Charles Stanley – Growth Through Suffering

 

1 Peter 1:3-9

Yesterday we saw that when we focus on God, we are in a better position to grow in maturity and godliness. When our suffering persists, the Lord may also have other purposes in mind:

To increase our trust. You might think the happiest people are the wealthy or famous. But the truly contented are those who are at peace with God because their faith has been tested—and they know He has only their good in mind.

To strengthen our dependence upon Him. The apostle Paul testified about how his persistent thorn taught him reliance upon the Lord’s grace and strength (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Instead of believing that we can handle things on our own, we likewise learn to depend more fully on God when our circumstances leave us powerless.

To manifest Christ’s life in us. God wants us to be a living example of the conduct and character of Jesus Christ. For this reason, He uses suffering to sift, sand, and prune whatever doesn’t belong in our life. But in those hard seasons of change, He also sustains us, providing all that we need in order to persevere.

To purify our hearts. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that the pure in heart are blessed, for they will see God (Matt. 5:8). The purification of our heart is an ongoing process. Sometimes it takes difficult situations to identify the things that keep us from delighting in our relationship with God.

Do you trust that God loves you and wants the best for you? Decide to be more open to the work He wants to do in your life through the hard times.

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 8-10

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Something to Brag About

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 35–36; Acts 25

Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches.

Jeremiah 9:23

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Jeremiah 9:23–26

What does it mean to be real? That’s the very big question answered in the small children’s book The Velveteen Rabbit. It’s the story of toys in a nursery and the velveteen rabbit’s journey to become real by allowing himself to be loved by a child. One of the other toys is the old and wise Skin Horse. He “had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by and by break . . . and pass away.” They looked and sounded impressive, but their bragging eventually amounted to nothing when it came to love.

Boasting starts out strong; but in the end, it always fades away. Jeremiah lists three areas where this is evident: “wisdom . . . strength . . . riches” (Jeremiah 9:23). The wise old prophet had been around long enough to know a thing or two, and he countered such boasting with the Lord’s truth: “But let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord” (v. 24).

Let us, the children, brag about God, our good Father. In the unfolding story of His great love, it’s the wonderful way you and I grow to become more and more real.

By John Blase

Reflect & Pray

Think of a person you know who embodies the ability to “boast in the Lord.” What is one way this week you can follow their example?

Father, help me to remember Jeremiah’s words. May my only boasting be in the knowledge of You and Your great love which endures forever.

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Into the Wilderness

 

Milton! thou shouldest be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again:
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart;
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic free,
So didst thou travel on life’s common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.

This was the cry of William Wordsworth early in the nineteenth century as he saw the demise of English culture underway. The Church, the state, the home, the writers and shapers of society were called to task, for the nation had lost its soul and was hurtling headlong towards moral defacement. “Milton!” he cried, “England hath need of thee.” I wonder today who we would cry for to be alive again, to lead us through the wilderness.

But where do we look and to whom shall we go? In America the name of Lincoln looms large as a symbol of honor and courage. In racial strife the voice of Martin Luther King, Jr. still echoes in our streets, pleading for the end of hate. Do we cry out, “Lincoln, we have need of thee!”? “King, we have need of thee!”? Yet, as I think of them and of what they stood for, I am struck by the realization that both of them were silenced by assassins. The crimson tide of violence, the best voices notwithstanding, has never been stemmed since Cain drew the blood of his brother Abel.

The thundering question emblazoned in newspaper and on many of our minds is often “WHY?” And yet, as one who stands before audiences all over the world facing hard questions I am sometimes tempted to ask a question of the questioner, “Do you really want a solution or is the constant refrain ‘why’ a way of escaping the responsibility of the answer?” The Bible tells us, “He has showed you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). Jesus wept over his own beloved city and said, “If only you knew the things that belonged to your peace, but now they are hid from your eyes” (Luke 19:42). Their problem was not the absence of answers, rather, the suppression of them. Our predicament, I believe, is the same. There are some clues we already have—enough to bring correctives within our reach. But do we really want the truth?

There are issues in our society that we must have the courage to address, though they are not popular and never will be, for they stare at us in the face. Our societal indicators are important because they are pointers to the malady. At the root of our cultural rot is a wanton failure to admit our contradictions, and contradiction is to reason what evil is to life. When our reasoning is contradictory, the argument breaks down. When evil invades a life, life breaks down. When hope dies in a life, life is embodied loneliness awaiting escape. We have given our children contradictory assumptions about life and are then shocked at their evil behavior and the disintegration of their lives. This cultural breakdown did not happen overnight. When moralizing reaches the front page in a society that denounces moral moorings, the aberration occurs not when one lives in keeping with that theory but when one smuggles in values while denying that values exist. In a soul-less culture the real question is not why violence or why injustice, but why do we weep at it?

In his cynical way, Malcolm Muggeridge reminded us that all new news is old news happening to new people. He was right. The parents of the first family in Eden questioned whether God had really spoken. Here autonomy squared off against the revelation of God. A value-free society was introduced. Second, the son in turn questioned whether the altar really had any worth. Secularism evicted the sacred and planted the void within. Denying the place of a moral law and thwarting the legitimacy of worship built the first cemetery at Eden. And so it is that we all agree with Muggeridge’s unhappy reminder that atrocities are not new, only the victims are. We would do well, however, to remember another piece of news, which is equally old. In C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters a senior devil is training a junior devil on how to destroy faith in God from the hearts of people: “Work on their horror of the same old thing. The horror of the same old thing is the greatest passion we have put into the human heart.” How appropriate that warning is. We ask why, while we have an aversion or horror for the same old solution. But the stories in the headlines that jar us, in an extraordinary way, bring to light the power of the same old thing.

The Bible only speaks of one remedy: the transformation of the heart by making Christ the center. He is the one who takes us from paradise lost to paradise regained, calling the Miltons among us who will likewise walk where the hurting walk and embrace as the hurting tremble. The world has need of him; the world has need of them. Those who mock the simplicity of the remedy only make evil more complex and unexplainable. Every heart has the potential for murder. Every heart needs a redeemer. That is the message of Christianity. The world took the child born to save and crucified him. But by his triumph over death he brings life to our dead souls and begins the transformation within. Emmanuel, God is with us.

 

Ravi Zacharias is founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Energize

 

And there are distinctive varieties of operation [of working to accomplish things], but it is the same God Who inspires and energizes them all in all. — 1 Corinthians 12:6 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Wake Up to the Word Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

To energize means, “to give strength or force to; to give active vigor to.”

All of our thoughts, good or bad, have an effect on our physical being. The mind and body are definitely connected. Positive, hopeful thoughts energize our soul and physical bodies, whereas negative, hopeless thoughts drain our energy.

Physical tiredness is not always a result of wrong thinking. We can certainly have a sickness or disease that leads to a loss of energy, or we may even wake up tired for no known reason. But we do know that science and medical technology verify that the mind and body have a close connection, and that our thinking does have a direct effect on our body.

Our bodies are like automobiles that God provides for us to drive around on earth. If we want them to perform to their maximum ability and be energized, then we need to choose to think in ways that will help fuel them.

Prayer Starter: Lord, please help me to choose positive, hopeful, faith-filled thoughts today—thoughts that agree with Your Word and will energize my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Can’t Keep on Sinning

 

“The person who has been born into God’s family does not make a practice of sinning, because now God’s life is in him; so he can’t keep on sinning, for this new life has been born into him and controls him – he has been born again” (1 John 3:9).

I am sobered by the very thought that, having served the Lord for more than 30 exciting, wonderful, fruitful years, I might yet dishonor His name and bring disgrace to His cause. I know what has happened to other brothers and sisters in Christ – some of whom had apparently at one time been Spirit- filled Christian leaders, and I know that I too could fail the Lord if I do not continue to trust and obey Him. Even the apostle Paul lived in reverential fear that he might dishonor the name and cause of our Lord.

“So be careful. If you are thinking, ‘Oh, I would never behave like that,’ let this be a warning to you. For you too may fall into sin. But remember this: The wrong desires that come into your life aren’t anything new and different. Many others have faced exactly the same problems before you. And no temptation is irresistible.

“You can trust God to keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it, for He has promised this and will do what He says. He will show you how to escape temptation’s power so that you can bear up patiently against it” (1 Corinthians 10:12,13).

For many years it has been my prayer, as I pray on the offensive, “Oh, God, if there is a possibility that I may dishonor or disgrace Your name by becoming involved in a moral, financial or any other kind of scandal that you would discredit my ministry and nullify my love and witness for You, I would rather You take my life first before such a thing could happen.”

The Scripture warns all believers that any one of them, too, could fall. No one reaches the place of spiritual maturity or perfection where he can say, “I don’t need the Lord’s help anymore.” The only one who can enable us to live victorious lives is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

Bible Reading: I John 2:21-29

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: At the very first sign of yielding to Satan in any way, large or small, I will remind the Lord of my utter dependence on Him and I will claim by faith His power to live a supernatural life.

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Grace Goes Beyond Mercy

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

We are poor, spiritually for sure; monetarily, perhaps. We’ve buried our dreams, desires, and aspirations. Like the mother with Lupus or the businessman in the unemployment line, we’re out of options. Yet Christ approached us “while we were yet sinners!” “Will you cover us?” we asked him, and Grace smiled. He gave us grace. Not just mercy, mind you, but grace.

Grace goes beyond mercy. Mercy gave the prodigal son a second chance but Grace threw him a party. Mercy prompted the Samaritan to bandage the wounds of the victim. But grace prompted him to leave his credit card as payment for the victim’s care. Mercy forgave the thief on the cross. Grace escorted him into paradise. Mercy pardons us. Grace woos and weds us! Grace does this. God does this. Grace is God walking into your world with a sparkle in his eye and an offer that’s hard to resist!

Read more GRACE

 

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Denison Forum – Boris Johnson and Robert Mueller: The best way to serve our nation

Boris Johnson officially becomes Great Britain’s prime minister later today. His life story is most interesting.

He was born in 1964 in New York City to British parents. His father was studying economics at Columbia University.

At Eton College, prior to attending Oxford, he won honors in English and Classics, edited the school newspaper, and was secretary of the debating society. He played rugby in college, where he was elected president of the Oxford Union and studied ancient literature and classical philosophy.

Johnson married after college and began work as a journalist. After fabricating a quote for an article, he was fired. He secured work at The Daily Telegraph and continued his career in journalism and the media until he was elected mayor of London in 2008 and reelected in 2012.

He was elected to the House of Commons in 2015 and endorsed the campaign to leave the European Union (the so-called “Brexit”) the next year. He served as Foreign Secretary from 2016 to 2018. Yesterday, he was chosen to become prime minister.

Johnson is fluent in French and Italian and conversant in German, Spanish, and Latin. He also studied Ancient Greek in school. I found his biography of Winston Churchill to be fascinating.

His private life has been chaotic at best. He and his second wife are divorcing, and he is living with his current girlfriend; he may have fathered two children out of wedlock. He is an extremely divisive figure in the UK, popular with many and vilified by others.

Winston Churchill on democracy

How did such a polarizing person become prime minister?

In the United Kingdom, voters elect a party to office—in this case, the Conservative Party, which won the most Parliament seats in the 2017 election. The party’s leader, Theresa May, announced her resignation after failing to lead the UK out of the European Union and will leave office later today.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Boris Johnson and Robert Mueller: The best way to serve our nation