Charles Stanley – The Courage to Obey

 

Daniel 6:10-28

Daniel is a great example of living with scriptural convictions even when doing so could put one’s life at risk. His experience in the lions’ den took place when he was old, but it wasn’t the first time he’d chosen to obey God rather than man. In fact, standing for his convictions had become the pattern rather than the exception of his life.

A look at Daniel’s life reveals the fruit of living in faithful obedience to God.

He had wisdom beyond his years. After Daniel stood up for his convictions regarding food, the Lord gave him greater knowledge, wisdom, and understanding than all the king’s other advisors (Dan. 1:17-21).

God granted him favor with the kings. Instead of persecuting him for speaking truth, kings promoted Daniel to the highest place of authority, even though he was a Jewish foreigner (Dan. 2:46-48).

His obedience presented opportunities to speak about God. If Daniel had chosen to blend into the culture, the Babylonian and Persian kings probably wouldn’t have noticed him. But since he didn’t back down from his convictions, the phrase “the God of Daniel” echoed in the chambers of those kingdoms, and God was glorified (Dan. 6:26).

God used him to write Scripture. Daniel was a trustworthy and obedient servant in the midst of a pagan culture, and God revealed amazing future prophesies in the book he penned. (See chapters 7-12.)

Although we may not stand before kings in palaces or lions in a den, we too can be used by God when we practice uncompromising obedience to Him.

Bible in One Year: Luke 6-7

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — This Is Me

 

Bible in a Year:

Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

James 3:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

James 3:7–12

The powerful song “This Is Me” is an unforgettable show tune featured in The Greatest Showman, the smash movie musical loosely based on the life of P. T. Barnum and his traveling circus. The lyrics, sung by characters in the film who’d suffered verbal taunts and abuse for failing to conform to societal norms, describe words as destructive bullets and knives that leave scars.

The song’s popularity points to how many people bear the invisible, but real, wounds caused by weaponized words.

James understood the potential danger of our words to cause destructive and long-lasting harm, calling the tongue “a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). By using this surprisingly strong comparison, James emphasized the urgent need for believers to recognize the immense power of their words. Even more, he highlighted the inconsistency of praising God with one breath and then injuring people who are made in God’s image with the next (vv. 9–10).

The song “This Is Me” similarly challenges the truth of verbal attacks by insisting that we’re all glorious—a truth the Bible affirms. The Bible establishes the unique dignity and beauty of each human being, not because of outward appearance or anything we have done, but because we are each beautifully designed by God—His unique masterpieces (Psalm 139:14). And our words to each other and about each other have the power to reinforce that reassuring reality.

By:  Lisa M. Samra

Reflect & Pray

Whose forgiveness might you need to seek for using damaging words? How might you encourage someone today?

Creator God, thank You for creating each of us. Help us to use our words both in praise of You and to encourage the people You expertly designed.

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – People With a Past

 

I confess that I have never been a student especially enticed by the subject of history. Whether studying the history of the Peloponnesian War or the history of Jell-O, I associate the work with tedious memorization and an endless anthology of static dates and detail. But this stance toward history, coupled with our cultural obsession with the present moment, is a force to be reckoned with and an outlook I have come to recognize as dangerous. It is a thought to let go, lest it produce a sense of forgetfulness about who we are and from whence we have come.

Richard Weaver is one among many who have warned about the dangers of presentism, the cultural fixation with the current moment and snobbery toward the past. More than fifty years ago, Weaver warned of the discombobulating effects of living with an appetite for the present alone:

“A frank facing of the past is unpleasant to the tender-minded, teaching as it does sharp lessons of limitation and retribution. Yet, the painful lessons we would like to forget are precisely the ones which should be kept for reference. Santayana has reminded us that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, and not without reason did Plato declare that a philosopher must have a good memory.”(1)

Weaver contends that carelessness about history is in fact a type of amnesia, producing a mindset that is both aimless and confused. For how can we understand the current cultural moment without at least some understanding of the moments that have preceded it? History is not a static bundle of dates and details anymore than our own lives are static bundles of the same. On the contrary, history is the vital form in which we both take account of our past and fathom the present before us.

This point was driven home for me in a church history class full of future pastors. We were studying the fourth century, which was privy to a great influx of believers who left their communities behind and fled to the desert in search of solitude. To a group of people called and passionate about the church as a community, the great lengths some of these pilgrims went to live solitary lives was hard for some to understand. Words like “abandonment” and “responsibility” readily crept into our conversations.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – People With a Past

Joyce Meyer – A Wondering Mind

 

In the morning, when they were passing along, they noticed that the fig tree was withered [completely] away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to Him, Master, look! The fig tree which You doomed has withered away! And Jesus, replying, said to them, Have faith in God [constantly]. Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea! and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him. For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it].— Mark 11:20-24 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Battlefield of the Mind Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

When you say the words, “I wonder,” they sound innocent and honest. They also represent the way we avoid certainty in making decisions.

Suppose you’re the CEO of a business. Every day 20 people come to your office and ask you to make decisions. Yours is the final answer on everything that goes on in the corporation. Instead of giving decisive answers, you rub your chin, stare out the window, and say, “I wonder. I wonder what we should do about that?”

An indecisive CEO wouldn’t stay in that position very long. The position is much too important to the overall success and well-being of the organization and all who are associated with it. You are not in that position to wonder—you’re there to act.

Too many of us forget that this is the way it is with the Christian life, as well. Too often, instead of choosing what we need to do, we avoid facing the situation and say, “I wonder.”

I know because I’ve done it. In times past, when I’ve been invited to a party or to be the featured speaker at a banquet, I’ve said, “I wonder what I should wear.” It’s easy for me to waste a lot of time looking through my closet, considering the color and style, as I try to choose just the right outfit for a particular occasion.

This may seem like such a small thing—and it really is. The problem, however, is that if we allow enough of these “wonderings” in our lives, we not only fail to accomplish the things we need to do, but wondering becomes the normal way our minds function. Being indecisive keeps us from moving forward and can eventually defeat us.

In the verses quoted earlier, the incident started with a fig tree that wasn’t bearing fruit. The disciples could have wasted time wondering about the particulars of why the tree didn’t bear fruit. They could have wondered if it hadn’t received enough sunlight or water. They might have wondered why the owner hadn’t cut it down since it wasn’t productive. But wasting time wondering really wasn’t necessary.

When Jesus spoke and doomed the tree, He put a stop to any mental speculation. He used the incident as an object lesson for the disciples, encouraging them to believe. He wanted them to understand that if they truly believed, they could have whatever they asked of Him.

Sometimes God’s people are reluctant to ask boldly for big things. But Jesus has given us permission to step out in faith and ask boldly. And yet some still waste time just wondering. They wonder what it would be like if God would give them a better job. They wonder what it would be like if God would give them a larger house.

I can tell you that wondering is a waste of time. So, stop wondering and start acting! That’s one of the most important things I’ve learned about the wondering mind. Rather than wondering what I should wear to a banquet, I look at my clothes and I decide. God gave me the ability to make wise choices, so I can just do it instead of wasting my time wondering.

Wondering and indecision can become strongholds in our minds that can leave us feeling confused, insecure, and ineffective. But that’s not God’s plan. He wants us to overcome the wondering thoughts by believing and then receiving the answer to our prayers from God, by faith.

Notice that Jesus did not say, “Whatever things you wonder when you pray, you will have.” Instead, He said, Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it].

Prayer Starter: Lord Jesus, help me to overcome any wondering tendencies that keep me from moving forward in Your good plan. In Your name, I ask You to help me reach out in faith, boldly asking for what I need. Then help me to believe it and receive it. Amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Can Be Found

 

“And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13, KJV).

Halfhearted efforts, I have found from personal experience, seldom bring success and victory. The difference between a successful person and a failure is that the successful person is always willing to do more than the unsuccessful person is willing to do.

In spiritual matters, in particular, this is true, as evidenced scores of times in the Word of God. This is one of the most expressive of those passages that major on this theme.

Another is: “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6, KJV).

But one point needs to be made abundantly clear: This promise is not only to the unbeliever, though it is often taken that way. It applies equally to the believer, who may be searching after God for a variety of reasons.

The key word here, of course is heart. “As [a man] thinketh in his heart,so is he” (Proverbs 23:7, KJV). “Out of the abundance of the heartthe mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34, KJV).

What do you need from God today? Wisdom? Peace? Courage? Love? To find God in such a real way that you know He is meeting that need for you, you must really mean business with Him. Then He will indeed do business for you.

A doubter, or an unbeliever, reading this has a wonderful assurance: He can find God if he truly seeks Him with his whole heart.

Bible Reading: Jeremiah 29:10-14

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I’ll begin right at home by personally seeking God for myself with my whole heart,and I will remind others how God can be real to them.

 

 

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Max Lucado – The Upper Room of Mercy

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Jesus has seen every backstreet, back-seat, backhanded moment of our lives.  And he has resolved, “My grace is enough.  I can cleanse these people.  I will wash away their betrayals.”  For that reason we must make the Upper Room of Mercy our home address.

Jesus said, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:14–15).

You are the creation of a good God, made in his image.  You are destined to reign in an eternal kingdom.  Secure in who you are, you can do what Jesus did.  Throw aside the robe of rights and expectation and make the most courageous of moves.  Wash feet.  This is how happiness happens

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

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Denison Forum – John MacArthur tells Beth Moore ‘Go home’: 3 ways to disagree better

 

John MacArthur is a prominent Baptist pastor and biblical scholar who is currently celebrating fifty years in pulpit ministry at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California.

Sadly, that legacy is only part of why he’s in the news today.

Last week, MacArthur took part in a panel discussion at a Truth Matters Conference hosted by his home church. Emcee Todd Friel asked the panel for a one-word or “pithy” response to certain names.

Friel then started the discussion by saying “Beth Moore,” in reference to the prominent Southern Baptist author and speaker who has made waves recently by teaching at churches on Sunday mornings.

MacArthur responded by simply but clearly saying, “Go home.”

Those in attendance responded with laughter and applause.

While some might be tempted to dismiss MacArthur’s statement as playing to the crowd or the result of poor judgment in the moment—it certainly fit the “pithy” characterization that Friel was looking for—it’s important to note that the pastor took more than thirty seconds to craft his response. It was clear, in both his answer and the later explanation, that his words represent what he believes.

My purpose today is not to expound upon the proper role of women in the ministry (for more on that question, see Dr. Denison’s “What should be the role of women in Church?“). Rather, it’s to look at the way John MacArthur delivered his indictment and see what lessons we can learn regarding how to better disagree with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Can we still agree to disagree?

As Dr. Todd Still wrote concerning MacArthur for the Baptist Standard, “Even if MacArthur were to be correct in his assertions and assessments, in his disparaging remarks and condescending comments regarding Moore he fails to follow the very Scripture he proclaims.”

Dr. Still is correct, and I encourage you to read the entirety of his response.

We cannot afford to miss his point considering that, both inside and outside of the church, we seem to have forgotten how to disagree with people without vilifying them in the process. If we cannot engage with different views on their merits alone, then it speaks volumes to just how loosely and poorly we hold those views.

Continue reading Denison Forum – John MacArthur tells Beth Moore ‘Go home’: 3 ways to disagree better

Charles Stanley – Grace-Filled Speech

 

Titus 2:7-8

Words are powerful. Harsh remarks can cause a destructive chain reaction, like a match in the forest during a drought. Kind comments, on the other hand, feel like a light summer rain that brings relief from the heat of day.

We can know our words are refreshing and seasoned with grace when …

Our tone and manner reflect the way we want others to speak to us. The behavior of others shouldn’t determine whether we speak kindly to them.  If we want people to talk to us gently, we should consistently present positive body language and speak with a gentle voice.

What we say about others is similar to what we would want said of us. We all need to have our strengths emphasized by friends and family so we can be confident of the gifts God has given us.

We speak only words we know to be true. Gossip and lies have no place in a Christian’s conversation. The Lord opposes lying tongues and false witnesses (Prov. 6:16-19).

Our speech is edifying. Speaking fairly and positively about others is part of godly speech.

Transforming our conversation begins with the right heart attitude. When we spend time in the Word of God, our hearts will soften and we’ll begin to respond differently. The Holy Spirit will convict us when our speech is inappropriate. He’ll also teach us to be aware of which words we use and when to stop talking. God will be glorified and others will be blessed when we practice grace-filled speech.

Bible in One Year: Luke 2-3

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Feast of Love

 

Bible in a Year:

I am the living bread that came down from heaven.

John 6:51

Today’s Scripture & Insight:John 6:47–59

In the Danish film Babette’s Feast, a French refugee appears in a coastal village. Two elderly sisters, leaders of the community’s religious life, take her in, and for fourteen years Babette works as their housekeeper. When Babette comes into a large sum of money, she invites the congregation of twelve to join her for an extravagant French meal of caviar, quail in puff pastry, and more.

As they move from one course to the next, the guests relax; some find forgiveness, some find love rekindled, and some begin recalling miracles they’d witnessed and truths they’d learned in childhood. “Remember what we were taught?” they say. “Little children, love one another.” When the meal ends, Babette reveals to the sisters that she spent all she had on the food. She gave everything—including any chance of returning to her old life as an acclaimed chef in Paris—so that her friends, eating, might feel their hearts open.

Jesus appeared on earth as a stranger and servant, and He gave everything so that our spiritual hunger might be satisfied. In John’s gospel, He reminds His listeners that when their ancestors wandered hungry in the wilderness, God provided quail and bread (Exodus 16). That food satisfied for a time, but Jesus promises that those who accept Him as the “bread of life” will “live forever” (John 6:48, 51). His sacrifice satisfies our spiritual cravings.

By:  Amy Peterson

Reflect & Pray

How has God satisfied your hunger? What might it look like for you to give sacrificially?

Jesus, thank You for giving Your body and blood for us.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Reflecting Significance

 

English author Owen Barfield, who was a longtime friend of C.S. Lewis, once stated that what Lewis thought about everything was secretly present in what he said about anything.

He did not mean that Lewis went about giving the same tired message every time he opened his mouth. On the contrary, he was paying this prolific thinker one of the greatest compliments. What Lewis said about Christ with the utmost of passion was somehow present in the way he discussed his love for long walks or medieval literature, or in the way he stated his distaste for helping with the dishes. (Lewis once acknowledged that he found it was easier to pray for his wife than to help her with the dishes.) What Lewis thought about everything was that mere Christianity—the truth of the person of Christ—is something that no reasonable or responsible mind can ignore.

Today it seems that such singleness of mind is a rarity. In a world where we have carefully drawn lines around religious thought, it has become easier to accept the categories: Thinking about God and thinking about work are conducted from two separate frames of mind; loving God and loving your spouse are two different kinds of love. But is this true? Is it possible?

One of the most vocalized reasons for rejecting Christianity is the hypocrisy of its followers. And where it is not sound reasoning to reject a religion by its abuse, the thought is perhaps a legitimate expression of confusion. When what we think about God does not inform what we think about people or child rearing, business or pleasure, how can we proclaim the eternal importance of the message? Doesn’t it follow that something of eternal significance is significant enough to permeate every moment of time? It is like operating as if the underpinnings of a house have nothing to do with the shape or characteristics of any of the rooms. When the wind blows would we feel the same?

Our daily life is a reflection of what we hold most significant. G.K. Chesterton once said that there are no partial philosophies. There are well-formed philosophies and there are poorly formed philosophies that either knowingly or unknowingly govern all of life. But a philosophy by its very nature cannot merely inform the parts of life we want it to. In this sense, what we think about everything is present in what we say about anything. What we think about God, how we answer the deepest questions of life and meaning, informs what we think about work, how we love our spouse, and respond to the driver that cut us off.

In Christ, followers hold a promise that commands a singleness of heart and mind, and a faith that thoroughly informs all of life, for he has flooded all of life with a message of eternal significance: “Whosoever is thirsty, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:38). Might our lives reflect the magnitude of this invitation and the hope of one with streams of living water flowing from within.

 

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 Were Made for Something More

 

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. — Isaiah 40:31

Adapted from the resource Trusting God Day by Day Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Do you ever feel you are like an eagle in a chicken yard—grounded and pent up when you should be soaring? You know there is much more within you than you are experiencing and expressing in your life right now. You know God has a great purpose for your life—and you cannot escape or ignore the inner urge to “go for it.”

Know this: all eagles are uncomfortable in a barnyard; they all long for the clear, blue, open skies. When you are living in a place that keeps you from being who you were made to be and doing what you are meant to do, you will be uncomfortable, too. But also realize that people around you may not understand your desire to break out of the box. They may want to clip your wings.

When you hear their comments and questions, something inside of you may ask, “What is wrong with me? Why do I think as I think? Why do I feel this way? Why can’t I just settle down and live a normal life like everybody else?” The reason you cannot just settle down is that you are not a chicken; you are an eagle! You will never feel at home in that chicken yard, because you were made for something bigger, more beautiful, and more fulfilling.

I encourage you today to fan the flame inside of you. Fan it until it burns brightly. Never give up on the greatness for which you were created, never try to hide your uniqueness, and never feel you cannot do what you believe you were made to do. Realize that your hunger for adventure is God-given; wanting to try something new is a wonderful desire, and embracing life and aiming high is what you were made for. You are an eagle!

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for the greatness You have placed inside of me—the desire to be more, do more, and soar higher. Help me to approach life with boldness and never settle for anything less than what You have for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – A Greater Harvest

 

“He has already tended to you by pruning you back for greater strength and usefulness by means of the commands I gave you” (John 15:3).

My friend was in the process of pruning his vineyard, and it appeared to me – in my limited knowledge of vineyards – that the pruning was too severe. Only the main stump remained. I inquired, “Why have you pruned the vine back to just the main stump?”

“Because,” he said, “that is the way to ensure that it will produce a greater harvest. Otherwise the nourishment flowing up through the roots would be dissipate in keeping the vines alive. It could not produce the maximum number of grapes.”

It is my regular prayer that God will keep both me as an individual and the movement of which I am a part well pruned that we may not waste time, energy, talent and money producing beautiful foliage with no fruit. Our subjection to that pruning can be either voluntary or reluctant. How much better is it for us to invite the Lord to do the pruning than to have the pruning forced upon us over our protests.

The best possible way to cooperate in God’s pruning is to study His Word. Memorize and meditate upon His truths, obey His commandments and claim His promises. Jesus taught the disciples personally, by word and model, over a period of more than three years. Yet, Judas betrayed the Lord and committed suicide and the others denied Him and deserted Him at the cross. It was not until the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost that their lives were really transformed and the things He had taught them became a reality to them.

The same Holy Spirit who transformed their lives and gave them the courage to die as martyrs proclaiming God’s truth dwells within you and me. He wants to bear much fruit through us and He did through them. I encourage you to make that time, when you study the commands that Jesus gave us and apply His truths to your heart, the most important part of your day.

Bible Reading: John 15:1-5

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the pruning process of my life by spending much time studying, memorizing and meditating on the Word of God, applying its truths to my life as I claim the supernatural resources of the living Christ for supernatural living.

 

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Max Lucado – Path of Forgiveness

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Resentment sucks satisfaction from the soul.  Bitterness consumes it.  Revenge has a monstrous appetite.  One act of retaliation is never enough.  Grudges send us on a downward spiral.

Some people perceive the path of forgiveness to be impossibly steep.  So let’s be realistic.  Forgiveness does not pardon the offense, excuse the misdeed, or ignore it.  Forgiveness is not even necessarily reconciliation.  The phrase “forgive and forget” sets an unreachable standard.  Painful memories are not like old clothing, easily shed.

Forgiveness is simply the act of changing your attitude toward the offender; it’s moving from a desire to harm toward an openness to be at peace.  A step in the direction of forgiveness is a decisive step toward happiness.

 

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

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Denison Forum – Meghan Markle’s ‘gut-wrenching’ interview: How to notice the hurt in others

Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are no strangers to the media. As part of the royal family, Harry and his brother have been lightning rods for global attention since their birth. That attention only increased after their mother, Princess Diana, died in a car accident while trying to get away from the paparazzi.

As an actress prior to becoming a princess, Meghan Markle was also no stranger to being the center of attention, whether it was wanted or not. As a recent interview with British television channel ITV demonstrates, however, experience with being trapped in the public eye does not make it any easier to bear.

The couple recently took a ten-day trip to Africa to work with several charities and check up on much of the work that Harry’s mother began prior to her tragic death. They spoke excitedly about all the progress being made and the joy they felt in getting the chance to be part of it, but there were also candid moments of grief when the conversation veered toward their strained relationship with the media. The most poignant was Meghan’s reply to anchor Tom Bradby’s question regarding how she was holding up after recently giving birth to the couple’s first child.

The Duchess replied, “Thank you for asking because not many people have asked if I’m OK, but it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.”

Bradby followed up with “Would it be fair to say, not really OK, as in it’s really been a struggle?” to which she simply responded yes.

The exchange was a fairly minor part of the larger documentary, but it’s received quite a bit of attention, with the hashtag #WeLoveYouMeghan trending on Twitter and hundreds of thousands expressing their support for the princess.

And while we probably shouldn’t be surprised that there would be an outpouring of love for such comments, the degree to which people genuinely seem to feel for the Duchess is worth noting. CNN‘s Kara Alaimo spoke for many when she called the interview “gut-wrenching.”

Low-hanging fruit

It’s easy for any parent to sympathize with the trials that come from having a newborn in the house. Those relatively sleepless nights, constant demands on your time and attention, and the way that anyone else who has ever even seen a baby can feel entitled to tell you how to better raise yours make it an inescapably trying time, even though it’s still worth every second.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Meghan Markle’s ‘gut-wrenching’ interview: How to notice the hurt in others

Charles Stanley – Good Decisions

 

Genesis 25:27-34

The familiar expression “You reap what you sow” is reinforced throughout Scripture (Job 4:8; Prov. 11:18). In today’s passage, Esau learned this truth the hard way. Famished, he returned from hunting and requested a bowl of the stew his brother was cooking. Jacob seized upon the opportunity and agreed to share the food in exchange for his older twin’s birthright.

In Old Testament times, the firstborn son enjoyed special privileges, which included authority over younger siblings, a double share of the inheritance, and the honored position as spiritual leader over the family. Yet Esau, deciding that food was more of a necessity right then, traded his birthright for dinner. He later grieved when he realized what was lost, but at that point, it was too late. Like Esau, we at times all face critical choices. While God offers forgiveness for wrong decisions, the consequences remain. So we must learn to choose wisely.

We should take to heart two warnings from this story. First, to distinguish our best options, we need to assess whether we are physically, emotionally, and spiritually stable; if not, we should wait. Otherwise, we might end up like Esau, who allowed hunger to cloud his thinking. Second, delaying gratification is usually a safe choice. For example, though a person may be eager to buy a car, it’s wise to shop around for the best deal. Our human desires can feel overwhelming at times, but we should prayerfully wait for God’s timing.

Think about the longings you have, consider the consequences, and take your time. God wants to steer you away from unnecessary trouble.

Bible in One Year: Mark 6-7

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Haystack Prayers

 

Bible in a Year:

You help us by your prayers.

2 Corinthians 1:11

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Corinthians 1:8–11

Samuel Mills and four of his friends often gathered together to pray for God to send more people to share the good news of Jesus. One day in 1806, after returning from their prayer meeting, they got caught in a thunderstorm and took refuge in a haystack. Their weekly prayer gathering then became known as the Haystack Prayer Meeting, which resulted in a global mission movement. Today the Haystack Prayer Monument stands at Williams College in the US as a reminder of what God can do through prayer.

Our heavenly Father is delighted when His children approach Him with a common request. It’s like a family gathering where they’re united in purpose, sharing a common burden.

The apostle Paul acknowledges how God helped him through the prayers of others during a time of severe suffering: “He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers” (2 Corinthians 1:10–11). God has chosen to use our prayers—especially our prayers together—to accomplish His work in the world. No wonder the verse continues: “Then many will give thanks . . . [for the] answer to the prayers of many.”

Let’s pray together so we can also rejoice together in God’s goodness. Our loving Father is waiting for us to come to Him so He can work through us in ways that reach far beyond anything we could ever imagine.

By:  Poh Fang Chia

Reflect & Pray

What request can you and others pray for? How has your faith been strengthened when you pray with others?

Father, help us to pray together even as we work together. 

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Silent Places

 

Living in cities, as more and more people do all over the world, means that noise is a constant audio backdrop. The din of human, auto, and airplane traffic all make for a constant, loud cacophony. Add to this the stereo, television, and computer noise and it is a miracle we can attune our ears to hear anything that isn’t artificially created. From time to time, I turn off all the extraneous sounds in my world and listen. Intentional listening opens up a whole new world of sounds around me. I hear the wind chimes by my front door, the tapping of my fingers across the keyboard of my computer, the soft patter of my dogs’ feet as they walk across the hardwood floor above me, the screaming and laughter of children at play across the street, and the distinctive sounds of a variety of birds as they go about foraging for food or calling for a mate.

According to audio-ecologist, Gordon Hempton, it’s not easy to find silence in the modern world. “If a quiet place is one where you can listen for 15 minutes in daylight hours without hearing a human-created sound, there are no quiet places left in Europe. There are none east of the Mississippi River. And in the American West? Maybe 12.”(1) We live in a noisy world.

Most people assume that silence is the absence of noise, but it is not. Hempton continues, “For true silence is not noiselessness… silence is the complete absence of all audible mechanical vibrations, leaving only the sounds of nature at her most natural. Silence is the presence of everything, undisturbed.”(2) I remember one of these silent places Hempton describes. High in the North Cascade Mountains, my brother and I heard no other human noise, and few bird or animal noises. Our constant soundscape came from the trickling of a nearby brook and the gentle wind as it danced around us.

Being able to hear the sounds of nature is an unexpected and often rare gift in a world bombarded by artificial noise. Of course, it is often the case that I use noise as a distraction from truly listening. I drown out the silence by my own busyness, filling my day with constant movement and activity, so that I rarely take the time to pay attention, and to tune my ears not only to the sound around me, but also to the stirrings of my own heart and mind. In all honesty, sometimes I am afraid of what I might hear if I do truly listen.

Of course, paying attention in silence is not always as benevolent or delightful as hearing the natural sounds around us. Keeping silence intentionally reminds us of our smallness in a vast universe, and brings to light many of our deepest and darkest thoughts and feelings. When we clear our ears of external noise, we hear our own thoughts. Many thoughts that arise in silent spaces are ugly, distorted, and grave. Listening in silence exposes our pretense and self-righteousness, our falsehoods, hypocrisy and self-importance. There is little room to hide. We are left with ourselves in all our brokenness.

Yet even listening to the thoughts of our darkened hearts and minds provides an opportunity for reorganization and evaluation. It provides the opportunity for renewal. As we pay attention in silence and listen there are quiet gifts received, discernment for a new direction in which to go with our lives, and more space for truly listening not only to ourselves but to others. As we do, we may even hear the still, small voice of God.

Author Alan Jones has written that “silence, in the end, can become a healing and comforting experience.”(3) When we pay attention in the silence, we open up space where we can meet with God. Unlike prayers where we do all the talking, Jones describes the listening posture of prayer as “a daily willingness to place ourselves on the threshold and wait there.” Indeed, he goes on to suggest that cultivating quiet in our lives becomes the time when we move from the agitated periphery of our lives, identifying with our lives without qualification or added information to simply a silent interior space.(4)

Paying attention in silence is not simply for the sake of listening to the often unheard sounds around us nor is it exclusively ascetically-motivated sensory deprivation. Instead, it is tuning our hearts and minds to attend to sounds that truly matter. For the Christian, prayerful listening is the opportunity to attune our hearts to the voice of God. Indeed, a silent heart is often the only fitting response to the overwhelming holiness of God’s presence. As the ancient prophet wrote: But the Lord is in his holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.

Paying attention in silence creates space to listen to our lives and to listen for God to speak. It is a discipline our noisy world needs to reclaim. The gospel writers often speak of Jesus removing himself from the noise of his day, and withdrawing to “lonely places” for prayer. Jesus understood the place of silence, paying attention to God’s voice by purposefully withdrawing and turning off the noise around him. The silence is often lonely, as the gospel writers suggest. And yet, there in the lonely, silent spaces, the still, small voice of God can be heard.

 

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

 

(1) Gordon Hempton as quoted by Kathleen Dean Moore, “In Search of Silence,” Utine Reader, March-April 2009.
(2) Julia Baird, “An Unquiet Nation,” Newsweek, January 27, 2010.
(3) Alan Jones, Soul Making (San Francisco: HarperOne, 1985), 62.
(4) Ibid.

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Joyce Meyer – Let God Interrupt You

 

For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this? — Esther 4:14

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

Have you ever noticed that the men and women we read about in the Bible and consider “great” were all people who allowed God to interrupt their lives and were willing to make tremendous sacrifices for Him?

Joseph saved a nation from starvation, but not before God dramatically removed him from his comfortable home where he was his father’s favorite and allowed him to be imprisoned for many years. Joseph probably wasn’t planning a life of hardship and rejection, but God took him through those things in order to position him to be in the right place at the right time. But Joseph could only know that after the fact.

Esther was a young maiden who undoubtedly had plans for her future when suddenly, without warning, she was asked to enter the king’s harem and gain favor with him so she could reveal the plan of wicked Haman, who intended to slaughter the Jews. She was asked to do things that left her frightened for her life, but her wise uncle knew that God had brought her to this point in her life and allowed everything she had endured in the past to prepare her for a moment of greatness.

These people had plans, but they let God interrupt them, and they followed Him instead. If you will decide that you don’t mind having God interrupt your life, He can prepare you, too, for moments of greatness and use you in awesome ways.

Prayer Starter: Lord, interrupt my life for Your purposes at any time and in any way You see fit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Still Present With You

 

“In just a little while I will be gone from the world, but I will still be present with you. For I will live again – and you will too” (John 14:19).

In this one verse the whole gospel story is expressed, for Jesus is speaking on the day before His death, foretelling just what will happen then and thereafter.

And what He has to say should bring renewed joy and comfort and peace to our hearts in the midst of a chaotic world that perhaps includes an element of chaos even in the home or at the office or in the classroom.

Yes, He was gone from the world to assume His rightful position at the right hand of His heavenly Father – after His death and resurrection. Now He is present with us in the person of His indwelling Holy Spirit, who lives within every believer. And to the extent we give Him control of our hearts and lives, He empowers and enables us to live a supernatural, abundant life.

He prophesies His resurrection – “I will live again” – the joyous truth of which makes possible His final promise to His disciples, “You will live too.”

Jesus is saying, in effect that the life of the Christian depends on that of Christ. They are united, and if they were separated, the Christian could not enjoy spiritual life here nor eternal joy hereafter. But He lives! And because He lives, we too shall live – forever, with Him throughout the endless ages of eternity!

Bible Reading: Romans 5:6-11

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Because Jesus died, arose and now lives at God’s right hand while at the same time living in me, I can live the abundant, supernatural life today, and forever!

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Unsheathe God’s Sword

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

“His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey.  Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word.  We can’t get away from it—no matter what” (Hebrews 4:12–13 MSG).

Unsheathe God’s sword, the Word of God, and brandish its glimmering blade in the face of evil. When you read or quote a scripture in the face of pain or doubt or evil, you activate a weapon of the Spirit.  Say… I know a verse in the Bible that might help.  Or… A scripture that means much to me is… (your selection).

My go-to list includes scriptures like these:

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

“I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

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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