Charles Stanley – When Fear Comes Calling

 

2 Timothy 1:3-7

Fear is an emotion that can be helpful or harmful. For instance, it’s helpful to have the fear—or reverence—of the Lord, which keeps us from sin. And it’s also beneficial to have a healthy fear that warns of dangers. But oftentimes we are plagued by a different kind of fear, which keeps us from obeying God; this kind is usually rooted in self-focus rather than faith. As Paul wrote to Timothy, we may have “a spirit of timidity,” which originates in faulty thinking (2 Timothy 1:7).

Adequate vs. Inadequate. When adverse circumstances arise, we may become anxious because we are convinced we’re inadequate for the situation. However, it’s not the situation but an error in our thinking that is causing the fear. Our adequacy is never in ourselves but in God, who makes us adequate for whatever He brings into our life (2 Corinthians 3:4-5).

God’s Standards vs. Our Standards. Many of us set goals for ourselves that are unrealistic. Such standards impose undue pressure and generate anxiety when we fail. Although we may believe these goals are what God expects, they could be our own expectations. We must let the Lord direct our steps so His plans are accomplished, not ours (Prov. 16:9).

Grace vs. Guilt. Some of us are afraid of making a mistake, because we live with guilt over something we’ve done in the past and assume God is still displeased about it. However, Scripture assures us that in Christ, all our sins are forgiven and our guilt has been removed (Rom. 8:1).

The next time fear comes calling, take your eyes off yourself, answer it with the truth of God’s Word, and let faith take its place.

Bible in One Year: Numbers 31-32

 

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Our Daily Bread — Shelve Them and Move On

 

Bible in a Year:Leviticus 25; Mark 1:23–45

Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise.

Proverbs 15:31

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Proverbs 15:30-33

I’m reminded of some wise advice a radio broadcaster friend once gave me. Early on in his career, as my friend struggled to know how to deal with both criticism and praise, he felt that God was encouraging him to shelve both. What’s the essence of what he took to heart? Learn what you can from criticism and accept praise. Then shelve both and humbly move on in God’s grace and power.                

Criticism and praise stir in us powerful emotions that, if left unchecked, can lead to either self-loathing or an overinflated ego. In Proverbs we read of the benefits of encouragement and wise counsel: “Good news gives health to the bones. . . .Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding” (15:30, 32).

If we’re on the receiving end of a rebuke, may we choose to be sharpened by it. Proverbs states, “Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise” (v. 31). And if we’re blessed with words of praise, may we be refreshed and filled with gratitude. As we walk humbly with God, He can help us learn from both criticism and praise, shelve them, and then move on in Him (v. 33).

By Ruth O’Reilly-Smith

Today’s Reflection

Father God, thank You for the gift of praise and criticism. As I humbly surrender to You, may I grow and be sharpened by both.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Reordering Darkness

The capture of one of the most notorious drug loads—leader of the Sinaloa Cartel—El Chapo, Joaquin Guzman made global headlines. Guzman was captured without the firing of a single bullet. This was quite a feat given that he kept an arsenal of weapons around him at all times: semi-automatic rifles, hand-grenades, rocket-launchers, and other weapons of mass-destruction. Yet, he was completely caught off guard when police arrested him in his home in the early dawn of 2014. He escaped not five months later by creating a tunnel from his shower. While the media hailed his capture and re-capture in January 2016 as well as his recent trial and upcoming sentencing as huge successes in the fight against drug trafficking, most citizens in Mexico are less sure. There is little confidence that Guzman’s capture will slow the traffic or violence of the drug trade and its cartels, which for many seems an intractable feature of Mexican life.

The moral depravity of the real-life drug cartels has often been fictionalized in television and film. Whether the popular television show Breaking Bad or the 2007 film No Country for Old Men (adapted from the novel by Cormac McCarthy), the violence intertwined with the illegal drug trade has often been used as a metaphor for exploring the underbelly of evil just below the surface of ‘civilized’ life. Specifically, it is a force that seems to advance without end or solution. The recent news about heroin epidemics and overdoses in typically “middle-American” towns is a chilling example. Given the chaotic elements inherent in addiction and violence, it is understandable how a kind of nihilistic despair can take hold. As the sheriff laments in the film No Country for Old Men:

“I was sheriff of this county when I was twenty-five years old. Hard to believe. My grandfather was a lawman; father too. You can’t help but compare yourself against the old-timers. Can’t help but wonder how they would have operated these times. The crime you see now, it’s hard to even take its measure. It’s not that I’m afraid of it. I always knew you had to be willing to die to even do this job. But, I don’t want to push my chips forward and go out and meet something I don’t understand. A man would have to put his soul at hazard. He’d have to say, ‘O.K., I’ll be part of this world [emphasis mine].’”(1)

When I read the headlines or encounter some of the ways in which these realities are depicted in film, television, novels, and other artistic media, I wonder with the Sheriff in McCarthy’s novel how to make a difference in the kind of world most would be terrified to enter. Is there any hope for redemption, transformation, and justice that goes beyond simply punishment? As a Christian, I wonder what difference the good news of Jesus can make in a world of drug lords, traffickers, and violence?

In the face of these kinds of questions, I learned about the work of the artist Pedro Reyes. His musical project titled “Disarm,” transformed 6,700 guns that were turned in or seized by the army and police into musical instruments.(2) The guns came from Ciudad Juarez, a city of about 1.3 million people that averaged about 10 killings a day at the height of its drug violence. In 2010, Ciudad Juarez had a murder rate about 230 per 100,000 inhabitants. Reyes remarked of the guns he used that this is “just the tip of the iceberg of all the weapons that are seized every day and that the army has to destroy.” But rather than succumb to the despair, Reyes took the very instruments used for violence and created instruments for music.

Reyes already was known for a 2008 project called “Palas por Pistolas,” or “Pistols to Shovels,” in which he melted down 1,527 weapons to make the same number of shovels to plant the same number of trees. Reyes stresses that his work “is not just a protest, but a proposal.” His proposal is to take objects of destruction and transform them into objects of creation. It is not by accident that Reyes’s creative work hearkens back to the ancient vision of the prophet Isaiah when on the great day of the Lord “they will hammer their swords into plowshares.”(3)

It is not by accident that the gospel of John hearkens back to the chaos of the primordial creation: “In the beginning was the Word…In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters…All things came into being by Him and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In him was life, and the life was the light of all people.”(4) John’s gospel presents Jesus as the one who brings order from chaos, light from darkness, just like God’s action at the original creation. Out of what was formless and void order and meaning come forth. The light that comes does not simply banish the darkness; it is re-worked and re-ordered by the light. Light transforms the darkness. The creation of music from the violence of the drug cartels takes a similar cue. “To me at least,” Reyes says, “the concept is about taking weapons that are destructive in nature and chaotic and trying to make them for something else. So instead of objects of destruction, they become objects of creation.”(5) Art, for Reyes, is about transformation; about shining light into the darkness.

Could God take the chaos and destruction we often see in our world and transform it with our deceptively simple, seemingly small acts of creative engagement? For those who follow Jesus, that kind of engagement with the destructive forces of the world gives witness to the reality of Jesus Christ, the Creator of life, light, goodness, and love. For the light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it.

Margaret Manning Shull is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Bellingham, Washington.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – A Natural Expression of Thanksgiving

 

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! — Psalm 107:1

Adapted from the resource The Power of Being Thankful Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Thanksgiving can be a part of who we are deep down in our hearts; it is a type of prayer and it should flow out of us in a natural way that is simple and genuine.

Being thankful does not mean merely sitting down at the end of a day, trying to remember everything we need to be thankful for because we think we have to thank God in order to make Him happy, or to satisfy some spiritual requirement, or try to get Him to do something else for us.

Instead, it means having a heart that is sensitive to God’s presence in our everyday lives, and just breathing out grateful prayers of thanksgiving every time we see Him working in our lives or blessing us.

Prayer Starter: Father, I am thankful that prayer is not some ritual or formula that I am required to follow. I am grateful that prayer is a comfortable, ongoing conversation with You based on an intimate relationship with You. I love You, Father, and I am excited to give You thanks all day long. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Security for the Children

 

“Reverence for God gives a man deep strength; his children have a place of refuge and security” (Proverbs 14:26).

Mary, the daughter of African missionaries, recalled how her father – the leader of a large missionary thrust – would on occasion call the family together and share something in his life that he felt was not pleasing to God, which he would confess both to the Lord and to his family whenever they happened to be involved.

This he did for at least two reasons: (1) he had a reverential fear of God, a fear that he might grieve or quench the Spirit by acts of disobedience, and (2) he wanted to be an example to his wife and children, not parading as one who was perfect. Like them, he needed to breathe spiritually, exhaling and confessing his sins whenever he became aware of them and inhaling and appropriating the fullness of God’s Holy Spirit by faith so that he could keep walking in the light as God is in the light.

He would then ask other members of the family if they wanted to share anything in their lives that was grieving or quenching the Spirit, so that together they might pray for each other. This, Mary said, was such an encouragement to her and to other members of the family, helping her to have a greater sense of security and feeling of refuge, knowing that her father was a man of God who was honest with the Lord and with his family.

The example of her father and mother had played an important role in inspiring her to become a missionary as well, and now God is using her in a marvelous way for His glory.

In a day when children and young people lack a feeling of security, perhaps more than at any other time in history, it behooves Christian parents to cooperate with God in helping to provide for their families such a sense of security and refuge.

Bible Reading: Proverbs 14:15-21

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will begin to pray regularly that God will grant to me an understanding of His attributes as I study His Word so that I will learn to reverence God and thereby provide refuge and security to those who look to me for leadership.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Preparing for Worship

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Do you prepare for church worship?  We’re sadly casual when it comes to meeting God. Suppose you were invited to a Sunday morning breakfast at the White House?  How would you spend Saturday night?  Would you think about your questions and requests?  Should we prepare any less for an encounter with the Holy God?

Come to worship prepared to worship.  Pray and read the Word before you come, and come expecting God to speak. Then you’ll discover the purpose of worship—to change the face of the worshiper.  Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “Our faces, then, are not covered.  We all show the Lord’s glory, and we are being changed to be like him.”  God wipes away our tears, softens our furrowed brows and touches our cheeks.  He changes our faces as we worship.

Read more Just Like Jesus

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – The reward a Texas couple found in a bottle from 1962

While walking on the Gulf Shore near Corpus Christi, Jim and Candy Duke found an unusual bottle. It contained a note explaining that the bottle had been released in 1962 by scientists studying the role of water currents on the movement of shrimp.

Here’s the good news: if the person finding the bottle completed and mailed the enclosed postcard, they would receive “a fifty cent reward.”

The current lab director offered to pay the Dukes as promised, though it would cost the agency fifty-five cents for a stamp and three dollars to print the check.

What was the most powerful computer in 1962?

I’ve been thinking about some of the changes to our culture since 1962.

Technological advances are an obvious example. In 1962, the most powerful computer in the world was the Ferranti Atlas. It filled a room, took six months to assemble, and was difficult to keep running for ten minutes at a time.

Technology has revolutionized our lives, but its advances are a double-edged sword: they have put mobile computing in our pockets but also fueled the plague of pornography and provided a platform for terrorist recruiting.

In 1962, the Civil Rights Act was still two years away. Governmental legislation soon advanced the biblical mandate to reject racism (cf. Galatians 3:28), but other legislation has overturned centuries of biblical morality regarding marriage, gender, and the sanctity of life.

The Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1962 celebrated groundbreaking discoveries “concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material.” This work was foundational to genetic advances that are revolutionizing medicine today. However, these advances could also enable eugenic alterations that would redefine and threaten the future of our species.

In 1962, President Kennedy announced the goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Thomas Kuhn’s book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, was a landmark event in science, history, sociology, and philosophy. Global travel was making the world smaller for cultural exchange and educational advancement.

However, the academic rejection of absolute truth and objective morality was also gaining momentum. The “sexual revolution” was one manifestation of such relativism. As Mary Eberstadt has documented, this “massive experiment in chaos and confusion” has radically and negatively impacted our culture.

What problem is the root of our problems?

Many of the technological, legislative, medical, and academic achievements of the last fifty-seven years have clearly improved our lives. But have they improved our souls?

Are humans more moral as a species today? Would you say that the overall moral trajectory of our culture is positive or negative?

What is the problem at the root of our problems?

The answer is a reality our culture considers so outdated and Puritanical that we seldom discuss it. But ignoring something makes it no less real and can make its consequences even worse.

The Bible diagnoses our root issue: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The problem of sin cannot be solved by technology, legislation, medicine, or scholarship. We can regulate it through laws and meliorate some of its effects through education, medicine, and technology.

But we cannot change the underlying human condition: “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). The consequences of our sin nature are spiritual, emotional, relational, and–eventually–eternal death.

Here’s the solution: “But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23b).

How can temporal work bear eternal fruit?

If healing bodies could save souls, the apostles with their miraculous healing ministries would have gone into health care (cf. Acts 3:1-10; 5:15-16; 20:9-10). If technology could save souls, Jesus would have used his divine omniscience to revolutionize carpentry and other industries (cf. Mark 6:3).

If scholarship could save souls, Saul of Tarsus would have continued with his remarkable academic career (Acts 22:3). If laws could save souls, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus would have sought political leadership through their roles in the Sanhedrin (Mark 15:43; John 3:1).

Let me be clear: God calls his people into medicine, technology, academics, and legislative service today. These are vital and valuable roles in our society. But they cannot save souls. Nor can the sentences I’m typing right now or the words I spoke in church last Sunday.

Only the Holy Spirit can convict of sin and save sinners (John 16:8). Only God has the miraculous power to make us a “new creation” so that “the old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

As a result, the most valuable way to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39) is to share Jesus with them. The greatest gift you can give is the good news of God’s saving grace and transforming love. You’re not forcing your beliefs on others–you are offering them the only antidote to the deadly poison of sin, the only chemotherapy that cures spiritual cancer, the only path that leads to eternal life.

If you and I see our vocations as opportunities to model and share Jesus’ transforming love, our temporal work will bear eternal fruit. But only then.

When will the moon be destroyed?

The largest “supermoon” of the year was visible last night. At 221,734 miles from earth, it is closer to us right now than it will be at any other time this year.

However, our relationship with our closest celestial companion is not permanent. According to one scientist, the earth and moon will be destroyed in about five billion years when the Sun swells enough to incinerate them both.

When (or if) that happens, eternity will only have begun.

 

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