Charles Stanley –Seeing Christ in Our Circumstances

 

Philippians 1:12-25

If you had the power to change your circumstances, would you? Since no one has a life without problems, most of us would immediately say yes. However, the reality is that we must learn to live with some of our difficult circumstances, because only God has the power to alter them—and in His providence, He’s allowed them to remain.

Take the apostle Paul, for example. He had a desire to go to Rome and preach the gospel but didn’t anticipate the route God would use to bring him there. It began with false accusations in Jerusalem, an appeal to Caesar, a rough sea voyage, and a shipwreck and eventually included time spent in a Roman prison. This was probably not what Paul had envisioned, but as he sat chained to a Roman guard, he wrote the following words to the church in Philippi: “My circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel” (Phil. 1:12). The very circumstance that may have seemed like an unfair misfortune became the avenue for fruitful service.

What looks like a shipwreck or detour in our plans could actually be God’s ordained path for our lives. It may include financial challenges, health issues, relational conflicts, or any number of other hardships, but there is one certainty to which we can cling: Jesus Christ is our life, and He never changes.

Conditions around us will fluctuate, but if we belong to Christ, He’ll use every situation to accomplish His will in and through us. Even when we face matters of life and death, we can share Paul’s desire—that Christ would be exalted in us, whether through life or death.

Bible in One Year: Deuteronomy 6-8

 

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Our Daily Bread — Press On

Read: Philippians 3:12–21

Bible in a Year: Numbers 7–8; Mark 4:21–41

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.—Philippians 3:14

One of my favorite television programs is The Amazing Race. In this reality show, ten couples are sent to a foreign country where they must race, via trains, buses, cabs, bikes, and feet, from one point to another to get their instructions for the next challenge. The goal is for one couple to get to a designated finishing point before everyone else, and the prize is a million dollars.

The apostle Paul compared the Christian life to a race and admitted that he had not yet arrived at the finish line. “Brothers and sisters,” he said, “I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize” (Phil. 3:13-14). Paul did not look back and allow his past failures to weigh him down with guilt, nor did he let his present successes make him complacent. He pressed on toward the goal of becoming more and more like Jesus.

We are running this race too. Despite our past failures or successes, let us keep pressing on toward the ultimate goal of becoming more like Jesus. We are not racing for an earthly prize, but for the ultimate reward of enjoying Him forever. —Marvin Williams

Read Philippians 4:11-13. How are we able to press on toward our future hope? Read Hebrews 12:1-2. What are some practical things we must do to continue to press on and persevere?

Never call it quits in pursuing Jesus.

INSIGHT: Philippians 3 describes the delicate balance needed to face the obstacles of the Christian life. The apostle Paul uses athletic terms to describe our journey of faith. He tells us not to look at the past, to realize we are incomplete, and to remember that moving toward the goal is everything. Only God’s grace can help us to be strong finishers in the Christian life. Dennis Fisher

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Between Dust and Mystery

The dictionary defines the word “vacation” as “a period of time devoted to pleasure, rest, or relaxation.” Though I imagine it happens less often than not, it seems the ideal vacation would come to an end just as the life we left behind begins to seem preferable. Yet even if it is with reluctance that we let go of our last vacation day, most of us can imagine why we must. By definition, a vacation is something that must come to an end. To vacate life as we know it on a permanent basis would be called something different entirely.

Though we know that the days of a vacation or holiday are short-lived, we nevertheless enjoy them. Even as they fade away into the calendar, they are remembered (and often nostalgically). That they were few does not hinder their impact. On the contrary, a few days devoted to relaxation are made valuable because of the many that are not.

And we know this to be true of life as well—that it is fleeting, makes it all the more momentous.

Art installation by Gianfranco Angelico Benvenuto in Milan on April, 23 2012, in honor of those who died working on Milan Piazza Duomo, photo by Eugenio Marongiu.

The artists among us often give voice to the things we seem collectively to work at putting out of our minds, sometimes simply stating something obvious. Musician Dave Matthews admits, “There are arbitrary lines between bad and good that often don’t make a lot of sense to me. I don’t want to die, obviously, but really, the wonder of life is amplified by the fact that it ends.”(1)

Like withering grass and dwindling summers, fading flowers and holidays, life cannot escape its end. Like the seasons we live through, generations spring forth and die away. Like the vacations we take, so our days pass away into the calendar. If we refuse to look at any of these endings we live foolishly; if we look only to their ends we miss something about living.

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Joyce Meyer – You Can Remove “Spiritual Roadblocks”

It is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God and made Him my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.— Psalm 73:28

There are many examples in God’s Word of men and women who went through periods of questioning, doubting, blaming, and even criticizing God. But they realized they were being foolish. They repented and turned back to trusting God instead of being angry with Him.

This psalmist is one of those people. Here is my paraphrase of his progression from anger to trust in Psalm 73: “God, it sure seems that the wicked prosper and do better than I do. I am trying to live a godly life, but it does not seem to be doing any good. It looks as if it’s all in vain. I am having nothing but trouble, and when I try to understand it, the pain is too much for me. However, I have spent time with You, and I can understand that in the end the wicked come to ruin and destruction. My heart was grieved. I was bitter and in a state of upset. I was stupid, ignorant, and behaving like a beast. Now I see that You are continually with me. You hold my right hand. Who do I have in heaven, God, but You? Who will help me? If You don’t, there is no one on earth who can help me. You are my strength and my portion forever. It is good for me to trust in You, O Lord, and make You my refuge” (see vv. 12-28).

If you are stuck in a place of bitterness toward God, I encourage you to go through the process of forgiveness. Anger toward God is a “spiritual roadblock”—perhaps stronger than any other. Why? Simply because anger closes the door to the only One Who can help, heal, comfort, or restore our emotions, relationships, and lives. While God doesn’t need our forgiveness, we need to forgive Him and repent in order to be released from bitterness and resentment. If we have been harboring a grudge against God, we must forgive Him so we can experience His power and blessing in our lives and our relationships.

Trust in Him: It isn’t wrong to feel anger, but you must quickly realize you have no reason to hold on to anger against God, the One Who knows what is best for you. Don’t let a “spiritual roadblock” keep you from trusting Him.

From the book Trusting God Day by Day by Joyce Meyer.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Kingdom of Heaven

“Happy are those who are persecuted because they are good, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs” (Matthew 5:10).

Have you ever been persecuted because of your faith in Christ? If so, how did you respond?

While Francis Xavier was preaching one day in one of the cities of Japan, a man walked up to him as if he had something to say to him privately. As the missionary leaned closer to hear what he had to say, the man spat on his face.

Without a word or the least sign of annoyance, Xavier pulled out a handkerchief and wiped his face. Then he went on with his important message as if nothing had happened. The scorn of the audience was turned to admiration.

The most learned doctor of the city happened to be present.

“A law which teaches men such virtue, inspires them with such courage, and gives them such complete mastery over themselves,” he said, “could not but be from God.”

Supernatural power and enablement by God’s Holy Spirit make that kind of behavior possible for every believer. Furthermore, that kind of behavior probably will do more to attract and influence an unbelieving world than words ever can.

With Christ as our example, love as our motive, and humility as our covering, let us depend on God’s Holy Spirit for the wisdom and strength required to respond to mistreatment in a Christ-like way. Then, and only then, are we in a position to reflect honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Bible Reading: Matthew 5:7-12

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Mindful that millions of Christians have died as martyrs getting the message of God’s good news through to men, and remembering that “all who live godly lives in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution, “I will not shrink from whatever the Lord may have in store for me today as His witness. Drawing upon the supernatural resources of God, I will demonstrate by my words and witness that I belong to Christ.

 

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Max Lucado – Go Ahead– Ask

 

The prayer of Moses moved God to change his mind. Exodus 32:14 says, “So the Lord changed his mind and did not destroy the people as he said he might.”

This is the promise of prayer! We can change God’s mind! God’s ultimate will is inflexible. He does not change in his character and purpose, but he does alter his strategy because of the appeals of his children. After all, we are ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20)! Ambassadors represent the king. They carry with them the imprimatur of the one who sent them. If an ambassador sends a request to the king, will the king listen? If you, God’s ambassador in this world, come to your King with a request, will he listen? By all means.

So, be bold. Be audacious. Be confident. The Lord of all heaven promises that if you ask anything according to His will, He hears you (1 John 5:14).

From God is With You Every Day

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Muslims help rebuild Jewish cemetery

A historical Jewish cemetery in Missouri was vandalized this past weekend, damaging nearly 200 headstones. Chesel Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, just west of St. Louis, has served Jewish families in the area for 124 years. The attack toppled some headstones and damaged others.

Tragically, this is not new news. A recent wave of bomb threats caused eleven Jewish community centers to close temporarily. Terrorizing phone calls have targeted fifty-four Jewish community centers in twenty-seven states this year. Graffiti and swastikas have been reported on some college campuses as well as the New York City subway. President Trump denounced these crimes yesterday, stating that “anti-Semitism is horrible and it’s going to stop and it has to stop.”

But one dimension of the tragedy is good news: a group of Muslim Americans organized a campaign to repair the damaged cemetery. More than $80,000 was raised in the first twenty-four hours. Every dollar will go to the cemetery. Any remaining funds after the cemetery is restored will be allocated to repair other vandalized Jewish centers.

Anti-Semitism is a horrific sin as ancient as Israel’s enslavement in Egypt and as recent as the wave of attacks now escalating across America and Europe. Some aspects of this prejudice are unique to the remarkable Jewish people—jealousy over their material success, educational achievements, and cultural accomplishments. But other aspects are common to all racial prejudice—if I decide that I am superior to you based on our races, I can maintain this fiction even when your achievements, income, and social status exceed mine. Bigotry is the sin of small minds and souls.

Here’s the good news: no matter how the world feels about you, God knows your name. Right now.

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