Denison Forum – Three ways to interpret the impeachment of President Trump: The verdict of history and God’s call to eternal significance

The House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump last night, a decision that fell almost entirely along party lines.

As I noted yesterday, some House members have been trying to impeach the president for years and undoubtedly see yesterday’s vote as a vindication of their efforts. On the opposite side of the spectrum, some see the House Democrats as attacking the president unfairly and are even more likely to support him.

This marks only the third time in American history a president has been impeached. Few events in American political life are as potentially significant and insignificant at the same time.

A vote that could change nothing or everything

There are three ways to interpret what happened in the House of Representatives yesterday.

In one sense, the House vote may change nothing. The Republican-controlled Senate is widely expected to acquit the president when his trial begins in early January. If it does, he will stay in office and will be free to run for reelection in 2020.

In a second sense, the House vote dramatically changes history. Even if the Senate acquits the president, impeachment will forever be part of the record of his administration. And if the Senate removes him from office, America will obviously never be the same.

In a third sense, we do not yet know the future significance of yesterday’s action. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House could at least temporarily hold its articles of impeachment from the Senate, depending on how the latter chooses to conduct its trial on the president’s removal.

Even if the Senate acquits the president, we do not know the effect of impeachment on his future. President Andrew Johnson survived impeachment in 1868, lost his party’s nomination for reelection later that year, then won back his old Senate seat in 1875. President Bill Clinton survived impeachment in 1999 and left office in January 2001 with a 65 percent approval rating, the highest of any of his predecessors in half a century.

Assuming that President Trump is acquitted, undecided voters may see his impeachment as a reason to vote for or against him next year. The divided House of Representatives may achieve greater unity in the future, or its action may signal a new era in which impeachment becomes another tool in oppositional politics.

Until the Senate acts on the House vote, and perhaps for years afterward, we will have a limited perspective by which to judge the ultimate significance of yesterday’s action.

Visiting the Reagan Library

This balance between the now and the not-yet pervades every dimension of our world. You and I experience life in the present moment. But we also experience life as a continuum in which yesterday becomes today which flows into tomorrow.

This balance means that every moment is intrinsically significant, for it holds our past and our future in its hands. As a result, we must do all we can to be as faithful to our calling as we can while we can.

Yesterday, my wife and I visited the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Southern California. As we toured this marvelous facility, we were struck by several of President Reagan’s quotes on display.

For instance, in his State of the Union address in 1984, the president stated: “Let us be sure that those who come after will say of us in our time, that in our time we did everything that could be done. We finished the race; we kept them free; we kept the faith.”

How can the same be said of us?

“You eat, but you never have enough”

One option is to ignore the future for the sake of the present. However, such shortsightedness impoverishes both the future and the present.

The Lord said to the exiles who returned to Judah and rebuilt their homes while ignoring the house of God: “You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm” (Haggai 1:6). What we have without God is never as significant as what we can have with him.

A second option is to ignore the present for the sake of the future. However, such speculation impoverishes both the future and the present.

The Lord counseled his returned exiles: “Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord” (vv. 7–8). Rather than speculate about God’s future judgment, we should obey his present call. Then our present obedience will lead to his present and eternal reward.

“God wants to use us as he used his own Son”

The significance of yesterday’s impeachment vote awaits the verdict of history. But it also illustrates the urgency of serving our divided nation and our sovereign King with a courageous witness and compassionate grace.

Oswald Chambers: “It is only the loyal soul who believes that God engineers circumstances. We take such liberties with our circumstances, we do not believe God engineers them, although we say we do; we treat the things that happen as if they were engineered by men.”

As a result, “God is made a machine for blessing men, and Jesus Christ is made a Worker among workers.” Our Lord intends the opposite: “The idea is not that we do work for God, but that we are so loyal to Him that He can do His work through us.”

Here is the bottom line: “God wants to use us as He used His own Son.”

How fully can God use you today?

 

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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

 

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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/

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.

 

http://www.odb.org

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.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

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.

 

http://www.cru.org

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?

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Charles Stanley – How God Works

 

2 Peter 3:9-18

God is at work everywhere. In the very first verse of the Bible, He is creating the heavens and earth. In the last verses of Revelation, He is calling people to be saved. Throughout Scripture and in the world today, the Lord is active in the lives of believers and unbelievers, although in very different ways.

We will be able to see God move in our life if we understand how He works—and He operates in both dramatic and seemingly insignificant ways. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments, everyone could see by his face that he’d had a dramatic encounter with God. In contrast, Joseph entered Potiphar’s household as a slave. That may seem like an inconsequential situation in an incredible life, but it was important to God’s plan for Joseph.

In a similar way, God’s work in us always has purpose. Our life may seem routine, but God is busy every day conforming us to Christ’s likeness. He may allow circumstances we dislike, but those situations accomplish His goal. And we can see from examples like Gideon and Samson that He works differently with each person.

However God chooses to work in our life, we must trust Him. For instance, the Lord promised Abraham a son but silently waited 25 years to honor His vow. What appears slow to us is not slow to God. He is working out the perfect timing of events. Our patience to wait on Him demonstrates our trust, which is rewarded when we come ever closer to God’s goal: to become more like Jesus.

Bible in One Year: 1 Thessalonians 1-5

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Canceled Debts

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Hosea 5–8
  • Revelation 2

The Lord’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed.

Deuteronomy 15:2

 

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Deuteronomy 15:1–8

In 2009, Los Angeles County stopped charging families for the costs of their children’s incarceration. Though no new fees were charged, those with unpaid fees from before the change in policy were still required to settle their debt. Then in 2018 the county canceled all outstanding financial obligations.

For some families, canceling the debt aided greatly in their struggle to survive; no longer having liens on their property or wages being garnished meant they were better able to put food on the table. It was for this kind of hardship that God called for debts to be forgiven every seven years (Deuteronomy 15:2). He didn’t want people to be crippled forever by them.

Because the Israelites were forbidden to charge interest on a loan to fellow Israelites (Exodus 22:25), their motives for lending to a neighbor weren’t to make a profit, but rather to help those who were enduring hard times, perhaps due to a bad harvest. Debts were to be freely forgiven every seven years. As a result, there would be less poverty among the people (Deuteronomy 15:4).

Today, believers in Jesus aren’t bound by these laws. But God might occasionally prompt us to forgive a debt so those who’ve been struggling can begin afresh as contributing members of society. When we show such mercy and generosity to others, we lift up God’s character and give people hope.

By: Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

How have your “debts” been forgiven? Who can you lift up by forgiving a debt owed or a wrong done to you?

Jesus, thank You for caring about the financial burdens we carry.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Ordinary and Extraordinary

For those who are well-familiar with the Christmas narrative from the Gospel of Luke, the inherent strangeness to the story may be missed. When read without either an over-familiarity or a commercialized sentimentality, the Lukan account of God’s advent into the world is fairly extraordinary. I am struck by the way Luke juxtaposes the announcement of the King of Israel—”For to you is born this day in the city of David the Savior who is Christ the Lord”—with the sign of his advent: “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”(1) The God of the universe would be set in a lowly manger, a feed trough for animals. he would be clothed, not in purple finery, but in woven, cloth strips.

Luke’s narrative highlights what seem to be the most ordinary and the most mundane details of Jesus’s birth for many modern readers. And yet, these seemingly ordinary details highlight a God who chooses to display divine glory in the commonplace birth of a human child. The gospel writer’s utter preoccupation with ordinary details reveals the belief that coming of the Messiah and his kingdom would look very different from the kingdom that was expected. And this was extraordinary.

The Bible indicates a long silence of God from speaking directly to the people—a silence that must have seemed an eternity. But out of the silence of that quiet night, the angel spoke and announced what the people of Israel had all hoped for: God is near, the gospel proclaims, born in the same city as your great king of old, King David! The people now would look upon the new David, their new deliverer, who would be their Messiah. The prophet Micah announced this special context as well: “As for you, Bethlehem, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you one will go forth for me to be ruler in Israel. His going forth is from long ago, from the days of eternity.” Out of the silent sky came the news that surpassed all news. The Messiah had come and the world would never be the same again, for a king had been born this day in the city of David—Christ the Lord!

Yet, this king would not be born in an expected palace or even into the household of a priest, like John the Baptist, for example. The glorious place of Israel’s new king would be different than expected: “And this will be a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.” Born this day, in the city of David is your Christ, your Messiah. And guess what? You’ll find him in a manger, which is the feeding trough for ordinary farm animals. Who would believe this report? How could the Messiah come with such vulnerability and poverty?

 

But the manger would prove to be his palace, and the first subjects of the kingdom would not be the influential or the powerful, not the righteous or the rulers. In fact, only a few people actually hear the news. After the silence of ages, God does not come with a shout, but like a whisper into the ears of a few select, uninfluential individuals. God comes as a crying baby needing the comfort and succor of human parents.

Mary, a young girl as yet unmarried, would be the first recipient of this good news. She was young and insignificant, and this announcement of an illegitimate and unexplained pregnancy wouldn’t help her place in that society. The announcement also comes to shepherds—the least influential in that society—young boys, out in the fields, far from their towns and villages, tending to the family sheep. The glory of Israel is revealed to those most would deem inglorious. Israel’s new king is born to a young, unmarried girl, in a town not her home, placed in a manger with animals as the initial witnesses to the birth. The heavenly announcement is made only to a group of poor, unnoticed shepherds.

Unveiling the glory of God through humble means and ordinary details is a point Luke’s gospel highlights in portraying a kingdom that would upend many cherished expectations. The Almighty God, who created heaven and earth, who created the shepherds and the animals, Mary and Joseph, was the same God who chose to be glorified in human flesh as the baby Jesus. In the dependence and vulnerability of an infant, God’s glory is revealed. Humble circumstances with unremarkable witnesses reveal the greatness and glory of God. Humility, from the very beginning, is one of the hallmarks of Jesus’s Kingdom. Dr. James Denison elaborates on these extraordinary circumstances: “As a young child, [Jesus] was celebrated by foreign Magi, not of his own people. He spent his public ministry touching lepers, welcoming Gentiles and prostitutes, discipling tax collectors and other despised people, and offering the gospel to all who would receive it. His birth proved the words: ‘God so loved the world that God gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but receive eternal life.’”(2)

In a world that confuses glory with glitter, glamour, power, and prestige, would we see God’s glory in this seemingly inglorious package—cradled in a feed-trough, presented to peasants, and announced to the least and the last? For all who would wonder at this kind of birth, this kind of king, and this kind of God, they are welcomed to draw closer to the manger and the stable.

 

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

 

(1) Luke 2:11-12.
(2) James Denison, blog entry, 2007.

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http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Fickle Feelings

 

So, then those who are living the life of the flesh [catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature] cannot please or satisfy God, or be acceptable to Him. — Romans 8:8 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource My Time with God Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

When we follow the ever-changing impulses of our carnal nature, it is not pleasing or acceptable to God, because He has a much better life in mind for us. We all have times when emotions change without warning, and it is important that we learn how to handle ourselves in times like that. If we merely follow our feelings, we will surely end up making decisions and taking actions that we will regret later on.

Recently, Dave and I had several people to our house for a party, and I was energetic and felt great. The next day, for no apparent reason, I woke up feeling dull-headed and a bit down emotionally. Why? What is wrong with me? Those are the first questions I asked myself. I didn’t get an answer, so I had to make a choice. Should I continue to try to figure out my odd mood and get more and more confused, or should I pray, asking God to reveal anything He wants me to see and go on about the business of the day, asking God to help me live beyond my feelings?

I have learned over the years that being a stable, consistent person requires that I own my feelings instead of letting them own me. In other words, I may have them, but I cannot let them control me. Feelings are fickle. They change frequently and often without any notice. Sometimes we understand why, but much of the time we don’t.

Our physical condition can affect emotions. Consider things like: Did I get enough sleep? or Did I eat something that made me feel bad? or Is it allergy season? Our spiritual condition can also cause mood fluctuation: Have I spent enough time with God? Do I have hidden sin that needs to be dealt with? Is God chastising me about something?

I recommend praying first to see if God reveals anything, and if He doesn’t, then remain steady in the storm. Don’t try excessively to figure out your feelings, because it will get you more and more focused on them. Trust God, use extra self-control, and very soon you will feel better.

Prayer Starter: Father, I desire to be stable emotionally at all times. Help me stay steady when my emotions fluctuate. I want to live a life that is pleasing to You at all times, and I trust You to continue teaching me in this area. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Teach You Much

 

“But when the Father sends the Comforter instead of Me – and by the Comforter I mean the Holy Spirit – He will teach you much, as well as remind you of everything I myself have told you” (John 14:26).

Some years ago, at one of our week-long Lay Institutes for Evangelism, attended by more than 4,000 trainees, I gave a message on how to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Afterward, a missionary who had just retired after 20 years of service in Africa came to see me. He was very excited as he came to share how, during that meeting, he had finally found what he had sought throughout his entire Christian life.

“Today, as you spoke,” he said, “I was filled with the Spirit. For 20 years I have tried to serve God on the mission field, but I have served Him in the energy of the flesh and have had very little results. Now, though I have retired and returned to America, I want to go back to Africa.

“This time, I want to concentrate on working just with missionaries, because I know from experience that many of them are still searching for what I have sought all these years. The most important message I can take to them is how they can be filled with the Holy Spirit by faith.

“I want to teach them what you taught me so that they, in turn, will be able to teach the Africans how they too can be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Dr. J. Edwin Orr, a leading authority on spiritual revival, describes the Holy Spirit as “the Commander-in-Chief of the Army of Christ. He is the Lord of the harvest, supreme in revival, evangelism and missionary endeavor.”

“Without His consent, plans are bound to fail. It behooves us as Christians to fit our tactical operations into the plan of His strategy, which is the reviving of the church and the evangelization of the world.”

Bible Reading: John 14:13-17

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will look to God’s indwelling Holy Spirit for the spiritual lessons I need to learn today and claim His power to serve the Lord Jesus Christ supernaturally.

 

http://www.cru.org