All posts by broboinhawaii

Bible believing christian worshiping God in Hawaii

Denison Forum – Amazon Prime Day and American ingenuity: Being creative for Christ

Most Americans celebrate ten holidays each year, beginning with New Year’s Day and ending with Christmas. Now it seems we’ve added an eleventh to the list.

Amazon Prime Day began yesterday to national fanfare. The day began in 2015 as a celebration of Amazon’s twentieth anniversary. Research firms expect the two-day event to generate more than $5 billion in sales, up by 50 percent over last year.

Who invented the fortune cookie?

Amazon is not the only technology phenomenon in the news: Twitter celebrated its thirteenth anniversary yesterday. As massive as Twitter’s impact is, the social media giant ranks twelfth among platforms for monthly users. Facebook is first, with 2.23 billion monthly active users; YouTube is second, with 1.9 billion.

Reflecting on the technology revolution that is changing the world, the question occurred to me: How many of these advances were made by Americans?

Scanning a Wikipedia list of “American inventions,” I found more than two hundred entries. On the list are such ubiquitous creations as the internet, the airplane, the alarm clock, the paper clip, the fire hydrant, the fortune cookie (surprisingly), the personal computer, the crayon, dental floss, the dishwasher, the ballpoint pen, the polio vaccine, the microwave oven, the television, the telephone, the electric guitar, and the supermarket.

And Apollo 11 launched fifty years ago today, carrying the astronauts who would become the first to walk on the moon.

What does our country’s technological prowess say about us?

Is shopping our religion?

Americans, of course, have no monopoly on inventions. Chinese culture and creativity predate ours by millennia. The medieval Arab world, sometimes called the Islamic Golden Age, was an era of remarkable scientific advancement. Every nation has its inventors and pioneers.

But it is a fact of history that entrepreneurial ingenuity has been at the heart of the American experience. The first immigrants to these shores were forced to adapt to this new world. Explorers pushed the western boundary of the nation all the way to the Pacific. The pioneer spirit still infuses much of our culture.

A single sentence in our Declaration of Independence explains this spirit: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” As I noted on July 4, these were truly revolutionary words. They have empowered generations of Americans to embrace a future as bright as their dreams.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Amazon Prime Day and American ingenuity: Being creative for Christ

Charles Stanley – When We Cry Out to God

 

Psalm 57:1-3

When you face a crisis, what is your first line of defense? The natural response is to attempt to fix the problem on your own. God, however, gives us a different way to handle difficulty.

David was no stranger to pressure or sudden appearances of evil. When he wrote Psalm 57, he was facing many hardships—including pursuit by King Saul, who wanted to kill him (1 Samuel 24:1-22). The shepherd’s response was to cry out to God and take refuge in Him until the calamity had passed.

Let’s learn from David’s example by exploring his words. Today’s passage has much to teach about the One to whom he cries.

First, David refers to God as El Elyon, or the Most High God. With all power and wisdom, He is the only one who can help us in our need.

Second, God is said to be our refuge. If He is a place of shelter for our soul, then we need not fear. He hovers over us and protects us when crises arise and leave us feeling helpless.

Third, the psalm expresses complete confidence that the Almighty can and will accomplish anything it takes for His purpose to be fulfilled. He’ll do whatever is necessary to intervene on our behalf, to hold accountable those who oppose us, and to surround us with His love and truth.

During His time on earth, Jesus brought great passion to His life and ministry . Therefore, we can approach Him when emotions run high. If your heart is troubled, cry out to the Lord. Know that you come before the throne of Him who is a powerful protector, capable and willing to do all you need.

Bible in One Year: Proverbs 26-28

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Out of the Trap

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 13–15; Acts 19:21–41

I have learned the secret of being content.

Philippians 4:12

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 Timothy 6:6–10

The Venus flytrap was first discovered in a small area of sandy wetlands not far from our home in North Carolina. These plants are fascinating to watch because they’re carnivorous.

Venus flytraps release a sweet-smelling nectar into colorful traps that resemble open flowers. When an insect crawls inside, triggering sensors along the outer rim, the trap clamps shut in less than a second—capturing its victim. The trap then closes further and emits enzymes that consume its prey over time, giving the plant nutrients not provided by the sandy soil.

God’s Word tells of another trap that can capture unexpectedly. The apostle Paul warned his protégé Timothy: “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” And “some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:9–10).

Money and material things may promise happiness, but when they take first place in our lives, we walk on dangerous ground. We avoid this trap by living with thankful, humble hearts focused on God’s goodness to us through Jesus: “godliness with contentment is great gain” (v. 6).

The temporary things of this world never satisfy like God can. True, lasting contentment is found only through our relationship with Him.

By James Banks

Reflect & Pray

Which do you think more about—money or your relationship with God? How can you give Him the highest priority today?

Loving Lord, You are the greatest blessing of my life! Help me to live contentedly with all that You are today.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Jars of Clay

I am often asked in conversations with people outside of Christian faith why I am a Christian. Sometimes, before I am finished with an explanation, a litany of offenses associated with Christianity pours out as evidence against believing: all the bloodshed and religious wars, the Inquisition, anti-Semitism, etc. I actually don’t mind these kinds of critiques or questions. They are very important, and it would be foolish of me to pretend that the record of Christendom in the world was spotless. Much has been done in the name of Jesus by those who claim to be Christians, for which there should be collective shame.

Sometimes my honest acknowledgement of historic faults isn’t enough for my skeptical friends. Next, they scrutinize the Bible. Who wrote it? Can we trust it? How do we know it is God’s word? When it comes to the Bible, I also understand why these kinds of questions are raised. There are some fairly difficult passages, culturally specific events and contexts that can make the work of translation and understanding in this contemporary time—let alone for those who are completely unfamiliar with it—complicated at best. Again, it would be untruthful if those who studied the Bible pretended to understand everything within its narrative perfectly or completely.

One thing that is not difficult to see or understand, however, is all the humanity on display throughout the biblical narrative. Even the most ‘heroic’ or ‘epic’ of biblical characters are shown with their flaws and their weaknesses on display as much as their strengths. For example, Israel’s great deliverer Moses is called long past his prime and after having been exiled from the royal life in Egypt. We find him tending sheep in the middle of the wilderness. By his own admission, he is not a great public speaker, likely suffering from a speech impediment, and he struggles with his temper; he had killed an Egyptian and struck a rock with such force and violence that he was not permitted to enter the Promised Land. King David, the great king of Israel, was actually the youngest of his family when he is anointed as king. He is tasked to keep the flocks. The first born son was the normal and rightful heir to inheritance and leadership. He committed murder and adultery, conducted a census against God’s specific prohibition, yet he is the one described as a ‘man after God’s heart.’

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Jars of Clay

Joyce Meyer – God Blesses Obedience

 

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine. — Exodus 19:5

Adapted from the resource Closer to God Each Day Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

God’s grace and power are available for us to use. God enables us or gives us an anointing of the Holy Spirit to do what He tells us to do.

Sometimes after He has prompted us to go another direction, we still keep pressing on with our original plan. If we are doing something He has not approved, He is under no obligation to give us the energy to do it. We are functioning in our own strength rather than under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Then we get so frustrated, stressed, or burned out, we lose our self-control, simply by ignoring the promptings of the Spirit.

Many people are stressed and burned out from going their own way instead of God’s way. They end up in stressful situations when they go a different direction from the one God prompted. Then they burn out in the midst of the disobedience and end up struggling to finish what they started outside of God’s direction, all the while begging God to bless them.

Thankfully, God is merciful, and He helps us in the midst of our mistakes. But He is not going to give us strength and energy to disobey Him. We can avoid many stressful situations simply by obeying the Holy Spirit’s promptings at all times.

Prayer Starter: Father, I know Your plan is always best for my life. Please help me today and every day to obey the promptings of Your Holy Spirit in every area. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Lord Will Pay

 

“Remember, the Lord will pay you for each good thing you do, whether you are slave or free” (Ephesians 6:8).

When I proposed to Vonette I told her that I loved her dearly, and I wanted her to be my wife. I promised to do everything I could to make her happy and that she would always be the most important person in my life. But I further explained that my first allegiance was to the Lord, for I had already made that commitment to Him and could not and would not violate that promise to follow Him whatever the cost. She agreed, and we were married on those conditions.

My love for Vonette is far greater today because Jesus Christ is first in my life, and her love for me is far greater because He is first in her life. Our relationship is infinitely richer and more meaningful than it would have been had she been master of her life, and I the lord of my life, or if we had made each other first in our lives and the Lord Jesus Christ second.

The apostle Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is affirming the promise of our Lord recorded in Matthew 6:32-33, “Your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well what you need and He will give it to you if you give Him first place in your life and live as He wants you to.”

In the context of this verse in Ephesians, Paul is dealing with family relationships – authority within the family. If we can grasp the concept of God as our paymaster, it will make a vast difference in the way we respond to the authority of men.

Christ knows everything you endure. He gives you your full portion of all that He owns. He is really the one for whom you are working. Wherever you are working, you may have assignments and responsibilities which you do not enjoy. But if Christ is truly the one for whom you work, then you will undertake His assignments cheerfully.

If we choose to be rebellious, we face the danger of a reward from our paymaster that might not be at all to our liking. Let us be about our Father’s business – willingly, joyfully, enthusiastically.

Bible Reading: Ephesians 6:1-7

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Though I may have a boss or leader who tells me what to do, and when to do it, I will always remember that my first allegiance is to the Lord Jesus Christ, and by putting Him first, even above my loved ones who surround me, I can serve others with greater joy, confidence and enthusiasm.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Set Free From Guilt

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

We are incarcerated by our past.  We have been found guilty!  Our executioner’s footsteps echo against stone walls.  We sit on the floor of the dusty cell, awaiting our final moment.  We don’t look up as he opens the door.  We know what he’s going to say.

“Time to pay for your sins.”  But we hear something else!

“You’re free to go. They took Jesus instead of you!”

The door swings open, the guard barks, “Get out.”

And we find ourselves shackles gone, crimes pardoned, wondering what just happened?  Grace just happened!  Christ took away your sins. Romans 3:24 says, “God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins.  We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us.”  What happened?  Grace happened!

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Denison Forum – Novak Djokovic, floods in Louisiana, and outages in NYC: The power of perseverance

 

Novak Djokovic won the longest Wimbledon final in tournament history yesterday by defeating Roger Federer in a match lasting nearly five hours. “I hope I give some people a chance to believe that at 37 it’s not over yet,” Federer said after losing the fifth set, thirteen games to twelve. “I gave it all I had and I still feel alright.”

There are times when perseverance is the only way to confront adversity. Consider two other examples in the news.

Forecasters are warning of the potential for “dangerous, life-threatening flooding” as Tropical Storm Barry continues to creep northward across Louisiana. Coast Guard helicopters rescued people stranded on rooftops while Louisiana’s National Guard deployed some three thousand soldiers around the state. More than 51,000 customers in the state are still without power this morning.

Meanwhile, New Yorkers are recovering from a massive blackout over the weekend that affected more than 72,000 Con Edison customers along thirty blocks from Times Square to the Upper West Side. The outage shut down Broadway shows and a Jennifer Lopez concert in Madison Square Garden.

After Hamilton was canceled, its cast sang from the windows of their theater to crowds on the street below. When Carnegie Hall was evacuated, the musicians moved their concert to the street outside. The cause of the outage is still under investigation this morning.

Landing on an asteroid

In a day when humans can land a spacecraft on an asteroid and cameras can automatically translate signs for travelers, it is hard to understand why we must live at the mercy of forces we cannot predict or control. But we do.

Neither Novak Djokovic nor Roger Federer deserved to lose yesterday’s magnificent Wimbledon final. Victims of the storms in Louisiana and power outages in New York City did nothing to cause their plight. You are probably dealing with challenges today you did not expect or deserve.

When we are treated unfairly, it’s only natural to blame someone. In the Garden of Eden, Adam blamed Eve, then Eve blamed the serpent (Genesis 3:12–13). When Cain killed Abel, he blamed God for his punishment (Genesis 4:13–14). The Israelites in the wilderness complained to Moses when they ran out of water (Exodus 17:1–3); Moses then complained to God (v. 4).

“You have not passed this way before”

In Seven Types of Atheism, John Gray defines an atheist as “anyone with no use for the idea of a divine mind that has fashioned the world.” Some atheists consider religion to be an erroneous hypothesis and want to deify science; others claim humans are gradually improving and have no need of a deity; still others believe that the world is nothing more than “a progress towards death.”

Continue reading Denison Forum – Novak Djokovic, floods in Louisiana, and outages in NYC: The power of perseverance

Charles Stanley – Unshakeable Foundation

 

2 Peter 3:10-13

With each passing year, the instability in the world seems more and more apparent. Natural and man-made catastrophes claim lives; political balance shifts; wealth and status come and go. It all causes us to ask, Is anything unshakeable?

As overwhelming as these things seem, let me give you an even bigger example. In today’s passage, we read that the heavens and earth will be shaken. It will all be destroyed—burned, to be exact. Thankfully, we have the promise that God will create new heavens and a new earth, but in the meantime our world will undergo great turmoil.

Instability can create feelings of insecurity and fear unless we latch onto the truths God has given us. The Bible refers to Jesus as a rock and firm foundation (1 Corinthians 3:10-11; Eph. 2:20). And we know that God is unchangeable and sovereign; nothing can undermine or move Him. His Word is truth, and it will last forever.

As Christians, we know that our eternal relationship with God is secure. We’ve been adopted as His children, and nothing can rob us of this position. What’s more, believers are assured of an eternal home with Him. Though we may at times feel unsettled by our circumstances, we can rejoice when trials bring us humbly to the cross of Jesus, where we will find peace and safety.

What assurance we have as God’s children! We can rest in peace and full confidence, knowing that our hearts are secure in Jesus Christ. As King David said in Psalm 16:8, “I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

Bible in One Year: Psalm 79-84

 

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Our Daily Bread — Your Eulogy

 

Bible in a Year:Job 5–7; Acts 8:1–25

Death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.

Ecclesiastes 7:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ecclesiastes 7:1–6

My heart is full from attending the funeral of a faithful woman. Her life wasn’t spectacular. She wasn’t known widely outside her church, neighbors, and friends. But she loved Jesus, her seven children, and her twenty-five grandchildren. She laughed easily, served generously, and could hit a softball a long way.

Ecclesiastes says, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting” (7:2). “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning” because there we learn what matters most (7:4). New York Times columnist David Brooks says there are two kinds of virtues: those that look good on a résumé and those you want said at your funeral. Sometimes these overlap, though often they seem to compete. When in doubt, always choose the eulogy virtues.

The woman in the casket didn’t have a résumé, but her children testified that “she rocked Proverbs 31” and its description of a godly woman. She inspired them to love Jesus and care for others. As Paul said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1), so they challenged us to imitate their mother’s life as she imitated Jesus.

What will be said at your funeral? What do you want said? It’s not too late to develop eulogy virtues. Rest in Jesus. His salvation frees us to live for what matters most.

By Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

Are you living out things that will affect your résumé or your eulogy? How would your life change if you lived each day with your eulogy in mind?

Father, give me the courage to live for what matters most.

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Another Transaction

There are a great many companies that think very highly of you and all that you deserve. You deserve the best. You have earned a vacation. You deserve to splurge on this because you’re worth it. Whether in plenty or times of economic downturn, flattery actually remains one of the most effective psychological drivers that compounds debt. In a HSBC Direct survey during one such downturn, forty-two percent of the consumers interviewed said they had splurged on themselves in the past month despite hardship. Twenty-eight percent cited their reason for the splurge as simply “because I deserve it.”(1)

Of course, each of us who has ever bought into the idea that L’Oreal thinks I am worth it or BMW believes I deserve the ultimate driving experience probably realizes that we have done exactly that: we have bought the idea, paid for both the product and the flattering suggestion. No one is giving away these things because they think we are worth it; their flattery is quite literally calculated. In effect, it’s not that they think so highly of us, so much as that they want us to think highly of ourselves. Whether we see through this empty sycophancy or not, Geoff Mulgan believes it is working: “‘[B]ecause you’re worth it’ has come to epitomise banal narcissism of early 21st century capitalism; easy indulgence and effortless self-love all available at a flick of the credit card.”(2) The enticing words are an invitation to reward ourselves, and it just so happens we agree that we’re worth it—and they are glad.

There is of course much that can be drawn from reflecting on the intemperate desires of a consumer culture and the imagination fostered within its confines. A consumerist view of the world holds a very particular view of humanity and its worth. Beside this prominent vision, the drama of the Christian story fosters another imagination, along with the space and invitation to try on its counterintuitive system of worth. The invitation of a creator who so values creation that he steps into it is one that presents every opportunity to question the psychological drivers of empty flattery and consumer seduction. The Father gives us in Christ a mediator, an advocate, a vicarious redeemer of human identity in human form. While the imagination of a consumer promises flattery, the free invitation of Christ gives a startling commentary on a similar kind of compliment, within a very different transaction. Choosing to become human, Christ has indeed proclaimed our worth. But there is nothing required to accept this unfathomable gesture of a God who takes on flesh.

Peering through the accolade proclaimed in Christ does, however, confront the very banal narcissism that epitomizes our numbed consumer hearts and imaginations. In the words of one observer: “When I look at narcissism I see the shame-based fear of being ordinary. I see the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose.”(3) Given the highly countercultural alternative of discovering worth in the son of an ordinary peasant woman, we may find that we in fact prefer the consumer transaction that tells us that being human is about what we can buy. We may find that there is something comforting and familiar in paying for our sense of worth and value. We might find it baffling to accept the idea that something deemed a gift could come to us fragile and broken. Or maybe it is the personal nature of his humanness that we find altogether unnerving—namely, Jesus was not simply born a child in first century Bethlehem; he was born a child in first century Bethlehem for you. It is perhaps far easier to accept an empty compliment.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Another Transaction

Joyce Meyer – You Are at a Place of Prayer

 

For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. — 1 Corinthians 3:9

Adapted from the resource My Time with God Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Under the Old Covenant, the temple was the house of God, the place of prayer for His people, the children of Israel. The temple had three compartments, one of which was the Holy of Holies, and it held the presence of God! Amazingly, now our renewed and sanctified spirit is the place where His presence dwells!

Under the New Covenant, the apostle Paul tells us that God’s presence is now a mystery revealed, which is of Christ in us, “the Hope of glory” (see Colossians 1:27).

Because of the union you now have with Christ, you can be close to God because you are God’s living temple. You are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, a building still under construction, but nonetheless His house, His tabernacle. Paul goes to great length in encouraging us to live a holy life because we are the temple of God.

Whereas the children of Israel had to go to a specific place to offer their worship with detailed instructions, we have the incredible privilege of worshiping God anywhere and at any time. Therefore, we can be called a house of prayer.

Prayer Starter: Oh, Lord, I thank You for Your Holy Spirit Who lives inside of me. Thank You that Your awesome presence goes with me everywhere I go! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Knowledge and Wisdom

 

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness. Then it is peace-loving and courteous. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others; it is full of mercy and good deeds. It is wholehearted and straightforward and sincere” (James 3:17).

“Donkeys laden with books,” a phrase in rabbinical literature, is descriptive of those who know much but still remain fools.

Another expression says that “knowledge is power.” True, but how is the knowledge used – beneficially or malevolently? That is a vitally important question. We have more knowledge than ever before, but a few would claim that we have more wisdom.

Going faster and faster, we may be still going astray. Just as grapes are not picked from a bramble bush, neither can the good life be harvested from sowing wild oats.

For a nation of people, many of whom are “educated beyond their intelligence,” as an anonymous wit once observed, America sorely lacks a sufficiency of men with real wisdom – that which is given by the Lord Himself.

In our modern education, we seem to be preoccupied with the accumulation of knowledge, to the neglect of that wisdom which alone can save us from the misuse of knowledge.

William Lyon Phelps, famous English professor at Yale University and a godly statesman, once said, “If I could choose between a knowledge of the Bible and a college education, I would readily choose the knowledge of the Bible.”

If we lack wisdom, God’s wisdom, we need only ask of Him and He will grant it when we ask in faith, according to His promise in James 1:5.

Bible Reading: James 3:13-18

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: In order to live a supernatural life I’ll look for divine wisdom from the proper source – God, His Word, and His indwelling Holy Spirit.

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Filled Up With God’s Love

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

When Christ rose from the dead, he never reminded the disciples of their betrayal and desertion.  They outran the guards, but they couldn’t outrun the love of Christ.

Desert God—he’ll still love you.  Deny God—he’ll still love you.  Doubt God—he’ll still love you.  You have never lived a loveless day.  Not one!  You never leave God’s mind, escape his sight, or flee his thoughts.  He knows you better than you know you, and he loves you still.

The greatest discovery in the universe is the greatest love in the universe—and that is God’s love.  Remember Paul’s words in Romans 8:38,  “Nothing can separate us from his love.”  Step to the well of God’s love and drink up.  Once filled by his love, you’ll never be the same.

Read more Come Thirsty

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – The Democratic debates and becoming a ‘happiness hunter’: The surprising source of true happiness

 

The Democratic Party’s presidential debates begin tonight. According to the Wall Street Journal, this is the largest Democratic presidential field in modern history. The candidates are hoping to differentiate themselves from each other and make an impact on the voting public.

Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign manager, explains: “The biggest question is who is driving the news. Who is getting attention.” Dan Pfeiffer, a former adviser to Barack Obama, added: “They need moments to create attention and virality to increase their poll numbers and, more importantly, get the online donor number up.”

There is much in the news we could be discussing this morning, from the border crisis (which I plan to address later this week) to the ongoing tensions with Iran to the Middle East peace plan. But this week’s debates will make headlines both for what the candidates say that is memorable and what they say that is regrettable.

Meanwhile, a story receiving less attention caught my eye as a parable for our contentious times.

Finding the “secret to happiness” in Denmark

If you’re unhappy with your job, perhaps you’d like to become a “happiness hunter.” Furniture chain Ikea is looking for someone willing to live for two weeks in Denmark and get paid in money and meatballs to help them “find all the keys to a real home of happiness.”

Continue reading Denison Forum – The Democratic debates and becoming a ‘happiness hunter’: The surprising source of true happiness

Charles Stanley – Things That Cannot be Shaken

 

Hebrews 12:25-29

In general, people like security. We seek what is comfortable. Yet the reality of our world is that much instability exists. For example, finances, health, and even a country’s ability to survive are not guaranteed.

When our foundation is shaken, we often feel overwhelmed. Sometimes Satan causes the difficulty—with God’s permission, of course. At other times, challenging circumstances are brought about by the Lord’s hand. Regardless of the source, we have the promise in Romans 8:28 that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” And in either case, the Almighty’s purpose remains: to glorify Himself in our world and in our lives.

There are different reasons that the Lord permits turmoil, but for now, let’s focus on one: He will not allow anything that enables man to seem self-sufficient in his own eyes. Therefore, God may lovingly allow enough trouble for us to realize our need of Him. Consider the trials the Israelites faced each time they turned away from the Lord to worship other gods. In many ways, we do the same thing today. Individually, in our churches, and as a nation, we often glorify “gods” like money or status. But the One who created us will not tolerate this.

In our pride, we tend to think we’re able to manage without God. But out of love, He may stir up our life to reveal our dependence upon Him. If you are basing your security on anything except Jesus Christ—even something as seemingly innocent as comfort—it will prove to be sinking sand.

Bible in One Year: Psalm 76-78

 

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Our Daily Bread — Vanity on Fire

 

Bible in a Year:Job 3–4; Acts 7:44–60

Create in me a pure heart, O God.

Psalm 51:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Matthew 5:21–30

In February 1497, a Monk named Girolamo Savonarola started a fire. Leading up to this, he and his followers spent several months collecting items that they thought might entice people to sin or neglect their religious duties—including artwork, cosmetics, instruments, and dresses. On the appointed day, thousands of vanity items were gathered at a public square in Florence, Italy, and set on fire. The event has come to be known as the Bonfire of the Vanities.

Savonarola might have found inspiration for his extreme actions in some shocking statements from the Sermon on the Mount. “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away,” said Jesus. “And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away” (Matthew 5:29–30). But if we interpret Jesus’s words literally, we miss the point of the message. The entire sermon is a lesson on going deeper than the surface, to focus on the state of our hearts rather than blaming our behavior on external distractions and temptations.

The Bonfire of the Vanities made a great show of destroying belongings and works of art, but it is unlikely that the hearts of those involved were changed in the process. Only God can change a heart. That’s why the psalmist prayed, “Create in me a pure heart, O God” (Psalm 51:10). It’s our heart that counts.

By Remi Oyedele

Reflect & Pray

What behaviors or distractions might be on your list of “vanities”? How do you try to “manage” them?

Holy God, please give me the grace to surrender my heart to You and yield my life’s vanities to the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit.

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Befriending Lament

 

I had dinner with my 84 year-old neighbor last week. Recently widowed, he has been alone and fending for himself. When we ran into him walking, I asked him what he might need. Immediately, he said that he had been eating the same thing for weeks and weeks because that is the only thing he knew how to make, and would we be willing to come and show him how to roast a chicken? So my husband and I showed up with ingredients in hand and set out to prepare a meal he could replicate so that he had some variety in his diet.

Not only was my neighbor recently widowed, but he had also had an orthopedic surgery that has left him in quite a bit of pain and without the strength and use of his bones and muscles in the way he once was able to use them. An avid tennis player all throughout his life, the agility that propelled him back and forth across the court had left him. What remained were brittle bones and fraying tendons. He could barely hobble around the night we made him dinner, and he had to keep sitting down because he was in so much pain. Even with two surgeries to correct the years of tennis playing, he still told me that he hoped he would die on the tennis court playing the game he loved.

While I know intellectually that bodies grow old and die, it is hard not to think of the aging process as a kind of betrayal. Those limbs, muscles, bones, and tendons that support and empower throughout life, now become the very instruments of treason as they tear, break, and decay, being worn down by life itself. While we fight the aging process in every conceivable manner, our bodies stay on automatic pilot and simply follow a course that is inevitable. To be sure, there are always those individuals who live long into their 90’s and 100’s—their bodies seemingly impervious to the ravages of aging. We marvel at their longevity, especially at those centenarians who drank pots of coffee, or ate bacon and eggs every day, ignoring their doctor’s warnings of a shortened life span. And yet, one day their bodies will also give them away to death.

But one doesn’t have to be old to experience bodily betrayal. The young succumb to various illnesses just as the old do. We all know those individuals who have died far too soon, the victims of cells gone awry or bodily system failure. And the mystery of ‘premature’ illness or death surely strikes at the confidence of all who appear healthy. Whether old or young, all go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Befriending Lament

Joyce Meyer – A Doubtful Mind

 

And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. — 1 Kings 18:21

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

Like many people, I assumed that doubt and unbelief were the same, because we usually put them in the same context. In recent years, however, I’ve learned that there is a difference. Obviously, doubt and unbelief do not honor God, but I want to show you how they function in different ways.

The story of the prophet Elijah is an excellent picture of doubt at work. King Ahab was the most evil leader the people had known. Elijah declared that because of Ahab’s wickedness, no rain would fall until he, the prophet, said so. For the next three-and-a-half years, drought scourged the land.

Now, that’s a pretty clear picture. There had been sufficient rain before Elijah’s declaration—but after he spoke, the skies quit yielding water. That is pretty obvious. Who would question God or His prophet? But apparently, the people’s fear of Ahab—as well as the lack of rainfall—caused their minds to be filled with questions.

Elijah finally called all the people together, along with the king and the false prophets, and asked them why they doubted. Why were they caught between two possible answers? That’s what doubt really is. Doubt isn’t simply unbelief—it’s more of an attitude that says, “I believe, but . . .” or, “I want to believe, but . . .”

Doubt often comes to reside where faith once lived. Doubt is active opposition to faith, and it tries to push faith aside. The people had believed the prophet, but as time wore on—three-and-a-half years—apparently questions arose, and uncertainty crept in.

If Elijah really did this, he ought to stop it right now. Maybe it just happened. Or, How do we really know that was the word of God? As soon as they seriously asked themselves these questions, they opened the door for Satan to bring doubt into their minds.

Doubt never comes from God—it is always in opposition to His will.

In writing to the Romans, Paul pointed out that the Lord gives each of us a measure of faith (see Romans 12:3). When we cling to that faith, we push away doubts. But when we allow questions to enter in—any kind of uncertainty that takes our minds away from God’s wonderful work in our lives—that’s doubt.

It is also a subtle, sneaky entry point for our enemy. He plants doubt in our minds, hoping it will cause us to oppose God. We probably don’t think of doubt as something that strong, but it is—it’s the first step of opposition to what God declares. That’s why we need to know God’s Word. If we know the Word, we can recognize it when the devil lies to us and causes us to question.

Elijah wouldn’t allow the people of his day to move back and forth from doubt to belief. He made the options clear: Believe the true God or believe a false idol. Don’t fall into the trap of saying you believe in God when your heart is filled with doubts and questions. Choose true faith and say, “Lord, I believe. I may not always understand, but I trust You.”

Prayer Starter: True and faithful God, in the past, I’ve been weak, allowing Satan to make me question You, Your love, and Your plans for my life. Not only do I ask You to forgive me, but I also ask You to teach me Your Word and strengthen me so that Satan can never trick me again. Thank You for hearing my prayer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Crown of Life

 

“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him” (James 1:12, KJV).

In Christian art, the crown is usually pictured entwined with the cross. This suggests that endurance of trial leads to victory, as the above verse indicates.

Temptation often comes at our weakest – rather than our strongest – moments. When we have reached the limit of our love and our patience, for example, we are tempted to be unlike Christ in one way or another. Remember, Jesus’ temptation began after forty days of fasting.

People usually are impressed – favorably or unfavorably – when they see how we act under pressure. It is possible for one weak act to spoil a whole lifetime of witness.

The beatitude, or blessing, in Matthew 5:10; says, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (KJV). The crown of life is promised to those who successfully stand up under the testing of their faith. The Christian life is a spiritual conflict from the moment of birth until we go to be with the Lord. The flesh wars against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh. There is absolutely no hope for victory until one discovers the availability of the supernatural resources of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

A young student who came to me for counsel said, “I have given up. I can’t live the Christian life. There is no hope for me.”

“Good,” I replied. “At last you have recognized that you cannot live the Christian life. Now there is hope for you, for the Christian life is a supernatural life and the only one who can live it is Jesus Christ Himself.”

Surrender your life totally, completely to Him and recognize moment by moment, day by day, that the Holy Spirit is the only one who will enable you to endure temptation. By faith you must draw upon His supernatural resources to live a supernatural life. Only then will you be victorious and fruitful for the glory of God.

Bible Reading: James 5:7-11

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today and every day I will remember to draw upon the supernatural resources of the indwelling Christ who will enable me to be victorious over temptation and to live the supernatural life as a testimony to His faithfulness.

 

 

http://www.cru.org