There are blessings and curses available, and that is why Deuteronomy 30:19 tells us to choose life and blessings.

Prayer Starter: Father, help me to enjoy this day to the fullest—help me to “choose life” and make the most of what You have given me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – How to Obey God’s Laws

 

“So now we can obey God’s laws if we follow after the Holy Spirit and no longer obey the old evil nature within us” (Romans 8:4).

Are you not glad that the Word of God make things so simple? If we really want to obey God’s laws, His resources are available to us. First and foremost, the Holy Spirit abides within to guide us. While it is true that we have all of the Holy Spirit at the time of conversion, we cannot expect the full blessing and power of God until the Holy Spirit has full control of all of us.

As we appropriate the fullness of His Holy Spirit by faith, we are supplied with supernatural power to obey God’s laws. That supernatural power, even, is contingent upon our cooperation in that we must not only commit ourselves to the Holy Spirit but we must also be familiar with the Word of God if we are indeed to obey its commands.

Obedience is a key word in the Christian life. This verse points it out quite clearly, for we either obey God’s laws or we obey the old evil nature. The choice is ours as we are controlled and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Someone has well pointed out that all of life, really, is nothing more nor less than a series of choices. The secret of the successful Christian life is in making the right choices. And even the wisdom to make the right choices is available – as a gift from God.

That leaves us, you and me, without excuse. We can, if we choose, through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, obey God’s laws and thus accomplish His purpose for us as believers.

Bible Reading: Galatians 5:16-26

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Drawing upon the supernatural resources of the Holy Spirit I choose to obey God’s laws rather than yield to the pull of my old evil nature

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – A Lesson in Prayer

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

We can’t even get the cable company to answer us, yet God will?  The doctor’s too busy, but God isn’t?  We have our doubts about prayer!

Jesus raised people from the dead. But a “How to Vacate the Cemetery” seminar?  His followers never called for one.  But they did want Him to do this:  “Lord, teach us to pray.”  Might their interest have something to do with the jaw-dropping promise Jesus attached to prayer?  “Ask and it will be given to you.”

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray He gave them a prayer Could you use the same?

Father, You are good.  I need help.  Heal me and forgive me.

They need help.  Thank You.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Before amen—comes the power of a simple prayer.

Punctuate your day with it!

Read more Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer

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Denison Forum – Employee saves man who falls on train track, video goes viral: The irony of sacrificial courage

 

An intoxicated man fell onto a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) track in Oakland last Sunday afternoon. He landed in front of an approaching train. A BART employee named John O’Connor grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him to safety.

The now-viral video shows how close the man came to death.

We are all in this story. We are the man who is about to die, or the man who did what he could to save him, or the people who did not try to help.

“The antagonism between life and conscience”

I recently read a statement by Randy Alcorn that has bothered me ever since. He quoted Leo Tolstoy: “The antagonism between life and conscience may be removed either by a change of life or by a change of conscience.”

Alcorn then commented: “Many of us have elected to adjust our consciences rather than our lives. Our powers of rationalization are unlimited. They allow us to live in luxury and indifference while others, whom we could help if we chose to, starve and go to hell.”

His assessment seems harsh. Surely, I would not let someone starve or go to hell if I could help them. But Alcorn forces me to ask: Am I giving all I should to help those who are starving? Am I doing all I should to share Christ with those who are going to hell?

Are you?

“Let’s Call ‘Religious Freedom’ by Its Real Name”

I’m not sure Christians in America have ever been as tempted to privatize our faith as we are today.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Employee saves man who falls on train track, video goes viral: The irony of sacrificial courage

Charles Stanley – Differing Convictions

 

1 Corinthians 8

Although eating meat offered to idols is not a controversial subject today, 1 Corinthians 8 could cause us to wonder if God has double standards for Christian behavior. How can we reconcile differing convictions among believers?

First, we must acknowledge that some moral truths are evident to everyone. These are fixed and will not change, regardless of the situation. But other convictions are based on knowledge or beliefs. These will vary from person to person.

The conscience isn’t static. Rather, it grows according to the truth one hears and receives. When you first became a Christian, you probably had no hesitation about activities, thoughts, or attitudes that you now consider unacceptable. As your knowledge of God and His Word has grown, so has your conscience. Since we all mature at different rates, each person’s conscience is based upon his or her own understanding and personal weaknesses. In these variable areas, what is wrong for one believer may be acceptable for another.

So how are we to live with those whose convictions may not match ours? We must first realize that it is not our job to convict or judge them. The Holy Spirit guides each believer in the way he or she should go.

What a marvelous display of God’s love for us. He designs a path for each life and gives a conscience with sensitivity based upon His intimate knowledge of that individual. Our job is to grow in truth, listen for His personalized direction, and support fellow believers in their walk.

Bible in One Year: John 12-13

 

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Our Daily Bread — Do the Next Thing

 

Bible in a Year:

If you love me, keep my commands.

John 14:15

Today’s Scripture & Insight:John 14:15–21

When was the last time you felt compelled to help someone, only to let the moment pass without a response? In The 10-Second Rule, Clare De Graaf suggests that daily impressions can be one of the ways God calls us to a deeper spiritual walk, a life of obedience prompted by love for Him. The 10-Second Rule encourages you to simply “do the next thing you’re reasonably certain Jesus wants you to do,” and to do it right away “before you change your mind.”

Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). We might think, I do love Him, but how can I be certain of His will and follow it? In His wisdom, Jesus has provided what we need to better understand and follow the wisdom found in the Bible. He once said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and will be with you forever—the Spirit of truth” (vv. 16–17). It’s by the work of the Spirit, who is with us and in us, that we can learn to obey Jesus and “keep [His] commands” (v. 15)—responding to the promptings experienced throughout our day (v. 17).

In the big and little things, the Spirit motivates us to confidently do by faith what will honor God and reveal our love for Him and others (v. 21).

By: Ruth O’Reilly-Smith

Reflect & Pray

Why is it important for you to follow through on promptings that line up with Scripture? How can you seek to live a more obedient life by the power of the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit provides what we need to follow Jesus in obedience.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Vapor and Mist

 

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.(1)

One of my most cherished memories is of the New England landscape in the fall. The vibrant colors from dogwood, sassafras, sumac, red oak, and maples can only be described as the finest artist’s palette of paints—crimsons and scarlets, purples, oranges and yellows splashed across the canvas. Making our pilgrimage each year to the local fair, the route transported my husband and me into that world of color, as the road would bend through picturesque towns and take us deeper and deeper into that fall canvas. Sadly, this beauty was transient. Fall rains and wind would come to fade and to muddle those colors. All that would remain were the dull browns melding and making their home in the dark soil that encompassed them.

Nothing gold can stay is the bittersweet reality Robert Frost calls to mind in his poem by the same name. The beauty of the yellow birch leaves, like the young flower of springtime fades and falls away. Frost laments all those moments of precious and profound beauty that are equally fleeting and transient. These experiences are the hardest hues to hold. Just like the fading vibrancy of the New England fall, our very lives and all we experience quickly pass before us in the blink of an eye.

The ephemeral nature of life is opined by artists and poets, philosophers and clerics around the world. Many of the world’s great religious traditions address the ephemeral nature of life. Buddhism identifies, for example, how suffering arises as a result of trying to hold onto the impermanent and the fleeting.(2) In Tibetan Buddhism, specifically, mandalas made from colored sand are created and dismantled in a ritual that symbolizes the transitory nature of material life. Likewise in Hinduism, cremation became a vehicle for expressing the ephemerality of bodily life.(3) The ancient Hebrew poets filled their stanzas with the acknowledgement that life is fleeting, short and temporary: “Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—they are like the new grass of the morning: In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered.”(4) And springing out of the Hebrew tradition, Christianity reiterates this theme: “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”(5)

For many living in light of such realities today, the temptation is to try to hold onto whatever we think will anchor us to permanence. Or else, it is to abandon ourselves to eating, drinking, and being merry because tomorrow we die. But is there another way?

Christians believe in a God who entered into the ephemeral and the temporal in the person of Jesus. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus affirmed the teaching of his own Hebraic tradition when he encourages his listeners not to worry, but to trust the God who “arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace.” Life is short, Jesus acknowledges, but the God who cares for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field will care for us. So we do not have to cling onto our lives or the treasures of this earth. As one commentator notes, “Just prior to his teaching on worrying…Jesus warns his listeners against storing up ephemeral treasure on earth… A central theme of his ministry and enacted in his own life, is that the proper way to respond to the nature of reality is to give away one’s life rather than hold on to it, to open our hands and let things go rather than to close our fist around them.”(6)

In embracing all that is ephemeral about life, Jesus opens and offers his life for others. In fact, Jesus extends an ironic invitation to accept ephemerality and death in order to truly find life—and to find life eternal. Not as simply an escape from death, but the eternal life that comes from a relationship with God in the here and now. Jesus prays for those who would follow him, “that they may know you the only true God” for in doing so they would find eternal life.(7) The challenge Jesus sets before those who would follow is the challenge to “die” to holding on; it is to choose—in this life where nothing gold can stay—what makes for life eternal.

 

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

 

(1) Robert Frost, “Nothing Gold Can Stay” from The Poetry of Robert Frost ed. by Edward Connery Lathem (New York: Henry Holt Publishers, 1969).
(2) The Norton Anthology of World Religions, “Buddhism.” Ed. Jack Miles (New York: Norton, 2015).
(3) Encyclopedia of Death and Dying, “Cremation,” Ed. Robert Kastenbaum (New York: Macmillan Reference, 2003).
(4) Psalm 90:5-6.
(5) James 4:14.
(6) Iain Provan, The NIV Application Commentary Series: Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Books, 2001), 60.
(7) John 17:3.

 

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Joyce Meyer – When You Are Dealing with Pain

 

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief …. — Isaiah 53:3

Adapted from the resource My Time with God Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

If you are in pain of any kind, Jesus knows how you feel! Always remember that all healing comes from Jesus. He is our compassionate Healer. He may work through some type of medical care, but He and He alone is the Source of healing!

Even though we seek professional help when we are sick or in pain, we should keep our eyes on Jesus to make us whole, and when we are well again, be sure to give Him the praise. Thank God in the midst of trouble, and trust and thank Him that His healing power is working in you. God’s Word says to thank Him at all times, in all things (see 1 Thessalonians 5:18). You may not be thankful for your pain and discomfort, but you can be thankful that God is with you and that He will cause all things to work together for your good as you continue loving Him and doing His will (see Romans 8:28).

When you are sick, it is an especially good time to pray for others you may know who are sick. During our own pain, we tend to have greater compassion for others who are also hurting. Prayer is sowing seed into the lives of others, and seed always produces a harvest. So, keep on trusting God and expect to get better and better every day!

Prayer Starter: Father, I ask You to heal me from all sickness, pain, and disease. I trust You to be my healer and I give You praise for my restoration. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – You Can Trust Him

 

“So don’t worry at all about having enough food and clothing. Why be like the heathen? For they take pride in all these things and are deeply concerned about them. But your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well that you need them, and He will give them to you if you give Him first place in your life and live as He wants you to” (Matthew 6:31-33).

As a young businessman, I was strongly attracted to the material things of the world and worked very hard to achieve success. But when I became a Christian, I could not ignore the logic of Christ’s command, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33, KJV).

I made my commitment to obey His command. Since that day so many years ago, I have sought to be obedient to that command. The Lord has graciously and abundantly blessed me with the fulfillment of the promise of His supernatural provision which follows:

“Your heavenly father already knows perfectly well (the things you need), and He will give them to you if you give Him first place in your life and live as He wants you to.”

God is trustworthy, and the obedient, faithful Christian soon learns that he, like the psalmist of old, can proclaim:

“I have never seen the Lord forsake a man who loves Him, nor have I seen the children of the godly go hungry” (Psalm 37:25).

Bible Reading: Matthew 6:25-30

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Resting on the absolute certainties of the Word of God, I will refuse to worry about anything today (recognizing that concern involves others, while worry involves only myself). “All things work together for good to them that love God…” (Romans 8:28). “My God shall supply all your need…” (Philippians 4:19). By trusting these and other promises from God’s word, I have no reason to worry

 

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Max Lucado – Some Prayer Guidance

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

When I pray, I think of a thousand things I need to do.  I forget the one thing I set out to do: pray! Can you relate?

But wouldn’t we all like to pray. . .More?  Better?  Deeper?  Stronger?  With more fire, faith, or fervency?  Yet we have kids to feed, bills to pay, deadlines to meet. We want to pray, but when? We want to pray, but why?  We have our doubts about prayer, our checkered history of unmet expectations, unanswered questions.

We aren’t the first.  The sign-up for Prayer 101 contains familiar names:  John, James, Andrew, and Peter.  The first followers of Jesus needed prayer guidance.

Here’s my challenge for you!  Every day for four weeks, pray four minutes.  Then get ready to connect with God like never before.

 

Read more Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Will new adoption rule ‘discriminate’ against LGBTQ people? The best way to prepare for the future

 

Last Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed a rule that would end discrimination against Catholics and evangelical Protestants in adoption services.

Regulations put in place at the end of the Obama administration bar organizations that believe marriage is between a man and a woman from federal child-welfare programs. The new rule would allow such ministries to place children for adoption without violating their religious beliefs.

Of course, this is not how many in the media are reporting the news.

Who are the true victims of “discrimination”?

CBS News leads its coverage: “The Trump administration is proposing a new rule that would allow faith-based adoption and foster organizations to deny their services to LGBTQ couples.” CNN casts the rule in a similar anti-LGBTQ light.

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that gives the rest of the story. Dr. Moore notes: “This is not a narrowing rule that excludes gay people and others from serving children. Instead, the regulation merely ensures that no one is kept from serving, while ending an attempt to stop religious organizations from doing so consistent with their convictions.”

It’s hard for me to see how the new rule discriminates against LGBTQ couples who wish to adopt since the religious organizations it would permit to offer such services are presently excluded from doing so. In other words, LGBTQ couples would not be less able to adopt now than they were previously.

Coverage focusing on LGBTQ “discrimination” overlooks discrimination against those whose religious beliefs lead them to view marriage biblically. And it overlooks the real winners here: the children.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Will new adoption rule ‘discriminate’ against LGBTQ people? The best way to prepare for the future

Charles Stanley – Guided by Conscience

 

Romans 2:14-16

Human beings are born with a marvelous gift from God—a conscience. Since its warnings can cause discomfort, you perhaps have never thought of it as a blessing. But the Lord had our benefit and protection in mind when He created this internal witness to our moral conduct. By listening to its promptings, we are guarded from making choices that could hurt us or others.

But can you rely on your conscience to offer guidance about all decisions?  God made the conscience to act as an alarm system to warn and protect us from sin. However, many of our choices are not moral issues, so we need an even more reliable source for direction.

That’s why the Lord has provided believers with the Holy Spirit, who accurately leads us in any kind of decision we must make. He not only works through the conscience to make us aware of sin, but He also helps us choose between good and best. As we listen to His voice and heed His warnings, He purifies and sharpens our conscience so that it aligns more precisely with the Word and will of God.

One problem is that the conscience has the capacity to be shaped by our responses. When we repeatedly reject or ignore its promptings, we can damage its dependability, and then sins that should bother us might not even register. But heeding its warnings make it sharper and more sensitive, protecting us even more effectively. Knowing this, let’s ask for the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom and discernment so we will heed the promptings of our conscience.

Bible in One Year: John 10-11

 

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Our Daily Bread — No Longer Afraid

 

Bible in a Year:

They will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid.

Zephaniah 3:13

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Zephaniah 3:9–17

When the Ethiopian police found her a week after her abduction, three black-maned lions surrounded her, guarding her as though she were their own. Seven men had kidnapped the twelve-year-old girl, carried her into the woods and beaten her. Miraculously, however, a small pride of lions heard the girl’s cries, came running and chased off the attackers. “[The lions] stood guard until we found her and then they just left her like a gift and went back into the forest,” police Sergeant Wondimu told one reporter.

There are days when violence and evil, like that inflicted on this young girl, overpower us, leaving us without hope and terrified. In ancient times, the people of Judah experienced this. They were overrun by ferocious armies and unable to imagine any possibility of escape. Fear consumed them. However, God always renewed His unrelenting presence with His people: “The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm” (Zephaniah 3:15). Even when our catastrophes result from our own rebellion, God still comes to our rescue. “The Lord your God is with you,” we hear, “the Mighty Warrior who saves” (v. 17).

Whatever troubles overtake us, whatever evils, Jesus—the Lion of Judah—is with us (Revelation 5:5). No matter how alone we feel, our strong Savior is with us. No matter what fears ravage us, our God assures us that He is by our side.

By: Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

What is your greatest fear right now? How does God’s promise to be with you encourage you?

Mighty Warrior God, I need You. I need a Mighty Warrior to stand with me and overwhelm my fears. I’m choosing to trust You.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Collaborative Creativity

 

They gathered every Thursday around nine in the evening with pipes and pints in hand. At any given meeting there was likely to have been at least one historian, a philosopher, a physician, several poets, and a number of professors. The Inklings, as they called themselves, were literary enthusiasts who praised the value of good narrative and gathered to encourage, challenge, and better one another in their various attempts at creating it. Out of these spirited meetings, in which it is said that “praise for good work was unstinted, but censure for bad work, or even not-so-good work, was often brutally frank,” there arose the final drafts of The Lord of the Rings, Out of the Silent Planet, All Hallows’ Eve, and The Great Divorce to name a few.(1)

Contrary to the many critics who insist these writers had little influence on one another (the Inklings’ themselves said of Tolkien that it was easier to influence a “bandersnatch” than the creator of Middle Earth), Diane Pavlac Glyer avers they would not have been the same writers had they not written within the community of the Inklings. “[E]ach author’s work is embedded in the work of others,” writes Gyler, “and each author’s life is intertwined with the lives of others.”(2) Influence, after all, is far from imitation. While it is true that these authors came to their meetings with determined ideas, their reflective and challenging interactions sharpened thoughts, minds, and lives. J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Williams, as well as C.S. Lewis, would likely have imagined far different worlds had they not participated in the regular reading and criticism of their works in progress.

 

This idea of communal creativity is one I resonant with from my own experience of thinking and writing. Even my most original thoughts or imaginative creations are indelibly shaped by a lifetime of encounters with artists, theologians, family, and community. We do not interpret the world alone nor do we live without influencing one another profoundly. In this sense, we might say that creativity in all its forms—even in the simplest acts of living and acting—is inherently an interactive process. What J.R.R. Tolkien notes on the lips of Frodo can indeed be said of our own interacting stories. Peering at the large red book in which Bilbo started to tell the story and Frodo then continued, Sam looks down in wonder, “Why, you have nearly finished it, Mr. Frodo!” he exclaims.

“I have quite finished, Sam,” answers Frodo. “The last pages are for you.”(3)

When the New Testament writers began to speak of creation through the light of all they saw in Jesus Christ, they affirmed the Old Testament understanding of total dependence upon the maker of heaven earth, but they spoke also of Christ’s presence as the Word at the beginning. Likewise, the early church began to see the role and presence of the Spirit in God’s creative work. Creation, they came to understand, and all we see within it, is the work of God in community. All of creation declares the glory of God, the work of the loving interaction between Father, Son, and Spirit—the very first creative community.

As a Christian, I believe this ultimate image of creative collaboration is one that explains our longing for community and connection, our desire to create and work. We are creatures and co-creators alike. The creative collaboration of the Trinity throughout time and creation invites the notion that God has made us for community and relationship, that our stories come together as if a great book with room for more, and that the grace of a good storyteller is working to make the work inherently beautiful. As the Father has invited us to participate in his good work of creation, so Christ has called us to join him in the community of the kingdom among us, each of us works in progress by the Spirit.

 

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

(1) W.H. Lewis, “C.S. Lewis: A Biography” (Unpublished Manuscript, 268-269); Wade Collection, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.
(2) Diana Pavlac Gyler, The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community (Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 2007).
(3) J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (New York: Harper Collins, 2004), 1027.

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