Charles Stanley –Building Intimacy With God


Genesis 16:1-16; Genesis 17:1-8

Intimacy with God doesn’t just happen. It requires determination and a significant investment of time and effort. As we seek closeness with Him, we must learn …

Conflict Resolution. In human disputes, there is usually error on both sides. But if we find ourselves in conflict with God, then we know we are in the wrong—He is always right. When Abraham fathered a child by Hagar, there was great strife in his home. God kept His promise to make Abraham a father of many nations but did not lift the multi-generational discord that resulted from his actions. No matter the circumstances, tension with God can be resolved by yielding our desires and seeking His viewpoint.

Trust. Intimacy grows only in an atmosphere of trust. As we understand God’s character better, our confidence grows, and we are drawn closer to Him. Our part is to show ourselves trustworthy.

Risk Taking. The more we reveal who we are in Christ to those around us, the more we risk facing arguments, experiencing rejection, or being misunderstood. But God understands us fully and promises that we belong to Him forever (John 10:27-29).

Agreement. For us to maintain a close affinity with God, our schedule and plans must reflect that He is a priority. We are to be available for His use and open to His direction.

God designed us for intimacy with Him. All that He requires is our presence and cooperation. What priority have you placed on building a deeper relationship with Him?

Bible in One Year: Lamentations 1-2

Our Daily Bread –Lured Away

Read: James 1:5–6, 12–15

Bible in a Year: Psalm 119:1–88; 1 Corinthians 7:20–40

Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.—James 1:14

In the summer of 2016, my niece convinced me to play Pokémon Go—a game played on a smartphone, using the phone’s camera. The object of the game is to capture little creatures called Pokémon. When one appears in the game, a red and white ball also appears on the phone’s screen. To capture a Pokémon, the player has to flick the ball toward it with the movement of a finger. Pokémon are more easily caught, however, by using a lure to attract them.

Pokémon characters aren’t the only ones who can be lured away. In his New Testament letter to believers, James, the brother of Jesus, reminds us that we “are dragged away by [our] own evil desire” (1:14, emphasis added). In other words, our desires work with temptation to lure us down a wrong path. Though we may be tempted to blame God or even Satan for our problems, our real danger lies within.

But there is good news. We can escape the lure of temptation by talking to God about the things that tempt us. Though “God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone,” as James explains in 1:13, He understands our human desire to do what’s wrong. We have only to ask for the wisdom God promised to provide (1:1–6). —Linda Washington

Lord, when I’m tempted, show me the door of escape.

Pray your way past the urge to do wrong.

INSIGHT: The word translated “tempted” or “tempting” (used four times in James 1:13) comes from the Greek word peirasmos, which has two basic meanings. The first is to test the genuineness of one’s faith. This is the meaning in verses 2-4 when James encourages believers who are tempted to rejoice because “the testing of your faith” brings maturity. The second meaning, “to entice to sin or to do evil,” is intended in verses 13-15. God will not tempt or entice us to sin. His perfect holiness, purity, and goodness ensure this. Instead, the enticement to sin comes from our own sinful desires. This is the meaning of peirasmos in Matthew 26:38-41. In the garden of Gethsemane, as Christ was struggling with the necessity of going to the cross, He asked His disciples to pray with Him; instead, they slept. Jesus cautioned, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (v. 41). As we turn our temptations over to God in prayer, He will “provide a way out so that [we] can endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

For further study on this subject, reflect on Psalm 119:9-11. What do these verses say will help us overcome temptation? Sim Kay Tee

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Journey’s End

An essay from G.K. Chesterton begins, “In all the current controversies, people begin at the wrong end as readily as at the right end; never stopping to consider which is really the end.”(1) In a world very impressed with our ability to create and acquire our own high-tech “carts,” putting the cart before the horse comes very naturally. Even very thoughtful people can fail to think through the point of all their thinking. Chesterton continues, “One very common form of the blunder is to make modern conditions an absolute end and then try to fit human necessities to that end, as if they were only a means. Thus people say, ‘Home life is not suited to the business life of today.’ Which is as if they said, ‘Heads are not suited to the sort of hats now in fashion.’”(2) His observations are akin to the experiment of the ancient King Solomon. Cutting a child in two to meet the demand of two mothers is hardly fixing what we might call the “Child Problem.”

The reverse of the end and the means is hardly a modern problem, though some argue the trend is increasing. As C.S. Lewis observed many years ago, logic seems to be no longer valued as a subject in schools or societies. Never having taken logic as a school subject, or even noticed its absence for that matter, I might agree the observation still rings with some truth. But any critique of illogic is perhaps startling when juxtaposed by how much we currently seem to value a constant surge of information. In the chorus of incessant infotainment, T.S. Eliot’s lament from “The Rock” seems almost a heretical voice:

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Journey’s End

Joyce Meyer – Check Your Motives

The righteousness of the upright . . . shall deliver them, but the treacherous shall be taken in by their own iniquity and greedy desire. – Proverbs 11:6

Here’s an important question for you: When you do things to bless other people, why do you do it? Do you bless others because you love them, or do you do it to get them to love you? There was a time in my life when I tried to “buy” protection for myself. I thought if I was extremely nice to people and gave them gifts, I could protect myself from their rejection. It took me a while to learn that my motives were impure and therefore my act of kindness was not acceptable to God.

I was deceived. I really thought I was walking in love until God revealed to me that I was not giving my love freely to others without strings attached. I was giving my love to others in order to get them to love me.

When we give gifts, we should always do so for the joy of giving, not with the ulterior motive of trying to manipulate the recipients in some way so they feel they owe us something.

When our behavior is excessive and out of balance people can sense that something isn’t right about our attitude toward them. When you do things to bless others, be sure to do so out of a heart of love, care, or appreciation for them, not out of a personal need for security.

Love Others Today: Take an honest inventory of your relationships. Are you trying to buy anyone’s friendship for your own benefit instead of blessing that person out of sincere love?

From the book Love Out Loud by Joyce Meyer.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Free Gift 

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

One night I was speaking to several hundred men gathered in a skid row mission for an evangelistic meeting. I had been invited to bring the address and as always my heart was deeply stirred when I realized that these men needed the Lord so very much. In the spiritual sense, though, their lot was no worse than the leaders of the city, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and the wages of sin is death whether one is rich or poor, old or young, sick or well. It makes no difference. The wages of sin is death.

In an effort to communicate to these men the love of God and His free gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord, I pulled a ten-dollar bill from my pocket and said, “The first person who comes to take this from my hand, can have it as a free gift.” This was my way of illustrating God’s gift of grace. Out of the hundreds of people seated before me, not a single person moved as I extended the bill, repeating several times, “The first one who will come and take this bill from my hand can have it.”

Finally, a middle-aged man, shabbily dressed like the rest, stood timidly to his feet and with an inquiring expression said, “Do you really mean it?” I said, “Sure, come and get it; it is yours.” He almost ran to grasp it and he thanked me. The rest of the crowd began mumbling, as if to say, “Why didn’t I have the faith to go and accept the gift?”

This gave me a marvelous opportunity to emphasize that we do not earn God’s love. He loves us unconditionally – not because of who we are, but because of who He is. God proved His love for us in that while we were all wretched sinners, He sent His only begotten Son to die on the cross for us and give to all men who will receive Him the gift of eternal life. Oh, what an attractive gift. Who could refuse to accept such a wonderful gift?

Bible Reading: Romans 6:17-22

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will trust the Lord to help me make His offer of this marvelous free gift, the gift of His only begotten Son who is eternal life, so attractive that no one can refuse to accept it.

Max Lucado – Deepen Your Prayer Life

Do you want to know how to deepen your prayer life? The Bible instructs in Romans 12:12 to steadfastly maintain the habit of prayer. Though there are many bad habits, there are also many good ones. At the risk of sounding like a preacher—which is what I am—may I make a suggestion? Don’t prepare to pray. Just pray. Don’t read about prayer. Just pray. Don’t attend a lecture on prayer or engage in discussion about prayer.

Just pray. Posture, tone, and place are personal matters. Select the form that works for you but don’t think about it too much. Don’t be so overly concerned with wrapping the gift that you never give it. Better to pray awkwardly than not at all. And if you feel you should only pray when inspired, that’s okay. Just see to it that you are inspired every day!

Read more When God Whispers Your Name

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

Denison Forum – Bracing for Hurricane Harvey: four responses

Hurricane Harvey is expected to make landfall on the Texas coast late today or early tomorrow. It could become the biggest hurricane to hit the mainland United States in twelve years. Some areas could get thirty-five inches of rain.

When natural disasters strike, our first impulse is to ask why God allows them. But Scripture is more practical than speculative. Knowing why a storm is coming is less relevant to those in its path than knowing how to respond.

So, let’s ask a practical question this morning: How does God want us to respond to the meteorological and personal hurricanes we face?

One option is to retreat. As a Houston native, I remember well the trauma of hurricane season. Several storms caused my father to mount plywood over our windows and pack our family into the car, joining thousands of other vehicles creeping north on I-45.

There are times when God calls us away from the storm. In Mark 6, Jesus told his disciples, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while” (v. 31). After feeding the five thousand, “he went up on the mountain to pray” (v. 46). Solitude was a regular discipline for our Lord, as it should be for us.

A second option is to move. Galveston is affected by a hurricane every 2.74 years. In 2008, I witnessed personally the devastation of Hurricane Ike, which tossed cars onto bridges and flooded much of Galveston. Many residents chose to relocate rather than face future hurricanes.

Paul urged Timothy to “flee youthful passions” (2 Timothy 2:22). Some storms are not meant for us. Martin Luther advised, “If your head is made of butter, don’t sit near the fire.”

A third option is to serve. I met Galveston residents who returned to their city after Hurricane Ike so they could minister to others affected by its devastation. The Lord instructed his people in Babylon to “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile” (Jeremiah 29:7). Cancer survivors make some of the best cancer counselors. Your challenges may also be your ministry.

Whether we’re called to retreat, move, or serve, we’re all called to pray: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). Have you prayed yet today for those in the path of Hurricane Harvey? Have you asked God how he wants you to be an answer to your prayers?

In 1939, as his nation was fighting for its very survival, England’s King George VI read this poem in his Christmas Day broadcast:

I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year,
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied, “Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.”