Charles Stanley – Building Lasting Friendships

 

1 Samuel 18:1-4

Genuine friends are rare treasures. In a very limited way, they are shadows of the perfect fellowship experienced within the Trinity. We are made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27); one aspect of this truth is that the Lord created us for meaningful relationships. In fact, it’s difficult to flourish if we live in isolation. By God’s design, we are made to share life with others, as well as to give and receive love.

Friendships come in various degrees—from surface relationships to intimate fellowship. Although you may have many acquaintances, you might remain lonely unless you have at least one or two close friends. If God has blessed you with an intimate friendship, be diligent to devote time and effort to develop and cultivate it.

Jonathan and David exemplified this type of closeness. One was a prince and the other was a shepherd, so they seemed like improbable companions. However, status didn’t matter to them. Besides demonstrating humility, they also showed great respect for each other’s faith and love for Israel. They both felt as committed as brothers and gave generously of themselves. For example, the robe Jonathan gave David—a prized possession of the king’s son—was evidence of his loyalty and love (1 Samuel 18:4). He even risked his life and reputation in order to save David (1 Samuel 20:30-34).

Do you have a person like this in your life—someone with whom to share your joys and sorrows, strengths and weaknesses, fears and pain? Thankfully, Jesus is the best friend we can have, but we also need close relationships with others. What can you do today to build this type of friendship?

Bible in One Year: 1 Kings 10-12

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Learning to Know God

 

Read: John 6:16–21 | Bible in a Year: 2 Samuel 1–2; Luke 14:1–24

But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” John 6:20

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mother. I dreamed about getting married, getting pregnant, and holding my baby in my arms for the first time. When I finally got married, my husband and I never even considered waiting to expand our family. But with each negative pregnancy test, we realized we were struggling with infertility. Months of doctors’ visits, tests, and tears followed. We were in the middle of a storm. Infertility was a bitter pill to swallow and left me wondering about God’s goodness and faithfulness.

When I reflect on our journey, I think about the story of the disciples caught in the storm on the sea in John 6. As they struggled against the waves in the dark of the storm, Jesus unexpectedly came to them walking on the stormy waves. He calmed them with His presence, saying, “It is I; don’t be afraid” (v. 20).

What fears do you need to place in the all-powerful hands of Jesus?

Like the disciples, my husband and I had no idea what was coming in our storm; but we found comfort as we learned to know God more deeply as the One who is always faithful and true. Although we would not have the child we had dreamed of, we learned that in all our struggles we can experience the power of His calming presence. Because He is there powerfully working in our lives, we need not be anxious.

Dear Lord, thank You that I do not have to face the storms in this life without You. Thank You for Your calming presence and power carrying me through whatever I face.

We can experience God’s powerful presence even in the storms of our lives.

By Karen Wolfe

INSIGHT

The story of Jesus meeting His disciples on the sea paints a vivid picture of how Jesus fulfilled God’s promises. In Bible times, the sea was seen as a terrifying force of chaos. Only God could walk on the sea (Job 9:8; Psalm 77:19). And in Israel’s central redemption story—their deliverance from slavery—it was God’s power that brought Israel through the sea, leaving Egypt behind (Exodus 14:21).

So when John describes Jesus walking on the waves, we can understand the disciples’ terror (John 6:19)—they were seeing God. Jesus’s response, “It is I” (literally “I am”), confirmed His unity with God, the “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14; John 8:58). By bringing the boat “immediately” to shore (John 6:21, 25), Jesus not only delivered the disciples but also likely pointed to the good news of another exodus from the “sea.” His death and resurrection would bring His people out of bondage into freedom (Galatians 5:1).

In this lifetime, we don’t always experience the full restoration we long for (2 Corinthians 5:4), but we do experience the power that will one day transform all things (4:16–17). Because of Jesus, we don’t need to be afraid (John 6:20).

What fears do you need to place in the all-powerful hands of Jesus?

Monica Brands

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Absent for Easter

A long-time friend of my husband’s paid us a visit over the Easter weekend. Growing up together, life had taken them both in very different directions. I enjoyed listening to their reminiscing about childhood events they had shared together. When the conversation turned to Easter Sunday festivities, a solo-hiking trip was planned even as his family would be elsewhere. How strange, it seemed to me for him to be absent from them on Easter. But as he talked I realized that Easter Sunday was like any other Sunday. There was no recognition of the day or of its significance for Christians around the world.

The conversation left me feeling sad that such a significant day is for most a day of chocolates and eggs, if it is even that at all. There have been Easter Sundays that have come and gone without much notice in my own life as well. Even though I am present in body and mind, my heart is often disengaged from the significance of this day. Thankfully, the Christian celebration of the season of Eastertide invites all to inquire—whether present or absent on Easter Sunday— into how the continuing presence of the risen Lord manifests himself in our day-to-day reality.

The disciple Thomas also missed Easter Sunday, in a way. Remembered in Christian tradition as “doubting Thomas,” he was not physically present when Jesus first appeared to his disciples after his resurrection. Locked up in a room because of their fear of the Jewish authorities, the ten remaining disciples may have been huddled together puzzling over Mary Magdalene’s pronouncement that she had seen Jesus, alive and well, after her visit to his tomb. John’s Gospel does not tell his readers why Thomas is not present with the other disciples; he simply records that on “the first day of the week… Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you….’ But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.” (1)

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Absent for Easter

Joyce Meyer – Don’t Keep Records

 

…Love…is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. — 1 Corinthians 13:5

Love forgives; it does not hold a grudge. It is not touchy, easily offended, nor is it fretful or resentful. Some people get their feelings hurt about everything. It is very difficult to be in a relationship with people like this. We have many opportunities every day to get offended; each time we must make a choice.

If we choose to live by our feelings, we will never succeed in this all-important facet of love.  If we don’t forgive quickly, but instead keep records of how others have hurt us, sooner or later the list will get so long that we can no longer be in relationship with these people. That kind of resentment is a part of what causes many divorces. If we can learn this important facet of love and abide by it, we’ll save ourselves—and others—tremendous pain and damage to our relationships.

By keeping records of things that others have done to offend us, we fill ourselves up with poison. Bitterness makes our life attitude, words and thoughts bitter. “Drop the issue, let it go” is what the Amplified Bible says we are to do with offenses (Mark 11:25). it is important to forgive quickly. The quicker we do it, the easier it is.

Let’s begin to behave as if we believe the Bible. In it, God tells us over and over again what to do about those who offend us: love them, pray for them, bless them.

Prayer Starter: Father, please forgive me for holding grudges and “keeping score” of what others have done. Help me to forgive those who have hurt me. Help me to truly love others the way You do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Listens and Answers 

 

“Mark this well: The Lord has set apart the redeemed for himself. Therefore He will listen to me and answer when I call to Him” (Psalm 4:3).

My 93-year-old mother has known and walked with the Lord since she was 16. In all the years that I have known her, now more than 60, I have never known her to say an unkind or critical word or do anything that would be contrary to her commitment to Christ, made as a teenage girl.

Hers has been a life of prayer, study of God’s Word and worship of Him. The radiance and joy of her godly life has inspired not only her husband and seven children, but also scores of grandchildren and great and great-great grandchildren, and thousands of neighbors and friends.

A few days ago I invited her – for the hundredth time, at least – to come and live with us, knowing that all the rest of the children have made similar invitations. She responded, “No, I prefer to live alone. But I am not really alone, for the Lord Jesus is with me, comforting me, giving me His peace and assurance that He will take care of me.”

So she spends her days in prayer, in study of the Word and in being a blessing to all who enter her home, as the love of God flows through her. Only eternity will record the multitudes of lives that have been transformed through her godly example and her dedicated prayers of intercession.

Surely every Christian needs a daily engagement – with priority claim over everything else – to meet the Lord in the secret place if his life is to be a benediction to others.

Bible Reading:Psalm 5:1-7

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I recognize that if I am going to live a supernatural life, I must set aside time which will take priority over every other consideration. Only a genuine emergency will take precedence over such an engagement of prayer, study of God’s Word, worship and praise of my wonderful Lord.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Don’t Be Afraid

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Fear. It creates a form of spiritual amnesia. It dulls our miracle memory. It makes us forget what Jesus has done and how good God is. When fear shapes our lives, safety becomes our god. When safety becomes our god, we worship the risk-free life.

The fear-filled cannot love deeply. Love is risky. No wonder Jesus wages such a war against fear. The Gospels list 125 Christ-issued imperatives. Of these, 21 urge us to “not be afraid” or “not fear” or “have courage” or “take heart.” If quantity is any indicator, Jesus takes our fears seriously. The one statement he made more than any other was this–“don’t be afraid!”

Read more Anxious for Nothing

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Its “Tax Day,” but “Tax Freedom Day” is coming

Today is “Tax Day.” Why was it not April 15 as usual? April 15 fell on a Sunday this year, which would push Tax Day to Monday, April 16.

However, that date is when Washington, DC, observes Emancipation Day.

The holiday honors the 1862 passage of the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act, which ended slavery in the nation’s capital by paying slaveowners to pledge loyalty to the Union and free their slaves.

Thus, Tax Day was pushed to today. But “Tax Freedom Day” is Thursday.

You will have worked until April 19 to earn enough money to pay your total tax bill. In other words, everything you earn until Thursday belongs to the government. What you earn beginning on Friday, you can keep.

Americans will pay $3.19 trillion in federal taxes and $1.80 trillion in state and local taxes this year. The total of $5.19 trillion is more than we spend on food, clothing, and housing—combined.

“Seek his presence continually!” Continue reading Denison Forum – Its “Tax Day,” but “Tax Freedom Day” is coming