Charles Stanley – Be Careful How You Walk

 

Matthew 18:1-7

We might think our sins affect no one but ourselves, yet that’s not true. What we do impacts others whether we know it or not. And Jesus used strong terms to warn us: He said causing another person to sin would leave us worse off than if we were “drowned in the depth of the sea” with a millstone around our neck (Matt. 18:6).

People observe what we do, and who of us is without sin? We may try to excuse ourselves by claiming that most of our sin is trivial—hardly a blip on the screen—so such small indiscretions will not be noticed by others, let alone be damaging to them. But let’s consider how some of our common sins can lead others down the wrong path.

  • Our lack of forgiveness towards someone could cause a close friend or family member to take up our cause and feel resentful too.
  • Anger that flares up in us at regular intervals may be copied by our children, who then think they, too, have the right to express their tempers whenever they want.
  • Lies we tell to get out of tight situations send a message—especially to children—that truth is optional, depending on the circumstances.
  • Conversations rife with gossip can severely damage the reputations of other people and cause listeners to sin by spreading the rumors.

The Lord’s warning should be taken seriously. We should consider the consequences of our actions and attitudes and then turn toward Jesus in confession and repentance. When we ask, He will give us the grace and strength to walk in His ways and influence others toward righteousness.

Bible in One Year: 1 Samuel 10-12

 

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Our Daily Bread — Fluff and Other Stuff

 

Bible in a Year:Joshua 22–24; Luke 3

They did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor.

Exodus 6:9

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Exodus 6:1–9

Winnie the Pooh famously said, “If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”

I’ve learned over the years that Winnie might be on to something. When someone won’t listen to you even though following your counsel would be to their advantage, it may be that their reticence is nothing more than a small piece of fluff in their ear. Or there may be another hindrance: Some folks find it hard to listen well because they’re broken and discouraged.

Moses said he spoke to the people of Israel but they didn’t listen because their spirits were broken and their lives were hard (Exodus 6:9). The word discouragement in the Hebrew text is literally “short of breath,” the result of their bitter enslavement in Egypt. That being the case, Israel’s reluctance to listen to Moses’s instruction called for understanding and compassion, not censure.

What should we do when others won’t listen? Winnie the Pooh’s words enshrine wisdom: “Be patient.” God says, “Love is patient, love is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4); it’s willing to wait. He’s not finished with that individual. He’s working through their sorrow, our love, and our prayers. Perhaps, in His time, He’ll open their ears to hear. Just be patient.

By David H. Roper

Today’s Reflection

What can you learn about your relationship with God from those who won’t listen to you? How do love and patience fit together in a loving relationship?

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Bread from Heaven and Water from a Stone

 

The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him.(1)

The Gospel of Mark begins with this intriguing narrative of the Spirit compelling Jesus into the wilderness to be tested and to make his home among wild beasts. The original Greek language is so forceful as to imply that the Spirit literally expelled Jesus into this land of wild beasts and satanic attack. It is even more striking when compared to Matthew and Luke’s gospels, which both suggest that Jesus was “led by the Spirit” who accompanied him into the wilderness.(2) Despite Matthew and Luke’s gentler version, the point is still the same: the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tested and tormented by the devil. It seems natural to ask why the Spirit would compel Jesus into the wilderness.

The history of Israel and particularly the Exodus from Egypt gives some perspective on this question. After four hundred years of oppression and enslavement, God sent Moses to deliver the people and to lead them into the Promised Land. A great drama ensues between the “gods” of the Egyptians and the God of Israel. Ten plagues fall, the sea is parted, and the Egyptian army is swallowed up by the raging waters. And then we read: “Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness and found no water…. and the whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.”(3) Israel would spend the next forty years, the text tells us, wandering in that wilderness of lament and bitterness with God being put to the test. Would God provide for their needs or would they come out of Egypt only to die in the desert? From the narrative’s perspective, what began as a great deliverance stalls in the wilderness of the Sinai.

Like Israel before him, Jesus’s story, as recorded by Mark, begins with great drama. John the Baptist announces the Deliverer: Israel’s exile was over, for the Messiah had come. The Deliverer is baptized by John and in front of the crowds declared “the beloved Son” of God. What a tremendous beginning to his earthly ministry. And yet, like Israel, Jesus begins that earthly ministry not with healings and miracles, or with fanfare and great teachings, but by being “immediately cast out into the wilderness.”

As many biblical commentators have suggested, Jesus was re-enacting the great history of Israel in his own life and ministry. He was Israel’s Messiah, their deliverer, just as Moses had been. Yet, like Israel, Jesus would be tested and his test had to precede entry into the Promised Land. Jesus would be put to the test—would he provide for his people as their Messiah, their deliverer? Counter to the expectations of the people, this Deliverer would be crucified and offer his life as the means by which salvation was offered.

For Christians, Lent is a season in which the journey through the wilderness precedes Easter morning. Of course, what is enacted in the season is very much a part of lived experience of many in our world. Many dwell in wilderness spaces of suffering, disappointment, doubt, or sin. Promised lands of hope, fulfillment, and healing seem far off and foreign. In these lands, what do we do? Who will we turn to? In what, or in whom, do we place our trust? And, when put to the test, have the ‘gods’ we have chosen to save us prove to be true?

The journey of life is a journey that inevitably runs through the wilderness. We cannot escape it, nor can we go around it. And yet, in the life of Israel God brings bread from heaven and water from a rock in their wilderness sojourn. God was with them in the desert. Moreover, the gospels present a God who in Jesus Christ did not seek to escape the wilderness either, but was compelled into it. In his own testing, Jesus reveals that a new kind of life can be found even in those seemingly deserted places—God provides even there. While we will often wander in the wilderness, with God’s help we can indeed be transformed by it.

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

(1) Mark 1:12-13.
(2) Matthew 4:1; Luke 4:1.
(3) Exodus 15:22; 16:2.

 

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Joyce Meyer – God Is in Your Corner

 

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. — Hebrews 4:16

Did you know that God is interested in every single detail of your life and that He loves to hear from you? For years, I felt like I was bothering God with my prayers or, when I did pray, I was certain I wasn’t doing it the right way. However, God never meant for prayer to be complicated.

Prayer is a simple, powerful way to fight the enemy because we release our faith through prayer. When we pray, we open the door for God to come into our problems and situations and work on them.

God desires for us to view prayer as a simple conversation with Him. It’s asking Him to meet our needs or someone else’s. It’s praising Him and thanking Him. It’s talking to Him about everything and anything that matters to us.

So, no matter what battle you’re fighting or what your circumstances look like, know that you have God Himself in your corner. He sees where you are, He hears your prayers, and He delights in coming to your rescue.

Prayer Starter: I thank You today, Father, that prayer doesn’t have to be long and complicated. You hear even my short, heartfelt prayers. Remind me that I can have a continuous conversation with You all through the day, and that You hear and answer me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Cheer Up; He Has Overcome

 

“I have told you all this so that you will have peace of heart and mind. Here on earth you will have many sorrows and trials; but cheer up, for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

I know of few promises in all the Word of God that offer more assurance and encouragement than this one.

The apostle Paul was an aggressive soldier of God who carried the gospel far and wide throughout the known world. He was greatly used of God to expand the territorial borders of Christendom. All that Paul did, he did in the name of Christ and through the power and control of the Holy Spirit.

But there was great opposition to Paul’s ministry. Consequently, he always seemed to be in the center of spiritual warfare. He knew his enemies, Satan and the world system, and their subtle, deceiving devices.

Throughout his Christian life, he suffered various kinds of persecutions, including stonings, beatings and imprisonment. In spite of such harsh persecution, Paul could write, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice” (Philipians 4:4, NAS).

It was during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, about 61 or 62 A.D., that he wrote to the church at Ephesus. The theme of his letter is supernatural living, and he talks about the Christian’s spiritual warfare. He tells us that the battle we fight is against Satan and the spiritual forces of wickedness, not against other people.

The apostle Paul experienced the supernatural peace of heart and mind which Jesus promised, a promise which we too can claim, in times of difficulty, testing and even persecution.

Bible Reading: John 16:25-32

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Today I will claim the peace of heart and mind which Jesus promised to all who trust and obey Him. Deliberately and faithfully I will seek to put on the whole armor of God so that I will be fully prepared to withstand the wiles of the enemy and thus live a supernatural life for the glory of God.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – When You’re Confused by God’s Actions

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

The Bible says in Matthew 1:24 that “Joseph did what the Lord’s angel had told him to do.” I wonder what Joseph was thinking while Jesus was being born?  Was a stable in Bethlehem what he had in mind?

You’ve probably stood where Joseph stood when things haven’t turned out like you thought they would—maybe outside an emergency room or on the manicured grass of a cemetery.  When you wondered why does God do what he does.  Joseph didn’t let confusion disrupt his obedience.  He shut down his business, packed up his family, and even went to another country.  Why?  Because that’s what God said to do.  Because Joseph obeyed, God used him to change the world.  He does the same with us.  Be a modern day Joseph.  God will use you to bring Jesus into the world.

Read more He Still Moves Stones

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – San Antonio city council bans Chick-fil-A from airport

The San Antonio City Council recently voted 6–4 to prevent Chick-fil-A from opening a restaurant at the city’s airport.

Councilman Robert Trevino, who made the motion to exclude the restaurant, stated: “With this decision, the City Council reaffirmed the work our city has done to become a champion of equality and inclusion. San Antonio is a city full of compassion, and we do not have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior.

Chick-fil-A responded: “The press release issued by the councilmember was the first we heard of his motion and its approval by the San Antonio City Council. We wish we had the opportunity to clarify misperceptions about our company prior to the vote. We agree with the councilmember that everyone should feel welcome at Chick-fil-A.”

The statement added, “In fact, we have welcomed everyone in San Antonio into our 32 local stores for more than 40 years.”

“Everyone has a place here”

This is not the first time the Cathy family’s commitment to biblical morality has cost them business.

Continue reading Denison Forum – San Antonio city council bans Chick-fil-A from airport