Charles Stanley –How the Bible Is Structured

 

Psalm 119:89-96

One of the reasons we sometimes fail to understand the Bible is because we skip around as we read it. The Bible has an organized structure, and all the parts fit together as a whole. By reading through it systematically, we’ll see God’s plan of redemption clearly revealed in an orderly fashion.

The Plan. In Genesis 1 and 2, the Lord created the heavens and earth and all that fills them, but His plan of redemption through the death of His Son was already in place before creation (1 Peter 1:18-21).

The Need. In Genesis 3, sin entered the world, but God sacrificed an animal to cover the sinners’ shame and promised to send a Redeemer.

Preparation. God eventually chose the nation Israel, through whom He proclaimed Himself as the one true God and brought the Messiah into the world.

Redemption. The Gospels document how Jesus came as the Messiah, died as God’s sacrifice for man’s sin, was resurrected, and ascended to heaven.

Proclamation. The book of Acts tells of the growth of the church through the spread of the gospel.

Explanation. God inspired the apostles to write letters to the churches regarding the faith and instructions for spiritual growth.

Completion. The book of Revelation reveals Christ’s future kingdom, in which His followers join Him eternally in a new heaven and a new earth.

Even though God’s Word is organized in sections, do not forget that it functions as a whole. Once you understand the Bible’s outline, you can see how all the diverse elements connect to make one story of redemption.

Bible in One Year: 1 Samuel 1-3

 

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Our Daily Bread — Obscured by Clouds

 

Bible in a Year:Joshua 13–15; Luke 1:57–80

We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.

2 Corinthians 4:18

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Corinthians 4:16–18

A rare supermoon appeared in November 2016—the moon in its orbit reached its closest point to the earth in over sixty years and so appeared bigger and brighter than at other times. But for me that day the skies were shrouded in gray. Although I saw photos of this wonder from friends in other places, as I gazed upward I had to trust that the supermoon was lurking behind the clouds.

The apostle Paul faced many hardships but believed that what is unseen will last forever. He said how his “momentary troubles” achieve “an eternal glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Thus he could fix his eyes “not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,” because what is unseen is eternal (v. 18). Paul yearned that the Corinthians and our faith would grow, and although we suffer, that we too would trust in God. We might not be able to see Him, but we can believe He is renewing us day by day (v. 16).

I thought about how God is unseen but eternal when I gazed at the clouds that day, knowing that the supermoon was hidden but there. And I hoped the next time I was tempted to believe that God was far from me, I would fix my eyes on what is unseen.

By Amy Boucher Pye

Today’s Reflection

What does it mean for you to fix your eyes on what is unseen? How does your hope in Jesus help you face the difficulties of life?

 

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Joyce Meyer – Get Moving

 

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.” And he said, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so.” — 2 Kings 2:9-10

Adapted from the resource The Confident Woman Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Just as under-confidence comes with its list of symptoms, the same is true of confidence. A confident person believes they are loved, valuable, cared for, and safe in God’s will. When we feel secure, it’s easy to step out and take a chance on failing in order to try to succeed.

When we know we are loved for ourselves and not just for our accomplishments or performance, we no longer need to fear failure. We realize that failing at something does not make us a failure at everything. We are free to explore and find out what we are best suited to do. We are free to find our own niche in life, which is not possible without stepping out.

Trial and error is the road to success, and you can’t drive that road as long as your car is parked. So, get moving, and God will direct you. When people are confident, they try things, and they keep trying until they find a way to be successful in what God has called them to do.

Prayer Starter: Lord, I want to explore all that You have for me, and I accept there may be failures. Show me the way to be successful for You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Loving and Kind

 

“But His joy is in those who reverence Him, those who expect Him to be loving and kind” (Psalm 147:11).

Can you imagine an intelligent person saying no to Christ if he fully understood how much God loves him and if he realized that when he receives Christ his sins are all forgiven and he is given eternal life together with new meaning and purpose for his present life?

The non-believer who does not know all these things continues to live in disobedience, rejecting God’s love and forgiveness. Why? Simply because he does not understand; he lacks information.

It is difficult to imagine a person saying no to such a wonderful life of challenge and adventure with the risen Christ if that person knows all the facts about who Christ is and why He came to this world. It is the same with the Christian who is living in spiritual poverty. He often continues to live a frustrated, fruitless life, simply because he just does not understand who the Holy Spirit is and what the supernatural life is all about. But lack of knowledge is not the only obstacle to enjoying the supernatural life.

Pride: Pride, which is an exaltation of self instead of God, is the root cause of all sin. This defeating aspect of our human nature has kept many Christians from living supernaturally. Pride is not the same as a God-given healthy love and acceptance of oneself.

Fear of man: Peer pressure keeps many Christians from living the supernatural life. “The fear of man brings a snare” (Proverbs 29:25, NAS).

Many are afraid to be different, or are ashamed to witness for Jesus Christ who loved us and gave Himself for us. “But His joy is in those who reverence Him, those who expect Him to be loving and kind.”

Bible Reading: Psalm 147:5-10

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will claim the enabling power of the Holy Spirit to overcome pride and fear of man, I will reverence the Lord and expect Him to be loving and kind as He promised.

 

 

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Charles Stanley – Reasons to Believe the Bible

 

2 Timothy 3:14-17

Have you ever wondered if you can trust what the Bible says? Although Scripture testifies to its own inspiration, there are also other evidences that affirm that the book we hold in our hands is the true and accurate Word of God.

Jesus believed Scripture.Our Savior affirmed the validity of the Old Testament by quoting passages as He taught. He used Isaiah’s prophecies and the Pentateuch to poke holes in the Pharisees’ false piety (Mark 7:6-13). And after His resurrection, He explained the things concerning Himself that had been written by Moses and the prophets (Luke 24:25-27). Finally, because Jesus had promised the Holy Spirit would teach the disciples and remind them of His words, He insured the accuracy of the New Testament as well (John 14:26).

Scripture is inexhaustible. Like a well that never runs dry, the Bible offers a fresh taste of living water each time we open it. People who have dedicated their lives to studying this amazing book admit they have only skimmed its surface. Personally, I can’t count the times that a passage I knew by heart suddenly yielded new insights.

Scripture is indestructible. Over the years, various governments and leaders have tried in vain to destroy the Bible, or at least restrict access to it. And yet this polarizing—and well-loved—book keeps circulating and winning hearts for Christ.

The Bible truly is the most amazing book ever written because it comes directly from God. Not only does it accurately predict the future; it also has the power to save sinners and transform them into saints.

Bible in One Year: Ruth 3-4

 

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Our Daily Bread — Bearing the Burden of Wrongs

 

Bible in a Year:Joshua 10–12; Luke 1:39–56

Do not repay evil with evil.

1 Peter 3:9

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 Peter 3:8-14

On January 30, 2018, almost thirty-eight years after his conviction, Malcolm Alexander walked out of prison a free man. DNA evidence cleared Alexander, who had steadfastly maintained his innocence amid a myriad of court proceedings that were tragically unjust. An incompetent defense attorney (later disbarred), shoddy evidence, and dubious investigative tactics all put an innocent man in prison for nearly four decades. When he was finally released, however, Alexander showed immense grace. “You cannot be angry,” he said. “There’s not enough time to be angry.”

Alexander’s words evidence a deep grace. If injustice robbed us of thirty-eight years of our lives and destroyed our reputations, we would likely be angry, furious. Though Alexander spent many long, heartbreaking years bearing the burden of wrongs inflicted upon him, he wasn’t undone by the evil. Rather than exerting his energy trying to get revenge, he exhibited the posture Peter instructs: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult” (1 Peter 3:9).

The Scriptures go a step further: rather than seeking vengeance, the apostle Peter tells us we are to bless (v. 9). We extend forgiveness, the hope of well-being, for those who have unjustly wronged us. Without excusing their evil actions, we can meet them with God’s scandalous mercy. On the cross, Jesus bore the burden of our wrongs, that we might receive grace and extend it to others—even those who have wronged us.

By Winn Collier

Today’s Reflection

Without excusing their actions, how can you extend mercy to others who have wronged you? What will it mean for you to “bless” them?

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Through Deeper Darkness

Professor and theologian James Loder was on vacation with his family when they noticed a motorist off to the side of the road waving for help. In his book The Transforming Moment, he describes kneeling at the front fender of this broken-down car, his head bent to examine the flat tire, when he was startled by the abrupt sound of screeching brakes. A motorist who had fallen asleep at the wheel was jarred awake seconds before his vehicle crashed into the disabled car alongside the road—and the man who knelt beside it. Loder was immediately pinned between two vehicles. The car he knelt to repair was now on his chest, his own vehicle underneath him.

Years after both the incident and the rehabilitation it required, Loder was compelled to describe the impact of that moment so marked by pain and tragedy, which was unexpectedly, something much more. Loder describes the incident: “At the hospital, it was not the medical staff, grateful as I was for them, but the crucifixes—in the lobby and in the patients’ rooms—that provided a total account of my condition. In that cruciform image of Christ, the combination of physical pain and the assurance of a life greater than death gave objective expression and meaning to the sense of promise and transcendence that lived within the midst of my suffering.”(1)

For the Christian, the crucifixion is the center of the whole, the event that gives voice to a broken, dark, and dying world, and the paradoxical suggestion of life somehow within it. This is why the church calendar sets apart forty days to prepare or the cross. This is why the church marks steeples and graves in memory of the crucifixion. The death of Christ is the occasion that makes way for the last to be first, the guilty to be pardoned, the creature united again to its creator. The cross of Christ is the mysterious sign that stands in the center of the history of the world and changes everything. “I have been crucified with Christ,” said one of his transformed followers. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

The suffering and death of Christ is indeed an image that gives expression to inexplicable tragedy, unnecessary suffering, and perplexing darkness. But the cross is also the event that jarringly marks that suffering, death, tragedy, and sorrow as qualities to which the vicariously human Son of God willingly submitted himself. It is thus that the broken and bleeding Loder could sense his condition understood in the image of a broken and bleeding Christ. “For surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases.” In the cruciform image of Christ on the cross, our own encounters of tragedy are not only affirmed, but held at God’s own volition. From the glory of heaven, Christ has come into the dark world where we stand.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Through Deeper Darkness

Joyce Meyer – Thoughts of the Heart

 

Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. — Matthew 12:33

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

The Bible says a tree is known by its fruit, and the same is true of you. You can look at a person’s attitude and know what kind of thinking is prevalent in their life. A sweet, kind person does not have mean, vindictive thoughts. By the same token, a truly evil person does not have good, loving thoughts.

Your thoughts bear fruit. Think good thoughts and the fruit in your life will be good. Think bad thoughts and the fruit in your life will be bad. Remember Proverbs 23:7(AMPC) and allow it to have an impact on your life: For as you think in your heart, so are you.

Prayer Starter: Thank You, Father, for the power of Your Word to renew my thoughts and transform every single area of my life. Help me to be aware of what is going on in my mind and to constantly choose positive, uplifting, faith-filled thoughts from Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – How to Gain Understanding

 

“For ever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness is unto all generations” (Psalm 119:89,90, KJV).

A story is told of a young woman who had been informed about a famous novel. She was interested in reading it, but as she began to read the novel, she found it dry and uninteresting. She would put it down to read something else, and then she would come back and try to read it again because her friends said it was an excellent book.

Even with the high recommendations of her friends, the book just did not captivate her. Then one day she met the author. He was very handsome and personable. They became interested in each other, and she fell in love with him.

Now she could hardly wait to read the novel. It was the most exciting book she had ever read, for she had fallen in love with the author.

This is what happens with the Scriptures when we love the Author, the Lord Jesus Christ.

During my years of skepticism and agnosticism, I found the Bible very dry and difficult to read and I believed it was filled with “all kinds of errors and inconsistencies.” Then after becoming a Christian I began to read the Bible again. It was a completely different book, filled with exciting, life-changing truth. All the “errors and contradictions” were gone.

Why the difference? The non-believer or disobedient Christian does not understand spiritual truth (1 Corinthians 2:14). The Spirit-filled believer is taught by the Holy Spirit, who illumines the truth which He revealed to the original authors as recorded in the Bible.

Bible Reading: Psalm 119:129-136

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will ask God to give me a love for His holy, inspired Word. Then things that happen in my life which I do not understand will be made clear as I go to the source of all true understanding, the Word of God.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – When You Encounter Evil

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Jesus found him in a cemetery, and his story is in the fifth chapter of Mark.  As Jesus stepped out of a boat, a demon-possessed man stormed out of a cave.  The demons begged to be sent into a herd of pigs.  Jesus consented, and 2000 demon-possessed pigs threw themselves into the sea.

The people begged Jesus to leave their area.  Why?  Fear of change.  But before Jesus left, he told the man freed from demons to “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.” That was the commissioning of the first missionary sent to people who dismissed Jesus.  Christ still sends messages to the unworthy.  And he still uses the unworthy as messengers.

Read more He Still Moves Stones

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – President Trump endorses Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights

President Trump endorsed Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights yesterday, marking what the Wall Street Journal calls a “sharp U.S. policy shift.” The move came during US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Israel and before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the White House next week.

Why does the region known as the “Golan Heights” matter to Israel and to the world?

An area twice the size of Dallas

The Golan Heights is an elongated, elevated area approximately forty miles long and twelve miles wide. It comprises 690 square miles (about twice the size of Dallas, Texas). The Golan (as it is known) borders Israel and the Sea of Galilee to the west, Syria to the east, Jordan to the south, and Lebanon to the north.

I have visited the area many times over the last twenty-five years. It is a spectacularly beautiful region dominated by hills and valleys. It is also one of the most strategic military areas in the world.

The Golan was part of Syria until the Six-Day War (June 5–10, 1967) between Israel and Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq. During the war, Israel gained control of the Golan and soon began settlements there. In the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Syrian forces overran the southern Golan in a surprise offensive before they were expelled by an Israeli counteroffensive.

Israel and Syria signed a ceasefire in 1974 that left most of the Golan in Israel’s control. In 1981, Israel passed the Golan Heights Law that effectively annexed the territory. The international community rejects Israel’s claim to the region, recognizing it as Syrian territory.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has long claimed that Israel must control the Golan to protect its national security, hailed Mr. Trump’s move. Critics say the president’s announcement will jeopardize peace efforts in the region and violates a UN resolution that rules out acquiring territory by war.

Three millennia of conflicted history

I have been leading a study tour to the Holy Land this week. Each time I come to Israel, I am impressed again by the courage of her people amid this chaotic region.

Continue reading Denison Forum – President Trump endorses Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights

Charles Stanley – The Lord Comforts Sinners

 

John 8:1-11

We expect a loving heavenly Father to care for His children when they are hurt, persecuted, or misunderstood. But you might be surprised to realize that God comforts believers even when they have sinned.

Jesus did not come to condemn the world but to save anyone who believes in Him (John 3:17). Consider His response to the woman whom the Pharisees caught committing adultery. They brought her behavior to Jesus’ attention and wanted to stone her. But instead of taking up a rock, Jesus offered forgiveness. The Lord did not defend her actions or completely erase all consequences of her choices. However, He did offer compassion as well as an opportunity to turn her life around and live in the forgiveness He granted: “Go. From now on sin no more” (John 8:11).

The Lord understands our human frailty. And even before we do wrong, He knows the poisonous harvest that we will reap from sin. We certainly want a lot of comfort when we are suffering from our own foolishness. A loving heavenly Father does not abandon His children at their hour of great need—His Spirit wades into the mess we have made. He offers to guide us out of the pit, soothes our broken heart, and provides reassurance that He is always close by.

Sinning against the Lord makes us feel unworthy of His care and solace. Yet God’s forgiveness is based on His great mercy rather than our conduct. If Jesus Christ sacrificed His life to save you from your sins, then He will love and comfort you, no matter what.

Bible in One Year: Ruth 1-2

 

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Our Daily Bread — Hand Made for You

 

Bible in a Year:Joshua 7–9; Luke 1:21–38

We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ephesians 2:4-10

My grandmother was a talented seamstress who won contests in her native Texas. Throughout my life, she celebrated hallmark occasions with a hand-sewn gift. A burgundy mohair sweater for my high school graduation. A turquoise quilt for my marriage. I’d fold over a corner of each custom-crafted item to discover her signature tag reading, “Hand made for you by Munna.” With every embroidered word, I sensed my grandmother’s love for me and received a powerful statement of her faith in my future.

Paul wrote to the Ephesians of their purpose in this world, describing them as “God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (2:10). Here “handiwork” denotes a work of art or a masterpiece. Paul goes on to describe that God’s handiwork in creating us would result in our handiwork of creating good works—or expressions of our restored relationship with Jesus—for His glory in our world. We can never be saved by our own good works, but when God hand makes us for His purposes, He can use us to bring others toward His great love.

With her head bowed over her needle, my Munna hand made items to communicate her love for me and her passion that I discover my purpose on this planet. And with His fingers shaping the details of our days, God stitches His love and purposes in our hearts that we might experience Him for ourselves and demonstrate His handiwork to others.

By Elisa Morgan

Today’s Reflection

What has God created you to do? Who can you show His love to today?

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Behold, the Crucified

Even modern English Bible versions often end up retaining the rather un-modern term “behold” in their translations of the Hebrew word hinneh and the Greek word idou. This is because there is no other equivalent English word that quite does the job that behold does. All the three terms—Hebrew, Greek, and English—have a certain gravitas, and, whenever used, command us to pay careful attention to what follows.

In John’s narrative of the trial and the crucifixion of Jesus, there are five occurrences of the term—three coming from the mouth of the unwitting prophet, Pilate, and twice from the mouth of our Lord Jesus. Each occurrence summons us to a facet of the person and work of Christ.

In John 19:4, “Pilate came out again and said to them, ‘Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in Him.’” We may render Pilate’s words as: “Behold, the Guiltless One!” Christians have always claimed, and will always claim, that Jesus, the Innocent, bore the sins of a guilty world. When his executioners twisted together a crown of thorns and thrust it upon his head, little did they know that they were enacting a prophetic truth! For in that single image—the crown of thorns on his head—is encapsulated the central Christian claim: that this guiltless-but-crucified one bore upon himself the guilt and curse of the whole of creation. Remember: “Cursed is the ground because of you…. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you.”(1)

The following verse is the second time the word occurs: “Jesus then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Behold, the Man!’” (v.5). Jesus is the window to God; He is also the mirror to man. In him, we see what is wrong with us, and what we are meant to be. The poetic poignancy of the occurrence is also found in the allusion that, just as the first human being, Adam, takes stage on the sixth day of creation, Christ, the New Human Being, takes center stage on the sixth day—Good Friday—of new creation.(2) And we are summoned to pay close attention to him, the man.

We are no longer helplessly and hopelessly fated to take the course of Adam. There is another pattern for being fully and truly human: Behold, the human!

The third time “behold” appears is in verse 14, where “[Pilate] said to the Jews, ‘Behold, your King.’” In his book, Jesus Rediscovered, Malcolm Muggeridge, in his inimitable way, says, “The crown of thorns, the purple robe, the ironical title ‘King of the Jews,’ were intended to mock or parody Christ’s pretensions to be the Messiah; in fact, they rather hold up to ridicule and contempt all crowns, all robes, all kings that ever were. It was a sick joke that back-fired.”(3) Muggeridge is perhaps being a touch cynical here, and may be guilty of rendering serious political reflection and engagement impossible and pointless. All the same, the Christian claim that Jesus is the Christ (i.e., the King) is a claim that effectively loosens all other claims, renegotiates all other allegiances, recasts all other power, downsizes all other authorities, domesticates all other principalities, and tempers the Christian resolve to not give beings and things, apart from God and his Christ, an ultimacy that they demand but do not deserve. Christ, in short, dismantles idols and unravels idolatries.

The final two occurrences are found in John 19:26-27: “When Jesus then saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.” We may club the two occurrences to mean, “Behold, your new family!” Theologians have also often noted John’s allusion to the Church in his record of Jesus side being speared: as Eve, the bride of Adam, issued forth from Adam’s side, the Church, the bride of Christ, issues forth from the crucified’s side, with the blood and water symbolizing the two foundational sacraments of the Church, Lord’s Supper and Baptism. At the foot of the Cross, there is the creating and forging of a new family, a new community, a new humanity—the Church: a believing that leads to a belonging.

Kethoser (Aniu) Kevichusa is a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Nagaland, India.

(1) Genesis 3:17-18.
(2) This basic thought is borrowed from the various writings of N.T. Wright on the passage.
(3) Malcolm Muggeridge, Jesus Rediscovered (London: Fontana, 1969), 47

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Joyce Meyer – How to Pray Effectively

 

[Yes] I will grant [I Myself will do for you] whatever you shall ask in My Name [as presenting all that I AM]. — John 14:14 (AMPC)

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

I reached a point in my prayer life where I felt frustrated, so I began to seek God about it. I wanted the assurance that my prayers were being effective. I wanted to have confidence that when I prayed, power was released to work in the situation I had prayed about. I wanted those things, but to be honest, I didn’t have that assurance or confidence.

Satan definitely wants to steal our confidence concerning prayer. Many people express the same frustrations that I felt. They pray, but all the while they’re wondering if they are being effective. What is wrong? I believe that we mistakenly think that we need to be perfect in order to have power in prayer, but we don’t. That is why we have been given the name of Jesus in which to pray!

When we pray in Jesus’ name, we are presenting to God the Father all that Jesus is, not what we are. Thankfully, I don’t pray in Joyce’s name; if I did I would never accomplish anything! The Holy Spirit helps us pray as we ought to, and the name of Jesus guarantees the answer!

Be bold in prayer because you have the name above every other name, and at the mention of that name, every knee must bow (see Philippians 2:10). Pray boldly, expecting results!

Prayer Starter: Thank You, Father, that I can come to You boldly in prayer, knowing that You love to hear from me. Increase my level of expectation and help me to make prayer an easy, simple, natural part of my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – God Answers While We Are Praying

 

“So don’t worry at all about having enough food and clothing. Why be like the heathen? For they take pride in all these things and are deeply concerned about them. But your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well that you need them, and He will give them to you if you give Him first place in your life and live as He wants you to” (Matthew 6:31-33).

Whenever God impresses you with a need, you can always be assured that He will supply that need, often through others.

I remember the first time I asked God for a specific amount of money. We needed $485 for a particular ministry. While I was still on my knees in prayer, there came a knock at the door and the mailman handed me a registered letter containing a check for $500. Earlier, a young man from Zurich, Switzerland, had written his parents that he had received Christ through our ministry at UCLA, and he mentioned my name as one who had helped him. His parents and their daughter had then flown all the way from Zurich to California to learn how they also could become Christians. God honored their desire and after prayer and counsel they had gone home rejoicing in the assurance of their salvation. Now they were writing and sending this generous check to express their gratitude.

Later, we needed $10,000 and God impressed us to pray for that amount. An hour after we prayed, a man whom I did not know well called to say, “I am a new Christian, and I don’t know how God speaks to man, but you have been on my mind all day, so I thought it might be that God was trying to tell me something. I thought I would just call to see if you have a need.”

I told him we had just prayed for $10,000. He said, “That’s a lot of money, but I’ll call you back in an hour.”

An hour later he called to say he would send a check the next day for $10,000 as a loan without interest. He added, “If God continues to bless me and my business, I will give you the money.”

God greatly blessed his faith and obedience, and a year later the loan became a gift. God has graciously demonstrated His faithfulness on thousands of occasions and often in even greater ways.

For those who seek first God’s kingdom, He promises, “I will answer them before they even call Me. While they are still talking to Me about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers” (Isaiah 65:24). If our hearts and motives are pure and we seek always to please Him in what we do, we can never ask Him for too much. We can always be assured that our faithful God will answer us as we pray in accordance with His Word and Will.

Bible Reading: Matthew 6:24-33

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will remember the faithfulness of God, that so long as my heart and my motives are pure and I pray according His Word and will, He will hear me and answer me even before I pray.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – What Matters to You Matters to God

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

The first miracle of Jesus was at a wedding—no small event.  For several days, there was gift-giving, speechmaking, food-eating, and wine-drinking.   Hospitality was a sacred duty  The absence of wine was a social embarrassment.  Mary asks her son to help, and he tells her that his “time has not yet come.” But he changed his plan to meet the needs of his friends.

This miracle tells us that what matters to you matters to God. You are his child.  So go ahead. Tell God what hurts.  He won’t turn you away or think it’s silly.  Hebrews 4:15-16 says, “For our high priest is able to understand our weaknesses…Let us, then, feel very sure that we can come before God’s throne where there is grace.”  Does God care about the little things in our lives?  You better believe it.

Read more He Still Moves Stones

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – A giant meteor explosion and the dangers of sugary drinks and cannabis: We are mortal and immortal

 

A gigantic meteor exploded over our planet last December. The blast generated energy equivalent to 173 kilotons of TNT, ten times the energy produced by the atomic bomb used in Hiroshima in 1945.

Why are we only now hearing about this? The explosion was over the Bering Sea, a remote location in the middle of the ocean.

Closer to home, a Harvard-led study has found that people who drink two or more sugar-sweetened beverages a day have a 31 percent higher risk of early death from cardiovascular disease. Each additional soda or sports drink increases the risk by 10 percent.

In other health news, daily marijuana use has been linked to an increased risk of developing psychosis. People who used any type of cannabis on a daily basis were three times more likely to have a diagnosis of a new episode of psychosis. The risk increased to five times for daily use of high potency cannabis.

From the cyclone in Mozambique that killed hundreds, to the dangerous storms threatening the Northeast today, to reports that the New Zealand terror suspect planned a third attack before he was apprehended, each day’s news reminds us that we are mortal.

But we are immortal as well.

I have often quoted C. S. Lewis’s profound observation: “You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

An altar seven hundred years older than Abraham

The intersection of our finitude and our immortality powerfully impressed me yesterday as our Israel study group visited the ancient fortress of Megiddo. A Canaanite altar here dates to 2700 BC—seven hundred years older than Abraham.

Continue reading Denison Forum – A giant meteor explosion and the dangers of sugary drinks and cannabis: We are mortal and immortal

Charles Stanley – The God Who Comforts

 

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Look up comfort in a dictionary and you’ll find a definition like “something that promotes a state of ease or provides freedom from pain and anxiety.” But according to God’s Word, when consolation is needed, the only true solution is the indwelling Holy Spirit. In Greek, He is called paraklētos, which means “he who stands at one’s side; he who comes to one’s aid.” Believers don’t have to rely on outward remedies or distractions to ease their mind, because help is available from the ultimate Comforter.

Even before the Holy Spirit was sent to indwell believers (John 14:26; Eph. 3:16), Scripture identified God as the one who comforts His people (Isa. 40:1; Isa. 49:13). The Lord personally provides consolation and reassurance because no one knows our hurts the way He does.

I like this anonymous quotation: “When we have gone into the furnace of affliction, His hand is on the thermostat and His eye is on the clock.” God allows hardship, and as a result, we become stronger believers, wiser servants, and more humble people. But He stays by our side through the entire experience, sustaining us and limiting the intensity and duration of our distress. The Spirit’s reassuring whisper to our heart gives more comfort than the solace of family or the encouragement of friends.

People who fail to understand the true source of comfort try to escape their pain. They seek out pleasures, material wealth, or drugs and alcohol to soothe them. Only God can offer lasting relief from the crushing pressure of heartache. He even brings joy into periods of mourning.

Bible in One Year: Judges 20-21

 

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Our Daily Bread — From Wailing to Worship

 

Bible in a Year:Joshua 4–6; Luke 1:1–20

You turned my wailing into dancing; you . . . clothed me with joy.

Psalm 30:11

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 30:1-12

Kim began battling breast cancer in 2013. Four days after her treatment ended, doctors diagnosed her with a progressive lung disease and gave her three to five years to live. She grieved, sobbing prayers as she processed her emotions before God for the first year. By the time I met Kim in 2015, she had surrendered her situation to Him and radiated contagious joy and peace. Though some days are still hard, God continues to transform her heart-wrenching suffering into a beautiful testimony of hope-filled praise as she encourages others.

Even when we’re in dire circumstances, God can turn our wailing into dancing. Though His healing won’t always look or feel like we’d hoped or expected, we can be confident in God’s ways (Psalm 30:1–3). No matter how tear-stained our path may be, we have countless reasons to praise Him (v. 4). We can rejoice in God, as He secures our confident faith (vv. 5–7). We can cry out for His mercy (vv. 8–10), celebrating the hope He’s brought to many weeping worshipers. Only God can transform wails of despair into vibrant joy that doesn’t depend on circumstances (vv. 11–12).

As our merciful God comforts us in our sorrow, He envelops us in peace and empowers us to extend compassion toward others and ourselves. Our loving and faithful Lord canand does turn our wailing into worship that can lead to heart-deep trust, praise, and maybe even joyful dancing.

By Xochitl Dixon

Today’s Reflection

What’s the source of true peace and joy? What does it mean for you to truly surrender your all to God?

 

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Scriptures, Lessons, News and Links to help you survive.