Charles Stanley – The God Who Chooses Us

 

Ephesians 1:3-12

There’s nothing more humbling than salvation. We might like to think we did something that made our heavenly Father look down and say, “Now, there’s a person worth saving,” but this simply is not the case. We had absolutely nothing to offer God except our sin. And what’s more, today’s passage tells us that “He chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). How could we possibly take any credit for something that happened before we were born?

God chose us, not when we were saved but before we had done anything noteworthy—in fact, long before we even came into existence. Our part was simply to respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, the offer of forgiveness by the Son, and the love of our heavenly Father. That should remove any sense of pride about how we were saved.

What’s even more amazing about our salvation is its permanency: Choosing us to be holy and blameless before Him forever, God predestined us to become His adopted children and heirs of His kingdom (Eph. 1:4-5; Eph. 1:11). Our future in heaven is not only free from the penalty and power of sin but also free from sin’s very existence. Never again will we succumb to unrighteous desires or even battle temptation.

In light of this loving rescue plan, we marvel at the fact that God knew us before we were born and chose to save us. My friend, we should fall on our face before Jesus Christ in humble adoration, praise, and gratitude for His great love and mercy.

Bible in One Year: Hebrews 10-11

 

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Our Daily Bread — Failure Is Impossible

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Micah 1–3
  • Revelation 11

This work had been done with the help of our God.

Nehemiah 6:16

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Nehemiah 6:1–9

“Failure is impossible!” These words were spoken by Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906), known for her immovable stance on women’s rights in the US. Though she faced constant criticism and later an arrest, trial, and guilty verdict for voting illegally, Anthony vowed to never give up the fight to gain women the right to vote, believing her cause was just. Though she didn’t live to see the fruit of her labor, her declaration proved true. In 1920, the nineteenth amendment to the Constitution gave women the right to vote.

Failure wasn’t an option for Nehemiah either, mainly because he had a Powerful Helper: God. After asking Him to bless his cause—rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem—Nehemiah and those who had returned to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon worked to make that happen. The wall was needed to keep the people safe from enemies. But opposition to the cause came in the form of deception and threats. Nehemiah refused to let opposition deter him. He informed those who opposed the work, “I am carrying on a great project” (Nehemiah 6:3). After that, he prayed, “Now strengthen my hands” (v. 9). Thanks to perseverance, the work was completed (v. 15).

God gave Nehemiah the strength to persevere in the face of opposition. Is there a task for which you’re tempted to give up? Ask God to provide whatever you need to keep going.

By: Linda Washington

Reflect & Pray

How do you normally handle opposition? What cause are you willing to fight for, no matter how tough the opposition?

Precious God, I need Your help to keep going with the work You’ve given me to do, no matter what the cost may be.

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Unintended Consequences

 

The modern era has been a time of rich progress. It has been a time of scientific and economic breakthroughs and increasing visions for more and more liberty on personal and political fronts. Yet most of us sense that all is not well in our contemporary world order. Our values, visions, tastes, desires, and longings are all clashing against one another with a tremendous cost in civility, uncertainty, and angst about our wellbeing and future. A number of years back, the scholar Alisdair McIntyre sought to address the competing moral conversations and approaches in our time in his book “Whose Justice? Which Rationality?” His conclusion was that in the public square we have arrived at a place of incommensurable demands and conversations that actually cannot be resolved because the principles involved and the methods employed cannot lead to shared outcomes.

This is certainly a sobering thought and not one to bring a burst of enthusiasm or hope on our early morning reflections. Most of us would contend that we want to view time and history realistically. But what does that look like? Who decides what is realistic? For the Christian, we do so in light of God’s sovereign oversight and rule, in light of God’s word and the nature of reality, and in light of the work of Christ, and in the ongoing work on the Spirit in history. We also take note of what real decisions have been wrought by real people in real space and time, and the consequences of those accumulated ideas and decisions on all we face today. The “inheritance,” if you like, our earlier commitments or rejection of things that were seen as hindrances to personal or societal progress have costs and consequences.

I think here of the intense focus on values and on what one sees as personal rights—such as the quest and pursuit of identity, where this pursuit becomes an absolute and a stance that all must respect. In this quest, the individual is elevated as the sum of all goods and the choice as intensely personal, inviolable, and supreme. With such a personalized value and vision statement operating in many hearts and minds, the idea of compromise, the common good, or any serious validity to views that differ or conflict with mine becomes an anathema. The other is made entirely irrelevant, sacrificed at the altar of self. Reflecting on various versions of how I should “look out for number one” as a means of being serious about my vision and rights, I cannot help but hear a new religious creed: If any man or woman would succeed, let them pursue their passion, take up their cause, and follow their deepest self.

In such a world, everything becomes a simple dialectic of win or lose. Life is easily managed and understood in binary terms for those who adopt this approach. Who is right and who is wrong? Who is good and who is bad? Those who agree are welcomed and those who don’t are vilified. The costs and consequences of this kind of thinking are vast. As a society, we lack any shared philosophical basis to even process the questions. The psychological cost mounts as various extreme views lead the way and fuel deep sadness at the tone and style of interactions. The social price is seen in polarization and fragmentation all too readily confirmed in the hyper-vocal media. The political cost is equally plain to see and painful to admit.

But the gospel invites a contrast in imagination. For the centrality and supremacy of love for God and love for neighbor are clear in the teaching of Jesus whose love is costly and sacrificial. Jesus takes the notion of the common good, the other, and grace itself very seriously. The love of God is both an alternative and an antidote to the strident self-centeredness and selfishness that is fostered by our culture. It is a love that cares, that shows compassion, that reaches out, and yes, that stands for truth while being willing to bear the cost vulnerably. The birth, life, and example of Jesus gives us much to reflect on.

This is a call to renunciation that hits us all at the deepest level but it is also one which would have a serious impact on our own lives and those around us if it were to be embodied faithfully. Am I willing to love others with such a cost involved? Am I willing to deny my right to be right, to win, or to dominate? When in doubt, I turn my gaze to the one who so loved this world that he stepped into it not as a conqueror, but as a vulnerable child. The coming of Christ as an infant in Bethlehem is not just an event or a symbol, it is an invitation to a new way of being.

Stuart McAllister is regional director for the Americas at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – From the Pit to the Palace

 

So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the robe of many colors that he wore. And they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it. — Genesis 37:23-24

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

When Joseph’s brothers threw him in the pit to die, God had other plans. Scripture says that even though Joseph was sold as a slave, he did not have a slave mentality. He still believed he could do great things. Ultimately, he ended up second in command to Pharaoh, the ruler over all Egypt.

How did Joseph get from the pit to the palace? It was by remaining positive, refusing to be bitter, being confident, and trusting God.

Make up your mind right now to do something great for God. No matter where you started, you can have a great finish. If people have mistreated you, don’t waste your time trying to get revenge—leave them in God’s hands and trust Him to bring justice in your life.

Prayer Starter: Lord, only You can take the bad things that have happened and work them out for my good. Help me to stay positive, trust in You, and refuse to give up. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Practicing Patience

 

“You need to keep on patiently doing God’s will if you want Him to do for you all that He has promised” (Hebrews 10:36).

During a Bible study on this passage, Ted made this contribution: “Spiritually,” he said, “I’m a sprinter, not a long distance runner.”

Numerous Christians would identify with that for there is little patience, persistence, and tenacity among believers. When adversity comes, many of us are prone to give up and lose our wind. That is the reason James says in his first chapter, verses 2-4, “Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.”

You will note the emphasis on patience. All of us are faced with problems, testings, temptations, adversities and trials in varying degrees. We can determine, by our attitudes and actions, whether or not our tragedies will turn to triumph. Our heartache and sorrow can become joy and rejoicing simply by our patience, which is the ability to relax in the confidence that God rules in the affairs of men and nations. Everything is under His control. And as we walk in faith and obedience, we will be a part of His wonderful and perfect plan.

But the question may be asked, how can we increase this rare trait or gift of patience that unlocks the door to supernatural living? The answer is simple. It is found in Galatians 5:22-23 in the listing of the fruit of the Spirit, for one of the nine characteristics mentioned is patience or longsuffering.

Are you patient with your husband, wife, parents, children, neighbors and those with whom you work in the office? Or do you find yourself critical and complaining – more prone to judge than to bless?

As we more and more yield ourselves to God’s indwelling Holy Spirit, the fruit of patience is increased, along with all the other fruit.

Bible Reading: Hebrews 6:12-15

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will invite the Holy Spirit to control and empower my life moment by moment, day by day, knowing that the fruit of the Spirit, including patience, will increase and mature in my life.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – On Which Side Are You?

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

(simulated news broadcast)  “No question, the Nazarene will  be executed!  They’ve got the Galilean in custody—our sources tell us one of his own men turned him in… film at 11:00.”

A few weep.  A few smile.  A few walk up the hill to see the spectacle. The immensity of Jesus’ execution makes it impossible to ignore.  See the women arguing on the street corner?  The countless pilgrims entering Jerusalem for the Passover?  They’ll go home with a spellbinding story of the teacher who was raised from the dead.

Everyone is choosing a side.  You can’t be neutral on an issue like this one.  And today, two thousands years later, the same is true.  A choice is demanded.  No fence sitting is permitted.  The cross, in its absurd splendor, won’t allow that.  On which side are you?

Read more No Wonder They Call Him Savior: Experiencing the Truth of the Cross

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Denison Forum – ‘Star Wars’ and the 12 steps of the ‘Hero’s Journey’: Finding God in surprising places

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the last film in the last Star Wars trilogy, opens in theaters today.

I remember my first Star Wars film as if it were last week. I had never seen such technology on a movie screen. And when Luke destroyed the Death Star, the cheers shook the theater.

We’ve been cheering for the Skywalkers for forty-two years since.

As the Wall Street Journal notes, the Star Wars business has been good business for Disney. The Force Awakens grossed $937 million domestically, the most of any movie in box-office history. Disney’s new streaming service launched with a Star Wars spinoff called The Mandalorian; Disney reported that ten million users signed up a day after the service launched.

An immersive Star Wars-themed attraction called Galaxy’s Edge opened this year at Disney parks in Orlando and Anaheim. The attraction sells $20 Blu-rays, $84 Darth Vader gold rings, $32 Chewbacca kitchen aprons, and $199 lightsabers as well.

“A fundamental experience that everyone has to undergo”

What explains the remarkable generational popularity of the Star Wars franchise?

Dr. Travis Langley is a professor of psychology and lead writer of Star Wars Psychology: Dark Side of the Mind. He explains that Star Wars creator George Lucas “deliberately wove the most successful elements of heroic epics from throughout history into his story.”

Dr. Langley points to Lucas’ use of Joseph Campbell’s work on the “Hero’s Journey,” which Campbell based on Carl Jung’s writings about the power of archetypes and myth.

According to Campbell, the hero takes twelve steps:

  1. Living in the ordinary world
  2. Hearing the call to adventure
  3. Refusing the call
  4. Meeting with the mentor
  5. Crossing the threshold to leave the ordinary world
  6. Testing allies and enemies
  7. Approaching a challenge
  8. Facing the ordeal of death or a great fear
  9. Gaining the reward but facing the risk of losing it again
  10. Taking the road back to complete the adventure
  11. Facing the resurrection—one more severe test, a possible moment of death and rebirth
  12. Returning with the elixir—the hero has been transformed.

Shortly before he died in 1987, Campbell told reporter Bill Moyers that this “journey” is “a fundamental experience that everyone has to undergo.”

The “God-shaped emptiness” in us all

Campbell is right: we are all on a journey toward God’s purpose for our souls. Unfortunately, many attempt to reach their supernatural destination through natural means.

Observant Jews strive to obey the 613 laws of God. Muslims live by the Five Pillars of Islam. Buddhists seek to follow their Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. Hindus practice ascetic rituals as they attempt to progress through multiple reincarnations toward their concept of salvation.

As Pascal noted, there is a “God-shaped emptiness” in each of us. Like the Skywalkers, we battle the Evil Empire in our hearts and our world as we seek to fulfill our ultimate destiny.

But unlike the Skywalkers, none of us can complete the “hero’s journey” without the help of the one true Hero.

“He went to set up his monument”

First Chronicles 18 tells the story of David’s conquest over the enemies of his people. Included in the narrative is this unusual statement: “David also defeated Hadadezer king of Zobah-Hamath, as he went to set up his monument at the river Euphrates” (v. 3). Think of it: just as a king was building a monument to himself and his power over the region, he was defeated by the king empowered by God.

What happens to self-made heroes happens to self-made nations as well. The Lord said of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria: “This is the exultant city that lived securely, that said in her heart, ‘I am, and there is no one else.’ What a desolation she has become, a lair for wild beasts! Everyone who passes by her hisses and shakes his fist” (Zephaniah 2:15).

Trying harder to do better is imprinted on our cultural DNA. Self-reliance explains much of the material success of our society.

But self-sufficiency is spiritual suicide. None of us can try hard enough or do well enough to compensate for our sins and earn our place in God’s sinless heaven.

That’s why God came to us at Christmas. It’s why he comes to us in his Spirit and word today. It’s why he calls us to submit to his Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), follow his will (Psalm 16:11), and depend on his power (Proverbs 3:5–6).

“Humanity at its worst. Divinity at its best!”

Max Lucado: “Never did what is right involve itself so intimately with what is wrong. God on a cross. Humanity at its worst. Divinity at its best! God doesn’t gasp in amazement at the depth of our faith or the depth of our failures. He knows the condition of the world and he loves it just the same.

“Just when we find a place where God would never be, like a cross—we look again, and there he is . . . in the flesh! Inconsistent surprises. Maybe the next time a surprise comes your way, you’ll see God in the middle of it.”

Where in your broken world do you need to see God today?

 

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Charles Stanley – The God Who Rescues Us

 

Romans 3:10-28

When we tell people that God wants to save them, they may immediately wonder why rescue is necessary. In their mind, they are in no immediate danger and therefore have no need of a Savior. Before a person can appreciate the good news, he or she has to understand the bad news.

Every one of us is in need of rescue because we are all sinful and worthy of God’s eternal condemnation and punishment. No matter how hard we try, “there is none who does good, there is not even one” (Rom. 3:12). This means that we lack the ability to make ourselves acceptable to God. In other words, we’re eternally doomed unless God Himself intervenes on our behalf. And that is exactly what He did.

In order to rescue fallen humanity, God ordained a plan for mankind’s salvation before He even created the world. Since His attribute of justice could not be set aside, an acceptable substitute was chosen to bear the condemnation and punishment that sinners deserved. The only one qualified for this mission was His beloved Son, who took on human flesh and lived a life without sin.

The gift of forgiveness and reconciliation to God is free to all who will receive Jesus Christ and believe He made atonement on their behalf. There is no condemnation for those who take refuge in Him. But those who reject His offer of salvation will have to bear the penalty for their sins themselves.

Christ did everything that was necessary to rescue us. All we have to do is believe and entrust our life to Him by faith.

Bible in One Year: Hebrews 7-9

 

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Our Daily Bread — Written on the Heart

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Jonah 1–4
  • Revelation 10

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone.

2 Corinthians 3:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Corinthians 2:17–3:6

As a professor, I’m often asked by students to write letters of recommendation for them—for leadership positions, study-abroad programs, graduate schools, and even jobs. In each letter, I have a chance to praise the student’s character and qualifications.

When Christians traveled in the ancient world, they often carried with them similar “letters of commendation” from their churches. Such a letter ensured that the traveling brother or sister would be welcomed hospitably.

The apostle Paul didn’t need a letter of recommendation when he spoke to the church in Corinth—they knew him. In his second letter to that church, Paul wrote that he preached the gospel out of sincerity, not for personal gain (2 Corinthians 2:17). But then he wondered if his readers would think that in defending his motives in preaching, he was trying to write a letter of recommendation for himself.

He didn’t need such a letter, he said, because the people in the church in Corinth were themselves like letters of recommendation. The visible work of Christ in their lives was like a letter “written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God” (3:3). Their lives testified to the true gospel Paul had preached to them—their lives were letters of reference that could be “known and read by everyone” (3:2). As we follow Jesus, this becomes true of us too—our lives tell the story of the goodness of the gospel.

By: Amy Peterson

Reflect & Pray

When people read the “letter” of your life, what do they see of Jesus? Who are the teachers who have left their imprint on you?

Jesus, I want others to see You in my life. May I decrease and You increase.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Christmas Through Indian Eyes

 

India is a land seeped in spirituality. Indians have a worthy reputation of being ardent spiritual seekers. It’s no surprise that the subcontinent happens to be the cradle of at least four of the twelve major world religions: Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. The ideas of karma, mukti, moksha, and nirvana are central motivators of life for any spiritual Indian to this day.

In the backdrop of such a salvation-driven eastern culture, the motif of Christmas seems supremely relevant. Different world religions and traditions have looked at the idea of salvation differently through the ages. Christmas offers the biblical explanation of the human predicament and the divine involvement that enables mukti and moksha.

As Charles Sell poignantly observes of the human predicament: “If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist. If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer. But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.”(1)

Thinking of divine intervention, Hinduism is replete with the idea of Avatars in its religious texts and traditions. Avatars are divine incarnations that would come into this world at crucial points to restrain evil that had crossed a certain threshold. With their mission completed, having accomplished the purpose of their birth, they seal the circle of life with their death.
The story of the historic Jesus Christ, whose birth is celebrated at Christmas is similar in some ways, yet vastly different. The eternal Son of God puts on human form in the Incarnation. He enters the very world he created as an infant miraculously born of a virgin. But his entry into this world is not to restrain evil, but to overcome it. Not for a time (yug) but forever. He validated his victory over evil by vanquishing death itself, the final tangible evidence of evil through his resurrection from the dead. He  remains forever, fully God and fully Man. Certainly an atypical avatar.

The beauty of the story of Jesus is the purchase of victory, through defeat, another rather radical and unusual departure from any typical avatar narrative. In a world rooting for macho messiahs and avengers, the Jesus narrative is a counter-narrative, it is an odd narrative, and it is a neglected narrative seldom explored, sparsely understood.

The “all is well” anthem that is peddled around is more an indicator of a deep desire than it is of the reality. We live in disturbing times. All is certainly not well within us or around us. All is not well for those mourning the loss of a loved one, for those battling chronic illnesses, for those struggling to repay debts, for those whose marriages are at the brink of collapse. It is to such wounded and weary, downcast and distraught souls that the counter-cultural protagonist, Jesus, reaches out to and communicates hope and cheer. The biblical, historic Jesus, is deeply familiar and intimately acquainted with human pain and sorrow. He is uniquely qualified to not just sympathize but ably empathize with human suffering and agony like none other.

The kind of Savior that this scar-ravaged world needs today is not an avenger, not an avatar, not a macho messiah, but a Savior with scars. Edward Shillito, a World War I veteran perhaps closely acquainted with scars visible and invisible, poignantly captures the image of the mangled Messiah:

The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.

Mukti, Nirvana, and Moksha are the prominent motifs of Christmas through Indian eyes. For those of us who carry deep wounds, may the gift of Christ birth new hope and comfort, mukti, and moksha. This Christmas might he light up our hearts and homes and dispel evil, darkness, and pain both around and within.

Charles Premkumar Joseph is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Mumbai, India.

(1) Charles Sell, Unfinished Business (Eugene, OR: Multnomah, 1989), 121-122.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – What Is Grace?

 

. . . The [Holy] Spirit [Who imparts] grace (the unmerited favor and blessing of God). — Hebrews 10:29 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Closer to God Each Day Devotional

Grace is the power of the Holy Spirit available to you to do with ease what you cannot do by striving in your own strength. Grace is God’s power coming into our lives, freely enabling us to do whatever we need to do. God’s grace is always available, but we do need to receive it by faith and refuse to try to do things in our own strength without God.

The Holy Spirit ministers grace to us from God the Father. Grace is actually the Holy Spirit’s power flowing out from the throne of God toward people to save them and enable them to live holy lives and accomplish the will of God.

We can rejoice and be full of peace, joy, and contentment each day because of God’s grace in our lives. It is His grace that allows us to live in close fellowship with Him. With the grace of God, life can be enjoyed with an ease that produces rest and contentment.

Prayer Starter: Lord, help me to rely on Your grace to do everything. In my own strength, I can only do so much, but with You, all things are possible. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – God’s Gift of Himself

 

“Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:17,18, KJV).

Near the Church of St. Mark’s in Venice are three 17th century churches often admired for their highly ornate sculpture. On closer inspection, Ruskin points out, they are found to be “entirely destitute of every religious symbol, sculpture or inscription.”

They are really monuments to the glory of three Venetian families who provided the funds for their construction. “Impious buildings, manifestations of insolent atheism,” they were called by John Ruskin, English writer, art critic and sociologist.

Many Christians are like these buildings. Their association with God is more of a facade, formal and ritualistic. They do not know God as a caring Father with whom they experience a delightful, loving relationship.

As we meet God’s conditions, he becomes our Father, and we become His sons and daughters. His gift of Himself is illustrated in the life of a successful young attorney.

“The greatest gift I ever received,” he said, “was a Christmas gift from my dad. Inside a small box was a note saying, ‘Son, I will give you an hour every day after dinner – 365 days. It’s all yours. We’ll talk about what you want to talk about, we’ll go where you want to go, we’ll play what you want to play. It will be your hour.

“He not only kept his promise, but every year he renewed it – and it was the greatest gift I ever had in my life. I had so much of his time.”

Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:11-16

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will count myself richly blessed for having so much of my Father’s time and will seek diligently to be worthy of His love and availability to me.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Don’t Quit Too Soon

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Our human tendency is to quit too soon.  To stop before we cross the finish line!  It shows up in the smallest of things– a partly mowed lawn, a half-read book, or abandoned diet.  Or it shows up in life’s most painful areas like a cold faith; a wrecked marriage; an un-evangelized world.

Am I touching some painful sores?  If I am, I want to encourage you to remember Jesus’ determination on the cross.  Did he ever want to quit?  You bet.  That’s why his words are so splendid. “It is finished!” (John 19:30).

What was finished?  The history-long plan of redeeming man was finished.  The message of God to man was finished.  The sacrifice had been made.  It was over.  It’s a cry of completion.  A cry of fulfillment.  Thank you Lord Jesus, for teaching us to remain, to endure, and in the end—to finish!

Read more No Wonder They Call Him Savior: Experiencing the Truth of the Cross

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – Three ways to interpret the impeachment of President Trump: The verdict of history and God’s call to eternal significance

The House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump last night, a decision that fell almost entirely along party lines.

As I noted yesterday, some House members have been trying to impeach the president for years and undoubtedly see yesterday’s vote as a vindication of their efforts. On the opposite side of the spectrum, some see the House Democrats as attacking the president unfairly and are even more likely to support him.

This marks only the third time in American history a president has been impeached. Few events in American political life are as potentially significant and insignificant at the same time.

A vote that could change nothing or everything

There are three ways to interpret what happened in the House of Representatives yesterday.

In one sense, the House vote may change nothing. The Republican-controlled Senate is widely expected to acquit the president when his trial begins in early January. If it does, he will stay in office and will be free to run for reelection in 2020.

In a second sense, the House vote dramatically changes history. Even if the Senate acquits the president, impeachment will forever be part of the record of his administration. And if the Senate removes him from office, America will obviously never be the same.

In a third sense, we do not yet know the future significance of yesterday’s action. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House could at least temporarily hold its articles of impeachment from the Senate, depending on how the latter chooses to conduct its trial on the president’s removal.

Even if the Senate acquits the president, we do not know the effect of impeachment on his future. President Andrew Johnson survived impeachment in 1868, lost his party’s nomination for reelection later that year, then won back his old Senate seat in 1875. President Bill Clinton survived impeachment in 1999 and left office in January 2001 with a 65 percent approval rating, the highest of any of his predecessors in half a century.

Assuming that President Trump is acquitted, undecided voters may see his impeachment as a reason to vote for or against him next year. The divided House of Representatives may achieve greater unity in the future, or its action may signal a new era in which impeachment becomes another tool in oppositional politics.

Until the Senate acts on the House vote, and perhaps for years afterward, we will have a limited perspective by which to judge the ultimate significance of yesterday’s action.

Visiting the Reagan Library

This balance between the now and the not-yet pervades every dimension of our world. You and I experience life in the present moment. But we also experience life as a continuum in which yesterday becomes today which flows into tomorrow.

This balance means that every moment is intrinsically significant, for it holds our past and our future in its hands. As a result, we must do all we can to be as faithful to our calling as we can while we can.

Yesterday, my wife and I visited the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Southern California. As we toured this marvelous facility, we were struck by several of President Reagan’s quotes on display.

For instance, in his State of the Union address in 1984, the president stated: “Let us be sure that those who come after will say of us in our time, that in our time we did everything that could be done. We finished the race; we kept them free; we kept the faith.”

How can the same be said of us?

“You eat, but you never have enough”

One option is to ignore the future for the sake of the present. However, such shortsightedness impoverishes both the future and the present.

The Lord said to the exiles who returned to Judah and rebuilt their homes while ignoring the house of God: “You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm” (Haggai 1:6). What we have without God is never as significant as what we can have with him.

A second option is to ignore the present for the sake of the future. However, such speculation impoverishes both the future and the present.

The Lord counseled his returned exiles: “Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord” (vv. 7–8). Rather than speculate about God’s future judgment, we should obey his present call. Then our present obedience will lead to his present and eternal reward.

“God wants to use us as he used his own Son”

The significance of yesterday’s impeachment vote awaits the verdict of history. But it also illustrates the urgency of serving our divided nation and our sovereign King with a courageous witness and compassionate grace.

Oswald Chambers: “It is only the loyal soul who believes that God engineers circumstances. We take such liberties with our circumstances, we do not believe God engineers them, although we say we do; we treat the things that happen as if they were engineered by men.”

As a result, “God is made a machine for blessing men, and Jesus Christ is made a Worker among workers.” Our Lord intends the opposite: “The idea is not that we do work for God, but that we are so loyal to Him that He can do His work through us.”

Here is the bottom line: “God wants to use us as He used His own Son.”

How fully can God use you today?

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Charles Stanley – When God Is Silent

 

John 11:1-6

When Lazarus was dying, his sisters urgently called for Jesus. Imagine how their grief must have compounded when He didn’t instantly respond to their request.

God’s silence is difficult to accept. We want Him to leap into action when we call, particularly if we are hurting or afraid. But since He promises to meet our needs, we can be sure that His silence has purpose.

Silence grabs our attention. The disciples knew that Jesus could heal, so they must have wondered why He delayed instead of rushing to His friend’s bedside. But the Lord wanted them to witness something even greater: His power over death. They had been confused by His statements about conquering death, and they needed to understand that He could fulfill His own resurrection prophecies (Mark 9:31-32). The miracle at Lazarus’ tomb was part of their preparation.

Silence teaches us to trust. Mary and Martha sent word of Lazarus’ illness because they anticipated that the Lord would heal him. But would their faith waver if that expectation was not met? Martha answered the question by stating, “I have believed that You are the Christ” (John 11:27). And sure enough, the Lord demonstrated His power with a stunning miracle: their brother’s return to life.

At times, the only thing we can hear when we pray is our own breathing. That can be frustrating and frightening. But Scripture says God is always with us, and His silence will not last forever (Job 23:8-10; Matt. 28:20). Cling to those promises as you wait for Him to answer.

Bible in One Year: Titus 1-3, Philemon 1

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — What You’re Worth

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Amos 4–6
  • Revelation 7

The Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter!”

Zechariah 11:13

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Zechariah 11:4–13

Now an accomplished writer, Caitlin describes the depression she battled after fighting off an assault. The emotional violence cut deeper than her physical struggle, for she felt it proved “how undesirable I was. I was not the kind of girl you wanted to get to know.” She felt unworthy of love, the kind of person others use and toss aside.

God understands. He lovingly shepherded Israel, but when He asked them what He was worth, “they paid me thirty pieces of silver” (Zechariah 11:12). This was the price of a slave; what masters must be reimbursed should their slave be accidentally killed (Exodus 21:32). God was insulted to be offered the lowest possible value—look at “the handsome price at which they valued me!” He said sarcastically (Zechariah 11:13). And He had Zechariah throw the money away.

Jesus understands. He wasn’t merely betrayed by His friend; He was betrayed with contempt. The Jewish leaders despised Christ, so they offered Judas thirty pieces of silver—the lowest price you could put on a person—and he took it (Matthew 26:14–15; 27:9). Judas thought so little of Jesus he sold Him for nearly nothing.

If people undervalued Jesus, don’t be surprised when they undervalue you. Your value isn’t what others say. It’s not even what you say. It’s entirely and only what God says. He thinks you are worth dying for.

By: Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

How would you describe your value? Who can you help to grasp true value?

I’m grateful that I’m valued by You, God!

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Light Changes Everything

 

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2

Last Christmas, my next-door neighbor generously provided white Christmas lights for all of the trees in the front yard of every house that lined the main street of our housing division. The result was both breathtakingly beautiful and unexpectedly transformative for our small community. Each night it was as if our entire street was filled with wonder and joy, as the lights glowed brilliantly against the dark winter sky. Commuters drove leisurely down the street on their way home from work, instead of racing back to their garages. People from all around the neighborhood started to go on evening walks, and children were now able to laugh and play outside with each other long after the sun set each day.

Light changes everything. It brings clarity, creates warmth, and provides power. Our need for light is often felt most in the middle of our literal or metaphysical darkest night, which is right where this verse begins. Isaiah is speaking to the people of God, who in their time of need chose to look to other nations for salvation rather than to Yahweh. The outcome of their choice was total devastation. The temple is destroyed, their nation is disbanded, and they are exiled to foreign countries.

The people walking in darkness in this passage are battle weary, hungry for peace, struggling against the gloom of despair, and desperately in need of salvation. The remnant who remain faithful to Yahweh in the midst of this deep spiritual and emotional darkness do so purely out of faith in the character of Yahweh who covenanted to be God with them, even when they could not see Him.

The book of Hebrews declares, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (11:1, KJV). You and I are blessed to stand on this side of history, knowing that Christ has come to us. We are the ones that Isaiah prophesied about who have seen his great light and watched the dawning of redemption through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And yet, we too, can identify with the remnant walking in darkness, holding fast to the promise that one day we will be united with the Lord for eternity. Until then, we wait.

The season of Advent is all about waiting, and waiting is rarely easy. We wait in seasons of doubt by staying close to the One who helps us in our unbelief. We wait in times of silence, confident that God’s Word is still living, active, and trustworthy for our lives today. We wait with tears through suffering, trusting that though weeping may endure for a night, joy comes in the morning. Although deep darkness may surround us this season, or in seasons to come, we can rejoice because we know that the light of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ has come to us! We know that his light still shines in our darkness, and the darkness can never overcome it. We have a reason for great joy, regardless of our circumstances.

As an ancient prayer of the church declares, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” He is present now to us through the Holy Spirit. May his light shine on you and fill you with a light that spreads his joy across the world today.

Michelle Tepper is a speaker for RZIM and Chaplain at the Zacharias Institute.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – God Will Give You Truth When You Ask for It

 

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. — 1 John 4:8

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

I spent many years of my life as a very unhappy, dissatisfied person, and I wasted a lot of time thinking my unhappiness was someone or something else’s fault. Thoughts such as, If I just had more money, I would be happy, or If people did more for me, I would be happy, or If I did not have to work so hard, I would be happy, or If I felt better physically, I would be happy filled my mind. The list of reasons that I thought caused my unhappiness seemed endless, and no matter what I did to entertain myself, nothing worked for long.

As I grew in my personal relationship with God, I literally became desperate for peace, stability, true happiness, and joy. That kind of hunger for change usually requires facing some truth—maybe some unpleasant truth or things we don’t like to admit—about ourselves, and I have learned that if we really want truth, God will give it to us. As I began seeking God for the root cause of my unhappiness, He showed me that I was very selfish and self-centered. My focus was on what others could and should do for me, rather than what I could and should do for them. That was not easy for me to accept, but doing so was the beginning of a life-changing journey with God.

God helped me begin to see myself as a person who could give and help. I had to change my thinking from What about me? to What can I do for you? I would like to say this was an easy change to make, but the truth is that it was very difficult and took a lot longer than I like to admit.

Everything God does is for our good; all of His commands are intended to help us have the best lives we can possibly have. He commands us to love and be kind to others, which means taking the focus off of ourselves, silencing the voice that asks, “What about me?” and learning to follow Jesus’ example of being kind, generous, and loving toward others.

Prayer Starter: Father, please show me the root causes of any unhappiness in my life—show me truth. As I grow in You, help me to be less me-focused and more concerned with how I can bless others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Trusting an Unchanging God

 

“God also bound Himself with an oath, so that those He promised to help would be perfectly sure and never need to wonder whether He might change His plans” (Hebrews 6:17).

If there is one characteristic that might describe us all, more than any other trait, it would have to be that we are changeable and unpredictable. We are not dependable. How wonderful then to know and serve someone who never changes – who is the same yesterday, today and forever. We can know what to expect from Him in any given situation without fear of a sudden change in behavior, thought or purpose.

A scientist knows there are laws governing the universe and that those laws are inviolate. Thus, when President John F. Kennedy challenged industry to put a man on the moon, a mobilized army of scientists and engineers was able to accomplish the feat within nine years from the drawing board stage. When the assignment was given, no one knew what to do, and yet there were basic laws – dependable, trustworthy laws of the universe – on which they could build. Through much creative planning and thinking, the miracle occurred.

Today, it is commonplace to send men into space. God of the universe, who established the laws that govern all life, never changes. Our moods and our attitudes and actions vacillate, but God never changes. That is the reason we can absolutely, without question, believe His promises, and in so doing, release His mighty supernatural resources in terms of money, manpower and technology to envelop the entire world of almost five billion people with the most joyful news ever announced.

We are reminded in Hebrews 11:6 that without faith it is impossible to please God. Have you learned how to claim the promises of God by faith? When you do, you will learn how to live supernaturally.

Bible Reading: Psalms 102:24-28

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Realizing that God has bound Himself with an oath to keep His promise, I shall trust and obey Him no matter what happens, for this is the way to supernatural living. This is the way to maximize myself for the glory of God.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Extended Hands

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

When a law-abiding, timid electronics buff blasted four would-be muggers in a New York subway, Bernhard Geotz became an instant hero!  It’s not hard to see why.  He clobbered evil over the head.  He embodied a nationwide anger—a passion for revenge.  Yet reality makes us ask the questions:   What good was done?  Are the streets now free of fear?

On the cross Jesus said,  “They do not know what they are doing.”  It doesn’t justify kiddie-porn peddlers or heroin dealers.  But it does help explain why they do the miserable things they do.

Once we see ourselves for what we are, we can help.  Not out of anger, but out of concern and compassion.  We go to the ghettos.  We teach in the schools.  We build hospitals and help orphans.  We look at the world not with bitter frowns, but with extended hands!

 

Read more No Wonder They Call Him Savior: Experiencing the Truth of the Cross

 

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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