Charles Stanley – Confronting Closed Doors

 

Acts 16:1-13

Closed doors can be frustrating. Paul knew exactly how that felt. On his second missionary journey, during which he had hoped to tell the good news in Asia, the apostle repeatedly found his way blocked by the Holy Spirit. It must have seemed strange that God would prevent him from sharing the gospel.

The Bible doesn’t say how long Paul and Timothy remained in Troas, but we think the apostle didn’t make a move until God showed him a new mission field (Acts 16:9-10). Paul’s actions illustrate the principle found in Proverbs 3:5-6—that God will make a straight path for those who choose to trust in Him rather than in themselves.

Christians in a period of waiting should seek God’s purpose and guidance. Ask the Lord why He has barred the way forward—perhaps the timing is wrong or we have unconfessed sin in our life. Whatever the reason, we must be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading. We also want to be ready for the door that will open.

When an opportunity is blocked, remember that God has a reason. And He’s providing love and protection, even in your disappointment. The Lord is also keeping His promise to work everything for your good (Rom. 8:28). When one door has closed, another will open. Be wise and watch for it.

Bible in One Year: Leviticus 14-16

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Fire Called Holy

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Exodus 31–33
  • Matthew 22:1–22

He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Luke 3:16

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Luke 3:15–18

After several years of drought, the wildfires of Southern California left some residents thinking of them as acts of God. This disturbing impression was reinforced when news sources began referring to one as the Holy Fire. Many unfamiliar with the area didn’t realize it was a reference to the Holy Jim Canyon region. But who was Holy Jim? According to local history, he was a nineteenth-century beekeeper so irreligious and cantankerous that neighbors tagged him with that ironic nickname.

John the Baptist’s reference to a baptism of “the Holy Spirit and fire” also came with its own story and explanation (Luke 3:16). Looking back, he was likely thinking of the kind of Messiah and refining fire foreseen by the prophet Malachi (3:1–3; 4:1). But only after the Spirit of God came like wind and fire on the followers of Jesus did the words of Malachi and John come into focus (Acts 2:1–4).

The fire John predicted wasn’t what was expected. As a true act of God, it came with boldness to proclaim a different kind of Messiah and holy flame. In the Spirit of Jesus, it exposed and consumed our futile human efforts—while making room for the love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control of the Holy Spirit (see Galatians 5:22–23). Those are the acts of God that He would like to work in us.

By: Mart DeHaan

Reflect & Pray

How has your life been affected by the work of the Holy Spirit? What does it mean for you to pursue a holy—set apart—life before God?

Father in heaven, please replace our fear of Your Holy Spirit with a love, joy, and peace that is as priceless as our stubborn ways are worthless.

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Myth and Fact

 

In the last few centuries the cacophony of voices suggesting Christianity (and religion in general) is a tale on par with the tooth fairy continues to deepen. The story may well have beautiful components, some add charitably, but the story functions as a psychological crutch to comfort us through the uglier realities of real life. Often couched in the objection is the notion that time has moved forward such that we have outgrown the superstition, and along with it, the need to explain life and comfort ourselves with archaic religious myth. And though by equating Christianity with “myth” critics mean to suggest that religion is fanciful and untrue, the comparison between Christianity and the genre of myth is absolutely fascinating. In fact, it is a comparison C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and G.K. Chesterton found altogether relevant and revelatory.

A scholar of ancient and medieval literature, Lewis came to recognize the great Greek, Roman, and Nordic myths as being a genre of narrative that wrestled as fiercely as the human heart can wrestle with its yearning to know the gods. In this, he reasoned that what we glean from the myth is not truth but reality, for myths concern themselves with questions of ultimate reality and theological inquiry. Through the story of Sisyphus, for instance, we ask profoundly, does life have meaning? As he endlessly rolls the great rock up the hill, only to have it tumble down the hill before he reaches the top, we ask: Do the gods hate us? Are they indifferent? Do they care? Is life worth living in acknowledgment of their presence? Is life worth living at all? The genre of myth has concerned itself with the great and impenetrable questions of life, questions that every worldview must answer. As G.K. Chesterton comments in Everlasting Man, “Myth has at least an imaginative outline of truth.”

The modern mind argues that Jesus is just one more attempt at explaining what we merely wish were true. While I know where such a statement is usually going (and disagree), perhaps it is also right. There are elements in myth that we do want to believe—namely, that the gods do reveal themselves to us, that heavenly mysteries can be known on some real level, and that life really is saturated with purpose and meaning. Such qualities undeniably reach the deepest thirsts and longings of humankind; they are things many of us want to be true. But Christianity takes this one step further. It would argue that these are actually the stories that we knew on some real level had to be true. The want is an indication of something beyond the myth. For God has set eternity in our hearts; yet we cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

Within the great myths, life is lived under that which is bigger than us and that which is beyond us. There is an understanding that there is something to which we must bow, that there is someone present, someone who walks beside us. There is an awareness that our own stories are inhabited beside, maybe even within, stories of the transcendent and of the ultimate. In the myths created by humanity, we reveal what has been engraved deeply on our hearts by the divine: that reality is not always clear like glass but it is sometimes thick like blood, that God somehow had to show up, and that in some way death and suffering was certain. There is darkness, to be sure; but so there is light, and the darkness does not master it. And we were right. What humanity has somehow always known has, in fact, happened. For in the Christian story, God did reveal himself, stepping into the depths of human reality as one of us. God stepped through the unseen and came to dwell within the seen. Said Lewis, “Myth became Fact.”

In the oldest Christian creed, Christians profess to believe in God the Father and Jesus Christ his only Son “who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.” What humanity has longed for most has happened: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Reaching into time and touching real history, Jesus came to us; he came to the Cross. But it did not master him.

“This is the marriage of heaven and earth,” writes Lewis. “Perfect Myth and Perfect Fact, claiming not only our love and our obedience, but also our wonder and delight, addressed to the savage, the child, and the poet in each one of us no less than to the moralist, the scholar, and the philosopher.”(1) There is a great light shining in the darkness, and the darkness has not mastered it. He is the one who was, and is, and is to come.

 

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

(1) C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), 67.

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Joyce Meyer – Try Some Shrug Therapy

 

Do not be quick in spirit to be angry or vexed, for anger and vexation lodge in the bosom of fools. — Ecclesiastes 7:9 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Love Out Loud – by Joyce Meyer

There are some things you can control in life—who your friends are, what you eat, and when you go to bed, for example. There are other things you can’t control, such as what other people say or the flat tire you got last night. The way you respond to things you can’t control helps determine your stress level and your quality of life and health. I have two suggestions about dealing with things you can’t control. First, if you can’t control them, don’t take responsibility for them. And second, I like to say, “Do your best, pray, and let God do the rest!”

People who regularly get upset over small things suffer in many ways. People who shrug them off do much better. Shrugging off certain things doesn’t mean you are indifferent; it simply means you’ve accepted the fact that you can’t do anything to change them at that time. The flat tire has already happened. Calling someone to come fix it makes sense; throwing a tantrum and kicking the tire does not. We need to deal appropriately with each stressor as it arises so that we don’t end up exploding in frustration over the unavoidable bumps on the road of life.

God works in mysterious ways. You never know when He may use some inconvenience or frustration for your good. He is in control, and if you trust Him to work things out, you’ll be able to ride the ups and downs of life with peace, joy, and strength.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for helping me live free from frustration. Teach me what it looks like to take life one day at a time. When things happen that I don’t like, help me to stay in control of my emotions, and to trust that You’re working things out. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Your Source of Strength

 

“……the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10b, KJV).

At a London train station one day, a woman was stopped by an elderly man.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” he said, “but I want to thank you for something.”

“Thank me!” the woman exclaimed.

“Yes’m, I used to be the ticket collector, and whenever you went by you always gave me a cheerful smile and a ‘good mornin’.” You don’t know what a difference it made to me.

“Wet weather or dry, it was always the same, and I thought to myself, “Wonder where she gets her smile from; one can’t always be happy, yet she seems to.’ I knew that smile must come from inside somehow.”

“Then one morning you came by and you had a little Bible in your hand. I said to myself, ‘Perhaps that’s where she gets her smile from.’ So on my way home that night I bought a Bible, and I’ve been reading it, and I’ve found Christ. Now I can smile, too, and I want to thank you.”

As you and I seek to be God’s witnesses today, in dependence on the supernatural power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we should be mindful constantly of the fact that the joy of the Lord can indeed be our strength. That joy inevitably will shine on our faces, regardless of circumstances.

In the words of an anonymous poem:

If you live close to God
And His infinite grace, You don’t have to tell; It shows on your face.

Bible Reading: Psalm 16:6-11

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will make a conscious effort to reflect the joy of my indwelling Lord in such a way that it will glow on my very countenance. While it is true that joy is a fruit of the Spirit, it is also true that the reflection of that joy is my responsibility. But I will go a step further. I will tell everyone who will listen about the one who is the source of my joy.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Heirs of God’s Promise

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Heroes in the Bible came from all walks of life—rulers, servants, teachers, and doctors—male, female, single, and married.  Yet one common denominator united them:  they built their lives on the promises of God.  Noah believed in rain before rain was a word. Joshua led two million people into enemy territory.  One writer went so far as to call such saints “heirs of the promise” in Hebrews 6:17.

As God prepared the Israelites to face a new land, he made a promise to them. “Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world.  The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you” (Exodus 34:10).  God’s promises are unbreakable; our hope is unshakable!

Read more Unshakable Hope

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – Chiefs win Super Bowl LIV: How Christians glorified God in and through the game

 

The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers in yesterday’s Super Bowl by a score of 31 to 20. The Chiefs came back from a ten-point deficit in the fourth quarter to give their beloved head coach, Andy Reid, his first NFL championship.

What about the game will be remembered long after the score is forgotten?

Patrick Mahomes was “always about the other person” 

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is now the first quarterback in NFL history to win a Most Valuable Player award, a Super Bowl, and a Super Bowl MVP by the age of twenty-five. However, he has been known for his humility since high school.

According to his coaches, “He was always about the team, always about his teammates, always about the other person.” Mahomes has been following Jesus since coming to faith in middle school.

Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt has been active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Athletes in Action. He says, “As a Christian, I think God has given me that platform to say, ‘Hey, I’ve allowed you to do a lot of things, and I need you to speak my Name.’”

49ers receiver Jordan Matthews became a Christian during his second year in the NFL and says “everything changed.” Another 49ers receiver, Marquise Goodwin, made headlines when he and his wife lost a premature son just hours before a game but continued to trust the Lord.

And Chiefs CEO Clark Hunt has been very public about his commitment to Christ. I was his pastor in Dallas and know personally of his family’s love for the Lord.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Chiefs win Super Bowl LIV: How Christians glorified God in and through the game