Charles Stanley – Strength for the Fearful

 

Isaiah 41:9-13

I recommend that believers underline Isaiah 41 in their Bible and meditate on it frequently. When one of God’s people is seeking an anchor in turbulent times, this is the right passage for the job. Here, Isaiah writes about the source of Christians’ strength.

In Isaiah 41:10 alone, the Lord promises strength, help, and protection. Moreover, He gives two commands: “Do not fear” and “Do not anxiously look about you.” Among Satan’s subtle and successful traps is the art of distraction. The evil one knows that fear can choke faith. He works hard to make unsettling circumstances a person’s sole focus. Once a believer’s attention is diverted from God, natural human tendencies take over. In the absence of prayer and worship, anxiety and doubt grow unobstructed.

Staying focused on the Lord can be hard. The flesh prefers to seek security by thinking through all possible angles. Our tendency is to weigh what we think could happen against what “experts” say will happen, and then to evaluate possible ways of preventing our worst fears from coming true. Instead of becoming more confident, we begin to realize how powerless we are. Thankfully, we serve an almighty God who says, “Surely I will help you” (Isa. 41:10). We can count on Him.

By focusing on our circumstances, we’re actually choosing to feel anxiety and doubt. But these emotions don’t belong in a believer’s daily life. Instead, let’s decide to trust in the promises God has given us. He’s filled His Word with scriptural anchors to keep His children steady in the faith.

Bible in One Year: Nehemiah 11-13

 

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Our Daily Bread — The Empty Bed

 

Bible in a Year:2 Chronicles 7–9; John 11:1–29

Go and make disciples of all nations.

Matthew 28:19

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Matthew 28:16-20

I was eager to return to St. James Infirmary in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and reconnect with Rendell, who two years earlier had learned about Jesus’s love for him. Evie, a teenager in the high school choir I travel with each spring, had read Scripture with Rendell and explained the gospel, and he personally received Jesus as his Savior.

When I entered the men’s section of the home and looked toward Rendell’s bed, however, I found it was empty. I went to the nurse’s station, and was told what I didn’t want to hear. He had passed away—just five days before we arrived.

Through tears, I texted Evie the sad news. Her response was simple: “Rendell is celebrating with Jesus.” Later she said, “It’s a good thing we told him about Jesus when we did.”

Her words reminded me of the importance of being ready to lovingly share with others the hope we have in Christ. No, it’s not always easy to proclaim the gospel message about the One who will be with us always (Matthew 28:20), but when we think about the difference it made for us and for people like Rendell, perhaps we’ll be encouraged to be even more ready to “make disciples” wherever we go (v. 19).

I’ll never forget the sadness of seeing that empty bed—and also the joy of knowing what a difference one faithful teen made in Rendell’s forever life.

By Dave Branon

Reflect & Pray

What are some things you can do to introduce people to Jesus today? As you share your faith, how does it encourage you to know Jesus is “with you always” (Matthew 28:20)?

God, we know that people need You. Help us to overcome our fear of telling others about You.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Ex Cruciatus

There is a striking verse in the New Testament, in which the apostle Paul refers to the cross of Jesus Christ as foolishness to the Greek and a stumbling block to the Jew. One can readily understand why he would say that. After all, to the Greek mind, sophistication, philosophy, and learning were exalted pursuits. How could one crucified possibly spell knowledge?

To the Jewish mind, on the other hand, there was a cry and a longing to be free. In their history, they had been attacked by numerous powers and often humiliated by occupying forces. Whether it was the Assyrians or the Babylonians or the Romans, Jerusalem had been repeatedly plundered and its people left homeless. What would the Hebrew have wanted more than someone who could take up their cause and altogether repel the enemy? How could a Messiah who was crucified possibly be of any help?

To the Greek, the cross was foolishness. To the Jew, it was a stumbling block. What is it about the cross of Christ that so roundly defies everything that power relishes? Crucifixion was humiliating. It was so humiliating that the Romans who specialized in the art of torture assured their own citizenry that a Roman could never be crucified. But not only was it humiliating, it was excruciating. In fact, the very word “excruciating” comes from two Latin words: ex cruciatus, or out of the cross. Crucifixion was the defining word for pain.

Does that not give us pause in this season now before us? Think of it: humiliation and agony. This was the path Jesus chose with which to reach out for you and for me. You see, this thing we call sin, but which we so tragically minimize, breaks the grandeur for which we were created. It brings indignity to our essence and pain to our existence. It separates us from God.

On the way to the cross two thousand years ago, Jesus took the ultimate indignity and the ultimate pain to bring us back to the dignity of a relationship with God and the healing of our souls. Will we remember that this was done for us and receive his gift?

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Ex Cruciatus

Joyce Meyer – A Tempting Offer

 

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. — Matthew 4:1-2

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

After Jesus had gone through a 40-day fast, Satan approached Him with three tempting offers. The devil came to Jesus when he was weak and hungry.

It’s natural to assume that the Lord was physically weakened after being without nourishment for such an extended period of time, so, of course, the devil’s first offer involved food. If You are God’s Son, command these stones to be made [loaves of] bread (Matthew 4:3 AMPC).

Later Jesus performed several miracles that included food, such as changing a boy’s lunch into enough fish and bread to feed five thousand people and, at another time, to feed four thousand.

All of Jesus’ miracles were for the good of others. He never performed miracles for Himself or to satisfy any need of His own. That’s one major lesson we learn from His temptation.

The devil then took Jesus to a mountaintop and showed Him the nations of the earth. He said, in effect, “You can have it all in exchange for one slight, easily excusable act. Worship me—just once—and You can have it all.” I can even imagine the devil saying, “It’s all right; God will understand. You’re so weak right now.”

It was as if Satan said, “You’re going to rule it all anyway. This is just a shortcut.” He implied that through one simple act of worship, Jesus could avoid the rejection, the suffering, and even the horrifying death on the cross. And either way, He would achieve the same goal.

As attractive as the offer may have sounded, Jesus turned it down. He recognized the deliberately crafted lie, and Jesus never hesitated. The world would be won for God, but it would be won by the way of sacrifice and obedience. The way of the cross would be Jesus’ pathway to victory.

Again, Jesus teaches us that His is not the easy way. Instead, we must take the right way. Whenever the devil tries to convince us there is an easier way—one that will make life better for us—we know we don’t want to listen.

As we read the story, the choice seems obvious. But suppose you had been in that wilderness for 40 days and nights without food and water. Suppose you had faced such great temptations. Suppose the devil had whispered in your ear, “Just this one time and no one will know.”

This is one of the enemy’s most subtle lies. Not only does he tempt you to give in and to receive the things you’d like to have, but he also makes it sound simple and easy: “Just do this one thing, and it’s all yours.”

God never works that way. He wants you to have the best and only the best, but it has to come in the right way.

At the end of the temptation accounts, Matthew inserts a powerful statement. With each temptation, Jesus won because he relied on the Word of God for His strength. And the devil couldn’t fight the Word. Finally, Matthew records, Then the devil departed from Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him (Matthew 4:11AMPC).

The wisdom to be gleaned from this experience is powerful. Even after you’ve been battered and tempted, God doesn’t leave you. He remains with you to comfort you, to minister to your needs, and to encourage you. Never forget that He is as close to you as the mention of His name. He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Prayer Starter: Blessed Lord Jesus, thank You for winning the victory over the enemy. Thank You for not listening to Satan and for standing on the Word of God in the midst of every temptation. Lord, in Your name, I pray for the wisdom and the strength to defeat the same enemy when he tempts me. Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Our Treasuries Filled

 

“My paths are those of justice and right. Those who love and follow Me are indeed wealthy. I fill their treasuries” (Proverbs 8:20,21).

“How does it feel to be a millionaire?” someone once asked the maker of Pullman cars, George M. Pullman.

“I have never thought of that before,” replied Pullman, “but now that you mention it, I believe I am no better off – certainly not happier, than when I did not have a dollar to my name and had to work from daylight to dark.

“I wore a good suit of clothes then, and I only wear one suit at a time now. I relished three meals a day then a good deal more than I do three meals a day now. I had fewer cares, I slept better and may add that I believe I was generally far happier in those days than I have been many times since I became a millionaire.”

As Pullman learned, true wealth is not found in earthly riches. The heart can never be fully satisfied with anything of the world; beside, the world passes away. True wealth is found in the knowledge of Christ and of His great salvation, and in the possession of the abiding riches which He bestows on all who believe in Him.

True wealth has to do with spiritual health – inner peace, clear conscience and sins forgiven. That man, woman or young person with abiding faith in Christ, who is yielded to the control of God’s indwelling Holy Spirit, has true wealth – the supernatural life.

Bible Reading: Proverbs 8:22-31

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I’ll begin to look more to the “Bank of Heaven” for my true wealth.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – The New Kingdom

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Jesus sent a message to an imprisoned John the Baptist.  “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, and the deaf hear” (Matthew 11:5).  Jesus sent John a message about a unique, invisible kingdom, where the rejected are received: the blind, the lame, the lepers, and the deaf.  They had no place, no name, no value.

In Revelation 21:2-5 John describes Heaven as a “bride beautifully dressed for her husband.”  There will be no more death. God is making everything new!  The master builder will pull out the original plan and restore the vigor, the energy, the hope, the soul.   Jesus told John that a new kingdom was coming where people have value, not because of what they do, but because of whose they are.  It was great news then, and it’s great news still!

Read more Applause of Heaven

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – Gillette ad shows transgender son’s first shave: Responding to a six-step LGBTQ strategy

 

“Whenever, wherever, however it happens—your first shave is special.” This is the caption of a Facebook ad by Gillette. It features a young person shaving while a father offers encouragement.

What makes the ad unusual is that the person is transgender. The ad has received more than a million views as of this morning.

A strategy that changed America

As “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month” begins later this week, we can expect many more messages like this in the media. They are part of a strategy that has been advancing in our culture for more than three decades.

In 1987, a neuropsychiatry researcher named Marshall Kirk and a social scientist named Hunter Madsen (using the pen name Erastes Pill) wrote an essay titled, “The Overhauling of Straight America.” Their strategy later became a book.

I encourage you to make time to read their article in its entirety. It is a fascinating and troubling window into the LGBTQ movement that has swept our country in the years since its writing.

Kirk and Madsen framed a six-part strategy:

  1. “Talk about gays and gayness as loudly and as often as possible” to desensitize the public.
  2. “Portray gays as victims, not as aggressive challengers,” leading society to assume the role of protector.
  3. “Give protectors a just cause” such as anti-discrimination and civil rights.
  4. “Make gays look good” by elevating prominent homosexuals and celebrities who endorse them.
  5. “Make the victimizers look bad” by associating them with Nazis, KKK members, etc.
  6. “Solicit funds” for a massive media campaign.

Their advice for countering conservative churches was especially prescient: “First, we can use talk to muddy the moral waters. This means publicizing support for gays by more moderate churches, raising theological objections of our own about conservative interpretations of biblical teachings, and exposing hatred and inconsistency.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Gillette ad shows transgender son’s first shave: Responding to a six-step LGBTQ strategy