Charles Stanley – Why Does God Allow Suffering?

 

1 Peter 4:12-19

At some point, you’ve probably been asked why a loving God would allow suffering in the world. Though He is able to stop it, He often doesn’t. And while we can acknowledge seeing Him at work during certain difficult situations, at other times it looks as if nothing is happening despite our many prayers.

We live in a sinful world, so the potential for anguish is great. Sometimes we’re troubled when people are driven by the evil within. Other times the cause is our own weakness or God’s discipline in our life. Still another reason might be persecution or simply the consequence of ignoring good principles. But whatever the origin of our distress, we can be sure that if God allows it, He has a purpose. He may want …

To get our attention. The psalmist realized affliction brought him back within God’s will (Psalm 119:67; Psalm 119:71). In times of distress, we often turn to Him for help.

To develop personal righteousness in us. God wants us to mature, so He will reveal areas of our life that we need to address.

To prune us. John 15:1-2 paints an excellent word picture of how God eliminates attitudes and actions that are not godly or fruit-bearing.

To teach us obedience. Jesus, who always did the Father’s will, is our perfect example (John 4:34; Heb. 5:7-9). As we are conformed to His image, we will increasingly learn to obey God (Rom. 8:29).

Over the next two days, we’ll look at other reasons God may allow painful seasons in our life. Until then, ask Him to show you how He may be using suffering for your good.

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 4-7

 

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Our Daily Bread — Eyes in the Back of My Head

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 33–34; Acts 24

From his dwelling place [God] watches all who live on earth.

Psalm 33:14

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 33:6–19

I was as mischievous as any other child in my early years and tried to hide my bad behavior to avoid getting into trouble. Yet my mother usually found out what I had done. I recall being amazed at how quickly and accurately she knew about my antics. When I marveled and asked how she knew, she always replied, “I have eyes in the back of my head.” This, of course, led me to study her head whenever she’d turn her back—were the eyes invisible or merely cloaked by her red hair? As I grew, I gave up looking for evidence of her extra pair of eyes and realized I just wasn’t quite as sneaky as I had supposed. Her watchful gaze was evidence of her loving concern for her children.

As grateful as I am for my mother’s attentive care (despite being occasionally disappointed I hadn’t gotten away with something!), I’m even more grateful that God “sees all mankind” as He looks upon us from heaven (Psalm 33:13). He sees so much more than what we do; He sees our sadness, our delights, and our love for one another.

God sees our true character and always knows exactly what we need. With perfect vision, which even sees the inner workings of our hearts, He watches over those who love Him and put their hope in Him (v. 18). He’s our attentive, loving Father.

By Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

How does it comfort you to know that God sees everything and is watching over you? What has He been doing recently to sharpen your character?

Dear Father, thank You for watching over all people and for seeing what happens in our world and in my life.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Building Culture or Making Ruins

Many years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Greece and Turkey. While there, I marveled at the ancient ruins of the Greek temples and wondered at the beautiful mosaics of Christ covering the ceilings of every church—from a tiny chapel in the countryside to the great cathedral of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. During the tour, we often saw the ruins of the temples standing side by side with ancient Christian churches. Other times, our guide informed us that the Christian church was built upon the now decimated ruins of an ancient temple.

I remember feeling a bit disturbed over the loss of these ancient ruins, which would never be seen again, now built over by largely abandoned Christian chapels. And yet I understood the sweeping movement of Christianity—overturning the pagan environment of Greece and Rome and building churches and chapels as signposts of that victory.

This scene replicated across the landscapes of Greece and Turkey served metaphorically as a picture of the uneasy tension between Christianity and its surrounding culture. On the one hand, church and pagan temple stood side by side, a living picture of the parable Jesus once told about allowing wheat and tares to grow up together until the judgment. On the other hand, churches built on the ruins of pagan temples presented the image of Christianity conquering the pagan religions of the day, standing in triumph and uprooting the tares in victory.

Christianity wrestles with this same tension today, vacillating between constructive engagement in culture on the one hand and eschewing the culture on the other. The art world is often an arena for this battle. Should Christians engage in the arts? If so, how should they engage in the arts? Should there be Christian music, art, and literature? Or should there simply be Christians who make music, produce art, and write literature? In other words, should Christians build next to the pagan temple or replace the pagan temple with a church?

While the answers to these questions can often be complex, perhaps there are some insights from another picture of early Christian interaction using art from the prevailing culture. The catacombs under the streets of Rome are filled with art produced by the early Christians. Interestingly enough, however, the Christian scenes normally used non-Christian forms. Some of the portrayals of Jesus as the Good Shepherd are clearly modeled after pagan pictures in which Orpheus was the central figure.(1) It is not an accident that the early Christians chose to model their art after the pagan depictions of Orpheus. In Greek mythology, Orpheus was such a brilliant musician that “he moved everything animate and inanimate; his music enchanted the trees and rocks and tamed wild beasts, and even the rivers turned in their course to follow him.”(2) Clearly, the early Christians used this artistic rendering for apologetic reasons; like the myth of Orpheus, they believed Jesus had a cataclysmic influence on all of creation.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Building Culture or Making Ruins

Joyce Meyer – Nudged Out of the Nest

 

Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions. — Deuteronomy 32:11

Adapted from the resource Trusting God Day by Day Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Baby eagles spend the first three months of their lives in the comfortable nest their parents have prepared. But the eaglets get a big surprise when they are about 12 weeks old. Their mother suddenly begins to throw all of their toys out of the nest.

Next, she begins to pull out all of the comfortable material in the nest—the feathers and the animal fur—and leaves the babies sitting on thorns and sticks. This is what the Bible means when it mentions that the mother eagle “stirs up her nest.” The reason she stirs the nest is that she wants her babies to get out and fly.

Before long, the mother eagle begins to nudge them out of the nest. The little eaglets, who have no idea how to fly, fall through the sky, probably very frightened. Soon, though, they hear a “whoooooooosh” as the mother eagle swoops up under them to catch them.

At that point, the mother eagle takes the babies right back up to the nest and then nudges them out again. She keeps repeating the process, over and over again, until they finally understand that they have no choice but to fly.

The mother eagle does this because she loves them and wants them to have the best lives they can possibly have. Most eaglets won’t get out of the nest without this push. Similarly, most of us will also choose comfort over challenge unless we have no choice at all.

Do you feel God is working in your life the same way the mother eagle does with her young? Has He been pulling some of the padding out of your nest so you find yourself sitting on prickly branches?

Is He saying to you, “Come on, it is time to fly”? If so, remember the mother eagle’s intentions and know that you can trust God’s good intentions for you.

Prayer Starter: Father, help me to always embrace Your best for my life. Show me the areas where I need to “get out of the nest” so I can move on to greater things and “fly.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – We are His Friends

 

“And since, when we were his enemies, we were brought back to God by the death of His Son, what a blessing He must have for us now that we are His friends, and He is living within us!” (Romans 5:10).

Marilyn had a very poor self-image. She hated the way she looked and felt that her personality was so bad that she could never expect to have true friends. She was concerned especially about marriage. How could she ever find a man to love her since she was so unattractive (in her thinking).

I was able to help her see how much God loved her, and how great was His blessing for her as a child of God. The supernatural life-style was available to her, and she was the one to determine whether or not she would measure up, as an act of the will by faith, to what God had called and enabled her to be. Her part was simply to trust and obey Him.

With God’s help, she determined to be that kind of person, the kind of person God created her to be.

We who are Christians can see ourselves as God sees us and through the enabling of the Holy Spirit become what we are in His sight. With the eyes of love, He sees us covered with the blood of Christ, which was shed on the cross for our sins, and, as expressed in Hebrews 10, He sees us as holy, righteous and totally forgiven. He holds nothing against us. The penalty for our sins has been paid – once and for all. There is nothing which we can add.

Now we have the privilege of becoming in our experience what we are already in God’s sight.

Bible Reading: Romans 5:11-15

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, I will begin to see myself as God sees me: loved, forgiven, holy, righteous, spiritually mature, aggressive and fruitful for the glory of God. Today I will live by faith the supernatural life which is my heritage in Christ.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Soaked in Grace

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Most people keep a pot of anger on low boil! But you aren’t most people. Look at your feet. They’re wet, grace-soaked. Jesus has washed your feet. He has washed the grimiest parts of your life.

To accept grace is the vow to give it. You don’t endorse the deeds of your offender when you forgive them. Jesus didn’t endorse your sins by forgiving you.  The grace-defined person, still sends thieves to jail and expects the ex to pay child support. Grace sees the hurt full well. But it refuses to let hurts poison the heart.

Where grace is lacking, bitterness abounds. Where grace abounds, forgiveness grows. So let the hands of God wipe away every dirty part of your life. Then look across the room and wash someone else’s feet. Let grace begin and continue in you!

Read more GRACE

 

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Denison Forum – The greatest hymn ever: What will matter most in 50 years and 50 millennia

What is the greatest hymn of all time?

The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada recently addressed that question. In their annual conference in Dallas, they voted using their society’s website, on Facebook, and in person during a competition set up with brackets like the NCAA basketball tournament.

If you thought the answer is “Amazing Grace,” you need more grace. It turns out, “Holy, Holy, Holy” won the title.

I can see why.

In times like these, it’s deeply reassuring to sing to God, Holy, holy, holy / Though the darkness hide Thee / Though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see / Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee / Perfect in power, in love, and purity.

We may not be able to see God in our culture, but nothing in today’s news changes his eternal character. This is a fact our souls need to claim.

Why Avengers: Endgame is the highest-grossing movie ever

In other less-than-surprising news, Avengers: Endgame has passed Avatar as the highest-grossing movie of all time. The popularity of a film with superheroes strong enough to defeat cataclysmic evil says something interesting about us.

Continue reading Denison Forum – The greatest hymn ever: What will matter most in 50 years and 50 millennia