Charles Stanley – The Family Influence

 

1 Kings 15:8-34

The environment in which children grow up influences the rest of their life. The family dynamic, particularly parental behavior, impacts their perspective about themselves, others, and the Lord. In today’s reading, for example, consider King Asa, a man in the royal line, who followed in David’s footsteps and pleased God. Now compare his story with that of Nadab, who provoked God’s anger by practicing the same evils as his father, King Jeroboam.

With those men in mind, we must consider what will become of our children if they follow in our ways. We are typically their first example of godly living, which means that they should see us praying, reading God’s Word, and communing with His people. Our families should see us turning to the Lord for strength and comfort whenever a problem or decision confronts us. Kids should see their mom and dad serving friends, neighbors, and enemies alike. And a child should always know by his parents’ actions and speech that Jesus Christ is valued above all else in their life.

If you want your family members to desire God, then you must live according to His will. Your modeling that priority can lead them directly to the ultimate example of true life—Jesus Christ.

Bible in One Year: Job 1-4

 

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Our Daily Bread — Needing His Leading

 

Bible in a Year:

From the ends of the earth I call to you.

Psalm 61:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 61

Uncle Zaki was more than a friend to scholar Kenneth Bailey; he was his trusted guide on challenging excursions into the vast Sahara. By following Uncle Zaki, Bailey says that he and his team were demonstrating their complete trust in him. In essence, they were affirming, “We don’t know the way to where we are going, and if you get us lost we will all die. We have placed our total trust in your leadership.”

In a time of great weariness and heartache, David looked beyond any human guide, seeking direction from the God he served. In Psalm 61:2 we read, “From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” He longed for the safety and relief of being ushered afresh into God’s presence (vv. 3–4).

God’s guidance in life is desperately needed for people the Scriptures describe as sheep that have “gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6). Left to ourselves, we would be hopelessly lost in the desert of a broken world.

But we are not left to ourselves! We have a Shepherd who leads us “beside quiet waters,” refreshes our souls, and guides us (Psalm 23:2–3).

Where do you need His leading today? Call on Him. He will never leave you.

By:  Bill Crowder

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – In Defiance, Hope?

For many Jewish people living after the Holocaust, God’s absence is an ever-present reality. It is as tangible as the concentration camps at Auschwitz and Dachau, and as haunting as the empty chair at a table once occupied with a loved one long-silenced by the gas chambers. In his tragic account of the horror and loss in the camps at Auschwitz, Elie Wiesel intones the cries of many who likewise experienced God’s absence: “It is the end. God is no longer with us….I know that Man is too small, too humble, and inconsiderable to seek to understand the mysterious ways of God. But what can I do? Where is the divine Mercy? Where is God? How can I believe? How can anyone believe in this merciful God?”(1)

This experience of absence, dramatic in its implications for the victims of the Holocaust, has repeated itself over and over again in the ravaged stories of those who struggle to hold on to faith, or those who have lost faith altogether in the face of personal holocaust. In a world where tragedy and suffering are daily realities seemingly unchecked by both local and divine government, the absence of God seems a cruel abdication.

The words of Job, ancient in origin, speak of this same kind of experience:

Behold, I go forward, but He is not there,
And backward, but I cannot perceive Him;
When He acts on the left, I cannot behold Him;
He turns on the right, I cannot see Him.(2)

The story of Job is at least in part a story of the experience of God’s absence. While the narrator of the story and the readers of the story know the beginning and the end, Job finds himself in the silent middle struck down by unjust suffering. His story poignantly explores the silent mystery of a God who seems to go missing in the moments of greatest need. Job’s cries out: “Oh that I knew where I might find Him that I might come to his seat” (Job 23:3). Somehow, Job clings tenaciously to the hope that he will find God, and find a just God in his case. “I am not silenced by the darkness,” Job proclaims, “nor deep gloom which covers me.”

Job’s anguished cries against God’s absence paradoxically assume God’s presence. There is no hint of atheism in his cries. Rather, Job cries out of a tenacious faith in God who seems distant from his pain, silent to his cries, and absent from his world. In the face of his suffering, Job affirms God’s presence by taking issue with the injustice of God’s apparent absence. He longs to plead his case with God as one would with a neighbor.

Surely, Job’s cries represent each and every person who protests God’s apparent abandonment in the midst of suffering and injustice. The current cries of racial injustice emerging from our hurting cities and communities ring with a similar weariness: How long, O LORD? As one author notes, “In a roundabout way, man’s indignant protest against God’s silence would be deprived of meaning if there were no Presence behind the Silence.”(3) And here, an unexpectedly encouraging apologetic is found in this paradox.

C.S. Lewis suggests that “the defiance…hurled at an apparently ruthless and idiotic cosmos is really an unconscious homage to something in or behind that cosmos which he recognizes as infinitely valuable and authoritative: for if mercy and justice were really only private whims of his own with no objective and impersonal roots, and if he realized this, he could not go on being indignant. The fact that he arraigns heaven itself for disregarding them means that at some level of his mind he knows they are enthroned in a higher heaven still.”(4)

Lewis goes on to argue that this is, in fact, a central offering from the book of Job. While no explanation of the problem of God’s absence in the face of unjust suffering is given, Job’s wrestling with God ultimately receives divine approval. Indeed, Job’s righteous friends who attempt to explain away Job’s pain and justify God are actually condemned. Lewis concludes: “Apparently the way to advance from our imperfect apprehension of justice to the absolute justice is not to throw our imperfect apprehensions aside but boldly to go on applying them.”(5)

In this season of uncertainty as we grope in the darkness of our own imperfect apprehension of God and all that is happening in the world, and as we wrestle with God’s absence as Job did, we might come to experience the presence of God in a different way. For it is also the season of Pentecost, where we remember the movement of the Spirit who changed the world by changing the hearts and minds of a handful of disciples. Perhaps we too might proclaim with Job: “I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye has seen you.”(6)

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

 

(1) Elie Wiesel, The Night Trilogy: Night, Dawn, The Accident (New York: Hill and Wang, 1972), 83.
(2) Job 23:8-9.
(3) Gary Henry, “Story and Silence: Transcendence in the Work of Elie Wiesel,” Public Broadcasting System, www.pbs.org, 2002.
(4) C.S. Lewis, “De Futilitate,” in Christian Reflections (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967), 69-70, cited by Gary Henry in “Story and Silence: Transcendence in the Work of Elie Wiesel,” appendix.
(5) Ibid., 69-70.

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Joyce Meyer – The Joy of Believing

 

May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope. — Romans 15:13 (AMPC)

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

I remember an evening when I was feeling extremely frustrated and discontented. I had no peace or joy, and I felt absolutely miserable. Then I read Romans 15:13, and it was indeed “a word in season” for me (see Isaiah 50:4).

As I was reading, I realized my problem was simple: I was doubting instead of believing. I was doubting God’s unconditional love, doubting that I could hear from Him, doubting His call on my life, doubting that He was pleased with me. I was filled with doubt . . . doubt . . . doubt.

When I saw the problem, I decided to step back into faith and out of doubt. My joy and peace returned immediately. Ever since, I’ve found the same thing to be true again and again in my life. When joy and peace seem to be gone, I check my believing—usually it’s gone also. But when I choose to believe the truth of God’s Word over my feelings, His joy comes rushing back.

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me be mindful to stay in a position of faith. Thank You for giving me the grace to believe truth over my feelings, and for being my hope! In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Life-giving Fruit

 

“Godly men are growing a tree that bears life-giving fruit, and all who win souls are wise” (Proverbs 11-30).

“The monument I want after I am dead,” said Dwight L. Moody, “is a monument with two legs going around the world – a saved sinner telling about the salvation of Jesus Christ.”

When a young minister asked the Duke of Wellington whether he did not consider it useless to attempt to evangelize India, the Iron Duke sternly replied:

“What are your marching orders, sir?”

No doubt one of Satan’s greatest weapons of deceit in the world today is that of procrastination. Tomorrow I am going to become a soul-winner. Next month, after an evangelistic training program, I will become a great witness. As soon as I finish seminary or Bible college, I’ll begin sharing the good news of the gospel.

But “today is the day of salvation, now is the accepted time,” declares the Word of God. Sensitivity to God’s Holy Spirit – dwelling within to give me supernatural ability – will enable me to tell others what Christ means to me, and what He has done for me.

In God’s economy, the truly wise person, is that one who is redeeming the time, buying up every opportunity to share his faith, refusing to put off that which he knows should become a natural, every-day, moment-by-moment part of his life. Wonder of wonders, God even promises to put the very words in our mouths, if we ask Him, as we go in His name.

Bible Reading: II Corinthians 5:11-17

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will do what God leads me to do this day to bear life-giving fruit.

 

 

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Max Lucado – Your Pain for a Higher Purpose

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

God promises, “When you pass through the waters, I’ll be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, nor will the flame scorch you.” (Isaiah 43:2)  Will your unhappy marriage become happy in a heartbeat? Well not likely.  Does God guarantee the absence of struggle?  Not in this life.  But He does pledge to reweave your pain for a higher purpose.

It won’t be quick.  Joseph was 17 years old when his brothers abandoned him.  He was 37 when he saw them again.  Another year passed before he saw his father.  Sometimes God takes His time.  But remember thatmyou are a version of Joseph in your generation.  His story is in the Bible for this reason: to teach us to trust God to trump evil.  And what Satan intends for evil, God redeems for good.  You will get through this.

Read more You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Turbulent Times

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – National Guard responds in Washington, DC: Three explanations for the crisis and Jesus’ solution that changes everything

I have never felt less qualified to write a Daily Article than I do this morning.

I am a white person who has never faced a single moment of racial discrimination in my sixty-one years of life. As a result, I cannot pretend to understand what it is like to be unfairly treated because of the color of my skin.

I grew up in a middle-class community. As a result, I cannot understand what it is like to despair of a better financial future.

I have never been treated unfairly by the criminal justice system. As a result, I cannot understand what it is like to fear the police and the courts.

I do not own or work at a business affected by the violence of recent days. As a result, I cannot understand what it is like to see my dreams and future destroyed in response to a tragic death in Minneapolis for which I am not at fault.

Fortunately, I do not write the Daily Article to offer my personal opinions. My mission is to help us interpret the news of the day in cultural and biblical context. This morning, I will draw on expert guides to help us do both.

Three explanations 

As I wrote last week, the death of George Floyd on Memorial Day was a horrible tragedy. Our Father hates racism and demands that we value each other as he loves us (Genesis 1:28; Galatians 3:28).

Last night, cities across America saw a sixth evening of mass demonstrations following Mr. Floyd’s death. The entire Washington, DC, National Guard was called in to respond to protests outside the White House and elsewhere in the nation’s capital. A tanker truck drove through thousands of people who were marching on a Minneapolis highway, though none of the protesters was injured. At least forty cities have imposed curfews.

Writing for Bloomberg Opinion, John Authers examines the way Americans are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, I believe his insights apply just as perceptively to the crisis unfolding across our country after George Floyd’s tragic death. Authers utilizes the work of British political philosopher Steven Lukes to describe three schools of thought at work in our society. Each of them helps explain the unrest embroiling our cities.

Utilitarians seek the greatest good for the greatest number. This is the impulse behind majority-rule democracy. However, this approach can put minority populations at risk, a fact experienced by many racial minorities across our nation’s history.

Communitarians want us to do what advances the “common good” within our community. But when your community’s common good conflicts with mine, what do we do? Some are justifying the violence of recent days as necessary to effect change, even if minority-owned and operated businesses are among the victims of such violence. In this view, previous calls for change have gone unheeded, requiring an escalating response that causes majority populations to feel the pain of minority victims.

Libertarians insist that individual freedom is paramount. But as Authers notes, when citizens are left alone, “many are left to sleep on the street, city centers are full of sleaze, and a few rich people benefit from gambling.”

Each of these viewpoints is foundational to American society. Can they be reconciled? According to Isaiah Berlin, the twentieth-century British philosopher and essayist, the answer is no.

Responses to George Floyd’s death are making his point. Some minorities feel they must demonstrate in large numbers to bring about change with the utilitarian majority. Some are willing to march (and some even to perpetuate violence) in other communities to make themselves heard. Many are protesting the libertarian lack of resources and compassion for people in need.

Jesus’ solution 

I began today’s Daily Article by admitting that I do not know what it is like to experience racial discrimination, face systemic poverty, encounter injustice, or suffer as an innocent victim of violence.

But Jesus does.

He lived his life as a Jew under Roman occupation. He was so impoverished that he “nowhere to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). After his arrest, he was subjected to what has been called “the most unjust trial in human history.” He suffered and died in innocence (Isaiah 53:9; Hebrews 4:15), atoning for sins he did not commit to purchase our salvation (Romans 5:8).

As a result, Jesus has the moral authority to speak to this crisis in a way I do not. For the next few days, we’ll discuss his example and teachings as we seek his guidance together.

For today, let’s consider the single sentence that is often considered his foundational ethical principle: “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). This one maxim provides a way forward through the scourge of racism and violence in our day. And it reconciles the utilitarian, communitarian, and libertarian conflicts so endemic to our culture.

Consider: If every person did to others what they would want to be done to them, would racial prejudice exist? Or police brutality? Or violent responses?

Would a single person have ever been enslaved in this land or any other? Would even one of the 40.3 million people enslaved in the world today be victims?

Would the majority oppress the minority? Would members of one community oppress members of another? Would a single individual be left to face our fallen world alone?

My commitment 

I cannot force another person to choose Jesus’ rule for living, but I can choose it for myself. I can seek the most strategic, significant ways to use my influence in its service. I can pray for divine help as I love every person I meet as I want them to love me, modeling Jesus’ transformational love for us all.

This is my commitment today. Will you join me?

 

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