Charles Stanley – Returning to God

 

Malachi 3:7-12

Many Christians are familiar with God’s words in verse 7 of today’s reading: “Return to Me, and I will return to you.” When Malachi delivered this message to Israel, they seemed ignorant of the fact that they had left the Lord. Throughout the book, God made statements about their poor spiritual condition, and they always responded by asking how they had offended Him.

In this passage, God accuses them of robbing Him by withholding the tithes and offerings required by the Law to support the Levites and priests. God viewed their persistent disobedience to His commands as theft because they were keeping for themselves what belonged to Him. If we consider all that the Lord has given us, we must ask ourselves whether we’re robbing Him in any way. Consider these examples:

  • God has given us life and determined the number of our days (Psalm 139:16). Yet some of us claim that we don’t have time to read the Bible or pray. We may be busy, but it’s our responsibility to prioritize time with the Lord in the 24 hours He has allotted to us each day.
  • Our Father has also given us abilities, talents, and spiritual gifts, yet we oftentimes reserve their use for our career or hobby rather than for serving Him.
  • God is the one who has given us the ability to work and earn an income, and all He asks of us is the first portion.

Is there anything of the Lord’s that you’ve been keeping for yourself? With an obedient and grateful heart, you can joyfully give back to Him a fraction of whatever He has given you.

Bible in One Year: Mark 8-9

 

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Our Daily Bread — Terrible and Beautiful Things

 

Read: Psalm 57 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 47–49; 1 Thessalonians 4

Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. Psalm 57:8

Fear can leave us frozen. We know all the reasons to be afraid—everything that’s hurt us in the past, everything that could easily do so again. So sometimes we’re stuck—unable to go back; too afraid to move forward. I just can’t do it. I’m not smart enough, strong enough, or brave enough to handle being hurt like that again.

I’m captivated by how author Frederick Buechner describes God’s grace: like a gentle voice that says, “Here is the world. Terrible and beautiful things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you.”

Terrible things will happen. In our world, hurting people hurt other people, often terribly. Like the psalmist David, we carry our own stories of when evil surrounded us, when, like “ravenous beasts,” others wounded us (Psalm 57:4). And so we grieve; we cry out (vv. 1–2).

But because God is with us, beautiful things can happen too. As we run to Him with our hurts and fears, we find ourselves carried by a love far greater than anyone’s power to harm us (vv. 1–3), a love so deep it fills the skies (v. 10). Even when disaster rages around us, His love is a solid refuge where our hearts find healing (vv. 1, 7). Until one day we’ll find ourselves awakening to renewed courage, ready to greet the day with a song of His faithfulness (vv. 8–10).

Healer and Redeemer, thank You for holding us and healing us with Your endless love. Help us find in Your love the courage to follow You and share Your love with those around us.

God’s love and beauty make us brave.

By Monica Brands

INSIGHT

In the book of Psalms, superscriptions often precede the actual text. These notes shed light on the individual or group designated to lead the composition, the author, or the situation that inspired the lyrics. The superscription for Psalm 57 tells us David wrote this psalm “when he had fled from Saul into the cave.” Scripture records two times when David found refuge from Saul in a cave (1 Samuel 22 and 24). While there is uncertainty as to which of these two incidents is in view here, the truth of the psalm is crystal clear—the fearful, the anxious, the fleeing can find ultimate safety in the Lord (Psalm 57:1).

When was the last time a difficult situation caused you to call out to “God Most High”? (v. 2).

Arthur Jackson

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Bittersweet

In today’s world, it is often difficult to summon optimism. Bad news swirls around us blowing our hopes and dreams like leaves in the fall wind. In this gale, we often find it hard to cling to hope and to a sense that the future will be a bright one. In general, I see myself as an optimistic person. I try to find the bright side of bad situations, and I work hard to walk the extra mile to give others the benefit of the doubt in personal relationships. I am not a naïve optimist like the character Pangloss in Voltaire’s biting satire Candide. When it is clear the ship is sinking, I don’t believe everything will be alright nor do I believe, as Pangloss would, that the sinking ship is the best thing that could happen to me. I do all that I can to bail out the rising water, even as I wrestle against the fear and anxiety that accompanies impending disaster!

Yet despite my generally optimistic attitude and outlook, there are times when sadness overwhelms me. It may be a growing storm of weary longing or a tide of lonely isolation that sweeps over me, drowning me with a dolor that submerges my hope. Sometimes it occurs when I think about the aging process and our hopeless fight against it. Sometimes it occurs when I am in the grocery line, looking at the baggers and clerks who wonder if this is all they will ever do for work. Oftentimes, it occurs when I cannot see the good through all the violence and evil that oppresses the world and its people. I can easily become overwhelmed by the numbers of people who are forgotten by our society—the last, the least, and the lost among us—and wonder who is there to help and to save them from drowning.

It is in these times that I befriend lament. And I take great comfort in the loud cries and mourning that have echoed throughout time and history as captured in the poems, songs, and statements of lament. Indeed, a great portion of the Hebrew Scriptures comes in the form of lament, both individual and communal lament. The Psalms, as the hymnal of Israel, record the deepest cries of agony, anger, confusion, disorientation, sorrow, grief, and protest. In so doing, they express hope that the God who delivered them in the exodus from Egypt, would once again deliver by listening and responding to their lament.(1) The prophets of Israel, who cry out in times of exile, present some of the most heart-wrenching cries to God in times of deep sorrow and distress. One can hear the anguish in Jeremiah’s cry, “Why has my pain been perpetual and my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Will God indeed be to me like a deceptive stream with water that is unreliable?” (Jeremiah 15:18). In addition, Jeremiah cries out on behalf of the people of Judah: “Harvest is past, summer is ended, and we are not saved. For the brokenness of the daughter of my people I am broken; I mourn, dismay has taken hold of me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has not the health of the daughter of my people been restored?” (Jeremiah 8:20-22).

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Bittersweet

Joyce Meyer – Just Give It Time

 

Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people. — Exodus 33:13

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

When you spend time with God, it becomes evident. You become calmer, you’re easier to get along with, you are more joyful, and you remain stable in every situation.

Spending quality time with God is an investment that yields rich benefits. You begin to understand what He likes and what offends Him. As with any friend, the more time you spend with God, the more like Him you become.

Spending time with God causes you to become more sensitive to the love He wants to demonstrate to you and to others. Your conscience alerts you when you’re talking to someone in a way that does not please Him.

Your heart grieves when He grieves, and you quickly pray, “Oh, God, I’m sorry.” You soon want to apologize to the person you have offended and discover that saying, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you,” isn’t so difficult after all.

When God told Moses he had found favor in His eyes (see Exodus 33:12), Moses understood that God was telling him he could ask for anything his heart desired.

Moses responded by saying that he simply wanted to become more intimately acquainted with God. Moses had seen God perform history’s most magnificent miracles, yet what he wanted most of all was to know God intimately.

I pray that knowing God is the desire of your heart. You can know Him and hear His voice as clearly and as intimately as you want to. All it takes is spending time with Him.

Prayer Starter: Father, like Moses, I want to know You more intimately. Help me to take time to grow closer to You and develop a deep, personal relationship. Help me to become more like You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – You Are Indwelt by God Himself!

 

“Haven’t you yet learned that your body is the home of the Holy Spirit God gave you, and that He lives within you? Your own body does not belong to you” (1 Corinthians 6:19).

The Bible teaches that there is one God manifested in three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and that God lives within everyone who has received Christ.

One of the most important truths I have learned as a Christian is that this omnipotent, holy, righteous, loving, triune God – our heavenly Father, our risen Savior and Holy Spirit, Creator of heaven and earth – comes to dwell within sinful man at the moment he receives Christ! And, through Christ’s blood, sinful man is made righteous at the moment of the new birth!

Meditate with me upon what this means. When you fully grasp that the God of love, grace, wisdom, power and majesty dwells within you waiting to release His matchless love and mighty power is absolutely awesome.

You are His temple, and if you invite Him to, He will actually walk around in your body, think with your mind, love with your heart, speak with your lips and continue to seek and save the lost, for whom He gave His life 2,000 years ago. Incredible! Incomprehensible to our finite minds, this truth is so clearly emphasized in the Word of God and demonstrated in the lives of all who trust and obey Him that there can be no doubt. If you have received Christ, God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – now indwells you and your body has become His temple.

Bible Reading:Acts 2:37-40

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will begin every day by acknowledging that my body is a temple of God. I will invite the Lord Jesus Christ to walk around in my body, think with my mind, love with my heart, speak with my lips and continue to seek and save the lost through me. I will invite the Holy Spirit to empower and enable me to live a holy, supernatural life and be a fruitful witness of God’s love and grace – that my life will bring praise, honor, worship and glory to God the Father.

 

 

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Max Lucado – God is Patient With Us

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

God is more patient with us than we are with ourselves.  We assume if we fall, we aren’t born again.  If we have the old desires, we must not be a new creation.  If you’re anxious please remember what Paul said in Philippians 1:6, “God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure he will continue it until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes again.”

In many ways your new birth is like your first.  In your new birth God provides what you need; someone else feels the pain, and someone else does the work. And just as parents are patient with their newborn, so God is patient with you.  But there’s one difference.  The first time you had no choice about being born. This time you do.  The power is God’s.  The effort is God’s.  The pain is God’s.  But the choice is yours.

Read more A Gentle Thunder

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Why has Tom Cruise been recast as Jesus?

The BibleWalk Museum in Mansfield, Ohio, is a collection of more than three hundred wax figures. Its guided tours include the Miracles of the Old Testament, the Life of Christ, the Heart of the Reformation, the Museum of Christian Martyrs, and Amazing Grace–The Journeys of Paul. There’s also a “Dinner with Grace,” a Bible-themed dinner theater on the property.

Many of the museum’s wax figures come from closed wax museums around the country or were bought from manufacturers that had a surplus. Some were celebrities in their previous lives.

For instance, a wax figure of Prince Charles is now Abel, the murdered brother of Cain. A wax figure of Prince Philip serves as an angel. Elizabeth Taylor is in the King Solomon scene, apparently playing the Queen of Sheba. Steve McQueen and John Travolta have roles as well; Tom Cruise has been recast as Jesus.

Journalists and comedians have made fun of the museum for reusing celebrity figures. However, director Julie Mott-Hardin sees a larger purpose behind the publicity they have received: “Deep down, we believe that God sends each person here, so I want to make sure–as much as it’s in me–that they’re getting out of their experience here everything that God wanted them to get.”

Pastor Brunson returns home

Our post-Christian society is looking for significance in the wrong places. We focus on the celebrities in our culture and miss the ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things in God’s power for God’s glory.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Why has Tom Cruise been recast as Jesus?