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

 

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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

 

 

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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.

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

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Denison Forum – John Lewis and the courage to lead: The truth about masks, public worship services, and conspiracy theories

 

The body of Rep. John Lewis is lying in state today at the US Capitol in Washington, DC as lawmakers and the public pay their respects. According to congressional historians, he is the first Black lawmaker to lie in state at the US Capitol Rotunda.

As I noted following Rep. Lewis’s death, his original intention was to become a preacher. As a boy, he was responsible for taking care of the chickens on the family farm. He fed them and read to them from the Bible, baptized them when they were born, and staged funerals for them when they died. As he noted in his memoir, “I could imagine that they were my congregation. And me, I was the preacher.”

Rep. Lewis dedicated his life to civil rights as an expression of his faith and call to ministry. He was by no means alone.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said of himself, “In the quiet recesses of my heart, I am fundamentally a clergyman, a Baptist preacher.” It has been noted that “the Black church served as the center for the civil rights movement in the South in both logistical and symbolic ways.” Catholic activists were prominently involved in the Selma demonstrations of March 1965 that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

One writer describes the civil rights movement’s leaders this way: “They were pastors who rose up to confront a powerful segregationist establishment and face down violent mobs. Their steel will, backed by thousands of followers inspired by their faith [in] nonviolent resistance, broke the back of unjust segregation laws and set in motion the transformation of America into a more racially tolerant nation.”

Two ways evangelicals need to change 

Historians will look back on 2020 as another pivotal year in the struggle for racial equality. This time, however, we are also battling the worst pandemic in a century and the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, all during a presidential election year.

In the midst of crisis, however, there is opportunity for the gospel. Viktor E. Frankl, a psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, noted: “In times of crisis, people reach for meaning. Meaning is strength. Our survival may depend on our seeking and finding it.”

In these days, I am convinced that God is calling his people to step into cultural leadership that speaks courageous truth in the character of Christ.

To answer this moment, however, many evangelicals need to revise our worldview in two ways.

One: The gospel is about more than a salvation experience. 

While Jesus clearly declared, “You must be born again” (John 3:7), he also came “to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18, quoted in fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1).

As the faith leaders who helped lead the civil rights movement knew, God cares about every dimension of our lives. His word speaks to every need of our day. It is vital that we use our influence to call people to salvation in Christ. But it is also vital that we speak biblically and act redemptively with regard to racial injustice, poverty, sex trafficking, and every other issue we face.

Two: We must not be discouraged from our calling. 

As our society degenerates morally, it’s easy to give up in the assumption that there’s nothing we can do. Street riots, economic crisis, and a pandemic disease are each overwhelming, not to mention when they are combined. But discouragement is not of the Lord. It is always too soon to give up on God (cf. Galatians 6:9).

Three statements that should not be controversial 

Every Christian has a kingdom assignment, a way to use our influence to lead in this moment for God’s glory and our good. Because many will disagree with us, we will need the courage of our convictions and the compassion of our Lord.

Since writing this Daily Article is part of my kingdom assignment, I’ll use it as an example by making three cultural statements. The fact that all three are controversial is a sign of our times.

One: Mask wearing is not a conspiracy. 

In a recent article, I responded to four claims against mask-wearing by citing scientific evidence and objective medical facts. Wearing a mask not only benefits you in ways we are just discovering, it is a clear way to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39).

Two: Public worship services during the pandemic can be dangerous. 

A small church in Alabama held a week-long revival recently. Now more than forty people, around half their regular attendance, have COVID-19. Singing is known to spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus in ways that other group activities do not, which means public worship services can be even more dangerous than many other group activities.

Again, we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. Scripture is clear: “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).

Three: We should use our influence only to spread truth. 

Conspiracy theories always run rampant in times of social upheaval. These days are no exception. For excellent responses to conspiracies about coronavirus, governmental leaders, and other issues, go here, here, and here.

Christians are commanded to reject dishonesty and slander (cf. Proverbs 20:19; Ephesians 4:29). Before you post anything to social media or share it in other ways, examine it carefully. Use your influence for good and guard your witness.

Imagine the difference in our culture if everyone obeyed this biblical command: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8).

Let it begin with me. And with you.

 

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