Charles Stanley –Hearing God Accurately

 

Mark 4:9-13

In reading the Word of God, we may think we come with no preconceptions, but that’s not really the case. Just as the expectations of the disciples affected how they heard and understood Jesus’ teaching, so too our perception of God’s voice is shaped by our experiences.

Let’s consider how some of the people and events in our life helped define how we hear God speak through His Word and His Spirit.

Our Parents. Our self-concept is shaped early by the way we were treated in childhood, and that in turn affects how we perceive our heavenly Father and His love for us.

Our Teachers. If we had a teacher who was a harsh taskmaster, we may have a similar image of the Lord. But if our instructor was kind and patient, then God may seem more approachable to us.

Our Friends. Having one loyal friend can help us view the Lord in that same light. But if we’ve ever been betrayed, seeds of doubt about God’s faithfulness may be sown in our minds and affect how we hear Him speak in His Word.

Our Experiences. Whether our life has been pleasant and free of turmoil or painful and traumatic, everything we’ve experienced has shaped our understanding of the way God treats us.

This is why it’s critical to let the Word of God rather than our experiences become the filter through which we see life and understand the Lord. Before picking up the Bible or praying, let’s ask God to strip away any misconceptions so we can hear Him accurately.

Bible in One Year: 1 Samuel 13-14

 

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Our Daily Bread — Remembering My Father

 

Bible in a Year:Judges 1–3; Luke 4:1–30

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.

Colossians 3:23

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Job 38:1–11

When I remember my dad, I picture him best outdoors hammering or gardening or downstairs working in his cluttered workroom, stuffed with fascinating tools and gadgets. His hands were always busy at a task or project—sometimes building (a garage or a deck or a birdhouse), sometimes locksmithing, and sometimes designing jewelry and stained-glass art.

Remembering my dad prompts me to think of my heavenly Father and Creator, who has always been busy at work. In the beginning, “[God] laid the earth’s foundations . . . [and] marked off its dimensions . . . while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy” (Job 38:4–7). Everything He created was a work of art, a masterpiece. He designed a breathtakingly beautiful world and pronounced it “very good” (Genesis 1:31).

That includes you and me. God designed us in intimate and intricate detail (Psalm 139:13–16); and He entrusted us with and instilled in us (His image bearers) the goal and desire to work, which includes ruling and caring for the Earth and its creatures (Genesis 1:26–28; 2:15). No matter the work we do—in our job or in our leisure—God empowers and gives us what we need to work wholeheartedly for Him.

In everything we do, may we do it to please Him.

By Alyson Kieda

Today’s Reflection

What has God worked out in your life recently? How does it change your view of even mundane tasks to see them as opportunities to serve and honor Him?

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Redirection

 

A special report on This American Life follows the lives of several people currently living what they unequivocally call “Plan B.” Host Ira Glass expounds his thoughts on an informal poll and a seemingly universal human reality. He asked a room of hundred people to think back to the beginning of adulthood when they were first formulating a plan for their lives. He called it Plan A, “the fate you were sure fate had in store.” He then asked those who were still following this plan to raise their hands. Only one person confessed she was still living Plan A; she was 23 years old.

It seems a trend among us: There is the thing we plan on doing with our lives, and then there’s the thing we end up doing, which becomes our life. Here, Christians often have a nuanced view of Plan A: it is God’s plan they are trying to follow. But there is still very much an initial picture of what this plan, and subsequently our lives, will—or should—look like. God’s best becomes something like a divine Plan A, while any other plan leads the follower to something else.

But akin to the statistics in the room with Mr. Glass, it is likely that the number of Christians who find themselves living the plan they first imagined are also few and far between. For some, this is seen as good news. Many discover along their carefully laid out plans that they are doing far more leading than being led, and God seems to mercifully redirect them. “Many are the plans in a human heart,” the proverb reads, “but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Others find the journey with God from Plan A to B to C to D an interesting part of the pilgrimage itself, maybe even the gift of following an unfathomable creator, a creator who we discover is far more creative than we! Yet there are still many others who walk away from Plan A thoroughly defeated. Regretful turns and drastic detours may now be behind us, but the deviation from the journey is writ large before us. We have failed at Plan A, the plan we believed divinely inspired; God’s best is now merely God’s backup. Wrestling with the guilt or disappointment of such a deviation can be found with or without the Christian spin.

When life turns out to be something you didn’t plan on, when missteps and unplanned detours loom with guilt, a life of alternative routes and broken roads seems certain. It is easy to wonder in despair what it means to have missed God’s best, and to believe that somehow God must now step back into the picture, disappointed, and find a secondary plan for your life. I find it equally despairing to encounter those who maintain they are living God’s Plan A and smugly insist it was their own virtue that accomplished it. How significant, then, are Christ’s words to his despairing disciples after an evening of mistakes, both to those of us who have ever felt the sting of falling off track and to those of us who want a pat on the back for getting it right. To these men who repeatedly failed to follow his instructions, Jesus simply said, “Rise, let us be going.”

Author and humanitarian Naomi Zacharias once told me that following God is something like following the directions on a GPS system. At the beginning of the journey, the plan for arriving at the desired destination is before you. But when you accidentally turn left or are forced to take an unforeseen detour, the computer doesn’t scold you. It doesn’t force you to start over or announce that you can no longer make it to your final destination because you have ruined the route. In fact, it doesn’t even make you feel guilty. The end still in mind, it simply adjusts the plan from that point onward, as if the “wrong” turn was a part of the journey all along. The destination has not changed. Plan A may have switched to Plan B in your mind, but the outcome remains the goal, not self-invented praise for the journey.

Although Blaise Pascal was a mathematician who saw the created world as one of equations and precision, he saw the God who created this world as one who is innately personal, guiding, and accommodating. “[T]he God of the Christians is a God of love and consolation,” Pascal wrote in his Pensees, “a God who fills the soul and heart of those whom he possesses, a God who makes them inwardly aware of their wretchedness and his infinite mercy, who united himself with them in the depths of their soul…who makes them incapable of having any other end but him.“(1)

What if the God you followed is well aware that there are turns in life we can never undo, choices we cannot erase, and detours we were never expecting? Some of these turns God no doubt laments with us. But God is never deterred by our position. Plan B may be a phrase you use to punish yourself or others, but the God of Christianity is not any farther away in what you are calling Plan A than Plan A or C or D. In fact, God sees only one plan: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD to a struggling people, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” In this, God is ever at work redirecting your steps, while the end—God alone—remains the same. Despite broken roads and secondary paths, God is forever showing that the destination is unchanging, and in the end, “God’s best” comes into our lives not because of our own careful steps toward the divine but because of divine steps toward us. The God of the Christian is one whose plans are all-encompassing, whose arm is not too short to save, who goes the extra mile, and who takes every detour without mention, that even one will not remain lost.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity writer at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

(1) Blaise Pascal, Pensees (London: Peguin Books, 1993), 141-142, emphasis mine.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Expect God to Do Something Great

 

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? — Romans 8:31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

The Lord wants us to expect Him to do great things for us. He wants us to watch with an attitude of faith to see how He will come through on our behalf and help us defeat the enemy.

As Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah followed God’s battle plan, the Lord delivered them from their enemies. How did they defeat their enemies? When Jehoshaphat appointed singers to sing and praise at the head of Judah’s army, the Lord defeated their enemies by confusing them so much that they killed each other! (See 2 Chronicles 20:22.)

When you are faced with a battle and you don’t know what to do, I encourage you to follow the battle plan God gave Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah.

First, seek God for encouragement and guidance. Next, acknowledge your dependence on Him to help you. Third, take your position—worshiping God and giving Him thanks. Finally, watch and expect God to move on your behalf.

Remember, the battle belongs to the Lord! As you seek and worship Him, you will not only be in a position to win your battles, but also to enjoy your walk with Him and your everyday life more than ever.

Prayer Starter: Thank You, Father, that You give me the strength to keep fighting. I am grateful that You are always with me and that You fight my battles with me. In Your Name I pray, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – We Are Each a Part

 

“Each of us is a part of the one body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves and some are free. But the Holy Spirit has fitted us all together into one body. We have been baptized into Christ’s body by the one Spirit, and have all been given that same Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

I find that most Christians agree that the Holy Spirit baptizes the believer into the Body of Christ, as this verse affirms. But the unity of the body is divided here on earth by many differences of interpretation concerning a “second baptism,” speaking in tongues and “Spirit-filling.”

Most believers agree, however, that we are commanded to live holy lives and the Holy Spirit supernaturally makes this human impossibility a reality. He does this when we totally submit ourselves to His indwelling love and power. Or, to use a metaphor of the apostle Paul, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves in Christ” (Galatians 3:27, NAS).

In His high-priestly prayer, our Lord prayed that we who are believers may be one with Him, even as He and the Father were one. We are commanded to love one another. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35, KJV). No one who criticizes his brother is Spirit-filled. No one who sows discord among his brethren is Spirit-filled. In fact, the test as to whether or not we are controlled by the Holy Spirit is how we love our brothers.

It is my joy and privilege to know most of the famous Christian leaders of our time, men and women whom God is using in a mighty way to help change our nation and some other nations of the world with the gospel. How I rejoice at every good report that comes to me of God’s blessing upon their lives and ministries. In fact, it is one way of checking my own walk with Christ. If I were jealous and critical, fault-finding and sowing discord, I would know that I am not walking in the light as God is in the light.

Bible Reading: I Corinthians 12:14-20

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will not allow my interpretation of the Spirit-filled life to separate me from other members of the body of Christ, but will love them and seek to promote unity among believers.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Understanding Death

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

By the time Jesus arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had been dead for four days.  John 11:21 says that Martha confronted Jesus, saying, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  Hurt and disappointment.  When we face death, our definition of God is challenged.  Which, in turn, challenges our faith.

Why is it that we interpret the presence of death as the absence of God?  As a result, we get angry or resentful when God doesn’t answer our prayers for healing. It’s distressing that this view of God has no place for death.  Jesus didn’t raise the dead for the sake of the dead, but for the sake of the living.  The same voice that awakened the corpse of Lazarus will speak again.  The earth and the sea will give up their dead.  There will be no more death.  Jesus made sure of that.

Read more He Still Moves Stones

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Conflict in Israel and a Jewish cemetery desecrated in Massachusetts: Why should we have hope for our culture?

Following a day of relative calm, the Israeli military carried out a series of strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip overnight. According to the army, the strikes were in response to incendiary balloons and rockets fired earlier toward Israel by Hamas.

In other news, police say fifty-nine gravestones at a Jewish cemetery in Massachusetts were defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti. Two of the gravestones had been knocked over. The stones were desecrated with swastikas and phrases including “Hitler was right.”

According to experts, America is experiencing a resurgence of anti-Semitism that is unprecedented in the last half-century. Anti-Semitism is also rising sharply across Europe: France reported a 74 percent increase in the number of offenses against Jews, while the number in Germany surged by more than 60 percent.

As I noted yesterday, discrimination is also escalating in America against those who affirm biblical morality. We are certainly not facing aggression on a level experienced by Jews around the world, but Jesus’ prediction for his followers is nonetheless true for us: “The world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:14).

It would be easy to abandon hope for our culture. But it’s always too soon to give up on the future because it’s always too soon to give up on God.

“Let this cup pass from me”

I led a study tour of Israel last week. On Thursday, our group spent a very moving hour in the Garden of Gethsemane. I read from Matthew 26, where Jesus pled with his Father, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me” (v. 39).

Why did our Savior seek so fervently to avoid the “cup” that awaited him?

Continue reading Denison Forum – Conflict in Israel and a Jewish cemetery desecrated in Massachusetts: Why should we have hope for our culture?