Charles Stanley – Bigger God, Smaller Problems

 

Jeremiah 32:17-22

No one enjoys illness, conflicts, or difficulties. Such stressors tend to demand attention and drain energy, narrowing our focus until our troubles become larger and all else is pushed to the side. What we need at such times is a glimpse of the greatness and majesty of the Lord. Looking at Him helps us see our problems from the proper perspective.

During the captivity, when Jeremiah was confined in the guard house and Jerusalem was about to fall into enemy hands, the Lord’s promised restoration of the land seemed far away, if not impossible. But Jeremiah turned his eyes to God. He remembered the Lord’s great power, unfailing love, assurances to Israel, and omniscience about everything taking place.

The good news is that the words of Jeremiah’s prayer to the Lord—“Nothing is too difficult for You” (Jer. 32:17)—are still true today. Although we may want our difficulties resolved immediately, what we really need is a bigger vision of God, not fewer problems. The larger and more accurate our understanding of the Lord is, the smaller our troubles will seem. Even better, our confidence in His ability to handle our trials will increase.

Bible in One Year: Numbers 33-36

 

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Our Daily Bread — Strengthened by Grace

 

Bible in a Year:

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 2:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight: 2 Timothy 2:1–4

During the American Civil War, the penalty for desertion was execution. But the Union armies rarely executed deserters because their commander-in-chief, Abraham Lincoln, pardoned nearly all of them. This infuriated Edwin Stanton, the Secretary of War, who believed that Lincoln’s leniency only enticed would-be deserters. But Lincoln empathized with soldiers who had lost their nerve and who had given in to their fear in the heat of battle. And his empathy endeared him to his soldiers. They loved their “Father Abraham,” and their affection led the soldiers to want to serve Lincoln all the more.

When Paul calls Timothy to join him in “suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:3), he calls him to a tough job description. A soldier is to be completely dedicated, hard-working, and selfless. He’s to serve his commanding officer, Jesus, wholeheartedly. But in reality, we sometimes fail to be His good soldiers. We don’t always serve Him faithfully. And so Paul’s opening phrase is important: “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (v. 1). Our Savior is full of grace. He empathizes with our weaknesses and forgives our failures (Hebrews 4:15). And just as the Union soldiers were encouraged by Lincoln’s compassion, so believers are strengthened by the grace of Jesus. We want to serve Him all the more because we know He loves us.

By:  Con Campbell

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How can the grace of Christ become a source of strength for you to serve Him? What does it mean for you to suffer for Jesus?

Dear God, please strengthen me in the grace of Christ that I may serve Him faithfully.

 

 

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Grace to You; John MacArthur – Pursuing Excellence

 

“So that you may approve the things that are excellent” (Phil. 1:10).

In a world of mediocrity and confusion, God calls you to excellence and discernment.

There’s the story of a pilot who came on the loudspeaker mid flight and said, “I have some good news and bad news. The bad news is we’ve lost all our instrumentation and don’t know where we are. The good news is we have a strong tail wind and are making great time.” That’s an accurate picture of how many people live: they have no direction in life but they’re getting there fast!

We as Christians are to be different because we have divine guidance and eternal goals. Our lives are to be marked by a confident trust in God and a pursuit of spiritual excellence.

“Excellent” in Philippians 1:10 speaks of things that are worthwhile and vital. Approving what is excellent refers to testing things as one would test a precious metal to determine its purity and value. It goes beyond knowing good from evil. It distinguishes between better and best. It involves thinking biblically and focusing your time and energy on what really counts. It involves cultivating spiritual discipline and not being controlled by your emotions, whims, moods, or circumstances.

Many organizations and businesses have adopted the motto, “Commitment to Excellence” to convey their desire to provide the finest product or service possible. If secular-minded people strive for that level of achievement, how much more should Christians pursue excellence for the glory of God!

Look at your life. Is it filled with godly love, discernment, and the pursuit of excellence—or has worldly trivia crowded out those virtues?

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Read Isaiah 12:1-6 as a psalm of praise to the God of excellence.
  • Ask God to give you a heart constantly set on pursuing excellence for His glory.

For Further Study

Daniel was a man who pursued excellence. Read Daniel 1:1—2:21.

  • What was Daniel’s decision regarding the king’s food and wine, and how did he handle the situation?
  • How did Daniel and his three friends compare in wisdom and understanding to the magicians and conjurers?
  • What principles do you see in those two chapters that apply to your life?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.

 

 

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Joyce Meyer – Choosing Forgiveness

 

Therefore, [there is] now no condemnation…for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit.

— Romans 8:1 (AMPC)

 

Adapted from the resource Wake Up to the Word – by Joyce Meyer

Choice = care in selecting; judgment or skill in distinguishing what is to be preferred, and in giving a preference

Our imaginations and mind prepare us for action. They can set us up for success or failure, joy or misery—the choice is up to us. If you think about your past mistakes and all the things you’ve done wrong, it will only weaken you. Guilt handicaps you as you try to enter the future God has for you, but the good news is that no matter what you’ve done in the past, you can learn to see yourself as a new creature in Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:17).

In order to overcome shame, we can make the choice to let go of our past failures. Instead of dwelling on sin, begin to praise and thank God that you’ve been forgiven. Choose to look forward in faith, not backward in guilt or condemnation (see Romans 8:1). When you do, you’ll understand the joy of being a new creation in Christ, and you’ll be able to move forward in freedom.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for paying the price for me to be totally free from condemnation. Help me let go of any guilt that might be trying to trip me up, and to choose to receive Your forgiveness today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

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Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Go First to God

 

God, who comforts the downcast.

 2 Corinthians 7:6

And who comforts like Him? Go to some poor, melancholy, distressed child of God; tell him sweet promises and whisper in his ear choice words of comfort; he is like the deaf adder that doesn’t listen to the voice of the charmer, even though he charms wisely. He is drinking gall and wormwood, and no matter how you comfort him, you will only get a note or two of mournful resignation from him; you will bring forth no psalms of praise, no hallelujahs, no joyful sonnets. But let God come to His child, let Him lift up his countenance, and the mourner’s eyes glisten with hope. Do you not hear him sing—

‘Tis paradise, if you are here;
If you depart, ‘tis hell.

You could not have cheered him: but the Lord has done it; He is the “God of all comfort.”1 There is no balm in Gilead, but there is balm in God. There is no physician among the creatures, but the Creator is Jehovah-rophi. It is marvelous how one sweet word of God will make whole songs for Christians. One word of God is like a piece of gold, and the Christian is the gold-beater and can hammer that promise out for weeks.

So, then, poor Christian, you need not sit down in despair. Go to the Comforter, and ask Him to give you consolation. You are a poor, dry well. You have heard it said that when a pump is dry, you must pour water down it first of all, and then you will get water; and so, Christian, when you are dry, go to God, ask Him to shed abroad His joy in your heart, and then your joy shall be full. Do not go to earthly acquaintances, for you will find them to be Job’s comforters; but go first and foremost to “God, who comforts the downcast,” and you will soon say, “When the cares of my heart are many, Your consolations cheer my soul.”

1) 2 Corinthians 1:3

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Saturday Only –  Week in Review

 

Denison Forum – What happened this week at Denison Forum?

If you watched the news for even a minute, you noticed that Texas suffered massive and long-lasting power outages affecting millions across the state during an unprecedented winter storm.

Since Denison Forum is headquartered in Dallas, many people on our team endured the same outages, which made working difficult if not impossible. But, as Dr. Denison wrote, “I think things are hard until I check the news and find that so many people are dealing with much worse.” Our prayers are with everyone still enduring the effects of these brutal winter storms.

As for what we were still able to do this week, we published our latest book, Biblical Insight to Tough Questions, Vol. 7, where Dr. Denison covers ten tough questions like: “If my church shifts in an unbiblical direction, what should I do?”

Dr. Denison (despite multiple power outages) still published The Daily Article every weekday morning and recorded multiple interviews.

And we released our latest YouVersion devotional, “Begin Lent in Jesus’ footsteps.”

However, earlier this week, one of our staff members said what many of us may have thought lately: “I’m tired of living in unprecedented times.”

Yet here we all are, constantly enduring frustrations and fear and daily navigating uncertainties and unknowns.

In times like these, we all need faith—but it matters in whom you place that faith.

Here’s to praying that the only thing that’s unprecedented in the days ahead is your closeness to the Father.

 

This Week in The Daily Article

In our most-visited article of the week, Dr. Denison responded to the Ravi Zacharias scandal with three biblical lessons we must learn so that his story does not become our own.

We celebrated pastor Tim Keller’s good news regarding his cancer, then considered what we can learn from the pain of others.

Dr. Denison recounted a miraculous story of conversion in Nepal, then encouraged us to finish well the race set before us.

And conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh died on Wednesday. As Dr. Denison wrote, “Whether you considered him a vital voice for freedom or a danger to our liberties depended entirely on your perspective. . . . What no one can question is that he used his influence to advance his vision for our country.”

Lastly, Dr. Denison discussed both the bad news and the good news of Texas’ power failure in this once-in-a-lifetime weather event (God willing), acknowledging that “one way God redeems suffering is by using it to inspire gratitude for that which suffering threatens.”

Hear Dr. Denison

In a busy week for interviews, Dr. Denison spoke on multiple radio and podcast interviews. Many of them used his Daily Article as a launching point for their discussion.

As always, you can find Dr. Denison’s archive of interviews here.

What you may have missed

NYT bestselling author Jemar Tisby provided us with an excerpt from his latest book, How to Fight Racism. If you missed it, we encourage you to read “How the Bible Talks about Race and Ethnicity.”

Steve Yount watched a new two-part, four-hour documentary on PBS, The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This is Our Song, and noted that it enlightens and inspires while also facing its “bitterness and biases that make up the Black experience in America,” as Barack Obama once said.

And Minni Elkins introduced us to 112-year-old “Grandma Kwong,” whose “deep and life-long devotion to Jesus and his Kingdom was steadfast.”

 

Notable Quotables

  • “From beginning to end, from Genesis to Revelation, God has planned for a racially and ethnically diverse church. This heterogeneity is not a mistake or a backup plan. Diversity is God’s ‘plan A’ for the church.” —Jemar Tisby
  • “Under the snow we can see is a sheet of ice we cannot see. When we walk or drive on the snow, the ice it is hiding can be dangerous and even deadly. When ice is under your feet, the safest thing you can do is get on your knees and crawl to safety. Do it now.” — Jim Denison
  • “You have to keep unmasking the world about you for what it is: manipulative, controlling, power-hungry, and, in the long run, destructive. The world tells you many lies about who you are, and you simply have to be realistic enough to remind yourself of this. Every time you feel hurt, offended, or rejected, you have to dare to say to yourself: ‘These feelings, strong as they may be, are not telling me the truth about myself. The truth, even though I cannot feel it right now, is that I am the chosen child of God, precious in God’s eyes, called the Beloved from all eternity, and held safe in an everlasting embrace.’” —Henri Nouwen

What you’re saying

Our readers email us, leave feedback on our website, and share their thoughts on our social media sites. Here’s what you’ve been saying lately:

  • “Thank you for your well-written article. I have really been grieving these past few days over this. Your analogies are right on, sin is always crouching at the door, and we can never allow ourselves to become numb to either the culture, our behavior, or what we choose to think about.” —L. B.

Parting thought

If you didn’t know that Ash Wednesday occurred this past week, you may want to read this article.

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