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

 

 

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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!

 

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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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Denison Forum – William Barr’s statement at Notre Dame: My perspective and God’s call to courage

 

Attorney General William Barr is making headlines for a speech he delivered at Notre Dame University’s law school last Friday. Barr, a devout Catholic, told faculty and students that “the problem is not that religion is being forced on others, the problem is that irreligion is being forced—secular values are being forced on people of faith.”

Barr adds: “Among the militant secularists are many so-called progressives. But where is the progress? We are told we are living in a post-Christian era, but what has replaced the Judeo-Christian moral system? What is it that can fill the spiritual void in the heart of the individual person? And what is the system of values that can sustain human social life?”

The attorney general said of the moral problems we are facing, “This is not decay. This is organized destruction. Secular forces and their allies have marshaled all the forces of mass communication, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia, in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.”

I believe Attorney General Barr is absolutely right.

Here’s why we are here: Many in our culture believe the lie that all truth claims are subjective impositions of personal power on others. Tolerance of all viewpoints must therefore be mandated, except, of course, for viewpoints deemed intolerant.

According to this agenda, the freedom to express religious beliefs ends where such freedom is deemed harmful to or by another person. Any person. Of course, the harm done to the person expressing his or her religious beliefs is ignored.

How to “experience the strongest opposition”

In such times, answering God’s call to be culture-changing Christians requires both urgency and courage. The higher the summit, the harder the climb.

A dear friend recently shared with me this statement from seventeenth-century theologian John Owen: “There is no duty we perform for God that sin does not oppose. And the more spirituality or holiness there is in what we do, the greater the enmity to it. Thus, those who seek the most for God experience the strongest opposition.”

Peter would agree.

Continue reading Denison Forum – William Barr’s statement at Notre Dame: My perspective and God’s call to courage