Charles Stanley – Praying With Faith

 

Mark 11:20-24

In today’s passage, Jesus connects two important concepts: prayer and faith. And we know from other scriptures that unless our prayers are united with faith, we shouldn’t expect to receive anything from the Lord (James 1:6-7). But what is the basis for our faith? Are we to believe that God will give us whatever we ask?

Jesus began by saying, “Have faith in God” (Mark 11:22). This is the foundation for prayer—trust in the Lord. If our requests are incompatible with His teachings, we have no reason to believe He’ll answer. Nor should we expect to receive if the motive is our own pleasure (James 4:3). As Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane demonstrates, ultimate trust in God says, “Yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

First John 5:14-15 tells us we can count on God answering requests prayed according to His will. Our prayers should, therefore, be anchored to Scripture because apart from the Bible, we don’t know His will. But as we fill our minds with God’s Word, our desires and requests begin to align with His. When that’s the case, we can confidently expect to receive whatever we ask. And in those instances when we’re not sure of His will, the Spirit intercedes for us (Rom. 8:27). Even the obstacles in our life are no problem for the Lord. Nothing in harmony with His purpose will be impossible for us.

God doesn’t turn a deaf ear to the supplication of His children. As a loving heavenly Father, He protects, provides, guides, and cares for us. He has proven His love by sending His Son. Surely we can trust Him with all our other concerns.

Bible in One Year: Acts 16-17

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — The Twelfth Man

Read: Hebrews 11:32–12:3

Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 3–4; Hebrews 11:20–40

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.—Hebrews 12:1

A large sign at the Texas A&M University football stadium says “HOME OF THE 12TH MAN.” While each team is allowed eleven players on the field, the 12th Man is the presence of thousands of A&M students who remain standing during the entire game to cheer their team on. The tradition traces its roots to 1922 when the coach called a student from the stands to suit up and be ready to replace an injured player. Although he never entered the game, his willing presence on the sideline greatly encouraged the team.

Hebrews 11 describes heroes of the faith who faced great trials and remained loyal to God. Chapter 12 begins, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (v. 1).

We are not alone on our journey of faith. The great saints and ordinary people who have been faithful to the Lord encourage us by their example and also by their presence in heaven. They are a spiritual 12th Man standing with us while we are still on the field.

As we fix our eyes on Jesus, “the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (12:2), we are spurred on by all those who followed Him. —David McCasland

Lord, may we be aware of those in heaven who are cheering us on. Give us strength to run our race of faith today.

Faithful Christians from the past encourage us today.

INSIGHT: The target audience for the book of Hebrews is Jews who had trusted Jesus as their Messiah. But due to persecution, in some cases imprisonment, and through confiscation of personal property, they were tempted to forsake their faith in Jesus and return to Judaism. Dennis Fisher

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Counterculture

Some years ago a group of Christian thinkers were asked to answer the question: How can followers of Christ be countercultural for the common good? Their answers ranged from becoming our own fiercest critics to experiencing life at the margins, from choosing our battles wisely to getting more sleep. A case could easily be made to add many other ideas to their thoughtful list, and its project leaders would agree. The possibilities for counterculturalism are perhaps as numerous as the cultures and sub-cultures of our globalized world. The idea was to get people thinking about what it means to be countercultural in the first place, a lifestyle Jesus heralded as a man with the government on his shoulders, one from whom some hid their faces, one for whom affliction and persecution was well known.

Of course, Jesus did not come to shape an insurgent army of cultural naysayers. But he did turn both culture and cultural norms on their heads, and he continues to do so today. To crowds gathered in the first century, the wisdom of the rabbi from Nazareth was different than most. He taught with authority, but he also instructed his would-be students with a power-dynamic that confounded, with words about the first being last, with a hospitality that included prostitutes and tax collectors, and a kingdom that wasn’t always assuring to those who saw themselves as the most religiously deserving. To crowds in the current century, this teacher continues to herald a radical message. Loving your neighbor is a command that runs counter to most cultural norms, loving your enemy all the more so. The entire Sermon on the Mount was, and remains, the most countercultural sermon ever given.

But still, the question persists: Did Jesus come to overturn cultural norms like he overturned the moneychangers’ tables? And exactly how, then, are his followers to be countercultural themselves? Are Christians to be inherently cultural despisers, gypsies who wander through this world unattached and  unaffected? Did Christ come to free us from the very fabric of culture and history into which our lives are woven? Or was his life’s ambition to unravel something much deeper?

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Wisdom Hunters – Rest From Work 

“Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them. Revelation 14:13

It is hard for some people to rest from their work. They love their work, enjoy their work, and may even worship their work. Hard, smart, and productive work is good, but worshiping work is bad. It is reckless and leads to ruin. It may be relational ruin, physical ruin, or even financial ruin. Work that is worshipped gets out of hand quickly. God is the only one who deserves worship. It is good to be proud of your pure motivation that  produces quality work, but do not allow work to become an end in itself. Your true identity comes from Christ, not work.

When you work all the time you tend to drift from your moorings of faith in Christ to faith in yourself. “Can God be trusted enough for me to rest from my work?” Of course—He divinely redeems the time of your limited work and produces more lasting results. You are His workmanship in Christ Jesus—when you take the time to cease working, God accelerates His work in you. Some of His best work takes place when you don’t work. Believers rest for eternity, while unbelievers are in torment forever.

“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His” (Hebrews 4:9-10).

You can physically be away from work and still be at work mentally, so free your mind from this split-focused activity. Do not make your mind jealous over your body’s freedom from work. Give  your thoughts rest from work, and you will discover your thinking is more robust and innovative when you reengage in your work. Shift your thinking to the bigger thoughts of God and His plan. Superimpose simple faith in Him over the complex issues that are assaulting your rest.

Your mind, body, and emotions are all part of your Sabbath rest. Your Sabbath rest can be a catalyst for others to reengage with God. Set the example and watch others follow. Your Sabbath rest gives others permission to do the same. It’s not always easy to get to God’s rest, but once you arrive it is well worth the effort. His rest ignites your obedience and trust. So, rest from work and rest in Him. Then watch your work become better, more productive—sustained by the Spirit.

“Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:11).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me the faith to rest from my work with You, so I can rest in You.

Application: What areas of my life do I need to leave in the Lord’s hands while resting in Him.

Related Readings: Psalm 46:10, 62:1-8; Galatians 1:10; Hebrews 4:1; Revelation 14:13

 

http://www.wisdomhunters.com/

Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – The Joy of Slavery

Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God.

Romans 1:1

Recommended Reading

Romans 1:1-7 The late Charles Colson was a profoundly changed man. He went from being one of the most powerful and feared men in Washington, D.C., to a guilty prisoner to a redeemed servant of Jesus Christ. His transformation was much like that of the apostle Paul who went from being a rising star in Judaism to a servant of Christ.

When radical transformations occur, it is because people understand the nature of servanthood and stewardship. A servant gives up all he has and depends on his master for everything. As a steward, his only responsibility is to be a faithful and obedient servant who carries out his master’s will (1 Corinthians 4:2). Paul put it this way: “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ” (Philippians 3:7). And “having food and clothing, with these we shall be content” (1 Timothy 6:8). The joy of total dependence on Christ as Lord and Master comes from the humility of servanthood.

Every Christian is called to follow Christ as a servant (Revelation 1:1). That means a new mindset: All I am and have is for the glory and joy of following Christ. I joyfully humble myself before Him.

The only freedom that man ever has is when he becomes a slave to Jesus Christ.

  1. C. Sproul

Read-Thru-the-Bible

Acts 12 – 13

 

http://www.davidjeremiah.org/

Joyce Meyer – Every Day Is Thanksgiving

 

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise! —Psalm 95:2

Thanksgiving is not just a day to eat turkey and pumpkin pie, as we do in America. It was a day originally set aside to remember and give thanks to God for what He had done in protecting the first men and women who came to America, fleeing religious persecution in Europe. It was a type of harvest celebration like the one that the Jews celebrated; a day to give thanks for the crops they were able to harvest.

In addition to thanking God as we go through life, it is also a good idea to set aside special times of gratitude and giving thanks. Sometimes our family sits together and remembers where God has brought us from, and we thank Him for all He has done. Dave and I talk about our life when our children were all young and we lived in a tiny three-room apartment and had to cash in soda pop bottles to make it through until payday. I am sure you can recall times similar to those we had, and remembering them makes us thankful for how God brought us through them, and for all the progress we have made by His goodness.

Prayer of Thanks: Father, help me to realize that Thanksgiving is more than just a day on the calendar. I am grateful for all You have done in my life, not just today, but every day of the year.

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

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Girlfriends in God – When It’s Time to Stop Moping

Today’s Truth

GOD addressed Samuel: “So, how long are you going to mope over Saul…Fill your flask with anointing oil and get going.

1 Samuel 16:1

Friend to Friend

Have you ever been so discouraged that you just wanted to stay in bed and pull the covers up over your head? Maybe that’s where you are right now.

I’ve hidden under the covers a time or two myself. OK, well maybe more than two.

So how do we venture out? How do we get over the discouragement and get going again?

There’s a story in the Bible that helps me when I feel mopey. (You don’t mind if I get in the Bible a little do you? I didn’t think so.)

A few years after the Israelites made it to the Promised Land, they grew tired of being ruled by God through the prophets. They wanted to have a king like all the other nations.

Samuel was the ruling prophet at the time, and he told the people all the reasons having a king was a bad idea. They persisted in their demands, and eventually God allowed them to choose a king. “They are not rejecting you,” God assured Samuel. “They are rejecting Me.”

The people picked a man named Saul because he was tall, dark, and handsome. I’m not kidding. It’s right there in black and white. Saul reluctantly accepted the kingship, was anointed by the Holy Spirit, and totally depended on God for his new position.

But after a while, Saul decided being a king wasn’t so hard after all. He disobeyed and dishonored God by taking matters into his own hands. (Never a good idea, I might add). As a result, God snatched away Saul’s kingship and removed his anointing.

Continue reading Girlfriends in God – When It’s Time to Stop Moping

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Gives the Victory

“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57, KJV).

In our busy lives, yours and mine, there are days when victory seems an impossibility. Heartaches, trials, burdens, or just the ordinary cares of the day, all seem foreign to the idea of being victorious.

And yet the fact remains that we are “more than conquerors” even when we do not feel like it. God graciously allows His children to be human and to express our doubts and fears when suffering and pain and testing and trial seem to overwhelm us.

“I have to be very honest,” confessed Joyce Landorf, well-known Christian author and speaker, during a long period of illness. “One of the things I have learned from severe pain is that I have felt totally abandoned by God. I didn’t think he’d let that happen to me, but He has.

“And maybe the feeling of abandonment when pain is at its writhing best..maybe that’s what makes it so sweet after the pain goes and the Lord says, ‘I was here all the time. I haven’t left you. I will never forsake you.’ Now those words get sweeter to me because I know what it has felt like to not feel His presence.”

We do not have all the answers, but we know one who does. And that is where our victory begins – acknowledging (1) that God is a God of love, one who never makes a mistake, and (2) he will never leave us or forsake us.

Bible Reading: Romans 7:18-25

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will consider myself a victor, whatever may transpire, because I serve the victorious one

 

http://www.cru.org

Ray Stedman – Put on the Lord Jesus Christ

Read: Romans 13:11-14

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. Romans 13:14

When I got up this morning I put on my clothes. I put on my clothes with the intention that they would be part of me all this day, that they would go where I go and do what I do. They will cover me and make me presentable to others. That is the purpose of clothes. In the same way, the apostle is saying to us, Put on Jesus Christ when you get up in the morning. Make him a part of your life that day. Intend that he go with you everywhere you go, and that he act through you in everything you do. Call upon his resources. Live your life in Christ.

These words have forever been made famous by their connection with the conversion of Saint Augustine. Augustine was a young man in the fourth century who lived a wild, carousing life, running around with evil companions, doing everything they were doing. He forbade himself nothing, went into anything and everything. And, as people still do today, he came to hate himself for it. One day he was with his friend in a garden, and he walked up and down, bemoaning his inability to change. O, tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow! How can I free myself from these terrible urges within me that drive me to the things that hurt me! And in his despair, as he walked in the garden, he suddenly heard what he thought was the voice of a child — perhaps some children were playing in the garden next door — and the voice said, Take and read, take and read. He could not remember any children’s games with words like that, but the words stuck. He went back to the table and found lying on it a copy of Paul’s letter to the Romans. He flipped it open, and these were the words he read: Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies, and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ… Romans 13:13-14a

Augustine said that at that moment he opened his life to Christ. He had known about him, but had never surrendered to him. But that moment he did, and he felt the healing touch from Christ cleansing his life. He was never the same man again. He went on to become one of the greatest Christians of all time.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – Put on the Lord Jesus Christ

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Faith Comes by Hearing

Read: 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13

So faith comes from hearing . . . the word of Christ. (Rom. 10:17)

So this is how the gospel works. As missionaries–or for that matter any Christians–share the message of Christ, some people hear it and believe. They receive it not merely as human information but as the very Word of God (1 Thess. 2:13). And this results in changed lives, as hearers of the Word also become doers, and “walk in a manner worthy of God” (v. 12).

Albert Dosti is a pastor in Albania. As a young man serving in the Albanian military, he was assigned the task of monitoring foreign radio broadcasts being transmitted into the country in the Albanian language. One of the programs he monitored, listening for subversive political messages, was called “Words of Hope.” No politics there, but a truly subversive message nevertheless! After listening for some time, Albert discovered that a strange and unexpected thing had happened–he had become a believer. Eventually Albert would become the radio pastor for Words of Hope Albania, and would write and record almost 2,000 programs in which he faithfully preached the Word of God.

Jesus once said that the hour is now here when the dead will hear his voice, and those who hear will live (John 5:25). He was speaking of spiritual death and spiritual life. Many listen to the gospel but they don’t really hear it. To hear it in such a way that new life is born in you is a sort of miracle. Has that happened to you?

—David Bast

Prayer:

Lord, give me the kind of hearing that results in life.

Greg Laurie – Forgiven? Then Forgive

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.—Matthew 6:12

The feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys was one of the longest running feuds in American history. One family lived in West Virginia, the other in Kentucky, on opposite sides of the Big Sandy River’s Tug Fork. Conflicts developed, one person was killed, and then another. And by the time it was over, more than two dozen people were dead.

Our society doesn’t value forgiveness. In fact, forgiveness is often seen as a sign of weakness, not strength. Our culture esteems vengeance and payback. We believe in the old adage “Don’t get mad; get even.”

But in what we know as The Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).

The word debt in this verse could be better translated “sins.” In other words, forgive us our sins—or our trespasses or our shortcomings or our resentments or the wrong we have done or what we owe to Him.

Contrary to what we may think, we don’t go through a day without sinning. Even if we might not break a commandment of God, we certainly fall short of a standard of God. We have sinful thoughts and attitudes. We commit sins of omission, failing to do good when we could have done it. The Bible says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

We need to ask God every day to forgive us for our sins. And as we receive that forgiveness, we should also extend it to others. According to Jesus, our generous and constant forgiveness of others should be the natural result of our understanding of the forgiveness God has extended to us.

To put it simply, forgiven people ought to be forgiving people.

 

https://www.harvest.org/

Kids 4 Truth International – God Is Not Afraid of Anything

“When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the LORD thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 20:1)

The flight attendant asked Maggie what she would like to drink, and she said, “Apple juice, please.” Everyone else was unbuckling their seatbelts and digging in their bags for books or iPods, but Maggie just kept her belt buckled and sat straight up with her hands tightly clutching the loop of her backpack. Her seat was right next to the aisle, and she was trying to keep at least one flight attendant in sight at all times. You see, Maggie hated to fly, especially by herself. Oh sure, there were a hundred or so more people on the plane with her, but none of them were her dad.

No, her dad was probably just getting home now after dropping her off at the airport. They had spent a fun weekend together, even visiting an amusement park. She was never afraid to ride the roller coasters when her dad rode next to her. Now, she was stuck on this plane, thousands of feet above the highest of any of those roller coasters, and no dad sitting next to her. Not a good feeling. And this was how it was going to be, every other weekend – for years, probably – home with Mom in St. Louis one day, flying off to Kansas City the next day to be with Dad.

Do you have someone or something that takes away your fear? Some people are afraid of the dark, and they like to sleep with a nightlight turned on. Maggie is afraid of flying, and of going on roller coasters – but it’s ok for her when her dad is along. There are kids who like to carry a certain blanket or stuffed animal with them because it helps them to feel brave. Some grown-ups feel brave only if they have a lot of money in the bank or if they have good medical insurance. Human beings are fearful. We fear monsters or bad dreams. We are afraid of pain. We are afraid to fail. We are afraid to try new things because we are afraid to fail!

God is not afraid of anything! He does not need to be! Think about it: God is perfect; so He can never sin or make a mistake or let someone down. God is all-powerful; so there is nothing bigger or greater or stronger than He is. God is all-knowing; so nothing is ever a surprise to Him, and He never has to guess how a hard situation is going to turn out. God is sovereign, which means He is always in control of everything that happens. No roller coaster could scare God. Problems that our families have are not a surprise to God, and nothing in the whole world is too hard for God.

Continue reading Kids 4 Truth International – God Is Not Afraid of Anything

The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – The Heartbeat of the Godly

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 42:2

“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”

In Psalm 27:4, David expressed an intense desire for God: “one thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” David yearned intensely for God himself that he might enjoy his presence and his beauty. Because God is a spirit, his beauty obviously refers not to a physical appearance but to his attributes. David enjoyed dwelling upon the majesty and greatness, the holiness and goodness of God. But David did more than contemplate the beauty of God’s attributes; he sought God himself, for elsewhere he says, “earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you” (Psalm 63:1, NIV).

The apostle Paul also experienced this longing for God: “I want to know Christ” (Philippians 3:10, NIV). The Amplified Bible forcefully catches the intensity of Paul’s desire in this passage: “[For my determined purpose is] that I may know him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of his Person more strongly and more clearly].”

This is the heartbeat of the godly person. As he contemplates God in the awesomeness of his infinite majesty, power, and holiness, and then as he dwells upon the riches of his mercy and grace poured out at Calvary, his heart is captivated by this one who could love him so. He is satisfied with God alone, but he is never satisfied with his present experience of God. He always yearns for more.

 

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The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – The Word Convicts of Sin

Today’s Scripture: Genesis 6-9

What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? – Romans 3:3

Today’s passage concerning the Flood is directly related to a modern difficulty you may be facing. Maybe you’ve talked with someone about Christ, only to have them respond, “I don’t believe the Bible.” What does that have to do with the Flood, you ask?

Let me illustrate. I took a course on evolution in college. One of the professor’s stated objectives was to destroy the faith of any Christian in the class. So I began to witness to him. One day when I left the room, his lab assistant followed me and expressed interest in what I had been saying. I invited him to see the Moody Science film “Dust or Destiny,” which showed the remarkable wisdom in the creative acts of God.

He was impressed, and when I asked him if the film had changed his thinking, he told me it had. He could plainly see there was far more evidence for the truth of the creation story than for evolution. “But I have no intention of becoming a Christian,” he said. “It would mean turning from my sin, and I’m not ready to do that.” It was a moral issue, not an intellectual issue. And this is why some people are so reluctant to believe the biblical account of the Flood. It is clearly tied to the judgment of God and the sinfulness of man.

As you witness to people, you may encounter those who say, “I don’t believe the Bible.” When that happens, just remember that we’re not out to win arguments but to win men and women to personal faith in Jesus Christ. That takes prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit. So keep sharing the truth of the Bible, even with those who say they can’t believe it.

Prayer

Lord, help me to keep on telling others about Your Word–even those people who dismiss it. Amen.

To Ponder

Since the Holy Spirit uses the Word to convict us of sin, we should be faithful to proclaim it to others.

 

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BreakPoint –  The Truth about Miscarriage: Grieving the Loss of an Embodied Spirit

The abortion industry, and politicians allegiant to it, will defend to the death—pun intended—a woman’s so-called “right” to end the life of a living, developing human being in her womb for any and every reason.

But strangely, when it comes to a miscarriage—that is, the unintended death of an unborn baby by natural causes—its script suddenly changes. Consider these words from Planned Parenthood: “Miscarriage is a common event in many women’s lives. Those of us who have had miscarriages know how difficult the experience can be. Miscarriage can leave us with many emotions to sort out.”

By God’s grace, my wife and I have never experienced a miscarriage, like so many of our friends and co-workers. Difficult seems like an inadequate word for the pain resulting from miscarriage—though the nation’s largest abortion provider fails to mention why: because it is the loss of a precious human being in the womb. Planned Parenthood’s concern for miscarriage’s unintended loss seems quite disingenuous given they want us to celebrate the intentional taking of 55 million human beings since Roe v. Wade.

But such logical schizophrenia is not confined to those who defend the legal right to abortion. Those of us on the pro-life side can also be inconsistent. While many Christians can make the case for the dignity of human life in the womb when it comes to the evil of abortion, when it comes to miscarriage—which ends between 10 percent and 25 percent of all clinically recognized pregnancies—the response is often far different. By the words we say or leave unsaid, too often we risk dehumanizing the child who has died and discouraging the grieving parent.

That’s the assessment of Constance T. Hull, who’s experienced four miscarriages herself. Writing in The Public Discourse (an excellent publication by the way), she encourages us to speak frankly about miscarriage. How? By acknowledging the reality that miscarriage represents—to borrow the wording of Thomas Aquinas—the loss of an “embodied spirit.”

Continue reading BreakPoint –  The Truth about Miscarriage: Grieving the Loss of an Embodied Spirit

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – WORRY AS A CHALLENGE TO FAITH: SUCCESS

Read ESTHER 4:6–16

A good biblical definition of courage is standing firm in the Lord. As Paul wrote: “I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you” (Phil. 1:27–28).

By this standard, Esther is a tremendous example of biblical courage. She stood firm in the Lord and was not frightened by those opposing her, even though they were among the most powerful men in the world. Though initially and understandably worried by the challenges facing her, she responded in faith and God gave her success.

Esther had definite reasons to feel anxious. Haman, a powerful court official, had plotted to commit genocide against her people, the Jews, a plan that had been enacted into imperial law (Esther 3). For Queen Esther to attempt to intervene on their behalf, as her uncle Mordecai had requested, meant putting her life on the line. Appearing before King Xerxes without a summons brought an automatic death penalty, unless he pardoned the offense (v. 11).

Mordecai declared that God had placed her in her royal position “for such a time as this” and exhorted her to join the Lord’s side (v. 14). Esther’s faith was firm but not reckless. When she said, “If I perish, I perish” (v. 16), she was not embracing stoicism or fatalism but expressing dependence upon God. We know this from her prayer and fasting and from her request for her people to join her in coming before the Lord in this way. We might compare her with Joseph, who accepted that God had sent him into slavery to save lives and deliver His people (Gen. 45:4–11). In the end, God answered their prayers, blessed Esther’s intercession before Xerxes with success, saved the Jews, and executed justice on Haman.

APPLY THE WORD

Yesterday, we encouraged you to “be still” before the Lord. Today, we urge you to “take courage.” Perhaps God has shown you what to do, but the way seems difficult or risky. Follow Esther’s example. Don’t be anxious or fearful, but rather seek the Lord in prayer and fasting, then step out boldly in courage and faith.

 

http://www.todayintheword.org

Denison Forum – More Christians affirm same-sex marriage: my response

Popular Christian author Glennon Doyle Melton recently announced that she is dating Olympic gold medalist Abby Wambach. This after inspirational author Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame announced her romantic relationship with her female best friend. Two weeks ago, Christian author Jen Hatmaker and her pastor husband Brandon announced that they support same-sex marriage as well.

Unsurprisingly, the move to affirm same-sex marriage is affecting churches. For instance, First Baptist Church of Austin has adopted a “diversity statement” that welcomes members regardless of sexual orientation into “the full life of our community.” Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas announced last Monday that a majority of its members voted to open weddings, baby dedications, ordination, and leadership positions to people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

With more and more Christian churches and public figures endorsing same-sex marriage, it might seem that those who do not go along will be left behind. But popularity must never be a test for truth. Conventional wisdom is often less than wise.

I am convinced for numerous reasons that God intends marriage to be a monogamous covenant between a man and a woman. Of course, this subject is much larger than I can address adequately in this brief article, so I invite you to download my white paper, How to defend biblical marriage: What you need to know about homosexuality, same-sex marriage and the Bible.

However, I do want to address one way many proponents of same-sex marriage have argued for their position. They claim that people in the biblical era did not know of monogamous, loving same-sex commitment or marriage, so that the numerous biblical prohibitions against same-sex relations are irrelevant to such relationships. But it is a fact that same-sex relations were common in the ancient world; homosexual marriage continued in the Roman Empire until it was made illegal in AD 342.

Continue reading Denison Forum – More Christians affirm same-sex marriage: my response