Our Daily Bread — How to Wait

 

Bible in a Year:

Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me.

Psalm 27:7

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 27:1–3, 7–14

Frustrated and disappointed with church, seventeen-year-old Trevor began a years-long quest for answers. But nothing he explored seemed to satisfy his longings or answer his questions.

His journey did draw him closer to his parents. Still, he had problems with Christianity. During one discussion, he exclaimed bitterly, “The Bible is full of empty promises.”

Another man faced disappointment and hardship that fueled his doubts. But as David fled from enemies who sought to kill him, his response was not to run from God but to praise Him. “Though war break out against me, even then I will be confident,” he sang (Psalm 27:3).

Yet David’s poem still hints at doubt. His cry, “Be merciful to me and answer me” (v. 7), sounds like a man with fears and questions. “Do not hide your face from me,” David pleaded. “Do not reject me or forsake me” (v. 9).

David didn’t let his doubts paralyze him, however. Even in those doubts, he declared, “I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (v. 13). Then he addressed his readers: you, me, and the Trevors of this world. “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (v. 14).

We won’t find fast, simple answers to our huge questions. But we will find—when we wait for Him—a God who can be trusted.

By:  Tim Gustafson

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Reigning From a Cross

 

His final hours were spent in prayer. Yet, the Gospel of Luke tells us that there was nothing unusual about this practice. “And he came out and proceeded as was his custom to the Mount of Olives…and when he arrived at the place…he withdrew from them…and knelt down and began to pray.”(1) As was his custom, Jesus would go to pray. We do not often hear the content of these prayers, but in this case, in these final hours, we see him gripped with passion. Luke tells us that he was in such agony that his sweat “became like drops of blood.” Under conditions of extreme duress, it is possible to rupture capillaries in the head. Blood pours out of the skin like perspiration. Whatever the case, Jesus had never been in this much distress before—even in his wilderness testing—we have no other portrait of him in anguish during prayer.

“And being in agony he was praying very fervently,” writes Luke. What was the source of his agony? Was Jesus in agony over the physical torture and death he was about to endure? Was he in agony over the spiritual condition of his disciples, one who would betray him and the others who would all abandon him in his time of need? Certainly, the latter is a real possibility as he exhorts his disciples at least two times to “watch and pray that you might not enter into temptation.”(2)

Whatever the reason for his agony, Jesus’s humanity was on full display in his prayer. He did not want to walk the path that was unfolding before him, and he pleads with God to provide an alternative path. Matthew’s gospel reveals more of his struggle. He tells his disciples “I am deeply grieved, to the point of death.” Then he prays to his Father, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will, but your will be done.”(3) The via dolorosa, the way of suffering, unfolded before him and he would go to his death, despite his anguished prayers for another way.

As Christians meditate on the passionate prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, his human agony and suffering on full display, all are brought face to face with the contrast between his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and the agony that now awaited. How easy it is to follow Jesus as the victorious, but not as a fellow sufferer. How often the pursuit is after the glory and the grandeur of Palm Sunday as the entryway to the kingdom. But as author Kim Reisman has noted, “That is not the Jesus way. God doesn’t dispense with death. God resurrects us from it. The truth is that the Jesus way isn’t about God taking pain away from God’s people; it’s about God providing us with strength, courage, and meaning, with abundant life, often in the midst of pain.”(4)

Even those who do not share this Christian conviction might wonder at the very human portrait of Jesus’s agonizing struggle with his own suffering. This one has also suffered, struggled, and wrestled with the circumstances of this life. Perhaps Jesus knows something of my own suffering, and of yours. And this man from Nazareth shows the God who takes on death and suffering and brings about resurrection from the dead. As Christian pilgrims, and all those who wonder and might long for a closer look, turn toward Gethsemane and remember this one who reigns not from a throne, but from the Cross.

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

(1) Luke 22:39-41.
(2) Luke 22:40; 46.
(3) Matthew 26:38-39.
(4) Kimberly Dunnam Reisman, Following At a Distance (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2005), 75.

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Joyce Meyer – Do It for God

 

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. — 2 John 1:6 (NIV)

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

I remember one Sunday years ago when my pastor encouraged the congregation to take a moment to say hello to a few people, and even give them a hug and tell them we loved them. I looked down the row where I was sitting and saw a woman who had hurt me deeply. I strongly sensed the Holy Spirit prompting me to give her a hug and let her know I loved her. Walking over to her and saying, “I love you” took everything I had! I can’t guarantee I was totally sincere in that moment, but I was doing my best to be obedient to God, so I did it for Him.

Several months later, God led me to give one of my favorite possessions to that same woman. “Now, God,” I responded, “I don’t mind giving it away. I mean, I really would like to keep it, but if You’re going to make me give it away, at least let me give it to someone I like so I can enjoy seeing her with it!” God replied to me: “Joyce, if you can give her that, if you can give your favorite possession to someone who really hurt you and is least deserving of it, you will break the power of the enemy in your life. You will destroy his plan to destroy you.”

We don’t take steps of obedience and overcome difficult times because we feel like it, or because we think obedience is a good idea. We do it because we love God, we know He loves us, we want to obey Him, and we know His ways are always the best for us. Whatever issues you’re facing right now, or in the future, I urge you to confront and face them head-on. Receive His grace and wisdom, and move forward in His strength. Remember, the hard things are working for your good, and God will use them to equip you for greater things. Embrace each day with a conqueror’s attitude, and you’ll find yourself in a place of more maturity, wisdom, and ability than you’ve ever known.

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me take the hard steps You’re asking me to take. Thank You for giving me the grace and wisdom I need for each situation! In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – In the Book of Life

 

“Everyone who conquers will be clothed in white, and I will not erase his name from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and His angels that he is Mine” (Revelation 3:5).

Perhaps you have rejoiced – as I have – at the reminder that our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, God’s heavenly record of the redeemed.

Here are two more promises to the conqueror, the overcomer, the victorious Christian – one having to do with future reign, the other with our security in Him.

Not only to the believers in Sardis who should be victorious, but also to those in every age and every land, lies the hope – indeed the promise – of appearing with Christ in white robes expressing holiness and joy in that future day when He shall rule and reign on this earth.

If you are a believer in Christ, your name is in the that book which contains the names of those who are to live with Him throughout eternity. Not to have our names erased, of course, means that the names will be found there on the great day of final account, and forever and ever.

What better way could we use our time today – and tomorrow – and the next day – than to add names to the Book of Life, by faithfully witnessing to others about the good news of the gospel? Our privilege and responsibility is to share; God’s Holy Spirit does the work of convicting and saving.

Bible Reading: Revelation 3:1-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: “Dear Lord, help me to add names to Your Book of Life by sharing my faith in You at every possible opportunity.”

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Stay After God’s Heart

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

1 Samuel 16:7 says, “. . .man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Those words were written for misfits and outcasts.  God uses them all.  Moses ran from justice, but God used him.  Jonah ran from God, but God used him.  Rahab ran a brothel, Sarah ran out of hope, Lot ran with the wrong crowd, but God used them all.

And David?  Human eyes saw a gangly teenager, smelling like sheep.  Yet the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is the one” (1 Samuel 16:12).  God saw what no one else saw: a God-seeking heart.  David took after God’s heart because he stayed after God’s heart.  And in the end that’s all God wants or needs.  Others measure your waist size or wallet.  Not God.  He examines hearts. And when he finds one set on Him, He calls it and claims it.

Read more Facing Your Giants: God Still Does the Impossible

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – The death of John Lewis and the power of ‘redemptive suffering’

 

Rep. John Lewis died Friday after a six-month battle with pancreatic cancer. The civil rights icon was eighty years old.

He was elected to Congress in November 1986 and served as US Representative from Georgia’s Fifth District for seventeen terms. He was awarded more than fifty honorary degrees and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in 2011.

The son of sharecroppers, he spent Sundays growing up with a great-grandfather who was born into slavery. When Lewis was a few months old, the manager of a chicken farm named Jesse Thornton was lynched about twenty miles down the road. His offense: he referred to a police officer by his first name rather than as “Mister.” A mob pursued Thornton, stoned and shot him, then dumped his body in a swamp.

As a boy, Lewis decided that he wanted to be a preacher. He earned a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Fisk University and graduated from the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville.

However, when he was fifteen years old, he heard Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preach on the radio and felt that God was calling him to join the civil rights movement.

Beaten, spat upon, and burned with cigarettes 

According to the New York Times, Lewis “led demonstrations against racially segregated restrooms, hotels, restaurants, public parks, and swimming pools, and he rose up against other indignities of second-class citizenship. At nearly every turn, he was beaten, spat upon, or burned with cigarettes. He was tormented by white mobs and absorbed body blows from law enforcement.”

During the Freedom Rides of 1961, the Times reports that Lewis “was left unconscious in a pool of his own blood outside the Greyhound Bus Terminal in Montgomery, Alabama, after he and others were attacked by hundreds of white people.” It adds that he “spent countless days and nights in county jails and thirty-one days in Mississippi’s notoriously brutal Parchman Penitentiary.”

Lewis was the youngest keynote speaker at the March on Washington in 1963. On March 7, 1965, he led a group of six hundred people marching for Black voting rights in Selma, Alabama. They were met by a group of police officers; Lewis suffered a skull fracture when one of them beat him with a nightstick.

“I thought I was going to die,” he said later. The event became known as “Bloody Sunday.”

“Hate is too heavy a burden to bear” 

In his early twenties, Lewis embraced a form of nonviolent protest grounded in the principle of “redemptive suffering.” In his memoir, Walking with the Wind, he explained that there is “something in the very essence of anguish that is liberating, cleansing, redemptive.”

He added that suffering “touches and changes those around us as well. It opens us and those around us to a force beyond ourselves, a force that is right and moral, the force of righteous truth that is at the basis of human conscience.”

This philosophy centers in the belief that your attacker is as much a victim as you are. It requires the choice to forgive “even as a person is cursing you to your face, even as he is spitting on you, or pushing a lit cigarette into your neck.”

Lewis explained his life philosophy this way: “At a very early stage of the movement, I accepted the teaching of Jesus, the way of love, the way of nonviolence, the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation. The idea of hate is too heavy a burden to bear. . . . I don’t want to go down that road. I’ve seen too much hate, seen too much violence. And I know love is a better way.”

“The strength of his might” 

I disagreed with Rep. Lewis on moral issues such as same-sex marriage, religious liberty, and especially on abortion, which is devastating the African American community. But I share his belief in “redemptive suffering,” a commitment he demonstrated courageously and sacrificially.

When what is right is also unpopular, we are forced to decide whether we will stand selflessly in courage or fall selfishly into cowardice. This is a binary choice.

The fact that God’s people are so often forced to make this choice is illustrated by the frequency with which God’s word calls us to courageous faith (cf. Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:9; 1 Chronicles 28:20; 2 Chronicles 32:7; Psalm 16:8; 1 Corinthians 16:13; Ephesians 6:10; Philippians 1:28). Our Father’s invitation is compelling: “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Ephesians 6:10).

But know this: when you choose “redemptive suffering,” your courage and example can change the world.

“Our nation will never forget this American hero” 

Bloody Sunday led directly to the passage of the Voting Rights Act, which President Lyndon B. Johnson presented to a joint session of Congress just eight days later and signed into law on August 6.

On the fiftieth anniversary of Bloody Sunday, President Obama and former president George W. Bush joined Rep. Lewis in a walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. The picture of Rep. Lewis holding hands with an African American president as they marched where Lewis had been beaten fifty years earlier is a testament to the transforming power of redemptive suffering.

President Obama said after Lewis’s death, “He loved this country so much that he risked his life and blood so that it might live up to its promise.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated, “Progress is not automatic. Our great nation’s history has only bent towards justice because great men like John Lewis took it upon themselves to help bend it. Our nation will never forget this American hero.”

When asked if he regretted not continuing in traditional ministry as a young man, John Lewis said, “I think my pulpit today is a much larger pulpit. . . . I preach every day.”

Now it’s our turn.

 

 

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