Charles Stanley – God Is With Us

 

John 14:16-26

God is always with us, even though we at times cannot sense His presence. There may be situations where we feel really close to Him, yet on other occasions, He might seem distant and uninvolved in our life. As believers, however, we can be certain He is our constant companion whether we’re aware of Him or not. This truth can empower and transform your life.

There are two statements in today’s passage that are the foundation for our confidence about God’s presence with us. Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16-17). Then He added, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love Him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him” (v. 23). What an amazing reality—the triune God has taken up residence in those of us who have received Christ’s forgiveness and salvation.

With this truth anchored in our mind and heart, we can know that no matter what we’re going through—even the loss of a loved one—we are not alone. Being in Christ, we have His peace in the midst of storms. That’s because there are none more powerful or knowledgeable than almighty God, who indwells us and gives us His comfort and strength.

We must remind ourselves of God’s presence because, unfortunately, it’s tempting to forget. But the more we remember He is with us, the better we can discern His work and comfort in our life. Let’s pray to keep this aspect of God’s character at the forefront of our mind.

Bible in One Year: 1 Corinthians 1-3

 

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Our Daily Bread — Greedy Grasping

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Ezekiel 30–32
  • 1 Peter 4

Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.

Ecclesiastes 4:6

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ecclesiastes 4:4–8

In the ancient fable The Boy and the Filberts (Nuts), a boy sticks his hand into a jar of nuts and grabs a great fistful. But his hand is so full that it gets stuck in the jar. Unwilling to lose even a little of his bounty, the boy begins to weep. Eventually, he’s counseled to let go of some of the nuts so the jar will let go of his hand. Greed can be a hard boss.

The wise teacher of Ecclesiastes illustrates this moral with a lesson on hands and what they say about us. He compared and contrasted the lazy with the greedy when he wrote: “Fools fold their hands and ruin themselves. Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind” (4:5–6). While the lazy procrastinate until they’re ruined, those who pursue wealth come to realize their efforts are “meaningless—a miserable business!” (v. 8).

According to the teacher, the desired state is to relax from the toil of greedy grasping in order to find contentment in what truly belongs to us. For that which is ours will always remain. As Jesus said, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul” (Mark 8:36).

By: Remi Oyedele

Reflect & Pray

What are you driven to pursue and grasp? How can you apply the wise words of Ecclesiastes in order to find tranquility?

God, thank You for Your provision and faithful presence in my life. Help me to live in a contented way, exhibiting true gratefulness to You.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Privilege of Gratitude

A Thanksgiving Meditation for 2019

During my graduate studies in the 70s, I had the privilege of being part of a tour (“In the Footsteps of Luther”) led by Dr. John Warwick Montgomery. It was one of the most remarkable courses I had ever taken. From lectures on Luther and Melanchthon in Wittenberg to the music of Bach in the church where he had played in Leipzig, Dr. Montgomery was a goldmine of information. I can’t remember the exact number of people on that journey, but there were some business people who joined the students for those memorable ten days.

One couple had their daughter with them who was struggling with her faith. When I happened to sit next to her on the bus, I did my best to answer some of her many questions. Her father was profoundly grateful for the change he saw in her life and to express it, he paid one semester’s fees for me. I was shocked at his generous gift because I hardly knew him and I never met him again. But his gift came with a very strange condition. He didn’t want me to thank him. I couldn’t quite understand that proviso, especially since his gift itself was an expression of his thanks. After days and days of struggling, I sent a tangential note and just stated how much he had blessed my wife and me by his kindness. Not being US citizens at that time, we were very restricted with what work we could do, so it was a difficult three years. His gift was a huge benefit for us. I never heard from him again, and it was only when he passed away several years later that his wife dropped me a note to inform us of his passing. He had obviously tracked my ministry.

He is now with the Lord, and ‘til this day, I don’t know why he didn’t want to receive my thanks. I may have disappointed him by sending the note I did because I did what he asked me not to do, albeit, in a very subtle manner. When I see him in heaven, I hope to ask him why.

“Please,” “I’m sorry,” and “Thank you” are the coinage of courtesy we teach our children. Even when somebody steps on our toes, we impulsively say, “I’m sorry.” We dispense those kind words every day. In fact, the Bible talks much about having a thankful heart. The most memorable of illustrations that Jesus gave on thankfulness is found in Luke 17 when he healed ten people of leprosy and only one returned to say, “Thank you.” The Bible says, “And he was a Samaritan.” There was a sting to that tale. As far as the background goes, the other nine should have known better. This “foreigner” was the lone one who returned. The most culturally marginalized was the most spiritually grateful. It is a mystery beyond words. How does one who has been healed from such a disfiguring disease not remember to say, “Thank you, Jesus”? In fact, gratitude is a privilege that blossoms at its peak into worship. Ironically, the other nine were on their way to the temple to proclaim their healing, forgetting to thank the one greater than the temple.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Privilege of Gratitude

Joyce Meyer – Lord, Teach Me to Pray

 

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” — Luke 11:1

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

One of the most important, life-changing prayers a person can ever utter is: “Lord, teach me to pray.” It’s not simply, “Lord, teach me to pray,” but “Lord, teach me to pray.” You see, simply knowing about prayer is not enough; we have to know how to pray—to talk and listen to God—as individuals who are in an intimate, dynamic personal relationship with the God to Whom we pray. Although there are principles of prayer that apply to everyone, we are individuals and God will lead each of us to pray and communicate with Him in uniquely personal ways.

There was a time when I attended many “prayer seminars,” and then attempted to duplicate in my prayer experience what I heard others say about the way they prayed. Eventually, though, I realized God had a personalized prayer plan for me—a way for me to talk to Him and listen to Him most effectively—and I needed to find out what that was. I started by saying, “Lord, teach me to pray.” God answered me in a powerful way and brought wonderful improvements to my prayer life.

If you want to enjoy a deeper, intimate, powerful relationship with God through prayer, I encourage you to say, “Lord, teach me to pray.” He’ll do it, and you’ll soon find greater freedom and effectiveness in your prayer life. God will lead you in a unique, fresh plan that works wonderfully for you.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You that I can freely and confidently come to You and pray about anything. Teach me to pray. Help me to learn and enjoy the unique, personalized prayer plan You have for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Saved From Trouble

 

“Yes, the Lord hears the good man when he calls to Him for help, and saves him out of all his troubles” (Psalm 34:17).

You and I have one of the greatest privileges ever known to mankind – that of calling on God with the assurance that He will hear and answer us.

No trouble we face today will be too great for us to bring God, who has promised to save us out of all our troubles.

True, He suggests certain conditions that must be met for such praying to be effective, but these conditions are not grievous. They are attainable by “whosoever will.”

One of these conditions is referred to by the psalmist, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm 66:18, KJV). According to God’s Word, that means I must not even allow wrong feelings and critical attitudes against others to fester in my heart and mind, but rather I must confess them the moment they arise and then trust God for the forgiveness He promises.

Another condition is suggested in the well-known verse on revival: “If my people…will humble themselves, and pray…” (2 Chronicles 7:14, KJV). Even before that time of intercession with the Lord, I must be sure to humble myself, to recognize God as my Lord and Master, and His Holy Spirit as one who sits and rules and reigns on the throne of my life.

As a result, God will produce in my life those qualities of the supernatural life.

Bible Reading: Psalm 35:1-9

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Confession and humbling will precede prayer in my life this day, so that I may be sure God hears and will answer

 

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Max Lucado – God is a Father to the Fatherless

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”  A glimpse of God’s goodness changes us.  If He is only slightly stronger than us, why pray?  If He has limitations, questions, and hesitations, then you might as well pray to the Wizard of Oz.

Psalm 68:5-6 says that God is  “a father to the fatherless.  He sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity.”

Will you pray this with me?  Dear God, today, remind me that you protect me.  Be my father and defender.  Defend those who’re weak and afraid and feel forgotten.  Show up in their lives today. Thank you for giving me a spiritual family that can never be taken away.  I pray this in the name of Jesus, amen.

At any point you’re only a prayer away from help!

Read more Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Paralyzed Army veteran completes marathon in robotic exoskeleton: The power of public gratitude

Terry Hannigan Vereline is a former Army sergeant and Vietnam veteran. She made history earlier this month by becoming the first paralyzed competitor to successfully finish a marathon with the help of a robotic exoskeleton. She completed the New York City Marathon by walking the entire 26.2 miles over the course of three days.

“Don’t give up,” she said in an interview. “The things that I did prior to me being paralyzed, I can still do. It’s just finding another way of doing it.” She is grateful to those who helped her use her exoskeleton to fulfill her dream.

In other news, DeAndre Hopkins scored two touchdowns as his Houston Texans defeated the Indianapolis Colts last week. Each time, he gave the ball to his mother sitting in the stands. Here’s what makes their story so remarkable: his mom has been blind since 2002, when she was attacked by another woman who believed she was sleeping with her boyfriend.

Acid was involved in the assault, causing her blindness. She has never been able to see her son play in the NFL, so he gives her the football when he scores at home games as tangible proof of his gratitude for her support.

Singing hymns in prison at midnight

Yesterday, we encountered the biblical commands to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and to “always give thanks to God the Father for everything” (Ephesians 5:20 NCV). We are to give thanks “in” and “for” all that we experience.

As we noted, the harder our circumstances, the more difficult it is to express such gratitude. We may never understand God’s reasons for allowing our suffering until we are with him in glory. But we can claim the fact that we will know then what we do not know now (1 Corinthians 13:12). And we can trust his heart even when we do not see his hand.

A second way to be thankful in hard places is to note the way people who express gratitude in adversity can inspire the world with their courage.

Paul’s example comes to mind. When he and his fellow sailors were facing calamity, “he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat” (Acts 27:35). Then “they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves” (v. 36).

When Paul and Silas sang hymns to God at midnight in a Philippian jail, “the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25). When God did not remove his “thorn in the flesh,” the apostle chose to “boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). And his courageous gratitude still marks those who encounter it today.

“If it bleeds, it leads.”

One reason such gratitude is so inspirational is that it is so unusual. It’s far easier when reading the day’s news to focus on the negative than on the positive.

For instance, CNN tells us that life expectancy at birth continues to drop in America. Brutal weather is disrupting holiday travels and could even ground the famous balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for the first time since 1971. And a man who contracted a rare bacterial infection after being licked by his dog has died.

I could go on, but you get the point. As the old newspaper adage goes, “If it bleeds, it leads.” We are more drawn to bad news than to good news.

There’s a second factor at work as well. Secular people discount the possibility of a divine factor in their current circumstances. They also see the future as chaotic and unpredictable. As a result, they are unlikely to credit God for their present successes or turn to him with their present problems or future fears.

Consequently, for millions of Americans, Thanksgiving is a holiday focusing on feasting and football rather than a holy day focusing on a Father who loves us.

The Power that empowers gratitude

For these reasons, giving thanks to God in good times is countercultural. Giving thanks to God in hard times is even more so.

That’s an important reason why giving thanks in and for all things is so important. Skeptics can discount our faith when life is easy. But they cannot help taking note when we trust and thank God when life is hard.

So, if you are facing challenges today, know that others are watching. And know that God will help you experience gratitude if you will ask him.

The biblical call to “always give thanks to God the Father for everything” (Ephesians 5:20 NCV) is preceded by the imperative to “be filled with the Spirit” (v. 18). When we submit our struggles and pain to the Holy Spirit and ask him to redeem them for God’s glory and our good, he empowers us to give thanks in a storm and sing hymns in a prison.

“How manifold His goodness, how rich His grace to me!”

On Thanksgiving Day, we’ll learn from a very unlikely source how to give thanks for what we have. On Friday, we’ll learn from a small boy’s gift how to give thanks for what we do not yet have.

For today, as we consider the power of a grateful heart, let’s close with this testimony:

My heart is overflowing with gratitude and praise,
To Him whose loving kindness has followed all my days;
To Him who gently leads me by cool and quiet rills
And with their balm of comfort my thirsty spirit fills.

Within the vale of blessing, I walk beneath the light
Reflected from His glory, that shines forever bright.
I feel His constant presence wherever I may be;
How manifold His goodness, how rich His grace to me!

My heart is overflowing with love and joy and song,
As if it heard an echo from yonder ransomed throng.
Its every chord is vocal with music’s sweetest lay,
And to its home of sunshine it longs to fly away.

I feign would tell the story, and yet I know full well
The half was never, never told—the half I cannot tell.

Fanny Crosby wrote these words. Her eyes were blind. But her heart saw God and gave him thanks.

Does yours?

 

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