Charles Stanley – Suffering a Spiritual Failure

 

Deuteronomy 1:19-46

No one likes to fail at anything, and a spiritual fall is particularly distressing. The word failure immediately drums up uncomfortable thoughts of a blemish on our walk with God. Try as we might, however, we simply cannot and will not go through life without missing the mark from time to time.

Most troubling to believers are those instances when we know the right thing to do but don’t do it. That’s what happened with the Israelites, who refused to enter the land God had said to conquer and possess. They allowed fear to short-circuit their obedience to the heavenly Father. But the ultimate reason for their disobedience was a lack of trust in God.

Think about a time you failed to follow one of the Lord’s commands. Did you look at the circumstances around you and conclude that it was too risky to do what God had said? Or perhaps your way simply seemed like a better approach. In both cases, the temptation began with doubts about God. Is He powerful enough to handle the circumstances if I follow Him? I’m not convinced He knows what’s best for me.

Every time we trust in ourselves and doubt God’s wisdom, power, and goodness, we are headed for failure and its aftermath. Although He always forgives us when we come to Him with a repentant heart, we may still face the consequences of our self-willed rebellion.

The Lord wants us to have enough confidence in Him that we choose to follow His directions and thereby avoid the pitfalls of self-reliance. Remember that the God who calls us empowers us to obey whatever He commands.

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 49-50

 

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Our Daily Bread — Servant’s Heart

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 113–115; 1 Corinthians 6

Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.

Mark 9:35

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Mark 9:33–37

Cook. Event Planner. Nutritionist. Nurse. These are just some of the responsibilities regularly performed by modern moms. In 2016, research estimated that moms likely worked between fifty-nine and ninety-six hours per week doing child-related tasks.

No wonder moms are always exhausted! Being a mom means giving a lot of time and energy to care for children, who need so much help as they learn to navigate the world.

When my days feel long and I need a reminder that caring for others is a worthy pursuit, I find great hope when I see Jesus affirming those who serve.

In the gospel of Mark, the disciples were having an argument about which one of them was the greatest. Jesus quietly sat down and reminded them that “anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all” (9:35). Then He took a child in His arms to illustrate the importance of serving others, especially the most helpless among us (vv. 36–37).

Christ’s response resets the bar for what greatness looks like in His kingdom. His standard is a heart willing to care for others. And Jesus has promised that God’s empowering presence will be with those who choose to serve (v. 37).

As you have opportunities to serve in your family or community, be encouraged that Jesus greatly values the time and effort you give in service to others.

By:  Lisa M. Samra

Reflect & Pray

How might you serve someone today? How could you take time to say “thank you” to someone who has graciously loved and served you?

Jesus, thank You for reminding us of Your loving care for children and any who are vulnerable. Help us to follow Your example of service.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Master of Light

 

Ballet lost some of its wonder when it was explained. It was a class that was supposed to lift my mind, lighten my spirit, and boost my grade point average. Instead it became a one-credit nightmare—a class dedicated to dissecting moves I could not duplicate, within a semester that seemed to slowly dismember my romantic fascination with dance.

Explanations sometimes have a way of leaving their questioners with a sense of loss. Students note this phenomenon regularly. Expounded principles of light refraction and water particles explain away the rainbow, or at least some of its mystique. Air pressure, gravity, and the laws of physics deconstruct the optical mystery of the curve ball. Knowledge and experience can poignantly leave us with a sense of disappointment or disenchantment.

I recently read an article that scientifically explained the glow of a firefly. The author noted the nerves and chemical compounds that make the “fire” possible, pointing out that it is merely a signal used for mating and is, in fact, far from the many romantic myths that have long surrounded it. As one who delights in the gifts of science but also the gift a sky ignited with bugs, I put the article down with a sigh. And then a thought occurred to me in a manner not unlike the description of the firefly’s glow itself: The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not mastered it.(1) Where nerves and photocytes explain the glow of the firefly, have we come any closer to erasing the miracle of light?

However accurate or inaccurate our explanations might be, they sometimes have a way of leading us to short-sighted conclusions. They have also led us to outright incongruity. Brilliant minds can articulate exquisitely complex aspects of the human person and simultaneously describe it as an accident, an impersonal, adult germ in a vast cosmic machine. We have brusquely described life as a tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing, only to claim that this should not lead us to despair. We have declared our appetites and our reason the gods of a better religion, while insisting both God and religion to be an invention of the human psyche. We scoff at the notion of a vicariously human savior who frees captive humanity and revives the creator’s image, while maintaining we live with every qualification for human dignity, distinction, and freedom. Are these even realistic applications of our own philosophies? Do the explanations warrant the conclusions?

On the contrary, we sometimes seem to go about the business of undermining our own mines. Why should a tale told by an idiot have players of any intrinsic value? Why would an impersonal, cosmic accident see herself as a personal, relational being worthy of dignity? What we are attempting to explain away in one sentence, we are arguing for in the next.

Explanations certainly need not lead us to the conclusion that all is lost. But neither should our explanations lead us to conclusions that contradict our own accounts. Thankfully, in both cases, there are times in life where we find, like Job, that we may have spoken out of turn and discover there may be more to the story. Sitting through the whirlwind of God’s own 63 questions, Job exclaims: “I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”

Ever thankfully, I believe there is an invitation that both invites great disclosures and discloses in great mystery. “Call to me,” the God of wisdom tells the prophet and the people. “And I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things that you have not known.” The presence of God can be overlooked, but it cannot be explained away any more than we can explain away the miracle of light.

 

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

(1) John 1:5.

 

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Joyce Meyer – Become an Aggressive Encourager

 

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. — Romans 14:19

Adapted from the resource Love Out Loud Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

One of the easiest ways to express love to others is to help them feel valuable. Mother Teresa of Calcutta ministered in the midst of appalling poverty, hunger, and disease, yet she said, “Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody…is a much greater hunger…than the person who has nothing to eat.”

I’ve discovered that most people we meet do not have a sense of their infinite value as children of God. The thought that God loves them and sees them as precious has never entered their minds. I think the devil works very hard to make people feel devalued and worthless, but we can neutralize his lies by building people up and encouraging them. One way to do this is with a sincere compliment.

A compliment does not have to be something major. Little remarks such as, “That color really looks good on you”; “I like your hair that way”; or “I’m glad you are my friend” are very effective and meaningful.

Most people are quick to compare themselves with others, which means they often fail to see their own abilities and worth. Making another person feel valuable doesn’t have to be time consuming. Let’s train ourselves to be aggressive encouragers. Find some way to encourage every person you come in contact with throughout your day. Making people feel valuable won’t cost any money, but it gives them something worth more than anything money can buy.

Prayer Starter: Father, open my eyes to the ways I can encourage those around me today. Help me to be sensitive to others even in the midst of my busy schedule. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Does Glorious Things

 

“Thank the Lord for all the glorious things He does; proclaim them to the nations. Sing His praises and tell everyone about His miracles” (Psalm 105:1,2).

How long has it been since you have taken time to meditate upon and list all the glorious things the Lord has done for you and how long has it been since you have shared them with your family, your neighbors or even strangers? Of course, your list may differ from that of your neighbors or of fellow believers in your local church or from mine. But among those glorious things that He has done are: He has, by His Holy Spirit, drawn us all to Himself; He has created within our hearts a hunger for His love; and through faith in Christ we have become His children; our sins have been forgiven and we now have the joy of living every moment of every day in vital union and fellowship with Him – all this with the certainty that we shall spend eternity with Him. Mere human words could never express the gratitude that wells up within one’s heart at the thought of God’s great gifts. The word “alleluia” is universal and is spoken in all languages as an expression of praise to God and no word is more appropriate.

My personal list of blessings also includes a godly, praying mother who lived her Christianity and dedicated me to Christ before I was born, and followed me – as she did all her other children – with her daily prayers; a wonderful father who, I had the privilege of introducing to Christ after I became a Christian and seeing him begin to experience that peace which comes from knowing Christ; a godly wife who loves the Lord Jesus Christ and shares my commitment to serve Him as our Lord and Master whatever the cost, wherever He leads us.

I thank Him for sons who love Him, and who have committed their lives to serving Him wherever He leads; a daughter-in-law who shares the love and conviction of her husband; a marvelous staff of thousands of godly men and women who seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and hundreds of thousands of co-laborers who undergird me and this ministry.

The glorious things that He has done are without number. Yes, we must sing His praises and tell everyone about His miracles. We must proclaim the glorious things he has done to all the nations!

Bible Reading: Psalm 113

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will meditate upon the glorious things God has done for me and I will sing His praises and tell everyone about His miracles. I will give my prayer and financial support to helping proclaim His greatness to all the nations of the earth.

 

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Max – Loneliness Has a Language

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

We may relish moments of solitude—but a lifetime of it?  No way!  Many of us, however, are too fluent in the language of loneliness.  The kids used to need me…the business once needed me…my spouse never needs me.  Lonely people fight feelings of insignificance.

What do you do?  How do you cope with such cries of insignificance?   Some stay busy; others stay drunk.  Some buy pets; others buy lovers. Some seek therapy.  Yet only a few seek God.  He invites us to do so.  God’s ultimate cure for the common life takes you to a manger  “…and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated God with us (Matthew 1:23.  There’s no withholding tax on God’s “with” promise.  He is with us.  God  is with us!

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

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Is popularity the new prosperity gospel? Millennials, abortion, and the power of God’s word

 

s popularity the new prosperity gospel for millennials?

The answer is yes, according to Relevant magazine.

The Great Recession and high student debt have driven many millennials to abandon hope of financial wealth. But the ubiquity of mobile phones and instant access to social media are luring them to redefine success as popularity. Viral videos and massive numbers of followers are how many measure significance.

Yesterday we discussed the growing trend of celebrity endorsements for abortion. Connecting the dots: celebrities are popular; popularity attracts millennials; and millennials are the most likely demographic to consider an abortion.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, 60 percent of women who choose abortion are in their twenties. If having an unplanned child impedes their ambitions, many are making the same decision Alyssa Milano famously chose: career over children.

For those of us who believe God’s word on the sanctity of life from conception to natural death, choosing career, finances, popularity, or anything else over a child is abhorrent. But many in our culture obviously do not share our biblical convictions.

What non-biblical reasons for choosing life can we offer our millennial children and grandchildren (and the larger culture as well)? Let’s consider three facts.

One: Abortion is dangerous for the mother and deadly for the child.

Last March, a woman went in for an abortion in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but was sent to a hospital for emergency surgery and a hysterectomy after the abortion was botched. According to the CDC, 437 women died from abortion complications between 1973 and 2014.

The American Pregnancy Association warns that women who undergo an abortion may experience “abdominal pain and cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and spotting and bleeding.” The website then lists what it calls “serious complications,” including “heavy or persistent bleeding, infection or sepsis, damage to the cervix, scarring of the uterine lining, perforation of the uterus, damage to other organs, and death.”

And abortion has ended the lives of nearly sixty-two million babies in the US since 1973. That’s more than the population of twenty-six American states, combined.

Two: Science increasingly shows that a fetus is a child.

Fox News reports that at least forty babies were born alive after botched abortions across three states since 2016. Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 143 cases between 2003 and 2014 of infants born after attempted abortions. These numbers are likely very low since many states do not report such births.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Is popularity the new prosperity gospel? Millennials, abortion, and the power of God’s word