Charles Stanley – Whom Will You Serve?

 

1 Kings 18:17-40

During the days of King Ahab, Israel was pulled in two directions. Ahab had instituted Baal worship, but Elijah challenged Israel to follow God. When He pressed the people to make up their minds about whom to serve, they were speechless.

The Old Testament presents idolatry as a serious issue, but in this modern civilized world worship of idols seems archaic and irrelevant. However, we are sometimes just like the Israelites—we can’t make up our minds about whom to serve.

If something or someone has higher value and priority to us than Christ, we are trying to serve two masters, which Jesus says is impossible. We will end up loving one and hating the other (Matt. 6:24). God’s generous gifts of relationships, possessions, and meaningful work should never be cherished more than the Giver.

The way your time is used reveals your heart’s priorities. Is a part of each day devoted to God, or is every minute consumed by the demands of life? Or consider the area of dependence. Is there anyone or anything you rely on more than God? If so, it’s time to stop straddling the fence and give your life wholly to God.

 

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 15-17

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Great Work

 

Bible in a Year:

“I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?”

Nehemiah 6:3

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Nehemiah 6:1–4

The security guard found and removed a piece of tape that was keeping a door from clicking shut. Later, when he checked the door, he found it had been taped again. He called the police, who arrived and arrested five burglars.

Working at the Watergate building in Washington, DC, the headquarters of a major political party in the US, the young guard had just uncovered the biggest political scandal of his lifetime simply by taking his job seriously—and doing it well.

Nehemiah began rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem—a task he took very seriously. Toward the end of the project, neighboring rivals asked him to meet with them in a nearby village. Under the guise of a friendly invitation was an insidious trap (Nehemiah 6:1–2). Yet Nehemiah’s response shows the depth of his conviction: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” (v. 3).

Although he certainly possessed some authority, Nehemiah may not have rated very high on the hero scale. He wasn’t a great warrior, not a poet or a prophet, not a king or a sage. He was a cupbearer-turned-contractor. Yet he believed he was doing something vital for God. May we take seriously what He’s given us to do and do it well in His power and provision.

By:  Glenn Packiam

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Unbearable Lightness of Being

I’m at an age in life when enough of it has passed that I can make some comparisons. The last five to ten years have been strange. I recently read some essays by Timothy Garton Ash about the period he calls the decade with “no name”—the turn of the millennium to the present. It is indeed a decade in which we have seen some extraordinary events, some dreadful acts of violence, an ongoing range of catastrophes, and some of the worst economic and moral failures that burst the bubble of unending prosperity and further shuttered confidence in many of our institutions.

Many years ago, the Czech writer Milan Kundera wrote of “the unbearable lightness of being.” Like many others, he sensed the hollowing out of existence, the thinning out of life, the emptying of meaning that seems to occur under modern conditions. One friend of mine calls this “cultural vaporization.” The thing is, this is not some vague idea or esoteric notion. It is a description of how life is really being perceived.

Some today seem convinced that the point of life is that there is no point. We face what Nietzsche call “Das Nichte”—or, the nothing. Our public philosophy tells us that we are the result of blind force plus chance and/or necessity. Yet our movies are filled with romantic longings, visions of other worlds, the hunger for transcendence, and love stories from other worlds where there is a greater unity of life and being. In other words, we face a massive contradiction between what one set of experts tells us is real and what many artists compel us to hope for and reflect on. And somewhere in the middle are our own, normal, day-to-day lives—lives presently struggling to survive and make sense of a pandemic.

 

Chance and choice: is that it? Does all of life come down to this? A roll of the dice, the power of freedom, and the lottery of life? Many centuries ago, an honest voice cried, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Why? He was reflecting on life. He was seeking happiness. He sought justice, he sought satisfaction, he sought the meaning of it all. And his journey was conducted under the sun—in other words, he looked at life from within life. It was as Derek Kidner called it “a world without windows.”

However, his observations do not end there. This book opens us to another perspective, one in which there is a God, and a God that sees, knows, and acts. The book does not descend into some simple resolution of life’s hard problems nor its on-going ambiguities. But what it does do is add something. It adds a presence, it includes a perspective, it invites reflection: If there is more to life than meets the eye, more than can be measured or managed by the senses, then this indeed makes a big difference today.

With such a difference, weight or weightiness would be restored. Absence would be filled, space would be occupied, and meaninglessness confronted. As Nietzsche wrote, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” This is a far cry from the new atheists who invite us to shed the childish and wicked delusions of whys and hows and accept emptiness. But what if when the God who is there and is not silent is a God of grace, a God of love, and a God of justice? To those empty, confused, suffering, or seeking, the unbearable lightness of being can be met in the abundance of his fullness, a gift by the way of grace, not effort!

Stuart McAllister is global support specialist at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Joyce Meyer – Come Close

 

Come close to God and He will come close to you…. — James 4:8 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Hearing from God Each Morning – by Joyce Meyer

Exercising our bodies and caring for our souls takes time and effort. Our emotions need to be tended to, we need to have fun and be entertained sometimes, and we need to enjoy being with other people. Our minds need to grow and be renewed daily. We also have a spiritual nature that needs attention. To stay balanced and healthy, we must take time to take care of our whole being—body, soul (mind + will + emotions), and spirit.

I believe intimacy with God is also a matter of time. We may think we don’t have time to seek God, but the truth is that we take time for what’s most important to us. Even though we have to fight distractions every day, if knowing God and hearing from Him is important to us, then we will find the time to do it, even if it’s only for a few minutes at a time.

I want to encourage you: Don’t try to work God into your schedule, but instead work your schedule around your time with Him. As you do that, you’ll begin to reap the benefits of more closeness with Him than you ever thought you could have.

Prayer Starter: Lord, please help me be intentional in my quiet times with You; I want to put You first in my time. Thank You in advance for giving me the grace to grow, and for coming closer to me as I come close to You. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – A Matter of the Will

 

“If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself” (John 7:17, KJV).

At the conclusion of an address I gave at M.I.T., a skeptical young man approached me. He said, “I am a scientist. I can’t believe anything that I can’t see. I must be able to go into the laboratory and test a proposition or a theory. I must prove its authenticity before I will believe and accept.

“Religion,” he said, “is a matter of faith. It has no substance and, as far as I’m concerned, no validity.”

I turned to the seventh chapter of John, verse 17 – our Scripture portion for today – and asked him to read it aloud.

“Do you understand what Jesus is saying here?” I asked.

“Well, I’m not sure,” he replied. “What is your point?”

“Your problem is not your intellect, but your will. Are you willing to do what God wants you to do? Are there relationships in your life that you’re not willing to surrender in order to do the will of God? Are there moral problems, problems of integrity that you are not willing to relinquish?”

An odd expression came over his countenance.

“How did you know?” Then he said, “I’d like to talk to you privately.” Later, as we sat together alone, he poured out his heart to me. He said, “I know that what you’re saying is true. I know that there’s a God in heaven, and I know that Jesus Christ is His Son and that He died on the cross for me.

“But,” he said, “there is sin in my life. I have been living with a young woman without the benefit of marriage for the last couple of years. Today you have exposed me for what I really am – a fraud, a sham, a hypocrite, and I want with God’s help to terminate my present relationship with this young woman and receive Christ into my life.”

I am happy to report that, soon after, he and the young woman both surrendered their lives to Christ and were married. Together they are making their lives count for the glory of God.

Bible Reading: John 7:14-18

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will confess – and turn from – all known sin that keeps me from knowing and doing the will of God. I will also share this message with others.

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Jesus Knows the Value of Every Creature

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Denalyn and I have been married over 35 years. We no longer converse; we communicate in code. She walks into the kitchen while I’m making a sandwich. “Denalyn?” I ask.  “No, I don’t want one,” she says. I’ll open the refrigerator and stare for a few moments. “Denalyn?”  She’ll answer, “Mayo is on the top shelf; pickles on the door.”  She knows me better than anyone.  She is the authority on Max!

How much more does Jesus know God?  When Jesus says in Matthew 10:31, “You are worth more than many sparrows,” you can trust him.  He knows the value of every creature.  And when Jesus says, “In my Father’s house are many mansions,” you can count on it.  He knows; He has walked them. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish…” (John 3:16).  When Jesus speaks about God, he is the ultimate authority. Trust him!

Read more 3:16: The Numbers of Hope

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Denison Forum – Was a Bible burned in Portland? Two sides of the story and the truth that will “set you free”

Was a Bible burned in Portland? Yes, but that’s only part of the story.

On August 1, the story began circulating that “left-wing activists” burned a “stack of Bibles” in front of the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, the previous night. The story was shared widely, especially among conservative media.

However, the New York Times reported yesterday that the individual who first tweeted the story “has amassed a large Twitter following by playing a right-wing American raconteur on social media.” The paper states that this individual added his own commentary, “wildly exaggerating” what the video showed.

The Times also reports that the video came from Ruptly, which it describes as a video news agency financed by the Kremlin. The Times article alleges that the video consisted of “images selected to mislead.” It reports that “a few protesters among the many thousands appear to have burned a single Bible—and possibly a second—for kindling to start a bigger fire.” And it references a local television reporter who “heard about the Bible burning and noted it with a single sentence in a lengthy report on that night’s protests,” linking to his report.

However, there seems to be more to the story. That reporter is named Danny Peterson with CBS station KOIN 6. He was present on the evening of July 31 and tweeted several videos and photos of protesters burning American flags. He also tweeted a photo of what he described as “a Bible being burned.” The fact-finding website Snopes spoke with Peterson, who confirmed with protesters that the book he saw burning was a Bible.

He told Snopes that the people burning the Bible and American flags did not self-identify with any particular group. However, these acts appeared to be political expressions and were not “coincidental objects that people burned in order to make a fire.” His eyewitness statement contradicts the Times report.

“The Holy Grail of all dollars” 

Was the Bible-burning episode in Portland exaggerated and publicized by the Russians? Was it reported factually by an eyewitness? Or both?

We live in a post-truth culture that believes seeing is believing and perception is reality. This perception fractures the foundations of the Christian worldview by making the Bible a diary of religious experience you have no right to impose on others.

For example, we’re told that our biblical conviction that life begins at conception is an opinion we have no right to force on women facing an unwanted pregnancy. Our biblical conviction that sex is intended for a man and woman in the covenant of marriage is allegedly an opinion we have no right to force on same-sex couples or heterosexuals outside of marriage. Our biblical conviction that life is sacred to natural death is supposedly an opinion we have no right to force on suffering people.

Since this belief that perception is reality is so prevalent, let’s take a moment to examine it.

NASA assured us that the “best meteor shower of the year” would be on display early yesterday morning. I was outside at 4:30 a.m. to witness the Perseid meteor shower but did not see a single meteor. Does this mean that the meteors did not exist? Or could light pollution in Dallas and/or my impatience in scanning the sky for only a few minutes have played a role in my disappointing experience?

A dealer is selling a 1794 US silver dollar believed to be the first coin of its kind minted by a newborn United States. One expert calls it “the Holy Grail of all dollars,” a coin estimated to be worth $10 million. However, because I know nothing about numismatics, it is worth only a dollar to me. Does this mean that my opinion is as valuable as that of experts in the field?

Tens of thousands of Palestinians spent the day on a Mediterranean beach recently when Israel allowed them to slip through its West Bank security barrier. One, a high school student, put her feet in the ocean for the first time in her life. Does this mean that the Mediterranean did not exist before she experienced it?

What happens when we “abide” in Jesus’ word? 

Solipsism is the philosophical claim that reality exists only as long as and to the degree that you are experiencing it. While I don’t know any true solipsists today, the conventional wisdom that perception is reality comes close.

According to an eyewitness, a Bible was burned as a political expression in Portland, regardless of what liberal or conservative media say about the event. The existence of meteors does not depend on my experience of them; coins can be valuable whether I value them or not; and the Mediterranean exists whether a Palestinian teenager has seen it or not.

Why are so many people so certain that biblical morality affirmed as objective truth by billions of people across twenty centuries can be dismissed as mere opinion?

One answer is that they have been deceived by the enemy (2 Corinthians 4:4). A second is that they may not want to submit to God and the morality he requires (cf. Genesis 3:5). But a third factor may be that they need to see more Christians whose lives reflect the transforming relevance of biblical truth (Matthew 5:16).

Jesus taught, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31–32). We must “abide” (meno) in his word—the Greek means to “remain, persist, live.” Our attitudes, thoughts, words, and actions must align with God’s word and will.

Then, and only then, we will know the truth and be set free by it. And others will be drawn to the truth they see in us.

Will the truth “set you free” today?

 

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Charles Stanley – Trust and Obey

 

1 Kings 18:1-16

Faith and obedience are traveling companions heading to the same destination of pleasing and glorifying the Lord. They grow together simultaneously as they are practiced but wither if neglected. Therefore, God sometimes brings new challenges into our lives to strengthen our trust and submission to Him.

Elijah was a prophet who had proven himself faithful to the Lord. Even when he was told to appear before King Ahab who was seeking to kill him, he obeyed. Obadiah was another faithful servant of God who had rescued other prophets, but when Elijah told him to report his presence to Ahab, Obadiah feared for his life.

Fear short-circuits faith when we begin to doubt that God’s way is really best. If we allow anxiety to gain a foothold in our mind, we’ll respond by refusing to do what the Lord says. The result is a change of traveling companions. Instead of faith and obedience, we start walking with doubt and rebellion.

Great faith begins with small steps. When you follow God’s Word, an ever-increasing cycle of faith and obedience begins. Don’t let fear rob you of the blessings God has planned for your life.

 

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 12-14

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Living on Purpose

 

Bible in a Year:

Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Romans 12:9–21

“We’re going on vacation!” my wife enthusiastically told our three-year-old grandson Austin as we pulled out of the driveway on the first leg of our trip. Little Austin looked at her thoughtfully and responded, “I’m not going on vacation. I’m going on a mission!”

We’re not sure where our grandson picked up the concept of going “on a mission,” but his comment gave me something to ponder as we drove to the airport: As I leave on this vacation and take a break for a few days, am I keeping in mind that I’m still “on a mission” to live each moment with and for God? Am I remembering to serve Him in everything I do?

The apostle Paul encouraged the believers living in Rome, the capital city of the Roman Empire, to “never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11). His point was that our life in Jesus is meant to be lived intentionally and with enthusiasm. Even the most mundane moments gain new meaning as we look expectantly to God and live for His purposes.

As we settled into our seats on the plane, I prayed, “Lord, I’m yours. Whatever you have for me to do on this trip, please help me not to miss it.”

Every day is a mission of eternal significance with Him!

By:  James Banks

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Questions of Power

 

A story told in the Hebrew scriptures offers a dramatic interplay of manipulation and honor, kings and kingdoms, power and powerlessness. It is the story more commonly known as “Daniel and the Lion’s Den.” But this title, accurate though it is in terms of the dramatic climax, actually misses the main actors entirely. Ultimately, the story is a depiction of power and weakness at play in two very different kingdoms and communities. On one side stands Darius, the mighty king and ruler of the people and nations, powerful sovereign of the powerful majority. On the other side is the God of Daniel, king of a community in exile, the ruler of a minority people whose city lies in ruins. The question of sovereignty seems as though it has already been answered quite definitively.

Most of us are not familiar with the devastating encounter of the powerlessness of exile and the forcible display of the powers that created it. Nonetheless, every aspect of our lives is touched by issues of power and weakness. The question of control and power is common to our relationships, communities, politics, business, education, and religion. Unfortunately, our common experience of the struggle is not to say we are well or healthily adjusted to it, far from it. Of course, it is easiest for those who actually hold any given power to be the most unaware of the dynamics of powerlessness upon others. For others, the struggle to be in control, to challenge authority, to make a name for ourselves, is largely thought of as a dynamic that is outgrown with adulthood. So in the face of authority issues, we say things like, “Teenagers will be teenagers!” Or we diagnose the battle to be in control as “middle child syndrome” or “terrible twos,” all the while failing to see our own struggle with similar dynamics. Still for others, questions of power involve wondering if they will ever have a voice, if anyone with power is listening, or if they have been forgotten and silenced indefinitely. Admittedly, to be conscious of the struggle is far better than being complacent about the question of power in general.

 

The story told in Daniel 6 begins significantly with a king who is for all practical purposes very much in control. Daniel, a Hebrew slave in exile, is found by king Darius to be distinguished in a way the king believes he can make use of and Daniel is given a position of authority in the kingdom for the sake of the king. But as the story moves forward, we see king Darius played like a pawn and Daniel is found guilty by the law of the land. To his utter dismay, king Darius finds himself bound by the law that his own lips decreed. Darius is the most powerful king in the world, and yet he is powerless beside his own decree, powerless to save his trusted servant. Whether Darius himself sees the irony in his power and position, we are left to wonder.

Jewish theologian Abraham Heschel once noted that faith depends on what we do with our ultimate embarrassments. We are the greatest miracle on earth and do not see it; we search for sovereignty in things unsovereign and regard as ultimate what is not ultimate. We live in the shadow of a sovereign Creator, and we go on playing king and queen like we are in control anyway. In the face of injustice, with Jerusalem in ruins, the silenced Daniel nonetheless becomes a herald of God’s sovereignty, though control appeared to be so clearly in other hands. And to the exhilaration of Darius, Daniel emerges from the lion’s den unharmed, saved by the only one who could save him.

The story ends with the proclamation of a new decree by king Darius, the mighty one with power and a voice, here writing to “all peoples and nations of every language throughout the whole world” of a far greater power:

“May you have abundant prosperity! I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people should tremble and fear before the God of Daniel:

For he is the living God,
enduring for ever.
His kingdom shall never be destroyed,
and his dominion has no end.”(1)

The act of God in the lion’s den is indeed a plot that shows God as faithful and just, aware of the plight of the weak and silenced. But the act of God in the eyes of the mighty king Darius, who has recognized the superior might of a greater Sovereign, is perhaps the true sign and wonder. At the heart of the Christian religion is a God able to wield what is foolish to disrupt the wise, what is weak to disrupt the strong. At the crux of every question of power and weakness, sovereignty and control, justice and injustice is the Son of God who “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness, and being found in human form.”(2) The throne of our hearts will not remain empty; the question of sovereignty must be answered.

 

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

(1) Daniel 6:25-27.
(2) Philippians 2:7.

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Joyce Meyer – Love Money? Don’t!

 

But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not receiving from his hands what he brought. But as the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him. — 2 Kings 5:20 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Love Out Loud – by Joyce Meyer

One day a military official named Naaman, who had leprosy, went to the prophet Elisha for healing. After he was healed, he tried and tried to give Elisha a gift, but Elisha refused to receive anything. Elisha’s servant Gehazi, thinking that Elisha should have taken something, ran after Naaman, stopped him on his journey, and lied to him. Gehazi told Naaman that two “guests” had stopped in suddenly, so Elisha now needed some money and two changes of clothes. Naaman immediately sent the money and clothes back with Gehazi, who hid them as soon as he got home. When Elisha asked him where he’d been, Gehazi lied again, saying, “Nowhere.”

But Elisha knew better and said that because of Gehazi’s greed, Naaman’s leprosy would now latch on to Gehazi and all his descendants (see 2 Kings 5:27). Gehazi’s choice not only affected him, it affected the generations who came after him. I wonder how many times in his life Gehazi looked at his leprous spots and thought with regret about the man he could have been.

Gehazi allowed the love of money to keep him from reaching his destiny. In a similar way, how many people today lose their relationships with their families because of greed? This happens more than we’d like to admit. Working extra hard for a season of time is admirable, and it can be wise in certain situations. But working franti¬cally for decades on end out of an obsessive lust for more and more things is wrong, and always leads to trouble in the end. Take time to spend with those closest to you, and enjoy every moment God has given you.

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me to keep the right attitude toward money and possessions, and not to let greed drive my decisions. Thank You for providing everything I need! In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – A Blameless Watchman

 

“If you refuse to warn the wicked when I want you to tell them, You are under the penalty of death, therefore repent and save your life – they will die in their sins, but I will punish you. I will demand your blood for theirs. But if you warn them and they keep on sinning, and refuse to repent, they will die in their sins, but you are blameless – you have done all you could” (Ezekiel 3:18-19).

One of the most sobering messages I find in all the words of God is this terrible warning found in the book of Ezekiel. God commanded Ezekiel to warn the people of Israel to turn from their sins. Some would argue that this has no application for the Christian. I would disagree. In principle this is exactly what our Lord commands us to do – to go and make disciples of all nations, to preach the gospel to all men, to follow Jesus and He will make us to become fishers of men.

It is a sobering thing to realize that all around us there are multitudes of men and women, even loved ones, who do not know the Savior. Many of them have never received an intelligent, Spirit-filled, loving witness concerning our Savior. Who will tell them? There are some people whom you and I can reach whom nobody else can influence.

I am writing this day’s devotion while in Amsterdam where I am speaking at an international gathering of Christian evangelists. During the course of my days here I have talked with many taxi drivers, maids, waiters and other employees of the hotel. Only one professed to be a believer and we had good fellowship together. Some were openly defiant, even angry at the name of Jesus. But in each case I have shared the gospel, constrained by the love of Christ out of a deep sense of gratitude for all that He has done for me, and as an act of obedience to His command to be His witness.

I pray that God will give me a greater sense of urgency to warn men that unless they turn to Christ they will die in their sins. I do not want to be responsible because I failed to warn them. They must know that there is a heaven and a hell and that there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved but the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Bible Reading: Ezekiel 3:15-21

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will ask the Holy Spirit to quicken within my heart, out of a deep sense of gratitude for all He has done for me and from a desire to obey our Lord’s commands, a greater sense of urgency to be His witness and to warn men to turn from their wicked ways and receive Christ, the gift of God’s love.

 

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Max Lucado – God Claims You

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

I have a feeling most people who defy and deny God do so more out of fear than conviction. For all our chest pumping and braggadocio, we’re anxious folk. We can’t see a step into the future, can’t hear the One who owns us. No wonder we try to bite the hand that feeds us. But God reaches and touches.

If he’s touching you, let him. Mark it down! God loves you, and He loves you with an unearthly love. You can’t win it by being winsome, you can’t lose it by being a loser. But you can be blind enough to resist it. Don’t, for heaven’s sake, don’t. For your sake, don’t. Others demote you. God claims you. Let the definitive voice of the universe say, “You are part of my plan.”

Read more 3:16: The Numbers of Hope

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Denison Forum – Joe Biden nominates Kamala Harris for VP: What your place in the world says about your view of the world

Joe Biden named California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate yesterday. If elected, she would be the nation’s first female, first Black, and first Asian American vice president.

Sen. Harris is a native of Oakland, California. Her father, who is Jamaican, taught at Stanford University. Her mother, the daughter of an Indian diplomat, was a cancer researcher. She served as attorney general for San Francisco and then the state of California before she was elected to the Senate in 2016.

She and Beau Biden, the presidential nominee’s late son, worked closely together when he was Delaware’s attorney general. She campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination and, after leaving the race in December, gave her full support to Mr. Biden.

Numerous Democratic leaders tweeted their support yesterday for Sen. Harris. By contrast, the Trump campaign responded much more critically.

Your position regarding Mr. Biden’s selection likely reflects your position regarding the election. Where we are in the world, both physically and ideologically, says a great deal about how we see the world.

If time is a line on a page, God is the page 

Yesterday, we explored the first part of 1 Peter 1:1, where the apostle addressed his letter “to those who are elect exiles.” We focused on our status as “exiles,” noting the importance of seeking the welfare of our society while we trust God with our future and seek his presence in the present.

Today, let’s think about the rest of Peter’s introductory paragraph: “of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood” (vv. 1b–2).

“Dispersion” (diaspora) refers to the “scattering” of Peter’s readers across modern-day Turkey. The locales he named comprise an area of nearly three hundred thousand square miles. I traveled through this part of Turkey some years ago when researching a book on the seven churches of Revelation; it is a beautiful region replete with artifacts of ancient towns and cultures.

Peter’s readers were exiled “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,” a reminder that we must never forget that God never forgets us. He sees the future more clearly than we see the present. As C. S. Lewis noted, if we view time as a line on a page, God is the page.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Joe Biden nominates Kamala Harris for VP: What your place in the world says about your view of the world

Charles Stanley – Waiting in Faith

 

Hebrews 11:6-16

When I was a young boy, my mother let me plant some seeds in her garden. Although she explained that the plants would take time to appear, when nothing happened after several days, I decided to dig them up to check for progress. I found no plants, but what’s worse, I also ruined the possibility of ever seeing any.

Hebrews 11 records examples of people who by faith waited for what God promised, even when it wasn’t visible.

  • Noah continued building an ark despite the many intervening years until the predicted flood (Heb. 11:7).
    Abraham looked forward to the land God promised, though the fulfillment did not take place during his lifetime (Heb. 11:8-10).
    • Sarai had to wait until she was well beyond childbearing age before God finally gave her the son He’d promised (Heb. 11:11-12).

If we expect God to work according to our timetable, we’re likely to face disappointment. The people mentioned in Hebrews had to wait many years; in fact, some of the promises made to them won’t be fulfilled until after Christ returns. The Lord doesn’t work like a gumball machine—we can’t cash in a promise and assume the fulfillment will pop out. Ours is a long-term walk by faith.

 

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 9-11

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Named by God

 

Bible in a Year:

“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.”

Ruth 1:20

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ruth 1:19–22

Riptide. Batgirl. Jumpstart. These are a few names given to counselors at the summer camp our family attends every year. Created by their peers, the camp nicknames usually derive from an embarrassing incident, a funny habit, or a favorite hobby.

Nicknames aren’t limited to camp—we even find them used in the Bible. For example, Jesus dubs the apostles James and John the “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). It’s rare in Scripture for someone to give themselves a nickname, yet it happens when a woman named Naomi asks people to call her “Mara,” which means “bitterness” (Ruth 1:20), because both her husband and two sons had died. She felt that God had made her life bitter (v. 21).

The new name Naomi gave herself didn’t stick, however, because those devastating losses were not the end of her story. In the midst of her sorrow, God had blessed her with a loving daughter-in-law, Ruth, who eventually remarried and had a son, creating a family for Naomi again.

Although we might sometimes be tempted to give ourselves bitter nicknames, like “failure” or “unloved,” based on difficulties we’ve experienced or mistakes we’ve made, those names are not the end of our stories. We can replace those labels with the name God has given each of us, “loved one” (Romans 9:25), and look for the ways He’s providing for us in even the most challenging of times.

By:  Lisa M. Samra

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – So Much More

 

In philosopher Colin McGinn’s intriguingly titled article “Something Is Wrong and Somebody Is To Blame,” he observes, “[T]he modern world has produced an abiding sense that there is something deeply wrong with our lives. We want to be better and freer from guilt, but the old ways of escaping guilt are gone. Officially we no longer believe in original sin, but we are haunted by its secular progeny…. I would characterize it as a kind of precarious shadowy unease, and a felt poverty of spirit. The more comfortable we become on the outside the more this elusive guilt gnaws on the inside.”(1)

Why do we do what we ought not to do and why don’t we do what we ought? Why, with all the scientific advances and advantages of living today, are we still confounded by not only widespread hate and evil but also the malevolent inclinations in our own hearts—even towards those we claim to love?

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Annie Dillard attributes our malady to the loss of shared values once firmly held:

“If meaning is contextual, and it is, then the collapse of ordered Western society and its inherited values following World War I cannot be overstressed; when we lost our context; we lost our meaning. We became, all of us in the West, more impoverished and in one sense more ignorant than pygmies, who, like the hedgehog, know one great thing: in this case, why they are here. We no longer know why we are here.”(2)

It is in this place that the Easter story of Jesus crucified and resurrected that we might have life—that is, the gospel—speaks so uniquely, for it offers the most plausible and hopeful understanding of who we are and why we are here. We are made in the image of God to reflect his love and splendor, but we have sought to find our purpose and home elsewhere. In the words of the prophet Jeremiah, “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jeremiah 2:13).

The gospel offers us a window into our hearts and God’s grace to see our desires and “our poverty of spirit.” And this gospel offers us so much more. It offers us a relationship with the One who made us and who knows and loves us as no other can, and with this relationship, the freedom and power to receive all that God longs to give us: love, joy, peace, patience, self-control.(3)

“The entrance of your words give light,” wrote the psalmist of God.(4) Rare is the person who can speak into our lives with both truth and love. I think particularly of Jesus’s conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. He discloses that he knows about her five marriages and current man she is living with and that he is the living water for which she thirsts. We might not be surprised if she had turned away in anger and shame, but instead, she leaves her water jar and goes back to her village to exclaim, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” (John 4:29). Jesus doesn’t seek to demoralize her but to tenderly unveil her life so that she might discover her “broken cisterns that cannot hold water” and find the One who will never leave her thirsty.

Throughout the Scriptures we see evidence of hearts awakened when God comes near. There is God wrestling with Jacob and Job crying out for mercy. There is the risen Lord walking with the dismayed travelers to Emmaus who didn’t recognize the long-awaited Anointed One they were hoping for was at their side. There is this same Jesus appearing to Saul, a violent persecutor of Christians, on the road to Damascus. In each instance and countless others, they are afforded an intimate encounter with their very Maker and Lord and the grace and forgiveness that would forever change their lives.

Indeed, it is because “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us … full of grace and truth” that we can trust his description of who we are and who he claims to be. Christ understands our frailties, our fears, our disordered affections. He knows our longing for love and our unwillingness to surrender. He knows the knots of cynicism, heartache, and distrust that can tangle our desire to believe, whether we’re a skeptic or a Christian. To each Jesus says, “Come”—and so much more. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11: 28-30).

Danielle DuRant is Director of Research and Writing at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, GA.

(1) From Colin McGinn, “Something Is Wrong and Somebody Is To Blame,” Book Review of Paul Oppenheimer’s Infinite Desire (Madison, 2001), The Wall Street Journal (13 February 2001), A24 and online (subscription only) at http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB98203977957817365.
(2) Annie Dillard, Living by Fiction (New York: Perennial Library/Harper & Row, 1982), 25-26.
(3) See Galatians 5: 22-23 among other verses.
(4) Psalm 119:130.
(5) John 1:14.

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Joyce Meyer – Think Sessions

 

For who has known or understood the mind (the counsels and purposes) of the Lord so as to guide and instruct Him and give Him knowledge? But we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart. — 1 Corinthians 2:16 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource The Confident Woman – by Joyce Meyer

We need to have daily think sessions, purposely sitting down where it’s quiet, meditating on the truth, and speaking those thoughts out loud. These thoughts from God’s Word are a great place to start!

  • This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it (see Psalm 118:24). I’m looking forward to encouraging people today!
  • The words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart are pleasing to God (see Psalm 19:14).
  • I have the mind of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 2:16).
  • I am the righteousness of God in Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:21).
  • I am expecting God to do something great in my life (see Jeremiah 29:11).

I want to encourage you to take time to actually think about what you’re thinking about. When you decide to think and speak on purpose every day, you’ll begin to reap the results of a clear, positive mind!

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me become more consistent with spending time in Your Word, and in speaking truth over my life. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Will Uphold Us

 

“Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with My victorious right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

An obsolete Army transport plane was filled with people from various parts of the world. We flew, at the invitation of the president of a third world country, for a dedication ceremony of a historic sight. But it was not until we were crowded into the plane and ready to take off that we observed that there were no seatbelts. In fact there were not even enough seats for all of the guests. It was quite an unusual experience at best. Yet, I was able to claim this assuring promise that God gave to Isaiah and gives to all of his children who trust and obey Him.

Many times in my trips to various parts of the world, I have encountered difficulties, opposition, problems and challenges. In such times as these, I have needed and claimed the promises of God.

God’s banquet table is full to overflowing. Not only can we be free from fear, but we can also be encouraged knowing that He is our God and thus He will strengthen and help and uphold us with His victorious right hand. If you and I come to such a banquet table and come away with only crumbs, we should not blame the one who has prepared the table. He has made all things possible for us and given us all things in Him. Even if your task today is simply to perform routine duties, you may approach them without fear, even of boredom, knowing that God is with you.

Bible Reading: Isaiah 41:1-9

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Claiming this marvelous promise from God’s word, I will not fear, but will claim with joyful confidence His faithful promise to meet my every need, knowing that I am complete in Him who will enable me to live the supernatural life.

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – God Chooses to Love

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Scripture employs an artillery of terms for love, each one calibrated to reach a different target.  Consider the one Moses used with his followers in Deuteronomy 10:15, “The LORD chose your ancestors as the objects of his love.” What the Hebrews heard in their language was this: “The LORD binds himself to his people.” Binds is the word hasaq, and it speaks of a tethered love, a love attached to something or someone. Harnessed. The strap serves two functions, yanking and claiming. Like yanking your child out of trouble and, in doing so, to proclaim, “Yes, he is as wild as a banshee. But he’s mine.”

God chained himself to Israel. Because they were lovable? No. God loves Israel and the rest of us because he chooses to do so. God’s love is the love that won’t let go of the object of His love.

Read more 3:16: The Numbers of Hope

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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