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

 

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Our Daily Bread — Gifts from Above

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Daniel 3–4
  • 1 John 5

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel.

Matthew 1:23

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Matthew 1:18–25

According to an old story, a man named Nicholas (born in ad 270) heard about a father who was so poor that he couldn’t feed his three daughters, much less provide for their future marriages. Wanting to assist the father, but hoping to keep his help a secret, Nicholas threw a bag of gold through an open window, which landed in a sock or shoe drying on the hearth. That man was known as St. Nicholas, who later became the inspiration for Santa Claus.

When I heard that story of a gift coming down from above, I thought of God the Father, who out of love and compassion sent to earth the greatest gift, His Son, through a miraculous birth. According to Matthew’s gospel, Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy that a virgin would conceive and give birth to a son whom they would call Immanuel, meaning “God with us” (1:23).

As lovely as Nicholas’s gift was, how much more amazing is the gift of Jesus. He left heaven to become a man, died and rose again, and is God living with us. He brings us comfort when we’re hurting and sad; He encourages us when we feel downhearted; He reveals the truth to us when we might be deceived.

By: Amy Boucher Pye

Reflect & Pray

How can you give the gift of Jesus today? How does His presence lead you to share your resources of time, wisdom, and love with others?

Jesus, thank You for the way You left Your Father to be born in humble circumstances. May I never take for granted Your presence in my life.

To learn more about the birth of Jesus, visit bit.ly/2R7FD4f.

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – O Come, Emmanuel

A post in The New York Times caught my eye: “Amsterdam Has a Deal for Alcoholics: Work Paid in Beer.”(1) One of the most emailed columns that week, the article detailed the creative and controversial work of The Rainbow Group Foundation, an NGO helping to prevent social isolation for people without caring networks of community like the homeless, the poor, drug users, and those with psychiatric problems. The organization seeks to create vital connections that foster community and enable these socially exiled individuals to participate in society in more healthy ways.

Their latest project, however, has provoked both public ire and praise. Hiring alcoholics as street cleaners and paying them with beer is not a traditional form of compensation, nor does it appear to deal with the problem of addiction. Yet, one of the unlikely supporters of the Rainbow Foundation’s efforts is the Muslim district mayor of Eastern Amsterdam, where there is a large percentage of these marginalized persons. As a practicing Muslim, the district mayor personally disapproves of alcohol but says she believes that alcoholics “cannot be just ostracized” and told to shape up. “It is better,” she said “to give them something to do and restrict their drinking.” Indeed, Hans Wijnands, the director of the Rainbow Foundation, explained: “You have to give people an alternative, to show them a path other than just sitting in the park and drinking themselves to death.”

One of the participants in this program has struggled with alcoholism since the 1970s after he found his wife, who was pregnant with twins, dead in their home from a drug overdose. He has since spent time in a clinic and tried other ways to quit but has never managed to entirely break his addiction. “I’m not proud of being an alcoholic, but I am proud to have a job again,” he said. Once a construction worker, he was out of work for more than a decade because of a back injury and his chronic alcoholism. Finally landing this job sponsored by the Rainbow Foundation, he now gets up at 5:30 in the morning, walks his dog, and heads out ready to clean litter from the streets of eastern Amsterdam. While he has found a new sense of purpose he still acknowledges how difficult life can be. “Every day is a struggle,” he said during a lunch break with his work mates. “You may see these guys hanging around here, chatting, making jokes. But I can assure you, every man you see here carries a little backpack with their own misery in it.”

As I read this article, I couldn’t help but hear the traditional Advent hymn in the back of my mind:

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
 
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

The haunting tune of this hymn provides a musical illustration of this modern-day exile: solitary individuals, homeless on cold, wintry streets in Amsterdam, living in a world where most consider them a nuisance at best. Gaining access to that which enslaves them as payment for cleaning the streets, they exist in a form of exile. These individuals wander in their own wilderness of addiction, exiled from themselves, from others, and likely feeling far, far away from the presence of God.

This notion of exile, of being exiled from ourselves, others, and from God, is an overarching theme in the Bible. Indeed, it is often the mournful story of God’s people who traverse its pages as captives, wanderers, and exiles. First captives in the land of Egypt, the children of Israel are freed from their bondage only to spend the next forty years wandering around in what is now the Sinai Peninsula. Brought into the land of promise, their years of freedom were relatively short-lived before they were again exiles; first, conquered by the armies of Assyria, then conquered by the armies of the Babylonians, the people of Judah ‘wept by the rivers of Babylon’ for their home. Even when they returned to their land, they were now under the thumb of the Roman Empire as captives, wanderers, and exiles.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – O Come, Emmanuel

Joyce Meyer – Be Kind to Those Who Aren’t Kind to You

 

Be kind to one another…. — Ephesians 4:32

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

Christmas is the season of good cheer, but it often becomes a season of stress…so much shopping, wrapping, cooking, baking and visiting with friends and relatives. Before you know it, people are losing patience and snapping at one another. It’s easy to become unkind.

I’ll never forget something my daughter told me a long time ago. She said that her goal was to learn to love or to treat with kindness, goodness and mercy every single person she encountered who was unkind or ugly to her. She said, “That’s my goal. I want to submit to God in my emotions and the way that I handle myself so that when I’m out in public and someone mistreats me, I respond with kindness.”

She said, “One of the things that God has shown me that really helps me to do this is, when someone is grouchy toward me, I can get angry and frustrated or I think: I don’t know what this person is going through. Maybe right now her back hurts terribly. Maybe she has a horrible migraine headache. Maybe this grumpy man at the meat counter at the grocery store has a child who just died last week. Maybe he is carrying a financial burden that feels too heavy for him. Maybe that woman’s husband walked out on her and is living with another woman. Maybe this man has just been told he’s losing his job at the end of the week.

We don’t know what’s going on in people’s lives.

Kindness will cause you to slow down and give people some space and some grace. People are under so much stress that half of the time they don’t even realize what they’re doing. Life was not meant to be the way it is today. We were not meant to live at the fast pace at which we live, with thousands of things coming at us at once. Stress and overload are the disease of the twenty-first century, and it makes people grouchy. People don’t have time for each other anymore. We don’t even have time to talk to anyone.

I think we’ve lost sight of some important things in life and that we need to put kindness back on our priority lists!

Prayer Starter: Help me, Lord to be especially kind to people who are not kind to me.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Way to Wisdom

 

“For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler for them that walk uprightly” (Proverbs 2:6,7, KJV).

One of my brothers and a sister and I recently stood at the bedside of our 93-year-old mother. The doctor and nurses had just left the room after informing her that she needed a pacemaker for her heart.

After the doctor left, she called us around her. “Now I want you to join with me in prayer,” she said. She began to pray, her countenance radiant from the joyful assurance that God was listening and would answer:

“Father in heaven, I need Your help. I do not know if I need a pacemaker, but You do. Tell me what to do, because You know what is best for me.”

“Mother,” I asked, when she had finished praying, “how will you know when God answers you?”

She replied, “God will tell me what to do as He always does.” Later in the day she informed the doctor that she would not need a pacemaker. The doctor was disappointed, and he encouraged her to reconsider.

After he left, I inquired, “Mother, how do you know that you’re not to have a pacemaker?”

“Well,” she replied, “before I prayed I had an impression that this was the right thing to do because the doctor and nurses felt so strongly, but as I prayed God seemed to take away the desire.” Months later we all agreed that she had made the right decision as her health was greatly improved.

For more than 75 years this beloved saint has known the faithfulness of this promise for wisdom. “He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous. He is a buckler for them that walk uprightly.”

Is Christ real? Does He give answers to practical problems of life? Inquire of one who has walked with Him for more than three-quarters of a century and you will have no doubts. To achieve this wisdom, you must seek it with all your heart. The world’s wisdom, great as it may be cannot begin to measure up to the divine wisdom available to one who faithfully reads, studies, and meditates upon God’s Word and who has a close intimate relationship with Him in prayer.

Bible Reading: Proverbs 2:1-5

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will seek God’s supernatural wisdom by diligently studying God’s Word, through prayer and through fellowship with others who walk with God.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – God Uses People to Change the World

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

I’ve waited too long to believe. Way too long. What can I possibly do now for God?

God uses people to change the world!  People!  Not saints or super humans or geniuses, but people.  Crooks, creeps, lovers, and liars— He uses them all.  No wagging fingers.  No crossed arms.  Only sweet, open arms!  If you’ve ever wondered how God can use you to make a difference in the world, just look at those he’s already used and take heart.  Look at the forgiveness found in those open arms and take courage.

By the way, never were those arms opened so wide as they were on the Roman cross.  One arm extending back into history, the other reaching into the future.  An embrace of forgiveness for anyone who’ll come.  A hen gathering her chicks…a father receiving his own…a Redeemer redeeming the world!

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 – An apocalyptic asteroid and a shortage of french fries: Embracing the peace that ‘surpasses all understanding’

This headline is an uplifting way to begin your Friday: “Apocalyptic asteroid strike that could wipe out humanity is ‘only a matter of time,’ top scientist warns.” Professor Alan Fitzsimmons of Queen’s University Belfast told the BBC, “We will get a serious asteroid impact sometime. It may not be in our lifetime, but mother nature controls when that will happen.”

Here’s another news item to make your day: we may be facing a french fries crisis.

Crop damage due to cold and wet weather is causing a shortage of potatoes in North America. As a result, the US Department of Agriculture expects the nation’s output of potatoes to drop 6.1 percent compared to the previous year. Consequently, prices may rise and we may see a shortage of French fries in the near future.

Here’s my question: Which of these stories feels more real to you?

A “city-killer” NASA missed

We’ve been warned about “killer asteroids” before, but humanity still survives.

Fortunately, NASA assures us that it “knows of no asteroid or comet currently on a collision course with Earth, so the probability of a major collision is quite small. In fact, as best as we can tell, no large object is likely to strike the Earth any time in the next several hundred years.”

Here’s the problem: the space agency could be wrong.

They didn’t spot the “city-killer” asteroid that narrowly missed Earth last July until just hours before it shot past us. The manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies admitted, “This object slipped through a whole series of our capture nets, for a bunch of different reasons.”

When it comes to killer asteroids, it just takes one. But no one knows when—or if—that one will arrive.

“The worst natural disaster in the history of North America”

The french fries crisis, on the other hand, is a real-time problem. We may not be astrophysicists qualified to calculate the trajectory of near-Earth objects, but most of us “would like fries with that.” We can understand this threat to our fast-food consumption.

It’s human nature to focus on problems we think we can control to the exclusion of those we cannot. That’s usually good advice for countering stress and anxiety.

Here’s the catch: our biggest problems are more like asteroids than french fries. The fact that we cannot control them only makes them worse.

Continue reading Denison Forum – An apocalyptic asteroid and a shortage of french fries: Embracing the peace that ‘surpasses all understanding’