Charles Stanley – Why God Closes Doors

 

Jeremiah 10:21-24

A blocked opportunity can be a useful tool for teaching. God wants to mold us into His image, and He can use anything—including something we desire—to do so.

Closed doors prevent mistakes. Just because a path is clear doesn’t mean it’s the one God intends for us to follow. Sometimes we won’t have the information we need to make a wise decision, so He blocks the way. The Holy Spirit knows the whole road map for our life, so we should follow Him.

Closed doors redirect our walk. God won’t leave a willing servant with nothing to do. Closed doors can result in better fruit, more satisfaction, and greater glory for Him.

Closed doors test faith and build perseverance. Waiting for the Lord is hard, but it’s a means by which we can learn wisdom, patience, and trust.

Closed doors buy us time. We aren’t always as prepared as we’d like to think. God may temporarily hold shut an opportunity for service until we’re ready.

Despite the many references to closed doors in this devotion, the real message is that God opens doors for us, and they lead us in the best possible direction. His path is perfect, and if we stay on it, we will live a life of service, satisfaction, and glory for God.

Bible in One Year: Leviticus 17-20

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — God-Sized Love

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Exodus 34–35
  • Matthew 22:23–46

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?

Matthew 5:46

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Matthew 5:43–48

I once visited an impoverished neighborhood of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Homes were made of corrugated iron, with electrical wires dangling live above them. There I had the privilege of interviewing families and hearing how churches were helping to combat unemployment, drug use, and crime.

In one alleyway I climbed a rickety ladder to a small room to interview a mother and her son. But just a moment later someone rushed up, saying, “We must leave now.” A machete-wielding gang leader was apparently gathering a mob to ambush us.

We visited a second neighborhood, but there we had no problem. Later I discovered why. As I visited each home, a gang leader stood outside guarding us. It turned out his daughter was being fed and educated by the church, and because believers were standing by her, he stood by us.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus presents a standard of love that’s beyond comparison. This kind of love embraces not just the “worthy” but the undeserving (Matthew 5:43–45), reaching beyond family and friends to touch those who can’t or won’t love us back (vv. 46–47). This is God-sized love (v. 48)—the kind that blesses everyone.

As believers in Santo Domingo live out this love, neighborhoods are starting to change. Tough hearts are warming to their cause. That’s what happens when God-sized love comes to town.

By: Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

How would you describe the difference between human love and godly love? Who can you bless today who can’t repay you?

Jesus, pour Your love into me so I may pour it out to others—even to those who can’t repay the favor.

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Forgotten Stories

 

In one of the early scenes of The Matrix, the character Trinity meets Neo in a club and she tells him, “It’s the question that drives us.” Later Neo meets Morpheus, who describes this inherent curiosity as a “splinter in the mind.”

We are born into a world that is populated with stories, pregnant with multiple meanings. From our very entrance into the cosmos until death, the reality and presence of story envelops our lives. Like the deep-seated quest of Socrates to discover what, in fact, was the good life, we find ourselves asking questions and wanting answers. These questions are not mere curiosity, or intellectual pursuits; they carry enormous existential significance and importance. These questions haunt us.

Consider the following words from Lee Iacocca in Straight Talk: “Here I am in the twilight years of my life, still wondering what it’s all about… I can tell you this, fame and fortune is for the birds.” Our minds are splintered—or made numb—with pressing inquiry: What is the point of it all? What gives our lives meaning? Novelist William H. Gass expresses a similar nagging reality. “Life is itself exile,” he writes, “and its inevitability does not lessen our grief or alter the fact.” Journalist Malcolm Muggeridge notes further, “The first thing I remember about the world—and I pray it may be the last—is that I was a stranger in it. This feeling which everyone has in some degree, and which is at once the glory and desolation of homosapiens, provides the only thread of consistency that I can detect in my life.” Why are we here? Where are we going? Why do we at times find ourselves as strangers in our own home? Is there a greater story we are a part of, but ignoring?

 

In the Western world, we are progressively abandoning the metanarratives that for centuries served to define and give shape to our society and individual lives. Indeed, the very idea of a “defining story” is now considered offensive, imperialistic, sexist, or worse. The individual is left alone before a mind-boggling array of options and both the responsibility and the authority to reach a conclusion are totally rooted in the self. Yet, despite brave predictions of the demise of God or the eventual waning of belief under Modern conditions, the questions have not gone away. If anything, they are more at the forefront than we would have expected, given the nature and shape of progress.

In the opening pages of the Lord of the Rings, the narrator tells us of the process whereby history became legend and legend became myth and slowly it was all forgotten. Tolkien’s brilliant insight into what he deems our “real but forgotten” past is a telling representation of the story we are currently trying to tell. But if the world and our lives are the product of a divine creator, then though ignored or unknown, the echoes of our distant past and essential nature still call out to us. And they are calling.

“Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse.”(1) The heavens are yet declaring the glory of God; the skies are yet proclaiming the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display the love of one who invites us into the story of life itself.

 

Stuart McAllister is global support specialist at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

(1) Romans 1:20.

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http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Harmony with God

 

But all things are from God, Who through Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself [received us into favor, brought us into harmony with Himself] and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation [that by word and deed we might aim to bring others into harmony with Him]. — 2 Corinthians 5:18 (AMPC)

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

As a teacher of God’s Word, it is not my job to preach amazing sermons that will impress people, but rather to share His Word in such a way that they might want to be brought into harmony with Him. God has brought us into harmony with Himself, and His desire is to work through us to do the same thing for the multitudes that are separated from Him and living in darkness.

What a great privilege it is to bring people to God! Life lived out of harmony with God is a miserable life. It is one filled with sin, darkness, fear, anger, confusion, and never-ending disappointment. It is one lived without the awareness of God. I remember living a life like that, and I will be forever grateful for the new life that Jesus has provided for me. Let’s be thankful today that we’re aware of God and that we can come to Him without fear of rejection.

Ask yourself: Are people being brought to God by my words and deeds? I pray that they are! We have an amazing opportunity to partner with God in the reconciliation of the lost people in this world. We are ambassadors for God, and as such, we represent Him in the earth today. God is making His appeal to the world through us (see 2 Corinthians 5:20). Working with and for God is the greatest privilege that anyone could ever have. Let the people around you see Christ shining through you today!

Prayer Starter: Father, I’m so excited to partner with You to rebuild Your relationship with the human race. Grant me the grace to live my life in such a way that people can see You through me! Let my life bear good fruit for Your kingdom today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Underneath: Everlasting Arms

 

“The eternal God is your Refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He thrusts out your enemies before you…” (Deuteronomy 33-27, LB).”…with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles” (2 Chronicles 32:8, KJV).

Susan was broken-hearted. She had just lost her first child at birth. The trauma of that experience had affected her relationship with her husband and with everyone else around her. She had become cynical and moody. She blamed God for what had happened and said, “I hate Him. Why would this happen to me? Where was God when I was going through the birth pangs, the excruciating pain of giving birth to a stillborn child? Why didn’t He give me a healthy baby?”

I was reminded of a statement that I had heard in response to a similar anguished plea: “Where was God when I lost my son?”

The answer: “Where He was when His own Son died on the cross for our sins.”

We do not understand the mystery of why God allows tragedy, heartache and sorrow, but we do know that those who trust the eternal God as their refuge will experience the reality of His promise that “underneath are the everlasting arms.”

Sometime later I talked with a godly Christian leader whose son had just taken his own life. Of course this man and his wife were devastated. Their hearts were broken. But what a difference in their reaction. Even through his tears this great Christian was saying, “I know I can trust God. He is a loving God. He is my refuge, and I feel His strength and compassion and care for me and my loved ones. My wife and I and all of our family are rededicating ourselves to Him as an expression of our love and confidence in His trustworthiness.”

Bible Reading: Psalm 91:1-7

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: As an expression of my confidence in God and His love and faithfulness I will make a special effort to visualize those everlasting arms of love spread out beneath me, ready for any fall I may take, like a giant net below a trapeze artist. That will give me courage in the face of every obstacle and assurance despite my weaknesses.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Our Dependable God

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

From the first chapter of Scripture, the Bible makes a case for the dependability of God.  Without exception when God spoke, something wonderful happened.  By divine fiat there was light, land, beaches, and creatures.  God consulted no advisers.  He needed no assistance.  “For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm” (Psalm 33:9).

The same power is seen in Jesus.  He is unchanging.  He’s never caught off guard by the unexpected. “God never changes or casts a shifting shadow” (James 1:17).  God is strong.  He does not overpromise and under deliver.  “God is able to do whatever he promises” (Romans 4:21).

“It is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18).  God will keep his promises! It must happen because of who God is!  And because 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 – Caucus results from Iowa are delayed: Perception, presuppositions, and the word of God

 

Iowa held its first-in-the-nation caucuses last night. President Trump won on the Republican side, as expected. However, we still don’t know the winner on the Democratic Party side.

The Iowa Democratic Party said the results were delayed due to “inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results.” They stressed that there was not a “hack or intrusion,” but announced around 2 a.m. that the results would be provided “later today.” Officials are now hand counting the results.

There are two very different ways to see this unusual delay.

One is that Democrats in Iowa are working to provide results in as trustworthy a manner as possible. After the razor-close 2016 race in Iowa between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, Mr. Sanders’ allies pushed the Democratic National Committee to require caucus states to track and report the raw numbers of support for each candidate. In Iowa, the new reporting standards slowed the gathering of data to a crawl. Technical issues contributed to the delays.

The other is to view the Democratic Party’s delayed reporting as indicative of its suitability to lead. GOP Congressman Mark Meadows of North Carolina tweeted: “Folks—this is the party that wants to run your healthcare, control your employment, decide what kind of car you can drive, and more.”

Bernie Sanders and millennials 

These conflicting perspectives reflect the larger conflicts in our culture.

For example, Bernie Sanders was favored by oddsmakers to win the Iowa caucuses. His campaign is fueled principally by his appeal to millennials. His focus on wealth inequality, universal health care, student loan debt, and climate change resonate with many of them. The fact that he is “quite substantially not religious,” in the words of his brother, is not a detriment to a generation noted for its lack of religious commitment.

Consider that college graduates are less likely than non-graduates to agree that “religion is very important.” They are also less likely to say they “believe in God with absolute certainty” or that they “pray daily.” In fact, 11 percent identify as atheist or agnostic, compared with 4 percent of those with high school education or less.

(Lest these facts suggest that religion is irrational, note that Christians who graduated from college are more likely to attend weekly worship services than those with less education.)

Continue reading Denison Forum – Caucus results from Iowa are delayed: Perception, presuppositions, and the word of God