Charles Stanley – Courage in the Lonely Hour

 

2 Timothy 4:6-18

Today’s passage is about a painful time in Paul’s life. He sat in a prison cell, knowing that death was coming. After devoting his last years to teaching others and sharing Christ, he now was alone during his trial and imprisonment. Loneliness must have felt overwhelming. But he met the suffering with courage. What gave him the strength to endure?

For the apostle, Christ’s presence offered comfort and motivated him to persevere. He knew God was right there with him in the current moment, and he could also look back on previous situations when the Lord had clearly intervened. Years earlier, for instance, Paul had seen a vision telling him not to fear during a storm at sea. And though the ship ran aground, all of the men survived (Acts 27:14-44).

For those of us who know Jesus Christ as Savior, strength is readily available in His presence. Our heavenly Father promises that He will never abandon His children—even when everyone else has walked away.

If your circumstances leave you feeling lonely, call to mind times when God was evident to you and unmistakably revealed His hand in your life. Then read His Word so the truth of His presence can comfort and encourage you. As a believer, you are truly never alone.

Bible in One Year: Psalm 23-28

 

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Our Daily Bread — How to Rebuild

 

Bible in a Year:

They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.

Nehemiah 2:18

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Nehemiah 2:11–18

It was nighttime when the leader set out by horseback to inspect the work that lay ahead. As he toured the destruction all around him, he saw city walls that had been destroyed and gates that had been burned. In some areas, the vast debris made it tough for his horse to get through. Saddened, the rider turned toward home.

When it came time to report the damage to the officials of the city, he began by saying, “You see the trouble we are in” (Nehemiah 2:17). He reported that the city was in ruins, and the protecting city wall had been rendered useless.

But then he made a statement that energized the troubled citizens: “I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me.” Immediately, the people replied, “Let us start rebuilding” (v. 18).

And they did.

With faith in God and all-out effort, despite enemy opposition and a seemingly impossible task, the people of Jerusalem—under Nehemiah’s leadership—rebuilt the wall in just fifty-two days (6:15).

As you consider your circumstances, is there something that looks difficult but that you know God wants you to do? A sin you can’t seem to get rid of? A relationship rift that’s not God-honoring? A task for Him that looks too hard?

Ask God for guidance (2:4–5), analyze the problem (vv. 11–15), and recognize His involvement (v. 18). Then start rebuilding.

By:  Dave Branon

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – In Critical Care

 

The “doorknob phenomenon” is an occurrence many physicians know well. Doctors can proceed meticulously through complete examinations and medical histories, taking care to hear a patient’s questions and concerns, but it is often in the last thirty seconds of the appointment that the most helpful information is revealed. When a doctor’s hand is on the doorknob, body halfway out the door, vital inquiries are often made; when a patient is nearly outside the office, crucial information is shared almost in passing. Many have speculated as to the reasons behind the doorknob phenomenon (which is perhaps not limited to the field of medicine), though a cure seems unlikely. Until then, words uttered on the threshold remain a valuable entity to the physician.

If I can speak on behalf of patients (perhaps I’ve been a perpetrator of the phenomenon myself), I would note that the doorway marks our last chance to be heard. Whatever the reason for not speaking up until that point—fear, discomfort, shame, denial—we know the criticalness of that moment. In thirty seconds, we will no longer be in the presence of one who might offer healing or hope or change. At the threshold between doctor’s office and daily life, the right words are imperative; time is of the essence.

One of the many names for God used by the writers of the Bible is the Great Physician. It is curious to think of how the doorknob phenomenon might apply. Perhaps there are times in prayer when the prayer feels as if we are moving down sterile lists of conditions and information. Work. Finances. Mom. Jack. Future. Of course, while bringing to God in prayer a laundry list of concerns with repeated perseverance is at times both necessary and helpful, perhaps there are also times when we have silenced the greater diagnosis with the words we have chosen to leave unspoken. Can a physician heal wounds we will not show, symptoms we will not mention, wounds we cannot find the words to explain?

Thankfully, mercifully, yes. The Great Physician can heal wounds one cannot even articulate. Scripture writers speak of a God who hears even our groanings too deep for words. On the other hand, choosing to leave out certain details is hardly helpful before any doctor. Can God begin the work that needs to be done if we won’t really come near as a patient? Is there a cure for those who do not seek it? Mercifully, there is a physician who seeks us.

The ancient prophet Jeremiah once cried, “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? No healing for the wound of my people?” Jeremiah lived during one of the most troublesome periods of Hebrew history. He stood on the threshold between a people sick with rebellion and despair and the great Physician to whom they refused to cry out in honesty.

“I have listened attentively,” the LORD declared, “but they do not say what is right. No one repents of his wickedness, saying, ‘What have I done?’ Each pursues his own course like a horse charging into battle.”(1) His words describe behavior a doctor likely recognizes. A patient who complains of a cough while a fatal wound is bleeding will neither find respite for the cough nor her unspoken pain, and of course, a good physician would not treat the cough until the bleeding has been stopped.

In Jeremiah’s day, as in our own, the promise of a quick and effortless remedy was cunningly presented in many ways. Of these “prophets of deceit” God declared, “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.”(2) There are some promises that are quite easy to stand beside but crumble under the weight of us. To stand in honesty before a physician is more difficult. To stand in honesty with the greatest of Physicians is to submit to a kindness that may undo us. It is to ask to be made well, to be made new, to be made truly human by the Son with human hands, knowing that the way to my remedy rests in his own wounded hands.

The great Christmas hymn places before us this powerful resolution:

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make His blessing flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found.(3)

The woundedness of humanity is serious: cries of injustice, the wounds of racism, despair and lament at cancers around us, the devastating marks of our own failings left shamefully upon others and ourselves. This cannot be bandaged as anything less than a mortal wound. But the threshold is now. Christ comes near. He weeps with us, ready to address the indications of our illness, imparting healing and kindness. In the coming of Christ, God offers a cure extending as far as the wound can ever fester.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) Jeremiah 8:6.
(2) Jeremiah 8:11.
(3) Isaac Watts, Joy to the World, 1719.

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Joyce Meyer – Taking Responsibility for Yourself

 

But they will have to give an account to Him Who is ready to judge and pass sentence on the living and the dead. — 1 Peter 4:5 (AMPC)

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

Many years ago, I had an employer who took advantage of me. He required me to work so many hours that I had virtually no time to spend with my family. I was constantly worn out and never had time for myself. He never showed appreciation and always expected more. If I even mildly indicated that I might not be able to comply with one of his requests, his anger would start to surface, and I would end up caving in and agree to do whatever he had asked.

As I was praying about the situation one day and moaning to God about how unfair it was, He said, “What your boss is doing is wrong, but you not confronting him is just as wrong.” This was hard for me to hear. Like most people, I wanted to blame someone else for my lack of courage. Had I not been a people-pleaser, and had I not been afraid, I would have saved myself about five years of being so stressed that it eventually made me very sick. My boss wasn’t my problem; I was my problem.

It’s important to realize that God has given you authority first and foremost over your own life. If you don’t accept and exercise that authority, you may spend your life blaming others for things you should be doing something about. Your job is to make your own decisions according to what you believe God’s will is for you.

On Judgment Day, God will not ask anyone else to give an account of your life, He will only ask you (see Matthew 12:36; 1 Peter 4:5). What if Jesus were to ask you why you never got around to fulfilling His call on your life? Would you tell Him people took advantage of you your whole life, and you just couldn’t do anything about it? Would you say that you were so busy keeping people happy that you just never got around to pleasing Him? If you did, how do you think He’d respond?

I want to encourage you to take some time today and ask God to show you if there’s anything you need to reevaluate and regain control of in your life. He’s promised to lead, guide and strengthen you, so you can trust that whatever He shows you, He’ll help you overcome (see Isaiah 30:21; 41:10).

Prayer Starter: Father, please show me where I need to grow in taking responsibility for my own life and decisions. Thank You for giving me the wisdom and strength to begin fulfilling the purpose You have for my life. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – We Are Kings

 

“The sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to be king over all, but all who will take God’s gift of forgiveness and acquittal are kings of life because of this one man, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17).

Jack protested angrily, “Why should I be held accountable for the sin of Adam? Why should I be judged and condemned to eternal punishment because of the disobedience of someone who lived centuries ago? I resent that his action should involve me.” I asked my young student friend if he remembered the infamous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor followed by the declaration of war by then President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. “Yes,” he said, “I’m a student of history and I remember that event very well.” I reminded Jack that every able-bodied man who was of age was automatically conscripted to join the United States Army to do battle against Japan. “Yes,” he said, “I know.”

“Don’t you think it unfair, following your logic, that the President of the United States should make a decision that would affect young men like yourself? Remember that tens of thousands of them died on the field of battle. Was that fair?”

“Well,” he replied, “that was the only decision that could be made. We had to protect our homeland. We had been attacked and had to defend ourselves.”

“So it was with Adam,” I explained. “The wisdom of the Almighty Creator was attacked by Satan in the Garden of Eden and the battle was lost when Adam and Eve, the epitome of God’s creation, surrendered to Satan’s tempting lies. God, in His sovereignty, wisdom and grace caused the results of the disobedience of Adam to be borne by the rest of us in the human race. But the judgement of God which demands penalty for sin was intercepted by God’s love. While we were yet in our sins God proved His love for us by sending the Lord Jesus Christ to die for us. Now, through accepting God’s free gift by faith, we can become kings of life because of this one man, Jesus Christ.”

Simply stated, one man, Adam, through his disobedience to God, introduced sin into the world, and one man, Jesus Christ, through his obedience to God, paid the penalty for that sin for all who would believe and trust in Him.

Bible Reading: Romans 5:14-21

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Christ has overcome the sin I inherited from Adam by liberating me from the king of death, and making me a king of light. As an expression of my deep gratitude for His love and grace, I will seek every opportunity to communicate this good news to others who still live in darkness that they, too, may enjoy the abundant supernatural life which I now enjoy.

 

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Max Lucado – The Space of Grace

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Revenge builds a lonely house. Space enough for one person. The lives of its tenants are reduced to one goal: make someone miserable. They do—themselves! Keep a sharp eye out for the weeds of bitter discontent. God’s healing includes a move out of the house of spite, toward the spacious ways of grace, away from hardness toward forgiveness.  Can He really?  you wonder. Can He clean up this mess?  This history of sexual abuse?  This raw anger at the father who left my mother?  Can God heal this ancient hurt in my heart?

Begin the process of forgiveness. Turn your attention away from what they did to you to what Jesus did for you, and stay the course. You’ll spend less time in the spite house and more in the grace house. You’re going to love the space of grace. You’ll 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 – Super Bowl champion stages prayer event in Boston: A question every American should ask

 

Boston Common is one of my favorite places in America. Founded in 1634, it is the oldest park in the United States.

Colonial militia mustered here for the Revolution; George Washington came to the park to celebrate our nation’s independence. In the 1860s, the park was used for Civil War recruitment and antislavery meetings. Victory gardens sprouted during World War I; most of the Common’s iron fencing was donated to the war cause during World War II.

I remember vividly my visit to the Common some years ago. Everywhere I looked, history looked back.

Yesterday, however, the Common looked forward with a message every American needs to hear and a question every American needs to ask.

Boston Pray: Seeking Unity and Justice 

Benjamin Watson played tight end in college. Upon graduation, his Wonderlic score (measuring math, vocabulary, and reasoning) tied for the third highest in National Football League history. He was drafted in the first round by the New England Patriots; his team went on to win Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005. He played sixteen seasons in the NFL.

Watson met his wife through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at the University of Georgia. He has defended the unborn boldly and been outspoken about his faith for many years.

Yesterday, however, his faithful leadership may have been more crucial than ever.

Watson leveraged his influence to sponsor Boston Pray: Seeking Unity and Justice. The event’s Facebook page explained: “As Christians in and around Boston, we are grieved by the recent murders of unarmed African Americans, including George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the systematic oppression of those peoples. We recognize that the underlying sin of racism is plaguing our city and nation.

“This is a crucial time for Christians to come together across boundaries to be a catalytic voice for kindness, justice, and righteousness. All are welcome to join in united prayer, scripture, and song in the Parkman Bandstand of the Boston Common on Sunday, June 14 from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Please wear a mask and take care to physically distance from others, and help us to spread the word!”

I watched the livestreamed service and was deeply impressed. The crowd included African Americans, Anglos, Hispanics, and Asians. They applauded and prayed for the police and local leaders before interceding for our nation. Watson noted that we need awareness, advocacy, and action, then closed by inviting those attending to trust in Christ personally as their Savior.

How to “delight” God 

Watson began yesterday’s service by quoting Jeremiah 9:24: “Let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”

“Steadfast love” is the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek agape, referring to unconditional love. “Justice” points to actions that arise from a just nature. “Righteousness” refers to honest behavior.

As the New American Commentary notes, “These three terms express the very heart of Hebrew religion. They are not only the attributes of God; he delights in those who manifest these same qualities.”

As a result, God “practices” them—the Hebrew means to produce and exercise. He does this “in the earth,” at all times, and in all places with all people without exception.

Now he calls us to do what he does, testifying that “in these things I delight.” He wants us to find ways to love others unconditionally, without regard for their race or any other characteristic. And he wants us to express this love by seeking justice for them and acting honestly with them.

“Two generations from being forgotten” 

Here’s a question every American should ask themselves: What can we do to answer God’s call to inclusive love and racial justice that we could not do before George Floyd’s tragic death?

Benjamin Watson, as a Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots, has an obvious platform in Boston. But if he had called for an hour of prayer and worship before Mr. Floyd’s death, how many people would have taken note? In response to the events of recent weeks, his prophetic leadership has made a profound impact in Boston and around the world.

Like Watson, you and I have been entrusted with influence by our Lord. He holds us responsible for producing “steadfast love, justice, and righteousness” in our culture.

In fact, we will stand before Jesus one day in judgment, where each of us will receive “what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10). On that day, we will learn that all we do to serve others, we do for him (Matthew 25:40).

Benjamin Watson recently declared, “Our ultimate purpose in life is to glorify God.” He suggested, “If you ever think you’re too important, ask your kid about your grandfather, she doesn’t know him. That’s how fast we are here. You are two generations from being forgotten.”

As a result, he noted, it is vital that we realize “we are part of a larger body, globally, internationally, and it’s simply our turn to carry the torch.”

What torch will you carry today?

 

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