Charles Stanley – A Pattern for Servanthood

 

John 13:1-17

Jesus told His disciples, “Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant” (Matt. 20:26). In Bible times, the lowest servant of the house washed dusty feet. So the disciples must have been surprised when Jesus performed this humble task for them. He explained His shocking behavior by saying, “If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14).

Based on those words, many churches have turned foot washing into an ordinance; they believe that this act shows Christlikeness and demonstrates willingness to serve. Perhaps that’s true for some believers, but many perform the ceremony by rote. Jesus’ message to the disciples and to modern believers is not literally to wash dirty feet, but rather to serve one another with humility and love.

True servanthood is not a popular topic because many people regard it as beneath them. But God wants us to see ourselves as living sacrifices. To serve the Lord well, we must be willing do whatever He asks for whomever He asks. Our Christlikeness is evident when we love God and others so much that we willingly humble ourselves for their sake.

Jesus performed one of the lowliest tasks of His day to demonstrate His servanthood. What are you willing to do for Him?

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 31-35

 

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Touch the Needy

 

Bible in a Year:

He put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

Luke 13:13

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Luke 13:10–17

It wasn’t surprising when Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize. True to form, she received the award “in the name of the hungry, of the naked, of the homeless, of the blind, of the lepers, of all those who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society.” Those were the people she ministered to for most of her life.

Jesus modeled how to care for and love the marginalized, regardless of circumstances. Unlike the synagogue leaders who respected the Sabbath law more than the sick (Luke 13:14), when Jesus saw an ill woman at the temple, He was moved with compassion. He looked beyond the physical impairment and saw God’s beautiful creation in bondage. He called her to Him and said she was healed. Then He “put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God” (v. 13). By touching her, He upset the leader of the synagogue because it was the Sabbath. Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath (Luke 6:5), compassionately chose to heal the woman—a person who had faced discomfort and humiliation for nearly two decades.

I wonder how often we see someone as undeserving of our compassion. Or maybe we’ve experienced rejection because we didn’t meet somebody else’s standard. May we not be like the religious elite who cared more about rules than fellow humans. Instead, let’s follow Jesus’ example and treat others with compassion, love, and dignity.

By:  Estera Pirosca Escobar

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Alienation and Embrace

Vincenzo Ricardo. If that name does not mean much to you, you are not alone. It does not seem to have meant much to anyone else except, perhaps, him who bore it. In fact it was not even his name. His real name was Vincenzo Riccardi, and nobody seemed to get it right after the sensational discovery of his mummified body in Southampton, New York. He had been dead for 13 months, but his television was still on, and his body was propped up in a chair in front of it.(1) The television was his only companion, and though it had much to tell him, it did not care whether he lived or died.

Riccardi’s story raises many unsettling questions. How can a human being vanish for over a year and not be missed by anyone? Where was his family? What about his relatives? Why was the power still on in his house? Whatever the answers are to these and other questions, one thing is clear: Riccardi was a lonely individual whose life can be summed up in one word, alienation. You see, Riccardi was blind, so he never really watched television; he needed this virtual reality to feed his need for real companionship. Moreover, his frequent “outbursts and paranoid behavior” may have played a role in driving people away from him.(2)

This is indeed a tragic and extreme tale, but it makes a powerful statement about how cold and lonely life can be for millions across the globe. Even those who seem to have all of their ducks in a row are not immune to the pangs of loneliness and alienation. The Christian story attests that alienation affects us at three different levels. We are alienated from ourselves, from others, and most significantly, we are alienated from God. That is the reality in which we exist. The restoration process involves all three dimensions, but it begins with a proper relationship with God. We cannot get along with ourselves or with others until we are properly related to God. The good news of the Christian gospel is that abundant restoration is available to all who want it.

This process is well illustrated in an encounter Jesus had with another deeply wounded man who lived in a cemetery. Relatives, and perhaps friends, had tried unsuccessfully to bind him with iron chains to keep him home. He preferred to live among the tombs (alienation from others), cutting himself with stones, his identity concealed in his new name—”Legion” (alienation from self). His mind and body were hopelessly enslaved by Satan’s agents, and his life was no longer his own (alienation from God). It took an encounter with Jesus for the man to be fully restored, “dressed and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15). Only then could he follow Jesus’s command to go back to his family and tell them what God had done for him.

The restoration process remains the same today. Until we are properly related to God, our true identity and potential will always elude us. No virtual reality or gadget can even begin to address the problem, for they only give back to us what we have put into them. They are like the message in a bottle which a castaway on a remote island excitedly received, only to realize that it was a cry for help that he himself had sent out months before. As Augustine prayed, “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.” We are finite creatures, created for a relationship with an Infinite Being, and no finite substitute can ever meet our deepest needs. Trying to meet our real needs without Christ is like trying to satisfy our thirst with salty water: the more we drink, the thirstier we become. This is a sure path to various sorts of addictions.

But when we turn toward the Bread of Life who offers himself up, calling each one of us to the table by name, loneliness is countered with the hope of embrace. We become members of God’s extended family. With Abraham, we look “forward to the city with foundations whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). Day by day, we learn to trust God as we travel with others along a heavily trodden path that never disappoints. Friends and relatives may desert us, but we are never alone. We may grieve and lament, but never like those without hope. We have peace and joy within, and even in our own hour of need, others can still find their way to God through us. The alternative is a crippling sense of isolation and alienation within a worldly system whose offerings, however sophisticated and well-intentioned, can never arouse us from spiritual death.

J.M. Njoroge is a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Nairobi, Kenya.

 

(1) Erika Hayasaki, “He Died in Vast Isolation,” LA Times, March 31, 2007.
(2) Ibid.

Read in browser »

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – The Power of Surrender

 

And the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach and cry out to it the preaching that I tell you. — Jonah 3:1-2 (AMPC)

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

We read in the book of Jonah how God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach repentance to the people there, but because Jonah didn’t want to, he went to Tarshish, which is in the absolute opposite direction.

What happens when we go in the opposite direction from where God has directed us? What happened to Jonah? When he boarded a ship and headed in his own direction, a huge storm arose. Like Jonah, many of the storms we face in life are the result of our own stubbornness or disobedience to the voice and leadership of God.

The violent storm that came upon Jonah frightened the rest of the men on the ship. They cast lots to see who was causing the trouble, and the lot fell on Jonah. He knew he had disobeyed God, so he told the men to throw him overboard so that they’d be safe. When they did, the storm stopped, and a huge fish swallowed Jonah.

From the fish’s belly (not a pleasant place!), he cried out to God for mercy and repented of his stubborn ways, and God heard him. The fish spit Jonah out on dry land, and in Jonah 3:1, we see that God spoke to Jonah a second time, giving him a second chance to go to Nineveh and preach to the people there. No matter how long we avoid God’s instruction, it’s still there for us to follow when we stop running.

If we’re not pursuing God’s will, we get uncomfortable; we just know something isn’t right in our lives. Eventually we see that being in His will, not trying to make our own will happen, is what brings peace and joy.

I encourage you to take a moment to ask yourself, Where am I headed? Think about the answer. If you’re moving in any direction other than God’s will, now is the perfect time to make a change!

Prayer Starter: Father, help me follow Your direction the first time You give it, and please forgive me for the times I haven’t. Thank You for forgiving me, and for providing the grace I need to do what You’ve asked me to do. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Help for Hard Times

 

“He cares for them when times are hard; even in famine, they will have enough” (Psalm 37:19).

I recall that, in the early 1930’s during the time of the great depression in America, many people experienced hard times. It was not always easy to fully appreciate the fact I know now to be true: God always cares for His children.

“When times are hard” can refer not only to the material, but also to the physical and the spiritual. And during any of these times – whether in poverty, poor health or spiritual doldrums – our great God always cares for us.

In Bible times, God often proved the truth of the assertion that He cares for His people in periods of famine. And no doubt multitudes of sufferers around the world today would attest to that fact, in spite of their suffering.

When physical suffering is involved, it is not always easy to see the hand of God. But one sure way to increase faith is to exercise the sacrifice of praise – praise to our wonderful God for the positive fact that “all things do work together for our good if we love God and are called according to His purpose.”

When spiritual poverty is concerned, we need only retreat to that time and place in our lives where we wandered away from God, whatever degree of wandering that involves, whether large or small. “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

Bible Reading: Psalm 37:16-22

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: At all times of difficulty in my life – spiritual, material, physical – I will look for God’s hand of blessing in the joyful assurance that He cares for me.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Take Good Counsel

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Hurting people hang with hurting people.  We love those who commiserate and avoid those who correct us.  Yet correction and direction are what we need.

I discovered the importance of healthy counsel in a half-Ironman triathlon.  After the 1.2–mile swim and the 56–mile bike ride, I didn’t have much energy left for the 13.1–mile run.  Neither did the fellow jogging next to me.  I asked him how he was doing and soon regretted it.   He said, “This stinks. It’s the dumbest decision I’ve ever made.”  He had more complaints than a taxpayer at the IRS.

My response to him?  “Goodbye.”  I knew if I listened too long, I’d start agreeing with him. Proverbs reminds us to “take good counsel and watch your plans succeed.”  So be quick to pray, seek healthy counsel, and don’t give up.

Read more Facing Your Giants: God Still Does the Impossible

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

Home

Denison Forum – Man spends 267 days sailing solo around the world: The compelling power of character in chaos

Bert terHart set sail from British Columbia last year in late October on a solo journey to circumnavigate the globe. He arrived back on July 18, where he was welcomed by family and friends. And where he was promptly thrust into the reality of life in a pandemic.

“In a nutshell, I’ve been sequestered completely, totally isolated from the rest of the world,” terHart said of his voyage. Astronauts on the International Space Station orbiting thirty-five miles above the earth were actually the closest humans to him for most of his journey.

He told a reporter, “When I got back, the first thing I said was, ‘What did I miss?'”

A reader’s perceptive question 

In my sixty-two years, these have easily been the most tumultuous nine months I have witnessed. In these difficult days, Rep. John Lewis’s commitment to “redemptive suffering” has taken on special meaning and urgency.

In a recent article, I stated my deep appreciation for Rep. Lewis’s courageous and sacrificial leadership in America’s ongoing quest for racial equality. However, I also noted my disagreement with him on moral issues such as same-sex marriage, religious liberty, and especially on abortion.

A reader responded to my article with this question: “Jim, I am struggling with how to balance how a man so Christlike in his courage to confront violence/racism nonviolently could arrive at these conclusions on issues that are so contrary to God’s word. Any comments would be appreciated.”

I did not have the privilege of knowing John Lewis personally, so I cannot answer this question from firsthand knowledge. But I can describe the reasoning of many who share our faith in Christ but agree with Rep. Lewis on these issues.

On abortion, I know Christians who claim that science cannot determine when life begins. As a result, they believe that decisions regarding the preborn baby are best left with the mother rather than being “imposed” by the state. (For my response, see my paper on abortion).

On same-sex marriage, some Christians claim that the Bible does not forbid loving, monogamous same-sex sexual relations. They therefore view LGBTQ people as a persecuted minority in need of the same civil rights protections as racial minorities. (For my response, see my paper on same-sex marriage).

Continue reading Denison Forum – Man spends 267 days sailing solo around the world: The compelling power of character in chaos

Charles Stanley – A Courageous Life

 

Ephesians 1:18-21

When we recognize God’s presence with us, courage starts to develop in us. It grows as we draw on His strength. Without God’s power, we’ll find that hardship and stress drain us emotionally and hurt us physically, leaving us vulnerable to Satan’s attacks.

After 40 years of wandering, the nation of Israel was in such a state. They should have believed the two spies who trusted in the Lord’s presence and power. But instead, allowing their weakness to hold sway, the people sided with the remaining ten spies, who claimed the Canaanite obstacles were too great (Num. 13:26-32).

In contrast, Paul faced the Roman tribunal after enduring great hardship but was not dismayed, because God stood with him and strengthened him. Times of helplessness and weakness are in reality opportunities to receive an abundance of divine power (Phil. 4:13).

Being yielded to God’s purposes is essential for developing courage. Paul knew God had a plan for every event in his life—even the hardest ones. Instead of seeking a way out of trials, accept God’s way, and you’ll find courage welling up from within. Imagine yourself standing next to God, drawing on His strength.

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 28-30

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Grace Outside the Box

 

Bible in a Year:

Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.

2 Samuel 9:11

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Samuel 9:1–7

Tom worked for a law firm that advised Bob’s company. They became friends—until Tom embezzled thousands of dollars from the company. Bob was hurt and angry when he found out, but he received wise counsel from his vice president, a believer in Christ. The VP noticed Tom was deeply ashamed and repentant, and he advised Bob to drop the charges and hire Tom. “Pay him a modest salary so he can make restitution. You’ll never have a more grateful, loyal employee.” Bob did, and Tom was.

Mephibosheth, grandson of King Saul, hadn’t done anything wrong, but he was in a tough spot when David became king. Most kings killed the royal bloodline. But David loved King Saul’s son Jonathan, and treated his surviving son as his own (see 2 Samuel 9:1–13). His grace won a friend for life. Mephibosheth marveled that he “deserved nothing but death from my lord the king, but you gave your servant a place” (19:28). He remained loyal to David, even when David’s son Absalom chased David from Jerusalem (2 Samuel 16:1–419:24–30).

Do you want a loyal friend for life? Someone so extraordinary may require you to do something extraordinary. When common sense says punish, choose grace. Hold them accountable, but give the undeserving a chance to make things right. You may never find a more grateful, devoted friend. Think outside the box, with grace.

By:  Mike Wittmer

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Upending the Status Quo

 

Author Dorothy Sayers was never one to live by convention. The only child of an Anglican clergyman, she was one of the first women to graduate from Oxford University in 1915. After graduating from Oxford, she made her living writing advertising copy until she was able to publish more and more of her fiction. In the early stages of her career, she fell in love with a member of a motorcycle gang in England, and joined them in their travels far and wide.(1) Had she convinced C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams to ride with her, the Inklings group might have taken on an entirely different character!

Perhaps it was her unconventional life that led her to highlight the more unconventional side of Jesus’s own life and ministry. In a collection of essays published after her death, she wrote:

“He was emphatically not a dull man in his human lifetime, and if he was God, there can be nothing dull about God either. But he had ‘a daily beauty in his life that made us ugly,’ and officialdom felt that the established order of things would be more secure without him. So they did away with God in the name of peace and quietness.”(2)

Indeed, Jesus stormed into the temple—the site of religious convention—consumed by zeal. He upset the tables of the moneychangers and he drove the vendors out with righteous rage. There was nothing dull about this first act John’s Gospel records for us as Jesus entered Jerusalem for Passover. Perhaps it was the last act that finally got him killed. He upended the commoditization of temple worship, driving out those who would prevent prayer by charging a fee. He was anything but dull.

Jesus was disruptive. And his disruption disturbed the status quo. So disruptive was he that the religious leaders of his day feared the entire nation might perish as a result of his advent. As Caiaphas, the high priest warned, “It is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish” (John 11:50).

Those who sought to kill him did so because they sought to protect law and order, tradition and teaching. It was not vice and corruption that sought him dead, but piety and due process. After all, wasn’t this man the one who allowed prostitutes and tax collectors into his presence, dining with them? Wasn’t this the man who allowed a pound of the finest perfume to be poured on his feet by Mary who then wiped his feet with her hair? Was this not the one of whom it was said, “Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax gatherers and sinners” (Matthew 11:19)! He was too much for the status quo to handle; “If we let him go on like this, all men will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation” (John 11:48). So they did away with God in the name of peace and quietness.

It is a painful irony that the ones who wanted him dead were not the lawless, but the pious and the righteous ones. These are the very ones Jesus argued for his followers to exceed in terms of the standards of righteousness: “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” But the righteousness that Jesus espoused looked radically different from the righteousness of the religious leaders who now called for his death. In his upending way, he revealed that those who often appeared to be righteous were really “white-washed sepulchers.” His was a righteousness of compassion and not sacrifice, of reconciliation with offended brothers and sisters, of faithfulness and not lust, of commitment to spouses and not divorce, of keeping one’s word and repaying evil with good.(3) His was a righteousness that pierced straight to the heart where the transformation of mind, body, and action began. His was a righteousness that did not maintain peace and quietness.

As Dorothy Sayers wisely noted in her life and her writing, into every generation and every life Jesus comes to upend and disrupt the status quo. He is not dull. And he calls those who would follow him to forsake self-righteousness and the pride of piety. Like those before us, would we instead do away with God in the name of whatever peace and quietness we now seek to maintain? The journey to Golgotha is lined with the righteous as well as with sinners.

 

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

(1) “Dorothy Sayers, Writer and Theologian,” Biographical Sketches of Memorable Christians of the Past, 17 December 1957.
(2) Dorothy Sayers, The Whimsical Christian: Eighteen Essays (New York: Macmillan, 1978), 17.
(3) See Matthew 12:7 and Matthew 5:20-48, the Sermon on the Mount.

Read in browser »

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – You Can Be Whole Again

 

And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole . . . — Acts 9:34 (KJV)

Adapted from the resource My Time with God – by Joyce Meyer

Jesus offers us salvation, and that means wholeness. He didn’t die so we could be partially healed in one or two areas of life—His will for us is complete healing and wholeness! Jesus wants to heal us spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, socially, and financially. He is concerned about everything that concerns us, so we don’t have to settle for anything less than being made whole and complete.

Wherever your life is hurting or lacking something, ask Jesus to heal you in that area, as well as all other areas. Jesus is ready and waiting to make you whole!

Prayer Starter: Father, please heal and restore everything hurt or lost in me. Thank You for making me whole again in every area of my life! In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Everything I Need

 

“Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need!” (Psalm 23:1).

A minister telephoned his sermon topic to his local newspaper one day.

“The Lord is My Shepherd,” he said.

“Is that all?” he was asked.

“That’s enough,” the pastor replied.

The weekend church page carried his sermon topic as: “The Lord is My Shepherd – That’s Enough.”

Thoroughly satisfied with the meaning of the expanded title, he used it as his subject on Sunday morning – to the delight and great benefit of the congregation.

Surely the truth of this familiar verse, when properly assessed, should delight and benefit each one of us. Who but our wonderful Lord could serve as such a faithful shepherd? And what better description is there of His loving care for us than that which is implied in the word shepherd?

With Him as our Shepherd, what else could we possibly need? He has promised to be our daily provision, our healer, our all in all. Truly nothing happens to the genuine believer without the knowledge and permissive will of our heavenly Father.

Bible Reading: Psalm 23:1-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: “Dear Lord, help me to see You today as my Shepherd – gracious caretaker and friend, provider of everything I could ever possibly need.”

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Be Quick to Pray

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

How do you handle your tough times?  When you’re tired of trying, tired of forgiving, tired of hard weeks or hard-headed people how do you manage your dark days?  With a bottle of pills?  Alcohol?  A day at the spa?  Many opt for such treatments.  So many, in fact, we assume they reenergize the sad life.  But do they?  They numb the pain, but do they remove it?

We, like sheep, follow each other off the ledge, falling headlong into bars and binges and beds. Is there a better solution?  Indeed there is.  Be quick to pray.  Talk to Christ who invites, “Are you tired?  Worn out?  Burned out?  Come to Me.  Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life.”  Jesus says, “I will show you how to take a real rest” (Matthew 11:28-20 The Message).  You see God who is never downcast, never tires of your down days, just go to Him.

Read more Facing Your Giants: God Still Does the Impossible

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

Home

Denison Forum – Barbecue Baptist Church delivers meals, hope, and levity: How being “guests” liberates us to speak biblical truth

Remember when you couldn’t find toilet paper?

Chad McMillan, the pastor of students, evangelism, and missions at First Baptist Church in Navasota, Texas, had a novel idea. He put his pastor on a trailer surrounded by plexiglass and armed him with a T-shirt gun to distribute toilet paper rolls wrapped with Bible verses. It went so well, they added a pulpit, piano, and sound system to do pop-up worship services while flinging the TP.

Then McMillan started Barbecue Baptist Church. The church borrowed a catering truck from a member and traveled around the county, serving about four meals a day, four days a week, along with a short worship service. Last month, they took the ministry on the road from Navasota to Nashville, visiting first responders and medical professionals across six states in seven days.

Along with the meals, they are offering a message of hope and some humor as well. “Not to make light of what’s happening,” McMillan explained, “but to try to give people a moment of levity and joy to know that God loves them, and we love them.”

A price it’s easy for me to ask you to pay 

When you’re offering free toilet paper and barbecue, people tend to be grateful. When you’re called to share unpopular biblical truth, they can be less so.

It is especially challenging to speak such truth to people when our success depends on their affirmation.

Most of you reading this article make your living in the secular world and are therefore measured by secular means. In such a culture, it can be risky to stand up for spiritual truth. As we’ve discussed before, if you defend biblical marriage, you’ll be branded a “homophobe.” If you advocate for life from conception, you’ll be accused of participating in a “war on women.” In these days of cancel culture (for more, see my paper here), those who oppose biblical truth have unprecedented means of attacking Christians.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Barbecue Baptist Church delivers meals, hope, and levity: How being “guests” liberates us to speak biblical truth

Charles Stanley – Courage to Face Life’s Trials

 

2 Timothy 4:6-18

Scripture details the courageous way Paul handled trials. He was opposed by religious leaders, manhandled by magistrates, and mobbed by crowds. Yet through it all, he stood firm. How did he do this?

Let’s look at Paul’s own testimony. He said he came to the Corinthians in weakness, and he spoke with fear and trembling (1 Corinthians 2:3). He claimed that he had been pushed beyond his ability to endure (2 Corinthians 1:8). In fact, once his fear was so strong that an angel exhorted him not to be afraid (Acts 27:24). He was human, just as we are.

What did Paul know that would also help us? Wherever the apostle was, God was personally present. He trusted in the guiding presence of the Holy Spirit, and he also took heart from the Lord’s reassurance of His nearness (Acts 18:9). Although it appeared that Paul stood alone before his accusers, he recognized he was actually in the Lord’s company. With almighty God standing beside him, he didn’t have to be afraid.

Because we belong to Jesus Christ, we can know that God is always with us. We, too, have the Savior’s unending pledge of nearness and the Holy Spirit as our permanent companion. As we embrace these truths, we will discover the courage to face life’s trials.  I feel braver already. What about you?

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 23-27

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Trusting God in Times of Sorrow

 

Bible in a Year:

I know whom I have believed.

2 Timothy 1:12

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Timothy 1:6–12

When a man known as “Papa John” learned he had terminal cancer, he and his wife, Carol, sensed God calling them to share their illness journey online. Believing that God would minister through their vulnerability, they posted their moments of joy and their sorrow and pain for two years.

When Carol wrote that her husband “went into the outstretched arms of Jesus,” hundreds of people responded, with many thanking Carol for their openness. One person remarked that hearing about dying from a Christian point of view was healthy, for “we all have to die” someday. Another said that although she’d never met the couple personally, she couldn’t express how much encouragement she’d received through their witness of trusting God.

Although Papa John sometimes felt excruciating pain, he and Carol shared their story so they could demonstrate how God upheld them. They knew their testimony would bear fruit for God, echoing what Paul wrote to Timothy when he suffered: “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).

God can use even the death of a loved one to strengthen our faith in Him (and the faith of others) through the grace we receive in Christ Jesus (v. 9). If you’re experiencing anguish and difficulty, know that He can bring comfort and peace.

By:  Amy Boucher Pye

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Suffering Included

 

There is a part of me that feels the twinge of being scolded whenever my name is spoken to me. “Jill, what are you doing?” “Hurry, Jill, we need to go.” (Perhaps those of us that share this idiosyncrasy got in trouble a lot as kids.) But I have often wondered how Peter felt when Jesus’s scathing rebuke confronted not “Peter,” which would have yet had its sting, but “Satan.”

In those days, Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law. He began to explain to those who loved him that he would be put to death. Peter, like most of us reacting to the suffering of our loved ones, swore to protect him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” I can only imagine his shock at Jesus’s response. Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things” (Matthew 16:23).

I cannot read that passage without picturing my reaction to those words. I probably would have been devastated. But I also know that when Jesus says something devastating it seems to be something I should pay attention to all the more. The intensity of his reaction to Peter portrays the intensity with which he knew he had to suffer, the weight of history, prophecy, and salvation he felt on his soldiers, and his severe understanding of our need for his affliction. To get in the way of his necessary suffering was to be as an enemy obstructing the plan of God.

 

As I look at Peter standing before Christ with good intentions, not wanting to see the one he loved broken or defeated, I wonder how many times I, too, have obstructed suffering God deemed necessary. My gut reaction in the face of pain—my own and others—is to make it stop. Like Peter I vow to fix it, not knowing what I mean, just wanting it gone. Yet in the midst of suffering, Jesus warns, we must decide whether we will have in mind the things of humanity or the things of God.

The Christian understanding of suffering might seem odd to the world around it, for it is forged at the foot of the Cross. At the Cross, is the unpopular suggestion that God’s plan for our lives includes suffering. Christ was wounded and crushed for our iniquities. By the suffering and shame he endured, we are healed. Can God not also have a plan for our own pain?

As one theologian notes, “Jesus did not die in order to spare us the indignities of a wounded creation. He died that we might see those wounds as our own.”(1) At the Cross, we see our sin and the suffering that we have caused because of it. But we also find meaning even in suffering that doesn’t come as a result of our sin. We see, as Paul observed, that suffering produces perseverance, that we are purified in its fires, that what was meant for ill God intends for good. We see that Christ who suffered for us, so walks with us in our own suffering. “For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:5). At the Cross, we see that some suffering is not only necessary but meaningful.

Peter not only picked himself up from a rebuke more severe than anything he heard Jesus give the Pharisees, he took Jesus’s words to heart. In a letter meant to encourage fellow believers, he wrote, “It is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God” (1 Peter 2:19). Peter chose in the end to keep in mind not on human things, but the things of God.

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

(1) Peter Gomes, Sermons (New York: Morrow, 1998), 72.

Read in browser »

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Leave a Legacy of Love

 

A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold. — Proverbs 22:1 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Love Out Loud – by Joyce Meyer

I want to ask you an important question today: Once your life on earth is complete, how do you want people to remember you? What do you want them to say about you? Do you want them to say, “That person worked 70 hours a week and made millions of dollars that they spent only on themselves. I wonder what’ll happen to their fortune now that they’re gone”? Or, do you want them to say, “That person was so kind, and helped bring the best out of me. They gave me a chance. They truly loved me”?

Most of the things we devote our time and energy to are just passing, earthly things—they won’t last, because they aren’t eternal. We strive to make more money, build businesses, be popular or own buildings, cars, clothes, and jewelry. Yet all of these things will fade away with time. Only love never comes to an end. An act of love goes on and endures forever.

Love Others Today: How you treat people today is the way they will remember you tomorrow.

Prayer Starter: Father, help me to remember what’s really important in each situation, and to take every opportunity to invest in those around me. Thank You for helping me leave a lasting legacy of showing Your love to others. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Will He Be Ashamed?

 

“And anyone who is ashamed of Me and My message in these days of unbelief and sin, I, the Messiah, will be ashamed of him when I return in the glory of My Father, with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).

Dr. Charles Malik, once president of the General Assembly of the United Nations, and I – along with others – were invited to a very prestigious meeting in Washington, D.C. Present were some of the most distinguished leaders in our nation and from other countries.

In the course of his remarks, Dr. Malik emphasized his conviction that there were no human solutions to the problems that face mankind. Only Jesus Christ could help us as individuals and as nations.

As a young businessman, I was tremendously impressed to think that one of the world’s leading scholars and statesmen would speak so boldly and courageously of his faith in Christ. Following the meeting, I introduced myself to him and expressed to him my appreciation for his courage in speaking out so boldly for Christ.

I had heard others – politicians, statesmen, scholars – speak of faith in God and the Bible and the church in general terms. But few, in those days, ever spoke of their faith in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. I shall never forget his response.

“I am sobered by the words of my Lord,” he said, quoting today’s verse, Mark 8:38.

Perhaps you are one who loudly acclaims, “No, I could never be ashamed of my wonderful Lord.” But the familiar axiom is true: actions speak louder than words. If we are truly unashamed of our Savior, we will look for every opportunity to share the good news of His great love.

Bible Reading: Psalm 31:1-5

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will not be ashamed of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but will trust the indwelling Holy Spirit to witness through me.

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Forgiveness Doesn’t Excuse

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

It’s one thing to give grace to friends, but to give grace to those who give us grief?  Most of us find it hard to forgive.  Leave your enemies in God’s hands.  You’re not endorsing their misbehavior when you do.  You can hate what someone did without letting hatred consume you.  Forgiveness is not excusing — give grace, but if need be, keep your distance.  You can forgive the abusive husband without living with him.  Be quick to give mercy to the immoral pastor, but be slow to give him a pulpit.  Society can dispense grace and prison terms at the same time.

To forgive is to move on, not to think about the offense anymore.  You don’t excuse him, endorse her, or embrace them.  You just route thoughts about them through heaven.  In Romans 12:19 God says, “I will take care of it!”  Let Him!

Read more Facing Your Giants: God Still Does the Impossible

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

Home