In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Importance of Right Motives

1 Samuel 17:20-40

Goliath was a daunting enemy of Israel, and a strong incentive was offered to anyone who could kill the giant: money, exemption from taxes, and marriage to King Saul’s daughter. Though these rewards would intrigue any young man, David was not foolhardy. The young shepherd had a different motivation for standing against Goliath: He wanted to serve the Lord.

And so David called out, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he has dared to defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26). To him, a challenge to God’s chosen nation of Israel was the same as defying the Lord Himself. David was prepared to defend Yahweh’s holy name and His people, even against this formidable warrior.

It is possible for believers to seek victory with wrong motives. In fact, many reasons that sound good are actually selfish. For example, I’m tired of being in this mess, or Lord, I can’t run away, so You’ll have to remove this problem, or even, If I had more money, then I’d give more to the church. At the end of the day, the right motive is a desire to follow, serve, and honor God.

Life’s “Goliaths” happen to us all, and they can either impede or strengthen our walk with the Lord. As He did with David, God will give victory to those who stand strong in His name.

Bible in One Year: 1 Kings 20-22

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Difficult People

Bible in a Year:

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Proverbs 15:1–7, 18

Lucy Worsley is a British historian and TV presenter. Like most people in the public eye, she sometimes receives nasty mail—in her case, over a mild speech impediment that makes her r’s sound like w’s. One person wrote this: “Lucy, I’ll be blunt: Please try harder to correct your lazy speech or remove r’s from your scripts—I couldn’t sit through your TV series because it made me so annoyed. Regards, Darren.”

For some people, an insensitive comment like this might trigger an equally rude reply. But here’s how Lucy responded: “Oh Darren, I think you’ve used the anonymity of the internet to say something you probably wouldn’t say to my face. Please reconsider your unkind words! Lucy.”

Lucy’s measured response worked. Darren apologized and vowed not to send anyone such an email again.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath,” Proverbs says, “but a harsh word stirs up anger” (15:1). While the hot-tempered person stirs things up, the patient person calms them down (v. 18). When we get a critical comment from a colleague, a snide remark from a family member, or a nasty reply from a stranger, we have a choice: to speak angry words that fuel the flames or gentle words that douse them.

May God help us to speak words that turn away wrath—and perhaps even help difficult people to change.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

Think of a time you got defensive with someone. Why do you think you reacted that way? How could you respond differently in God’s power?

Loving God, give me the ability to respond to quarrelsome people with patient, gentle words.

http://www.odb.org

Joyce Meyer – Do Something Outrageous

And Peter answered Him, Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water. He said, Come! So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water…

— Matthew 14:28-29 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Trusting God Day by Day – by Joyce Meyer

I think it’s good to occasionally (or perhaps frequently) do something that seems outrageous. Do something that people won’t expect. It will keep your life interesting and keep other people from thinking they have you tucked away nicely in a little box of their own design. People become bored because their lives become predictable. One great woman who was seventy-six years of age said her goal was to do at least one outrageous thing every week. I just read this week that we should do one thing every day that scares us.

We are not created by God to merely do the same thing over and over until it has no meaning left at all. God is creative. If you don’t think so, then just look around you. All the animals, bugs, plants, birds, trees, and other things are totally amazing. The sun, moon, and stars, planets, space, and gravity all of which God has created—can boggle our minds. We could actually go on forever talking about the infinite variety of things God has created. In case you haven’t noticed, God is quite outrageous and frequently changes things up in our lives. He is full of surprises and yet totally dependable. You know, we really can learn a lot from God!

I don’t want people to think they have me all figured out, and although I want to be dependable and faithful, I don’t always want to be predictable. Sometimes I get bored with myself and I have to pray and ask God for a creative idea to shake up my life a little and keep me on my toes.

Trust in Him. Do something new and outrageous today. Ask God to help you be creative.

Prayer Starter: Thank you, Father, for Your creativity. Help me to be dependable, but not necessarily predictable. In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Denison Forum – Derek Chauvin found guilty on all three counts: Two potential dangers against which we must guard

Almost eleven months after George Floyd’s death, a jury of his peers found Derek Chauvin guilty of second- and third-degree murder as well as second-degree manslaughter. Sentencing will occur in eight weeks, but his time in prison has already begun.

As one might expect, reactions to the result have varied.

George Floyd’s brother Philonise described it as “a day of celebration” while others, such as Rev. Jesse Jackson, stated that the result is “a relief, but the celebration is premature.” Pointing to the decision as a potential turning point in police accountability, Tulsi Gabbard tweeted “Thankfully on the verdict of George Floyd’s murder, justice has prevailed. Moving forward this must be the norm—not the exception.”

President Biden and Vice President Harris praised the decision before quickly pivoting to the work left to be done. And Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison went a step further, stating that the guilty verdict “isn’t justice, it’s just one step towards it;” thoughts echoed by the state’s governor, who added that “justice for George Floyd will come through real systemic change, to prevent this from ever happening again.”

On the other side of the spectrum, Tucker Carlson described the trial’s outcome as the jury’s cry of “Please don’t hurt us.” Candace Owens termed it the result of “mob justice,” pointing to the statement by Rep. Maxine Waters in which she urged protestors to “get more confrontational” in the event of an acquittal as evidence of undue pressures placed on the jury to find Chauvin guilty.

Many more likely find themselves caught somewhere in between: aware that Chauvin’s actions were reprehensible, but perhaps unsure if the outcome of the trial was truly just and mostly just grateful that the proceedings ended with a relatively peaceful response.

Regardless of where you might fall along that spectrum of thought, chances are that it’s relatively close to where you sat before the trial ever began. And while that tendency is natural, especially in a case where so much has been litigated through the media as part of the national discourse for nearly a year, it reveals two potential dangers of which we must be aware.

Don’t trade difficult truths for convenient lies

The first issue is that when we approach a situation with a preconceived notion of what should occur, it becomes very easy to prioritize the truths that best fit with what we want to believe while either ignoring or minimizing those that would challenge our preferred perspective.

For example, those who saw nothing wrong with the calls to violence in the case of an acquittal and argued that they couldn’t have possibly swayed the jury’s conclusions were not viewing the situation objectively. However, those who recognized the potential dangers associated with those threats and concluded that they were the only reason the jury rendered a guilty verdict made a similar error. In both cases, people approached the situation so confident that their point of view was correct, they either distorted or ignored legitimate factors because such realities challenged their preferred understanding of events.

We cannot afford to make that same mistake.

Whether it’s in our response to the Derek Chauvin trial or in any other facet of life, we must remain more committed to the truth than to our preconceived notions.

And every day presents us with the opportunity to do just that. After all, few people in history have defied expectations and circumvented the boxes into which people tried to place him as frequently as the rabbi who preferred the company of sinners over self-proclaimed saints and the messiah who chose the cross over an earthly crown. As Christians called to follow his example, we must avoid the temptation to accept convenient lies over difficult truths, even—and especially—when doing so would better fit with our preferred version of reality.

Shifting goalposts

The second danger against which we must guard is closely related to the first. When we become the foundation upon which our understanding of reality is built, what we want to believe functions as the lens through which we view the world around us. That, in turn, can make it tempting to try to constantly redefine reality to better suit that perspective.

With the Derek Chauvin trial, for example, many of those who have spent the last eleven months rightly crying out for justice on behalf of George Floyd quickly redefined what that justice should look like once the final verdict was read. Floyd became a martyr whose legacy could only be honored if officers involved in other shootings received the same fate as Chauvin or when law enforcement has been completely reformed.

And while the police should be held accountable when they unjustly take a life and there are systemic issues within law enforcement that need to change, shifting the goalposts simply because we need something else to continue driving us and giving us a purpose will ensure that we never experience the peace and fulfillment we crave.

That’s an exhausting way to live.

When Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you . . . For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” that endless pursuit of our self-defined goals is an example of what he wanted to help us avoid (Matthew 11:28–30). It’s only when we accept his yoke and allow him to steer us toward the goals he desires that we can find real peace and the ability to adapt with our circumstances, rather than try to make them adapt to us.

Shaped by God’s truth

Charles Stanley once said, “We are either in the process of resisting God’s truth or in the process of being shaped and molded by his truth.”

A quick glance at our culture reveals which path most people have chosen, and the results speak for themselves.

As the fallout from the Derek Chauvin trial continues to build over the coming days, let’s choose the better path and allow God’s truth to shape our response and equip us to help others do the same.

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –The Intersection of the Cross

Listen to Today’s Devotion

The cross is the universal symbol of Christianity. An odd choice, don’t you think? Strange that a tool of torture would come to embody a movement of hope. Its design could not be simpler. One beam horizontal, the other vertical. One reaches out, like God’s love. The other reaches up, as does God’s holiness. One represents the width of his love, the other the height of his holiness.

The cross is the intersection. The cross is where God forgave his children without lowering his standards. God treated his Son as a sinner so that Christ could make us acceptable to God. Why would he? John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world.” Aren’t you glad the verse doesn’t read For God so loved the rich? …the famous, the sober, or the successful? No, it simply reads For God so loved the world.