Charles Stanley – Assurance for Trials

 

Psalm 121:1-6

Trials will surface in our life. Thankfully, though, we can rely on our Father to help in times of need, as today’s passage from Psalm 121 assures us.

“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (vv. 1-2). When frightened about dangers and difficulties that might befall him, the psalmist knew where to turn for help. Similarly, when we encounter uncertainty, fears, or trials, our sovereign Lord will sustain us (Psalm 103:19)—even when others let us down or our own strength fails.

“He who keeps you will not slumber” (Psalm 121:3). With billions of people in the world, it is difficult to comprehend how the Lord could possibly know every detail of our lives—or why He would care enough to number all the hairs on our heads. But this passage confirms that God is alert to every aspect of each life and attentive to our every need.

“The Lord is your keeper” (v. 5). In Hebrew, the word for “keep” comes from the same root as “guard” and “protect.” We use this term when parents ask a trusted person to keep their child while they are away temporarily. The childcare provider is expected to protect and provide for needs. God promises to keep His children, which means that He will defend us, give us what we need, grow us into His likeness, and guard us from evil.

Without these promises, the world could seem dangerous and lonely. But we can face unknowns and difficult times with confidence, knowing that the Lord will keep us and help us.

Bible in One Year: Genesis 46-48

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Hope’s Sure Foundation

 

Bible in a Year:Genesis 33–35; Matthew 10:1–20

My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Hebrews 11:1-6

Lessons on faith can come from unexpected places—like the one I learned from my 110-pound, black Labrador retriever, “Bear.” Bear’s large metal water bowl was located in a corner of the kitchen. Whenever it was empty, he wouldn’t bark or paw at it. Instead, he would lie down quietly beside it and wait. Sometimes he would have to wait several minutes, but Bear had learned to trust that I would eventually walk into the room, see him there, and provide what he needed. His simple faith in me reminded me of my need to place more trust in God.

The Bible tells us that “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). The foundation of this confidence and assurance is God Himself, who “rewards those who earnestly seek him” (v. 6). God is faithful to keep His promises to all who believe and come to Him through Jesus.

Sometimes having faith in “what we do not see” isn’t easy. But we can rest in God’s goodness and His loving character, trusting that His wisdom is perfect in all things—even when we have to wait. He is always faithful to do what He says: to save our eternal souls and meet our deepest needs, now and forever.

By James Banks

Today’s Reflection

Almighty Father, thank You for Your faithfulness to always take care of me. Help me to trust You and to rest in Your perfect love today.

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Public Realms, Quiet Gifts

 

“I didn’t even know he was sick.”

In public spaces the day after news of pop icon David Bowie’s passing became public information, it was a common sentiment. It was the sentiment of flabbergast, as if death seemed irreconcilable with a persona so large. It was a sentiment that seemed to fit with my own most vivid memory of Bowie, trapped somewhere between fantasy and reality, with those eyebrows and that hair and the gaze of the Goblin King in Jim Henson’s 1987 film Labyrinth.

He died three years ago. But I still remembering being struck by how many times I heard the statement. “I didn’t even know he was sick.” “I didn’t even know he had cancer.” It is the honest shock of a public so accustomed to the knowledge of everything and anything filed away in public realms of accessible information and social media over-sharing. The shock of the death of an icon is compounded by the shock that we somehow missed the immensely personal news of his diagnosis, followed by the shock that we didn’t know because it actually wasn’t trending news, that we didn’t know because that he didn’t actually share it in the first place.

There are times when we are given glimpses of the status quo and invited to see it somewhere beyond “life as usual.” If ever so briefly, like fish learning to see the very water in which they are submersed, it is a gift if we will receive it. We live in a world of news feeds that never stop offering us something on which to comment, something to forward or post, tweet or retweet, something to fleetingly consume like ravenous furnaces burning through information in kindling-like segments at a time. We are expected to share everything with friends defined by our social media circles, people who, in the original sense of the word, are likely closer to strangers. What once would have been understandably and guardedly private is now fodder for sharing on public walls, “walls” we are so at home with that we fail to question how they are changing the very people they contain. Our own walls included, we seem somehow less able to imagine what might exist on the other side.

An unlikely, counterintuitive practice of prayer called the examen may offer to train our eyes to see beyond the barrage of public news-feeds which invite us to imagine that we can know everything, have a right access anything, and a need to share it all. I say unlikely because in a world obsessed with a public domain for sharing self-made profiles and walls of endless information, prayer, or any such habit that smacks of religion, is strictly restricted to private realms, stored quietly somewhere behind our public personas. Prayer as a solution is further unlikely because by the world’s standards it is at the very least unproductive, if not crazy: What utility does prayer serve? What information is gleaned? And with whom are we sharing if it’s not actually made “public”? But I also say counterintuitive because the examen is a practice that looks backward on the day as a way of learning to see presently. Quite counterintuitively, we listen to our lives by coming “in secret” to the one who sees the public and the private—the one for whom there is no division between these realms in the first place.(1)

First practiced by Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Christian Jesuit movement in the fourteenth century, the examen asks two questions at the day’s end, though these questions can be asked in various ways: Where did I most experience consolation today? Where did I experience desolation? What was the most life-giving encounter today? What was not life-giving? For what was I most grateful today? For what was I least grateful? Conjuring the word “examination,” the word examen comes from Latin and refers to the weight indicator on a balance scale. The word itself conveys the idea of an accurate assessment of the true situation and the hope that over time and in the quiet repetition of withdrawing, Christ, self, and neighbor come more openly and truly into focus. Prayer indeed sets aside the demand for utility and the lure of publicity to quietly and wastefully be present with the God of abundance. The examen is a means of listening to and looking after the places where this God is at work giving life, which is what the Father has done abundantly in Christ, and conversely, those areas that are drawing us away from God’s life-giving presence. It is a means of silencing the barrage of public information and the temptation to share ourselves in a way that draws attention. Prayer fills us instead with a quiet gratitude, so that we learn to tend closer to these spaces privately and corporately, and in turn, to bring the very countenance of the one who gives life back into the public domain.

In the words of the late David Bowie, I know something is very wrong/ The pulse returns for prodigal sons/ I can’t give everything away.” Thankfully, we were not meant to give everything away. Mercifully, there is one who has shared so abundantly of himself that it is worth silencing our public clamor to listen more intently for these signs of life. The very human pulse of the Son of God brings us back to ourselves and into the kind arms of the one who sees most clearly.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) “Do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matthew 6:5-6).

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – What Is Confidence?

 

Hezekiah trusted in, leaned on, and was confident in the Lord, the God of Israel; so that neither after him nor before him was any one of all the kings of Judah like him. — 2 Kings 18:5 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource The Confident Women Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

What is confidence? I believe confidence is all about being positive concerning what you can do—and not worrying over what you can’t do.

A confident person is open to learning because they know that their confidence allows them to walk through life’s doorways, eager to discover what waits on the other side. They know that every new unknown is a chance to learn more about themselves and unleash their abilities.

Confident people do not concentrate on their weaknesses; they develop and maximize their strengths.

For example, on a scale of one to ten, I might be a three when it comes to playing the piano. Now, if I were to practice long and hard—and if my husband could put up with the racket—I could, maybe, transform myself into a middle-of-the road, level-five pianist.

However, as a public speaker, I might be an eight. So, if I invested my time and effort into this ability, I might just be able to get to a level ten. When you look at it this way, it’s easy to see where you need to invest your efforts.

Prayer Starter: Lord, if Hezekiah could learn to lean upon and be confident in You, I know that it’s also possible for me. Enable me to focus on developing and maximizing my strengths rather than concentrating on my weaknesses. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – A Blessing So Great

 

“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so that there will be food enough in my Temple; if you do, I will open up the windows of heaven for you and pour out a blessing so great you won’t have room enough to take it in” (Malachi 3:10).

Tom and Marti were newlyweds. They were just getting started in business and had all the expense of setting up housekeeping. So they found their budget severely strained. In fact, the bills were piling up. Then they were challenged to tithe their gross income. Their first response was, “Impossible! We can’t even pay our present bills, let alone take 10 percent off the top.”

As they prayed together, however, they felt definitely led that this was God’s will. Since they wanted to please Him by obeying His command, they began systematically and faithfully to give priority to their tithe. At first, it was nip and tuck, and some of the other obligations had to wait. But after a few months they were amazed to see how they were able to accomplish more with the nine-tenths than they had previously been able to accomplish with the total amount.

Now they are enthusiastic over the privilege of laying up treasures in heaven, seeking first the kingdom of God. Tithing was only the beginning. Now they are giving 40 percent off the top because God has prospered them so abundantly.

I began to tithe as a new Christian when I was made aware of the scriptural principle that everything belongs to God and we are only stewards during our brief time here on earth. Actually a tithe is the Old Testament concept and according to the New Testament concept every believer has the privilege of laying up treasures in heaven far beyond the amount of the tithe. There is a law of sowing and reaping: The more you sow, the more you reap.

To the Christian, it is not how much we give to God; it is how much we have left after we have given to Him – and to His kingdom.

Bible Reading:Malachi 3:5-9

Today’s Action Point: Today I will take inventory of my giving to the Lord. I will begin at least to tithe, expecting that God, as He promised Malachi, “will open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing so great that I won’t have room enough to take it in.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Are You Afraid You Won’t Protect Your Kids?

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Parenting comes loaded with fears.  Dangers buzz in the background.  No parent can sit still while his or her child suffers.  Luke Chapter 8 tells us that Jairus couldn’t.  “Then a man named Jairus, a leader of the local synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come home with him.  His only daughter, who was about twelve years old, was dying” (vs. 40-42).

Jesus heeded his fears…he still does.  Jesus heeds the concerns in the parent’s heart.  After all, our kids were his kids first.  Even as they are ours, they are still his.  We forget that fact.  Wise are the parents who regularly give their children back to God.

Parents, we can be loyal advocates, stubborn intercessors; and we can take our parenting fears to Christ.

Read more Fearless

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – A kicker’s failure became eternally significant

After last weekend’s divisional round, the Chiefs, Rams, Patriots, and Saints are the last four of the NFL’s thirty-two teams still in this year’s playoffs. The combined population of their cities equals 1.57 percent of the US population.

In other words, as pro football fans go, there are far more losers than winners this morning.

In our “winning isn’t everything–it’s the only thing” culture, this is tough for those of us who live in Dallas and other losing cities to wake up to. But we can learn an important life lesson from the player who epitomized losing this season.

A kick that defied all odds

Cody Parkey is a kicker for the Chicago Bears. He set an NFL rookie scoring record in 2014 and was named to the Pro Bowl in 2015. Earlier this season, he was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance against the Vikings.

In the first round of this year’s playoffs, his Chicago Bears played last year’s Super Bowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles. At the end of the game, the Bears were poised to win as Parkey lined up a forty-three-yard field goal. He had already kicked three field goals in the game. His fourth was right down the middle, but the Eagles had called time out just before the play began.

When the game resumed, Parkey’s kick struck the left upright of the goalpost. Then, defying all odds, it struck the crossbar. Then it fell backwards to the ground. The Bears lost.

The team and their fans were devastated. Only later did they learn that an Eagles player got a hand on the ball, deflecting the kick.

Continue reading Denison Forum – A kicker’s failure became eternally significant