Charles Stanley – Purity and Persecution

 

1 Peter 4:1-5

What is the connection between suffering and purity for the Christian? These are not terms we usually consider together, but Peter says those who suffer physically cease from sin and no longer live for human lusts. Instead, they live for the will of God. That is not to say we’ll reach a level of sinless perfection but, rather, the power of sin in our lives will be broken.

According to today’s passage, we are engaged in a battle, and Peter says to arm ourselves with the same attitude Christ had in His suffering. Just as He willingly submitted to the Father’s will and went to the cross, so we must accept that suffering is likewise part of God’s will for our life. It’s one of the ways He purifies us and breaks any attachment to our previous sinful desires.

As believers, we are called to live differently from the world around us. This doesn’t mean we’re to be deliberately antagonistic, but our lifestyle should be an example of purity. Others may find this offensive because it exposes their sin, and then they may respond by maligning us in an attempt to make themselves feel better.

Although we want the world to be attracted to Christ by our transformed lives, in reality we may make others uncomfortable or perhaps even antagonistic. This is why so many Christians around the world are being persecuted and even killed for their faith. But every time the church has faced persecution, it has also been purified and made stronger. God never intends for suffering to defeat us. Rather, His purpose is for it to make us holy and effective witnesses for Christ.

Bible in One Year: John 1-3

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Hope in the Darkness

 

Read: Jeremiah 31:16–26 | Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 22–23; Titus 1

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. Jeremiah 31:25

According to legend, Qu Yuan was a wise and patriotic Chinese government official who lived during the time known as the Warring States period (475–246 bc). It has been said that he tried repeatedly to warn his king about an impending threat that would destroy the country, but the king rejected his advice. Eventually, Qu Yuan was exiled. When he learned about the fall of his beloved country to the foe he had warned about, he ended his life.

Qu Yuan’s life resembles some aspects of the life of the prophet Jeremiah. He too served kings who scorned his warnings, and his country was ravaged. However, while Qu Yuan gave in to his despair, Jeremiah found genuine hope. Why the difference?

Jeremiah knew the Lord who offers the only true hope. “There is hope for your descendants,” God had assured His prophet. “Your children will return to their own land” (Jeremiah 31:17). Although Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 bc, it was later rebuilt (see Nehemiah 6:15).

At some point, we all find ourselves in situations that can cause us to despair. It could be a bad medical report, a sudden job loss, a shattered family. But when life knocks us down, we can still look up—for God is on the throne! He holds our days in His hands, and He holds us close to His heart.

Lord, fill me up with hope and give me a tangible reminder today that things will turn out right in Your way, in Your time.

The world hopes for the best, but the Lord offers the best hope. John Wesley

By Poh Fang Chia

INSIGHT

God tells Jeremiah to “restrain your voice from weeping” (31:16). Hope shines through. Ephraim [Israel] and Judah will repent and be restored. In a rare respite from his grief, Jeremiah can say, “My sleep had been pleasant to me” (v. 26).

What causes your tears? Know that God sees and understands them.

Tim Gustafson

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – What Is Lost

Losing things is a nuisance that seems forever mine. It’s the minor things I lose, things I seem to have given myself permission to be less attentive to keeping found. I am notorious for misplacing my car keys most of all, and my sunglasses are almost always missing. Most days I haphazardly place them somewhere near the first thing that was on my mind as I took them off or turned off the engine—which means that sometimes I find them in the laundry room and other times by the refrigerator.

Habitually missing keys are certainly a frustration, but finding them is usually as simple as retracing my steps—and there is always a spare set if they don’t turn up right away. To my husband, however, lost keys are a source of unnecessary frustration. He has worked patiently on the problem; we have a special place to put the keys when we walk through the door. Some days this works.

Other days I more resemble the woman in Jesus’s parable tearing apart the house to find the lost coin, lighting a lamp, sweeping the house, searching carefully until she finds it. And perhaps this contributes to my attitude with regard to lost keys—I know I will eventually find them. In fact, the only time I seem lose them is when I am comfortably in the confines of my own house. Sadly, sunglasses are another case entirely.

In two different parables, Jesus compares the sentiments that accompany the person who has lost something to the sentiments of the heavens over the one who is lost. When the woman in the parable has found the coin she was searching for, she calls her friends and neighbors together and asks them to celebrate with her: “I have found my lost coin!”

Jesus then concludes: “In the same way, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over even one sinner who repents.”(1)

My lost keys or pens or coins don’t typically evoke in me such sentiments. And I wonder how easy it is to carry a similar lightness about a world buried in injustice, lost in pain, distraction, or indulgence. How easy is it to give ourselves permission to be inattentive to so much around us, to see a world of need as something minor, to view our own wandering as a problem that will work itself out like lost keys? No doubt the heavens grieve over this sort of inattention even as they grieve over the lost daughter or missing son.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – What Is Lost

Joyce Meyer – Has Your Get-Up-and-Go Got Up and Gone?

 

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. — Romans 12:11

Adapted from the resource My Time with God Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

I have times when I get tired of doing what I am doing. We all do. No matter what your position is in life, there will be days when you will not feel like doing it. You might even go through a longer season in which you feel listless and uninterested in almost everything.

There may be underlying reasons that you will need to prayerfully search out, but often we just need to stir ourselves up and get going again. We need to do it purposely instead of waiting for a feeling to show up and motivate us to action again.

Gratitude helps me do that. When I recount all of my blessings, I am amazed at the goodness of God in my life. It makes me thankful, and that always stirs me up and makes life look brighter. Having great expectations also energizes and motivates me.

We don’t have to wait and see if something good happens in our lives; we can aggressively expect something good to happen. David indicated that if he failed to believe he would see the Lord’s goodness, it would affect him in a detrimental way. He said, [What, what would have become of me] had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness… (Psalm 27:13 AMPC).

The third thing that energizes me is getting my mind off how I feel and on something I can do to be a blessing to someone else. When I do, it works every time. Before long, I find myself enthusiastic about life and excited to resume my service to the Lord.

Prayer Starter: Father, I want to live life to the fullest. I want to live with passion, zeal, and appreciation for every opportunity that You give me. Help me approach this day with enthusiasm and do everything as unto You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – You Will Have Life

 

“But these are recorded so that you will believe that He is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that believing in Him you will have life” (John 20:31).

What a message you and I have to share. That is why John wrote this entire Gospel, so that we, first of all, might believe, but then also that we might share the good news with all who will listen.

“These are recorded” – the miracles presented in this gospel – so that we might believe. The goal of the book is two-fold: (1) to prove that Jesus was (is) Messiah and (2) that all those who look at the proof might be convinced and thus find eternal life.

The miracles, facts, arguments, instructions and conversations – all are directed toward that end. John’s goal (to demonstrate that Jesus is the Messiah), if kept steadily in view will throw much light on the book. The argument is unanswerable, framed after the strictest rules of reasoning, infinitely beyond the skill of man, and having throughout the cleared evidence of demonstration.

All Scripture is given to us for a purpose. The purpose of this particular passage is crystal clear; hence it demands some kind of response from those of us who truly believe. To know the truth is not enough. We must act on it, trusting the Lord of the harvest to make us sensitive and alert to the spiritual needs of those around us.

Bible Reading:John 3:9-15

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will seek to be sensitive to the spiritual needs of all with whom I have contact.

 

 

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Max Lucado – We Are His Idea

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Why does a mother love her newborn?  Because the baby is hers?  Even more.  Because the baby is her!  Her flesh.  Her blood.  Her hope.  Her legacy.  It doesn’t bother her that the baby gives nothing.  She knows a newborn is helpless and weak.  She knows babies don’t ask to come into this world.

And God knows we didn’t either.  We are his idea.  We are his.  His face.  His hands. His eyes.  His touch.  Look deeply into the face of every human being on earth, and you will see his likeness.  Though some may appear to be distant relatives, they’re not.  We are, incredibly, the body of Christ.  And though we may not act like our Father, there’s no greater truth than this:  We are his.  Unalterably, He loves us.  Undyingly. And nothing can separate us from the love of Christ!

Read more A Gentle Thunder

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Do you live in “Hauntington”?

town has changed its name to “Hauntington” at the urging of a seven-year-old.

Second grader Angelica Dee Cunningham wrote to the town council of Huntington, New York, suggesting that they make the switch for Halloween. To her surprise, they agreed.

Their decision may be a parable for our culture today.

Americans are not unique in celebrating Halloween. Romania has a Day of Dracula; Japan stages a giant parade; children in the Philippines go door to door to ask for prayers for those in Purgatory.

Nor do we devote more time and money to Halloween than other holidays. We will spend $9 billion this year on costumes, candy, and decorations. However, our Halloween spending pales in comparison to our spending on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, and Christmas.

Nonetheless, I believe Halloween may reveal more about American culture than any other holiday. Here’s why.

How many Americans will participate in Halloween?

“Halloween” is a contraction of “All Hallows’ Eve,” the evening before All Saints’ Day. Tomorrow, the Catholic Church will focus on the saints of the Church. This tradition began in AD 609 and encourages participants to remember and emulate the heroes of the faith.

Tonight, by contrast, the focus will be strikingly different. Fifteen million American adults will dress in costumes; witches are most popular, followed by vampires, zombies, and pirates. If your neighborhood is anything like mine, you’ve been haunted by ghosts, skeletons, and dragons for weeks.

Some 69 percent of Americans plan to participate in Halloween today. Since that is three times the percentage of Catholics in America, it is clear that far more people will observe Halloween than All Saints’ Day.

What two mistakes do we make about the devil?

My point transcends popularity, however. How much time do Americans really focus on being thankful at Thanksgiving? How much attention do we really give Jesus on Christmas Day?

Continue reading Denison Forum – Do you live in “Hauntington”?

Charles Stanley – Transformed Into Jesus’ Image

 

Ephesians 5:1-21

As Christians, we are called to a high moral standard, yet we may feel as if we’re failing more than succeeding. Perhaps our language isn’t as pure as we know it should be, or we haven’t overcome some of our bad habits. It’s easy to become discouraged if we don’t understand what is hindering our progress.

Transformation begins in the mind, because the way we reason affects how we act. We can’t expect to progress in holiness if we’re undiscerning about what to allow into our thoughts. Paul admonishes us not to be conformed to the world but to be transformed by renewing the mind (Rom. 12:2). We must make an intentional effort to fill our mind with the truths of God’s Word to ensure that we are counteracting the world’s messages.

The influence of others is another avenue by which we can be helped or hindered in our pursuit of holiness. If we associate with people who don’t share our standards, we could be tempted to compromise. Mature believers, on the other hand, can detect obstacles hindering our growth and point out adjustments we need to make. I was greatly impacted by the biographies of godly men like Oswald Chambers, Charles Spurgeon, and Dwight L. Moody. As I read, I would see qualities in their lives that I wanted in my own. These traits formed the basis for many of my prayers.

What kinds of thoughts fill your mind? Are you being influenced by friends, television, or social media more than you are by the Word of God? As the Holy Spirit helps you replace wrong thoughts with godly ones, your behavior will also be transformed.

Bible in One Year: Luke 23-24

 

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Our Daily Bread — Agreeing to Disagree

 

Read: Romans 14:1–13 | Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 20–21; 2 Timothy 4

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace. Romans 14:19

I remember hearing my dad talk about how difficult it was to walk away from unending arguments over differing interpretations of the Bible. By contrast he recalled how good it was when both sides agreed to disagree.

But is it really possible to set aside irreconcilable differences when so much seems to be at stake? That’s one of the questions the apostle Paul answers in his New Testament letter to the Romans. Writing to readers caught in social, political, and religious conflict, he suggests ways of finding common ground even under the most polarized conditions (14:5–6).

According to Paul, the way to agree to disagree is to recall that each of us will answer to the Lord not only for our opinions but also for how we treat one another in our differences (v. 10).

Conditions of conflict can actually become occasions to remember that there are some things more important than our own ideas—even more than our interpretations of the Bible. All of us will answer for whether we have loved one another, and even our enemies, as Christ loved us.

Now that I think of it, I remember that my dad used to talk about how good it is not just to agree to disagree but to do so with mutual love and respect.

Father, please enable us to be patient and kind with those who don’t agree with us about anything or everything.

We can agree to disagree—in love. 

By Mart DeHaan

 

 

http://www.odb.org

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Dance of Grace

I have always been mesmerized by ballet dancers. I remember our family’s annual visit to McCormick Place in Chicago to see the Nutcracker. The fluid movement, the spinning on toes, arms floating around as if in flight, their movement told the story. The dancers made the most difficult technical movements seem natural and easy. I remember one friend speaking of the dancers’ expertise as being filled with grace. These artists had taken complicated and physically demanding choreography and infused it with simple elegance and refinement.

The concept of grace has a long history within the Christian tradition. In theological terms, grace is described as God’s unmerited favor toward human beings and our not getting what we deserve—both in terms of our own failing, and in terms of the abundance of God’s blessing towards us. Grace is also understood as a way of life towards others. Since God gives grace freely, humans ought to extend grace towards one another. Like the experienced dancer, the grace extended toward others should be characterized with an elegance and refinement.

Easier said than done. For one like me, who is by nature clumsy and lacking in balance, extending grace to another can often feel like the most excruciating physical practice. What often results is not a refined and elegant performance, but the proverbial dancer with two left feet. So how does one, like the dancers in the Bolshoi Ballet, live in ways that are full of grace?

I asked this question to a friend as we conversed about living in ways that were permeated with graciousness. He shared a story with me about his children’s karate instructor. The instructor was a black-belt in karate and very skilled in his movements and technique. Like the dancers I saw in the Nutcracker, my friend marveled at both the fluidity and gracefulness of the instructor’s movements as he demonstrated karate. Afterwards, my friend asked the instructor if he always moved with such grace and ease—was that something that just came naturally and that one had to possess inherently in order to succeed at karate? The instructor laughed and took him into his office. He took out a video tape. The tape was recorded when the instructor was a student. My friend was amazed by what he saw: jerky, clumsy kicks and punches, falling down as he missed his target, defeat against one opponent after another. Was it really the same person he saw before him? Indeed, it was. So what was the instructor’s secret?

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Dance of Grace

Joyce Meyer – Love Does Something

 

Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share…. — 1 Timothy 6:18 (NKJV)

Adapted from the resource Love Out Loud Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Our ministry has taken various people on mission trips to minister to desperately needy people, but they don’t all respond the same way. Everyone feels compassion, but some individuals become quite determined to find ways to make a difference.

Indifference makes an excuse, but love finds a way. Everyone can do something!

I remember a woman who decided she had to help in some way. For a while she couldn’t figure out what to do because she had no extra money to contribute and she couldn’t go live on the mission field.

But as she continued to pray about the situation, God encouraged her to look at what she had, not at what she did not have. She realized she was very good at baking cakes, pies and cookies.

So, she asked her pastor if she could bake during the week, and offer her baked goods for sale on Sundays after church as long as the money went to missions. This became a way for her and other church members to be involved in missions, and it kept her active doing something to help someone else.

Another woman is a massage therapist, and she organized a special spa day and donated all the proceeds to help poor people. She raised one—thousand dollars for missions and also testified that the day of giving was life changing for her, those who worked with her, and those who attended.

We all need to be loved, but I believe our personal joy is strongly connected to loving others. Something beautiful happens in our hearts when we give.

Prayer Starter: Lord, help me to not only feel compassion, but to find creative ways to express my love for others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – When We Commit

 

“Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him to help you do it and He will” (Psalm 37:5).

Janet remained after the student meeting for counsel.

“How can I commit everything I do to the Lord?” she inquired. “What is involved in a total commitment?”

I explained that mere words can be superficial and shallow, and even insulting to God. It is the commitment of our intellects, our emotions and our wills to do the will of God in every situation with the faith that we can, as promised, trust Him to help us do whatever He calls us to do.

Sometimes I wonder if we really know the meaning of the word commitment. Paraphrasing an anonymous source:

We sing “Sweet Hour of Prayer” and are content with five or ten minutes a day. We sing “Onward Christian Soldiers” and wait to be drafted into His service. We sing “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing” and don’t use the one we have.

We sing “I Love to Tell the Story” but never witness to the love of Christ personally. We sing “We’re Marching to Zion” but fail to march to worship or Sunday school. We sing “Cast Thy Burden on the Lord” and worry ourselves into a nervous breakdown.

We sing “The Whole Wide World for Jesus” and never invite our next-door neighbor to consider the claims of Christ. We sing “O Day of Rest and Gladness” and wear ourselves out traveling or cutting grass or playing golf on Sunday. We sing “Throw Out the Lifeline” and content ourselves with throwing out a fishing line.

Consistency is a wonderful word for the believer in Christ. Add to that the word commitment and you have a rare combination of supernatural enablements that result in a triumphant, fruitful life.

Bible Reading:Proverbs 3:5-10

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will commit everything I do to the Lord and trust Him to help me do what He calls me to do. Since He has called me to be His witness, I will trust Him to enable me to share His love and forgiveness through Christ with someone else today.

 

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Max Lucado – Don’t Give Up on God!

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Much of life is spent fixing lunches; turning in assignments; changing diapers; and paying bills.  Routine…regular…more struggle than strut.  You thought marriage was going to be a lifelong date?  You thought having kids was going to be like baby-sitting?  You thought the company who hired you wanted to hear all the ideas you had in college? Then you learned otherwise.

The honeymoon ended.  Oh, there are moments of glamour, days of celebration.  We have our share of feasts, but we also have our share of baloney sandwiches.  And to have the first we must endure the second. I’ve learned that God comes. And, in the right way, he appears.  So don’t bail out.  Don’t give up.  He is too wise to forget you and too loving to hurt you.  When you can’t see him, trust him.  He is praying a prayer for you that he himself will answer.

Read more A Gentle Thunder

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Holocaust survivor escaped death in Pittsburgh  

Judah Samet was rescued from Germany’s Bergen-Belsen concentration camp seventy years ago. He survived Saturday’s attack on his synagogue in Pittsburgh because he was running late.

Born in Hungary, Samet was six years old when his family of six was put on a train to Auschwitz. The route was blocked, so their train was eventually redirected to Bergen-Belsen.

An estimated fifty thousand people died in this camp, including Anne Frank. Samet’s family was eventually put aboard a train intended for another concentration camp, but they were liberated by American troops before reaching their destination.

Samet eventually made his way to Pittsburgh, where he owns a jewelry shop. Last Saturday, he was talking to his housekeeper and was four minutes late to Shabbat services. He entered the parking lot and was pulling into a handicapped spot when gunfire erupted. He was in the line of fire but wasn’t hit.

Two beloved brothers will be buried together

David and Cecil Rosenthal were not as fortunate.

The brothers had Fragile X syndrome, a genetic disorder that often results in mild to moderate intellectual challenges. The two were developmentally disabled and lived together.

Cecil loved to greet people at the door of the synagogue before services. A friend called his laugh “infectious.” He added that “David was so kind and had such a gentle spirit.” They were two of eleven killed at their synagogue last Saturday. Their funerals are today.

The Pittsburgh shooting is unfortunately not the only tragedy in today’s news.

A student was shot dead yesterday at Butler High School in Matthews, North Carolina. Indonesian officials are searching for clues after a jetliner crashed into the Java Sea yesterday, likely killing all 189 passengers and crew. Seven people were shot and wounded early yesterday morning during a Halloween party at a Southern California nightclub.

But I want to focus this morning on the synagogue shooting for three important reasons.

One: We must fight the rise of anti-Semitism.

I returned Saturday from spending three weeks in Israel. One of the topics I discussed with my Israeli friends was the global threat of anti-Semitism.

More than a third of the global Jewish population was murdered in the Holocaust. Three wars and multiple armed conflicts since the 1948 founding of Israel have made security issues a daily recurrence for them.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Holocaust survivor escaped death in Pittsburgh  

Will Global Warming Destroy the World? Ask America’s Farmers.

 

This is a good news story.

With the fall harvest underway across the nation’s Midwest “breadbasket,” early U.S. Department of Agriculture reporting predicts record-setting corn and soybean crops for 2018.  The corn crop will be above average for a record sixth year in a row, while soybean production is projected at an all-time high of 4.4 billion bushels, up 4 percent from last year’s previous record.

U.S. corn, soybean, wheat, and even rice crops look to continue a trend of remarkable growth in both productivity and output.  This year, corn may yield arecord 178.4 bushels per acre nationwide.  If realized, this will be the highest yield on record for the United States.  Soybean yields will likely be up 2.5 bushels from 2017, which surprised grain-trading experts and exceeded even the highest private yield estimate.  Wheat yields (for all varieties) are forecast to increase 1.1 bushels from last year,  and the 2018-19 U.S. rice crop is projected at 210.9 million cwt, down less than 1 percent from an earlier forecast but 18 percent larger than a year earlier.  America’s farmers will once again help feed a hungry planet that presently has more than 7.6 billion inhabitants and may reach 8.6 billion by 2030.

Global agricultural trends reflect gains as well.  Since 2002, world production of four major crops – corn, wheat, rice, and soybeans – has grown by 846 million tons or 48%.  Yields have kept pace with the world’s annual population growth rate of 1%.  In fact, prices for staple grain crops reveal a downside to those abundances, such that plentiful supply depresses commodity prices on world markets.  “There is too much corn,” said one analyst, to match demand.  Corn- and soybean-growers now concern themselves with consumption of previous record-setting crops to promote future market price increases.

These blessed abundances occur in an environment where Americans are fed a steady diet of dire predictions of climate change with its presumption of human-caused global warming.  Scientists tell us that weather phenomena like the extremes of storms, drought, wind, heat, and rainfall will be more frequent and intense.  Add pestilence, pollution, fires, and the encroachment of human activity to other natural calamities, and one wonders just how the American farmer can survive to produce and even prosper.

Instead, the American farmer continually adapts to the climate – and weather – through changes in crop rotations, planting times, genetic selection, fertilizer choices, improved equipment, innovation, pest and water management, and shifts in areas of crop production, among other possible measures.  Farmers take advantage of an unmatched system of education, research, science, and technology in American universities and business that has evolved to aid and support American agriculture.  Farmers also make good use of a responsive agri-business banking and finance system.  On whole, American farmers are part of, and benefit from, a well honed agricultural infrastructure that fosters advances in production and efficiency.

By contrast, in just one global example, Africa, despite vast natural resources, including expanses of arable land, has the world’s highest incidence of undernourishment (estimated at near one in four persons).  It is assessed that more than 60% of the planet’s available and unexploited cropland is located in sub-Saharan Africa, yet agricultural production remains dismal, which further undermines Africa’s future and economic growth.  Africa must import food staples valued at some $25 billion annually, largely because continental food production, supply, and consumption systems do not function optimally.

Why?  Consider that no nation on that continent can provide its farmers the needed political and societal stability to support a similarly developed agricultural infrastructure.  The examples of Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia and once Africa’s breadbasket) and Sudan are illustrative of the entire continent’s challenges.

Zimbabwe has Africa’s most fertile farmland, yet, as a recent exposé explained, “a onetime net exporter of maize, cotton, beef, tobacco, roses, and sugarcane,” Zimbabwe now “exports only its educated professionals,” who fled by the thousands from decades of corrupt autocratic rule.  In Sudan, only 16% of available land had been cultivated by 2009 – the majority of which now falls within South Sudan, a “new” country that must still import nearly all its food.

Imagine the possibilities if African farmers could bring to bear similar resourcefulness, science, technology, finance, know-how, entrepreneurship, and work ethic to what the American farmer possesses.  What if Africa’s arable and unexploited croplands were farmed to similar standards as those in the American Midwest and production raised to the optimal – and sustainable – levels they are capable of?

It is not climate change, weather phenomena, human encroachment, or other natural calamities that pose the greatest threats to future generations.  Humans adapt to their environment and can adjust the agricultural enterprise to feed the people.  The real global threat is poor, non-functioning governance, and more precisely, autocratic, dictatorial, corrupt regimes not acting for the common good of the governed.  Poor governance has worsened more people’s lives – made more people go hungry – than anything extreme weather, pests, or climate change will ever do.  That is the national security concern; that is the threat to global agriculture and food production.

When offering thanks for our blessings before coming holiday meals, remember and appreciate America’s farmers for their achievements we all too often take for granted.

 

 

Colonel Chris J. Krisinger, USAF (ret.), was raised in a Midwest farming community.   During his Air Force career, Colonel Krisinger served in policy advisory positions at the Pentagon and twice at the Department of State.  He was also a national defense fellow at Harvard University.  E-mail: cjkrisinger@gmail.com.

 

Source: Will Global Warming Destroy the World? Ask America’s Farmers.

Charles Stanley – Becoming Like Jesus

 

2 Peter 3:17-18

God has a plan for every believer, and salvation is just the first step. He wants His adopted children to develop a close family resemblance, and the Holy Spirit is in charge of transforming each one into the likeness of Jesus.

The moment we trust Christ as our personal Savior, we are born again and become newborn babies in a spiritual sense. One characteristic of a newborn is a craving for milk, and the same is true spiritually. New believers need continuous nourishment from God’s Word for growth in godliness, grace, and the knowledge of Christ.

As we read and meditate on Scripture, the Holy Spirit replaces our former thoughts and desires with a God-centered mindset and new longings for holiness. Instead of living to please ourselves, our desire will be to glorify God through obedience.

Like any growing child, we will stumble now and then by giving into temptation. However, our heavenly Father has given us the privilege of cleansing through confession of sins (1 John 1:9). He also exercises loving discipline by revealing attitudes, behaviors, and practices that are displeasing to Him. His chastisement is always meant to train us and produce in us the “peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12:11).

At no point are we abandoned or rejected by our heavenly Father. He watches over every step we take, hears our prayers, comforts us, and encourages us to love and obey His Word. He promises that we’ll become complete in our likeness to Christ on the day we see Him in heaven (1 John 3:1-3).

Bible in One Year: Luke 20-22

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Getting a Grip on Gratitude

 

Read: Numbers 11:1–11 | Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 18–19; 2 Timothy 3

Would they have enough if all the fish in the sea were caught for them? Numbers 11:22

The years of weariness caused by chronic pain and frustrations with my limited mobility had finally caught up with me. In my discontent, I became demanding and ungrateful. I began complaining about my husband’s caregiving skills. I griped about the way he cleaned the house. Even though he’s the best cook I know, I fussed about the lack of variety in our meals. When he finally shared that my grumbling hurt his feelings, I was resentful. He had no idea what I was going through. Eventually, God helped me see my wrongs, and I asked my husband and the Lord for forgiveness.

Longing for different circumstances can lead to complaining, and even a form of relationship damaging self-centeredness. The Israelites were familiar with this dilemma. It seems they were never satisfied and always griping about God’s provision (Exodus 17:1–3). Even though the Lord cared for His people in the wilderness by sending them “bread from heaven” (16:4), they began craving other food (Numbers 11:4). Instead of rejoicing over the daily miracles of God’s faithful and loving care, the Israelites wanted something more, something better, something different, or even something they used to have (vv. 4–6). They took out their frustrations on Moses (vv. 10–14).

Trusting God’s goodness and faithfulness can help us get a good grip on gratitude. Today we can thank Him for the countless ways He cares for us.

For more, read Cultivating a Heart of Contentment at discoveryseries.org/hp052.

Grateful praise satisfies us and pleases God.

By Xochitl Dixon

INSIGHT

When we read about the anger of the Lord (Numbers 11:1, 10), it’s important to remember that His anger is not like our own. We’re inclined to lash out in fear, irritability, or a desire to get even. God’s anger is a consuming fire of love that burns in the conscience and results in consequences for those who turn their back on Him. What could give us more reason for gratitude than to know that “the Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love”? (Psalm 145:8).

Mart DeHaan

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Questioning Gabriel

The Gospel of Luke begins with two monumental exchanges between the material and the spiritual. A messenger of the Lord appears first to an aging man in the midst of his priestly duties, and later to a young, peasant girl in the midst of anticipating the life ahead of her. In each visit, like a gust of wind that turns an umbrella inside out, the message delivered was the sort of news that moves the lives of all who go near it, let alone the worlds of those who heard it first. Both visits incite fear. Both invoke questions. But in the interchange of the eternal and the temporal, though the promises of God are similarly moving, we find two very different human responses.

Zechariah was chosen by lot amongst the other priests at the temple that day to offer the daily incense to the Lord. While the crowd stood praying outside, Zechariah entered the temple only to find an angel standing on the right side of the altar of incense. “And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him,” imparts Luke. “But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.’”

Now Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth did not have any children. The angel’s words confronted a prayer long on his lips, a hope long deferred, a shame daily unforgotten. Zechariah’s response does not seem unreasonable to me. Fearful and uncertain, his wounded heart cried to know that God had been moving in those silent years of childlessness. “How can I be sure?” Zechariah asked. Another translation of the Greek renders, “How will I know this?” His hope for just a little more certainty seems fair enough in his state: “For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”

There is a protective cynicism that runs in the hearts of those who live in the reality of unanswered prayers. I know because I have carried it too. Am I really to believe that God not only knows the greatest desires of my heart but is also able to answer them? Am I to trust the most weighted areas of my life, the most tender corners of my heart in hands that seem absent? There are times when the words of Jesus resonate much more like a commandment than a comfort: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”(2)

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Questioning Gabriel

Joyce Meyer – God Hears and Answers

 

For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. — Isaiah 30:19

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

Our friendship not only benefits us, it also benefits those around us. When people come to us with needs or concerns, we may be able to offer some help, or we may not be able to meet their needs at all.

Even if we do not have what people really need, God does. When we are friends with God, we can say to people, “I don’t have what you need, but I know Someone who does. I’ll ask my friend! I will intercede before God for you.”

We know that God has the power to intervene in people’s circumstances, to help their children stop using drugs, to bring financial breakthroughs, to work medical miracles or to reconcile marriages.

The more intimately we know God, the more confident we are in His willingness and ability to help people. When they come to us, we can go to Him and know He will come through for them.

We can actually ask God to do us a favor and help someone we love even when we know that they don’t deserve it. We can pray with compassion out of a heart of love—and God hears and answers.

God loves you, and He loves the sound of your voice coming to Him in prayer and fellowship. Go to Him often not only for your needs, but also for the needs of others.

Prayer Starter: O, Lord, thank You for always hearing my cries for help. Today, I ask for Your supernatural help and intervention for the needs in my life. I also lift up the needs of my friends and family and pray for peace, provision, healing, wisdom and direction. Thank You for Your amazing love and for answering our cries for help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – A Prosperous Land

 

“If my people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

On April 29, 1980, 500,000 men and women gathered on the Washington Mall to fast and pray and claim this promise of God.

For years, I have had a growing conviction in my heart that, because the Supreme Court ruled that Bible reading and prayer in our schools is unconstitutional, our nation has turned more and more away from God – immorality has become the “new morality”; homosexuality has become the “alternative life-style”; drug addiction and alcoholism are no longer treated as evil; even violent criminals are being declared “not guilty by reason of insanity.” The decaying of our society is evident on all sides.

One of the more alarming, documented facts is that the Soviet Union has been accelerating its production of armaments of war, including nuclear weapons. And through a massive move toward peace through disarmament and through neglect on the part of our leaders, we have allowed our military power to disintegrate to the point of vulnerability.

During the late 60’s and 70’s I genuinely believed that unless God supernaturally met with us and we repented as a nation and turned from our sin, the boast of Nikita S. Khrushchev, former head of the Soviet Union, “We will bury you!” could well come true. For this reason I agreed, along with Pat Robertson, founder and president of Christian Broadcasting Network, and John Gimenez, to cosponsor that great gathering on the Washington Mall.

As 500,000 people spent the day from early in the morning until late in the afternoon, praying, fasting and crying out to God, I sensed that God lifted my load. And, as I sat on the platform joining with my brothers and sisters from all over America, including millions who were joining us in prayer over radio and television, God lifted the burden that had been on my heart for at least fifteen years. he gave me the assurance that the promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14 would be fulfilled as a direct result of our gathering on that day.

Since that time, there has been no question in my mind but what God heard our prayers and laid the groundwork for a dramatic turnaround in our nation.

Bible Reading:Leviticus 23:3-12

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Claiming the promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14, I will pray for God’s supernatural release of blessing and power upon this nation, that we might experience a continuous revival from each individual in the smallest community of America to our leaders in the halls of Congress, the Supreme Court and the White House.

 

 

http://www.cru.org