Charles Stanley – Grace in Sorrow

 

John 20:11-19

The famous hymn “How Firm a Foundation” describes God’s purpose for our trials: “For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless, and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.” The pain and hardship we endure is meant not to crush us but to refine and shape us into Christ’s image. God alone knows how to replace ashes with a crown, and mourning with the oil of gladness (Isa. 61:3).

This is what Mary Magdalene discovered on the morning of the Christ’s resurrection. She went to the garden tomb, overwhelmed by sorrow and loss. The darkness of despair was swallowing her when she turned around and saw Jesus. After He spoke her name, she immediately recognized the Lord and clung to Him, fearing that even now He might be taken away from her.

But Jesus assured her that He had not yet ascended to His Father. Although there would come a day when He would physically depart from her and all His followers, in reality nothing could separate them from Him. Because He had paid the penalty of their sins with His death, His Spirit would soon indwell them. And one day Jesus would come to take them back to His Father’s house to be with Him forever (John 14:3).

We can all relate to feelings of despair. Dashed hopes—even small ones—can lead to suffering. But when expectations are high or personal loss hangs in the balance, our hope can be crushed if disaster strikes. Then it’s important to remember that when we have Christ, weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Ps. 30:5).

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 25-27

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — A Sad Story

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 94–96; Romans 15:14–33

The thing David had done displeased the Lord.

2 Samuel 11:27

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Samuel 11:2–15

Painfully, the evil that has long been swept under the rug—sexual abuse of many women by men who had power over them—has come to light. Enduring headline after headline, my heart sank when I heard proof of abuse by two men I admired. The church has not been immune to these issues.

King David faced his own reckoning. Samuel tells us that one afternoon, David “saw a woman bathing” (2 Samuel 11:2). And David wanted her. Though Bathsheba was the wife of one his loyal soldiers (Uriah), David took her anyway. When Bathsheba told David she was pregnant, he panicked. And in a despicable act of treachery, David arranged for Joab to have Uriah die on the battlefield.

There is no hiding David’s abuse of power against Bathsheba and Uriah. Here it is in full color, Samuel ensuring we see it. We must deal with our evil.

Also, we must hear these stories because they caution us against the abuse of power in our times. This was David, “a man after [God’s] own heart” (Acts 13:22), but also a man who needed to be held accountable for his actions. May we also prayerfully hold leaders accountable for how they use or abuse power.

By God’s grace, redemption is possible. If we read further, we encounter David’s profound repentance (2 Samuel 12:13). Thankfully, hard hearts can still turn from death to life.

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

Why is it important to prayerfully address the abuse of power in our midst and in our world? How did Jesus reveal the right way to live out true power?

God, I don’t know what to do with all the brokenness I see in my world, the brokenness in me. Will You shine Your light and heal us?

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Wandering Aimlessly

 

Dr. John Ratey is a fan of walking with no purpose. A professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Ratey has done extensive research on exercise, creativity and depression. His research suggests that when we walk without any goal or agenda—when we wander, in other words—our brains are able to pick up more information.(1) In fact, walking aimlessly allows the free flow of thoughts and ideas that don’t occur when we focus on something specific. In addition to inspiring creative thought, Ratey has found that exercise can be therapeutic for depression and ADHD. When patients would walk for even ten minutes a day, these ailments would lift. Dr. Ratey notes, “A bout of exercise is like taking a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin.”(2) Who knew that wandering aimlessly could be so good for well-being and creativity?

In a fast-paced and efficiency driven world, these ideas are counter-intuitive. For many, walking without any purpose sounds like a complete waste of time. After all, there is so much to do! Days overflow with so many demands on time and attention. Flooded by obligations, it is no wonder that hypertension, depression, and other stress-related diseases are so prevalent. Living life becomes all about doing, without much thought for being. Exercise, when it is undertaken, is for most just one part of a day’s hoped-for accomplishments. “Bucket lists” are created so that even the living of one’s life is marked by checking off one event or experience after another. As we move at hyper-speed, wandering for the sake of wandering sounds ridiculous.

While it would be unlikely to characterize the earthly ministry of Jesus as time spent wandering aimlessly, our efficiency-driven, goal-oriented world might wonder at his unusual pace and priorities during those short, three years. Some might wonder, for example, at the seemingly wasted hours eating and drinking with a sundry and often sordid cast of characters. Luke’s gospel alone mentions meals around the table (or implies them) ten times, with guests and hosts as diverse as religious leaders and tax collectors, lawyers and well-known sinners. When a highly regarded official begged Jesus to come and heal his daughter, Jesus is willing to be delayed by an unnamed, unknown woman grabbing the hem of his garment in spite of the throngs of people pressing around. In other words, Jesus willingly allows himself to be interrupted by a seemingly unimportant individual, on his way to the synagogue official’s home. Other times, the gospel writers tell of Jesus going off to ‘lonely places’ to pray. Even the way Jesus taught spiritual truths—the telling of parables and stories—suggests a whimsy, a wandering from a style of teaching that was purely didactic. And of course, while one could argue that the tremendous amount of time he spent walking the countryside was simply utilitarian, his willingness toward these disruptions, stories, and ministry along the way demonstrate otherwise.

Why would he have done it this way? From our modern perspective, it can seem like such a waste of time. Didn’t he need to save the world? Weren’t there more important things he should have been doing? Perhaps it is in these examples from his own life where even the casual reader might see a different set of priorities than those that govern most in the modern world. Perhaps Jesus understood the power of a long walk with his disciples, and the need for a story to pull in listeners. Perhaps Jesus understood that looking at the birds of the air and observing the lilies of the field could give life and strength to one’s being, gifts imbued by their Creator. Perhaps Jesus understood for himself the power of abiding in God as a result of his time spent alone in prayer. Perhaps Jesus knew that meaningful accomplishments were not always efficient and output is often a byproduct of input.

Considering Jesus’s way of being in the world—even when he knew his life would be cut short—I have been inspired to think about my own priorities and the manner in which I move through the day. Generally rushed and hurried, I wander from the path of busyness by rest and withdrawal, prayer and stillness. I stop to notice the purple Echinacea plant, rocking in time with the wind. I see the bees gathering pollen on its brown cones and antique violet petals. I allow myself to be distracted by the hummingbirds hovering around the feeder. I wander into my backyard, or through my neighborhood letting thoughts, feelings and prayers rise and fall with my breath and my steps. I allow the precious interruptions of colleagues, family, friends to call me more deeply into the kind of love Jesus demonstrated in his own ministry.

Meanwhile, all the tasks of the day still hound me; like barking dogs, they will not relent at demanding my attention. Their urgency conspires against my attempts to intentionally slow the pace of the day. I hear a persistent chorus singing the minor note that I am wasting my time. I am not immune to the compulsion to view my worth by my productivity, my busyness, or by how many items I’ve crossed off my ‘to do’ list.

And yet, the busyness is not what is useful nor is it what brings meaning, beauty, joy, or wonder to living. Creating space for wandering in the crowded days and weeks of our lives allows our thoughts to roam toward new priorities and paths, toward encounters along the road that surprise and nourish the soul, like the disciples who walked unknowingly with the risen Jesus. Wandering—whether that involves the purposeless walking of Dr. Ratey, being distracted by beauty in the person right in front of us or in the natural world, or the intentional withdrawal into silence, stillness, and prayer—is itself a purposeful work.

 

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

 

(1) Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson, “Why Walking Matters” Here and Now (Monday, May 19, 2014).
(2) Ibid.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Reach Your Full Potential

 

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair — 2 Corinthians 4:8 (NIV)

Adapted from the resource The Power of Being Thankful Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

I fully believe that reaching your potential is linked to the way you handle adversity. Adversity isn’t always bad. Actually, adversity can be something to be thankful for because God can use it to strengthen you. Winston Churchill said, “Difficulties mastered are opportunities won,” and I wholeheartedly agree.

If you allow difficulties and challenges to frustrate, intimidate, or discourage you, you will never overcome them. But if you face them head-on and press through the adversities you encounter, refusing to give up in the midst of them and move forward with a heart of gratitude, you will develop the skills and determination needed to be everything you were created to be and experience everything God intends for you.

Prayer Starter: I thank You, Father, that I don’t have to give up when I face adversity—I can meet it head-on, knowing that You are always with me. Thank You for Your promise that says, …He who is in you is greater than he (Satan) who is in the world…(1 John 4:4 AMP). In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Perfect Healing

 

“Jesus’ name has healed this man – and you know how lame he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name – faith given us from God – has caused this perfect healing” (Acts 3:16).

This is another of the great “3:16” verses of the Bible – with a truth and a promise that you and I need probably every day of our lives. Jesus claimed “all authority in heaven and earth” (Matthew 28:18). “In Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9, KJV; see also 1:15-19).

There is a great power in the name of Jesus. Throughout Scripture that fact is emphasized. And I have seen it illustrated in miraculous ways through the Jesus film, which has been used of God to introduce tens of millions of men, women, young people, and children to Christ in most countries of the world.

The promise, equally clear, is that if we exercise faith in that wonderful name of Jesus – faith that is a gift from God – we can see healing, both physical and spiritual.

I sit in astonishment often as I try to comprehend such great love that would give us the very gifts He requires of us – faith, in this instance. We need not conjure up such faith; it is made available on simple terms: Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

And we may appropriate this truth and this promise today.

Bible Reading: Acts 3:12-18

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: “Dear Lord, I dare to believe that You are still the same yesterday, today and forever, so I can trust you to heal, and to enable me to live a supernatural life.”

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Examine Your Gifts and Strengths 

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Be careful!  In a desire to be great, one might cease being any good.  Not every teacher is equipped to be a principal.  Not every carpenter has the skill to head a crew. Not every musician should conduct an orchestra.  A promotion might promote a person right out of their sweet spot.  For the love of more, a person might lose their purpose.  Greed makes a poor job counselor.

Examine your gifts; know your strengths.  Romans 12:3 says to “Have a sane estimate of your capabilities.”  Proverbs 15:16 says, “It is better to have little with fear for the LORD than to have great treasure with turmoil.”  Don’t let the itch for things or the ear for applause derail you from your God-intended design!

Read more Cure for the Common Life

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – 📉 Recession worries and the ‘yield curve inversion’: 📈 How and why to trust the sovereignty of God

 

The stock market fell more than eight hundred points Wednesday, the largest one-day drop of the year. It rebounded somewhat yesterday to finish up nearly one hundred points, but concerns about the global economy persist.

The decline Wednesday was precipitated by a “yield curve inversion” that made headlines when it occurred for the first time since 2007. What is this? Why does it matter?

Is a recession coming?

The Washington Post explains that an “inverted yield curve” occurs “when the interest rates on short-term bonds are higher than the interest rates paid by long-term bonds.” In other words, “people are so worried about the near-term future that they are piling into safer long-term investments.”

According to the Post, “the yield curve has inverted before every US recession since 1955, suggesting to some investors that an economic downturn is coming.” The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco has also stated that the yield curve “has a strikingly accurate record for forecasting recessions.”

However, there are also strong reasons to believe the economy will not go into a recession. The labor market is strong—the economy added 164,000 jobs in July as employers say this is a “golden age” to get a job or to ask for better pay and benefits.

One expert stated as recently as July 26, “I don’t see any warning signs right now. It’s hard to be against the economy when the consumer is in such good shape.” Another expert added, “I wouldn’t forecast a recession just on the yield curve. I would want to see other signals that point to that, but we’re not seeing them right now.”

Continue reading Denison Forum – 📉 Recession worries and the ‘yield curve inversion’: 📈 How and why to trust the sovereignty of God