Charles Stanley – The Fruitfulness of Meditation

 

Psalm 1:1-6

Do you delight in the Bible? That’s a challenging question because the answer is revealed by our actions. To delight is to take great pleasure in something or someone and to spend time in that activity or relationship. Christians want to delight in God and His Word, but our schedules often indicate a different reality.

Time spent alone with the Lord in His Word and prayer is crucial to the Christian life. If we neglect it, the delights of the world will quickly fill our mind and capture our heart, drowning out the desire for God. Then instead of time with Him being a priority, it will become an afterthought. At first this may not seem like a big deal, but eventually we’ll wither spiritually and bear no fruit.

Meditation is a means by which we make ourselves available to be instructed by the Lord through the Scriptures. It requires time, submission, and commitment, all of which are difficult for people who are busy running from one activity to the next. Yet if we want to grow in Christ, we must become like a tree firmly rooted by the river of God’s Word. That’s where we are nurtured and refreshed, and it is what’s required in order to have a spiritually fruitful life.

Over time we’ll learn to find peace in God’s presence even in stormy situations. And as we get to know the Lord, our love for Him will increase. Many people wish they loved God more, and time alone with Him in His Word is the key. Furthermore, as our love for God increases, both He and His Word will become our delight.

Bible in One Year: Leviticus 26-27

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Good Works Prepared

 

Bible in a Year:Leviticus 1–3; Matthew 24:1–28

For we are . . . created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ephesians 2:6–10

When a burly stranger approached my wife and me on a street abroad, we shrunk back in fear. Our holiday had been going badly; we had been yelled at, cheated, and extorted from several times. Were we going to be shaken down again? To our surprise, the man just wanted to show us where to get the best view of his city. Then he gave us a chocolate bar, smiled, and left. That little gesture made our day—and saved the whole trip. It made us grateful—both to the man and to God for cheering us up.

What had made the man reach out to two strangers? Had he gone around with a chocolate bar the entire day, looking to bless someone with it?

It’s amazing how the smallest action can bring the biggest smile—and possibly direct someone to God. The Bible stresses the importance of doing good works (James 2:17, 24). If that sounds challenging, we have the assurance that God not only enables us to do these works, but has even “prepared [them] in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

Perhaps God has arranged for us to “bump into” someone who needs a word of encouragement today or has given us an opportunity to offer someone a helping hand. All we have to do is respond in obedience.

By Leslie Koh

Today’s Reflection

Who can you pray for or help today? Who might God be putting in your path?

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Silence of God

Before coming to the narrative of Christ’s birth, there is a dramatic conversation which takes place between a priest called Zechariah and the angel Gabriel. One day Zechariah was serving in the temple when the angel Gabriel appeared to him.(1) Zechariah was very afraid but Gabriel spoke to him saying, “Do not be afraid. Your prayer has been heard.” Gabriel continued to tell Zechariah that he and his wife would have a son and they were to name him John. Ultimately, John would be the one to prepare people for the Lord Jesus.

Yet instead of rejoicing over the news brought to him from Gabriel, Zechariah objects, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” Gabriel responds by explaining to Zechariah precisely to whom he is speaking and also cites the authority on which he bears this news:

“I am Gabriel and I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.”

One only needs to read the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel to find out that this promise from the Lord was fulfilled. Elizabeth and Zechariah have a baby boy and they name him John. It is only after the naming of John that Zechariah is able to speak again.

There are many aspects of this story that are remarkable. First is the context in which the story takes place: the people of Israel, of whom Zechariah and Elizabeth were a part, have not heard from God for a period of roughly 400 years! When Gabriel appears to Zechariah, it is highly likely that this is the first time Zechariah has heard from God in such a way.

To make theological matters even more complicated for Zechariah, Gabriel’s second statement, after telling him to not be afraid, is “Your prayer has been heard.” There is deep irony in this statement primarily because of the theological background leading up to this conversation. For all of Zechariah’s life, he had never heard God’s voice like this. The very act of God speaking to him would seem preposterous. Therefore, it is understandable why Zechariah questions Gabriel. Zechariah and his people have prayed to God, many for their entire lives, and they have never heard anything. How could Zechariah be sure this was truly a message from the Lord? This encounter undoubtedly marked a watershed moment, not only for Zechariah, but for God’s people and the entire world. God would speak now and humanity would be silent.

God’s silence is often a challenge to belief. One point I glean from the early part of this story is that God’s silence does not necessarily imply that God is inactive. In Israel’s case, God had been silent for years, yet in this angelic encounter, nearly the first words of instruction from the Lord are, “Your prayer has been heard.” For those of us who are immersed in the urgency of the digital world, we would do well to heed the implicit lesson of patience found in this story. God had been silent for a long time, but God was listening. There are times in our lives in which we do not hear God’s voice. Gabriel’s words tell us that although we might not hear God speaking, God is still listening.

After Zechariah objects to the seemingly audacious promise given from the Lord, Gabriel points out that it is not on his own authority that he speaks, but God’s. Implicit in Gabriel’s statement is the reality that God is bringing help to Israel, not because of what Zechariah or Elizabeth have done, but rather because of who God is. Historically speaking, God was the one who helped, rescued, and saved Israel countless times. The people of Israel knew this history well and they also knew why God had reached down and helped them. This much was clear in the mind of Israel: God’s salvation came only because of God’s character. God’s saving power came, not because of humanity’s effort, but because of God’s nature to save.

Gabriel then tells Zechariah that he will be silent. This is what strikes me most about the story: Gabriel appears to Zechariah in a time during which the people of Israel had not heard from God in years. The Lord speaks to Zechariah and tells him that God will act and fulfill his promise, but while God does so, Zechariah will be silent.

Generally I have viewed the silence of Zechariah as a punishment for not believing in God, and that may well be true. But I also see this act of silence pointing to something far deeper than one man receiving a punishment from God for not believing, and here’s why: The people of Israel knew that God had helped them; they knew why God had helped them and they also had learned how God had worked in history. Over time they had realized that God’s grace and salvation would be worked out through quietness and trust. Israel’s strength lay not in activity and being busy, but in silence. This was how God worked.

Zechariah’s silence is a symbol of God’s salvation. John’s life was spent concentrated on preparing people for Christ, the means by which people could be saved. But before John came, the Lord visited his father through Gabriel, telling Zechariah that He had heard his prayer, and was going to rescue his people not in a flurry of human activity, but in a way in which people could only watch him work and hear him speak. Perhaps one of the vital lessons we can learn from the Incarnation is to prioritize silence before God. At the very least, being quiet will remind us of a greater time, one of the greatest in history, when God spoke and humankind was there only to watch and listen.

Nathan Betts is a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Seattle, Washington.

(1) See Luke 1.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Give Yourself a Head Start

 

The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. — Isaiah 50:4

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

Nothing will prepare you to face what you have to face at work, at home, in relationships, or in daily life like taking some time to commune with God before your busy day begins.

When I first understood that I needed to prepare myself for every day by spending time with God, some of my children complained. They were teenagers at that time, so I told them:

“Listen, you’re old enough to put cereal in a bowl and pour milk on it. And you should be glad I go to my study every morning. You will have a much nicer day if I take this time with God!”

Yesterday morning, I told my daughter, Sandra, I was going to spend my early morning time with the Lord, and she replied, “Are you going to get nice?” We both laughed because we’ve learned that even something as simple as being nice to others can be impossible without that daily preparation in God’s presence and Word.

I know many people feel extremely pressed for time, and the very thought of adding something else to your schedule makes you shudder. All I have to say is, the more you have to do and the busier you are, the more you really need to spend time with God.

I do not know how you need to adjust your schedule, but I know the time you give to God is no different from the money you give to God—if you give Him time, He will give it back to you.

God is in charge of time; He knows how much time you need to accomplish the things you really need to do, and He can protect and help you manage it if you will spend time with Him first. Stop trying to fit God into your schedule and make a decision to put Him first, then work the rest of your schedule around Him.

Prayer Starter: Father, I want to make a habit of spending time with You. You are my Source of help and strength, and I can’t have any real success in life without You. Help me today to make You a priority in my life and work my schedule around You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Refuge for the Oppressed

 

“All who are oppressed may come to Him. He is a refuge for them in their time of trouble” (Psalm 9:9).

The late evangelist Henry Moorehouse once faced a disturbing dilemma. His little paralyzed daughter greeted him as he entered the house bearing a package for his wife.

“Where is Mother?” he asked, after kissing and embracing his daughter.

“Mother is upstairs,” the girl responded.

“Well,” Moorehouse said, “I have a package for her.”

“Oh,” the girl pleaded, “let me carry the package to Mother.”

“Why, Minnie dear,” her father replied, “how can you carry the package? You can’t carry yourself.”

With a smile, the girl continued, “That is true, Papa. But you can give me the package, and I will carry the package – and you will carry me.”

Taking her up in his arms, Moorehouse carried his daughter upstairs – little Minnie and the package, too. Then he saw his own position before the Lord; he had been carrying a heavy burden in recent days, but was not God carrying Him?

In similar fashion, you and I often feel the weight of heavy burdens – sometimes forgetting that even as we carry them we are being carried by our heavenly Father, who is a “refuge for them in their time of trouble.”

Bible Reading:Psalm 9:10-14

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: As I carry my burdens today – large or small – I will recognize that my heavenly Father is carrying me, and I will pass this wonderful truth on to others who are weighted down with the loads and cares of daily living.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Loving the People You’re Stuck With

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Few situations stir panic like being trapped in a relationship.  Some opt to flee– to get out of the relationship.  Others fight, and tension becomes a way of life.  A few, however, discover another treatment–  forgiveness.

In Jesus’ day the task of washing feet was reserved for the lowest of the servants. But, in the Chapter 13 of John’s gospel, the one with the basin and towel is the king of the universe.  What a passionate moment when Jesus silently washes the feet of all the disciples… even Judas.  Jesus knows that, by morning, these men will bury their heads in shame.  Remarkable.  He forgave their sin before they even committed it.  He offered mercy before they even sought it.

Read more Just Like Jesus

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – How much does Donald Trump’s childhood home cost?

Here’s the most objective story about Donald Trump I could find in today’s news: his childhood home in Queens, New York, is on the market. For $2.9 million, you can purchase the house where Mr. Trump lived until he was four years old. It comes with a life-size cardboard cutout of the president.

It’s hard to open a news feed without finding polarizing stories about the president. Watching reactions to his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, you would think that two separate nations inhabit the same country.

But we’ve been here before.

“A repulsive pedant”

George Washington was the only president ever elected unanimously by the Electoral College. Anyone who believes our politics are polarized beyond repair has not studied the election of 1800. (A Thomas Jefferson surrogate called John Adams a “repulsive pedant,” while an Adams surrogate warned that electing Jefferson would create a nation where “murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will be openly taught and practiced.”)

The founders knew that complex issues would require complex solutions that can be achieved only through sometimes-contentious debate, compromise, and perseverance. That’s why they created a federal structure with three branches and a complicated system of checks and balances.

Reflecting the diversity of the new nation, political leaders soon formed the first two political parties. And a two-party system has basically dominated our political process ever since.

Whose nomination took 103 ballots?

There is no question that America’s two parties are intensely opposed to each other today. According to Pew Research Center, 45 percent of Republicans consider the Democratic Party “a threat to the nation’s well-being”; 41 percent of Democrats view the Republican Party the same way.

Continue reading Denison Forum – How much does Donald Trump’s childhood home cost?