Can Being “Christian” Save The World? (A poem.) By Timothy Baugh.

America is a land with a sad, blue heart, where homeless ones beg on the streets. We are told, “Reach out!, For it is up to you. Share God’s love with all whom you meet!” Yes, we all long to be loved and free. It’s all that we ever hope to be. And God will give them serenity, along with a true security. But, Jesus does hear prayer from a wounded heart. And He feels when they are alone. For He knows the ways that set us apart, can wound one’s soul clear to the bone. Our tomorrows hold a promise of yet greater things; that come within the passing of the year. So will we listen to our own prophets of doom, or gladly lift a soul to bring God’s cheer? The earth in all its beauty speaks a magnitude, of such wisdom that no human can compete. And so, let us join with that “great multitude” to humbly bow before God’s Mercy Seat. For He Alone can save the soul of America, not prophet, priest, or king. And He Alone is all we need, not anyone or anything! And finding Him is not so hard, as what we make it to be. We don’t need “magic spectacles” so to help us see. All around us is the proof we need to nourish every soul. God’s hands are not tied, but He gives to us in full. Oh, if we could only ask, then surely we would receive. Abundant grace is there for all, if only we believe! Revival… that precious word, that moves like fire across the land; will come to us once we believe, we have taken more than we can stand! Out with the old, the broken, the sick, our ways of getting it right. Let it be, Oh let it be, God’s Kingdom and His Light! Amen.  

Today’s Reading

CS Lewis Devotional

I find I must borrow yet another parable from George MacDonald. Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.

The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were ‘gods’ and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him—for we can prevent Him, if we choose—He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful, but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.

From Mere Christianity
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis

Mere Christianity. Copyright © 1952, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1980, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works. Copyright © 2003 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

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Proverbs 31 Ministries

Encouragement for today Proverbs 31

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52 (NIV)

I love watching the natural world come to life each year.

Sometimes it seems like everything turns green overnight. But when I see a rose bush burst with red blooms or an apple tree heavy with fruit, I remember growth in nature takes time and requires ongoing nourishment: water, sun and nutrients from the soil.

Our spiritual growth works the same way. We require several key ingredients in order to mature in our faith.

This process is exemplified by the ways that Jesus grew: in wisdom, in stature, in favor with God and others. Luke 2:52 says, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”

While we don’t know the specific details about His growth in these three areas, it’s clear He didn’t just wait around for it to happen.

In order to grow in wisdom, Jesus likely studied His culture and faith on a regular basis, just like most other Jewish boys growing up. While children and teens often enjoy learning, as adults we need to sustain the same hunger for knowledge and intellectual curiosity. Too often, we’re satisfied with what we already know. We become complacent and stunt our own growth.

Wisdom is one of the fruits of growing in our faith. One of the easiest ways to stimulate growth toward wisdom is to learn from the wisdom of others. Being curious about people, observing them, respecting their different ways of doing things and their different perspectives — all of these help us stretch ourselves. Spending time reading and studying God’s Word is also crucial to cultivating wisdom.

We notice that Jesus also grew in stature, becoming taller and stronger as He passed from childhood into adolescence and adulthood. While physical growth may seem natural, it also requires practicing habits that keep us healthy. Our bodies require nutritious food, clean water, regular exercise, fresh air and plenty of sleep.

Once we reach adulthood, we may be tempted at times to ignore our body’s needs, especially for proper nutrition and adequate rest. We eat fast food on-the-go and push through our exhaustion. But over time, our bodies always remind us of our physical limitations. While they’re resilient and amazing, they’re also fragile and temporary. If I want to grow in all areas of my life, then I have to take care of my body.

Healthy physical growth requires taking control of my schedule. Not everything that’s doable is sustainable. We have to learn to discern between what’s truly important and what’s merely urgent. Physical health also requires obeying God’s command to take a sabbath, a designated day of sacred rest. While the sabbath doesn’t have to be the seventh day of the week, or even always on a Sunday, setting aside this time weekly allows me to recharge my soul and do things that refuel my tank.

Finally, Jesus grew in favor with God and man. This kind of growth implies that we’re designed to change and mature through our relationships. Growing “in favor with God” requires spending time with Him — through prayer, praise and worship, time in His Word and serving others.

To grow in favor with others, I must be intentional and invest in key relationships. It’s so easy for busyness to skate on the surface, even with people I love and want to enjoy. Healthy growth requires putting down roots and doing life together with others. If we’re not deliberate about nurturing close relationships, we can accidentally insulate ourselves and miss a crucial component of our personal growth.

If we’re not growing, then we’re resigning ourselves to stagnation and settling for less. But this is not God’s intention for His children! Jesus told us He came to bring us life to the full (John 10:10), overflowing with joy, peace, passion and purpose. No matter where we are in our spiritual journey, God always provides room for us to grow!

Dear Lord, I want to keep growing and becoming more like Jesus. Help me to pursue wisdom, healthy habits, and deeper relationships with You and others, so that I may blossom into the fullness of who You created me to be and produce good fruit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY: John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (NIV)

1 Peter 2:2-3, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES: Want to grow in your faith? Join Pastor Chris Hodges in his latest book, What’s Next? The Journey to Know God, Find Freedom, Discover Purpose, and Make a Difference. Whether you feel stuck in place, uncertain about how to grow closer to God or eager to experience a deeper relationship with Him, this book offers practical guidelines from God’s Word for maturing in your faith.

CONNECT: Chris Hodges is senior pastor at Church of the Highlands and author of The Daniel Dilemma and What’s Next? You can experience more of his teaching at churchofthehighlands.com.

REFLECT AND RESPOND: What area of growth needs the most urgent attention in your life? What step can you take today to nourish this area of growth? Share your ideas in our comments section!

© 2019 by Chris Hodges. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
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Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

Daily Audio Bible

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2 Samuel 1:1-2:11

Responses to Saul’s Death

1 After the death of Saul, David returned from defeating the Amalekites and stayed at Ziklag two days. On the third day a man with torn clothes and dust on his head came from Saul’s camp. When he came to David, he fell to the ground and paid homage. David asked him, “Where have you come from?”

He replied to him, “I’ve escaped from the Israelite camp.”

“What was the outcome? Tell me,” David asked him.

“The troops fled from the battle,” he answered. “Many of the troops have fallen and are dead. Also, Saul and his son Jonathan are dead.”

David asked the young man who had brought him the report, “How do you know Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?”

“I happened to be on Mount Gilboa,” he replied, “and there was Saul, leaning on his spear. At that very moment the chariots and the cavalry were closing in on him. When he turned around and saw me, he called out to me, so I answered: I’m at your service. He asked me, ‘Who are you?’ I told him: I’m an Amalekite. Then he begged me, ‘Stand over me and kill me, for I’m mortally wounded, but my life still lingers.’ 10 So I stood over him and killed him because I knew that after he had fallen he couldn’t survive. I took the crown that was on his head and the armband that was on his arm, and I’ve brought them here to my lord.”

11 Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and all the men with him did the same. 12 They mourned, wept, and fasted until the evening for those who died by the sword—for Saul, his son Jonathan, the Lord’s people, and the house of Israel.

13 David inquired of the young man who had brought him the report, “Where are you from?”

“I’m the son of a resident alien,” he said. “I’m an Amalekite.”

14 David questioned him, “How is it that you were not afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?” 15 Then David summoned one of his servants and said, “Come here and kill him!” The servant struck him, and he died. 16 For David had said to the Amalekite, “Your blood is on your own head because your own mouth testified against you by saying, ‘I killed the Lord’s anointed.’”

17 David sang the following lament for Saul and his son Jonathan, 18 and he ordered that the Judahites be taught The Song of the Bow. It is written in the Book of Jashar:

19 The splendor of Israel lies slain on your heights.
How the mighty have fallen!
20 Do not tell it in Gath,
don’t announce it in the marketplaces of Ashkelon,
or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice,
and the daughters of the uncircumcised will celebrate.
21 Mountains of Gilboa,
let no dew or rain be on you,
or fields of offerings,
for there the shield of the mighty was defiled—
the shield of Saul, no longer anointed with oil.
22 Jonathan’s bow never retreated,
Saul’s sword never returned unstained,
from the blood of the slain,
from the flesh of the mighty.
23 Saul and Jonathan,
loved and delightful,
they were not parted in life or in death.
They were swifter than eagles, stronger than lions.
24 Daughters of Israel, weep for Saul,
who clothed you in scarlet, with luxurious things,
who decked your garments with gold ornaments.
25 How the mighty have fallen in the thick of battle!
Jonathan lies slain on your heights.
26 I grieve for you, Jonathan, my brother.
You were such a friend to me.
Your love for me was more wondrous
than the love of women.
27 How the mighty have fallen
and the weapons of war have perished!

David, King of Judah

2 Some time later, David inquired of the Lord: “Should I go to one of the towns of Judah?”

The Lord answered him, “Go.”

Then David asked, “Where should I go?”

“To Hebron,” the Lord replied.

So David went there with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelite and Abigail, the widow of Nabal the Carmelite. In addition, David brought the men who were with him, each one with his family, and they settled in the towns near Hebron. Then the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. They told David: “It was the men of Jabesh-gilead who buried Saul.”

David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh-gilead and said to them, “The Lord bless you, because you have shown this kindness to Saul your lord when you buried him. Now, may the Lord show kindness and faithfulness to you, and I will also show the same goodness to you because you have done this deed. Therefore, be strong and valiant, for though Saul your lord is dead, the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.”

Abner son of Ner, commander of Saul’s army, took Saul’s son Ish-bosheth and moved him to Mahanaim. He made him king over Gilead, Asher, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin—over all Israel. 10 Saul’s son Ish-bosheth was forty years old when he became king over Israel; he reigned for two years. The house of Judah, however, followed David. 11 The length of time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.

Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.

John 12:20-50

Jesus Predicts His Crucifixion

20 Now some Greeks were among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 So they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and requested of him, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.

23 Jesus replied to them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces much fruit. 25 The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me. Where I am, there my servant also will be. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

27 “Now my soul is troubled. What should I say—Father, save me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.”

Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”

29 The crowd standing there heard it and said it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”

30 Jesus responded, “This voice came, not for me, but for you. 31 Now is the judgment of this world. Now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 As for me, if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate what kind of death he was about to die.

34 Then the crowd replied to him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah will remain forever. So how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?”

35 Jesus answered, “The light will be with you only a little longer. Walk while you have the light so that darkness doesn’t overtake you. The one who walks in darkness doesn’t know where he’s going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light so that you may become children of light.” Jesus said this, then went away and hid from them.

Isaiah’s Prophecies Fulfilled

37 Even though he had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet, who said:

Lord, who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

39 This is why they were unable to believe, because Isaiah also said:

40 He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their hearts,
so that they would not see with their eyes
or understand with their hearts,
and turn,
and I would heal them.

41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke about him.

42 Nevertheless, many did believe in him even among the rulers, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, so that they would not be banned from the synagogue. 43 For they loved human praise more than praise from God.

A Summary of Jesus’s Mission

44 Jesus cried out, “The one who believes in me believes not in me, but in him who sent me. 45 And the one who sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me would not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and doesn’t keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and doesn’t receive my sayings has this as his judge: The word I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own, but the Father himself who sent me has given me a command to say everything I have said. 50 I know that his command is eternal life. So the things that I speak, I speak just as the Father has told me.”

Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.

Psalm 118:19-29

19 Open the gates of righteousness for me;
I will enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the Lord’s gate;
the righteous will enter through it.
21 I will give thanks to you
because you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
23 This came from the Lord;
it is wondrous in our sight.
24 This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

25 Lord, save us!
Lord, please grant us success!
26 He who comes in the name
of the Lord is blessed.
From the house of the Lord we bless you.
27 The Lord is God and has given us light.
Bind the festival sacrifice with cords
to the horns of the altar.
28 You are my God, and I will give you thanks.
You are my God; I will exalt you.
29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his faithful love endures forever.

Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.

Proverbs 15:27-28

27 The one who profits dishonestly troubles his household,
but the one who hates bribes will live.

28 The mind of the righteous person thinks before answering,
but the mouth of the wicked blurts out evil things.

Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.

 

 

Devotional by Dallas Willard

 

God has made a kingdom for each of us

In accord with his original intent, the heavenly Father has in fact prepared an individualized kingdom for every person, from the outset of creation. That may seem impossible to us. But we do have a very weak imagination toward God, and we are confused by our own desires and fears, as well as by gross misinformation. It is a small thing for him.

From The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God. Copyright © 1997 by Dallas Willard. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

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Dallas Willard

W.I.Nworld Israel News

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