Charles Stanley – External Causes of Discouragement

 

Colossians 3:23-24

Whether in the workplace or elsewhere, discouragement can hit from many angles, depleting energy and productivity. To lessen its paralyzing effect, wise believers learn to detect its sources and symptoms. Let’s examine some external causes.

Unresolved disappointments. This could be letdowns caused by our own failed expectations or someone else’s.

Constant criticism. Frequent put-downs can make us think, What’s wrong with me? Yet unless God reveals truth in such comments, learn to let them go.

The feeling that no one’s listening. This can leave us with a sense of rejection.

A sense we aren’t appreciated after doing our best. We at times get so tied to our work that someone’s failure to acknowledge our efforts can feel like a personal rebuff.

Bad working conditions. Many believers enjoy what they do but pick up on coworkers’ cruelty, bitterness, or refusal to recognize their investment of time, energy, or creativity. This can make it extremely difficult to get motivated about going to work each day.

Lacking opportunities to shine. A job that doesn’t make the best use of one’s gifts and abilities can wear a person down. So can tight-fisted management that limits freedom to make innovations.

Oftentimes, it’s the people we see every day who seem to have the most power for causing discouragement in our lives. Read through the list again. Do any of the above scenarios sound familiar? If so, pray for the strength to face these external discouragers with renewed confidence and grace.

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 18-21

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — The Illusion of Control

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 89–90; Romans 14

You do not even know what will happen tomorrow.

James 4:14

Today’s Scripture & Insight:James 4:13–17

Ellen Langer’s 1975 study titled The Illusion of Control examined the level of influence we exert over life’s events. She found that we overestimate our degree of control in most situations. The study also demonstrated how reality nearly always shatters our illusion.

Langer’s conclusions are supported by experiments carried out by others since the study was published. However, James identified the phenomenon long before she named it. In James 4, he wrote, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (vv. 13–14).

Then James provides a cure for the delusion, pointing to the One who’s in absolute control: “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’” (v. 15). In these few verses, James summarized both a key failing of the human condition and its antidote.

May we understand that our fate doesn’t rest in our own hands. Because God holds all things in His capable hands, we can trust His plans!

By:  Remi Oyedele

Reflect & Pray

In what ways have you given in to the illusion that you’re in control of your fate? How can you turn over your plans to God and leave your future in His hands?

Heavenly Father, I place all of my life in Your loving hands. Thank You for Your good plans for me.

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Longing Rendered

The places in literature that most often slow my mind to a reflective halt are usually intensely visual. Among them, perhaps surprisingly to some, are images from ancient scriptures that offer some of the most beautiful depictions. The resounding cry of Isaiah 64:1, “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,” seems to leave a trail of the most desperate, sorrowing, hopeful faces in its wake, men and women longing in agreement. Fitting with Isaiah’s vision for a world that revolves around God as good and worthy king, his cry was a fervent prayer for the severe presence of a God he knew could come nearer.

Like the God for which he longed, the prophet’s words are intense, stirring, and intentional. Isaiah’s use of words—in fact, the entire genre of prophetic literature—cries out with poetic vision. As Abraham Heschel comments, “Prophecy is the product of a poetic imagination. Prophecy is poetry, and in poetry everything is possible, e.g. for the trees to celebrate a birthday and for God to speak to man.”(1) And that is to say, God gives us something of the divine character in the prophet’s powerful interplay of word, metaphor, and image. As messenger, the prophet yields the words of God, and the poetic nature of prophetic speech reveals a God who speaks in couplets, a God who uses simile and metaphor, rhythm and sound, alliteration, repetition, and rhetorical questions. Any reading of prophetic speech requires that one engage these poetic structures. A quick scan of Isaiah 64:1 reveals a depth of interacting words and key patterns, and a metaphor that moves us like the mountains Isaiah describes:

If only you would cleave the heavens!
(If only) you would come down,
From facing you, mountains would quake!

These few stanzas make use of repeated words and paired images to convey an intensity about human longing for the transcendence of God. The cry is not merely for God’s presence, but a presence that will tear open the heavens and cause mountains—even Mount Zion and the children of God—to tremble. Set in the opening line, the Hebrew word qarata is as illustrative in tone as it is meaning. The guttural sound and sharp stop in its pronunciation contribute to the severity of the word itself, which means to tear, to rend, to sever, or to split an object into two or more parts. “Oh that you would rend the heavens…”  “If only you would cleave open the heavens and come down…”

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Longing Rendered

Joyce Meyer – Passing the Test

 

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test you [that is, to test the quality of your faith], as though something strange or unusual were happening to you. — 1 Peter 4:12 (AMP)

Adapted from the resource Power Thoughts Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

God sometimes allows us to be in less than desirable situations to test our “quality.” Quite often, He is planning a promotion for us in life if we pass the test in front of us. We are like children in school who must pass tests in order to be promoted to the next grade. Are you passing the test—refusing to murmur, complain, or blame when things don’t go your way?

You should praise and bless God while you are in the low valleys of life as well as when you are on the mountaintops. If you are in a difficult or trying situation right now, discipline yourself not to complain, but instead give praise and glory to God.

Prayer Starter: Father, You see my current circumstances, and Your Word says that You’ll never allow more to come on me than I can handle (see 1 Corinthians 10:13). Please help me to glorify You today…to press forward and do everything I need to do with a good attitude. Help me to press past my difficulties and never give up. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Whatsoever You Desire 

 

“For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:23,24, KJV).

How big is your God? If the Holy Spirit were to withdraw from your life and from the fellowship of your local church, would he be missed? In other words, is there anything supernatural about your life or the local church where you have fellowship with other believers?

A skeptic, contrasting the actor and Christian worker, gave this evaluation: The actor presents fiction as though it were true. The Christian worker all too often presents truth as though it were fiction.

A militant atheist attacked Christians with this accusation: “You say that your God is omnipotent, that He created the heavens and the earth. You say that He is a loving God who sent His only Son to die on the cross for the sins of man and on the third day was raised from the dead. You say that through faith in Him one could have a whole new quality of life, of peace, love and joy; a purpose and meaning plus the assurance of eternal life. I say to you that is a lie and you know it, because if you really believe what you say you believe, you would pay whatever price it took to tell everyone who would listen. What you claim is without question the greatest news the world has ever heard, but it couldn’t be true or you would be more enthusiastic about it. If I believed what you believe, I would sell everything I have and use every resource at my command to reach the largest possible number of people with this good news.”

Unfortunately, the critics and the skeptics have good reason to find fault with us. It is true that, if we really believed what we say we believe, we would be constrained, as the apostle Paul, to tell everyone who would listen about Christ, mindful that there is nothing more important in all the world that we could do. At the same time we would claim our rights as children of God, drawing upon the supernatural resources of God.

Bible Reading: Mark 11:20-26

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will seek to know God better by studying His Word and meditating upon his attributes so that His supernatural qualities will become more and more a part of my life for the glory and praise of His name.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

The apostle Paul said, “Don’t compare yourself with others.  Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life”  (Galatians 6:4-5).

Before Thomas Merton followed Christ, he followed money, fame and society.  He shocked many of his colleagues when he exchanged it all for the life of a Trappist monk.  Many years later a friend visited the monastery and could see no important difference in him.  “Tom, he said, “you haven’t changed at all.”  “Why should I?  “Here,” he said, “our duty is to be more like ourselves, not less.”

God never called you to be anyone other than you.  But he does call you to be the best you that you can be.  The big question is, at your best, who are you?

Read more Cure for the Common Life: Living in Your Sweet Spot

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

Home

Denison Forum – How did Jeffrey Epstein really die? Conspiracy theories and the key to cultural impact

The two staff members guarding the jail unit where Jeffrey Epstein apparently killed himself fell asleep and failed to check on him for about three hours, according to this morning’s New York Times. They then falsified records to cover up their mistake. The two employees were placed on administrative leave yesterday and the warden of the jail was temporarily reassigned.

Skepticism surrounding Epstein’s death has ranged across the political spectrum, from President Trump and Rudy Giuliani to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough.

“We have to ask who stood to gain from his permanent silence,” said Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe. “Who could he have incriminated in an effort to win favorable treatment from the Trump Justice Department?”

Such questions reflect our growing skepticism of our government and elected leaders. According to Pew Research Center, public trust in government was near 80 percent in the mid-1960s. Today, such trust has fallen to 17 percent.

Only 3 percent of Americans say they trust the federal government to do what is right “just about always”; 14 percent say they trust it “most of the time.”

Did the military create Lyme disease?

Conspiracy theories have long been with us.

On the recent fiftieth anniversary of the lunar landing, claims that NASA faked Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk received renewed attention.

Next month, the remains of FBI bank robber John Dillinger will be exhumed. For eighty-five years since his death, conspiracy theorists have claimed that the FBI killed a body double. DNA testing could confirm the corpse’s true identity.

Some have questioned whether Lyme disease in the US resulted from an accidental release of a secret bioweapons experiment by the military. And more than two million people signed on to a Facebook event to storm Area 51 in Nevada seeking evidence of aliens. The event was a joke drawing on decades of conspiracy theories, but the response shows how pervasive these theories have become.

Continue reading Denison Forum – How did Jeffrey Epstein really die? Conspiracy theories and the key to cultural impact