Tag Archives: followers of jesus

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Days of Awe

 

Fall comes quickly in the Pacific Northwest where I live. Even though it is the prelude to winter’s sleep-like death, one cannot help but marvel in the final vibrancy of nature’s yellows, oranges, and reds. The wind has a colder sheen that sends a chilly reminder of summer’s demise, and the rains that fall more regularly wash away the colors of late summer. I cannot help but marvel in the signs of the seasons and to pause in awe of autumn’s glory.

While colorful leaves and a colder wind signal for many the beginning of the new school year, the buying of school clothes and supplies, and the beginning of fall, for Jews, September is a very important month. It doesn’t simply signal the beginning of autumn; it is the signal to worship and to reflect on one’s life in the coming year. September holds two of the Jewish high, holy days: Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. In the original language, Rosh Hashanah means “new year” and Yom Kippur means “day of atonement.” What do these days entail for Jews? These are days filled with serious introspection, and a chance to repent of sins before Yom Kippur. The ten days starting with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur are commonly known as the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim) or the Days of Repentance.

These “Days of Awe” are filled with wonder and worship, days of reflection, fasting, and prayer, days of solemnity and solace. These are days meant to set the tone for the beginning of the Jewish New Year even as they remind the faithful to reflect on what has gone before. Among the customs of this time, it is common to seek reconciliation with people wronged during the course of the past year.

Reflecting upon these holidays practiced by a tradition outside my own, I realized that September may not seem a particularly holy month for Christians, but is rather ordinary. Yet examining the practices of my Jewish neighbors reminds me to consider each day as a day of awe and devotion. Jesus gave strong instruction to his listeners during the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew’s Gospel. He expected that his followers would engage in on-going acts of devotion like fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. In giving instruction about how his disciples would fast he says, “and whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance in order to be seen fasting by men.”(1) In this same series of instructions, Jesus also assumes his followers will pray and give offerings for the poor. The issue is not if Christians will do these devotional acts, but when.

While Christians may have very different reasons, beliefs, and expectations from their Jewish neighbors, there is something to learn from others’ special seasons of devotion, which can enrich and even challenge our own. So often we neglect or altogether forget that our own acts of devotion should arise out of a loving response to what God has done on our behalves in Jesus. It is not insignificant that Jesus warned those listening to him: “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees (the religious leaders of his day), you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.”(2) Jesus warns that the very intention of one’s hearts should be drawn to worship and awe, and not simply by performing ritualistic acts of devotion. These acts must flow out of devotion to God and lead to gracious acts of love and mercy each and every day of the year.

While September is not filled with Christian holy days, perhaps it is possible to view every month as an opportunity for days of devotion and awe? The recent crisis of refugees in Europe presents a sobering reminder that days of awe and worship might come through serving others. Refugees—whether they are arriving from the Middle East, Africa, or other parts of the world—are all around us. Lives disrupted or displaced through addiction, broken relationships, or lack of opportunity invite followers of Jesus to live out righteousness. His was a righteousness that offered healing, hope, and an open hand to all he encountered.

The turning of the leaves and the chilly fall air can point us to worship just as they signal the beginning of days of awe for the Jews. For followers of Jesus, there is always opportunity for perpetual “days of awe” rather than settling for unremarkable time.

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

(1) Matthew 6:16; Matthew 6:2-5.

(2) Matthew 5:20.

Our Daily Bread – Under Siege

Read: Philippians 2:1-11
Bible in a Year: Psalms 100-102; 1 Corinthians 1
Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. —Philippians 2:4
During the Bosnian War (1992-1996), more than 10,000 people—civilians and soldiers—were killed in the city of Sarajevo as gunfire and mortar rounds rained down from the surrounding hills. Steven Galloway’s gripping novel The Cellist of Sarajevo unfolds there, during the longest siege of a capital city in modern warfare. The book follows three fictional characters who must decide if they will become completely self-absorbed in their struggle to survive, or will somehow rise above their numbing circumstances to consider others during a time of great adversity.
From a prison in Rome, Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi, saying: “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4). Paul cited Jesus as the great example of a selfless focus on others: “Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, . . . made Himself of no reputation . . . humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (vv. 5-8). Rather than seeking sympathy from others, Jesus gave all He had to rescue us from the tyranny of sin.
Our continuing challenge as followers of Jesus is to see through His eyes and respond to the needs of others in His strength, even in our own difficult times. —David C. McCasland
Are you going through something hard right now? What can you still do for another?
Embracing God’s love for us is the key to loving others.
INSIGHT: The words that Paul penned to the Philippian church while he was under house arrest are some of the most challenging. There is so much in this short letter that goes against our natural inclinations. From prison, Paul encouraged the Philippian believers to “make his joy complete” (2:2 niv). Paul is joyful while in prison because of his faith in Christ, and he encouraged the believers to add to his joy by looking out for one another and counting others as more important than themselves. Paul then uses Jesus as the example of this kind of selflessness. In taking on humanity, Jesus gave up everything that was rightfully His to come to our rescue. J.R. Hudberg

Charles Stanley – Making Changes to Fulfill God’s Plan

 

Matthew 16:24-27

As god’s adopted children, we’ve been given a new purpose: glorifying our Father through righteous living. Yesterday we saw that this means making certain modifications in our life. Let’s consider two more changes that may be necessary for followers of Jesus.

One potential adjustment relates to our belief system: A Christian’s thinking should match Jesus’. The world’s influence is strong—if we listened to the culture, we’d push ahead of others, take all the credit for our accomplishments, and keep material possessions for our own use. But Scripture teaches that the last shall be first (Mark 9:35), God is the one deserving our praise (Psalms 96:4), and Christians are to be generous people (1 Timothy 6:18). What we believe needs to match what the Bible says is true.

Lastly, we may have to redefine our commitments to be sure the Lord comes first. His desires for us should take precedence over what we want and what others ask us to do. We must evaluate our choices in light of God’s plan for us. This may mean letting go of a favorite activity, taking on a new responsibility, or remaining where we are despite yearning to leave. Our Father wants and deserves His children’s full devotion (Matthew 22:37).

These changes do not all happen instantly at salvation; rather, they take place over a lifetime. Whenever the Holy Spirit reveals a deeper truth or calls us to a new work, we will have additional alterations to make. But such changes are accompanied by the confidence of knowing that God will use us to fulfill His plan.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Landscape of Disruption

 

The streets were cluttered with trash instead of decorated with flowers. The houses had tarps for roofs, and often no roofs at all. The river water served for bathing, elimination, and drinking water. Bloated stomachs were not full; they were ravaged by parasites. Giant sloths hung lazily from the lush trees seemingly unaware, unaffected, and unbothered by the poverty and disease around them, and pet monkeys and parrots had ample food thrown their way. Yet countless numbers of children searched for food or other treasures among the dirt and filth of garbage piles. Still, laughter, singing, and smiles abounded, and the diverse landscape exuded an exotic vibrancy.

These composite impressions come from my visit to Brazil, a vast and geographically rich country with some of the most impoverished areas in the world. This visit to Brazil several years ago was a vivid example of the experience of personal disruption. Growing up in suburban Illinois, with uniformly similar looking roofed houses, with more than enough food, clothing, and resources to take care of my needs and wants did not prepare me for this encounter with a land of unspeakable beauty and desolation. My disruptive encounter prompted many questions: Why did I have so much when others had so little? What could I do to make any real difference in their situation, and if I could make a difference, what would that look like? More importantly, was this encounter for me to make a difference, or for a difference to be made in me?

Disruption, as Webster’s New Riverside Dictionary defines it, can either be seen as an event that creates confusion and/or disorder, or can be seen as something that interrupts.(1) Of course, disruption creates both. When our beliefs are contradicted by our experience, or challenged by competing and compelling alternatives, we feel disruption. When we encounter something radically different than anything we’ve known or experienced, such as I did in Brazil, we experience disruption. When human relations are frayed or fractured, we experience disruption. Disruption interrupts our perceived self-efficacy and control, and confuses all that we have come to rely on and trust.

Yet, the interruptions caused by disruption can set us on a new course, and introduce us to a whole new horizon much as they did for the early followers of Jesus. Of course, the greatest example of disruption for the disciples played itself out in the events of the Crucifixion. Entering Jerusalem filled with Messianic hope on Palm Sunday, the disciples believed Jesus to be the new King of Israel fulfilling what had been promised to David long ago. Imagine their horror, then, when surrounded in that dark garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was hauled away like a common criminal. Their ideas about the Messiah were disrupted. Instead of royal exaltation, Jesus was lifted up onto a cross of untold suffering and agony. Plans to sit on Jesus’s left and right as rulers in his kingdom were scattered and interrupted, just as quickly as the disciples fled away that terrible night.

But the disruption of the cross would not be the last word. Rather, it is the disruption of the Resurrection that interrupted all that was known about the natural course of life and death, the ideas about the Messiah, and the reality of God’s kingdom. The disruption of the Resurrection affirmed Jesus as God’s Messiah and transformed a group of scattered, fearful, disciples into the heralds of God’s new direction. Peter, the denier, became Peter, the proclaimer. Preaching the first sermon after Pentecost, Peter persuaded those listening that “God raised Jesus up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for him to be held in its power….Therefore, let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Jesus both Lord and Messiah” (Acts 2:24; 36).

God, the Disrupter interrupted their plans, their ideas, and their entire lives. As a result of this cosmic disruption, everything changed. Rather than scattering in fear, those early Christians gathered together sharing their resources, giving to those in need, and using their possessions for the benefit of one another (Acts 2:42-47). In the same way, God desires the resurrection of Jesus to disrupt our lives, to interrupt our current way of living in order to send us off in a new direction. God intends the disruption of resurrection, much as my encounter with Brazil disrupted my world, to make a difference in us—a difference so disrupting that it alters and changes the way we think, the way we envision the landscape around us, and the way we live in this world. Author Debbie Blue sums up resurrection disruption by saying, “Resurrection is a little unnerving, unsettling, because it basically goes against what we know, contradicts everything we take to be absolute about the nature of history and the reality in which we live. It’s a toppling of the earthly order, overthrowing familiarity. It doesn’t play according to the rules we accept as necessary. If the dead can come back to life…what does that mean about all the other realities, rules that order our lives, that we take for granted? [Resurrection]…is not everything you already know…It’s a whole different landscape.”(2) The disruption of the Resurrection alters everything, every vista, every horizon.

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

(1) Webster’s II New Riverside Dictionary, Revised Edition (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996), 202.

(2) Sensual Orthodoxy (St. Paul, Minnesota: Cathedral Hill Press, 2004), 108-109.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry –  The Trail and the Cross

 

Mention the word ‘immigration’ in conversation, and you are likely to get an earful from a variety of perspectives. Political debates notwithstanding, the topic has sprung up again in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo and Jewish hostages being killed in Paris. Once a colonial power France’s colonized peoples have often come ‘home’ to try to find a better life. The influx of immigrants has brought both opportunity and challenge. Sadly, some immigrant communities report being marginalized from the opportunities a city like Paris affords. Kept on the sidelines a deep frustration and futility festers.

In the United States, a refuge for immigrants from its beginning, the indigenous people of this land often suffered by being pushed to the margins. One tragic episode of marginalization was “The Trail of Tears.” This ‘trail’ was the forced relocation of the Cherokee Nation from their home among the mountains of North Georgia to the plains of Oklahoma.(1) In one of the saddest episodes of the fledgling democracy of the United States, men, women, and children were taken from their land, herded into makeshift forts with minimal facilities and food, and then forced to march a thousand miles. Human loss for the first groups of Cherokee removed from North Georgia was extremely high. While records reflect differing accounts of casualties, some estimate that about 4000 Cherokee died as a result of the removal.

The story of Native American relocation is now a part of the history of the developing United States, where the North Georgia story is not unique. Activists for Native American causes remind those who have ears to hear that other trails of tears were forged in the land from east to west. While there have always been minority voices protesting against these federal government policies concerning relocation, including Davy Crockett (better known for his failed stand at the Texas Alamo), they were few and far between.(2) The country that had swelled on a tide of freedom also had an undertow of injustice toward its indigenous peoples.

In human terms, the death of Jesus by crucifixion demonstrates a horrible injustice committed against him. While Christians believe that God was at work even in the midst of this act of injustice, Jesus had committed no crime deserving this form of execution reserved for the worst criminals. He was betrayed by one closest to him, falsely accused, tortured, and nailed to the cross. Formal theology looks at the “injustice” of the crucifixion and seeks to explain the meaning of the event. Some theologians suggest that the atonement stands as the preeminent example of a sacrificial life in the face of injustice—an example which followers of Jesus are called to model in their own lives. Others see the Cross as the ultimate symbol of divine love or a demonstration of God’s divine justice against sin as the violation of his perfect law. Still others suggest the Cross overcame the forces of sin and evil, restored God’s honor in relation to God’s holiness and righteousness, and served as a substitution for the death we all deserved because of sin.(3)

While the meaning of the atonement may include a portion of all of these theories, I wonder about how the atonement might bring meaning to events like those suffered by Native peoples. And I wonder about how the atonement speaks to the personal injustices we all suffer, or commit against one another. Does the reality of the atonement give present meaning to the injustices experienced and felt by many in today’s world?

The word atonement itself indicates that the willing offer by Jesus to bear the injustices of the world creates the possibility to be at one, set right with God, and with one another. The apostle Paul indicates this in his second letter to the Corinthian Christians: “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

Christians believe that the enactment of reconciliation by God even through the human injustice perpetrated against Jesus, enjoins them to a ministry of reconciliation and justice. And the word of reconciliation—namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world—frees all who would receive this forgiveness to offer the ministry of reconciling forgiveness to one another. Forgiveness, then, creates the possibility for justice.

While at a local church gathering, I was introduced to a ministry that works with urban-dwelling Native Americans. Most are homeless and many struggle with alcohol and drug addiction. Even today, many dwell on the margins. Like me, these individuals are far removed from the Trail of Tears. But like me, this organization wonders what meaning to assign to a tragic past. Clearly, all of us carry the events of our past into our present lives. In some cases, painful hurts and histories have ongoing repercussions. Cycles of violence, addiction, and despair are shaped, in part, by the meaning assigned to these past events. Therefore, this ministry seeks to reassign new meaning to difficult pasts through reconciliation and forgiveness.

In the same way, Christians who affirm the atonement of Jesus also affirm a God who enjoins them to do justice on behalf of others. The atonement creates meaning for the past that is redemptive for the present. Those who recognize both the need for forgiveness and the need to offer forgiveness, give meaning to all who need atonement today. Seen this way, the crucifixion is not simply another act of injustice perpetrated against Jesus, the atonement brings life, as surely as it binds us to give life to others.

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

(1) “The Trail of Tears,” About North Georgia, http://ngeorgia.com/history/nghisttt.html, accessed February 16, 2010.

(2) Ibid.

(3) Theories of the atonement as highlighted in Millard Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1983), 781-823.

Greg Laurie – What to Do When You Mess Up

 

So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.—Romans 5:21

There is a game I like to play with my granddaughters that I call Squiggles. I will tell them, “Just put down anything you want on a piece of paper. Make any line—just a little drawing. I don’t want it to be anything.”

So they will draw some crazy little lines. Then I will take their squiggles, their lines on paper with no rhyme or reason, and I will turn them into something. Usually it’s a funny face or a character.

In a much greater way, God can do the same for you. Maybe you have messed up. Maybe you have made a mistake and have done a wrong thing. Guess what? We serve the God of second chances. So you can come to Him and say, “Lord, I have really messed up. Can you help?”

His answer is yes. God will come and redeem the mistakes we have made.

Even Christians can wander away from the Lord. Even Christians can make bad decisions and do really bad things. We are effectively capable of doing anything, even as followers of Jesus, because we still have free wills and old natures. However, if you are a true Christian, even when you have blown it or gone astray, you always will come home again.

Hopefully you will learn from your mistakes. Hopefully you will not go and repeat them again. Hopefully you can fail forward, which means learning from your mistakes, determining to live a more godly life, and helping others not to fall in the same area.

The good news is that God can forgive you and give you a second chance. He will complete the work that He has begun in you (see Philippians 1:6). So even if you have messed up, God still can turn it around.

Max Lucado – Prayer Guidance

Max Lucado

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.

So here’s my challenge to you! Sign on at BeforeAmen.com.  It will encourage you and give you a building block for your growth in prayer. Then get ready to change your life forever!

Our Daily Bread — Gentle Jesus

Our Daily Bread

Matthew 18:1-10

Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. —Matthew 18:3

Charles Wesley (1707–1788) was a Methodist evangelist who wrote more than 9,000 hymns and sacred poems. Some, like “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” are great, soaring hymns of praise. But his poem “Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild,” first published in 1742, is a child’s quiet prayer that captures the essence of how all of us should seek the Lord in sincere, simple faith.

Loving Jesus, gentle Lamb,

In Thy gracious hands I am;

Make me, Savior, what Thou art,

Live Thyself within my heart.

When some followers of Jesus were jockeying for position in His kingdom, the Lord “called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven’” (Matt. 18:2-3).

Not many children seek position or power. Instead, they want acceptance and security. They cling to the adults who love and care for them. Jesus never turned children away.

The last stanza of Wesley’s poem shows a childlike desire to be just like Jesus: “I shall then show forth Thy praise / Serve Thee all my happy days; / Then the world shall always see / Christ, the holy Child, in me.” —David McCasland

Father, give me the faith of a little child. I want

to know Your love and care, and to rest in Your

embrace. Grant my desire to be like You in all

my ways that I might live for Your honor.

Faith shines brightest in a childlike heart.

Bible in a year: Proverbs 19-21; 2 Corinthians 7

Insight

Jesus’ warning in Matthew 18:6 would have been received with the weight it deserved. The ancient Hebrews viewed the sea as a place of danger and chaos. As a result, there were few things more feared than death by drowning, the picture Jesus painted here.

Greg Laurie – Homing Instinct   

greglaurie

We are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. —Philippians 3:20

An old chorus begins, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through.” That is literally true. The Bible says that when you put your faith in Jesus Christ, you become a citizen of heaven because that is your real home.

That is why we find ourselves with a deep-down longing for something this earth can never deliver. And that is also why we always will be a bit out of tune with this world and all it celebrates. Have you noticed? Sometimes the world will parade its toys and its so-called pleasures before you, and you’ll find yourself saying, deep down in your spirit, “That just leaves me cold. That is not what I desire. That is not what I want at all.” As followers of Jesus, we’ve tasted much, much better things than these.

  1. S. Lewis described this longing with these words: “There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else.” He went on to say of heaven, “It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want.”

I liken it to a homing instinct that God has placed inside some of His creatures. We all know that some animals have a mysterious ability to migrate or travel great distances to very specific locations. It’s like a natural GPS system that God has placed inside them.

One of these days we’ll be going home too — home to a place we’ve never been. Heaven is more real to me than it has ever been because of those who are already there. My son Christopher is there, as is my mom, and the father who adopted me. Friends I have known through the years are on the other side now, and so are many familiar faces from our church.

Don’t get me wrong: There is much wonder, beauty, joy, and fulfillment in this life God has given us on earth. But what makes all these things even better is the sure knowledge that the best is yet to come.

Today’s devotional is an excerpt from Every Day with Jesus by Greg Laurie, 2013

Our Daily Bread — The Crash

Our Daily Bread

Micah 7:8-9,18-20

He will bring me forth to the light; I will see His righteousness. —Micah 7:9

For years after the Great Depression, the stock market struggled to win back investors’ confidence. Then, in 1952, Harry Markowitz suggested that investors spread their stock holdings over several companies and industries. He developed a theory for portfolio selection that helped investors in uncertain times. In 1990, Markowitz and two others won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for their theory.

Like those jittery investors, we followers of Jesus may also find ourselves frozen in fear after a “crash” in our personal lives, unsure how to pick up the pieces and move on. We might even spend our remaining lives waiting for a “Markowitz moment,” when one big idea or action can help us recover from a previous failure.

We forget that Jesus has already done that on our behalf. He covered our shame, and He set us free to fellowship with God and serve Him daily. Because He gave His life, and rose from the dead, when we “fall,” we can “arise” with Him, for “He delights in mercy” (Micah 7:8,18).

The moment we find Jesus, our eternity with Him begins. He walks alongside us so He can change us into the people we long to be and were created to be. —Randy Kilgore

Father, my actions aren’t adequate to fix my

failures. Thank You for doing that through

Your Son Jesus who gave Himself for us.

Help me to look up and walk with You.

Look up from your failure, and you’ll find God standing ready to receive you.

Bible in a year: 2 Chronicles 4-6; John 10:24-42

Insight

Today’s reading contains a song of victory. Israel, who has been judged for a cold heart and acts of disobedience, will one day respond gladly with obedience to God. The nation will find light in the Lord’s presence. Interestingly, the passage shares a similar spirit to Moses’ Song of the Sea: “Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Ex. 15:11). Micah underscores that God detests those leaders who unscrupulously use their position of power to fleece the helpless and to corrupt courts of justice. But the message of hope is clear to all who repent with heartfelt sincerity and wish to return to a place of genuine obedience.

 

Presidential Prayer Team; C.H. – Your Signature Style

ppt_seal01

Ladies throughout the nation can be found carrying Coach purses. This popular handbag is known for its signature “C” on the side. In the eighties, Guess jeans were all the rage. They were recognizable by the triangle tag on the bag pocket bearing the “?” logo. Most brands have a signature style.

Let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love.

I Thessalonians 5:8

Many people do, too. Think of Jackie O. and her famous large sunglasses. Today’s verse encourages Christians to adopt a signature style of their own. Followers of Jesus should wake up each day and put on faith and love. It’s easy to throw on jeans and boots without thought, but choosing to trust in God and care for others requires one to be intentional. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples.” (John 13:35)

In today’s recommended reading, Jesus shows you how to adopt the signature style of a Christian. Seek to follow His example, and ask God to help you be more intentional about dressing yourself with faith and love. Then pray for your nation’s leaders to conduct themselves in office with that same belief in God and concern for others.

Recommended Reading: John 13:3-15

Our Daily Bread — Costume Or Uniform?

Our Daily Bread

Romans 13:11-14

Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. —Romans 13:14

Eunice McGarrahan gave an inspiring talk on Christian discipleship in which she said, “A costume is something you put on and pretend that you are what you are wearing. A uniform, on the other hand, reminds you that you are, in fact, what you wear.”

Her comment sparked memories of my first day in US Army basic training when we were each given a box and ordered to put all our civilian clothes in it. The box was mailed to our home address. Every day after that, the uniform we put on reminded us that we had entered a period of disciplined training designed to change our attitudes and actions.

“Cast off the works of darkness,” the apostle Paul told the followers of Jesus living in Rome, “and . . . put on the armor of light” (Rom. 13:12). He followed this with the command to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (v.14). The goal of this “casting off” and “putting on” was a new identity and transformed living (v.13).

When we choose to follow Christ as our Lord, He begins the process of making us more like Him each day. It is not a matter of pretending to be what we aren’t but of becoming more and more what we are in Christ. —David McCasland

O to be like Thee, O to be like Thee,

Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art!

Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;

Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart. —Chisholm

Salvation is free, but discipleship will cost you your life. —Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Bible in a year: Hosea 9-11; Revelation 3

 

Our Daily Bread — “Gorgeous Inside”

Our Daily Bread

Romans 8:1-11

To be spiritually minded is life and peace. —Romans 8:6

It’s a rather nondescript house that sits on a busy thoroughfare. With no distinctive characteristics, this rather plain home is easy to ignore. But as I drove past it the other day, I noticed a “For Sale” sign in the yard. Attached to the sign was a smaller notice that happily announced: “I’m gorgeous inside.” While I’m not in the market for a new house, that sign intrigued me. What could make this otherwise forgettable house gorgeous inside?

It also made me wonder: Could that sign apply to us as followers of Jesus? Think about it. No matter what we look like on the outside, shouldn’t there be within us a beauty that reveals God’s love and work in our lives?

What does the Bible say about inner beauty? We might start with Romans 7:22, which says, “In my inner being I delight in God’s law” (NIV). A few verses later in Romans 8:6, Paul speaks of a Spirit-controlled mind that is characterized by “life and peace.” And in Galatians, we see that letting the Spirit take charge of our inner being will build in us the “fruit of the Spirit” (5:22), a beautiful array of qualities such as love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness.

Delighting in Scripture and allowing the Spirit to work in our heart will make us look good on the inside—and will pay off in a life that honors God. —Dave Branon

Dear Lord, I pray that through the work of Your

Spirit dwelling within me I will be transformed

into a grand display of the fruit that will attract

others to You and reflect glory back to You.

Righteousness in your heart produces beauty in your character.

Bible in a year: Isaiah 37-38; Colossians 3

Greg Laurie – In His Hands

 

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. —Revelation 12:11

How important it is for us to know that our lives belong to God. God decides the day of our birth, and God decides the day of our death. But we have everything to do with the dash in the middle.

In Revelation 12:11, we read of the saints during the Tribulation who “overcame [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”

They did not love their lives to the death. These believers knew their lives belonged to God. They knew that as followers of Jesus during the Tribulation period, they could lose their lives. They also knew their times were in God’s hands. Thus, they spoke up for their faith in Christ and, whatever the consequences were, they were ready to face them.

A story is told from the pages of Christian history about a believer who was brought before one of the Caesars. He was told to renounce his faith and give glory to Caesar. The man would not do it. So the emperor said to him, “Give up Christ, or I will banish you.”

The Christian said, “You can’t banish me from Christ, for God says, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ ”

The emperor said, “I will confiscate your property.”

The Christian replied, “My treasures are laid up in heaven. You can’t touch them.”

The emperor said, “I will kill you.”

The Christian answered, “I have been dead to this world in Christ for 40 years. My life is hidden with Christ in God. You can’t touch it.”

The emperor turned to some of the members of his court and said, in complete disgust, “What can you do with such a fanatic?”

May God give us more Christians like this.

Max Lucado – What’s Left?

 

Skeptics say, “Jesus–back from the dead?  I don’t think so.”  or  ”The resurrection is a lie!”

There have always been skeptics.  People who call Jesus’ resurrection a legend, even a hoax.  But the early followers of Jesus literally proclaimed that he was raised from the dead!  So, is the tomb empty?

There are those who say the disciples took Jesus’ body.  Maybe they staged the whole thing!  But there’s a problem.  Many of those disciples died for their belief–for their proclamation that Jesus was risen.  Would they be willing to die for a lie?

What’s left?  The empty tomb is left.  You don’t have to toss out common sense to believe the resurrection of Jesus.  In fact, it’s just as challenging to disprove the resurrection as to prove it.  He is risen!

“He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee…”  (Luke 24:6).