Charles Stanley – A Heart for God

 

Acts 13:16-22

I sometimes like to walk through a cemetery and read the epitaphs. It’s interesting to see the words that have been chosen to sum up a person’s life. This may seem like a morbid pastime, but it’s actually a helpful way to reassess one’s own life. We’re each going to leave a testimony of some kind when we die. Have you ever wondered what your loved ones will remember about you? What words do you want inscribed on your gravestone?

In today’s passage, the apostle Paul tells us how God saw David—as “a man after My heart, who will do all My will” (Acts 13:22). What an awesome testimony of a life well lived! Though David wasn’t a perfect man, he was one whose life was centered on God’s interests and desires.

David’s many psalms attest to the fact that his relationship with the Lord was the most important aspect of his life. His passion was to obey God and carry out His will. However, that doesn’t mean he was always obedient. Who can forget his failure with Bathsheba? But even when he sinned by committing adultery and murder, his heart was still bent toward God. The conviction he felt and his humble repentance afterward proved that his relationship with the Lord was still his top priority.

If God wrote a summary of your life, how would He describe you? Does your heart align with His, or have you allowed it to follow the pleasures and pursuits of this world? Unless we diligently pursue our relationship with the Lord, we will drift away from Him. Maybe it’s time for a course correction.

Bible in One Year: 2 Samuel 20-22

 

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Our Daily Bread — How Long?

Read: Psalm 13 | Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 17–18; Luke 11:1–28

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? Psalm 13:1

In Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland, Alice asks, “How long is forever?” The White Rabbit responds, “Sometimes, just one second.”

That’s how time felt when my brother David suddenly died. The days leading to his memorial dragged on, intensifying the sense of loss and grief we felt. Every second seemed to last forever.

In our seemingly endless moments of struggle, His unfailing love will carry us.

Another David echoed this sentiment, singing, “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” (Psalm 13:1­–2). Four times in just two verses he asks God, “How long?” Sometimes the pains of life seem as though they will never end.

Into this heartache steps the presence and care of our heavenly Father. Like King David, we can honestly go to Him with our pain and loss, knowing that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). The psalmist discovered this as well, allowing his lament to move from a mournful minor key to a triumphant declaration: “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation” (Psalm 13:5).

In our seemingly endless moments of struggle, His unfailing love will carry us. We can rejoice in His salvation.

For more insight, download the Discovery Series booklet Out of the Ashes: God’s Presence in Job’s Pain at discoveryseries.org/q0735.

In times of pain and loss, the timeless God is our greatest comfort.

By Bill Crowder

INSIGHT

Scholars disagree on the circumstances that prompted David to write Psalm 13. Some say that David’s enemy was Saul, who continually pursued David, seeking to kill him (v. 2). Others see the enemy as David’s son Absalom who conspired to drive David from the throne and take over as king (2 Samuel 15). Either way, the heartache David feels is real—driving him to God for help. David’s first response to these pressures is to complain about God’s seeming lack of response on his behalf, found in the repeated question “How long?” in Psalm 13:1–2. As David reflects on God’s past expressions of faithful love (v. 5), he finds reason to trust God even in his confusion and doubt. The closing note of praise (v. 6) expresses that trust—and anticipates God’s rescue.

When overwhelmed with the circumstances of life, do you find yourself wondering where God is? As you reflect on God’s faithfulness to you in the past it can remind you that He is worthy of your trust—even when you suffer and don’t know why.

Bill Crowder

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – We Believe in the Resurrection

Though there are no doubt those among us who would not believe on any amount of evidence that something so unusual as the resurrection could happen, there are countless others who are asking perceptive questions: What happened on that first Easter morning? Why would the disciples go to their deaths making such an outrageous claim? And why does the rise of Christianity remain a challenge unanswered?

Such questions are a good starting point for anyone, and often—like the resurrection for those who first beheld it—the questioner is moved quickly from historical matters below to matters far above. As N.T. Wright notes:

“[T]he challenge [of the resurrection] comes down to a much narrower point, not simply to do with worldviews in general, or with ‘the supernatural’ in particular, but with the direct question of death and life, of the world of space, time and matter and its relation to whatever being there may be for whom the word ‘god,’ or even ‘God,’ might be appropriate. Here there is, of course, no neutrality.”(1)

The earliest creeds confess Jesus as one who “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried…. [And] on the third day he rose again.”(2) The writers of these creeds confessed the suffering of Jesus as a datable event, his crucifixion as an occurrence in history. Even “three days later” is a confession of a historical, quantifiable occasion—albeit an occasion wholly unprecedented.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – We Believe in the Resurrection

Joyce Meyer – There’s Great Value in Variety

Behold, here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat and drink, and to find enjoyment in all the labor in which he labors under the sun during the few days of his life which God gives him—for this is his [allotted] reward. — Ecclesiastes 5:18

If we do the same thing over and over, sooner or later we’re going to get bored. We don’t have to wait for something nice to happen to us, we can be aggressive and do something nice for ourselves. For many of you, I know this is a new thought that may seem foreign and even unspiritual. But I can assure you that it is part of God’s plan. You can create variety, and it will keep your life more exciting.

I sat with my computer on my lap for about four hours this morning and then stopped for a while to do some other things I needed to do. When I went back to my writing, I decided to sit in a different part of the house just for variety. I chose a place that had plenty of light where I could look out the window. Simple little things like this cost nothing, but they are very valuable.

No day needs to be ordinary if we realize the gift God is giving us when He gives us another day to live and enjoy. An extraordinary attitude can quickly turn an ordinary day into an amazing adventure. Jesus said He came so that we might have and enjoy life (see John 10:10). If we refuse to enjoy it, then it’s no one’s fault but our own.

I would like to suggest that you take responsibility for your joy and never again give anyone else the job of keeping you happy. Add a little variety to your life—break up your routine, do something different, and so on. When you do, expect God to meet you and help make your ordinary…extraordinary!

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for Your unconditional love. Help me to receive Your love and see myself the way You see me. Please allow Your love to flow to me and through me to other people. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – As Much As We Need 

“But you should divide with them. Right now you have plenty and can help them; then at some other time they can share with you when you need it. In this way each will have as much as he needs” (2 Corinthians 8:14).

I like Paul’s emphasis on spiritual equality. In his letter to the church at Corinth, this principle is clearly expressed:

“You can help them…they can share with you…each will have as much as he needs.”

Not one of us is a total body within himself; collectively, we are the body of Christ.

The hand can accomplish only certain kinds of functions.

The eyes cannot physically grasp objects, but they can see them.

The ears cannot transport the body like feet can, but ears can hear many sounds.

The hand needs the eye, and the eye needs the hand. All parts of the body need each other in order to function as a healthy body.

Are the parts the same? No. Do they have equality? Yes.

While the Christians at Corinth possessed all the spiritual gifts, they were not glorifying Christ or building up one another. Instead, they were glorifying themselves, glorifying their special gifts, and exercising their gifts in the flesh instead of in the power and control of the Holy Spirit.

Time and again, the apostle Paul stressed to the Corinthians that an atmosphere of godly love, agape, must prevail or the exercising of their gifts would be fruitless.

Bible Reading:II Corinthians 8:7-15

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will be content with my place in the Body of Christ, whether it be large or small, realizing that every part of the body is vitally important in God’s kingdom.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Set Your Eyes on the Lord

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

It does no good to obsess yourself with your trouble. The more you do so, the bigger it grows. Begin with God. Celebrate his goodness. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).

Turn your attention away from the problem, and for a few minutes celebrate God. The more you look to God, the quicker your problem is reduced to its proper size. Listen to the strategy of the psalmist.

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills—

From whence comes my help?

My help comes from the Lord,

Who made heaven and earth.”  (Psalm 121:1-2)

Do you see the intentionality in those words? “I will lift up my eyes.” You gain nothing by setting your eyes on the problem. You gain everything by setting your eyes on the Lord. If you’re sinking, it’s because you are looking in the wrong direction!

Read more Anxious for Nothing

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Zuckerberg testifies before Congress: “Practiced and patient contrition”

“It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.” So stated Mark Zuckerberg when he testified before Congress yesterday on data breaches that have made global headlines in recent weeks.

The Wall Street Journal explains that Facebook’s business model is at the heart of the problem. The company makes money by developing tools that allow advertisers to tailor content for specific Facebook users. Then a developer accessed personal data from up to eighty-seven million users and shared it with the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

Last week, Zuckerberg admitted he made a “huge mistake” in not focusing more on potential abuse of user data. He also said he had been “too flippant” when dismissing the threat of fake news after the 2016 presidential election.

A tone of “practiced and patient contrition”

Yesterday, Facebook’s CEO spent nearly five hours testifying before a joint session of the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees. He will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee today.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Zuckerberg testifies before Congress: “Practiced and patient contrition”