Charles Stanley – Soldiers for Christ

 

1 Timothy 6:11-16

In today’s passage, Paul tells a young pastor named Timothy, “Fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12). But this command isn’t limited to pastors; every believer needs to be a faithful soldier of Christ. That’s because we’re all in a battle—not against people but against spiritual forces of wickedness (Eph. 6:12).

This war began when Satan and other angels rebelled against God. Then Satan tempted Eve to disobey the Lord as well. As a result of Adam and Eve’s rebellion, the earth was cursed, and the entire human race was corrupted by sin. Ever since that day, the battle for truth and righteousness has raged.

Although we may often feel overwhelmed by temptations and deceptions, Jesus modeled the path to victory when He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11). He used only one weapon to refute each enticement and falsehood—the Word of God.

This is the same powerful weapon our heavenly Father has given us to fight the good fight. When we view daily battles biblically with full reliance on the trustworthiness and authority of Scripture, we can flee sin, pursue righteousness, and stand firmly for the truths of the faith.

 

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 63-66

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Letting Go

 

Bible in a Year:

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.

Psalm 116:15

Today’s Scripture & Insight:John 11:21–36

“Your father is actively dying,” said the hospice nurse. “Actively dying” refers to the final phase of the dying process and was a new term to me, one that felt strangely like traveling down a lonely one-way street. On my dad’s last day, not knowing if he could still hear us, my sister and I sat by his bed. We kissed the top of his beautiful bald head. We whispered God’s promises to him. We sang “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” and quoted the 23rd Psalm. We told him we loved him and thanked him for being our dad. We knew his heart longed to be with Jesus, and we told him he could go. Speaking those words was the first painful step in letting go. A few minutes later, our dad was joyously welcomed into his eternal home.

The final release of a loved one is painful. Even Jesus’ tears flowed when His good friend Lazarus died (John 11:35). But because of God’s promises, we have hope beyond physical death. Psalm 116:15 says that God’s “faithful servants”—those who belong to Him—are “precious” to Him. Though they die, they’ll be alive again.

Jesus promises, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (John 11:25–26). What comfort it brings to know we’ll be in God’s presence forever.

By:  Cindy Hess Kasper

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Grief Is Great

 

“Please—Mr. Lion—Aslan, Sir?” said Digory working up the courage to ask. “Could you—may I—please, will you give me some magic fruit of this country to make my mother well?”

A child in one of the Narnia books, Digory, at this point in the story, had brought about much disaster for Aslan and his freshly created Narnia. But he had to ask. In fact, he thought for a second that he might attempt to make a deal with Aslan. But quickly Digory realized the Lion was not the sort of person with which one could try to make bargains.

C.S. Lewis then recounts, “Up till then the child had been looking at the lion’s great front feet and the huge claws on them. Now in his despair he looked up at his face. And what he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and wonder of wonders great shining tears stood in the lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the lion must really be sorrier about his mother than he was himself.”(1)

Charles Dickens often spoke of his characters as beloved and “real existences.” I have often wondered if the “safe but never tame” Lion cared for C.S. Lewis half as much as this figure has comforted others. Lewis was a boy about the age of Digory when his mother lay dying of cancer and he was helpless to save her.

“My son, my son,” said Aslan. “I know. Grief is great. Only you and I in this land know that yet. Let us be good to one another…”

The character that fills each of the gospel stories towers above all attempts we have made to describe him. And yet, had we been in charge of writing the story of God becoming human, I doubt it would have been Christ we described. “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3). He was not the stoic, man of nerves we might have imagined. Nor was he the ever-at-peace teacher we often describe. He was, among other things, a man of sorrows.

If I am honest, there is, for me, immense comfort in a Christ who was not always smiling. As I picture his face set as flint toward Jerusalem, readying himself for the tortuous events of the cross, my fear is unfastened by his fortitude. As I imagine the urgency in his voice as he defended a guilty woman amidst a crowd holding rocks, my shame is undone by his mercy. And as I picture him weeping at the grave of Lazarus, crying out at injustice, sweating blood in the garden of Gethsemane, my tears are given depth, maybe even life, by his own cries. We do not grieve alone.

“But you, O God,” cried the psalmist, “do see trouble and grief.” Becoming man, the character of God was not compromised or misrepresented. As the vicarious Son of God knew tears, so the heart of God is one that knows grief. The heart of the Father is one who knows the loss of a child. “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted,” writes the prophet Isaiah. Matthew describes the extent of these words: “Then [Pilate] released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified” (Matthew 27:26). Indeed, our grief is great; let us be good to one another.

Perhaps those who mourn are called blessed because they are at this point closest to the deepest wound of the heart of God. Until every tear shall be wiped dry, we have before us the hopeful figure of the Man of Sorrows, who bore on his shoulders our grief and his own. “My son, my daughter, I know.”

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

(1) C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew, (New York: Harper Collins, 2001), 83.

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Joyce Meyer – Agree with God

 

Again I tell you, if two of you on earth agree (harmonize together, make a symphony together) about whatever [anything and everything] they may ask, it will come to pass and be done for them by My Father in heaven. — Matthew 18:19 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Power Thoughts Devo – by Joyce Meyer

Not only does God have a plan for your life, but the enemy has a plan for you too, and it’s up to you to decide which one you’ll agree and get on board with. I encourage you to choose wisely, because the Bible says when people come into agreement, power increases.

When the devil tries to tell you that you don’t have any future left or you’ve made too many mistakes, you need to say, “God is the God of second chances. I not only have a future, but I’ve got a good future. God has great things ahead for my life.” If the enemy can get you to agree with him, you’ll have what he wants you to have—pain, regret and brokenness—but if you stay in agreement with God, then you’ll have what God wants you to have—life, and life more abundantly (see John 10:10). Who are you going to agree with?

Prayer Starter: Father, I choose to agree with You and Your plan for my life. Thank You for wanting and planning good things for my life, and for helping me recognize and refuse to agree with the lies of the enemy. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – His Mighty Power Within

 

“Last of all I want to remind you that your strength must come from the Lord’s mighty power within you” (Ephesians 6:10).

When my saintly mother became a Christian at 16, she immediately determined to become a woman of God with the help of the Holy Spirit. She devoted her life to my father and to the rearing of seven children.

Through the years, as I have observed her attitudes and actions closely, I have never seen her do anything that reflected negatively on the Lord.

As a result, my life has been greatly affected in a positive way. There is no question in my mind that everything God has done and ever will do in and through me will be, in no small measure, a result of those unique, godly qualities of my mother, and especially of her prayers.

In today’s world, there often is considerable criticism of a woman who finds her fulfillment as a wife, mother and homemaker, as though such roles are demeaning to the woman. The popular thought is that there is something better, such as a professional career.

I would not minimize the fact that there are gifted women who should be involved in business and professional life, but in most cases this would be a secondary role compared to the privilege of being a mother, especially a godly Christian mother in whose life the fruit of the Spirit is demonstrated.

What I can say about my mother, I believe my sons can say about theirs, for Vonette has demonstrated those same godly, Christlike qualities toward them as a mother – and , as a wife, toward me.

These two examples underscore a wonderful, basic truth of supernatural living: As we continue to live supernaturally, walking in the power and under the guidance and control of the Holy Spirit, the personality and character of Christ become more and more a part of us.

Bible Reading: Ephesians 6:11-20

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: When I need special strength – whether physical or spiritual – I will claim by faith the Lord’s mighty power within me to meet the need.

 

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Max Lucado – Catalog God’s Goodness

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Short memories harden the heart so make careful note of God’s blessings! Declare with David, “I will daily add praise to praise. I’ll write the book on your righteousness, talk up your salvation the lifelong day, and never run out of good things to write or say” (Psalm 71:14-15 MSG).

Catalog God’s goodnesses. Meditate on them. He has led you and earned your trust. Remember what he’s done for you. And acknowledge what you have done against God. The scripture says, “If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts” (1 John 1:10).  Sin-hoarding stiffens us. Confession softens us. Is your heart hard? Take it to the Father. You’re only a prayer away from tenderness. You live in a hard world but you don’t have to live with a hard heart!

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Bride’s wedding video cut short by Beirut explosion: Three keys to living in a non-linear world

 

Lebanese bride Israa Seblani stood in a long white gown and veil, smiling and posing for her wedding video, when the scene was shattered by a horrific roar and a shockwave nearly threw her from her feet.

The footage captured the moment on Tuesday when a massive explosion rocked Beirut, killing at least 135 people and injuring more than 5,000.

Seblani, a doctor working in the US, helped check on the injured before fleeing the area to safety. She said later, “What happened during the explosion here—there is no word to explain . . . I was shocked, I was wondering what happened, am I going to die? How am I going to die?”

“There are no words to describe the catastrophe” 

Lebanon’s president, Michel Aoun, said that 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate caused the massive fireball that sent a shockwave across the city. “There are no words to describe the catastrophe that hit Beirut,” he stated.

The Port of Beirut was destroyed. Shop and apartment windows were blown out two miles from where the explosion occurred. Losses are estimated to be between $10 billion and $15 billion.

Protests erupted last night in central Beirut. More than three hundred thousand people—more than 12 percent of the city’s population—are now homeless. Hospitals are overwhelmed with the injured. Images of a shattered city convey just some of the horror.

Why was the ammonium nitrate there? A vessel called the MV Rhosus entered the port at Beirut in 2013 due a lack of seaworthiness and was forbidden from sailing. The ship’s owner abandoned the vessel, and the ammonium nitrate remained in a storage facility in Beirut’s port. Authorities were supposed to dispose of it safely but failed to do so.

Many in Lebanon blame years of mismanagement and corruption by the country’s political leaders. Some speculate that Hezbollah, a radical Shiite organization that controls much of Lebanon and is pledged to the destruction of Israel, was holding on to this material to use against Israel in missiles or bombs.

What “could change life as we know it” 

The explosion in Beirut was two orders of magnitude greater than the most powerful nonnuclear weapon in the US arsenal. This fact leads to another story in the news this week.

Yesterday was the seventy-fifth anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Nine countries currently possess nuclear weapons: the US, Russia, France, China, the UK, Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea. A recent report in the Wall Street Journal states that Saudi Arabia may be working with China to join their number.

Some nine thousand nuclear weapons exist; as the Union of Concerned Scientists notes, “the use of even one could change life as we know it.”

A university professor who studies nuclear events warns that “the risk of a nuclear exchange—and its devastating impact on medicine and public health worldwide—has only escalated compared to previous decades.” He adds that “the developing technological sophistication among terrorist groups and the growing global availability and distribution of radioactive materials are also especially worrying.”

“The linear life is dead” 

The tragedy in Beirut and the threat of nuclear annihilation point to the unpredictable and chaotic nature of our fallen world. In Life Is in the Transitions, Bruce Feiler expresses this fact bluntly: “The linear life is dead.” By the “linear life” he means “the idea that life follows a series of carefully calibrated progressions—childhood to young adulthood to middle age to old age; dating to marriage to children to empty nest; low-level job to mid-level job to senior-level job to retirement.”

According to Feiler’s research, this idea “seems preposterously outdated.” He discovered that the average person experiences a life “disruptor” every twelve to eighteen months and a “lifequake” (one big event or multiple disruptors at the same time) three to five times in adulthood.

In addition, he reports, the average worker today will hold twelve different jobs before the age of fifty. Those with higher education can expect to change their jobs fifteen times and alter their skill set three times. The typical job now lasts four years; among those under thirty-five years of age, it drops to three.

To navigate such a chaotic, non-linear world, Feiler believes we need agency (“the belief that you can impact the world around you”), belonging (a community that surrounds and nurtures you), and a cause (“a transcendent commitment beyond yourself that makes your life worthwhile”).

Feiler’s insights are more biblical than he may know.

What should be our “greatest fear”? 

God’s word is replete with promises of agency, the assurance that your Father can use your life to impact your world even in the gravest of circumstances. From Joseph, Peter, and Paul in prison to Daniel in a lions’ den and John on Patmos, God uses us in spite of and often because of our challenges (cf. Philippians 4:6–7, 13).

Our Father also offers us belonging in a community of faith so strong and enduring that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). And he has a cause for us that gives our lives eternal significance (Matthew 28:19–20).

So, admit that you live in Beirut, wherever you live. Pray for those who are suffering and find ways to share with them the hope and community of Christ. Live fully in this day, for it is the only day you have.

And remember: “Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter” (Francis Chan).

Will your life “really matter” today?

 

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