Charles Stanley – Relying on the Spirit in Our Work

 

Ezra 4:1-5

Israel’s enemies were clever in their efforts to block the temple’s reconstruction. First, they offered to help. What better way to cause things to go wrong than to get involved in the work? When their aid was rejected, they set out to discourage the workers and make them afraid. The opponents even hired counselors to thwart the Israelites and were successful in hindering the project.

God, however, wanted His people to reject self-reliance and instead carry out His work in dependence upon the Holy Spirit. He offered them encouragement and protected their building project despite the mountain of opposition facing them. Sometimes this means He will remove the problem; at other times He walks us through it. In either case, we are to rely steadily on God’s Holy Spirit. Doing so will allow us to:

  • Patiently love our spouse when there is turmoil in the home.
  • Wisely guide our children toward godliness in our self-centered culture.
  • Follow scriptural principles about giving, saving, and spending in a society that urges us to get what we want now.
  • Experience contentment and God’s peace in our current circumstances—single or married, employed or out of a job, healthy or sick.
  • Do God’s work His way.

Being led by the Spirit characterizes how we work. While that mindset is countercultural and not pleasing to the flesh (Gal. 5:16), it’s the only way to live as a child of God. Seek out believers who are trying to practice dependence on the Spirit, and encourage one another not to give up.

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 37-40

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Touched by Grace

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 105–106; 1 Corinthians 3

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.

Luke 6:27

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Luke 6:27–36

In Leif Enger’s novel Peace Like a River, Jeremiah Land is a single father of three working as a janitor at a local school. He’s also a man of deep, sometimes miraculous, faith. Throughout the book, his faith is often tested.

Jeremiah’s school is run by Chester Holden, a mean-spirited superintendent with a skin condition. Despite Jeremiah’s excellent work ethic—mopping up a sewage spill without complaint, picking up broken bottles the superintendent smashed—Holden wants him gone. One day, in front of all the students, he accuses Jeremiah of drunkenness and fires him. It’s a humiliating scene.

How does Jeremiah respond? He could threaten legal action for unfair dismissal or make accusations of his own. He could slink away, accepting the injustice. Think for a moment what you might do.

“Love your enemies,” Jesus says, “do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27–28). These challenging words aren’t meant to excuse evil or stop justice from being pursued. Instead, they call us to imitate God (v. 36) by asking a profound question: How can I help my enemy become all God wants him or her to be?

Jeremiah looks at Holden for a moment, then reaches up and touches his face. Holden steps back defensively, then feels his chin and cheeks in wonder. His scarred skin has been healed.

An enemy touched by grace.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

What would your first reaction be in Jeremiah’s situation? How can you help a difficult person move closer to God’s purposes for them?

God, when faced with unfairness, injustice, or abuse, show me how to help my enemy move closer to You.

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – An Unlikely Alliance

They both trod along the dusty streets of ancient Palestine: one as an outcast and traitor and the other as a would-be hero. One used his position to cheat and extort his own people. The other carried a dagger under his cloak to swiftly exact vengeance on agents of government extortion. Neither man would have hoped to meet the other. Yet, a stranger from a backwater town would bring the two of them together. In fact, this most unlikely pair would not only meet, but live alongside each other for three years as they followed this stranger. All that had previously defined them would give way to an entirely new path of life.

On that most unexpected day, Matthew was collecting taxes from the people. He made sure to extract more than what was necessary to fill his coffers with unlawful profits. The stranger who came by the tax office that day looked like any other man, so it likely came as quite a shock to Matthew when the stranger called out to him, “Follow me.” No one from among the people of Israel would even desire to speak with Matthew—yet this stranger called after him and invited him to follow. To where, he did not know, but his invitation was irresistible. That very night, Matthew invited the stranger to his home for dinner and they reclined at the same table. Even to Matthew, it would have been a radical sight. Seated among the most despised members of society, didn’t the stranger know how deeply this company was hated? How was it that he had come to Matthew’s house, a man hated in all Israel for being a sellout to the Roman government? Yet, here was this intriguing stranger eating and drinking with outsiders and sellouts.(1)

The day that Simon the Zealot was approached would be no less surprising. The Zealots sought any and all means to overthrow their Roman oppressors. As revolutionaries, Simon’s political affiliates hated all that Matthew’s kind represented. For Simon, Matthew was nothing but a colluder with those who sought to oppress the people of Israel. Yet this stranger from Nazareth called both of these men to his side. “Follow me,” he instructed. So along with a group of fisherman—Simon Peter, the sons of Zebedee, James and John—and this wretched tax collector, Simon the Zealot was invited to follow this stranger who gathered a most unexpected group of followers.(2)

Why would anyone call such an eclectic collection of people to become his followers? What kind of leader brings together people who for all practical purposes are at opposing ends of the spectrum with regards to their views of the world?

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Joyce Meyer – God Changes People Through Prayer

 

First of all, then, I urge that petitions (specific requests), prayers, intercessions (prayers for others) and thanksgivings be offered on behalf of all people. — 1 Timothy 2:1 (AMP)

Adapted from the resource Closer to God Each Day Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

In Exodus 32, Moses interceded for the children of Israel so that the wrath of God would not destroy them. It’s a stirring example that depicts how sincere prayer can change situations.

There are times when I find myself being led to pray for God to be merciful to a person, or to continue working with them and making the changes in them that are needed.

As Jesus told His disciples at Gethsemane, we can “watch and pray” (Matthew 26:41). We have the opportunity to pray for one another, not judge and criticize each other. God allows us to discern people’s needs in order to be part of the answer, not part of the problem. Remember we are not the potter. God is, and we certainly don’t know how to “fix” people. We cannot change people, but we can pray and watch Him work.

When people are hurting, even from their own poor choices, they often are blinded to the truth. We can pray for their eyes to be opened and for them to truly see the truth so it will set them free. People who are hurting need God to intervene in their lives, but if they don’t know how to call on Him, we can stand in the gap between them and God as intercessors and see breakthroughs as we pray. We can do the praying and let God do the work.

Prayer Starter: Thank You, Lord, that You hear our prayers. Please help me to be sensitive to the needs of others and faithful to pray on their behalf. Use me as a tool help others grow and change. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – A New Creature 

 

“As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:10-12, KJV).

At the conclusion of one of my messages at a pastor’s conference, a pastor stood to take issue with me concerning a statement that I had made. I had said that there is a great hunger for God throughout the world, and that more people are now hearing the gospel and receiving Christ than at any time since the Great Commission was given almost 2,000 years ago.

“How can you say that,” he objected, “when the Scripture clearly teaches that no man seeketh after God?”

“That is exactly what the Bible teaches,” I responded, “and I agree with the Word of God 100 percent, but do not forget that – though in his natural inclination man does not have a hunger for God – the Holy Spirit sends conviction and creates within the human heart a desire for the Savior.”

As Jesus put it, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me, draws him” (John 6:44, NAS). There are three things that we can learn about the human race from this passage. First, no one is righteous. Second, no one understands the things of God; and third, no one seeks God. What a contrast between what man is like in his natural state and what man becomes at spiritual birth when he is liberated from the darkness and gloom of Satan’s kingdom and ushered into the light of God’s glorious kingdom through Jesus Christ. That man becomes a new creature. Old things are passed away and behold all things become new.

What a contrast between the natural and the supernatural. The natural man must depend upon his own resources, his own wisdom, to find meaning and purpose in his life, inevitably resulting in a life of conflict, discord and frustration. But the one who trusts in God has the privilege of drawing upon the supernatural resources of God daily; resources of joy, peace, love; resources that provide meaning and purpose, assurance of eternal life.

Most people live lives of quiet desperation in self- imposed poverty because those of us who know the truth of the supernatural are strangely silent. God forgive us.

Bible Reading: Romans 3:13-20

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: With God’s help I refuse to remain silent any longer, but will seek to proclaim “the most joyful news ever announced” (Luke 2:10-11), to all who will listen in order that others may join me in living the supernatural life.

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Let Your Uniqueness Define Your Path

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

For the love of more, you might lose your purpose!  Just because someone gives you advice, a job, or a promotion, you don’t have to accept it.  Let your uniqueness define your path of life.  Isaiah prayed, “You, LORD, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3).

Before you change your job title, examine your perspective toward life.  As the Japanese proverb says,  “Even if you sleep in a thousand-mat room, you can only sleep on one mat.” Success is not defined by position or pay scale but by this– doing the most what you do the best.  Parents, tell your children to do what they love to do so well that someone pays them to do it.  “Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5).

Read more Cure for the Common Life

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – The threat of great white sharks and contact lenses that zoom: God’s call to excellence

 

“Any person could be attacked at any minute,” said a surfer who spotted a great white shark off Cape Cod. Researchers have identified at least three hundred of the huge predators in the popular area.

Nine people were injured last night in Pennsylvania when lightning struck a tree, causing it to fall on their tent. Fleas carrying the plague have infested prairie dogs near Denver, threatening humans and prompting officials to close parts of a wildlife refuge. Overseas, the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a bombing at a wedding that killed sixty-three people and wounded 182 others in Kabul, Afghanistan.

With all the bad news in the news, let’s focus today on some good news.

Scientists have taken the next step in developing contact lenses that zoom when we blink. This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) gave an award to a Bluetooth-connected water bottle that plays music, takes and receives phone calls, and offers caller ID.

CES also recognized a countertop dishwasher that requires no plumbing connections; you load your dishes, add a gallon of water, and turn it on. And the event celebrated a laptop computer with a keyboard that transforms into a writing pad.

Scientific advances are changing our lives daily. For instance, thousands of people have RFID devices implanted in their bodies so they can activate doors and computerized locks. A Tesla owner recently implanted in her arm the RFID chip that starts her car.

Earbuds now offer real-time language translation. Exoskeletons are being tested that enable soldiers to hike long distances without fatigue. A man who is colorblind can detect color through an antenna grafted onto his skull.

What a rocket scientist said about God

Each day’s news seems to report new ways science is improving our lives. By contrast, religious news these days is tragically focused on clergy abuse scandals, hateful rhetoric, and radical ideologies.

It’s unsurprising that Americans trust scientists far more than they trust religious leaders today. But what if deciding between science and religion is a false choice?

Wernher von Braun, the NASA scientist who designed the Saturn rockets: “I find it as difficult to understand a scientist who does not acknowledge the presence of a superior rationality behind the existence of the universe as it is to comprehend a theologian who would deny the advances of science.”

Continue reading Denison Forum – The threat of great white sharks and contact lenses that zoom: God’s call to excellence