Charles Stanley – Handling Difficult Circumstances

 

Philippians 1:12-18

Paul wrote his letter to the church at Philippi while he was a prisoner in Rome. Though confined and under watch while awaiting trial, he wrote to encourage the Philippians, assuring them that his situation was being used by God. He told them, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Phil. 4:11).

Notice that this verse does not say that Paul was always happy. Happiness depends upon circumstances, but for believers, contentment is possible in any situation because it’s anchored in God. Although Paul’s imprisonment was difficult and uncomfortable, He scarcely mentioned the conditions. This letter is not filled with complaints but with rejoicing because his focus never wavered from Christ (Phil. 1:20-21; Phil. 3:10).

Paul did not see himself as a victim. He believed that he was under the sovereign hand of the living God. This was the place ordained for him at that time, in accordance with the Lord’s divine purpose.

What’s more, the apostle saw good results of his time in prison. The entire imperial guard heard about Jesus through the apostle’s consistent witness. His confinement was also having the opposite effect of what his enemies had planned. Instead of driving Christians into hiding, Paul’s example of contentment in the face of hardship made them bolder (Phil. 1:14).

Like Paul, we can choose how we’ll respond to pain and hardship. If we opt to be resentful and bitter, our suffering will be wasted. But if we see each situation as a wonderful opportunity for spiritual growth, we’ll be able to learn contentment and rejoice in the Lord through it all.

Bible in One Year: Romans 14-16

 

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Our Daily Bread — God Is Here

 

Read: Hosea 6:1–6 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 27–29; 1 Peter 3

Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. Hosea 6:3

A plaque in our home states “Bidden or not bidden, God is present.” A modern version might read, “Acknowledged or unacknowledged, God is here.”

Hosea, an Old Testament prophet who lived in the late eighth century bc (755–715), wrote similar words to the Hebrew nation. He encouraged the Israelites to “press on” (Hosea 6:3) to acknowledge God because they had forgotten Him (4:1). As the people forgot God’s presence, they began to turn away from Him (v. 12) and before long there was no room for God in their thoughts (see Psalm 10:4).

Hosea’s simple but profound insight to acknowledge God reminds us He’s near and at work in our lives, in both the joys and struggles.

To acknowledge God might mean that when we get a promotion at work, we recognize God gave us insight to finish our work on time and within budget. If our housing application is rejected, acknowledging God helps to sustain us as we trust Him to work in the situation for our good.

If we don’t make it into the college of our choice, we can acknowledge God is with us and take comfort in His presence even in our disappointment. As we enjoy dinner, to acknowledge God may be to remind ourselves of God’s provision of the ingredients and a kitchen to prepare the meal.

When we acknowledge God, we remember His presence in both the successes and sorrows, whether big or small, of our lives.

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for the times I am prone to forget You. Help me to acknowledge Your presence in my life.

God is always present and at work.

By Lisa Samra

INSIGHT

James Limburg comments on today’s passage in his book Interpretation: Hosea—Micah: “The contrast which comes to expression in Hosea 6:6 is between two fundamentally different notions of religion. The one thinks in terms of discharging religious obligations through . . . sacrifice and offering; the other speaks of loyal love and of acknowledging God as God. . . . When religion becomes preoccupied with the niceties of liturgy, the nuances of language, the novelties of music, art, and architecture, but forgets the neighbor, then religion has been reduced to cultic correctness . . . . True religion has that rich word hesed [steadfast love] at its center, recalling God’s steadfast love (Ps. 136) and mercy (Titus 3:5–7) and then calling for lives which respond to that love with loyal devotion to God and loving service to the neighbor.”

Are there areas of your life where the line between religion and relationship has become blurry?

For more on true devotion to God, read Following Jesus: Relationship or Religion? at discoveryseries.org/q0215.

J.R. Hudberg

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Second Greatest

Sam Harris is one of the well-known band of atheists whose vitriolic rantings and button-pushing avowals seem to draw audiences like reality television. His observations are shouted angrily; his ideas are often inflammatory. His frustration with Christians is spouted with sarcasm, antagonism, and resentment. And something in one of his recent works made me wonder how I might have contributed to it. In an open letter to American Christians, Harris begins, “Thousands of people have written to me to tell me that I am wrong not to believe in God. The most hostile of these communications have come from Christians. This is ironic, as Christians believe that no faith imparts the virtues of love and forgiveness more effectively than their own.”(1)

When one understands apologetics as a defense of the Christian faith, voices like Harris, who attack Christianity and its morality with fluent hostility, seem to justify a defensive stance. How can one respond to those who readily earn and live up to titles like “Darwin’s Rottweiler” without barking a few hostile lines of their own? Is it ever Christ-like to respond to Harris in the manner that Harris responds to Christ?

There is no doubt that Jesus frustrated more than a view scribes; he was fairly harsh on the rich, and he responded angrily to the commercialization of the temple. Yet while these are the scenes we might summon to substantiate hostile words when the God we love is debased with insult, Harris is right. Jesus told anyone who would listen that the greatest commandment is to love God with everything that is in us, and the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbors as we would ourselves.

In fact, in this scene it is interesting that Jesus noted the second greatest commandment at all. No one had asked this question (we generally are not interested in runner ups), and yet he willingly offered the information. He made note of the second commandment as if it was so near to the greatest commandment to warrant formal connection. Elsewhere, Jesus furthered these instructions so that we would be sure that “neighbor” was not a word with which we could take creative license. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”(2)

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Second Greatest

Joyce Meyer – You Are at a Place Of Prayer

 

For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. — 1 Corinthians 3:9

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

Under the Old Covenant, the temple was the house of God, the place of prayer for His people, the children of Israel. The temple had three compartments, one of which was the Holy of Holies, and it held the presence of God! Amazingly, now our renewed and sanctified spirit is the place where His presence dwells!

Under the New Covenant, the apostle Paul tells us that God’s presence is now a mystery revealed, which is of Christ in us, “the Hope of glory” (see Colossians 1:27).

Because of the union you now have with Christ, you can be close to God because you are God’s living temple. You are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, a building still under construction, but nonetheless His house, His tabernacle. Paul goes to great length in encouraging us to live a holy life because we are the temple of God.

Whereas the children of Israel had to go to a specific place to offer their worship with detailed instructions, we have the incredible privilege of worshiping God anywhere and at any time. Therefore, we can be called a house of prayer.

Prayer Starter: Oh, Lord, I thank You for Your Holy Spirit Who lives inside of me. Thank You that Your awesome presence goes with me everywhere I go! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Calm in the Storm

 

“Immediately after this, Jesus told His disciples to get into their boat and cross to the other side of the lake while He stayed to get the people started home. Then afterwards He went up into the hills to pray. Night fell, and out on the lake the disciples were in trouble. For the wind had risen and they were fighting heavy seas. About four o’clock in the morning Jesus came to them, walking on the water! They screamed in terror, for they thought He was a ghost. But Jesus immediately spoke to them, reassuring them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ He said” (Matthew 14:22-27).

I had flown at least a couple of million miles in the last thirty years, but this was the most violent storm I had ever encountered. Vonette and I were on our way from New York City to Washington, when suddenly the airplane began to buck like a wild mustang with its first rider. It felt as though no one was in control. The lightening was constant and for nearly fifteen minutes we seemed to be surrounded by a ball of fire. We had good reason to believe that the plane would soon plummet to earth.

The disciples had shouted to the Lord, “Save us, we’re sinking!” In the same manner, Vonette and I began to pray.

Then, as we called upon God, our petitions turned to praise and thanksgiving. We were reminded of the biblical storm and we prayed, “Oh Lord, You have not lost Your power over nature. We ask You to still the storm and to save us, though we’re ready to meet with You if need be. If You have something yet for us to do in this life, we ask You not to allow the enemy to destroy us and all these other passengers.”

Almost immediately the turbulence stopped. The plane was righted, and we continued on our course, though we discovered later that the plane had been severely damaged.

One of the greatest blessings to come from this experience was the indescribable peace that enveloped us as we considered that at any moment we could plummet to earth and our lives could be snuffed out. I asked the Lord why the disciples were so fearful during the storm while Vonette and I had such peace and confidence that He was in control. The answer was that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, etc, and the disciples had not yet been filled with the Spirit at the time of their Galilean storm experience. Later they went to their martyrs’ deaths with the same peace that God gives to all who place their faith and trust in Him.

Bible Reading:John 6:16-21

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: The mighty power which Jesus demonstrated when He walked this earth centuries ago still abides in Him, and He abides in me. Therefore, I shall claim supernatural miraculous power whenever the occasion demands

 

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Max Lucado – Slow Down and Rest

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

God said, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God.  In it you shall do no work; you, nor your son, nor your daughter” (Exodus 20:9-10).

God knows us so well.  He can see the store owner thinking, Somebody needs to work that day.  If I can’t, my son will.  So God says, “Nor your son.”  Then my daughter will, thinks the store owner. “Nor your daughter,” God has declared.  No, God says, one day of the week you will say no to work and yes to worship. You will slow down and sit down and lie down and rest.  Still we object.  We offer up one reason after another.  God’s message is plain.  If creation didn’t crash when I rested, it won’t crash when you do.  Repeat these words after me– It is not my job to run the world!

Read more Grace for the Moment II

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Indian authorities trying to recover body of US missionary

John Allen Chau was twenty-six years old. A native of Vancouver, Washington, he led missionary trips around the world for Christ.

This month, he traveled to the North Sentinel Island in India’s Bay of Bengal to share Christ with the Sentinelese tribe. Its members have been isolated for centuries, rejecting all contact with the larger world and reacting with violence when outsiders have attempted to interact with them. Their island is off-limits to visitors under Indian law.

Chau hired local fishermen to transport him within half a mile of the island. He then used a canoe to reach the island’s shore, returning later in the day.

On his second trip, the tribespeople broke his canoe, forcing him to swim back to the boat. On his third trip, he did not come back. The fishermen said they later saw tribespeople dragging his body around.

Indian authorities have now begun the arduous work of trying to retrieve Chau’s body without triggering a conflict with the islanders.

Before he left the boat for the last time, Chau wrote a note to his family. “You guys might think I’m crazy in all this but I think it’s worthwhile to declare Jesus to these people,” he said.

Then he added: “Please do not be angry at them or at God if I get killed–rather please live your lives in obedience to whatever He has called you to and I will see you again when you pass through the veil.”

“When necessary, use words” Continue reading Denison Forum – Indian authorities trying to recover body of US missionary