Charles Stanley – Is God Always Good?

 

Romans 11:33-36

Because God’s thoughts are so much higher than ours, we don’t always see His goodness in painful situations. We ask, If God is good, why do bad things happen to us? Or, Why is there a hell? We forget that His perspective is superior to ours (Job 42:1-5). Then we accuse Him of being unjust, ask Him to bend to our rules, and disregard His goodness.

Suffering and heartache began when Adam and Eve doubted God’s goodness. The serpent convinced them the Lord was trying to cheat them out of knowledge. How often do we have the same bitter feeling? Yet, behind every one of the Lord’s restrictions, exhortations, or commands is His goodness. He wants to protect us from the tormenting consequences of sin.

God created us with free will so we might choose to love Him—and that means His permissive will may allow bad things to happen. Sin’s consequences hurt , but this doesn’t diminish God’s goodness: For those who love Him, He can bring good out of the worst circumstances (Rom. 8:28).

If you can’t trace God’s hand or discern what He’s doing in difficult situations, remember that He cares for you and He is good. Though we may not understand His ways, we can trust them.

Bible in One Year: 2 Samuel 7-9

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Good Man

 

Bible in a Year:

By grace you have been saved, through faith—and that is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.

Ephesians 2:8

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Romans 3:10–18

“Jerry was a good man,” the pastor said at Jerald Stevens’ memorial service. “He loved his family. He was faithful to his wife. He served his country in the armed services. He was an excellent dad and grandfather. He was a great friend.”

But then the pastor went on to tell the friends and family gathered that Jerry’s good life and good deeds were not enough to assure him a place in heaven. And that Jerry himself would have been the first to tell them that!

Jerry believed these words from the Bible: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and “the wages of sin is death” (6:23). Jerry’s final and eternal destination in life’s journey was not determined by whether he lived a really good life but entirely by Jesus—the perfect Son of God—dying in his place to pay sin’s penalty. He believed that each of us must personally accept the free gift of God, which is “eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (v. 23).

Jerry was a good man, but he could never be “good enough.” Watch Rasool Berry’s “Jesus, the Good Man” devotional video. He, like us, had to learn that salvation and righteousness aren’t the results of human effort. They’re gifts by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8).

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).

By:  Cindy Hess Kasper

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Enveloping Darkness

Someone told me recently that he wondered if humans only truly ever pray when we are in the midst of despair. Despite creed or confession, is it only when we have no other excuses to offer, no other comfort to hide behind, no more façades to uphold, that we are most likely to bow in exhaustion and be real with God and ourselves? “For most of us,” writes C.S. Lewis, “the prayer in Gethsemane is the only model.” In our distress, we stand before God as we truly are: creatures in need hope and mercy.

The words within the ancient Hebrew story of Jonah that are of most interest to me are words that in some ways seem not to fit in the story at all.(1) Interrupting a narrative that quickly draws in its hearers, a narrative about Jonah, the text very fleetingly pauses to bring us the voice of Jonah himself in his own words before returning again to the narrative. The eight lines come in the form of a distraught and despairing, though poetic prayer of desperation. And while it is true that the poem could be entirely omitted without affecting the coherence of the story, the deliberate jaunt in the narrative text seems to provide a moment of significant commentary to the whole. The eight verses of poetry not only mark an abrupt shift in the tone of the text, but also in the attitude of its main character who has been swallowed up by despair and darkness. The poetic words of the prophet, spoken as a cry of deliverance, arise from within the belly of the great fish that has swallowed him. It is a stirring image reminiscent of another despairing soul’s question: O Lord, cries the psalmist: Where can I flee from your presence? If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me.

Jonah’s eloquent prayer for deliverance stands out in a book that is detailed with this prophet’s egotistic mantras and glaring self-deceptions. By his own actions, Jonah finds himself in darkness, and yet it is in the dark that he speaks most honestly to God. The story is vaguely familiar to many hearers, and yet memory often seems to minimize the distress that breaks Jonah’s silence with God. The popular notion that Jonah went straight from the side of the ship into the mouth of the fish is not supported by either the narrative as a whole or Jonah’s prayer. As one theologian suggests, “[Jonah] was half drowned before he was swallowed. If he was still conscious, sheer dread would have caused him to faint—notice that there is no mention of the fish in his prayer. He can hardly have known what caused the change from wet darkness to an even greater dry darkness. When he did regain consciousness, it would have taken some time to realize that the all-enveloping darkness was not that of Sheol but of a mysterious safety.”(2)

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Enveloping Darkness

Joyce Meyer – A Great Big Happy Life

 

…It is more blessed (makes one happier and more to be envied) to give than to receive.— Acts 20:35 (AMPC)

 

Adapted from the resource Trusting God Day by Day – by Joyce Meyer

Since being good to people has become one of my personal goals, my ” joy tank” never runs dry for very long. I’ve even discovered that when I do get sad or discouraged, I can begin to think on purpose about what I can do for someone else, and before long I’m feeling better.

You might have heard the verse, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35 NKJV). The Amplified Bible says it this way: “It is more blessed (makes one happier and more to be envied) to give than to receive.” You may know that verse, but do you really believe it? If you do, then you’re probably doing your best to be a blessing everywhere you go. For a long time, I could quote this verse, but I obviously didn’t believe it because I spent my time trying to be blessed rather than looking to bless others.

I’ve now learned that we don’t really know what joy is until we forget about ourselves, start focusing on others, and become generous givers. To be generous, we need to do more than just toss some change in a bucket during the holidays or give to our church once a week. Giving on Sunday should simply be practice for the way we live our everyday lives outside the four walls of the church. I don’t want to just give offerings; I want to be a giver. I want to offer myself every day to God for whatever He might need me to do. It took me a long time to develop this attitude, though! Over many years, I had to tell myself thousands of times, “I love people, and I enjoy helping people.” If you’ll put it into practice, this thought will change your life.

As you become a generous giver, you’ll be amazed at how happy you are and how much more you enjoy life! If you want to be like God, always go the extra mile, always give more than enough, and always be generous.

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me be more intentional to love, serve and give generously. Thank You for showing me how to bless people today! In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Fair in Everything

 

“The Lord is fair in everything He does, and full of kindness. He is close to all who call on Him sincerely” (Psalm 145:17,18).

Are you afraid to trust the Lord? I find that many people who have had unfortunate experiences in their youth with their parents, especially their fathers, have a reluctance to trust God.

In my talks with thousands of students, I have found a number of young people who have such an attitude problem.

Even the best of earthly parents, at times, are unfair and fail to demonstrate kindness. Yet how wonderful it is to know that our Lord is fair in everything He does and is full of kindness, and He is always close to all who call upon Him sincerely.

Notice that the Scripture promise quoted above is a categorical statement. The psalmist permits no exceptions, even when we are sure we deserved better than we received. Thus we need to claim the promise in God’s Word by faith and live by it. Some day we will see events from God’s side and recognize the fairness we could not see here.

We often see “as in a glass darkly,” but God has perfect 20/20 vision. That’s why the attitude of trust alone will help us overcome our feelings that God or the world, is unfair. Only then can we live a supernatural life of daily acceptance of what God sends our way.

Bible Reading: Psalm 145:8-12

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Today I will put my trust in God and His goodness, no matter how I feel. I will move beyond preoccupation with my disappointments and carry out God’s appointments in the certainty that our Lord is fair in everything He does and will enable me to live supernaturally as I continue to trust and obey Him.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – The Problem with Unresolved Guilt

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

What kind of person does unresolved guilt create? An anxious one, forever hiding, running, denying, pretending. As one man admitted, “I was always living a lie for fear someone might see me for who I really was and think less of me.  I hid behind my super spirituality but this lie was exhausting and anxiety producing.”

Unresolved guilt will turn you into a miserable, weary, angry, fretful mess.  In a psalm David wrote after his affair with Bathsheba, the kind said, “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.  Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.  My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.”  (Psalm 32:3-4)

As Paul told Titus, God’s grace is the fertile soil out of which courage sprouts! “God’s readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation’s available for everyone!” (Titus 2:11, 15 MSG).

Read more Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

 

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Denison Forum – ‘We are beginning to see the glimmers of progress’: A Holy Monday invitation to the cleansing power of Jesus

Vice President Mike Pence said last night, “We are beginning to see the glimmers of progress” in the fight to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the US and around the world. I watched the press conference and was also encouraged by Dr. Deborah Birx, the US coronavirus coordinator. She reported on hopeful signs from Spain and Italy, “where we see, finally, new cases and deaths declining.” As she said, “It’s giving us hope of what our future could be.”

All this because more people than ever are practicing social distancing. However, stay-at-home orders are also affecting many people in damaging ways. Some cities in China are reporting record-high divorce rates after stay-at-home orders were lifted. Pornography consumption rates in the US are up. Isolation is challenging those in recovery from other addictions as well.

This Holy Week, we will focus each day on what Jesus did that day on his way to Calvary and the resurrection. What does Holy Monday say to us as we are socially distancing on a level unprecedented in our lifetimes?

“Hosanna to the Son of David!” 

Our Lord entered Jerusalem triumphantly on Palm Sunday (Mark 11:1–10), then spent the night in Bethany (vv. 11–12). On Holy Monday, he cursed a barren fig tree as a symbol of the “fruitless” nation of Israel (vv. 12–14; cf. Jeremiah 8:13; Micah 7:1). He next drove moneychangers from the temple (Mark 11:15–18).

Then “the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them” (Matthew 21:14). He received the praise of children “crying out in the temple, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’” (v. 15), despite the indignation of the chief priests and scribes (vv. 15–16). Then, “leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there” (v. 17).

Let’s focus today on Jesus’ cleansing of the temple. Five financial functions took place there during Holy Week, each of which incurred our Lord’s wrath.

Five reasons Jesus cleansed the temple 

People came to Jerusalem for Passover “from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). Since there were no banks along the way, they had to bring the money they would need to finance their trip to Jerusalem and back. (Some stayed in the Holy City for fifty days until Pentecost, which made their trip even more expensive; cf. Acts 2:5–11).

Three financial functions were performed at the temple which carried their own Greek designation but are translated into the same English term: money-changers.

One: Foreign coins had to be changed into local currency, which was the function of the kollybistes (the “money-changers” of Matthew 21:12).

Two: Travelers would typically bring large denominations of money for ease of transport, which had to be converted into smaller coins. This was the function of the kermatistes, (the “money-changers” of John 2:14).  Continue reading Denison Forum – ‘We are beginning to see the glimmers of progress’: A Holy Monday invitation to the cleansing power of Jesus