Charles Stanley – Living Obediently

 

Joshua 6:1-20

If you grew up attending Sunday school, you know the story of Joshua and Jericho. But we must be careful not to file this story away in our minds as something amazing the Lord did a long time ago. The same God still guides us today, and by studying this account, we gain insight into living obediently.

Joshua heard God’s directive, “You shall march around the city” (Josh. 6:3). In order for us to obey, we likewise need to hear what the Lord is telling us to do. This means we must be reading and meditating on His Word, confessing sin, praying, and spending time with Him.

Joshua obeyed, telling the people, “Go forward, and march around the city” (Josh. 6:7). Joshua did as instructed, despite three potential stumbling blocks:

  1. He could have questioned God’s directive. After all, marching around the city didn’t seem like a practical battle strategy for overpowering a fortified city.
    2. He could have felt pressured to explain himself to his men in order to gain their approval and agreement.
    3. He could have let fear of failure keep him from obeying.

But Joshua did none of these. Upon hearing God’s voice, he followed instructions to the letter—and without hesitation. The result was that God honored his obedience: “The wall fell down … and they took the city” (Josh. 6:20).

Are you willing to do what God says, regardless of your feelings or misgivings? Joshua was confident because the Lord had promised to give Jericho into his hand. And God’s promises to us are also the reason we can trust and obey Him.

Bible in One Year: Joshua 20-22

 

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Our Daily Bread — Swept Away

Bible in a Year:Deuteronomy 14–16; Mark 12:28–44

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist.

Isaiah 44:22

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Isaiah 43:25

When he invented the pencil eraser, British engineer Edward Nairne was reaching instead for a piece of bread. Crusts of bread were used then, in 1770, to erase marks on paper. Picking up a piece of latex rubber by mistake, Nairne found it erased his error, leaving rubberized “crumbs” easily swept away by hand.

With us too the worst errors of our lives can be swept away. It’s the Lord—the Bread of Life—who cleans them with His own life, promising never to remember our sins. “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake,” says Isaiah 43:25, “and remembers your sins no more.”

This can seem to be a remarkable fix—and not deserved. For many, it’s hard to believe our past sins can be swept away by God “like the morning mist.” Does God, who knows everything, forget them so easily?

That’s exactly what God does when we accept Jesus as our Savior. Choosing to forgive our sins and to “[remember them] no more,” our heavenly Father frees us to move forward. No longer dragged down by past wrongs, we’re free of debris and cleaned up to serve, now and forever.

Yes, consequences may remain. But God sweeps sin itself away, inviting us to return to Him for our clean new life. There’s no better way to be swept away.

By Patricia Raybon

Today’s Reflection

What things from your past do you have trouble forgetting? Ask God to help you take Him at His word.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Sleeping Through Lent

The Christian Vision Project was an initiative that for three consecutive years began with a question. The aim was to stir thought, creativity, and faithfulness within the Christian church around the subjects of culture, mission, and gospel. In 2006, project leaders asked a group of Christian thinkers how followers of Christ could be countercultural for the common good. Their answers ranged from becoming our own fiercest critics to experiencing life at the margins, from choosing wisely what to overlook and what to belabor to packing up and moving into the city.

But today, in the thick of lent, one answer in particular comes to mind. To the question of counterculturalism for the common good, professor and author Lauren Winner proposed: More sleep. She quickly admitted the curious nature of her retort. “Surely one could come up with something more other-directed, more sacrificial, less self-serving,” she wrote. Still, she carefully reasoned through the forces of culture that insist we give up an hour of sleep here, or two hours there—the grinding schedules, the unnerving stock piles of e-mail in need of responses, the early-taught/early-learned push for more and more productivity. Thus, Winner concluded, “It’s not just that a countercultural embrace of sleep bears witness to values higher than ‘the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for other things.’ A night of good sleep—a week, or month, or year of good sleep—also testifies to the basic Christian story of Creation. We are creatures, with bodies that are finite and contingent.”(1) We are also bodies living within a culture generally terrified of aging, uncomfortable with death, unable to lament, and desperate for our accomplishments to distract us. “The unarguable demands that our bodies make for sleep are a good reminder that we are mere creatures,” Winner concludes. “[I]t is God and God alone who ‘neither slumbers nor sleeps.’”(2)

The Christian church holds a similar hope near throughout Lent. The season urges humanity to remember its condition with countercultural audacity. For forty days Christians prepare to encounter the events of Easter, beginning with the humble proclamations of creatureliness. The journey through Lent into the light and darkness of Holy Week is for those made in dust who will return to dust, those willing to trace the breath that began all of life to the place where Christ breathed his last. It is a journey that expends everything within us. To pick up the cross and follow him is to be reminded at every step that we are mere creatures, and he has come near our humanity to show us what that word originally meant.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Sleeping Through Lent

Joyce Meyer – First Response

 

O God, You are my God; early I will seek You… — Psalm 63:1 (NKJV).

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

Sometimes I marvel at how long we can struggle in a situation before we think to talk to God about it and listen for His voice. We complain about our problems; we grumble; we murmur; we tell our friends; and we talk about how we wish God would do something about it.

We struggle with situations in our minds and in our emotions, while we often fail to take advantage of the simplest solution there is: prayer. But worse than that, we then make perhaps the most ridiculous statement known to man: “Well, I guess all I can do is pray.”

I am sure you have heard that before, and maybe you have even said it. We all have. We are all guilty of treating prayer as a last-ditch effort and saying things like, “Well, nothing else is working, so maybe we should pray.” Do you know what that tells me? It tells me that we really do not believe in the power of prayer as we should.

We carry burdens we do not need to bear—and life is much harder than it has to be—because we do not realize how powerful prayer is. If we did, we would talk to God and listen to what He says about everything, not as a last resort, but as a first response.

Prayer Starter: Father, I need You in every area of my life! Help me to talk to You about everything and make prayer a natural part of my life. In every situation, let prayer be my first response, not my last resort. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – His Power to Change

 

“But our homeland is in heaven, where our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ is; and we are looking forward to His return from there. When He comes back He will take these dying bodies of ours and change them into glorious bodies like His own, using the same mighty power that He will use to conquer all else everywhere” (Philippians 3:20,21).

George Gallup, Jr., a deeply religious and dear personal friend, has just completed a very important survey asking people, in face-to-face, in-depth interviews, key questions about heaven and hell and other aspects about life beyond death.

One result indicated that two-thirds of all American adults – or 100 million people – believe in an after-life. But what was surprising, said Gallup, was that about 15 percent of those surveyed in one poll indicated they had had an unusual near-death experience – seeing figures or objects that beckoned them to a world beyond life on earth.

Dwight L. Moody caught a glimpse of the glory awaiting him a few hours before leaving this earth for his heavenly mansion.

“Earth recedes, heaven opens before me,” he said, awakening from a sleep. “If this is death, it is sweet. There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go.”

A son stood by his bedside. “No, no, father,” he said, “you are dreaming.”

“No,” said Moody, “I am not dreaming. I have been within the gates. I have seen the children’s faces.”

A short time passed, then followed what his family thought to be the death struggle. “This is my triumph,” Moody said. “This is my coronation day. It is glorious!”

Nothing in that true story contradicts Scripture in any way. One of God’s choice saints simply had a foretaste of his heavenly home, related for our joy and encouragement and edification.

Bible Reading: John 14:1-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Realizing afresh that my homeland is in heaven with my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, and that the time of my departure from this earth is unknown but certain, I shall take advantage of every opportunity to encourage others to be ready for their time of departure, as I prepare for my own.

 

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Max Lucado – A Crazy Hunch and a High Hope

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

We don’t know her name, but we know her situation.  According to the 5th chapter of Mark, she “had been bleeding for twelve years.  She suffered very much from many doctors and had spent all the money she had; but instead of improving she was getting worse.” She was physically exhausted and socially ostracized.

She extended her arm through the crowd thinking, If only I can touch him.  When her dilemma met His dedication, a miracle occurred.  With that small, courageous gesture, she experienced Jesus’ tender power.

God’s help is near and always available, but it is only given to those who seek it.  Do something that demonstrates faith—radical, risk-taking faith.  God will respond.  He has never rejected a genuine gesture of faith.  Never.

Read more He Still Moves Stones

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – Why did this high school wrestler’s video go viral?

 

Hunter Wallace is a wrestler at Northwest High School in Justin, a suburb of Fort Worth, Texas. He didn’t win a single match this year, but he is the captain of his team. His coach explains why: “Hunter’s one of those kids that leads by example. He’s always positive. I’ve never heard the kid complain.”

Hunter also has cerebral palsy.

As the reporter who told his story says, Hunter has “an upper body built like an ox, but wobbly legs.” Nonetheless, he wanted to do squats to get stronger. A video of his workout went viral.

Hunter explains: “You got the right mentality, heart, and God in front of you, nothing will stop you. You just gotta push through it.” He adds: “I’m just like a normal person. God made me who I am.”

“Enemy-occupied territory”

Affliction finds us all.

World leaders and citizens from more than thirty countries are mourning the loss of 157 people who died when their Ethiopian Airlines jet crashed yesterday morning. The victims included at least thirty-two Kenyans, eighteen Canadians, nine each from Ethiopia and France, eight each from the US, China, and Italy, and seven from the UK.

Meanwhile, the Islamic State is losing its last territorial foothold, but terrorism experts believe that jihadis will continue their activities around the world. In related news, the Wall Street Journal reports that Osama bin Laden’s son, Hamza, is an emerging leader in al Qaeda. According to the State Department, he has been calling on followers to carry out attacks on the US and has been declared a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.

  1. S. Lewis explained the reason for the adversity we face every day: “This is a civil war, a rebellion, and . . . we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel. Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is.”

The good news is that, like Hunter Wallace, when we trust God in our afflictions, our rebellious world takes note.

“The waters have come up to my neck”

David was so close to God that the Lord called him “a man after my heart” (Acts 13:22). Nonetheless, he began Psalm 69 with the cry, “Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me” (vv. 1–2).

His words are in Scripture because they tell our story as well.

When we read about Joseph’s innocent suffering (Genesis 39:19–20), or Elijah’s lonely despair (1 Kings 19:4), or Hosea’s marital pain (Hosea 3:1–3), those who face similar struggles know they are not alone.

Reading through the book of Job, I was struck by this remarkable phrase: God “delivers the afflicted by their affliction” (Job 36:15). The text does not say that God delivers the afflicted “out of” their affliction, but “by” it.

Paul agreed. In Romans 8, the apostle cited grave threats facing believers: tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, and sword (v. 35). Then he declared: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (v. 37). We are conquerors in our challenges, not despite them.

One way God redeems suffering

If Hunter Wallace did not have cerebral palsy, you would probably not know his name. Without Pharaoh, would we know of Moses? David had his Goliath, Daniel his lions, Paul his prisons, John his Patmos.

One way our Lord redeems suffering is by using it to show the world the power he provides in the midst of pain.

Rather than sparing Joseph from slavery and prison, God used his years in Egypt to save the Jewish race. Rather than keeping Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace, God protected them in its flames.

Rather than removing Paul’s “thorn in the flesh,” God taught him to “boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Rather than transporting John from Patmos, Jesus visited his beloved disciple on his prison island and gave him the book of Revelation.

How to “please the Lord” today

When we face sickness, we should ask God for healing (James 5:14). When believers are imprisoned for their faith, we should pray for their release (cf. Acts 12:5). Whatever our challenges, we should ask God for help (Matthew 7:7).

Sometimes God redeems suffering by removing it. Jesus healed the sick and raised the dead; God freed Peter from Herod’s prison (Acts 12) and Paul from his Philippian jail (Acts 16).

At other times, he redeems our suffering by sustaining us in it.

If God has not yet removed your “thorn in the flesh,” look for reasons why. Look for lessons he is teaching you and ways he is glorifying himself through your courageous faith.

You may not understand this side of glory all that God is doing with your pain (1 Corinthians 13:12). But we know that our Father loves us as much as if we and our circumstances were perfect (1 John 4:8). We know that he is glorified in our rebel-occupied world when we trust him in hard places.

And we know that he is greatly pleased if we trust him when we do not understand him.

In the same psalm where David cried out to God in desperation, he later testified: “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs” (Psalm 69:30–31).

How can you please the Lord today?

 

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