Charles Stanley – The Blessings of Brokenness

 

Deuteronomy 8:1-14

God’s discipline isn’t easy, but we cannot ignore its wonderful benefits to spiritual growth. It gives us an entirely new perspective on the Lord’s plan for our life. If we enjoyed a steady, uninterrupted stream of blessings, we might think our Father exists solely for our happiness, and we wouldn’t know the truth about who He is.

Think about what we generally request of the Lord. We ask Him for healing, success, or financial security and seek His blessing on our family and relationships. Philippians 4:6 tells us to pray about everything, so there is nothing wrong with coming to God with all our concerns. But we must be careful that we don’t inadvertently begin to think of Him as our personal assistant or some sort of catalog, where we place our order and He delivers.

If that is the case, who is actually at the center of our prayers? It certainly isn’t almighty God, who as our Creator and Savior is worthy of our adoration and worship. When we find ourselves at the center of our prayers, the end result is the subtle deception that the Lord exists for our benefit. This distortion breaks the Lord’s heart and leads us far away from truly knowing His character and majesty.

The antidote for this self-centered idolatry is brokenness. When God says “no”—taking away instead of adding more and then divinely managing what we have, how much we have, and how long we have it—He is helping us keep our eyes on Him. Do not despise such moments. Instead, recognize them as the voice of your Father calling you back into His loving arms.

Bible in One Year: Hosea 10-14

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Fitting Time

 

Read: Ecclesiastes 3:1–14 | Bible in a Year: Ecclesiastes 1–3; 2 Corinthians 11:16–33

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11

Yesterday I purchased an airline ticket to send my firstborn child to college. I’m surprised the keyboard on my computer still functions, given the waterworks my eyes unleashed on it during the flight selection process. I have so enjoyed my eighteen years of daily life with her that I am saddened by the prospect of her departure. Yet I wouldn’t rob her of the opportunity that lies ahead simply because I’ll miss her. At this juncture in her life, it is fitting for her to embark on a new journey to discover adulthood and explore another part of the country.

As this season of my parenting draws to a close, another one begins. It will undoubtedly bring both new challenges and new delights. Solomon, Israel’s third king, wrote that God appoints “a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). We humans have little control over the events of our lives—whether we view those events as favorable or not. But God, in His mighty power, makes “everything beautiful in its time” (v. 11).

In seasons of heartache, we can trust God to bring something good from them in time. Our comforts and joys may come and go, but God’s works “will endure forever” (v. 14). We may not relish every season—some are quite painful—yet He can bring beauty to them all.

Father, You have permitted this season in my life. Help me to be content in the midst of it, and to recognize Your power and might are at work.

God brings beauty from all seasons.

By Kirsten Holmberg

INSIGHT

For further study on the book of Ecclesiastes, check out this free online course at christianuniversity.org/OT224.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – In Defense of Listening

 

“I like to listen,” said Ernest Hemingway. “I have learned a great deal from listening carefully.”

Hemingway speaks of a significant virtue, lamenting accurately, “Most people never listen.”

I wonder if he would feel differently if it were his books to which people were listening.

The popularity of audio books is redefining the notion of reading, and some authors—and readers—are unhappy about it. “Deep reading really demands the inner ear as well as the outer ear,” says literary critic Harold Bloom. “You need the whole cognitive process, that part of you which is open to wisdom. You need the text in front of you.” Others who doggedly defend the entire experience of reading—the feel of a book in their hands, the smell of its pages, the single-minded escape of delving into a story—find listening to a book something akin to cheating. “You didn’t read it,” they contest; “you only listened to it”—as if this somehow means they took in a different story.

For those who love the written word and printed page, for those who are elated at the sight of a bookstore, not only is listening to Hamlet or The Count of Monte Cristo something like picking up the cliff notes, e-books are almost equally offensive. There is no substitute for books, no surrogate for reading.

I mostly agree. I find myself responding to the question, “Have you read such and such?” with a similar admittance of guilt: “Well, I listened to it” (usually accompanied with a comment about Atlanta traffic). And yet, I am becoming more and more convinced that audio books definitely have their place in learning—with or without traffic. Auditory processing is vital to any learning. Hemingway is right; listening carefully is a vital skill to keep sharp.

I find that I pick up different facets when I listen to a paragraph than I might have gleaned from reading that same paragraph. C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity is a book I have read many times. When I bought the book on CD, however, I found listening to the work an entirely different, altogether helpful experience. Interestingly, Mere Christianity began as a series of lectures for the radio, perhaps amplifying its effectiveness as an audio book. And yet some words are simply powerful whether heard internally or aloud.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – In Defense of Listening

Joyce Meyer – Help Is Here

 

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), to be with you forever. — John 14:16 (AMP)

Adapted from the resource Hearing from God Each Morning Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Many people have received Jesus as Savior and Lord. They will go to heaven, but never draw on the full capacity of the Holy Spirit that is available to them or experience the true success God wants them to enjoy on Earth. Simply put, many will be on their way to heaven, but they won’t enjoy the trip.

We often look at those who have wealth, position, power and we consider them “successful.” But many people who are considered successful still lack peace, joy, contentment, and other true blessings. Such people have never learned to depend completely on the power of the Holy Spirit.

People who are self-sufficient often think depending on God is a sign of weakness. But the truth is that by drawing on the ability of the Holy Spirit, they can accomplish more in their lives than they ever could by working in their own strength.

God created us in such a way that although we do have strengths, we also have weaknesses and we need His help. We know He wants to help us because He sent a Divine Helper, the Holy Spirit, to live inside us.

We often struggle needlessly because we do not receive the help available to us. I encourage you to depend on Him, not on your own strength. Whatever you are facing, you don’t have to go through it alone.

Prayer Starter: Holy Spirit, I invite You into my day. Please strengthen me and help me to accomplish more than I ever could in my own strength. I can’t do it without You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – How to Find Your Life

 

“For anyone who keeps his life for himself shall lose it; and anyone who loses his life for Me shall find it again” (Matthew 16:25).

From all outward appearances Tom and Mary were the ideal couple. They lived in a beautiful mansion. They possessed several fine cars – more than they needed. Both of them dressed elegantly and they entertained lavishly. They were the life of the party and everything seemed too good to be true. And it was.

Beneath the facade they were miserable creatures, though outwardly they seemed to be loving and considerate of each other. I soon learned that they had great resentments and deep-seated antagonisms toward each other. Their quarrels had become more frequent, sometimes exploding into temper tantrums, and sometimes resulting in physical abuse. They had tried in a number of ways to find happiness and fulfillment, including several around-the-world trips. But the harder they had tried, the more miserable they had become.

It was in this context that I shared with them the importance of surrendering their lives to Christ and inviting Him to be their Savior. I counseled them to lose themselves, as His representatives, in bringing happiness into the lives of others.

Receiving Christ was not so hard for them to do . They both realized they were sinners and needed as Savior. But they had lived such selfish lives for so long that it was not easy for them to begin to consider others as the Scripture admonishes. After a time they did begin to work with elderly people in convalescent homes and with prisoners through the ministry of the local church. On occasion, they gave their testimony at the skid row mission.

With the passing of time, the miracle happened and that illusive goal of happiness, fulfillment and satisfaction became a reality. In losing their lives they truly found them in service to others in the name of Christ. They found the abundant life which He promised and for which they had sought so long.

God’s loyalty has been proven over and over again. In reviewing my own experiences, and in observing the lives of many others, I have become aware that the individual who seeks happiness never finds it, but the one who is committed to taking happiness to others always finds it. And he also finds meaning, purpose, joy and peace in the process.

Bible Reading:Matthew 16:24-27

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I am determined to experience the reality of this promise by surrendering the control of my life to Him and demonstrating my commitment through serving others

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – The Greatest News in the World

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

The greatest news in the world is not that God made the world but that God loves the world.  He loves you.  You did not earn this love.  His love for you will not end if you lose your temper.  His love for you will not fade if you lose your way, nor will His love diminish if your discipline does.

Someone told you that God loves good people. Wrong. There are no good people.  Someone told you that God loves you if you love him first. Wrong. He loves people who have never thought of him.  Someone told you that God is ticked off, cranky, and vindictive.  Wrong. We tend to be ticked off, cranky, and vindictive.  But God?  “God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love” (Psalm 103:8).  God loves you!  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 is this library loaning neckties?

The Riverside branch of the New York Public Library has more than books to loan. You can also check out a necktie, bow tie, handbag, or briefcase. They are intended for people with limited resources who are heading for job interviews, auditions, school performances, proms, or other events for which they need to dress up.

In other news, a Chicago schoolteacher on a plane talked about her low-income students. Passengers overheard her and gave her more than $500 in cash to help.

Here’s a similar story: an Alabama man had to walk nearly twenty miles to his new job. When his CEO found out, he gave the man his personal car.

When you read these stories, how did they make you feel?

A surprising survey

There’s something in us that is attracted to that which is selfless, gracious, and joyful. The darker the room, the more we are drawn to the light.

However, it’s a sign of the times that so many of the shows that received Emmys on Monday are so dark and ominous. As I noted yesterday, the world is more unhappy than it has been in a decade. Gallup’s Negative Experience Index found that markers for worry, stress, sadness, and physical pain are all at record highs.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Why is this library loaning neckties?