Charles Stanley – Look for the Good Way

 

Jeremiah 6:16-17

If you’re a hiker, you know how important it is to stick to the marked trails in unfamiliar territory. To venture off on your own could lead to disaster if you get lost and can’t find your way back to safety.

This is similar to what happened to the nation of Judah. They veered from the Lord to make their own way by adopting foreign gods. As a result, God told the prophet Jeremiah to point them back to Him. Sadly, they refused to listen and continued in the wrong direction.

But we don’t have to follow in their footsteps. The Lord will lead us onto His path if we’ll heed these commands from Jeremiah 6:16 (NIV):

“Stand at the crossroads and look.” God sometimes uses trouble to open our eyes and let us see we’re at an intersection. This is the time to stop and immerse ourselves in God’s Word so we can discern His way.

“Ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is.” Saints from the past have left footprints for us to follow. After meditating on psalms or prayers offered by people in the Bible, we should ponder how their petitions reveal trust in God. It’s also helpful to notice what happened next in the scriptural accounts.

“Walk in it, and … find rest for your souls.” With eyes firmly fixed on Jesus and with full reliance on the Holy Spirit’s strength, we can walk the road of obedience and follow Christ to sweet, soul-satisfying rest.

If you’re uncertain regarding God’s will, avoid the tendency to run faster. Pause, follow Jeremiah’s instructions, and trust the Lord to show you the good way. Then start walking.

Bible in One Year: Psalm 44-49

 

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Our Daily Bread — Impaired Judgment

 

Read: Matthew 7:1–6 | Bible in a Year: Nehemiah 12–13; Acts 4:23–37

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. Matthew 7:1

I’ve been quick to judge anyone I saw walking in the street while staring at a phone. How could they be so oblivious to the cars about to hit them? I’ve told myself. Don’t they care about their own safety? But one day, while crossing the entrance to an alleyway, I was so engrossed in a text message, that I missed seeing a car at my left. Thankfully, the driver saw me and came to an abrupt stop. But I felt ashamed. All of my self-righteous finger-pointing came back to haunt me. I had judged others, only to do the same thing myself.

My hypocrisy is the kind of thinking that Jesus addressed in the Sermon on the Mount: “First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5). I had a huge “plank”—a blind spot through which I judged others with my own impaired judgment.

“For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged,” Jesus also said (7:2). Recalling the disgusted look on the driver’s face that day, after having to make an abrupt stop when I walked in front of the car, I’m reminded of the disgusted looks I gave others engrossed in their phones.

None of us is perfect. But sometimes I forget that in my haste to judge others. We’re all in need of God’s grace.

Heavenly Father, please help me be quicker to console or encourage, and slower to judge someone else.

Be slow to judge others.

By Linda Washington

INSIGHT

In today’s reading we see our Lord’s condemnation of a judgmental attitude. It’s remarkable how we can have a perfectionistic attitude toward others yet ignore the glaring faults we possess. The Pharisees of Jesus day were scathing in their attack on the sins of others while seemingly unaware of their own faults. In seeing the pretense of these hypocrites, Jesus gave a series of rebukes such as: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean” (Matthew 23:25–26).

The Greek word hypocrite means “he that wears the mask” and was used of actors in plays. The private lives of hypocrites do not match the image they project for public view. The Christian walk should lead to greater integrity and transparency. To avoid hypocrisy, it’s essential that we confess our sin and rely on the Spirit to help us live holy lives (Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 5:18; 1 John 1:9).

In what ways can you become more gracious in your response to the behavior of others?

Dennis Fisher

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Reflection

I wish it had been an unusual conversation. A group of close friends had gathered for dinner to catch up on life’s happenings and events. In the course of conversation, and it happens more often than I’d like to admit, the typical meanderings through each other’s lives shifted to calling out the particular character flaws of individuals we all knew, but who were not present with us. “She’s so judgmental,” one friend observed. “Well, she’s a perfectionist and hyper-critical” another added, and on and on it continued as the evening progressed. Never one to remain silent, I added my perspective that dissected personality peccadillos, all without a defense or a counter-narrative. How easy it was to evaluate another with surgical precision without stopping for a minute to think about how it might feel to be on the other side of the scalpel.

As I replayed the conversation in my mind, I was struck by the fact that the very nature of our conversation displayed the very same tendencies we had called out in these others. More than that, hadn’t we just demonstrated the very judgmental and critical spirits we had leveled against others? Psychologists have long understood this all too common tendency of identifying in others what we tend to struggle with in our own lives. We had all demonstrated the process of psychological projection by which individuals defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities by attributing them to others.(1) How easy it had been to deny the existence of these ugly qualities in ourselves by placing them (and blame) on others.

The psychoanalytic tradition defined projection as a defense mechanism which is understood as a largely unconscious strategy to avoid conscious conflict or anxiety. And what could cause more anxiety than having to face the truth about ourselves? As author Richard Rohr notes, “I am convinced that there is nothing on which people are so fixated as their self-image. We are literally prepared to go through hell just so we don’t have to give it up. We’re all affected by it.”(2) The people who irritate and frustrate, the ones with qualities we dislike so much, are in fact a mirror that reflects our own image. Yet, we find every conceivable way not to see that kind of ugly reflection staring back at us.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Reflection

Joyce Meyer – Emotions Are Here to Stay

 

Be self-controlled and alert…standing firm in your faith. — 1 Peter 5:8-9 (NIV)

Adapted from the resource Power Thoughts Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

We all have emotions, and we always will; they are part of being human. Since that is true, I believe emotional stability should be one of the main goals of every believer. We should seek God to learn how to manage our emotions and stop them from managing us.

I urge you to make emotional maturity a priority in your life. If you do not believe you are doing a good job of managing your emotions, begin to pray and seek God for emotional maturity. I also encourage you to learn what upsets you the most or prompts you to behave emotionally and be watchful during those situations.

Prayer Starter: Father, I ask for Your help to manage my emotions. Help me to mature in You and have a greater understanding of why I do the things I do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – All Is Ours

 

“So don’t be proud of following the wise men of this world. For God has already given you everything you need. He has given you Paul and Apollos and Peter as your helpers. He has given you the whole world to use, and life and even death are your servants. He has given you all of the present and all of the future. All are yours, and you belong to Christ, and Christ is God’s (1 Corinthians 3:21-23).

A famous scholar and statesman called me aside to offer his counsel. “As the head of a great worldwide Christian student movement,” he said, “you should be more scholarly, more of a philosopher. Your approach is too simple. Your critics and even some of your friends feel that your writings and your speaking should be more profound as befits one of your stature and position.” He continued in this vein for some time. I heard him out, prayerfully asking God to give me the wisdom to respond.

When he finished I said to him, “There was a time when I wanted to impress people with my intellect, my learning. I spent many years in graduate school including two theological seminaries where I had the privilege of sitting at the feet of some of the most learned theologians of our time.”

I confessed to him that there was a period in my student life when I became intoxicated with learning and could have spent the rest of my life in the ivory tower. Then it occurred to me in a very definite, dramatic way that one of the reasons the Christian message was not better understood by every Christian and the reason the Christian church was making such little impact upon a worldly society was that many theologians, and consequently their students, pastors and missionaries, had complicated the good news of God’s love and forgiveness. I reminded my friend that Jesus, the greatest teacher of all, taught in such a way that the masses, largely illiterate and unlearned, heard Him gladly. I went on to explain that I had made a concerted effort all through my ministry to try to communicate clearly by eliminating big words and philosophical and theological jargon, the kind of “Christianese” that does not communicate except to those who are familiar with the usage.

This famous scholar seemed to understand for the first time the importance of following the example of our Lord and other great teachers through the centuries who sought to communicate clearly to the masses.

Bible Reading:I Corinthians 3:16-20

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Remembering that God has given me everything I need, I will look to Him to guide my steps and enable me to live the supernatural life. I will also keep the message simple as I communicate the good news of God’s love in Christ.

 

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Max Lucado – Never Consult Your Greed

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Jesus warns, “Be on your guard against every form of greed” (Luke 12:15).  John D. Rockefeller was asked, “How much money does it take to satisfy a man?” He answered, “Just a little more.” Wise was the one who wrote, “Whoever loves money never has money enough money; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

Urge your mate to choose satisfaction over salary.  Better to be married to a happy person with a thin wallet than a miserable person with a thick one. As Proverbs 13:7 says, “a pretentious, showy life is an empty life; a plain and simple life is a full life.” Pursue the virtue of contentment because “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). Consult your design.  Consult your Designer.  But never consult your greed.

Read more Cure for the Common Life

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – Separating children at the border: 3 options and my response

The immigration crisis unfolding on the US–Mexico border continues to dominate the news. Nearly two thousand children have been separated from their parents since a “zero tolerance” policy was adopted for those entering the US illegally.

One facility in McAllen, Texas, houses two hundred such children. According to a migrant rights worker who visited the facility, one girl “was so traumatized that she wasn’t talking. She was just curled up in a little ball.” A quiet boy was seen clutching a piece of paper that was a photocopy of his mother’s ID card.

The head of the American Academy of Pediatrics visited a similar shelter in Texas, where she saw a toddler crying uncontrollably and pounding her little fists on a mat. She had been taken from her mother the night before and brought to the shelter.

Staff members gave her books and toys, but they weren’t allowed to pick her up, hold her, or hug her to try to calm her. As a rule, staff are not allowed to touch the children in the facility.

A “zero tolerance” policy

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told reporters last night that the “vast majority” of children being held in detention facilities were sent to the US alone by their parents. She stated that this issue “has resulted after years and years of Congress not taking action.” Others blame the Trump administration for the crisis.

My purpose is not to fix blame but to consider practical options. Let’s begin with some history.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Separating children at the border: 3 options and my response