Charles Stanley – Wounded Parents, Wounded Children

 

Jeremiah 32:17-19

So often when we deal with difficult people, it’s easy to form judgments about them based on their behavior or attitudes. But have you ever stopped to wonder what has made that person so disagreeable or foolish? When the Bible says God “repays the iniquity of fathers into the bosom of their children” (Jer. 32:18), it is speaking about generational cycles of sin. Unless someone in the family line makes a deliberate choice to change, sinful and dysfunctional behavior can be passed from parent to child for many generations.

This is really just a confirmation of the principle of sowing and reaping. We pass down standards for conduct and character traits that we received from our parents. If we are unwilling to change our sinful habits and attitudes, they will very likely find their way into our children’s lives.

What is true for sin is also true for wounds. When a child is emotionally bruised in the home, his behavior and character may be negatively affected. With this in mind, think about a difficult person you know. What hurts do you think shaped his or her life? A heart of compassion originates from a willingness to empathize with those who have been wounded. This doesn’t excuse someone’s sin, but it does aid in opening our heart toward the individual.

What about you? Have childhood wounds contributed to who you are today? How have they affected your life? If you haven’t dealt with them, you’ll probably pass similar hurts down to your children. But with God’s help, you can break this cycle and begin one that will benefit future generations.

Bible in One Year: Leviticus 17-20

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — All I Can See

 

Bible in a Year:Exodus 34–35; Matthew 22:23–46

He must become greater; I must become less.

John 3:30

Today’s Scripture & Insight:John 3:22-35

Krista stood in the freezing cold on a winter day, looking at the beautiful snow-encased lighthouse along the lake. As she pulled out her phone to take pictures, her glasses fogged over. She couldn’t see a thing so she decided to point her camera toward the lighthouse and snapped three pictures at different angles. Looking at them later, she realized the camera had been set to take “selfies.” She laughed as she said, “My focus was me, me, and me. All I saw was me.” Krista’s photos got me thinking of a similar mistake: We can become so self-focused we lose sight of the bigger picture of God’s plan.

Jesus’s cousin John clearly knew his focus wasn’t himself. Right from the start he recognized that his position or calling was to point others to Jesus, the Son of God. “Look, the Lamb of God!” he said when he saw Jesus coming toward him and his followers (John 1:29). He continued, “The reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed” (v. 31). When John’s disciples later reported that Jesus was gaining followers, John said, “You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ . . . He must become greater; I must become less” (3:28–30).

May the central focus of our lives be Jesus and loving Him with our whole heart.

By Anne Cetas

Today’s Reflection

How can I love Jesus best? Who might He want me to love?

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Bad Reputations

While many industries confess to struggling during times of economic downturn, the identity management industry, a trade emerging from the realities of the Internet Age, is one that seems to gain business steadily regardless. As one company notes in its mission statement, they began with the realization that “the line dividing people’s ‘online’ lives from their ‘offline’ personal and professional lives was eroding, and quickly.”(1) While the notion of anonymity or the felt-safety of a social network lures users into online disinhibition, reputations are forged in a very public domain. And, as many have discovered, this can come back to haunt them—long after posted pictures are distant memories. In a survey taken in 2006, one in ten hiring managers admitted rejecting candidates because of things they discovered about them on the Internet. With the increasing popularity of social networks, personal video sites, and blogs, today that ratio is now nine in ten. Hence the need for identity managers—who scour the Internet with an individual’s reputation in mind and scrub websites of image-damaging material—grows almost as quickly as a high-schooler’s social media presence.

With the boom of the reputation business in mind, I wonder how identity managers might have attempted to deal with the social repute of Jesus. Among officials, politicians, and soldiers, his reputation as a political nightmare and agitator of the people preceded him. Among the religious leaders, his reputation was securely forged by the scandal and outrage of his messianic claims. Beyond these reputations, the most common accusations of his personal depravity had to do with the company he kept, the Sabbath he broke, the food and drink he enjoyed. In two different gospels, Jesus remarks on his reputation as a glutton. “[T]he Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!’”(2) In fact, if you were to remove the accounts of his meals or conversations with members of society’s worst, or his parables that incorporated these untouchables, there would be very little left of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. According to etiquette books and accepted social norms, both from the first century and the twenty-first, the reputation of Jesus leaves much to be desired.

Ironically, the reputation of those Jesus left behind often does not resemble his reputation at all. Writing in 1949 with both humor and lament, Dorothy Sayers describes the differences: “For nineteen and a half centuries, the Christian churches have labored, not without success, to remove this unfortunate impression made by their Lord and Master. They have hustled the Magdalens from the communion table, founded total abstinence societies in the name of him who made the water wine, and added improvements of their own, such as various bans and anathemas upon dancing and theatergoing….[F]eeling that the original commandment ‘thou shalt not work’ was rather half-hearted, [they] have added to it a new commandment, ‘thou shalt not play.”(3) Her observations have a ring of both comedy and tragedy. The impression Christians often give the world is that Christianity comes with an oddly restricted understanding of words such as “virtue,” “morality,” “faithfulness,” and “goodness.” Curiously, this reputation is far more similar to the law-abiding religion of which Jesus had nothing nice to say. “Woe to you, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven.”(4)

When the apostle Paul described the kind of life that will flourish in the one who follows Jesus, he was not giving the church a checklist or a rigid code like the religious law from which he himself was freed. He was describing the kinds of reputations that emerge precisely when following this friend of tax-collectors and sinners, the drunkard, the Sabbath-breaker, the vicariously human Son of God: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”(5) This is no mere niceness, an unfeeling, unthinking social obligation to keep the status quo. Jesus loved the broken, discarded people around him to a social fault. He was patient and kind, joyful and peaceful in ways that made the world completely uncomfortable. He was also faithfully radical and generously intense and unsettling in ways that made the religious leaders and others in power completely uncomfortable. His disruptive qualities of goodness and faithfulness were not badges that made it seem permissible to exclude others for their lack of virtue. The depth of his love for the Father did not lead him to condemn the world around him or to isolate himself in disgust of its immorality; rather, it moved him to walk in self-control to his death for the sake of all.

There are no doubt pockets of the world where the reputation of the church lines up with that of its founder and their presence offers the world a disruptive, countercultural gift. The prophets and identity managers of the church today pray for more of this. Until then, in a world deciphering questions of reputation like “What does it mean to be socially reputable?” or “What is the best way to distinguish oneself?” or “Do I like my googled self?” perhaps we might ask instead, “Who was this human Christ and how might we follow?”

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

(1) From the website ReputationDefender.com/company accessed Jan 15, 2009.

(2) Luke 7:34, Matthew 11:19.

(3) Dorothy Sayers, “Christian morality” in The Whimsical Christian (New York: Macmillan, 1987), 151-152.

(4) Matthew 23:23.

(5) “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Excuses Excuses

 

But they all alike began to make excuses… — Luke 14:18

Adapted from the resource Battlefield of the Mind Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Moses made excuses when God called him to service. He said he wasn’t eloquent enough and could not speak (see Exodus 4:10).

Felix made excuses when Paul was speaking to him about righteousness and self-control. He essentially said, “Right now is an inconvenient time. Can you come back later?” (see Acts 24:25).

When God invites people into relationship with Him, many people come up with excuses when the truth is they simply don’t want to make the sacrifices required to follow Him. Even among those who are believers in Jesus, we still hear ample excuses for not serving Him fully.

It is time to deal with excuses and start speaking truth. There is one truth none of us will be able to avoid: The day will come when every person will stand before God and give an account of his or her life (see Romans 14:12 On that day there will be no excuses!

Prayer Starter:Prayer Starter: Father, I want to love and serve You wholeheartedly without making excuses. Draw me closer to You and help me to step out into all that You have for my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Underneath: Everlasting Arms

 

“The eternal God is your Refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He thrusts out your enemies before you…” (Deuteronomy 33-27, LB).”…with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles” (2 Chronicles 32:8, KJV).

Susan was broken-hearted. She had just lost her first child at birth. The trauma of that experience had affected her relationship with her husband and with everyone else around her. She had become cynical and moody. She blamed God for what had happened and said, “I hate Him. Why would this happen to me? Where was God when I was going through the birth pangs, the excruciating pain of giving birth to a stillborn child? Why didn’t He give me a healthy baby?”

I was reminded of a statement that I had heard in response to a similar anguished plea: “Where was God when I lost my son?”

The answer: “Where He was when His own Son died on the cross for our sins.”

We do not understand the mystery of why God allows tragedy, heartache and sorrow, but we do know that those who trust the eternal God as their refuge will experience the reality of His promise that “underneath are the everlasting arms.”

Sometime later I talked with a godly Christian leader whose son had just taken his own life. Of course this man and his wife were devastated. Their hearts were broken. But what a difference in their reaction. Even through his tears this great Christian was saying, “I know I can trust God. He is a loving God. He is my refuge, and I feel His strength and compassion and care for me and my loved ones. My wife and I and all of our family are rededicating ourselves to Him as an expression of our love and confidence in His trustworthiness.”

Bible Reading:Psalm 91:1-7

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: As an expression of my confidence in God and His love and faithfulness I will make a special effort to visualize those everlasting arms of love spread out beneath me, ready for any fall I may take, like a giant net below a trapeze artist. That will give me courage in the face of every obstacle and assurance despite my weaknesses.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – You Are Tweakable

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

The love of people often increases with performance and decreases with mistakes. Not so with God’s love.  He loves you right where you are.  But he refuses to leave you that way.  And so he cleanses us of filth:  immorality, dishonesty, prejudice, bitterness, greed.  He wants us to be just like Jesus.  Isn’t that good news?  You aren’t stuck with today’s personality.  You are tweakable!

Where did we get the idea we cannot change?  Why do we say things such as, It’s my nature to worry, or I’ll always be pessimistic?  I’m just that way, or I have a bad temper.  I can’t help the way I react?  Who says?  If our bodies malfunction we seek help.  Shouldn’t we do the same for our hearts?  Can’t we seek aid for our sour attitudes?  Of course we can!  Jesus wants to change our hearts.  Can you imagine a better offer?

Read more Just Like Jesus

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Why the Rams’ Super Bowl loss matters today

As everyone who doesn’t live on Mars must know, the New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams to win Super Bowl LIII yesterday.

The game set eighteen records: It was the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in history. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are now the oldest starting quarterback and head coach to win a Super Bowl. It featured the longest punt ever (though the ball rolled much of the way), the fewest touchdowns, and the fewest kickoff returns.

Critics are condemning the Rams and their quarterback today, but they did make it to the game’s biggest stage (albeit after a blown call against the Saints). However, the NFL gives out no trophies for second place.

Legendary driver Dale Earnhardt spoke for our culture: “Second place is just the first place loser.”

Do you remember who lost the Super Bowl last year? The Patriots. Two years ago? The Falcons. The year before? The Panthers. (I had to look it up.)

“A first-grader could have painted that”

In our culture, you’re a winner if you win and a loser if you lose. That’s because a secular culture, by definition, cannot consider spiritual truth. It can see only what it can see. A materialistic society measures success by materialistic means.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Why the Rams’ Super Bowl loss matters today