Charles Stanley – Troubled? Try Praise!

Psalms 34

A lot of negative emotions accompany hardship: frustration, despair, fear, and doubt. People ruled by these feelings will often make poor choices. This is why I recommend that you decide now to respond to troubled times the way the psalmist did: with a heart of praise. Even in the darkest hours, worshipping God fills the heart with joy and the mind with peace. A believer who is filled in this way can wisely keep a commitment to obey the Lord no matter what.

Worshipping the Lord enlarges our vision. By doing so, we begin to see how He is at work in the world, perhaps in ways and places we’ve never noticed before. More particularly, we see what God is doing in our situation and detect areas where He requires obedience from us.

Our human tendency is to plot a course through a situation toward the easiest solution. But believers who strike out on their own do not mature in their faith. Moreover, they miss out on the blessings of following the Lord’s plan. Stopping to praise can keep us from taking the easy way out and direct us to the right path—namely, the way of God’s will. Taking a step forward in faith can be frightening. However, we can confidently take a risk, knowing our omniscient, omnipotent God has His children’s best interest in mind (Isa. 64:4; Jer. 29:11).

It’s hard to despair while honoring the Lord for His love and strength. We can dispel doubt by recalling His past faithfulness to us—and ease frustration by committing our future plans to Him. Praise is not the obvious reaction to hardship, but it is the wisest response.

Bible in a Year: 1 Chronicles 7-9

Our Daily Bread — Just What I Need

Read: 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Bible in a Year: 1 Kings 14-15; Luke 22:21-46

We can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. —2 Corinthians 1:4

As I stood in the back of the room at a senior citizens’ center in Palmer, Alaska, listening to my daughter’s high school choir sing “It Is Well with My Soul,” I wondered why she, the choir director, had chosen that song. It had been played at her sister Melissa’s funeral, and Lisa knew it was always tough for me to hear it without having an emotional response.

My musings were interrupted when a man sidled up next to me and said, “This is just what I need to hear.” I introduced myself and then asked why he needed this song. “I lost my son Cameron last week in a motorcycle accident,” he said.

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – To Love a Flower

The poet Emily Dickinson loved her garden. Though famously reclusive, she spent countless hours admiring and caring for her garden of flowers. Many of her poems reflect on her love of the outdoor world even if it only consisted of the wonders of her own yard. She writes whimsically of bees, clover, honey, and the summer grasses that grew green and lush around her Amherst, Massachusetts home. One of Dickinson’s most well-known poems speaks of her garden as the location of worship—with church, preaching, and heaven all represented by creatures in the natural world:

Some keep the Sabbath going to church

I keep it staying at home,

With a bobolink for a chorister,

And an orchard for a dome….

So instead of getting to heaven at last

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John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Love of the Truth Brings Hatred

“‘All these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me’” (John 15:21).

The world, in its general hatred of the truth and ignorance of God, will also hate believers.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ time hated Him intensely. If we are committed to following Him wholeheartedly today, we can’t expect to avoid persecution and hardship any more than He did. In John 15:20 our Lord tells us what to expect: “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”

If our perspective is right, however, this expectation should actually make us happy and even provide a certain sense of security. Receiving persecution from the world because we are Christ’s representatives means we have an opportunity to experience what Paul called “the fellowship of His sufferings” (Phil. 3:10). As one commentator has said, Christian suffering “is the very means God uses to transform us into the image of His Son.” Troubles and pains can be great reassurances that we have been united with Christ.

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Wisdom Hunters – When You Feel That Ache of Dissatisfaction

For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.  Romans 8:19

There is an ache in the heart of every person alive. The farmer in China is well-acquainted with it; the housewife in the United States knows it; the rock star wrestles with it, and the Wall Street investor knows it. The poor sense it, and the rich feel it. Regardless of gender, economic standing, marital status, or any other differentiator of the human race, every person alive feels this ache.  It’s an ache of dissatisfaction that whispers to every soul, “There’s got to be something more.”

According to Ecclesiastes 3:11, this ache is better described as eternity, and God placed it in the human heart. Just as the heavens testify of God’s existence, this human ache of dissatisfaction does the same and it can feel like a burden because we never get away from it. It’s always with us, day after day, moment after moment. We can run away from home, run to another relationship, run to a better career, and that ache is still there whispering to us, “There’s got to be something more.” The great news is that this ache is God’s gift. When we allow it to do its work, it will drive us to the Almighty.

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Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – The Remedy for Loneliness

Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?

John 21:16

Recommended Reading

John 21:15-19

An English newspaper recently ran a story about “Britain’s Most Unloved Dog.” Maggie, who was abandoned in 2003 by a large family that could no longer cope with pets, ended up at a place named Serendipity Kennels. Over the past eleven years, more than 50,000 people looking for a dog have bypassed her. No one has offered to give Maggie a home.

Continue reading Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – The Remedy for Loneliness

Joyce Meyer – A Key to Effective Prayer

I do not call you servants (slaves) any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing (working out). But I have called you My friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from My Father.… —John 15:15

One of the most important keys to effective prayer is approaching God as His friend. When we go to God believing that He sees us as His friends, new wonders are opened to us. We experience new freedom and boldness, which are both things to be extremely grateful for.

If we do not know God as a friend, we will be reluctant to be bold in asking for what we need. But if we go to Him as our friend, without losing our awe of Him, our prayers will stay fresh, exciting, and intimate.

A friendship involves loving and being loved. It means knowing that God is on your side, wanting to help you, cheering you on, and always keeping your best interest in mind. God loves you and desires your friendship!

Prayer of Thanks: Father, I am thankful that You have promised to be my friend. Help me to come to You in prayer, knowing that You love me and You are for me. Thank You, God, that I am never alone. You are my friend, and You are with me.

From the book The Power of Being Thankful by Joyce Meyer.

Girlfriends in God – God Sees You

But I will sing of Your strength, in the morning I will sing of Your love; for You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.

Psalm 59:16

Friend to Friend

I will never forget the first time I took our two-year-old son to the beach. I assumed Jered would take one look at the ocean and make a beeline for the water. We lived in South Florida at the time where many of the people we knew either had a swimming pool or lived on a canal that literally ran through their backyard. Since the tropical climate made it possible for Jered to play outside almost every day of the year, it was not unusual for him to be around water of some kind on a regular basis.

Just to be sure the trip was successful, I did what I thought was a fairly impressive job of preparing Jered for his first beach adventure. We talked and read books about the ocean and watched television shows about going to the beach. We quizzed friends about the best places to go once we got there and, finally, the day came when we actually went to the beach.

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Perfect Harmony

“Most of all, let love guide your life, for then the whole church will stay together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14).

Martha had a very poor self-image. The distress she felt because of her physical appearance was compounded by the guilt of being grossly overweight. She hated herself and was despondent to the point of seriously considering suicide.

I counsel many students and older adults who are not able to accept themselves. Some are weighted down with guilt because of unconfessed sins. Others are not reconciled to their physical handicaps or deformities. Still others feel inferior mentally or socially.

My counsel to such people is this: God loves you and accepts you as you are. The love of God which is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit enables us to love ourselves as God made us. We can be thankful for ourselves, loving ourselves unconditionally as God does, and we can love others unconditionally, too.

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Eternal Comfort

Read: 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

Our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father . . . loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace. (v. 16)

Recently I kept a vigil as a hospice volunteer. The dying man hadn’t shown any signs of consciousness the entire night. Under his right hand he clasped his black leather Holy Bible. I found the tightness of his grip intriguing. It made me think of how we should hold firmly to the word of the Lord.

As I sat by this man’s side, I imagined the invisible flow of the Holy Spirit going up through his arm, into his chest spreading throughout his entire being. The eternal comfort of the Word of God and the hope of heaven can be ours even during the process of dying. God chose us, and cleanses us by our belief in the truth. We can obtain glory in heaven through his wonderful grace. How we need to stand firm and hold to what Scripture has taught us.

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Presidential Prayer Team; J.R.- Boot Camp Blessings

If you decide to become one of “The Few, The Proud, The Marines,” it is not a matter of signing some forms and then shipping off for the battlefront. First, you will go to boot camp – and it’s not likely to be enjoyable. For three months, you will be subjected to all manner of physical duress, mental torment, sleep deprivation, mind games, seemingly pointless procedures and rugged routines. None of this is done out of hatred, but rather to make you a successful Marine and give you the best chance of surviving in combat.

I will turn to you and make you fruitful and multiply you and will confirm my covenant with you.

Leviticus 26:9

Leviticus is a book of rules, many of them unfathomable to the modern mind. But the Israelites were living in a world filled with pagan, demonic practices that saturated everyday life. God wanted to reorient them to a proper worldview so that they could worship Him in holiness. In return for their obedience, He promised life and unparalleled blessings.

The key themes in Leviticus from the Lord: “be holy for I am holy,” and “love your neighbor as yourself.” Today, pray that America’s citizens and leaders will embrace those commands…so that God might pour out His unprecedented blessings on the nation.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 112:1-10

Greg Laurie – Sharing His Message

Paul replied . . . “I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am, except for these chains.”—Acts 26:29

In Acts 26, we find Paul sharing the gospel with King Herod Agrippa and others. We also find some principles that we all can use when sharing our faith:

First, find common ground and build a bridge to your listener. Paul began his defense by saying, “I am fortunate, King Agrippa, that you are the one hearing my defense against all these accusations made by the Jewish leaders, for I know you are an expert on Jewish customs and controversies. Now please listen to me patiently!” This was not flattery on Paul’s part. He was telling the truth. Agrippa was steeped in the ways of the Jews. He knew all about Jewish culture and customs. He could have started by saying, “You are a wicked man, Agrippa. And everyone knows it.” But he didn’t do that. He built a bridge. He was respectful.

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Kids 4 Truth International – God Comforts Those Who Mourn

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)

God used Mandy’s friend Crystal to teach her the meaning of this verse. Mandy was talking to Crystal on the phone one day, and she told Crystal a lie. Mandy lied because she cared more about pleasing Crystal than about pleasing God, and because she wanted to make herself look better than she was. As soon as the lie was out of her mouth, Mandy was shocked and sorry. But she did not tell Crystal she had lied. “What would she think of me if she knew?” Mandy thought. “She might not want to be my friend anymore. I’ll just confess my sin to God. That will be enough.”

But for a few days after that, Mandy was still miserable. She could not stop thinking about the lie. Finally, she wrote Crystal a note. She told Crystal about the lie and asked her to forgive her.

When Crystal got Mandy’s note, she went out of her way to come and find her. Mandy was so ashamed to face her that she began to cry. She felt that she did not deserve to have Crystal’s friendship anymore.

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The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Faith and Holiness

Today’s Scripture: Hebrews 11:8

“By faith Abraham obeyed.”

Obedience to the revealed will of God is often just as much a step of faith as claiming a promise from God. In fact, one of the more intriguing thoughts from the book of Hebrews is the way the writer appears to use obedience and faith interchangeably. He spoke of the Old Testament Hebrews who would never enter God’s rest because they disobeyed (3:18). Yet they were not able to enter because of their unbelief (3:19). This interchange of unbelief and disobedience also occurs later in the book (4:2,6).

The heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 were said to be “still living by faith when they died” (11:13, NIV). But the element of obedience—responding to the will of God—was just as prominent in their lives as was claiming the promises of God. They obeyed by faith. And since obedience is the pathway to holiness—a holy life being essentially an obedient life—we may say that no one will become holy apart from a life of faith. Faith enables us to claim the promises of God, but it also enables us to obey the commands of God.

Continue reading The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Faith and Holiness

The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Watchmen on the Wall

Today’s Scripture: Isaiah 21-23

“When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood.” – Ezekiel 3:18

In Isaiah’s time, watchmen were posted on the city walls or on the hilltops near the city. Their purpose was to stay awake, stay alert, and warn the people of danger. In Isaiah 21:11, we read of a man approaching a watchman and inquiring about the current state of things, “Watchman,” he asks, “what of the night?” And the watchman gives him an answer.

As Christians, this may happen to us. In 1 Peter 3:15, the apostle Peter said, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (KJV). If you are walking in fellowship with Christ each day, you’ll find people coming to you wanting to know why you can cope with things that are dragging them down.

Continue reading The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Watchmen on the Wall

BreakPoint – New Discovery of Light at Conception Should Direct Focus to God’s Creation, Not Ours

God’s active act of creation, as described in Genesis 1, begins with those familiar words “Let there be light,” or, as my Latin-loving colleagues prefer, “fiat lux.”

Throughout the Scriptures, God’s presence and power is associated with light. This is most obviously true in all of the writings the Apostle John. In fact, as 1 John tells us, “God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.”

But this is more than history and metaphor. As it turns out, it’s observable in the microscopic realm as well.

The lead to a recent article in the U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper sums up a remarkable discovery by researchers at Northwestern University near Chicago: “Human life begins in bright flash of light as a sperm meets an egg, scientists have shown for the first time, after capturing the astonishing ‘fireworks’ on film. An explosion of tiny sparks erupts from the egg at the exact moment of conception.”

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – THE CHURCH MUST FOLLOW CHRIST AS ITS TRUE LEADER

Read 1 Corinthians 1:10-17

Sports fans love to show their devotion. They buy overpriced jerseys, sit on hard bleacher seats, and shout at the top of their lungs to show their support for their favorite team and their disdain for opponents. Even watching at home, they might share enthusiastic opinions about the game with the television set or friends on social media.

In the right context, pursued with sportsmanship and in good fun, it’s fine to be a fan. But the Corinthians were acting like sports fans in church! They had divided into fan clubs, each supporting a different leader, and in forming these factions they had lost sight of the true nature and purpose of the church. The church belongs to Christ alone. He alone is its Head (see Col. 1:18). In unity, we must follow Him alone as our true leader (v. 10).

The Corinthians were guilty of disunity due to their quarreling over who among Paul, Apollos, or Peter was the best (vv. 11–12). They had somehow forgotten that these men were all on the same side—Christ’s side. Neither Paul nor any of the others had tried to recruit personal disciples at one another’s expense, as a pagan orator in Corinth might have done. Instead, they were dedicated to the cause of the gospel— Christ’s gospel (v. 13).

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A massive teacher sickout shut down ninety-four Detroit public schools yesterday. The teachers have been told that unless the state Legislature approves more money for their district, there are not enough funds to pay the teachers their salaries past June 30.

The teachers’ union clearly believes their action will motivate legislators to approve an education reform package being debated in the Michigan House of Representatives. The state’s governor disagrees: “That’s not a constructive act with respect to getting legislation through.”

If you were a teacher in Detroit, what would you do?

This is not an isolated situation. According to New York Times columnist David Brooks, the popularity of the Trump and Sanders campaigns “has reminded us how much pain there is in this country.” He notes that the suicide rate has surged to a thirty-year high. A record number of Americans believe the American dream is out of reach, while social trust for millennials is at historic lows.