Charles Stanley – Receiving Direction Without Doubt

 

Psalm 25:8-9

God wants us to make right decisions, which means choices that align with His will. He has promised to give us instruction and direction so we’ll know how to proceed (Psalm 32:8).

One way to discover the Lord’s will is by following the pattern we looked at yesterday. First, make sure you have a clean heart, clear mind, surrendered will, and patient spirit. Then, add these steps: praying persistently, trusting God’s promises, and receiving His peace.

Although we all want quick answers from the Lord, Scripture tells us to pray tirelessly, without giving up. I remember praying daily about one particular need for six months before I received a response. During this time, the Lord showed me that He’d tried to give direction earlier, but I hadn’t listened. Fear of failure had been my stumbling block. Once I surrendered my fear, He gave instructions and empowered me to obey. Persisting in prayer positions us to be drawn closer to God, where we are better prepared to hear from Him.

Then, trusting in God’s promises will lift us above our doubts into a place of quiet rest. We may not have an answer yet, but in waiting on Him with hopeful expectation, we’ll experience His “peace … which surpasses all comprehension” (Phil. 4:7).

Finally, Scripture urges us to let Christ’s peace rule in our heart (Col. 3:15). Doing so will help us find our way past confusion and receive His clear direction without doubting. Discovering God’s will is worth every effort we make and any time spent waiting.

Bible in One Year: Galatians 1-3

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Intentional Kindness

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Daniel 1–2
  • 1 John 4

I want to show God’s kindness to them.

2 Samuel 9:3 nlt

Today’s Scripture & Insight: 2 Samuel 9:3–11

Boarding a plane alone with her children, a young mom tried desperately to calm her three-year-old daughter who began kicking and crying. Then her hungry four-month-old son also began to wail.

A traveler seated next to her quickly offered to hold the baby while Jessica got her daughter buckled in. Then the traveler—recalling his own days as a young dad—began coloring with the toddler while Jessica fed her infant. And on the next connecting flight, the same man offered to assist again if needed.

Jessica recalled, “I [was] blown away by God’s hand in this. [We] could have been placed next to anyone, but we were seated next to one of the nicest men I have ever met.”

In 2 Samuel 9, we read of another example of what I call intentional kindness. After King Saul and his son Jonathan had been killed, some expected David to kill off any competition to his claim for the throne. Instead, he asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” (v. 3). Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, was then brought to David who restored his inheritance and warmly invited him to share his table from then on—just as if he were his own son (v. 11).

As beneficiaries of the immense kindness of God, may we look for opportunities to show intentional kindness toward others (Galatians 6:10).

By: Cindy Hess Kasper

Reflect & Pray

Who can you show God’s kindness to? What specific act of kindness can you demonstrate to someone who is hurting or discouraged?

Heavenly Father, I thank You for the kindness You’ve shown me. Help me to lavish it on others.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – God Among Us

 

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.
1

 

The carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem” begins with these profound and precious words. And yet they are in many ways just the preamble to four words that utterly alter and define every landscape. Four words, so stunning in their scope and impact, that blow the mind. Four words that announce, crashing onto the scene of human history, the author of the play. Four words that perhaps due to familiarity seem no longer to inspire awe in us, but when really considered, cannot even be fully fathomed by human minds. Four words:

“For Christ is born…”

What must that instant have been like in the heavens? Surely every heavenly being was tense with attention, in hushed silence, watching with baited breath this most significant of moments in eternity. Immanuel. God became man and dwelt amongst us.

We are thinking of hope this week. Perhaps you, like me, have at one point or another had a friend tell you they are happy for you that you have faith, but that they, for their part, cannot believe. Part of what they’re actually saying is: Your faith clearly makes you happy, content, peaceful, hopeful. And, of course, everyone wants that. But they cannot will themselves, delude themselves into believing this hopeful fairy tale of the Christian faith. They simply cannot force themselves to believe what they consider to be false.

In other words, they consider themselves to be forfeiting hope for truth.

The carol speaks of the hopes and fears of all the years met in the person of Christ. It is right to do so. We tend to look for the answers to our doubts and struggles with “wheres” and “whats.” Much like the disciples in John 14, we assume that the destination and fulfilment of our journeys is a place, or a state of being, or an experience. Where will we end up in all of this? What will happen to us?

The Christian faith uniquely, staggeringly, answers our deepest cries with a who.

Hope, as it is presented to us in Scripture, is the anchor for the soul. It is not primarily rooted in the events of the future—the promises of God as they unfold—although of course it encapsulates that also. Hope is rather anchored in the person who holds the future, and by his word and power, upholds and guarantees it.

A devastating death, reaching and distorting every part of creation, was unleashed on the earth as humankind broke their relationship with God. Human history demonstrates the futility of our attempts to restore the order, caught as each of us are in the break. Yet woven throughout that very history are God’s whispers of hope, promises of a different future. Glimmers of light. A life to come that would swallow up the death and destroy it. “For unto us a child is born,” Isaiah writes in anticipation.2 And in that birth we see the sudden “now moment” of God. The accelerated unveiling of redemption plans. The dawn of the kingdom, the unveiling of the King. Christ has done what we are unable to do.

 

And so it is that hope and truth, far from being in opposition, are inseparable concepts in the Christian faith, the former owing its existence and reality to the latter. It is the one who called himself “The Truth”– his life, his death, his resurrection, and all that they signify—on whom our hopes are laid. Firm and secure.

I have found it intriguing that the book of Hebrews, speaking to us so powerfully of hope, does so in both the past and the future tense. Writing figuratively of the authority and victory of humankind in their intended God-given role, the author of Hebrews speaks of all creation being under their feet: “In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them” (Hebrews 2:8).

I confess that my own life is fraught at times with challenge, struggle, pain. I do not seem to see the reality of which these words speak Perhaps right here, in the midst of uncertainty, of pain, of vulnerability, the stage is set for Christ. As again Hebrews 2:8 reminds us, “Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. But we do see Jesus.3

I am struck this Christmastime, that had I been present at that first Christmas morn, I might have been forgiven for looking at a little baby and wondering how it might be that this little life would hold all the answers. And yet, in every generation there are some, Simeon-like, who seeing with the eyes of faith, seem to really see Jesus, and in that sight, see all.

This Advent season, as you remember that most sacred of moments in history—the birth of Jesus—may you “see Jesus” again. And in seeing him, find afresh faith, courage, peace, wonder, joy… and hope.

Tanya Walker, PhD, is the Dean of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (OCCA) and a speaker for RZIM (Zacharias Trust) in the UK.

1 “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” Phillips Brooks (1868)
2 Isaiah 9:6.
3 Hebrews 2:8c-9a, emphasis added.

 

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – From the Inside Out

 

All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold. — Psalm 45:13

Adapted from the resource The Greatest Gift Study – by Joyce Meyer

During the Christmas season, department store windows often feature bright, shiny presents with perfectly tied bows. These gifts may look desirable, but if we were to open them, we would find nothing inside. They are empty, just for show

Our lives can be the same way, like beautifully wrapped packages with nothing of value inside. On the outside, our lives may look attractive or even enviable to others, but on the inside, we may be dry and empty. We can look spiritual on the outside but be powerless within if we do not allow the Holy Spirit to make His home in our hearts.

The verse for today emphasizes the importance of the inner life. God puts the Holy Spirit inside us to work on our inner lives—our attitudes, our responses, our motivations, our priorities, and other important things. As we submit to Christ’s lordship in our innermost beings, we will sense when He is speaking to us, and we will experience His righteousness, peace, and joy rising up from within us to empower us for abundant living (see Romans 14:17).

The Holy Spirit lives inside us to make us more and more like Christ and to fill us with His presence and guidance, so we will have something to share with others, something that comes from deep in the core of our being and is valuable, powerful, and life giving to everyone with whom we interact.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Fishers of Men

 

“And He saith unto them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19, KJV).

Each morning I kneel to acknowledge Christ’s lordship of my life and ask Him to have complete, unhindered control of my life for that day, to walk around in my body, to think with my mind, to love with my heart, to speak with my lips and to continue seeking and saving the lost through me.

Sometime ago I was at a conference in a midwestern city, anticipating an early adjournment so that I could catch a plane to Los Angeles and rejoin my waiting family.

When I arrived at the airport, I discovered that flight after flight had been cancelled because of poor weather conditions. Rushing from one airline ticket counter to another, I hoped to find one that was still flying its planes. Finally, to my disappointment, I had discovered that all the airlines had cancelled their flights.

On one hand I was discouraged, but on the other I was encouraged by the promise of the Bible, “And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into His plans” (Romans 8:28, LB).

Back at the hotel for the night, in the lobby I met a businessman who was hungry for God. As I shared Christ with him, I learned that he and his wife had been visiting a different church every Sunday for the past couple of years. They were looking for God but had not been able to find Him.

I explained to my new friend how to receive Christ. Together, we knelt and prayed, and he received Christ into his life as his personal Lord and Savior.

With great joy and enthusiasm my new brother in Christ announced, “I want to take these things to my wife because she too is eager to receive Christ.” It is our responsibility to follow Christ. It is His responsibility to make us fishers of men.

Bible Reading: Matthew 4:18-22

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: As I follow Christ today, I will recognize that even the delays, hindrances and closed doors may well be opportunities for me to share my faith in Jesus Christ. I shall remember, with God’s help, to share Him with others at every opportunity.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Second Chances

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Not many second chances exist in the world today!  It’s more like “three strikes and you’re out.” It’s a dog-eat-dog world!

Jesus has a simple answer.  He would say, “Well, then don’t live with the dogs.” Why let a bunch of other failures tell you how much of a failure you are?  Sure you can have a second chance!  Just ask Peter.  One minute he felt lower than a snake’s belly and the next he was high hog at the trough. When Peter denied Jesus, the message came loud and clear, “Be sure and tell Peter he gets to bat again!”

It’s not every day you get a second chance.  It’s not every day you find someone who’ll give you a second chance—much less someone who’ll give you a second chance every day.  But in Jesus, Peter found both!  No wonder they call Him the Savior!

Read more No Wonder They Call Him Savior: Experiencing the Truth of the Cross

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – How James Bond got his name: Summarizing effective ministry in seven words

The trailer for No Time to Die, the latest James Bond movie, came out yesterday. The previous movies in the franchise have generated more than $7 billion in worldwide box office sales.

Have you ever wondered how the iconic spy got his name?

Ian Fleming, the writer of the novels that birthed the movie franchise, was an avid bird-watcher. On a trip to Jamaica after World War II, he noticed a book on birds of the West Indies by an ornithologist from Philadelphia named James Bond.

Years later, Fleming wrote to Mr. Bond’s wife: “It struck me that this brief, unromantic, Anglo-Saxon and yet very masculine name was just what I needed, and so a second James Bond was born.”

However, like a spy novel, there’s a twist to the story. It turns out, an intelligence officer named James Bond served under Fleming in a secret elite unit that led a guerrilla war against Hitler. James Charles Bond, a metalworker from Wales, died in 1995 without revealing his spy past.

His family suspects that Fleming used the bird-watching James Bond to protect the identity of the real James Bond.

What Avengers: Endgame earned overseas

One of the reasons I pay attention to popular movies is that their popularity reveals so much about us.

Sean Connery’s British secret agent first appeared during the height of Cold War paranoia and offered us the assurance in film after film that the West could defeat the Soviets. In the decades since, James Bond has taken on our most frightening enemies and saved the world with his unique mixture of brash courage and technological wizardry.

The Westerns of the 1930s gave us solitary heroes who inspired us during the Great Depression. The comic-book superhero films of recent years typically make far more money overseas than they do in America, highlighting the global nature of our economy and the exporting of Western culture. (Avengers: Endgame earned more than $817 million domestically but more than $1.9 billion overseas.)

As long as our culture needs heroes, Hollywood will supply them. At least, the fictional kind.

“It is in the dark where he seems to visit most often”

Yesterday we discussed the existential crises facing our world and God’s call to demonstrate his love to hurting people. Today, we’ll explore a real-world strategy to do just that.

The key is to find a need and meet it with the love of Christ. The greater the need, the greater the opportunity.

Continue reading Denison Forum – How James Bond got his name: Summarizing effective ministry in seven words