Charles Stanley – Releasing Guilt

 

Isaiah 55:7-8

The church I grew up in could sum up much of its theology in one statement: “Thou shalt not … ” I don’t recall hearing about the Father’s love or how to live the Christian life. What I learned was that a wrathful God would punish me if I didn’t follow all the rules. And there seemed to be rules for everything—including what I could read, what I could wear, and what I could do.

As a teenage boy, I spent a lot of time begging the Lord to forgive me for one foolish thing or another. And I carried around a constant weight of guilt and worry everywhere I went. I just couldn’t seem to be good enough. In truth, the rules were a burden to me, and since I thought God made them, He was a burden too.

In my young adult years, I learned that my perception of God was wrong. He is gracious and loving. The commandments that He gave were designed to keep us safe and free from shame. But even when we do mess up, there is no condemnation for those who trust in Christ (Rom. 8:1). That means He forgives our sin and “wipes out [our] transgressions,” remembering them no more (Isa. 43:25). We may have to live with consequences but never with the weight of guilt.

God is not a burden. He is the burden-bearer. (See Psalm 68:19.) He placed our sins on Jesus Christ at Calvary, thereby relieving us of that heaviness. Don’t keep staggering under the load of guilt. Lay it down before a loving, gracious heavenly Father, who encourages us to come to Him and offers a yoke that is easy and light (Matt. 11:28-30).

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 58-62

 

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Our Daily Bread — The Joy of Giving

 

Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:12–24 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 70–71; Romans 8:22–39

Encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 1 Thessalonians 5:14

It was a dreary week. I had been feeling lethargic and listless, although I couldn’t figure out why.

Near the end of the week, I found out that an aunt had kidney failure. I knew I had to visit her—but to be honest, I felt like postponing the visit. Still, I made my way to her place, where we had dinner, chatted, and prayed together. An hour later, I left her home feeling upbeat for the first time in days. Focusing on someone else rather than myself had somehow improved my mood.

Psychologists have found that the act of giving can produce satisfaction, which comes when the giver sees the recipient’s gratitude. Some experts even believe that humans are wired to be generous!

Perhaps that’s why Paul, when encouraging the church in Thessalonica to build up their faith community, urged them to “help the weak” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). Earlier, he had also cited Jesus’s words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). While this was said in the context of giving financially, it applies as well to the giving of time and effort.

When we give, we get an insight into how God feels. We understand why He’s so delighted to give us His love, and we share in His joy and the satisfaction of blessing others. I think I’ll be visiting my aunt again soon.

Father, You have made me to give to others just as You have given to me. Teach me to give so that I can truly reflect Your character and be more like You today.

The giver is the greatest recipient.

By Leslie Koh

INSIGHT

Do you ever feel that you’re always on the giving end? Or do you feel you’re always taking and receiving—with nothing to offer others but your own neediness? Take another look at Paul’s words to the Thessalonians. See if you can hear the wisdom of someone who knows there’s a time to give and a time to receive.

If you sense that you’re receiving more than your fair share of help, does Paul give you any idea about what you have to give even while receiving? Can you see that in acknowledging graciously the hard work of those who are caring for you, God can actually use you to encourage them?

If you seem to be giving to the point of exhaustion, see if you can hear any gentle wisdom here for yourself.

Mart DeHaan

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Mysterious Ways

Psychologists use the term “cognitive dissonance” to describe the bothered, sometimes pained, state of mind that occurs when new evidence conflicts with a current belief or outlook. When such dissonance occurs, resolution is arrived at by discarding the new evidence, discarding the belief itself, or ideally, evaluating what is known to be true and integrating the new information.

If we closely examine the lives of certain biblical characters such dissonance is often and clearly evident. Abraham was devastated by the God he loved who asked him to trust, even as he led his young son to be sacrificed. Saul spent three days in blindness and without food trying to comprehend the presence of the Christ he once persecuted. Mary wept at the empty tomb, pleading with the gardener to show her the body of her friend and teacher. The instances where God’s plans conflicted with the understanding of God’s people are scattered liberally throughout Scripture.

Even so, it is perhaps safe to say that Job suffered from the most significant case of cognitive dissonance known among humanity. Job’s understanding of a gracious and just God who rewards the righteous and punishes the unrighteous was shattered by new evidence. Grieving the loss of the God he loved, yet unable to discard the relationship, the question of divine justice tortured his mind. “As water wears away stones and torrents wash away the soil,” he cried, “so you destroy man’s hope.”(1) And yet, against the counsel of his wife, Job was unwilling to discard his belief and allow his hope to be washed away.

Job is the hopeful symbol of a steadfast mind amidst the ashes of our own questions. Why am I so troubled and afflicted? Why would a good God permit suffering? Why does God stand far off in times of trouble? Why is God so absent? The dung heap of life’s most plaguing questions is resistant to decomposition.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Mysterious Ways

Joyce Meyer – Don’t Miss the Miracle

 

And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. — Luke 10:39

Adapted from the resource Power Thoughts Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

You will not enjoy the present moment and the gifts it contains if you don’t have a balanced attitude toward work. Luke 10:38– 42 tells the story of Jesus’ visit to the home of two sisters, Mary and Martha. Martha was overly occupied and too busy (see Luke 10:40). But Mary sat down at Jesus’ feet and listened to what He had to say.

Jesus said Mary made the better choice. Jesus did not tell Martha not to work, but He did tell her not to be frustrated or have a bad attitude while she worked. Jesus wants you to work hard, but He also wants you to be wise enough to realize when you should stop all activity and not miss the miracle of the moment.

Prayer Starter: Lord, help me to stay in balance and not miss the “miracle of the moment.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Praying in His Will

 

“This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have requests which we have asked from Him” (1 John 5:14,15 NAS). 

A very dedicated church member, who came to me for counsel concerning her prayer life, said, “I pray all the time, but I don’t seem to get any answers. I have become discouraged and I wonder if God really answers prayer.”

I showed her this wonderful promise and asked, “First of all, do you pray according to the will of God?” This was a new thought to her.

“What do you mean?” she inquired. I explained by reminding her what God’s Word says. How do our requests relate to the Word of God and to the desires which He places in our hearts? As we read in Psalm 37:4, if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He gives us the desires of our hearts, and in Phillipians 2:13 Paul states that it is God who works in us both to will and to do His good pleasure. For example, we can always know that we are praying according to the will of God and the Word of God when we pray for the salvation of souls, for God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. We can pray for the maturing of believers because God wants all of us to be conformed to the image of Christ. We can also pray for all the needs of our brothers and sisters materially, emotionally, and most of all, spiritually – because God’s Word promises that He will supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

One can know that selfish prayers for “me, myself and only my interests” are not likely to be heard because we are to seek first God’s kingdom.

If we want to receive blessings from God for ourselves, we must forget ourselves and help others find their fulfillment. In the process, God will meet our needs. This does not suggest that we should not give attention to our own needs and to the needs of our loved ones, but rather we are not to seek only that which is for our personal best.

No prayer life can be effective without a thorough knowledge and understanding of God’s Word, the basis from which we can know the will of God and thus pray with assurance that our prayers will be answered.

Bible Reading:I John 3:22-24

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will saturate my mind with the Word of God and seek to know and do His will so that when I pray, my prayers will have ready answers.

 

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Max Lucado – God’s Promises are Great

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

According to Peter, God’s promises aren’t just great, they are “very great.”  They aren’t just valuable; they are “precious” (2 Peter 1:4). It is God’s great and precious promises that lead us into a new reality, a holy environment.  They are direction signs intended to guide us away from the toxic swampland and into the clean air of heaven.  They are strong boulders that form the bridge over which we walk from our sin to salvation.  Promises that are the stitching in the spine of the Bible.

Receive them.  Allow them to soak you like a spring shower.  Let’s be what we were intended to be—people of the Promise.  Fill your heart with hope, and let the devil himself hear you declare your belief in God’s goodness!  Because God’s promises are unbreakable, our hope is unshakable!

Read more Unshakable Hope

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – Why “The Bachelorette” is such a bad idea

It seems I could comment on celebrity news every morning.

For instance, Patrick Stewart “stunned” fans with his weekend announcement that he will play Captain Jean-Luc Picard in a new Star Trek series. Russia has named US actor Steven Seagal its special representative for Russian-US humanitarian ties.

And two elderly men in Germany escaped their nursing home to attend a heavy metal rock concert. They were eventually discovered and escorted from the festival.

We might think tonight’s Bachelorette live finale fits into the same category–amusing but less than relevant to real life. Here’s why we’d be wrong.

Contestant shamed for his virginity

The Bachelorette has been on television for fifteen years. You probably know the premise: A woman is presented with a group of men who want to marry her. Various dates and activities narrow the group down to a final three contestants.

She then spends time in the “Fantasy Suite” with each of them, no cameras allowed. She usually has sex with each of the three men. (I will not link to articles explaining this fact since they are explicit.)

The “Bachelorette” then narrows the group to the final two and chooses the winner in the finale.

So much is wrong with this show. The idea that people could choose their life partner on the basis of contrived events in front of cameras is implausible in the extreme. (The Bachelor, which began in 2002, has produced only one couple that is still together. Only six couples from The Bachelorette are still together.)

Continue reading Denison Forum – Why “The Bachelorette” is such a bad idea