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

 

 

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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.

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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

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

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Denison Forum – $18 million worth of cocaine found in bananas

Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly yesterday, President Trump stated that American culture is built on “deep faith.”

For evidence, we could point to Rolling Stone‘s headline: “A Christian Singer Is Bigger Than Drake and Ariana Grande This Week.” Lauren Daigle’s new album topped records by Drake, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj on the Billboard 200.

Or we could note Pew Research Center’s report that more than 70 percent of Americans identify as Christians. America’s largest religious demographic is “Evangelical Protestant” at 25.4 percent.

However, America’s second-largest religious demographic is “Unaffiliated (religious ‘nones’)” at 22.8 percent. This is a larger percentage than “Catholic” (20.8 percent) or “Mainline Protestant” (14.7 percent).

As a sign of our troubled times, the Washington Post reports that homicides in Washington, DC, have now surpassed the number of people killed in the city in all of 2017. As another sign of the times, a group of protesters heckled Sen. Ted Cruz and his wife inside a Washington restaurant, forcing them to leave early.

And authorities say bananas donated to a Texas prison had nearly $18 million worth of cocaine hidden in the boxes.

Is culture like the weather?

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