Charles Stanley – Watching God Work

 

Ephesians 3:14-21

We have the privilege of serving a God who does abundantly more than we can imagine. Most Christians go through their daily life with no real awareness that the Lord is at work. However, He is active all the time, orchestrating circumstances, listening to the prayers of His children, and working through His followers to serve others. God is at work in the life of each believer so that He will receive glory and honor.

It is important that Christians learn to see God at work. To do that, we first need to observe how He worked in the lives of men and women in Scripture. It is also essential for us to listen for what He is saying to our heart. If we think that the Lord has never spoken to us, then either we have not been listening, or we do not really expect an answer from Him at all.

To listen and learn, we must have a right relationship with the Lord—this means confessing our sins and choosing to serve Him. We cannot see God at work if we are not prayerful people. Prayer centers our attention on Him. That focus opens us to the fact that we are loved enough to receive direction from our Father.

Frequently though, the problem is that we do not receive guidance according to our schedule. Our heavenly Father may work over long periods of time, so we must learn to practice patience. A human parent needs at least 18 years to teach a child how to function appropriately in the world. How much longer must it take God to achieve His goal of conforming us to the image of His Son?

Bible in One Year: 2 Thessalonians 1-3

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Overcoming Fear

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Hosea 9–11
  • Revelation 3

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Psalm 20:7

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 Samuel 17:4–7, 45–50

Fear ruled a man’s life for thirty-two years. Afraid of being caught for his crimes, he hid at his sister’s farmhouse, going nowhere and visiting no one, even missing his mother’s funeral. When he was sixty-four, he learned that no charges had ever been filed against him. The man was free to resume a normal life. Yes, the threat of punishment was real, but he allowed the fear of it to control him.

Likewise, fear ruled the Israelites when the Philistines challenged them at the Valley of Elah. The threat was real. Their enemy Goliath was 9 feet 9 inches tall and his body armor alone weighed 125 pounds (1 Samuel 17:4–5). For forty days, every morning and evening, Goliath challenged the Israelite army to fight him. But no one dared come forward. No one until David visited the battle lines. He heard and saw the taunting, and volunteered to fight Goliath.

While everyone in the Israelite army thought Goliath was too big to fight, David the shepherd boy knew he wasn’t too big for God. He said, “the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s” (v. 47).

When we’re gripped by fear, let’s follow David’s example and fix our eyes on God to gain a right perspective of the problem. The threat may be real, but the One who is with us and for us is bigger than that which is against us.

By: Albert Lee

Reflect & Pray

What giant battle are you facing that’s crippling you in fear? How can you intentionally fix your eyes on the living God?

Thank You, God, that You’re bigger than any other giant in my life. I trust You.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Voice in the Wilderness

 

Amidst all the twinkling lights, decorations, gleeful holiday carols, festive parties, and holiday sales, a more somber spirit resides in many homes. There is weeping and mourning for lost loved ones. There is loneliness and despair on the margins of every celebration. There are cries for justice that go up and interrupt the mainstream revelry and festivity that is the Christmas season.

Traditionally, the season that precedes Christmas, the Advent season, is a somber season. It is a season that calls for repentance and reflection. For during the Advent season, another voice from the margins of society calls for repentance, righteousness, and justice. It is the voice of John the Baptizer crying out from the wilderness.

John’s voice, often forgotten in our hurried, holiday preparations, is crucial to our understanding of this season. His is such a crucial message that all four gospel writers include aspects of John’s story. Mark, in particular, begins his gospel this way: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER BEFORE YOUR FACE, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY; THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT” (Mark 1:1-3).

For the writer of Mark’s Gospel, the beginning of the gospel is not a birth narrative, as in Matthew and Luke, but the one who proclaims the Messiah; proclaims his Advent, and proclaims the Advent of his kingdom. Advent, like John the Baptist, calls for preparation, for reflection, and for repentance in preparation for the coming of God’s anointed one. For all who would declare Jesus the Messiah, preparation involves aligning lives with the values of his kingdom.

Luke’s Gospel continues where Mark begins by providing the most detailed portrait of John’s wilderness preaching and message. Here the reader learns of the kingdom values. John exhorts his audience: “Therefore, bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.’ And the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Luke 3:8-9). As Luke’s narrative continues, three groups come to John asking him what they should do to prepare for the King and his kingdom, and avoid this terrible and awesome fate. John tells those who have an abundance to share food and clothing with those who have none; he exhorts tax collectors to exercise fair business practices, and he tells soldiers not to take money by force, accuse anyone falsely, and to be content with their wages.(1)

I was surprised, as I read John’s exhortations, at the immense practicality of repentance. To bear good fruit involves the treatment of others, generosity, fair measures, the proper use of wealth and resources, and a sense of contentment. This seems a timely word today, as mistreatment of others, perpetual cycles of violence, fear, and the temptation to hoard resources tempts us to turn this season of repentance into an empty celebration of materialism and mindless consumption.

Instead, I wonder if Advent preparations can be practical provisions—bringing forth fruit “in keeping with repentance”? As repentance has its way—literally understood as “turning around” or “turning toward”—might there be a turning away from that diminishes life, and turn toward the One to whom John pointed—One who provides fullness of life? The life that if offered by Jesus can then be poured out as blessing for others.

John’s message of repentance is the “beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” And his call during the Advent season is a call to join him in the margins. As I listen again to John’s voice in this season of preparation and repentance, I hear his prophetic call to me; he calls me out of my busyness, my own preoccupation with comfort, and my own self-interested desires. He calls to me to “bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance.” Through the din of the all the other voices, I strain to hear his voice calling to me from the wilderness.

 

Margaret Manning Shull is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Bellingham, Washington.

 

(1) See Luke 3:1-14; See also Mark 12:28-31 and Matthew 22:34-40.

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Joyce Meyer – Mountains into Molehills

 

For who are you, O great mountain [of human obstacles]? Before Zerubbabel [who with Joshua had led the return of the exiles from Babylon and was undertaking the rebuilding of the temple, before him] you shall become a plain [a mere molehill]! And he shall bring forth the finishing gable stone [of the new temple] with loud shoutings of the people, crying, Grace, grace to it! — Zechariah 4:7 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource New Day, New You Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

The Samaritans who came against the Israelites as they were building the temple of the Lord had become like a mountain of human obstacles, frustrating them and preventing them from doing what God had commanded them to do.

That may be the situation in which you find yourself right now as you read these words. You may feel that the Lord has told you to do something but that the enemy has thrown up a mountain in your path to frustrate you and prevent you from carrying out the Lord’s will. If so, I know just how you feel because that is exactly the way I used to feel.

The problem is one of perspective. In this passage the Lord tells Zechariah that the problem facing the Israelites, although it may appear to be a mountain, is actually a molehill.

How would you like for all your mountains to become molehills? They can, if you will do what God is saying here and look not at the problems but at the Lord and His power. If God has told you to do something, it is certainly His will that you not only begin but that you also finish it.

Prayer Starter: Father, I thank You that You are greater than every obstacle in my life. Please help me to keep my eyes on You and never give up on seeing Your will come to pass in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – A Place of Rest

 

“So there is a full complete rest still waiting for the people of God. Christ has already entered there. He is resting from His work, just as God did after the creation. Let us do our best to go into that place of rest, too, being careful not to disobey God as the children of Israel did, thus failing to get in” (Hebrews 4:9-11).

A Christian leader was asked: “How do you handle the incredible pressure of your schedule – speaking, writing, giving leadership to a great movement that touches the lives of millions of people around the world? How do you do it? You must carry a tremendous load!”

The inquirer was surprised at the response. “No, quite honestly I don’t carry the load. I’m not under any pressure. I made a great discovery, probably the greatest discovery that a Christian can make. In the Christian life there is a place of rest which one enters by faith and obedience. No matter how great the pressure, or how terrible the testing, the supernatural resources of God sustain, empower, bless and encourage us and our Lord carries the load and fights for us.”

Though few Christians ever enter into this rest, it is available to all believers. When the Israelites were on their way to the promised land, God had already prepared the hearts of the inhabitants, filling them with fear. There is reason to believe that they would have capitulated readily. But when the twelve spies returned after forty days of checking out the land, ten of them reported, “There are giants in the land, and we felt like grasshoppers in their sight.” Only Joshua and Caleb said, “Let’s go in and take the land. God has withdrawn His blessing from the people and He will fight for us.”

But three million Israelites agreed with the majority report, and as a result, wandered in the wilderness for forty years. Why did it take so long for them to enter the land God had already given them? Because, as recorded in verse 2, they failed to mix the promises of God with faith.

Why does the average Christian not enter into a place of rest with God – that supernatural life which produces an abundance of fruit? Because he fails to mix the promises of God with faith. That is what this book, Promises, is all about – to remind us daily of our heritage as children of God and to show us how we can draw upon the mighty, inexhaustible resources of deity to live the supernatural life. Are you experiencing the life of the Spirit? Have you entered into God’s rest? If not, you can begin to do so now.

Bible Reading: 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: As an act of faith and obedience, I will enter that place of rest and I will encourage every believer with whom I have contact today to join me in the adventure.

 

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Max Lucado – A Wild Roller Coaster Ride

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

If life was just simpler, we reason.  More predictable!  But it isn’t.  Life is like a wild roller coaster ride of hairpin curves and diving dips.

Don’t we all live with a fear of the unknown?  The eerie inconsistency that keeps us living on the edge of our chairs?  And yet it’s that inconsistency in which God had his finest hour.  Never did what is right involve itself so intimately with what is wrong.

God on a cross.  Humanity at its worst.  Divinity at its best!  God doesn’t gasp in amazement at the depth of our faith or the depth of our failures.  He knows the condition of the world and he loves it just the same.  Just when we find a place where God would never be, like a cross— we look again and there he is…in the flesh! Inconsistent surprises.  Maybe the next time a surprise comes your way, you’ll see God in the middle of it.

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 – The latest on impeachment: How and why to trust the sovereignty of God

The House Judiciary Committee appears likely to adopt two articles of impeachment today and send them to the full House of Representatives, where they may be voted upon as early as next week. If the House approves the articles by a simple majority (which seems very likely, given its Democratic majority), they are then sent to the Senate for a trial.

For the Senate to convict the president and remove him from office requires a two-thirds supermajority vote of those present. Given the Republican majority in the Senate, this seems very unlikely.

Meanwhile, a new poll reports that 50 percent of Americans say President Trump should not be impeached and removed from office, while 45 percent think he should be.

Ours is not the only government in turmoil.

British citizens have begun voting today in parliamentary elections that are likely to decide whether the world’s fifth-largest economy leaves the European Union next month or moves toward another EU referendum. An exit poll will be published when polls close at 10 p.m. (4 p.m. in Dallas) and may indicate the winner.

The Knesset (Israel’s parliament) passed a vote yesterday to dissolve itself and hold an election on March 2, 2020. This sends Israelis to ballot boxes for the third time after both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and rival Benny Gantz failed in their attempts to form a governing coalition.

Watching the Baylor/OU game

Last weekend, I watched on television as Baylor played Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game. I had to leave the game for a while, so I recorded it. Oklahoma was leading 10–0 at the time and the game looked like it was going to become a blowout.

When I returned, I checked the score online to see if I wanted to keep watching. I learned that Baylor was now leading 13–10 at halftime. I then watched the rest of the half, but I already knew its outcome.

You and I are playing a game whose score has already been decided. As my college professor noted, Christians can summarize the Book of Revelation in two words: “We win.” But the plays that make up that final score are nonetheless vital.

And the fact that God knows the future does not mean that he necessarily determines it.

The Lord sees tomorrow more clearly than we see today (Isaiah 46:10). He can see on Thursday what you will have for dinner on Friday. But watching and determining are not always the same thing. If I could watch you read this Daily Article, that fact would not mean that I forced you to read it.

God’s sovereignty does not negate our freedom. Scripture repeatedly calls us to exercise our free will in ways that honor the Lord and obey his will (cf. Matthew 7:21; John 14:21; 2 Timothy 2:15).

Here’s what God’s sovereignty does mean: his ultimate purpose will always be fulfilled. Lawmakers in Washington can debate the future of the president and voters in Great Britain and Israel can elect a prime minister, but no one can depose the King of the universe.

“In all your ways acknowledge him”

In these days of political turmoil, it may be instructive to remember an earlier leadership transition. 1 Chronicles 10 records the death of King Saul by his own hand after his forces were defeated by the Philistines (v. 4).

But the Chronicler made certain we understood the larger forces at work: “Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance. He did not seek guidance from the Lord. Therefore the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse” (vv. 13–14).

Saul chose to end his life, but that choice was consistent with God’s sovereign judgment on Saul’s choice to trust a medium rather than God’s sovereign will. What “mediums” do we trust today?

The familiar invitation of Proverbs 3 still stands: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (vv. 5–6, my italics). Our society understands trusting God with some of your heart in some of your ways, especially those that are private and “religious.” But those who seek the will of God and trust the sovereignty of God in all their ways are unique in our secular culture.

And they are uniquely blessed and used by their sovereign Lord.

“There is only one relationship that matters”

I have been reading Oswald Chambers’ classic devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, every morning for three decades. Across all those years, one paragraph especially stands out for me.

In the November 30 reading, Chambers states: “There is only one relationship that matters, and that is your personal relationship to a personal Redeemer and Lord. Let everything else go, but maintain that at all costs, and God will fulfil His purpose through your life. One individual life may be of priceless value to God’s purpose, and yours may be that life.”

Will God “fulfill His purpose through your life” today?

 

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