Charles Stanley – Living in Freedom

 

Romans 6:1-14

When Eve accepted Satan’s offer of greater independence from God, do you think she experienced more freedom? The answer is obvious. She, Adam, and the entire human race became enslaved to sin from that point onward. What looked like a great deal ended in deadly bondage.

Although Christ has set believers free from slavery to sin, we, like Eve, oftentimes long for the “freedom” to do what we want. But whenever we give in to sinful desires, we’re behaving like slaves instead of living as free children of God. He’s given us the Holy Spirit, who empowers us to say no to sin if we’ll just yield to His leadership.

The consequences of reverting to our old ways are devastating. We’ll sink deeper into bondage to sin, lose the peace and joy of fellowship with Christ, grieve the Holy Spirit, and find ourselves under the disciplining hand of the Father. We can also miss out on the blessing of helping to advance His kingdom—by falling into the hypocrisy of living like the world, we ruin our testimony because there’s no discernible benefit to having a relationship with God. Our unsaved friends, relatives, and coworkers are watching. Unless they see a difference between us and themselves, why would they want our Savior?

If Satan whispers in your ear that the Lord’s limitations are depriving you of something good, remember what happened to Eve in the book of Genesis. Liberty to do whatever we want is slavery to self and sin. Only when we live within the Father’s protective boundaries can we experience the freedom Christ purchased for us.

Bible in One Year: Deuteronomy 21-23

 

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Our Daily Bread — Great News!

 

Bible in a Year:Numbers 20–22; Mark 7:1–13

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love.

Psalm 51:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 51:1-7

The article in the local newspaper was short but heartwarming. After attending a faith-based program on building stronger family ties, a group of prison inmates were given a rare treat of an open visit with their families. Some hadn’t seen their children in years. Instead of talking through a glass panel, they could touch and hold their loved ones. The tears flowed freely as families grew closer and wounds began to heal.

For most readers, it was just a story. But for these families, holding one another was a life-changing event—and for some, the process of forgiveness and reconciliation was begun.

God’s forgiveness of our sin and offer of reconciliation, made possible through His Son, is more than a mere fact of the Christian faith. The article’s news of reconciliation reminds us that Jesus’s sacrifice is great news not just for the world, but for you and me.

In times when we’re overwhelmed by guilt for something we’ve done, however, it’s news we can cling to desperately. That’s when the fact of God’s unending mercy becomes personal news: because of Jesus’s dying on our behalf, we can come to the Father washed clean, “whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7). In such times, when we know we don’t deserve His mercy, we can hold on to the only thing we can depend on: God’s unfailing love and compassion (v. 1).

By Leslie Koh

Today’s Reflection

Father, I’m sorry if I’ve taken Your mercy and love for granted. Thank You for this wonderful gift and privilege that I don’t deserve yet You’ve promised unconditionally

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Stories We Tell

 

Have you ever had the feeling that an experience you had, whether good or bad, was like a scene from a novel or a movie—like you were a part of at least a small story? With the ubiquitous presence of Facebook pages and blogging platforms, I suspect this phenomenon grows all the more common an experience (and likely one that increasingly communicates we are the leading characters of these stories). If the answer is yes, it’s probably because our lives, after all, do tell a story—and perhaps the increasing presence of such outlets to tell these stories affirms it. Every human being has a unique story unfolding as they live out their lives. Just think of it: literally billions of different stories going on all at once, intertwining, overlapping, as we love each other, hate each other, struggle together, and laugh together. Every minute new human stories are beginning in birth and old ones are concluding in death.

Listen to what author Brent Curtis has to say about the stories of our lives:

“The deepest convictions of our heart are formed by stories and reside there in the images and emotions of [a] story….Life is not a list of propositions, it is a series of dramatic scenes. As Eugene Peterson said, ‘We live in a narrative, we live in a story. We have a beginning and an end, we have a plot, we have character.’ Story is the language of the heart. Our souls speak not in the naked facts of mathematics or the abstract propositions of systematic theology; they speak the images and emotions of story.”(1)

We love stories because life itself is a story. We each have a story that takes place in a particular context, culture, and time in history. Depending on how we grew up, the dynamics of our families, and a million other factors, our stories are going to come out differently.

But is there any common element that runs through all of our stories, an element that we see in every life?

You may have never thought about it this way, but the Christian message really introduces a story of its own; and if it is indeed true, it’s a story that explains the “plot” of each and every human life story. What is this lot? It’s a love story. It’s the story of God’s love for us individually and collectively, God’s seeking to win our hearts again and again, and our responses to this movement toward us. We see this in the well known text of John 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. I would challenge you to look at your life, look at where you are now and where you’ve been, and see if you do not find evidence of God drawing you closer to who God truly is. See if you can find God calling to you in the circumstances of your life, even in hard or painful times, whispering to you in joy, in mystery, in fear, in pain.

God is the ultimate author, God’s story the account that makes sense of our lives and brings beauty into our own stories. As one human author put it, your life could be the very poetry of God.

 

Ravi Zacharias is founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

 

(1) Brent Curtis, The Sacred Romance (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 39

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – An Unselfish Attitude

 

Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is coming soon]. — Philippians 4:5 (AMPC)

From the book My Time with God Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Disciples of Jesus are called upon to deny themselves and their own interests (see Mark 8:34). I am sure that doesn’t sound too exciting, but it does provide a quality of life that we cannot have while being selfish and self-centered. True happiness is only found when we find something to live for other than ourselves.

I spent the first half of my life being self-absorbed, and then I discovered that Jesus died so I might no longer have to live only for myself. At that point I embarked on a journey of learning to live for God and others. I want to say right away that I have not arrived, but I do press on toward the goal.

Living only for yourself and selfishly seeking only what pleases you is like living in prison and being in solitary confinement. Unless we are willing to die to self, we abide alone; we live isolated lonely lives (see John 12:24); very few people call us friend; and when we are gone, nobody really cares that much. We have traveled through life, and the world is no better because we were here.

I invite you to declare war on selfishness! As occasion and opportunity open up to you, do good to all people (see Galatians 6:10). Be kind and do what is for their welfare.

Make a decision to put a smile on at least three faces today. You may be surprised to find that their smile will make you smile too!

Prayer Starter: Prayer: Father, help me use all of my abilities to be a blessing to other people today and every day. Grant me the grace to live a life that is pleasing to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – I Am With You Always

 

“And then teach new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this — that I am with you always, even to the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).

When David Livingstone sailed for Africa the first time, a group of his friends accompanied him to the pier to wish him bon voyage.

Concerned for the safety of the missionary, some of his well-wishers reminded him of the dangers which would confront him in the dark land to which he was journeying. One of the men tried to convince him he should remain in England.

Opening his Bible, Livingstone read the six decisive words that had sealed the matter for him long before: “Lo, I am with you always.”

Then turning to the man who was especially concerned about his safety, Livingstone smiled before he gave a calm reply.

“That, my friend, is the word of a gentleman,” he said. “So let us be going.”

For many years, I have visited scores of countries on each continent, each year traveling tens of thousands of miles, as the director of the worldwide ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. What a joy and comfort it is to know that I am never outside of His care! Whether at home or abroad, He is always with me, even to the end of the world. I can never travel so far away that He is not with me.

And so it is with you, if you have placed your trust and faith in Jesus Christ. You have His indwelling Holy Spirit as your constant companion – the one who makes possible the supernatural life that is the right and privilege of every believer. How important that we never lose sight of this truth: He is with us always.

Bible Reading: Matthew 28:16-20

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I am reminded afresh that Jesus, to whom God has given all authority in heaven and earth, is with me; that He will never leave me nor forsake me; that His supernatural power is available to me moment by moment, enabling me to do all that God has called me to do — if only I will trust and obey Him.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Finishing Strong

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

The Christian race is demanding, grueling, and sometimes agonizing.  It takes a massive effort to finish strong.  But many don’t.  They may come to church and warm a pew, but their hearts aren’t in the race.

Jesus is the classic example of one who endured, in spite of temptation, accusations, and shame.  The devil tempted Jesus nonstop for forty days.  Jesus’ own family called him a lunatic.  And, on the cross, he bore the collective shame of all humanity.  How did he endure?  By focusing on “the joy that God put before him.”  That was the prize of heaven!  And what he saw gave him strength to finish… and and finish strong.

Someday we will be seated, and Christ will christen the meal with these words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  And in that moment, the race will have been worth it.

Read more Just Like Jesus

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Vietnam summit ends early: What makes history seldom makes headlines

 

The Vietnam summit has ended.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un insisted all US sanctions be lifted on his country, offering to dismantle his Yongbyon nuclear complex in return. President Trump said Washington wanted a deal that includes other parts of the North’s nuclear program. “I just felt it wasn’t good enough,” Mr. Trump said. “We had to have more.”

The two sides ended their meeting amicably but without producing an agreement. Whether the summit is a setback or a step toward peace is open to interpretation.

While Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim were meeting in Vietnam, Michael Cohen was testifying before Congress. The president’s former personal attorney spent more than six hours yesterday answering questions from the House Oversight Committee. Whether his statements damaged the president or not is open to interpretation.

Historical events are objective, but the way they are reported and remembered is subjective.

30 million pages headed for the moon

Israel launched its first spacecraft last week. “Beresheet” (Hebrew for Genesis) will be the smallest craft to land on the moon, but it is carrying something of great significance: the so-called Lunar Library.

This is a disc containing twenty-five thousand books, a full copy of Wikipedia, and information on understanding earthly languages—in total, a thirty-million-page tome. The “library” is intended to preserve humanity’s knowledge and history long after we’re gone.

Did your story make the Lunar Library? On the day of your salvation, you joined a faith family that will be alive in Paradise ten thousand millennia after the moon and everything on it perishes.

Here’s my point: what makes history seldom makes headlines.

News that didn’t make headlines

Continue reading Denison Forum – Vietnam summit ends early: What makes history seldom makes headlines

Charles Stanley – What Takes Place After Salvation

 

John 3:16-17

To truly grasp what Jesus did for us on the cross—and to be able to share the gospel effectively—it’s essential to have an accurate understanding of the terms we use to describe salvation.

Saved (Eph. 2:8). This is a synonym for rescued. Mankind needs rescuing because without Jesus, we are all destined for divine wrath, hell, and eternal separation from God.

Redeemed (Eph. 1:7). Redemption implies a transaction. Our salvation was purchased through the shedding of Jesus Christ’s blood.

Justified (Rom. 5:1). When someone trusts in Christ, God pardons that person and removes his or her guilt. A saved individual is in right standing with the Lord.

Reconciled (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). Salvation results in a relationship with God. We were once separated from Him, but now we are His sons and daughters, and He calls us His friends (John 15:15).

Using words like redemption, justification, and reconciliation might not be effective when presenting the gospel to someone unfamiliar with the language often used in church. However, it’s important for us to understand what the Bible teaches about salvation, and these terms give us a framework for explaining the good news to others.

We must recognize that we are not saved by our personal works or performance. Salvation is ours by God’s grace—His unmerited, undeserved, loving favor toward us—and at the cost of Jesus’ own blood. Let us not take for granted how God has rescued us: by sending His Son to die in our place.

Bible in One Year: Deuteronomy 18-20

 

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Our Daily Bread — Out of the Mouths of Babes

 

Bible in a Year:Numbers 17–19; Mark 6:30–56

Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes.

Psalm 8:2 esv

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Matthew 21:14-16

After watching ten-year-old Viola using a tree branch as a microphone to mimic a preacher, Michele decided to give Viola the opportunity to “preach” during a village outreach. Viola accepted. Michele, a missionary in South Sudan, wrote, “The crowd was enraptured. . . . A little girl who had been abandoned stood in authority before them as a daughter of the King of kings, powerfully sharing the reality of God’s Kingdom. Half the crowd came forward to receive Jesus” (Michele Perry, Love Has a Face).

The crowd that day hadn’t expected to hear a child preach. This incident brings to mind the phrase “out of the mouths of babes,” which comes from Psalm 8. David wrote, “Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes” (v. 2 esv). Jesus later quoted this verse in Matthew 21:16, after the chief priests and scribes criticized the children calling out praise to Jesus in the temple at Jerusalem. The children were a nuisance to these leaders. By quoting this Scripture, Jesus showed that God took seriously the praise of these children. They did what the leaders were unwilling to do: give glory to the longed-for Messiah.

As Viola and the children in the temple showed, God can use even a child to bring Him glory. Out of their willing hearts came a fountain of praise.

By Linda Washington

Today’s Reflection

How can I offer praise to God today? Why is He worthy of my praise?

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Art of Being Misunderstood

Having a nearly 100 pound German shepherd dog creates both opportunities and challenges. Like most German shepherds, my dog has the intense gaze and keen alertness typical of the breed. He does not have an ‘inside bark’ but rather exerts the full capacity of his lungs whenever a visitor or stranger comes to the door. For the person on the other side, venturing into the house is filled with fear. For all they know, a barking-mad, wild beast of a dog awaits them! I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at the wide-berth I am given or the anxious looks I receive as I traverse the sidewalks of my neighborhood with my dog. He looks and sounds absolutely ferocious.

Given this description, it might be hard to believe that I have ample opportunities to showcase my dog’s gentle, calm, and loving demeanor despite his apparent ferocity. Kaiser is quick to roll over on his side when he meets another dog. His ears flatten with joy and his tail wags a mile a minute as he greets children and adults alike. For those who give him the opportunity, he proves himself time and time again to be an affectionate, docile canine.

My dog Kaiser is often misunderstood. His size, the reputation of the breed, and past memories of fearful encounters with large dogs will forever preclude a wonderful encounter for some who meet him. While I know this intellectually, I cannot help but take it personally every time I see individuals cross over to the other side of the street. No matter how much convincing I do, or how well-behaved my dog, there will always be those who simply don’t believe me when I tell them how friendly he is and how much he loves to meet other dogs and people. I reluctantly conclude that there will always be some people who misunderstand my dog and his good intentions.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Art of Being Misunderstood

Joyce Meyer – Cross the Finish Line

 

And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end. — Hebrews 6:11

Adapted from the resource Love Out Loud Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Beginning something is easy but finishing takes courage. In the early stages of something new, we get all excited about it. We have a lot of emotions to support us.

However, when the emotions wear off and all that’s left is a lot of hard work and the need for patience, that’s when we find out who really has what it takes to reach the goal and truly succeed.

In God’s mind, we aren’t successful if we abandon what He’s called us to do. He wants us to finish and do it with joy!

If you have been tempted to give up—don’t. If you don’t finish the thing you’re currently involved in, you will face the same challenges with the next endeavor. Some people spend their entire lives starting all kinds of new things and never finishing any of them.

This happens for various reasons. Sometimes people lose interest or get distracted. Sometimes they aren’t willing to press through obstacles that arise as they move toward their goal.

God doesn’t promise that finishing everything we start will be easy. In fact, most of the time things don’t go smoothly because we need to learn the lessons that come from resolving problems.

But we cannot let ourselves quit; we must rely on God’s grace and keep moving toward the finish line until we cross it in victory.

Prayer Starter: Lord, I ask for a renewed strength and determination today to press toward my goals and everything You have called me to do. When things get difficult or I am tempted to give up, help me to see the value of remaining patient and finishing what I started. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The End Will Come

 

“And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it, and then, finally, the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).

I applaud every effort to warn Christians and nonbelievers to be ready for our Lord’s return, as Scripture clearly teaches that He will come again and has delayed His return in order that more people might have a chance to hear the gospel. To this end, we must give priority to taking the gospel to all men everywhere throughout the world.

However, we dare not wrongly interpret the Scriptures, as so many in previous generations have done, resulting in a lack of concern for the souls of men and a failure to correct the evils of society.

God expects us as His children to be His representatives here on earth. We are to love with His love, sharing the message of salvation with all who will listen and helping to meet the needs of widows, orphans and prisoners in His name.

True believers in previous generations have always been at the forefront of moral and social reforms as well as being active in evangelism. Child labor laws, women’s suffrage and abolition of slavery, for example, grew out of a mighty spiritual awakening that swept England through the ministry of John Wesley, George Whitefield and their colleagues.

We in our generation must be no less concerned about injustice wherever we find it. The most important way to solve our social ills, however, is to change the hearts of men by introducing them to our Lord Jesus Christ. Our priority commitment as Christians must be to disciple and evangelize in obedience to our Lord’s command.

Then we should instruct new believers that “loving our neighbors as ourselves” includes helping them where they hurt. But remember, the Lord cares more about the soul than He does about the body. The body will soon perish but the soul will live forever.

Bible Reading: Matthew 24:7-13

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will keep my priorities straight – first sharing the good news of salvation to as many as possible, but at the same time demonstrating love and compassion to widows, orphans, prisoners and all who are in need, in obedience to our Lord’s command.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – When Heaven Celebrates

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

In Luke 15, Jesus tells three stories of something lost and something found: a lost sheep; a lost coin; and a lost son.  At the end of each story, Jesus describes a celebration.  The point is clear.  Jesus is happiest when the lost are found.  Jesus rejoices because he knows what awaits the saved.  In Heaven, you will at long last, have a heart just like his.  Guiltless, fearless, tirelessly worshiping, and flawlessly discerning.

Jesus also rejoices that we are saved from hell.  He says there’s only one sound there—and that is the “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  Every person you meet has been given an invitation to dinner.  When one says ‘yes,’ celebrate!  When one hesitates, urge him to get ready.  You don’t want anyone to miss the party.

Read more Just Like Jesus

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – The Vietnam summit, clergy abuse, and YouTube videos on child suicide: Is the world getting better or worse?

The second summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un begins later today. The two are scheduled to meet Wednesday night in a one-on-one session (with translators) before moving to a private “social dinner” and more meetings tomorrow.

We can look for the negative as the summit unfolds. NPR reports, “While talks may hold off the immediate threat of a military conflict, they also give North Korea time to continue to develop its arsenal.”

Or we could look for the positive. One example: the two leaders are meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam. I remember when news coverage from Vietnam showed bloody images of American soldiers fighting and dying in its jungles. We could not have imagined then that the US and Vietnam would be diplomatic and economic partners today.

“God can help you, he really can.”

I told the story yesterday of Craig Coley’s thirty-nine years in prison for crimes he did not commit. Rather than focus on the negative, Coley told New York Times reporters that he often talks to people about the power of perseverance: “People that are down and out or having a hard time, my message to them is don’t give up, tell the truth about everything because the truth will always come back and support you.

He adds: “Lies never do. And God can help you, he really can.”

We can focus on the horrendous crimes Vatican Cardinal George Pell has been found guilty of committing. But we can also be grateful for the courage of clergy abuse victims who have told their story, intensifying the spotlight on such sins today.

We should be horrified by reports of sex trafficking that have surfaced in the wake of Robert Kraft’s arrest. But we can also support International Justice Mission and other organizations working to end sex trafficking and other forms of slavery.

We should be appalled by YouTube videos that offer children instructions on how to commit suicide. But we can be grateful for Christian Parenting and other ministries that help parents raise godly children.

In short, we can decide that the world is only getting worse. But, as the Wall Street Journal reports, in significant ways it is getting much better.

“She is not dead but sleeping”

Unfortunately, many in our secular culture consider faith to be neither a cause for the good nor a solution for the bad. Young Americans are especially less inclined to identify as religious or attend regular services. Studies consistently show that religion is declining in Western Europe and North America while growing everywhere else.

As our culture becomes increasingly secularized, more and more people agree with Karl Marx that religion is “the opium of the people” which must be abolished so that “the illusory happiness of the people” can be exchanged for “their real happiness” (his italics).

According to Marx, “Religion is only the illusory Sun which revolves around man so long as he does not revolve around himself.” Of course, he learned how wrong he was the moment he died and faced the God whose existence he denied (Hebrews 9:27).

Marx was the prisoner of presuppositions that blinded him to realities he could not then see. He was not the first or the last.

In Exodus 5, Moses and Aaron said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go’” (v. 1).

But the Egyptian ruler responded, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord” (v. 2). In Pharaoh’s view, what he had not experienced could not exist.

When Jesus told those mourning the death of Jairus’ daughter, “She is not dead but sleeping” (Luke 8:52), “they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead” (v. 53). Because they had not seen Jesus raise the dead, they assumed that he could not raise the dead.

Two ways to demonstrate the relevance of our faith

Before we can expect the pharaohs of our day to believe that our God is real and relevant, they must see that he is real and relevant for us. Consider two principles.

One: Do not judge your future by your past.

Exodus 6:23 tells us that Aaron, the future high priest, was married to the daughter of Amminadab. Ruth 4:18–19 tells us that Amminadab was descended from Perez. Genesis 38:29 tells us that Perez was the child of Tamar, who pretended to be a prostitute and became pregnant by her father-in-law.

Nothing that has happened in your past need determine what happens in your future. Only Jesus can forgive the past, empower the present, and redeem the future. When you seek and follow God’s “good and pleasing and perfect” will (Romans 12:2 NLT), others will be inspired to do the same.

Two: Give Monday to God.

Jesus becomes irrelevant to our lives when we separate him from our lives. A Sunday faith must be a Monday reality.

Oswald Chambers: “Abandon to God is of more value than personal holiness.” Here’s why: “When we are abandoned to God, He works through us all the time.” When he is King of every part of our lives, others will see that he is King of all of life.

According to C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, God desires for us “the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water.”

David echoed this joyous fact more simply: “This I know, that God is for me!” (Psalm 56:9).

Do you know that God is for you today?

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Charles Stanley – The Sufficiency of God’s Grace

 

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

The Lord pledges to give us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). It’s a promise He always keeps. Yet when life hits us hard, we may be tempted to doubt and give up. If our faith starts to waver, we need to think about what we have already received from Him and then look for evidence that He’s at work.

We should remember that we’ve been freed from sin’s penalty. Because Jesus paid the full price by dying on the cross in our place, we owe nothing for our wrongdoing. God now regards us as blameless—at salvation, we each became a new creation and were given Christ’s righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30). Originally, we were headed toward permanent separation from the Lord, but our eternal destiny has been changed to a heavenly home in His presence. And God’s Holy Spirit lives within us as our constant companion and source of strength.

We also should keep in mind that even in the worst of situations, our Father works to accomplish His will. Joseph experienced betrayal when his brothers sold him into slavery, and later he suffered injustice when imprisoned for doing the right thing. In the end, he realized that the Lord had graciously used those circumstances to rescue his family from a life-threatening famine (Gen. 45:5). In a similar way, God uses adversity to develop our character and dependence on Him. He works through trials to bless us and others.

Because of the Lord’s sustaining grace, we have access to His power, wisdom, and guidance. When we ask, God’s Spirit will provide the strength to persevere and help us fight doubt.

Bible in One Year: Deuteronomy 15-17

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Working off Bad Information

 

Bible in a Year:Numbers 15–16; Mark 6:1–29

Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.

Proverbs 23:12

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Proverbs 23:9-12

On a recent trip to New York City, my wife and I wanted to brave a snowy evening and hire a taxi for a three-mile ride from our hotel to a Cuban restaurant. After entering the details into the taxi service’s app, I gulped hard when the screen revealed the price for our short jaunt: $1,547.26. After recovering from the shock, I realized I had mistakenly requested a ride to our home—several hundred miles away!

If you’re working with the wrong information, you’re going to end up with disastrous results. Always. This is why Proverbs encourages us to “apply [our] heart to instruction and [our] ears to words of knowledge”—God’s wisdom (Proverbs 23:12). If we instead seek advice from those who are foolish, those who pretend to know more than they do and who have turned their back on God, we’ll be in trouble. They “scorn . . . prudent words” and can lead us astray with unhelpful, misguided, or even deceptive advice (v. 9).

Instead, we can bend our “ears to words of knowledge” (v. 12). We can open our heart and receive God’s liberating instruction, words of clarity and hope. When we listen to those who know the deep ways of God, they help us receive and follow divine wisdom. And God’s wisdom will never lead us astray but always encourages and leads us toward life and wholeness.

By Winn Collier

Today’s Reflection

God, bend my ears and heart toward wisdom. Help me be open to Your truth and push away every kind of foolishness.

 

http://www.odb.org

Joyce Meyer – Find Friends Who Hear God

 

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. — Proverbs 27:17

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

If we listen, God will speak to us about our relationships—our marriages, friendships, business associations, and even casual acquaintances. He may ask us to sever friendships or relationships with people who can tempt us to stray from His plan for our lives.

We can easily become like those we spend time with. If we spend time with people who are selfish and self-centered, we may soon find ourselves often focused on ourselves, thinking about what we can do or get for ourselves. In contrast, God may encourage us to make friends with someone who is a giver. If we spend time with such a person, before long, we will be givers, too.

It is enjoyable and beneficial to spend time with someone who really hears from God, someone who truly senses what the Holy Spirit is saying and doing. It is not fun to spend time with people who are dull in their spiritual hearing, and we can tell when we are with someone like that.

The verse for today says that “iron sharpens iron,” and we can sharpen our ability to hear the right things by being with people who practice listening for God’s voice and obeying Him.

Prayer Starter: Father, I lift my relationships up to you. Help me to know who I should spend time with—the people who will influence me in a positive way and deepen my relationship with You. Help me to also be a positive influence in the lives of others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Great and Mighty Things

 

“Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (Jeremiah 33:3, KJV).

How long has it been since you have prayed for great and mighty things – for the glory and praise of God?

I find in God’s Word at least six excellent reasons you and I should pray for “great and mighty things”: to glorify God; to communicate with God; for fellowship with God; because of Christ’s example; to obtain results; and to provide spiritual nurture.

There is a sense in which I pray without ceasing, talking to God hundreds of times in the course of the day about everything. I pray for wisdom about the numerous decisions I must make, for the salvation of friends and strangers, the healing of the sick and the spiritual and material needs of the Campus Crusade for Christ ministry – as well as for the needs of the various members of the staff and leaders of other Christian organizations and the needs of their ministries.

I pray for the leaders of our nation and for those in authority over us at all levels of government. I even pray about the clothes I wear, on the basis of the people I am to meet – that the way I dress, as well as my words and actions, will bring glory to God.

But there is another sense in which there is a set-apart time each day for prayer – I often kneel quietly before the open Bible and talk with God as I read His Word.

Before I begin to read the Bible, I ask the Holy Spirit, who inspired its writing, to make my reading meaningful. Throughout the reading I often pause to thank God for His loving salvation and provision, to confess the lack in my own life revealed by the Scriptures, to ask Him for the boldness and faith His apostles displayed and to thank Him for new insights into His divine strategy for reaching the world with the gospel.

Bible Reading: Jeremiah 33:4-8

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will call unto God, expecting Him to show me great and mighty things beyond anything I have ever experienced, for His glory and for the blessing of those about me, that they may know that God does supernatural things in response to the faith and obedience of His children.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – A Hope-Filled Heart

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Jesus said, “Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light.  If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar.”

In Gethsemane, Jesus faced betrayal on all levels.  The disciples ran away.  The people rejected him.  And God didn’t answer his anguished appeal to avoid “the cup of suffering.”  So, what did Christ do?  He found enough good in the face of Judas to call him friend, and he can help us do the same with those who hurt us.  He found purpose in the pain, seeing it as a necessary part of God’s greater plan.

Wouldn’t you love to have a hope-filled heart? God never promises to remove us from our struggles.  He does promise, however, to change the way we look at them.

Read more Just Like Jesus

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Christian receives $21 million after 39 years in prison

 

Craig Richard Coley was twenty-three years old when he moved to Simi Valley, California. A Vietnam veteran and the son of a retired Los Angeles police officer, he was newly married with no criminal record.

Coley managed several restaurants over the years. After a divorce, he dated for a time Rhonda Wicht, a twenty-four-year-old waitress who shared an apartment with her four-year-old son, Donald.

On November 11, 1978, Wicht and her son were killed in their beds. Coley, who had broken up with her, was arrested and charged with their murders. After two trials, he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Both of his parents died while he was imprisoned.

Talking to an innocent man

Meanwhile, Michael Bender had started a career as a police officer. In 1989, he looked into the Coley case and was shocked by what he found. Coley’s alibi seemed strong; there were viable suspects who were never pursued; and hair and fingerprint evidence was not analyzed properly and then went missing.

Two years later, Bender met Coley in prison and knew he was talking to an innocent man. “In dealing with a lot of bad guys over the years, there are mannerisms and body language you come to know. He didn’t have that,” Bender explained.

In 1991, his superiors ordered him to stop pursuing Coley’s case or face termination, so he quit his job and became a theft investigator. In 2003, he moved his family to Carlsbad, California, where he continued to pursue the case in his spare time.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Christian receives $21 million after 39 years in prison