Our Daily Bread — Guiding Light

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 143–145; 1 Corinthians 14:21–40

God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Genesis 1:3

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Genesis 1:1–5

The restaurant was lovely but dark. Only one small candle flickered on every table. To create light, diners used their smartphones to read their menus, look to their tablemates, and even to see what they were eating.

Finally, a patron quietly pushed back his chair, walked over to a waiter, and asked a simple question. “Could you turn on the lights?” Before long, a warm ceiling light flashed on and the room erupted with applause. But also with laughter. And happy chatter. And thank-yous. My friend’s husband turned off his phone, picked up his utensils, and spoke for us all. “Let there be light! Now, let’s eat!”

Our gloomy evening turned festive with the flick of a switch. But how much more important to know the real source of true light. God Himself spoke those astonishing words, “Let there be light,” on the first day when He created the universe, “and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). Then “God saw that the light was good” (v. 4).

Light expresses God’s great love for us. His light points us to Jesus, “the light of the world” (John 8:12), who guides us from the gloom of sin. Walking in His light, we find the bright path to a life that glorifies the Son. He is the world’s brightest gift. As He shines, may we walk His way.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

In what situation do you need Christ’s light to shine? When has His light guided you?

Loving God, we thank You for Jesus, the Light of the World, and the guiding light of His great love.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Shape of Affection

 

In a study included in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine children were shown to overwhelmingly prefer the taste of food that comes in McDonald’s wrappers. The study had preschoolers sample identical foods in packaging from McDonald’s and in matched, but unbranded, packaging. The kids were then asked if the food tasted the same or if one tasted better. The unmarked foods lost the taste test every time. Even apple juice, carrots, and milk tasted better to the kids when taken from the familiar wrappings of the Golden Arches. “This study demonstrates simply and elegantly that advertising literally brainwashes young children into a baseless preference for certain food products,” said a physician from Yale’s School of Medicine. “Children, it seems, literally do judge a food by its cover. And they prefer the cover they know.”(1)

The science of advertising is often about convincing the world that books can and should be judged by their covers. These kids were not merely saying they preferred the taste of McDonald’s food. They actually believed the chicken nugget they thought was from McDonald’s tasted better than an identical nugget. From an early age and on through adulthood, branding is directive in telling us what we think and feel, who we are, what we love, what matters.

 

But lest we blame television and marketing entirely for the wiles of brand recognition, we should recall that advertisers continue to have employment simply because it works. That is, long before marketers were encouraging customers to judge by image, wrapping, and cover, we were judging by these methods anyway. When the ancient Samuel was looking for the person God would ordain as king, he had a particular image in mind. In fact, when he first laid eyes on Eliab, Samuel thought confidently that this was the one God had chosen. But on the contrary, God said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”(2)

The study with the preschoolers is startling because adults can see clearly that a carrot in a McDonald’s bag is still inherently a carrot. Yet how often are we, too, blindsided by mere wrappings, the cultural repetitions that mold us, the images and liturgies that shape our affections? Is the mistake of a child in believing the food tastes better in a yellow wrapper really any different than our own believing we are better people dressed with the right credentials, covered by the latest fashion, repeating the right belief-systems? Covered in whatever comforts us or completely stripped of our many wrappings, we are the same people underneath.

But according to one ancient writer, there is one exception. The Apostle Paul writes of a kind of clothing that changes the one inside them. “[F]or all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”(3) Clothed in the righteousness of the man Jesus, a person is wrapped in the identity of the human Son of God. They are given new packaging, new life, new robes worn only by Christ, and thus, like him, they are made most truly human.

Unlike the catch and costliness of well-marketed wrappings, the robes he describes are free. The beautiful and difficult word of Christianity is that Christ requires only that we come without costume or pretense. The many robes we collect, the covers with which we judge the world, we must be willing to give him. He takes from tired shoulders robes of self-importance and false security. He tears from determined grasps those garments of self-pity and shame. And then he clothes the needful soul with garments of salvation, arrays us in robes of righteousness, gives us the hopeful liturgy of his presence, and reminds us that we wear his holy name from the inside out.

 

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

 

(1) “Foods Tastes Better With McDonald’s Logo, Kids Say,” Forbes, August 6, 2007.
(2) 1 Samuel 16:7.
(2) Galatians 3:27-28.

Read in browser »

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Come Closer!

 

Come close to God…and He will come close to you. — James 4:8 (AMP)

Adapted from the resource Hearing from God Each Morning Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Not everyone is willing to pay the price required to be close to God. Not everyone is willing to simply take the time required or make the investments needed for spiritual growth. God doesn’t ask for all of our time. He certainly wants us to do things we don’t consider “spiritual.” He designed us with bodies, souls (minds, wills, and emotions), and spirits, and He expects us to take care of all these areas.

Exercising our bodies and caring for our souls takes time and effort. Our emotions need to be ministered to; we need to have fun and be entertained, and we need to enjoy being with other people. Our minds need to grow and be renewed daily. In addition, we have a spiritual nature that needs attention. To stay balanced and healthy, we must take time to take care of our entire being.

I believe the whole issue of intimacy with God is a matter of time. We say we don’t have time to seek God, but the truth is that we take time to do the things that are most important to us. Even though we all have to fight distractions every day, if knowing God and hearing from Him is important to us, then we will find time to do it. Don’t try to work God into your schedule, but instead work your schedule around time with Him.

Getting to know God is a long-term investment, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t get instant results. Be determined to honor Him with your time, and you will reap the benefits.

Prayer Starter: Father, I can’t live without You. Help me to put You first in my life and take the time to develop a deeper, more intimate relationship. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Blessed are the Humble

 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

A young Christian leader, who was probably more impressed with himself than he should have been, shared with me one day how he had difficulty in being humble about all of his talent. He was a better than average speaker and a reasonably gifted singer, he had a good mind and personality, and in his heart of hearts he knew that as a Christian he should be humble.

He said, “I spend many hours on my knees asking God to make me humble.” I responded, “I can save you a lot of prayer time in that regard if you are interested.” He assured me that he was. Whereupon I explained to him that every gift he possessed – personality, good mind, his ability to sing, speak, and other qualities – were all gifts of God and could be taken from him at any moment by a brain tumor or a car accident or plane crash or any of a thousand different things. Furthermore I reminded him that Scripture admonishes us to humble ourselves.

“Humility is perfect quietness of heart,” Andrew Murray said. “It is to have no trouble. It is never to be fretted or irritated or sore or disappointed. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed hope in the Lord, where I can go in and shut the door and kneel to my Father in secret, and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness when all around and above is trouble.”

Few Christians achieve such high standards, nevertheless it is an objective toward which we all should strive as long as we live, following the example of our Lord recorded in Philippians, chapter 2.

To be poor in spirit implies not only that we have a humble opinion of ourselves, but also that we recognize that we are sinners and have no righteousness of our own; that we are willing to be saved only by the grace and mercy of God; that we are willing to serve where God places us, to bear the burdens He allows and to stay in His hands and admit that we deserve no favor from Him.

As commonly interpreted, the word “blessed” means “happy.” You and I are assured of happiness when we are making conscious strides toward humility. All of this becomes possible as we yield to God’s indwelling Holy Spirit.

Bible Reading: Matthew 5:17-20

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: With the help of the Holy Spirit I will consciously humble myself, asking Him to enable me to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and my neighbor as myself as an act of humility and as a major factor in achieving the supernatural life.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Doing Good Does Good for the Doer

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Doing good does good for the doer.  Research bears this out.  When volunteers were put in a functional MRI scanner and were told they would be giving some of their money to charity, the areas of their brains associated with pleasure— like food and sex— lit up like Christmas trees. Giving to others triggers dopamine.  Perhaps that could be a new fund-raising slogan?

In another study a team of social psychologists distilled happiness factors into eight common denominators.  Two of the first three involve helping others.  Happy, contented people “devote a great amount of time to their family and friends, nurturing and enjoying those relationships.”  And “they are often the first to offer a helping hand to co-workers and passers-by.”  Seeking joy?  Do good for someone else.

Read more How Happiness Happens – Finding Lasting Joy in a world of Comparison, Disappointment, and Unmet Expectations

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

Home

Denison Forum – Hurricane Dorian and the Hunkerdown Hideaway: Offering an ‘ablation’ to God

 

Hurricane Dorian turned north overnight and is about one hundred miles off of Florida’s east coast this morning. At least seven people were killed in the Bahamas; dozens are still being rescued from floodwaters.

The Category 2 storm, with winds of 110 mph, is lashing central Florida’s east coast today. Flash floods and a life-threatening storm surge are expected. More than two million people in Florida, Georgia, and North and South Carolina have been warned to evacuate.

Not everyone is leaving, however. Employees of the Hunkerdown Hideaway in downtown Cocoa Beach, Florida, vow to remain open “till the police shut us down.” Some say that the expense of evacuating and the income they would miss make leaving almost impossible for them.

Their dilemma could be solved if they knew where (or if) the hurricane would strike land. It’s an astounding fact in our day of remarkable technological sophistication that such vital and practical information is unavailable to those who need it most.

How many people work for the National Weather Service?

Our problem is not that our best people aren’t doing their best. The National Weather Service employs 2,600 operational meteorologists and hydrologists; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2019 budget exceeds $5 billion.

And yet, using the most advanced technology in history, our best meteorological scientists are still unable to predict the precise path of a hurricane. The consequences of this fact are staggering.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates government costs for hurricanes at $28 billion a year. Coastal shoreline counties generate 40 percent of America’s jobs and are responsible for 46 percent of our gross domestic product.

Clearly, our best experts are doing all they can. But their limits show us our own.

“Life has never been normal”

Researchers predict that cancer will become the leading cause of death in the US by next year. And yet the National Cancer Institute’s budget for this year is $5.74 billion. As the father of a cancer survivor and the son of a cancer victim, I wish it were more.

My point is that disasters and diseases demonstrate the finitude of fallen humans.

We can do so much more in the world than ever before. For instance, distributing this article without email would require $90,000 in postage and would render today’s column outdated by the time it arrived in your physical mailbox.

But the issues that matter most are beyond our capacity to influence or even predict. I don’t know if I’ll be alive to write Thursday’s Daily Article; you don’t know if you’ll be alive to read it if I do.

In this sense, the unpredictability and devastation of Hurricane Dorian is nothing new on our fallen planet. What C. S. Lewis said of war can be said of a hurricane: It “creates no absolutely new situation; it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it. Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice. . . . We are mistaken when we compare war with ‘normal life.’ Life has never been normal.”

“The wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”

When we face a foe stronger than we are, it’s wise to trust in a power stronger than it is.

Scripture says of the Lord: “It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens. When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth” (Jeremiah 10:12–13).

When Jesus “rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’” here’s what happened: “The wind ceased, and there was a great calm” (Mark 4:39). The God who parted the Red Sea and stopped the flooded Jordan River is more powerful than Dorian or any other disaster.

Of course, it’s human nature to ask why this omnipotent God didn’t stop Dorian from devastating the Bahamas. When our son was diagnosed with cancer several years ago, I asked the Lord why he didn’t answer my daily prayers for Ryan’s health. Eventually, I came to peace with the fact we discussed yesterday: my fallen mind cannot comprehend God’s “higher” thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8–9), so turning from my Father when I need him most only makes suffering worse.

For today, let’s consider that the unpredictability and danger of natural disasters and diseases should remind us daily of our frailty and limitations. The more advanced our technology becomes, the more tempting our hubris.

“Living your life as an offering of thanksgiving”

What Hurricane Dorian does this week is beyond our control. But how we respond to that fact is not.

When we remember that this world is not our home and that all we “own” actually belongs to the One who made it, we are free to live for heaven on earth and trust the results to our Father.

Curtis Almquist of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist offers this advice: “All the things which you could call your ‘possessions’—both the tangible and the intangible—give them up. I’m not saying to disregard or devalue them; quite to the contrary, I’m speaking of ‘giving them up’ like an offering, acknowledging to God how God has acknowledged you in them. In the ancient vocabulary of the church, this is called ‘an ablation,’ living your life as an offering of thanksgiving.”

Will you offer your ablation to God today?

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/