Charles Stanley – The Purpose of Our Trials

 

1 Peter 4:12-14

We shouldn’t expect the Christian life to be easy and comfortable, because believers aren’t exempt from trials. In fact, becoming a Christian may result in increased trouble and suffering. Peter refers to such hardship as a “fiery ordeal,” and tells us not to be surprised by it (1 Peter 4:12). God uses our suffering for His good purposes, and He walks through it with us. Hope in the midst of affliction is possible when we understand what God is achieving in the situation.

First, the heavenly Father sometimes uses painful experiences to purify us. Trials drive us to the Lord and open our eyes to sins that we have tolerated. His discipline is not designed to crush us but to produce “the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12:11).

Second, the Lord at times allows difficulty as a way of testing us. His goal is to produce increased faith, endurance, and devotion to Him. Rather than complaining, we should exult in our tribulations, knowing that they are producing proven character within us (Rom. 5:3-4).

Third, God uses suffering to display his power. Trials humble us by revealing our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). They teach us to depend on the Lord for the power to persevere and mature.

Fourth, our suffering has eternal benefits. Earthly affliction “is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Let these truths encourage you to view your next trial from God’s perspective. Though you may not feel it at the time, the Lord is with you. He is your hope and sufficiency.

Bible in One Year: Micah 5-7

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — False Places of Safety

 

Bible in a Year :Song of Songs 6–8; Galatians 4

The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!

Mark 1:15

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Mark 1:9–15

When our dog Rupert was a puppy, he was so afraid of going outside I’d have to drag him to the park. After getting him there one day, I foolishly let him off his leash. He sprinted home, back to his place of safety.

That experience reminded me of a man I met on a plane, who began apologizing to me as we taxied down the runway. “I’m going to get drunk on this flight,” he said. “It sounds like you don’t want to,” I replied. “I don’t,” he said, “but I always run back to the wine.” He got drunk, and the saddest part was watching his wife embrace him when he got off the plane, smell his breath, then push him away. Drink was his place of safety, but it was no safe place at all.

Jesus began His mission with the words, “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). “Repent” means to reverse direction. The “kingdom of God” is His loving rule over our lives. Instead of running to places that entrap us, or being ruled by fears and addictions, Jesus says we can be ruled by God Himself, who lovingly leads us to new life and freedom.

Today Rupert runs to the park barking with joy. I pray the man on the plane finds that same joy and freedom, leaving behind his false place of safety.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

What false place of safety do you run to in times of fear or stress? How will you leave it behind today and place yourself under God’s freeing rule?

Jesus, forgive me for running to anything but You in search of life and happiness. I turn away from those things now, and turn my life over to You. Lead me to real freedom.

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Truth on Its Head

 

G.K. Chesterton took the word “prolific” to a level that, as a writer, simply makes me feel tired. In his lifetime, Chesterton authored over one hundred books and contributed to two hundred others. He penned hundreds of poems, five plays, five novels, and some two hundred short stories, including the popular Father Brown detective series. He wrote over four thousand newspaper essays, including thirty years worth of weekly columns for The Illustrated London News, and thirteen years of weekly columns for The Daily News. He also edited his own newspaper, G.K.’s Weekly.

As one can easily imagine after such an inventory, G.K. Chesterton was always writing—wherever he found himself, and with whatever he could find to write on. So, in the tearoom he scribbled on napkins. On the train, in front of a bank teller, or in the middle of a lecture, he was known to jot hurriedly in a notebook, or even on the cuff of his sleeve.

Chesterton’s eccentric approach to writing, in fact, matched his eccentric approach to life in general. His public image was one out of a Shakespearean comedy. If he were not recognized in the streets of London by the flowing black cape and the wide brimmed top hat he always wore, he was given away instantly by the clamoring of the swordstick he always carried—for nothing more than the romantic notion that he might one day find himself caught up in some adventure where defending himself might become necessary.

He rarely knew, from hour to hour, where he was or where he was supposed to be, what appointment he was to be keeping, or lecture he was to be giving. The story is often told of the time he telegraphed his wife with the note, “Am at Market Harborough. Where ought I to be?” His faithful wife, Frances, wired back, “Home,” knowing it would be most promising for all involved if she could physically point him in the right direction. Chesterton seemed to live out one of his own clever paradoxes: “One can sometimes do good by being the right person in the wrong place.”

In fact, paradox, in more ways than one, is an ample word for G.K. Chesterton. It was one of his favorite things to point out, stir up, and call to mind. He described paradox as “truth standing on its head to gain attention,” and often evoked such jestering truisms throughout his dialog. With declarations bizarre enough to escape defensive mindsets, but with a substance that could blow holes in fortresses of skepticism, G.K. Chesterton, as absentminded as he may have appeared to be, challenged the world to think. With humility, wonder, and genius, Chesterton taught us, in the words of Father Brown, that often it isn’t that we can’t see the solution; it’s that we can’t see the problem in the first place.

In his disarming manner, such that even his opponents regarded him with affection, Chesterton exposed the inconsistencies of the modern mindset, the unfounded and unnoticed dogmatism of the unbeliever, and the misguided guidance of the cults of comfort and progress. He marveled that religious liberty now meant that we were no longer allowed to mention the subject, and that “there are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions.” To the convicted agnostic he said, “We don’t know enough about the unknown to know that it is unknowable.” To the social Darwinist he said, “It is absurd for the Evolutionist to complain that it is unthinkable for an admittedly unthinkable God to make everything out of nothing, and then pretend that it is more thinkable that nothing should turn itself into everything.”

And to anyone who would listen, Chesterton devotedly pled the case for Christ: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting,” he said, “It has been found difficult and left untried.”

To everyone his life affected, and continues to affect, G.K. Chesterton, with and without words, made a boisterous point about delighting in life to the fullest; life that is fullest, first and foremost, because there is someone to thank for making it full. He writes:

You say grace before meals.
All right.
But I say grace before the play and the opera,
And grace before the concert and the pantomime,
And grace before I open a book,
And grace before sketching, painting,
swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing;
And grace before I dip the pen in the ink.

Chesterton was a man alive with the gusto of resurrection, the marvel of truth, and the thankful foresight of a coming King among us.

 

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

 

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Joyce Meyer – You Can Be Brave

 

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — John 1:12

Adapted from the resource Wake Up to the Word Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

“To get” means to obtain by struggle and effort, but “to receive” means to simply take in what is being offered. Our relationship with God was never intended to be complicated and based upon our own works. The more we learn how to receive from God by faith, the simpler and more enjoyable our walk with Him becomes.

You can keep your relationship with God simple by receiving His unconditional love and believing His Word no matter what you think or how you feel. You can receive by faith all that He offers, even though you know full well that you don’t deserve it. And you can choose to lean on, trust in, and rely on Him to meet every need you have instead of worrying and trying to figure things out.

And with His help (grace), you can obey Him and grow in spiritual maturity by knowing His will and receiving His best for your life!

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for the incredible privilege of being Your child. Today, by faith, I choose to receive the blessings You have for me—Your love, mercy, forgiveness, strength, wisdom, joy, peace, and every good thing You have in store for my life. Help me to receive from You with simple child-like faith. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – We Can Obey All

 

” ‘Sir, which is the most important command in the laws of Moses?’ Jesus replied, ‘ “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. The second most important is similar: “Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.” All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets stem from these two laws and are fulfilled if your obey them. Keep only these and you will find that you are obeying the others'” (Matthew 22:36-40).

Steve came for counsel. “I want with all my heart to be a man of God,” he said. “Can you tell me how I can please the Lord and be everything He wants me to be? You have walked with the Lord for many years. Surely you have learned some lessons that would help me.” I turned to this passage, and we read it and discussed it together.

“Jesus has answered your question, Steve,” I said to him. “If you keep these two commandments, all the others and all the demands of the prophets will be fulfilled.” We turned to Exodus 20:1-17 and reviewed the Ten Commandments.

“You see, Steve, if your love God with all your heart, you will have no other god before Him. You will not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. You will remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you will honor your father and mother. You will not murder, commit adultery, steal, lie, or covet that which belongs to your neighbor.”

Think what would happen if every person who professed to be a follower of Jesus Christ would truly obey the two greatest commandments. Not only would the Ten Commandments be fulfilled, but so would the Golden Rule and every other command of God. The great miracle would result. The moral, spiritual and even the economical problems that plague the nations of the world would be resolved almost overnight.

This kind of love is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. For the supernatural love of God (agape) is spread abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. It is only as we walk in the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit, fully surrendered to the lordship of Jesus Christ, that we can fulfill these commandments.

Bible Reading: Mark 12:28-34

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Through the supernatural enabling power of the Holy Spirit, I will love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and my neighbors as myself, knowing that as I do so, I will be fulfilling and obeying all the other laws.

 

 

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Max Lucado – The Fine Art of Saying “Hello”

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

“Greet one another with a holy kiss.” Paul gave these instructions to the Romans and repeated them to other churches. Twice to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 16:20 and 2 Cor. 13:12); and then to the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 5:26).  Peter flew the friendliness flag as well in his first epistle (1 Peter 5:14) when he said, “Greet one another with a kiss of love.”

We tend to overlook these passages.  Why the big deal?  Why should we be careful to greet one another?  The answer is out of respect.  Respect is a mindfulness of another person’s situation.  Respect says “Hello” to the new kid in class. Respect says “Good afternoon” to the cashier at the checkout stand.  A greeting in its purest sense is a gesture of goodwill.  Simply greeting one another is not that hard.  But it makes a significant difference.  And this is how happiness happens.

 

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.

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Denison Forum – Three sisters who fought the Nazis: How compassion changes those who change the world

 

There is something in us that wants to help people who need help.

Time tells the remarkable and sometimes gruesome story of three sisters who fought the Nazis as part of the Dutch resistance in World War II. One explained why she became involved in the conflict: “While I was biking, I saw Germans picking up innocent people from the streets, putting them against a wall and shooting them. I was forced to watch, which aroused such an enormous anger in me, such a disgust. . . .

“You can have any political conviction or be totally against war, but at that moment you are just a human being confronted with something very cruel. Shooting innocent people is murder. If you experience something like this, you’ll find it justified to act against it.”

Two sisters help Iranian immigrant

Hassan Nezhadessivandi has spent the last five years distributing Express, a publication of the Washington Post. Mr. Nezhadessivandi immigrated from Iran in 1978 to go to college, but unrest in his homeland cut off his funds. He has been working odd jobs for many years to support himself.

He stood at the same spot in Washington, DC, for four hours every morning, passing out the newspaper to the commuters who passed by. He did his job in the snow, rain, or heat.

When the Post announced last Wednesday that the last copy of Express would be distributed the next day, many of the commuters realized they would no longer see Hassan. At the age of sixty-five, he was not sure how he would make ends meet.

Then, two sisters started a GoFundMe account for him. They spread the word by placing a poster board at the station, printing fliers, and sharing the link on social media. The fund has raised nearly fifteen thousand dollars so far.

“I have already been given a taste of God”

Part of being made in our Father’s image is sharing his heart for his children. This impulse to make the world better shows that we intuitively believe in a better world.

Henri Nouwen:

“I know that the fact that I am always searching for God, always struggling to discover the fullness of Love, always yearning for the complete truth, tells me that I have already been given a taste of God, of Love, and of Truth. I can only look for something that I have, to some degree, already found. How can I search for beauty and truth unless that beauty and truth are already known to me in the depth of my heart?

“It seems that all of us human beings have deep memories of the paradise that we have lost. Maybe the word innocence is better than the word paradise. We were innocent before we started feeling guilty; we were in the light before we entered into the darkness; we were at home before we started to search for a home.

“Deep in the recesses of our minds and hearts there lies hidden the treasure we seek. We know its preciousness, and we know that it holds the gift we most desire: a life stronger than death.”

As we work, God works

The fact that we were made for a better world, however, does not exempt us from seeking to better this world.

Darian Thompson started at safety for the Dallas Cowboys in their 31–6 win over Miami last Sunday. After overcoming numerous injuries and setbacks, he is following his dream in the NFL.

He told a reporter, “I’m thankful for God allowing me to do this. But also, it’s a testament to me and my work and the time I’ve put in.”

Noah built the ark, and God closed the door (Genesis 7:16). Moses held his staff over the Red Sea, and God parted the water (Exodus 14:21). Joshua led the people to step into the flooded Jordan River, and God stopped the water (Joshua 3:14–17). Peter preached at Pentecost, and the Spirit led three thousand souls to Christ (Acts 2:41).

As we work, God works. As we give our Father our best, we position ourselves to experience his best.

A man spent a year turning an overgrown, weed-infested field into a beautiful garden. When he showed it to his pastor, the pastor exclaimed, “What a beautiful creation of God.”

The man replied, “You should have seen it when God had it all to himself.”

“You will set the world on fire”

Denison Forum seeks to build a movement of culture-changing Christians because we are convinced that such a movement is the greatest need of our day. God has entrusted to each of us a Hassan Nezhadessivandi or a weed-infested field—ways we can use our gifts and influence to help someone follow Jesus.

Helping hurting people has been at the heart of the Christian mission from its beginning until today (cf. Acts 2:45). Our most powerful witness to a skeptical culture is our compassion for those in need.

Such compassion is not only our gift in God’s name—it is also God’s gift to us.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

St. Catherine of Siena went further: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

What part of the world will you set on fire today?

 

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