Charles Stanley – Learning to Be Still

1 Peter 4:12-13

Yesterday, we looked at Psalm 46:10, which instructs us to “cease striving” during the difficult times in our lives. That verse means we should stop trying to manipulate our circumstances and instead trust God and allow Him to work. Now, understanding a scripture is one thing, but putting it into action in our lives can be something else entirely. So just how is a believer to “be still”?

First, we must understand that the heavenly Father is allowing our difficulties. If we believe that He is in control, then we must also believe that He has permitted these events to occur.

Second, it may be hard to comprehend, but there is a purpose behind our trials, even when life seems confusing and hopeless. The Lord won’t allow hardships to come our way without good reason.

Third, since there is a purpose for our hardships, they have the potential to ultimately be positive experiences. This doesn’t mean everything will always work out perfectly, according to our own standards, hopes, and plans. But it does mean that if we respond correctly, we may look back on the experience as a catalyst for growth in our spiritual walk.

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Our Daily Bread — Looking Up

Read: Psalm 146:1-10

Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 26-27; Mark 14:27-53

The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down. —Psalm 146:8

An article in the Surgical Technology International journal says that looking down at a smart phone with your head bent forward is the equivalent of having a 60-pound weight on your neck. When we consider that millions of people around the world spend an average of 2-4 hours daily reading and texting, the resulting damage to neck and spine becomes a growing health concern.

It is also easy to become spiritually bowed down by the burdens of life. How often we find ourselves discouraged by the problems we face and the needs of those we love. The psalmist understood this weight of concern yet saw hope as he wrote about “the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—[who] remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous” (Ps. 146:6-8).

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Reigning From a Cross

His final hours were spent in prayer. Yet, the Gospel of Luke tells us that there was nothing unusual about this practice. “And he came out and proceeded as was his custom to the Mount of Olives…and when he arrived at the place…he withdrew from them…and knelt down and began to pray.”(1) As was his custom, Jesus would go to pray. We do not often hear the content of these prayers, but in this case, in these final hours, we see him gripped with passion. Luke tells us that he was in such agony that his sweat “became like drops of blood.” Under conditions of extreme duress, it is possible to rupture capillaries in the head. Blood pours out of the skin like perspiration. Whatever the case, Jesus had never been in this much distress before—even in his wilderness testing—we have no other portrait of him in anguish during prayer.

“And being in agony he was praying very fervently,” writes Luke. What was the source of his agony? Was Jesus in agony over the physical torture and death he was about to endure? Was he in agony over the spiritual condition of his disciples, one who would betray him and the others who would all abandon him in his time of need? Certainly, the latter is a real possibility as he exhorts his disciples at least two times to “watch and pray that you might not enter into temptation.”(2)

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John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Looking Beyond the Temporal

“Our Father who art in heaven” (Matt. 6:9).

With God as your Father, your life has eternal significance.

Author H.G. Wells wrote of a man who had been overcome by the pressure and stress of modern life. His doctor told him that his only hope was to find fellowship with God. The man responded, “What? That—up there—having fellowship with me? I would as soon think of cooling my throat with the Milky Way or shaking hands with the stars.” Poet Thomas Hardy said that prayer is useless because there’s no one to pray to except “that dreaming, dark, dumb thing that turns the handle of this idle show.” Voltaire described life as a bad joke. He added, “Bring down the curtain; the farce is done.” Such is the blasphemy and despair of all who insist that God is uninvolved in human affairs.

The Greek and Roman philosophers of Jesus’ day rejected the fatherhood of God because it contradicted their philosophical systems. The Stoic philosophers taught that all of the gods were apathetic and experienced no emotions at all. The Epicurean philosophers taught that the supreme quality of the gods was complete calm or perfect peace. To maintain their serenity, they needed to remain totally isolated from the human condition.

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Wisdom Hunters – When Someone You Love Leaves

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.   Psalm 34:18

While growing up, my mother taught me many valuable truths: every situation has a positive side; everyone has a right to their opinion, and too much talk can keep a problem stirred up. But there is one thing she didn’t teach me that I had to learn the hard way: Sometimes people you love will leave. This is one of those difficult lessons most of us come face to face with in life.

Sometimes people leave because they can’t love; sometimes they leave because they feel guilty about themselves, sometimes because they are afraid of intimacy, sometimes God has another plan for you, and they can’t go where you are going, sometimes because relationships have their seasons, and sometimes because God removes them from your life. (That’s His love and protection!) There are numerous reasons why people leave, but no matter why they leave, it’s important to remember that God loves you and their departure doesn’t have to mean the end of your joy. Jesus never stops doing good for his kids.

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13)

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Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Chew On It

I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.

Job 23:12

Recommended Reading

Philippians 4:4-9

In his book God’s Battle Plan for the Mind, David Saxton studied the Puritan practice of meditating on Scripture and concluded, “The believer must set aside healthy, generous portions of time for personal devotions, prayer, and Bible meditation.”

The Puritans often likened meditation to chewing and digesting one’s meal, and this is a biblical analogy. The prophet Jeremiah said, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart” (Jeremiah 15:16). Jesus said we cannot live by bread alone, but by every word proceeding from God (Matthew 4:4).

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Joyce Meyer – Authority Over the Devil

Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses]; and nothing shall in any way harm you.—Luke 10:19

One of the best ways to defend ourselves against the devil is to know the Word of God and speak it aloud against the lies he bombards our minds with. When the devil tells you God doesn’t love you and you will never amount to anything, go to war using the Word of God. Get out your two-edged sword and use it!

Talk back to the devil, loud and clear, saying, “I am the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ” (see 2 Corinthians 5:21); “God has a good plan for my life” (see Jeremiah 29:11); and “Nothing can separate me from the love of God” (see Romans 8:35–39). Trust God—know that you are more than a conqueror through Christ as you confidently declare the truth of His Word.

Power Thought: Through Christ I have authority over the devil.

From the book The Power of Being Thankful by Joyce Meyer

Girlfriends in God – Standing Firm When Your Faith Feels Flimsy

Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.

Ephesians 6:10

Friend to Friend

In his letter to the believers in Ephesus, the apostle Paul talked straight about the spiritual battle of faith. He exhorted them to:

Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Eph. 6:10–13 ESV)

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Praying for Me

“Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25, KJV).

George had tried to live a Christian life for many years, but finally gave up.

“It’s no use,” he said. “I have tried and tried and failed and failed. I have dedicated, rededicated, consecrated and reconsecrated my life to Christ, and nothing happens. I am a total failure.”

Whereupon I read him this and several other key verses of Scripture, emphasizing the role that Christ plays in our behalf at the right hand of the Father.

“Did it ever occur to you,” I asked, “that Jesus right now is aware of your every need and is interceding for you?”

That very thought overwhelmed him, and he fell to his knees with tears of gratitude.

Continue reading Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Praying for Me

Ray Stedman – No One Else Like Him

Read: Philippians 2:19-24

I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. Phil 2:20

We meet two friends of the Apostle Paul in this last half of chapter two. These were real men who quite unconsciously display the character of Jesus Christ, excellent examples of all Paul has been writing about.

First we meet Timothy in verses 19-24. As Paul writes about him we see that the underlying quality that marks the man is Jesus Christ. We see that Timothy is an exceptional man. Paul says, I have no one like him. Wouldn’t you like to have that written about you? I know there were many things at which Timothy did not excel. With his frail body, I am sure he was not much of an athlete. He could very easily have been beaten at sports, or possibly surpassed in learning. But there was one area where no one even comes close to this man, and that is in his selfless care, his demonstration of genuine and anxious concern for the welfare of others. Here he is demonstrating that peculiarly Christian virtue, that distinctive mark of the presence of Christ within: selflessness! That is what the Lord Jesus said of himself, Learn from me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Do Miracles Still Happen?

Read: Acts 5:12-16

Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles (v. 12)

Do miracles still happen? One school of thought is that even if miracles happened in Bible times, they don’t happen anymore. But if miracles cannot happen now, how is it they happened then? Has the fundamental reality of the universe somehow changed? What power today prevents God from intervening in human affairs in amazing, extraordinary ways?

Another line of thought is that miracles ceased when Jesus left the earth. But that’s not true. Long after Jesus left, “many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles” (Acts 5:12). Paul healed a man crippled from birth. Peter raised Dorcas from the dead. Jesus had assured the disciples that “whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do” (John 14:12).

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Presidential Prayer Team; J.R.- Roaster Rules

A just-married man was sent by his wife to the store to pick up a ham. When he returned, his wife was aggravated he had failed to ask the butcher to cut off the end of the ham. “Why would you want the end cut off?” he asked. “Because,” the wife replied, “my mother always did it that way, and that’s good enough for me.” Unsatisfied, the man asked his mother-in-law about it. She replied that she was following the procedure her own mother had taught. At the next family gathering the young man – determined to get to the bottom of this three-generation culinary secret – asked the grandmother why she cut off the end of the ham. “Well, my roaster was too small to cook it in one piece,” she replied.

If with Christ you died…why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations.

Colossians 2:20

The church in the city of Colossae had been broken apart by false teachers who were mandating all sorts of rules that were wrongheaded and unscriptural. The apostle Paul’s message was, “You don’t have to do it that way anymore.”

Follow God, not man. Take your marching orders from Christ, and pray that America’s leaders may do the same.

Recommended Reading: Acts 5:27-32

Greg Laurie – Certain of His Death

Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.—1 Corinthians 15:3

An advice columnist received this letter about the Resurrection: “Dear Uticus, Our preacher said on Easter that Jesus just swooned on the cross and the disciples nurtured Him back to health. What do you think? Sincerely, Bewildered.”

Here was the response: “Dear Bewildered, Beat your preacher with a cat of nine tails with 39 heavy strokes. Nail him to a cross. Hang him in the sun for three hours. Run a spear through his heart. Embalm him. Put him in an airless tomb for 36 hours, and see what happens. Sincerely, Uticus.”

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Kids 4 Truth International – God Carries Our Burdens

“Casting all our care upon him, for he careth for you.” (I Peter 5:7)

Randy and his mom stepped into the hospital elevator, and he pushed button 5 to take them to the 5th floor, where Grandpa Jim’s room was. Randy normally liked elevators, but not this hospital one. Grandpa Jim’s cancer was getting worse every day, and Randy was pretty sad and scared about it. He could feel gravity weighing him down as the elevator carried them up, and he thought to himself, “That’s just how my heart feels right now. All weighted down.”

Has your heart ever felt heavy with sadness or worry because of the things going on around you? Have you ever been afraid or frustrated because of people around you? Randy was sad and scared about his grandpa’s pain and possible death. Maybe you have burdens that are hard for you to bear. If you have ever felt like your heart might break if it has to take one more thing, the God of the Bible is the One to Whom you should turn. He invites you to take your worry and sadness and fear and frustration to Him.

Did you know Jesus Christ calls us to come to Him when we are burdened down with cares? In Matthew 12:28-30, Jesus Himself says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

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The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Our Hands on Christ’s Head

Today’s Scripture: 1 Peter 2:24

“He himself bore our sins in his body.”

To subjectively benefit from the work of the high priest in the scapegoat ritual on the day of atonement (Leviticus 16:20-22), the individual Israelite had to exercise both penitence and faith. Penitence is a sincere and humble acknowledgment of one’s sins. Faith, in this instance, is believing God’s testimony that his sins were transferred to the goat and that the guilt of them no longer hung over his head.

Of course, the scapegoat could not itself carry away the sins of the people. It was only symbolic of the true scapegoat to come, Jesus Christ. Today we see the reality of the symbol. We see Jesus as the one who not only propitiated the wrath of God, symbolized by the sacrifice of the first goat, but who also removed our sins from God’s presence, symbolized by the second goat led away into the desert, bearing the sins of the people.

Continue reading The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Our Hands on Christ’s Head

The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Why Live for God?

Today’s Scripture: Psalms 36-41

O you who hear prayer, to you all men will come. – Psalm 65:2

Why do the lives of the ungodly often seem better than ours? Well, in the short run, the wicked often seem to prosper. But we must look at life from the perspective of the long run and see that the essence of life and morality boils down to determining the God-given purpose for life, and living accordingly.

I was lifting weights with a young man who was questioning why he should live a life of faith. He had been a Christian for about two years and was growing in his faith, but lately life didn’t seem so good. He had watched his parents come to the verge of divorce, and he was praying hard for them, but God had done nothing to stop their fighting. It seemed like the Lord wasn’t paying any attention to the things that mattered deeply to him. He began to feel, Why live for God if He isn’t interested in me, doesn’t answer my prayers, and nothing seems to be going right? But as he considered what he would go back to if he turned away from the Lord, he had to admit there weren’t any good alternatives. Like Peter, he knew that Christ alone had the words of eternal life.

Continue reading The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Why Live for God?

BreakPoint –  An Unholy War: Answering Jihad

Let me tell you a story that, tragically, has no happy ending. Vincent Minj, who is almost 80, was the oldest of six children growing up in rural India, and he remembers the day decades ago when his sister, Cecilia, fell into a well near their home and almost died.

Somehow however, Cecilia lived, and Vincent took her survival as a sign from God. He told The Indian Express newspaper, “I thought that if God had given her another life, it had to be used in His service . . . So I just took her along with me and got her admitted to the Missionaries of Charity.”

That order of nuns, of course, was founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta to care for the poorest of India’s poor who would otherwise die alone and unloved. Vincent, who was a preacher himself, told his father that Cecilia was going to get an education in the city of Ranchi. What she got instead was a lifetime of serving the poor in India, then the United States, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, and, finally, Yemen. She was proving the corollary of a famous observation by Mother Teresa: “A life not lived for others is not a life.”

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – JESUS, THE LORD OF THE HARVEST

Read Luke 10

Most corporations devote considerable energy and strategic planning to a succession strategy: they must develop and prepare employees to assume important leadership roles. Without a succession strategy, if a company suddenly loses an important leader, it will face an unexpected vacuum of power.

As Luke’s Gospel turns to focus on Jesus’ resolute march toward Jerusalem, it’s clear that Jesus is thinking about His own succession planning. In Luke 9, Jesus sent out His twelve disciples, investing them with His power and authority to heal broken bodies and suffering souls. In today’s reading, the circle of 12 expands to 72, and Jesus indicates that even more workers will be needed for the tasks of ministry.

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North Korea is claiming that it could wipe out Manhattan by sending a hydrogen bomb on a ballistic missile into New York City. Turkey has targeted Kurdish militants with airstrikes in Iraq, retaliating for a suicide car bombing that killed at least thirty-seven in the Turkish capital. Sea-level rise could disrupt the lives of more than thirteen million people in the U.S., according to a study published yesterday.

Welcome to another day in the news.

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the challenges we face? Wages have been stagnant since 1979. The number of Americans dying of heroin has quadrupled in recent years. Now that same-sex marriage is legal, an organized effort has begun to legalize all “consensual sexual relations,” including polygamy and incest.

In days like these, it’s easy to abandon hope. But when you’re ready to give up, look up.

In Job 40, God addresses the multitude of skeptical questions posed by Job and his friends. Not by responding to their issues, but to their finitude. The Lord points to “Behemoth, which I made as I made you” (v. 15), an animal whose strength surpasses that of any human. Then God notes that he made “Leviathan,” a creature no man can conquer or control (Job 41).

Continue reading Denison Forum – WHEN YOU’RE READY TO GIVE UP, LOOK UP