Charles Stanley – When Burdens Seem Unbearable

 

Psalm 13:1-6

Which is more influential in your life—circumstances or your perspective? Although we may long for a pleasant life filled with abundance, comfort, and good experiences, the reality is that we live in a fallen world. Almost nothing is as it should be, but the way we perceive life’s hardships and burdens depends largely on our perspective.

For example, when we are overburdened, the world might look dark even when the sun is shining. The birds may be singing, but all we hear are the sorrowful cries of our own heart. The burdens seem so overwhelming that we may even distance ourselves from others, yet that only encourages us to dwell even more on our problems and leads us further into despair.

But when we open the book of Psalms, the words penetrate our bleak circumstances, inviting us to draw near and find rest in the Lord. How gracious of Him to give us this amazing book of comfort. But greater still are the lessons we learn from it.

In today’s psalm, David is weighed down with burdens. He asks, “How long?” Have you ever felt like that? He describes his troubles and pleads for an answer, but by the end of the psalm, his perspective shifts when he remembers that God is trustworthy.

If you feel as if you’re bearing the weight of the world on your shoulders, stop and look up to your heavenly Father. Remember a time in the past when God carried you through hard circumstances, and rejoice in His steadfast faithfulness. He didn’t fail you then, and He will not fail you now.

Bible in One Year: Psalm 39-43

 

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Our Daily Bread — Blessing in the Mess

 

Read: Genesis 28:10–22 | Bible in a Year: Nehemiah 10–11; Acts 4:1–22

He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

I got myself into this mess, so I’d better get myself out, I sometimes find myself thinking.  Although I believe in a God of grace, I’m still prone to act as if His help is available only when I deserve it.

God’s first encounter with Jacob is a beautiful illustration of how untrue this is.

Jacob had spent a lifetime trying to alter his destiny. He’d been born second at a time when firstborn sons typically received their father’s blessing—believed to guarantee future prosperity.

So Jacob decided to do whatever it would take to get his father’s blessing anyway. Eventually, he succeeded—through deceit—obtaining the blessing intended for his brother (Genesis 27:19–29).

But the price was a divided family, as Jacob fled from his furious brother (vv. 41–43). As night descended (28:11), Jacob must have felt as far from a life of blessing as ever.

But it was there, leaving behind a trail of deception, that Jacob met God. God showed him he didn’t need desperate schemes to be blessed; he already was. His destiny—a purpose far greater than material prosperity (v. 14)—was held securely by the One who would never leave him (v. 15).

It was a lesson Jacob would spend his whole life learning.

And so will we. No matter how many regrets we carry or how distant God seems, He is still there—gently guiding us out of our mess into His blessing.

Lord, so often we feel trapped by our mistakes, thinking there’s no future left for us. Remind us that you are the God of Jacob, the God who will never give up on Your purposes for us.

God never gives up on His love and purposes for our lives.

By Monica Brands

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Like a Letter

The question is asked with both biting sarcasm and pained lament: Why isn’t God clearer? Why the complicated hunt for answers? Why not a God with far more interest in direct communication? Such questions are perhaps further disquieted by those who seem to claim precisely this experience—hearing God as surely as in a letter, as directly as any other conversation.

It also used to bother me that I couldn’t give an exact date for my conversion. I can’t describe the moment when I finally bowed and admitted God was God. The lack of anything precise to claim as my own troubled me particularly when it was my turn to speak in a room of believers with specific dates and encounters to tell—and the expectation that I could tell likewise. I’ve since learned that conversion is more than one moment of waking—even for those who indeed have one moment that stands out among all others. But I’ve also come to love the diversity of means and ways God appears before a life—gently beckoning one to follow, pursuing over a lifetime the one lost or running, dramatically opening the eyes of another in an instant.

But could this broadened picture itself not be direct communication from God? The apostle Paul describes the converted one “like a letter from Christ… written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”(1) In this description, we discover conversion is inherently personal—a letter from creator to creature, written not in ink but in God, not on paper or tablet, but on living flesh, through the vicariously human Son of God. Accordingly, there are as many stories of God drawing near a life as there are words one could put in a personal letter. Like Paul, I have come to expect and to admire the compilation. Some will speak of waking to God’s truth gradually; others will describe being moved nearly to blindness as they encounter Christ more fully than they have eyes yet to see.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Like a Letter

Joyce Meyer – Are You Not Worth Much More Than They?

 

“Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow [seed] nor reap [the harvest] nor gather [the crops] into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they?” — Matthew 6:26

Adapted from the resource New Day New You Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

It might do all of us good to spend some time watching birds. That’s what our Lord told us to do. If not every day, then at least every now and then we need to take the time to observe and remind ourselves how well our feathered friends are cared for. They literally do not know where their next meal is coming from, yet, I have personally never seen a bird sitting on a tree branch having a nervous breakdown due to worry.

The Master’s point here is really very simple: “Are you not worth more than a bird?” Even though you may be wrestling with a poor self-image, surely you can believe that you are more valuable than a bird, and look how well your heavenly Father takes care of them.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for reminding me that when life is overwhelming or I’m tempted to worry, I have tremendous value in Your eyes, and You’ll never let me down. Help me to be mindful that You will always love me, provide for me, and take care of every need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Gave His Son

 

“Since He did not spare even His own Son for us but gave Him up for us all, won’t He also surely give us everything else?” (Romans 8:32).

George was very faithful in his Christian walk. In fact, he had a little black book in which he recorded all of his activities for each day. These included daily devotions, note-taking, verses to be memorized, appointments to be kept and every activity of his life. Outwardly he seemed so perfect that I, as a young Christian, wanted to be like him. Then one day he had a nervous breakdown. As he told me later, the last thing he did before he went to the hospital was to throw away his little black book and tell his wife he never wanted to see it again. Without realizing it, he had become very legalistic in his relationship with God rather than accepting, by faith, what God had already done for him. while in the hospital he began to recall some of the thousands of verses which he had memorized through the years. It was then that he relaxed enough to allow the Holy Spirit to illumine his mind to comprehend the importance of living by faith.

As Paul writes to the Galatians in the third chapter: “What magician has hypnotized you and cast an evil spell upon you? For you used to see the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death as clearly as though I had waved a placard before you with a picture on it of Christ dying on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by trying to keep the Jewish laws? Of course not, for the Holy Spirit came upon you only after you heard about Christ and trusted Him to save you. Then, have you gone completely crazy? For if trying to obey the Jewish laws never gave you spiritual life in the first place, why do you think that trying to obey them now will make you stronger Christians?”

I ask you again: Does God give you the power of the Holy Spirit as a result of your trying to obey His laws? No, of course not. He gives that power when you believe in Christ and fully trust Him. The greatest heresy of the Christian life is legalism; and yet, it inevitably seems to attract dedicated, committed Christians. They are happy to accept salvation as a gift of God by faith. But like the Galatians, they insist on earning their way thereafter.

We must never forget that salvation is a gift of God which we receive by faith. Nothing can be earned. If we believe God, we will want to work to please Him, not to earn His favor.

Bible Reading:Romans 8:33-39

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will invite the Holy Spirit to protect me from becoming legalistic in my walk with Christ. Having received salvation by faith, I shall claim each day’s blessings by faith as I live the supernatural life.

 

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Max Lucado -Examine Your Gifts

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Be careful!  In a desire to be great, one might cease being any good. Not every teacher is equipped to be a principal.  Not every carpenter has the skill to head a crew. Not every musician should conduct an orchestra.  A promotion might promote a person right out of their sweet spot.  For the love of more, a person might lose their purpose. Greed makes a poor job counselor.

Examine your gifts; know your strengths. Romans 12:3 says, “Have a sane estimate of your capabilities.”  Proverbs 15:16 says, “It is better to have little with fear for the LORD than to have great treasure with turmoil.”  So, don’t let the itch for things or the ear for applause derail you from your God-intended design!

Read more Cure for the Common Life

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Jeff Sessions and Romans 13: Should Christians always obey the government?

 

I don’t remember the last time a biblical citation generated so many headlines.

Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sought to defend the Trump administration’s immigration policies, especially with regard to separating families. At one point, he stated, “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes.”

His citation set off a firestorm of debate in the culture and among Christians.

My purpose today is not to discuss the multitude of ways Romans 13 has been interpreted through history. Rather, it is to consider the larger question: When should Christians obey or disobey the government?

Obeying the state

God’s word consistently calls us to obey and support our governing authorities.

Paul urged that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

His instruction to Christians living in Rome was clear: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment” (Romans 13:1-2).

The apostle then stated that “the authorities are ministers of God” (v. 6) and urged his readers: “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed” (v. 7).

Peter added: “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good” (1 Peter 2:13-14).

It would seem clear, then, that Christians are to submit to the authority of the government, seeing its exercise of power as God’s will for us. However, there’s more to the story.

Choosing civil disobedience

In Acts 4, Peter and John were ordered to stop preaching the gospel by the Sanhedrin, the highest authority in Judaism. Their response: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (vv. 19-20).

After Peter was arrested again for preaching the gospel, he was again bold in his civil disobedience: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). His faithfulness to God led to his martyrdom by Rome. Paul suffered a similar fate: imprisonment (2 Timothy 4:6) and execution.

And so, two apostles who counseled Christians to obey the state were executed because they would not obey the state.

Theirs are not the only such stories in Scripture.

In Daniel 3, the Babylonian king erected a golden image and required all people to worship it. The Jewish exiles Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego testified before the idolatrous king: “We will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (v. 18). You know what happened to them.

Three chapters later, Daniel refused to pray to the Persian king and was thrown into the lions’ den as a result.

In Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. noted: “One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” He agreed with St. Augustine, who claimed that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

John R. W. Stott was one of the most respected evangelical theologians of the twentieth century. In his commentary on Romans 13, he asks:

“Granted that the authority of the rulers is derived from God, what happens if they abuse it, if they reverse their God-given duty, commending those who do evil and punishing those who do good? Does the requirement to submit still stand in such a morally perverse situation? No. The principle is clear. We are to submit right up to the point where obedience to the state would entail disobedience to God. But if the state commands what God forbids, or forbids what God commands, then our plain Christian duty is to resist, not to submit, to disobey the state in order to obey God.”

Citizens of two countries

You and I are citizens of two countries. We live in a secular nation with secular leaders we are to support and obey. But we also live in a spiritual society with an omnipotent King whose authority is supreme (Psalm 2:10-11).

Jesus taught us to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21).

But when we are forced to choose, we must obey our highest authority.

Peter encouraged us to “show proper respect to everyone.” What does this entail? “Love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:17 NIV). We are to love each other, and we are to honor our secular leaders. But we are to fear only God.

On October 3, 1789, President George Washington issued the first formal proclamation of Thanksgiving in the United States. He stated: “It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.”

Let’s do our duty today

 

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Charles Stanley –How to Become a Successful Father

 

Ephesians 6:1-4

No human father is perfect. But with the guidance of the Spirit, Scripture, and godly mentors, a man can become a successful dad by intentionally leading his children in these areas:

Spirituality. Help your children to trust in Jesus Christ as early as possible, and they’ll grow with the understanding that He is to be at the center of everything they do.

Morality. In homes where honesty, purity, and loyalty are lived out, boys and girls learn to value integrity and listen to their conscience. This will also help them develop a habit of seeking the Holy Spirit’s direction.

Relationships. Teaching about love, respect, and mutual encouragement is good preparation for friendships and marriage.

Vocation. Model cooperation and the way to work “heartily, as to the Lord” (Col. 3:23 NKJV), and your children will form a healthy work ethic.

Finances. Teach the right way to handle money: to earn honestly, give generously, save intelligently, and enjoy heartily. (See 1 Tim. 6:17.)

Authority. Unless children learn how to function properly under authority—of parents, school, church, and government— rebelliousness can easily develop. Our sons and daughters notice when there’s a disconnect between our conduct and words, so setting a good example is essential.

The way to build guiding principles into a child’s life is by precept (teaching) and practice (modeling). Dads, if you plant these healthy concepts in your children’s hearts, what a joy it will be to see them equipped and motivated to fulfill God’s purpose for their life.

Bible in One Year: Psalm 35-38

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Our Safe Place

 

Read: Psalm 91 | Bible in a Year: Nehemiah 7–9; Acts 3

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:2

My very first job was at a fast-food restaurant. One Saturday evening, a guy kept hanging around, asking when I got out of work. It made me feel uneasy. As the hour grew later, he ordered fries, then a drink, so the manager wouldn’t kick him out. Though I didn’t live far, I was scared to walk home alone through a couple of dark parking lots and a stretch through a sandy field. Finally, at midnight, I went in the office to make a phone call.

And the person who answered—my dad—without a second thought got out of a warm bed and five minutes later was there to take me home.

The kind of certainty I had that my dad would come to help me that night reminds me of the assurance we read about in Psalm 91. Our Father in heaven is always with us, protecting and caring for us when we are confused or afraid or in need. He declares: “When they call on me, I will answer” (Psalm 91:15 nlt). He is not just a place we can run to for safety. He is our shelter (v. 1). He is the Rock we can cling to for refuge (v. 2).

In times of fear, danger, or uncertainty, we can trust God’s promise that when we call on Him, He will hear and be with us in our trouble (vv. 14–15). God is our safe place.

Dear Father, thank You for being my Rock and my safe place.

The living God will always be our shelter.

By Cindy Hess Kasper

INSIGHT

Psalm 91 offers comfort no matter where we find ourselves in life. Notice how the author, line after line, encourages the reader by stating how the Lord will faithfully care for His children (vv. 3–13). These promises are not just wishful thinking on the psalmist’s part; God Himself confirms He will protect and rescue those who love Him and call on His name (vv. 14–16).

J.R. Hudberg

 

 

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Petulant Children


Read: Matthew 11:16-19

We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn. (v. 17)

Imagine a pouting, petulant child who does not want to play any game you suggest. Want to play with your blocks? No. Want to play with your trains? No. Coloring books? No. It doesn’t matter what activity you suggest, the petulant child refuses to go along.

“To what shall I compare this generation?” says Jesus. You are like petulant children, that’s what. In a pouty, little-boy voice—at least that’s how I imagine it—Jesus mimicked children calling to one another, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.” No matter how God reached out to the people, they wouldn’t respond. God sent the austere John the Baptist, and people said he was demon-possessed. God sent his very own Son, and people said he was a glutton and a drunk. There was just no satisfying these people.

Are we all that different? The pastor is either too young or too old, too conservative or too liberal. The worship style is too high or too low. If the church speaks out, it is meddling in politics; if it stays quiet, it is boring and irrelevant. We don’t dance, and we refuse to mourn. And Jesus calls us children—pouty, obstinate, petulant children.

Our response to God’s love is not a game to play when we are in the mood. “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.” —Lou Lotz

Prayer: Lord, I give myself to you.

 

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Joyce Meyer – Receive Mercy

 

Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment].  — Hebrews 4:16

Adapted from the resource My Time With God Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

God is full of mercy and loving-kindness! He is extending His mercy to you right now, but you must believe it and receive it in order for it to bene t you. When we sin, we don’t need to punish ourselves, because Jesus already took our punishment and He now offers us His mercy. Amazing!

Mercy would not be mercy if it could be deserved, because it is said to be kindness that exceeds what could be expected. If you are suffering from guilt, shame, and condemnation, God is reaching out to you now and offering you mercy. Don’t turn away because you know you don’t deserve it. Receive it and let it make you fall more in love with Jesus than ever before.

We need mercy every day, and God has provided it because His Word says that His mercy is new every day and His faithfulness is great and abundant (see Lamentations 3:23). Our sin will never exceed God’s mercy because where sin abounds, grace abounds much more (see Romans 5:20).

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You very much for Your amazing mercy. Teach me how to receive not only mercy but also all of Your gracious benefits. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Spiritually Minded

 

“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6, KJV).

I believe the truth of this verse may speak to a common cause of depression among Christians who allow their minds to dwell on ungodly thoughts and/or over-introspection.

Paul writes: “I advise you to obey only the Holy Spirit’s instructions. He will tell you where to go and what to do, and then you won’t always be doing the wrong things your evil nature wants you to.

“For we naturally love to do evil things that are just the opposite from the things that the Holy Spirit tells us to do, and the good things we want to do when the Spirit has His way with us are just the opposite of our natural desires” (Galatians 5:16,17).

Our minds are susceptible to the influence of our old sin- nature and, as such, can pose real dangers to us. As soon as we get out of step with the Holy Spirit and get our focus off the Lord, our minds begin to give us trouble.

“The Christian life is really simple,” I heard a pastor say recently. “It’s simply doing what we’re told to do.” And he is right. We will be spiritually minded, not carnally minded, if we obey the simple commands of God’s Word.

Bible Reading:Romans 8:5-11

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, I will give the spiritual mind priority over the carnal mind in my life.

 

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – SILENCE AND SPIRITUAL WALK: RESISTING CONVICTION

 

Psalm 32

Augustine said about confession of sin: “Because I have sinned, I must declare my unrighteousness, confess my sins to the Lord, and stop trying to hide my guilt. The emphasis must be on that I did it myself. It was not fate, not my horoscope, not the devil. He did not force me to sin, but I consented to his persuasive temptations. And when I confess my rebellion to the Lord, I can say with the psalmist, ‘And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.’”

Psalm 32 is a beautiful poem about the blessing and beauty of God’s forgiveness (vv. 1–2, 11). David had at first resisted this blessing—His silence here is the silence of resisting God’s conviction of sin. His rebellious refusal to confess his sin brought about much inner suffering (vv. 3–4). In the end, God broke through and David repented and experienced the profound relief and blessing of forgiveness (v. 5).

The psalmist exhorted his fellow worshipers to do the same (vv. 6–8). God loves us. He can be trusted with our shameful secrets—in fact, He already knows them. He’s not waiting to ambush or punish us, but to forgive us. Sin interferes with closeness to God, so He also wants to teach us how to avoid sin and live righteously. To be under conviction of sin means God is graciously driving us to do what’s right and what’s good for us.

Why, then, would we act like a stubborn mule (vv. 9–10)? Don’t do what I did, David warns. Only an idiot would refuse to confess and repent! The “woes of the wicked” and the unrepentant are self-inflicted, but if we confess and repent, we can trade inner anguish for being immersed in God’s unfailing love (v. 10).

APPLY THE WORD

Confession of sin should be a regular habit. Our society doesn’t talk much about sin, preferring to say people make mistakes or are trapped in systems or “act out” and need therapy. But by repenting of sin and accepting God’s forgiveness, we demonstrate that repentance brings peace and joy in our relationship with God and brings glory to Him.

PRAY WITH US

Please pray for the ministry of Mollie Bond, who serves in Foundations and Corporate Relations, as she establishes relationships with various companies and organizations, involving interested partners in Moody’s ministries.

 

http://www.todayintheword.org

Wisdom Hunters – Effective Fathers Instruct

 

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.  Ephesians 6:4

Men, it is not enough to just live a right life in front of your child, you must explain to them why it’s right. They need to know the why and the how behind what you do. Your words work wonders in their tender and teachable hearts. Your instruction means you care to coach and train them in truth. It’s Dad’s tutoring of his tribe that empowers his little ones for life. They may not act as if they’re listening, but they are. Teaching truth transforms.

Truth leaves your lips and lodges in their hearts. When you take the time to transfer truth to your child you are setting them up for success. Truth is transformational and freeing. It gives confidence, direction, and discernment. As they move into maturity you won’t always be there, but truth will see them through.

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).

Instruct them how to balance a check book, change a flat tire, mow the lawn, shoot a gun, dress appropriately, carry on a conversation, swim, fly a kite, book a plane ticket online, memorize poetry, journal, pray, study the Bible, grill burgers, and make homemade ice cream. Children crave being with their dad and learning his lessons from life. Tell them when you messed up, what you learned, and what you did right. Explain that their best motivations are love of God, and love for people. Teach lovingly and patiently.

Above all, teach them to know, understand, love, and fear Jesus. He is the truth. “I am the way and the truth and the life…” (John 14:6a). The more they go to Jesus, the more they will be educated in what matters most. He will reveal to them wisdom and understanding. Instruct your child in intimacy with the Almighty, and they will be inspired with a heart of humility, and they will aspire to know the mind of Christ. Lead them to sit at the feet of their Savior and learn from Him.

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…” (Matthew 11:29a).

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I am desperate for your wisdom and grace to father well, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Application

How can I best instruct my child? What is their unique learning style?

Related Readings

Joshua 4:6-7; Proverbs 13:1; 1 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:15

Taken from Seeking Daily the Heart of God v.2

Worship Resource

6-minute music video- Tasha Cobbs Leonard: Good Good Father

 

http://www.wisdomhunters.com/

Charles Stanley – Peace at Any Price?

 

Romans 12:17-21

Relationships are one of life’s greatest sources of joy. Yet they can also lead to some of our biggest trials. Let’s face it—we won’t be able to get along with everyone, because we live in an imperfect world. Every human being has been affected by the fall and enters this life as a sinner. Furthermore, the fact that we are Christians is itself a source of conflict: Jesus tells us the world will hate us because we are His (John 15:18-20).

Despite all these obstacles, we are to try to be at peace with all men. This means we should seek to resolve conflicts and do what we can to live in harmony. Scripture gives us the following guidelines:

These principles all run counter to human nature; therefore, the only way to successfully apply them is through the power and grace of Jesus Christ. Yet despite our best efforts, peace is not always possible. When our overtures are repeatedly rejected, ending the quest may be appropriate. Or if harmony is possible only by violating Scripture, we must refuse to compromise.

God is the only one who can change the heart of someone who refuses to be reconciled. Our responsibility is to faithfully represent Christ to that person with our words, attitudes, and behavior. The Lord’s job is to produce the fruit.

Bible in One Year: Psalm 29-34

 

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Our Daily Bread — As Advertised

 

Read: John 16:25–33 | Bible in a Year: Nehemiah 4–6; Acts 2:22–47

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

During a vacation, my husband and I signed up for a leisurely rafting tour down Georgia’s Chattahoochee River. Dressed in sandals, a sundress, and a wide brimmed hat, I groaned when we discovered—contrary to the advertisement—that the trip included light rapids. Thankfully, we rode with a couple experienced in whitewater rafting. They taught my husband the basics of paddling and promised to navigate us safely to our destination. Grateful for my life jacket, I screamed and gripped the plastic handle on the raft until we reached the muddy bank downriver. I stepped onto the shore and dumped water from my purse as my husband helped me wring out the hem of my soaked dress. We enjoyed a good laugh, even though the trip had not turned out as advertised.

Unlike the tour brochure, which clearly left out a key detail about the trip, Jesus explicitly warned His disciples that rough waters were ahead. He told them that they’d be persecuted and martyred and that He would die and be resurrected. He also guaranteed His trustworthiness, affirming that He would guide them toward undeniable triumph and everlasting hope (John 16:16–33).

Although it would be nice if life were easier when we follow Jesus, He made it clear that His disciples would have troubles. But He promised to be with us. Trials won’t define, limit, or destroy God’s plan for us, because Jesus’s resurrection has already propelled us to eternal victory.

Lord, thank You for the promises in Your Word that assure us You’ve planned our path and remain with us and for us, no matter what comes.

Jesus promises to be with us through the roughest waters.

By Xochitl Dixon

INSIGHT

Hours before His death, Jesus spoke of difficult times ahead (John 13:21, 31–33; 15:20; 16:2, 32). Jesus comforted the distraught disciples with the provision of heaven, the promise of the Holy Spirit, and His abiding presence. And He offered them and us a most needed gift—peace (John 14–16). Jesus said, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27 nlt). Living in a world broken by sin and devastated by suffering, we have the promise of Jesus’s peace.

As you cope with life’s troubles and pain, how does Jesus’s peace of mind and heart give you confidence and hope? (John 14:27; 16:33).

  1. T. Sim

 

 

http://www.odb.org

C.S. Lewis, the Great War, and the Road to Narnia: Finding Our Deepest Longings

One hundred years ago this spring, a ferocious battle raged in in the French village Riez du Vinage. Amidst the savage German bombardment, a shell exploded near a young British lieutenant, plunging shrapnel into his body.

The soldier—an atheist named Clive Staples Lewis—survived, and went on to write many books on Christian apologetics—books that would likely not have been written had he not known the horrors of warfare.

As my friend Joe Loconte writes in National Review, “The experience of war would transform [Lewis], launching him on a spiritual journey that culminated . . . in his conversion to Christianity.”

That transformation began with mechanized butchery on an unprecedented scale. Lewis, a lieutenant in the Somerset Light Infantry, spent five miserable months in the trenches. He later described “the frights, the cold, the smell of [high explosives], the horribly smashed men still moving like half-crushed beetles, the sitting or standing corpses.”

By war’s end, most of Lewis’s friends lay dead, and in the years that followed, the West became disillusioned with war. But for Lewis, as Loconte writes, “the war and its aftermath seemed to have stirred [his] spiritual longings.”  Traveling by train to a London hospital, the wounded lieutenant “was seized by a sense of the transcendent as he beheld the natural beauty of the English countryside.”

Lewis later described this experience to a friend, writing, “You see the conviction is gaining ground on me that after all Spirit does exist. I fancy that there is Something right outside time and place….”

This transformation continued through new friendships at Oxford, where Lewis taught English literature. J.R.R. Tolkien, a Catholic who had also fought on the Western Front, shared Lewis’s love for ancient myths and the “truth” hidden within them. Lewis read philosophy, and books explaining the nature of atonement and of God Himself.

Lewis told a friend, “Now that I have found, and am still finding more and more of the element of truth in the old beliefs I feel I cannot dismiss, there must be something in it, only what?”

Continue reading C.S. Lewis, the Great War, and the Road to Narnia: Finding Our Deepest Longings

Joyce Meyer – Take Care of Your Body

 

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is within you, whom you have [received as a gift] from God, and that you are not your own [property]? — 1 Corinthians 6:19

Adapted from the resource Love Out Loud Devotional

I want to ask you today the same question Paul asked the believers in Corinth centuries ago: Do you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit? You are the home of God! Are you loving yourself, God, and others by caring for your physical body, treating it well, and using it for God’s purposes?

Some Christians focus only on the spiritual side of life and they fail to properly care for their bodies. Other people have such low self esteem or a shame based nature that they don’t feel their bodies are worth caring for. But God’s plan for us involves maintaining spiritual, emotional, and physical health. He wants us strong in every way! He wants us to feel good physically so we can serve Him and others, and be able to enjoy the life He has provided for us.

No matter what shape you are in physically, it’s never too late to improve and do some repair or maintenance on your temple. You can start by learning the basic principles of good nutrition, drink lots of water, employ stress management, exercise, and rest. Laughter is also important. It has been scientifically proven to improve your health. It’s amazing how much better you can feel if you will begin to make positive changes in these areas. Give it a try; I promise, you’ll be glad you did.

Prayer Starter: Father, I ask for Your grace to take practical steps toward good physical health. Help me to treat my body with respect so I can serve you to the best of my ability. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Forgets Our Sins

 

“And then he adds, ‘I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds'” (Hebrews 10:17).

We were seated at the breakfast table, talking about the exciting adventure of the Christian life. Chuck and Mary were just discovering new facets and understanding of the life in Christ.

“Can you tell us in a few words what should be our objective as Christians?” they asked me.

In very brief summary, I replied, “The Christian life is the process of becoming in our experience through the enabling of the Holy Spirit what we already are in God’s sight, in order to bring maximum glory, honor and praise to His name.”

Christ gave Himself to God for our sins – as one sacrifice for one time. Then He sat down at the place of highest honor at God’s right hand. For by that one offering He made forever perfect in the sight of God all those whom He is making holy.

I am perfect in God’s sight, because in His sight there is no such thing as time and space. Let me hasten to all: I know that I am not perfect in my experience. That is a process which takes time, knowledge of God and His Word, and growth in faith in order to claim these truths as reality in our lives.

I am perfect in God’s sight because He sees me in Christ, and in Christ, who is perfect and without sin. He sees me without spot or blemish. Someone has referred to this great experience of being crucified, baptized and enthroned with Christ as a different life altogether. As we are reminded in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV), “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

Bible Reading:Hebrews 8:8-12

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Because God has forgiven and forgotten all my sins and lawless deeds. I will now, through the enabling of His Holy Spirit, receive His forgiveness and cleansing and never again be burdened with those sins of the past. I will claim my new supernatural life in Christ for the glory of God. Because this is such great good news, I will not keep it to myself. I must tell others.

http://www.cru.org

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – One More Chance


Read: Luke 13:6-9

If it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down. (v. 9)

“You had your chance, and you still haven’t delivered!” Ever said something like that? The results you expected just weren’t forthcoming. You gave the offender another chance, and then another. Finally, your patience ran out. No more second chances.

For three years the landowner has been coming to his vineyard at harvest time, expecting to find fruit. But the fig tree seemingly is sterile. Finally, the landowner has had enough. Why should this unproductive tree go on stealing sun and space, water and nutrition? “Cut it down!” he says to the gardener. But the gardener begs for one last chance to coax the tree into production. He asks for a stay of execution: “Sir, let it alone this year also.” Like Abraham interceding for the city of Sodom, so the gardener wins a reprieve for the unproductive fruit tree.

Jesus the gardener doesn’t give up on us. He doesn’t give up on you, me, or the church, despite our frustrating lack of fruit. There is a lot of hope in this parable—don’t cut down the tree. But there is also urgency—just one more year! The deadline has been pushed back. We’ve been spared the ax. But with this new opportunity there had better come a new seriousness. We are on trial right now, today. God expects fruit from his fruit trees. “If it should bear fruit next year, well and good,” says the gardener. “But if not, you can cut it down.” —Lou Lotz

Prayer: Lord, help me to produce the fruits of righteousness.

 

https://woh.org/

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