Charles Stanley – When God Doesn’t Seem Just

 

Deuteronomy 32:1-4

Can you think of a situation in your life that felt like an exception to the promises of Scripture? In today’s passage, Moses declares that the Lord is faithful and all His ways are just, but we have all been in circumstances that seemed wrong and unfair. And because God did not intervene, we’ve struggled to reconcile our experience with Moses’ statement about Him.

The Scriptures are filled with examples of godly people who faced hardships that seemed totally unfair. For example, Joseph was sold as a slave, David was hunted by King Saul, and Paul suffered with a “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

Situations like these can cause us to question whether God is good and just. If left to fester in our minds, these doubts may give way to discouragement. We can easily start thinking, What’s the use of serving the Lord? Look at what it’s gotten me—suffering!

It’s important to remember that what we know about God from His Word is more accurate than what we feel. Scripture tells us that God is good and just, so we can know with certainty that He has a fantastic purpose for us in whatever we experience.

The Lord allows each of us to face some trials that we won’t understand to our satisfaction this side of heaven. Our job is not to comprehend everything He does and permits in our lives, but to know how to respond. He’ll make all things right in eternity. In the meantime, trust the solid Rock when all else is shaky.

Bible in One Year: Proverbs 13-15

 

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Our Daily Bread — Strangers Welcome Strangers

 

Read: Leviticus 19:1–9, 33–34 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 1–3; Acts 17:1–15

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. . . . Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. Leviticus 19:33–34

When my husband and I moved to Seattle to be near his sister, we didn’t know where we would live or work. A local church helped us find a place: a rental house with many bedrooms. We could live in one bedroom, and rent the others to international students. For the next three years, we were strangers welcoming strangers: sharing our home and meals with people from all over the world. We and our housemates also welcomed dozens of international students into our home every Friday night for Bible study.

God’s people know what it means to be far from home. For several hundred years, the Israelites were literal foreigners—and slaves—in Egypt. In Leviticus 19, alongside familiar instructions like “Respect your mother and father” and “Do not steal” (vv. 3, 11), God reminded His people to empathetically care for foreigners, because they knew what it was like to be foreigners and afraid (vv. 33–34).

While not all of us as followers of God today have experienced literal exile, we all know how it feels to be “foreigners” on earth (1 Peter 2:11)—people who feel like outsiders because our ultimate allegiance is to a heavenly kingdom. We are called to create a community of hospitality—strangers welcoming strangers into God’s family. The hospitable welcome my husband and I experienced in Seattle taught us to extend welcome to others—and this is at the heart of being the family of God (Romans 12:13).

To whom can I show hospitality?

By Amy Peterson

INSIGHT

God promised the Israelites they would always have enough food to eat if they remained faithful to Him (Leviticus 26:3–5). Because God promised to provide for them, He commanded them to provide for the poor and the needy. God gave various harvest laws (Leviticus 19:9–10; 23:22; Deuteronomy 23:24–25; 24:19–22) to enable the poor to “work” for their food with dignity without having to resort to begging or stealing. We also see this compassionate law of gleaning in the story of Ruth (Ruth 2).

  1. T. Sim

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Pluralism as Privilege

One is never more aware of pluralism’s sticky presence then when sitting in a round table discussion about faith. Like a wad of well-chewed gum that has been stepped in again and again, the strings of religious thought and life are many, and often messy, sticking to our souls at times unbeknownst and unannounced. In the end, the sticky web is not only hard to identify for what it once was, but everyone feels polluted by it. On a bad day, this is my hopeless image of the pluralistic world around me. In this picture, pluralism is far more than a mere plurality of options, but an intricate, gooey mesh of amalgamating outlooks, ideas, objectives, and practices—through which all shoes must step.

Our current cultural landscape takes on both kinds of pluralism in this sense—plurality and relativism. There are more options and isms at our reach than we know what to do with. There is also the sense that all of these options are relative, easily mingled, and chosen by personal preference. For the Christian who confesses one choice that is not relative, chosen not because it is preferred but because it is true, the oddity is obvious. The unpopular stance leaves the pluralist convinced of Christian arrogance and the Christian wondering if he must resign himself to a life of cultural naysaying. And while the former will likely hold onto the conviction of Christianity’s arrogance, perhaps for the later there is another option. The Christian indeed lives in a world where the challenge of pluralism is great because the scope of pluralism is extraordinary. Yet while this may lend itself to gloomy pictures of being stuck in horrific webs of chewing gum, the reality of this pluralistic context can also carry with it images of opportunity and hope.

As it did for Paul who used the signs of all religions to specifically encounter one, pluralism can present an occasion for believers to engage a world that is “very religious in every way.”(1)  It can bring out questions that may not otherwise have been asked, both for ourselves and others—Is Buddhism really claiming anything different than Christianity? Is this particular belief cultural whim or sustainable hope?—thus serving as a catalyst for examination and discovery. Our pluralistic context can also offer a chance to live without the social power to which Christians have grown accustomed, without the cultural control, or the comfortable existence that so often becomes the faith’s downfall. As one author notes: “[M]ulticulturalism and extensive religious plurality can offer an opportunity for Christians to shed the baggage of cultural dominance that has often impeded or distorted the spread of the gospel. It may be, indeed, that the decline of Christian hegemony can offer the Church the occasion to adopt a new and more effective stance of humble service toward societies it no longer controls.”(2)

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Joyce Meyer – Fickle Feelings

 

So, then those who are living the life of the flesh [catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature] cannot please or satisfy God, or be acceptable to Him. — Romans 8:8 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource My Time with God Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

When we follow the ever-changing impulses of our carnal nature, it is not pleasing or acceptable to God, because He has a much better life in mind for us. We all have times when emotions change without warning, and it is important that we learn how to handle ourselves in times like that. If we merely follow our feelings, we will surely end up making decisions and taking actions that we will regret later on.

Recently, Dave and I had several people to our house for a party, and I was energetic and felt great. The next day, for no apparent reason, I woke up feeling dull-headed and a bit down emotionally. Why? What is wrong with me? Those are the first questions I asked myself. I didn’t get an answer, so I had to make a choice. Should I continue to try to figure out my odd mood and get more and more confused, or should I pray, asking God to reveal anything He wants me to see and go on about the business of the day, asking God to help me live beyond my feelings?

I have learned over the years that being a stable, consistent person requires that I own my feelings instead of letting them own me. In other words, I may have them, but I cannot let them control me. Feelings are fickle. They change frequently and often without any notice. Sometimes we understand why, but much of the time we don’t.

Our physical condition can affect emotions. Consider things like: Did I get enough sleep? or Did I eat something that made me feel bad? or Is it allergy season? Our spiritual condition can also cause mood fluctuation: Have I spent enough time with God? Do I have hidden sin that needs to be dealt with? Is God chastising me about something?

I recommend praying first to see if God reveals anything, and if He doesn’t, then remain steady in the storm. Don’t try excessively to figure out your feelings, because it will get you more and more focused on them. Trust God, use extra self-control, and very soon you will feel better.

Prayer Starter: Father, I desire to be stable emotionally at all times. Help me stay steady when my emotions fluctuate. I want to live a life that is pleasing to You at all times, and I trust You to continue teaching me in this area. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Strength out of Weakness

 

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9, KJV).

On thousands of occasions, under all kinds of circumstances, I have found God’s promise to be true in my own experiences and in the lives of multitudes of others.

Charles Spurgeon rode home one evening after a heavy day’s work. Feeling very wearied and depressed, he suddenly recalled the Scripture, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”

Immediately he compared himself to a tiny fish in the Thames river, apprehensive lest its drinking so many pints of water in the river each day might drink the Thames dry. Then he could hear Father Thames say, “Drink away, little fish, my stream is sufficient for thee.”

Then he pictured a little mouse in Joseph’s granaries in Egypt, afraid lest its consumption of the corn it needed might exhaust the supplies and it would starve to death. Then Joseph would come along and sense its fear, saying “Cheer up, little mouse, my granaries are sufficient for thee.”

He thought of himself as a mountain climber reaching the lofty summit and dreading lest he might exhaust all the oxygen in the atmosphere. Then he would hear the Creator Himself say, “Breathe away, O man, and fill thy lungs ever. My atmosphere is sufficient for thee.”

“Then,” Spurgeon told his congregation, “for the first time in my life I experienced what Abraham must have felt when he fell upon his face and laughed.”

What kinds of needs do you have today? Are they needs for which our heavenly Father is not sufficient? Can you trust Him? Is there anyone who has proven himself to be more trustworthy?

Bible Reading:II Corinthains 12:1-10

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: In every type of need, burden and problem I face today – whether my own or that of someone else – I will count on the sufficiency of Christ to handle it, and to enable me to live supernaturally.

 

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Max Lucado – You Make the Choice

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Would you forfeit your reputation to see Jesus born into your world? Let’s say you’re someone who enjoys the role of a “Christmas Christian.”  You sing the carols, attend the services—but once the season passes, you jettison your faith and re-shelve your Bible.  But this past Christmas, the immensity of it hit you:  Heaven hung her highest hope and King on a cross for me.  Radical thoughts have since surfaced—like joining a Bible study, going on a mission trip.  Your family and friends think you’re crazy.  They want the Christmas Christian back.  You can protect your reputation or protect His.  You have a choice.

Christ abandoned his.  No one in Nazareth saluted him as the Son of God.  Jesus “gave up his place with God and made himself nothing” (Philippians 2:7). God hunts for those who will do the same—through whom he can deliver Christ into the world!

Read more Cure for the Common Life

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Thai soccer coach kept boys alive: “He loved them more than himself”

Ekkapol Ake Chantawong (known as Coach Ake) is the twenty-five-year-old coach of the Wild Boars soccer team that has made global headlines in recent weeks. He and the entire team have now been rescued from the cave system in northern Thailand where they were trapped since June 23. He was the last one out.

What do we know about him? His cousin, Thamma Kantawong, told reporters, “He is a very good person, loves kids, takes care of kids, he is very diligent, and always volunteers himself to help others.”

Divers who found the team reported that Coach Ake was among the weakest in the group because he gave his food to the boys. He taught them meditation techniques and showed them how to drink water from the cave’s walls.

When they were found, he wrote a note to their parents: “I promise to take the very best care of the kids. I want to say thanks for all the support, and I want to apologize.” They wrote back to the coach asking him not to blame himself and credit him for keeping their sons alive until they could be rescued.

One of Coach Ake’s friends said of his relationship with the boys, “He loved them more than himself.” I’m sure we’ll learn more about the coach in coming days. For this morning, I’d like to focus on his story as a metaphor for our time.

Culture wars are escalating

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