Charles Stanley – Dealing With Discouragement

 

Psalm 42:1-8

How can we conquer discouragement? Let me suggest nine specific tips:

  1. Look within. Examine yourself for the underlying cause.
  2. Admit that you are discouraged. This is something that’s easy to avoid, ignore, or lie about, but denial doesn’t help you grow.
  3. Identify precisely what you are discouraged about. Name it—then face it.
  4. Recall the nature of discouragement. Disappointments will come and go, but discouragement is a response, and we can respond in other ways.
  5. Begin meditating frequently on Scripture. God’s truth can help you accurately evaluate what you feel.
  6. Take your area of discouragement to God in prayer. Ask Him to reveal what He wants to teach you in this area of your life.
  7. Focus on the Lord, not your situation. Ask Him to help you see this disappointment and its lessons from His perspective.
  8. View the cause as coming from the Lord. If we understand that He allows disappointments, we can find meaning in trouble.
  9. Confess three things: The Father is with me in the pain; He’s in control of my life and has allowed this for a reason; He is a good God, who will not let this disappointment be in vain. Try speaking these truths out loud.

Discouragement may sound harmless enough, but don’t underestimate its power. By keeping watch, you can avoid its deadly trap. So write down these nine steps on an index card, and then review the list whenever disappointments start to consume your thinking.

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 15-17

 

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Our Daily Bread — Jesus in Disguise

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 87–88; Romans 13

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.

Proverbs 19:17

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Matthew 25:31–40

My son Geoff recently participated in a “homeless simulation.” He spent three days and two nights living on the streets of his city, sleeping outside in below freezing temperatures. Without food, money, or shelter, he relied on the kindness of strangers for his basic needs. On one of those days his only food was a sandwich, bought by a man who heard him asking for stale bread at a fast-food restaurant.

Geoff told me later it was one of the hardest things he’d ever done, yet it profoundly impacted his outlook on others. He spent the day after his “simulation” seeking out homeless people who had been kind to him during his time on the street, doing what he could to assist them in simple ways. They were surprised to discover he wasn’t actually homeless and were grateful he cared enough to try to see life through their eyes.

My son’s experience calls to mind Jesus’s words: “I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. . . . Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:36, 40). Whether we give a word of encouragement or a bag of groceries, God calls us to lovingly attend to the needs of others. Our kindness to others is kindness to Him.

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

What little kindness can you extend to another? When have you been the recipient of another’s kindness?

Dear Jesus, help me to see You in the needs of others today and to love You by loving them.

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Fully Alive

 

The glory of God is the human person fully alive. I first read this quote by Irenaeus of Lyons while still a graduate student. In my early rendering of this evocative statement, I imagined people at play in a field of flowers, the sun shining brightly. Everyone is happy and smiling, laughing even, as they dance and play in the fields of the Lord. As I pictured it in my mind’s eye, the human person fully alive was a person alive to possibility, never-ending opportunities, and always happy. How could it be otherwise with God’s glory as the enlivening force?

One author suggests the same in his commentary on Irenaeus’ statement:

“God’s intentions towards me might be better than I’d thought. His happiness and my happiness are tied together? My coming fully alive is what He’s committed to? That’s the offer of Christianity? Wow! I mean, it would make no small difference if we knew–and I mean really knew–that down-deep-in-your-toes kind of knowing that no one and nothing can talk you out of–if we knew that our lives and God’s glory were bound together. Things would start looking up. It would feel promising…the offer is life.”(1)

Despite my romantic imagination and the author’s exuberant interpretation, I am often perplexed as to just what “fully alive” looks like for many people in our world. How would this read to women in the Congo, for example, whose lives are torn apart by tribal war and violence against their own bodies? What would this mean to an acquaintance of mine who is a young father recently diagnosed with lymphoma? What about those who are depressed? Or who live with profound disabilities?

If feeling alive is only that God is happy when we are happy, then perhaps God is quite sad. Surely God’s glory is much larger than human happiness, isn’t it? Certainly, happiness is a gift and a blessing of the human experience, and for many it is there in abundance. Yet, are those who have reason for sorrow—those who do not find themselves amidst fields of flowers or bounty, those who have to work to find goodness—are they beyond the reflection of God’s glory?

The reality is that Irenaeus’ oft-used and oft-interpreted statement had a specific, apologetic context that was not really about human happiness. Irenaeus lived during a time when gnostic sects were trying to deny the real flesh and blood reality of Jesus. In their alternative view, only the spirit was redeemed, and the body should be ignored at best, or indulged at worst, since nothing regarding the body mattered. As a result, they denied the full humanity of Jesus. He could not have died a physical death on the cross, since he was merely an enlightened spirit, or some form of lesser deity. And he was certainly not one who would enter into the created world to take on the messy nature of life.(2)

When Irenaeus describes the glory of God as the human being fully alive he is correcting this aberrant and heretical notion that Jesus was not fully human. Irenaeus countered that in fact, the glory of God so inhabited this man from Nazareth that he was fully alive to all of what it meant to be human. Jesus experienced hunger, thirst, weariness, frustration, sorrow, and despair—and he experienced the joy and beauty that came from complete dependence on God. To be fully alive, as one sees in the life of Jesus, includes all human experience—the joys as well as the sorrows.

We see that Jesus is fully alive in the Christian tradition of Holy Week. For Christians, that journey includes Good Friday and Holy Saturday just as surely as it includes Easter morning. As Jesus experienced the miraculous new life of resurrection on Easter morning, he first experienced the sorrow of rejection, betrayal, and the physical brutality of crucifixion and death. Jesus lived the depths of the human experience as one of us.

Irenaeus’ continues his thought by saying: “[T]he life of man is the vision of God. If the revelation of God through creation already brings life to all living beings on the earth, how much more will the manifestation of the Father by the Word bring life to those who see God.”(3) Human beings are fully alive as they find life in this One who in his human life reveals both the eternal God and the vision of God for fully alive human beings. Certainly, our lives include events and seasons that we wish were not part of the fully alive human experience. But perhaps those who seek true life might recognize these appointments with both death and resurrection as an entryway into a deeper understanding of the human experience. And as that door is opened, we can be ushered into the deep and abiding fellowship of the Divine Community—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—not phantom spirits, not distant deities, but intimates to all that it means to be human.

 

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

 

(1) John Eldridge, Waking the Dead (Nashville: Thomas-Nelson Publishers, 2003), 12.
(2) Cyril Richardson ed., Early Christian Fathers (New York: Collier Books, 1970), 345.
(3) Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, (IV, 20, 7).

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Joyce Meyer – Confusion Is Not from God

 

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints — 1 Corinthians 14:33

Adapted from the resource New Day, New You Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Years ago, I was teaching at a conference, and it came to my heart to ask the audience how many of them were confused. All but two of them raised their hands! And my husband was one of the two who didn’t raise a hand.

I can tell you that my husband, Dave, has never been confused in his life because he doesn’t worry. He doesn’t try to figure out anything. He is not interested in having all the answers to everything because he trusts God. When you trust God, you can relax and enjoy life. You don’t have to go through life worrying and trying to figure out how to solve all your problems.

Think about all the things you have worried about in your life and how they have all worked out. That ought to help you realize that worry and reasoning are a waste of time and energy.

Stop worrying. Stop complicating your life by trying to figure out everything. Just admit that you don’t know, that you are not able, and that you need God. Then go on living, and enjoy life while God is giving you the answers.

Prayer Starter: Father, You know every situation I’m dealing with, and I ask for Your supernatural peace right now—mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Please help me to give You all of my cares, questions, and concerns and trust You more than ever before. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – A Matter of the Will 

 

“If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself” (John 7:17, KJV).

At the conclusion of an address I gave at M.I.T., a skeptical young man approached me. He said, “I am a scientist. I can’t believe anything that I can’t see. I must be able to go into the laboratory and test a proposition or a theory. I must prove its authenticity before I will believe and accept.

“Religion,” he said, “is a matter of faith. It has no substance and, as far as I’m concerned, no validity.”

I turned to the seventh chapter of John, verse 17 – our Scripture portion for today – and asked him to read it aloud.

“Do you understand what Jesus is saying here?” I asked.

“Well, I’m not sure,” he replied. “What is your point?”

“Your problem is not your intellect, but your will. Are you willing to do what God wants you to do? Are there relationships in your life that you’re not willing to surrender in order to do the will of God? Are there moral problems, problems of integrity that you are not willing to relinquish?”

An odd expression came over his countenance.

“How did you know?” Then he said, “I’d like to talk to you privately.” Later, as we sat together alone, he poured out his heart to me. He said, “I know that what you’re saying is true. I know that there’s a God in heaven, and I know that Jesus Christ is His Son and that He died on the cross for me.

“But,” he said, “there is sin in my life. I have been living with a young woman without the benefit of marriage for the last couple of years. Today you have exposed me for what I really am – a fraud, a sham, a hypocrite, and I want with God’s help to terminate my present relationship with this young woman and receive Christ into my life.”

I am happy to report that, soon after, he and the young woman both surrendered their lives to Christ and were married. Together they are making their lives count for the glory of God.

Bible Reading: John 7:14-18

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will confess – and turn from – all known sin that keeps me from knowing and doing the will of God. I will also share this message with others.

 

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Max Lucado – Each Person is God’s Brand New Idea

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

God made you and broke the mold!  Every single baby is a brand-new idea from the mind of God.  Scan history for your replica; you won’t find it.  God tailor-made you.  You aren’t one of many bricks in the mason’s pile or one of a dozen bolts in the mechanic’s drawer.  You are it!  And if you aren’t you, we don’t get you.  The world misses out.

You offer a gift to society that no one else brings.  When you and I do the most what we do the best for the glory of God, the Bible says that we are “marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body” (Romans 12:5). You play no small part, because there is no small part to be played.  God “shaped each person in turn” (Psalm 33:15).  We need you to be you.  And YOU, need to be you!

Read more Cure for the Common Life

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – Unprecedented protests in Hong Kong and Moscow: How to unleash the power of true community

Hong Kong International Airport has canceled all remaining departing flights for the second day after thousands of pro-democracy protesters blocked the terminals. “Protesting in the airport is the best way to tell the world what’s happening in Hong Kong,” according to a sixteen-year-old who handed out flyers to travelers alleging police brutality.

Demonstrators say they are protesting the erosion of the “one country, two systems” arrangement that was enacted when Hong Kong reverted to Chinese control in 1997. Uprisings started ten weeks ago over a bill that would have allowed China to extradite Hong Kong citizens to face trial in Communist courts. It has since broadened into demands for more democratic reforms. Protesters have blocked trains and staged airport strikes, rallies, and marches.

Meanwhile, nearly fifty thousand people flooded Moscow over the weekend to demand an end to political controls under President Vladimir Putin and to stand up against police violence. This is the largest protest movement in Moscow in years and comes as Mr. Putin’s support has fallen to multiyear lows.

Is our culture at war with community?

There is enormous power in community.

The return of Col. Roy Knight Jr.’s remains to Dallas on an airplane flown by his son engendered an airport-wide show of support that even made the New York Times. Mass protests led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and sweeping democratic reforms in Eastern Europe. Whether for bad or for good, the force generated by people working together to advance a common agenda is undeniable.

Why, then, is our culture undermining community at a time when we need it most?

As American society has turned from biblical sexuality and marriage, we have seen a rapid fragmentation of the family. The number of unmarried parents has increased fourfold since 1968; the number of births to unmarried women has increased over 50 percent.

As a result, 40 percent of children born in America today are to women who are either solo mothers or living with a nonmarital partner. This while the children of unmarried parents are much more likely to be impoverished and otherwise disadvantaged.

With the advent of postmodern relativism and its denial of biblical authority, we have seen a rapid decline in church membership as well. According to Gallup, the percentage of Americans who say they belong to a church or other religious institution has fallen from more than 70 percent to 50 percent. This is the lowest since Gallup began such polling in 1937.

It’s not just families and churches that are fragmenting in our postmodern, post-Christian society. Rotary Clubs, Masons, Elks, and Shriners are all declining in membership. Organizations that require us to sacrifice our time and resources on a regular, disciplined basis are facing enormous headwinds these days.

Is connectedness the new community?

One more factor: as institutions are declining, digital interactions are escalating.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Unprecedented protests in Hong Kong and Moscow: How to unleash the power of true community