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That name…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
-John 14:6

Jesus – that name causes each one of us to make a choice.

Those who followed Jesus when he was on earth seemed to go in one of two directions. Either they always wanted to worship him and follow him and be with him and hang on his every word, or somehow it went the other way where they wanted to plot against him and crucify him and see him dead.

The one word that was always used for Jesus was “wonder.” No one could be neutral with Jesus, and so it is so today. No one can be neutral with Jesus. There is no middle road with him. There is no lukewarm. There’s yes or no. There’s either/or. There’s the narrow and difficult road or the wide and easy road – one that leads to life, and one that leads to death. There is no middle ground.

Jesus demands everything or nothing. His name has power and every time his name is mentioned, whether you know it or not, your soul is reminded of a choice you have yet to make: Will I do what he says? Or will I do what I say?

Prayer: Dear Lord, I want to do what you say, but my own thoughts so often drown out your words of love and encouragement. I want to do the next right thing. Draw me close. Show me the way. Amen.

Reflection: What is your first response when you hear the name “Jesus”?

The Approval Process: Act Out.


Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2

Recommended Reading
Galatians 6:1-10 [ http://iz3.me/O9MW1z3Fe1A1 ]

Last October two puppies, brothers Jeffrey and Jermaine, were found wandering the streets of Philadelphia. Though both dogs were frightened and sick, Jeffrey had the greater challenge — he was blind. Determined to care for his brother, Jermaine literally became a guide dog. He constantly stayed within touching distance of his disabled brother, and Jeffrey leaned on Jermaine for support. Without any training, Jermaine became a guide dog. The puppies were always seen touching each other and even slept holding each other. Their story melted the hearts of Philadelphians, and the brothers had no trouble finding a home.

Watch This Week’s TV Broadcast [ http://iz3.me/P9MW1z3Fe1A1 ]

If animals can be that devoted to each other, shouldn’t we be the same? Galatians 6 tells us, as we have opportunity, to bear the burdens of others, especially to those who are of the household of faith. We can affirm, appreciate, and approve of others by the way we treat them. We can bear their burdens. Love is worthless unless it acts out, unless it’s expressed in deed and behavior.

That’s not just puppy love; it’s agape love.

Love is seen in what it does.
Gladys Aylward

Read-Thru-the-Bible
1 Samuel 1-7

By David Jeremiah.

Angelic Escort.


Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.
Exodus 23:20

Recommended Reading
Exodus 20-23 [ http://iz3.me/QhDW1z3Fe1A1 ]

Throughout the Bible, angels seem to have an active role in ushering God’s children to heaven. In his book, Somewhere Angels, Larry Libby writes: “No one likes to go on trips all alone. Now, some fine day you will and I will see heaven for the very first time …. and that home will be so very much better than Disneyland, and sunsets, and mountain lakes, and snowy canyons that I can’t even tell you how much. And I don’t think God means for us to be alone when we travel to that new home …. The angel gets to be there when you see the shining beauty of your forever home for the very first time; when your eyes fly open and your mouth drops open, and the tears of happiness rush to your eyes, and you say, ‘Oh, my goodness! It’s more beautiful than I could ever have dreamed!’ And the angel gets to be there and share in it all!”1

Listen to Today’s Radio Message [ http://iz3.me/RhDW1z3Fe1A1 ]

We can’t fully visualize the wonder of that moment, but what a comfort to know we’ll not be alone as we travel from earth to heaven! No Christian is abandoned at the moment of death. The angels are the ushers, and our passage to heaven is under their escort.

When it comes to leaving earth for heaven, there’s nothing to worry about. God wants you home so much that He’ll send His own angel to meet you. And don’t be surprised if the angel is wearing a big smile.
Larry Libby

1 Larry Libby,  Somewhere Angels  (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 1994), n.p.

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Ruth 1-4

By David Jeremiah.

Praying For Grace Of Preparation In Our Seasons Of Spiritual Growth.


Faithful God, I join my brothers and sisters in one accord, we call upon Thee to draw us into an intimate relationships with You, so that we may be fully empowered to draw others unto You and we want to bring Your deliverance to broken people and we desire to prevail in spiritual warfare as others learn to turn their hearts and lives over to You, this we ask through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen, Amen and Amen.

God of Divine Exchange, Lord Jesus, we exchange everything we are and have for all of You, we exchange our bondages for Your freedom and we thank You from the bottom of our hearts, for the grace of exchanging our sins for Your righteousness, we exalt and praise You for Your mercies towards us even as we worship in Jesus Name. Amen, Amen and Amen.

Gracious Father, when ever we feel as though we are merely marking time instead of marching into victories, we call upon Your Spirit, to help us to understand that You are placing us in season of spiritual growth and preparation for what lies ahead and with Your grace fully active in our lives, we shall continue to wait, live and walk in Your will for our lives to Your glory, we pray in Thy Mighty Name of Jesus. Amen, Amen and Amen.

O Lord, Our God, we trust You, not our feelings, thoughts, or circumstances, we refuse to believe the lies of the enemies but rather we grab the extraordinary grace availed to us to make this season, our seasons to spoil the enemies works, as we possess our spiritual promised lands of blessings and abundance, we ask this, and claim it over our lives in Jesus Victorious Name, we pray. Amen, Amen and Amen.

 

 

 

Storm shelter…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’”
-Psalm 91:1

I spent six years living in Oklahoma in a little town called Broken Arrow just outside of Tulsa, and it has some of the worst weather around. Even on beautiful days, it’s usually windy. And because of this, Oklahomans are always ready for weather. They’re always interested in the weather. They’re always thinking about weather.

If you go to a Starbucks in Tulsa, for example, you will see people on their laptops looking at the weather forecasts for their towns. They’re thinking, “That’s interesting. Let’s see what kind of weather is going on in Michigan. Oh, that’s interesting.” People in Oklahoma are obsessed with the weather.

The reason I say this is that because, even though people in Oklahoma are obsessed about the weather, they’re always prepared for it. They have shelters. They have well built homes. They’re ready for the wind. They are never going to leave something expensive outside and allow it to be demolished by something as trivial as the weather. That would never happen in Oklahoma. Anything worth keeping outdoors is always stored in the shed where it belongs.

Jesus encourages us to be Oklahomans, to be ready for anything. If we follow Jesus, if we cleave to him and to his teachings, he will be our shelter no matter what comes our way.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for being my companion in good times and bad. Thank you for sheltering me in the storms of life. With you by my side, I need never be afraid. Amen.

Reflection: In what way has Jesus sheltered you during times of trouble?

There is no name…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
-Philippians 2:9-11

Jim Gaffigan, a standup comedian, is in a nightclub and everybody is drinking and having a good time. He says, “I like everyone to feel comfortable. That’s why I’m going to talk to you about Jesus.” Right? There’s something about Jesus.

Talking about Jesus is very similar to talking about sex. It really is. Think about it just for a moment with me. When you talk about sex, there is no neutral language. Either it’s a language of intimacy, love, and romance that stirs the heart. Or, it’s vulgar, offensive, funny. Or, it’s technical like scientific, medical language that sterilizes the topic and keeps it far away from our emotions.

We do that same thing with Jesus. We talk about Jesus as either as one who is deeply intimate and heart moving. Or, his name is used in a vulgar way, to curse or to swear. Or, we use some kind of technical, theological language to hold Jesus at a distance. That’s because Jesus stirs the heart, the emotions, the will, the mind. His very name has spiritual power and that’s why it cannot be mentioned in a neutral way.

To say “Jesus” anywhere moves everything. Millions of people have spent trillions of hours writing and making art and worshipping and lifting up this name. There is no name like Jesus.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, there is no name like your name. I call on your name and you fill my heart, you calm my fears, you show me the way. Amen.

Reflection: When have you called on the name “Jesus”?

Nothing to Fear.


And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day.
Jude 1:6

Recommended Reading
2 Peter 2:4-11 [ http://iz3.me/TD4W1z3Fe1A1 ]

It has been said, “Everything in the Bible is true, but not all truth is in the Bible.” The Bible is not an encyclopedia containing all known truth. It is the record of the revelation of God — the story of redemption. It provides all we need to know about some subjects, like how to be reconciled to God. But it doesn’t tell all we’d like to know — and someday will know — about other subjects. Jude 1:6 is an example of the tip of a theological iceberg that begs for a fuller revelation.

Listen to Today’s Radio Message [ http://iz3.me/UD4W1z3Fe1A1 ]

We would like to know more about Satan’s rebellion in which many angels participated. We would like to know more about how and where those angels are being kept in “chains under darkness” until the final judgment. And we would like to know the differences between these incarcerated angels and the demons that apparently are free to roam the earth.

When we find hints in Scripture about subjects not fully revealed, we are reminded that God keeps Satan and fallen angels on a short leash, that evil will one day be punished, and those who are secure in Christ have nothing to fear (Romans 8:35-39).

I more fear what is within me than what comes from without.
Martin Luther

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Judges 20-21

By David Jeremiah.

The Arch Deceiver.


But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:3

Recommended Reading
John 4:1-6 [ http://iz3.me/lesV1z3Fe1A1 ]

By the end of the first century, the apostle John had to write to the young Church, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). It’s not that deception started with the birth of the Church at Pentecost. It had been around since the Garden of Eden.

Listen to Today’s Radio Message [ http://iz3.me/mesV1z3Fe1A1 ]

We have to be honest and recognize that Adam and Eve had never been confronted with a lie or with deception when Satan came to them in the Garden. They were innocent and naïve. Granted, they should have simply believed and obeyed God, but Satan was good at his craft. After all, he had apparently already deceived one third of the angels in heaven and led them in rebellion against God (Revelation 12:4). Given his power to deceive, John was right in warning the Church to test every spirit to see if it is from God or not. And that message remains relevant today.

Refresh your commitment today to test everything by the Word of God. The surest defense against spiritual deception is knowledge of spiritual truth.

Nothing can deceive unless it bears a plausible resemblance to reality.
C. S. Lewis

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Judges 17-19

By David Jeremiah.

7 Things That Prove God Is Real.


 

Moon and the stars
There indeed are answers for atheists’ arguments against the existence of God. (iStock photo)

When I was a journalist in my 20s, I needed to verify a fact about atheism. This was before the Internet age, so I phoned the Texas headquarters of American Atheists. Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the mother of modern atheism in this country, answered my call. Apparently she had a very small staff!

Her voice was gruff, and she sounded angry and cynical, even before I identified myself as a Christian. She answered my question and I hung up. Ever since then, I’ve felt intense sadness for people who deny the existence of God. Explaining her beliefs, O’Hair once said, “There is no God. There’s no heaven. There’s no hell. There are no angels. When you die, you go in the ground; the worms eat you.” What a sad way to view life!

I’m sure Mrs. O’Hair would be upset about the new Christian film God’s Not Dead,which opens in theaters this Friday. The film features Kevin Sorbo (who played in the 1990s TV show Hercules) as an atheist college professor who tries to force a Christian student (Shane Harper) to rethink his beliefs. The film releases at a time when atheism is growing in this country.

I was never on the debate team in high school, so I’m not the best guy to take on evolutionist Richard Dawkins or comedian/atheist Bill Maher in a televised argument. Still, my faith in God is certainly not shaken when I hear these guys whining about how stupid or weak Christians are. They have a constitutional right to view life negatively. But if I had a chance to give them my reasons for believing in God, I would list these:

1. Babies. I watched my wife give birth to our four daughters, and last month I visited my new grandson. I’ve stared at little Hananiah’s cute face and tiny fingers—and the cleft in his chin that resembles mine. How can anyone deny the reality of God when they see a baby? The amount of information encrypted in one cell in the human body is equal to that of 1,000 books. The total amount of information stored in your DNA is 40 times more than that of the largest set of encyclopedias in the world. King David felt this sense of awe when he wrote, “You wove me in my mother’s womb. … I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:13, 14, NASB). Life is truly a miracle!

2. Thunderstorms. I love to sit on my back porch in Florida and listen to the rumbling of thunder. It reminds me of God’s majesty and power. The apostle Paul said creation was the best evidence of God’s existence. He wrote, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen” (Rom. 1:20). Nature is actually full of quantifiable miracles. Just consider the fact that the earth is the perfect distance from the sun to support life. If we were any farther away from the sun, we would freeze; if we were even slightly closer to it, we would burn up. It’s obvious God created this home for us!

3. Flowers. There are more than 400,000 species of flowers in the world, and most of them are not edible. Their job is to simply make the world beautiful. Did they just haphazardly evolve over time, or did a loving God create each individual shape and color scheme for our enjoyment? People who choose to deny God don’t spend enough time looking at tulips, snapdragons, orchids, lilies, lotuses or magnolias. This is why it’s really important to stop and smell the roses!

4. The Bible. Paul wrote that “all Scripture is inspired by God” (2 Tim. 3:16). The Bible itself is proof of God’s existence because He used 40 unrelated people over a period of 2,000 years to write His unique love letter to us. There is nothing like the Bible because it carries the same consistent message throughout all of its 66 different books. Atheists can laugh at this idea, but those who have read the Scriptures and experienced God through its pages know why it is the best-selling and most-translated book in all of history. (Fact: 100 million copies of the Bible are sold every year. Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion has sold 2 million.)

5. The global spread of Christianity. Over the centuries, the gospel message has been vilified and ridiculed. Roman rulers threw first-century Christians to the lions, and 20th-century dictators sent believers to prison camps. It is estimated that 70 million Christians have been martyred since the church began—and 40 million of those were in the 20th century. Yet today Christianity has more adherents than any religion, and numbers are growing in many parts of the world. Our faith is spreading because it is the truth—and history shows that when this truth is mocked and scorned, it actually spreads faster!

6. Jesus. The most amazing thing about God is not that He exists, but that He loved us so much He was willing to send His Son to earth to save us from ourselves. Jesus was with the Father from the time of creation, and His arrival was predicted numerous times in Old Testament prophecy. Finally He interrupted history and came to live among us. His crucifixion is historical fact, and His resurrection was verified by hundreds of witnesses. The man who perhaps knew Jesus best—the apostle John—saw the risen Christ and touched His nail-pierced hands. He wrote, “What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you” (1 John 1:3). Jesus is not an illusive fairy tale. He is the living, breathing, touchable Son of God.

7. My personal friendship with God. Atheists may not be convinced that God exists after listening to a storm, smelling a hibiscus or reading the Bible. When I am asked to defend my faith, I don’t start an intellectual argument. I have to go back to the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 1:12: “I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed.”

There are many reasons I am convinced God is real (the existence of coffee alone proves that He loves me!), but the best evidence is how He forgave me, changed me and put unexplainable joy in my heart. And I can prove that.

J. LEE GRADY

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma. He now leads the Mordecai Project, an international ministry that confronts gender-based violence and oppression. You can learn more about his work at themordecaiproject.org or follow him on Twitter at@leegrady. He is the author of 10 Lies the Church Tells Women and other books.

God’s Not Dead opens this weekend. You can check out the movie trailer here.

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