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Bible believing christian worshiping God in Hawaii

Charles Stanley – Good Decisions

 

Genesis 25:27-34

The familiar expression “You reap what you sow” is reinforced throughout Scripture (Job 4:8; Prov. 11:18). In today’s passage, Esau learned this truth the hard way. Famished, he returned from hunting and requested a bowl of the stew his brother was cooking. Jacob seized upon the opportunity and agreed to share the food in exchange for his older twin’s birthright.

In Old Testament times, the firstborn son enjoyed special privileges, which included authority over younger siblings, a double share of the inheritance, and the honored position as spiritual leader over the family. Yet Esau, deciding that food was more of a necessity right then, traded his birthright for dinner. He later grieved when he realized what was lost, but at that point, it was too late. Like Esau, we at times all face critical choices. While God offers forgiveness for wrong decisions, the consequences remain. So we must learn to choose wisely.

We should take to heart two warnings from this story. First, to distinguish our best options, we need to assess whether we are physically, emotionally, and spiritually stable; if not, we should wait. Otherwise, we might end up like Esau, who allowed hunger to cloud his thinking. Second, delaying gratification is usually a safe choice. For example, though a person may be eager to buy a car, it’s wise to shop around for the best deal. Our human desires can feel overwhelming at times, but we should prayerfully wait for God’s timing.

Think about the longings you have, consider the consequences, and take your time. God wants to steer you away from unnecessary trouble.

Bible in One Year: Mark 6-7

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Haystack Prayers

 

Bible in a Year:

You help us by your prayers.

2 Corinthians 1:11

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Corinthians 1:8–11

Samuel Mills and four of his friends often gathered together to pray for God to send more people to share the good news of Jesus. One day in 1806, after returning from their prayer meeting, they got caught in a thunderstorm and took refuge in a haystack. Their weekly prayer gathering then became known as the Haystack Prayer Meeting, which resulted in a global mission movement. Today the Haystack Prayer Monument stands at Williams College in the US as a reminder of what God can do through prayer.

Our heavenly Father is delighted when His children approach Him with a common request. It’s like a family gathering where they’re united in purpose, sharing a common burden.

The apostle Paul acknowledges how God helped him through the prayers of others during a time of severe suffering: “He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers” (2 Corinthians 1:10–11). God has chosen to use our prayers—especially our prayers together—to accomplish His work in the world. No wonder the verse continues: “Then many will give thanks . . . [for the] answer to the prayers of many.”

Let’s pray together so we can also rejoice together in God’s goodness. Our loving Father is waiting for us to come to Him so He can work through us in ways that reach far beyond anything we could ever imagine.

By:  Poh Fang Chia

Reflect & Pray

What request can you and others pray for? How has your faith been strengthened when you pray with others?

Father, help us to pray together even as we work together. 

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Silent Places

 

Living in cities, as more and more people do all over the world, means that noise is a constant audio backdrop. The din of human, auto, and airplane traffic all make for a constant, loud cacophony. Add to this the stereo, television, and computer noise and it is a miracle we can attune our ears to hear anything that isn’t artificially created. From time to time, I turn off all the extraneous sounds in my world and listen. Intentional listening opens up a whole new world of sounds around me. I hear the wind chimes by my front door, the tapping of my fingers across the keyboard of my computer, the soft patter of my dogs’ feet as they walk across the hardwood floor above me, the screaming and laughter of children at play across the street, and the distinctive sounds of a variety of birds as they go about foraging for food or calling for a mate.

According to audio-ecologist, Gordon Hempton, it’s not easy to find silence in the modern world. “If a quiet place is one where you can listen for 15 minutes in daylight hours without hearing a human-created sound, there are no quiet places left in Europe. There are none east of the Mississippi River. And in the American West? Maybe 12.”(1) We live in a noisy world.

Most people assume that silence is the absence of noise, but it is not. Hempton continues, “For true silence is not noiselessness… silence is the complete absence of all audible mechanical vibrations, leaving only the sounds of nature at her most natural. Silence is the presence of everything, undisturbed.”(2) I remember one of these silent places Hempton describes. High in the North Cascade Mountains, my brother and I heard no other human noise, and few bird or animal noises. Our constant soundscape came from the trickling of a nearby brook and the gentle wind as it danced around us.

Being able to hear the sounds of nature is an unexpected and often rare gift in a world bombarded by artificial noise. Of course, it is often the case that I use noise as a distraction from truly listening. I drown out the silence by my own busyness, filling my day with constant movement and activity, so that I rarely take the time to pay attention, and to tune my ears not only to the sound around me, but also to the stirrings of my own heart and mind. In all honesty, sometimes I am afraid of what I might hear if I do truly listen.

Of course, paying attention in silence is not always as benevolent or delightful as hearing the natural sounds around us. Keeping silence intentionally reminds us of our smallness in a vast universe, and brings to light many of our deepest and darkest thoughts and feelings. When we clear our ears of external noise, we hear our own thoughts. Many thoughts that arise in silent spaces are ugly, distorted, and grave. Listening in silence exposes our pretense and self-righteousness, our falsehoods, hypocrisy and self-importance. There is little room to hide. We are left with ourselves in all our brokenness.

Yet even listening to the thoughts of our darkened hearts and minds provides an opportunity for reorganization and evaluation. It provides the opportunity for renewal. As we pay attention in silence and listen there are quiet gifts received, discernment for a new direction in which to go with our lives, and more space for truly listening not only to ourselves but to others. As we do, we may even hear the still, small voice of God.

Author Alan Jones has written that “silence, in the end, can become a healing and comforting experience.”(3) When we pay attention in the silence, we open up space where we can meet with God. Unlike prayers where we do all the talking, Jones describes the listening posture of prayer as “a daily willingness to place ourselves on the threshold and wait there.” Indeed, he goes on to suggest that cultivating quiet in our lives becomes the time when we move from the agitated periphery of our lives, identifying with our lives without qualification or added information to simply a silent interior space.(4)

Paying attention in silence is not simply for the sake of listening to the often unheard sounds around us nor is it exclusively ascetically-motivated sensory deprivation. Instead, it is tuning our hearts and minds to attend to sounds that truly matter. For the Christian, prayerful listening is the opportunity to attune our hearts to the voice of God. Indeed, a silent heart is often the only fitting response to the overwhelming holiness of God’s presence. As the ancient prophet wrote: But the Lord is in his holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.

Paying attention in silence creates space to listen to our lives and to listen for God to speak. It is a discipline our noisy world needs to reclaim. The gospel writers often speak of Jesus removing himself from the noise of his day, and withdrawing to “lonely places” for prayer. Jesus understood the place of silence, paying attention to God’s voice by purposefully withdrawing and turning off the noise around him. The silence is often lonely, as the gospel writers suggest. And yet, there in the lonely, silent spaces, the still, small voice of God can be heard.

 

Margaret Manning Shull is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Bellingham, Washington.

 

(1) Gordon Hempton as quoted by Kathleen Dean Moore, “In Search of Silence,” Utine Reader, March-April 2009.
(2) Julia Baird, “An Unquiet Nation,” Newsweek, January 27, 2010.
(3) Alan Jones, Soul Making (San Francisco: HarperOne, 1985), 62.
(4) Ibid.

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Joyce Meyer – Let God Interrupt You

 

For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this? — Esther 4:14

Adapted from the resource Love Out Loud Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Have you ever noticed that the men and women we read about in the Bible and consider “great” were all people who allowed God to interrupt their lives and were willing to make tremendous sacrifices for Him?

Joseph saved a nation from starvation, but not before God dramatically removed him from his comfortable home where he was his father’s favorite and allowed him to be imprisoned for many years. Joseph probably wasn’t planning a life of hardship and rejection, but God took him through those things in order to position him to be in the right place at the right time. But Joseph could only know that after the fact.

Esther was a young maiden who undoubtedly had plans for her future when suddenly, without warning, she was asked to enter the king’s harem and gain favor with him so she could reveal the plan of wicked Haman, who intended to slaughter the Jews. She was asked to do things that left her frightened for her life, but her wise uncle knew that God had brought her to this point in her life and allowed everything she had endured in the past to prepare her for a moment of greatness.

These people had plans, but they let God interrupt them, and they followed Him instead. If you will decide that you don’t mind having God interrupt your life, He can prepare you, too, for moments of greatness and use you in awesome ways.

Prayer Starter: Lord, interrupt my life for Your purposes at any time and in any way You see fit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Still Present With You

 

“In just a little while I will be gone from the world, but I will still be present with you. For I will live again – and you will too” (John 14:19).

In this one verse the whole gospel story is expressed, for Jesus is speaking on the day before His death, foretelling just what will happen then and thereafter.

And what He has to say should bring renewed joy and comfort and peace to our hearts in the midst of a chaotic world that perhaps includes an element of chaos even in the home or at the office or in the classroom.

Yes, He was gone from the world to assume His rightful position at the right hand of His heavenly Father – after His death and resurrection. Now He is present with us in the person of His indwelling Holy Spirit, who lives within every believer. And to the extent we give Him control of our hearts and lives, He empowers and enables us to live a supernatural, abundant life.

He prophesies His resurrection – “I will live again” – the joyous truth of which makes possible His final promise to His disciples, “You will live too.”

Jesus is saying, in effect that the life of the Christian depends on that of Christ. They are united, and if they were separated, the Christian could not enjoy spiritual life here nor eternal joy hereafter. But He lives! And because He lives, we too shall live – forever, with Him throughout the endless ages of eternity!

Bible Reading: Romans 5:6-11

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Because Jesus died, arose and now lives at God’s right hand while at the same time living in me, I can live the abundant, supernatural life today, and forever!

 

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Max Lucado – Unsheathe God’s Sword

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

“His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey.  Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word.  We can’t get away from it—no matter what” (Hebrews 4:12–13 MSG).

Unsheathe God’s sword, the Word of God, and brandish its glimmering blade in the face of evil. When you read or quote a scripture in the face of pain or doubt or evil, you activate a weapon of the Spirit.  Say… I know a verse in the Bible that might help.  Or… A scripture that means much to me is… (your selection).

My go-to list includes scriptures like these:

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

“I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

This is how happiness happens.

Read more How Happiness Happens – Finding Lasting Joy in a world of Comparison, Disappointment, and Unmet Expectations

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – William Barr’s statement at Notre Dame: My perspective and God’s call to courage

 

Attorney General William Barr is making headlines for a speech he delivered at Notre Dame University’s law school last Friday. Barr, a devout Catholic, told faculty and students that “the problem is not that religion is being forced on others, the problem is that irreligion is being forced—secular values are being forced on people of faith.”

Barr adds: “Among the militant secularists are many so-called progressives. But where is the progress? We are told we are living in a post-Christian era, but what has replaced the Judeo-Christian moral system? What is it that can fill the spiritual void in the heart of the individual person? And what is the system of values that can sustain human social life?”

The attorney general said of the moral problems we are facing, “This is not decay. This is organized destruction. Secular forces and their allies have marshaled all the forces of mass communication, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia, in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.”

I believe Attorney General Barr is absolutely right.

Here’s why we are here: Many in our culture believe the lie that all truth claims are subjective impositions of personal power on others. Tolerance of all viewpoints must therefore be mandated, except, of course, for viewpoints deemed intolerant.

According to this agenda, the freedom to express religious beliefs ends where such freedom is deemed harmful to or by another person. Any person. Of course, the harm done to the person expressing his or her religious beliefs is ignored.

How to “experience the strongest opposition”

In such times, answering God’s call to be culture-changing Christians requires both urgency and courage. The higher the summit, the harder the climb.

A dear friend recently shared with me this statement from seventeenth-century theologian John Owen: “There is no duty we perform for God that sin does not oppose. And the more spirituality or holiness there is in what we do, the greater the enmity to it. Thus, those who seek the most for God experience the strongest opposition.”

Peter would agree.

Continue reading Denison Forum – William Barr’s statement at Notre Dame: My perspective and God’s call to courage

Charles Stanley – Understanding God’s Promises

 

2 Corinthians 1:20

God’s Word is our source of comfort and hope because the Lord always does what He says. Every prophecy in the Bible either has come to pass or will be fulfilled in the future. In fact, Scripture is so trustworthy that Jesus said, “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail” (Luke 16:17).

However, we must not assume that every promise recorded in the Bible is for us. The Lord’s biblical pledges fall into several categories, and it’s important to understand the difference so we don’t mistakenly claim one that is not meant for us. When we misapply Scripture, we can develop an inaccurate view of God, and that usually leads to disappointment and distrust of Him.

Some biblical promises are limited—they apply to a specific person, nation, time, or purpose. For instance, in Genesis 18:10, the Lord assured Abraham that Sarah would have a son, but we cannot presume that He will do the same for us. He can certainly use this passage to teach us about His providential care and provision, but we shouldn’t grab verses and expect them to be fulfilled in our life regardless of their context.

Other promises in the Word are conditional and apply only if we meet the qualifications, as in Proverbs 3:5-6 and 1 John 1:9. However, there are some  promises that apply to all believers—these are assurances that are certain because of our union with Christ (Eph. 1:7-14). They have been given to us by our loving heavenly Father for our benefit, hope, and encouragement.

Bible in One Year: Mark 3-5

 

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Our Daily Bread — Strengthened in Song

 

Bible in a Year:

I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress.

Psalm 59:16

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Psalm 59:1, 14–17

When French villagers helped Jewish refugees hide from the Nazis during World War II, some sang songs in the dense forest surrounding their town—letting the refugees know it was safe to come out from hiding. These brave townspeople of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon had answered the call of local pastor André Trocmé and his wife, Magda, to offer wartime refuge to Jews on their windswept plateau known as “La Montagne Protestante.” Their musical signal became just one feature of the villagers’ bravery that helped save up to 3,000 Jews from almost certain death.

In another dangerous time, David sang when his enemy Saul sent nighttime assassins to his house. His use of music wasn’t a signal; rather, it was his song of gratitude to God his refuge. David rejoiced, “I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble” (Psalm 59:16).

Such singing isn’t “whistling in the dark” during danger. Instead, David’s singing conveyed his trust in almighty God. “You, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely” (v. 17).

David’s praise, and the villagers’ singing in Le Chambon, offer an invitation to bless God today with our singing, making melody to Him despite the worries of life. His loving presence will respond, strengthening our hearts.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

How do you feel when you’re singing your favorite praise song? Why do praise songs inspire us to feel stronger?

Dear God, strengthen my heart with praises that transform my fears and worries into worship of You.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Real and Unsearchable

 

Common is the sentiment among recent college graduates that they went in feeling like they knew something, and leave realizing, in fact, how little they know. I remember what this felt like, walking down the aisle to accept my diploma,  wondering at the irony. Yet as uncomfortable as that moment of recognition might be, I am convinced that the thought is an important place at which to arrive.

Ravi Zacharias tells of being a graduate student when the new encyclopedia Britannica was released in its fifteenth edition. It was a massive collection that had taken fourteen years to produce, and he remembers being fascinated by the statistics: two hundred advisors, three hundred editors, four thousand contributors, over a hundred thousand entries, thirty-four million dollars, forty-three million words. Even so, in the last pages of that work, one of the editors had the audacity to conclude: “Herein contains the entirety of human knowledge.” The number of outdated encyclopedias lying in thrift stores and recycling bins does not help their point.

In the stories of Scripture where God is encountered, we find men and women who, having come in contact God, find themselves blown away by the notion that they didn’t know all that they didn’t know. As Jacob lay dreaming, he saw God appear above a great ladder where God was introduced as the God of his ancestors. Upon waking, Jacob’s his first words were filled with astonishment: “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”(1) Hagar, the maidservant of Sarah, had a similar reaction after she encountered God in the desert. Having run away from Sarah’s abuse, Hagar was resting beside a spring when God spoke to her and told her to return. We read that she was amazed: “And she gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the one who sees me.’”(2)

Whatever we see—in the midst of uncertainty, for the year ahead, in life, truth, faith, reality—there is almost always more. In fact, it is probably the one thing we can count on—and the one thing we do not. Christian philosopher Esther Lightcap Meek writes, “We labor under the misimpression that we see what we see, that seeing is believing, that either I see it or I don’t.”(3) Perhaps seeing is not always about 20/20, and seeing God is something else altogether.

Christianity and its stories introduce a God who makes known God’s surprising and sustaining presence again and again, a God whose revelation is both piecemeal and profound. “O LORD,” proclaims David, “for your servant’s sake and according to your own heart, you have done all this greatness, in making known all these great things. There is none like you, O LORD, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears.”(4) God is well worth our efforts in learning to see, and it is the Spirit who moves to open eyes. Whether in Jacob’s dream or in Hagar’s distress, God seeks to be known and seeks to gather. The Spirit seeks to comfort, reveal, and recreate. The Son seeks to be near. Says the LORD, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”(5)

There is actually something relieving in knowing that there is much that we do not know. It keeps us grounded in reality and hoping toward the real and unsearchable, the Source of which is uncontainable. It keeps us with a grateful eye toward things of mystery and beauty and kindness and truth revealed. It keeps us looking toward the maker of heaven and earth and the one who wills to be known. When Job was confronted by God with the great thunder of 62 questions about the foundations of the world and the inner workings of life, he realized that he may have spoken out of turn. Confronting the reality of all that he did not know brought Job to a deeper, kinder encounter with God and himself. “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you,” he said. There is no more grateful, humble stance before the God who sees.

 

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

 

(1) Genesis 28:16.
(2) Genesis 16:13.
(3) Esther Lightcap Meek, Longing to Know: The Philosophy of Knowledge for Ordinary People (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2003), 99.
(4) 1 Chronicles 17:19,20.
(5) Jeremiah 33:3.

 

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Joyce Meyer – Seek the Truth

 

The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them.— Mark 4:14-15

Adapted from the resource Ending Your Day Right Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

If you hear or study the Word, the devil will immediately attempt to steal it from you. He does not want the Word to take root in your heart and begin to produce good fruit in your life. When you learn the truth, deception is uncovered and you are set free. Satan hates and fears the Word. He will do anything possible to prevent you from learning God’s Word.

The reason Satan works so hard to keep you from the Word is simple: He knows the Word of God is a powerful weapon against him. It assures his defeat! That is why it is imperative that you learn to wield the spiritual sword. Reading, hearing, believing, meditating on, and confessing the Word cancels Satan’s evil plan. Today, determine to make the Word of God a priority in your life.

Prayer Starter: Father, help me to make Your Word a priority. Help me to take the necessary time to read it, meditate on it, and apply it to my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Never Alone

 

“No I will not abandon you or leave you as orphans in the storm, I will come to you” (John 14:18).

“I feel so alone,” Bev said,” with my husband gone and all my children married. Sometimes I can hardly bear the pain, the anguish. At times its as though I am about to suffocate – I am so lonely!”

Bev was in her late 70’s. Her husband was dead, and the other members of her family had become involved in their own careers and activities. Though they loved her, they were so busy they seldom saw her to express that love.

I shared with her the good news of the one who loved her so much that He died on the cross for her and paid the penalty for her sins, the one who promised to come to her and, once He came, never to leave her.

There in the loneliness of her living room, she bowed with me in prayer and invited the risen living Christ to take up residence in her life, to forgive her, to cleanse her, to make her whole, to make her a child of God. When she lifted her face, her cheeks were moist with tears of repentance and her heart was made new with joy.

“I feel so different,” she said. “Already I feel enveloped with the sense of God’s presence, His love and His peace.”

As the months passed, it became increasingly evident that she was not alone. He who was with her had been faithful to His promise never to leave her.

Do you feel deserted, alone, rejected? Do you have problems with your family, work, school, or health? Whatever may be your need, Jesus is waiting to make His presence as real to you as if He were with you in His physical body.

There are five things that I would encourage you to do to enhance the realization of His presence. (1) Meditate upon His Word day and night. (2) Confess all known sins. (3) Aggressively obey His commandments. (4) Talk to Him about everything as you would your dearest friend. (5) Tell everyone who will listen about Him so that they too can experience with you the supernatural life which comes only from allowing the supernatural power of the indwelling Christ to be reflected in and through you.

Bible Reading: Psalm 68:3-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: In order to enhance the Lord’s presence in my life, I will practice the five recommendations knowing that as I walk in this vital personal relationship with the risen Christ, the supernatural qualities that characterize His life will become more and more apparent in time.

 

 

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Max Lucado – Speak Up

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Not only did Jesus not make it to the deathbed of Lazarus, he didn’t make it to the burial.  He was four days late.  Martha was forthright.  “Lord, if only you had been here my brother would not have died” (John 11:21).  Martha was to Jesus what your hurting friend is to you.  How can we respond when our friend is undone?

Here is what Jesus did.  He looked Martha in the face and said these starchy words: “I am the resurrection and the life. . . . Do you believe this?” (vv. 25–26).  The Bible’s word for such a response is admonishment.  Above all, admonishment is truth spoken into a difficult circumstance.  Yes, we hold the hand of the struggler.  And yes, yes, yes, we speak words of truth into moments of despair.

Read more How Happiness Happens – Finding Lasting Joy in a world of Comparison, Disappointment, and Unmet Expectations

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – All three capitals of the Confederacy now have black mayors: Bending the ‘arc of the moral universe’

 

Montgomery, Alabama, was known as the first capital of the Confederacy in the early Civil War period. Richmond, Virginia, served as the Confederacy’s second capital from 1861 to 1865. Danville, Virginia, was the capital for eight days after Richmond fell.

With the election of Steven Reed in Montgomery last week, all three cities now have black mayors for the first time.

Martin Luther King Jr. believed that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” However, Dr. King did not mean that the “arc of the moral universe” can be trusted to bend itself. That’s why he devoted his life to seeking justice for African Americans and the poor.

And it’s why Christians must take Christ to our culture as passionately and compassionately as we can. Let me illustrate.

Bride includes husband’s girlfriend in her wedding

This New York Times headline caught my eye: “Happily, Ever Open. What’s the wedding like when the couple is in an open or polyamorous relationship?” The article tells us that a woman named Daley South had six bridesmaids in her wedding to Logan South; one of them was her husband’s girlfriend. “I really enjoyed having her be part of our big day,” the bride said.

At another wedding, this one inside a New Hampshire church two days ago, a gunman shot the presiding bishop in the chest and the bride in her arm. Guests then tackled the shooter and pinned him to the ground until police arrived. Bishop Stanley Choate is in critical condition in a Boston hospital; Claire McMullen was expected to be released from the hospital yesterday.

The day before, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill requiring public universities to provide medical abortion on their campuses. Since these universities are funded by California’s taxpayers, abortions are now being funded by California’s taxpayers, whether they object personally or not.

Scientists have discovered twenty new moons around Saturn

Reading the news can be discouraging. It seems easier to retreat from the “culture wars,” but the wars will not retreat from us.

Continue reading Denison Forum – All three capitals of the Confederacy now have black mayors: Bending the ‘arc of the moral universe’

Charles Stanley – The Purpose of Our Trials

 

1 Peter 4:12-14

We shouldn’t expect the Christian life to be easy and comfortable, because believers aren’t exempt from trials. In fact, becoming a Christian may result in increased trouble and suffering. Peter refers to such hardship as a “fiery ordeal,” and tells us not to be surprised by it (1 Peter 4:12). God uses our suffering for His good purposes, and He walks through it with us. Hope in the midst of affliction is possible when we understand what God is achieving in the situation.

First, the heavenly Father sometimes uses painful experiences to purify us. Trials drive us to the Lord and open our eyes to sins that we have tolerated. His discipline is not designed to crush us but to produce “the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12:11).

Second, the Lord at times allows difficulty as a way of testing us. His goal is to produce increased faith, endurance, and devotion to Him. Rather than complaining, we should exult in our tribulations, knowing that they are producing proven character within us (Rom. 5:3-4).

Third, God uses suffering to display his power. Trials humble us by revealing our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). They teach us to depend on the Lord for the power to persevere and mature.

Fourth, our suffering has eternal benefits. Earthly affliction “is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Let these truths encourage you to view your next trial from God’s perspective. Though you may not feel it at the time, the Lord is with you. He is your hope and sufficiency.

Bible in One Year: Micah 5-7

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — False Places of Safety

 

Bible in a Year :Song of Songs 6–8; Galatians 4

The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!

Mark 1:15

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Mark 1:9–15

When our dog Rupert was a puppy, he was so afraid of going outside I’d have to drag him to the park. After getting him there one day, I foolishly let him off his leash. He sprinted home, back to his place of safety.

That experience reminded me of a man I met on a plane, who began apologizing to me as we taxied down the runway. “I’m going to get drunk on this flight,” he said. “It sounds like you don’t want to,” I replied. “I don’t,” he said, “but I always run back to the wine.” He got drunk, and the saddest part was watching his wife embrace him when he got off the plane, smell his breath, then push him away. Drink was his place of safety, but it was no safe place at all.

Jesus began His mission with the words, “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). “Repent” means to reverse direction. The “kingdom of God” is His loving rule over our lives. Instead of running to places that entrap us, or being ruled by fears and addictions, Jesus says we can be ruled by God Himself, who lovingly leads us to new life and freedom.

Today Rupert runs to the park barking with joy. I pray the man on the plane finds that same joy and freedom, leaving behind his false place of safety.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

What false place of safety do you run to in times of fear or stress? How will you leave it behind today and place yourself under God’s freeing rule?

Jesus, forgive me for running to anything but You in search of life and happiness. I turn away from those things now, and turn my life over to You. Lead me to real freedom.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Truth on Its Head

 

G.K. Chesterton took the word “prolific” to a level that, as a writer, simply makes me feel tired. In his lifetime, Chesterton authored over one hundred books and contributed to two hundred others. He penned hundreds of poems, five plays, five novels, and some two hundred short stories, including the popular Father Brown detective series. He wrote over four thousand newspaper essays, including thirty years worth of weekly columns for The Illustrated London News, and thirteen years of weekly columns for The Daily News. He also edited his own newspaper, G.K.’s Weekly.

As one can easily imagine after such an inventory, G.K. Chesterton was always writing—wherever he found himself, and with whatever he could find to write on. So, in the tearoom he scribbled on napkins. On the train, in front of a bank teller, or in the middle of a lecture, he was known to jot hurriedly in a notebook, or even on the cuff of his sleeve.

Chesterton’s eccentric approach to writing, in fact, matched his eccentric approach to life in general. His public image was one out of a Shakespearean comedy. If he were not recognized in the streets of London by the flowing black cape and the wide brimmed top hat he always wore, he was given away instantly by the clamoring of the swordstick he always carried—for nothing more than the romantic notion that he might one day find himself caught up in some adventure where defending himself might become necessary.

He rarely knew, from hour to hour, where he was or where he was supposed to be, what appointment he was to be keeping, or lecture he was to be giving. The story is often told of the time he telegraphed his wife with the note, “Am at Market Harborough. Where ought I to be?” His faithful wife, Frances, wired back, “Home,” knowing it would be most promising for all involved if she could physically point him in the right direction. Chesterton seemed to live out one of his own clever paradoxes: “One can sometimes do good by being the right person in the wrong place.”

In fact, paradox, in more ways than one, is an ample word for G.K. Chesterton. It was one of his favorite things to point out, stir up, and call to mind. He described paradox as “truth standing on its head to gain attention,” and often evoked such jestering truisms throughout his dialog. With declarations bizarre enough to escape defensive mindsets, but with a substance that could blow holes in fortresses of skepticism, G.K. Chesterton, as absentminded as he may have appeared to be, challenged the world to think. With humility, wonder, and genius, Chesterton taught us, in the words of Father Brown, that often it isn’t that we can’t see the solution; it’s that we can’t see the problem in the first place.

In his disarming manner, such that even his opponents regarded him with affection, Chesterton exposed the inconsistencies of the modern mindset, the unfounded and unnoticed dogmatism of the unbeliever, and the misguided guidance of the cults of comfort and progress. He marveled that religious liberty now meant that we were no longer allowed to mention the subject, and that “there are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions.” To the convicted agnostic he said, “We don’t know enough about the unknown to know that it is unknowable.” To the social Darwinist he said, “It is absurd for the Evolutionist to complain that it is unthinkable for an admittedly unthinkable God to make everything out of nothing, and then pretend that it is more thinkable that nothing should turn itself into everything.”

And to anyone who would listen, Chesterton devotedly pled the case for Christ: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting,” he said, “It has been found difficult and left untried.”

To everyone his life affected, and continues to affect, G.K. Chesterton, with and without words, made a boisterous point about delighting in life to the fullest; life that is fullest, first and foremost, because there is someone to thank for making it full. He writes:

You say grace before meals.
All right.
But I say grace before the play and the opera,
And grace before the concert and the pantomime,
And grace before I open a book,
And grace before sketching, painting,
swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing;
And grace before I dip the pen in the ink.

Chesterton was a man alive with the gusto of resurrection, the marvel of truth, and the thankful foresight of a coming King among us.

 

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

 

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http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – You Can Be Brave

 

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — John 1:12

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

“To get” means to obtain by struggle and effort, but “to receive” means to simply take in what is being offered. Our relationship with God was never intended to be complicated and based upon our own works. The more we learn how to receive from God by faith, the simpler and more enjoyable our walk with Him becomes.

You can keep your relationship with God simple by receiving His unconditional love and believing His Word no matter what you think or how you feel. You can receive by faith all that He offers, even though you know full well that you don’t deserve it. And you can choose to lean on, trust in, and rely on Him to meet every need you have instead of worrying and trying to figure things out.

And with His help (grace), you can obey Him and grow in spiritual maturity by knowing His will and receiving His best for your life!

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for the incredible privilege of being Your child. Today, by faith, I choose to receive the blessings You have for me—Your love, mercy, forgiveness, strength, wisdom, joy, peace, and every good thing You have in store for my life. Help me to receive from You with simple child-like faith. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – We Can Obey All

 

” ‘Sir, which is the most important command in the laws of Moses?’ Jesus replied, ‘ “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. The second most important is similar: “Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.” All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets stem from these two laws and are fulfilled if your obey them. Keep only these and you will find that you are obeying the others'” (Matthew 22:36-40).

Steve came for counsel. “I want with all my heart to be a man of God,” he said. “Can you tell me how I can please the Lord and be everything He wants me to be? You have walked with the Lord for many years. Surely you have learned some lessons that would help me.” I turned to this passage, and we read it and discussed it together.

“Jesus has answered your question, Steve,” I said to him. “If you keep these two commandments, all the others and all the demands of the prophets will be fulfilled.” We turned to Exodus 20:1-17 and reviewed the Ten Commandments.

“You see, Steve, if your love God with all your heart, you will have no other god before Him. You will not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. You will remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you will honor your father and mother. You will not murder, commit adultery, steal, lie, or covet that which belongs to your neighbor.”

Think what would happen if every person who professed to be a follower of Jesus Christ would truly obey the two greatest commandments. Not only would the Ten Commandments be fulfilled, but so would the Golden Rule and every other command of God. The great miracle would result. The moral, spiritual and even the economical problems that plague the nations of the world would be resolved almost overnight.

This kind of love is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. For the supernatural love of God (agape) is spread abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. It is only as we walk in the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit, fully surrendered to the lordship of Jesus Christ, that we can fulfill these commandments.

Bible Reading: Mark 12:28-34

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Through the supernatural enabling power of the Holy Spirit, I will love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and my neighbors as myself, knowing that as I do so, I will be fulfilling and obeying all the other laws.

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – The Fine Art of Saying “Hello”

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

“Greet one another with a holy kiss.” Paul gave these instructions to the Romans and repeated them to other churches. Twice to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 16:20 and 2 Cor. 13:12); and then to the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 5:26).  Peter flew the friendliness flag as well in his first epistle (1 Peter 5:14) when he said, “Greet one another with a kiss of love.”

We tend to overlook these passages.  Why the big deal?  Why should we be careful to greet one another?  The answer is out of respect.  Respect is a mindfulness of another person’s situation.  Respect says “Hello” to the new kid in class. Respect says “Good afternoon” to the cashier at the checkout stand.  A greeting in its purest sense is a gesture of goodwill.  Simply greeting one another is not that hard.  But it makes a significant difference.  And this is how happiness happens.

 

Read more How Happiness Happens – Finding Lasting Joy in a world of Comparison, Disappointment, and Unmet Expectations

 

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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