Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What the Resurrection of Christ Means to Us

Part One of Two by Pastor R. Jordan

"Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was
raised from the dead according to my gospel."
-II Tim. 2:8

When the Apostle of the Gentiles declared that Jesus Christ was "raised from the dead according to my gospel" he made it imperative that we understand just what this tremendous event means to us.

Because of limited space, we offer the following brief (and admittedly incomplete) outline, and trust our readers will use it as a springboard to look further into this important truth. The resurrection of Jesus Christ.


"For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
     "And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (I Cor. 15:3,4).
The resurrection of Christ is not fiction--His body was not stolen by His followers, nor did He somehow revive from a death-like coma and walk away by Himself. Further, the resurrection of Christ is not a fable--the modernist claim that He "lives on" in the "continuation of the spiritual principles He taught" is the real "religion myth"!

No, the resurrection of Christ is a fact of history to be accepted and believed. The "many infallible proofs" (Acts 1:3) of His resurrection make it an event as thoroughly and historically validated as any in past history.

Our faith does not rest on a coffin lid! The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a fact to be believed. It also


     "...if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Rom. 10:9).

Our faith is to rest in the fact of the resurrection of Christ-not simply in the historic reality but also in the divinely revealed meaning of this event:

"[Christ] was delivered for our offences, and was RAISED AGAIN FOR OUR JUSTIFICATION" (Rom. 4:25).

The reality of Christ's resurrection declares the finality of the work of Calvary. When "Christ died for our sins, "He thoroughly put away sin, paying its penalty in full. Thus, the debt of sin having been paid, death could not hold Him. His resurrection is, as it were, the receipt that declares: "Paid in full!"

It is because the shed blood of Christ fully and completely paid for sin that Jesus Christ could be raised from the dead--and thus, with a perfect redemption accomplished and attested to, we can be declared righteous in Him.

Monday, March 30, 2015


Mark 15:39
When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

God was glorified in Jesus’ death!

That centurion had never experienced a crucifixion like this one. Jesus did not cry for mercy or try to escape; rather, He prayed for the people who put Him on the cross, “Father, forgive them”. He spoke to the other victims of crucifixion about life with God after death. As He was dying, for three hours in the middle of the day, the sky went dark. When Jesus died, there was a massive earthquake and the rocks were splitting. It was a terrifying experience.

As the centurion took in all that he had heard and seen from Jesus, he could come to only one conclusion: “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

God was not only glorified in Jesus’ miracles and in His words that so amazed His listeners. The glory of Jesus’ life went way beyond His training of the disciples. God was also glorified in Jesus’ suffering and death.

God is challenging you today not to think of the hard times you face as opponents of God’s work in your life. God is as much glorified by your spiritual response to those times as He is by your times of great victory and blessing.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Picture of the Messiah

Dr. Mike Evans calls Pesach/Passover “the most Messianic of all the Jewish feasts – the one that most points to the life and death of Christ…” While all the feasts are important to the fulfillment of history and of God’s revelation while testifying of the Saviour, this feast is so special God had Moses instruct the Chosen People “this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it for an ordinance for ever.” (Exodus 12:14) And it is from the Passover observance Lord Jesus instituted his “Remembrance” observed in the Church in Communion throughout the Church Age. (1Cor. 11:17-34)
The Passover marks the beginning of the religious year while Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the civil year. I will not state it as an absolute but I strongly suspicion that in the Millennial Reign of Christ the Passover will mark both the religious and civil year because mankind will live under the theocracy of the King of kings and LORD of lords.
The first Passover meal was held on the night of the tenth and final plague on Egypt, the death of the firstborn. It is because we know Pharaoh did not die that night we can see he is not the one traditionally thought to be the king. Ramses was not the Pharaoh as commonly pictured. But more importantly the death of the firstborn because of Egypt’s sin on that night pointed toward that time in history when God the Father would give His only begotten Son for all men’s sin so they might be reconciled to Him.
Moses told the Children of Israel to come to the Passover table dressed and ready to depart. The meal was eaten standing ready to move at a moment’s notice. Today, the Jewish Seder is eaten with the one presiding over the table sitting and leaning on an chair arm on a pillow because they are no longer slaves. Those whom the Lord Jesus makes free shall be free indeed! (John 8:36) But most who preside at the observance of the Lord’s Supper do so standing. There is a reason for doing this. For the Church is once more ready to depart at a moment’s notice to meet the Lord our Passover in the air!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

GOD Hates

God is love, says 1 John 4:8. We like that. It is comforting, like a warm blanket on a chilly night.

But like a rock dropped into the stillness of a pond are the words, "God hates." The ripples that result disturb the tranquility of the water's surface.

Our minds are jolted to a reality that too often we want to ignore.

God is love, but there are things He hates. This really ought to catch our attention! We should sit up and take notice when the One who loves us so much that He would give His Son to die for us says in His Word that there are things He hates. "There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him." Proverbs 6:16. This does not mean there are only six or seven things God objects to. Hebrew poetry uses a phrase like this to indicate that these are definitely on the list! It is like the flashing lights at a railroad crossing, saying, "Look out!"

Included in the list is "a man who stirs up dissension among brothers." v. 19. Earlier in the chapter this person is described as one "who plots evil with deceit in his heart." v. 14. His mouth, his winking, even his body language bring about alienation and conflict.

God hates this. That should be enough to keep us from causing dissension- - but sadly we know that dissension can be found even among the people of God.

Consider your words and what you do. Is your heart set on causing conflict?

The heart of Christianity is reconciliation first of all us to God! And we are to be people reconciled to one another. Examine you heart. Are you by words or deed sowing seeds of dissension?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Great Responsibility

By Skip Heitzig
Hearing the truth carries responsibility. Listen to the words of Jesus:
"'If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.' Then He said to them, 'Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him'" (Mark 4:23-25).
If you learn spiritual truth and you apply that truth, more truth will be given to you for you to apply to your heart. This is why some people get bored with Bible study, because they never apply the truth to their hearts or their lives. It never penetrates. They just think, Yes, I kind of understand it. That's sort of an interesting fact.

They never ask God for that truth to transform the way they do business, treat their wives, love their husbands, or speak to the world at large. And eventually, if you're exposed to Bible truth without really making that kind of application, you'll get bored with it. You'll lose what you have. It won't make sense to you. God won't reveal anything to you unless you put into practice what He has already revealed to you. Why should He tell you any more of His secrets?

In Mark 4:26-29, Jesus gave a parable about a man who scatters seed; it grows, but "he himself does not know how" (v. 27). That's how the gospel works. You share the truth of the gospel with somebody, and they listen to it.

You can't see what's going on inside that person's mental processes or inside their heart, but God may be working in their life, and pretty soon there are signs of life. A little leaf starts sticking out of ground, so to speak. You say, "Oh, look; he's interested in spiritual things." Soon, more of the plant comes out, then the full head of grain, and eventually "he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come" (v. 29). That is, at the right time God reaps that individual into His kingdom. That person eventually comes to know Christ.

A farmer can't make a seed grow. He plants the seed, but he doesn't know what stage of growth it's in until he sees it come up out of the ground. So when we share, we don't know what effect it's going to have, but life may be happening all around us.

You might have some wonderful surprises like I've had with some of the people that I've shared with: they get saved, and you don't know how it happened. Someone may come up to you and tell you, "I got saved because of your testimony to me!" Or maybe you won't know until after you get to heaven. It's okay either way.

But there are two things I want you to take away here: Keep on applying to your life what God tells you when He speaks to you in His Word. Then He will reveal more to you. And keep on sharing with the people in your life, even if they seem hard-hearted. You don't know what God is doing inside them.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Where You Can Find Peace in the Midst of Pain

by Dr. Jack Graham

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

There was a father and his little girl who lost their wife and mother suddenly one night in a car accident. As the daddy was putting his daughter to bed that night, they both sat there in darkness when the little girl broke the silence, “Daddy, this is a dark night. I think it’s the darkest night we’ve ever had.”

“Yes, baby,” the dad responded, “I think it is.”

Then the little girl reached out in the darkness, touched her Daddy’s face, and said, “Good. Your face is toward me.” And with that, the little girl laid her head down, closed her eyes, and slept.

In the deepest imaginable pain, that little girl was comforted by knowing her daddy was there and his face was toward her. And in our own deep pain, we can take comfort knowing that our heavenly Daddy keeps His face toward us even in the darkest of nights. We may not be able to see it, but we can be sure it’s there.

Real and lasting comfort from pain isn’t found by just numbing what hurts. Real comfort is found in knowing that in the depths of sorrow, you are deeply and truly loved by a Father who knows exactly how you feel. Find your true peace and rest in the Father who loves you.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Happiness Without Sin

by Pastor Greg Laurie

But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” - (Luke 11:28)

It is hard for some people to believe, but you can have a happy life without sin. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28). There is happiness in hearing, believing, and keeping the Word of God.

To be honest, there is some happiness in sin. There is some fun in sin. I think sometimes that Christians are reluctant to admit that sin isn’t always miserable. In fact, the writer of Hebrews said that Moses “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (11:24–25, emphasis added).

But sin comes with a price—a hefty price. I’m sure it would be very pleasurable to jump out of an airplane and fly through the air without a parachute. I think it would be the ultimate rush. I think it would be better than any roller coaster or any amusement. But then you are going to hit the ground. So there is fun for a time, but inevitably there is a payday.

There will be pleasure in sin for a season—temporarily. But then the repercussions kick in. The Bible warns that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). For a moment of pleasure, you can have a lifetime of regret. But if you keep the Word of God, you will be happy.

James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation.” Sometimes you don’t feel that way when you’re tempted, because temptation is appealing of course. But when you choose to walk away from temptation, you’ll be glad that you did.

You can have a happy life without sin. And this comes from reading, studying, memorizing, and obeying the Word of God.

Copyright © 2015 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Holy Spirit: An Absolute

by Dr. Charles Stanley

Luke 24:36-49

Salvation occurs when we trust Jesus as our Savior--He forgives us, transforms us, and sees us as righteous. In that moment, we are redeemed, and though we continue to struggle with sin, it is a defeated foe. Then as time goes on, our service, gifts, and love for Him should naturally become greater.

Unfortunately, a lot of Christians sit in church week after week, going through the motions yet lacking passion and failing to grow. How is such a thing possible? Tragically, many believers are unaware of the essential ministry of God's Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is a member of the Trinity and co-equal with God the Father and God the Son. The opening chapter of Scripture tells us that He existed before the formation of the earth and in fact participated in creation (Gen. 1:2, 26). Today, He has the critical role of helping and counseling all believers.

The Holy Spirit is a gift to every child of God. His presence within us isn't something we have to earn or acquire. Rather, it is a marvelous privilege--by indwelling our hearts, He can guide and strengthen, steering each believer away from danger and into truth (John 16:7-8). Scripture tells us that Jesus came so we could experience a full life (10:10). This is possible only when we listen to His Spirit and obey.

Are you experiencing the abundant life Jesus promised? He wasn't talking about happy circumstances but rather the joy and contentment possible through a relationship with Him. If you're lacking in this area, consider your understanding of the Holy Spirit, and pray to be in tune with His promptings.

Monday, March 23, 2015

I Need a Fresh Start

by Lara Casey

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

As a personal trainer years ago, January was always an exciting month.

People packed the gym, energy soared and hope flowed like water. This was a fresh new start. Great things were ahead!

Then, come February 1 … you know where this is going. I’ve been right there too, making progress on some goals then weeks later, getting bogged down by inner shame: I failed. I can’t do this. I am not enough. I messed up — all hope is lost!

There is nothing magical about January 1st and no matter what you’ve done or not done, great things are ahead with God. The best is yet to come. Every day we are given the opportunity to be made new in Christ, not by our might but by our surrender. As Paul reveals in our key verse: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I need that truth written on a Post-it Note and plastered to my forehead every day.

As a toddler mama, wife, business owner and friend, I mess up a lot. We need new starts around here like we need daily food and clean diapers. I try to control just about everything: naptimes, schedules and my to-do lists. When things begin getting out of control and I feel Madame Overwhelmed creeping up behind me, I think back to a cold day one November when things started to change.

I was so afraid to let go. I was afraid of more pain. I was afraid my life would never be the same.

But I soon realized that the tighter I held the reins of control, the more intense the pain became. The day my daughter Grace was born, I learned a life-altering truth: my need for control was holding life back.

Perhaps your roadblocks aren’t roadblocks at all, but rather new beginnings in disguise. Perhaps your missteps are actually opportunities for growth, greater closeness with God or a nudge to take a leap of faith.

In order for a seed to sprout, the outer casing first has to fall away, or surrender, in order for new life to come. The same is true with our lives. We must let go a little — or sometimes a lot — for our new start to be revealed. As Paul says in Philippians 3:13b-14, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (NIV).

My middle school English teacher had the words "This too shall pass" permanently painted on her classroom bulletin board. (And am I grateful that the awkward days of perming my already-curly hair did pass!) While those words on the chalkboard didn’t originate from the Bible, they do reveal some truth.

This life and everything in it will pass away, but God’s love never changes. Our new start can’t be found in more money, more business, more fun, more stuff or more visits to the gym. Our new start is found only in Him.

Lord, I have found myself overwhelmed at times, trying to do it all. I am so grateful You’re in control so I don’t have to be! Thank You for Your radical grace that makes all things new. Help me see my failures and mistakes as You see them: opportunities to draw closer to You. Help me find my worth and identity only in You, not in my accomplishments and not in my missteps. I love You Lord. I want to be closer to You, always sure of the fresh start I have been given because of Your sacrifice! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Sunday, March 22, 2015


Mark 9:24 ...Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
There comes a time in every parent's life when we are at our wit's end. We don't know what to do, where to turn, or how things will work out. This is especially true when our children are sick, and, we can't do anything about it. This verse today is a cry for help from a parent. First, he calls Jesus Lord. Second, he says I believe. Finally, this man says help thou mine unbelief.
First, for Jesus to answer any of our prayers, we must recognize him as our LORD. Jesus is not our “buddy”. He is our Saviour. Jesus is not someone we can tell to do things. We need to plead and ask Jesus very reverently. Second, we must believe Jesus is who he said he is. Jesus was in the beginning. Jesus created all there is, and, He is in control of all.
Finally, and here is where I had a problem, this man said he believed, but, he asked for help with his unbelief. How can he believe, and, need help with his unbelief? Seemed like a contradiction at first. After prayer and study, I feel I'm in the same situation. I believe, but, I still , at times,have doubts.
In conclusion, we all need to ask the LORD to help thou mine unbelief.
Jesus can help you!
God Bless;

Walter D. Hill D. Min.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Philippians 4:5

For further study - Philippians 4:1-23
What a practical book Paul's letter to the Church at Philippi is for the Christian today. What a powerful passage Philippians 4 is for each of us in these days before the coming of the Lord. And what an encouraging word is contained in our key verse for today's devotional reading.
In fact, in five words Paul reminds us of what we must constantly keep before us on a daily basis, "the Lord is at hand", verse 5. Contained within these five words is what drives us to appropriate all of the great Biblical principles that are in Philippians 4 and in fact, all of the practical passages of Philippians.
"The Lord is at hand" is telling us that His shout for us to join Him in the air, the Rapture, is an "any moment" event that is "imminent", an event that could happen before you finish reading this devotional thought for today.
That makes me want to offer up the Apostle John's prayer of 2,000 years ago, Revelation 22:20, "Even so come Lord Jesus." But should He tarry, because "He is not willing that any should parish but all should come to repentance", II Peter 3:9, we can look to all of God's provisions for us in Philippians and in particular chapter four .
Philippians 4 is a very practical pattern for our own personal relationship with Jesus and a productive relationship with our fellow Christians. As I often say, I can't get to every "precious nugget" in this passage, but only some of the highlights.
Verse 4 reflects the theme of the entire book of Philippians, "a joyful mind". I didn't say a "happy mind" but a "joyful mind". There is a difference. Happiness is based on happenings. Joy is based on our relationship with Jesus Christ.
"Rejoicing in the Lord always"verse 4, means to have that "Godly joy" that Jesus gives, all the time. In verses 6-9 we see how that can happen. We don't need to worry but "pray," verse 6. Sometimes we get that backwards, we don't need to "pray", but worry. Verse 8 tells us to "think", we need to "think" right, we must think on things and about things that contain "virtue" within them.
Verse 9 is the action verse, Paul says, "You've read about my ministry and my example, now go out and "do" what you have seen, heard and learned from me. To be able to rejoice, we must "pray, think and do". By the way, remember, we can "do" all things through Christ who strengthens us, verse 13.
There is one more nugget before I close, verse 19, "My God shall supply all our needs according to His riches in glory, by Christ Jesus." That promise includes not only financial, but physical and spiritual needs as well.
What practical provision Paul gives us in Philippians for our personal journey through life as we await His "any moment" shout for us to join Him in the heavenlies.

PRAYER THOT: Help me to keep the reality of Your "any moment" return in mind as I appropriate Your provision for these days, awaiting Your shout to call me to be with You forever.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Forgive Them

by Dr. Jack Graham

Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." --Luke 23:34

As we all know, words are powerful…especially dying words. And as we near Easter Sunday, it's important that each of us remembers just exactly what Jesus had to say right before His earthly life ended.

One of the last things Jesus said while hanging from the cross were words of forgiveness.

Today I want to ask you, if Christ could pray a prayer of forgiveness for those who were putting Him to death, can you pray a prayer of forgiveness for those in your life who mistreat you?

Despite what you may be going through today, can you look past your own "junk" and extend forgiveness to others?

Jesus' dying words on the cross are a powerful example of how you and I ought to treat those who mistreat us. Are you willing to follow His perfect example in every area of your life today? Will you extend forgiveness to those who don't deserve it?

I challenge you to pick up your cross today… and live out the life of forgiveness Christ has given you!


Thursday, March 19, 2015


by Skip Heitzig

Did you ever wonder about that stone at the tomb of Jesus? Why was it moved? It wasn’t to let Jesus out; Jesus could get out of the tomb as easily as He entered the Upper Room later, without using the door. No, the reason the stone was rolled away was not to let Jesus out, but to let the disciples in so they could see!

And what did they see there? They saw that the body of Jesus was gone, but the grave clothes were still there, lying undisturbed. In John 20:1-8  there are different Greek words used for "saw." When it says Mary and Peter saw, it means they noted. When it says that John saw, it means that he saw with understanding, with comprehension.

Peter entered the tomb. "Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed" (John 20:8). When John saw the grave clothes, he thought, "I get it!" He believed that Jesus was alive, based on what he saw.

Then John adds something that seems puzzling at first. Verse 9 says, “For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.” They saw an empty tomb and empty grave clothes, and they formed their beliefs based on that. They knew what they saw.

But by the time John wrote his gospel, they knew the theology of Christ’s resurrection. Their faith, once based on physical evidence—the open tomb, the body gone, the clothes intact (as good as that was to convince John at that moment)—wasn’t enough to sustain a person through life. “This is what we saw, but we didn’t know the scripture yet” points to the fact that there’s something even better to base your belief and knowledge upon, and that’s the objective, inerrant prophecy in the Word of God.

Observation and personal experience aren’t enough! The Bible predicted that Christ would rise from the dead. What Peter called “a more sure word of prophecy” (2 Peter 1:19, KJV) is a more sure foundation.

So how do you know that you know? You could say, “I know because I saw or I heard.” But here’s something better: “What I saw and what I heard was predicted long ago in the prophets.” So now the subjective experience is bolstered by the objective prophecy of the Bible—and that’s unshakeable.

That’s what I want you to see here—the fundamental importance of the Word of God. Jesus said in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”

The experience which we have with Christ is valid only as it is tied to something that is outside of our experience, something that is objective—the inerrant Word of God. With that, we can face anything.

If you just have the inerrant Word of Scripture but you don’t have an experience with God yourself, then it’s not personal. If you have your personal experience but it doesn’t match what the scripture says, then it’s not reasonable. Put them both together, it’s powerful. It’s unshakeable.

That’s my prayer for you at this Easter season, that you will have an unshakeable faith, based on the sure word of prophecy and a personal, vital relationship with Jesus Christ, the risen Redeemer!

Copyright © 2013 by Connection Communications. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Greed Has Many Faces

by Max Lucado

Our obsession with stuff carries a hefty price tag. We spend 110 percent of our disposable income trying to manage debt. Who can keep up? No one can!

Jesus warns in Luke 12:15, “Be on your guard against every form of greed.” Greed comes in many forms. Greed for approval. Greed for applause. Greed for status. Greed has many faces but speaks one language: the language of more. Wise was the one who wrote, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.”

The only way to feel full is to feel fulfilled. The only way to feel fulfilled is to understand that everything we have comes from God—and he gives us exactly what we need. All of it is on loan! And, someday we’ll have to give it all back, checking it at heaven’s door!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Heavenly Minded

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. - (Philippians 1:21)

A quick look at history reveals that some of the greatest things that have ever been done have been done by Christians who believe what the Word of God says. They have done things to help others, from building hospitals to founding relief organizations.

As C. S. Lewis said, “The Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next.”

Some people have been criticized for being so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good. But in response to that, I would say there are far more people today who are so earthly minded that they are no heavenly good. And when you are truly heavenly minded, then you will be of the greatest earthly good.

The apostle Paul said, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). I think that statement could have been attached to any Christian in Paul’s day: “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Look at the church of the first century and the way they changed their world. Those first-century Christians didn’t out-argue the pagans, they out-lived them. They also out-thought and out-prayed the nonbelievers, and the world was a different place as a result.

That is the kind of Christianity we need today. I wonder what would sum up the lives of a lot of Christians today. Would it be “to live is Christ, and to die is gain”? Maybe it would be something more along the lines of, “Hey, what about my needs?” That seems to be the battle cry of a lot of people today. If we train people to be consumers instead of commuters, then we are going to end up with customers instead of disciples. I think we need to get back to this first-century model.

Social media: Can you really agree with Paul, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain?” Or, is it “what about me?” your mindset?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Love That Never Stops

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1, NIV

After serving two terms as president, James Madison and his wife, Dolley, retired to Montpelier, their Virginia home. In Madison’s final days, he was weak and bedridden. Madison’s personal servant, Paul Jennings, wrote later in his memoir that Dolley Madison sat by her husband’s bedside up to 18 hours a day. She never left his side for more than 15 or 20 minutes at a time.

We could easily say that very little could separate James Madison from the love of his wife, Dolley. Her love for him was constant. But we can say with greater confidence that nothing can separate the Christian from the love of God in Christ. Is it right to picture God by our side 24 hours a day, even while we are sleeping? Through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, that is a most appropriate image. The apostle Paul suggests a number of things we might think could separate us from God’s love—the condemnation of sin, death, spiritual powers, things unimagined—and says none of them are that strong. Nothing can separate us from God in Christ.

If you are a Christian, remind yourself today that you are safe in God’s presence. His love attends your every need in life or in death.

A piece of bread with God’s love is angels’ food.

Thomas Watson

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Death's Eternal Consequences

Despite our society’s fascination and obsession with death, there is virtually no understanding of the eternal consequences that death brings. Amazingly, as much as the entertainment industry cranks out movies and programs that are preoccupied with death scenes and motifs, death is not a subject often candidly discussed. I think that’s because we would prefer to portray death on a purely fictional level and avoid its stark reality. 
The Bible says that once a person dies, he will face the judgment of God. “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). There is no reincarnation. There is no second chance.
Death is serious, eternal business. Once our physical hearts beat for the last time, we will instantly find ourselves either in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in all His splendor, or in the pit of hell away from His presence.
The glorious good news of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ, who died and rose again, has alone defeated the dread enemy of death. Jesus, the Son of God, our Redeemer and Savior, bore our sins on the cross, suffered the punishment of our sins—death—on our behalf, and offers full forgiveness for all who trust personally in Him.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Victory Is Ours!

For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
Psalm 16:10

It is commonly known that in many surveys of people’s greatest fears, fear of public speaking ranks higher than the fear of death. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld observed that most people are more afraid of delivering a eulogy at a funeral than of being in the casket. Something seems wrong with these surveys. Given the choice, right now, would most people rather die—actually die—than speak in public? That seems unlikely.

Death has always been humanity’s greatest unknown and thus man’s greatest fear. We tend to fear what we don’t understand and can’t control. Religions have made attempts through the centuries to unravel the mystery of death. But no explanation of death satisfies reason and intellect, and gives hope to the heart, like the Christian explanation. Very simply, Jesus Christ defeated death by returning to life. Had the resurrection not happened, we Christians would look foolish with our Gospel of eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:14, 18).

But the resurrection did happen! Death has been defeated! And we Christians, in Christ, have been given the victory (1 Corinthians 15:57).

The resurrection of Christ is the most important article of our faith.

John Calvin

Friday, March 13, 2015

Coping with Consequences

by Charles R. Swindoll
2 Corinthians 4:10-11, 16-18

I have found great help from two truths God gave me at a time in my life when I was bombarded with a series of unexpected and unfair blows (from my perspective). In my darkest hours these principles still become my anchor of stability, my only means of survival.

Because they work for me, I pass them on to you. Memorize them. Write them on a card and carry it at all times.

• Nothing touches me that has not passed through the hands of my heavenly Father. Nothing. Whatever occurs, God has sovereignly surveyed and approved. We may not know why, but we do know our pain is no accident to Him who guides our lives.
• Everything I endure is designed to prepare me for serving others more effectively. Everything. Since my Heavenly Father is committed to shaping me into the image of His Son, He knows the ultimate value of this painful experience. It is being used to empty our hands of our own resources, our own sufficiency, and turn us back to Him---the faithful Provider. And God knows what will get through to us.

Things may not be logical or fair, but when God is directing the events of our lives, they are right.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Danger Ahead

"In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. —Ephesians 4:26-27

A study of nine thousand British civil servants, reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that prolonged anger is bad for one's health. Participants who were involved in hostile, critical relationships were 34 percent more likely to have a heart attack or chest pain  compared to participants who had emotional support and frequent opportunities to voice their feelings in a healthy way.

Anger in itself is not necessarily wrong. But impatient anger that fails to take the other person's needs into account can be destructive. That's one of the reasons why it's so important to show patience in our words and actions, even when we are upset with someone. Patience gives us a chance to apply reason to the emotions that might otherwise cause us to do or say something unloving.

Ephesians 4:26-27 reminds us that controlling our anger is a spiritual issue. When we fail to control our anger, we give Satan an opportunity to attack us—and our minds, bodies, and relationships all take a beating.

Action Step
Picture a situation you sometimes find yourself in that triggers anger. Now, commit yourself to take a step—such as counting to ten, leaving the room, or putting your hand over your mouth—that will help you use patience to control your anger.

Dr. Gary Chapman is the beloved best-selling author of The Five Love Languages and Love as a Way of Life.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Reviving an Abandoned Dream

Glynnis Whitwer

"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)

I sat on the couch during small group, dabbed the tears dripping down my face, and hoped the others wouldn't notice my emotional response to the message.

While watching a DVD teaching about God-given dreams, a tender, hidden spot in my heart was coming to life. It was uncomfortable. Scary, in fact. I wanted to move toward it and away at the same time.

The teaching wasn't on night-time dreams, but rather those dreams that often start in childhood when anything seemed possible. And we were unhindered by the realities of genetics or abilities. We were sure to be ballerinas or fashion models, ignoring the fact that we couldn't do the splits, or that our height/weight ratio might be less than desirable for the runway.

Personally, I imagined the day my favorite band would invite me on stage. Hairbrush in hand, I practiced my moves and vocal range preparing for my big break.

That day at small group, the dream fuelling my simmering emotions wasn't the desire to sing. For years another dream had been stirring in my heart, a dream that had been dampened by doubts and the logistics of adulthood. My dream was to write.

Pain and excitement mixed as I allowed the dream to come to life, much like a foot that's fallen asleep when the blood flow returns. Doubt whispered around every thought. Was this dream from God or me? Did I have anything worth saying?

My heart felt vulnerable every time I pondered the idea. If I told someone my dream, would they give voice to the litany of taunts in my head? I wondered. And yet the more I prayed, the more convinced I became that God was asking me to write for Him. When I finally accepted that truth, my attitude changed. Writing wasn't just an interesting idea, it was an assignment.

I wish I could say I immediately started writing. But I didn't.

Tucking the dream in my heart, I procrastinated. For months. Which turned into years. Thinking about my dream was much easier than acting on it, because it was going to take a lot of work and sacrifice. And there was always a handy excuse.

Until one Sunday, my pastor opened prayer time with these words: "God has asked some of you to do something and you haven't done it yet."

The Holy Spirit was playing the drums on my heart as I shifted from foot to foot. There was no question; God was calling my name. A flood of people headed to the front alongside me to address their own abandoned assignments.

My pastor's challenge was what I needed to shift from a passive to an active approach in my writing. To move from disobedience to obedience. To step into an unfamiliar world believing that if God had called me to it, He wouldn't abandon me.

God often gives directions through dreams. Yet, those can be the hardest to embrace because they seem too big for us to accomplish on our own. And sometimes they seem downright selfish. So we let them drift away.

But dreams are also how God increases our faith. When we step into active obedience of an audacious assignment, we see God move and do things only He can do. Our key verse shows that God has the power to accomplish any dream He gives us: "Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20, NLT).

It was 10 years ago when I embraced my dream as an assignment, and God has shown His power time and time again. There are still doubts and barriers to overcome, but my faith has grown each time God proves Himself faithful.

Did God put a dream in your heart years ago? Maybe your dream was to adopt a child or go on a mission trip. Maybe it was to open your home to neighbors or lead teens at church. At the time your dream seemed too big or came with too many barriers. Now it's a hazy memory.

May I offer the same challenge my pastor gave years ago? God has asked some of you to do something and you haven't done it yet. Will today be your day to accept your assignment?

Heavenly Father, thank You for giving me a dream to serve You and others through my gifts and talents. Help me see this dream as an assignment from You, and I ask for Your power to help me take the next step. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Lost Lamb

(By musician Peder Eide, http://www.pedereide.com)

"Daddy, are we gonna check with lost and found at the hotel when we get there?" asked my 10 year old daughter, Allison as we drove down the interstate on our way to a three day family getaway at a Wisconsin Water Park. "Can we check right when we get there dad?" Allison continued remind me that we needed to go find Baby, the toy stuffed baby lamb that she had lost a year ago in the room we stayed in at this same Resort. Since we go once a year she thought we should go check again in person with the staff of the hotel as soon as we got checked in.

Mind you, this was not just any soft little toy bedtime companion. This was Baby. Allison had this little, well-worn lamb since she was born. You could see it was loved by the wear and tear and worn out exterior. Baby was loved, adored, prayed for and so very missed. Even mom and dad were very determined to find Baby.

After we settled into our rooms, made some sort of schedule for the three days, Allison and I were off to find Baby. We first started at the front desk, which directed us to another front desk on the complete, other side of the resort. Being this was a completely enclosed resort of water parks, rooms, condos, and it was 10 below outside, Allison and I walked through all sorts of walkways, turns and skywalks, walkways, turns, and finally we arrived at another front desk. When we finally arrived, there was a line of other people needing help with their stay. (I assumed no one else was looking for a lost stuffed animal but you never know.) The line seemed to be moving slow and I could tell my daughter was a bit anxious so I asked if she wanted to come back later. She very clearly stated she was willing to wait because she did not miss this chance in getting her little lamb back. 20 plus minutes later we talk to the person behind the counter who kindly informed us he is not the person to talk to regarding any lost and found items. We were then sent to another part of the water park and I again asked Allison if she wanted to keep searching since she would be missing some of her swim time. "Keep going, I want to find Baby." Okay.

Almost an hour later we finally find the right person who listened to our story. We tell about how we left this precious stuffed animal here last year and we are back trying to find some answers and to find this little lamb named Baby. The hotel employee listened and with gentleness but authority tells my Allison that they only keep lost items for 6 months and after that they are disposed of.

My stomach just sank. I could just feel the wind in my little princess disappear. She secretly reached and grabbed my hand and with amazing maturity says to the staff person "no problem, thank you for your time." I was a bit caught off guard by Allison's calmness and was somewhat impressed. As we walked away and went around the corner to head back to reunite with the family for swimming, I looked down and said "I'm sorry they didn't have Baby, Allison." Before the words even left my lips, knowing no one else was around; Allison wrapped her arms around me, buried her face in my shirt and cried. I mean the kind of cry that hurts to hear, hurts to feel, hurts to let out.

I just held her. She was broken. It probably sounds like a lot of drama for a stuffed animal but it meant more to her than that. It meant a whole lot of history, memories, family tradition and the specialness because of where it came from and from who; all this was now gone. We walked the long corridors and hallways back to the wave pool and the whole time my hurting hearted little princess just held my hand. No words. Just walking with her fingers intertwined with mine. It was not how I expected it to turn out. Definitely not what Allison expected either.

It is hard to think what its like for God. The Bible says that Jesus came to seek and save the lost. The result of Jesus being born, living, teaching, dying, rising from the dead so that those who believe could say "I once was lost but now am found."

Do you think it hurts God when there are so many who deny Him, mock Him, ignore Him? The atonement is complete, love is abounding and yet there are ones who hear the message of Jesus and say "who cares?"

What does God do?

He keeps pursuing them. He keeps revealing His glory to them. He keeps loving them. He will not stop no matter how long it takes because when you love something as much as God loves them, you keep on seeking the lost.

How about you? Have you asked the Lord for a heart for the lost? I have some pastor friends who have planted churches with a great passion for those who want nothing to do with the church, faith, or Jesus.

Yet, they keep on going, keep on preaching, keep on loving and are willing to do whatever it takes.

Do you know anyone who might be considered lost? What is your heart towards them? Do you feel like giving up and would rather go be with "the rest of the family and swim." Or are you willing to keep loving them, serving them, pursuing them with kindness.

Search your heart my friends...plain and simple. Don't wait too long...

Monday, March 9, 2015

What Is Salvation?

Devotionals from sermons by Adrian Rogers

“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” - 1 John 5:1

What is salvation? Not a creed. You say, “Well, I believe the plan of salvation.” You can believe the plan of salvation and go straight to hell. You’re not saved by the plan of salvation, you’re saved by the man of salvation.

Salvation is not a creed. It’s not a code. You say, “Well, I believe if you live right you’ll go to heaven.” If you could be saved by living right, then Calvary was a blunder. It’s not a cause. You say, “I’m a member of a good, fundamental, Bible believing church.” It’s not any of these things. It’s Christ.

Salvation is not believing something, it is receiving Someone. The true gospel is one that centers in Jesus Christ.

Ask God to give you a divine opportunity to boldly share Jesus with someone today. Maybe it’s a co-worker, maybe it’s your child. Maybe it’s a stranger that sits next to you at a restaurant. Be strong and of good courage, God will go before you to prepare the way. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015


 "The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious... who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin."  Exodus 34:6-7 
In the early 80’s, a new show hit the airwaves. It was called That’s Incredible!, and it featured hosts Fran Tarkenton, John Davidson, and Cathy Lee Crosby. Real life guests would come on the show and perform jaw-dropping stunts and feats of skill, strength, and courage.  The incredible – that which couldn’t be believed because it was beyond credible – became an awesome reality as performer after performer beat the odds and completed the often life-threatening act.

The God of the universe is incredible in much the same way.  He is almost too good to be true … but He is true and totally faithful and trustworthy.

One of the most wonderful, incredible things about God is that He forgives sinners like you and me.  As someone well said, “He forgives from the gutter-most to the uttermost.”  No matter what you have done, it is not greater than the precious blood of Jesus.  That blood, shed freely on Calvary’s cross for fallen humanity, washes away the worst of sins.

When God revealed His glory to Moses on Mount Sinai, He proclaimed His name, His very character and nature to him.  It is clear that God is a good, gracious, and forgiving God.  His forgiveness is complete, as the three-fold delineation in Exodus 34:7 reveals (and more fully understood through a Hebrew word study).  First of all, He forgives iniquity – the twisted, crooked evil in our hearts that lusts and longs and plans out our sin.  He forgives transgression – the rebellious acts of disobedience.  Lastly, He forgives sin – the guilt that accompanies the disobedience and wrong committed.

I have found that many Christians live in the spiritual doghouse, so to speak.  They live under a heavy load of guilt over their sins of the past.  Even though they have confessed those sins to God, they still can’t seem to get the victory over the guilt and shame.  What is the problem?  Does God not forgive us when we confess and repent?  Yes, He does.

He forgives completely.  He forgives incredibly.  Your challenge and mine is to make sure the incredible doesn’t become something we can’t believe, but rather something that is wonderful, awesome, and jaw-dropping.    

I hear that a lot.  How could I possibly forgive myself over ______________?  Whether your great sin is fornication, or adultery, or homosexuality, or abortion, or theft, or destroying your family, or whatever … the truth is you don’t have to forgive yourself.  What you have to do is believe and receive His complete and total forgiveness.  Your standards cannot be higher than the standards of Almighty, Most Holy God, can they?  If He forgives you, you are forgiven.  End of story.  Once you have truly confessed and turned from your sin all that is left for you to do is to believe the promise in His Word and trust Him for that incredible forgiveness.  Will you do it?
Dear God, I come before you a wretched sinner.  I have done __________________.  It was ugly and wrong and has brought me such shame and heartache.  I am guilt-ridden over it, and I am so sorry for sinning against You, Lord.  Today, I make the choice to believe your Word and claim Your compassion, grace, mercy, and three-fold forgiveness.  You say you will take away my sins as far as the east is from the west (an infinite distance), and I believe it and receive it!  Thank You, Jesus, for forgiving me of my wicked heart, my sinful act, and my guilty conscience!  I am forgiven and free.  Hallelujah!  What a Savior!


Jeff Schreve

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Accepting God's Gift of Love

by Dr. Charles Stanley

Many people simply can't believe that the Lord loves them. Others believe that He loves them, but only when they are pleasing Him in some way. Why is it so hard for us to accept His unconditional love?

One reason is that we have a hard time loving others without condition. We might say the words "I love you" to our spouse, children, friends, co-workers, or fellow believers but all too often are calculating in our mind whether or not they've lived up to our standard. We sometimes excuse ourselves from loving certain people because their behavior upsets or annoys us. The fact that we place restrictions on extending favor causes us to wrongly assume that the Lord does likewise.

Another reason is poor self-image. Considering ourselves unworthy, we refuse to accept God's love. You know what? None of us are worthy of the heavenly Father's goodness and mercy—so you can let go of that excuse once and for all. We're not coming to Him based on our worth. Rather, we're coming to Him based on His grace, and our position is secure in Christ. To put yourself down as "beneath His grace" is to trample on His loving, generous gift. God arranged an awesome divine way for us to be reconciled to Him, and His greatest desire is for relationship with each of us.

If you feel unloved or struggle to accept yourself, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of our heavenly Father's love for you—and to sink it deep into your heart. Receive the truth that He reveals. It will be a completely different story about your value as an individual.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Camping Out

By Skip Heitzig
If you've ever gone camping, you know it's a lot of fun...but not for very long. I once went camping for three months when I took a trip around the United States. I had a truck and a tent, and I'd set it up every night. You know, honestly, I had fun, but I'm over it. After a few days, you start longing for things like a shower, walls, a real bed. It's a temporary situation.
In 2 Corinthians 5:1-8, Paul compared our physical bodies to a tent. "For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (v. 1).

When we leave earth as Christians, we go to heaven. When we move from this tent, this physical body, we go to a permanent temple, a house. Paul was a tentmaker, and his analogy was simple. In the Middle East, there are nomadic peoples who live in tents. They pitch their tent for a while and then move on to somewhere else. So, the analogy in this passage is clear. One is temporary (the tent); one is permanent (the house, the building). One is flimsy; one is sturdy. One is weak; one is strong.

Your body is like a tent: it's temporary. After a while, the threads start to unravel, the flaps become more prominent, and it starts to leak. It's just the nature of this temporary body. It's interesting how some people want to make their tent look like it's a brand-new model, younger than it really is. So they'll stretch the flaps, and nip and tuck, and dye the threads. But it's only temporary.

James went a step further and said, "For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away" (James 4:14).

Our bodies are not meant to last. The tent will be taken down. In the last letter Paul ever wrote, he said, "The time of my departure is at hand" (2 Timothy 4:6). In the Greek, the word departure connotes that it's time to take down the tent and move on.

And we trade in the tent for "a building from God." This is not referring to a mansion in heaven; in context, the building must be a reference to our glorified, resurrected body.

We are sure that's really going to happen because verse 5 says, "He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee." The word guarantee could be translated down payment or first installment. If you give a down payment, it means you're going to pay the rest off. Or if you give your girl an engagement ring, it means there's going to be a wedding. And we've been given the Holy Spirit, who lives inside of us. You've noticed that you've changed since you gave your life to Christ. You have new desires, new hopes—the hope of heaven. All of that is a foretaste of what's to come.

And, as Paul said in verse 8, we're confident, whether we're in this body or in heaven. Because those are the only two places where God's people can be—not soul sleeping somewhere or in purgatory. You're on earth as a believer, and the moment you leave this earth, you are in God's presence.

We are only camping out here. There'll come a time when the vapor will disappear, when the tent will be taken down for something more permanent. Those who don't know God will have a body fit to endure everlasting punishment, and those who do know Him will have a body fit to experience and enjoy everlasting heaven. I pray if you don't personally know Jesus, that in this interim we call time, you would make a choice to follow Him.
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