Storms are inevitable. In nature, powerful tempests leave a changed landscape behind them. Similarly, challenging circumstances can alter the direction of our life.
When difficulties arise, do you say to the Lord, “I am doing what You asked, so why is this happening?” Such thinking assumes that being in the center of God’s will exempts us from problems. In Matthew 14, we learn that Jesus instructed the disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the opposite shore. While they were obeying Him, high winds and waves developed. The truth is, storms can arise even when we are exactly where God wants us to be (John 16:33).
Another question we sometimes ask is, “Father, what have I done wrong?” Many of us automatically assume that we are a large part of the problem. God does use trials to correct us, but not all situations come from our mistakes. He may allow troubles to perfect us—that is, to mature us and grow us into Christ’s likeness. That was the case with the disciples. Jesus knew what lay ahead for them, and He desired to make them fit for the work He was calling them to do. The lashing winds created an environment conducive to learning key lessons for future ministry.
God uses all different ways to train and equip us, because He wants us to become strong, vital servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. Realize that nothing can happen to a child of God unless He allows it. Instead of keeping our heads bent low against the struggles of life, let’s look up to the Lord and seek His purposes in our challenges.
Bible in a Year: 2 Samuel 7-9
The dominating time-piece is nothing if not thought-provoking. British inventor John Taylor’s “Chronophage” (literally ‘time eater’ from the Greek chronos and phageo) keeps watch outside Cambridge’s Taylor Library of Corpus Christi College.(1) A foreboding metal grasshopper with an ominous chomping mouth appears to devour each minute with eerie pleasure and constancy. The toll of the hour is marked by the clanging of a chain into a tiny wooden coffin, which then slams shut—the sound of mortality, says Taylor.(2) The pendulum also speeds up sporadically, then slows to a near halt, only to race ahead again as if somehow calculating the notion that time sometimes flies, sometimes stands still. The invention, according to Taylor, is meant to challenge our tendency to view time itself as we might view a clock. “Clocks are boring. They just tell the time, and people treat them as boring objects,” he added. “This clock actually interacts with you”—indeed, striking viewers with the idea that time is nothing to take for granted.(3)
The Christian worldview is one that recognizes at the deepest level that something about humanity is not temporal. Easter, in fact, is the celebration that this is not just a suspicion, but a reality. Christians believe in eternal dwellings, a day when tears will be no more, and in one who is preparing a house of rooms and welcome.(4) And yet, we also very much live with the distinct experience of these promises within time. Christ is not merely the one who will be with us in all eternity, the one who will dry our eyes at time’s end. Christians believe he is also alive and among us today, welcoming a kingdom that is both present and approaching. “Remember, I am with you always,” ends one of account of the life of Jesus, “even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). For the Christian, all of time is filled with the hope of resurrection, even as it is filled with Christ himself.
Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Between Easter and the End
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4).
When your sins are forgiven, you are a happy person!
Human sorrow is mourning over some tragic or disappointing turn of events. At such times believers are assured of God’s sustaining and comforting grace (2 Cor. 1:3-4). But when Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4), He was referring to godly sorrow, which is mourning over your sin.
“Mourn” in Matthew 5:4 translates the strongest Greek word used in the New Testament to express grief. It is often used of the passionate lament expressed over the loss of a loved one (e.g., Mark 16:10). David was expressing that kind of sorrow over his sin when he wrote, “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer” (Ps. 32:3-4). His grief and despair made him physically ill.
Continue reading John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Mourning Over Your Sin
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. Revelation 21:1
Rita and I like to create fun and interesting family gatherings, so our children and grandchildren can’t wait to get together. Easter is one of those top two or three times throughout the year, we as a family celebrate Jesus’ resurrection at church in worshipful celebration and at our home with a feast and fun activities. One tradition is an Easter egg hunt, but not normal eggs—they are plastic with money inside—one golden egg has $50! The coined eggs are within eyesight, but the dollar filled pastel ovals are hidden. After many hints from “Pop,” the golden egg mystery is solved.
The apostle John describes a new heaven and a new earth devoid of any sea. What does he mean by there was no longer any sea? The sea may be his reference to a symbol of the unknown, a mystery on earth that struck fear in mostly land hugging Jews who saw the sea as an untamed, raging force which could destroy, even kill. Like the distant horizon we only see the mystery of God through dimmed, human limitations. But a new, grander elevation of wisdom accompanies those who go to be with the Lord. In heaven the mystery of God is solved by being with God.
Continue reading Wisdom Hunters – Mystery of God Solved
I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.
Somewhere in an American community today a special school bus is rolling up to a high school to teach students the power of their decisions. It’s called the “Choice Bus,” and the interior is specially outfitted. Half of it looks like a classroom; the other half a jail cell, complete with iron bars, grim bunks, and a bare toilet. Organizers explain to students the dangers of dropping out of school and how our decisions determine our destiny.
Continue reading Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Get on the Bus
May those who delight in my vindication shout for joy and gladness; may they always say, “The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.” —Psalm 35:27 NIV
When you are waiting for your needs to be met, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you are being punished for something you have done wrong in your life. God is merciful, He is good, and He wants your needs to be met. He wants you to have a good job, a decent place to live, transportation to get you where you need to go, good friends, and a great spiritual life.
God wants you to be blessed in every area of your life—spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, financially, and socially.
There are times when we have to wait for the things we want and need, and we should trust God during these times and remain emotionally stable while we are waiting. We all have to wait for things that we want in life. Trust God to be your Vindicator because only He can make wrong things right, and He does so at the right time.
Continue reading Joyce Meyer – God’s Delight
Be kind and loving to each other. Forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ.
Friend to Friend
A little boy went to see the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. When he arrived, he pointed up at the monument and announced to the guard on duty, “I want to buy it.” The guard asked, “How much money do you have?”
The boy reached into his pocket and pulled out a quarter. The guard said, “That is not enough.” The little boy replied, “I thought you would say that” and pulled out nine more cents.
The guard looked down at the small boy and said, “You need to understand three things. First, thirty-four cents is not enough. Second, the Washington Monument has never been, nor will it ever be for sale. Third, if you are an American citizen, then the Washington Monument already belongs to you.”
Continue reading Girlfriends in God – Making the Choice to Forgive
“Don’t be misled; remember that you can’t ignore God and get away with it: a man will always reap just the kind of crop he sows!” (Galatians 6:7).
Steve had just been introduced to this great and exciting law of sowing and reaping. “Is it really true,” he asked, “that I will always reap what I sow – and more than I sow – good or bad?”
I was able to assure him, from the authority of Scripture, from experience of 36 years of walking with Christ and by observing closely the lives of many thousands of Christians with whom I have counseled and worked, that the law of sowing and reaping is just as true and inviolate as the law of gravity.
If you want to judge a man, an American humorist once said, you should not look at him in the face but get behind him and see what he is looking at, what he is sowing.
Continue reading Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Reap What You Sow
Read: Leviticus 6
If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the Lord by deceiving a neighbor about something entrusted to them or left in their care or about something stolen, or if they cheat their neighbor… when they sin in any of these ways and realize their guilt, they must return what they have stolen or taken by extortion… And as a penalty they must bring to the priest, that is, to the Lord, their guilt offering, a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value. Lev 6:2, 4, 6
Here we will deal with the last of the five basic, fundamental human needs represented by the five offerings which God taught the Israelites from the tent of meeting. The guilt offering is the last of these five. This offering is the final one of this series of five because it deals with the relationship of man with man, with how to maintain a workable relationship with our neighbor. This is the offering which teaches us how to restore harmony to broken human relationships.
Continue reading Ray Stedman – The Need To Restore
Read: Mark 2:1-12
He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (v. 5)
The story about the friends digging a hole in a roof to get their paralyzed friend in front of Jesus has become one of the better known and best loved stories in the New Testament. It is so dramatic to see the lengths these friends would go to in order to get their buddy healed. The poor man could not walk! Something had to be done to fix his legs, and the miracle worker Jesus was clearly the right man for the job.
So how weird it must have seemed to have Jesus look at the man and say, “Your sins are forgiven.” What?! Sins? Come on, Jesus, first things first: heal the guy’s limp legs!” The friends hadn’t strained their backs to hoist their friend onto a roof and then down through a hole to get his sins forgiven! Couldn’t Jesus tell what needed to be done here?
Jesus did know of the man’s physical need and he would heal him soon enough. But Jesus knows that a healthy body and well-functioning legs mean nothing if the person in question is not right with God. Sin is the first thing to deal with for all of us. Once grace has forgiven us and restored our relationship with God, then we can move on to other concerns. For Jesus “first things first” meant doing the main event for which he came to earth: to forgive sin and so restore us to a solid relationship with our Creator God.
Forgive our sins as we forgive others, O God.
Author: Scott Hoezee
A little boy watched a sculptor begin chiseling a large block of marble. The sculptor worked meticulously until the slab looked like the face of Abraham Lincoln. “How did you do that?” the little boy asked. The sculptor said with a smile, “All I have to do is chip away everything that doesn’t look like Lincoln.”
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.
Pain, persecution, stress and accusations are some of the struggles that believers in Christ often endure. At the time, it may not be known exactly why the Lord has allowed them. However, the loving Father uses trials to chip away at flaws in character. He uses great care and thoughtfulness so that the end result will look like His Son.
Thank God, the Master Sculptor of your soul, for His work in your life and His dedication to your future. Whatever difficulties are happening with you personally (and in the nation), practice patience and trust that He will do His work carefully and creatively. Pray also that America’s leaders who are Christians will allow their trials to draw them to a closer relationship with the Lord and conform their lives to His purposes.
Recommended Reading: I Peter 1:3-9
“So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.”—Ezekiel 22:30
Most Christians I know are nice, pleasant people. We want to get along with others. We don’t want to offend anyone by saying that something is wrong, because it would be politically incorrect. A lot of times we are afraid to stand out.
That is not how Elijah was, however. When we are first introduced to him in 1 Kings 17, he explodes onto the scene: “And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word’ ” (verse 1).
Continue reading Greg Laurie – Standing in the Gap
“I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.” (Psalm 18:3,6)
Have you ever heard a kitten or a rabbit that was in pain? A rabbit’s scream is a terrible sound. If a rabbit is caught in a bush or a trap, and especially if he is frightened or wounded – or both – he is probably going to scream.
What if you were to hear a call even more desperate than that of a small animal? What if you were to hear a fellow human being call out in distress (in pain or great fear of danger)? Would you answer? What if you were walking along in your neighborhood one day, and what if you were to hear a voice call out, “Help! Somebody – please help!”
Continue reading Kids 4 Truth International – God Cares When We Are Distressed
Today’s Scripture: 2 Corinthians 8:9
“You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Living under the grace of God instead of under a sense of duty frees us from a self-serving motivation. It frees us to obey God and serve him as a loving and thankful response to him for our salvation and for blessings already guaranteed to us by his grace. Consequently, a heartfelt grasp of God’s grace—far from creating an indifferent or careless attitude in us—will actually provide us the only motivation that is pleasing to him. Only when we’re thoroughly convinced that the Christian life is entirely of grace are we able to serve him out of a grateful and loving heart.
I knew a man who was a strict tither, giving exactly 10 percent of his income to God’s work: never one penny less and, as far as I know, never one penny more. I asked him why he did this. He replied, “I’d be afraid not to.” I knew this man fairly well, and I suspect his motivation was mixed. He did somewhat enjoy giving his 10 percent, but his basic motivation was a fear of the consequences if he did not tithe. He was not motivated to tithe from a joyful and grateful heart.
By contrast, the apostle Paul appealed to Christ’s grace as a motivation to give: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). Paul wasn’t “laying a guilt trip” on the Corinthian believers. Rather, he wanted them not only to give generously but to give from a sense of gratitude for God’s grace—as a cheerful, loving response to what God had already given them in Christ.
Today’s Scripture: Daniel 1-3
They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. – Daniel 6:4
Daniel was a young man who, from the world’s point of view, “had it all.” Before the fall of Jerusalem, he was a member of the royal family in Israel. When he was taken captive to Babylon, he was selected for special training in the court of the Babylonian king. Daniel 1:4 describes the qualifications of Daniel and the others selected for this training: “Young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace.”
What a list! I’m sure any major corporation in the world would have been delighted to hire one of these men and make him part of the organization. But other than Daniel and three of his friends, we don’t even know their names. Why? Because they apparently lacked the one major characteristic God looks for, and that He found in Daniel and the other three–a commitment to holiness in the sight of God.
Continue reading The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Devotion to God
“When you talk about Christians restoring the culture,” I’m sometimes asked, “do you mean that we should take over the laws and run society? Because, you know, that’s been tried before, and it didn’t go so well.”
I can understand the confusion. One source of the confusion is that there are some Christians who do propose something like this. Some of them are following the theological ideas of R. J. Rushdoony, who is considered to be a founder of what is known as Christian reconstructionism. Others, just use language like “taking back America” or “conquering the seven mountains of culture.” They seem to imply a sort of Christian takeover of the key segments of culture.
Another source for the confusion is eschatology, or competing visions about the end times. And yet another source would be mainstream media outlets, particularly those on the far left, who are constantly worrying about Christians conspiring to impose a theocracy—typically through a candidate they do not like. (I only wish they had more trouble finding sound bites to support their conspiracy theories).
Continue reading BreakPoint – What Does it Mean for Christians to Take Back the Culture?
Read Colossians 1:24-2:12
Bob Hope quipped, “Middle age is when your age starts to show around your middle.” Our culture tends to value youth and novelty over maturity and experience. When it comes to our spiritual lives, though, maturity is something to be prized. An element of our sanctification and identity should be our maturity
In Colossians 1:28 the apostle Paul describes part of his ministry as strengthening these believers “so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.” The word mature is sometimes translated as “perfect.” Its closest meaning, however, is not our current notion of perfection, which implies a sense of being completely flawless. Rather, this word means a sense of fullness or completion, a theme that occurs again in Colossians 2:2.
Continue reading Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – MATURE IN CHRIST
This is the most absurd, contradictory story I can remember: The current Time magazine cover story reports on the disastrous effects of pornography on those who view it. Yet the magazine’s cover image is so explicit that I warn you not to view it. The image that accompanies the story on page 40 is nearly as graphic. I would not want this magazine near anyone I know.
First, let’s discuss the content of the article. Belinda Luscombe documents the growing number of young men who are convinced that “their sexual responses have been sabotaged because their brains were virtually marinated in porn when they were adolescents.” So they are creating online community groups, smartphone apps, and educational videos designed to help men quit porn. Luscombe observes: “For the first time, some of the most strident alarms are coming from the same demographic as its most enthusiastic customers.”
Many have been worried for years about pornography’s degradation of women and normalization of sexual aggression. British Prime Minister David Cameron has begun the process of requiring porn sites to verify the age of their users or face a fine. The Utah state legislature has unanimously passed a resolution treating porn as a public-health crisis.
Continue reading Denison Forum – DO NOT LOOK AT THE COVER OF ‘TIME’ MAGAZINE