Charles Stanley –The Cost of Running From God

 

Jonah 4:9-11

You would think a life-threatening sea storm and a few days in a fish’s belly would shake some sense into a person. Yet that wasn’t the case with Jonah. The final paragraphs of his story reveal a vengeful prophet who ostensibly obeyed the Lord but allowed his heart to remain on the run.

Jonah paid a financial price for running from God—his ticket to Tarshish (Jonah 1:3). And any Sunday school student can tell you the physical consequences he endured. But when those events were long past, Jonah still grappled with the spiritual cost of his flight. His peace and joy were gone. In their place was bitterness so strong that he begged God for the relief that death would bring.

As believers, we cannot disobey the Lord without paying a price. Certainly our spiritual life weakens. The skills and abilities God has bestowed on us will atrophy from lack of use while we waste time fleeing. And our actions could also have negative consequences in other areas, such as our family, finances, and health.

Perhaps you have a habit, a plan, or a current course of action that you know defies God’s will. Have you considered the cost? Though Satan may try to convince you otherwise, there are consequences for wrongdoing. The Lord is holy and righteous, and allowing people to get away with sin is simply incompatible with those attributes. What’s more, the price for following your own will is high. Just look at how miserable Jonah was because of the choices he made. The reward for obeying God is much more pleasing.

Bible in One Year: Numbers 3-5

 

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Our Daily Bread — The Advocate

Read: 1 John 1:8–2:2

Bible in a Year: Leviticus 6–7; Matthew 25:1–30

If anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.—1 John 2:1

From a Florida prison cell in June 1962, Clarence Earl Gideon wrote a note asking the United States Supreme Court to review his conviction for a crime he said he didn’t commit. He added that he didn’t have the means to hire a lawyer.

One year later, in the historic case of Gideon v. Wainright, the Supreme Court ruled that people who cannot afford the cost of their own defense must be given a public defender—an advocate—provided by the state. With this decision, and with the help of a court-appointed lawyer, Clarence Gideon was retried and acquitted.

But what if we are not innocent? According to the apostle Paul, we are all guilty. But the court of heaven provides an Advocate who, at God’s expense, offers to defend and care for our soul (1 John 2:2). On behalf of His Father, Jesus comes to us offering a freedom that even prison inmates have described as better than anything they’ve experienced on the outside. It is a freedom of heart and mind.

Whether suffering for wrongs done by us or to us, we all can be represented by Jesus. By the highest of authority He responds to every request for mercy, forgiveness, and comfort.

Jesus, our Advocate, can turn a prison of lost hope, fear, or regret into the place of His presence. —Mart DeHaan

Father in heaven, please help us to know what it means to have the freedom of Your love and presence. May we experience this freedom even in places that we have only seen as our confinement!

The one who died as our substitute now lives as our advocate.

INSIGHT: John encourages us to be honest about ourselves. Actually, his words are more of a warning than they are encouragement. Writing to a struggling church, John reminds his readers that we all struggle with sin and the claim that we don’t struggle has several drastic consequences: We deceive ourselves, the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8), we make God out to be a liar, and His word is not in us (v. 10). But John’s point is not a downer. Those warnings surround a very familiar promise. Our sins do not keep us from God—because when we acknowledge (confess) them, we are forgiven for them (v. 9). What do you need to confess as sin and then trust that God has forgiven? J.R. Hudberg

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Searching for the Hidden Wholeness

The Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus—a group in the “sacred music” category— have recently released a new album to widespread critical acclaim. Entitled Beauty Will Save the World, the album features, among other things, monastic chants, snatches of hymns, and surging choral arrangements. Most significantly, it concludes with St. Ambrose’s prayer, “Before the Ending of the Day.”

When asked about the inclusion of all these conspicuously Christian elements, the group replied, “We have always been concerned with the sacred or — perhaps more accurately — the loss of the sacred. We are searching for its echoes and traces which are scattered and hidden in surprising and forgotten places.”(1)

In many ways, this is an apt description of those canvassing the cultural landscape for signs of life. In the case of this particular track, the church is the “hidden and forgotten” place. Like many of today’s musicians, this group is drawing on sacred traditions to reach contemporary audiences. What distinguishes The Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus is that they are doing so by honoring the original intent of those traditions, preserving their deep spiritual roots. In their own words, “Sometimes it feels as though our work is less about creation and more about investigation and excavation. We borrow, gather and unearth material from different sources — not all of them obviously sacred or spiritual — but we are looking for the connecting thread and evidence of what Thomas Merton called ‘the hidden wholeness.’ Beauty is there. It is not created, it is discovered and restored.”

Demurring from a pervasive assumption about the arts, the philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff says, “A hymn is a good hymn if it serves its purpose effectively and then in addition proves good and satisfying to use for this purpose, that purpose being to enable a congregation to offer praise to God—not, be it noted, to give delight upon aesthetic contemplation.”(2) Wolterstorff approvingly notes the famed hymnist Isaac Watts’s scrupulous commitment “to sink every line to the level of a whole congregation and yet to keep it above contempt.”(3) In a very real sense, these sacred traditions cannot be understood apart from sincere participation. A hymn is fully realized only when you add your voice to the worshipping congregation. St. Ambrose’s prayer becomes a real prayer only when it is uttered with honest conviction. These practices are not made for patrons in a museum; they are made for pilgrims in search of paradise.

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Joyce Meyer –Defeating Discouragement

 

Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, my Help and my God. —Psalm 42:5

In today’s verse, the psalmist is clearly discouraged. Discouragement destroys hope, so naturally the enemy tries hard to discourage us. Without hope we give up, which is exactly what the devil wants us to do.

The Bible repeatedly tells us not to be discouraged or dismayed. God knows that we will not be strong or victorious if we lose our courage, and He wants us to be encouraged, not discouraged. When discouragement tries to overtake you, the first thing to do is to examine your thought life. What kinds of thoughts have you been thinking? Have they sounded something like this? I am not going to make it; this is too hard. I always fail; I may as well give up. God probably doesn’t answer my prayers because He is so disappointed in the way I act.

If these examples represent your thoughts, no wonder you despair! You become what you think. Think discouraging thoughts, and you will get discouraged. Change your thinking and be set free!

Love Yourself Today: Instead of thinking negatively, think more like this: Well, things are going a little slowly, but, thank God, I am making some progress. I am sure glad I’m on the right path. I had a rough day yesterday. I chose wrong thinking all day long. Father, forgive me, and help me to keep on keeping on. This is a new day. You love me, Lord. Your mercy is new every morning. I refuse to be discouraged. Father, You sent Jesus to die for me. I’ll be fine—today will be a great day. I ask You to help me choose right thoughts today.

From the book Love Out Loud by Joyce Meyer.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Heavens Declare God’s Glory

“The heavens are telling the glory of God; they are a marvelous display of His craftmanship” (Psalm 19:1).

When King David was a small lad, his father assigned him the care of the sheep. Day after day, night after night he cared for his sheep as a loving shepherd. No doubt on numerous occasions he would lie on his back and look up at the sun and the vastness of space, during the daytime. At night, the stars and the moon would seem so close that he could almost reach them, as he would talk to the God of his fathers.

The vast expanse of creation captivated him, and instinctively he knew that God, who created it all, was his God and he could trust Him with his life, so that just before he went against the giant Goliath he could say to King Saul, “When I am taking care of my father’s sheep and a lion or a bear comes and grabs a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club…I’ve done it to this heathen Philistine too, for he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who saved me from the claws and teeth of the lion and the bear will save me from this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:34-37). When David went out against Goliath, he said to the giant, “You come to me with a sword and a spear, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of the armies of heaven and of Israel” (1 Samuel 17:45). Then with a sling and a stone, he killed the Philistine.

I personally believe David triumphed because his confidence in God came not only from the teachings of the holy Scriptures, but also from the experience that he had had with God, who created all the heavens and the earth.

Bible Reading: Psalm 19:2-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will make a special point to study the vastness of God’s creation through books about science and to take time – not only in Scriptures, but also in books of science — to notice the handiwork of God’s beautiful creation, conscious that it will help me to become more sensitive and alert to the needs of others.

 

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Max Lucado – Wave the White Flag

 

How do you deal with your guilt? Many voices urge you to look deep within and find an invisible strength or hidden power. This is a dangerous exercise. Self-assessment without God’s guidance leads to either denial or shame. We need neither!

We need a prayer of grace-based confession, like David’s. After a year of denial, he finally prayed, “God, be merciful to me because you are loving. Because you are always ready to be merciful, wipe out all my wrongs. Wash away all my guilt and make me clean again. I know about my wrongs and I can’t forget my sin…You are right when you speak and fair when you judge” (Psalm 51:1-4 NCV).

David waved the white flag. He came clean with God. And you? Are you ready to wave the white flag and admit your arguments are futile? Are you ready to come clean with God?

From God is With You Every Day

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Is a satellite watching you right now?

There are currently 1,419 operational satellites orbiting the earth (another 2,837 are in space but no longer working). In total, more than 2,000 tons of metal is circling our planet. Add all the drones and communications surveillance being employed, and it’s easy to become paranoid.

Now the number of eyes in the sky is about to change dramatically. Next week, the startup Planet plans to launch eighty-eight tiny satellites into orbit. They will add these to their existing fleet of orbiting cameras, completing a network that will take a picture of every place on Earth, every day—including where you are at any time, day or night.

There’s a spiritual principle here worth contemplating today.

An excellent reason to do the right thing is because it’s the right thing. But another is because there are consequences if you don’t. Not only are more people watching you than ever before, but your omniscient Lord “sees everything under the heavens” (Job 28:24) and “searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought” (1 Chronicles 28:9; cf. Acts 1:24; 1 Corinthians 2:11). The consequences of sin are death (Romans 6:23). Sin always takes us further than we wanted to go, keeps us longer than we wanted to stay, and costs us more than we wanted to pay.

It’s not surprising that 90 percent of people surveyed have a major regret about something in their lives. To let go of regret, counselors say, we should try to learn something from the mistake, look on the bright side, choose not to dwell on it, and take action to fix it. Most of all, we should act to correct what is wrong today, before it’s too late and we are left with regrets over things undone and unsaid.

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