Charles Stanley – The God Who Meets All Needs

 

Ephesians 1:3-8

People tend to divide life into categories, distinguishing between issues related to work, home, faith, and leisure. Yet that’s not how the Lord sees us. His interest in His children is not confined to spiritual matters; He cares about the details of daily living as well.

Scripture shows that God is in the business of keeping our bodies fed (Luke 12:29), our minds wise (James 1:5), and our hearts at ease (Phil. 4:7). And since believers are in union with Jesus Christ through His indwelling Spirit, every aspect of a Christian’s existence has a spiritual connection. There’s no time in the day when the believer’s life separates into “sacred” and “secular” components. The anxious heart that distracts us from prayer is as much God’s concern as the tired mind that easily drifts into temptation.

Scripture emphasizes God’s commitment to the believer’s whole self: “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). The Lord doesn’t limit Himself to building godliness in us. Day-to-day particulars of life matter, too. We need never wonder if God can or wants to meet our needs. Our all-sufficient Father, whose kindness never ceases (Lam. 3:22), gives believers whatever is required to grow their faith—whether that means food, comfort, knowledge, or peace.

The loving heavenly Father sees His children in their entirety, not physical beings with a spiritual life on the side. We cheat ourselves when we think God is interested solely in our spiritual needs. He has many kinds of blessings to offer, if we will but ask.

Bible in One Year: Zephaniah 1-3, Haggai 1-2

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Asking God First

 

Read: Psalm 37:3–7, 23–24 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 5–6; Ephesians 1

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Early in our marriage, I struggled to figure out my wife’s preferences. Did she want a quiet dinner at home or a meal at a fancy restaurant? Was it okay for me to hang out with the guys, or did she expect me to keep the weekend free for her? Once, instead of guessing and deciding first, I asked her, “What do you want?”

“I’m fine with either,” she replied with a warm smile. “I’m just happy you thought of me.”

At times I’ve wanted desperately to know exactly what God wanted me to do—such as which job to take. Praying for guidance and reading the Bible didn’t reveal any specific answers. But one answer was clear: I was to trust in the Lord, take delight in Him, and commit my way to Him (Psalm 37:3–5).

That’s when I realized that God usually gives us the freedom of choice—if we first seek to put His ways before our own. That means dropping choices that are plainly wrong or would not please Him. It might be something immoral, ungodly, or unhelpful toward our relationship with Him. If the remaining options please God, then we’re free to choose from them. Our loving Father wants to give us the desires of our hearts—hearts that take delight in Him (v. 4).

Teach me, O God, to put You first in everything I do. Show me how to take delight in You, that my heart will be transformed to be like Yours.

Do your decisions please God?

By Leslie Koh

INSIGHT

A prayerful reading of Psalm 37 yields increased joy, assurance, and confidence in the Lord. After an opening exhortation to not be upset by the short-lived vitality and success of those who ignore the Lord (vv. 1–2), a series of commands follow that call for faithful dependence on Him (vv. 3–8). The remainder of the psalm includes commentary about the conduct of two kinds of people (the righteous and the wicked), who follow two different paths and end up at two different places (vv. 9–11, 20). In various ways, the wicked harass and prey upon the righteous (vv. 12–15, 32). But the righteous are not alone. The Lord—in whom they trust and delight and upon whom they wait—protects them, making them safe and secure and stable (vv. 16–17, 23–26, 32–33). The conclusion of the psalm speaks powerfully to those who place their faith in God. “The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him” (vv. 39–40).

Arthur Jackson

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Seen. Known. Understood.

“Do you see this woman?” For some reason, the familiar question confronted me this time as if it were aimed as much at me as the guests around the table. Jesus was eating at the house of a religious man who had invited him to dinner. They were reclining at the table when a woman who is very easily remembered for her flaws came stumbling over the dinner guests, making her way to the feet of Jesus. Weeping over them, she broke a costly vial of perfume, wiping his feet dry with her hair. Who didn’t see her? Who didn’t notice her strange commotion? Who among them didn’t immediately recognize how out of place she really was? Yet he asks, “Do you see this woman?”(1) He was either speaking ironically or he saw something the rest did not.

The late seventeenth century poet George Herbert once described prayer in a detailed list of stirring metaphors.  Among the first lines, prayer is described as “the soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage.” At those words I cannot help but picture this woman lying prostrate at Christ’s feet. As she poured out the perfume, so she poured out her soul. Her prayer was one without words, her worship spilled out as tears upon his feet. Onlookers saw a fallen and foolish woman, an extravagant waste. Jesus saw a heart in pilgrimage, a prayer understood.

I remember the first time I was unapologetically honest with God. My head was bowed but inwardly I was somewhat closer to pounding fists against a divine chest. In silent reflection, I shouted internally. Everyone around me seemed to be experiencing the still, small voice, the gentle touch of a Father’s hand, the assurance of God’s glory and power, the confirmation of a hope and a future, answered prayers, even dramatic miracles. But I couldn’t sense God’s presence, or hear God’s voice at all. I had more questions and uncertainty than answers and assurance. It seemed as though I was relating to an empty throne. Like an attention-starved child, I yelled at God for existing, for forgetting to love me, for failing to understand or care.

In Herbert’s list of words, my prayer this day was perhaps more fitting “reversed thunder” or “Christ-side-piercing spear.” My words pled for the presence of God, for the love and will of a good creator in my life, for complete access to the loving Father I believed was real but just not to me. But what I was asking for sharply (and probably quite irreverently) required the wedge that stood between us to be obliterated, the chasm crossed—indeed, the human death of the incarnate Son to show how deeply the Father longs to gather us up like a hen gathers her chicks, whether we are willing or not. I likely spoke in ignorance and in anger, making claims like Job without understanding. I was likely not as interested in hearing at that point as I was at shouting. But God heard. Responding to my interrogation, God revealed my true question. I was tired of being the stepchild, and yet I had been keeping the Father in my mind as something more like a distant uncle. Seeing me, God showed me what I did not.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Seen. Known. Understood.

Joyce Meyer – Doing the Word

But prove yourselves doers of the word [actively and continually obeying God’s precepts], and not merely listeners [who hear the word but fail to internalize its meaning], deluding yourselves [by unsound reasoning contrary to the truth]. — James 1:22 (AMP)

Adapted from the resource Battlefield of the Mind Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

As a Christian, for a long time I didn’t understand that believers could know what God wanted them to do and then deliberately say no. I’m not talking about those who turn their backs on Jesus and want nothing to do with His salvation. I’m talking about those who disobey in the seemingly little things and don’t seem to be troubled by doing so.

In verses 23 and 24, James went on to say that if we only listen to the Word, but don’t obey it, it’s like looking at our reflection in a mirror and then going away and forgetting what we saw. But a doer of the Word, he says, is like one who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, and is faithful to it and perseveres in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience) (v. 25 AMPC).

Whenever Christians are faced with God’s Word, and it calls them to action but they refuse to obey, their own human reasoning is often the cause. They have deceived themselves into believing something other than the truth. It’s as if they think they are smarter than God.

I’ve met people who seem to think that God always wants them to feel good, and if something happens to make them feel bad, they don’t believe it is God’s will for them. Or they dismiss what they read in the Bible by saying, “That doesn’t make sense.” One woman, referring to Paul’s instruction to “be unceasing in prayer” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), said that verse kept coming to her every time she prayed. “What do you think that means?” I asked her.

“Oh, I think it means that day in and day out, we are to pray when we feel a need or when we want something.”

Her words shocked me. “What about fellowship with the Lord?” I asked. “Isn’t that a good reason? Or maybe God just wants you to spend time reading His Word and praying about what you read.”

“I have too many things to do,” she said. “That’s fine for people who like to sit and read and pray for hours every day, but that’s not the way for me.”

Continue reading Joyce Meyer – Doing the Word

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – So He May Forgive Us

 

“And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25, KJV).

You and I have a way by which we can be absolutely certain of God’s forgiveness. It is two-fold.

First, we must be sure that we have forgiven anyone and everyone against whom we may have anything or hold any resentment.

Second, we must believe His Word unquestioningly – and His Word does indeed tell us we will be forgiven when we ask under these conditions.

Most familiar, of course, is the glorious promise of 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (KJV).

Though today’s verse uses the word stand in reference to praying, Scripture clearly states that the posture in prayer was sometimes standing. God, however, looks on the heart rather than on our position as we pray.

If the heart is right, any posture may be proper. All other things being equal, however, the kneeling position seems more in keeping with the proper attitude of humility in our approach to God. (Physical condition, of course, sometimes makes this inadvisable or impossible.)

Most important, we are to forgive before we pray. That much is certain.

Bible Reading:Matthew 6:9-15

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will examine my heart throughout the day to be sure I have forgiven any who should be forgiven – before I pray.

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Heaven’s Tribunal

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Some people will stand before God on the judgement day who didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him.  They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand. They spent a lifetime dishonoring God and hurting his people. They mocked his name and made life miserable for their neighbors.

Even our judicial system forces no defense on the accused. The defendant is offered an advocate, but if he chooses to stand before the judge alone, the system permits it.  So does God.  He offers his Son as an advocate.  At the judgment Jesus will stand at the side of every person except those who refuse him.  When their deeds are read, heaven’s tribunal will hear nothing—but silence!  It’s a sobering truth in Acts 17:31, “The day is coming when God will judge the world.”

Read more Unshakable Hope

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

 

Denison Forum – Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh testify: My response

 

In breaking news, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote this morning on whether to recommend Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the full Senate.

I watched yesterday’s Committee hearings. The senators were sharply contentious; the two witnesses were deeply emotional.

As conflicted as the day was, however, this thought prevailed in my mind: the process worked.

An American citizen was able to bring her concerns about a federal judge and now Supreme Court nominee before United States senators charged with investigating his candidacy. He was able to respond publicly to her allegations.

The number of countries across world history where such a scene would be possible is indeed small.

“Democracy is the worst form of Government”

Seven decades ago, Winston Churchill stated: “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

  1. S. Lewis testified that he believed in democracybecause “I believe in the Fall of Man.” He disagreed with “people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that every one deserved a share in the government. The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they’re not true.”

What is his evidence? “I find that they’re not true without looking further than myself. I don’t deserve a share in governing a hen-roost. Much less a nation.” Lewis concluded: “Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows.”

The best government is one that holds leaders accountable. Not dynastic rule as in North Korea, or one-party rule as in China, or one-man government as in Russia.

But we also need a system in which leaders hold us accountable. William Wilberforce used the governmental system of his day to abolish slavery. American leaders used our legislative process to enact civil rights. I am glad that sex trafficking and illegal drugs are illegal. I am grateful for police officers who enforce the law for the benefit of those who obey it.

And we need an adversarial judicial system. I am glad we have both prosecutors and defense attorneys so that anyone can gain a fair hearing and anyone can defend himself or herself in such a context.

“The Kingdom of God will not arrive on Air Force One”

But none of these advantages found in a democracy can repair what is truly broken about our society.

Our root problem is spiritual. It is a disease no doctor can cure, a brokenness no law can repair, a condition no judge can reverse.

Even if a conservative majority on the Court makes abortion illegal, there will still be abortions (as there were before 1973). The Supreme Court infamously advanced slavery in the horrific Dred Scott case of 1857.

Time notes that in 1973 the justices “discovered an unwritten ‘right to privacy’ in the Constitution” when they legalized abortion, resulting in the deaths of more than sixty million babies. The Court discovered a right to same-sex marriage in the Constitution, overturning centuries of precedent for traditional marriage.

As Chuck Colson famously noted, “The Kingdom of God will not arrive on Air Force One.”

Human words cannot change human hearts

Christians can make two mistakes in response to yesterday’s hearings.

One: We can shake our heads at the chaos of the system and retreat from engagement in governance. But Plato was right (as paraphrased by Ralph Waldo Emerson): “The punishment which the wise suffer who refuse to take part in the government, is to live under the government of worse men.”

God calls us to pray “for kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Timothy 2:2). We are to speak biblical truth to them, as Paul did to Roman leaders (Acts 24-26). And we are to engage in the political process as God directs.

Two: We can ask our government to do what it cannot. A fallacy popular in evangelical circles is that if we can just elect enough evangelicals, we can “turn around” our country.

While we need more evangelicals in office, human words cannot change human hearts. Laws can regulate society, but they cannot transform it.

“How do you know when the gold is pure?”

Let’s invert the pyramid that puts governmental leaders at the top and citizens at the bottom. In a democracy, our leaders serve us. That’s why they’re called “public servants.” We elect them, and we can remove them.

The esteemed former Congressman Frank Wolf notes that “Congress is downstream from culture.” Beyond participating in our democracy, Christians have a high calling to be the change we wish to see.

As the “body of Christ,” we continue the earthly ministry of Jesus today (1 Corinthians 12:27). The apostles were so Christlike that their enemies saw their “boldness” and “recognized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Now our Father wants us to know him so intimately that his Son is displayed in our lives and our influence advances his kingdom in our culture.

A group watching a goldsmith at work asked, “How do you know when the gold is pure?”

His answer: “When I can see my face in it.”

How pure is your “gold” today?

 

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Charles Stanley – Trust God for Your Needs

 

Philippians 4:19

Jim saved for a long time to take an Alaskan cruise. At last he was on board with two carefully packed suitcases. The first evening, when he heard “Dinner is served” announced over the loudspeaker, he took peanut butter crackers from his suitcase and sat at the table in his small cabin. Every day at mealtime, he repeated the ritual. It wasn’t that Jim didn’t like the ship’s tasty banquets. He simply didn’t know that his meals were included in the price of the ticket. For two weeks he enjoyed beautiful scenery and wildlife off the decks but ate dry, stale food in his cabin.

This sad story is a metaphor for the way some believers follow Jesus. God has promised to meet His children’s every need—His boundless riches are included in the price Christ paid for their salvation (Eph. 1:18). Yet many folks are instead trying to live out of their own resources. They don’t realize that the wealth of their Father’s love, power, and provision is on their “menu.”

A believer’s relationship with the Lord is one of complete unity. Jesus is our life. His Spirit lives through us. Therefore, we have remarkable resources available to us, as do our brothers and sisters in Christ—we have access to His power, strength, and endurance.

Jim didn’t know he had the right to satisfy his hunger in an extravagant way. Learn from this exaggerated example. Discover in God’s Word the riches you are entitled to through faith. God offers believers everything required for living well and wisely, so trust Him for all your needs.

Bible in One Year: Habakkuk 1-3

 

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Our Daily Bread — When We’re Weary

 

Read: Galatians 6:1–10 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 3–4; Galatians 6

Let us not become weary in doing good. Galatians 6:9

Sometimes trying to do the right thing can be exhausting. We may wonder, Do my well-intentioned words and actions make any difference at all? I wondered this recently when I sent a prayerfully thought-out email meant to encourage a friend, only to have it met with an angry response. My immediate reaction was a mixture of hurt and anger. How could I be so misunderstood?

Before I responded out of anger, I remembered that we won’t always see the results (or the results we desire) when we tell someone about how Jesus loves them. When we do good things for others hoping to draw them to Him, they may spurn us. Our gentle efforts to prompt someone to right action may be ignored.

Galatians 6 is a good place to turn when we’re discouraged by someone’s response to our sincere efforts. Here the apostle Paul encourages us to consider our motives—to “test our actions”—for what we say and do (vv. 1–4). When we have done so, he encourages us to persevere: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people” (vv. 9–10).

God wants us to continue living for Him, which includes praying for and telling others about Him—“doing good.” He will see to the results.

Dear God, thank You for the encouragement we receive from Your Word. Help us to persevere in doing good.

We can leave the results of our lives in God’s hands.

By Alyson Kieda

INSIGHT

Sometimes we can be tempted to take pride in our own good deeds. Unfortunately, this attitude may result in our looking down on the shortcomings of others. Instead, Paul says that believers empowered by the Spirit are to restore those caught up in a sin gently. By helping people deal with their sins, we’re fulfilling the law of Christ.

This helps us understand what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). Helping others grow in godliness is the essence of loving them.

How can you love your neighbor today?

J.R. Hudberg

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Love Unsought

How do you know that God exists?  How do you know that God loves you?  These questions, upon the hearts of so many, have answers as real as the formative moments in your life.

As I have aged I seem to grow more and more prone to nostalgia.  Many of us do this instinctively, clinging to memories past, perhaps looking backwards with the hope of seeing a purpose for our lives.  When I travel to India, I make it a point to revisit time and again those significant marking points of my own life.  As I recall these moments past but not forgotten, I hear the gentle voice of the God very much in the present.  And God says, “I was there.”  “When on you were on your bike contemplating suicide, I was there.  When you were but nine years old and your grandmother died, I arranged for her gravestone to hold in time the very verse that would lead you to conversion.  I was there.”

It is often in these harrowing moments—your parents’ divorce, your child’s birth, the death of a loved one—where God leaves a defining mark.  There is reason you remember such moments so vividly.  We have a choice to hear or to ignore, but regardless his voice cries out in our memories, “I was there.”  God has been in our past.  God is here today.  God will be there in our future.

God exists, as Lewis worded it so well, in the “eternal now.”  And the psalmist, always writing with feet firmly planted in time, but arms ever reaching for the eternal, beautifully explains, “Thou art God from age to age the same.”  And while hindsight is often God’s means of gently revealing his presence all along, we can be comforted in the peril of the moment nonetheless.  As we encounter these markers in time, our sorrow is held in the beautiful mystery of one who wept with a friend, who answered her question “Where were you?” with tears of his own.  Beside Lazarus’s tomb, Jesus offered Mary a glimpse of the present love of God, though he knew a greater future.  God was with you then.  God is there with you now.  And He loves you.

William Shakespeare once reasoned, “Love sought is good, but given unsought is better.”  How do you know that God loves you?  While you and I were yet lost and wandering, Christ was wandering after us, by way of the Cross.  And this sacrifice stands as the greatest marker in all time.

Ravi Zacharias is founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Freely

 

…God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. — Romans 5:5 (AMP)

Adapted from the resource Wake Up to the Word Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

The word freely means “spontaneously; without constraint or persuasion.”

When the Lord, in the person of the Holy Spirit, comes to dwell in our heart, He brings love with Him, because God is love (see 1 John 4:8).

It’s important to ask what we are doing with the love of God that has been freely given to us. Are we rejecting it because we don’t think we are valuable enough to be loved? Do we believe God is like other people who have rejected and hurt us? Or are we receiving His love by faith, believing that He is greater than our failures and weaknesses?

With God’s help, we can love ourselves—not in a selfish way, but in a balanced, godly way; a way that simply affirms God’s creation as essentially good and right. God’s plan is this: for us to receive His love freely, love ourselves in a godly way, generously love Him in return, and finally love all the people who come into our lives.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for Your abundant love. Help me to freely receive Your love, love myself, then pour out Your love to those around me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Ask What You Will

 

“If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7, KJV).

When Campus Crusade for Christ began at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1951, our first act was to organize a 24-hour prayer chain. Around the clock, scores of men and women interceded for UCLA students and faculty. God answered prayer in a remarkable way, as His Spirit touched the entire campus.

Thirty-one years later, more than 16,000 full-time and associate staff members of Campus Crusade for Christ in more than 150 countries and protectorates are teaching millions of others the importance of prayer, with revolutionary spiritual results and many millions receiving Christ.

Prayer has always been the breathe, life, vitality, strength and power of the Christian. Beginning with our Lord, who spent much time in prayer, and continuing with the disciples and fruitful, Spirit-filled Christians through the centuries, prayer remains a major emphasis in the life of every believer.

History records no mighty men or women of God whose lives were not characterized by prayer, nor any great spiritual movements, awakenings or revivals that were not preceded by prayer. James 4:2 reminds us, “Ye have not, because ye ask not.”

It is not enough to pray, we must pray according to the Word and will of God. For that reason, understanding and obeying our Scripture assignment for today is crucial. We must abide in Christ and allow His Word to abide in us before we are qualified to pray. God’s Word reminds us, “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us; And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.” (1 John 5:14,15, KJV).

Bible Reading:Matthew 7:7-11

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: From this day forth I will seek, through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, to abide in Christ and have His Word abide in me. As I discover God’s Will through the diligent study of His Word and the leading of His Holy Spirit, I will pray more intelligently and thus can expect answers to my prayers.

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Praise From God

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

The Bible says God will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and He will expose the motives of the heart.  “At that time each will receive their praise from God” (1 Corinthians 4:5).  On the last day, God will walk you through your life day by day, moment by moment, issuing commendation after commendation.  You greeted the new student in your class.  Fine job.  You forgave your brother, encouraged your neighbor. . .I’m so proud of you.

The Bible says, “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” (Hebrews 6:10).  Our just God will recognize faithful stewardship.  The same pen that records our impure thoughts makes notes of our pure ones. And guess who’ll be waiting for you at the finish line?  Jesus Christ!  This is His promise, and 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 is today’s Senate hearing so crucial?

Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford are set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee today. Last night, Judiciary Committee Republicans revealed that they have interviewed a man “who believes he, not Dr. Kavanaugh, had the encounter with Dr. Ford in 1982.” However, Dr. Ford plans to testify today that she knew Kavanaugh in high school and will clearly identify him as her attacker.

One reason Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination is so critical is that it could change the ideological balance of the Court. For many years, there have essentially been four liberal justices, four conservatives, and a swing vote (Anthony Kennedy). If Judge Kavanaugh replaces Justice Kennedy, the resulting five-to-four conservative majority could control the Court for fifteen years or more.

The status of abortion rights, religious liberty, and a host of other issues could be affected.

The America I remember

I’m old enough to remember an America that looked much more like I wish we looked today.

I was born in 1958. In that year, according to Gallup, 92 percent of Americans identified as Christians; only 2 percent said they had no religion. Last year, 59 percent of Americans identified as Christians; 20 percent said they had no religion.

Fifty-nine percent of Baby Boomers like me (born 1946-64) say religion is “very important” in our lives; only 38 percent of Younger Millennials (born 1990-96) agree.

I grew up with no church commitment at all. That made me a distinct minority in my community, where nearly everyone went to church on Sunday. Many of us remember a day like that.

However, 1958 was a bad year for civil rights. On June 29, Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, was bombed by Ku Klux Klan members, killing four girls. Virginia’s governor threatened to shut down any school if forced to integrate. And thirteen African-Americans were arrested for sitting in front of a bus in Birmingham.

In 1958, women made 63 cents for every dollar earned by men; today, they earn 80.5 cents for every dollar a man earns. The poverty rate over the last six decades has fallen by half–from 23 percent to 12.3 percent.

A remarkable story

It’s easy to idealize the past, but there’s never been an era that did not include good and bad. And we cannot go back in time, even if we wish to do so. As Heraclitus noted, you cannot step in the same river twice.

How, then, are we to help our country become all God wants us to be?

Today’s Senate hearing and the results of Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation process are crucial. The political governance of our country is vital to our country. I believe that God is calling more Americans into public service than are answering his call. I believe strongly that Christians should be engaged in our political process on every level.

But I also believe that the solutions to the spiritual crisis of our day are spiritual. We need a new word from God for every new challenge we face.

Consider an extraordinary example.

In 2 Samuel 5, David has just become king of the united tribes of Israel. In response, their archenemies, the Philistines, mounted an assault with so many soldiers that they “spread out in the Valley of Rephaim” (v. 18).

How did the great warrior-king respond to his first crisis? Did he mount an offensive? Did he stage a strategic retreat? “David inquired of the Lord (v. 19). And God led him to attack and defeat his enemies.

Now the story takes an amazing turn.

The Philistines returned (v. 22), so David “inquired of the Lord again (v. 23). This time he was told, “You shall not go up; go around to their rear, and come against them opposite the balsam trees. And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then rouse yourself, for then the Lord has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines” (vv. 24-25).

David “did as the Lord commanded him, and struck down the Philistines from Geba to Gezer” (v. 25).

Your “tent of meeting”

I am absolutely convinced that America’s moral and spiritual future rests with America’s Christians. My reason is emphatically not because we are better than anyone else or more deserving of God’s favor.

It is because a lost person “does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). God speaks his life-changing word to those who can receive and share it. We are our nation’s only salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16).

That’s why it is imperative that we meet with our Lord every day; that we seek his word for us from Scripture, prayer, and worship; that we follow David’s example by giving every challenge we face to our Father in prayer. He has a new word for each new day.

Moses met God in a transforming way at the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-6). Then he continued to encounter God in a “tent of meeting” where “the Lord would speak with Moses” (Exodus 33:9). In fact, “the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (v. 11).

It may seem that such a relationship is impossible for us. “I’m not Moses,” you may be saying to yourself.

But as Craig Denison notes: “You and I have access to relationship far greater than a face-to-face encounter like Moses had. We have God’s Spirit within us fellowshipping with our spirit. We never have to leave the burning bush or the Tent of Meeting. True restored relationship finds its source in continual, unending encounters with God’s presence dwelling with us and upon us.”

Where is your Tent of Meeting? When will you meet your Father there?

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Charles Stanley – Maintaining Our Witness in Trials

 

1 Peter 2:11-12

You are being watched. That’s always a good thing to remember as we interact with people at work or in the community. How we respond to frustrations, annoyances, difficulties, and temptations is a witness for Christianity, and the last thing we want to do is misrepresent Christ.

Many times challenging situations arise unexpectedly. Therefore, it’s important that we prepare ourselves beforehand—then we’ll be equipped to display Christlikeness, and our witness will not be derailed. To be ready …

Stay in God’s Word. Knowing Scripture helps you view situations from God’s perspective and know how He would have you respond.

Pray. Challenge yourself to make prayer an immediate response to your problems. When you bring your concerns to God, His peace will guard your heart and mind, which is a powerful witness to a watching world (Phil. 4:6-7).

Trust and obey. When you rely on God’s promises, your peace and confidence in God will stand out to those who are consumed with fear and anxiety.

Remember whose you are. You belong to God and have been purchased by the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:17-19). Your life is a display of God’s grace, and your character, conduct, and conversation should always reflect Christ.

Be gracious and kind to others. Don’t let your own troubles erupt into anger and blame. Small acts of kindness and a forgiving spirit are a tremendous witness in a world where such things are rare.

Aggravations and problems seem like hindrances to us, but our response can change someone’s life if it reflects the love of Jesus Christ.

Bible in One Year: Nahum 1-3

 

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Our Daily Bread — It’s Not About the Fish

 

Read: Jonah 3:10–4:4 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 1–2; Galatians 5

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented. Jonah 3:10

Sighted numerous times off the coast of Australia’s South Queensland, Migaloo is the first albino humpback whale ever documented. The splendid creature, estimated at more than forty feet long, is so rare that Australia passed a law specifically to protect him.

The Bible tells us about a “huge fish” so rare that God had provided it especially to swallow a runaway prophet (Jonah 1:17). Most know the story. God told Jonah to take a message of judgment to Nineveh. But Jonah wanted nothing to do with the Ninevites, who had a reputation for cruelty to just about everyone—including the Hebrews. So he fled. Things went badly. From inside the fish, Jonah repented. Eventually he preached to the Ninevites, and they repented too (3:5–10).

Great story, right? Except it doesn’t end there. While Nineveh repented, Jonah pouted. “Isn’t this what I said, Lord?” he prayed. “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love” (4:2). Having been rescued from certain death, Jonah’s sinful anger grew until even his prayer became suicidal (v. 3).

The story of Jonah isn’t about the fish. It’s about our human nature and the nature of the God who pursues us. “The Lord is patient with you,” wrote the apostle Peter, “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God offers His love to brutal Ninevites, pouting prophets, and you and me.

Father, we tend to look at what others “deserve” and forget we need Your love just as much. Help us live in Your love and tell others about it.

Our love has limits; God’s love is limitless.

By Tim Gustafson

INSIGHT

What a difference a couple of chapters can make in the tone of Jonah’s prayers! In Jonah 2:2, the desperate prophet prayed, “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me.” But in Jonah 4:3, he asks God to kill him. God answered the first prayer miraculously, delivering Jonah from death. But with the second prayer, God simply asked, “Is it right for you to be angry?” (4:4). Then Jonah actually repeats his death wish. “I’m so angry I wish I were dead” (v. 9). Even then, God appealed to Jonah by sharing His heart for all of humanity. “Should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh?” God even extends His concern to the animals that would have been destroyed in Nineveh (v. 11). The book of Jonah provides a fascinating contrast between human nature, which is self-serving, and the profoundly loving and patient character of God.

How do we respond to God’s grace to us? Do we resent it when He extends that grace to others we may perceive as “worse” than we are? Do we resemble Jonah when things don’t go the way we’d like them to?

Tim Gustafson

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Reading Between the Lives

On any given week, three to five biographies make The New York Times best-seller list for non-fiction. Though historical biographies have changed with time, human interest in the genre is long-standing. The first known biographies were commissioned by ancient rulers to assure records of their accomplishments. The Old Testament writings, detailing the lives of patriarchs, prophets, and kings, are also some of the earliest biographies in existence. Throughout the Middle Ages, biographical histories were largely in the hands of monks; lives of martyrs and church fathers were recorded with the intention of edifying readers for years to come. Over time and with the invention of the printing press, biographies became increasingly influential and widely read, portraying a larger array of lives and their stories.

The popularity of the genre is understandable. As writer Thomas Carlyle once said, “Biography is the most universally pleasant and profitable of all reading.” Such books are pleasant because in reading the accounts of men and women in history, we find ourselves living in many places. They are profitable because in doing so, we hear fragments of our own stories. The questions and thoughts we considered our own suddenly appear before us in the life of another. The afflictions we find wearying are given meaning in the story of one who overcame much or the life of one who found hope in the midst of loss. Perhaps we move toward biography because we seem to know that life is too short to learn only by our own experience.

Christianity embraces a similar thought. The most direct attempt in Scripture to define faith is done so by the writer of Hebrews. The eleventh chapter begins, “Now faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see.” To be honest, it is a definition that has always somewhat eluded me, and I was thankful to read I am not alone. John Wesley once observed of the same words, “There appears to be a depth in them, which I am in no wise able to fathom.” Perhaps recognizing the weight and mystery of faith and the difficulty of defining it, the writer of Hebrews immediately moves from this definition to descriptions of men and women who have lived “sure of hope” and “certain of the unseen.” From Noah and Abraham, to Rahab and saints left unnamed, we find faith moving across the pages of history, the gift of God sparkling in the eyes of the faithful, the hope by which countless lives were guided. In this brief gathering of biographies, the writer seems to tell us that faith is understood practically as much as philosophically, and that our own faith is more fully understood by looking at lives God has changed long before ours. For in between the lives that describe any faithful man or woman is the vicarious humanity of the Son of God who makes faith possible in the first place.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Reading Between the Lives

Joyce Meyer – One Good Choice After Another

 

Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. — Proverbs 4:25 (NIV)

Adapted from the resource Trusting God Day by Day Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Are you enjoying the life and blessings of God in your everyday life? Or have you made a series of choices resulting in disappointment, pain, or feeling that everything you do requires great effort and produces little reward? Don’t spend your time and energy mourning all the bad decisions you have made; just start making good ones. There is hope for you!

The way to overcome the results of a series of bad choices is through a series of right choices. The only way to walk out of trouble is to do the opposite of whatever you did to get into trouble—one choice at a time.

Maybe the circumstances of your life right now are the direct result of a series of bad choices you have made. You may be in debt because you have made a lot of bad choices with money. You may be lonely because of a series of bad choices in relationships or in the way you treat people. You may be sick because of a series of unhealthy choices: eating junk food, not getting enough rest, or abusing your body through working too much and not having enough balance in your life.

You cannot make a series of bad choices that result in significant problems and then make one good choice and expect all the results of all those bad choices to go away. You did not get into deep trouble through one bad choice; you got into trouble through a series of bad choices. If you really want your life to change for the better, you will need to make one good choice after another, over a period of time, just as consistently as you made the negative choices that produced negative results.

No matter what kind of trouble or difficulty you and yourself in, you can still have a blessed life. You cannot do anything about what is behind you, but you can do a great deal about what lies ahead of you. God is a redeemer, and He will always give you another chance.

Trust in Him If you have a situation that is too big for you to solve, then you are material for a miracle. Invite God to get involved, trust in and follow His directions, make one good choice after another, and you will see amazing results.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for Your wisdom and guidance to make good choices for my life. Please help me to leave past disappointments behind and begin, one by one, to make decisions that will bring a harvest of good things into my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – His Word Remains Forever

 

“Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words remain forever” (Matthew 24:35).

In a day of change and turmoil, the promise is made that the word of God will stand forever. The significance of that guarantee is monumental, incredible. It is not just that a book shall remain in print; rather, it is that the multitudinous truths contained in that book likewise will remain in effect steadfast and true.

Long after heaven and earth have passed away God’s holy Word will continue to endure.

That should mean much to you and me in our daily walk. God’s promise, “All things work together for good,” to the believer is just as true today as it was when it was written centuries ago.

In fact, every one of the promises in the Word of God – including the 365 referred to in this daily devotional – is bona fide, guaranteed by the God of the universe, the Creator of all things. That alone should strengthen our faith to know that we can trust him supremely with our lives and everything concerned with them.

When all else fails, when hope is almost gone, we can come back to the Word of God, which is “quick and powerful and sharper than a two-edged sword.” It will have the answer for every problem, every burden, every need we face.

Bible Reading:Matthew 24:36-42

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will place my complete confidence in God’s unchanging Word and will rest upon His faithful promises to all believers for supernatural living.

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – It’s Not Fair!

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

When did you learn the words—it’s not fair?  What deed exposed you to the imbalanced scales of life?  Have you ever prayed the psalmist’s prayer:  “O Lord, how long will you look on?” (Psalm 35:17).  When did you first ask the prophet’s question:  “Why does the way of  the wicked prosper?” (Jeremiah 12:1).  Why indeed?

God’s answer is direct– Not long! Scripture reveals a somber promise. “For God has set a day when he will judge the world” (Acts 17:31).  Every flip of the calendar brings us closer to the day when God will judge all evil.  The Judgment Day has been chosen.  The hour is marked and the moment reserved.  Judgment is not a possibility but a stark reality. This is God’s promise: He will forever balance the scales of fairness. And because God’s promises are unbreakable our hope is unshakable!

Read more Unshakable Hope

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com