Charles Stanley – The Danger of Anger

 

Ephesians 4:26-27

Anger is a powerful emotion that often causes damage, but it can also be righteous. In Isaiah 64:9, the prophet prays, “Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord.” This verse implies God measures His anger in a way that fits each occasion. Today’s passage teaches that the Lord also expects us to learn to control our anger so it’s appropriate and doesn’t cause us to sin.

There is a line that must not be crossed if we want to guard against sinful anger. It’s obvious that verbal abuse and physical violence should be ruled out, but anger can lead to other sins that are just as deadly. When we see the following characteristics in our life, we’ve crossed the line:

Strife. Proverbs 29:22 says, “An angry man stirs up strife.” Although strife can take many forms, it always pits one person against another.

Bitterness. Psalm 30:5 says that the Lord’s anger is for a moment, and Ephesians 4:26 warns against staying angry overnight. Extended anger festers and eventually leads to bitterness.

Isolation. Whenever anger is nursed, people become separated from each other. Proverbs 16:28 warns against this by pointing out that “a slanderer separates intimate friends.”

Retaliation. Romans 12:19 addresses this directly: “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God.”

What should you do if you recognize any of these in yourself? The first step is to confess it as sin and make a determined effort to turn from it. Every time a bitter thought pops up, repent and release it to the Lord.

Bible in One Year: Ezra 5-7

 

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Our Daily Bread — Tossing and Turning

 

Read: Psalm 4 | Bible in a Year: 1 Chronicles 22–24; John 8:28–59

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8

What keeps you awake at night? Lately I’ve been losing sleep, tossing and turning on my bed, trying to work out a solution to an issue. Eventually I begin fretting about not getting enough rest to handle the challenges of the next day!

Sound familiar? Troubled relationships, an uncertain future, whatever it is—we all give in to worry at one point or another.

We can entrust our cares to a wholly trustworthy God.

King David was clearly in distress when he penned Psalm 4. People were ruining his reputation with groundless accusations (v. 2). And some were questioning his competency to rule (v. 6). David probably felt angry for being treated so unfairly. Surely he could have spent nights stewing about it. Yet we read these remarkable words: “In peace I will lie down and sleep” (v. 8).

Charles Spurgeon explains verse 8 beautifully: “In thus lying down, . . . [David] resigned himself into the hands of another; he did so completely, for in the absence of all care, he slept; there was here a perfect trust.” What inspired this trust? From the start, David was confident that God would answer his prayers (v. 3). And he was sure that since God had chosen to love him, He would lovingly meet his needs.

May God help us to rest in His power and presence when worries threaten. In His sovereign and loving arms, we can “lie down and sleep.”

Dear Father, thank You for hearing me when I call. I surrender my worries to You and rest in Your power and presence.

We can entrust our cares to a wholly trustworthy God. 

By Poh Fang Chia

INSIGHT

David’s confident assurance of God’s care was the source of his ability to rest, and this theme of rest winds its way throughout the psalms. In Psalm 46:10 the psalmist says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” The phrase be still can be translated “relax.” It’s as if God is counseling the psalmist, “I’ve got this. Take it easy.” In the shepherd’s psalm, David reminds us, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters” (Psalm 23:2). What a wonderful picture of rest—and the source of that rest is the God in whom we confidently trust. This enabled one psalmist to share: “Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you” (Psalm 116:7). Our ability to rest is directly related to our confidence in the Father’s love, care, and concern for us. So in times of anxiety and stress the child of God can look to the Father and know He’s got this. We can be at rest!

What can you entrust to God’s care?

Bill Crowder

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Forgotten Stories

In one of the early scenes of The Matrix, the character Trinity meets Neo in a club and she tells him, “It’s the question that drives us.” Later Neo meets Morpheus, who describes this inherent curiosity as a “splinter in the mind.”

We are born into a world that is populated with stories, pregnant with multiple meanings. From our very entrance into the cosmos until death, the reality and presence of story envelops our lives. Like the deep-seated quest of Socrates to discover what, in fact, was the good life, we find ourselves asking questions and wanting answers. These questions are not mere curiosity, or intellectual pursuits; they carry enormous existential significance and importance. These questions haunt us.

Consider the following words from Lee Iacocca in Straight Talk: “Here I am in the twilight years of my life, still wondering what it’s all about… I can tell you this, fame and fortune is for the birds.” Our minds are splintered—or made numb—with pressing inquiry: What is the point of it all? What gives our lives meaning? Novelist William H. Gass expresses a similar nagging reality. “Life is itself exile,” he writes, “and its inevitability does not lessen our grief or alter the fact.” Journalist Malcolm Muggeridge notes further, “The first thing I remember about the world—and I pray it may be the last—is that I was a stranger in it. This feeling which everyone has in some degree, and which is at once the glory and desolation of homosapiens, provides the only thread of consistency that I can detect in my life.” Why are we here? Where are we going? Why do we at times find ourselves as strangers in our own home? Is there a greater story we are a part of, but ignoring?

In the Western world, we are progressively abandoning the metanarratives that for centuries served to define and give shape to our society and individual lives. Indeed, the very idea of a “defining story” is now considered offensive, imperialistic, sexist, or worse. The individual is left alone before a mind-boggling array of options and both the responsibility and the authority to reach a conclusion are totally rooted in the self. Yet, despite brave predictions of the demise of God or the eventual waning of belief under Modern conditions, the questions have not gone away. If anything, they are more at the forefront than we would have expected, given the nature and shape of progress.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Forgotten Stories

Joyce Meyer – Pray Often

 

Be persistent and devoted to prayer, being alert and focused in your prayer life with an attitude of thanksgiving. — Colossians 4:2

Don’t put off praying until a more convenient time. Pray at all times, in every season, with all kinds of prayer (see Ephesians 6:18).

Prayer need not be long to be effective. It is the greatest privilege we have, and it releases the greatest power on earth.

We all need God’s help, and we get it by asking for it. Pray your way through the day.

Prayer Starter: I thank You, Father, that You are always listening. Help me to form a habit of talking to You throughout my day—asking, praising, and even listening for Your words of comfort. I love you so much. In Jesus Name, Amen.

14 Days of Less Stress – Get Started

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Long, Satisfying Life

 

“If you want a long and satisfying life, closely follow my instructions” (Proverbs 3:2).

A famous children’s specialist declared, “When it comes to a serious illness, the child who has been taught to obey has four times the chance of recovery that the spoiled and undisciplined child has.”

Every parent should consider well the implications of that statement. We have all been taught that one of the Ten Commandments was for children to obey their parents.

But it is doubtful that many of us have ever considered that obedience might mean the difference between the saving or losing of a child’s life.

The hymnwriter who said that we should “trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus” well knew what he was saying. A “long and satisfying life” certainly would be synonymous with a “happy life.”

Many Christians have every intention of following God’s instructions – without ever really knowing what those instructions are. That is why it is supremely important for every believer to spend time in God’s Word, the book of instructions for Christians.

Are you one of those who truly want a long satisfying life? Then, are you willing to follow God’s instructions for your life? Are you willing to familiarize yourself thoroughly with His instructions so that you will have no difficulty knowing and following them?

Bible Reading:Proverbs 3:1-8

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will follow closely God’s instructions in order that I may live a long and satisfying life.

 

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Max Lucado – Filling Our Minds with God’s Love

Listen to Today’s Devotion

What happens when we fill our minds with thoughts of God’s love? Will standing beneath the downpour of his grace change the way we feel about others?

It’s not enough to keep the bad stuff out. We’ve got to let the good stuff in. It’s not enough to keep no list of wrongs. We need to cultivate a list of blessings. Paul says in Philippians 4:8, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Thinking conveys the idea of pondering, studying, and focusing…allowing what is viewed to have an impact on us. You want to make a list? Then list his mercies. List the times God has forgiven you. Rather than store up the sour, store up the sweet!

Read more A Love Worth Giving

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Philadelphia needs foster homes but denounces Catholic foster services

There is a critical shortage of foster parents in America today. As one example, the city of Philadelphia has issued an “urgent” plea for more foster homes.

At the same time, the city has halted referrals to Catholic Social Services (CSS), an agency that has worked in the city for decades and oversees about one hundred foster homes. The Wall Street Journal explains the reason: the agency holds Catholic beliefs about same-sex marriage.

“Who is really intolerant here?”

CSS works with children regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or race. On religious grounds, however, they will not certify same-sex or unmarried couples as foster parents, referring them to another state-approved agency. More than two dozen such agencies exist.

CSS says no gay couples have ever sought their help for certification. Nor has anyone filed a complaint after being turned away.

Nonetheless, Philadelphia has denounced CSS as discriminatory and launched an investigation into their practices. Unless the group agrees to provide written certifications for same-sex foster parents, the city will terminate CSS’s contract in June.

One foster parent affected by the city’s decision has opened her home to more than 130 children over the last forty-six years. Philadelphia honored her as one of its foster parents of the year in 2015. But because she is certified through CSS, her home has been vacant since April.

The city claims that foster parents could simply work through another agency. However, switching agencies can be a bureaucratic challenge. In addition, CSS provides its foster families with holistic support, making social workers available for calls at any hour.

As the Journal notes, “Philadelphia is penalizing Catholic Social Services because its beliefs about marriage don’t mesh with progressive cultural values. To protect the city’s conscience, Philadelphia demands that Catholics violate their own. Who is really intolerant here?”

“No longer welcome in American culture”

These are troubling times for those of us who affirm biblical morality.

We’ve grown accustomed to being ridiculed in popular culture (a character on The Simpsons calling Christianity a “dopey religion” is just a recent example). We recognize that our affirmation of biblical marriage will continue to anger those who brand us “intolerant” and “homophobic.”

A perceptive Time article headlined, “Regular Christians Are No Longer Welcome in American Culture.” In his keynote address at the recent First Amendment Lunch in Washington, DC, Albert Mohler described the times in which we live:

“Religious freedom, freedom of speech, and the freedom of the press, along with the other rights recognized and respected within the Bill of Rights, are all threatened even as other rights are marginalized. Even more distressingly, a new regime of invented rights threatens to replace the rights that are clearly enumerated within the text of the Constitution.”

When the growing bias against biblical morality affects innocent children, the “culture wars” have moved to an especially troubling place.

Use our influence to advance biblical morality

How should we respond?

Engage in the political process. I’ve often stated my belief that God is calling more Christians into public service than are answering his call.

Pray for those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1–2). Ask God to guide them and to bring them to repentance where necessary. Encourage believers who are running for office and serving in political leadership, asking God to use their witness for his glory and our good.

Defend believers whose rights are under attack. For example, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty brought a lawsuit on behalf of Catholic Social Services against the city of Philadelphia, claiming that the city has breached its contract with CSS and is violating the group’s right to religious liberty. Organizations such as Kelly Shackelford’s First Liberty are doing outstanding work in defending Christians whose faith is under legal assault.

“You can turn the world around”

If you’re wondering whether your faith and faithfulness can make a real difference in our culture, remember how God works. He uses a shepherd’s sling to slay a giant; he turns a boy’s lunch into a feast for thousands; he transforms Galilean fishermen into world-changing apostles.

His kingdom is like a mustard seed that becomes a tree so large “the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches” (Matthew 13:31–32).

Why does he do this?

Paul explained: “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:27–29).

Read again the last phrase: “so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” The King of the universe most uses those who most glorify him. Self-dependence is spiritual suicide. Christ-dependence is spiritual victory.

Edmund Burke warned: “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.” By contrast, Thoreau asserted: “Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.”

Will you “live your beliefs” today?

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Charles Stanley – How to Have Steadfast Faith

 

Hebrews 11:1-31

The apostle James challenges us to understand the connection between faith and obedience. In James 2:17, he writes that faith without works is dead. In other words, we cannot have unshakeable beliefs without obeying.

Developing steadfast trust takes time. We are born spiritually through simple, childlike faith that receives Jesus as Savior. Convictions are nourished by a growing knowledge of God and a deepening confidence in Him. Experiencing His protection, provision, and power in moments of testing strengthens our beliefs. Daniel is a good example of this. Each time his loyalty was tested, he chose to depend on God. Sometimes the circumstances were thrust upon him—such as whether to eat food sacrificed to idols (Dan. 1:8). At other times, he voluntarily initiated a difficult situation in order to help (Dan. 2:24). In each case, he followed God’s leading.

Hebrews 11 lists other examples of obedience as critical to steadfast faith. Noah, when warned about things not seen, obeyed God and built the ark. And at the Lord’s direction, Abraham left home to go to a place not yet known to him. Then in the New Testament, Paul was planning to arrest Christians when he encountered the Savior. He made a complete turnaround: Despite threats, beatings, and shipwrecks, he obeyed God and preached the gospel.

Knowing and trusting God through His Son, experiencing His presence, and living obediently are the elements needed to develop an unshakeable faith. Jesus Himself said that our work is to believe in Him (John 6:29). With the Holy Spirit’s help, each of us can have unwavering faith.

Bible in One Year: Ezra 1-4

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — The Babushka Lady

 

Read: Acts 2:22–36 | Bible in a Year: 1 Chronicles 19–21; John 8:1–27

Let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah. Acts 2:36

The “Babushka Lady” is one of the mysteries surrounding the 1963 assassination of US President John F. Kennedy. Captured on film recording the events with a movie camera, she has proven to be elusive. This mystery woman, wearing an overcoat and scarf (resembling a Russian babushka), has never been identified and her film has never been seen. For decades, historians and scholars have speculated that fear has prevented the “Babushka Lady” from telling her story of that dark November day.

No speculation is needed to understand why Jesus’s disciples hid. They cowered in fear because of the authorities who had killed their Master (John 20:19)—reluctant to come forward and declare their experience. But then Jesus rose from the grave. The Holy Spirit soon arrived and you couldn’t keep those once-timid followers of Christ quiet! On the day of Pentecost, a Spirit-empowered Simon Peter declared, “Let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah” (Acts 2:36).

Lord, please give me the strength and boldness to talk to others about You.

The opportunity to boldly speak in Jesus’s name is not limited to those with daring personalities or career ministry training. It is the indwelling Spirit who enables us to tell the good news of Jesus. By His strength, we can experience the courage to share our Savior with others.

Lord, please give me the strength and boldness to talk to others about You.

Speak of the matchless love of Christ to those who need to hear.

By Bill Crowder

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Whence Came the Wish

To fully understand C.S. Lewis’ love for the imaginary—indeed, to understand the man himself—something must be said about the distinctively English world Faery. The world of Faery, which has its roots in Celtic culture, is not so easily categorized. It is not at all the land of delicate fairies that Walt Disney would have us imagine. Nor is it simply imaginary, a story altogether detached and unrelated to the world before us. Faery is, first, a place. It is lush and green like gentle British landscapes and ancient English forests, but forests untamed, willful, and enchanted—”a world, that sometimes overlaps with Britain but is fundamentally Other than it.”(1) Biographer Alan Jacobs hints at the importance of Faery on the imagination of Lewis, and in particular, this “old idea that Faery overlaps our world—that one can, unwillingly and unwittingly, pass from one into the other.”(2) Faery is both beautiful and dangerous, its boundaries unclear. The encounter with Faery and its tales, the “horns of Elfland faintly blowing,” was one that haunted Lewis throughout much of his life.(3)

For Lewis, “the horns of Elfland” were heard and followed and dear, like arrows of Joy shot at him from childhood—through the death of his mother at the fragile age of nine, through the horrid years at boarding school, through the doubt and dismissal of faith and God, through the metaphysical pessimism and the deep layers of secular ice, through a dejected and reluctant conversion, to Narnia, and to the Joy itself.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Whence Came the Wish

Joyce Meyer – Become an Aggressive Encourager

 

So then, let us pursue [with enthusiasm] the things which make for peace and the building up of one another [things which lead to spiritual growth]. — Romans 14:19

One of the easiest ways to express love to others is to help them feel valuable. Mother Teresa of Calcutta ministered in the midst of appalling poverty, hunger, and disease, yet she said, “Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody…is a much greater hunger…than the person who has nothing to eat.”

I’ve discovered that most people we meet do not have a sense of their infinite value as children of God. The thought that God loves them and sees them as precious has never entered their minds. I think the devil works very hard to make people feel devalued and worthless, but we can neutralize his lies by building people up and encouraging them. One way to do this is with a sincere compliment.

A compliment does not have to be something major. Little remarks such as, “That color really looks good on you”; “I like your hair that way”; or “I’m glad you are my friend” are very effective and meaningful.

Most people are quick to compare themselves with others, which means they often fail to see their own abilities and worth. Making another person feel valuable doesn’t have to be time consuming. Let’s train ourselves to be aggressive encouragers. Find some way to encourage every person you come in contact with throughout your day. Making people feel valuable won’t cost any money, but it gives them something worth more than anything money can buy.

Prayer Starter: Father, open my eyes to the ways I can encourage those around me today. Help me to be sensitive to others even in the midst of my busy schedule. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Practicing the Presence of God

“How precious it is, Lord, to realize that You are thinking about me constantly! I can’t even count how many times a day Your thoughts turn towards me. And when I waken in the morning, You are still thinking of me!” (Psalm 139:17,18).

Our sons, Zac and Brad, have helped me to understand, in some small measure, the truth of this promise, for in the course of a single day, I will lift them up in prayer many times. I am finite, but God is infinite. My love for our sons is limited, but his love is inexhaustible and unconditional. It is because of God’s love in my heart that I am able to love my sons unconditionally, even as He loves me.

What a comforting, encouraging thought, that the omnipotent Creator, God, who possesses all power and control of creation, loves me enough that He is constantly thinking about me. When I allow Him to do so, He talks to me, expressing His love, wisdom and grace from His Word, through divine impressions and the counsel of wise and godly friends. His eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth to make Himself strong and mighty in my behalf (2 Chronicles 16:9).

Just as He is constantly thinking about me, I have been admonished to pray without ceasing. To talk to Him, to think about Him all the time – as difficult as it may sound – is a joyful reality to those who practice the presence of God, is that the kind of relationship you are experiencing day by day? If not, it can be.

Bible Reading:Psalm 139:1-10

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Mindful that God loves, cares and thinks about me constantly, I shall seek to live the supernatural life by practicing His presence, by praying without ceasing and by claiming His supernatural power by faith.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – You Are Not a Victim of Your Thoughts

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Life has a way of unloading her rubbish on our doorstep! Your husband works too much. Your wife gripes too much. Your boss expects too much. Your kids whine too much. The result? Trash. Loads of pessimism, guilt, anxiety—it all piles up. And what about the Pharisees? They killed Christ in their hearts before they killed him on the cross.

Today’s thoughts are tomorrow’s actions. Could that be why Paul writes, “Love…keeps no record of wrongs?” (1 Corinthians 13:5). We do have a choice. Paul says we do when he writes, “We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).  Selfishness, step back!  Envy…get lost! You are not a victim of your thoughts. If today’s thoughts are tomorrow’s actions, what happens when we fill our minds with thoughts of God’s love? Will standing beneath the downpour of his grace change the way we feel about others? Absolutely!

Read more A Love Worth Giving

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Trump administration to propose funding cuts for abortion providers

There is good news and bad news in today’s news.

Let’s start with good news for those of us who believe life is sacred from conception to natural death: The Trump administration has announced its intention to propose new regulations regarding abortion. The ruling would prohibit Planned Parenthood and other abortion referral entities from receiving grant money through Title X, the government’s family planning program.

Title X funds cannot be used for abortion, but Planned Parenthood still receives more than $50 million from the program for other services. Under the new policy, clinics could not accept the money at all if they recommend or perform abortions.

I agree with Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, who called the ruling “a responsible and commendable step toward our goal of totally separating taxpayer funds from Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry.”

In bad news, viral outbreaks in India and Africa are escalating. More students have been killed in schools this year than soldiers in combat zones. A sixteen-year-old has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of a Baltimore police officer.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Trump administration to propose funding cuts for abortion providers

Charles Stanley – The Comfortable Church

 

Isaiah 6:8

I think it’s fairly obvious that the society we live in is very self-centered, and this same characteristic can be present in a church. Whenever a local body of believers develops an inward focus, its fruitfulness in ministry begins to decrease, and each member’s Christian walk is hindered. Many believers want their church to be cozy and comfortable. They come to listen to a nice sermon, fellowship with friends, and have their needs met. But God never intended for the gathering of His people to be like a country club; He calls us to join an army that will bring the gospel into enemy territory.

An effective church—one that poses a real threat to the enemy—is a body of discipled people who have been taught the truth of Scripture, helped to mature spiritually, and trained for service. But all this is accomplished for the purpose of going out into the world, not for becoming a self-contained sanctuary of Christian comfort.

The urgency of the Lord’s command and the desperate condition of humanity should motivate us to leave the safety of our Christian fellowships and deliver the message of salvation through Jesus. To avoid this responsibility is to miss the Father’s plan for your life and the opportunity to help build His kingdom.

None of us want to waste time or energy on trivial things and thereby miss the exciting fulfillment of God’s will. He has called us, not to a life of comfortable tradition, but to an adventure of obedience. Answer His call—you’ll help fill His kingdom with people from every tribe and nation.

Bible in One Year: 2 Chronicles 35-36

 

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Our Daily Bread — Up a Tree

 

Read: Jonah 2:1–10 | Bible in a Year: 1 Chronicles 16–18; John 7:28–53

In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. Jonah 2:2

My mother discovered my kitten Velvet atop the kitchen counter, devouring homemade bread. With a huff of frustration, she scooted her out the door. Hours later, we searched our yard for the missing cat without success. A faint meow whistled on the wind, and I looked up to the peak of a poplar tree where a black smudge tilted a branch.

In her haste to flee my mother’s frustration over her behavior, Velvet chose a more precarious predicament. Is it possible that we sometimes do something similar—running from our errors and putting ourselves in danger? And even then God comes to our rescue.

Oh the heights–and in the depths–God goes to in rescuing us with His redeeming love!

The prophet Jonah fled in disobedience from God’s call to preach to Nineveh, and was swallowed up by a great fish. “From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said: ‘In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me’ ” (Jonah 2:1–2). God heard Jonah’s plea and, “commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land” (v. 10). Then God gave Jonah another chance (3:1).

After exhausting our efforts to woo Velvet down, we summoned the local fire department. With the longest ladder fully extended, a kind man climbed high, plucked my kitten from her perch, and returned to place her safely in my arms.

Oh the heights—and the depths—God goes to in rescuing us from our disobedience with His redeeming love!

Dear God, how we need Your rescue today!

Jesus’s death on the cross rescued us from our sins. 

By Elisa Morgan

INSIGHT

The story of Jonah is a story of the unexpected. The only character in the story who doesn’t obey God is the one the reader would expect to be obedient, the one who told the sailors, “I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land” (Jonah 1:9). In contrast to the fugitive prophet, the pagan sailors turn to God (v. 16); the fish did as the Lord commanded (2:10); the Ninevites (a blood-thirsty and pagan people) repented (3:5–10). But the unexpected doesn’t stop there. God goes to great lengths to teach Jonah who He is. Rather than punish the disobedient prophet who is angry at God’s mercy, God invites Jonah (and us) to contemplate the depths of His love and mercy.

When have you experienced the love and mercy of God?

J.R. Hudberg

 

 

http://www.odb.org

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Reordering the Imagination

I shut my eyes in order to see, said French painter, sculptor, and artist Paul Gauguin. As a little girl, though completely unaware of this insightful quote on imagination, I lived this maxim. Nothing was more exhilarating to me than closing my eyes in order to imagine far away exotic lands, a handsome prince, or climbing down a deep enough hole leading straight to China!

In fact, like many, imagination fueled my young heart and mind. After reading C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, I would walk into dark closets filled with warm winter coats fully expecting to be transported like the Pevensie children into strange and wonderful land. Charlotte’s Web took me to a farm where I could talk to my dog, like Fern talked to Wilbur, or to the spiders that hung from intricate webs in my garage. Pictures on the wall came to life and danced before me; ordinary objects became extraordinary tools enabling me to defeat all those imaginary giants and inspiring me toward powerful possibilities fueled by vivid imagination.

Sadly, as happens to many adults, my imagination has changed. I don’t often view my closet as a doorway to unseen worlds, nor do I pretend that my dogs understand one word of my verbalizing towards them. Pictures don’t come to life, and I no-longer pretend my garden rake or broom is a secret weapon against fantastical foes. Often, I feel that my imagination has become nothing more than wishful thinking. Rather than thinking creatively about the life I’ve been given, I day-dream about what my life might be like if… I lived in Holland, for example, or could back-pack across Europe, or lived on a kibbutz, or was a famous actress, or a world-renowned tennis player, or any number of alternative lives to the one I currently occupy.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Reordering the Imagination

Joyce Meyer – He Will Tell You What’s Ahead

 

He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future].  — John 16:13 AMPC

One of the many benefits of hearing from God is that listening to His voice helps us prepare for the future. The Holy Spirit gives to us the messages the Father gives to Him, and He often tells us things that will happen in the future.

We find many instances in the Bible in which God spoke to people and gave them information about the future. He told Noah to prepare for a flood that would come to destroy the people of the earth (see Genesis 6:13–17). He told Moses to go to Pharaoh and ask for the release of the Israelites and that Pharaoh would not grant this request (see Exodus 7). Obviously, God does not tell us everything that will happen in the future, but His Word promises He will tell us some things.

There are times when I sense that something good, or perhaps something challenging, is going to happen. When a challenge awaits me and I have some prior knowledge of it, that knowledge helps to cushion the blow when the difficult situation comes. If an automobile with good shock absorbers hits a pothole, those absorbers protect passengers in the car from the jarring impact that would result and no one gets hurt. God’s giving us information ahead of time works the same way.

Part of the Holy Spirit’s ministry is to tell us things to come. He knows the mind of God and He knows God’s individual plans for our lives. He will reveal what we need to know when we need to know it in order to fulfill the good plans God has for us.

Prayer Starter: Thank You, Lord for Your precious Holy Spirit and for speaking to me about things to come. Help me to continually grow in my relationship with You so I can be even more sensitive to hearing Your voice. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – First Step to Wisdom

 

“How does a man become wise? The first step is to trust and reverence the Lord! Only fools refuse to be taught” (Proverbs 1:7).

In 1787, the Constitutional Convention was on the verge of total failure. The issue: whether small states should have the same representation as large states.

From the wisdom of his 81 years, Benjamin Franklin recalled the Scriptures which says, “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it” (Psalm 127:1), and in this hopeless situation, he offered a suggestion.

“Gentlemen,” he said, “I have lived a long time and am convinced that God governs in the affairs of men. If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?

“I move that prayer imploring the assistance of heaven be held every morning before we proceed to business.” God heard their prayers and the conflict was soon resolved. To this day, all legislative sessions continue to be opened with prayer, with God’s blessing.

“Reverence of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” reads the Modern Language translation of this verse – a preamble to wise living a good motto for life.

Someone has said, “The eternal task of religion is the conquest of fear.” Men fear many things – bacteria, losing their jobs, being dependent in old age, giving offense to their neighbors, war, failure, death.

Fear (worshipful reverence) of God represents a different kind of fear – the kind a child shows toward wise and loving parents when he shuns acts of disobedience to avoid both grieving those parents whom he loved and suffering the inevitable discipline which follows disobedience. Perhaps if we feared God more, we would fear everything else less.

Bible Reading:Proverbs 1:8-16

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: My fear and reverence of God is the beginning of supernatural living and will result in worship of Him – by walk as well as by talk.

 

 

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Max Lucado – Let God Accept You

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Do you think God could heal your angry heart? He asks the same question of you that he asked of the invalid in John 5:6,  “Do you want to be healed?” Not everyone does. Anger may be part of your identity.

T.D. Terry’s stressful job stirred in him daily bouts of anger. A tree near his driveway had been tall. Then lost a few limbs. After some time it was nothing more than a stump. T.D. explained, “I took my anger out on the tree. I took an ax to it. I tore the limbs. I didn’t want to come home mad, so I left my anger at the tree.”

Let’s do the same. In fact, let’s take our anger to the tree on the hill. Leave it at the tree of Calvary. Let God accept you. Take a long drink from his limitless love, and cool down!

Read more A Love Worth Giving

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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