Charles Stanley – The Right Perspective

 

Philippians 1:19-26

The way we perceive our situation often has a greater impact on our life than the situation itself. You’ve probably seen this for yourself in those who profess to know Christ. One Christian goes through debilitating medical treatments with such trust in God that contentment and joy overshadow the suffering, whereas another believer becomes anxious and resentful.

The setting for today’s passage is Paul’s house arrest. Although the apostle had committed no crime, he found himself unjustly locked up. But despite such dire and seemingly hopeless conditions, he knew he had nothing to lose. If Caesar decided to have him executed, he’d immediately be with Christ, and that was a much better option in Paul’s eyes. If, on the other hand, God allowed him to live, then he could continue a fruitful ministry for the kingdom. His conclusion was, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).

When we are saved by the blood of Christ, Paul’s statement is true for us as well. Our life is intricately bound up with our Savior, and we can never be separated from Him by any circumstance—not even death.

The word circumstance comes from two Latin roots meaning “around” and “to stand.” Therefore, our circumstances are those things that stand around us, but Christ is the person who dwells within us. Everything we face, He faces. Our difficult and painful situations are an invitation to let Christ shine though us. When He is our life, then no matter what happens, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. So let’s fix our eyes on Jesus as He leads us through whatever lies ahead.

Bible in One Year: Numbers 28-30

 

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Our Daily Bread — Praying and Growing

 

Bible in a Year:Leviticus 23–24; Mark 1:1–22

Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God.

Colossians 3:17

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Jonah 4:1-11

When my friend David’s wife developed Alzheimer’s disease, the changes it brought to his life made him bitter. He needed to retire early to care for her; and as the disease progressed, she required increasingly more care.

“I was so angry at God,” he told me. “But the more I prayed about it, the more He showed me my heart and how I had been selfish for most of our marriage.” Tears welled in his eyes as he confessed, “She’s been sick ten years, but God has helped me see things differently. Now, everything I do out of love for her, I also do for Jesus. Caring for her has become the greatest privilege of my life.”

Sometimes God answers our prayers not by giving us what we want but by challenging us to change. When the prophet Jonah was angry because God spared the wicked city of Nineveh from destruction, God caused a plant to shade him from the hot sun (Jonah 4:6). Then He made it wither. When Jonah complained, God answered, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” (vv. 7–9). Jonah, focused only on himself, insisted it was. But God challenged him to think about others and have compassion.

God sometimes uses our prayers in unexpected ways to help us learn and grow. It’s a change we can welcome with open hearts because He wants to transform us with His love.

By James Banks

Today’s Reflection

Lord Jesus, thank You for helping me grow when I pray. Help me to be sensitive to what You want for my life today.

 

 

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Joyce Meyer – Be Proactive

 

O turn to me and have mercy and be gracious to me; grant strength (might and inflexibility to temptation) to Your servant…. — Psalm 86:16 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Starting Your Day Right – by Joyce Meyer

Jesus warned His disciples about all that He was to go through, because He knew it would be difficult for them too.

He said, “Pray that you won’t be tempted” (see Matthew 6:13Matthew 26:41). He didn’t say, “Wait to pray until you have been tempted, or until you have given in to temptation.” Jesus teaches us to be proactive, which Webster defines as “acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes.”

Many Israelites had already died from snake bites before the rest of them finally said, “Pray for us, Moses, for we have sinned” (see Numbers 21:4–9). They should have recognized their need for God’s help much sooner than they did!

Don’t wait until you are in trouble to seek God. Ask Him to keep you from being tempted to sin today.

Prayer Starter: Father, I need Your help in every single area of my life. Please strengthen me so I can handle everything that comes my way today. Help me to be proactive when it comes to my relationship with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Is Your Faith Worth Sharing?

 

“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18, KJV).

I had just finished giving a message, challenging students and young executives to commit their lives to helping to fulfill the Great Commission when Steve approached me with words that shocked me. I had known him for a long time and believed his life to be totally committed to Christ.

“If I were to respond to your challenge to take what I have to the rest of the world,” he said, “I’m afraid not much would be accomplished, because my brand of Christianity -quite frankly – is not that attractive, exciting or fruitful.”

He went on to share how he was not experiencing the joy of the resurrection in his life. The study of the Word of God had no appeal, his prayer life was nil and it had been a long time since he had introduced anyone to Christ. His outward evidence of being a man of God was just a facade, by his own admission.

What about you? Is your brand of Christianity truly the revolutionary, first-century kind that helped turn the world upside down and that changed the course of history? If not, it can be – and that is what this daily devotional guide is all about.

Every Christian needs to echo daily the sentiments of an unknown poet:

My life shall touch a dozen lives
Before this day is done,
Leave countless marks of good or ill,
Ere sets the evening sun.
This, the wish I always wish,
The prayer I always pray;
Lord, may my life help other lives
It touches by the way.

That goal should reign supreme during my waking hours – to touch lives for eternity. For if the all-powerful God, in the Person of His Holy Spirit, truly lives and reigns and triumphs, surely I can tap into that supernatural power and give evidence of it in my life.

Bible Reading:Proverbs 4:14-19

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Knowing that this dark world desperately needs light, I will trust God to let His light shine through me today. I pray that my life will be so radiant, joyful, attractive and fruitful for Christ that it will demonstrate the kind of Christianity that can be exported to others, to members of my family, neighbors and friends, as well as to people in other countries.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Practicing the Presence of God

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

How do I detect God’s unseen hand on my shoulder and his inaudible voice in my ear?  Give God your waking thoughts.  Before you face the day, face the Father.  Psalm 5:3 says, “Every morning, I tell you what I need, and I wait for your answer.”

Give God your waiting thoughts.  Spend time with him in silence.

Give God your whispering thoughts.  During your lifetime, you could spend six months at stoplights and eight months opening junk mail.  Give these moments to God.  Simple phrases such as “Thank you, Father,” can turn a commute into a pilgrimage.

Give God your waning thoughts.  Conclude the day as you began it–  talking to God.  If you fall asleep as you pray, don’t worry.  What better place to doze off than in the arms of your Father.

Read more Just Like Jesus

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – College intern began work the day he was killed

 

Gary Montez Martin went into his local Circle K convenience store to buy a few cigars last Friday. He did this almost every day. Store clerks said he seemed fine. Hours later, he learned he had been fired from his job and allegedly shot five co-workers to death.

We’re now learning more about his victims.

One was Josh Pinkard, who sent his wife this text: “I love you, I’ve been shot at work.” He did not survive, leaving his wife and three children. Vicente Juarez was a father of three and grandfather of eight. Russell Beyer had a daughter and a son and would have turned forty-eight this Thursday. Clayton Parks left his wife and a young son.

And Trevor Wehner was a student at Northern Illinois University who began as an intern that day. He was scheduled to graduate in May.

The company is determining if anything can be done in the future “to ensure this horrible incident is never repeated.”

“Pessimism is a mark of superior intellect”

Since the Parkland shooting on February 14, 2018, there have been nearly 350 mass shootings in the US–nearly one a day.

Whether the issue is crime and violence, disasters, or disease, when we look at the future through the prism of the present, it’s easy to abandon hope.

Socrates taught us that the key to knowledge is to “know thyself.” From then to now, Western civilization has focused on the individual. Our existentialist worldview limits our experience to ourselves. Jean-Paul Sartre claimed that “man is nothing else but what he makes of himself.”

As a result, we cannot believe in a future we cannot see in the present. That’s why Nietzsche could say, “Regarding life, the wisest men of all ages have judged alike: it is worthless.” Economist John Kenneth Galbraith: “We all agree that pessimism is a mark of superior intellect.”

Cyrano de Bergerac claimed that “a pessimist is a man who tells the truth prematurely.” Actually, the opposite is true: a pessimist is a man who decides the truth prematurely. As Robert Schuller noted, “Pessimism drops the curtain on tomorrow.”

“The famine was severe in the land”

I’ve been studying the biblical story of Joseph lately. In Genesis 43, we learn that “the famine was severe in the land” (v. 1). This was the seven-year famine Joseph predicted years earlier. To prepare for it, Pharaoh elevated him to second-in-charge of the nation.

Those suffering from the famine had no way to know that God was using this disaster for a larger redemptive purpose. They could not know that the famine would lead Joseph’s family to join him in Egypt, where they would be saved. They could not know that Joseph’s family would establish the nation from which the Messiah of the world would one day come.

All the world knew was that “the famine was severe in the land.”

To whom will the world “belong tomorrow”?

Much of what God is doing to redeem tragedy is not apparent at the time. Think of the forty years Moses spent in the desert before he led his people out of Egyptian slavery. Remember the forty years they spent in the wilderness until a new generation was ready to enter their Promised Land.

Think of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as they were condemned to the fiery furnace. Or Daniel as he was thrown into the lions’ den. Or Peter in prison the night before he was to be executed by Herod. Or Paul in a Philippian jail. Or John exiled on Patmos.

None of them could know when and how their suffering would be redeemed by God’s providential omnipotence. When we’re in the darkness of night, we cannot see the brightness of day.

If “the world will belong tomorrow to those who brought it the greatest hope” (Teilhard de Chardin), how can we offer our culture a realistic path to hope for the future? How can we find such hope for our souls?

One: Expect God to do what is best.

Frederick Buechner once met an Episcopal laywoman who had a ministry of faith healing. Here was the essence of her message: “You had to expect. You had to believe. . . . It was faith that unbound the hands of Jesus so that through your prayers his power could flow and miracles could happen, healing could happen, because where faith was, healing always was too, she said, and there was no power on earth that could prevent it.

“Inside us all, she said, there was a voice of doubt and disbelief which sought to drown out our prayers even as we were praying them, but we were to pray down that voice for all we were worth because it was simply the product in us of old hurts, griefs, failures, of all that the world had done to try to destroy our faith.”

Is that voice speaking to you this morning?

Two: Trust that the present will be used for a redemptive future.

Oswald Chambers: “At times God puts us through the discipline of darkness to teach us to heed Him. Song birds are taught to sing in the dark, and we are put into the shadow of God’s hand until we learn to hear Him.”

Chambers also notes that “God does not give us overcoming life; He gives us life as we overcome” (his italics). He adds: “If we will do the overcoming, we shall find we are inspired of God because He gives life immediately.”

What do you need to overcome today?

Three: Offer someone hope for the future in the present.

Henri Nouwen: “The fragmentation of humanity and its agony grow from the false supposition that all human beings have to fight for their right to be appreciated and loved.” This “false supposition” seems to make the news daily.

If you and I offer someone the appreciation and love of God’s inclusive grace, how much hope will we infuse into their soul? And ours?

 

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