Charles Stanley – When God Is Silent

 

John 11:1-6

When Lazarus was dying, his sisters urgently called for Jesus. Imagine how their grief must have compounded when He didn’t instantly respond to their request.

God’s silence is difficult to accept. We want Him to leap into action when we call, particularly if we are hurting or afraid. But since He promises to meet our needs, we can be sure that His silence has purpose.

Silence grabs our attention. The disciples knew that Jesus could heal, so they must have wondered why He delayed instead of rushing to His friend’s bedside. But the Lord wanted them to witness something even greater: His power over death. They had been confused by His statements about conquering death, and they needed to understand that He could fulfill His own resurrection prophecies (Mark 9:31-32). The miracle at Lazarus’ tomb was part of their preparation.

Silence teaches us to trust. Mary and Martha sent word of Lazarus’ illness because they anticipated that the Lord would heal him. But would their faith waver if that expectation was not met? Martha answered the question by stating, “I have believed that You are the Christ” (John 11:27). And sure enough, the Lord demonstrated His power with a stunning miracle: their brother’s return to life.

At times, the only thing we can hear when we pray is our own breathing. That can be frustrating and frightening. But Scripture says God is always with us, and His silence will not last forever (Job 23:8-10; Matt. 28:20). Cling to those promises as you wait for Him to answer.

Bible in One Year: Titus 1-3, Philemon 1

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — What You’re Worth

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Amos 4–6
  • Revelation 7

The Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter!”

Zechariah 11:13

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Zechariah 11:4–13

Now an accomplished writer, Caitlin describes the depression she battled after fighting off an assault. The emotional violence cut deeper than her physical struggle, for she felt it proved “how undesirable I was. I was not the kind of girl you wanted to get to know.” She felt unworthy of love, the kind of person others use and toss aside.

God understands. He lovingly shepherded Israel, but when He asked them what He was worth, “they paid me thirty pieces of silver” (Zechariah 11:12). This was the price of a slave; what masters must be reimbursed should their slave be accidentally killed (Exodus 21:32). God was insulted to be offered the lowest possible value—look at “the handsome price at which they valued me!” He said sarcastically (Zechariah 11:13). And He had Zechariah throw the money away.

Jesus understands. He wasn’t merely betrayed by His friend; He was betrayed with contempt. The Jewish leaders despised Christ, so they offered Judas thirty pieces of silver—the lowest price you could put on a person—and he took it (Matthew 26:14–15; 27:9). Judas thought so little of Jesus he sold Him for nearly nothing.

If people undervalued Jesus, don’t be surprised when they undervalue you. Your value isn’t what others say. It’s not even what you say. It’s entirely and only what God says. He thinks you are worth dying for.

By: Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

How would you describe your value? Who can you help to grasp true value?

I’m grateful that I’m valued by You, God!

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Light Changes Everything

 

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2

Last Christmas, my next-door neighbor generously provided white Christmas lights for all of the trees in the front yard of every house that lined the main street of our housing division. The result was both breathtakingly beautiful and unexpectedly transformative for our small community. Each night it was as if our entire street was filled with wonder and joy, as the lights glowed brilliantly against the dark winter sky. Commuters drove leisurely down the street on their way home from work, instead of racing back to their garages. People from all around the neighborhood started to go on evening walks, and children were now able to laugh and play outside with each other long after the sun set each day.

Light changes everything. It brings clarity, creates warmth, and provides power. Our need for light is often felt most in the middle of our literal or metaphysical darkest night, which is right where this verse begins. Isaiah is speaking to the people of God, who in their time of need chose to look to other nations for salvation rather than to Yahweh. The outcome of their choice was total devastation. The temple is destroyed, their nation is disbanded, and they are exiled to foreign countries.

The people walking in darkness in this passage are battle weary, hungry for peace, struggling against the gloom of despair, and desperately in need of salvation. The remnant who remain faithful to Yahweh in the midst of this deep spiritual and emotional darkness do so purely out of faith in the character of Yahweh who covenanted to be God with them, even when they could not see Him.

The book of Hebrews declares, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (11:1, KJV). You and I are blessed to stand on this side of history, knowing that Christ has come to us. We are the ones that Isaiah prophesied about who have seen his great light and watched the dawning of redemption through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And yet, we too, can identify with the remnant walking in darkness, holding fast to the promise that one day we will be united with the Lord for eternity. Until then, we wait.

The season of Advent is all about waiting, and waiting is rarely easy. We wait in seasons of doubt by staying close to the One who helps us in our unbelief. We wait in times of silence, confident that God’s Word is still living, active, and trustworthy for our lives today. We wait with tears through suffering, trusting that though weeping may endure for a night, joy comes in the morning. Although deep darkness may surround us this season, or in seasons to come, we can rejoice because we know that the light of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ has come to us! We know that his light still shines in our darkness, and the darkness can never overcome it. We have a reason for great joy, regardless of our circumstances.

As an ancient prayer of the church declares, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” He is present now to us through the Holy Spirit. May his light shine on you and fill you with a light that spreads his joy across the world today.

Michelle Tepper is a speaker for RZIM and Chaplain at the Zacharias Institute.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – God Will Give You Truth When You Ask for It

 

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. — 1 John 4:8

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

I spent many years of my life as a very unhappy, dissatisfied person, and I wasted a lot of time thinking my unhappiness was someone or something else’s fault. Thoughts such as, If I just had more money, I would be happy, or If people did more for me, I would be happy, or If I did not have to work so hard, I would be happy, or If I felt better physically, I would be happy filled my mind. The list of reasons that I thought caused my unhappiness seemed endless, and no matter what I did to entertain myself, nothing worked for long.

As I grew in my personal relationship with God, I literally became desperate for peace, stability, true happiness, and joy. That kind of hunger for change usually requires facing some truth—maybe some unpleasant truth or things we don’t like to admit—about ourselves, and I have learned that if we really want truth, God will give it to us. As I began seeking God for the root cause of my unhappiness, He showed me that I was very selfish and self-centered. My focus was on what others could and should do for me, rather than what I could and should do for them. That was not easy for me to accept, but doing so was the beginning of a life-changing journey with God.

God helped me begin to see myself as a person who could give and help. I had to change my thinking from What about me? to What can I do for you? I would like to say this was an easy change to make, but the truth is that it was very difficult and took a lot longer than I like to admit.

Everything God does is for our good; all of His commands are intended to help us have the best lives we can possibly have. He commands us to love and be kind to others, which means taking the focus off of ourselves, silencing the voice that asks, “What about me?” and learning to follow Jesus’ example of being kind, generous, and loving toward others.

Prayer Starter: Father, please show me the root causes of any unhappiness in my life—show me truth. As I grow in You, help me to be less me-focused and more concerned with how I can bless others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Trusting an Unchanging God

 

“God also bound Himself with an oath, so that those He promised to help would be perfectly sure and never need to wonder whether He might change His plans” (Hebrews 6:17).

If there is one characteristic that might describe us all, more than any other trait, it would have to be that we are changeable and unpredictable. We are not dependable. How wonderful then to know and serve someone who never changes – who is the same yesterday, today and forever. We can know what to expect from Him in any given situation without fear of a sudden change in behavior, thought or purpose.

A scientist knows there are laws governing the universe and that those laws are inviolate. Thus, when President John F. Kennedy challenged industry to put a man on the moon, a mobilized army of scientists and engineers was able to accomplish the feat within nine years from the drawing board stage. When the assignment was given, no one knew what to do, and yet there were basic laws – dependable, trustworthy laws of the universe – on which they could build. Through much creative planning and thinking, the miracle occurred.

Today, it is commonplace to send men into space. God of the universe, who established the laws that govern all life, never changes. Our moods and our attitudes and actions vacillate, but God never changes. That is the reason we can absolutely, without question, believe His promises, and in so doing, release His mighty supernatural resources in terms of money, manpower and technology to envelop the entire world of almost five billion people with the most joyful news ever announced.

We are reminded in Hebrews 11:6 that without faith it is impossible to please God. Have you learned how to claim the promises of God by faith? When you do, you will learn how to live supernaturally.

Bible Reading: Psalms 102:24-28

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Realizing that God has bound Himself with an oath to keep His promise, I shall trust and obey Him no matter what happens, for this is the way to supernatural living. This is the way to maximize myself for the glory of God.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Extended Hands

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

When a law-abiding, timid electronics buff blasted four would-be muggers in a New York subway, Bernhard Geotz became an instant hero!  It’s not hard to see why.  He clobbered evil over the head.  He embodied a nationwide anger—a passion for revenge.  Yet reality makes us ask the questions:   What good was done?  Are the streets now free of fear?

On the cross Jesus said,  “They do not know what they are doing.”  It doesn’t justify kiddie-porn peddlers or heroin dealers.  But it does help explain why they do the miserable things they do.

Once we see ourselves for what we are, we can help.  Not out of anger, but out of concern and compassion.  We go to the ghettos.  We teach in the schools.  We build hospitals and help orphans.  We look at the world not with bitter frowns, but with extended hands!

 

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 – Dallas woman is a millionaire for a day: The transforming joy of selfless giving

Ruth Balloon finished her shift at Roma Boots in Dallas last week, then she happened to check her bank account. It turned out, she had an extra $37,000,000. She called her husband, who called the bank, who explained that it was a clerical error and took back the money.

“I was a millionaire, I have a screen shot of it so I can say that now,” said Balloon. “It’s quite a story.” She said there was no way she was going to keep the money, but she did think about how she could have spent it. “First I was going to do 10% tithing. Then I was going to donate some money and then I would have invested in real estate,” she explained.

The world would be a better place if Ruth Balloon were actually a millionaire. Football star Kahlil Mack is actually a millionaire, having signed a $141 million contract with the Chicago Bears last year. And he is actually making the world a better place by paying off all the holiday layaway accounts at a Walmart in Fort Pierce, Florida, his hometown.

Another story on the same theme: Dave McAdams is a youth pastor, baseball coach, and owner with his wife of a coffee house in Oak Grove, Oregon. He is also dying of cancer. Last Wednesday, the owner of a nearby coffee shop closed her store for a day and ran theirs.

“I knew that I had to do something to help them keep their business afloat so that Tina could be with Dave,” said Pixie Adams, owner of Moonlight Coffeehouse. “So, I decided to take over their shop and throw all of the support I could through my business and my community their way.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone were willing and able to help us with all our problems in whatever way is best for us?

Remembering my father

My father died forty years ago yesterday.

For the first number of years, the anniversary of Dad’s death brought only pain and grief, that tightening of the throat and chest that washes over you and brings it all back like it was yesterday. But with the passage of time, perspective has enabled me to remember the good as well as the hard.

Yesterday, I found myself thinking about all the ways my father loved our family and provided for us. I thought about fishing trips together and vacations and campouts. I always knew he loved me and that he would do all he could do to provide for us.

My father was relevant to every dimension of my life, every day of my life. When he died, all of that changed. Now he is relevant as a memory, a figure of the past whose influence continues but who obviously has no interaction with my life today.

Unfortunately, this is how some see our heavenly Father’s relevance to our secularized culture. For them, God is an outdated concept, a superstition left over from less scientific times.

For others, God is a benefactor like Khalil Mack or Pixie Adams, someone who helps us with our problems from time to time but bears little transformative relevance to our decisions and society.

What we need is to see our Father as he is, in all his power and holiness. When we do, his relevance to our lives and culture will be both obvious and urgent.

Praying at Drag Queen Story Hour

I am reading 1 Chronicles these days and found a statement I had never noticed before. David wanted to build a temple for God, but the Lord sent word through the prophet Nathan that David’s son would build such an edifice instead. The Lord then offered David his assurance that the king’s line would be blessed greatly.

Here was David’s response to such grace: “Therefore your servant has found courage to pray before you” (1 Chronicles 17:25). David was so awed by God that he needed courage to enter his presence even in gratitude for his blessing.

Does our culture need such courage to pray to God as we understand him today? Do you?

A pharmacist who is also a local pastor is being sued because he would not provide an abortion pill to a customer due to his opposition to abortion. Another pastor is facing prosecution by the city of Spokane, Washington, after he attempted to enter a public library. He wanted to pray quietly for children attending a Drag Queen Story Hour as they heard a crossdressing person read books about sexuality.

A common claim in our culture is that we must keep our religious beliefs to ourselves. If our culture saw the God of the universe as he truly is, the fallacy of such a claim would be transparent.

“God’s light is more real than all the darkness”

The angels of Christmas announced “good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10). Henri Nouwen commented: “Joy does not come from positive predictions about the state of the world. It does not depend on the ups and downs of the circumstances of our lives. Joy is based on the spiritual knowledge that, while the world in which we live is shrouded in darkness, God has overcome the world. . . .

“The surprise is not that, unexpectedly, things turn out better than expected. No, the real surprise is that God’s light is more real than all the darkness, that God’s truth is more powerful than all human lies, that God’s love is stronger than death.”

Your Father is the king of the universe. His reign is relevant to every dimension of your life and brings joy to all who make him their king with humble awe and grateful obedience.

Will “all the people” see the “great joy” of Christ in your life today?

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/