Charles Stanley – Secure Hope

 

Psalm 42:1-11

God wants His children to have desires and expectations that are motivating as well as enriching. However, some disappointment is inevitable in this fallen world. So how can we determine where to place our hope—and the way to respond if it is not fulfilled?

Hope is secure when it is aligned with the Lord’s desires, which are revealed in Scripture. However, many of our expectations are based on wishes or feelings. We long for job promotions, good health, or quick solutions to our problems. Though these are things we want, we have no absolute promise from the Lord that they’re part of His will for us.

Disappointment with God can occur whenever our expectations do not coincide with His plan. Even when hope is based on a scriptural promise, the Lord may not fulfill it in the way or the time that we expect. We should remember that though God may appear inactive, He is moving beneath the surface, preparing us for the future.

The key to contentment and joy lies in placing all our personal hopes under the umbrella of our ultimate hope in the Lord. God is sovereign and good. He always wants what is best for us and never makes a mistake. His ways are higher than ours and, in many ways, beyond human understanding.

From a limited and fallen perspective, we may be like a 5-year-old who wants candy at every meal. Sometimes God has to dash our hopes in order to give us what He knows is best. Ask Him to clarify and direct your desires to coincide with His way. Then rest in His goodness and keep your hope in Him.

Bible in One Year: Psalm 19-22

 

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Quieting the Critic

 

Read: Nehemiah 4:1–6 | Bible in a Year: Ezra 9–10; Acts 1

Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Nehemiah 4:4

I work with a team to put on an annual community event. We spend eleven months plotting many details to ensure the event’s success. We choose the date and venue. We set ticket prices. We select everything from food vendors to sound technicians. As the event approaches, we answer public questions and provide directions. Afterward we collect feedback. Some good. Some that is hard to hear. Our team hears excitement from attendees and also fields complaints. The negative feedback can be discouraging and sometimes tempts us to give up.

Nehemiah had critics too as he led a team to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. They actually mocked Nehemiah and those working alongside him saying, “Even a fox climbing up on it would break down [your] wall of stones” (Nehemiah 4:3). His response to the critics helps me handle my own: Instead of feeling dejected or trying to refute their comments, he turned to God for help. Instead of responding directly, he asked God to hear the way His people were being treated and to defend them (v. 4). After entrusting those concerns to God, he and his co-laborers continued to work steadily on the wall “with all their heart” (v. 6).

We can learn from Nehemiah not to be distracted by criticism of our work. When we’re criticized or mocked, instead of responding to our critics out of hurt or anger, we can prayerfully ask God to defend us from discouragement so we can continue with a whole heart.

Help me to evaluate the good and bad in the criticism, to trust You, and to continue in my work wholeheartedly.

God is our best defense against criticism.

By Kirsten Holmberg

INSIGHT

Have you noticed how criticism seems so justified when we give it—but so wrong when we receive it?

As Jewish families returned to their homeland after seventy years of exile in Babylon, they faced strong criticism. Current residents believed it was in their own interest to resist the returning exiles. They saw the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls as a threat to their own homes and families.

Just as understandably, Nehemiah and his friends felt they had a God-given right to regard as enemies those who opposed their effort to rebuild Jerusalem’s broken-down walls (Nehemiah 4:4).

Nehemiah’s courageous prayer of faith is a chapter in a bigger story that leads us to even higher ground. Many years later, by His own example, Jesus calls all people on both sides of conflict to find security in more than walls of self-interest. He taught all of us to pray for those who abuse us and to bless those who curse us (Matthew 5:9–12, 44). In His kingdom, it’s a heart of mercy that Christ desires.

Mart DeHaan

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Into the Waste Land

“April is the cruellest month…” begins the first line of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. The poem is thought to be a portrayal of universal despair, where we lie in wait between the unrelenting force of spring and the dead contrast of winter, and the casualty of the warring seasons is eventually hope. In the bold display of life’s unending, futile circles, one can be left to wonder at the point of it all. Does everything simply fade into a waste land? Is death the last, desperate word? Perhaps it was somewhere between the war of winter and spring when the prophet reeled over life’s abrupt and senseless end. “In the prime of my life must I go through the gates of death and be robbed of the rest of my years? For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot sing your praise. The living, the living—they praise you as I am doing today.”(1)

Though differing in degree and conclusions, literature is unapologetically full of a sense of this deep irony, at times expressing itself in futility. Euripides, writing in the fifth century, remarks:

“…and so we are sick for life, and cling

On earth to this nameless and shining thing.

For other life is a fountain sealed,

And the deeps below us are unrevealed

And we drift on legends for ever.”(2)

Shakespeare, on the lips of Macbeth, is struck by the monotonous beat of time and the futile story it adds up to tell:

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Into the Waste Land

Joyce Meyer – You Reap What You Sow

 

Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. — Galatians 6:7

Adapted from the resource Ending Your Day Right Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

As God’s representative here on earth, your purpose is to do right and glorify God. When you do right, you bring God glory by manifesting His excellence in a tangible way.

One way you can bring Him glory is in the way you treat people. There are many practical ways you can be a blessing to others. You can build others up by giving them a compliment. You can express your appreciation and acknowledge people by giving them a pat on the back or writing them a note of encouragement.

You can also take advantage of opportunities to listen to people and lend a helping hand when they need it. You can believe the best of others and offer forgiveness to those who have offended you.

I encourage you to treat everybody with love and respect. You will not only glorify God, you will also receive blessings by reaping what you sow.

Prayer Starter: Father, help me to sow seeds of Your love and kindness today. Make me aware of the needs of others, and show me opportunities to offer encouragement, appreciation, forgiveness, and respect. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Simple, Wonderful Message

 

“He brought them out and begged them, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, and your entire household” (Acts 16:30- 31).

The story is told of a man who was very fond of the famous general, Robert E. Lee. He was eager for his four-year-old son to admire and respect this great, southern, Civil War general as much as he did. So every day, as they strolled through the park near their home, they would stop in front of the statue of General Lee astride his beautiful horse, Traveler, and the father would say to his little David, “Say good morning to General Lee,” The little lad would dutifully wave his hand in obedience to his father’s instructions and say, “Good morning, General Lee.” Months passed and one day, as they again stood in front of the statue of General Lee, the father said, “Say good morning to General Lee,” which the boy did. But as they walked on through the park together, David asked, “Daddy, who is that man riding General Lee?”

One of the biggest problems we have in life is communication. To David’s young mind the horse was more important that the rider. We all have a tendency to filter information through our own experiences. What I say is not necessarily what you hear, and what you say may not be what I hear. This is true even in communicating the gospel.

The most joyful news ever announced is found in Luke 2:10,11:” ‘Don’t be afraid!’ the angel said. ‘I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone! The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord – has been born tonight in Bethlehem!'” Yet that simple message has been diluted and profaned through the centuries.

One evening, I presented this message to a very mature, intelligent layman.

“Does it make sense?” I inquired.

It was as though a light suddenly went on and, for the first time, he understood what the gospel was all about. “Of course it does,” he answered.

“Would you like to receive Christ right now?”

“Of course I would. If what you say is true, I should think everyone would want to know Christ.”

If Spirit-filled, trained communicators properly presented the gospel, the majority of people would want to receive Christ.

Bible Reading:John 1:9-14

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will seek to present the good news of God’s love and forgiveness through Jesus Christ in such a logical, joyful, Spirit-filled way that those who hear will want to know my wonderful Savior. And I will trust God to use me to train other Christians as well to be better communicators of the greatest news the world has ever heard.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Don’t Compare Yourself With Others

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

The apostle Paul said, “Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life” (Galatians 6:4-5 MSG).

Before Thomas Merton followed Christ, he followed money, fame and society. He shocked many of his colleagues when he exchanged it all for the life of a Trappist monk. Many years later a friend visited the monastery and could see no important difference in him. “Tom,” he said, “you haven’t changed at all.” “Why should I?” Tom responded. “Here, our duty is to be more like ourselves, not less.”

God never called you to be anyone other than you. But he does call you to be the best you that you can be. The big question is, at your best, who are you?

Read more Cure for the Common Life

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Salt?

 

Read: Matthew 5:13-14

You are the salt of the earth. (v. 13)

The book chosen for our book club bore the title Salt. I thought, “There must be some mistake. What can be interesting to learn about salt?” Over the next few weeks of reading I was about to find out. Salt processing goes back about 6,000 years and was prized by the ancient Hebrews, Greeks, Romans, Hittites, and Egyptians. The scarcity and universal need for salt caused nations to go to war over it. At one point, salt as a trade commodity was of greater value than platinum. I could hear the author say, “So there!”

When Jesus addresses you and me as salt, it says something about the high value he places on us and our importance in our communities. Salt preserves what is valuable and adds flavor. The metaphor speaks to our calling as Christians in the surrounding culture with its ever-changing, ever the same, boring decay and corruption.

Have you ever sprinkled salt on your food and couldn’t taste any difference? Disappointing, right? Jesus expects us to make a difference in the world. We pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). We must put hands and feet to that prayer every day. When we lose the tang of living out the gospel, the world suffers further spiritual decay. It’s so easy to complain about how things are getting worse. Yet, instead of faulting the world, let’s check our Christian distinctiveness. Have we lost it? —Chic Broersma

Prayer: Lord, without calling attention to myself, help me to make a difference for you and the gospel every day.

 

https://woh.org/