Charles Stanley – How Comforters Are Created

 

2 Corinthians 1:1-7

When Job was suffering, he said, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10). Even hardship and pain have a place in God’s plan for each believer.

During a particularly painful time in my life, I decided that I should learn something from my distress, as Job did. That allowed God to develop greater compassion in me—which helps me understand and relate to those facing similar trials.

Consider the truth in Paul’s words—that God “comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction” (2 Corinthians 1:4). Think about the kind of people you seek out when you’re hurting. You want someone who has felt your pain, right? A person who has already walked the path you’re on can understand your suffering and share wisdom. Going through what we sometimes call a “valley experience” prepares us to be a blessing and encouragement to others. But we must first accept that God has allowed this adversity in our life and then choose to learn from the situation.

God is the Lord of our life, and He has the right to use us as comforters and encouragers to those around us. As His servants, we must be willing to do His will, even when it hurts. Don’t waste your suffering! Instead, use it to bring God glory.

Bible in One Year: Leviticus 21-23

 

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Our Daily Bread — How to Stay on Track

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Exodus 36–38
  • Matthew 23:1–22

The Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie.

1 John 2:27 nlt

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 John 2:18–27

As the world’s fastest blind runner, David Brown of the U.S. Paralympic Team credits his wins to God, his mother’s early advice (“no sitting around”), and his running guide—veteran sprinter Jerome Avery. Tethered to Brown by a string tied to their fingers, Avery guides Brown’s winning races with words and touches.

“It’s all about listening to his cues,” says Brown, who says he could “swing out wide” on 200-meter races where the track curves. “Day in and day out, we’re going over race strategies,” Brown says, “communicating with each other—not only verbal cues, but physical cues.”

In our own life’s race, we’re blessed with a Divine Guide. Our Helper, the Holy Spirit, leads our steps when we follow Him. “I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray,” wrote John (1 John 2:26). “But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know” (v. 27 nlt).

John stressed this wisdom to the believers of his day who faced “antichrists” who denied the Father and that Jesus is the Messiah (v. 22). We face such deniers today as well. But the Holy Spirit, our Guide, leads us in following Jesus. We can trust His guidance to touch us with truth, keeping us on track.

By: Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

How attuned are you to the Holy Spirit’s guidance? How can you listen better when He guides, warns, and directs?

Dear God, attune our hearts to Your Holy Spirit’s guidance so we’ll run to Your truth and not to lies.

Read about the filling of the Spirit at discoveryseries.org/q0301.

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Age of Anxiety

 

Scott Stossel, the editor of The Atlantic Magazine, described his life-long struggle with anxiety in an article written in 2014. With incredible candor, Stossel described some of the most debilitating experiences with his illness:

“I wish I could say that my anxiety is a recent development, or that it is limited to public speaking. It’s not. My wedding was accompanied by sweating so torrential that it soaked through my clothes and by shakes so severe that I had to lean on my bride at the altar, so as not to collapse. At the birth of our first child, the nurses had to briefly stop ministering to my wife, who was in the throes of labor, to attend to me as I turned pale and keeled over… On ordinary days, doing ordinary things—reading a book, lying in bed, talking on the phone, sitting in a meeting, playing tennis—I have thousands of times been stricken by a pervasive sense of existential dread and been beset by nausea, vertigo, shaking, and a panoply of other physical symptoms… Even when not actively afflicted by such acute episodes, I am buffeted by worry.”(1)

While I often worry, I have never experienced the kind of crippling anxiety that Stossel describes in his article, or that I frequently hear about from dozens of individuals in search of relief from chronic anxiety. Yet many of us feel as if we are always on edge or we sense an underlying feeling of dread. For our world is often a very frightening place. Indeed, the time that we live in has been described as the “age of anxiety.” Perhaps this is true, in part, because our 24/7 access to technology ensures that we are immersed in global images and headlines of terrorism, epidemics, the threat of environmental collapse, violent crimes, economic woes, international conflict, and political strife. Particularly in the West, the incidence of anxiety-related diagnoses are increasing among individuals of all ages, including among teenagers, college-students and young adults who have grown up in a technological age full of anxiety-producing images.

Even if one’s experience with anxiety is not as profound or pervasive as Sossel’s, it can still be all-consuming. For at its root is a fearful imagination that generates an outlook of suspicion and inadequacy: The world is a terrifying place; there are not enough resources; no one can be trusted and I am not enough. Viewing one’s existence in this way generates a mindset of scarcity and inadequacy which in turn perpetuates worry and anxiety in an endless cycle.

It is noteworthy, I believe, that Jesus chose to address worry and anxiety among the many other important topics on which we have recorded teachings. In fact, Jesus addressed worry in what has come to be called The Sermon on the Mount, which most scholars agree is the central teaching for following in his way. In this sermon, Jesus presents an alternative imagination—or way of viewing the world—that is not based on fear or scarcity, but on fullness and abundance.(2) Jesus describes the kingdom of God—a way of being in the world based on the way in which Jesus taught, lived, and operated. Here, in the sermon in which Jesus instructs his followers to “love their enemies” and that they are “the light of the world,” Jesus also includes worry as an equally critical topic.

While it is not likely that Jesus had anxiety disorders like Sossel’s in mind, perhaps he included teaching on worry because of its function on multiple levels of human existence. Jesus recognized that anxiety animates a particularly powerful imagination or outlook on life that is grounded in fear: fear that prevents open-hearted living and fear that precludes full-presence in each and every moment. So powerful is this imagination that Jesus prefaces his teaching about worry with a reminder of its totalizing power: the eye is the lamp of the body, so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!(3) In other words, one’s outlook shapes one’s total orientation.

Jesus instructs his followers to not be anxious for their lives. Instead, he lays out a different imagination—again, a deeper perspective that can hold our anxiety about security and want. Jesus uses two illustrations from the natural world to explore this deeper imagination. He asks his followers to consider the way of the birds and to contemplate the beauty of flowers as an antidote for worry and an invitation to reconsider our notion of security. Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns… Observe the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin.

Where I live, we can have very strong winds coming off the bay. When we do, which is quite often, I get to watch the most spectacular array of eagles, gulls, ravens, and hawks coasting on the thermals. They are not in a hurry to get anywhere; they are content to be blown by the wind, even tossed about and blown off course; they do not appear to be consumed by any other task than to be carried by the wind. I don’t see the birds around my house and in my yard losing their feathers or wringing their wings in anguish over finding food—even though they have no guarantee of their next meal. They do not operate out of a sense of scarcity even though they are completely dependent upon their environment for provision and care. In the same way, the variety, intricacy, and beauty of flowers and plants is not gained by striving after those attributes, or as Jesus says by “toil or spinning.”

And Jesus asks us to consider their ways. We, who worry, are tempted to be driven by fear—a fear that drives the relentless accumulation of resources or a fear that tells us we are not enough. Jesus asks, are you not worth more than the birds? Will God not so array you as the flowers are arrayed? Jesus says, look to the ways of the birds and the flowers and see a different imagination, a way of being in the world that is motivated by trust. Such trust arises from faith and dependence upon the God who provides for the birds, and the flowers, and for all of the creation.

The call to an imagination that takes its cues from the birds and the flowers comes from one who was not removed or protected from a world that invoked fear and anxiety. Instead, Jesus entered into that world of scarcity and want, of fear and anxiety. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was in distress to the point of death and like Stossel described of his own anxiety, he was profoundly sweating to the point that it was like drops of blood.(4) Out of this distress, he cried out to God to deliver him from those who would betray and crucify him. And in his Sermon, he reminds his listeners that each day has enough trouble of its own. In the midst of that trouble, Jesus tells his followers that God knows what we need. Like the birds and the flowers—both of which are completely dependent upon an environment that can bring scarcity or abundance—Jesus issues a call to surrender to trust in the One who will provide.

In fact, Jesus suggests, surrender is the only viable option, for he reminds his listeners that we cannot add a single year to our lives by worrying. In fact, we likely lose years of our lives by worrying. And here is another invitation from the birds and the flowers: theirs is an existence completely centered in the present moment. And with a kingdom imagination, it is a present filled with opportunities and possibility. Seek first the kingdom, Jesus says, and all these things will be added to you.

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

(1) Stossel, Scott. Surviving Anxiety. The Atlantic Monthly, January/February 2014.
(2) Matthew 5-7.  See Matthew 6:25-34.
(3) Matthew 6:23.
(4) See Matthew 26:37-38; Mark 14:33-34; Luke 22:44.

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Joyce Meyer – Obey the Word

 

But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth]. — James 1:22 (AMPC)

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

A woman who attended one of my seminars had a lot of emotional wounds that left her insecure and fearful. She desperately wanted to be free, but nothing seemed to work. At the conclusion of the seminar, she told me that she now understood why she had never experienced any progress.

She said, “Joyce, I sat with a group of ladies who all had a lot of the same problems that I did. Step-by-step, God had been delivering them. As I listened to them, I heard them say, ‘God led me to do this, and I did it. Then He led me to another thing, and I did it.’ I realized that God had also told me to do the same things. The only difference was they did what He said to do, and I didn’t.”

To receive from God what He’s promised us in His Word, we must obey the Word. There will be times when doing what the Word says is not easy. Obeying the Word requires consistency and diligence. There must be a dedication and commitment to do the Word whatever the outcome. “Yes,” you may say, “but I’ve been doing the Word for a long time, and I still don’t have the victory!” Then do it some more. Nobody knows exactly how long it’s going to take for the Word to begin to work, but if you keep at it, sooner or later it will work.

I know it’s a fight. I know Satan does everything in his power to keep you out of the Word and to keep you from putting the Word into practice. I also know that once you start putting the Word into practice, he does everything he can to make you think it won’t work. That’s why it’s so important to keep at it. Ask God to give you a desire to get into His Word, and the ability to do it no matter how long it takes to produce results in your life, and He will come through for you.

Prayer Starter: Father, please give me the desire to stay in Your Word, and give me the power to keep at it until I see the breakthrough You have for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Maintains the Seasons

 

“As long as the earth remains there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night” (Genesis 8:22).

On his way to a country church one Sunday morning, a preacher was overtaken by one of his deacons.

“What a bitterly cold morning,” the deacon remarked. “I am sorry the weather is so wintry.”

Smiling, the minister replied, “I was just thanking God for keeping His Word.”

“What do you mean?” the man asked with a puzzled look on his face.

“Well,” the preacher said, “more than 3,000 years ago God promised that cold and heat should not cease, so I am strengthened by this weather which emphasizes the sureness of His promises.”

It is most reassuring to realize that we serve a God who keeps His promises, for He is the same God who makes possible the supernatural life for the believer. Part of that supernatural life is the ability to accept our lot in life, to be able to say with the psalmist:

“This is the day the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24, KJV).

“Springtime and harvest” reminds us that as we sow the seed of the Word of God, He is faithful to give the increase – in His own good time. He simply asks and expects that we be faithful in our part, which is to give out His Word – to plant – at every possible opportunity.

The Christian who lives the supernatural life is enabled by the Holy Spirit to rejoice under all circumstances and to interpret every problem, adversity, heartache and sorrow in a positive light.

Bible Reading: Genesis 8:15-21

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will give thanks to the Lord for His faithfulness, no matter what the circumstances. I will faithfully plant the Word of God today whenever and wherever possible, realizing that our faithful God will produce the promised harvest.

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – It’s a Shaky World

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

It’s a shaky world out there.  Could you use some unshakable hope?  We live in a day of despair.  The suicide rate in America has increased 24 percent since 1999. How do we explain the increase?  We’ve never been more educated.  We’re saturated with entertainment and recreation.  Yet more people than ever are orchestrating their own deaths.  How could this be?

Among the answers must be that people are dying for lack of hope. Secularism reduces the world to a few decades between birth and hearse.  Many believe this world is as good as it gets.  But people of the promise have an advantage.  They are like Abraham who didn’t ask skeptical questions.  He plunged into the promise and came up strong.  (Romans 4:20 MSG)  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 – Speaker Pelosi tears up the president’s speech: Three biblical responses to the divisions in our nation

Yesterday was unusually chaotic even for American politics.

Democratic Party officials announced partial results from the Iowa caucuses at 5 p.m. EST showing Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders in the lead. Their statement came nearly a full day after the results were delayed due to reporting issues. Four hours later, President Trump began his State of the Union address.

He became only the second president to do so while under impeachment. The atmosphere in the room was unusually tense and partisan.

The president handed copies of his speech to Vice President Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She extended her hand, but he turned away without shaking it. She then introduced him, but not with the customary, “Members of Congress, I have the high privilege and distinct honor of presenting to you the president of the United States.” Instead, she said simply, “Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States.”

During the speech, the president honored a Tuskegee Airman and his grandson who intends to become an astronaut. He welcomed home a soldier who reunited with his family for the first time in months. The speech recounted remarkable economic good news and called on Congress to make progress on a variety of fronts.

Then, at the conclusion of the speech, the Speaker of the House stood, took her copy of the address, and tore it in two. She said later that she destroyed the speech “because it was the courteous thing to do considering the alternatives.” She added that she was “trying to find one page with truth on it” but “couldn’t.”

My purpose in responding today is emphatically not to advance a partisan agenda. I would offer the same response to last night’s divisiveness if the president were a Democrat and the House Speaker a Republican.

In such a bitterly divided culture, my purpose today is to consider biblical ways to deal with disagreements as a nation and as individuals.

One: Honor the position if not the person 

First, we must honor the position even if we disagree with the person.

Peter instructed us: “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good” (1 Peter 2:13–14). Paul agreed: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1).

Note that the emperor to whom they referred was Nero, one of the most despotic tyrants in Roman history.

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