Charles Stanley – God Acts on Our Behalf

 

Lamentations 3:19-26

We’re so used to a hurried world that we sometimes expect speed in our spiritual life, too. However, God “acts on behalf of those who wait for him” (Isa. 64:4 NIV). Let’s look at three reasons believers are called upon to wait.

God may be preparing us to receive His blessings. Perhaps we need new skills, maturity, or a particular spiritual insight before we’re ready for God’s plan. For example, David waited years to sit on his appointed throne. But when he did, he was stronger, wiser, and a battle-tested king.

Our Father is often teaching us to have confidence in Him. How would we learn faith if He immediately fulfilled our every request? In my own life, the Lord has often said two words: “Trust Me.” And He has never been late to meet my needs. No matter how we justify rushing ahead of God, doing so amounts to saying, “I don’t trust You.”

The Lord will sometimes withhold blessing to protect us. We may never find out why, but be assured that God carefully decides whether to place the object of our desire in our hands.

Waiting isn’t easy, but rushing ahead of the Lord can short-circuit His plan. When that happens, believers are left unsatisfied, and they often live with the consequences. Be patient while God works out details. His best is on the way.

 

Bible in One Year: Zechariah 1-5

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Eyes to See

 

Bible in a Year:

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

Psalm 119:18

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 119:97–104

I recently discovered the wonder of anamorphic art. Appearing at first as an assortment of random parts, an anamorphic sculpture only makes sense when viewed from the correct angle. In one piece, a series of vertical poles align to reveal a famous leader’s face. In another, a mass of cable becomes the outline of an elephant. Another artwork, made of hundreds of black dots suspended by wire, becomes a woman’s eye when seen correctly. The key to anamorphic art is viewing it from different angles until its meaning is revealed.

With thousands of verses of history, poetry, and more, the Bible can sometimes be hard to understand. But Scripture itself tells us how to unlock its meaning. Treat it like an anamorphic sculpture: view it from different angles and meditate on it deeply.

Christ’s parables work this way. Those who care enough to ponder them gain “eyes to see” their meaning (Matthew 13:10–16). Paul told Timothy to “reflect” on his words so God would give him insight (2 Timothy 2:7). And the repeated refrain of Psalm 119 is how meditating on Scripture brings wisdom and insight, opening our eyes to see its meaning (119:18, 97–99).

How about pondering a single parable for a week or reading a gospel in one sitting? Spend some time viewing a verse from all angles. Go deep. Biblical insight comes from meditating on Scripture, not just reading it.

Oh, God, give us eyes to see.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Why Isn’t God More Obvious?

 

Why is it that God does not seem to approach in a much more obvious way? One answer has been that God’s existence is not a matter of reality and facts. Isn’t it more of a faith position, anyway? Isn’t it more about a leap in the dark than an embrace of evidence?

I would agree that God isn’t “forcefully obvious,” but I don’t think that this confines God to being a “take-it-or-leave-it” matter of faith. I think it makes more sense to see God as clearly visible, whilst not being forcefully obvious.

Did you know that the Bible actually recognizes the validity of this question? First, we see passages that affirm the human perception that God seems hidden. In Job 23:8-9 we read, “But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.”

Interestingly, there are also many examples of God appearing as if veiled in darkness, whilst still simultaneously offering his presence.(1) For instance we read that, “The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.” Jesus, too, invites people to trust in him and then leaves and hides himself. In John we find the story of a paralytic man who is healed, but then Jesus slips away into the crowd. Luke records that as news about Jesus spread, “he often withdrew to lonely places.” Later, Jesus tells the disciples that, “Before long, the world will not see me any more, but you will see me.” Interestingly in many of these cases, God provides a clear sense of presence, while at the same time veiling the fullness of that presence.

So perhaps an unavoidable part of the Bible’s answer to why God seems hidden is because it’s true. But why? And what about those times when we need a present God most, when God could offer us real hope in times of suffering?

Well, when Jesus resisted the crowd, he concealed his identity until exactly the right moment in time to explicitly disclose it. This was a wise decision as the consequences of more explicit or obvious disclosure led fairly quickly to a successful campaign to have him executed. Could it be that God isn’t unavoidably obvious, but clear in a more qualified sense? Crucially, there is also no reason why something of this nature might not require some learning to begin to perceive or see on our part.

For example, imagine that I said that it is obvious, but not forcefully so, that you will need your passport to fly internationally. Now, notice carefully that you have to learn this bit of information. It is certainly not like a forcefully obvious brick wall that you cannot avoid. But it would still perhaps be a case of a failure to grasp the obvious if you arrived at the airport with your bags packed but without your passport. It’s this second sense (of non-forceful obviousness or avoidable clarity) that the case for God can be confidently approached.

But might this idea of God hiding merely provide a clever way for Christians to cling onto God in a scientific and evidence demanding age? This has been argued. Yet Christians do not claim that God doesn’t show himself, but rather that God chooses the means of the showing. And hiddenness may well be necessary to bring focus to the way God declares his existence through Jesus Christ. In fact, divine hiding creates the possibility of a more obvious disclosure or uncovering.

Atheist Bertrand Russell famously quipped that if he were faced with God when he died, he would demand an explanation for why God made the evidence of his existence so insufficient. We might be tempted to think he was being entirely reasonable. But perhaps the evidence we demand for God is directly related to who we think God is and what we think God’s purposes are. Hiddenness would make no sense if God’s aim was simply to relate to us as an object of knowledge that offered no real relational connection or friendship. If this was the divine purpose—that we would simply acknowledge God’s existence—then I am sympathetic to Russell’s demand for more evidence.

But let us suppose that God was unwilling to make an approach to human life merely through the intellect. Instead, let us imagine that God is seeking a relationship that is based upon a deeper and more profound personal insight or perception. Have you ever asked what kind of a relationship God might want with you?

Moreover, God has indeed been revealed plainly in the reality of a redemptive plan and action. The gospel is described as a mystery now made known. Many Christians can recall moments, or even seasons spanning years, where God has been plainly and clearly at work and life has been saturated with the presence and grace of Father, Son, and Spirit. Faith isn’t a blind faith, but a response to the evidence. It is based on real events that can be investigated. A leap in the dark has never been the offer, as it is about stepping into the light.

So perhaps the evidence that we demand is a consequence of who we think God is and what we think God’s purposes are? If God loves you and wants you to freely choose to return that love then perhaps sending his Son for you is enough to catch your attention.

 

(1) Cf. Psalm 10:1; 22:1-2; 30:7; 44:23-24; 88:13-14; 89:46; Isaiah 45:15.

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Joyce Meyer – No More Excuses

 

Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come! — 2 Corinthians 5:17 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Battlefield of the Mind – by Joyce Meyer

“I’ve always had a short temper. That’s just the way I am.”

“I’m a straightforward person. That’s who I am, and that’s how people need to accept me.”

“I call things as I see them. I don’t sugarcoat anything.”

This list could go on endlessly, but the one thing these excuses have in common is that each is meant to justify people remaining the way they are. It’s a way of resisting change.

Making excuses also creates space for Satan to creep into our minds. Being the deceiver that he is, he tells us that we’re not rude—we’re just being honest, and people need to respect that quality in us. We think we speak the truth as we see it, and we’re not cowards or hypocrites. If the devil can convince us that we don’t need to grow—that we’ll always be fine exactly the way we are—he’s won a serious battle in our lives.

In fact, the devil can give us a lot of excuses for not changing. If he convinces us that other people are at fault because “they’re just too sensitive” or “they don’t want to hear the truth and face reality,” we don’t feel responsible to grow in the way we communicate, and we think it’s all right to say whatever we want, which isn’t true.

Another example is this: No matter how negative we might be in our thinking, most of us wouldn’t call ourselves “negative.” We’d prefer words like logicalrealisticforthright, or candid. Not facing the truth about ourselves is one part of Satan’s deceptive work.

When I went through a season where I was extremely negative, I wouldn’t have thought of myself as a negative person—I thought I was just being honest. If I saw something wrong, I spoke up, and often offered my counsel on ways for people to change. Because I could see the weaknesses and problems of others, I was happy to show them how they could overcome. On my worst days, I found things wrong with all my friends and everything they did. I didn’t have to look for things to criticize—they just appeared without me having to look for them. I didn’t consider it negative because I thought I was merely trying to be helpful. I was so full of pride at the time that it never occurred to me that people didn’t really want my help. They wanted acceptance and encouragement, not judgment and criticism.

As I said, I had never thought of myself as being negative—that is, until God dealt with me and convicted my heart about the way I was treating people.

I’m not trying to condemn anyone for being negative, frank, blunt, candid, or whatever term you use for it, because condemning is in itself being negative. Instead, I want to help believers recognize if this is an attitude problem for them, and help them know that God is willing and able to help them get free from it. The path to freedom begins when we face our problems—without making excuses—and invite Him to help us overcome them.

We start the Christian life as new creations of God. Our past is wiped away. Our walk with God is one of change—of growth—of moving onward. We know what we’ve been in the past, but we also know that we don’t have to remain that way now or in the future. With Jesus’ help, we can have our minds renewed with His Word and always be growing.

The most difficult part may be to say to God, “I’m a negative person, but I want to change.” Once you’re honest with Him about your struggle, you can begin to win the battle and see more freedom in your thoughts, words and attitudes.

Prayer Starter: Father, please give me the grace to let go of negative, critical thinking, and help me see people and situations the way You do. Thank You for helping me renew my mind with truth, and to use my words to encourage and build others up. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Holy Spirit Will Speak

 

“But when you are arrested and stand trial, don’t worry about what to say in your defense. Just say what God tells you to. Then you will not be speaking, but the Holy Spirit will” (Mark 13:11).

Have you even had the experience of trying to say a word for the Lord, just sharing your faith, and breathing a prayer for guidance – then marveling as the Lord Himself, by His indwelling Holy Spirit, put the very words in your mouth that needed to be said?

Such has been my experience – many times. And I marvel and rejoice each time. On some occasions, I have addressed crowds of varying sizes, often not only feeling totally inadequate but also concluding my message of the evening with the feeling that I had been a poor ambassador of Christ. Then, someone had approached me after the service and thanked my for saying just the word he needed at that moment.

We serve a faithful God. That neighbor who needs a word of encouragement – ask the Lord to give you the right words to say to him or her. That correspondent hundreds of miles away – trust God for His message to him or her through you.

Certain conditions must prevail, of course, before the Holy Spirit can speak through us. But they are easily met. I must come with a clean heart, surrendered to the Holy Spirit, with my sins forgiven, having forgiven other people, holding no resentment or ill feeling against anyone. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm 66:18, KJV).

Let us trust God and His indwelling Holy Spirit for the very words of counsel we should say to a loved one or friend today.

Bible Reading: Acts 2:1-4

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will trust God and His Holy Spirit to put the very words in my mouth this day that need to be said to others whose lives I touch.

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devos – God Is Kind to Sinners

 

 

“For we ourselves were sometimes foolish, disobedient, . . . but after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared” (Titus 3:3a–4).

Have you disobeyed your parents recently? How did they treat you the day after you disobeyed? They probably gave you food to eat, provided you with clothing to wear, and allowed you to keep living under their roof—at the very least. They may even have done something especially nice for you. Your parents’ love for you does not change after you disobey them. They continue to show love and kindness to you, day after day, even when you disappoint or disobey them. That’s because loving you is natural for them. You are in their family. Loving you is part of who they are as your parents.

God loved us even when we were not in His family. Romans 5:8 says He showed His love for us while we were outside His family, still lost in our sins. Titus 3:3–4 tell us that He loved us even after we had been foolish, disobedient, and hateful. If you are saved today, God loved you and showed mercy to you after you had sinned against Him thousands of times. He brought you into His family and gave you eternal life (Titus 3:7). He saved you just because of His mercy. He showed kindness and love to you—because that is His nature. It is part of Who He is. God is kind to sinners.

Are you ever tempted to think God is not kind? Have you ever thought that because He has not given you some of the things you want, He does not love you? God has already proven His love and kindness toward you. He has already shown you much greater love and kindness than you could ever deserve. He will not keep back His kindness from you now. Sometimes God waits to give us good things, and sometimes He refuses to give us things we want because He knows they would harm us. When you are tempted to doubt God’s kindness and love, just look back to the day He saved you. He loved you when you were still a sinner—and He will always love you. It is part of Who He is.

God is kind and loving toward sinners.

My response:

» Have I remembered God’s gift of salvation today?

» Have I thanked Him for His love and kindness?

The post God Is Kind to Sinners appeared first on EquipU Online Library.

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Denison Forum – Amy Coney Barrett and the People of Praise: How to respond when critics don’t understand our faith

 

Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett are set to begin on October 12. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said the committee should clear her nomination by October 26, leaving the Republican-led Senate roughly a week to confirm Barrett before the November 3 election.

Attacks on her family and faith have already begun.

Focusing on the fact that she and her husband adopted two children from Haiti, one critic suggested without any evidence the possibility that “her kids were scooped up by ultra-religious Americans, or Americans who weren’t scrupulous intermediaries & the kids were taken when there was family in Haiti.” Judge Barrett and her husband have also been likened to “White colonizers” for adopting “Black children.”

If past is prologue, we can expect more character assassination attempts in the weeks ahead.

Many critics have focused on the fact that Judge Barrett is a member of a group called People of PraiseNewsweek headlined: “How Charismatic Catholic Groups Like Amy Coney Barrett’s People of Praise Inspired ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’” Their original headline incorrectly claimed that People of Praise directly inspired the dystopian novel; editors were forced to issue a retraction and change their headline (though not the “reporting” in the article itself).

Such guilt by association was echoed by other outlets but has been soundly debunked. This controversy illustrates an important point about the state of our culture and the best way for Christians to respond.

“Glaring gaps in religious knowledge” 

Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan explains that People of Praise is part of the Charismatic Renewal movement that began in the 1970s and “emphasizes personal conversion and bringing forward Christ’s teachings in the world.” Noonan notes: “Members include Protestants as well as Catholics. They have joined together intentionally, in community, to pray together, perform service, and run schools. They’re Christians living in the world.”

David French’s response is especially helpful. He quotes this New York Times description of the group in 2017: “Members of the group swear a lifelong oath of loyalty, called a covenant, to one another, and are assigned and are accountable to a personal adviser, called a ‘head’ for men and a ‘handmaid’ for women. The group teaches that husbands are the heads of their wives and should take authority over the family.”

French responds: “The more I looked into People of Praise, the more I had two simultaneous thoughts: First, many millions of American Christians see echoes of their lives in Judge Barrett’s story. And second, lots of folks really don’t understand both spiritual authority and spiritual community. The concerns about Barrett reflect in part the glaring gaps in religious knowledge in elite American media.”

He’s precisely right.

“A war for worldview dominance” 

People of Praise took “handmaid” from Mary’s response to Gabriel’s announcement that she would become the mother of God’s Son: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38 KJV). (The group later changed the term to avoid confusion after The Handmaid’s Tale came out.)

French reports that the group has been lauded by Cardinal Francis George; one of its members was appointed by Pope Francis as auxiliary bishop of Portland. It has founded three schools that have won nine Department of Education Blue Ribbon awards.

The furor sparked by misunderstandings of Judge Barrett’s faith illustrates an admission New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet made to NPR’s Terry Gross, “We don’t get religion. We don’t get the role of religion in people’s lives.” They’re not alone.

A recent study reported that only 2 percent of America’s millennials hold a biblical worldview. Among Gen X (thirty-seven to fifty-five years of age), only 5 percent subscribe to such a worldview. Only an estimated 9 percent of adults over the age of fifty-six hold a biblical worldview.

George Barna noted that the report “suggests a nation that is at war with itself to adopt new values, lifestyles, and a new identity. In other words, there is a war for worldview dominance.”

How do we win this “war”? Let’s close by focusing on an important part of the answer.

“His kingdom shall never be destroyed” 

Across the coming weeks of divisiveness over confirmation hearings and the presidential election, my prayer for Judge Barrett and for all believers is that we will demonstrate the integrity of Daniel.

His political opponents “could find no ground for complaint or any fault” (Daniel 6:4), so they reverted to attacking him “in connection with the law of his God” (v. 5). However, the Lord redeemed Daniel’s faithfulness so miraculously that King Darius eventually proclaimed: “He is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end” (v. 26).

Like Daniel, we face opposition that does not understand our faith or believe in our God. They need and deserve our compassion and our witness. But they will receive neither unless we live with such integrity that they see the unmistakable imprint of Jesus on our lives.

If skeptics are going to find fault with us, let them say that we are too committed to our Lord.

Is this what the world would say of you?

 

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