Charles Stanley –Sharing the Good News

 

Acts 9:1-19

When you receive exciting news, what’s the first thing you do? If you’re like most people, you probably tell someone who will share your joy. The apostle Paul told others about salvation for a similar reason.

God saved Paul on the road to Damascus, and the apostle dedicated the rest of his life to spreading the good news of the gospel. He gave his time, his energy, and ultimately, his life because he was committed to telling people about Jesus.

Why would he do this? Paul felt a deep obligation. First, he was indebted to Jesus for salvation. But his motivation came from more than just his love for and devotion to the Lord. He also felt compelled to offer hope to a world that was in desperate need (1 Tim. 1:15-16).

And the message he gave them was this: God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, into the world in human form. Through His death on the cross, Jesus paid mankind’s sin debt in full. All who receive Him as their personal Savior will be forgiven.

Paul realized he needed to bring the gospel to the Greeks as well as to the non-Greeks. In other words, he had to tell everyone. Some would accept the truth, while others would reject it. The apostle himself could not save people—he wasn’t responsible for their reaction. His task was simply to tell about Jesus.

Do you feel the same indebtedness that Paul felt? Pray that God would give you courage and wisdom to share the gospel with others.

Bible in One Year: Acts 5-7

 

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Our Daily Bread — Seeing Well

Read: John 15:12–17

Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 50; Hebrews 8

You are my friends if you do what I command.—John 15:14

Raleigh looks like a powerful dog—he is large and muscular and has a thick coat of fur. And he weighs over 100 pounds! Despite his appearance, Raleigh connects well with people. His owner takes him to nursing homes and hospitals to bring people a smile.

Once, a four-year-old girl spotted Raleigh across a room. She wanted to pet him, but was afraid to get close. Eventually, her curiosity overcame her sense of caution and she spent several minutes talking to him and petting him. She discovered that he is a gentle creature, even though he is powerful.

The combination of these qualities reminds me of what we read about Jesus in the New Testament. Jesus was approachable—He welcomed little children (Matt. 19:13-15). He was kind to an adulterous woman in a desperate situation (John 8:1-11). Compassion motivated Him to teach crowds (Mark 6:34). At the same time, Jesus’s power was astounding. Heads turned and jaws dropped as He subdued demons, calmed violent storms, and resurrected dead people! (Mark 1:21-34; 4:35-41; John 11).

The way we see Jesus determines how we relate to Him. If we focus only on His power, we may treat Him with the detached worship we’d give a comic book superhero. Yet, if we overemphasize His kindness, we risk treating Him too casually. The truth is that Jesus is both at once—great enough to deserve our obedience yet humble enough to call us friends. —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Jesus, thank You for the privilege of knowing You. I acknowledge Your gentle power. I worship You as the Son of God—full of grace and glory.

What we think of Jesus shows in how we relate with Him.

INSIGHT: Jesus spoke of “a new commandment” to love one another (John 13:34). The command to love is not entirely new (1 John 2:7), for God commanded every Jew to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18; Matt. 5:43; 22:39). What is new is that Jesus raised the bar to the highest standard of loving: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). He used the words servants and friends to contrast the new level of love and intimacy we now have with Him. The one who loved you as He loved Himself is a true friend, one who will humbly and lovingly serve you (13:1-17), and one who sacrificially loved you, even laying down His life for you (15:13). Sim Kay Tee

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Lightening the Darkness

They told me to give it three weeks. “Your eyes and your brain are getting reacquainted again,” he said. “Your eyesight will fluctuate for the next few days.” But less than a week after eye surgery, I was tired of fluctuating. At times my vision was so crisp that it was almost too much for me—like I was somehow seeing more than I should. But this clarity came and went; I was sometimes far-sighted, sometimes near-sighted, sometimes neither very well. Perfect sight was not as immediate as I anticipated.

My experience of Christ is not so far from this. Fittingly, I was given the charge of retelling my story—my journey to faith and sight—the same week I was having trouble seeing. The reflective task of peering into my life, looking at patterns and history with the hope of illumination seemed ironic as I squinted to see my computer screen. But it served as a helpful metaphor. My vision of Christ has been far from immediate. It has been much closer to a fluctuating timeline of beholding and squinting, seeing, not-seeing, and straining to see. My experience has been something more like the blind man’s from Bethsaida. “Do you see anything?” Jesus asked after placing his hands on his eyes. The man looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around” (Mark 8:23-24). Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. “Then his eyes were opened; his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly” (8:25).

For those of us who want to relate to Jesus as the God of immediacy, two-staged miracles are cumbersome. I don’t want fluctuating vision. I am leery of winding roads and long journeys. I want to live knowing that he is the one who makes all things new—now. And he is. But Christ also makes us ready to handle it. God is working that we might be able to stand in the very midst of the one who makes all things new—and apparently we are not always ready.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Lightening the Darkness

John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Being Honest

“If you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth” (James 3:14).

Humility is the hallmark of a wise person.

James says that if a person has a self-centered motive for life, he should stop arrogantly boasting. He should stop claiming to possess true wisdom. Why? Because he is lying “against the truth.” In verse 13 James indicates that if a person claims to have God’s wisdom, he must show it. If I see you are motivated by self-centeredness and pride, you ought to stop your arrogant boasting about having the wisdom of God. The fact is, you’re lying against what is obviously true. Stop claiming to have what you don’t have.

“The truth” refers to the saving gospel. Both James 1:18 (“In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth”) and James 5:19 (“If any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back . . .”) link the truth with the gospel. Anyone who claims to have the wisdom of God but lives a life motivated by “bitter jealousy and selfish ambition” is obviously lying in the face of the gospel. No pretentious claims to a possession of divine wisdom are convincing when they come out of a heart totally motivated by human wisdom.

James is calling you to take an inventory of your heart. Take a look at yourself. What motivates you? Are you motivated by the things that honor God? Are you motivated by a love for others? Are you motivated by humility and unselfishness? There is no single characteristic of unredeemed man more obvious than his pride. And there is nothing more characteristically evident of a redeemed person than his humility.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to help you have a humble attitude and make you more aware of how you can serve Him and others every day.

For Further Study

  • The wise person seeks to be humble. To help you manifest humility in your life, meditate on the following verses: Proverbs 16:19; 22:4; Isaiah 57:15; Micah 6:8; Matthew 18:4; James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:5.
  • Memorize at least one Old Testament verse and one New Testament verse from this list.

 

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Wisdom Hunters – Reward of Faithfulness

This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.  Revelation 14:12

Faithfulness is doing what I said I would do. It is an integrity issue. Commitments are not to be taken lightly. For example, a verbal commitment is an unwritten contract. However, these can be the most risky and the most misunderstood. If we make a verbal commitment it behooves us to make sure it is understood by all parties involved. Slow down, communicate more and show up on time for appointments. Less is more. Most of us would be much better off if we focused on fewer commitments.

The Lord has been faithful even in our unfaithfulness. God says what He does and does what He says. He is faithful to forgive our sin and lead us to forgive. He is faithful to convict us of sin and to lead us into righteousness. He is faithful to flood our souls with peace, joy and contentment. God understands what it means to keep a commitment—even at great cost—the death of His only son. Indeed, the Lord is faithful to the faithful.

“To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless…” (Psalm 18:25).

After our conversion we made a commitment to follow Christ. Following Jesus requires fidelity of faith. There are no equals to our love for Him. When He says in His word to “let our yes be yes and our no be no” then we must do so because we want to be faithful to Him and others.

Unfaithfulness will catch up with us if not quickly remedied. How many of us go to bed with conflicting relational commitments? Do not let work, hobbies, children or money become your idols of activity. Faithfulness begins and ends in follow through with our commitments to God.

Continue reading Wisdom Hunters – Reward of Faithfulness

Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Scamming the System

Not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.

Romans 12:11

Recommended Reading

Romans 12:9-13

Last summer, the mayor of the Italian town of Boscotrecase had to close down city hall because 23 of his staff were arrested for absenteeism. Staff members learned to scam the system by swiping one another’s passes when clocking into their jobs. Thirty people were involved in the scheme, and among those arrested was the head of the local traffic police.

We’re living in a world where people cut corners whenever they can. After a while, scamming the system becomes a way of life. That doesn’t work on the spiritual level. There aren’t any shortcuts to spiritual growth. The Bible uses the word “diligent” to describe how we should go about our Christian lives. According to Hebrews 11:6, God rewards those who diligently seek Him. Peter told us to be diligent to make our call and election sure. “Be diligent,” he wrote, “to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless” (2 Peter 1:10 and 3:14).

As Christians we need to take responsibility for our walk with God, seeking to be more like Him, sharing our faith and serving others. Don’t try to scam the system. Be diligent to serve the Savior.

I could never have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence.

Charles Dickens

Read-Thru-the-Bible

Acts 1 – 3

 

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Joyce Meyer – Control Your Mouth, Enjoy Your Life

For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies.” —1 Peter 3:10 NLT

The Bible says that we need to control our tongues if we want to enjoy life, and I believe we all want to enjoy life. I find that reading and meditating on what God’s Word says about the power of words is helpful to me. Here are some of my favorites:

Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything (Proverbs 13:3 NLT).

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my [firm, impenetrable] Rock and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14).

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless (James 1:26 NIV).

Look up these additional scriptures and meditate on them as you seek to live a powerful life: Proverbs 8:8; 11:9; 12:18; 15:4; 18:21. God’s Word has power in it that will strengthen and enable you to speak words of life that will benefit you.

Power Thought: I am careful and intentional about all that I say.

From the book the book Power Thoughts Devotional by Joyce Meyer.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Girlfriends in God – A Joyful Offense

Today’s Truth

As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.

2 Chronicles 20:22

Friend to Friend

They were surrounded, outnumbered. Anyone could see it was only a matter of time.

A “vast army” closed the distance on God’s people. A cloud of dust swirled, kicked up by the boots of a thousand of angry warriors. White with fear, witnesses ran to King Jehoshaphat with warning.

The news no doubt caused parents to pull children closer and whisper about ways of escape. The Bible said even King Jehoshaphat—a warrior himself—was “alarmed.” Even so, rather than rouse his generals and arm his men, Jehoshaphat turned his face to God and prayed.

“‘O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.’” (2 Chronicles 20:6, 12)

For years I’ve marveled at Jehoshaphat’s immediate response in crisis. I’m a “get it done” girl. When faced with a problem, I get right to work, try to fix it, resolve it, and make the problem go away. But pray? Sometimes prayer feels too flimsy for a real life crisis.

Jehoshaphat knew otherwise. The best preparation he could make was of the praying kind. Thus, he called men, women and children to circle up. There wasn’t much time, but there was time enough to pray. Food was refused and knees were bent, until God spoke. And He did speak:

“Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s … You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you.” (vs. 15, 17)

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Living the Godly Life

“As God’s messenger I give each of you God’s warning: Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you” (Romans 12:3).

A newly appointed director of affairs for our ministry came to me for counsel after being given his assignment. “Tell me,” he inquired, “what are the biggest problems that I will encounter in my new area of responsibility?”

“Three major ones,” I responded. “First, pride, the problem that causes Satan to seek a place of authority over God Himself, resulting in his expulsion from the heavenly kingdom. Since creation, man’s greatest problem has been pride – thinking more highly of oneself than one ought to think.

“Your second problem will be materialism – the desire to accumulate wealth, to live the good life, to keep up with the Joneses with better houses, cars, clothes, and security.

“And the third problem will be sex, the temptation to immorality. Man’s second greatest drive after self-perservation is sex. In the marriage bond, sex is one of the most beautiful of the God-given privileges. But out of marriage, it results in grieving and quenching the Spirit and, ultimately, in the discipline of God. Therefore, be faithful to the wife that God has given you and love her as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25).

“Keep yourself humble by God’s power. Seek the simple life and be motivated and constrained by the love of God for the souls of men, rather than for the good things of this world.”

This is my counsel to all of our staff. It is my message to all Christian leaders and to all who seek to live godly lives.

The highways and byways of the world are littered with men and women of great talent and ability who are no longer being used of God. The fire has gone out of their hearts; the smile is gone from their faces. They harvest no fruit for the kingdom. They have fallen, thinking more highly of themselves than they ought to think, after the example of Satan, the author of pride.

God’s Word admonishes us to think soberly, wisely, prudently and modestly. The faith which we each have is a gift from God, measure by Him. That fact alone should produce in you and me a true, humility, changing any feeling of pride to one of gratitude. The truly humble person regards God as the source of all blessings.

Bible Reading: Ephesians 4:1-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: When the temptation comes to think more highly of myself than I ought to think, with God’s help I will remember that everything I have is a gift of His grace. I will humble myself before God and man and, by faith, live a supernatural, godly life, dedicated to the extension of His kingdom

 

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Ray Stedman – Sincere Love

Read: Romans 12:9-13

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13

This describes love among Christians. It consists of six things. First, he says, Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. He is talking about people. Hate what is evil in people, but don’t reject the person because of the evil. God loves that person. He or she is made in the image of God. True love learns to hate evil but not to reject the good. Hypocritical love, love that pretends to be Christian, does the opposite.

Second, love remembers that relationship is the ground of concern, and not friendship. That is why Paul says, Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. This doesn’t refer to just anyone that is in need; it specifies your brother or sister. The basis of concern for one another is not that we know each other well or enjoy one another, it is that we are related to one another. If we are Christians, we know that we already have a tie that ought to evoke care for one another. They are our brother, our sister and so we treat them warmly and with acceptance.

Third, Paul says that true love regards others as more deserving than yourself: Honor one another above yourselves. I like the J.B Philips translation here. He says, Be willing to let other men have the credit. If you really don’t care who gets the credit, then you can just enjoy yourself and do all kinds of good deeds. Just be glad that it is done, and don’t worry about who gets the credit. Our flesh doesn’t like that. It is very eager to be recognized, but the Word tells us that real love will not act that way.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – Sincere Love

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Faithful Witness

Read: Revelation 2:12-17

Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you. (v. 13)

There is often a high cost for being “not ashamed of the gospel.” On a visit to a small Bible college in a rural district of India, I heard the story of Navin Doman. The students at the college were from the Kuruk people and Navin Doman was the first Kuruk Christian, converted through the witness of German Lutheran missionaries in the 19th century.

When Doman accepted Christ and was baptized in 1850, the tribal elders seized him, bound him, and told him he would be killed on the spot if he did not renounce Christ. Navin Doman replied, “I will not deny my faith. If you kill me, from each drop of my blood a thousand Christians will spring.” The Kuruk leaders were so impressed with Doman’s courage they allowed him to go free. He became an evangelist, and spent the rest of his life bearing witness to Christ.

The word martyr comes from a Greek word that means “witness.” It is because so many of the early Christian witnesses were like Antipas–faithful to the death–that martyr gained its modern meaning. The African church father Tertullian famously said that the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church. In God’s providence Navin Doman was not called to seal his testimony with his life’s blood. But his prophecy has come true in other times and places. From every drop of martyr’s blood, a thousand Christians have sprung.

—David Bast

Prayer:

Lord, give me the strength to be a faithful witness.

 

Greg Laurie – Reasons to Forgive

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.—Ephesians 4:31–32

Without even knowing you, I know this about you: You have been hurt in life. You have had people say unkind things to you. You have had people do mean things to you. There have been incidents in your life where you’ve been treated unfairly.

Some want to rationalize that there is no need to forgive those who have wronged them because they don’t deserve forgiveness. But they have to ask themselves whether they deserve forgiveness themselves. As C. S. Lewis pointed out, “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.”

Here is what the Bible has to say about forgiving those who have wronged us: “And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:30–32).

God’s command to forgive should be enough. But let me offer another reason why we should learn to be forgiving: it might actually extend our lives. Recent studies have suggested that those who do not forgive are more likely to experience high blood pressure, bouts of depression, and problems with anger, stress, and anxiety. Dr. Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet, a researcher at Hope College, said “If you are willing to exert the effort it takes to be forgiving, there are benefits both emotionally and physically.”

People who have been studying the medical benefits of forgiveness have come to the same conclusion that the Bible came to long ago: it is a good thing to forgive others.

 

https://www.harvest.org/

Kids 4 Truth International – God Loves Those Who Are Hard To Love

“Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.” (Jonah 1:1-2)

Tony was a boy who lived in Kevin’s neighborhood. In fact, Tony lived just a few houses away, but Kevin did not like spending time with him. The thing is, Tony was hard to like. It wasn’t that he was always mean – he could even be nice sometimes. It’s just that most of the time, Tony bullied everyone else. He always had to be the quarterback when they played football. He said mean things to everyone and did not care if he hurt anyone. Tony expected to have his own way about everything. These were just a few of the many reasons Tony was hard to like.

That’s how Jonah felt about the people of Nineveh when God told him to take a message to them. Actually, Jonah’s emotions were even stronger than Kevin’s were. There were a lot of people in Nineveh, and the people were awful to their enemies. They had treated other people with unspeakable cruelty. They were known for being ruthless in battle, never showing mercy to people who were weaker or fewer in number than they were. But God told Jonah to go to this “great city” and preach repentance and mercy to them. Jonah knew something was up when God called Nineveh a “great city.” He knew God cared about them and wanted to show mercy to them. And Jonah wanted no part of that. So he decided to make other plans.

Instead of obeying and traveling directly to Nineveh, Jonah headed in the exact opposite direction, boarded a ship, ran into a storm, and was thrown overboard. But God’s love was more powerful than Jonah’s disobedience. God cared so much about the people of Nineveh that He prepared a great fish to keep Jonah from drowning and to carry him back to land. Jonah shared God’s message with the people of Nineveh. They were sorry for their sin, and God did forgive them.

Continue reading Kids 4 Truth International – God Loves Those Who Are Hard To Love

The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Personal Responsibility

Today’s Scripture: Leviticus 20:7

“Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God.”

Another reason that we do not experience more holiness in daily living is that we have misunderstood “living by faith” (Galatians 2:20) to mean no effort at holiness is required on our part. In fact, sometimes we’ve even suggested that any effort on our part is “of the flesh.”

The words of J. C. Ryle, Bishop of Liverpool from 1880 to 1900, are instructive to us on this point: “Is it wise to proclaim in so bald, naked, and unqualified a way as many do, that the holiness of converted people is by faith only, and not at all by personal exertion? Is it according to the proportion of God’s Word? I doubt it. That faith in Christ is the root of all holiness . . . no well-instructed Christian will ever think of denying. But surely the Scriptures teach us that in following holiness the true Christian needs personal exertion and work as well as faith.”

We must face the fact that we have a personal responsibility for our walk of holiness. One Sunday our pastor in his sermon said words to this effect: “you can put away that habit that has mastered you if you truly desire to do so.” Because he was referring to a particular habit which was no problem to me, I quickly agreed with him in my mind. But then the Holy Spirit said to me, “and you can put away the sinful habits that plague you if you will accept your personal responsibility for them.” Acknowledging that I did have this responsibility turned out to be a milestone for me in my own pursuit of holiness.

Will you begin to take personal responsibility for your sin, realizing that as you do, you must depend on the grace of God? (Excerpt taken from The Pursuit of Holiness)

 

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The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Streams of Living Water

Today’s Scripture: Hosea 12-14

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. – Galatians 2:20

Hosea 13:15 presents a prophecy of judgment against the nation of Israel: “An east wind from the Lord will come, blowing in from the desert; his spring will fail and his well dry up. His storehouse will be plundered of all its treasures.”

Here is a picture of someone whose inner source of life and power has dried up. His life was once a blessing to those around him but has now become a curse. As I studied this passage, I was reminded of a man I knew well.

His testimony for Christ shone brightly against the dark background of the people among whom he worked–people whose lives had been ruined by drugs, alcohol, and sin of every description. This man was instrumental in leading many of these people to Christ and seeing them begin new lives. But his inner spring dried up. He left his wife and children, and dismissed his actions by saying that the love was gone and his marriage was no longer working. What happened was not a reaction to outward pressure or tragedy. It was an inward spiritual drought, brought on by his lack of daily personal fellowship with Christ.

In John 7:37-38, Jesus said: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” And then John unlocks the mystery of Jesus’ words. By this, John said, Jesus meant the Spirit.

The secret to a life that fulfills us and refreshes others is to live under the daily control of the Holy Spirit. Then our spring will never fail, and our well will not dry up.

Prayer

Lord, may Your sweet, refreshing Spirit fill me and cause a stream of living water to flow from my life. Amen.

To Ponder

Is the flow of the Holy Spirit in your life a trickle or a stream?

 

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BreakPoint – Veterans Day 2016: How Grateful are We?

With the craziest presidential election of all time ending earlier this week, it’s easy to forgive someone for forgetting that today is Veterans Day.

Sad to say, at least until President-Elect Trump’s brief but important mention of vets during his victory speech, our nation’s veterans have been mostly forgotten during the election campaign. As National Public Radio reported, of the 28,500 words spoken by the presidential candidates during the debates, veterans were mentioned only twice.

This is amazing. The nation and our leaders owe veterans much more.

Let’s look at the figures. The Census Bureau reports that there are 18.6 million American veterans of military service. Since the first Gulf War, 5.6 million Americans have served.

And while most of them are doing just fine, thank you, many are in dire straits. One in five veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, or PTSD.

Although veterans represent only 9 percent of the U. S. population, they account for nearly 20 percent of the nation’s suicides. Vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have four times the suicide rate of other veterans.

Homelessness is also an issue. There are nearly 50,000 homeless vets in this country—half of whom are Vietnam vets, although the number of younger homeless vets is on the rise.

Then there’s the scandal of the Veterans Administration hospitals—horrendous waiting lists for medical care, officials falsifying data to cover their tracks. It’s a further scandal that the Administration and Congress haven’t done a whole lot about it. The Washington Post awarded President Obama four Pinocchios for his assurances to military families that “a whole bunch of people” have been fired at the VA as a result of the scandals. The fact is that very few VA officials have been held accountable.

Finally, there’s the ongoing mess regarding war-time re-enlistment bonuses given to members of the California National Guard. These men and women used the money for things like education and mortgages—only to find out that a) they might have been given the money fraudulently because their recruiting officers were trying to meet quotas, and b) the government wants the money back. That’s a fine thank you to the men and women who placed their lives on the line for their country.

Continue reading BreakPoint – Veterans Day 2016: How Grateful are We?

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – GOD PROVIDES EVEN WHEN WE GRUMBLE

Read EXODUS 16:9–35

GOD PROVIDES EVEN WHEN WE GRUMBLE

Brownberry’s Natural Wheat bread once updated its recipe to something softer and sweeter. It turned out not to be a good move. Thousands of loyal customers let the company know they were angry about the change. One wrote, “This isn’t just bread we are talking about, it’s a lifestyle.” In the end, the original recipe was reinstated.

People don’t like change, and they especially don’t like change when it involves food. So perhaps it’s no surprise that before and after God provided food for the Israelites in the wilderness, they grumbled and complained. As we’ve seen clearly this month, God’s provision is key to understanding worry and contentment, so we’ll spend about five days focusing specifically on how the themes of provision, worry, and contentment connect and interrelate.

In today’s reading, God met the people’s needs even when they grumbled and failed to express trust in Him (v. 3). In no sense did they deserve the meat (quail) and bread (manna) that He provided (v. 12). This doesn’t excuse their sin, but it’s reassuring to know that His provision doesn’t depend upon us.

God’s larger purpose was not to fill their bellies but to inspire worship. That’s why He directed that some manna be put in the Ark along with the tablets of the Law as a memorial (vv. 32–34). But the Israelites, like us, were slow learners. Though God provided manna just as He had promised, they didn’t obey His instructions. Instead, they gathered extra for the next day and failed to gather any for the Sabbath. What’s more, they later complained about God’s provision of manna, which sustained them throughout their forty years in the wilderness, because they didn’t think it was as good as the food they remembered having in Egypt (Num. 11:4–6).

APPLY THE WORD

Believers giving and sharing to meet one another’s needs is another way that God provides, and it is also evidence of faith in action (Acts 2:44–45; James 2:14–17). That’s why Paul cited verse 18 from today’s reading when encouraging the Corinthian church to give toward the needs of Jewish believers in Jerusalem (2 Cor. 8:13–15).

Continue reading Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – GOD PROVIDES EVEN WHEN WE GRUMBLE

Denison Forum – Why Veterans Day is relevant to Election Day

I’m glad to live in a country which follows Election Day with Veterans Day. If you’re a veteran or current member of the armed forces, please know that millions of my fellow Americans and I thank you for your sacrifice. We know that you are willing to die that we might live. Your service makes our country possible.

But what kind of country do you serve?

The Washington Post claims that “America woke up Wednesday as two nations.” The article describes the disparity between those who are “jubilant, hopeful, validated” and those who are “filled with fear, pessimism, abject horror.” Anti-Trump rallies continued last night; I could fill this Daily Article with examples of the divides between those who supported the president-elect and those who opposed him.

But let’s take a different approach today.

Rather than focusing on what’s wrong with our nation, let’s focus on what we can do to serve our nation. More than two million Americans woke up today on active duty or in the reserves. They are ready right now to serve as needed. How can we join them? I’d like to share with you an insight that has been guiding my thoughts in recent days.

In 1 Kings 19 we find the prophet Elijah fresh from his astounding victory at Mt. Carmel. The presidential election pales in shock value when compared to what happened when the prophet confronted the king and nearly a thousand pagan priests. You remember the result: God sent fire to consume Elijah’s sacrifice and turned the entire country from Baal to himself. The events that day literally saved the nation.

Then Elijah learned that the pagan queen was plotting to murder him. He was in despair when the Lord met him in the wilderness and directed him to “Horeb, the mount of God” (v. 8). This was about 250 miles away. I’m certain that Elijah had no plans to make such a journey, but he was obedient. As a result, he heard the “low whisper” of God’s transcendent voice (v. 12) leading him to anoint new kings and a new prophet. Elijah’s story and that of his nation changed that day.

Here’s the point: Our detours are often God’s destinations. The most surprising events in life can be used by God for purposes we would never imagine. In a nation still coming to terms with the election and its meaning, you and I can be the Elijahs our country needs. If we will begin this day by standing before our Supreme Commander and volunteering for duty, he will send us and use us and make us more significant than we can imagine.

Can one person make a difference? Just ask Elijah. Does your life matter? “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).

NOTE: For more on today and its significance for our nation, please see Ryan Denison’s Why We All Need Veterans Day This Year.

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/