Charles Stanley – The Spirit and Our Walk

 

Galatians 5:16-26

Have you ever felt like quitting the Christian life?  Perhaps you have tried to be the kind of person you think God wants you to be: You’ve established a consistent quiet time with the Lord, during which you read the Bible and pray. But still you seem to have one struggle after another. So you think that you might be missing something—or that maybe this life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Let this be a comfort: Many believers, myself included, have toiled through periods of defeat.

The key to living a life of joy, peace, and victory is found in Galatians 5. Notice that I did not say a life without conflict or one free of temptation, trial, or heartache. Those are part of the human condition. But we can triumph through the power of the Holy Spirit.

In fact, today’s passage makes clear how vital it is for believers to live a Spirit-filled life. When a person trusts Jesus Christ as Savior, he or she is saved and steps from darkness into light. But believers do not then just stand around. As followers of Christ, we fall in step with the Holy Spirit, who helps us to stay on our feet when we are wobbly, to move uphill without tiring, and to stand again after we have fallen. We rely upon Him as our Guide, Comforter, and source of strength.

Does getting through a defeat feel more like crawling than walking? Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is right with you, and He has all the encouragement and power necessary to get you on your feet again. Our journey with Christ can’t be lived alone—rely upon God’s Spirit to escort you each step of the way.

Bible in One Year: Romans 1-3

 

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Our Daily Bread — The Older Brother

 

Bible in a Year:

[They] muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Luke 15:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Luke 15:11–13; 17–24

Author Henri Nouwen recalls his visit to a museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, where he spent hours reflecting on Rembrandt’s portrayal of the prodigal son. As the day wore on, changes in the natural lighting from a nearby window left Nouwen with the impression that he was seeing as many different paintings as there were changes of light. Each seemed to reveal something else about a father’s love for his broken son.

Nouwen describes how, at about four o’clock, three figures in the painting appeared to “step forward.” One was the older son who resented his father’s willingness to roll out the red carpet for the homecoming of his younger brother, the prodigal. After all, hadn’t he squandered so much of the family fortune, causing them pain and embarrassment in the process? (Luke 15:28–30).

The other two figures reminded Nouwen of the religious leaders who were present as Jesus told His parable. They were the ones who muttered in the background about the sinners Jesus was attracting (vv. 1–2).

Nouwen saw himself in all of them—in the wasted life of his youngest son, in the condemning older brother and religious leaders, and in a Father’s heart that’s big enough for anyone and everyone.

What about us? Can we see ourselves anywhere in Rembrandt’s painting? In some way, every story Jesus told is about us.

By: Mart DeHaan

Reflect & Pray

How might you reflect again on the story Jesus told and on the Rembrandt painting? As the light changes, where do you find yourself?

Father, help me to see myself for how much You love me.  

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Scene of Miracle

 

Middlemarch is the epic novel by Mary Anne Evans, better known by her male penname George Eliot. The work is considered one of the most significant novels of the Victorian period and a masterpiece of English fiction. Rather than following a grand hero, Eliot explores a number of themes in a series of interlocking narratives, telling the stories of ordinary characters intertwined in the intricate details of life and community. Eliot’s focus is the ordinary, and in fact her lament—in the form of 700 pages of detail—is that we not only so often fail to see it, but fail to see that there is really no such thing. There is neither ordinary human pain nor ordinary human living. “If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life,” she writes, “it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heartbeat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence. As it is, the quickest of us walk about well wadded with stupidity.”(1)

The world Eliot saw around her is not unlike our own in its capacity to silence the dissonance of details, the frequency of pain, the roar of life in its most minute and yet extraordinary forms. We silence the wild roar of the ordinary and divert our attention to magnitudes more willing to fit into our control. The largest tasks and decisions are given more credence, the biggest lives and events of history most studied and admired, and the greatest powers and influences feared or revered most. And on the contrary, the ordinary acts we undermine, the most common and chronic angst we manage to mask, and the most simple and monotonous events we silence or stop seeing altogether. But have we judged correctly?

Artists often work at pulling back the curtain on these places we have wadded out of sight and sound, showing glimpses of life easily missed, pulling off the disguises that hide sad or mortal wounds, drawing our attention to all that is deemed mundane and obscure. Their subject is often the ordinary, but it is for the sake of the extraordinary, even the holy. Nowhere does Eliot articulate this more clearly than in her defense of the ordinary scenes depicted in early Dutch painting. “Do not impose on us any aesthetic rules which shall banish those old women scrapping carrots with their work-worn hands….It is so needful we should remember their existence, else we may happen to leave them quite out of our religion and philosophy, and flame lofty theories which only fit a world of extremes.”(2) For the artist, ordinary life, ordinary hardship, ordinary sorrow is precisely the scene of our need for God, and remarkably, the scene of God and miracle.

In this sense, maybe, the psalmist and prophets and ancient storytellers are all struggling artists, closing the infinite distance between the grandeur of God and an ordinary humanity in which God mysteriously wills to dwell. What are human beings that You are mindful of them? Mortals that You care for them?

The parables Jesus tells are also richly artistic, theological pauses upon the ordinary. Presented to people who often find themselves beyond the need for stories, whether puffed up with wealth and self-importance, or engorged with religion and knowledge, his stories stop us. Jesus seems acutely aware that the religious and the non-religious, the self-assured and the easily distracted often dance around idols of magnitude, diverting their eyes from the ordinary. And yet his very life proclaims the magnitude of the overlooked. The ordinary is precisely the place that God chose to visit—and not as a man of magnitude.

Whatever one’s philosophy or worldview, attention to the ordinary will be a gift, rooting bodies in this mysterious place, awing these bodies to the miraculous. It is far too easy to miss the world as it really is, to hold a philosophy in hand and mind that cannot hold the weight of ordinary life. While Jesus’s own disciples bickered over the most significant seats in the kingdom, they were put off by a unwanted woman at a well, they overlooked a sick woman reaching out for the fringe of Christ’s robe, and they tried to silence a suffering man making noise in an attempt to get Jesus’s attention—all ordinary scenes which became the place of miracle. Even in a religion where the last are proclaimed first, where the servant, the suffering, and the crucified are lifted highest, the story of the widow’s coin is still easily forgotten, the obscure faces Jesus asked the world to remember easily overlooked. How telling that the call to remember the great acts of God in history is itself a call to remember the many acts of life we mistakenly at times see as less great. For the ordinary is filled with a God who chooses to visit.

 

 

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

 

(1) George Eliot, Middlemarch, (London: Penguin, 1994), 194.
(2) George Eliot, Adam Bede (London, Penguin, 1980), 224.

 

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Joyce Meyer – Three Things That Help Me Forgive

 

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. — Mark 11:25

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

The first thing that really helps me forgive is to remember this: God forgives me for much more than I will ever have to forgive others for. We may not do what others have done to us, but then again we may do things that are worse. In God’s Kingdom, sin does not come in sizes like small, medium, and large; sin is just sin! Do yourself a favor and forgive quickly and freely (without expectation or stipulation). The longer you hold a grudge, the more difficult it is to let it go.

The second thing that helps me forgive is to think of God’s mercy. Mercy is the most beautiful gift we can give or receive. It cannot be earned and is not deserved—otherwise, it wouldn’t be mercy. I like to think of mercy as looking beyond what was done wrong and on to why it was done. Many times people do a hurtful thing and don’t know why they are doing it, or they may not even realize they are doing it. I was hurt so badly in my childhood that I in turn frequently hurt others with my harsh words and attitudes. But I did not realize I was being harsh; because life had been so hard and painful for me, that harshness had become part of me.

The third thing that helps me forgive others is to remember that if I stay angry, I am giving Satan a foothold in my life (see Eph. 4:26–27). When I forgive, I am keeping Satan from gaining an advantage over me (see 2 Cor. 2:10–11). If I don’t forgive, I am poisoning my own soul with bitterness that will surely work its way out in some kind of bad behavior or attitude. One of the most valuable things I have learned is that I am doing myself a favor when I forgive.

Prayer Starter: Thank You, Father, for Your mercy and forgiveness. Help me, in turn, to forgive those who have hurt me and release any bitterness and resentment. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Mighty Weapons

 

“I use God’s mighty weapons, not those made by men, to knock down the devil’s strongholds. These weapons can break down every proud argument against God and every wall that can be built to keep men from finding Him. With these weapons I can capture rebels and bring them back to God, and change them into men whose hearts’ desire is obedience to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4,5).

Joe came to share with me how his leader in a particular Christian organization had been most unfair to him. He was being relieved of his responsibilities and replaced by another who, in his opinion, was not nearly as well qualified. As we talked it became apparent that Satan easily could sabotage the ministry.

After listening to Joe’s grievances for some time, seeking to know the truth of the matter, I inquired as to his walk with God. “Is there any sin in your life? Do you know for sure that you’re filled with the Holy Spirit?” Then I brought the other party into private conference and inquired as to his relationship with God. “Is there any sin in your life? Do you know for sure that you’re filled with the Holy Spirit?” Both assured me that they were filled with the Spirit and that they genuinely desired to know and do the will of God. I was convinced that they were both sincere.

How then could two men without sin in their lives and who claimed to be filled with the Holy Spirit be at such odds? I sought further truth. In the meantime, we brought to bear the weapons of prayer and the Word of God. God says that when brothers are at odds we should claim in prayer the release of His supernatural wisdom to resolve the matter, and, finally, claim by faith that Satan will be routed, that all of his influence will be overcome.

The counseling required several hours. I talked to one individual, then the other, then both of them together. Finally, we were on our knees praising God and then embracing each other, and the men genuinely felt that their relationship with each other and with the Lord had been fully restored. Satan had lost another battle. Another miracle had happened. Another tragedy had been averted and the Body of Christ had been spared another scandal.

What are those weapons? A holy life, the Holy Spirit, prayer, the Word of God, faith, truth – these are the weapons of God for supernatural warfare. Learn how to use them for His glory.

Bible Reading: Ephesians 6:10-17

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Whenever Satan attacks me, or I observe conflicts in the Body of Christ due to his influence, I will seek to defeat him by using God’s mighty weapons and will teach other Christians how to apply them in times of spiritual battle

 

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Max Lucado – A Heartfelt Cry to God

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

When my eldest daughter was 13 years old, she flubbed her piano piece at a recital.  The silence in the auditorium was broken only by the pounding of her parents’ hearts.  She hurried off the stage, threw her arms around me and buried her face in my shirt.  “Oh, Daddy.”  That was enough for me.  At that moment I’d have given her the moon.  All she said was, “Oh Daddy!”

Prayer starts here.  Prayer begins with an honest and heartfelt, “Oh Daddy!”  Jesus invites us to approach God the way a child approaches his or her daddy.

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 – School district forces females to share locker room with biological males who identify as ‘girls’: Three biblical imperatives

A school district in Illinois has voted to allow biological males who identify as girls unrestricted access to the female locker room. Privacy stalls are available, but transgender students will no longer be required to use them.

One student was in tears after the ruling, telling reporters she felt “uncomfortable, my privacy’s being invaded, as I am a swimmer. I do change multiple times, naked, in front of other students in the locker room. I understand that the board has an obligation to all students, but I was hoping that they would go about this in a different way that would also accommodate students such as myself.

Robin Williams was right: “Words and ideas can change the world.” And not always for the better.

Yesterday we discussed God’s call to choose courage when our culture rejects biblical truth and morality. Today, let’s think together about some practical ways we can respond biblically to such opposition.

Ephesians 6 reminds us that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (v. 12).

Using Paul’s military metaphor, let’s consider three imperatives.

One: Remember what is at stake

It’s tempting to accept society’s relativistic narrative that truth is individual and subjective, that evangelical opposition to unbiblical morality is a matter of personal preference rather than a reflection of objective reality.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Continue reading Denison Forum – School district forces females to share locker room with biological males who identify as ‘girls’: Three biblical imperatives