Charles Stanley – Good Discipline

 

Hebrews 12:4-11

To gain a deeper understanding of the loving nature of God’s discipline, try to remember your own childhood. Maybe you heard these familiar words from a parent or guardian: “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” Back then, you probably did not appreciate or even believe that sentiment. Nor did you comprehend the true meaning until you became an adult. Discipline is painful for both the recipient and the administrator, but the benefits outweigh the suffering.

Good parents love their children enough to look beyond their immediate comfort and work toward a more beneficial long-term goal—the transformation of foolish, self-centered juveniles into wise, loving adults. The heavenly Father is working in the same way to mature His children. Divine discipline is a necessary part of the process and an expression of His goodness and love.

Although God knows the most effective means of disciplining us, the outcome is influenced by our attitudes and responses. We can choose to submit and be trained by it, or we can rebel and waste the opportunity to grow in Christlikeness. God is always working for our good, but by choosing our own way, we reject His best and grieve His heart.

If you don’t align your thinking with the truth of Scripture, the pain and suffering of divine discipline may produce the sour fruit of a bitter attitude, an angry heart, and a distorted view of God. Instead, trust in His perfect will and choose to be teachable. He will produce the fruit of righteousness in your life.

Bible in One Year: Ephesians 1-3

 

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Our Daily Bread — God’s Hidden Hand

 

Read: Psalm 139:13–18 | Bible in a Year: Daniel 5–7; 2 John

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16

My friend was adopted by a missionary couple from the United States and grew up in Ghana. After his family moved back to the US, he began college but had to drop out. Later, he signed on with the military, which eventually helped him pay for college and took him all over the world. Through it all, God was at work, preparing him for a special role. Today, he writes and edits Christian literature that ministers to an international audience.

His wife also has an interesting story. She failed her chemistry exams during her first year of college due to the strong medication she had to take for epilepsy. After some careful deliberation, she switched from studying science to studying American Sign Language, which had a more manageable workload. Reflecting on that experience, she says, “God was redirecting my life for a greater purpose.” Today, she is making His life-changing Word accessible to the hearing-impaired.

Do you sometimes wonder where God is leading you? Psalm 139:16 acknowledges God’s sovereign hand in our lives: “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” We don’t know how God will use the circumstances of our life, but we can rest in the knowledge that God knows everything about us and is directing our footsteps. Though His sovereign hand may seem hidden, He’s never absent.

Dear Lord, help me to trust You even when I don’t understand.

What steps can you take to discern God’s leading or to act on His call for your life?

By Poh Fang Chia

INSIGHT

David wrote Psalm 139 to worship God, but he also gave us a primer in theology proper—the study of the person of God. He does this by focusing on three of God’s character qualities, what theologians call “attributes.” In verse 1, David points out God’s omniscience—that He is all-knowing: “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.” He then moves to God’s omnipresence—that God is everywhere present at once: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” (v. 7). Then the psalmist moves to God’s omnipotence—that there is no limit to His power—which is evidenced in how He forms us: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (v. 13).

For more on Psalm 139, listen to the Discover the Word programs “Search Me” at discovertheword.org/series/search-me-2/.

Bill Crowder

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Like a Thief in the Night

The alarm of discovering your house has been broken into is one I imagine stays with you long after the thief has gone home. Though most are not eyewitnesses to the looming figure that wrongfully entered, victims of such crimes often report seeing shadows in every corner and silhouettes peering through their windows. Signs that someone had been there are enough to call them to alertness.

Whether you have experienced the shock of burglary and its lasting effects or the violating despair of personal loss, the portrayal of Christ as one who will come like a thief in the night is a startling image. The description is one that seems uncouth amongst the less taxing images that will soon be sentimentally upon us—a peaceful mother and father beside a quiet baby in a manger, a bright star that guides wise men in the obscurity of night. How can the gospel juxtapose these images of one who comes as a child of hope and yet returns like a looming, unwanted figure? But this is the counsel from Jesus himself: “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”(1)

The cry of the Christian season of Advent, the sounds of which are just starting to stir, is the cry not of sentiment but of disrupted vigilance. One of the key figures in celebrating the season, John the Baptist brings the probing message that continues to cry in urgency: “Are you ready?” Are you ready to discover this infant who came to dwell in the midst of night and suffering? Are you ready to hear his invasive message? Are you ready to discover God among you, the hunter, the thief, the King, the human? During the season of Advent, the church calls the world to look again at stories that have somehow become comfortably innocuous, to rediscover the disruptive signs that someone has been here moving about these places we call home, to stay awake to the startling possibility of his nearness in this place even now. “I say to all: ‘Stay awake,’” says Christ in Mark 13:37.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Like a Thief in the Night

Joyce Meyer – Give Yourself a Gift

 

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.— Ephesians 4:32

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

Unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, or offense of any kind can render us unable to hear from God. The Word of God is very clear on this subject. If we want God to forgive our sins and offenses against Him, we must forgive others their sins and offenses against us.

Ephesians 4:30–32, the passage that contains our verse for today, teaches that we grieve the Holy Spirit when we harbor negative emotions such as anger, resentment, and animosity in our hearts. When we hold unforgiveness against anyone for any reason, it hardens our hearts and prevents us from being sensitive to God’s leading in our lives.

I once heard someone say that holding unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping your enemy will die. Why spend your life being angry and bitter toward someone who is probably enjoying his or her life and does not even care that you are upset?

Do yourself a favor—forgive those who hurt you! Give yourself the gift of forgiveness. It will bring peace to your heart and enable you to hear God’s voice and follow His leading in your life.

Prayer Starter: Father, please forgive me for holding bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness in my heart toward others. Help me to truly forgive those who have hurt me or wronged me in any way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Entirely by Faith

 

“And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us: And if we know that He hear us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him” (1 John 5:14,15, KJV).

A friend who had participated in one of our lay institutes a few years ago shared with me his experience when he first realized the practical benefits of the biblical concepts which I like to call “spiritual breathing” – exhale by confession and inhale by claiming the fullness of the Holy Spirit by faith in accordance with the promise of 1 John 5:14,15.

This friend had agreed to teach a Sunday school class of young students. But there was one problem: he was apprehensive about the assignment because he had never taught studies (of the age)?

My friend planned to arrive at church early in order to make proper preparation for the arrival of his new class. He had asked his family to be ready to leave the house early on that Sunday morning.

As sometimes happens, the family was late in getting ready and, as he sat in the car in the hot sun, he began to resent his family’s tardiness. He began to fume and fuss while waiting for them. The longer he waited, the more tense and irritated he became.

Finally, his family loaded into the car – and he was ready to explode with anger. Before he went very far, the Holy Spirit reminded him that his attitude and actions were not honoring to the Lord.

Furthermore, he knew that he would be sharing with the children in Sunday school about God’s love, forgiveness and patience. Applying the principle of “spiritual breathing,” he exhaled by confessing his sin and inhaled by appropriating the fullness of the Holy Spirit by faith. Filled with the Holy Spirit and overflowing with God’s love, he introduced several young men to Christ that morning.

Bible Reading:Romans 1:8-16

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Whenever the need arises, I will practice “spiritual breathing” to help me experience spiritual victory and live a supernatural life. I will tell other Christians about the concept of “spiritual breathing.”

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Take a Look at Baby Jesus

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

If you want to see people on the edge of insanity, just watch the way families treat their babies at Christmastime!  The poor child has no warning!  Red furry stocking cap, goofy elfish shoes that curl at the toes.  And the pictures we take!  Baby snoozing under the tree.  Baby on Santa’s lap.  Santa with wet spot on lap.

Is not Christmas the story of a baby?  The moment that shaped all others?  Mary’s eyes falling on the face of her just-born son.  The first to whisper, “So this is what God looks like!” Never in mankind’s wildest imaginings did we consider that God would enter the world as an infant.  John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  Would you like to see God?   Take a look at the baby Jesus!

Read more Because of Bethlehem

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Welcoming William Wells Denison into the world

William Wells Denison was born yesterday at 10:20 am in Dallas, Texas. He is the second son of Craig and Rachel, our younger son and his wife. Craig is the author of First15 and Chief Strategy Officer for our ministry. Janet and I are thrilled for them and our entire family.

Meeting my fourth grandchild yesterday (they will call him “Wells”) was a deeply emotional experience for me. I was filled with gratitude to God for the miracle of his life and so happy for Craig and Rachel. Janet already has a Christmas stocking with his name on it hanging by our fireplace. Our family is so blessed and truly grateful.

The two most important days in our lives

It’s been said that the two most important days in our lives are the day we are born and the day we discover why. I disagree. The two most important days of our lives are the day we are born and the day we are born again.

God was Wells’s father before Craig was. The One who “determines the number of stars” and “gives to all of them their names” (Psalm 147:4) knew his name before we did. The Lord told Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5). Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me” (John 10:14).

God made Wells for himself. He made him for eternal life with his Father in heaven. He made you and me for the same reason. He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to salvation (2 Peter 3:91 Timothy 2:4).

A train painted like Air Force One

George H. W. Bush was eulogized yesterday at his home church, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston. His body was then taken to College Station, Texas, where it was interred next to his wife, Barbara, and their three-year-old daughter, Robin.

The president’s remains were transported from Houston on a train specifically built to honor his life. The Union Pacific train was led by a locomotive dubbed “Bush 4141” and painted to resemble Air Force One.

Like most Americans, I was deeply moved by the tributes to our forty-first president across this week. His integrity, humility, and strength were on display for the world to see, reminding us of the best of America. If he could have seen the tributes and heard the eulogies, he would undoubtedly have been deeply moved as well.

However, one moment after his physical death last Friday, he found himself in a realm so far transcending our fallen world that it defies description: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT). He was well, and he was home.

The place to which Jesus took him (John 14:3) is not just glorious beyond imagining (Revelation 21:23-24)–it is permanent. People in heaven or hell are there forever.

I once heard eternity described this way: Imagine that a hummingbird transports a tiny speck of dirt from earth to the moon once every thousand years. By the time it has moved our entire planet, eternity will have only begun.

A lesson from Pearl Harbor

Here’s the problem: It’s hard for humans to understand the eternality of eternity. We live in a time-conditioned existence. We experience the universe as past, present, and future. No moment is permanent for us. There’s always something next.

We are like an unborn baby that is safe and secure in its mother’s womb and cannot possibly imagine life outside her body. If we were twins and could speak to each other, we would believe one another to be the only people that exist except for our mother.

And we would experience her only in oblique ways. She gives us life, but we wouldn’t truly understand that fact. Nor could we imagine life with her as she intends it for us.

If someone could explain to us the process of birth, we would refuse it if we could. To be taken from the only world we know into an unknown realm filled with realities we cannot imagine would seem to be like death. But in fact, it would be the beginning of new life.

As our mothers gave us life, our Father gives us eternal life. As we were born into a new life, we are born again into an eternal life.

The permanence of eternity means that we must be ready for death today. As our nation remembers the attack on Pearl Harbor seventy-nine years ago, we are reminded that tomorrow is promised to no one.

We have only this moment to prepare for eternity. If you’re not sure Jesus is your Lord, trust in him as your Savior today. If you’re not sure you’re ready to meet God, get ready.

And help everyone you know be prepared as well. Your vocation is God’s calling. Where you work and live is your mission field. Make Jesus the King of your time, resources, and influence. Live every day as if it were your last day. One day, you’ll be right.

“This symbol of our nation’s spiritual life”

On September 29, 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt laid the foundation stone for the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. Exactly eighty-three years later, President George H. W. Bush was present when the final stone was laid in place. Twenty-eight years later, his body would be returned to this magnificent structure for his state funeral.

The remarks President Bush delivered when the cathedral was completed were prescient: “We have constructed here this symbol of our nation’s spiritual life, overlooking the center of our nation’s secular life, a symbol which combines the permanence of stone and God–both of which will outlast men and memories.”

The president’s statement was accurate on earth–stone and God outlast human bodies–but not in heaven. Ten thousand millennia after our tiny planet has vanished, taking the National Cathedral and all other stones and structures with it, George Herbert Walker Bush will be in heaven with God.

Does anything matter more to you than being ready to join him?

 

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