Charles Stanley – Cease Striving

Matthew 11:28-30

We have all experienced temptations, trials, and suffering at some point in our lives. Even as Christians—and sometimes specifically because we are Christians—we must endure pain, whether through loss, bankruptcy, unemployment, or a broken relationship. While no one is immune to hard times, believers are empowered through the Holy Spirit to endure periods of struggle. Psalm 46:10 says, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” The King James Version uses the expression “be still,” indicating that our best response to disappointment is to trust in the heavenly Father.

How humbling it is to know that as God’s children, we have a direct line of communication to our Father, even in the midst of trouble. We don’t have to respond like the world, out of a heart filled with anger, depression, or revenge. Nor do we have to fix everything in our own strength. Sure, we will still be tempted by the flesh. But as we “cease striving,” we’ll learn to trust in God more and more each day.

The truth is, hardship not only forms our character but also reveals it. One common response to difficult times is anger. In moments of frustration, we run the risk of making impulsive decisions that could impact the rest of our life. But instead of getting caught up in the emotion, we should wisely be still and trust in the One who can work everything for our good (Rom. 8:28).

In this world, troubles won’t vanish (John 16:33). But when storms are brewing on the horizon, buckle up and trust God to guide you through. Only in Him can you truly cease striving.

Bible in a Year: Judges 4-6

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Our Daily Bread — My Personal Space

Read: Luke 8:40-48

Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 23-25; Mark 14:1-26

We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses. —Hebrews 4:15

An industrial design graduate from a Singapore university was challenged in a workshop to come up with a novel solution to a common problem using only ordinary objects. She created a vest to protect one’s personal space from being invaded while traveling in the crush of crowded public trains and buses. The vest was covered with long, flexible plastic spikes normally used to keep birds and cats away from plants.

Jesus knew what it was like to lose His personal space in the commotion of crowds desperate to see and touch Him. A woman who had suffered from constant bleeding for 12 years and could find no cure touched the fringe of His robe. Immediately, her bleeding stopped (Luke 8:43-44).

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Grief Is Great

“Please—Mr. Lion—Aslan, Sir?” said Digory working up the courage to ask. “Could you—may I—please, will you give me some magic fruit of this country to make my mother well?”

A child in one of the Narnia books, Digory, at this point in the story, had brought about much disaster for Aslan and his freshly created Narnia. But he had to ask. In fact, he thought for a second that he might attempt to make a deal with Aslan. But quickly Digory realized the Lion was not the sort of person with which one could try to make bargains.

C.S. Lewis then recounts, “Up till then the child had been looking at the lion’s great front feet and the huge claws on them. Now in his despair he looked up at his face. And what he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and wonder of wonders great shining tears stood in the lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the lion must really be sorrier about his mother than he was himself.”(1)

Charles Dickens often spoke of his characters as beloved and “real existences.” I have often wondered if the “safe but never tame” Lion cared for C.S. Lewis half as much as this figure has comforted others. Lewis was a boy about the age of Digory when his mother lay dying of cancer and he was helpless to save her.

“My son, my son,” said Aslan. “I know. Grief is great. Only you and I in this land know that yet. Let us be good to one another…”

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John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Threats to Humility: Strength and Boasting

“Walk . . . with all humility” (Ephesians 4:1-2).

Satan will tempt us to be proud of our abilities and accomplishments, but we must remember that every good thing we have is from God.

We’ve just studied three steps to humility. Let’s look at the issue from another angle: What kinds of pride threaten to destroy our humility? Where will we struggle to be humble? There are several areas in which Satan will attack us.

The first area I call ability pride. We’re often tempted to be proud of our strong points, not our weak ones. I’ve never been tempted to boast of my fantastic mathematical ability because I have none. But I am tempted to be proud of my preaching because it is my spiritual gift. Thankfully, the Lord helps me deal with such thoughts. It might come in the form of a letter saying, “I was in your church Sunday, and I violently disagree with everything you said.” Or someone might tell me, “We came to hear you for the first time, but we like our pastor better.” Times like those help me keep the proper perspective.

Continue reading John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Threats to Humility: Strength and Boasting

Wisdom Hunters – The Best Advice 

I [Christ] counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Revelation 3:18

The advice of well-meaning people is not always best. They advise when we should buy or sell something, or borrow money: when we should save money or save more money, when we should give more money. In the case of a relationship, when we should give it a second chance or continue in a relationship, or when we should break it off. When we consider changing jobs, when we should stay or remain in a job, when we should change jobs. Sincere counsel that sounds right—may not be the best advice. Only Christ gives counsel that is accurate 100% of the time.

In Revelation, Jesus’ very insightful counsel exposes the church’s inability to see its unhealthy condition. His remedy is the application of His Spirit’s salve to reveal their need to be clothed in righteousness. Those who recognize their needy state are in a position to receive counsel, but those stuck in denial live in a dream state—perpetually in pain. Money can mask issues, but eventually severe dysfunction drives people and organizations to recognize their sickly condition. The longer the delay—the harder it is to fully recover. Only spiritual riches can truly satisfy!

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Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Who Can You In-Courage?

Then Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God.

1 Samuel 23:16

Recommended Reading

Colossians 2:1-3

To encourage means to in-courage, that is, to instill fresh courage into someone who is faltering. God calls us to be spiritual encouragers to those who are spiritually fading. We’re to build up those facing great challenges. Throughout Scripture, we see this in action.

Moses told the Israelites, “Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall go in there. Encourage him” (Deuteronomy 1:38). King Hezekiah “gave encouragement to all the Levites who taught the good knowledge of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 30:22). Barnabas so uplifted those around him, he was named “Son of Encouragement” by the early church (Acts 4:36).

Continue reading Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Who Can You In-Courage?

Joyce Meyer – Avoid Comparisons

Not that we [have the audacity to] venture to class or [even to] compare ourselves with some who exalt and furnish testimonials for themselves! However, when they measure themselves with themselves and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding and behave unwisely.—2 Corinthians 10:12

Advertising is often geared to make people strive to look the best, be the best, and own the most. If you wear “this” particular brand of clothes, people will admire you! Try “this” new diet and lose those few extra pounds—and then you will be accepted and noticed. The world consistently gives us the impression that we need to be something other than what we are.

A confident person avoids comparisons. Confidence is not possible as long as we compare ourselves with other people. No matter how good we look, how talented or smart we are, or how successful we are, there is always someone who is better, and sooner or later we will run into him or her.

Continue reading Joyce Meyer – Avoid Comparisons

Girlfriends in God – I’m Going to Wash That Thought Right Out of My Head

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rules, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12

Friend to Friend

There are certain television jingles that drive my husband crazy. As soon as he see a nanosecond of commercial appear, he presses the mute button. And while I tease him for being a commercial phobic, you know what happens to me? I end up with that silly song in my head for the rest of the evening. He has the right idea—mute it, delete it, don’t give it a chance to enter your mind. It’s the same way with the lies the enemy tries to make us believe.

We are in a spiritual battle for our minds. And while we often think difficult people or irritating circumstances are the source of the problems, Paul tells us to look past the obvious and go to the root cause.

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Supernatural Wisdom – by Faith

“If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask Him, and He will gladly tell you, for He is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask Him; He will not resent it” (James 1:5).

Often – many times a day – I need divine wisdom, not only in the multitudes of decisions that I must make daily, but also in the witnessing situations the Lord brings across my path. No doubt you recognize a similar need in your life.

All I have to do to have His presence guide me, if my heart is right with Him, is to ask in faith, and He promises the wisdom I need for each day and for each moment of the day.

If we are going to live supernatural lives, and if we are going to demonstrate to others that they, too, can live such a life, then we must begin to think and act differently. And that is possible only as we go to the source of all divine wisdom.

Continue reading Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Supernatural Wisdom – by Faith

Ray Stedman – Poured Out

Read: Philippians 2:16-18

And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. Phil 2:16b

Paul is looking forward to the great day when time will be rolled up as the dawn and cast aside, and all the fruit of Christian labor will be made visible-when all the gold, silver and precious stones that result from Christ at work in us will be gathered up and displayed. All of the wood, hay and stubble that results from our self-effort for him will be burned. Christ’s steadfast continuing work in you is your holding fast to the word of life, and this is what will result in praise and rejoicing in that day. Regardless of the circumstances or the praise of men or whether there are immediate results, continue, hold fast-don’t give up! Then Paul says when I see the results of your faith my heart will swell with pride because I’ll know I’ve not helped you in vain.

Looking on to his impending death Paul says, even if I am being poured like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith. Even if that should occur, if I should know that you are holding fast to the indwelling Christ, I will die with gladness and joy in my heart. If you hear I have died that way, you too can rejoice and be glad. This is the ground of Christian rejoicing — a refreshing, fruitful life, pouring out rivers of living water to others, conditioned upon unrelenting reliance upon the indwelling Lord Jesus.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – Poured Out

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – No More of This!

Read: Luke 22:47-53

Lord, shall we strike with the sword? (v. 49)

Why is it that the worst things always happen at night? The worst phone calls always seem to come when it is dark. Our biggest fears and worries always seem to come calling when we are lying in bed, in the darkness. Even when bad things happen during the day, in our memory of them there is no light.

We remember the Garden of Gethsemane as the place where, in the darkness, Jesus was betrayed and arrested. We forget that the Lord also performed there a fascinating miracle. It is the only recorded instance in which Jesus healed someone who had been hurt in an act of violence. Mark says an unnamed disciple cut off the ear of an unnamed slave of the high priest. Matthew adds that Jesus rebuked the disciple. In John the disciple becomes Simon Peter, the slave Malchus, and the severed ear is the right one. But only Dr. Luke tells us that Jesus touched the ear and healed the man. Imagine Jesus looking in the grass for that missing ear and then putting it back where it belonged.

Continue reading Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – No More of This!

Presidential Prayer Team; A.W.- From Death to Life

Can you guess what the television characters Phil Coulson (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D), Buffy Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), John Locke (LOST), Fox Mulder (The X Files), Rory Williams (Doctor Who), and Bobby Ewing (Dallas) have in common? They were all brought back to life. But these examples are only fictional.

If I am still alive, show me the steadfast love of the Lord, that I may not die.

I Samuel 20:14

There are many real examples in the Bible of people raised to life. Elijah raised a widow’s son (I Kings 17). Elisha raised the Shunammite’s son (II Kings 4). Jesus raised a widow’s son in Nain (Luke 7), Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5), and Lazarus (John 11) from the dead. Peter raised Dorcas from the dead (Acts 9). Most importantly, God raised Jesus (Acts 2:24).

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Greg Laurie – Bad Company

Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying–I don’t know the man!” And immediately the rooster crowed. —Matthew 26:74

Peter’s denial of Jesus did not happen over a period of seconds or minutes, but over a period of hours. An hour had passed from the time the first person said, “You were one of those with Jesus the Galilean,” to the time Peter made his second denial. He had ample opportunity to hightail it out of there, but he remained in this situation. It just reminds us of the fact that no person is safe from temptation except the one who flees from it. Peter, having been warned by Jesus himself, of all people, should have avoided any place where he could be weakened. He definitely should have steered clear of all roosters. I would have said, “Are there any roosters here? Because I’m leaving if there are. The Lord mentioned a rooster.”

Greater men and women of God than most of us certainly have been compromised by lowering their standards and allowing themselves to be drawn into sin. People like Solomon. Samson. David. They all found out the hard way. Are we better than they were? Are we more spiritual than they were? I don’t think so.

If someone like Simon Peter was capable of falling, then surely we are. 1 Corinthians 15:33 tells us, ” ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’ ” Peter was around people who were dragging him down spiritually. Are you in a similar situation today? Have you entered into relationships where people are dragging you down? Maybe it’s a romance. Maybe it’s a close friendship. Are you finding yourself compromising your principles to fit in and not offend anyone? Perhaps you need to reconsider who your friends are. Perhaps you need to make some immediate changes.

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Kids 4 Truth International – Devotions Monday, 

The Father Loves You

“For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.” (John 16:27)

When God made Israel into a nation and blessed them, He also gave them some instructions (what we now call the Law). Unfortunately, the people of Israel often disobeyed the Law. In fact, they disobeyed much more often than they obeyed.

As Israel went on disobeying, God sent prophets to them, warning them that He would judge their sins if they didn’t come back to Him. But Israel kept ignoring Him. So eventually He kept His promise and sent cruel armies against His people to destroy their cities and drag them away from their homes to foreign countries.

But God was merciful, and He allowed many of His people to return home. That happened a few hundred years before Jesus was born. When the Jews returned home, they realized that God was serious about sin – that He really meant business.

Continue reading Kids 4 Truth International – Devotions Monday, 

The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Pray, Because God Is Sovereign

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 57:2

“I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.”

Prayer assumes the sovereignty of God. If God is not sovereign, we have no assurance that he’s able to answer our prayers. Our prayers would become nothing more than wishes. But while God’s sovereignty, along with his wisdom and love, is the foundation of our trust in him, prayer is the expression of that trust.

The Puritan preacher Thomas Lye wrote, “as prayer without faith is but a beating of the air, so trust without prayer [is] but a presumptuous bravado. He that promises to give, and bids us trust his promises, commands us to pray, and expects obedience to his commands. He will give, but not without our asking.”

While imprisoned in Rome, Paul wrote to his friend Philemon, “Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers” (Philemon 22, NIV). Paul hoped to be restored but didn’t presume to know God’s secret will. He didn’t say, “I will be restored.” But he did know God in his sovereignty was well able to effect his release, so he asked Philemon to pray. Prayer was the expression of his confidence in the sovereignty of God.

John Flavel, another Puritan preacher, wrote a classic treatise titled The Mystery of Providence, first published in 1678. He began this treatise on God’s sovereign providence with a discourse on Psalm 57:2: “I cry out to God Most high, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” Flavel was saying that because God is sovereign, we should pray. God’s sovereignty does not negate our responsibility to pray, but rather makes it possible to pray with confidence. (Excerpt taken from Is God Really in Control?)

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The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Hindrances to Prayer

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 19:12-14

The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. – 1 Peter 4:7

I watched a football game in which the quarterback threw a pass to one of his teammates, who headed for what appeared to be an easy six points. As he raced toward the end zone, two huge linebackers caught him from behind.

I thought, It’s the same in our life of daily discipleship! We’re frequently tackled as we endeavor to live the Christian life. Take prayer, for instance. What are the primary obstacles to a powerful prayer life? Let’s consider three possibilities.

Continue reading The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Hindrances to Prayer

BreakPoint –  PRAY LOVE HEAL: a Global Community of Love

BreakPoint regulars already know about my strong affection for William Wilberforce, whose tireless efforts to abolish the slave trade and end slavery in the British Empire led me to write his biography.

And as you know, Wilberforce did not act alone. The small group of Christians with which he planned and prayed, known as the Clapham Sect, took the long view of social change. To free slaves in an empire that depended on them must have seemed unthinkable to most. Yet, guided by God and devoting much of their lives to the task, they met their goals.

The Clapham Sect came to mind recently when I learned about a new outreach addressing sexual brokenness. PRAY LOVE HEAL presents itself as “a global community invested in the spiritual, sexual, and relational healing of the world.” Now there’s a challenge for you! To do this, they’ve launched a website featuring helpful resources and publish a daily email containing guided prayers, Scripture readings, and a brief devotion. Each month features a new prayer focus. March offers prayers for victims of pornography.

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – JESUS, THE SUFFERING SERVANT

Read Luke 9:37-62

When the United States became a democratic republic, Vice President John Adams suggested a title for George Washington with pomp and circumstance: “His Highness, the President of the United States of America, and Protector of the Rights of the Same.” The U.S. Senate instead chose the more humble title, “President of the United States.”

The disciples also had grandiose notions for God’s kingdom, all of them mistaken. Despite having experienced the climactic moments of revelation described in the earlier portions of Luke 9, they continued to misunderstand the nature of God’s kingdom. Jesus called them an “unbelieving and perverse generation,” scolding them harshly for their spiritual obtuseness (v. 41).

Luke returns to themes of hiddenness in this narrative. Jesus’ identity had been revealed to the disciples, but a shroud of fog envelops them once again. What they had failed to understand, of course, is that Jesus is not only a prophet, priest and king—He is the suffering Servant of Isaiah’s prophecies, come to be delivered into the hands of men and die (v. 44; see Isaiah 53).

Continue reading Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – JESUS, THE SUFFERING SERVANT

Denison Forum – ‘MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN’ AND JENNIFER GARNER’S FAITH

Miracles From Heaven premieres this week. The movie tells the true story of a girl suffering from a rare digestive disorder that threatened her life. After she fell into the hollow of a tree, she was examined by doctors who could find no evidence of her terminal disease.

The girl’s mother is played by well-known actress Jennifer Garner. She told People magazine that her role helped her become reengaged with her faith. Her commitment to Christ “has always been quietly a part of me,” she said. Now she’s “getting used to the idea of talking about it.”

Every person the actress influences for Jesus will be grateful.

I bring you greetings today from Scotland, where my wife and I spent the last week. The history of this small nation is remarkable. We visited a chapel constructed in 1130. I spoke in another chapel built 600 years ago. We walked around a royal mansion begun in the 16th century and an abbey founded in 1128.

Continue reading Denison Forum – ‘MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN’ AND JENNIFER GARNER’S FAITH