Tag Archives: Prayer

Charles Stanley –When Others Fail Us

 

2 Timothy 4:9-18

A disappointing friendship is one area of life that causes great distress. Companionship is one of our essential needs, and when friends fail us, we feel wounded, rejected, and alone. We’ve probably all experienced this to one degree or another, and the apostle Paul was no exception.

Although he’d surrounded himself with friends and had sacrificed greatly to take the gospel throughout the Roman world, when Paul neared the end of his life, he was basically alone. As he spent his last days in prison, only Luke was with him.

Some of the apostle’s friends were ministering in other parts of the world, but others, like Demas, had deserted him. When Paul stood at his preliminary trial, no one supported him. In fact, everyone had abandoned him. To associate with Paul at this point was risky.

It would have been understandable for Paul to complain about friends who’d let him down in his time of need. But instead, he displayed a forgiving spirit by saying, “May it not be counted against them” (2 Timothy 4:16). Although betrayal or abandonment hurts, we will never heal if we yield to bitterness and resentment. Forgiveness is our only solution.

Like Paul, we need an eternal perspective when facing disappointment. Nothing comes into our life without first passing through the hands of our heavenly Father, and no experience of ours is wasted. His ways may not make sense to us, but He uses every painful situation to accomplish His will in our life—and He’ll walk through it with us.

Bible in One Year: 2 Timothy 1-4

 

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Our Daily Bread — Mosaic of Beauty

 

Read: Luke 1:46–55 | Bible in a Year: Amos 1–3; Revelation 6

My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Luke 1:46–47

Sitting in the courtyard of the Church of the Visitation in Ein Karem, Israel, I was overwhelmed with the beautiful display of sixty-seven mosaics containing the words of Luke 1:46–55 in as many languages. Traditionally known as the Magnificatfrom the Latin “to magnify,” these verses are Mary’s joyous response to the announcement that she will be the mother of the Messiah.

Each plaque contains Mary’s words, including: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. . . . For the Mighty One has done great things for me” (vv. 46–49). The biblical hymn etched in the tiles is a song of praise as Mary recounts the faithfulness of God to her and the nation of Israel.

A grateful recipient of God’s grace, Mary rejoices in her salvation (v. 47). She acknowledges that God’s mercy has extended to the Israelites for generations (v. 50). Looking back over God’s care for the Israelites, Mary praises God for His powerful acts on behalf of His people (v. 51). She also thanks God, recognizing that her daily provision comes from His hand (v. 53).

Mary shows us that recounting the great things God has done for us is a way to express praise and can lead us to rejoice. This Christmas season, consider God’s goodness as you reflect on the year. In doing so, you may create a mosaic of great beauty with your words of praise.

Father, we praise You for the great things You’ve done in our lives this year. We rejoice in Your mercy and care for us.

Make a list of the ways God has blessed you this year and reflect on it in silence. Then share stories of His goodness with someone.

By Lisa Samra

INSIGHT

The birth of Jesus was a miracle because the Holy Spirit formed the body of Jesus in the womb of a young virgin girl. That this information comes to us from Luke is significant, because Luke was a doctor (Colossians 4:14) and understood the audacity of the claims of Jesus’s virgin conception and birth. But Luke first tells of another miraculous conception that predated Jesus by six months—that of John the Baptist (Luke 1:24–26). By human standards, his parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, were too old to have a baby (vv. 7, 18). But in both the birth of Jesus and John the Baptist we see the working of God for whom nothing is impossible (v. 37 nasb).

For more, see Mary and Joseph: Reflecting on the Wonder of Christmas at discoveryseries.org/hp074.

Bill Crowder

 

 

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Streams in the Desert for Kids – The Choir to End All Choirs

 

Revelation 14:3

Once in a while a writer in the Bible pulls the curtain back and we get to look into heaven. That’s what happens in Revelation 14. Wow! What a sight!

Picture this: There are 144,000 believers standing on top of a mountain. Soon there is the sound of harps being played before the throne of God and before the thrones of the twenty-four elders who are nearby. There are four creatures near the throne that are covered with eyes—even under their six wings. All these creatures constantly give glory, honor, and thanks to God. (See Revelation 4:4–11.) Then the 144,000 begin to sing a song about how they had been redeemed (saved) from the earth.

It is a song that only they can sing. It is a song of redemption. The angels cannot sing it. Only those who have experienced God’s grace and transforming power can sing this kind of song. What a choir!

Our life on earth, including the hardships, is part of our “training” to sing songs of redemption in heaven. When we accept salvation, we become part of the future choir. God’s Spirit says, “Let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22:17). That’s all we have to do to join in the celebration around the throne of God at the end of time.

Dear Lord, I want to be a part of the great choir that sings around your throne in heaven. Amen

Joyce Meyer – Leading

 

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. — Psalm 23:1-2

Adapted from the resource Wake Up to the Word Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

In order to reach our goals, you and I must follow God’s leading. People will offer us a lot of advice, and some of it may be good, but some of it may not. Or it may be good advice, but simply not what will work for us.

It’s important that we always look to God first and listen for His guidance and instruction.

God has created us as unique individuals, and He does not lead us all in the same way. So, if you want to win your race, you will need to find your own running style or your own way of doing things.

Of course, we can learn from other people, but we dare not try to copy them at the cost of losing our own individuality. Appreciate the advice and example of others, but follow God’s leading in your life.

Prayer Starter: Lord, I know You have a great plan for my life, and You desire to lead and guide me every step of the way. Help me to seek and follow Your leadership in my life more than anyone or anything else. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Learn to Be Patient

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials for we know that they are good for us – they help us learn to be patient” (Romans 5:3).

A Christian family was struggling with the trials of being parents (they had four young children – two of them in diapers). One day the wife, who was frustrated to her wits’ end, came to me for spiritual counsel. As she phrased it, she was at the point of losing her sanity.

How could she cope with rearing her children? She told how angry she got with the children when they disobeyed her. In fact, she indicated there were times when she feared she might physically harm her children, though she loved them dearly.

How could she cope with rearing her children? She needed the fruit of the Spirit, patience and love. The only way she could obtain such patience was by faith, confessing her sins and appropriating the fullness of the Holy Spirit. This she began to do, continually. Today, she is a women of godly patience, and being a parent has become a joyful privilege for her.

All of us need Christ’s patience, regardless of who we are or in what circumstances we find ourselves. Patience is granted to us by the grace of God through the Holy Spirit. It is produced by faith as a fruit of the Spirit, and it is granted in times of great crises (Luke 21:15-19); in dealing with church situations (2 Corinthians 12:12); in opposing evil (Revelation 2:2), for soundness of faith (Titus 2:2) and in waiting for the return of Jesus Christ (James 5:7,8).

Bible Reading:Romans 5:1-8

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will look on trials and problems as a forerunner of great patience in my life, while claiming the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen me.

 

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Charles Stanley – The Words of Our Mouth

 

James 3:1-12

Have you ever considered what a wonderful gift speech is? When God created us, He gave us a voice and a language so we could communicate. With our tongues we can praise and glorify God, teach His Word, pray, and express encouragement and loving devotion to one another.

However, our voices also have the power to hurt. It often starts with something small, like a thoughtless comment that can snowball, causing unforeseen damage. At times we may express our opinion in a critical way, which tears the other person down. Or out of curiosity, we might ask a question or make a suggestion that sows seeds of doubt and distrust, thereby damaging another person’s reputation.

Scripture calls this gossip, and God has strong words to say about those who engage in it. They separate close friends, betray confidences, and stir dissension. Most alarming of all is the fact that the Greek word for a malicious gossip is diabolos, which is also translated “devil.” When we use our words to tear others down, we are acting like the devil rather than like Jesus Christ.

God takes our words very seriously, and so should we. Jesus said, “The mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” (Matt. 12:34). Therefore, what we need is a heart transformation, and the only one who can do that is God.

Since gossip is the opposite of love, ask the Lord to give you His love for others so you can be someone who protects reputations, covers sins, and blesses others with your words.

Bible in One Year: 1 Timothy 4-6

 

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Our Daily Bread — Heaven’s Love Song

 

Read: Revelation 5:1–13 | Bible in a Year: Joel 1–3; Revelation 5

We love him because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

In 1936, songwriter Billy Hill released a popular hit song titled “The Glory of Love.” Before long a nation was singing about the joy of doing even little things out of love for one another. Fifty years later, lyricist Peter Cetera wrote a more romantic song with a similar title. He imagined two people living forever, knowing together they did it all—for the glory of love.

Revelation, the last book in the Bible, describes a new love song that will someday lift the voices of everyone in heaven and earth (Revelation 5:9, 13). The music begins, however, in a minor key of mourning. John, our narrator, cries, seeing no answer to all that has gone wrong with the world (vv. 3–4). But his mood brightens and the music builds to a crescendo (vv. 12–13) as John learns the real glory and story of love. Soon he hears all creation praising the powerful Lion-King of Judah (v. 5), who has won the hearts of His subjects by lovingly sacrificing Himself, like a Lamb, for our rescue (v. 13).

In the most moving lyrics ever sung, we see why even simple acts of kindness rise on the wings of a song. The glory we sing about reflects the heart of our God. We sing about Him because He gave us our song.

Father, please help us to see that even the smallest acts of love and kindness can remind us of Your love for us.

In what ways can you thank God today through simple acts of kindness?

By Mart DeHaan

INSIGHT

A repeated word in today’s passage is worthy (vv. 2, 4, 9, 12), which is used to describe Jesus. But what does worthy mean? While a dictionary definition is helpful, the passage itself defines it. First, Jesus is worthy because He has triumphed (v. 5) and can therefore open the scroll and break the seals. But John goes on to describe how He has triumphed. Jesus is worthy because He has triumphed by being slain and purchasing people with His blood (v. 9).

J.R. Hudberg

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Images We Think We Are

Malcolm Muggeridge is remembered as one of the most notable figures of the twentieth century.  The wit and style of the self-dubbed “fatally fluent”” journalist made him as endearing as he was controversial.  His presence was a decipherable entity in print, over the radio, and on television. With over fifty years in the public eye, Muggeridge knew well the effect of publicity on the human ego.  In the words of one biographer, Muggeridge knew well “the strange metamorphosis that turns an individual into an image.”(1) He once confessed, “There is something very terrible in becoming an image… You see yourself on a screen, walking, talking, moving about, posturing, and it is not you. Or is it you, and the you looking at you, someone else? […] Once, sleeping before a television screen, I woke up to find myself on it.  The experience was quite terrifying—like some awful nightmare to which only someone like Edgar Allan Poe or Dostoevsky could do justice.”(2)

In our media-saturated, celebrity-producing, me-obsessed culture, the warning may well be appropriate.  Though I do not think it is only the televised that find themselves in danger of becoming an image.

Of course, some of the images we may have of ourselves obviously come with the territories. A student embraces the image of student; a new mom learns to see herself as a mom; a journalist sees himself as a journalist. Muggeridge was speaking of images beyond this—namely, a journalist who starts to see himself as an icon, or perhaps, a mom who starts to see herself as an image of success, or grief, helpfulness, or humility. This is perhaps where many of us can relate.

The prophet Habakkuk records an exchange with the divine, in which God inquires: “Of what value is an idol, since its maker has shaped it? Or an image that teaches lies? For its maker trusts in what has been made, though the product is only an idol that cannot speak!”(3)

You see, the dangerous thing about becoming an image is that we start to believe that we created that image: I am the maker of my success in this company.  I am the one who has molded myself to be this flourishing employee, parent, or pious person. But such images only teach lies. Interestingly, God spoke these words to the prophet after Habakkuk had uttered a complaint questioning the image and identity of God:  O Lord, are you not from everlasting? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? God replied by asking Habakkuk to look again at the images he had fashioned and the Image before him.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Images We Think We Are

Joyce Meyer – Practice Common Courtesy

 

…[Love] is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly.… — 1 Corinthians 13:5 (AMPC)

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

Being courteous is a way to show kindness and respect for others. One way to be courteous is to always say “please” and “thank you.” These are two forms of common courtesy that I encourage you to practice.

I want to especially encourage you to be courteous at home with your family. I am trying to remember to always say “please” when I ask Dave to do something for me, and “thank you” when he has done it.

It is very important that we don’t take our loved ones for granted. Having good manners in public should be an overflow of what we normally do at home behind closed doors.

Love is not rude, according to 1 Corinthians 13:5. Rudeness usually results from selfishness, and one way to fight it is to use good manners at all times. Our society is filled with rudeness, harshness, and crudeness, but this does not display the character of God.

Jesus said He is “not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing” (Matthew 11:30 AMPC), and we need to follow His example.

We certainly need to make a point of being thankful and expressing our gratitude. In several places, the Bible makes the point that we are to be thankful and say so. We may think we are thankful, grateful people, but what is in the heart does come out of our mouths (see Matthew 12:34). If we are indeed appreciative, expressing thanks should come naturally for us.

Prayer Starter: Lord, help me today to show courtesy—kindness and respect—with everyone around me. I don’t want to be selfish or rude. Please continue to change me and make me more like Jesus. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Quick and Powerful

 

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12, KJV).

Often, what you and I have to say may seem weak and insipid. But then we have the clear promise that it really will accomplish something, for it has several characteristics that guarantee such results.

First, the holy inspired Word of God is impregnated with the power of the Holy Spirit and is quick-living. It is energetic and active – not dead, inert or powerless.

Second, the Word is powerful. Its mighty power awakens the conscience, reveals our fears, bares the secret feelings of the heart and causes the sinner to tremble at the threat of impending judgement.

Third, the Word is sharp-sharper than a two-edged sword. The Word has power to penetrate. It reaches the heart, laying open our motives and feelings.

Fourth, the Word pierces-penetrates.

Fifth, the Word discerns-shows what our thoughts and intentions are. Men see their real character in the mirror of God’s Word.

Those are some of the reasons for choosing to use the Word of God in every possible situation, allowing it to be its own best defense. God’s Word will never return unto Him void.

Bible Reading:Psalm 1

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will make more use of the sword, the Word of God, as I draw upon God’s power to live supernaturally.

 

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Max Lucado – Christ Does a Work in You

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Jesus not only did a work for us; he does a work in us!  Colossians 1:27 tells us, “The mystery in a nutshell is just this:  Christ is in you.”  He commands our hands and feet, requisitions our minds and tongues.  As Romans 8:29 declares,  “He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son.”

We’ll never be sinless, but we will sin less. And when we do sin, we have assurance that the grace that saved us also preserves us. We may lose our tempers, our perspective, and our self-control.  But we never lose our hope.  Scripture promises, “He is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy!”

Read more Because of Bethlehem

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Foul-mouthed Santa frightens children

It was the nightmare before Christmas.

Children were lined up to visit Santa Claus in the English town of St. Ives, Cambridgeshire, last Sunday. An alarm at a nearby but unrelated event caused an evacuation of the building.

Organizers euphemistically said later that Santa “assisted in the evacuation of the building.” Here’s how: Parents and children were leaving when Santa tore into the room, ripped his hat and beard off in front of fifty children, and started shouting and swearing at people to leave.

One mother said she had to tell her children that the man wasn’t really Santa but an imposter who would be going on the “naughty list.” Organizers will try again this weekend but have not said whether the same Santa Claus will return.

Christmas as a spiritual buffet

In a similar vein, I heard recently about an unusual manger scene.

I was honored last Wednesday to be back on the radio show, “Equipped with Chris Brooks.” Chris is a brilliant pastor, cultural theologian, and radio host. During our conversation, he told us about a good friend who was jogging in his neighborhood and passed a nativity scene. Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the Magi were all present.

But the baby Jesus was missing.

As Chris noted, some traditions don’t add Jesus to their manger scenes until Christmas Eve. Perhaps that’s what this neighbor intended. Or perhaps this nativity scene is a sign of our times.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Foul-mouthed Santa frightens children

Charles Stanley – Remaining in the Vine

 

John 15:7-17

When Jesus gave the disciples His final instructions before going to the cross, He repeated a particular word. Abide—which occurs 10 times in John 15—isn’t one we use often, but it accurately conveys the relationship between Christ and His followers.

Abide means “to remain, dwell, continue, endure, or tarry.” Can you hear the call to faithfulness in these words? Our relationship with Jesus isn’t a onetime event of salvation but a long and steady walk with Him.

Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15:5). This is a fact for everyone who has been born again. But He also tells us to abide in Him (John 15:4), signifying that we have some responsibility as branches in Christ. Therefore, it’s essential that we know how to remain in Him.

Jesus says to let His words abide in us (John 15:7). Incorporating God’s Word into our minds and hearts is how we dwell with Him and learn to know Him intimately.

Obedience is another essential aspect of abiding (John 15:10). It’s like being an employee who obeys his manager’s instructions and does not take matters into his own hands. We are to rely on the Spirit’s direction instead of strategizing and making plans on our own.

Abiding in Christ also includes our relationships with fellow believers. Jesus commands us to love one another just as He has loved us (John 15:12).

God’s desire is that we bear much lasting fruit by abiding in Christ. This isn’t a sporadic endeavor done only when convenient; it’s an enduring commitment to remain in God’s Word and continue in obedience and love.

Bible in One Year: 1 Timothy 1-3

 

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Our Daily Bread — The “Hope for a Baby” Tree

 

Read: Lamentations 3:1–3, 13–24 | Bible in a Year: Hosea 12–14; Revelation 4

His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22–23

After wrapping the tree with clear twinkle lights, I tied pink and blue bows on its branches and christened it our “Hope for a Baby” Christmas tree. My husband and I had been waiting for a baby through adoption for more than four years. Surely by Christmas!

Every morning I stopped at the tree and prayed, reminding myself of God’s faithfulness. On December 21 we received the news: no baby by Christmas. Devastated, I paused by the tree that had become a symbol of God’s provision. Was God still faithful? Was I doing something wrong?

At times, God’s apparent withholding results from His loving discipline. And other times God lovingly delays to renew our trust. In Lamentations, the prophet Jeremiah describes God’s correction of Israel. The pain is palpable: “He pierced my heart with arrows from his quiver” (3:13). Through it all, Jeremiah also expresses ultimate trust in God’s faithfulness: “His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (vv. 22–23).

I left the tree standing well beyond Christmas and continued my morning prayer. At last, on Easter weekend, we received our baby girl. God is always faithful, though not necessarily on our timeline nor always according to our desires.

My children are now in their thirties, but each year I set up a miniature version of the tree, reminding myself and others to hope in God’s faithfulness.

Dear God, help me trust You today even when I can’t see what You are doing. You are faithful.

The best reason for hope is God’s faithfulness.

By Elisa Morgan

INSIGHT

The book of Lamentations expresses the grief of Jerusalem following the 587 bcinvasion of Babylon. With her walls broken, her children exiled, and survivors living in the rubble of better times, it bares the soul of a once-proud people.

In its original Hebrew language, the book is composed of five chapters of carefully constructed poems. Its finely polished composition provides literary relief to the overwhelming confusion of a nation that has lost control of its own emotions and destiny. The only hope left is in the belief that above the clouds of this dark night of a nation’s soul, there is a God who has in the past shown that His mercies and love will never end.

Mart DeHaan

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Everyone Believes in a Virgin Birth

In correspondence with an old friend, a retired Princeton University professor, he detailed his objections to the Christian faith. His final remark seemed to overshadow all other considerations and was authoritatively written as if to definitively close the argument: “Nor can I believe in a virgin birth.” Such a belief was apparently implausible, absurd, immature.

Why is the virgin birth often the most problematic miracle to accept? Why is it more troubling than the thought of Jesus walking on water? Or multiplying the loaves?

Perhaps because we are content to let God do as he pleases with his own body, and we are delighted to be the recipient of gifts. However, we are offended by the thought of a miracle that inconveniences us, that has potential to disrupt our plans and our preferences.

I considered responding to my friend with positive reasons for believing in a virgin birth, but then I realized that he was, in fact, already committed to a virgin birth.

We find one virgin birth in the story of the Incarnation:

“How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’”

Admittedly, this is out of the ordinary. But criticism without alternative is empty; a hypothesis is only plausible or implausible relative to what alternative hypotheses present themselves. So what exactly is the alternative?

My colleague Professor John Lennox debated another Princeton professor, Peter Singer, one of the world’s most influential atheists. Lennox challenged him to answer this question: ‘Why are we here?‘ And this was Professor Singer’s response:

“We can assume that somehow in the primeval soup we got collections of molecules that became self-replicating; and I don’t think we need any miraculous or mysterious

.”(1)

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Everyone Believes in a Virgin Birth

Joyce Meyer – Desire Unity

 

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! — Psalm 133:1

Adapted from the resource The power of Being Thankful Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Bickering between God’s people is nothing new. It was a problem in the early church, just as it is now.

Paul strongly encouraged and urged the Church toward unity and wrote in Philippians 2:2 (AMPC): Fill up and complete my joy by living in harmony and being of the same mind and one in purpose, having the same love, being in full accord and of one harmonious mind and intention.

Where there’s unity, there’s blessing and anointing. When people are thankful for each other and choose to live in unity, they will experience the power of agreement.

But the power of God can’t work in our lives if we stay bitter and angry toward people. His love can’t flow through us if we’re holding on to strife and resentment. Peace equals power, and no peace equals no power.

Prayer Starter: I thank You today, Father, for the power we can experience when we decide to come together in unity. Today, I choose to put aside strife and arguments in order to pursue peace and unity. I am grateful that You will help me do this in Your strength. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – At Least As Much

 

“And if even sinful persons like yourselves give children what they need, don’t you realize that your heavenly Father will do at least as much, and give the Holy Spirit to those who ask for Him?” (Luke 11:13).

A Christian leader approached me after one of my messages on the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit.

“I want to be a Spirit-filled person,” he said, “but I don’t know what to do. I have read many books about the Holy Spirit and have sincerely sought His fullness, but to no avail. I am seriously considering giving up Christian ministry and returning to a business career. Please help me.”

With great delight I shared with this earnest seeker the truths about the Holy Spirit. To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be controlled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We cannot have two masters.

There is a throne, a control center, in every life and either self or Christ is on that throne. This concept of Christ being on the throne is so simple that even a child can understand it.

It is such a simple truth, and yet, in its distilled essence, that is what the supernatural, Spirit-controlled life is all about – just keeping Christ on the throne. We do this when we understand how to walk in the control and power of the Holy Spirit, for the Spirit came for the express purpose of glorifying Christ by enabling the believer to live a holy life and to be a productive witness for the Savior.

The key to supernatural living is a life centered in the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ. This supernatural life is often called the Spirit-filled Christian or the Christ-centered life. The spirit-filled Christian is one who, according to Romans 6:11, has considered himself to be dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Christ is now at the center of his life; He is Lord.

Bible Reading:Romans 8:9-14

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will not allow self to usurp the rightful place of Jesus Christ – in the person of His Holy Spirit – at the control center, the throne, of my life.

 

 

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Max Lucado – A People to Populate Heaven

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

God has high plans for you and me.  He is recruiting for himself a people who will populate heaven.  It will be perfect.  Perfect in splendor.  Perfect in righteousness.  One word describes heaven:  perfect!  One word describes us:  imperfect!  So what does God do?  Abandon us?  Start over?  He could.  But he loves us too much to do that.

Will he populate heaven with rebellious, self-centered citizens?  If so, would heaven be heaven?  Colossians 1:19 says, “God was pleased for all of himself to live in Christ.”  All the love of God was in Jesus.  All the strength of God was in Jesus.  All the compassion and power and devotion of God were, for a time, in the earthly body of a carpenter. What started in the Bethlehem cradle culminated on the Jerusalem cross!  And God did it all to take us home to heaven.

Read more Because of Bethlehem

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – School principal forbids Christmas decorations

An elementary school principal sent out a memo recently with guidelines as to what would be considered appropriate for classroom decorations and assignments during the holiday season. Teachers were reportedly told that sledding and scarves, the Frozen character Olaf, and other generic winter-themed items were acceptable.

Candy canes, however, were not.

According to the principal, they form the letter “J,” standing for “Jesus.” Christmas trees, reindeer, anything red or green, Christmas carols and music, and Santas were also on the forbidden list.

The school district quickly responded, stating that the memo “did not reflect district policy.” The district then placed the principal on administrative leave.

You might expect a story like this in a part of the country known for irreligiosity. But this happened in Elkhorn, Nebraska.

Ralphie Parker’s Christmas

My wife and I were invited by some dear friends to see A Christmas Story: The Musical last night in Dallas. The show is a stage production of the classic television movie. Set in the 1940s in Indiana, it tells the story of Ralphie Parker, a little boy who wants a Red Ryder Carbine Action Range Model Air Rifle for Christmas.

The comedy has been ranked America’s favorite holiday movie of all time. Our family watched the film every year on Christmas Eve. Last night’s musical was just as enjoyable.

Here’s the problem: for millions of Americans, A Christmas Story has become the Christmas story.

There’s nothing in A Christmas Story about Jesus. This is not a criticism–the story is intended to be a humorous tale about the challenges and joys of families during the holidays.

Continue reading Denison Forum – School principal forbids Christmas decorations

Charles Stanley – The Abiding Life

 

John 15:1-6

Who doesn’t love a beautiful bouquet of flowers? They are a delight to the eyes and fill the room with fragrance. But truthfully, they’re dead because they’ve been disconnected from the plant. Although they may look alive for a while, in time they wither away.

This was the point Jesus was making when He used a grapevine and its branches as an illustration of a believer’s life in Christ. Once we’re saved, we become branches of Christ—then fruit is produced as His life flows through us, in fulfillment of what Jesus prayed for us in John 17:21.

This abiding relationship is what the Bible elsewhere describes as the Spirit-filled life (Eph. 5:18). The word “abiding” emphasizes our position as branches remaining in the vine of Christ. And the apostle Paul underscores the Holy Spirit’s role and authority in our life: As we live in submission and obedience to God’s Spirit, He produces His fruit in us (Gal. 5:22-23).

The problem arises when we try to live apart from the vine and direct our own life. The end result is often frustrating or disappointing since we have relied on human ideas and energy instead of being Spirit-led. There is no way to live a spiritually fruitful life without obedience to the Holy Spirit.

Our heavenly Father has graciously given us this abiding relationship, but sometimes we act as if we’re the vine and Christ exists to do our bidding. In which areas of your life are you reluctant to relinquish control? We were designed to be the branches, and the only way we’ll be fruitful is by submissively abiding in the source of our life.

Bible in One Year: 2 Thessalonians 1-3

 

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