Charles Stanley – The Hope for Peace

 

Romans 15:4-13

One day Christ will return and make everything right, and until that time believers are called to be His ambassadors of peace. But salvation doesn’t automatically change us into people of kindness and unity. At times we may be quick-tempered and impatient, struggling to live in harmony with others. What’s more, letting go of ingrained attitudes or habits can be difficult, even when clinging to such things causes hurt.

Thankfully, God knows this about us. That’s why He has sent His Holy Spirit to help us understand and apply Scripture, say no to temptation, and replace our priorities with Christ’s. Only He can produce spiritual fruit in us, which includes love, joy, and peace (Gal. 5:22-23). And with His help, we become peacemakers who work to bring about reconciliation between God and others (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). When our hearts are ruled by His peace, our relationships reflect His spirit of oneness (Col. 3:15).

The world may hope to find peace through man-made solutions, but you and I know the only source of lasting unity is Jesus Christ. Let’s pray that believers and nonbelievers alike witness the power of God that reconciles marriages, families, and churches.

Bible in One Year: Leviticus 5-7

 

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Our Daily Bread — Going, Going, Gone

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Exodus 25–26
  • Matthew 20:17–34

Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone.

Proverbs 23:5

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Proverbs 23:1–5

The mischievous artist Banksy pulled off another practical joke. His painting Girl with Balloon sold for one million pounds at Sotheby’s auction house in London. Moments after the auctioneer yelled “Sold,” an alarm sounded and the painting slipped halfway through a shredder mounted inside the bottom of the frame. Banksy tweeted a picture of bidders gasping at his ruined masterpiece, with the caption, “Going, going, gone.”

Banksy relished pulling one over on the wealthy, but he need not have bothered. Wealth itself has plenty of pranks up its sleeve. God says, “Do not wear yourself out to get rich . . . . Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle” (Proverbs 23:4–5).

Few things are less secure than money. We work hard to earn it, yet there are many ways to lose it. Investments go sour, inflation erodes, bills come, thieves steal, and fire and flood destroy. Even if we manage to keep our money, the time we have to spend it continually flies. Blink, and your life is going, going, gone.

What to do? God tells us a few verses later: “always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off” (vv. 17–18). Invest your life in Jesus; He alone will keep you forever.

By: Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

Where does your life feel insecure? How might that lead you to Jesus?

God, help me to give my insecurities to You and to trust in Your goodness and faithfulness.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Storied Recollection

 

Aldous Huxley likened a person’s memory to one’s own collection of private literature. Housed within the confines of memory are countless pages of our own stories, perspectives, and thoughts—vast libraries uniquely existing within our own heads. It is this personal nature of memory that no doubt feeds our dismay when minds begin to slip. Forgetfulness is a fearful quality particularly because it is a quality that seems to erase part of the very person it describes.

The implications of memory are made known in the earliest pages of God’s story as told in scripture. But added to the cultural adage of Aldous Huxley is the idea that this “private literature’”can be edited. In other words, what we choose to remember affects who we are. And at that, our private literature is not entirely private; there is a communal aspect to memory as well.

Surely we see this played out within the grumblings of the rescued Israelites. From the wilderness, the writer of Numbers reports:

“Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, ‘Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.’”(1)

Recollection, like resentment, is often contagious. In this moment of hunger, Israel together remembered Egypt as a place of produce instead of prison, and together they declared their longing to return to the very place from which they had been rescued. Together they wept; together they remembered; and together they remained lost in the wilderness. What we choose to remember indeed affects who we are—individually, collectively, boldly.

The great creeds of Christianity aim themselves at a similar principle. The Church confesses what we need to remember, what we long to remember. We confess the promises of God; we confess who God is; we confess who we are. The word “creed” comes from the Latin credo, meaning “I believe.” Confessed in unison, we follow the command of God to remember collectively: “These truths I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”(2)

The earliest creeds were used precisely with this power of memory in mind. Affirmations of belief in God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit were bound to the hearts and minds of those who longed to remember. For persons standing on the precipice of faith, the creed was the statement with which they prepared themselves to jump, and in so doing, found they had been given something on which to stand—and to stand in good company.

What Christians remember in creed and confession is a vast library accounting for an exciting narrative we recollect together. As novelist Dorothy Sayers wrote more than 50 years ago:

“The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man—and the dogma is the drama…. Now we may call that doctrine exhilarating or we may call it devastating; we may call it revelation or we may call it rubbish; but if we call it dull, then words have no meaning at all. That God should play the tyrant over man is a dismal story of unrelieved oppression; that man should play the tyrant over man is the usual dreary record of human futility; but that man should play the tyrant over God and find Him a better man than himself is an astonishing drama indeed.”(3)

The things we choose to house within the confines of memory are like a great collection of stories—stories that tell who we are personally, collectively, eternally. What the Christian remembers in doctrine and history, faith and belief, so holds his identity within this great drama. God has offered a story worth remembering, and God invites each of us to remember it together, participating in the good news we proclaim in good company: “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.”(4)

 

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

(1) Numbers 11:4-6.
(2) Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
(3) Dorothy Sayers in Creed or Chaos (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1949), 3-7, as quoted by Michael Horton in “Creeds and Deeds: How Doctrine Leads to Doxological Living,” Modern Reformation Magazine, Vol. 15, Number 6.
(4) 1 Thessalonians 4:14.

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Joyce Meyer – What do you prefer?

 

Be devoted to one another with [authentic] brotherly affection [as members of one family], give preference to one another in honor. — Romans 12:10 (AMP)

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

Giving preference to others requires a willingness to adapt and adjust. It means to allow another to go first or to have the best of something.

We show preference when we give someone else the best cut of meat on the platter instead of keeping it back for ourselves. We show preference when we allow someone with fewer groceries in his cart than we have in ours to go in front of us at the supermarket checkout counter, or when we are waiting in line to use a public restroom and someone behind us in line is pregnant or elderly and we choose to let that individual go ahead of us.

Each time we show preference we have to make a mental adjustment. We were planning to be first, but we decide to be second. We are in a hurry, but we decide to wait on someone else who seems to have a greater need. A person is not yet rooted and grounded in love until they have learned to show preference to others (see Ephesians 3:17).

Don’t just learn to adjust, but learn to do it with a good attitude. Learning to do these things is learning to walk in love.

Prayer Starter: Father, help me to truly prefer other people today with a good attitude. Help me to humble myself and love others the way You do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – God’s Secret Plan for You

 

“God has told us His secret reason for sending Christ, a plan He decided on in mercy long ago; and this was His purpose: that when the time is ripe He will gather us together from wherever we are – in heaven or on earth – to be with Him in Christ, forever” (Ephesians 1:9,10).

One day a distinguished scientist questioned Michael Faraday, chemist, electrician and philosopher.

“Have you conceived to yourself what will be your occupation in the next world?” he asked.

Hesitating a moment or two, Faraday replied, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things that God hath prepared for them that love Him.” And then he added, in his own words, “I shall be with Christ, and that is enough.”

Although nearly two thousand years have passed since He walked this earth, Jesus still stands as the ultimate expression of ethics and morality. Whatever one might think about Christians or the church, he will find no blemishes in the character of Jesus.

Perhaps the greatest testimony that can be given regarding the character of Jesus’ teachings is that they are still changing men and nations throughout the world today. Now, as before, those who listen to Him inevitably say “No man ever spoke like this man!” (John 7:46, RSV).

God’s Word tells us that Jesus had the same temptations we do, though He never once gave way to them and sinned (Hebrews 4:15). Our Lord thus stands out as the supreme example of one who practiced the things that He taught to others and that He expects of His followers.

We still stand today in the shadow of God’s sure promise: “For God has allowed us to know the secret of His plan, and it is this: He purposes in His sovereign will that all human history shall be consummated in Christ, that everything that exists in heaven or earth shall find its perfection and fulfillment in Him. And here is the staggering thing that in all which will belong to Christ we have been promised a share” (Ephesians 1:9-11, Phillips).

Bible Reading: Ephesians 1:11-14

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will meditate upon the fact that I am a child of God, and heir of God and joint-heir with Christ; and upon the startling, incredible fact that I am related to Him and share with Him in all of this indescribable privilege and blessing. As a result I will claim His supernatural love and power and will speak more freely to others of my relationship with Him.

 

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Max Lucado – Stephen Remembered

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

The greatest example of humility is none other than Jesus Christ.  Who had more reason to boast than he?  Yet he never did.  He was utterly reliant upon the Father and the Holy Spirit.

What gift are you giving that he did not first give?  You love. But who loved you first?  You serve. But who served the most?  What are you doing for God that he could not do alone?  How kind of him to use us.  How wise of us to remember.

Stephen remembered.  As Stephen’s accusers reached for their rocks, he looked toward Christ. “Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God; he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand” (Acts 7:55).  Stephen stood on behalf of Christ, and in the end, Christ returned the favor.

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Denison Forum – One senator could decide impeachment process: History turns on tiny hinges

 

The impeachment trial continued yesterday as senators asked more questions of the House Democratic managers and President Trump’s defense team. The Senate will vote today on whether to introduce additional evidence in the trial.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R–Tennessee) announced late last night that he would vote against such a motion. His decision is considered a “strong indication” that Republicans have the votes to block such a step. If this proves true, the Senate could complete the trial later today, though Democrats have indicated they may force additional votes that could extend the process into early Saturday.

One senator could shorten the impeachment trial 

We will discuss the implications of the trial’s conclusion after it occurs. In the meantime, let’s consider a strategic factor at this stage of the trial.

The Senate is composed of fifty-three Republicans, forty-five Democrats, and two Independents. For the Senate to call further witnesses, all the Democrats and Independents would have to be joined by four Republicans. Sen. Susan Collins (R–Maine) said last night that she would vote in favor of new witnesses; Sen. Mitt Romney (R–Utah) has said he would like to hear testimony from John Bolton, President Trump’s former national security advisor.

This leaves Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R–Alaska), another swing vote, who said she would announce her position today. If she intends to vote in favor of more witnesses, the decision would likely result in a fifty-fifty tie. The tie could be broken by the presiding officer, Chief Justice John Roberts, but observers believe he would abstain. The motion would then fail because it did not succeed.

In other words, Sen. Alexander’s decision not to seek further witnesses could prove decisive in concluding the trial.

When the final vote comes, sixty-seven senators will be required to convict the president. While this is considered highly unlikely, note that a number of Americans smaller than the smallest county in America (Kalawao County, Hawaii, with eighty-eight residents) could remove a president from office for the first time in US history.

Players in the Super Bowl comprise 5.4 percent of the NFL 

Sen. Alexander’s announcement is just one example of the fact that history turns on tiny hinges.

A second example is the China coronavirus, which the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency yesterday. (For my response, please see my website article, “The WHO declares China virus a global health emergency: Two biblical responses.”) The crisis likely started at a seafood market in Wuhan, China, and has now spread to at least twenty-three other countries.

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Charles Stanley – Praying in Jesus’ Name

 

John 16:23-33

Do you remember the teaching Jesus introduced the night before His death? He told His followers, “Whatever you ask in My name the Father will give you” (John 15:16 NIV, emphasis added). Praying in the name of Christ declares our:

Association with the Savior. Our relationship with Jesus allows us to approach the Father. We used to be foreigners, but at salvation, we became God’s children through the redemptive work of the Son of God (Eph. 2:19). The Holy Spirit within us proves we belong to the Father, who listens to the requests of His family.

Access to the Father. Jesus’ death opened an immediate, unhindered path to the Father’s presence. When the Savior offered Himself as the final priestly sacrifice (Heb. 7:26-28), the temple veil that separated the Holy of Holies from man was torn in two (Mark 15:38). In that moment, access to God became available to all who believe. Through the Holy Spirit, we can talk to God directly without a human intermediary (Eph. 2:18).

Because of our Savior Jesus Christ, we can freely access our heavenly Father. Let’s give Him thanks for the remarkable privilege of prayer!

Bible in One Year: Exodus 16-18

 

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Our Daily Bread — Where Are You Headed?

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Exodus 1–3
  • Matthew 14:1–21

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”

2 Samuel 12:7

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Samuel 12:1–14

In northern Thailand, the Wild Boars youth soccer team decided to explore a cave together. After an hour they turned to go back and found that the entrance to the cave was flooded. Rising water pushed them deeper into the cave, day after day, until they were finally trapped more than two miles (four kilometers) inside. When they were heroically rescued two weeks later, many wondered how they had become so hopelessly trapped. Answer: one step at a time.

In Israel, Nathan confronted David for killing his loyal soldier, Uriah. How did the man “after [God’s] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14) become guilty of murder? One step at a time. David didn’t go from zero to murder in one afternoon. He warmed up to it, over time, as one bad decision bled into others. It started with a second glance that turned into a lustful stare. He abused his kingly power by sending for Bathsheba, then tried to cover up her pregnancy by calling her husband home from the front. When Uriah refused to visit his wife while his comrades were at war, David decided he would have to die.

We may not be guilty of murder or trapped in a cave of our own making, but we’re either moving toward Jesus or toward trouble. Big problems don’t develop overnight. They break upon us gradually, one step at a time.

By: Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

What decision can you make right now to move toward Jesus and away from trouble? What must you do to confirm this decision?

Jesus, I’m running to You!

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – When Forgiveness Is Suffering

 

In four horrific months in 1994, at the urging of the Rwandan government, the poorer Hutu majority took up bayonets and machetes and committed genocide against the wealthier Tutsi minority. In the wake of this unspeakable tragedy, nearly a million people had been murdered.

In August of 2003, driven by overcrowded prisons and backlogged court systems, 50,000 genocide criminals, people who had already confessed to killing their neighbors, were released again into society. Murderers were sent back to their homes, back to neighborhoods literally destroyed at their own hands, to live beside the few surviving relatives of the very men, women, and children they killed.

Now more than twenty years later, with eyes still bloodshot at visions of a genocide it failed to see, the world continues to watch Rwanda with a sense of foreboding, wondering what happens when a killer comes home; what happens when victims, widows, orphans, and murderers look each other in the eyes again; what happens when the neighbor who killed your family asks to be forgiven. For the people of Rwanda, the description of the Hebrew prophet is a reality with which they live: “And if anyone asks them, ‘What are these wounds on your chest?’ the answer will be, ‘The wounds I received in the house of my friends.’”(1)

How does a culture bear the wounds of genocide and the agony of forgiveness?

For Steven Gahigi, that question is answered in a valley of dry bones which cannot be forgotten. An Anglican clergyman who lost 142 members of his family in the Rwandan genocide, he thought he had lost the ability to forgive. Though his inability plagued him, he had no idea how to navigate through a forgiveness so costly. “I prayed until one night I saw an image of Jesus Christ on the cross…I thought of how he forgave, and I knew that I and others could also do it.”(2) Inspired by this vision, Gahigi somehow found the words to begin preaching forgiveness. He first did this in the prisons where Hutu perpetrators sat awaiting trial, and today he continues in neighborhoods where the victims of genocide live beside its perpetrators. For Gahigi, wounds received in the house of friends can only be soothed with truth-telling, restitution, interdependence, and reconciliation, all of which he finds accessible only because of Christ.

In some ways, the work of reconciliation that continues to take place in Rwanda in lives on every side of the genocide may be difficult to describe apart from the cross of Christ. While it is true that forgiveness can be explained in therapeutic terms, that the act of forgiving is beneficial to the forgiver, and forgiveness releases the victim from the one who has wronged them, from chains of the past and a cell of resentment; what Rwandans are facing today undoubtedly reaches something beyond this.

While forgiveness is certainly a form of healing in lives changed forever by genocide, it is also very much a form of suffering.

Miroslav Volf, himself familiar with horrendous violence in Croatia and Serbia, describes forgiveness as the exchange of one form of suffering for another, modeled to the world by the crucified Christ. He writes, “[I]n a world of irreversible deeds and partisan judgments redemption from the passive suffering of victimization cannot happen without the active suffering of forgiveness.”(3) For Rwandans, this is a reality well understood.

And for Christ, who extends to the world the possibility of reconciliation by embodying it, this suffering, this willingness to be broken by the very people with whom he is trying to reconcile, is the very road to healing and wholeness and humanity. “More than just the passive suffering of an innocent person,” writes Volf, “the passion of Christ is the agony of a tortured soul and a wrecked body offered as a prayer for the forgiveness of the torturers.”(3) There is no clearer picture of Zechariah’s depiction of wounds received at the house of friends than in a crucifixion ordered by an angry crowd that lauded Christ as king only hours before. And yet, it is this house of both murderous and weeping friends for which Jesus prays on the cross: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Far from the suggestion of a moralistic god watching a world of suffering and brokenness from a distance, the costly, unsentimental ministry of reconciliation comes to a world of violence and victims through arms that first bore the weight of the cross. For Steven Gahigi, who facilitates the difficult dialogues now taking place in Rwanda, who helps perpetrators of genocide to build homes for their victims’ families, forgiveness is indeed a active form of suffering, but one through which Christ has paved the hopeful, surprising way of redemption. Today, wherever forgiveness is a form of suffering, Christ accompanies the broken, leading both the guilty and the victimized through valleys of dry bones and signs of a coming resurrection.

 

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

(1) Zechariah 13:6.
(2) Johann Christoph Arnold, Why Forgive? (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis books, 2010), 202.
(3) Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace (Nashville: Abingdon, 1996), 125.

 

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Joyce Meyer – Judged and Criticized

 

Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer. — Romans 12:12 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource The Power of Being Thankful Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

No matter what we do in life, at some point in time we will all face a level of criticism. But it is possible to learn how to cope with criticism and not let it affect your life.

We can be grateful for the example the apostle Paul set for us. Paul experienced criticism often, but he said that he was not concerned about the judgment of others. He knew he was in God’s hands and that in the end he would stand before God and give an account of himself and his life. He would not stand before any man to be judged (see 1 Corinthians 4:3–4).

You may not always do everything right, but God sees your heart. If you’re attempting to live for God and looking for ways to love others, God is pleased (see Matthew 22:37–40). Don’t worry about the criticism of others; God loves you. His love and approval are all you need.

Prayer Starter: Father, I thank You that I don’t have to listen to the criticism of others. You see my heart and You know my motives. I thank You that Your approval is greater than the approval of any person. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Sure Road to Faith

 

“So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17, KJV).

Martin Luther said he studied his Bible in the same way he gathered apples. First, he shook the whole tree, that the ripest might fall; then he shook each limb, and when he had shaken each limb, he shook each branch, and after each branch, every twig; and then he looked under every leaf. He admonishes us:

“Search the Bible as a whole, shaking the whole tree. Read it rapidly, as you would any book. Then shake every limb – study book after book.

“Then shake every branch, giving attention to the chapters when they do not break the sense. Then shake each twig, by careful study of the paragraphs and sentences. And you will be rewarded if you will look under each leaf, by searching the meaning of the words.”

Seek to know the Lord with all your heart. While you may have no difficulty in worshiping the omnipotent God, you cannot really know God unless you study His Word. The one who spoke and caused the worlds to be framed is waiting to reveal Himself to you personally.

Faith is not given to those who are either undisciplined or disobedient. Faith is a gift of God which is given to those who trust and obey Him. As we master His Word and obey His commands, our faith continues to grow.

It is my strong conviction that it is impossible to ask God for too much if our hearts and motives are pure and if we pray according to the Word and will of God.

Every time you and I open and read God’s Word carefully, we are building up our storehouse of faith. When we memorize the Word, our faith is being increased. When we study or teach a Sunday school lesson, or hear a sermon faithfully expounding the Word, we are growing in faith.

Bible Reading: Hebrews 11:1-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will read, study, memorize and meditate upon God’s Word daily, knowing that in the process my faith will grow, for “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

 

 

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Max Lucado – See the Need

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

He sat near a gate called Beautiful.  The man, however, was anything but.  He couldn’t walk but had to drag himself about on his knees.  “Peter and John looked straight at him and said, ‘Look at us!’” (Acts 3:4 NCV).

The thick, meaty hand of the fisherman reached for the frail, thin one of the beggar. Peter lifted the man toward himself.  The cripple stood and began to shout, and passersby began to stop.  Peter explained that faith in Christ leads to a clean slate with God.  What Jesus did for the legs of the cripple, he does for our soul.  We’re made brand-new!

An honest look led to a helping hand that led to a conversation about eternity.  Works done in God’s name long outlive our earthly life.  Let’s be the people who stop at the gate.  Let’s look at the face until we see the person.

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Denison Forum – The impeachment trial as a Rorschach test: Three rules of engagement for Christians

President Trump is speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos this morning. Meanwhile, the Senate is preparing to launch only the third impeachment trial of a president in history.

According to a recent Gallup poll, 51 percent of Americans would like the Senate to vote against conviction, while 46 percent want the Senate to convict the president and remove him from office. Unsurprisingly, 93 percent of Republicans are opposed to convicting the president, while 84 percent of Democrats are in favor of doing so.

These positions reflect the president’s overall popularity: 88 percent of Republicans approve of the job he is doing, while only 10 percent of Democrats agree.

A Rorschach test for our country

Hermann Rorschach developed the instrument that bears his name in 1921 after noting that schizophrenia patients often interpreted the things they saw in unusual ways.

The participant is shown a series of ten inkblot cards and asked to describe what they see. However, there are no objectively correct answers. What we see says more about us than about the inkblots we are interpreting.

Impeachment functions in much the same way in our culture today. It would be difficult to live in America without having an opinion about President Trump. A statistical analysis found that the media has given three times as much airtime to his presidency as to President Obama’s. Our culture seems to be consumed daily with who he is and what he does.

Predictably, those who support the president believe the evidence supports his acquittal. Those who oppose him believe the evidence supports his conviction.

We can discuss this issue as long as we wish, but few seem open to changing their minds about President Trump. However, the way Christians discuss this divisive issue can change how people see our Lord.

Just as the US Senate is following rules of engagement for the weeks to come, so should followers of Jesus. Let’s consider three biblical principles today.

One: Focus on eternity

There have been nineteen impeachment trials in US history—fifteen for federal judges, one for a senator, one for a Cabinet officer, and two for presidents. President Johnson’s 1868 trial took nearly two months; President Clinton’s 1999 trial lasted about one month.

However long this impeachment trial takes, remember that your relationships will endure when it is over. And every person you know will spend eternity either with God in heaven or separated from him in hell.

As a result, we should filter everything we say about impeachment through this fact: we are “ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Helping people follow Jesus is our eternal calling and highest privilege.

Two: Speak the truth in love

Ninety-three percent of Americans say we have a civility problem. According to 63 percent of us, social media contributes directly to this problem. It is easy to be anonymous on social media, saying things about people we would never say to them.

By contrast, Jesus calls us to go directly to those with whom we disagree (Matthew 5:23–24; 18:15). Imagine a culture in which everyone chose “to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Titus 3:2).

What if others slander us or our beliefs? “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31–32).

We should hold our beliefs strongly and defend them courageously, but we should do so “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). “Speaking the truth in love” must be our mantra and mission (Ephesians 4:15).

Three: Build bridges with those with whom you disagree

The partisan divides in our country are wider and deeper than I have ever seen them. For example, the percentage of Democrats and Republicans who would be displeased if their child married someone of the opposite party has escalated tenfold since 1960.

At the same time, it is becoming easier than ever to curate the news feeds with which we agree, so that we hear and read only what we want to hear and read. The result is that we seldom engage positions or people with whom we disagree.

By contrast, Jesus befriended Samaritans (John 4) and Gentiles (Matthew 15:21–28). He called a tax collector by name and went to his house (Luke 19:5). And he called his followers to do the same (Acts 10:15, 34–35).

Who do you know with whom you disagree about impeachment? How will you build a relationship with this person for the sake of your continued witness and their eternal soul?

How to store up treasure in heaven

If Christians focus on eternity, speak the truth in love, and build bridges for the gospel, the Holy Spirit will use this chapter of American history to advance the kingdom of God.

Rick Warren was right: “The way you store up treasure in heaven is by investing in getting people there.”

How much treasure in heaven will you store up today?

 

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Man, Richard Jewell Hit Home! – American Thinker By George Zimmerman

Man, Richard Jewell Hit Home!

 

I love just about all Clint Eastwood movies, but Richard Jewell is in a class by itself. This one was personal. This one Clint Eastwood made for me. Only a handful of people in America know what it’s like to be Richard Jewell and unfortunately, I’m one of them. Mr. Eastwood got it right. Two thumbs up!

I rarely ever go to the movies. Nearly seven years after my acquittal in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, I still have to be very cautious about where I go. A few years ago, a man took a shot at me and missed my head by inches. He will be in prison for another dozen years or so, but every time I see my name trend on Twitter, I am reminded there are people out there who would like to pick up where the assassin left off.

My gut reaction in watching Richard Jewell was sadness. The film reminded me just how much heartache an accusation this heinous puts a parent through. For those who don’t know the story, Richard found a suspicious backpack in Centennial Park in Atlanta during the 1996 Olympics. He alerted authorities to the backpack and helped clear the area.

Two people were killed when the bomb inside the backpack went off, but many more would have been killed if Richard had not acted on his suspicions. For a brief period, people called him a hero, but then the media and the FBI turned on him and accused him without evidence of being an attention-seeking security guard. They call it “trial by media,” and it is beyond horrible.

This movie hit home. I absolutely identified. Richard and I were both cop wannabes — or so the media told us. We were both gullible. We both believed law enforcement had our best interests at heart. We both believed reporters wanted the truth. We both believed everyone was basically good and then we both realized what fools we had been to believe all that.

As I sat there in the dark, my stomach in knots, I found myself wishing Richard was still alive so I could reach out and hug him and tell him, “Yes, Richard, you are a hero.”

I know as only a few others do how gut wrenching it is to be at the center of the storm like this. You can only imagine what people think of you. You worry that everyone thinks you are the monster the media created.

Emotionally, I struggled. I imposed a kind of house arrest on myself. I did not want to see people or be seen. I questioned everyone’s intentions, even those close to me. Yes, I was acquitted, but after the trial, when the head prosecutor Angela Corey was asked to sum me up in a word, she said “murderer.” I was devastated. In watching the movie, I was reminded of how my mother must have felt to hear this.

After the trial it took me years to regain my balance. At the time I was thinking if people want to look at me as a villain, I will be that villain, the hell with them all. Without the unconditional love of my parents I never would have pulled out of that spiral.

This is something else Richard and I had in common — a fierce, loving mother. Kathy Bates, who played Richard’s mom, gave a heart stopping performance. She is nominated for an Academy Award. She deserves to win.

One advantage I had over Richard was a father who loved me just as much as my mother did. One advantage we both had was a gladiator of an attorney who always had our back. For me, that was Don West. I am thankful Mark O’Mara took my case, but it was West who won my confidence. When you go through an ordeal as intense as the one Richard and I did, it is essential to have someone who totally believes in you.

Richard died at 44 of natural causes. I have got to believe the stress of it all shortened his life. He did not get the chance to see himself vindicated on screen. Yes, he was cleared before he died, but that story was buried. So many people who just read the headlines still remembered him as a glory-seeking loser.

The people who just read the headlines still think I stalked and murdered a little boy because he was black. They have no idea that Trayvon was a skilled street fighter, a half a foot taller than me, who attacked me out of nowhere as I was walking to my car.

I am grateful for the vindication that Joel Gilbert’s brilliant new film, The Trayvon Hoax, provides me. Joel may not be Clint Eastwood, but he is a truth teller of the first order. I am thankful too to all those people who stood by me when the world told them not to.

At the end of the day, Richard Jewell and I had something else in common — we knew who our real friends were.

 

 

 

Source: Man, Richard Jewell Hit Home! – American Thinker

Charles Stanley – Our God of Grace

 

Ephesians 2:1-10

Grace is God’s favor and love shown to mankind. We can’t earn it or be good enough to deserve it. To truly appreciate grace, we must comprehend that our Father is …

Perfectly holy. God is without fault. When Adam and Eve chose to eat the fruit from the forbidden tree, their connection with God was broken. Since all future generations inherited their sinful nature, every person is born with an inclination toward unrighteousness.

Just. As a result, God requires payment for sin. The penalty is death (Rom. 6:23), not just physically but also spiritually—through eternal separation from Him.

Merciful. God doesn’t treat us as we deserve but extends His grace through the Savior. Jesus lived a perfect life and fulfilled the Law. He alone qualified as the One who could satisfy divine justice. He took our place, bore our sins, and experienced God’s wrath—all so we could be reconciled to the Father.

God made this provision for our salvation while we were still sinners (Rom. 5:8). Have you acknowledged your sinful state and received His forgiveness through faith in Jesus? Take time to express thankfulness for His grace.

Bible in One Year: Exodus 13-15

 

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Our Daily Bread — Clean Containers

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Genesis 49–50
  • Matthew 13:31–58

Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.

Proverbs 10:12

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 Peter 4:7–11

“Hatred corrodes the container that carries it.” These words were spoken by former Senator Alan Simpson at the funeral of George H. W. Bush. Attempting to describe his dear friend’s kindness, Senator Simpson recalled how the forty-first president of the United States embraced humor and love rather than hatred in his professional leadership and personal relationships.

I relate to the senator’s quote, don’t you? Oh, the damage done to me when I harbor hatred!

Medical research reveals the damage done to our bodies when we cling to the negative or release bursts of anger. Our blood pressure rises. Our hearts pound. Our spirits sag. Our containers corrode.

In Proverbs 10:12, King Solomon observes, “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” The conflict that results from hatred here is a blood feud between rivaling peoples of different tribes and races. Such hatred fuels the drive for revenge so that people who despise each other can’t connect.

By contrast, God’s way of love covers—draws a veil over, conceals, or forgives—all wrongs. That doesn’t mean we overlook errors or enable a wrongdoer. But we don’t nurse the wrong when someone is truly remorseful. And if they never apologize, we still release our feelings to God. We who know the Great Lover are to “love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

By: Elisa Morgan

Reflect & Pray

What things cause you to hate? How might the hard-hearted heat of hostility eat away at our personal joy and our world’s peace?

O God, help me surrender to Your great love that covers all sins and makes me into a clean container in which You dwell in love.

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Call to Maladjustment

 

What does it mean to be “maladjusted”? In much of psychological literature, maladjustment implies some level of psychopathology. A pathology implies an underlying illness or disease in the body. Psychopathology, therefore, implies mental illness. Unlike other diseases of the body that have biological markers, however, psychopathology does not have a biological test, like a blood test, for diagnosis. Instead, psychopathology is manifested in cognitions, emotions, and/or social behaviors that are considered maladaptive because they cause distress, danger, dysfunction, and disruption both to the individual and to those around her/him.

But are there any conditions under which it would be “abnormal” not to experience maladjustment? This is the question taken up by Martin Luther King, Jr. in his speech given at Western Michigan University in 1963, five years before he was assassinated. In this speech, he suggested that there are specific conditions when maladjustment is called for:

“[T]here are certain things in our nation and in the world which I am proud to be maladjusted and which I hope all men of good‐will will be maladjusted until the good societies realize. I say very honestly that I never intend to become adjusted to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to become adjusted to religious bigotry. I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism, to self‐defeating effects of physical violence.” (1)

Whether or not maladjustment always equates to a diagnosis of psychopathology is often asked beyond the academic hallways of departments of psychology. Shouldn’t it make sense for someone who grew up in conditions of economic deprivation, social isolation, ignorance, poverty, and crime to experience, trauma, depression, or anxiety? Isn’t maladjustment an appropriate response to environmental and social conditions of deprivation, isolation, and instability? And perhaps, as Martin Luther King Jr. suggested in his address: those of us who live in abundance, community, and stability should feel this maladjustment most keenly.

In many of his speeches, including the one given at Western Michigan University, Dr. King quoted from the ancient Hebrew prophets. Often, Israel’s prophets called the nation to see the ways in which she had “adjusted” to a way of living that was far from ideal. And we learn from the preaching of Jesus that most of these prophets were rejected and killed. “Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those sent to you!”(2) The prophets called out from the margins proclaiming a message that few heeded. They were viewed as “malcontents” and perhaps as maladjusted. Isaiah walked through the streets naked. Jeremiah, “the weeping prophet,” fastened a cattle yoke to his shoulders. Hosea married a woman he knew would be unfaithful. Ezekiel ate a scroll and laid on his side for more than a year. Jonah spent three days in the belly of a whale and then begged God to kill him. And Amos, who wanted “justice to roll down like mighty rivers” brought his message of justice and righteousness in a time of total economic prosperity and ease: “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion!” he declared. To be “well-adjusted” was not at all what they preached, nor often how they lived. As Abraham Joshua Heschel in his book The Prophets notes:

“To us a single act of injustice—cheating in business, exploitation of the poor—is slight; to the prophets, a disaster. To us injustice is injurious to the welfare of the people; to the prophets it is a deathblow to existence; to us, an episode; to them, a catastrophe, a threat to the world.”(3)

The ancient prophets call attention to what most overlook, or do not want to see. Like, Martin Luther King, Jr., they understood that the call to maladjustment was a call to action and a call to reject the status quo. But to extend this call, often meant being labeled as a malcontent, or crazy, or worse! Throughout history, those who called for “maladjustment” often lost their lives, including the Hebrew prophets, John the Baptist, Jesus, Gandhi, Anwar Sadat, Yitzhak Rabin, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Remarkably, Dr. King ended his remarks with a call to be as maladjusted as the prophet Amos:

“I’m about convinced now that there is need for…men and women who will be as maladjusted as the prophet Amos. Who in the midst of the injustices of his day could cry out in words that echo across the centuries, ‘Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.’ As maladjusted as Jesus of Nazareth who could say to the men and women of his day, ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you. Pray for them that despitefully use you.’ Through such maladjustment, I believe that we will be able to emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man’s inhumanity to man into the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom and justice…this will be a great day.”(4)

The call to maladjustment might just be a call to justice. To overturn the status quo, just as Jesus overturned the tables in the temple, might be the most well-adjusted thing we who are made in God’s image could do.

 

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

 

(1) Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “On Creative Maladjustment,” Western Michigan University Archives and Regional History Collections and University Libraries, 1963, accessed Jan. 27, 2018.
(2) See Matthew 23:37. See also Hebrews 11:26-39.
(3) Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Prophets (New York: Harper Collins, 2001), 4.
(4) Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “On Creative Maladjustment,” Western Michigan University Archives and Regional History Collections and University Libraries, 1963, accessed Jan. 27, 2018.

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Joyce Meyer – A Force for Good

 

Therefore encourage and comfort one another and build up one another, just as you are doing. — 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (AMP)

Adapted from the resource Starting Your Day Right Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

We can improve our relationships with others by leaps and bounds if we become encouragers instead of critics.

It is the greater person who does the right thing; Christ’s righteousness dwells in you to help you do what is right. You are great in God’s eyes when you choose to do right and bless others.

No matter how rough your day is today, speak words that uplift and encourage those around you. Encourage others if you notice them doing a good job—not just those who work with you, but people wherever you go, such as store clerks, auto mechanics, and waiters.

Say something like, “I appreciate the extra effort you are making to do your job well.” You can change your life and someone else’s by choosing to speak positive words.

Prayer Starter: Father, please show me when I am being critical and negative toward others. Help me today to speak encouraging words of life to all those around me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

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Max Lucado – To Love a Stranger

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

“Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay” (1 Peter 4:9).

The Greek word for hospitality compounds two terms: love and stranger. The word literally means to love a stranger. All of us can welcome a guest we know and love.  But can we welcome a stranger?   Every morning in America more than 39 million people wake up in poverty.  When we provide food stamps, we stave off hunger.  But when we invite the hungry to our tables, we address the deeper issues of value and self-worth.  God’s secret weapons in the war on poverty include your kitchen table and mine.

We encounter people.  We detect an urge to open our doors to them.  In these moments let’s heed the inner voice.  We never know whom we may be hosting for dinner.

Read more Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make a Difference

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Will Tell You

“I advise you to obey only the Holy Spirit’s instructions. He will tell you where to go and what to do, and then you won’t always be doing the wrong things your evil nature wants you to” (Galatians 5:16).

Major conflicts in life are resolved when, by an act of the will, one surrenders to the control of the Holy Spirit and faces temptation in His power.

It should be explained that there is a difference between temptation and sin.

Temptation is the initial impression to do something contrary to God’s will. Such impressions come to all people, even as they did to the Lord, and they are not sin in themselves.

Temptation becomes sin when we meditate on the impression and develop a strong desire, which is often followed by the actual act of disobedience.

For practical daily living, we simply recognize our weakness whenever we are tempted and obey the Holy Spirit’s instructions. When we do not yield to temptation, we breathe spiritually and resume our walk with God.

“At what point does one who practices spiritual breathing become carnal again?” Whenever one ceases to believe God’s promise that He will enable us to be victorious over all temptations. The fact is, one need never be carnal again. So long as a believer keeps breathing spiritually, there is no need to live a life of defeat.

The moment you realize that you have done that which grieves or quenches the Spirit, you simply exhale spiritually by confessing immediately, and then inhale as by faith you claim God’s forgiveness and the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and you keep walking in the light as God is in the light.

Bible Reading: Galatians 5:17-26

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will consciously seek to obey the Holy Spirit’s instructions revealed to me in His holy, inspired Word.

 

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