Charles Stanley – Overwhelmed by Problems

 

2 Timothy 1:1-9

Job described the human condition with these words: “Man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). This was certainly the situation for Timothy, a young pastor trying to protect the church from persecution and false doctrine. And as a result, he was becoming discouraged and found his passion waning.

Things are no different today, right? Overwhelming troubles can cause us to grow weak and lose our zeal for God, His Word, and prayer. The solution for us today is the same one Paul gave Timothy all those years ago. The apostle reminded his protégé that “God has not given us a spirit of timidity but of power and love and discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

The path to spiritual revival is found in the very things we are sometimes reluctant to do—praying and reading the Word. When we read Scripture, our mind is renewed with God’s truth, and we draw comfort, strength, and courage from His promises and unfailing love. Through prayer and submission, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to endure afflictions with hope and joy in Christ. So instead of yielding to despair, let God use your troubles to rekindle your spiritual life.

Bible in One Year: 2 Kings 1-3

 

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Our Daily Bread — A World of Provision

 

Bible in a Year:

There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number.

Psalm 104:25

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 104:10–18, 24–26

It’s 2 a.m. when Nadia, a farmer of sea cucumbers, walks into a roped-off pen in the ocean shallows near her Madagascar village to harvest her “crop.” The early hour doesn’t bother her. “Life was very hard before I started farming,” she says. “I didn’t have any source of income.” Now, as a member of a marine-protection program called Velondriake, meaning “to live with the sea,” Nadia sees her income growing and stabilizing. “We thank God that this project appeared,” she adds.

It appeared in large part because God’s creation provided what their project needs—a natural supply of sea life. In praise of our providing God, the psalmist wrote, “He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate” (Psalm 104:14). As well, “there is the sea . . . teeming with creatures beyond number—living things both large and small” (v. 25).

It’s a wonder, indeed, how God’s wondrous creation also provides for us. The humble sea cucumber, for example, helps form a healthy marine food chain. Careful harvesting of sea cucumbers, in turn, grants Nadia and her neighbors a living wage.

Nothing is random in God’s creation. He uses it all for His glory and our good. Thus, “I will sing to the Lord all my life,” says the psalmist (v. 33). We too can praise Him today as we ponder all that He provides.

By:  Patricia Raybon

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – NEW CREATION

An important manuscript long thought lost was rediscovered hiding in a Pennsylvania seminary on a forgotten archival shelf. The recovered manuscript was a working score for a piano version of Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Grosse Fuge,” which means “grand fugue.” Apparently, grand is an understatement. The work is known as a monument of classical music and described by historians as a “symphonic poem” or a “leviathan”—an achievement on the scale of the finale of his Ninth Symphony. The work is one of the last pieces Beethoven composed, during the period when he was completely deaf. The markings throughout the manuscript are in the composer’s own hand.

In fact, such markings are a particular trademark of Beethoven, who was known for his near obsessive editing. Unlike Mozart, who typically produced large scores in nearly finished form, Beethoven’s mind was so full of ideas that it was never made up. Never satisfied, he honed his ideas brutally.

A look at the recovered score portrays exactly that. Groups of measures throughout the 80-page manuscript are furiously canceled out with cross-marks. Remnants of red sealing wax, used to adhere long corrections to an already scuffed up page, remain like scars. There are smudges where he rubbed away ink while it was still wet and abrasions where he erased notes with a needle. Dated changes and omissions are scattered throughout the score, many of these markings dating to the final months before his death in 1827.

I think there is something encouraging about the labored work of an artist chasing after genius. Beethoven wrestled notes onto the page. For him, composing music was a messy, physical process. Ink was splattered, wax burned, erasers wore holes in the paper. What started as a clean page became a muddled, textured mess of a masterpiece ever being finished.

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Joyce Meyer – A Tree with No Fruit

 

And he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up. — Matthew 21:19 (NLT)

Adapted from the resource Power Thoughts Devo – by Joyce Meyer

When a fig tree has leaves, it usually also has fruit under the leaves. One day Jesus saw the leaves on a fig tree and went to it for something to eat because He was hungry. When He saw that it had leaves but no fruit, He cursed it, and I believe He cursed it because it was a phony.

Our words and actions should bear good fruit (see Matthew 7:15–20). If we appear to have good fruit, it’s important that we actually have it because people will be watching us. They’ll want to see if we have the real, genuine fruit of God’s presence in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (see Galatians 5:22-23).

God has chosen us to be His ambassadors (see 2 Corinthians 5:20), and we represent Him well when there’s good fruit in our lives. It isn’t enough just to have a Jesus sticker on our cars or a cross hanging around our neck to display our Christianity—we must have the fruit to back it up.

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me to cultivate and produce good fruit in my life so I can represent You well to those around me. Thank You for new opportunities and grace to show Your love to people today. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – We Need the Word

 

“And you will need the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit – which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).

In my own life, as I have come to know God better and to live more fully in the power and control of the Holy Spirit, my daily devotional Bible reading and study is not a duty or a chore, but a blessing; not an imposition on my time, but an invitation to fellowship in the closest of all ways with our holy, heavenly Father and our wonderful Savior and Lord.

Remember, God delights to have fellowship with us. The success of our studying God’s Word and of prayer is not to be determined by some emotional experience which we may have (though this frequently will be our experience), but by the realization that God is pleased that we want to know Him enough to spend time with Him in Bible study and prayer.

Here are some important, practical suggestions for your individual devotional reading and study of the Bible:

  1. Begin with a prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you an understanding of God’s Word.
  2. Keep a Bible study notebook.
  3. Read the text slowly and carefully; then reread and take notes.
  4. Find out the true meaning of the text. Ask yourself:
    (a) Who or what is the main subject?
    (b) Of whom or what is the writer speaking?
    (c) What is the key verse?
    (d) What does the passage teach you about Jesus Christ?
    (e) Does it bring to light personal sin that you need to confess and forsake?
    (f) Does it contain a command for you to obey?
    (g) Does it give a promise you can claim?
  5. List practical applications, commands, promises.
  6. Memorize the Scriptures – particularly key verses.
  7. Obey the commands and follow the instructions you learn in God’s Word.

Bible Reading: II Timothy 3:14-17

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  With His help, I will begin to make time in God’s Word – quality time – a priority in my life.

 

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Max Lucado – Ask Your Father for Help

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

In his fine book, The Dance of Hope, Bill Frey remembers the day he tried to pull a stump out of the Georgia dirt.  One of his chores as a twelve-year-old was to search for stumps of pine trees that had been cut down and chop them into kindling.  But there was one root system he just couldn’t pull out of the ground.  He was still struggling when his father came over to watch.

“I think I see your problem,” the dad said.  “What’s that?” the son asked.  “You’re not using all your strength.”  Bill exploded and told him how hard he’d been working.  “No,” the dad said, “You’re not using all your strength.”  When Bill cooled down he asked what his father meant, and the dad said, “You haven’t asked me to help you.”  You don’t have to do it alone, friend.  Present the challenge to your Father, and ask for help.  Will he solve the issue?  Yes, he will.

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

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Denison Forum – The ‘three blessings exercise’: The path to gratitude that changes our lives and culture

Have you heard of the “three blessings” exercise?

Yale psychology professor Laurie Santos teaches an online course on happiness that has reached more than a million people. She recommends something called the “three blessings exercise.”

Here’s her explanation: “Research shows that we really can benefit from counting our blessings even when it feels like there aren’t that many blessings to be counted. The simple act of scribbling down three things you’re grateful for can significantly bump your mood, in some studies as quickly as within a couple of weeks. It’s completely free. It takes five to ten minutes a day. At the end of your day, just scribble down a few things that you’re grateful for right now.”

Dr. Santos was asked for “final words of wisdom” and shared this: “If I had a last word to share, it would be self-compassion. It really is an awful time. There’s a reason we’re calling this crisis unprecedented. We’re dealing with a deadly virus that’s incredibly scary and uncertain. . . . Give yourself and your family members more self-compassion and more of a benefit of the doubt than you usually would.”

“Give thanks in all circumstances” 

Counting our blessings even in hard times is a biblical exercise: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). No matter how the world changes, God’s love does not: “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 106:1).

However, there’s a way to experience our Father’s presence that transcends an occasional attitude of gratitude. The psalmist continues: “Who can utter the mighty deeds of the Lord, or declare all his praise?” (v. 2). Then he answers his question: “Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!” (v. 3, my emphasis).

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