Charles Stanley – Hope Despite a Changing World

 

Psalm 46

Where do you place your hope and security? If it’s in governments, financial markets, or education, you will be disappointed. Our world is always changing. Trusted governments fail, great economies falter, and strong institutions prove to be unstable. When this happens, people struggle with fear and insecurity.

The world, however, won’t become more trustworthy. Ever since the time of the tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1-32), people have been promising a better civilization, but no man-made advance has permanently enhanced life. Certainly some institutions go through periods in which humanity is greatly benefited, but ultimately any part of society that challenges God won’t last. It’s because the talented and knowledgeable people involved are also sinful people. Greed, pride, and lust have brought about the downfall of many civilizations.

Brilliant, charismatic leaders may claim to offer a better tomorrow, but no man or woman is the solution to the world’s problems. Only Christ can deliver on His promise of hope to those of us who trust in Him. He lives in us, guiding our path, comforting us in loss and sorrow, and promising an eternal future of heavenly bliss.

This changing world can be a scary place—especially for people who trust in themselves. But those who trust in God can have hope and confidence because even in a chaotic environment, He is the one constant. His Word is always true, His power is absolute, and His promises are certain. Human institutions fail, but when Jesus Christ returns to rule the earth, all will be made right.

Bible in One Year: Acts 14-15

 

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Our Daily Bread — Aiming for the Prize

 

Bible in a Year:

Run in such a way as to get the prize.

1 Corinthians 9:24

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 Corinthians 9:19–27

In the 1994 fictional movie Forrest Gump, Forrest becomes famous for running. What began as a jog “to the end of the road” continued for three years, two months, fourteen days, and sixteen hours. Each time he arrived at his destination, he set another one and continued to run, zig-zagging across the United States, until one day when he no longer felt like it. “Feeling like it” was the way his running began. Forrest says, “That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run.”

In contrast to Forrest’s seemingly whimsical running, the apostle Paul asks his readers to follow his example and “run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24). Like disciplined athletes, our running—the way we live our lives—might mean saying no to some of our pleasures. Being willing to forgo our rights might help us reach others with the good news of our rescue from sin and death.

With our hearts and minds trained on the goal of inviting others to run the race alongside us, we are also assured of the ultimate prize—eternal fellowship with God. The victor’s crown God bestows will last forever; we win it by running our lives with the aim of making Him known while relying on His strength to do so. What a reason to run!

By: Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

What is your “aim” in life? How is it similar to or different than Paul’s?

Jesus, help me stay focused on the reason I run: to share about You with those around me.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Definitive Fingerprints

He seemed to brace himself for what had become the typical barrage of questioning after stating his occupation. The once unrecognized field of “forensic science” now comes attached with visions of beautiful men and women swabbing for DNA, replicating gunfire trajectories, decoding cyber movement, and piecing together the truth with hair, bugs, and CODIS. The tremendous popularity of forensic dramas has made crime scene investigating a household subject. So with a real forensic scientist standing in front of me, I admit it was hard to repress my enthusiasm. Predictably, I asked if he watched any of the shows. Humoring my line of questioning for the moment, he admitted that he did not.

The vast public intrigue with forensic science has been increasing as feverously as the viewerships of crime scene television. In Great Britain alone, the increase in students applying for forensic programs is up nearly 33 percent, attributed entirely to the influence of CSI, NCIS, Bones, and many similar programs.(1) They come into their programs believing they already know a great deal about the job because they have seen it all performed. In a more damaging vein, criminologists note the pervasive misinformation that is powerfully influencing criminal justice systems in various ways, particularly and significantly in the minds and expectations of jurors.(2)

Analysts refer to this global phenomenon of forensic pop culture and its consequences as the “CSI Effect,” though speculation on the reasons for our feverish embrace of the motif is wider ranging. In my own right, I find something compellingly clean in the uncomplicated movement from mystery and crisis through clues and evidence to truth. In less than an hour, viewers are taken from dark riddle to conclusive resolution. Truth and justice emerge plainly, even where deception, obscurity, and injustice once reigned. In the rare instance when the suspect does not personally own up to the crime after the facts have emerged, the science and its expert witnesses are so definitive that it hardly matters. The truth is clear.

Of course, I know in reality that mysteries are not typically so easily dissected nor the truth so mechanically laid out for the taking. But in that brief hour, I am relieved at the clarity of truth, presented to me quickly and with watertight certainty. English professor Scott Campbell further speculates on the allure of “a longed-for world where deceit is no longer possible and where language finds a close, unbreachable connection to the events it seeks to describe.”(3) On the nature of truth in such a world he notes, “If we know how to look for it, the truth is self-evident. It will, in effect, narrate itself.”

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Definitive Fingerprints

Joyce Meyer – Stay Safe in God’s Word

 

But test all things carefully [so you can recognize what is good]. Hold firm to that which is good. — 1 Thessalonians 5:21 (AMP)

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

Hearing from God clearly and avoiding the possibility of deception comes only from spending regular time with Him and learning His Word. Listening for God’s voice without having knowledge of His Word is a mistake. Knowing God’s written Word protects us from deception.

Trying to hear from God without knowing His Word is irresponsible and even dangerous. People who want to be led by the Spirit but are too lazy to spend time in the Word and in prayer set themselves up for deception because evil spirits are eager to whisper to listening ears. The devil tried to say things to Jesus, and He always replied, “It is written,” and then quoted Scripture to refute the lies of the enemy (see Luke 4).

Some people seek God only when they are in trouble and need help. But if they are not used to hearing from God, they will find recognizing His voice difficult when they really need Him.

We need to compare any idea, prompting, or thought that comes to us with God’s Word. If we don’t know the Word, we won’t have anything against which to measure theories and arguments that rise up in our thoughts. The enemy can present wild ideas that make sense to us. The fact that thoughts are logical doesn’t mean they are from God. We may like what we hear, but the fact that something appeals to us doesn’t mean it is from God. We may hear something that feels good to our emotions, but if it fails to give us peace, it is not from God. God’s advice to us is to always follow peace and let it be an umpire in our lives (see Colossians 3:15).

Test everything you hear against the Word of God, because that is the only standard of truth that exists.

Prayer Starter: Father, help me to hear from You more clearly. Help me to always test everything I believe against the perfect standard of Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Overwhelming Love

 

“But despite all this, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us enough to die for us” (Romans 8:37).

Today I prayed with a beloved friend who is dying of cancer. As he and his precious wife and I held hands, we lifted our voices in praise to God, knowing that He makes no mistakes, that “all things work together for good to those who love Him,” and that he is fully aware of my brother’s body riddled with pain as a result of cancerous cells that are on a warpath. Together we claimed that victory which comes from an unwavering confidence in Christ’s sufficiency.

The victory comes, of course, through Christ who loved us enough to die for us. Such love is beyond our ability to grasp with our minds, but it is not beyond our ability to experience with our hearts. God’s love is unconditional and it is constant. Because He is perfect, His love is perfect, too.

The Scriptures tell of a certain lawyer who asked Jesus, “Sir, which is the most important command in the Law of Moses?”

Jesus replied, “You shall 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 you love yourself.”

The question may come to your mind: “Why does God want our love?”

From a human standpoint, this could appear selfish and egotistical. But God, in His sovereignty and love, has so created man that he finds his greatest joy and fulfillment when he loves God with all his heart and soul and mind, and his neighbor as himself.

Early in my Christian life, I was troubled over the command to love God so completely. But now the Holy Spirit has filled my heart with God’s love. And as I meditate on the “overwhelming victory” that He gives us, I find my love for Him growing.

Bible Reading: Romans 8:35-39

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: His great love and “overwhelming victory” for me prompts me to respond with supernatural love for Him and for others

 

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Max Lucado – Prayer Can Be Simple, Yet Powerful

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Prayer really is simple.  Resist the urge to complicate it.  Don’t take pride in well-crafted prayers. Don’t apologize for incoherent prayers.  No games.  No cover-ups.  Just be honest.  Honest to God.

Climb into His lap, tell Him everything that is on your heart.  Or, tell Him nothing at all.  Just lift your heart to heaven and declare “Father, Daddy.” Stress, fear, guilt, grief…demands on all sides. At times, all we can summon, is a plaintive, “Oh Father.”  If so, that’s enough.  Your Heavenly Father will wrap you in His arms.

Here’s my challenge for you!  Every day for four weeks, pray four minutes.  Then get ready to connect with God like never before.

Read more Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – Why do we hiccup? Some surprising unsolved mysteries and the bias against religion

The humble hiccup has been one of science’s enduring mysteries. People from before birth to old age get hiccups from time to time. So do cats and rats. No one knows why or how to stop them.

In fact, an internist performed a five-year study involving fifty-four hospital patients with hiccups, attempting a wide range of treatments. None proved effective.

Now a study led by University College London may have solved the mystery. Researchers monitoring thirteen newborn babies found that hiccupping triggered a large wave of brain signals that could aid their development. This brain activity might help babies learn to monitor their breathing muscles, leading to the ability to control their breathing voluntarily.

However, hiccups have no known advantage for adults. Why, then, do we persist in them?

It’s still a mystery.

Is a recession coming?

In other news, more than half of the world’s wealthiest investors are preparing for a drop in financial markets before the end of 2020, according to UBS Global Wealth Management. Investors are worried about the 2020 presidential election and the trade dispute between the US and China.

In a survey of more than 3,400 high-net-worth individuals, more than 79 percent think markets are moving toward a period of higher volatility. About 55 percent of respondents expect a “significant drop” in the markets over the next fourteen months.

However, the study was conducted between August and October following a volatile third quarter. Recent signs are already pointing to a firming US economy in the fourth quarter. A strong US labor market, robust consumer spending, an improving housing sector, and optimism on trade talks with China have combined with better-than-expected third-quarter earnings and a supportive interest-rate policy from the Federal Reserve.

So, will the financial markets see a significant drop in the near future?

It’s still a mystery.

The “spiritual but not religious” movement

I could go on: scientists don’t really know why gravity exists, how plate tectonics work, or how animals migrate so successfully.

My purpose is not to criticize scientists, but to point out the inherent limitations of science. And my purpose in pointing out such limitations is not to criticize science, but to remind us that all humans are finite creatures in need of truth and wisdom only our Creator can supply.

Here’s why this theme is on my mind today.

It was my privilege to deliver the T. B. Maston Lectures at Baptist University of the Américas (BUA) in San Antonio this week. I believe strongly in BUA’s crucial mission and the leadership of its outstanding president, Dr. Abe Jaquez.

His faculty asked me to discuss the popularity of the “spiritual but not religious” movement, an urgent and timely topic. A Pew Research Center study reports that only 48 percent of Americans now consider themselves to be both “religious and spiritual,” while 18 percent say they are “neither religious nor spiritual.” But 27 percent say they are “spiritual but not religious.” Their number has grown nearly 50 percent in recent years.

By comparison, Pew Research Center estimates America’s evangelical population to be 25.4 percent. The Baptist population is 15.4 percent. According to an authoritative study, only 20.4 percent of the US population attends church on any given week.

This means there are more “spiritual but not religious” Americans than Americans who attended church last Sunday.

“There was no king in Israel.”

A major reason why so many Americans choose to be spiritual but not religious is that they think they no longer need religion to be spiritual. It is conventional wisdom in our postmodern culture that truth is personal and subjective. There is no such thing as “truth,” only “your truth” and “my truth.”

We are therefore all equally able to discern spiritual truth for ourselves without need of divine revelation from a divine Creator. Or so we’re told.

How’s this working for us?

The theme of the book of Judges is the theme of our culture: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). In a true kingdom, the king is the final authority on all subjects. His declaration is truth, his word inviolate.

Throughout Scripture, we are told that our God is such a king. Jesus called us to “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). He taught us to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). We are to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). We are creatures in desperate need of truth only our Creator can provide.

It has been well said: To get along with God, stay off his throne.

How to know if God is your king

When last did you enthrone Jesus as king of your life?

Here’s a practical way to answer the question: We make God our king to the degree that we do what he says whether we want to or not. If he is our counselor or father, we can ignore his direction. If he is our king, we must do whatever he tells us to do.

So, I’ll ask again: When last did you make Jesus your king?

 

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