Charles Stanley – The Consequences of Poor Advice

 

Genesis 16:1-16

When facing challenging situations, it’s natural to turn to family and friends for help. Sometimes their kind and encouraging words may be the catalyst that turns us back to God. However, we must always be careful to examine advice offered to us. Even though the counsel is motivated by love and seems sound, if it is inconsistent with God’s Word in any way, we should politely disregard it.

In Genesis 16, Sarai faced a challenging situation. Although the Lord had promised Abram a son, both of them were getting older, and Sarai had not been able to conceive. Since she was obviously barren, she became impatient and suggested that Abram have a child through her maid Hagar.

Instead of waiting and trusting God, Sarai was trying to fulfill His promise her way. Abram chose to follow his wife’s advice without seeking the Lord’s guidance. After all, it seemed reasonable because God has explicitly promised him a son (Gen. 15:4) but had not specifically mentioned Sarai at this point (see Gen. 18:14). However, Abram’s unwise decision not to wait and trust God led to tension in his family and difficult circumstances for Hagar.

Like Abram, we tend to heed advice we want to hear. However, as we consult our loved ones for help with momentous decisions, it’s important to distinguish between our fleshly desires and biblical truth. Wise counsel is always consistent with Scripture and points us to God’s desires and ways.

The next time you seek an opinion from friends or family, remember that no human being knows all the unseen factors. Therefore, it’s always better to trust in the Bible and God’s wisdom for guidance.

Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 34-36

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Unchanging Love

 

Read: Psalm 103:13–22 | Bible in a Year: Proverbs 1–2; 1 Corinthians 16

The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:17

When I was in high school I played on the varsity tennis team. I spent many hours of my teenage years trying to improve my skills on four concrete courts located just two blocks from my home.

The last time I visited that city, one of the first things I did was drive to the tennis courts, hoping to watch others play and reminisce for a moment. But the old courts, so familiar to my memory, were nowhere to be seen. In their place was a vacant field, inhabited only by an occasional weed waving silently in the breeze.

That afternoon remains in my mind as a stark reminder of the brevity of life. One of the places where I expended some of my best youthful strength no longer existed! Reflecting on that experience later brought me to this truth, expressed by an aging King David: “The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him” (Psalm 103:15–17).

We grow older and the world around us may change, but God’s love doesn’t. He can always be trusted to take care of those who turn to Him.

Faithful Father, thank You for Your love that never changes! Help me to love You by serving You faithfully today.

In our changing world, we can always depend on our unchanging God.

By James Banks

INSIGHT

In the middle of Psalm 103 a potentially dark subtheme surfaces: life passes by all too quickly (vv. 15–16). As David poetically responds to this sobering awareness, we might well expect his song to become one of resignation or despondency. Yet the psalm remains joyful from beginning to end. Is David in denial? No! He frames the psalm, and his whole life, with praise to God, beginning and ending with this phrase: “Praise the Lord, my soul” (vv. 1, 22). The truth of God’s goodness provides the platform from which David’s whole life becomes a song of triumph.

Our awareness that life is fleeting need not cause us to panic or sink into despair. Rather, it can remind us that our life is in God. We find joy and meaning in singing His praises.

As seasons change and we sense life’s transience, what questions come to mind? Do those big questions cause us to reevaluate our priorities? Are we finding joy and fulfillment in relationship with our Creator?

Tim Gustafson

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Human to Human

Master photographer Edward Steichen once remarked that the mission of photography is to explain human to human and each to him or herself. It was a mission he found at once both complicated and naïve, but worth fumbling toward. “Every other artist begins with a blank canvas, a piece of paper,” notes Steichen. “The photographer begins with the finished product.”

It is a thought befitting of a scene from 2001, when the who’s who of the country’s finest photographers volunteered their time for such a mission. What they discovered is that when the “finished products” are the faces of children in foster care systems across the country, photography can offer can explain human to human in a way that offers the chance of new life.

Diane Granito is the founder of the Heart Gallery, a unique program that uses photography to help find homes for older foster children, sibling groups, and other children who are traditionally difficult to place with families.(1) The program started in New Mexico in 2001 at the suggestion of a local photographer. Space was then donated by a prominent gallery in the city, where more than a thousand people came opening night. The photos on exhibit were the end result of the photographers’ attempts to coax out the unique personalities in hundreds of children—a great contrast to the typical photos attached to a child’s file. “They look like mug shots,” said one of the photographers of the typical case photos. “This is an opportunity to just portray them as kids in their environments,” said another involved. “We’re treating this as a living, breathing project.”

Since its inception, the Santa Fe project has inspired 120 more Heart Galleries across the United States. In some places, the adoption rate after an exhibit is more than double the nationwide rate of adoption from foster care. Such photography earns a description worthy of its roots: photography in Greek means “to write in light.”

Those who work to find foster children adoptive families are used to rubbing up against the public perception that most foster children have serious emotional and behavioral problems. Sometimes, though not always, it is an accurate perception. And a picture offered in a different light does not change the child it portrays. But an image of a troubled child at play does offer the accurate light of hope.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Human to Human

Joyce Meyer – God-Given Desires

 

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart. — Psalm 37:4 (AMP)

Adapted from the resource – by Joyce Meyer

One of the ways God speaks to us is through the sanctified desires of our hearts. God places right desires in our hearts and then He gives us those desires.

I remember a time when I had a desire for homemade zucchini bread but had no talent or time to make it. I simply said, “Lord, I sure would like some fresh zucchini bread,” and did not think about it again. About a week later a lady who knew nothing of my desire handed me a box and when I opened it, I found homemade zucchini bread. God delights in doing small and large things for us and we should never fail to appreciate all of them.

We need to ask God to give us sanctified, or holy, desires. We usually have desire for natural things such as success, finances, nice homes, and good relationships, but we should also desire spiritual things. We should desire to know God in a deeper and more intimate way, to always display the fruit of the Spirit, especially love, to serve God in ways that glorify Him, to always be obedient to God, et cetera. Let us ask God to take away fleshly desire and give us sanctified desire.

God puts in us desires that will bring His righteousness, peace, and joy to our lives (see Romans 14:17), and they never disagree with His Word. Wrong desires torment us, and we are impatient about receiving them, but sanctified desire comes with a willingness to wait on God’s ways and timing. Place your desires before God, pray about them and trust God to give them to you if and when they are right for you.

Prayer Starter: Father, help me to want what You want. I lift up all my desires to You right now and ask for You to give me what’s best for my life—in Your way and in Your timing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Supernatural Power of God’s Love

 

“For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38,39, KJV).

More than anything else, I was drawn to Christ because of His love for me. The Bible says that Christ proved His supernatural love for us by coming “to die for us while we were still sinners.”

Because of that great love, which draws me to Him and causes me to want to please Him and to love Him in return, I learned how to love supernaturally. In more than 30 years of counseling thousands of people about interpersonal conflicts, I do not know of a single problem that could not have been resolved if those involved had been willing to accept and respond to God’s love for them, and to love others as an act of the will by faith, as God commands.

Such a statement may sound simplistic and exaggerated, yet I make it after carefully reviewing in my mind all kinds of conflicts between husbands and wives, parents and children, neighbors, friends and enemies.

Think of it! Christ’s forgiveness is so great and compassionate that He will not allow anything or anyone to condemn us or separate us from His supernatural love. Even though He is “holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens,” He still loves and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. He gives us absolute assurance that nothing can ever “separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Bible Reading:Romans 8:32-37

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I determine to express my gratitude to God for His great love for me by loving Him in return and by loving by faith everyone with whom I have contact today. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I will demonstrate that love by gracious acts of the will.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – The Gift God Has Given You

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

A cynic asked an elderly woman about the security of her salvation. He said, “How can you be so sure that after all these years God won’t let you sink into hell?” Her answer: “He would lose more than I would. All I would lose would be my own soul, but He would lose his good name.”

What a gift God has given to you! You’ve won the greatest lottery in the history of humanity, and you didn’t even pay for the ticket. Your soul is secure, your salvation guaranteed. You name is written in the only book that matters. This is the message of God, the promise of grace. The Bible says “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ” (Romans 8:1). This is a promise from God. 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

Denison Forum – Why did The New York Times run an anonymous op-ed?

I’ve never seen this much furor caused by an op-ed, much less one whose author we don’t know. But that’s partly the point.

The New York Times chose on Wednesday to publish an op-ed from what it called a “senior official” in the White House who makes extremely disparaging claims against President Trump. Speculation regarding the identity of the writer has escalated in the days since.

Some think Vice President Mike Pence is the writer. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had to deny authorship. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called on the “coward” who wrote the piece to “do the right thing and resign.”

Many are focusing on the truth or falsity of the writer’s defamatory descriptions of the Trump White House. Others are working to identify the author. Here’s a question I’ve not seen debated: Why did the Times choose to publish the op-ed in the first place?

The Times editor who made the decision has said, “We felt it was a very strong piece written by someone who had something important to say and who’s speaking from a place of their own sense of personal ethics and conscience. That was our main focus.”

But it’s worth asking whether the liberal New York Times would have made the same decision if the op-ed had been written about Barack Obama when he was in the Oval Office. Or whether Fox News would have published last Wednesday’s op-ed, given the opportunity.

The danger of confirmation bias

According to one psychologist, “confirmation bias” occurs when we have formed a view and then “embrace information that confirms that view while ignoring, or rejecting, information that casts doubt on it.” Such bias is obvious every day in the media. We should not be surprised that liberal and conservative commentators are reacting according to their previous opinions of the president.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Why did The New York Times run an anonymous op-ed?