Monday, July 31, 2017

New Phone Line

 

Recently, we bought our first-born son a new phone for his birthday, so we gave his old phone to his younger brother. My husband took our middle child to the store to get a new phone line for his phone. He was so excited to have his very own number.

The only problem was that the person who owned the phone line previously apparently had run up a lot of debt. The phone was getting calls by several collectors daily wanting information about the previous owner.

I had to take each call for about two weeks and explain to every person that the phone line had been purchased by a new owner. The debt from the old owner no longer applied to my son’s number because the phone line had been bought with a price.

“For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6.20

So many times we as Christians drag around the debt of our old selves even though our sins have been completely paid for. Our old sinful self is dead, and we are now a new creation in Christ. Jesus died to pay for our sins from the past and every sin we commit each day. Yes, we are to learn from our mistakes, but we are not called to carry the weight of what’s been wiped clean. We make the mistake by allowing the old debt to apply to our new life.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” – 2 Corinthians 5.17

Jesus going to the Cross to pay for our sins in no little thing. In fact, the Finished Work of Jesus Christ came at a high price, and we should not reject the freedom we have in Christ. We have the full right to declare ourselves righteous, holy and sanctified in Christ. Yes, sometimes we will act like our old selves, but this doesn’t mean we have to stay in bondage to it.

“And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” – Hebrews 10.10

If we simply renewed our minds every day, remembering that we are a new creation and the old self is gone, we would be less prone to behave in our old patterns. Instead, we would embrace our new selves and step out in the authority that we have through Christ. So if the Enemy calls you again and reminds you of an old debt, just tell him that Jesus has paid the debt in full.

“Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” – Ephesians 4.23-24

Questions: What old debt does Satan try to apply to your new life in Christ? Do you carry around a sin-consciousness or a righteous-consciousness?  How can truly believing that you are righteous and holy through Christ help you to embrace your new creation?

Date: July 31, 2017 at 10:53PM
From: “Internet Cafe Devotions”
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Category: Internet Cafe Devotions

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Today’s Verse – Romans 8:1

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:1

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

“You are mine! My righteousness and glory are yours! Enter into your Father’s eternal reward!” If we are in Christ, we don’t face judgment, only welcome, with God our Father! His Spirit lives in us. His grace has set us free from the power of sin and death. His Son has paid the price for our sins. We are children of God!

My Prayer…

I praise you, loving and gracious Father, for your mercy and grace. Your steadfast and redeeming love never ceases. Your mercies are endless. Your love is new and fresh every morning as your Spirt fills my life and your hope revives me to face another day. Thank you! In Jesus’ name I praise you. Amen.

Date: August 01, 2017
From: “Today’s Verse from Heartlight”
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Category: Today’s Verse (NIV)

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Isaiah. 51:6 – Verse for Aug. 1st

Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail.

—Isaiah. 51:6


Ⓒ 1996-2017 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent.

Date: August 01, 2017
From: “Daily Wisdom from Heartlight”
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Category: Daily Wisdom (NIV)

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The Spirit Who Makes You Holy!

As for us, we can’t help but thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord. We are always thankful that God chose you to be among the first to experience salvation — a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth.

2 Thessalonians 2:13 NLT

Key Thought

Salvation is connected to two central realities — first, we believe the truth about Jesus placing our trust in him, and second, the Spirit of God comes into our lives, making us holy and making his home inside us. Paul uses these realities as confirmation to the Thessalonians to help remind them of their salvation. Jesus talks about these two central realities with Nicodemus as he explains the new birth (John 3:1-21). Those who responded to the first message after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension experienced these two realities (Acts 2:33-41). When these two realities are part of a person’s life, there is a reason to rejoice and give thanks!

Today’s Prayer

O Father, my heart is pulled different directions as I think about these two realities. First, I rejoice and give thanks for those I know who have confessed Christ, have been baptized, and have received the Holy Spirit. Second, my heart aches for several that I love deeply that need to experience these realities. O dear Father, please use me to encourage the first group and to lead the others to know Jesus. It is in the name of Jesus, my Savior and Lord, that I pray. Amen.


Ⓒ 1996-2017 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. The Thoughts and Prayer for God’s Holy Fire are written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked MESSAGE are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Date: August 01, 2017
From: “God’s Holy Fire from Heartlight”
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Category: SpiritFire

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Christ Is Coming

2 Thessalonians 2:1-17

Dear Father, righteous one,

Keep us from being led astray by misapplications of prophecy. Help us to understand the things you teach in your word about the consummation of Christ’s victory against lawlessness.

Keep us from believing in pretended signs and wonders and wicked deception. Guard our minds that we should believe your truth and our hearts that we should take pleasure only in righteousness.

Thanks be to you, our God, that you chose us from the beginning to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief of the truth.

In the name of Jesus I ask. Amen.


Ⓒ 1996-2017 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. Heartlight appreciates Eldon Degge and Meridian Publishing for permission to make this available on our website. Praying with Paul is available in a very attractive book that may be ordered directly from Eldon Degge.

Date: August 01, 2017
From: “Praying with Paul from Heartlight”
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Category: Praying With Paul

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Primal Fears


Instinctive? Maybe. Pervasive? Absolutely! Primal fears have plagued humanity for as long as we have told stories and laid awake at night… afraid!
As long as children have been tucked into beds, fear has been a topic of conversation. Do you remember what you made you afraid at night? Was it…
The dark?

The wind?

The strange house noises?

The prospect of another night of nightmares?

The uncertainty that goes with being in a room alone?

The last scary TV show you remembered before going to bed?

Many things can make us afraid when we are children. Some of us even liked being a little afraid. I remember going to a great aunt’s house. She was old and wore that caked on powder on her face. She had a screechy voice that sounded like the witch on “The Wizard of Oz” and she lived in an old mansion. The creaky old house was full of rooms. Some were dustier and smelled mustier than others. Then there was the attic! While the attic was full of all sorts of old treasures, there were cobwebs, creaky boards, dust, strange shows and little light. It was spooky, and we loved it!

As we got a little older and were no longer “little kids,” we didn’t like to admit that we were afraid. Sometimes, however, when all the lights were off and we couldn’t sleep, fear would settle into us like a cold fog that seems to penetrate to our bones. “What was that?” we’d think as we thought we heard something rustle under the bed. “Oh my, didn’t I close the closet door before I went to bed?” we’d debate with ourselves trying to remember. We could imagine someone reaching a hand out from under our bed to grab us. We feared that someone could sneak up on us from the darkness of the closet and put a hand over our mouth before we could cry out in terror. So, we’d pull the covers up over us and pray that we could go to sleep before they got us so we wouldn’t feel it or know when they got us.

But, those are childhood fears. What about now as a “grown-up”? What makes you afraid as an adult? What are your worst fears? Heights? Spiders? The dark? Cemeteries?

Or what about the bigger fears, the ones we don’t let surface in our hearts for fear they might come true? Things like…

Was my education just a waste of time and money?

Will I ever find a good job… meaningful job… any job?

Will I be left all alone in my declining years?

Are the best years of my life now over?

Will my marriage survive?

Will my kids, or spouse, or parents, ever believe?

Is what I believe possibly untrue?

What if my secret sins or my past sins become known?

Am I strong enough to endure what I am about to face?

Oh yes, there are many things we fear as adults, too many, in fact, to try to list them all!

And of course, there is the nagging fear many of us have but are afraid to ask in public: Does Jesus make any difference at all as I face my worst fears coming true?

When Mark put together his gospel story of Jesus, he wanted to make sure to answer that last question and the question about our biggest fears as mortal flesh. For as long as stories have been told, story tellers have told about four primal fears. In the following order, Mark shares four events in Jesus’ life where he dealt with these primal fears:

  1. Deep (Mark 4:35-41)
    Fear of the oceans, waters, floods, and storms that bring them. These are powers behind natural disasters that remind us as humans just how small and vulnerable we are to powers we cannot control.
  2. Demonic (Mark 5:1-20):
    Fear of spirits, ghosts, and demons along with any addiction that holds us captive by a power we cannot quite see, but know has us in its grip.
  3. Disease (Mark 5:21-24, 35-43):
    Fear of diseases that can strip our dignity, purpose, and achievements and leave us vulnerable, helpless, and unable to take care of ourselves.
  4. Death (Mark 5:24-34:
    Fear of death, the ultimate future that each of us must face and that holds us all captive. If we don’t have an answer for death, then we have no real answer to life.

In each of these stories — involving his closest followers caught in a dangerous storm threatening their lives; a man who is uncontrollable by others while damaging himself, shrieking, and living unclothed among the tombs; a father who is facing his worst nightmare, the death of a child; and, a woman who is an outcast who has an incurable disease that isolates her from human contact — Jesus reminds us that he has power over our primal fears.

For the disciples, a simple set of commands calms the winds and waves. Jesus, who shows himself able to do what only God can do, has power over the Deep!

For a man living a sub-human existence and controlled by demonic powers, Jesus has the power with just a word to restore sanity and wholeness. He has power over the Demonic.

For a woman isolated and alone, Jesus has the power over Disease, even an incurable disease.

For a father whose daughter is very sick and eventually dies, Jesus brings life, reunion, and return to normalcy. Jesus has power even over Death.

Notice that Jesus makes three similar moves in each of these events:

  1. Jesus is present. He joins each of the people in their perilous times of need.
    Jesus rouses from his sleep, is fully present with his disciples in the storm, and does what they needed to be safe (Mark 4:39).

    Jesus leaves the boat, comes to shore, and speaks directly to a man possessed by many demons (Mark 5:1-9).

    Jesus goes with the father to his home and goes to the room where his sick, but now deceased, daughter lies (Mark 5:21-24, 38-40)

  2. Jesus helps personally. He is not distant. He is not trying to prove himself to others. He personally cares for the involved people.
    Jesus lovingly confronts his disciples about their fear and their lack of faith (Mark 4:40).

    Jesus asks the man his name, delivers him, and welcomes the man to his side (Mark 5:9-15).

    Jesus refuses to let the woman simply touch his garment anonymously; he makes sure the woman is recognized and personally affirmed for her faith (Mark 5:30-34).

    Jesus takes only his inner three disciples and then puts everyone out of the house so that he can minister to the father, mother, and dead little girl personally — he took her by the hand and spoke to her personally as he raised her from the dead (Mark 5:41-42)

  3. Jesus speaks directly to each based on the need for their future. Jesus’ words help them move to the next stage of living fully in his grace.
    Jesus lets them contemplate his identity as they recognize that Jesus was able to do what only God can do, calm a storm with a command (Mark 4:41; cf. Psalm 107:24-32).

    Jesus does not let the man accompany him but sends him out to share with his friends and family what the Lord had done for him and shown mercy to him (Mark 5:18-21).

    Jesus not only affirms the woman’s faith, he also pronounces her healed and directs her to enter the full life of God’s blessing, free of her past suffering and uncleanness (Mark 5:34).

    Jesus asks that they get this little girl something to eat and ordered that they not tell others about what had happened in this private moment (Mark 5:43).

All of this is great for those Jesus physically served, but what about us? What are we to think when the storm still brings us destruction? What are we to do when those we love are held in Satan’s grip by addiction or powers? What are we to feel when our disease, or the disease of someone we love, is not cured? What are we to do with our grief when our child, or a child of someone we love, is not saved from death?

We’ve prayed, fasted, begged, and didn’t get our miracle. Our prayers feel unanswered, or worse, ignored? Are we left to pull the covers back up over our heads and hide until our worst fears go away?

Our reality can make Jesus’ love and grace seem like something from long ago and far away.

Most of us have prayed, fasted, and begged and didn’t get our miracle over tragedies that sure seem to be tied to one of these four fears. So, how does Jesus help us in our fears, or worse, when our fears become a reality, and it feels as if our prayers are unanswered, or worse, ignored? Are we left to pull the covers back up over our heads and hide until our worst fears go away?

We remember that Jesus is present with us in the hurt. He cares for us and cares about our fears, hurts, isolation, and grief. He knows our struggles not just because he is God and knows all things, but also because he has been there and because he has been there, we can go to him for grace to help us in our times of need (Hebrews 2:14-18; Hebrews 4:14-16).

We recognize that while we live in a broken world filled with capricious circumstances and evil people, Jesus knows us personally and feels the burden of our pain. He cares about us and wants something better for us. We trust in the promise that nothing can separate us from God’s love for us in Jesus (Romans 8:32-39).

We also realize that while we may not get full deliverance on this side of glory, deliverance will come and bring us a glory far greater than the pain we endure (Romans 8:18). We remember that how we live through our fears, hurts, isolation, and grief matters to God and influences others (Philippians 1:19-24).


Special thanks for the use of the Jesus images in Phil’s blog, “The Jesus Window,” to Free Bible Images and the The Lumo Project.


About the author: Phil Ware works with churches in transition with Interim Ministry Partners and for the past 18 years, he has been editor and president of HEARTLIGHT Magazine, author of VerseoftheDay.com and aYearwithJesus.com.

Date: August 01, 2017
From: “Latest Articles from Heartlight”
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Category: Articles

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Imprisoned to Redeem

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

Grace can have a strong touch of redemptive irony! As you read in the verses below about Paul and Silas being thrown into jail, notice some of these touches of irony:

  • By divine intervention, the prisoners’ chains are unlocked, and their cell doors opened but they remain in their cells, and when the jailer discovers what had happened, he brings them out of their cells and even takes them home with him rather than locking them back up.
  • The jailer washes the wounds inflicted by those he supervised in the jail.
  • The prisoners tell the jailer and his family My story of grace, baptize them, and free them from being bound to sin and death.
  • The prisoners eat at the jailer’s table rejoicing with a family that was saved after the jailer did not lock the prisoners back up.
  • All of this begins with Paul liberating a young woman who was being manipulated and exploited for money because of her “occult spirit.”
  • The story ends with those in charge begging not to be humiliated for the grievous error of beating Roman citizens without a trial.
  • And as a small sub-plot, Paul and Silas go free because they are both Roman citizens. However, if Paul were still partnered with Barnabas, Barnabas would have gone back to jail because he was not a Roman citizen.

Many things that happen behind the scenes of history empower the spread of the good news. You will never know many of these things. Little subtle connections between people and events that lead to the spread of the good news may appear to be random “coincidences” from your side of history. They are, however, better called “God-incidences.” I’m talking about Our — Father, Son, and Spirit’s — purposeful acts of providence that help bring redemption to those in need of grace.

You are not alone in your work for the Kingdom. Even when things appear to be disastrous messes, please know that Paul’s declaration remains true:

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.

(Romans 8:28)

As you’ve seen time and again, when the good news message about Me is shared, and people truly believe and are baptized, great things happen. Not one of these things happens by accident. Remember My promise made early in My ministry:

Just ask and it will be given to you; seek after it and you will find. Continue to knock and the door will be opened for you. All who ask receive. Those who seek, find what they seek. And he who knocks will have the door opened.

(Matthew 7:7-8)

Verses to Live

Read carefully the following verses that tell of the continuing work conducted by Paul, Silas, and Timothy. Notice how We — Father, Son, and Spirit — are involved in redeeming each situation and bringing grace. It was true when the events you read about happened, and it is true today.

One day [in Philippi], as we [Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke] were going to the place set aside for prayer, we encountered a slave girl. She made a lot of money for her owners as a fortune-teller, assisted by some sort of occult spirit. She began following us.

Slave Girl (shouting):

These men are slaves like me, but slaves of the Most High God! They will proclaim to you the way of liberation!

The next day as we passed by, she did the same thing — and again on the following days. One day Paul was really annoyed, so he turned and spoke to the spirit that was enslaving her.

Paul:

I order you in the name of Jesus, God’s Anointed: Come out of her!

It came right out. But when her owners realized she would be worthless now as a fortune-teller, they grabbed Paul and Silas, dragged them into the open market area, and presented them to the authorities.

Slave Owners:

These men are troublemakers, disturbing the peace of our great city. They are from some Jewish sect, and they promote foreign customs that violate our Roman standards of conduct.

The crowd joined in with insults and insinuations, prompting the city officials to strip them naked in the public square so they could be beaten with rods. They were flogged mercilessly and then were thrown into a prison cell. The jailer was ordered to keep them under the strictest supervision. The jailer complied, first restraining them in ankle chains, then locking them in the most secure cell in the center of the jail.

Picture this: It’s midnight. In the darkness of their cell, Paul and Silas — after surviving the severe beating — aren’t moaning and groaning; they’re praying and singing hymns to God. The prisoners in adjoining cells are wide awake, listening to them pray and sing.

Suddenly the ground begins to shake, and the prison foundations begin to crack. You can hear the sound of jangling chains and the squeak of cell doors opening. Every prisoner realizes that his chains have come unfastened. The jailer wakes up and runs into the jail. His heart sinks as he sees the doors have all swung open. He is sure his prisoners have escaped, and he knows this will mean death for him, so he pulls out his sword to commit suicide. At that moment, Paul sees what is happening and shouts out at the top of his lungs,

Paul:

Wait, man! Don’t harm yourself! We’re all here! None of us has escaped.

The jailer sends his assistants to get some torches and rushes into the cell of Paul and Silas. He falls on his knees before them, trembling. Then he brings them outside.

Jailer:

Gentlemen, please tell me, what must I do to be liberated?

Paul and Silas:

Just believe — believe in the ultimate King, Jesus, and not only will you be rescued, but your whole household will as well.

The jailer brings them to his home, and they have a long conversation with the man and his family. Paul and Silas explain the message of Jesus to them all. The man washes their wounds and feeds them, then they baptize the man and his family. The night ends with Paul and Silas in the jailer’s home, sharing a meal together, the whole family rejoicing that they have come to faith in God.

At dawn the city officials send the police to the jailer’s home with a command: “Let those men go free.”

Jailer:

The city officials have ordered me to release you, so you may go now in peace.

Paul (loud enough that the police can hear):

Just a minute. This is unjust. We’ve been stripped naked, beaten in public, and thrown into jail, all without a trial of any kind. Now they want to release us secretly as if nothing happened? No way: we’re Roman citizens—we shouldn’t be treated like this! If the city officials want to release us, then they can come and tell us to our faces.

The police report back to the city officials; and when they come to the part about Paul and Silas being Roman citizens, the officials turn pale with fear. They rush to the jail in person and apologize. They personally escort Paul and Silas from their cell and politely ask them to leave the city. Paul and Silas oblige — after stopping at Lydia’s home to gather with the brothers and sisters there and give them parting words of encouragement.

(Acts 16:16-40)

Response in Prayer

Lord God Almighty, You are the Father of grace Who sent Your Son Jesus to be my Savior, Redeemer, and Friend. Thank you. Help me trust that You are at work in our world. I trust that You are bringing grace and redeeming difficult circumstances for the salvation of the lost. I believe You are using the messes that the evil one throws at me to Your greater good. Give me courage, boldness, and confidence to live for Jesus and to share Your grace by the power of Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.

© 1998-2017, Heartlight, Inc. ‘A Year with Jesus‘ is part of the Heartlight Network.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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“Where Are You Really From?”

Ethnic background shouldn’t determine someone’s worth or place in society, but sometimes it does — more than we care to admit.

Watch Now

Date: July 31, 2017 at 10:00PM
From: “Desiring God”
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Category: Desiring God Blog

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‘Little Faith People’ – Matthew 16:8-12

Jesus knew that the followers were talking about this. So Jesus asked them, “Why are you talking about not having bread? Your faith is small. You still don’t understand? Remember the five loaves of bread that fed the 5,000 people? And remember that you filled many baskets {with bread after the people finished eating}? And remember the seven loaves of bread that fed the 4,000 people? Remember that you filled many baskets {with bread after the people finished eating}? So I was not talking to you about bread. Why don’t you understand that? I am telling you to be careful and guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” Then the followers understood what Jesus meant. Jesus was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread. Jesus was telling them to guard against the teaching of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

Matthew 16:8-12

Key Thought

Jesus did get frustrated with his disciples; he just didn’t give up on them! That means that he was involved with them and helped them grow. Indeed, he reached back into their experience and helped them understand their blindness and lack of faith more clearly while driving home his point of concern: be warned about the Pharisees and Sadducees; their teaching is dangerous! In addition, they should have clearly learned by now that they could depend upon him for food.
In dealing with people who don’t understand, I find we fail because we don’t have the relationship with them to know them and their history enough to help change them
— we tend to lose patience when people don’t get it the first or second time—we get caught up in the argument and the frustration and we forget the main point in the first place.

Today’s Prayer

Holy God, help me be more patient with others who are confused, who do dumb things spiritually, and who ask the same questions again and again. Please help me deal with others in the way you have dealt with me when I’ve been slow to understand and foolish in my choice of behaviors. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Today’s Verses in Context

The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus. They wanted to test Jesus. So they asked Jesus to show them a miracle to prove that he was from God. Jesus answered, “When you people see the sunset, you know what the weather will be. If the sky is red, then you say we will have good weather. And in the morning you watch the sunrise. If the sky is dark and red, then you say that it will be a rainy day. These things are signs of the weather. You see these signs in the sky and you know what they mean. In the same way, you see the things that are happening now. These things are also signs. But you don’t know the meaning of these signs. Evil and sinful people are the kind of people that want a miracle for a sign (proof). But those people will have no sign—only the sign of Jonah. ” Then Jesus left that place and went away. Jesus and his followers went across the lake (Lake Galilee). But the followers forgot to bring bread. Jesus said to the followers, “Be careful! Guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. ” The followers discussed the meaning of this. They said, “Did Jesus say this because we forgot to bring bread?” Jesus knew that the followers were talking about this. So Jesus asked them, “Why are you talking about not having bread? Your faith is small. You still don’t understand? Remember the five loaves of bread that fed the 5,000 people? And remember that you filled many baskets {with bread after the people finished eating}? And remember the seven loaves of bread that fed the 4,000 people? Remember that you filled many baskets {with bread after the people finished eating}? So I was not talking to you about bread. Why don’t you understand that? I am telling you to be careful and guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. ” Then the followers understood what Jesus meant. Jesus was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread. Jesus was telling them to guard against the teaching of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.Matthew 16:1-12

Related Scripture Readings

“So I tell you, don’t worry about the food you need to live. And don’t worry about the clothes you need for your body. Life is more important than food. And the body is more important than clothes. Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or save food in barns. But your heavenly Father feeds those birds. And you know that you are worth much more than the birds. You cannot add any time to your life by worrying about it. God clothes the grass in the field like that. That grass is living today, but tomorrow it is thrown into the fire to be burned. So you know that God will clothe you much more. Don’t have so little faith! Don’t worry and say, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ All the people that don’t know God try to get these things. Don’t worry, because your Father in heaven knows that you need these things. The thing you should want most is God’s kingdom and doing the good things God wants you to do. Then all these other things you need will be given to you. — Matthew 6:25-27, 30-33

My little children, again I feel pain for you like a mother feels when she gives birth. I will feel this until you truly become like Christ. I wish I could be with you now. Then maybe I could change the way I am talking to you. Now I don’t know what to do about you. — Galatians 4:19-20

Then the followers came to Jesus and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees are angry because of what you said?” Jesus answered, “Every plant that my Father in heaven has not planted himself will be pulled up by the roots. Stay away from the Pharisees. They lead the people, but they are like blind men leading other blind men. And if a blind man leads another blind man, then both men will fall into a hole.” — Matthew 15:12-14


Ⓒ 1996-2017 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware. Easy-to-Read Version copyright © 2001 by World Bible Translation Center. All rights reserved.

Date: August 01, 2017
From: “What Jesus Did! from Heartlight”
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Category: What Jesus Did!

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Better Than Einstein


Today’s category: Sermons
Better Than Einstein
      At the conclusion of the sermon, the worshipers filed out of the sanctuary to greet the minister. As one of them left, he shook the minister’s hand, thanked him for the sermon and said, "Thanks for the message, Reverend. You know, you must be smarter than Einstein." Beaming with pride, the minister said, "Why, thank you, brother!"

      As the week went by, the minister began to think about the man’s compliment. The more he thought, the more he became baffled as to why anyone would deem him smarter than Einstein. So he decided to ask the man the following Sunday.

      The next Sunday he asked the parishioner if he remembered the previous Sunday’s comment about the sermon. The parishioner replied that he did. The minister asked: "Exactly what did you mean that I must be smarter than Einstein?"

      The man replied, "Well, Reverend, they say that Einstein was so smart that only ten people in the entire world could understand him. But Reverend, no one can understand you."


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Date: July 31, 2017 at 09:05PM
From: “ChristiansUnite Christian Joke of the Day”
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Category: Joke of the Day

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Let Go and Get Going

Let Go and Get Going

If the quarter lands heads five times in a row first, it means we should break up. If tails five times in a row, we should not.

It was an anguished prayer. My girlfriend and I had been dating a few months, and the way forward was a fog. Desperate to know God’s will for our relationship, I turned to a coin in my pocket.

Heads. Heads. Heads. Tails. Sigh. Tails. Tails. Heads.

I was a new Christian, gripped by the Bible’s stories of miraculous answers to prayer — and eager for my own. If God answered prayers with seas parting, armies fleeing, fire falling, and prison doors opening, couldn’t he answer me with a flipping George Washington?

I kept at it for a while longer, each flip shoveling another handful of disappointment over my half-buried hopes. I gave up.

Fireworks Show?

You may have never looked for answers to prayer in a quarter; it’s certainly been a long time since I have. But I wonder if you share an assumption that inspired my flip-a-coin prayer — an assumption that still subtly shapes my own expectations for how God relates to us.

Here’s the assumption: in real, bona fide answers to prayer, we are more like spectators than actors. In other words, we expect answers to prayer to feel something like a fireworks display: we pray, take our seats, and then enjoy the show. We all know (or have experienced) stories that follow this pattern. You pray for healing, and the tumor vanishes overnight. You ask for financial provision, and an anonymous envelope appears in your mailbox. You beg for wisdom, and three people offer you the same unsolicited counsel.

And, of course, Scripture brims with spectacular answers to prayer. Moses prays in the wilderness, and water bursts from the rock (Exodus 17:4–6). Hezekiah cries out for deliverance, and Assyria’s 185,000 keel over dead (2 Kings 19:14–35). The early church pleads for Peter’s release, and the chains fall off his hands (Acts 12:1–11).

Sometimes God bares his mighty arm so powerfully that the world gropes for an explanation.

God’s Answers in Our Acting

But what about when you pray and the tumor disappears through three rounds of chemo? Or when financial provision comes after weeks of scouring the web, looking for a new job? Or when you discern your next steps by researching the options and consulting a mentor? Is God somehow less involved in these answers?

David didn’t think so. At the beginning of his reign, he asks God to “bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you” (2 Samuel 7:29). The answer to that prayer, as the next chapter shows, was not a fireworks display. David did not sit back and watch God destroy his enemies. Instead, “David defeated the Philistines and subdued them” (2 Samuel 8:1); “he defeated Moab” (2 Samuel 8:2); “David had defeated the whole army of Hadadezer” (2 Samuel 8:9).

David prayed for help, and then he picked up his sword and went to war.

But then David wrote Psalm 18, a fifty-verse celebration of God’s answer to his prayers for deliverance. He sings, “I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies” (Psalm 18:3). According to David, it was God who “sent out his arrows and scattered them” (Psalm 18:14); it was God who “rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me” (Psalm 18:17).

What’s going on here? Did God defeat these enemies, or did David? The answer, of course, is both. David acted one hundred percent, and God answered one hundred percent. God did not answer David’s prayer apart from David’s acting; he answered through David’s acting.

I Did It, God Did It

If you’re like me, you may hesitate to sing a psalm of praise when God answers your prayers this way. In your small group or with friends, you wish you could share some real, spectacular answer to prayer — some story of how God acted totally apart from anything you did. But for David, God’s answering through our acting is already real and spectacular. Why do we struggle to see it that way?

In Letters to Malcolm, C.S. Lewis gives one reason:

We profanely assume that divine and human action exclude one another like the actions of two fellow-creatures so that “God did this” and “I did this” cannot both be true of the same act except in the sense that each contributed a share. (50)

We sometimes assume that more of our involvement in an answer to prayer means less of God’s involvement. If we contribute seventy percent toward an answer to prayer, then God only contributes thirty percent. But David and the other biblical authors believed they could act one hundred percent and still praise God for answering one hundred percent.

If someone asked David, “Who won those battles?” he could sincerely say, “I won them.” But he wouldn’t waste a breath before adding, “But I’d prefer to say God won them. It’s God who equipped me with strength (Psalm 18:32), who trained my hands for war (Psalm 18:34), and who made my enemies sink under me (Psalm 18:39).”

When David fought and won the battles, he knew God was answering his prayer. And he thought that kind of answer to prayer was so magnificent it deserved worship.

Let Go, Get Going

So when we pray, we do not let go and let God. Rather, we let go and get going. We let go of the burden by admitting our weakness and trusting a specific promise from God, and then we get going by doing whatever needs to happen for our part.

We pray for opportunities to share the gospel, and then we go knock on our neighbor’s door. We plead for strength to resist lustful temptation, and then we text or call a friend. We beg God to guide us with some hard decision, and then we do not flip a coin, but we research, seek counsel, and think hard.

And then, when God answers in our acting, we make a big deal about it. We marvel that the living God is at work in us both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). We praise him for equipping us with everything good to do his will (Hebrews 13:21). We tell “the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation” (Psalm 40:9).

Answered prayer is more than fireworks. It’s also the thrilling experience of God’s answering in our acting. Both types of answered prayer require God’s supernatural help, both demonstrate his power, and both call for celebration (Psalm 126:2).

Date: July 31, 2017 at 05:00PM
From: “Desiring God”
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Reposted by: To Live Like Jesus Clothing Company
Category: Desiring God Blog

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The Titan is Here for Pre-Order!

It’s finally here for pre-order. Many of you have asked about it and have been waiting for it to be available. Well, that time has come. Only a limited number of copies will be made, and it will never be printed again.

Watch the short video and check it out here. The discount ends August 20th.

ViolaTitan.com

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Date: July 31, 2017 at 02:18PM
From: “Beyond Evangelical | The Blog of Frank Viola”
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Category: Beyond Evangelical

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2 Corinthians 3:15-18

Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

NIV Listen

Date: July 30, 2017 at 11:00PM
From: “Daily Manna”
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Category: Daily Manna

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Seeking Escape—and Enlightenment—in Popular Culture

Posted on 07/31/17

Seeking Escape—and Enlightenment—in Popular Culture

I’ll admit it. Sometimes I use popular culture to distract myself from reality. I want to spend some time in a fantasy world where everything is just a little bit too pretty and the problems are low-stakes and easily resolved in 20 to 60 minutes. (A recent choice for me has been Supergirl). Especially during a time when politics and world events seem uncertain and high stakes, it’s nice to use pop culture as an escape. But is this irresponsible? Might it even be anti-Christian?

Certainly, we shouldn’t avoid uncomfortable realities altogether. It’s not healthy for individuals or good for society. But there is plenty of middle ground where some escape into fictional worlds or semi-fictional realities is part of a balanced spiritual life. What’s more, something doesn’t have to be difficult or depressing to reflect truth or be meaningful. Here at Think Christian, we’re continually seeking God’s truth in unlikely, pop-culture places—so many, I no longer think of those places as “unlikely.”

A recent Washington Post essay by Emily Yahr consider our relationship to popular culture from a slighly different, but still illuminating, perspective. Pop culture can serve a useful purpose in allowing us to set aside more serious concerns for a moment and rest mentally and emotionally so we can do something about our larger concerns. Yahr cites a metaphor that NPR’s Linda Holmes makes using The Martian. In the movie, Matt Damon’s character, who is trying to escape Mars, spends a lot of time growing potatoes. The potatoes are not necessary for the escape, but they are necessary for him to stay alive to keep working on the escape. Light pop culture, Holmes says, can be like those potatoes—it helps us keep going so we can work on the bigger thing.

Yes, Christians can be refreshed in other ways; we also have our direct connection to God through prayer and the support of God’s people. But that doesn’t mean we can’t also benefit from a little evening wind-down with The Great British Baking Show or Playing House (to name two of my favorites, both of which we’ve recently covered on TC).

Yahr also notes that the very things we sometimes use to “escape” might be supplying us with new ways to think about cultural and political problems. The distance of fiction and art has long been an effective way to offer social commentary, especially when direct arguments have a hard time fitting into the available political climate. Art and culture can help us think differently—and, we often argue at TC, can sometimes offer a surprising glimpse of God’s kingdom.

Yahr points out another reason we might indulge guilt-free in a bit of popular culture: it functions as an easy topic for conversation, a common ground where relationships can be built, relationships that might eventually blossom around more serious concerns. This is especially important for Christians, because building relationships with others can be an important part of missional living. Sometimes people respond to a direct offer of a spiritual conversation or reveal their pain in a first encounter, but usually trusting relationships take time and effort to cultivate. Talking about The Bachelor or Game of Thrones can be one way to begin those relationships. Being able to enter such pop-culture conversations as equals is one reason a Christian might want to stay engaged in things that at first seem like a silly escape.

Of course, we should pay attention to the various messages we find in cultural objects, whether they are true, deceptive, or half-true. That’s an important part of what we do here. But we don’t need to feel guilty about engaging in the first place. We should think about what cultural texts do for and to us. Helping us relax and “escape” and see the world differently might be a legitimate good.

Christians should be involved in making and interpreting popular culture, especially since our view of the world brings the perspective of God’s word, something that can sometimes be conspicuously absent. We know that although world powers and political players change, God’s truth is steady. We should be open to new paths toward finding it.

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Date: July 31, 2017 at 01:51PM
From: “Think Christian Articles”
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Category: Think Christian

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The BGC Gospel Life Podcast (Ep. 24)

Start each week with this encouragement to show and share the love of Jesus.

Episode Twenty-Four | Where Are You Opening Your Umbrella?

Christina Walker, Associate Director of Academic Programs at the Billy Graham Center, talks about what she recently learned from a cohort of pastors from Every Nation. One story in particular stuck out; it was about a man from China who was changed by an encounter which began with an umbrella. We never know what role we will play for the kingdom as we meet people on the street. Where are you opening your umbrella to invite someone in for a conversation?

Episode Twenty-Three | Evangelism Companions

John C. Richards, Jr., Managing Director at the Billy Graham Center, talks about ‘evangelism companions.’ What character companions do we carry with us as we carry the gospel? Truth? Mercy? Goodness? Love? Scripture teaches us that the way we act and live is critically important. This is true even more so as we engage others with the good news of the gospel.

Episode Twenty-Two | Are You Prepared for a Gospel Conversation?

Laurie Nichols, Director of Communications at the Billy Graham Center, shares about a recent gospel conversation and what she learned about the importance of being prepared. Without the armor of God’s word in our hearts and minds, we likely don’t have the full toolkit necessary for when the hard questions arise in a conversation. This week, prepare yourself for evangelism opportunities by immersing yourself in God’s word.

Episode Twenty-One | What Does Research Say about Our Prayers and Our Actions?

Ed Stetzer, Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center, discusses the correlation between prayer and action. Research has shown that many people pray that they would see others come to faith, but fewer are actually mobilized to put …

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From: “Christianity Today Magazine”
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Category: Christianity Today

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