Charles Stanley – Those Who Hurt

 

Mark 10:46-52

In the midst of suffering, we may question whether God cares or even knows what we’re going through. However, the problem isn’t with the Lord—it’s with our perception. We tend to judge God by our circumstances, but we should judge circumstances by the Lord’s character and the power He demonstrated in Scripture.

The Bible teaches that our triune God is omniscient and knows all things perfectly and fully. No actions or persons are hidden from His sight, and the past, present, and future are all laid out before Him (Psalm 33:13-15; Heb. 4:13).

The Lord “searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts” (1 Chronicles 28:9). Therefore, He knows us intimately and understands what we really need. God’s love and concern for us do not change, even if our pain is the result of our own sinful actions.

Jesus repeatedly demonstrated God’s love and care for people. In fact, much of His ministry consisted of alleviating suffering along with teaching how to enter the kingdom of heaven. While traveling to Jerusalem in anticipation of the cross, Jesus encountered a blind beggar who kept crying out, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:48). Although the crowd told him to be quiet, Jesus stopped to restore his sight and affirm his faith.

And He will hear your cries for help as well because His love extends like a canopy over you. When your circumstances tempt you to doubt this, consider your limited perspective and trust in the character of your God. Accept Jesus’ invitation to bring your burdens to Him and find rest for your soul (Matt. 11:28-30).

Bible in One Year: Hebrews 4-6

 

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Our Daily Bread — The Great Awakening

 

Read: Deuteronomy 34:1–8 | Bible in a Year: Obadiah; Revelation 9

God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 1 Thessalonians 4:14

I have a treasured memory of gatherings with family friends when our boys were small. The adults would talk into the night; our children, weary with play would curl up on a couch or chair and fall asleep.

When it was time to leave, I would gather our boys into my arms, carry them to the car, lay them in the back seat, and take them home. When we arrived, I would pick them up again, tuck them into their beds, kiss them goodnight, and turn out the light. In the morning they would awaken—at home.

This has become a rich metaphor for me of the night on which we “sleep in Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:14 kjv). We slumber . . . and awaken in our eternal home, the home that will heal the weariness that has marked our days.

I came across an Old Testament text the other day that surprised me—a closing comment in Deuteronomy: “Moses . . . died there in Moab, as the Lord had said” (34:5). The Hebrew means literally, “Moses died . . . with the mouth of the Lord,” a phrase ancient rabbis translated, “With the kiss of the Lord.”

Is it too much to envision God bending over us on our final night on earth, tucking us in and kissing us goodnight? Then, as John Donne so eloquently put it, “One short sleep past, we wake eternally.”

Heavenly Father, because Your arms carry us, we can sleep in peace.

For death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity.  —William Penn

By David H. Roper

INSIGHT

Deuteronomy gives us the last written words of Moses. Speaking with the warmth of a father who is about to leave his children, he reminisces about how the Lord, who rescued them from Egypt, miraculously fed, led, and protected the Israelites in an uninhabitable wilderness (1:1–4:40). He reminds them of what the Lord had said to them at Sinai (5:1–26:19). Then he describes how wonderful or terrible their life would be depending on whether or not they continue to remember and trust the God who had led them to the threshold of a promised homeland (chs. 27–30). Moses’s heart must have ached as he expressed what the Lord had told him—that the people he loved would eventually suffer greatly for forgetting the God who had done so much for them (31:29). With a song (ch. 32) and words of blessing (ch. 33), Moses entrusted Israel to God and to the leadership of Moses’s assistant, Joshua (34:9).

Mart DeHaan

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Ordinary and Extraordinary

For those who are familiar with the Christmas narrative from the Gospel of Luke, the inherent strangeness to the story may be missed as a result. When read without either an over-familiarity or a commercialized sentimentality, the Lukan account of God’s advent into the world is fairly extraordinary. I am struck by the way Luke juxtaposes the announcement of the King of Israel—”For to you is born this day in the city of David the Savior who is Christ the Lord”—with the sign of his advent: “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”(1) The God of the universe would be set in a lowly manger, a feed trough for animals. he would be clothed, not in purple finery, but in woven, cloth strips.

Luke’s narrative highlights what seem to be the most ordinary and the most mundane details of Jesus’s birth for many modern readers. And yet, these seemingly ordinary details highlight a God who chooses to display divine glory in the commonplace birth of a human child. The gospel writer’s utter preoccupation with ordinary details reveals the belief that coming of the Messiah and his kingdom would look very different from the kingdom that was expected. And this was extraordinary.

The Bible indicates a long silence of God from speaking directly to the people—a silence that must have seemed an eternity. But out of the silence of that quiet night, the angel spoke and announced what the people of Israel had all hoped for: God is near, the gospel proclaims, born in the same city as your great king of old, King David! The people now would look upon the new David, their new deliverer, who would be their Messiah. The prophet Micah announced this special context as well: “As for you, Bethlehem, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you one will go forth for me to be ruler in Israel. His going forth is from long ago, from the days of eternity.” Out of the silent sky came the news that surpassed all news. The Messiah had come and the world would never be the same again, for a king had been born this day in the city of David—Christ the Lord!

Yet, this king would not be born in an expected palace or even into the household of a priest, like John the Baptist, for example. The glorious place of Israel’s new king would be different than expected: “And this will be a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.” Born this day, in the city of David is your Christ, your Messiah. And guess what? You’ll find him in a manger, which is the feeding trough for ordinary farm animals. Who would believe this report? How could the Messiah come with such vulnerability and poverty?

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Ordinary and Extraordinary

Joyce Meyer – Getting Off the Performance Treadmill

 

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. — 1 John 4:9

Adapted from the resource The Power of Being Thankful Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

As long as we are on what I call the “performance treadmill,” we will inevitably suffer with disappointment in ourselves. We will feel that we have not performed as expected. We did not get an “A” on our spiritual tests, we fell short of our goals, we lost our tempers, and now we are disappointed with ourselves, and we are sure that God is disappointed too.

The truth that we can be grateful for is that God already knew that we wouldn’t perform as expected when He chose to love us. And it is His love that is the basis for our relationship with Him, not our works. When our relationship with God is a solid foundation in our lives, we will be free to do the best we can, and not get stressed out about our imperfections. It’s time to get off the treadmill and run in the freedom of His grace.

Prayer Starter: I thank You, Father, that You are not disappointed with me. You knew what You were getting when You chose me. Thank You for choosing me anyway and for loving me perfectly in the midst of my imperfections. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He is Faithful

 

“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised)” (Hebrews 10:23, KJV).

When we share our faith with others – hopefully a natural part of our daily walk, though we need not “preach a sermon” to share – we can remain steadfast in that profession of our faith, not wavering as we consider all He has done for us.

Why is that possible?

Simply this: He is faithful that promised.

The writer of Hebrews, presumably the apostle Paul, knew that the believers had been suffering persecution and there might be a tendency or temptation to become weak in their faith. Even serious doubts might have crept in. So Paul is seeking to guard against any kind of apostasy.

He wants to be sure the people are not shaken by their trials or by the arguments of their enemies. So he exhorts them in unmistakable terms.

Paul’s reasoning to the people about faithfulness was this: Since God is so faithful to us, His children, we ought to be faithful to Him. Further, the fact that He is faithful should be an encouragement to us. We are dependant upon Him for grace to hold fast the profession of our faith.

All that God has promised, He will perform. He is faithful.

Bible Reading:1 Corinthians 1:4-9

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will state in positive, confident terms what God has done for me, knowing that He is the faithful One who will do all He has promised. With this assurance, I can draw open His faithfulness to live supernaturally.

 

 

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Max Lucado – God Holds it all Together

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Christmas is a season of interruptions.  Some we enjoy.  Some we don’t!  You may be facing an interruption during this season of life.  What you wanted and what you received do not match.  And now you’re troubled and anxious.  Everything inside you and every voice around you says, “Get out.  Get angry.”

But don’t listen to those voices.  You cannot face a crisis if you don’t face God first.  Colossians 1:16-17 says, “For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him.  He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment.”  God holds it all together.  And he will hold it together for you!

Read more Because of Bethlehem

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Denison Forum – Russian social media campaigns targeted Christians

The Senate Intelligence Committee released two reports yesterday detailing the breadth of Russian social media disinformation campaigns in the US. One strategy caught my eye: the Russian-linked Internet Research Agency created a page it called “Army of Jesus.”

Targeting Christians, the group offered “free counseling to people with sexual addiction.” The phony counseling service was apparently intended to blackmail or manipulate people who used it.

In our post-Christian world, we should expect attacks on Christians to escalate. As I noted yesterday, standing for biblical truth in our culture requires significant courage.

But there’s more to the story.

“May your holidays be joyful, boozy and caffeinated!”

Consider these stories in the news:

One: “There are two must-haves for anyone looking to survive the holidays: coffee and booze, preferably served together in one easy-to-consume package.” So advises Huffington Post in an article offering “12 boozy coffee cocktails to help you get through the holidays.” The writer wishes for us, “May your holidays be joyful, boozy and caffeinated!”

TwoMeditation services in the US are a $1.2 billion industry. A Wall Street Journal article titled “Inner Peace Is a Booming Business” raises the curtain on the money and time some are spending to seek serenity.

ThreeA father took his sons to Barnes & Noble recently, where they noticed a display called “Inspiring Books to Empower Young Readers.” The books included three memoirs by illegal aliens. Another book told a fictional story of a child arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents at school while white classmates wearing “Make America Great Again” hats taunt him. No books reflecting a more conservative agenda were displayed. Continue reading Denison Forum – Russian social media campaigns targeted Christians

Charles Stanley – God’s Way to Give

 

2 Corinthians 9:6-8

Our heavenly Father knows what our income is and how He would like us to spend it. He also desires that we demonstrate certain heart attitudes in our giving. These include faith, compassion, and generosity.

It takes faith to give before our own needs are met. In yesterday’s reading, the Macedonians were experiencing deep poverty, but they still longed to give. Their behavior revealed a deep trust in the Lord’s provision.

Compassion, or caring about others, is also vital. The Philippian church saw Paul’s situation and longed to help (Phil. 4:16). The Lord is pleased when we love one another and share what we have.

The Macedonian believers were generous as well. Though in great need themselves, they begged for the privilege of contributing to the collection for the Jerusalem church.

Consider how greatly we have benefited from the generosity of our heavenly Father. He provided His Son Jesus to take our sins upon Himself and die in our place. He has adopted us into His family, made us co-heirs with Christ, and prepared for us a permanent home in heaven with Him. And in this life, His Holy Spirit provides everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). As we make plans for Christmas, let’s be generous towards others, just as God has been to us.

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you learn biblical principles about handling money and put them into practice. Obedience to God’s Word will bring spiritual blessing (Luke 6:38).

Bible in One Year: Hebrews 1-3

 

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Our Daily Bread — From Shame to Honor

 

Read: Luke 1:18–25 | Bible in a Year: Amos 7–9; Revelation 8

[The Lord] has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people. Luke 1:25

It’s that time of the year again, when families gather to celebrate the festive season together. Some of us, however, dread meeting certain “concerned” relatives whose questions can make those who are still single or childless feel that there’s something wrong with them.

Imagine the plight of Elizabeth, who was childless despite being married for many years. In her culture, that was seen as a sign of God’s disfavor (see 1 Samuel 1:5–6) and could actually be considered shameful. So while Elizabeth had been living righteously (Luke 1:6), her neighbors and relatives may have suspected otherwise.

Nonetheless, Elizabeth and her husband continued to serve the Lord faithfully. Then, when both were well advanced in years, a miracle occurred. God heard her prayer (v. 13). He loves to show us His favor (v. 25). And though He may seem to delay, His timing is always right and His wisdom always perfect. For Elizabeth and her husband, God had a special gift: a child who would become the Messiah’s forerunner (Isaiah 40:3–5).

Do you feel inadequate because you seem to lack something—a university degree, a spouse, a child, a job, a house? Keep living for Him faithfully and waiting patiently for Him and His plan, just as Elizabeth did. No matter our circumstances, God is working in and through us. He knows your heart. He hears your prayers.

God, You are forever faithful and good. Help us to keep trusting in You, even when we experience heartache.

Keep living for Him faithfully and waiting patiently for His plan.

By Poh Fang Chia

INSIGHT

Zechariah and Elizabeth were descendants of Aaron (Luke 1:5). God had designated that only Aaron’s descendants could serve as priests (1 Chronicles 23:13). Israel’s priesthood was divided into twenty-four divisions, with each division rotating to serve in the temple for just two weeks every year (24:1–19). With so many priests, lots were cast to determine which specific priest would have the once-in-a-lifetime privilege to burn incense in the Holy Place. Coupled with the angel announcing the birth of a son despite their old age, this would have been the highest point of Zechariah’s life (Luke 1:8–13, 18). The same archangel Gabriel, who told Daniel the meaning of the vision that concerns “the appointed time of the end” (Daniel 8:19), now appears to Zechariah, whose name means “the Lord has remembered.” God remembered His promise to send the Messiah and now sets in motion the events of the end times.

  1. T. Sim

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Christianity Without Christ?

Paul Tillich, the noted existentialist theologian, traveled to Asia to hold conferences with various Buddhist thinkers. He was studying the significance of religious leaders to the movements they had engendered. Tillich asked a simple question. “What if by some fluke, the Buddha had never lived and turned out to be some sort of fabrication? What would be the implications for Buddhism?” Mind you, Tillich was concerned with the indispensability of the Buddha—not his authenticity.

The scholars did not hesitate to answer. If the Buddha was a myth, they said, it did not matter at all. Why? Because Buddhism should be judged as an abstract philosophy—as a system of living. Whether its concepts originated with the Buddha is irrelevant. As an aside, I think the Buddha himself would have concurred. Knowing that his death was imminent, he beseeched his followers not to focus on him but to remember his teachings. Not his life but his way of life was to be attended to and propagated.

So, what of other world religions? Hinduism, as a conglomeration of thinkers and philosophies and gods, can certainly do without many of its deities. Some other major religions face the same predicament.

Is Christianity similar? Could God the Father have sent another instead of Jesus? May I say to you, and please hear me, that the answer is most categorically No. Jesus did not merely claim to be a prophet in a continuum of prophets. He is the unique Son of God, part of the very godhead that Christianity calls the Trinity. The apostle Paul says it this way:

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Christianity Without Christ?

Joyce Meyer – Hang Tough

 

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. — Galatians 6:9 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Closer To God Each Day Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

In Galatians 6:9, “losing heart” and “fainting” refer to giving up in the mind. The Holy Spirit tells us not to give up in our mind, because if we hold on, we will eventually reap good things.

Think about Jesus. Immediately after being baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit, He was led into the wilderness to be tested and tried by the devil. He did not complain and become discouraged and depressed. He did not think or speak negatively. He did not become confused trying to figure out why this had to happen. He went through each test victoriously (Luke 4:1–13).

Can you imagine Jesus traveling around the country, talking with His disciples about how hard everything was? Can you picture Him discussing how difficult the Cross was going to be…or how He dreaded the things ahead…or how frustrating it was to have no roof over His head, no bed to sleep in at night?

Jesus drew strength from His heavenly Father and came out in victory. We have His Spirit dwelling in us and the strength available to make it through whatever we are facing.

We can handle our situations the same way Jesus did—by being mentally prepared through “victory thinking” rather than “give-up thinking.”

Prayer Starter: Father, I thank You for the power of Your Holy Spirit that strengthens me to keep pressing on. Please help me to not “faint” in my mind when things get difficult. Thank You that I will reap a reward if I keep moving forward and refuse to give up! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Rewards All Who Look for Him

 

“You can never please God without faith, without depending on Him. Anyone who wants to come to God must believe that there is a God and that He rewards those who sincerely look for Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

A friend of mine, one of the most dedicated men I have ever known, lived by a little black book. In this book he kept a careful record of all his activities, past, present and future.

In it he recorded the time he was to get up every morning, how long to have his devotions, how many verses of Scripture he should memorize that day, and to how many people he should witness. I was impressed; I wanted to be like him.

One day he had a mental breakdown, however. After he was released from the hospital, he said to me, “I was unable to live the Christian life. I tried to be a man of God by imposing upon myself certain rigid spiritual disciplines.

“Before they took me to the hospital, my last conscious act was to throw that little black book, which had become my god, into the corner. I never wanted to see it again.”

This man had to discover what I discovered with great relief some years ago: I will never be able to live the Christian life through my own self-efforts.

My only hope for victory, power and fruitfulness is to trust Christ to live His resurrection life in and through me. He and He alone can enable me to live the Christian life. It is faith, not effort, that pleases Him, though we should never forget that faith without works is dead. Genuine faith always produces action – good works that please and glorify Him.

Bible Reading:Hebrews 7:17-22

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today by faith I will claim Christ’s resurrection life, and since He alone is holy I will claim His power to live a supernatural life. Since He came to seek and to save the lost, I will claim by faith His ability to seek and to save the lost.

 

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Max Lucado – You Need a Savior

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

If we could save ourselves—why would we need a Savior?  Jesus didn’t enter the world to help us save ourselves.  He entered the world to save us from ourselves.

As a Boy Scout, I earned a lifesaving merit badge.  The fact is, the only people I saved were other Boy Scouts who didn’t need to be saved.  During training I would rescue other trainees.  We took turns saving each other.  But since we weren’t really drowning, we resisted being rescued.  “Stop kicking and let me save you,” I’d say.

It’s impossible to save those who are trying to save themselves.  You might save yourself from a broken heart or going broke or running out of gas.  But you’re not good enough to save yourself from sin.  You are not strong enough to save yourself from death.  You need a Savior…and because of Bethlehem, you have one!

Read more Because of Bethlehem

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Miss Spain makes history at Miss Universe

The Philippines’ Catriona Gray won last night’s Miss Universe pageant. Steve Harvey hosted the event again; competitors from ninety-four countries and territories participated.

Among them was Spain’s Angela Ponce. She earned the title of Miss Spain in June, defeating twenty-two other competitors.

She is also the first transgender woman to compete in the pageant.

Emergency contraception in vending machines

I recognize that Jesus’ statement, “He who created them from the beginning made them male and female” (Matthew 19:4), is an unpopular position these days. Our culture celebrates the “courage” of those who “transition” from male to female or vice-versa.

For me to suggest that sex reassignment surgery (known today as “gender affirmation surgery”) may not be in a patient’s best interest is to risk being branded intolerant and prejudiced. This despite a review of more than one hundred international medical studies of post-operative transsexuals that “found no robust scientific evidence that gender reassignment surgery is clinically effective.”

The director of the study stated: “There is a huge uncertainty over whether changing someone’s sex is a good or a bad thing.” I could point to numerous other studies (such as this report) that suggest similar caution.

However, my purpose today is not to debate transgender issues. It is to note that engaging in such a debate demands a level of courage that was not necessary even a few years ago.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Miss Spain makes history at Miss Universe

Charles Stanley –God-Pleasing Generosity

 

2 Corinthians 8:1-7

Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church praises the Macedonian believers for their generosity. Despite deep poverty and great troubles, they desired to bless others materially. From their example, we know that our Father is pleased when we give …

According to divine instruction. The Lord has revealed in Scripture how we are to live. He wants us to base our decisions on biblical principles rather than on our own natural, self-centered thinking. Looking solely at a paycheck or bank balance to determine the size of a donation is not trusting God.

Despite our own need. The Macedonians were poor, but they didn’t let that keep them from contributing. They gave out of the little they had. The book of Mark tells of a widow who gave her last two copper coins and was praised for her offering to the Lord (Mark 12:42-44). We don’t need to have extra money in order to give; we can trust that God is faithful to provide.

To those who spiritually nourish us. The Bible tells us to bring our gifts to the local church, where they can be used to further God’s work. The apostle Paul and others were able to evangelize because of the support provided by the church in Jerusalem. Recognizing that they owed those believers a debt, the Macedonian Christians desired to give something back.

Human reasoning tells us that we cannot part with our funds when debt seems too large or income too small. But the Bible tells us to trust the Lord to provide for our needs (Phil. 4:19) and to give generously. Are you living according to these principles?

Bible in One Year: Titus 1-3, Philemon 1

 

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Our Daily Bread — Mirrors and Hearers

 

Read: James 1:16–27 | Bible in a Year: Amos 4–6; Revelation 7

Whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it . . . will be blessed in what they do. James 1:25

When I emerged from my hotel in Kampala, Uganda, my hostess, who had come to pick me up for our seminar, looked at me with an amused grin. “What’s so funny?” I inquired. She laughed and asked, “Did you comb your hair?” It was my turn to laugh, for I had indeed forgotten to comb my hair. I’d looked at my reflection in the hotel mirror. How come I took no notice of what I saw?

In a practical analogy, James gives us a useful dimension to make our study of Scripture more beneficial. We look in the mirror to examine ourselves to see if anything needs correction—hair combed, face washed, shirt properly buttoned. Like a mirror, the Bible helps us to examine our character, attitude, thoughts, and behavior (James 1:23–24). This enables us to align our lives according to the principles of what God has revealed. We will “keep a tight rein” on our tongues (v. 26) and “look after orphans and widows” (v. 27). We will pay heed to God’s Holy Spirit within us and keep ourselves “from being polluted by the world” (v. 27).

When we look attentively into “the perfect law that gives freedom” and apply it to our lives, we will be blessed in what we do (v. 25). As we look into the mirror of Scripture, we can “humbly accept the word planted in [us]” (v. 21).

Heavenly Father, “open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law” (Psalm 119:18). Help me to order my life according to what You show me in Scripture.

As a mirror reflects our image, the Bible reveals our inner being.

By Lawrence Darmani

INSIGHT

What’s interesting about James’s definitions of good and bad religion is that they’re not simply opposites. James says bad religion is summarized by not controlling one’s speech (v. 26). Following that, we would expect James to say that good religion has something to do with taming our tongue. Instead, good religion is defined by looking after the helpless and needy and not being influenced by the ways of the world.

J.R. Hudberg

 

 

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Joyce Meyer – Why the Storms?

 

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation — Psalm 42:5

Adapted from the resource Battlefield of the Mind Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

As I think about the storms we all face in life, I can understand why people sometimes ask, “Why the storms? Why do we have so many problems and struggles in life? Why do God’s people have to deal with so much suffering?”

As I considered these questions, I began to see that Satan plants these questions in our minds. It is his attempt to keep us focused on our problems instead of focusing on the goodness of God. If we persist in asking these questions, we’re implying that God may be to blame. I don’t think it’s wrong to ask God why things happen. The writers of the psalms certainly didn’t hesitate to ask.

I think of the story of Jesus when He visited the home of Mary and Martha after their brother, Lazarus, died. Jesus waited until Lazarus had been dead for four days before He visited. When He arrived, Martha said to Jesus, Master, if You had been here, my brother would not have died (John 11:21 AMPC). She went on to say, And even now I know that whatever You ask from God, He will grant it to You (John 11:22 AMPC).

Did she really believe those words? I wonder, because Jesus said to her, Your brother shall rise again. Martha replied, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day (John 11:23-24 AMPC). She didn’t get what Jesus was saying.

I don’t want to be unkind to Martha, but she missed it. When Jesus came, she didn’t ask, “Why didn’t You do something?” Instead she said, “If You had been here—if You had been on the job—he’d be alive.”

When Jesus assured her that Lazarus would rise again, she didn’t understand that it was going to happen right then. She could focus only on the resurrection. By looking at an event that was still in the future, she missed the real meaning of Jesus’ words for the present.

But aren’t many of us like Martha? We want our lives to run smoothly, and when they don’t, we ask why? But we really mean, “God, if You truly loved and cared for me, this wouldn’t have happened.”

Let’s think a little more about the “why” question. For example, when someone dies in an accident, one of the first questions family members ask is why? “Why her? Why now? Why this accident?”

For one moment, let’s say God explained the reason. Would that change anything? Probably not. The loved one is still gone, and the pain is just as severe as it was before. What, then, did you learn from the explanation?

In recent years, I’ve begun to think that “why” isn’t what Christians are really asking God. Is it possible that we’re asking, “God, do You love me? Will You take care of me in my sorrow and pain? You won’t leave me alone in my pain, will You?”

Is it possible that, because we’re afraid that God doesn’t truly care about us, we ask for explanations?

Instead, we must learn to say, “Lord God, I believe. I don’t understand, and I could probably never grasp all the reasons why bad things happen, but I can know for certain that You love me and You are with me—always.”

Prayer Starter: Heavenly Father, instead of asking for answers to the “why” questions, help me to focus on Your great love for me. When Satan tries to fill my mind with troublesome questions, help me to feel the protection of Your loving, caring arms around me. Help me always to show my gratitude and devotion for all that You do for me. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Trusting an Unchanging God

 

“God also bound Himself with an oath, so that those He promised to help would be perfectly sure and never need to wonder whether He might change His plans” (Hebrews 6:17).

If there is one characteristic that might describe us all, more than any other trait, it would have to be that we are changeable and unpredictable. We are not dependable. How wonderful then to know and serve someone who never changes – who is the same yesterday, today and forever. We can know what to expect from Him in any given situation without fear of a sudden change in behavior, thought or purpose.

A scientist knows there are laws governing the universe and that those laws are inviolate. Thus, when President John F. Kennedy challenged industry to put a man on the moon, a mobilized army of scientists and engineers was able to accomplish the feat within nine years from the drawing board stage. When the assignment was given, no one knew what to do, and yet there were basic laws – dependable, trustworthy laws of the universe – on which they could build. Through much creative planning and thinking, the miracle occurred.

Today, it is commonplace to send men into space. God of the universe, who established the laws that govern all life, never changes. Our moods and our attitudes and actions vacillate, but God never changes. That is the reason we can absolutely, without question, believe His promises, and in so doing, release His mighty supernatural resources in terms of money, manpower and technology to envelop the entire world of almost five billion people with the most joyful news ever announced.

We are reminded in Hebrews 11:6 that without faith it is impossible to please God. Have you learned how to claim the promises of God by faith? When you do, you will learn how to live supernaturally.

Bible Reading:Psalms 102:24-28

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Realizing that God has bound Himself with an oath to keep His promise, I shall trust and obey Him no matter what happens, for this is the way to supernatural living. This is the way to maximize myself for the glory of God.

 

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Charles Stanley –When Others Fail Us

 

2 Timothy 4:9-18

A disappointing friendship is one area of life that causes great distress. Companionship is one of our essential needs, and when friends fail us, we feel wounded, rejected, and alone. We’ve probably all experienced this to one degree or another, and the apostle Paul was no exception.

Although he’d surrounded himself with friends and had sacrificed greatly to take the gospel throughout the Roman world, when Paul neared the end of his life, he was basically alone. As he spent his last days in prison, only Luke was with him.

Some of the apostle’s friends were ministering in other parts of the world, but others, like Demas, had deserted him. When Paul stood at his preliminary trial, no one supported him. In fact, everyone had abandoned him. To associate with Paul at this point was risky.

It would have been understandable for Paul to complain about friends who’d let him down in his time of need. But instead, he displayed a forgiving spirit by saying, “May it not be counted against them” (2 Timothy 4:16). Although betrayal or abandonment hurts, we will never heal if we yield to bitterness and resentment. Forgiveness is our only solution.

Like Paul, we need an eternal perspective when facing disappointment. Nothing comes into our life without first passing through the hands of our heavenly Father, and no experience of ours is wasted. His ways may not make sense to us, but He uses every painful situation to accomplish His will in our life—and He’ll walk through it with us.

Bible in One Year: 2 Timothy 1-4

 

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Our Daily Bread — Mosaic of Beauty

 

Read: Luke 1:46–55 | Bible in a Year: Amos 1–3; Revelation 6

My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Luke 1:46–47

Sitting in the courtyard of the Church of the Visitation in Ein Karem, Israel, I was overwhelmed with the beautiful display of sixty-seven mosaics containing the words of Luke 1:46–55 in as many languages. Traditionally known as the Magnificatfrom the Latin “to magnify,” these verses are Mary’s joyous response to the announcement that she will be the mother of the Messiah.

Each plaque contains Mary’s words, including: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. . . . For the Mighty One has done great things for me” (vv. 46–49). The biblical hymn etched in the tiles is a song of praise as Mary recounts the faithfulness of God to her and the nation of Israel.

A grateful recipient of God’s grace, Mary rejoices in her salvation (v. 47). She acknowledges that God’s mercy has extended to the Israelites for generations (v. 50). Looking back over God’s care for the Israelites, Mary praises God for His powerful acts on behalf of His people (v. 51). She also thanks God, recognizing that her daily provision comes from His hand (v. 53).

Mary shows us that recounting the great things God has done for us is a way to express praise and can lead us to rejoice. This Christmas season, consider God’s goodness as you reflect on the year. In doing so, you may create a mosaic of great beauty with your words of praise.

Father, we praise You for the great things You’ve done in our lives this year. We rejoice in Your mercy and care for us.

Make a list of the ways God has blessed you this year and reflect on it in silence. Then share stories of His goodness with someone.

By Lisa Samra

INSIGHT

The birth of Jesus was a miracle because the Holy Spirit formed the body of Jesus in the womb of a young virgin girl. That this information comes to us from Luke is significant, because Luke was a doctor (Colossians 4:14) and understood the audacity of the claims of Jesus’s virgin conception and birth. But Luke first tells of another miraculous conception that predated Jesus by six months—that of John the Baptist (Luke 1:24–26). By human standards, his parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, were too old to have a baby (vv. 7, 18). But in both the birth of Jesus and John the Baptist we see the working of God for whom nothing is impossible (v. 37 nasb).

For more, see Mary and Joseph: Reflecting on the Wonder of Christmas at discoveryseries.org/hp074.

Bill Crowder

 

 

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