Charles Stanley – The Value of Our Conscience

 

1 Timothy 1:18-19

The conscience is God’s early warning system for alerting us to potential danger. It monitors our emotions, thoughts, and conduct.

Think of the conscience as a radar system that notifies us of possible trouble, usually without specifically identifying the problem. The principles and standards that we hold determine the sensitivity of our conscience. For example, if we believe lying is wrong, an alarm will sound when we start to shade the truth. But if we think lies are justifiable, it will be silent.

When programmed with the truth of God’s Word, the conscience has great value for a Christian. It detects deviations from the Lord’s standards and sends out a warning. The Holy Spirit uses that signal to get our attention. Then He will reveal what the problem is, give us understanding about it, and show us the right choices to make. He may guide us to friends, relevant Scripture verses, or other resources that can shed light on our situation and point out the implications of a wrong choice.

Failure to heed our inner alarm can bring serious consequences. Adam and Eve knew what God expected (Gen. 2:15-17). When tempted, however, they ignored their conscience and sinned against Him.

When your conscience sounds the alarm, do you stop and take notice or continue on the same course? Repeatedly ignoring your internal warning system can decrease its effectiveness at keeping you out of trouble. Ask God to help you program your inner alarm with His truth and sharpen your ability to hear it.

Bible in One Year: Proverbs 29-31

 

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Our Daily Bread — Precious

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 16–17; Acts 20:1–16

You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.

Psalm 16:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 16:1–11

“My precious . . .” First portrayed in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, the image of the emaciated creature Gollum in his maniacal obsession with the “precious ring of power” has become an iconic one today—for greed, obsession, even insanity.

It’s also a troublingly relatable image. In his tormented love-hate relationship with both the ring and with himself, Gollum’s voice echoes the hunger in our own hearts. Whether it’s directed at one thing in particular, or just a vague longing for “more,” we’re sure that once we finally get our own “precious,” we’ll be satisfied. But instead, what we thought would make us whole leaves us feeling even emptier than before.

There’s a better way to live. As David expresses in Psalm 16, when the longings in our hearts threaten to send us on a desperate, futile quest for satisfaction (v. 4), we can remember to turn to God for refuge (v. 1), reminding ourselves that apart from Him we have nothing (v. 2).

And as our eyes stop looking for satisfaction “out there” to gaze instead on God’s beauty (v. 8), we find ourselves finally tasting true contentment—a life of basking in the “joy [of God’s] presence,” walking with Him each moment in “the way of life”—now and forever (v. 11 nlt).

By Monica Brands

Reflect & Pray

What’s the thing you often turn to for satisfaction when you lose sight of God? Who can be a source of support and love for you when you feel trapped in your addiction to “more”?

God, forgive me for thinking I can find what I need apart from You. Thank You for always being there even when I forget to look for You. Draw me to Your side to live in the joy of walking with You.

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Problem of Pain

Over the past two years, there has hardly been a week without a headline or sobering story concerning the record number of deaths from opiate overdose in the United States. A New York Times article announced an unexpected rise in the death rate for the United States. Death rates—the number of deaths per hundred thousand people—have been in decline for many years, the article noted. Yet a sharp rise has occurred, in part, because of the prescription drug epidemic. If the rise continues, the researchers noted, it could be a signal of distress in the overall health of the nation.(1)

The struggle with chronic pain and the difficult and complex task for professionals who treat it made me wonder about how societies deal with pain in general. In a recent article from The Economist called “The Problem of Pain,” global treatment and attitudes toward pain were explored in light of the U.S. epidemic of opiate prescriptions and overdose. The author notes that when illness strikes, patients in poorer countries expect to suffer. Even when the tumor on his hip grew to the size of a football, Mato Samaile, a frail 50 year-old Nigerian cattle farmer, was reluctant to go to the hospital. “When I found the lump I said to my son: ‘We can’t leave the farm. We should stay until after the rain falls.’” Amina Ibrahim, a surgeon at the hospital where Mato was eventually admitted, notes, “People are brought up to tolerate pain. If you don’t you are a coward. That is just our culture. So even doctors are not liberal on painkillers.”(2)

Of course, in many parts of the world, there is little or no access to any kind of palliative care or pain management. The Economist reported a story about a young boy with cancer in rural India. He had visited several clinics nearer to his home in search of pain relief before stumbling into a Hyderabad hospital, ragged and short of breath. It had taken him more than 12 hours to get there, and he died soon afterwards.(3)

It is difficult for me to imagine a world prior to modern pain relief, and I cannot imagine what it must be like to live with excruciating pain day after day. What I do know is how easy it is for me to seek out ways to alleviate the daily pain that accompanies living—both physical and psychic. And sometimes I wonder if these strategies end up leaving me less resilient or able to deal with harsher realities. In a technologically advanced world, where I simply need to push a button, I do not exert any effort. With faster and faster speeds for almost any product, I do not have to wait for anything. And for whatever ails me physically, I can simply take a pill for that. I wonder if my minor attempts at pain avoidance may actually weaken my ability to endure it when it comes.

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Joyce Meyer –  Just Give It Time

 

Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people. — Exodus 33:13

Adapted from the resource Hearing from God Each Morning Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

When you spend time with God, it becomes evident. You become calmer, you’re easier to get along with, you are more joyful, and you remain stable in every situation.

Spending quality time with God is an investment that yields rich benefits. You begin to understand what He likes and what offends Him. As with any friend, the more time you spend with God, the more like Him you become.

Spending time with God causes you to become more sensitive to the love He wants to demonstrate to you and to others. Your conscience alerts you when you’re talking to someone in a way that does not please Him.

Your heart grieves when He grieves, and you quickly pray, “Oh, God, I’m sorry.” You soon want to apologize to the person you have offended and discover that saying, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you,” isn’t so difficult after all.

When God told Moses he had found favor in His eyes (see Exodus 33:12), Moses understood that God was telling him he could ask for anything his heart desired.

Moses responded by saying that he simply wanted to become more intimately acquainted with God. Moses had seen God perform history’s most magnificent miracles, yet what he wanted most of all was to know God intimately.

I pray that knowing God is the desire of your heart. You can know Him and hear His voice as clearly and as intimately as you want to. All it takes is spending time with Him.

Prayer Starter: Father, like Moses, I want to know You more intimately. Help me to take time to grow closer to You and develop a deep, personal relationship. Help me to become more like You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – No Hurt in Second Death

 

“Let everyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches; He who is victorious shall not be hurt by the Second Death” (Revelation 2:11).

I find great comfort in the promises of God’s word, and this is another that makes a positive assurance to use: we shall not be hurt by the Second Death.

But just what is meant by the term Second Death? It would seem to mean that the conqueror shall not have anything to fear in the future world. The punishment of hell is sometimes called death – not in the sense that the soul will cease to exist, but because death is the most fearful thing we know about, and there is a striking similarity in many respects between death and future punishment.

As death cuts us off from life, so the second death cuts one off from eternal life. Death puts an end to all our earthly hopes, and the second death to all hope forever. Death is accompanied by terrors and alarms, which are only faint emblems of the coming terror in the world of woe.

This promise of no harm for us in the second death really is all that is necessary to sustain us in our trials. Nothing else is needed to make the burdens of life tolerable but this assurance that the end of our earthly journey will bring us to the close of suffering. No power can harm us beyond the grave.

We have no promise that we shall not die, but we do have this glorious assurance that nothing beyond that will ever hurt us. Meanwhile, we are expected to listen – and to be faithful.

Bible Reading: John 8:21-25

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Knowing that nothing beyond the grave will ever hurt me, I will make this present life count for Christ and His kingdom.

 

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Max Lucado – Christ’s Sacrifice is Personal

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Christ took away your sins.  He endured not just the nails of the Romans, the mockery of the crowd, and the spear of the soldier, but he endured the anger of God!  God didn’t just overlook your sins, lest he endorse them.  He didn’t punish you, lest he destroy you.  Instead, He found a way to punish the sin and preserve the sinner.  Jesus took your punishment, and God gave you credit for Jesus’ perfection.

As long as the cross is God’s gift to the world, it will touch you but it will not change you.  Precious as it is to proclaim, “Christ died for the world,” even sweeter it is to whisper, “Christ died for me!”

For my sins he died.

He took my place on the cross.

He felt my shame; and he spoke my name.

Thank God for the day Jesus took your place,

for the day that grace happened to you!

Read more GRACE

 

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Denison Forum – Amazon Prime Day and American ingenuity: Being creative for Christ

Most Americans celebrate ten holidays each year, beginning with New Year’s Day and ending with Christmas. Now it seems we’ve added an eleventh to the list.

Amazon Prime Day began yesterday to national fanfare. The day began in 2015 as a celebration of Amazon’s twentieth anniversary. Research firms expect the two-day event to generate more than $5 billion in sales, up by 50 percent over last year.

Who invented the fortune cookie?

Amazon is not the only technology phenomenon in the news: Twitter celebrated its thirteenth anniversary yesterday. As massive as Twitter’s impact is, the social media giant ranks twelfth among platforms for monthly users. Facebook is first, with 2.23 billion monthly active users; YouTube is second, with 1.9 billion.

Reflecting on the technology revolution that is changing the world, the question occurred to me: How many of these advances were made by Americans?

Scanning a Wikipedia list of “American inventions,” I found more than two hundred entries. On the list are such ubiquitous creations as the internet, the airplane, the alarm clock, the paper clip, the fire hydrant, the fortune cookie (surprisingly), the personal computer, the crayon, dental floss, the dishwasher, the ballpoint pen, the polio vaccine, the microwave oven, the television, the telephone, the electric guitar, and the supermarket.

And Apollo 11 launched fifty years ago today, carrying the astronauts who would become the first to walk on the moon.

What does our country’s technological prowess say about us?

Is shopping our religion?

Americans, of course, have no monopoly on inventions. Chinese culture and creativity predate ours by millennia. The medieval Arab world, sometimes called the Islamic Golden Age, was an era of remarkable scientific advancement. Every nation has its inventors and pioneers.

But it is a fact of history that entrepreneurial ingenuity has been at the heart of the American experience. The first immigrants to these shores were forced to adapt to this new world. Explorers pushed the western boundary of the nation all the way to the Pacific. The pioneer spirit still infuses much of our culture.

A single sentence in our Declaration of Independence explains this spirit: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” As I noted on July 4, these were truly revolutionary words. They have empowered generations of Americans to embrace a future as bright as their dreams.

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