Charles Stanley – The Blessing of God’s Peace

 

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.

The Bible reveals to us who God is, and one important aspect of His character is that the Lord loves peace and wants it to fill the earth. Read Jesus’ promise in John’s gospel: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). We also learn that the Lord is a “God of peace” (Rom. 15:33; Phil. 4:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Heb. 13:20), the Messiah is called the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6), and there is peace in heaven (Luke 19:38).

In light of all this, when Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers” in Matthew 5:9, we can understand why: To be a peacemaker is to reflect the image of our heavenly Father—using our breath, energy, and creativity to sow peace wherever the Spirit takes us.

Think about it

  •  What words, feelings, or situations do you associate with peace? When have you experienced peace as a gift from God?

    • Read John 14:27 again. Can you think of fears or concerns that affect your ability to experience or demonstrate peace?

 

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 43-45

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — The Battle’s Over. Really.

 

Bible in a Year:

We were . . . buried with him.

Romans 6:4

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Romans 6:1–11

For twenty-nine years after World War II ended, Hiroo Onoda hid in the jungle, refusing to believe his country had surrendered. Japanese military leaders had dispatched Onoda to a remote island in the Philippines (Lubang) with orders to spy on the Allied forces. Long after a peace treaty had been signed and hostilities ceased, Onoda remained in the wilderness. In 1974, Onoda’s commanding officer traveled to the island to find him and convince him the war was over.

For three decades, Onoda lived a meager, isolated existence, because he refused to surrender—refused to believe the conflict was done. We can make a similar mistake. Paul proclaims the stunning truth that “all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death” (Romans 6:3). On the cross, in a powerful, mysterious way, Jesus put to death Satan’s lies, death’s terror, and sin’s tenacious grip. Though we’re “dead to sin” and “alive to God” (v. 11), we often live as though evil still holds the power. We yield to temptation, succumbing to sin’s seduction. We listen to lies, failing to trust Jesus. But we don’t have to yield. We don’t have to live in a false narrative. By God’s grace we can embrace the true story of Christ’s victory.

While we’ll still wrestle with sin, liberation comes as we recognize that Jesus has already won the battle. May we live out that truth in His power.

By:  Winn Collier

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – When Silence Speaks

 

Studies have shown that at any given time, it is the poor and the marginalized sections of society who are always the most vulnerable, much more so in a crisis or disaster. It is not surprising that in the present crisis brought about by COVID-19, once again the unrecognized, unacknowledged, unseen sections of India’s millions are bearing the brunt of the suffering.

The migrant workers of India have been particularly hard hit. Migrating in droves from the many villages that dot India’s landscape, workers flock to big cities to support their families back home, living in congested urban ghettoes to survive. Often seen disparagingly as “intruders” and “outsiders” in the places where they live and work, these workers became refugees almost overnight in the wake of the national lock down. Stranded, jobless, and helpless, most opted to make the long trek back home. Tragically, many died on the way from sheer exhaustion and hunger.

These tragic stories captured center space on social media recently, prompting the government and the public to take some form of action to alleviate this suffering. The plight of the migrant workers of India—desperation, tiredness, and hunger writ large on their faces—was suddenly pushed to the forefront of public consciousness in a way that has never before occurred. Sadly, it took a crisis of pandemic proportions to give voice and visibility to this otherwise silent, unseen, and oppressed group of people. In this, India is not alone. Many Native American tribes in the US have also suffered disproportionately under COVID-19, calling attention to suffering long ignored and unseen.

Yet for India, the COVID-19 crisis has not only exposed the exploited condition of the migrant community, but it also reveals how heavily our nation’s economy is dependent on these vulnerable men and women whose hardships we have long ignored. Without this workforce, many factories and industries have been severely crippled and it is no exaggeration to say that it seems as if the economy will come to a grinding halt. Though India’s economic growth is planned out and strategized in business schools and boardrooms, it is this grassroots labor force that makes it all a workable reality. Realizing this, the government, companies, and building contractors are now trying to woo migrant workers with more rewarding offers to get them to stay. It is my hope that these steps toward awareness will help us to look at these men and women with new eyes, that the unseen and unheard among us will be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. It is my hope that we will work towards bettering their lives and correcting the oppression of their work conditions.

As a part of the Christian community, I affirm these hopeful signs of a greater, more just awareness. I believe that we are called to affirm people’s worth not because of what they can offer us but simply because they are human. The Bible asserts that every human being is created by God in God’s own image, which affords us both worth and purpose. Though the world does not allocate dignity in this way, we profess a holy God who is at work renewing all creation. I long to see a world that reflects this redemptive hope. I long to see my country treat each person, whatever his or her political or economic status, with the respect that he or she deserves. I long to see every contribution toward the development and growth of the country truly recognized and appreciated.

From this biblical vision of justice, two hopeful lessons come to mind. First, I am called to speak out. For the Christian, it is a biblical mandate to be the voice of the voiceless. Speaking out does not simply mean “protesting against,” but implies a proactive engagement with policies and laws that will result in equitable opportunities and dignity for the poorest of the poor. We need to engage with institutions and authority to work toward a fair and better future for the least of these. This demands hard work, research, and persistence. Living in a country such as mine, where the dominant worldview is one that attributes a person’s present condition to acts done in previous lifetimes, the task is not going to be easy. Nor will this mindset built over centuries of conditioning change overnight. We need strong, moral voices in our nation today to speak up for marginalized communities.

Second, I am called to reach out. As a follower of Christ, I am not only called to speak out but also to live out God’s eternal story of grace and kindness to the poor and oppressed. Recently, NDTV aired an interview with Mr. Cherian Thomas who shared stories of World Vision’s reach to the children of our country, especially those from the poorer sections of society. His heart-warming account called to mind the prayer of Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision, who is said to have prayed: “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”

With a similar call to participation, theologian Christoph Schwoebel notes: “If the Cross and Resurrection of Christ point to the fact that God re-creates human dignity where it has been violated and abused, the Church which claims to be the Church of Christ is committed to sharing the situation of those who have lost their dignity in human eyes and to communicating to them the message that their dignity is re-created by the one who first bestowed it upon them.”(1)

Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God. Let my commitment to sharing God’s re-creation of dignity where it has been violated go unfettered. This should be our prayer every day of our lives.

Tejdor Tiewsoh is a speaker and trainer with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Shillong, India.

(1) Christoph Schwoebel, “Recovering Human Dignity,” in God and Human Dignity, ed. R. Kendall Soulen and Linda Woodhead (Grand Rapids and Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2006), 58.

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Joyce Meyer – Balance in All Things

 

And I will walk at liberty and at ease, for I have sought and inquired for [and desperately required] Your precepts. — Psalm 119:45 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Starting Your Day Right – by Joyce Meyer

It takes discipline to balance our lives. We need to be disciplined to pray, read and study the Word, and spend quality time with the Lord, but we also need to be disciplined to spend quality time with our family and to take care of our health. Jesus came so that we could have and enjoy our lives, so we should even discipline ourselves to rest and have fun (see John 10:10).

Take a look at your life today, and ask God for wisdom to do what’s needed to bring balance to the way you use your time. He wants your life to be full of joy. Psalm 23:2-3 teaches that He’ll lead you beside still and restful waters. He’s ready and waiting to refresh and restore your life, and to lead you in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Prayer Starter:Father, show me today how I can bless the people You’ve put in my path. Thank You for leading me and giving me the ability to serve and encourage others in the way they need it. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Authority Over the Enemy

 

“And I have given you authority over all the power of the Enemy” (Luke 10:19).

By nature I am a very shy, reserved person. But I can look the world in the face and say, “I’m a child of the King. There is royal blood in my veins.”

Because of our identification with Christ, we are no longer ordinary people. The authority of God is available to those who believe in Christ. What a promise!

“Authority over all the power of the Enemy!” That is His promise, but it is something you and I must claim each time we face the enemy. We are to believe this; it is an intellectually valid fact. It is not exercising positive thinking and blindly hoping for the best; rather, it is claiming and leaning on the promises of God by faith.

Supernatural authority belongs to the believer, and there is a difference between authority and power. A policeman standing at a busy intersection has no physical power that would enable him to stop cars coming from all directions. But that little whistle he blows and the uniform he wears represent authority, and because of that authority the drivers know that they had better stop.

You and I have authority – given to us by the Lord Himself – over all the power of the enemy. He may tempt us; he may attack us; he may sorely try us. But victory is assured us as we continue to trust and obey our Lord and claim by faith His supernatural resources for our strength.

Bible Reading: Luke 10:20-24

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Because I have been given authority over the enemy, by faith I will exercise that authority on behalf of others as well as myself, believing God for ultimate victory in each situation.

 

 

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Max Lucado – The Hope Diamond of the Bible

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Jesus said,  “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  Born again?  You must be kidding.  Put life in reverse?  We can’t be born again!  Oh but wouldn’t we like to?  A try-again.  A reload.  How can this be?

Jesus answers in John 3:16, the hope diamond of the Bible. “For God so loved the word that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  A twenty-six word parade of hope!  If you know nothing in the Bible—start here.  If you know everything about the Bible—return here!  He loves.  He gave.  We believe.  We live!

For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only son… John 3:16.

Read more 3:16: The Numbers of Hope

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – Burning Bibles in Portland and two sentences every American needs to hear

Activists burned a stack of Bibles in front of the federal courthouse in Portland Friday night. A statue of Jesus was beheaded recently at a Miami church.

A recent faculty survey at Harvard University found that 79.7 percent consider themselves “very liberal” or “liberal”; 18.9 percent say they are “moderate”; only 1.46 percent call themselves “conservative” or “very conservative.”

Unsurprisingly, 67 percent of white evangelical Protestants believe Christianity’s influence on American life is decreasing. Two-thirds say their beliefs are in conflict with mainstream American culture.

“We have no enemies, only opponents” 

And yet, this is a time when the evangelical message that we can have a personal relationship with a personal Savior is more urgently needed than ever.

Tropical Storm Isaias is on track to impact the Carolinas later today, demonstrating our finitude before the power of nature. Dr. Deborah Birx noted yesterday that the coronavirus pandemic is “extraordinarily widespread” in the US. Governmental leaders are meeting today to continue negotiations over a new coronavirus-relief package, but they cannot end the recession without an end to the pandemic that is causing it.

How can we make God’s offer of redemption in response to our repentance more available and attractive to those who need it? Consider two sentences I believe every American needs to hear.

Last Thursday, President George W. Bush spoke at the funeral of Rep. John Lewis. In his brief but emotional eulogy for one of our greatest civil rights heroes, the former president made this statement: “John and I had our disagreements, of course. But in the America John Lewis fought for and in the America I believe in, differences of opinion are inevitable elements and evidence of democracy in action.”

When we view those with whom we disagree as our enemies, our sentiment usually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When we view them as members of the same human family and citizens of the same great nation, we can engage with them in the spirit of “democracy in action.”

Ronald Reagan used to tell those who served in his administration, “Remember, we have no enemies, only opponents.”

Consider three biblical principles.

One: God can use anyone, whether we think so or not 

Joshua 24 records the Lord’s address to his people at the end of Joshua’s life. It begins with God’s reminder that “your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates . . . and they served other gods” (v. 2). And yet, he “took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan, and made his offspring many” (v. 3).

You and I might not have chosen a childless idolater to begin a nation, but God did. We might not have believed that a prisoner in Egypt would one day become prime minister, or that a fugitive would lead the Jewish people out of Egyptian slavery, or that a disciple who denied Jesus three times would preach the Pentecost sermon.

If God could redeem and use an enemy of his people like Saul of Tarsus, what could he do with someone who burns a Bible or beheads a statue of Jesus? Continue to pray for your nation and proclaim God’s word with grace, knowing that it’s always too soon to give up on God.

Two: All we have is ours by grace 

The Lord concluded his address with this statement: “I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant” (v. 13).

I did not earn the right to be born in America rather than North Korea. I did not earn the right to hear the gospel from Christians who knocked on my door and invited me to ride their bus to church. If you know more about your Lord than those who oppose your faith, you have an obligation to pay forward to them the grace you have received.

Three: We need the power of God to live as the people of God 

Joshua followed God’s message with his own: “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord” (v. 15). The people promised in response: “The Lord our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey” (v. 24).

However, after Joshua and his generation died, “the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who brought them out of the land of Egypt” (Judges 2:11–12). They could not live as the people of God without the power of God.

Nor can we.

We cannot ask Americans to do what we are not doing. If we would challenge them to repent of self-reliance and live in dependence on Jesus, we must do the same. If we would call them to biblical morality, we must exhibit biblical morality.

Otherwise, our words are only words.

“As for me and my house” 

Joshua modeled the commitment God is calling us to emulate when he told the nation, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

I remember vividly my first visit to Janet’s home in Houston after we began dating in college. Her parents displayed Joshua’s declaration on a plaque in their dining room where everyone entering their home could see it. As I soon learned, they lived the truth of these words every day.

Could you display their plaque in your home today?

 

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