Charles Stanley – Running With Endurance

 

Hebrews 12:1-3

A marathon is a taxing race. The runner must overcome muscle cramps, blisters, and the urge to quit. But each step reaffirms his commitment to keep going until he triumphantly crosses the finish line.

In many ways, this is what the Christian life is like. It’s not a fast sprint to heaven but a long, obedient marathon. There are obstacles that could cause us to stumble and burdens we need to lay aside so we can run unencumbered.

The one word that summarizes our earthly race is endurance. This term implies going through something difficult without quitting. It includes the concept of abiding under hardship with patient, sustaining perseverance. Christ hasn’t promised us an easy life. In fact, He told His disciples, “In the world you have tribulation” (John 16:33).

How can we keep going? The answer is to fix our eyes on Jesus, not on the hardships and obstacles in our life. He set the pattern for us by enduring the cross for the joy set before Him. To focus on the Lord, we must read the Scriptures. Then we’ll be able to see what He would have us do, how we’re to respond to various situations in life, which resources He’s provided to help us, and what He has promised us at the finish line.

The joy set before us includes an imperishable, undefiled inheritance reserved for us in heaven (1 Peter 1:4) and an eternal weight of glory far beyond comparison to our earthly suffering (2 Corinthians 4:17). But best of all, when we finally cross the finish line, we will enter into Christ’s presence to be with Him forever.

Bible in One Year: Job 26-30

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — And in Truth

 

Read: Zephaniah 1:1–6; 2:1–3 | Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 28–29; John 17

In his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

Years ago, I attended a wedding where two people from different countries got married. Such a blending of cultures can be beautiful, but this ceremony included Christian traditions mixed with rituals from a faith that worshiped many gods.

Zephaniah the prophet pointedly condemned the mixing of other religions with faith in the one true God (sometimes called syncretism). Judah had become a people who bowed in worship to the true God but who also relied on the god Molek (Zephaniah 1:5). Zephaniah described their adoption of pagan culture (v. 8) and warned that as a result God would drive the people of Judah from their homeland.

Yet God never stopped loving His people. His judgment was to show them their need to turn to Him. So Zephaniah encouraged Judah to “Seek righteousness, seek humility” (2:3). Then the Lord gave them tender words promising future restoration: “At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home” (3:20).

It’s easy to condemn examples of obvious syncretism like the wedding I attended. But in reality, all of us easily blend God’s truth with the assumptions of our culture. We need the Holy Spirit’s guidance to test our beliefs against the truth of God’s Word and then to stand for that truth confidently and lovingly. Our Father warmly embraces anyone who worships Him in the Spirit and in truth (see John 4:23–24).

When I am in trouble, where do I turn? A crisis reveals where I put my trust. Is my faith completely in God? What do I need to give over to Him today?

God is always ready to forgive and restore.

By Tim Gustafson

INSIGHT

God’s judgment is the theme of Zephaniah and is predicted because the people “neither seek the Lord nor inquire of him” (1:6). Several groups are targeted: the priests, who thought they could worship God and false gods (v. 6); the royal family, “who fill the temple of their gods with violence and deceit” (v. 9); “merchants,” who exploit the poor (v. 11); and the “complacent” (v.12), who live comfortably while doing nothing to change their corrupt culture. When we mix God’s truth with error, as the idolatrous priests did, judgment is inevitable.

Tim Gustafson

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Why Isn’t God More Obvious?

Why is it that God does not seem to approach in a much more obvious way? One answer has been that God’s existence is not a matter of reality and facts. Isn’t it more of a faith position, anyway? Isn’t it more about a leap in the dark than an embrace of evidence?

I would agree that God isn’t “forcefully obvious,” but I don’t think that this confines God to being a “take-it-or-leave-it” matter of faith. I think it makes more sense to see God as clearly visible, whilst not being forcefully obvious.

Did you know that the Bible actually recognizes the validity of this question? First, we see passages that affirm the human perception that God seems hidden. In Job 23:8-9 we read, “But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.”

Interestingly, there are also many examples of God appearing as if veiled in darkness, whilst still simultaneously offering his presence.(1) For instance we read that, “The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.” Jesus, too, invites people to trust in him and then leaves and hides himself. In John we find the story of a paralytic man who is healed, but then Jesus slips away into the crowd. Luke records that as news about Jesus spread, “he often withdrew to lonely places.” Later, Jesus tells the disciples that, “Before long, the world will not see me any more, but you will see me.” Interestingly in many of these cases, God provides a clear sense of presence, while at the same time veiling the fullness of that presence.

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Joyce Meyer – Realistic Expectations

 

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

— 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)

How we treat ourselves is often how we treat others. For example, if you receive God’s mercy, then you will be able to give mercy to others, but if you are demanding and never satisfied with yourself, you will be the same way with others.

We need to learn to be good to ourselves and yet not be self-centered. You should respect and value yourself; you should know what you are good at and what you are not good at and realize God’s strength is perfected in your weaknesses. We stress over our faults and yet everyone has them. If you had no faults, you would not need Jesus, and that is never going to happen!

Prayer Starter: Father, help me to have realistic expectations of myself and others, knowing we all have weaknesses and need Your daily support. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Faith Can Grow

 

“His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thous has been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:21, KJV).

At one stage of my spiritual growth, I was able to trust God for a soul – and He answered that prayer by leading me to one person whose heart He had prepared. Through the years God has increased my faith to trust Him for 6 souls then 20, 50, 100, 1000, 1 million, 100 million souls! Always He has honored my faith and obedience. Now I pray for a billion souls and by faith I believe that a billion will be harvested for the glory of God.

God has not changed; I have changed.

I believe that God deals with us in a similar way with regard to spiritual fruit. As we continue to trust God to develop in us all the various love traits, He honors that faithfulness because we are obeying Him by doing what He commands us to do.

Faithfulness is that trait of the Holy Spirit (faithfulness- love) that makes faith a living reality every day in the life of the believer who is living supernaturally. As we continue to walk in the power, love and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, we learn to develop greater confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ, in His Word, in our rights as children of God and in the ability of the indwelling Holy Spirit to empower and control our lives.

Faithfulness can be compared to an athlete’s conditioning. A marathon runner does not begin training by running great distances. Instead, he starts with short runs. Then, as his body becomes more conditioned, he increases the distance of his runs until he reaches the full distance of the marathon.

Faithfulness in the life of a Christian also develops over an extended period of time spent in “conditioning.” As we learn to trust God in small things, our faith grows and grows until we are able to trust Him in greater things.

God rewards us for our faithfulness, and each time we see Him respond favorably, He reaches out to us through His Holy Spirit and increases our faith to trust Him for even greater things.

Bible Reading:Matthew 25:14-20

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will seek to cultivate this fruit of the Spirit by being faithful to the calling God has entrusted to me.

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – The Big Idea

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Scripture says “There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good” (Ecclesiastes 2:24).

I just heard a groan. “But Max, my work is simply that—work! It pays my bills.” “Job satisfaction? I have no clue how to find my skill.” “Honor God? After the mess I’ve made of my life?”

Here’s the big idea: Use your uniqueness to make a big deal out of God every day of your life. At the convergence of all three– what you do; why you do it; and where you do it– is the cure for the common life. It’s your sweet spot! You have one, you know. Your life has a plot; your years have a theme. You can do something in a manner that no one else can. And when you find it and do it, another sweet spot is discovered!

Read more Cure for the Common Life

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – The day that changed my life forever

Today is my thirty-eighth wedding anniversary. I am to be congratulated. According to my friends, my wife is to be consoled.

I cannot imagine my life without Janet. The world knows what an amazingly gifted teacher, writer, and minister she is. Our family knows that she is the very same person in private that she is in public. Her passionate commitment to her Lord, her family, and her calling animates everything she does.

I remember well the moment I first saw her: she walked into our sophomore English class at Houston Baptist University, smiling. I’d not seen that done before.

I had to know more but soon discovered that she had boyfriends. One after the other. I was finally able to get in line for a date. Two years later, we were married.

“If any of you lacks wisdom”

I will spend eternity thanking God for leading us to each other. But I cannot tell you precisely how he did. He used feelings, circumstances, and other people. There came a time when we simply knew that we knew we were to be married.

If I had to prove to her that she should marry me, I’d still be single.

We are facing many dilemmas today for which we need God’s direction. For instance, the American Bible Society is being criticized for requiring employees to affirm a statement of moral commitments. Among them: “I will seek to refrain from sexual activity outside of the marriage covenant prescribed and exemplified in the Bible: ‘a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will become one,’ symbolizing the relationship between Christ and His Church (Matthew 19:5; Ephesians 5:31).”

Continue reading Denison Forum – The day that changed my life forever