Charles Stanley – Courage to Speak the Truth

 

Daniel 4:1-27

Why is it so easy to lie? Telling a falsehood is something we all did as children, but lying can trip up even longtime Christians. The underlying motive for giving in to deception is usually a desire to protect ourselves in some way. We lie to get out of trouble, to avoid an unwanted situation, to profit financially, to receive acceptance, to bolster our image, to hide our flaws, or for other self-serving reasons.

When Nebuchadnezzar had an alarming dream, the Lord gave Daniel the interpretation: The king was going to become insane and live like a wild animal for “seven periods of time.” At that moment, Daniel had to decide whether he would tell the king the truth or conceal it. In those days, giving a king a bad report could cost the messenger his life. Yet despite the danger, Daniel held to his convictions and delivered the Lord’s message to Nebuchadnezzar.

Here’s why Daniel could speak the truth in the face of danger: He trusted God. Since he was doing exactly what the Lord wanted, he wasn’t frightened into compromise. Obedience to God is worth far more than anything we could gain from speaking lies or doctoring the truth in an effort to stay safe.

Are you willing to commit to speaking truth even when it’s costly? Altering income tax information, falsely enhancing your image on social media, or ignoring a miscalculation in your favor on a receipt isn’t worth the loss of character that comes with deception. Seeking to please the Lord and letting Him handle the consequences will always be the best course of action.

Bible in One Year: 2 Samuel 15-17

 

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Our Daily Bread — Good News to Tell

 

Bible in a Year:1 Samuel 13–14; Luke 10:1–24

Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

Acts 8:35

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Acts 8:26–35

“What’s your name?” asked Arman, an Iranian student. After I told him my name is Estera, his face lit up as he exclaimed, “We have a similar name in Farsi, it’s Setare!” That small connection opened up an amazing conversation. I told him I was named after a Bible character, “Esther,” a Jewish queen in Persia (present-day Iran). Starting with her story, I shared the good news of Jesus. As a result of our conversation, Arman started attending a weekly Bible study to learn more about Christ.

One of Jesus’s followers, Philip, guided by the Holy Spirit, asked a question that ignited a conversation with an Ethiopian official traveling in his chariot: “Do you understand what you are reading?” (Acts 8:30). The Ethiopian man was reading a passage from the book of Isaiah and seeking spiritual insight. So Philip’s question came at the right time. He invited Philip to sit next to him and in humility listened. Philip, realizing what an amazing opportunity this was, “began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus” (v. 35).

Like Philip, we too have good news to tell. Let’s seize the daily occasions we encounter in our workplace, at the grocery store, or in our neighborhood. May we allow the Holy Spirit to guide our steps and give us the words to share our hope and joy in Jesus.

By Estera Pirosca Escobar

Today’s Reflection

How will you prepare yourself to be more open to speaking to others about Jesus? What encouragement do you gain from Philip’s example?

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – A Difficult Invitation

Perhaps in reaching middle age, one might expect one’s thoughts to turn toward thinking more about the end of life than the beginning. It certainly seems that each year passes by faster and faster, one season racing into another and before you can blink another year is gone. The 1998 film Meet Joe Black offers a poignant glimpse into this phenomenon. On his 65th birthday, William Parrish’s last night on earth, he gives a speech to those gathered to celebrate his life. With hesitation, he shares what will be some of his last words:

“Every face I see is a memory. It may not be a perfect memory. Sometimes we’ve had our ups and downs, but we’re all together, and you’re mine for a night. And I’m going to break precedence and tell you my one wish: that you would have a life as lucky as mine, where you can wake up one morning and say, ‘I don’t want anything more.’ Sixty-five years…don’t they go by in a blink?”

The years do go by in a blink. Ancient writers and poets often wrote about the transience of our lives, even invoking the Divine to help them remember the brevity of their days: My days are swifter than a weaver’s… Our days on earth are like a shadow… You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.(1) I was reminded of this during years of service with an aging congregation. There were more funerals than births, baptisms, or weddings. And having to bury those I had just recently befriended would take a great toll.

Despite the many emotional, physical, and spiritual challenges I faced during this time of ministry, I now see that I received incredible gifts. Journeying with someone you love through the dying process reminds you of your own mortality and finitude. The opportunity to deepen emotional reservoirs and to gain an appreciation for the preciousness of life is an invaluable gift.

In his earthly ministry, Jesus said a good deal about this dying journey. Often, he called his followers to self-sacrifice and to single-hearted allegiance by using the language of death. In Luke’s Gospel, he told the great multitudes following him that “if anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”(2) What is often forgotten in a casual reading of the gospels is that the cross was the instrument of death and disgrace. It was an instrument reserved for the vilest offenders, and as such was an instrument of finality for the lowest of the low. Yet whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. There is no “if” in Jesus’s statement, only whether or not we will accept the invitation to death.

The fact that Jesus issued this kind of invitation to the “multitudes going along with him” should not be lost either. To hear that death is a part of life’s purpose, and that those who would want to follow Jesus should expect nothing less, is a very difficult invitation. Given the choice, most humans wouldn’t sign up for death. We cling to life as tenaciously as a wolf to her prey. I suspect the crowds dissipated after they heard Jesus speak these very difficult statements. Perhaps they were the very ones who later clamored for his death by crucifixion. It was easy to follow Jesus when he focused on the positives.

And yet, as sure as babies are born into this world and new life begins, death is inevitable. Not just physical death, but the “little deaths” we experience every day; the death of dreams, of life’s highest expectations, and the death of wanting more from life than it will offer. Is there any kind of gift given even in these moments of death? Can abundant life be found even as life marches quickly towards decline and decay? Can grace come even as we move towards Calvary with our cross?

In speaking of his own death and the gifts it would yield, Jesus said that “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal.”(3) In the face of a world that shouts to us to grab all we can now, to find self-fulfillment and be happy, Jesus extends to us the ironic invitation to embrace death in order to truly find our lives. This is both a promising and challenging invitation. Can we really find life out of death? And how is it to be experienced as abundant even in the everyday, ordinary living most of us experience? The challenge Jesus sets before those who would follow is the challenge to “die” to what we think makes for life; it is to choose—in this life that goes by as quickly as a vapor—what would make for life indeed.

 

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

 

(1) See Psalm 39:4, 1 Chronicles 29:15; James 4:14.
(2) Luke 14:26-27.
(3) John 12:24-25.

 

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Joyce Meyer – Godly Sorrow

 

Be miserable and grieve and weep [over your sin]. Let your [foolish] laughter be turned to mourning and your [reckless] joy to gloom. — James 4:9 (AMP)

Adapted from the resource My Time with God Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Yesterday I encountered a person who was quite demanding that I do something she wanted me to do and would not take no for an answer. I ended up being rude to her, and I feel a godly sorrow over my behavior. I always want to represent God well, and that means I often need to be long-suffering with someone who is irritating to me.

I don’t feel guilty and condemned, because I have repented and know that I am forgiven, but I do feel a godly sorrow, and I think that feeling is healthy and right. We should take our sin seriously and be deeply penitent when we do something that we know is wrong.

Although this feeling is uncomfortable, I welcome it because it impresses on me the importance of my witness for Christ and reminds me of how easy it is to behave in a fleshly and carnal way. The Bible urges us repeatedly to be on our guard against the temptations we encounter in the world and to live carefully. Being rude to someone may seem a small thing, but it is the little foxes that spoil the vine (see Song of Solomon 2:15).

I believe we should appreciate any feeling of chastisement that we receive from the Holy Spirit, because it is God helping us be the kind of people who represent Jesus well.

Prayer Starter: Lord, I appreciate Your conviction and chastisement, and I am deeply sorry for my sins and grateful for Your forgiveness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – One More Reason to Praise 

 

“His presence within us is God’s guarantee that He really will give us all that He promised; and the Spirit’s seal upon us means that God has already purchased us and that He guarantees to bring us to Himself. This is just one more reason for us to praise our glorious God” (Ephesians 1:14).

To me, this wonderful verse means that, as children of God, we have the ability to obey God’s laws if we are filled continually with the Holy Spirit and refuse to obey the old evil nature within us.

In order to live the supernatural life which is available to us through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we must know our rights as children of God. We need to know our spiritual heritage. We must know how to draw upon the inexhaustible, supernatural resources of God’s love, power, forgiveness and abundant grace.

The first step is to learn everything we can about God. We also need to know about the nature of man and why he behaves as he does. The best way to learn who God is, who man is and about our rights as children of God is to spend much time – even at the sacrifice of other needs and demands on our schedules – in reading, studying, memorizing and meditating on the Word of God, and in prayer and witnessing.

Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome, “For His Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts, and tells us that we really are God’s children. And since we are His children, we will share His treasures – for all God gives to His Son Jesus is now ours too. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering” (Romans 8:16,17).

Bible Reading: Ephesians 1:15-23

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will acknowledge God’s presence, believe His promises and surrender to His special will for me, and thus will I praise Him throughout the day.

 

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Max Lucado – Gratitude for the Greatest Gift

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Gratitude.  It’s being more aware of what you have than what you don’t.  It’s recognizing the treasure in the simple—a child’s hug, a golden sunset.  Most of all, it’s a sense of the greatest gift: The Son of God, Jesus Christ, who took your place.

In the World War II death camp at Auschwitz, Franciszek [FRAN-sih-zeck] Gajowniczek [Guh-JOE-na-zeck] was one of ten prisoners chosen to die.  An angel in the form of Franciscan priest Maximilian Kolbe volunteered to take his place.  You know, you and I have something in common with Franciszek.  We both had a substitute die in our place.  And we both have discovered what it means to be grateful.  For what we have is far greater than anything we might want.  Wouldn’t you agree?

Read more Six Hours One Friday

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – The elections in Israel: Why don’t the Jews accept Jesus as their Messiah?

In America, many of us are sleep deprived after watching Virginia defeat Texas Tech in overtime last night. Meanwhile, much of the world is focused on Israel, where one of the most significant elections in years is taking place.

I have led approximately thirty study tours to Israel over the years. Each time, the two most common questions I’m asked are: “Why don’t the Jews accept Jesus as their Messiah?” and “How does the Israeli government work?”

The two questions are more related than one might think.

Since Israelis are voting today in parliamentary elections, we’ll address the second question first. Here’s the process:

Fourteen parties are vying for votes. Citizens vote for parties, not people. At stake is control of the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) and its 120 seats. The more votes a party receives, the more seats it wins.

No party has ever won a sixty-one-seat majority. After today’s vote, the president of Israel (a largely ceremonial position) will invite one party’s leader to form a governing coalition with other parties. That person will have twenty-eight days to form a government, with a possible fourteen-day extension.

The president selects the leader who, in his opinion, has the best chance of forming a multi-party coalition to reach sixty-one Knesset seats. This is usually the leader of the party that received the most votes in the election, but not always.

Continue reading Denison Forum – The elections in Israel: Why don’t the Jews accept Jesus as their Messiah?