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

 

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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

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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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Denison Forum – “Absolute chaos in downtown Chicago”: Why a “theology of exile” is empowering for Christians today

Chicago police shot and wounded a young man Sunday afternoon after he fired at them while trying to evade arrest. Though he was in his twenties, a rumor spread in the neighborhood that officers had shot a child. A mob then laid siege to Chicago’s downtown commercial district.

Stores were looted and windows were smashed. Two people were shot, thirteen police officers were injured, and more than one hundred arrests were made. The city then halted public transportation and raised the bridges that lead to downtown. Access was restricted to the area again last night.

“Absolute chaos in downtown Chicago,” one reporter wrote on Twitter.

The night before the riots in Chicago, a seventeen-year-old in Washington, DC, was killed in a shooting and twenty others were injured. Meanwhile, according to the New York Post, New York City is on track to have more shootings and victims this year than in 2019 and 2018 combined.

A radio question 

If you don’t live in Chicago, New York City, or Washington, DC, you might shrug your shoulders at today’s news with gratitude that you don’t live in these cities. But in a very real sense, you do. So do I.

What we need is a biblical approach to our broken culture that balances grief and hope.

I was interviewed by Kim Weir for her radio broadcast Sunday night. At one point, she asked me to address the discouragement so many evangelicals feel with the moral trajectory of our culture. As she knows, it is tempting to withdraw from the world, to stop caring about people who don’t seem to care about us or our biblical convictions.

But this is precisely the wrong way for believers to respond to the issues of our day.

Why we are “elect exiles” 

1 Peter 1 begins: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion” (v. 1). “Elect” (eklektois) means to be “chosen” by God. Note that Peter’s audience included Gentiles as well as Jews, so the apostle could not be referring only to Israel as the chosen people of God (cf. Deuteronomy 4:37).

Rather, all who choose Christ are chosen by him. If Jesus is your Lord, you can know that you are God’s child, known personally and loved passionately by your Father.

“Exiles” (parepidemois) can be translated as “strangers” or “pilgrims.” Peter repeated his description later: “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles . . .” (1 Peter 2:11). The apostle, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21), clearly described us as living in a land that is not our home.

How does this fact help us respond redemptively to our fallen culture?

The prophet Jeremiah wrote a letter to exiles in Babylon that answers our question (Jeremiah 29:1). As Jews living among pagan people who had destroyed their temple and nation, they were understandably antagonistic toward the culture in which they found themselves. The Lord spoke through his prophet to his people (v. 4), issuing three empowering imperatives.

One: Choose compassion and character, no matter how you are treated. 

God said: “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (v. 7). For an example of this verse in action, see Minni Elkins’s article on a pastor who is conducting prayer walks in Chicago.

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