Charles Stanley – It Is Good to Be Afflicted

Psalm 119:71-76

The psalmist rejoiced in affliction because trials added to his knowledge of God. Lessons in the Lord’s constancy, grace, and provision were more valuable to him than a sack full of gold and silver. Hardship also enriched his heart and spirit.

Affliction acts as spiritual fertilizer on a believer’s faith. Consider how David’s radical pursuit of the Lord developed while he was running from a murderous king. The years between his victory over Goliath and his ascension to the throne were physically demanding and emotionally draining. Yet the challenges that David faced molded him into a wise leader, a cunning warrior, and a humble servant of the Lord.

Psalms 4 and 13 reveal that David’s struggles taught him dependence on God, perseverance, and many other valuable spiritual traits. The Lord also provided comfort even as He stretched the warrior-poet’s faith (Ps. 86:17). As God intended, David’s words continue to offer solace to others who must walk through trials and misery.

By means of affliction, God molds His children into comfort carriers. (See 2 Cor. 1:4.) The message we share with others is the one we learned in our own trials: God is enough. He’s sufficient to meet our needs when the pit is deep, the obstacle high, and the suffering prolonged. Moreover, our own lives prove that no matter the circumstance, God is faithful.

Those whom God leads to triumph over affliction become the fragrance of His care to a hurting world (2 Cor. 2:14). We carry cheer to the discouraged, relief to the hurting, and the message of Christ’s love to all.

Bible in a Year: Job 22-25

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread  – Broken to Be Made New

Read: Psalm 119:71–75 | Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 25–27; John 16

I know, Lord, that your laws are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me. Psalm 119:75

During World War II my dad served with the US Army in the South Pacific. During that time Dad rejected any idea of religion, saying, “I don’t need a crutch.” Yet the day came when his attitude toward spiritual things would change forever. Mom had gone into labor with their third child, and my brother and I went to bed with the excitement of soon seeing our new brother or sister. When I got out of bed the next morning, I excitedly asked Dad, “Is it a boy or a girl?” He replied, “It was a little girl but she was born dead.” We began to weep together at our loss.

For the first time, Dad took his broken heart to Jesus in prayer. At that moment he felt an overwhelming sense of peace and comfort from God, though his daughter would always be irreplaceable. Soon he began to take an interest in the Bible and continued to pray to the One who was healing his broken heart. His faith grew through the years. He became a strong follower of Jesus—serving Him as a Bible-study teacher and a leader in his church.

Brokenness can lead to wholeness.

Jesus is not a crutch for the weak. He is the source of new spiritual life! When we’re broken, He can make us new and whole (Ps. 119:75).

What is on your heart that you need to talk with God about? Bring Him your brokenness and ask Him to make you whole.

Brokenness can lead to wholeness.

INSIGHT:

A commonly understood characteristic of Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, is that it celebrates the goodness and usefulness of God’s commandments. Referring to these laws by various names, the author suggests that God’s commands are the very core of how life is meant to be lived. The thought is simple yet intriguing—God’s laws help us to live in the way that we were created and intended to live. They are not restrictive; they are freeing. That helps us understand why the psalmist had such a high regard of God’s laws.

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Foreign Hopes

Traveling through the fields of her own country in the midst of a great famine, a young woman named Ruth became a widow. Yet though her family would have been nearby to help, she chose to follow her mother-in-law to another land. And thus, to her already diminished role as widow, she added the disparaging status of “foreigner.”

I have not spent much of my life as a foreigner, though my short bouts with being a cultural outsider remind me of the difficulty and frustration of always feeling on the outside of the circle. Just as the distance between outside and inside seems to be closing, something happens or something is said and you are reminded again that you don’t really belong. It can be both humbling and humiliating to always carry with you the sober thought: I am out of place.

This story from the book of Ruth scarcely neglects an opportunity to point out this reality for Ruth. Long after hearers of the story are well acquainted with who Ruth is and where she is from, long after she is living in the land of Judah, she is still referred to as “Ruth the Moabite” or even merely “the Moabite woman.” Her perpetual status as an outsider brings to mind the vision of Keats, and the “song that found a path/ through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home/ She stood in tears amid the alien corn.” She stood in strange and foreign fields and was forever being reminded that she was the stranger.

And yet, while she was undoubtedly as aware of being a foreigner as much as those around her were aware of it, Ruth did nothing to suggest a longing to return to Moab. Her words and actions in Judah are as steadfast as her initial vow to her mother-in-law, Naomi: “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried.”(1)

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Foreign Hopes

John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Integrity Enjoys God’s Favor

“Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials” (Daniel 1:9).

God’s favor is the rich reward of obedience.

God delights in granting special grace and favor to those whose hearts are set on pleasing Him. For example, “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” and was spared the ravages of the Flood (Gen. 6:8). Joseph found favor in His sight and was elevated to prominence in Egypt (Gen. 39—41). God granted Moses and the children of Israel favor in the sight of the Egyptians, and they were able to plunder Egypt in the Exodus (Ex. 11:3; 12:36).

When Daniel chose to obey God by not defiling himself with the king’s special diet (Dan. 1:8), he demonstrated great courage and integrity. God responded by granting him favor and compassion in the sight of Ashpenaz, the commander of the king’s officials. The Hebrew word translated “favor” speaks of goodness or kindness. It can also include a strong affection from deep within. “Compassion” means a tender, unfailing love. Together these words tell us that God established a special relationship between Ashpenaz and Daniel that not only protected Daniel from harm in this instance, but also helped prepare him for his future role as a man of enormous influence in Babylon.

Today God’s favor is the special grace He grants His children in times of need. It is especially evident when their obedience brings persecution. The apostle Peter wrote, “This finds favor [grace], if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. . . . If when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor [grace] with God” (1 Peter 2:19-20).

Daniel knew that refusing the king’s special diet could lead to serious consequences, but he was more interested in obeying God’s Word than avoiding man’s punishment. He had the right priorities, and God honored his obedience, just as He will honor yours.

Suggestions for Prayer

Let the prayer of Moses be yours today: “Let me know Thy ways, that I may know Thee, so that I may find favor in Thy sight” (Ex. 33:13).

For Further Study

Read Genesis 39. What were the results of God’s favor upon Joseph?

http://www.gty.org

Wisdom Hunters – God’s Covenant of Love Requires Wholehearted Devotion

Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today. 2 Chronicles 6:14-15

I recently served and shared with a group of friends at a Souly Business men’s conference north of Ottawa, Canada. The Christian camp was spectacular—surrounded by lakes, trees and the rolling countryside, but what captured my heart was the genuine and wholehearted devotion of the men of Ottawa. These men of God burned with a loving and obedient heart for Jesus. As evidence, during the 48 hours together: families were healed, souls were saved, forgiveness went viral and courage was instilled by the Lord’s love and by a community of eager disciples.

Solomon prayed gratefully and boldly as a result of the covenant of love the Lord had made with his father David. In humility he sought the Lord, and as a servant thanked Him for keeping His promise to his father and servant David—everyone praised God and celebrated the fulfillment of the Temple’s completion. Because Solomon continued his dad’s legacy of wholehearted devotion to the Almighty—God blessed his efforts. The Lord’s covenant of love is a two way response—His covenant is certain, but it is conditional on His people’s obedience. Love requires devotion.

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments”  (Deuteronomy 7:9).

How do you express your wholehearted devotion to the Lord? Your joyful obedience in the little things in life, qualify you to be trusted with life’s larger opportunities. For example, your follow through on the introduction of two mutual friends who could benefit from meeting each other is a test in keeping your word. Completing a report deadline or arriving early to a meeting are tests in valuing another person’s time. You can be sure your devotion to Jesus is wholehearted, when you treat others like Jesus: respectful, kind, gentle, truthful, hopeful, patient and loving.

Continue reading Wisdom Hunters – God’s Covenant of Love Requires Wholehearted Devotion

Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Never Alone

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4

Recommended Reading

Joshua 1:5-9

There are many Baptist congregations today in Myanmar that trace their lineage to the work of missionary Adoniram Judson. He translated the Bible and created a dictionary to establish literacy. But in spite of his kingdom work, Adoniram Judson died alone, at sea, in 1850. Accompanied by one friend, Judson was sailing in search of medical help for himself. Dying before reaching the help he needed, Judson was buried at sea.

Did Adoniram Judson really die alone? He could have been the only person on the ship and still he would not have been alone. He would have echoed the words of David who passed by himself through his own “valley of the shadow of death”: “You are with me.” We will inevitably find ourselves alone at some point in life. But a Christian can be alone without being lonely. Feelings of loneliness should not deceive us into thinking no one is with us. The presence of God, based on the promises in His Word, means we are never truly alone.

If you are by yourself—or feel like you are—reach out to the One who has promised never to leave you or forsake you.

The problem with being an atheist is you have no one to talk to when you’re alone.

Unknown

Read-Thru-the-Bible

Psalms 1 – 8

http://www.davidjeremiah.org/

Joyce Meyer – True Satisfaction

But He replied, It has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.—Matthew 4:4 AMPC

I don’t think there is anything better than just to be satisfied. To wake up in the morning and think, Life is good; praise God, I’m satisfied, and to go to bed at night still satisfied is truly living abundantly. On the other hand, I don’t think there is anything much worse than living in a low-level state of dissatisfaction all the time.

Here is a spiritual reality check: No matter what you own, where you go, or what you do, nothing can give you true gratification besides the close, personal, intimate presence of God. Money, trips, vacations, clothes, new opportunities, new furniture and new houses, and getting married and having children are all things that can give us a degree of happiness. But we will never be permanently, consistently satisfied if we seek things to own or do in order to quench the empty void inside us.

There are many unhappy believers who live unfulfilled lives because they are seeking the wrong thing! Don’t miss out on a close, intimate relationship with God because you’re seeking the gift instead of the Giver.

The things of the world cannot truly satisfy. Always look to God first and He will satisfy the desires of your heart.

From the book Closer to God Each Day by Joyce Meyer.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Girlfriends in God – How’s Your Heart?

Part 1

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:19

Friend to Friend

It had been a very long day. My husband and I were both tired and looking forward to a good night’s sleep – but we needed to talk. We didn’t have any major concerns or problems to discuss; we just wanted to catch up on life and unwind a little bit.

Dan was telling me about his day when he suddenly stopped, looked around and asked, “What was that beeping sound?” I hadn’t heard anything but suggested that the smoke detector battery probably needed replacing.

“It was a different kind of beeping,” Dan insisted. We listened – nothing. We turned out the lights and went to sleep, and I forgot all about the elusive beeping.

When Dan came home from work the next day, he grinned and said, “I figured out what that beeping sound was.” Since he had been at the church office all day, I was a little more than curious as to how he had managed to solve the mystery. “My defibrillator is beeping, which means that the battery is running out and needs to be replaced.” Why the man was grinning was beyond me, but it probably had something to do with the fact that he had solved the puzzle rather than dealing with another heart issue. We eat those for breakfast!

Dan has battled heart rhythm problems for years. In 2006, he went into cardiac arrest and became the proud owner of a defibrillator/pacemaker that keeps his heart in rhythm. The cardiologist told us that the battery would eventually have to be replaced, but we hadn’t given it much thought – until the unit started beeping.

Continue reading Girlfriends in God – How’s Your Heart?

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Everything Is Possible

“Jesus looked at them intently, then said, ‘Without God, it is utterly impossible. But with God everything is possible'” (Mark 10:27).

“An hour in prayer can give the believer enough power to overcome the second most powerful force in the universe,” sagely declared an anonymous observer.

God’s Word gives us many “exceeding great and precious promises” that confirm the truth of this wise observation – and the truth of the scriptural promise that with God everything is possible. One of these precious promises declares, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31,KJV).

Sometimes renewed strength – spiritual strength, God’s strength – is all we need to face the problem or difficulty or testing or trial that confronts us.

In the gigantic tasks God has given us to do in the work of Campus Crusade for Christ, often it is the confirmed realization that with God everything is possible that keeps us going on, trusting God to do that which no man could possibly do.

God’s indwelling Holy Spirit, making possible the supernatural life, constantly empowers and enables us to reach out and attempt great and mighty things for God – always an outreach that involves the needs of others more than our own personal needs, as great as they may seem to be at times.

Bible Reading: Mark 10:23-27

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: “Dear Lord, give me a heart like Yours – one that reaches out to the ends of the earth, and the end of the block, with the good news of the gospel, always believing that nothing is impossible with Your help.”

http://www.cru.org

Ray Stedman – A Cry of Hope

Read: Luke 11:2-4

He said to them, When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Luke 11:2c

The third cry of true prayer, again concerned with God, is a cry of hope, Your kingdom come. Now this can be a sigh for heaven. Who of us does not get homesick for heaven once in a while, longing to be free from the boredom of life and to experience the glory we read of in the Bible. Or this can be, as it ought to be, a cry for heaven to come to earth. That is, Your kingdom come, meaning, may the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. There is much in Scripture about this, and who of us does not weary of the sickening senselessness of war and poverty, and misery and human despair, and long for that day to come when God shall rule in righteousness over all the earth?

But I think this prayer is more than that. It is more than a long, wistful look into the future, whether on earth, or off earth. It is a cry that God’s will may be done through, and by means of, the blood and sweat and tears of life, right now. That is, Your kingdom come through what I am going through at this very moment. That is what this prayer means. Scripture reveals to us a truth that man would never know by himself, but which becomes self-evident as we look at life through the lenses of the Word of God, and that is that God builds his kingdom in secret, so to speak. When it is least evident that he is at work this is frequently the time when he is accomplishing the most. Behind the scaffolding of tragedy and despair, God frequently is erecting his empire of love and glory. In these trials, hardships, disappointments, heartbreak and disasters, when we think God is silent, and when we have been abandoned, when we feel God has removed his hand and we no longer sense the friendship of his presence, God frequently is accomplishing the greatest things of all.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – A Cry of Hope

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Known and not alone

Psalm 139

Where shall I go from your Spirit? (v. 7)

Not only does this psalm offer a beautiful image about how we are known even before birth by our Creator, it also assures us that the Creator does not simply turn us loose to fend for ourselves throughout our lives. The God who made us is the God who remains our companion for all our days. At the heights of joy and even at the depths where we are beset by evil, says the psalmist, God’s Spirit is there with us. Whether we’re living through heaven on earth or hell on earth, God is accompanying us. At times, it can be difficult to perceive that a loving God is really there, watching over our comings and goings. “Where were you when . . . ?” we may ask God, with no easy answers.

Sometimes in hindsight we see where and how God was present with us in the valley of the shadow of death. One way that we often experience God’s presence is through the actions of others. “Everyone came out of the woodwork,” parents often tell me when sharing the story of how their families and communities and even strangers responded to a child’s life-threatening diagnosis. Human kindness can be a beacon of God’s loving presence for those who may be feeling abandoned by God in the midst of a difficult time. In whose life can your simple gestures and heartfelt words of support begin to mean so much?

Jessica Bratt Carle

https://woh.org/

Greg Laurie – It Begins—and Ends—with God

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”—Isaiah 55:8–9

Why does God allow tragedy? I’ve heard this question asked in many different versions, including these: Why would God allow wars to rage, killing innocent people? What about injustices in the world? Why are there epidemics? Why do horrible things happen? To the point, if God can prevent terrible tragedies, then why does He allow them to happen in the first place?

Let’s take a look at the core question first: If God is good and loving, why does He allow evil? The very question is based on a false premise. It’s essentially saying that God doesn’t necessarily meet our criteria for goodness. In essence, we’re making ourselves the moral centers of the universe.

God doesn’t become good because we think He is good or if our opinion of Him is good. God is good because God says He is good. Jesus said, “No one is good but One, that is, God” (Luke 18:19). God is good whether we believe it or not. God—and He alone—is the final court of arbitration. The Bible says, “Let God be true but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).

That brings us to the question of what is good. Good is whatever God approves. It is not what you think is good. It is not what I think is good. It is not what we vote on as good. If God says it is good, then it is good. And if God says it is bad, then it is bad. Everything begins with God and ends with God.

As Isaiah 55:8–9 points out, God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts. God’s ways are above our ways. There is no higher standard of goodness than God’s own character and His approval of whatever is consistent with that character. God is good. Period.

https://www.harvest.org/

Kids 4 Truth International – God Is King

“The LORD is King for ever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land.” (Psalm 10:16)

“I’m king of the mountain!” shouted Sammy, as his younger siblings scrambled up the huge mound of dirt to dethrone him. The Rettus children were spending an afternoon playing King of the Mountain. To be king of the mountain, one person had to stand on the top of a designated mountain (a pile of snow, a sand dune, or a mound of dirt) without letting his siblings push him down. Whoever was the lone person on top of the mountain was king, ruling over all the others.

Scripture tells us that God is King. He is King of all the earth (Psalm 47:7); He is King above all gods (Psalm 95:5); He is King forever (Psalm 10:16); He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16). God reigns over all, and no man can overthrown His rule.

When playing King of the Mountain, the younger Rettus children would plot to overthrow Sammy. Danny and Joey would use dirt bombs and large reeds to distract him, while the Jon would charge up to overthrow the king. But no matter how hard they tried, Sammy usually ended up on the top of the mound shouting, “I’m king of the mountain!”

Wicked men live their lives as though God could be overthrown. It’s like they’re throwing dirt bombs and using sticks to try to defeat God – the King over all. They attempt to fight against God. But in the end, God will always be king, and the wicked will perish for eternity.

Do you serve God as your King? Or do you live in rebellion under His rule? Do you humbly follow His commands in Scripture to obey your parents (Ephesians 6:1), to love your enemies (Matthew 5:44), and to submit to authority (Hebrews 13:17), or do you ignore His Word? Each day you have a choice: you can live in submission to God your King, or you can live in rebellion against the King of all the earth.

Because God is king, you must submit to His rule.

My Response:

» Do I obey God as my King? Do I follow all of His commandments?

http://kids4truth.com/home.aspx

The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Accepted in the Beloved

Today’s Scripture: John 17:4

“I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.”

Many Christians grew up in homes where parental acceptance was largely based on academic, athletic, musical, or perhaps some other standard of achievement. Often they never quite felt as if they measured up to expectations, regardless of how successful they were. Then they transfer that sense of inadequacy to their relationship with God. They continually wonder: Is God pleased with me? Is He smiling on me with Fatherly favor?

The answer to that question is an unqualified yes. God is smiling on you with Fatherly favor. He is pleased with you because he sees you as holy and without blemish in Christ. Do you want to talk about performance? Then consider that Jesus could say matter-of-factly and without any pretentiousness, “I always do the things that are pleasing to him” (John 8:29).

When our Father looks at us, he does not see our miserable performance. Instead, he sees the perfect performance of Jesus. And because of the perfect holiness of Jesus, he sees us as holy and without blemish.

I like the translation of Ephesians 1:6 in the King James Version: “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Or to be more direct, God has made us acceptable to himself through our union with Christ. You will never be accepted in yourself. You can never, to use a figure of speech, “scrub yourself clean.”

We never reach the point where we can look inside ourselves to find the holiness we need to stand before a holy God. But God in his grace has provided a perfect holiness in the person of his Son. Through our union with him we have been made holy. (Excerpt taken from Transforming Grace)

https://www.navigators.org/Home

The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Man’s Nature

Today’s Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5

You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet. – Hebrews 2:7

What does the Bible say is the basic nature of man? He was created in the image and likeness of God, God breathed into him the breath of life, and man became a living soul. Put it all together and you find a person with a moral nature, intellect, and the ability to make decisions–a will that enables him to say yes and no.

When God created man, He used both visible and invisible material. He used both dust and the breath of life. The New Testament refers to this in 2 Corinthians 4:16: “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” Earlier in the same chapter, Paul spoke of the glory of God, “a treasure in jars of clay” (4:7). The material part of man–the jars of clay–house the treasure of the life of God. While the body quickly returns to dust, man’s soul and spirit is immortal. The awesome thing about this is that you and I are called upon by the Lord to help bring the immortal souls of others back to God who made them. We are to help direct our friends and neighbors back to the arms of a loving God who, in turn, yearns for their love.

God has done His part. He sent His Son to die on the cross to redeem the lost. Now He turns to us and charges us with the commission to help people find the way home, that their souls might find eternal rest.

Prayer

Lord, help me live with eternity in view by telling as many people as possible how they can live forever in Your presence. Amen.

To Ponder

Who has God impressed on your heart today?

https://www.navigators.org/Home

BreakPoint –  ‘The Faith of Christopher Hitchens’: New Book Recounts Surprising Friendship

A new book with a provocative title is sending shock waves through both the Christian and atheist communities. In “The Faith of Christopher Hitchens,” writer and commentator Larry Alex Taunton recounts his friendship with one of the most prominent and outspoken atheists—not to mention intellectual giants—of our time.

There is a lot to say about this book, and I’m not going to try to say it all in one program. Tomorrow I’ll talk about the firestorm ignited by this outstanding book and do my part to set the record straight.

But today I want to tell you about why you’ve got to read “The Faith of Christopher Hitchens” for yourself. It’s a story about a deeply remarkable friendship, a story that can teach all of us how to reach past barriers and show what genuine Christian love looks like.

Taunton first met Hitchens in 2008, when, as director of Fixed Point Ministries, he helped to set up a debate between Hitchens and the great Christian Oxford professor John Lennox. At that first meeting, Taunton recalls, “Our rapport was immediate.” Taunton, who had expected to find the author of “God Is Not Great” a bitter, angry man, was surprised to find himself drawn to Hitchens’ humor, thoughtfulness, and honesty.

Hitchens seems to have appreciated the same qualities in Taunton. It was the beginning of a friendship that would find the two men doing more events together, getting to know and like each others’ families, and even taking long car trips together, during which they discussed (among other things) the Gospel of John.

In public, they debated passionately about faith; in private, they often continued the debating, but they also simply enjoyed each other’s company.

Taunton does not gloss over their differences. He had serious reservations about some of Hitchens’ ideas and actions. But as he writes in the prologue to the book, “I speak exclusively to Christians when I say this: how are we to proclaim our faith if we cannot even build bridges with those who do not share it?” Friendship, he goes on to point out, is “one of the greatest of all redemptive themes.” Especially the kind of friendship that he’s describing here: the kind where friends are open with each other and challenge each other.

Continue reading BreakPoint –  ‘The Faith of Christopher Hitchens’: New Book Recounts Surprising Friendship

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – NOAH AND HIS SONS

Read Genesis 9:18-29

Ernest Hemingway was raised in a Christian home. So was pop superstar Katy Perry and best-selling author Bart Ehrman. Atheists such as Richard Dawkins sometimes claim people have faith only because of their family background, but plenty of evidence demonstrates that belief is not passed to the next generation like hair color. The faith of a father or mother does not automatically guarantee that their children will believe.

Noah’s family is one of many biblical examples of this. Noah experienced grace, but his son Ham rejected God’s truth.

It’s important to see that the experience of grace did not make Noah perfect. He behaved scandalously by becoming drunk and passing out unclothed in his tent. Some scholars have suggested that Noah behaved this way out of ignorance, arguing the phrase “proceeded to plant” implies that this was his first experience with wine. The biblical text includes the reaction of Shem and Japheth, however, to suggest that Noah’s behavior was shameful. Unlike his brothers, Ham sinned by failing to show his father respect (v. 22).

The focus of the passage is on the curse and blessings that follow. Noah’s curse foreshadowed the struggle between Israel (descended from Shem) and the inhabitants of Canaan (vv. 25– 26). God had spared a remnant from the Flood, but sin and discord would still characterize human relationships. Some have suggested that the curse on Canaan implies that he might have been complicit in this incident. It at least suggests that Ham’s son was already following in his father’s footsteps.

The entrance of grace into a family is no guarantee that everyone will walk in faith. Even those who experience God’s grace sometimes fall. It is natural to be disappointed when this happens, but we should not be shocked.

APPLY THE WORD

One way to deal with the collateral damage that sin creates in family life is by covering sin. This is not the same thing as denying or ignoring sin. The grace of covering is the decision to follow this exhortation from Scripture: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:13).

http://www.todayintheword.org

Denison Forum – MUHAMMAD ALI AND GOOD NEWS IN THE MUSLIM WORLD  

The date was October 29, 1974. My brother and I were in Houston’s Astrodome along with 50,000 others, there to watch a closed circuit telecast of Muhammad Ali’s fight with George Foreman. Even though Houston was Foreman’s hometown, ninety percent of the crowd chanted “Ali! Ali! Ali!” through the entire fight.

Such was the global celebrity of Muhammad Ali. As the world knows, Ali died last Friday at the age of 74. Testimonials about his life and significance made global headlines across the weekend. Born Cassius Clay, he converted to the Nation of Islam in the early 1960s and to Sunni Islam in 1975. He was perhaps the most famous American convert to Islam in our nation’s history. (For more on Ali, see Nick Pitts’s The Fight and Faith of Muhammad Ali.)

As many as 20,000 Americans convert to Islam every year. However, it is estimated that seventy-five percent of new Muslim converts in the U.S. leave Islam within five years. Meanwhile, more Muslims are coming to Christ than ever before, many after seeing visions and dreams of Jesus. (For more, see my friend Tom Doyle’s excellent book, Dreams and Visions.)

Muslim authorities in Indonesia are warning that two million Muslims in their country convert to Christianity every year. At this rate, the world’s largest Muslim nation will be mostly Christian by 2035. Over six million Muslims in Africa convert to Christianity every year. More Muslims around the world have become Christians in the last fifteen years than in the previous fifteen centuries.

Here’s how you can help.

Continue reading Denison Forum – MUHAMMAD ALI AND GOOD NEWS IN THE MUSLIM WORLD