Charles Stanley – The Struggle With Temptation

1 Corinthians 10:13

No matter what specific form temptation takes in our lives, the enemy uses a fairly standard process to get us off track. And it is as effective as ever.

First, we begin to think about the object of our desire. We play with it in our mind, imagining how we would feel if it were ours. Isn’t it interesting that no matter how many blessings God has showered upon us, we always seem to focus on the one thing we do not have! We must ask ourselves, Could the enemy be trying to redirect my focus?

Remember, Satan wants to alienate us from the Lord. If he can get us to take our eyes off God and instead fix our attention on what we feel we’re lacking, then he can lead us to temptation.

Next, the thought builds until it finally gives way to full-blown desire. This intense longing is the culmination of our imaginings. We’re no longer content simply to enjoy the object in our mind; now, we must actually have it.

Finally, the desire leads to a choice. Here is where we make the decision, Will I give in to this sin, or will I lay it down and submit to the Lord’s will for my life?

Through the Holy Spirit’s power, we have the ability to walk away at any point in the process of temptation. We are never helpless to defuse the situation, no matter how much momentum has built up.

Do you ever feel as if you are powerless to stop a growing temptation in your life? Understanding the nature of this progressive process can help you to stand firm against the enemy’s tactics.

Bible in a Year: Proverbs 1-4

 

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Our Daily Bread — Our Chief Task

Read: Matthew 7:12–23 | Bible in a Year: Job 36–37; Acts 15:22–41

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

When a British scholar called on the world’s religions to work together for worldwide unity, people everywhere applauded. Pointing out that the major religions share a belief in the Golden Rule, she suggested, “The chief task of our time is to build a global society where people of all persuasions can live together in peace and harmony.”

Jesus cited the Golden Rule in His Sermon on the Mount: “Do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matt. 7:12). In the same sermon, He said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (5:44). Putting those radical commands into practice would indeed go a long way toward peace and harmony. But immediately following the Golden Rule, Jesus called for discernment. “Watch out for false prophets,” He warned. “They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (7:15).

Our respect for others is vital to winning their respect.

Respect for others and discernment of the truth go hand in hand. If we have the truth, we have a message worth telling. But God extends to everyone the freedom to choose Him or reject Him. Our responsibility is to lovingly present the truth and respect the personal choice of others just as God does.

Our respect for others is vital to winning their respect. It’s an important step in gaining an opportunity to convey the message of Jesus, who said, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

Father in heaven, help us to see each individual as uniquely made in Your image and worthy of our love and respect. Show Your love through our lives in some small way today.

Love people; love the truth.

INSIGHT:

Today’s reading comes from what we call the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5–7). This was His first major teaching address and captured many of the values that are to be characteristic of a wisely lived life. Beginning with the Beatitudes (5:3–12), Christ expressed principles on witness (5:13–16), the law (5:17–20), relationships with people (5:21–48), relationship with God (6:1–18), attitudes toward possessions and needs (6:19–34), the need for self-examination (7:1–6), trust in God (7:7–14), and spiritual dangers (7:15–29). The Sermon on the Mount is a masterpiece of preaching, and its truths are timeless.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Image of True Humanity

“What does it mean to be human?” has been the inquiring theme of more than a few journals, conferences, and special reports. It is a question that is considered from anthropological, theological, and biological perspectives, from within medical, ethical, social, and spiritual circles. Yet regardless of the examiner, any plumbing of the depths of the nature of humanity is a discovery that the implications are as far-reaching and intricate as the subject itself.

Generation after generation, voices that have spoken to the question of human nature often reflect something of the paradoxical character of humanity. Plato described human life in terms of the dualistic qualities he observed. While the mind is representative of the intellectual soul, the stomach is an appetitive beast that must be tamed. In terms less dividing of mind and body, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote of the human propensity for both compassion and cruelty at once. “The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.”(1) Speaking in the 17th century, Blaise Pascal made note of further dueling extremes present within humanity. “For after all, what is man in nature? A nothing in relation to infinity, all in relation to nothing, a central point between nothing and all—and infinitely far from understanding either… He is equally incapable of seeing the nothingness out of which he was drawn and the infinite in which he is engulfed.”(2)

What does it mean to be human? The seeming paradoxes in and around us make the question difficult to answer. We may sense at times within us contradiction and inconsistency—a desire to be a good friend beside the wherewithal to manipulate, the intention to be a good neighbor beside the tendency to walk away without helping. I find it quite reminiscent of Aslan’s response to the children in Prince Caspian: “‘You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve,’ said Aslan. ‘And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor in earth.’”(3)

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John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Joy in God

“We also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (Romans 5:11).

The final link in the chain that eternally binds believers to Christ is their joy or exultation in God.

Perhaps nowhere outside of Scripture has Christian joy been expressed more beautifully than in these stanzas from Charles Wesley’s hymn “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing”:

O for a thousand tongues to sing

My great Redeemer’s praise,

The glories of my God and King,

The triumphs of His grace!

Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb,

Your loosened tongues employ;

Ye blind, behold your Savior come;

And leap, ye lame for joy!

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Wisdom Hunters – Job Transition: Leave or Stay / Hire or Fire

So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left. Genesis 13:8-9

No one works at the same place forever, they eventually move on or die. A person may feel their effectiveness in their current role at work has run its course—they are bored—and unless another opportunity opens up in the same organization they will transition out to a more challenging call. Hiring and firing resembles the same tension as leaving or staying. The latter represents the employee, and the former the employer. I am not the best hirer because I like people to like me, but often I need to hire team members gifted differently than me. So I am learning to trust seasoned staff to help me interview and select new employees. It’s so much wiser to hire slow and fire fast.

Abram and Lot found themselves in a dilemma: In today’s terms they were “running out of office space.” The growth of their family business forced them to make a relocation decision—so they decided to divide up their assets and go their separate ways. Lot deferred to and honored his uncle Abram, the more experienced, to define their disengagement choices and Lot selected which option he thought best for his family and work. He chose the well watered, green valley in the east and pitched his tent toward a sinful people, while Abram settled in Canaan and built an altar to God.

“If he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials” (2 Peter 2:7-9).

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Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Mortar for Living Stones

Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.

1 Corinthians 14:26

Recommended Reading

1 Corinthians 3:16-17

To understand edification, go back to the Old Testament building of the tabernacle in the wilderness: “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8, NIV). The Hebrews were instructed to build a dwelling place for God. Fast forward to 1 Corinthians 3:16-17: “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst . . . God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple” (NIV).

Edification means a building or the act of building. Just as the Israelites built a tabernacle as God’s dwelling place, so the Church is the “building” we are constructing until Christ returns. And how do we build the Church? With God’s wisdom by His Word and Spirit. In short, the truth of God is the “mortar” that binds the “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5) of the Church together. As we learn, apply, and share God’s truth with each other, God’s “building,” the Church, gets stronger.

Are you mixing the mortar? Are you walking in the truth, applying the truth to your life and the lives of others? Ours is a sacred task, a sacred temple.

If you build upon yourself your edifice will be a mere ruin.

Augustine

Read-Thru-the-Bible

Proverbs 27 – 29

 

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Joyce Meyer – The Heart of an Eagle

That is why I would remind you to stir up (rekindle the embers of, fan the flame of, and keep burning) the [gracious] gift of God, [the inner fire] that is in you.—2 Timothy 1:6

Do you ever feel like an eagle in a chicken yard? You know in your heart that there is much more within you than you are experiencing and expressing in your life right now. You feel certain God has a great purpose for your life—and you cannot escape or ignore the inner urge to “go for it.”

I encourage you today to fan the flame inside you. Fan it until it burns brightly. Never give up on the greatness for which you were created, and never try to hide your uniqueness. Instead, be thankful for it, and be thankful that God has something special in store. Realize your hunger for adventure is God-given; wanting to try something new is a wonderful desire; and embracing life and aiming high is what you were made for. You are an eagle!

Prayer of Thanks: Father, thank You for the dreams and desires You have placed in my heart. Thank You that You have a destiny for me. Today, I will dare to dream of all the wonderful things You have in Your plan for my life.

From the book The Power of Being Thankful by Joyce Meyer

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Girlfriends in God – You’re More Than a One-Talent Girl

Today’s Truth

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

2 Peter 1:3

Friend to Friend

In my last devotion, we looked at the parable of the talents, or rather the parable of the three choices. We saw a landowner that gave one servant five talents, another servant two talents, and another servant one talent.

As you read that devotion, (and if you didn’t, please click on http://www.girlfriendsinGod.com and read it first) I wonder if you saw yourself as a one-talent girl. Perhaps you’re thinking that God hasn’t given you much to work with. He did, after all, entrust the servants with talents “according to their ability.” You look at what other folks are doing for God with their five talents and think that yours doesn’t really matter much anyway. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It could be that the servant with the five talents started out with one talent a few years back. The master saw what he did with that one—how he turned it into two. Then when he went on his next trip, the master gave that servant two talents, which he turned into four. So on this particular journey, the master entrusted this servant with five!

If we don’t use what God has given us because of fear, then He will not entrust us with more. It could very well be that He will take away what He’s given us and give it to someone else who has the courage to use her gifts and talents to accomplish her God-given purpose.

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Claiming Forgiveness

“But, dearly loved friends, if our consciences are clear, we can come to the Lord with perfect assurance and trust, and get whatever we ask for because we are obeying Him and doing the things that please Him” (1 John 3:21,22).

What a marvelous promise – unfortunately, a promise which few Christians are able to claim. Why? Because they do not have a clear conscience in regard to their sin and when they come to God, they cannot come with confidence that He will hear and answer them. As God’s Word reminds us in Psalm 66:15, if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. How wonderful to know that whatever sins have been committed, the shedding of Christ’s blood and His death on the cross have paid the penalty for them all. If we confess our sin of pride, lust, jealousy, gossip, dishonesty, greed, whatever it may be, we can by faith claim His forgiveness. Remember that if we agree with God concerning our sin, if we recognize Christ’s death on the cross has indeed paid the penalty for that sin, and if we repent or change our attitude, which results in a change of our action, we can know that we are forgiven. However, if there is no change of attitude and action, obviously there has been no true confession and therefore no forgiveness and cleansing.

If you have truly confessed your sins, you can come now into the presence of God with great joy and a clear conscience and have perfect assurance and trust that whatever you ask for, you will receive because you are praying according to the will and the Word of God.

Bible Reading: I John 3:18-24

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: One of the qualifications for supernatural living is a clear conscience. Therefore, by God’s grace I will keep my heart and motives pure through the practice of spiritual breathing knowing that when I breathe spiritually (exhale – confess, inhale – appropriate promise), I can come into God’s presence with a clear conscience and expect to receive answers to my prayers.

 

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Ray Stedman – A Heart is Opened

Read: Acts 16:11-24

And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled. A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. Acts 16:13-14

After the proclaiming of the Word of God, these disciples expected God to do something! That, by the way, is the missing note among Christians in many places today. Many have given up expecting God to do anything, while they expect to do everything. They expect to organize a program and carry it through. Many churches today are operating in such a way that, if the Holy Spirit were suddenly removed from their program, nobody would notice that anything had happened.

They do not expect God to do anything, but these people did. They just preached the Word and then they expected God to act. They could not tell what he would do — he is always unpredictable. He has several ways by which he gains access to a city, breaks open a community, and begins to spread the gospel and to plant a church. But right here you find one of the ways the Lord frequently uses: He has prepared men and women there, people whose hearts are ready to respond to the gospel. Such a woman was Lydia who was already a worshiper of God. She was a business woman who sold purple goods, who handled the purple dye for cloth which was so valuable in those days. She made a good living. She had her own home and it was large enough to accommodate Paul and his party. Her heart was ready, having been prepared by God, and she was led of God to be there and to hear.

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Worldliness

Read: 1 John 2:15-17

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of  the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father. (vv. 15-16)

Is it a bad thing to love the world? Doesn’t God love the world so much that he gave his only Son to save us from our sins? These are a couple of questions that may come to mind when we read today’s Bible verses.

To answer the second question first, yes, God does love the world. Sending his Son Jesus to pay the price of our sins is certainly proof of that. And also yes, we should love the world as our Savior does. Indeed, our desire, like God’s, should be that none should perish, but that “all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

But there is another meaning of the “world” here in these verses to which John is referring. His reference in these verses is to the world as a place where sin has domain. John describes this as an anti-God place, where sinful cravings of people dominate and things like lust and boasting hold sway. No, John says, these things are not of God. They are what we often used to hear described as “worldly.” And these things, although they may seem very attractive, do not last.

Prayer:

Lord, help us to “set our minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2). Amen.

Author: John Koedyker

 

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Greg Laurie – No Space Available

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.—2 Corinthians 10:4–5

I’ve been known to fill up the storage space on my hard drive. I take lots of pictures, and I keep them all on my computer. I’ve been advised to put them on a separate hard drive, but I prefer to keep them on my computer. A lot of them, if not most of them, are of my family, and I enjoy looking at them. But just the other day I was trying to save a document, and my hard drive was full.

Wouldn’t it be great if, when the devil comes knocking at the door of our minds with an illicit thought, a message pops up that reads, This hard drive is full with the Word of God. There’s no room for your stuff. Don’t even bother? Far too often we have a lot of storage available, and we’re willing to entertain those thoughts.

Temptation, in most cases, comes through the doorway of our minds. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).

When our guard is down and those flaming arrows of ungodly thoughts come our way, we are to “[cast] down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Paul also said, “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

Let’s think about things that will build us up—not things that will tear us down.

 

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Kids 4 Truth International – God Is Not the Kind of God Who Leaves

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Have you ever missed the school bus or a ride to an activity that was important to you? Being left is a terrible feeling! It is embarrassing and frustrating, and it can also be really sad – especially if you miss out on something you were really hoping to see or do. Sometimes it can even be dangerous to be left behind. What if you accidentally got left in a football stadium? What if you were on a hiking trail and got separated from your friends? It could be scary, and lonely, and maybe even harmful to be left like that.

Sometimes we rely on people too much. It is okay to count on your friends and family to keep an eye out for you and to remember your needs and hopes. But friends and family are human, and sometimes they forget or make mistakes. Some people might take off on you because they want to do something selfish for themselves, or some might turn their back on you when you have done something wrong. People are human. They might let you down. They might give up on you. They might leave you.

The writer of Hebrews 13:5 was reminding readers of what Jesus said to His disciples – that He would never leave them. He would never forsake them. Jesus is God; He is greater than our human friends and family. He is better than anything we might try to be or to get on our own. In this verse, the Bible shows us the kind of God Who promises to be faithful. That means He is not the kind of God Who lets His people down. He is not the kind of God Who leaves His people alone. He keeps His promises.

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The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – We Really Are His Children

Today’s Scripture: 1 John 3:1, NKJV

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!”

When used as an imperative verb, behold carries the strong idea of imploring someone’s attention. This is how John used it in 1 John 3:1. He was saying, “Stop! Think of this! Consider this astonishing fact: God loves us so much that we’re called His children!”

Think of it: If you’ve trusted in Christ as savior, you’re God’s child, a son or daughter of the Creator, sustainer, and ruler of the universe—though our circumstances, or even our behavior, can often obscure that fact.

After John’s exclamation about this, he added, “and so we are” (3:1). It’s as if he was saying, “It’s really true! We really are his children!” Why does John get so excited about a truth we often take for granted?

This truth is amazing, first of all, because of who we once were. Consider the fact that every sin you’ve committed was an act of rebellion against the sovereign authority of God, or, as someone has said, an act of cosmic treason. But instead of the death we deserve as punishment for such treason, we’re made sons and daughters of the very king we’ve rebelled against! Instead of death, we get eternal life. Instead of wrath, we receive favor. Instead of eternal ruin, we’re made heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. And all of this becomes ours without our doing a single thing to earn the king’s favor or any attempt on our part to make restitution! His Son has done it all for us.

Do you believe that? Do you each day realize that you’re a child of the heavenly king? (Excerpt taken from The Gospel for Real Life)

 

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The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Kingdom Without End

Today’s Scripture: Matthew 26-28

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” -Matthew 24:14

In the sixteenth century, a man named Suleiman ruled the Ottoman Empire in Eastern Europe. To the world, he was known simply as “the magnificent.” His goal was to set up a worldwide kingdom that would be known for its justice and humanity. But then Suleiman died, his son who ruled after him was a drunken and immoral man, and the kingdom that Suleiman had worked so hard to build began to collapse.

How different it is with Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God. When Jesus was crucified, it appeared that all hope for the coming kingdom of God had been destroyed. The faith of the disciples burned at a low ebb. They had followed Jesus and believed Him, but had seen Him die on the cross.

And then with heart-stopping joy, Jesus came to them, alive forevermore, with these words: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” He had defeated even death itself. And while the disciples looked at Him in awe and wonder, He gave them a command that would change the course of their lives, and of the world. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

These are the words of a king who has given a royal commission. It begins with a royal claim, proceeds to a royal command, and ends with a royal covenant to His followers.

Prayer

Lord, by Your power and presence I want to help fulfill the Great Commission. Amen.

To Ponder

We have been commissioned by a King whose kingdom will come, and it will have no end.

 

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BreakPoint –  Gospel of Jesus’ Wife Found to be Fake

Back in 2012 and in 2014 I told you about a papyrus fragment in which Jesus purportedly refers to His “wife.”

On both occasions, I said there were many reasons to be skeptical about the fragment, both about what it said and about the authenticity of the fragment itself.

Well, a recent story in the Atlantic Monthly has so thoroughly debunked the so-called “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” that even the Harvard historian who has championed its authenticity admits that it’s probably a fake.

And that leaves us with the question: Why were some people so eager to believe in it in the first place?

The fragment was first said to date from the fourth century A.D., which would make it roughly contemporary with the oldest complete manuscripts of the Gospels. The prospect of an “alternative Christianity” was exciting to people who question the veracity of biblical accounts (including the resurrection) and whose definition of Christianity includes everything but the real thing.

Well, further testing concluded that the fragment dated from the sixth to ninth century A.D. long after the biblical canon and the great creeds of the faith had been decided upon. Undaunted, the fragment’s promoters held out the possibility that it could shed light on what Harvard’s Karen King called “questions about family and marriage and sexuality and Jesus.”

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – FAITH VERSUS SIGHT

Read GENESIS 13

“This town ain’t big enough for the both of us,” a line made popular by early Western films, is now a stock phrase used to convey the idea that two people cannot share the same space. It could also describe Abram and Lot in today’s reading.

After returning from Egypt, Abram and Lot had grown so rich in livestock that the land could no longer support them both. As they went their separate ways, Scripture portrays a clear contrast between them. Despite God’s blessings, Lot demonstrated no relationship with the Lord. He chose what appeared to be the best of the land—the well- watered and fertile plain of the Jordan. But there was a problem. The area was inhabited by wicked people who “were sinning greatly against the LORD” (v. 13). This apparently presented no hesitation for Lot who quickly “pitched his tents near Sodom” (v. 12).

Abram’s action, on the other hand, demonstrated his faith. Blessed also by God with abundance, Abram returned to one of his original altars near Bethel and “called on the name of the LORD” (v. 4). Although promised the whole land of Canaan, Abram was not anxious to grasp it all for himself; rather he allowed Lot first choice, in order to avoid strife.

In response, God spoke to Abram again, reaffirming His promises, this time with more details. The promise of land is reiterated, described as all that Abram can see in every direction. God even encouraged Abram to walk throughout the land itself. Second, the promise of descendants was reaffirmed, so numerous that they could be likened to the “dust of the earth” (v. 16). Abram’s response to God’s word was yet another act of worship. Lot chose and lived by sight; Abram by faith.

APPLY THE WORD

What might God be calling you to do in faith this week? Give more generously, even when finances seem tight? Speak Christ’s love to a neighbor even when they seem uninterested? Confess a previous sin even when it seems scary to do so? Ask God for the eyes of faith today, then act in response, trusting God’s promises to provide for all your needs.

 

http://www.todayintheword.org

Denison Forum – DALLAS SNIPER ATTACK: ‘OUR WORST NIGHTMARE HAPPENED’

Dallas residents are waking up this morning to the deadliest day for police officers since September 11, 2001.

At 7:00 last night, protesters gathered in a Dallas park and began marching through the streets of downtown. They were responding to officer-involved shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota. The rally was peaceful; police officers were present and were conversing with the crowd.

Just before 9 PM, as Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said, “Our worst nightmare happened.” Shots rang out. Ten police officers were shot, along with one bystander. An eleventh officer was later shot during an exchange of gunfire with a suspect. Five of the officers died. Some of the six who were wounded are undergoing surgery.

According to Police Chief David Brown, four people coordinated the attack with rifles, positioning themselves in triangulated locations near the end of the route protesters planned to take. The chief noted that snipers fired “ambush-style” from an “elevated position.” Some of the officers were shot in the back.

At 3:06 AM, authorities announced that a suspect had died after a standoff with police in a garage at El Centro college. Three people are now in custody. K-9 units are sweeping the area for possible bombs; large sections of downtown remain closed this morning.

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