Charles Stanley – The Path of Brokenness

 

John 12:23-28

A seed that is not planted will never produce a crop. So Jesus used a seed to illustrate why He had to die in order to bring many people to glory. He was teaching a principle that’s also true in our lives: If our ambition is to remain isolated, protected, and comfortable, we’ll never bear the fruit God desires. It’s in dying to self and being broken of pride and self-sufficiency that we become fruitful and useful to the Lord.

Brokenness is one of the means God uses to mature His children. In that process, we may find ourselves challenged in:

Circumstances that cripple our self-sufficiency.
Areas in which we are not submissive to Him.
The timing of His plans.

If we refuse to be re-formed and instead cling to whatever God wants us to release, then how can He use us for His kingdom? Just like the single, unbroken grain of wheat, we will remain unproductive.

With so much at stake, why do we still resist His process of breaking us down? The problem is usually our shortsighted desires. It’s difficult to let go of things or relationships or hobbies we enjoy even when we know they are stunting our spiritual growth. We prefer to take the path of least resistance and hope God will bless us anyway.

Don’t be distracted by short-term happiness—that isn’t the road to maturity that God has prepared for you. An abundance of fruitfulness awaits you if you’ll release your grip and let Him do whatever it takes to get you there.

Bible in One Year: Hosea 6-9

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Engraved on His Hands

 

Read: Isaiah 49:14–18 | Bible in a Year: Proverbs 30–31; 2 Corinthians 11:1–15

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands. Isaiah 49:16

In Charles Spurgeon’s many years at his London church during the 1800s, he loved to preach on the riches of Isaiah 49:16, which says that God engraves us on the palms of His hands. He said, “Such a text as this is to be preached hundreds of times!” This thought is so precious that we can run over it in our minds again and again.

Spurgeon makes the wonderful connection between this promise of the Lord to His people, the Israelites, and God’s Son, Jesus, on the cross as He died for us. Spurgeon asked, “What are these wounds in Your hands? . . . The engraver’s tool was the nail, backed by the hammer. He must be fastened to the Cross, that His people might be truly engraved on the palms of His hands.” As the Lord promised to engrave His people on His palms, so Jesus stretched out His arms on the cross, receiving the nails in His hands so we could be free of our sins.

If and when we’re tempted to think that God has forgotten us, we only need to look at our palms and remember God’s promise. He has put indelible marks on His hands for us; He loves us that much.

 Lord God, how vast is Your love for me! You keep me ever before You. I know You’ll never leave me, and I’m grateful.

The Lord engraves us on the palms of His hands.

By Amy Boucher Pye

INSIGHT

Our God remembers us and keeps His promises. A study of the word remember bears this out. Throughout the Old Testament we read passages about how God “remembered” specific people (Genesis 8:1; 19:29; 30:22). Still other passages recall what He has done for us all. “The Lord has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations. He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God” (Psalm 98:2–3). God specifically worked in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses to fulfill His promises, for He remembers His covenant (see Psalm 105.)

Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s Old Testament promises. We see this in the words of Zechariah’s song (Luke 1:67–73): “Praise to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.” He “remember[ed] his holy covenant” (vv. 68, 72).

God hasn’t forgotten us. He is with us through the Spirit (John 14:26). And one day He will return to establish a new heaven and earth where He will dwell with us forever (Revelation 21:1–3).

In what ways has God shown you He hasn’t forgotten you?

Alyson Kieda

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – A Paradoxical Presence

For many Jewish people living after the Holocaust, God’s absence is an ever-present reality.  It is as tangible as the concentration camps at Auschwitz and Dachau, and as haunting as the empty chair at a table once occupied with a loved one long-silenced by the gas chambers.  In his tragic book about his own experience in the concentration camps at Auschwitz, Elie Wiesel intones the cries of many who experienced God’s absence:  “It is the end.  God is no longer with us….I know that Man is too small, too humble, and inconsiderable to seek to understand the mysterious ways of God.  But what can I do?  Where is the divine Mercy? Where is God?  How can I believe?  How can anyone believe in this merciful God?”(1)

This experience of absence, dramatic in its implications for the victims of the Holocaust, has repeated itself over and over again in the ravaged stories of those who struggle to hold on to faith, or those who have lost faith altogether in the face of personal holocaust.  In a world where tragedy and suffering are daily realities unchecked by divine government, the absence of God seems a cruel abdication.

The words of Job, ancient in origin, speak the same language of absence experienced by many today:

Behold, I go forward, but He is not there,

And backward, but I cannot perceive Him;

When He acts on the left, I cannot behold Him;

He turns on the right, I cannot see Him.(2)

The story of Job is at least in part a story of the experience of God’s absence.  While the narrator and the readers of the story know the beginning and the end, Job finds himself in the silent middle struck down by unjust suffering.  His story poignantly explores the silent mystery of a God who seems to go missing in the moments of greatest need.  Job’s cry is our cry, “Oh that I knew where I might find Him that I might come to his seat” (Job 23:3).  Job clings tenaciously to the hope that he will find God, and find a just God in his case.  “I am not silenced by the darkness” Job proclaims, “nor deep gloom which covers me” (23:17).

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – A Paradoxical Presence

Joyce Meyer – Only God Can Truly Satisfy

 

In the night my soul longs for You [O Lord], indeed my spirit within me seeks You diligently… — Isaiah 26:9 (AMP)

Adapted from the resource Ending Your Day Right Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Nothing can satisfy your longing for God except communion and fellowship with Him. The apostle John wrote, And the world passes away and disappears, and with it the forbidden cravings (the passionate desires, the lust) of it; but he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever (1 John 2:17 AMPC).

The world makes it easy for you to fill your ears with all kinds of things that drown out the voice of God and push Him far into the background of your life. However, the day comes for every person when only God remains. Everything else in life eventually passes away; when it does, God will still be there. Seek God earnestly today, and He will abide in you.

Prayer Starter: Father, I desire a deeper, closer relationship with You. Help me to make You a priority today and every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Are You Bearing Fruit

 

“By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples” (John 15:8, NAS).

Early in my Christian life, I had little faith as I prayed for one person, who by God’s grace received Christ. The more I understood the attributes of God and experienced His blessing on my witness for Him, the more I could trust Him.

As our Campus Crusade for Christ staff grew in number and we trained more and more students and laymen, we began to pray for millions to receive Christ. God honored our faith and prayers with millions of recorded decisions for our Savior in more than 150 countries of the world.

Now that we are helping to train millions of Christians on every major continent, associated with thousands of churches of all denominations and various other Christian organizations, I have the faith to pray for a billion souls to receive Christ. As I have come to know our Lord Jesus Christ better, I have learned to trust Him more. I now believe that He will do great and mighty things through me and through others as we live by faith the supernatural Christian life. Faith is like a muscle; it grows with exercise. The more we see God do in and through the lives of His children, the more we expect Him to do. Please note God does not change – He is the same yesterday, today and forever. We are the ones who change as we mature in faith.

How do you know that you are a true disciple? That you are glorifying God? By bearing much fruit. But what kind of fruit? The fruit of your holy life and the fruit of your Spirit-anointed lips must be in balance.

Some Christians concentrate on Bible study and prayer, seeking to honor God. Others concentrate on much Christian activity. Every time the church door opens, they are there. Yet neither type of person is experiencing God’s best.

Remember, we glorify God when we bear much fruit. Too many Christians are satisfied with modest efforts and modest results. Yet the better we know God and the more we are acquainted with His Word, the more we have fellowship with Him and grasp His vision and His burden for all people throughout the world.

Bible Reading:John 15:4, 5, 12

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I determine through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, that I will glorify God by bearing much fruit through both the witness of my life and the witness of my lips.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – God Loves You

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

God needs no name tag to jog his memory about you.  He has more thoughts about you than the Pacific coast has grains of sand!

I read a story about a man walking the shores of a lake in silence with his uncle.  The man noticed his uncle was smiling.  “Uncle,” he said, “you look very happy.”  “I am” his uncle agreed.  “How come?” the man asked.  “The Father of Jesus is very fond of me,” his uncle said.

He’s fond of you, too, dear friend.  What’s that?  Do you think I’m talking to someone who is holier, better, or nicer?  Someone who didn’t screw up his marriage or mess up her career.  I’m not.  I’m talking directly to you.  God loves you.  And His love for you will not end or fade if you lose your way.  You have never lived one unloved day.  This is God’s promise.  And because God’s promises are unbreakable our hope is unshakable!

Read more Unshakable Hope

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Emmy Awards ridicule Christians

The Emmy Awards began last night with a monologue from co-hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che. The Saturday Night Live cast members recited a typical litany of political jabs and sarcastic digs.

Then Che told the audience that his mother would not be watching the show. The reason: “She says she doesn’t like watching white award shows because you guys don’t thank Jesus enough.”

Che continued: “That’s true. The only white people that thank Jesus are Republicans and ex-crackheads.”

It’s hard to imagine such a joke aimed at Muslims, Jews, or Buddhists. But ridiculing Christians is fair game in Hollywood these days.

The latest on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination

As you know, college professor Christine Blasey Ford is alleging that Judge Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her at a party when they were high school students. Judge Kavanaugh calls her accusation “completely false.”

Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh both stated yesterday that they are willing to testify before Congress about this issue. The Senate Judiciary Committee has now scheduled a hearing for next Monday to hear from both.

Republicans are severely criticizing Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, for the timing of the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh. Last July, Dr. Ford sent a letter alleging sexual abuse against Judge Kavanaugh to her local congresswoman, Rep. Anna Eshoo, requesting confidentiality.

She forwarded the information to Sen. Feinstein on July 30, who provided the letter to the FBI only last week. The senator states that she wanted to protect Dr. Ford’s identity and forwarded the letter only after a news report surfaced about it. She said nothing about the letter during the weeks-long process of interviews with the judge and the Senate’s confirmation process.

What could happen next

If Dr. Ford’s allegation prevents Judge Kavanaugh from being confirmed to the Supreme Court, it will be difficult for the Senate to confirm another candidate before the midterm elections. If Democrats then win the Senate, they could block President Trump from naming a conservative to the Court.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Emmy Awards ridicule Christians

Charles Stanley – God Helps Us Pray

 

Romans 8:26-27

Why do we sometimes feel as if our prayers go no farther than the ceiling? We’re speaking, but is God listening? The truth is that the Lord is always attentive to the prayers of His people. He’s the one who has invited us to come boldly into His presence. What’s more, He has also promised to assist us as we pray.

First, our Father has given us His Word to teach us truth so we’ll know how to pray wisely and effectively. We find guidance for prayer in God’s direct commands, the descriptions of His ways and thoughts, the examples of biblical characters, and scriptural principles that teach us how to apply divine truth to every area of our life.

Second, He’s given us many promises in His Word. These assure us that He will direct our paths (Prov. 3:5-6), meet our needs (Phil. 4:19), give us wisdom (James 1:5), answer our prayers (John 14:13), and cause all things to work together for good as He conforms us to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:28-29).

Third, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us because in our human weakness, we don’t always know how to pray as we should (Rom. 8:26-27). He takes our misguided or uncertain requests and reframes them according to God’s will.

Fourth, Jesus Christ sits at the Father’s right hand as our High Priest, interceding on our behalf (Heb. 7:25-26).

We are never alone when we pray, because the Trinity acts on our behalf. Not only is prayer an amazing privilege; it’s also an awesome and powerful endeavor. The next time you come to the Lord in prayer, remember that it’s a divine appointment with almighty God.

Bible in One Year: Hosea 1-5

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Legacies of Love

 

Read: 2 Timothy 1:1–5 | Bible in a Year: Proverbs 27–29; 2 Corinthians 10

Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

I was paging through my great-grandmother’s Bible when a treasure fell into my lap. On a small scrap of paper, in a young child’s handwriting, were the words, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:3–4 kjv). Scribbled beside those verses in wobbly cursive was my mother’s signature.

My great-grandmother had a habit of teaching her grandchildren to write out Scripture verses so they would learn them and take them to heart. But the story behind this verse brought tears to my eyes. My grandfather died when my mother was very young, and her little brother (my uncle) died just weeks later. It was in that tragic season that my great-grandmother pointed my mother to Jesus and the comfort only He can give.

Paul wrote Timothy, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5). Faith isn’t inherited, but it is shared. Timothy’s mother and grandmother shared their faith with him, and he believed.

When we encourage those close to us to have hope in Jesus, we offer them a legacy of love. Through a simple note, my mother left evidence of my great-grandmother’s love for her Savior and her family. Oh, to share Him with those who come after us!

Thank You for those who shared Your love with me, Father. Please help me to point others to Your salvation today.

When we share our faith, we share the greatest treasure of all.

By James Banks

INSIGHT

The family language used in 2 Timothy 1:1–5 is hard to miss. In addition to the reference to “God the Father” (v. 2), other family terms are used. Paul refers to Timothy as “my dear son” (v. 2). The word translated “son” can refer to literal or spiritual offspring, the latter being the case here. Paul was a “spiritual father” who had invested in Timothy’s ministerial training and development. The family term in verse 3 is the word “ancestors,” and it refers to those from whom Paul had inherited a legacy of faith. Paul had spiritual roots (see Acts 22:1–3; 23:6; Philippians 3:5–7).

Timothy’s connection to his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother Lois was not just biological. His “sincere faith” had been nurtured by these godly women. Because of the influence of these family members, Paul could write in 2 Timothy 3:14–15: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

What kind of spiritual roots are you leaving for those who will follow you?

Arthur Jackson

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Creative Gardening

 

In the 1930s, a vine native to Japan was introduced throughout the United States as a highly effective means for controlling erosion. Forty years later, the USDA officially declared this miracle-vine a weed. While visitors to the South are immediately taken by scenic glimpses of kudzu-blanketed landscapes, natives keep their doors shut to keep the creeping plant from taking over their houses. Growing better in the South than it does even in its native environment, kudzu can grow as much as a foot per day, climbing trees, barns, telephone poles—and anything else that gets in its way. And while these vines actually do help prevent erosion, they also destroy entire forests, wrapping themselves around every inch, smothering every tree from needed sunlight.

The chronicles of southern kudzu came to mind at a similar story in recent headlines. The article describes an isolated farm village in the mountains of northern Mexico that has been about the work of recruiting cats. Attempting to counter a frightening population of rats for a town of 3,000 (health officials estimate as many as 500,000 rats in this small village), some believe importing cats is the most logical solution. But as “cat donations” begin to accumulate steadily, others are less sure it is a foolproof plan. Stray cats that haven’t been sterilized may only create more problems. Their plague of rats, some warn, may quickly be replaced by a plague of cats.

Does it ever feel like life is a similar testing ground of creative or destructive gardening, trial and error, cause and effect? What do you do when the attitude you attempted to import to control false hope somehow becomes a growing spirit of sarcasm? Or the vow you made to silence your critical words seems to evolve into a mounting plague of unvoiced frustration? Sometimes it feels like we are only bouncing between extremes, pulling weeds only to transplant them, working on the leak in one corner only to find we’ve sprung a leak in another.

Christianity can introduce a life that is not much different than problem-solving with cats and kudzu. Like the vines brought in to counter one problem, we, too, can easily end up introducing another. Fighting to counter our inattentiveness to this or that virtue, we might battle laziness and lethargy or struggle to correct our time and routine, only to find that as victory seems to loom in the garden the battle is now against a quickly creeping sense of self-righteousness. The plague of the weeds of apathy is easily replaced by an infestation of arrogance.

Jesus, who regularly countered apathy with active commands, seemed also to know well our capacity for self-righteousness, warning hearers to be on guard against the “yeast of the Pharisees.” It is all too often the weed that creeps in and takes over while we believed we were planting better fruit (and very well may have been). He also warned that our adversary is like an enemy who comes and sows weeds among the wheat while everyone is sleeping. And often, this mystery gardener may well be ourselves. Jesus who spoke thoroughly of seeds and sowing was well aware that tending the weeds of materialism or immorality or fear may simply leave us open to the planting of idolatry of a different varietal.

With these teachings in mind, C.S. Lewis once commented that errors often come in pairs. Our adversary, he writes, “always sends errors into the world in pairs—pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking about which is the worse. […] He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one.”(1) It is a struggle that calls us to be faithfully self-aware, lest we oscillate from one weed to another. “But do not let us be fooled” writes Lewis. “We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through both errors.”

And at this, the goal of course is Christ—nothing less, nothing added—not Christian truth, not Christian charity, but Christ himself. The goal is Christ, who walks at our side even as we find ourselves struggling to hike through the weeds we have created, the idol varietals we have simply exchanged, the plague where there was once a pest. “But you are of Christ,” the apostle Paul reminds, “and Christ is of God.” Wherever we find ourselves, this is our hope: that even in our oscillating we are being tilled and cultivated by the Spirit into the image of the one who created us. God is at work; God is the first and most able Gardner, and to this hope the Christian clings, lost in wonder, love, and praise. For after the first few steps of the Christian life and well into the journey of new creation, we realize that creeping vines and mounting plagues can be uprooted and transformed to beauty only in his able hands.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 2002), 100.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Looking Forward

 

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true [they are accurate, incorruptible, and trustworthy].” — Revelation 21:5 (AMP)

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

So many people live miserable lives because they are conflicted and feel burdened about the mistakes of their past. If you have been unhappy or discouraged because of the things that have happened in your past, I encourage you to change your thinking and set your focus in a whole new direction. Determine to be what God wants you to be, to have what God wants you to have, and to receive what Jesus died to give you.

Your new life in Christ means that you have been completely forgiven of all your sins. God has wiped your slate clean and taken up residence in your heart. You can let the past go and begin to get excited about your future.

When you feel discouraged, say, “I am not going to live in bondage anymore. I cannot do anything about what I have done in the past, but I can do something about my future. I am going to enjoy my life and have what Jesus died for me to have. I am going to let go of the past and go on pursuing God from this day forth!”

Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift from God.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for new beginnings and for making all things new. Please help me to let go of the past and embrace the good plan You have for my future. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Church Will Prevail

 

“You are Peter, a stone; and upon this rock I will build my church: and all the powers of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

You and I can truly rejoice: no matter how weak and ineffective our church may seem to be at times, the fact remains that “all powers of hell shall not prevail against it.” Remarkably fulfilled to this date, this promise has the Word of God Himself to back it up.

Sometimes, we see the human frailties of one another in the church – which will always be there – and we forget for the moment the great strengths that are present: the Word of God; fellow believers who are fully committed to the Lord; genuine worship of our heavenly Father.

Primarily, we have the promise that the church is God’s instrument for worship and instruction of His children. It is a rallying place for believers; a powerhouse of prayer; a training school for sharing our faith.

A parallel to this promise has to do with the Word of God. Men have tried to destroy it down through the ages, but it remains the all-time best seller and so shall it ever be. Men have tried to count the church down and out many times, never with any degree of success whatsoever. And so shall that ever be, as well.

Rejoice: all the plots, stratagems and machinations of the enemy of the church shall never be able to overcome it. You and I, meanwhile, can do our part to help make the church all that God intends for it to be.

Bible Reading:Hebrews 12:21-24

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will praise God for His protecting hand over the church and do all in my power, the Holy Spirit enabling, to keep it strong and triumphant – the center of spiritual revolution.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – A Word for the Dark Nights of the Soul

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Self-help manuals might get you through a bad mood or a tough patch. But what about an abusive childhood or years of chronic pain? Does God have a word for the dark nights of the soul? He does.

God’s promise begins with this phrase: “Weeping may last through the night. . .” That part may not be news to you. But this part may be– “Joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5).  Despair will not rule the day. Night might delay the dawn, but it cannot defeat it.  Morning comes.  Not always as quickly as we want.  Not as dramatically as we desire. But morning comes, and with it comes joy.

Do you need this promise?  Have you wept a river?  Have you forsaken hope?  Do you wonder if morning will ever bring this night to an end?  Hear this!  Because God’s promises are unbreakable our hope is unshakable!

Read more Unshakable Hope

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Man dies after shark attack at Cape Cod

“Arthur was a very happy young man. He loved life, he was an active member of a Christian church, devoting his life to the Lord. . . . He was happily engaged to a smart, kind-hearted medical student with a bright future.” This is how the family and friends of Arthur Medici described the twenty-six-year-old after he was attacked by a shark on Saturday off the Cape Cod beach and later died at a hospital.

In other news, Typhoon Mangkhut, described as “the world’s strongest storm this year,” reached mainland China yesterday after pummeling Hong Kong and killing at least fifty-four people in the Philippines. More than 2.5 million people have been evacuated in southern China.

Meanwhile, Tropical Depression Florence has “slowly ravaged the South with rain and wind.” As of this morning, seventeen deaths have been confirmed as a result of the storm. Officials warn that flooding “is only going to get worse.”

Even after the storm is over, lingering floodwaters will be extremely dangerous. Chemical and biological contamination are a continuing threat, including bacteria that can pollute drinking water and cause life-threatening infections.

Eighteen quintillion grains of rice

One fact these stories have in common is that humans do not control nature. We face threats as frightening as sharks, as massive as typhoons and hurricanes, and as microscopic as bacteria.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Man dies after shark attack at Cape Cod

Charles Stanley –Equipped for the Valley

 

Psalm 119:17-24

If a sermon is worth listening to, we’re wise to jot down its important points. Writing etches wisdom deeper into the heart and mind, where a foundation of biblical theology is built.

You can’t afford to let a message or scripture brush over your ears and drift away. Christians who aren’t listeners may panic upon entering a spiritual valley; since they’ve retained very little teaching, their understanding of the Lord will be limited. Those without a theological foundation don’t realize God is upholding them through their difficulty—and their trial has purpose (Isa. 41:10; Rom. 8:28). Nor do they understand they must surrender to God’s work in their life. Otherwise, though they are still believers, they’re not advancing the kingdom and could be set aside. Consequently, a Christian without a solid biblical foundation may seek counsel from worldly problem solvers who offer only temporary release from pain and fear.

David, the author of Psalm 23, said that he did not fear evil (Psalm 23:4). He knew God, so he had nothing to be scared of since the One who controlled everything was on his side. How could he be stifled by anxiety while in the Spirit’s comforting presence? David held on to what he knew of God and endured. But he had to be familiar with God’s character and promises in order to believe that the Lord would not fail him.

A spiritual relationship heavy on emotion but light on education falters in a valley. Believers must know how Scripture applies to life. Unless your belief system can withstand pressure, pain, and criticism, you are at risk. Start building your biblical foundation so you’ll have it in times of need.

Bible in One Year: Daniel 10-12

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — The Right Way to Pray

 

Read: Matthew 6:5–15 | Bible in a Year: Proverbs 25–26; 2 Corinthians 9

When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Matthew 6:6

I admire people who record prayer requests in journals tattered from daily handling, those who keep track of every prayer and praise and then faithfully update their lists. I’m inspired by those who gather with others to pray and whose kneeling wears out the carpet at their bedsides. For years, I tried to copy their styles, to emulate a perfect prayer life, and to imitate the eloquence of the so-much-more-articulate-than-me folks. I strived to unravel what I thought was a mystery, as I longed to learn the right way to pray.

Eventually, I learned that our Lord simply desires prayer that begins and ends with humility (Matthew 6:5). He invites us into an intimate exchange through which He promises to listen (v. 6). He never requires fancy or memorized words or phrases (v. 7). He assures us that prayer is a gift, an opportunity to honor His majesty (vv. 9–10), to display our confidence in His provision (v. 11), and to affirm our security in His forgiveness and guidance (vv. 12–13).

God assures us He hears and cares about every single spoken and unspoken prayer, as well as the prayers that slip down our cheeks as silent tears. As we place our trust in God and His perfect love for us, we can be sure praying with a humble heart that’s surrendered to and dependent on Him is always the right way to pray.

Lord, thank You for reminding us You hear every prayer.

Calling on Jesus as our loving Savior and Lord is the right way to pray.

By Xochitl Dixon

INSIGHT

Today’s Bible reading, taken from our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, gets to the heart of one of the most important issues in Christian living—motives. In Jesus’s teaching, He continually brought the “why” issue to the forefront because, in many ways, whatwe do is often secondary to why we do what we do. In a world focused on performance, Christ focuses on motive; and this focus drives us to the priority of motive as well.

Do we do what we do to be seen by people or to please our Lord?

Bill Crowder

 

http://www.odb.org

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Rooftops, Windows, and Doors! Oh My!


Read: Genesis 6:8-18; 8:1-19

At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made. (8:6)

Thousands of people trekked across the country and assembled in Williamstown, Kentucky, on July 7, 2016, for opening day at Ark Encounter, a life-sized Noah’s Ark attraction sponsored by the Answers in Genesis ministry. My family and I, along with friends, were among the high-energy crowd that day. Excitement also ran high as we approached the enormous 51-foot structure. At every turn, brilliant colors, lifelike creatures, and rich content filled the space. What we had previously only imagined about the ark from Scripture was now conceivable. The ark was a magnificent design from the bottom deck to the door, and from the roof to the window.

From the very beginning of Scripture, God reveals himself as the master architect of this universe. He calls it good, until evil spreads throughout. God, regretting his initial design (6:5-7), drafts a new blueprint for the world. He recruits Noah to build an ark with specific dimensions, including a roof (6:16), a side door (6:16), and a window (8:6). Clearly, God has a detailed plan, and with a 40-day flood, one pair of each living creature, and eight people from Noah’s family, he eventually repopulates the earth.

We can’t always visualize God’s master plan, but we can always trust it. He’s our protector and life-giver. There’s no need to fear the storms in our lives. His plan will soon be clear. —Ericka Loyne

Prayer: Lord, help me to clearly see the life you have built for me

 

https://woh.org/

Joyce Meyer – God’s Vision for You

 

“For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,” says the LORD, “plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” — Jeremiah 29:11 (AMP)

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

God’s plan for the people of the nation of Israel was only for their good. Yet they wandered around in the wilderness for 40 years on what was actually an 11-day journey. Why? Was it their enemies, their circumstances, the trials along the way, or something entirely different that prevented them from arriving at their destination in a timely manner?

God called the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt to go to the land He had promised to give them as a perpetual inheritance—a land that flowed with milk and honey and every good thing they could imagine—a land in which there would be no shortage of anything they needed—a land of prosperity in every realm of their existence.

But the Israelites had no positive vision for their lives—no dreams. They knew where they came from, but they did not know where they were going. Everything was based on what they had seen in the past or what they could presently see. They did not know how to see with “the eye of faith.”

We really shouldn’t view the Israelites with astonishment because most of us do the same thing they did. We keep dealing with the same problems over and over again. The disappointing result is that it takes us years to experience victory over something that could have and should have been dealt with quickly.

I come from a background of abuse. My childhood was filled with fear and torment, and my personality was a mess! I built up walls of protection to keep people from hurting me, not realizing that while I was locking others out, I was also locking myself in. I was filled with fear and believed that the only way I could face life was to be in control so no one could hurt me.

As a young adult trying to live for Christ and follow the Christian lifestyle, I knew where I had come from, but I did not know where I was going. I felt that my future would always be marred by my past. I thought, How could anyone with a past like mine ever be all right? It’s impossible!  

But Jesus had a different plan. He said, The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me . . . to preach the good news (the Gospel) to the poor; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity] (Luke 4:18 AMPC).

Jesus came to open the prison doors and set the captives free—and that included me. However, I did not make any progress until I started to believe that I really could be set free. I had to get rid of my negative thinking and replace it with a positive vision for my life. I had to believe that neither my past nor my present could determine my future. Only then could Jesus free me from the bondage of my past—and free me, He did. What a marvelous miracle!

You may have had a miserable past; you may even be in current circumstances that are very negative and depressing. You may be facing situations that are so bad it seems you have no real reason to hope. But I say to you boldly: Your future is not determined by your past or your present!

Most of the generation the Lord called out of Egypt never entered into the Promised Land. Instead, they died in the wilderness. To me, this is one of the saddest things that can happen to a child of God—to have so much available and yet never be able to enjoy any of it.

Start believing that God’s Word is true. Mark 9:23 assures you that with God all things are possible. Because you serve a God who created everything you see out of the unseen realm (see Hebrews 11:3), you can give Him your nothingness and watch Him go to work on your behalf. All you have to do is have faith in Him and believe His Word—He will do the rest!

Prayer Starter: Dear Father, I thank You for loving me and having a vision—a good plan—for my life. I pray that You will help me overcome any negative thoughts of problems, past or present, that come against my mind, and make my life what You want it to be. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Bond of Love

 

“Let me assure you that no one has ever given up anything – home, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, or property – for love of Me and to tell others the Good News, who won’t be given back, a hundred times over, homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land – with persecution! All these will be his here on earth, and in the world to come he shall have eternal life” (Mark 10:29,30).

Having admonished His disciples to follow Him even at the cost of leaving everything – including mothers and families – behind, Christ is now affirming His consistency with the disciples. Obviously He loved His own mother dearly – one of His last acts before He died on the cross was to be sure that the apostle John would take care of her. Yet the bond of love which Jesus felt toward His disciples, a bond which continues today toward those who truly seek Him with all their hearts, transcends even the bond of love which one experiences in flesh-and-blood relationships, unless those relationships are also rooted in the love of Christ.

Romans 5:8 explains the basis for this bond. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit ignites the hearts of true disciples with supernatural love, (agape)in action. That bond of love builds a spiritual family relationship that transcends all others, a relationship that is truly supernatural. In this way our Lord fulfills His promise that everything that is given up to follow Him will be given back a hundred times over in this life.

Bible Reading:Matthew 12:46-50

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: In every way I will seek to obey the commands of my Father in heaven with the certainty that greater bonds of love will unite my heart with many brothers and sisters. This will demonstrate to the world the validity of the revolutionary, supernatural power of the love of God ignited in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.

 

http://www.cru.org

Charles Stanley – The Believer’s Valley Experiences

 

Psalm 23:1-6

Where there are mountains, there must also be valleys—it’s a simple fact of the created world. The same is also true in our spiritual life. To reach the place where the Lord is leading us, we must sometimes traverse “the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4).

Spiritual mountaintops are wonderful spots to rest. At such times, we feel close to God and sure of His love. But we get to those high places by toiling through the valley, where we discover His character, the truth of His promises, and our own weakness. There are aspects of the Lord that we see only as we journey through shadow.

God is a jealous shepherd—He wants His followers to rely entirely upon Him. He draws us through valleys in order to remove every habit, thought pattern, or external crutch that we use instead of trusting Him—those suddenly seem inadequate in the low places. That’s where we discover whether our faith, courage, and wisdom are self-created or from the Lord.

Though walking in valleys is an inevitable part of life, believers aren’t left comfortless. Verse 5 is about having needs met, including the desire to be soothed. Here is the image of a tender shepherd rubbing oil onto an animal’s skin. God promises assurance, healing, and safety, even in hardship.

Believers can shout, “I trust God” from the mountain because they have learned to live by faith in the valley. Walking in the shadow of evil is difficult and frightening work. But when we surrender to whatever the Lord has to teach us in this dark place, our spirit is quieted and our faith is strengthened.

Bible in One Year: Daniel 7-9

 

http://www.intouch.org/

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