Charles Stanley – Effective Witnesses

 

Philippians 2:12-16

Some of the most effective witnesses are those who have gone through painful, trying circumstances. Consider how the gospel has spread in parts of the world that are poor, oppressed, and troubled. Or think of your response to the triumphant stories of former criminals, people who have suffered abuse, and religious prisoners. God’s power is manifest in man’s weakest moments.

Whether believers develop into stronger witnesses as a result of difficulties depends on their response to crisis. Many people make the mistake of focusing on the will of man instead of God’s sovereignty. Then they find it impossible to believe that God will bring positive results from their pain.

Those who rise above their circumstances understand that God uses every experience for good. (See Gen. 50:20.) To trust that principle, we must realize that any situation we face is under the authority of a kind, loving Father. Paul’s time in prison yielded better and more abundant fruit than he could have produced any other way (Phil. 1:13). He spread the gospel to Roman guards because he was chained to one after another every day for years. As we turn our attention to Christ, He reveals opportunities for impacting people with the gospel. These are often chances we wouldn’t have had apart from trying circumstances.

You are always in God’s hand. I understand that in hard times, it’s not easy to focus on His sovereign will and the good He has in store for you. But I also know that God never allows anything to touch us that He will not turn to our benefit and the good of His kingdom.

Bible in One Year: Esther 6-10

 

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Our Daily Bread — Interrupted Fellowship

 

Read: Matthew 27:32–50 | Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 13–14; John 12:1–26

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Matthew 27:46

The loud, sorrowful cry pierced the dark afternoon air. I imagine it drowning out the sound of mourning from friends and loved ones gathered at Jesus’s feet. It must have overwhelmed the moans of the dying criminals who flanked Jesus on both sides. And surely startled all who heard it.

Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” Jesus cried out in agony and in utter despondency as He hung on that cross of shame on Golgotha (Matthew 27:45–46).

Jesus, thank You for making it possible to have fellowship with the Father.

“My God,” He said, “my God, why have you forsaken me?”

I cannot think of more heart-wrenching words. Since eternity, Jesus had been in perfect fellowship with God the Father. Together they had created the universe, had fashioned mankind in their image, and planned salvation. Never in the eons past had they not been in total fellowship with each other.

And now, as the anguish of the cross continued to bring devastating pain on Jesus—He for the first time lost the awareness of God’s presence as He carried the burden of the sins of the world.

It was the only way. Only through this time of interrupted fellowship could our salvation be provided for. And it was only because Jesus was willing to experience this sense of being forsaken on the cross that we humans can gain fellowship with God.

Thank You, Jesus, for experiencing such pain so we could be forgiven.

Jesus, we again stand in awe at Your sacrifice. We kneel in Your presence and with gratitude acknowledge what You did for us on the cross. Thank You for making it possible to have fellowship with the Father forever.

The cross reveals God’s heart for the lost.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Searching for the Hidden Wholeness

 

The Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus—a group in the “sacred music” category—released an album in 2015 to widespread critical acclaim. Entitled Beauty Will Save the World, the album features, among other things, monastic chants, snatches of hymns, and surging choral arrangements. Most significantly, it concludes with St. Ambrose’s prayer, “Before the Ending of the Day.”

When asked about the inclusion of all these conspicuously Christian elements, the group replied, “We have always been concerned with the sacred or — perhaps more accurately — the loss of the sacred. We are searching for its echoes and traces which are scattered and hidden in surprising and forgotten places.”(1)

In many ways, this is an apt description of those canvassing the cultural landscape for signs of life. In the case of this particular track, the church is the “hidden and forgotten” place. Like many of today’s musicians, this group is drawing on sacred traditions to reach contemporary audiences. What distinguishes The Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus is that they are doing so by honoring the original intent of those traditions, preserving their deep spiritual roots. In their own words, “Sometimes it feels as though our work is less about creation and more about investigation and excavation. We borrow, gather and unearth material from different sources — not all of them obviously sacred or spiritual — but we are looking for the connecting thread and evidence of what Thomas Merton called ‘the hidden wholeness.’ Beauty is there. It is not created, it is discovered and restored.”

Demurring from a pervasive assumption about the arts, the philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff says, “A hymn is a good hymn if it serves its purpose effectively and then in addition proves good and satisfying to use for this purpose, that purpose being to enable a congregation to offer praise to God—not, be it noted, to give delight upon aesthetic contemplation.”(2) Wolterstorff approvingly notes the famed hymnist Isaac Watts’s scrupulous commitment “to sink every line to the level of a whole congregation and yet to keep it above contempt.”(3) In a very real sense, these sacred traditions cannot be understood apart from sincere participation. A hymn is fully realized only when you add your voice to the worshipping congregation. St. Ambrose’s prayer becomes a real prayer only when it is uttered with honest conviction. These practices are not made for patrons in a museum; they are made for pilgrims in search of paradise.

There is a growing recognition that the current cultural malaise cannot be undone until people learn to see past the present moment, to remember where they came from, and thus attempt to chart a more holistic course. Perhaps the way forward involves listening for the “echoes and traces” of the sacred in order to discover what they actually say, rather than what we can say with them.

The way is not always clear. The group puts it well: “It’s probably more accurate to describe our music as the pursuit of meaning rather than having a meaning. Truth is always elusive and we are still searching.” Though truth ought to be the proper destination, there is a world of difference between searching and scavenging. The scavenger wants loot. The seeker is looking for an answer.

Cameron McAllister is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

(1) http://www.npr.org/2015/12/07/458485196/songs-we-love-the-revolutionary-army-of-the-infant-jesus”>http://www.npr.org/2015/12/07/458485196/songs-we-love-the-revolutionary-army-of-the-infant-jesus (Accessed April 9, 2016)

(2) Nicholas Wolterstorff, Art in Action: Toward a Christian Aesthetic (Grand Rapids, MI: WM.B.Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1980), 169.

(3) Ibid., 190.

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Keep Walking on the Water!

 

And in the fourth watch of the night (3:00—6:00 a.m.) Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw them walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out of fear. But immediately He spoke to them, saying “Take courage, it is I! Do not be afraid!” Peter replied to Him, “Lord, if it is [really] You, command me to come to You on the water.” — Matthew 14:25-28

Adapted from the resource Battlefield of the Mind Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Let’s focus for a moment on this part of a well-known New Testament story. The disciples were in the middle of the Sea of Galilee at midnight when they looked up and saw Jesus walking on the water. That is amazing, but as the story continues, Matthew wrote of the boisterous winds, yet Jesus kept walking on top of the waves. The disciples were afraid—and that makes sense. Who would expect to see anyone walking on top of the water, even under the best of conditions?

Then Jesus cried out and told them, Take courage, it is I! Do not be afraid! (v. 27). This is the powerful moment in the story. What will happen now? Do they move over and give Jesus a place to sit in their boat? Should they get out and join Him on the waves? Do they huddle in fear, reminding themselves that human beings can’t walk on top of water?

Peter was the only one who responded in true faith. And let’s make no mistake here. For Peter to say, Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water (v. 28) was a tremendous act of faith. You’ll notice that he was the only one who spoke that way.

That was a powerful moment of faith. It was a defining moment that pointed out Peter’s great faith and belief in Jesus, the Anointed One of God. He was so convinced that Jesus truly was the Son of God that he was ready to get out of the boat and walk on top of the water with Him.

How many of you would get out of the boat? I emphasize this because it would be easy enough to say, “Lord, I see You walking on the water, and I believe I could walk on the water alongside You.” But would you? Do you have the kind of faith that would enable you to step out of the boat? Of the twelve disciples, Peter was the only one who took that step of faith.

I’m not citing this example of faith to discourage you or to make you feel that your faith is somehow lacking. I’m simply pointing out the great triumph of a man who dared to believe! Peter believed so strongly that he took a step of faith over the side of the boat and started walking toward Jesus.

Most of us know the rest of the story. Some might even smirk, saying, “Big deal! He got out of the boat, started walking on the water, got scared, and began to sink. And he also received a rebuke from Jesus: ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?‘” (v. 31). But think about it—Jesus didn’t say those words to the other disciples. He directed the words “you of little faith” to Peter. The implication is the others had no faith at that moment.

Think of these words not just as words of rebuke, but also as words of encouragement to Peter, the one who had enough faith to step out of the boat and begin walking on the water. But when he saw [the effects of] the wind, he was frightened, and he began to sink, and he cried out, “Lord, save me!” (v. 30).

What if you saw this as Jesus’ great encouragement, not just to Peter, but also to you? What if you looked at this event as Jesus saying to you, “You started so well. You believed Me, and got out of the boat. You did it! You walked on water just as I did. But then you allowed doubt to enter, and when that happened, you began to sink.”

This powerful story is a wonderful reminder that Jesus is always with you, and He will suspend natural laws to reach out to you and care for you.

Prayer Starter: Lord Jesus, please forgive my lack of faith. Increase my faith in Your Word, and help me to trust You enough to follow Your leading. When the circumstances around me threaten to pull me into deep waters of doubt, help me to focus on You. I ask these things in Your holy name. Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – How to Stay Pure

 

“How can a young man stay pure? By reading Your Word and following its rules” (Psalm 119:9).

I can live a pure life if I follow God’s Word. That seems to be the clear import of the psalmist’s message in this verse. And if that is true – and I have no doubt it is – then certain things surely should follow.

I will begin today by determining to know His Word and to obey it. Simple logic would dictate that I cannot and will not obey His Word if I am not familiar with it.

In a day when immorality is rampant and divorce is becoming commonplace even among Christians, how important it is that I seek to keep my life pure. Surely I cannot expect to be used of God in a supernatural way to help fulfill the Great Commission unless I am pure. And there seems to be no better way to accomplish that desired end than by reading, studying – even memorizing – His Word, and then, through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, by claiming God’s promises and obeying His commandments.

Earlier (Day 18) we mentioned the importance of hiding God’s Word in our hearts, that we might not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11). Again I would emphasize the value of committing to memory many verses – and even chapters – from the Word of God. In that way, we will have them stored in our minds so that God can bring them to our minds in time of special need and can use them to enable us to live supernaturally.

Basic to living the supernatural life is this matter of spending time in God’s Word, which is quick and powerful.

Bible Reading:Psalm 119:10-16

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will spend quality time in the Word of God and begin to memorize favorite passages, especially Psalm 119.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Love Covers a Multitude of Sins

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

God has clothed us. He protects us with a cloak of love. Wouldn’t you love to do the same for him? Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anything you did for even the least of my people here, you also did for me” (Matthew 25:36-40).

Have you ever heard anyone gossip about someone you know?  Well, I heard that she. . .  Oh, but didn’t you know that she. . . or Let me tell you what a friend told me about him. . .”  Then all of a sudden it’s your turn. Everybody is picking your friend apart. What have you to say? Here is what loves says: Love says nothing. Love stays silent. “Love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8).  If love says anything, love speaks words of defense; words of kindness; and words of protection. Do you know anyone who could use some protection? Of course you do.

Read more A Love Worth Giving

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – What the response to Roseanne Barr tweet says about us

Roseanne Barr continues to make news this morning. After her racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett led ABC to cancel Barr’s show, the reaction has been predictable.

From one side: a Washington Post columnist likened Roseanne to the Trump presidency and hoped that the latter ends in the same way as the former. (The same paper is also carrying a column claiming that “Trump’s not a liar. He’s a madman.”) Like many, Trevor Noah blamed Barr’s tweet on the president. Numerous celebrities celebrated the cancellation of her show.

From the other side: Barr’s supporters noted that Bill Maher compared President Trump to an orangutan and Joy Behar likened Vice President Pence’s faith to “mental illness,” but both kept their shows. One person tweeted, “I’m a black man and I stand with @therealroseanne! Yes, she made a horrible joke and she apologized. I see comedians, actors, etc make the same jokes and get applauded for it. This is outrageous.”

My point this morning is not to rehash the controversy ignited by Barr’s tweet. Rather, it is to think with you about what the reaction to her statement says about our culture and our faith.

The “great pillars of all government”

Continue reading Denison Forum – What the response to Roseanne Barr tweet says about us

Charles Stanley – Left as Witnesses

 

Acts 1:6-8

One of the biggest problems in the church today is that many Christians do not see themselves as servants of the Lord. However, it isn’t His will that we simply come to church and listen to sermons. He wants us to go out and be witnesses for Christ wherever we are or wherever He sends us.

The roles and methods by which we carry out this task will be different, but each believer has a vital role to play (1 Corinthians 12:4-20). Individually, you may feel as if your efforts have little impact, but the Lord can work wonders through a willing servant. No one is too “messed up” to be used by Him—He specializes in taking broken people and making them whole. Nor does anyone reach an age when he or she is no longer useful. You can be sure that as long as you’re still alive, the heavenly Father isn’t done with you.

The question isn’t whether or not we are adequate to be His witnesses, but whether our hearts are willing. The Lord has promised the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish His purposes through our life, but if we won’t use His divine strength, then we waste opportunities for impact. Earthly responsibilities have a way of stealing our attention and limiting our obedience to the Lord. However, nothing in life is more important than doing the will of the Father.

Have duties and pleasures of this world lured you away from your responsibility to tell others about the Savior? Salvation is not just an experience to be enjoyed; it’s a gift to be shared. You don’t need a theology degree. Just tell what Jesus has done for you, and the Spirit will do the rest.

Bible in One Year: Esther 1-5

 

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Our Daily Bread — When Words Fail

 

Read: Romans 8:22–27 | Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 10–12; John 11:30–57

May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you. Psalm 33:22

Not long ago I sent my wife, Cari, a text message using only voice prompts. I was on my way out the door to give her a ride home from work and intended to send the words, “Where would you like me to pick you up, old gal?”

Cari doesn’t mind my calling her “old gal”—it’s one of the affectionate nicknames we use around the house. But my cell phone didn’t “understand” the phrase, and sent the words “old cow” instead.

We can come to Him with every need, assured that He understands and receives us with love.

Fortunately for me, Cari immediately understood what had happened and found it funny. She later posted my text message on social media and asked, “Should I be offended?” We were both able to laugh about it.

My wife’s loving response to my awkward words that day makes me think about God’s loving understanding of our prayers. We may not know what to say when we pray or even what to ask for, but when we belong to Christ, His Spirit within “intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26) and lovingly helps us articulate our deepest needs before Him.

Our heavenly Father doesn’t stand at a distance waiting for us to get our words right. We can come to Him with every need, assured that He understands and receives us with love.

Abba, Father, thank You that I can come to You without fear of having to get my words just right. Help me to keep company with You today.

God’s love is beyond words.

By James Banks

INSIGHT

Some of the New Testament’s most important teaching on the Holy Spirit is found in Romans 8. The Spirit is mentioned 21 times in the first 27 verses, with activities ranging from indwelling the lives of followers of Jesus (v. 9), giving us assurance of our relationship with the Father (v. 16), and helping us as we pray (as seen in today’s devotional; vv. 26–27). What a rich and wonderful gift we have received in the Holy Spirit! May we, as Paul says, “not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (v. 4).

Bill Crowder

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Digging Out the Words

For the past decade, doctors and psychologists have been taking notice of the health benefits of reflective writing. They note that wrestling with words to put your deepest thoughts into writing can lift your mind from depression, uncover wisdom within your experiences, provide insight and foster self-awareness. From autobiography to blogging to the increasingly popular genre of memoir, writers similarly laud the benefits of writing. Whether publically, anonymously, or privately, confessional writing can free the writer “to explore the depths of the emotional junkyard,” as one describes. In my own experience, writing has no doubt been a helpful way to sift through the junkyard, though perhaps most effectively when exploring in good faith and not merely reveling in the messes.

Writing is helpful because the eye of a writer seeks the transcendent—a moment where the extraordinary is beheld in the ordinary, a glimpse of clarity within the chaos, beauty in a world of contrasts. When Jesus stooped over the crumbled girl at his feet and wrote something in the sand, the written word spoke more powerfully than the anger of the Pharisees and well beyond any shame of the young woman. For those of us looking on through story, his words remain unknown but no less powerful. Writing is a tool with which we learn to see ourselves more clearly, a catalyst for which we can learn to see thankfully beyond ourselves.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Digging Out the Words

Joyce Meyer – Don’t Get Weary While You Wait!

 

Let us not grow weary or become discouraged in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap, if we do not give in.  — Galatians 6:9

The proper time for things is God’s time, not ours. We are usually in a hurry, but God never is. We are often impatient and ready for everything to happen right now, but God, in His wisdom, prepares us first for what He wants to do in our lives, and preparation takes time.

God takes time to do things right—He lays a solid foundation before He attempts to build a building. We are God’s building under construction. He is the Master Builder, and He knows what He is doing.

God’s timing seems to be His own little secret. The Bible promises that He will never be late, but I have also discovered that He is usually not early. The good thing to know is that He is always right on time, and His timing is perfect.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for the good work You’re doing in my life. Help me to wait for Your promises with faith and patience and never give up on doing what’s right. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Walk in the Light

 

“Later, in one of His talks, Jesus said to the people, ‘I am the Light of the world. So if you follow me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, for living light will flood your path” (John 8:12).

The living room of our home was dark when I quietly slipped a key into the lock and opened the door one night, walking slowly and softly so as not to awaken Vonette and our sons who were very young. Though they had been trained to put away their toys, somehow in the rush to get ready for bed that night they had left cars and a train and other favorite play things scattered throughout the living room.

You guessed it! I stepped on one with wheels that almost threw me to the floor before I could regain my balance. Many a person has broken a leg or an arm under similar circumstances, and some have even fallen and hit their heads on sharp objects, resulting in a fatal accident.

So it is in the spiritual realm. If we insist on walking in the darkness, we will inevitably stumble and take risks that can greatly jeopardize our spiritual health and, in some cases, lead to our spiritual death by cutting ourselves off from God.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness.” In the first epistle of John we are told, “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not tell the truth. If we walk in the light, as God is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses [and keeps on cleansing] us from all sin.”

There is only one person who qualifies to be the light of the world. That is Jesus. So how do we follow Him? What does it mean to walk in the light? Basically, it means that there is no unconfessed sin. It means that we are filled with the Holy Spirit, that we are feasting upon the Word of God and obeying His commands which include sharing our love for Christ with others.

Bible Reading:I Thessalonians 4:5-8

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, I shall walk in the light with Christ who is the light of the world, and reflect His light in such an attractive way that those who walk in darkness will be drawn to the light as moths are drawn to a burning candle.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – God’s Cloak of Love

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Love always protects! (1 Corinthians 13:6-7). We hide; God seeks. We bring sin; He brings a sacrifice. We try figs; He brings the robe of righteousness. And we are left to sing the song of the prophet, “He has covered me with clothes of salvation and wrapped me with a coat of goodness, like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding, like a bride dressed in jewels” (Isaiah 61:10).

Do you own a cloak of love? Do you know anyone who needs one? When you cover someone with concern, you are fulfilling what Paul had in mind when he wrote the phrase, “love—always protects.” A root meaning of the word is “to cover or conceal.” Protect conveys the ideas of covering with a cloak of love; covered with encouragement; covered with tenderhearted care. Ever thought of your Creator as a clothier? He has given you your finest cloak of love!

Read more A Love Worth Giving

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – “Roseanne” cancellation shows we cannot predict the future

ABC canceled Roseanne after Roseanne Barr posted a racist tweet about former President Obama’s aide Valerie Jarrett. (I will devote tomorrow’s Daily Article to this evolving story.) Shares of Walt Disney Co. declined after box office sales for Solo: A Star Wars Story came in below expectations.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped nearly 400 points yesterday as a political crisis in Italy affected global markets. Oil prices also fell after reports that Saudi Arabia may lead an effort to pump more crude into the market. And the Wall Street Journal warns that Europe’s new privacy rules are thwarting security researchers and police around the world.

What do these stories have in common? They illustrate the fact that we can neither control nor predict the future. I raise this rather obvious point because it is relevant to two of the most moving books I’ve read in a long time.

Two transformative books

I just finished Kate Bowler’s heartbreaking and hopeful Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved. Dr. Bowler is a graduate of Yale Divinity School and teaches religion at Duke Divinity School. Her new book is transparent, funny, and thoughtful. She is one of the most gifted writers I know.

She is also battling Stage IV cancer.

Continue reading Denison Forum – “Roseanne” cancellation shows we cannot predict the future

Charles Stanley – Crying Out to God

 

Psalm 34:15-17

When we face a crisis, the Lord is willing and able to help. But before He will become involved and release His divine energy into our situation, He requires one thing: a righteous heart.

This, of course, is not an expectation that we live a perfect life, which our Father knows would be impossible. When a sinner turns to God for salvation, He cleanses the heart of iniquity and gives that person a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17). Yet even believers will follow old flesh patterns at times, so the Lord calls us to confess and repent when we miss the mark. Then He will “cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Thankfully, He hears us in our imperfection as long as we desire to walk in His way. The problem arises, however, when a Christian knowingly lives in sin and chooses not to turn from it—the Lord will not hear an unrepentant heart.

Today’s passage shows that the heavenly Father wants His children to cry out to Him. During trials, we tend to pray this way—with increased focus, passion, and sincerity. Hannah is a good example. Heartbroken over her barrenness, she went to the temple and beseeched the Lord with such emotion that the priest thought she was drunk! God answered her plea and opened her womb (1 Samuel 1:1-20).

When a crisis comes, cry out to our almighty God, but be sure you do so with a righteous heart. Then He will hear and answer—either fulfilling your hoped-for request or providing a different solution. Because He is omniscient, loving, and sovereign, you can fully trust that His answer is in your best interest.

Bible in One Year: Nehemiah 11-13

 

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Our Daily Bread — Gazing at the Horizon

 

Read: Hebrews 11:8–16 | Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 7–9; John 11:1–29

We are looking for the city that is to come. Hebrews 13:14

Almost as soon as the ferryboat started to move, my little daughter said she felt ill. Seasickness had already begun to affect her. Soon I was feeling queasy myself. “Just stare at the horizon,” I reminded myself. Sailors say this helps to regain a sense of perspective.

The Maker of the horizon (Job 26:10) knows that sometimes in life we may become fearful and restless. We can regain perspective by focusing on the distant but steady point of our destiny.

Our present troubles are temporary. Focus on God and gain perspective.

The writer of Hebrews understood this. He sensed discouragement in his readers. Persecution had driven many of them from their homes. So he reminded them that other people of faith had endured extreme trials and had been left homeless. They endured it all because they anticipated something better.

As exiles, these readers could look forward to the city whose architect is God, the heavenly country, the city God prepared for them (Hebrews 11:10, 14, 16). So in his final exhortations, the writer asked his readers to focus on God’s promises. “For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (13:14).

Our present troubles are temporary. We are “foreigners and strangers on earth” (11:13), but gazing at the horizon of God’s promises provides the point of reference we need.

Father, in the midst of troubles, help me to focus on Your promises.

Focus on God and regain perspective.

By Keila Ochoa

INSIGHT

Followers of Jesus wait for the day when we will be with Him—the fulfillment of what we’ve spent our lives pursuing. We rightfully yearn to be “home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). The troubles we have in this life make our desire that much sharper and earnest. Today’s passage isn’t about forgetting the world we live in and thinking only of heaven; it’s about seeing our present life from the perspective of the life to come. Paul reminded us that our current troubles are not worth comparing to what is to come (Romans 8:18).

J.R. Hudberg

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – World Upside Down

Early in his ministry, according to Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus preached a very public sermon. This sermon, unlike any other, has not only been a great treasure of literature, but also stands as the foundation of Jesus’s teaching ministry. The introductory illustration of this famous sermon given on a mountainside is a collection of sayings by Jesus about who is blessed in the kingdom of God. They are called the “Beatitudes.”

These Beatitudes spoken by Jesus have been widely admired across religious, political, and social realms. Persons as diverse as Jimmy Carter, Ghandi, and the rock musician, Sting, have all quoted these sayings of Jesus. Indeed, Dallas Willard notes, “[A]long with the Ten Commandments, the Twenty-third psalm, and the Lord’s prayer…[the Beatitudes] are acknowledged by almost everyone to be among the highest expressions of religious insight and moral inspiration.”(1)

The exact nature of this religious insight and moral inspiration has been the subject of numerous biblical commentaries and writings. Biblical commentator, Craig Keener notes that there are more than 36 discrete views about the sermon’s message.(2) Perhaps the difficulties in interpretation lie with the implications of the Beatitudes themselves. As one author notes the Beatitudes are “a statement of the world turned upside down, where those who mourn are comforted rather than abandoned or merely pitied, where those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are satisfied, not ignored or shouted down, where the meek inherit the earth rather than being ground into dust.”(3) In other words, much is at stake. A world “turned upside down” serves as inspiration to some and bad news for others. Indeed, Luke’s account of the sermon adds a series of four-fold “woes” for those who have contributed to mourning, humiliation, and injustice (Luke 6:17-26).

 

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – World Upside Down

Joyce Meyer – Testimony Begins with “Test”

 

Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials.  James 1:2

I’m sure you know people with amazing stories of the way God has worked in their lives. I always love to hear a great testimony, but I also know that behind every extraordinary account of someone’s life lies some kind of challenge or difficulty. No one ever has a testimony without a test.

We must pass all kinds of tests as we go through our lives, and passing them is part of never giving up. It’s vital for us to understand the important role that tests and trials play in our lives, because understanding them helps us endure them and actually be strengthened by them.

Everything God permits us to go through will ultimately be good for us—no matter how much it hurts, how unfair it is, or how difficult it is. When we encounter tests and trials, if we will embrace them and refuse to run from them, we will learn some lessons that will help us in the future and make us stronger.

One reason we must go through trials is to test our quality (see 1 Peter 4:12). Often, we find ourselves wishing we had the faith of Sister so-and-so or Brother so-and-so. I can assure you, if they have a strong and vibrant faith, they did not develop it easily. Just as muscles are strengthened through exercise, firm faith comes from the furnace of affliction.

Sometimes people say to me, “Oh, I wish I had the kind of ministry you have, Joyce.” Well, I did not get it by wishing. These people didn’t see when I was feeling I couldn’t hold on one more second, begging God to help me to not quit or give up. They don’t know the tests and trials I’ve faced along the way.

No one who does anything worthwhile for God has traveled an easy road. Doing great things for God requires character, and character is developed by passing life’s tests and staying faithful to Him through the trials.

Prayer Starter: Father, help me to trust You through all of life’s tests. Strengthen me when things get difficult, and help me to never give up so I can develop Your character in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Our Treasuries Filled

 

“My paths are those of justice and right. Those who love and follow Me are indeed wealthy. I fill their treasuries” (Proverbs 8:20,21).

“How does it feel to be a millionaire?” someone once asked the maker of Pullman cars, George M. Pullman.

“I have never thought of that before,” replied Pullman, “but now that you mention it, I believe I am no better off – certainly not happier, than when I did not have a dollar to my name and had to work from daylight to dark.

“I wore a good suit of clothes then, and I only wear one suit at a time now. I relished three meals a day then a good deal more than I do three meals a day now. I had fewer cares, I slept better and may add that I believe I was generally far happier in those days than I have been many times since I became a millionaire.”

As Pullman learned, true wealth is not found in earthly riches. The heart can never be fully satisfied with anything of the world; beside, the world passes away. True wealth is found in the knowledge of Christ and of His great salvation, and in the possession of the abiding riches which He bestows on all who believe in Him.

True wealth has to do with spiritual health – inner peace, clear conscience and sins forgiven. That man, woman or young person with abiding faith in Christ, who is yielded to the control of God’s indwelling Holy Spirit, has true wealth – the supernatural life.

Bible Reading:Proverbs 8:22-31

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I’ll begin to look more to the “Bank of Heaven” for my true wealth.

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Jesus Bore All Things

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Wouldn’t it be great if love were like a cafeteria line? Endless options to pick and choose what we want. But it wouldn’t be love! Scripture says, “Love. . .bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

But how can we love those we find difficult to love? Such love isn’t easy. Not even for Jesus.  “You people have no faith. How long must I put up with you?” (Mark 9:19). To know Jesus asked such a question reassures us. But to hear how he answered it will change us.  How long?  Long enough for every sin to soak in my sinless soul so that heaven will turn in horror until my swollen lips pronounce the final transaction– “It is finished.” How long? Until it kills me.

Jesus bore all things, believed all things, hoped all things, and endured all things. Every single one.

Read more A Love Worth Giving

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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