Charles Stanley – The God Who Comforts

 

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Look up comfort in a dictionary and you’ll find a definition like “something that promotes a state of ease or provides freedom from pain and anxiety.” But according to God’s Word, when consolation is needed, the only true solution is the indwelling Holy Spirit. In Greek, He is called paraklētos, which means “he who stands at one’s side; he who comes to one’s aid.” Believers don’t have to rely on outward remedies or distractions to ease their mind, because help is available from the ultimate Comforter.

Even before the Holy Spirit was sent to indwell believers (John 14:26; Eph. 3:16), Scripture identified God as the one who comforts His people (Isa. 40:1; Isa. 49:13). The Lord personally provides consolation and reassurance because no one knows our hurts the way He does.

I like this anonymous quotation: “When we have gone into the furnace of affliction, His hand is on the thermostat and His eye is on the clock.” God allows hardship, and as a result, we become stronger believers, wiser servants, and more humble people. But He stays by our side through the entire experience, sustaining us and limiting the intensity and duration of our distress. The Spirit’s reassuring whisper to our heart gives more comfort than the solace of family or the encouragement of friends.

People who fail to understand the true source of comfort try to escape their pain. They seek out pleasures, material wealth, or drugs and alcohol to soothe them. Only God can offer lasting relief from the crushing pressure of heartache. He even brings joy into periods of mourning.

Bible in One Year: Judges 20-21

 

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Our Daily Bread — From Wailing to Worship

 

Bible in a Year:Joshua 4–6; Luke 1:1–20

You turned my wailing into dancing; you . . . clothed me with joy.

Psalm 30:11

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 30:1-12

Kim began battling breast cancer in 2013. Four days after her treatment ended, doctors diagnosed her with a progressive lung disease and gave her three to five years to live. She grieved, sobbing prayers as she processed her emotions before God for the first year. By the time I met Kim in 2015, she had surrendered her situation to Him and radiated contagious joy and peace. Though some days are still hard, God continues to transform her heart-wrenching suffering into a beautiful testimony of hope-filled praise as she encourages others.

Even when we’re in dire circumstances, God can turn our wailing into dancing. Though His healing won’t always look or feel like we’d hoped or expected, we can be confident in God’s ways (Psalm 30:1–3). No matter how tear-stained our path may be, we have countless reasons to praise Him (v. 4). We can rejoice in God, as He secures our confident faith (vv. 5–7). We can cry out for His mercy (vv. 8–10), celebrating the hope He’s brought to many weeping worshipers. Only God can transform wails of despair into vibrant joy that doesn’t depend on circumstances (vv. 11–12).

As our merciful God comforts us in our sorrow, He envelops us in peace and empowers us to extend compassion toward others and ourselves. Our loving and faithful Lord canand does turn our wailing into worship that can lead to heart-deep trust, praise, and maybe even joyful dancing.

By Xochitl Dixon

Today’s Reflection

What’s the source of true peace and joy? What does it mean for you to truly surrender your all to God?

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Reigning From a Cross

His final hours were spent in prayer. Yet, the Gospel of Luke tells us that there was nothing unusual about this practice. “And he came out and proceeded as was his custom to the Mount of Olives…and when he arrived at the place…he withdrew from them…and knelt down and began to pray.”(1) As was his custom, Jesus would go to pray. We do not often hear the content of these prayers, but in this case, in these final hours, we see him gripped with passion. Luke tells us that he was in such agony that his sweat “became like drops of blood.” Under conditions of extreme duress, it is possible to rupture capillaries in the head. Blood pours out of the skin like perspiration. Whatever the case, Jesus had never been in this much distress before—even in his wilderness testing—we have no other portrait of him in anguish during prayer.

“And being in agony he was praying very fervently,” writes Luke. What was the source of his agony? Was Jesus in agony over the physical torture and death he was about to endure? Was he in agony over the spiritual condition of his disciples, one who would betray him and the others who would all abandon him in his time of need? Certainly, the latter is a real possibility as he exhorts his disciples at least two times to “watch and pray that you might not enter into temptation.”(2)

Whatever the reason for his agony, Jesus’s humanity was on full display in his prayer. He did not want to walk the path that was unfolding before him, and he pleads with God to provide an alternative path. Matthew’s gospel reveals more of his struggle. He tells his disciples “I am deeply grieved, to the point of death.” Then he prays to his Father, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will, but your will be done.”(3) The via dolorosa, the way of suffering, unfolded before him and he would go to his death, despite his anguished prayers for another way.

As Christians move through the season Lent and meditate on the passionate prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, his human agony and suffering on full display, all are brought face to face with the contrast between his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and the agony that now awaited. How easy it is to follow Jesus as the victorious, but not as a fellow sufferer. How often the pursuit is after the glory and the grandeur of Palm Sunday as the entryway to the kingdom. But as author Kim Reisman has noted, “That is not the Jesus way. God doesn’t dispense with death. God resurrects us from it. The truth is that the Jesus way isn’t about God taking pain away from God’s people; it’s about God providing us with strength, courage, and meaning, with abundant life, often in the midst of pain.”(4)

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Joyce Meyer – Meditation Produces Success

 

My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh. — Proverbs 4:20-22 (NKJV)

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

When we refer to “meditating,” we mean we ponder something and give it our full attention. A French couple helped me see that meditation is like eating. They will take a bite of food after they have enjoyed the way it looks on the plate. They comment on the pleasant aroma and often mention one or two special ingredients. They chew slowly and deliberately, and they sometimes even comment on how it makes the inside of their mouth feel.

That seems a bit too much for most Americans, but that’s a good picture of meditating on God’s Word. We don’t just wolf down a few words or a verse and hurry on to the next. We pause to reflect on a word, a phrase, or a concept. We compare that scripture with others that come to mind. We feel in no hurry to dash to the end of the chapter.

The words are there for us to savor and enjoy. We should learn to be more concerned about quality than quantity. It is more important to get a deep understanding of one verse of Scripture than it is to read five chapters and understand nothing.

Meditating on God’s Word demands discipline. We live in such a fast-paced world that few of us make time to meditate. We should form a habit of setting aside time just to sit and think about God’s Word and the wonderful promises He has made to those who believe in Him.

The blessed person mentioned in Psalm 1 is the person who meditates on God’s Word “by day and by night.” The expression “by day and by night” means that it is a major part of a person’s life. It’s a way of saying that thinking about the Word of God should be a regular part of daily activity. This will require casting down wrong thoughts when they come and choosing to think on things that will benefit us. If we keep ourselves focused, it pays off spiritually.

I spend time with God in prayer and in study of His Word each morning, but I also apply the Word to situations that I deal with all throughout the day. During the writing of this devotion, I got some bad news by phone, and my response was to quote and think about various promises in God’s Word. His Word strengthens us and helps us keep our peace and joy.

I titled this “Meditation Produces Success” because it’s important for us to understand that contemplating the meaning of Scripture isn’t simply a good thing to do or an activity reserved for scholars. It’s God’s command to all of us. It is a requirement for true success.

I thought of the instructions to Joshua as he prepared to lead the people into the Promised Land. The first few verses of the book of Joshua provide God’s direction for him. There were at least two million people going into the land, and the responsibility of leading them was immense.

God promised to be with Joshua as He was with Moses, and He urged the new leader to be very courageous. Then He said, This Book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good success (Joshua 1:8 AMPC).

The instructions seem clear. Joshua had the commands of God, and his primary responsibility was to contemplate those words. By immersing himself in the law, he was learning to understand the mind of God more fully. God went on to say that if Joshua kept his mind and heart on the law, he would be prosperous and successful.

Too often people focus on their problems instead of meditating on God’s promises. As they do, their problems seem to get bigger, and God’s power diminishes.

God doesn’t want Satan to fill your mind. He doesn’t want you to give him the opportunity to inject wrong and negative thoughts into your head. For the enemy to control your life, all he needs to do is to control your thoughts. Make a decision right now that you will not allow him to do that. Don’t let him defeat you.

Prayer Starter: Father God, You have told me to meditate on Your Word, and I ask You to help me do that. I want Your Word to be the focus of my life. When problems come, help me turn to Your Word immediately. When Satan attacks my mind, remind me to counterattack with Your Word. As I meditate on Your Word regularly, I believe I will see good progress in my life. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Praise Brings Blessings

 

“Go through His open gates with great thanksgiving; enter His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His name. For the Lord is always good. He is always loving and kind, and His faithfulness goes on and on to each succeeding generation” (Psalm 100:4.5).

I would like to suggest several reasons why I believe praising God is so important in the life of the believer.

First, God is truly worthy of praise. He is worthy of praise because of who He is and because of all He has done for us. The psalmist reminds us, “Praise the Lord! Yes, really praise Him! I will praise Him as long as I live, yes, even with my dying breath” (Psalm 146:1,2).

We praise God for who He is and for His attributes – His love, His sovereignty, His wisdom, His power, His greatness, goodness and compassion, His faithfulness, His holiness and His eternal, unchanging nature.

These and other characteristics of God are described in many passages. Three of my favorites are Isaiah 40, Psalm 139 and Psalms 145-150.

Second, we praise God for His benefits to us. Though too numerous to mention, some of them are expressed in Psalm 103.

No wonder the psalmist concluded this list of great benefits by calling upon all who read this passage, “Let everything everywhere bless [praise] Him too!”

Yes, we are to praise God first of all because of who He is, and then we are to praise Him for His blessings to us. We should never take for granted the benefits we enjoy as a result of belonging to Him.

Bible Reading: Psalm 103:1-8

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Praise toward God throughout the day will be on my lips as I recall His many attributes and all His benefits to me.

 

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Max Lucado – When You Let God Down

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Peter did what he swore he wouldn’t do.  Three times the salt of Peter’s betrayal stung the wounds of the Messiah.  And he would never forget the look on Jesus’ face.  So Peter returned to Galilee.  Once again he had fished all night with no success.  And a voice from shores yells, “Try the other side!”  When John recognized Jesus, Peter swam to shore and stood in front of the friend he betrayed. For once, Peter was silent.  The moment was too holy for words.

What do you say at a moment such as this?  It’s just you and God.  You both know what you did.  And neither of you is proud of it.  What do you do? Consider doing what Peter did.  Stand still and wait—too repentant to speak, but too hopeful to leave.  He has come back.  Jesus invites you to try again.  This time, with him.

Read more He Still Moves Stones

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – What is an anonymous $1.5 billion lottery winner doing with her money?

There’s a reason you can’t name the person who recently won the largest Mega Millions jackpot in US history: she doesn’t want you to.

A South Carolina woman won $1.5 billion last October. However, she did not claim her winnings until March 4. She spent that time researching professionals to help her preserve her anonymity and manage her new fortune. She has decided to keep her identity private for her personal safety.

While she is not revealing her name, we do know what she is doing with her winnings. She donated to the Alabama Red Cross to aid tornado relief; the Ronald McDonald House of Charities of Columbia, South Carolina; In The Middle, a charity that helps women with breast cancer; the City of Simpsonville Art Center; and the One SC Fund for Hurricane Florence relief.

She has not released the amount of her gifts. The only reason she made public the charities she is supporting is to raise awareness for their work. She said recently through her lawyer, “I do realize that such good fortune carries a tremendous social responsibility, and it gives me a unique opportunity to assist, support and contribute to charities and causes that are close to my heart.”

“All of us are here just to be alongside you”

After a gunman killed eleven worshippers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue last October, Muslim communities around the world held vigils to show their support and raised more than $1.4 million for the survivors.

Now, Jewish communities are reciprocating as Muslims grieve following the deadliest shooting in New Zealand’s history. Fifty Muslims were left dead at two mosques in Christchurch last Friday. In response, Jewish leaders are raising donations for the New Zealand Attack Emergency Relief Fund.

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