Charles Stanley –Learning Contentment

 

Philippians 4:10-13

We usually associate contentment with good conditions. When our family relationships are great, work is fulfilling, and we have no health or financial problems, then we feel at ease. But if something goes wrong, our satisfaction vanishes.

That’s not what today’s passage is talking about. Paul had learned to be content no matter what his conditions were. This is wonderful news for us because it means we aren’t at the mercy of our circumstances; we, too, can learn to be content regardless of what we’re facing. We should remember:

Paul was content because he rested in God’s faithfulness. He knew the Lord was in full control (Psalm 103:19) and promised to work all things for His children’s good (Romans 8:28). In any and every circumstance, Paul rested in the security of God’s sovereign, loving hand. The apostle also trusted that whatever he needed would be provided in the Lord’s time.

His contentment also flowed from a focus on Christ. Although he was writing from a Roman prison, Paul wasn’t feeling like a victim or wallowing in self-pity. Throughout the letter to the Philippians, he talked about Jesus. In fact, his greatest pursuit in life was to know Christ, His power, and the fellowship of His sufferings (Romans 3:10). No circumstance could hinder that pursuit. On the contrary, every situation—even when painful or difficult—was an opportunity to know Christ more intimately.

We’ll never be able to find lasting contentment in our circumstances, but we can find it in Christ. When we surrender our life to Him, our situation may not change, but we will. No matter what we face, we can be content.

Bible in One Year: Deuteronomy 9-11

 

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Our Daily Bread — The Land of “What Is”

Read: Psalm 46:1–7

Bible in a Year: Numbers 9–11; Mark 5:1–20

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.—1 Thessalonians 4:13

Even all these years after losing our seventeen-year-old daughter Melissa in a car accident in 2002, I sometimes find myself entering the world of “What If.” It’s easy, in grief, to reimagine the events of that tragic June evening and think of factors that—if rearranged—would have had Mell arriving safely home.

In reality, though, the land of “What If” is not a good place to be for any of us. It is a place of regret, second-guessing, and hopelessness. While the grief is real and the sadness endures, life is better and God is honored if we dwell in the world of “What Is.”

In that world, we can find hope, encouragement, and comfort. We have the sure hope (1 Thess. 4:13)—the assurance—that because Melissa loved Jesus she is in a place that is “better by far” (Phil. 1:23). We have the helpful presence of the God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3). We have God’s “ever-present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). And we often have the encouragement of fellow believers.

We all wish to avoid the tragedies of life. But when we do face hard times, our greatest help comes from trusting God, our sure hope in the land of What Is. —Dave Branon

Father God, You know my broken heart. You know the pain of loss because You suffered through the death of Your Son. In the midst of ongoing sorrow, help me to dwell in the comfort of Your hope, encouragement, and comfort.

Our greatest hope comes from trusting God.

INSIGHT: In Psalm 46, the psalmist uses exaggeration to express his trust in the safety God provides. He tells of feeling safe in circumstances where safety is unimaginable. When the very ground under our feet is uncertain, the psalmist expresses confidence in the protection of the Lord. He isn’t saying, “Do not fear” because our circumstances are not fear-worthy, but because our God is bigger than our troubles. In uncertain times, He is stable. The mountains crumbling into the sea is a graphic image of the most stable land feature giving way. In what circumstances do you need to remember that God is constant and unchanging? How can you express your trust in Him as your refuge? J.R. Hudberg

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Teachers in the Dark

Doubt everything, find your own light.(1) So recommends the Buddha in his last words. It sounds like good advice, but then the human heart invariably presses on to doubt itself! After all, what kind of assurance can we have that this light is real light or true? The hunger for meaning, the quest for understanding, the search for answers and solutions are central features of the human condition.

For instance, what is the nature of reality? What is existence all about? What is the purpose of life, if any, and what should we try to give answers to?

A much-neglected resource for reflection in this area is the book of Ecclesiastes, from the preacher, or Qoheleth in Hebrew. It is a book that speaks profoundly to our times by asking questions, by setting out contradictions, and by forcing the reader to feel what absurdity as an outlook is really like.

As the book opens, we are confronted with its most famous words, “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity and a striving after wind.” Or in another translation of Ecclesiastes 1:2: “‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher, ‘Utterly Meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’” Not a very inspiring start! He has devoted himself to explore life, to examine what is good for humanity to do under the sun, and his observations have yielded some depressing results: Everything in life seems to be bound by inevitability. Human freedom appears to be constrained by overwhelming necessities, leading to a sense of helplessness. And the endless cycle of repetition leads to a sense of boredom, pointlessness, and despair.

Many a sage, philosopher, and guru have come to similar conclusions. What is unique to Ecclesiastes is how the author tackles the issues and what he leads us to see. By laying out the vanities of life, the propensities of youth, the all-encompassing reach of death, and the vast urgency of wisdom as a potential life-philosophy, he engages a chaotic world with some serious reflections. The writer takes us on a journey through life, and he deals with the questions and exasperations that we all inevitably encounter. His own desire was to try and figure things out so he could live well and be content, and encourage others to do the same. He likely hoped to discover the key or missing ingredient, the clues to true and lasting success and happiness.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Teachers in the Dark

Joyce Meyer – Filled with His Light

And this is the message [the message of promise] which we have heard from Him and now are reporting to you: God is Light, and there is no darkness in Him at all [no, not in any way]. [So] if we say we are partakers together and enjoy fellowship with Him when we live and move and are walking about in darkness, we are [both] speaking falsely and do not live and practice the Truth [which the Gospel presents].—1 John 1:5-6

So often the things we try to hide by burying them deep inside ourselves become darkness within us. But this passage tells us in God there is no darkness at all. So when we allow Him full entrance into our hearts and minds, there will be no darkness there. I am so glad that God fills every room in my heart, so that I am filled with His light. There are no places in my heart that I know of that are blocked off from Him and the light that comes with His presence. Often one of the signs that we are walking in the light of the Gospel is that we have good relationships with everyone with whom we come in contact in our daily lives—including our spouse and our children.

I can truthfully say that right now I do not know of any person in my life with whom I have a major problem. And it is not because they have all changed. The reason is that I have allowed the Lord to come into those dark recesses of my heart and fill them with His marvelous light. When I was one person on the inside and another person on the outside, I had to wear masks and be phony. I had to put on a facade and play games. I am so glad that now I can stand before God and my family and everyone else and be at peace with myself and with others.

I no longer have to live in fear of what anyone thinks of me, because I have opened my heart to God’s Holy Spirit and He has lighted up the dark places within me so I can live free! You can say the same thing if you will open your heart to God and allow Him to fill every part of you with His life-giving Spirit.

From the book New Day, New You by Joyce Meyer.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Don’t Worry

“So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time” (Matthew 6:34).

The taxi driver who drove me from the airport to the hotel in Virginia Beach stated several times that he was having difficulty making ends meet for his wife and 2-year-old son.

He had two jobs and worked seven days a week. Even so, he could hardly get by. The rent was high; the utility bills were extravagant, and he was trying to save enough money so that he could move to another city where the hourly wages were considerably higher. There, he would be able to achieve a better way of life.

I asked him if he went to church.

“No,” he said, “I don’t have time. I’m too busy.”

During the next 30 minutes we talked about the love of God, and God’s purpose and plan for men which was revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ.

“I once went to church as a young man,” he said,” and my mother is very religious. In fact, she used to preach to me all the time. But somehow I have gotten away from God and from the church.”

I shared with him the Four Spiritual Laws, and the prayer: “Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.”

By the time we reached the hotel, he was ready to pray that prayer in all earnestness, from the depths of his heart. So he offered the prayer, and I prayed with him. And it seemed as though, before my very eyes, the load he had been carrying for so long was lifted and that God, who had made the promise, had already begun to fulfill that promise.

Bible Reading: Matthew 6:28-33

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will ask God to help me forget the conflicts and unfortunate memories of the past: to take no anxious thought for tomorrow, and to joyfully live in the reality of His supernatural presence and provision.

 

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Max Lucado – Qualifying the Called

 

God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called. Don’t let Satan convince you otherwise. Satan will tell you that God has an IQ requirement or an entry fee… that he employs only specialists and experts, governments and high-powered personalities.

When Satan whispers such lies, dismiss him with this truth: God stampeded the first-century society with swaybacks, not thoroughbreds! Their collars were blue, their hands were calloused, and there is no evidence that Jesus chose them because they were smarter or nicer than the guy next door. The one thing they had going for them was a willingness to take a step when Jesus said, “Follow me.”

Are you more dinghy than cruise ship? More stand-in than movie star? More plumber than executive? More blue jeans than blue blood? Congratulations! God changes the world with folks like you!

From God is With You Every Day

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Are transgender rights civil rights?

Should transgender people be able to use the bathroom and shower facility that corresponds to their gender identity? This was the position of the Obama administration when it issued an edict last May requiring public schools to permit this choice. The administration threatened to withhold federal funding for schools that did not comply. A federal judge then put a hold on the president’s order.

To those who claim that this decision should be left to the states and to local school districts, supporters of the Obama mandate counter that civil rights take precedence over states’ rights. For instance, in Virginia v. Loving, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Virginia’s statute forbidding interracial marriage was unconstitutional. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 likewise outlawed racial segregation in schools, even though such policies had been enacted by local school authorities.

If transgender rights are civil rights, the argument goes, they should be enforced even over the objections of states and school districts.

The Trump administration clearly disagrees. Last Wednesday, the president issued an order rescinding Mr. Obama’s directive. He stated that states and public schools should have the authority to make their own decisions without federal interference. As a result, states and school districts will now be able to decide for themselves whether federal sex discrimination law applies to gender identity.

The president’s order includes language stating that schools must protect transgender students from bullying. And it does not require individual schools to prevent transgender students from using the bathroom of their choice. It simply gives them the right to make this decision free from federal interference.

But what of the argument that civil rights supersede states’ rights? Here’s my response: unlike previous civil rights legislation, transgender civil rights significantly impact the civil rights of all people.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Are transgender rights civil rights?