Charles Stanley – Biblical Fasting

 

Matthew 6:16-18

God’s Word contains commands about many things, from expressions of worship and relationships with other people to frequency of prayer (Deut. 6:5; John 13:34; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Surprisingly, though, there is no place in the Scriptures where the believer is specifically instructed to fast.

Yet the words “whenever you fast” (Matt. 6:16, emphasis added) show Jesus’ expectation that His followers would practice this discipline. And there are examples in the Bible of people who abstained from certain activities in order to draw close to God.

Before we go further, it is important to dispel a popular misunderstanding. Fasting doesn’t serve to change God’s mind, speed up His answer, or manipulate His will. Instead, fasting helps us focus our attention on God alone, so that we listen and worship wholeheartedly.

Denying ourselves in this way makes us better able to fix our eyes on Christ and hear Him clearly. His Spirit often starts by bringing to mind sin that needs to be confessed. In so doing, He sanctifies our thoughts—then He can use this precious time to intensify our desire for God, reveal His will, and grant understanding and peace. In essence, fasting binds us to Him in a oneness that is otherwise difficult to cultivate in our busy world.

Do you want to see God move in awesome ways? By removing anything that hinders your focus, you can fix attention solely on the Creator and cry out to Him regarding your needs. As you gain understanding about your Father and yourself, you will grow closer to Him.

Bible in One Year: Exodus 19-21

 

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Our Daily Bread — Always a Child of God

 

Bible in a Year:Exodus 4–6; Matthew 14:22–36

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

Romans 8:14

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Romans 8:9-17

During a church service I attended with my parents, according to the usual practice we held hands while saying the Lord’s Prayer together. As I stood with one hand clasped to my mother’s and the other to my father’s, I was struck by the thought that I will always be their daughter. Although I’m firmly in my middle age, I can still be called “the child of Leo and Phyllis.” I reflected that not only am I their daughter, but I will also always be a child of God.

The apostle Paul wanted the people in the church at Rome to understand that their identity was based on being adopted members of God’s family (Romans 8:15). Because they had been born of the Spirit (v. 14), no longer did they need to be enslaved to things that didn’t really matter. Rather, through the gift of the Spirit, they were “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (v. 17).

To those who follow Christ, what difference does this make? Quite simply, everything! Our identity as children of God provides our foundation and shapes how we see ourselves and the world. For instance, knowing that we are part of God’s family helps us to step out of our comfort zone as we follow Him. We can also be free from seeking the approval of others.

Today, why not ponder what it means to be God’s child?

By Amy Boucher Pye

Today’s Reflection

Lord God, help me to live out of my central identity as Your child. Release me to live by Your Spirit, that I might share Your love and hope.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Life Redirected

 

We seem to live with a suffocating sense of immediacy, where demands and events come at as fast and furious pace, and where the “past” for many of us means two days ago.

 

“The way to the future runs through the past,” mused one author. 1 In our contemporary ears, this may not ring true. We seem to live with a suffocating sense of immediacy, where demands and events come at as fast and furious pace, and where the “past” for many of us means two days ago.

Within such a sense of time, the historical emphasis of the church may seem obsolete, irrational even. Growing up in Scotland in a home that was not focused on religious or spiritual things, I had little sense of time holding much weight beyond the moment or any sort of transcendent continuity. Time simply came and went. There were, of course, special times loosely connected to an earlier age, such as Christmas and Easter. But these came to primarily symbolize time off from school, special food, and presents. If they were tied to any bigger or wider story or meaning, my attitude was: Who cares?

After moving to Austria, I recall a very different scenario. I had by then become a Christian and noticed that what the church calls “holy week” was taken much more seriously there. The sense of reverence, of something special, of consecrated time, all made an impact on me. Holy week was mentioned on the national news; preparations for the Easter service in the national cathedral were highlighted. Something was in the air. This was also seen in people’s behavior. I was struck that events so long in the past, centered on the ancient Jesus of Nazareth and his death, were seen to have lasting and important impact on modern life in a modern nation.

Here in America, there is less of a national focus. We, of course, know of holy week and many churches walk toward the vast and important events of Gethsemane, the upper room, and Golgotha. But outside the church, even inside some churches, it is simply one more thing in a list of occurrences. Sadly, as a nation, we are progressively abandoning the metanarratives—the larger story—that for centuries served to define and give shape to our society and individual lives, namely the understanding of God’s covenant with his people.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Life Redirected

Joyce Meyer – Positively Possible

 

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” — Mark 10:27

Adapted from the resource Trusting God Day by Day Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

One of the best stories about how faith and confidence in God releases the power of potential took place centuries ago, when many parts of the ancient world were still unsettled.

God promised the people of Israel they would possess a rich and fertile country, known as Canaan. He didn’t promise them they could step across its borders without opposition, but He did promise them they would inhabit it—and when God makes a promise, He means it.

Taking God at His Word, the Israelites appointed 12 men to go into Canaan to “spy out the land” and bring back a report.

Upon their return, 10 spies admitted that the land owed with milk and honey and acknowledged that the fruit in Canaan was large and beautiful, but then remarked that the land was full of giants who would be impossible to overcome.

They allowed the presence of the giants to detract from the promises of God.

In contrast, Joshua and Caleb brought back good reports, full of faith and confidence in God, and Caleb spoke up with confidence, saying, Let us go up at once and possess it; we are well able to conquer it (Numbers 13:30 AMPC).

The 10 spies thought the giants in the land were too big to kill, but Joshua and Caleb thought they were too big to miss. Joshua and Caleb were the only two men who were positive in the face of opposition from the giants. They didn’t ignore the challenges, but they did not overemphasize them—and they were the only two who entered the Promised Land.

Being positive does not mean we deny the existence of difficulty; it means we believe God is greater than our difficulties.

Believing in God can cause us to win any battle we face. When we are closed to “positive possibilities,” we only see what is right in front of us, not what we could see if we would simply be positive and creative.

Prayer Starter: Father, I want to be like Joshua and Caleb! Help me to always see the “positive possibilities” in my life. When You give me direction and guidance, help to me go forward with confidence, knowing all things are possible with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Sets Us Free

 

“I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t. I do what I don’t want to – what I hate…When I want to do good, I don’t; and when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway….It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong…So you see how it is: my new life tells me to do right, but the old nature that is still inside me loves to sin. Oh, what a terrible predicament I’m in! Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature? Thank God! It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free” (Romans 7:15,19,21,24,25).

Harry gave every indication of being a happy, joyful, fruitful Christian. He was active in every major event of the church and many large citywide Christian efforts. He always had a high visibility, and because of his extrovertive, outgoing personality he seemed to be a model Christian.

Then one day I saw the real Harry. He just blurted it out.

“I’m a hypocrite – miserable, defeated, frustrated. I’ve lived a lie and worn a mask all my life, never wanting to reveal my true self. But I need help. I’m seriously thinking of committing suicide. I just can’t live the Christian life, no matter how hard I try.”

As I began reading Romans 7:15-25, he said, “That is my biography, the story of my life. I’ve done everything I know to find victory – to live the Christian life as I know I’m supposed to live it. But everything fails for me no matter how hard I try.”

I encouraged him to read on. Paul asks the question in the 25th verse, “Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature?” Then he answers that question by saying “Thank God! It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free.”

If you are living a carnal life, as described in Romans 7, you can be liberated to experience a full and abundant, victorious and fruitful life, as you by faith claim the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit day by day, moment by moment.

Bible Reading:Romans 7:18-23

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: By faith, I will claim the power of the Holy Spirit to enable me to live the abundant, supernatural life that Jesus promised, so that I can bring glory to God by bearing much fruit.

 

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Max Lucado – Fear of Violence

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Good people aren’t exempt from violence.  We aren’t insulated.  But neither are we intimidated.  In Matthew 10:28 Jesus says, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.”  Jesus had just told the disciples to expect scourging, trials, death, hatred, and persecution.  To their credit, none defected.

Psalm 118:6 declares, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?”  Satan unleashed his meanest demons on God’s Son.  Yet the devil of death could not destroy the Lord of life.  I pray God spares you such evil.  May he grant you long life and peaceful passage.  But remember, God wastes no pain.

Read more Fearless

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – What Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece says about abortion

Today is National Sanctity of Human Life Day in the United States. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation designating January 22 as the first such day. (January 22, 1973, was the day Roe v. Wade legalized abortion-on-demand in all fifty states.)

Since that time, Presidents George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump have issued similar declarations. Presidents Clinton and Obama did not.

Forty-six years after Roe v. Wade, we’re still debating abortion in this country.

Last Friday, the March for Life 2019, described as “the world’s largest pro-life event,” was held in Washington, DC. Vice President Pence and his wife made an appearance; President Trump spoke to the group via video.

The next day, the 2019 Women’s March gathered in our nation’s capital to advance several agendas, including the protection and expansion of abortion rights. The day after, thousands of churches across America observed Sanctity of Life Sunday. They prayed for an end to abortion, advocated adoption, and supported the sanctity of all human life.

Since 1973, nearly sixty-one million babies have been aborted in America, more than 54,000 so far this year.

Americans are confused about abortion

The logic against abortion seems simple. Ronald Reagan: “I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.” Pope Francis states the case succinctly: “The right to life is the first among human rights.”

Continue reading Denison Forum – What Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece says about abortion