Vin Scully predicts more Americans will respond to COVID crisis with faith: An atheist doctor comes to faith through a dying priest

Vin Scully is a legendary baseball broadcaster, the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1950 to 2016. Now ninety-two years old, he joined Fox News on Monday to discuss the delayed start to this year’s Major League Baseball season.

Scully, a devout Christian, said, “Now that I have some leisure time and we’re all locked in at home, I read an article and it was talking about what happened to Americans in World War II. It was such a terrible time.”

He added, “Three-quarters of Americans belonged to a house of worship. Today . . . half of Americans are involved in a house of worship, prior to this pandemic. So there’s your answer . . . Although they might not be able to go to a house of worship, probably more Americans will be praying since World War II.”

“More people will be coming back to the faith,” Scully went on. “And now that this terrible thing is upon us, people might very well get back to the center. And it’s a better world. We’ll see . . .”

“With the humble is wisdom” 

I referenced the same Wall Street Journal column in yesterday morning’s Daily Article. Scully is right: the anxiety of this crisis may well be a catalyst for the spiritual renewal we need so urgently.

As the saying goes, sometimes we need to get so far down that we have nowhere to look but up. Such humility is the foundational step to the spiritual awakening we need so urgently today.

As we noted yesterday, God’s promise to his people that he would “heal their land” is tied directly to their response to his call: “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turned from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

First, they must “humble” themselves. The Hebrew word means “to bow the knee” or “to submit with humility.”

Continue reading Vin Scully predicts more Americans will respond to COVID crisis with faith: An atheist doctor comes to faith through a dying priest

Charles Stanley – The Lamb of God

 

John 1:19-29

From the beginning, God has dealt with sin through the shedding of blood. When mankind’s first act of disobedience was committed, the Lord Himself instituted the sacrificial system: He killed an animal and used its skin to cover Adam and Eve physically, just as its blood “covered” their sin. This was a temporary solution, however. Only the shed blood of Jesus Christ could atone for sin and permanently do away with it.

The Son of God came as the sin-bearer for the whole world— He lived a perfect life and then assumed full responsibility for all of our transgressions and guilt. Through His death on the cross, those who trust Him as Savior enjoy the freedom of full pardon and are made righteous and holy in the eyes of the Father.

This is why we call Jesus the Lamb of God. In the Old Testament, lambs were sacrificed to atone for sin. In a similar way, Jesus offered His life as the substitutionary death needed to satisfy God’s justice. As a result, our relationship with God was reconciled so we could be adopted us as His children. Because of Jesus we can stand before God and say, “Thank You for being my Father.”

Bible in One Year:   1 Samuel 21-22

 

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Our Daily Bread — Blessed Bread

 

Bible in a Year:

Jesus took some bread and blessed it.

Matthew 26:26 nlt

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Matthew 26:26–29

When our oldest child became a teenager, my wife and I gave her a journal that we’d been writing in since her birth. We’d recorded her likes and dislikes, quirks and memorable one-liners. At some point the entries became more like letters, describing what we see in her and how we see God at work in her. When we gave it to her on her thirteenth birthday, she was mesmerized. She’d been given the gift of knowing a crucial part of the origins of her identity.

In blessing something as common as bread, Jesus was revealing its identity. What it—along with all creation—was made to reflect: God’s glory. I believe Jesus was also pointing to the future of the material world. All creation will one day be filled with the glory of God. So in blessing bread (Matthew 26:26), Jesus was pointing to the origin and the destiny of creation (Romans 8:21–22).

Maybe the “beginning” of your story feels messed up. Maybe you don’t think there’s much of a future. But there’s a bigger story. It’s a story of a God who made you on purpose and for a purpose, who took pleasure in you. It’s a story of God who came to rescue you (Matthew 26:28); a God who put His Spirit in you to renew you and recover your identity. It’s a story of a God who wants to bless you.

By: Glenn Packiam

Reflect & Pray

How does seeing your true origin story as being made on purpose and for a purpose change the way you see yourself? What’s the bigger story than simply your situation right now?

Dear Jesus, I place my life like bread in Your hands. Only You can return me to my origin. Only You can carry me to my destiny. Jesus, You are the author and the finisher of my faith.

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Lament and the Journey to Resurrection

 

It was a cold February at Christ of the Desert monastery, high in the mountains of northern New Mexico. Behind the chapel, author William Bryant Logan noticed an open grave, the disturbed red soil waiting in a tall mound beside it.

“Has a brother died?” he asked a monk.

“No,” the monk answered, “but we cannot dig in winter, so we opened this grave ahead of time, just in case.”

To many of us, an open grave is unnerving, the thought of soil disturbed and waiting is a thought entirely unwelcome. “An open grave is an open mouth,” writes Logan. “It exhales all the suggestion of the dark.”(1) In the Western world in particular, we have a complicated relationship with death and dying, dismissing as much of it as we can manage from sight, mind, and society. An open grave is a gaping wound we prefer to turn our eyes away from.

Death is one of the subjects the Christian journey of Lent invites followers to consider along the forty day journey. Lament, perhaps particularly lament as it pertains to the grave, is offered to us as a companion. Yet, Christian theologian J. Todd Billings describes lament as an expression of grief, a practice—maybe even a word—that has fallen out of use in modern times. It is a discipline often avoided, at times even buried in Christian liturgies. “[I]n a growing trend,” writes Billings, “many funerals completely avoid the language of dying and death as well as the appearance of the dead body—turning it all into a one-sided ‘celebration’ of the life of the one who has died.”(1) Such language might be fitting for certain worldviews, particularly those worldviews where death remains an enemy that puts an end to the life we are celebrating. But the biblical paradox about death attends to far more of the human experience. This, too, the journey of Lent invites us to reclaim—and I believe this may well be a gift to many of us struggling under the weight of the world’s present pain.

The Christian worldview affords the hopeful (and far more multivalent) language of celebration to be sure—Christ has indeed conquered death—but likewise, Christians are afforded the equally hopeful language of lament. We are given permission to groan as mortals who do not yet taste the fullness of the victory Christ has won, as creatures who confess with their Creator that death is an enemy of God. Where we fail to face this fuller vision of our own mortality, writes Billings, “we attend to one side of the biblical paradox about death, forgetting that even the death of a very elderly person is not ‘altogether sweet and beautiful’… [At the grave of Lazarus], Jesus still wept—even for one who would be raised again. And so should we.”(2)

For Billings, the signs of death’s current reign and the dire need for the language of lament are not the mere theological abstractions of a theology professor. In a book he never fathomed he would write at the midpoint of his life, Rejoicing in Lament: Wrestling with Incurable Cancer and Life in Christ, his own need for the language of lament is voiced in personal terms. It is equally clear that lament itself is a gift of the church for the world.

In one section, Billings describes his own congregation, with its array of people and stages of life, a church that on a regular basis baptizes people into new life and holds funerals marking death. This collective, human journey struck him as he led a Sunday school class shortly after his diagnosis. “In this room are cancer survivors who have gone through chemo; and there are others who have lost spouses and other loved ones to cancer and other disease and tragedy. The congregation is the only place in Western culture where we develop relationships, celebrate our faith and life together, and also extend those same relationships all the way through death and dying… That is a gift of the church. I would go so far as to say that a top recommended question from me for ‘church shoppers’ might be this: who would you like to bury you?”(3)

For any death-denying culture, the church sits as a striking counterpoint, empowered by the crucified Jesus to tell a vastly different story. But the whole story needs to be told. The Bible’s “laments, petitions, and praises—have been a staple of Christian worship for centuries. They, along with the sacraments of Christ’s dying and new life, have incorporated death into the story of Christian worship.”(4) The Christian imagination is not one that has to bury its head in the sand, taking its cues from our culture’s qualms about death and suffering. To lament is not to undermine that we are a people who live in hope. On the contrary, it is a gift of God for the people of God, who discover in the vicarious humanity of the crucified Lord both a more profound rejoicing and a more honest lament. Whereas some worldviews have no basis for the practice of lamentation (to whom would we lament?), for the Christian it is a part of the journey, a testimony to our identity in Christ. “To mourn and to protest is to testify that the gifts of creation are truly wondrous,” writes Billings, “that the communion with God and others that we taste in Christ is truly the way things are supposed to be—and thus alienation and death are not truly ‘natural’ but enemies of God and his kingdom.”(5)

For days marked by loss, it is a weighty thought, full of God’s care for multifaceted journeys: for crossings from birth to death, for journeys marked by both celebration and suffering, for moments of thirst and for places of provision. Because of Christ, the Christian is given a language and a leader through all of it: beside still waters, through dark valleys and green pastures to a table prepared in the presence of enemies, with tears to shed at the tomb of a friend and suffering carried on a personal cross. There are no abstractions here. The Christian story is mercifully not one that asks us to deny the dark and painful realities of life. Death is not pushed away in denial, but incorporated into God’s redemptive story, held by a storyteller who knows every part of the journey to resurrection, even the open grave.

 

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

 

(1) William Bryant Logan, Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth (New York: W.W. Norton, 1995), 48.
(2) J. Todd Billings, Rejoicing in Lament: Wrestling with Incurable Cancer and Life in Christ (Grand Rapids: Baker,2015), 108.
(3) Ibid., 101.
(4) Ibid., 109.
(5) Ibid., 100.

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Joyce Meyer – A Consecrated Life

 

Unto You, O Lord, do I bring my life. — Psalm 25:1 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Hearing From God Each Morning – by Joyce Meyer

I love to lift up my hands in the morning and pray the prayer found in today’s verse, “Unto You, O Lord, do I bring my life.” This really defines consecration—complete, voluntary surrender to the Lord. In a prayer of consecration, you’re saying to Him:

“Here I am, God. I give myself to You. Not just my money, but myself. Not just one hour on Sunday morning, but myself. Not just a portion of my day, but myself. Unto You, God, do I bring my entire life. I lay it before You. Do what You want to do with me. Speak to me and through me today. Touch people through me today. Make a difference through me today. I am not the owner of anything You’ve given me; I’m a steward. Everything I am and everything I have has come from You and is available to You today.”

When we consecrate something, we set it apart for God’s use. Therefore, when we consecrate our lives, we turn our backs on our fleshly desires, the world’s way of thinking, undisciplined living, bad habits, and everything else that doesn’t agree with God’s Word. We close our ears to the noise of the world and open them to the voice of God. We intentionally put distance between ourselves and ungodly things, so we can be prepared and available for God to use us. Consecration is not easy, but it’s so worth the discipline and sacrifice it requires!

Prayer Starter: Father, I give you myself today. Please teach me how to live my life set apart for You; give me the strength to leave the world’s way of thinking and living behind. Thank You in advance for helping me live in a way that honors You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Rivers of Living Water

 

“For the Scriptures declare that rivers of living water shall flow from the inmost being of anyone who believes in me” (John 7:38).

I was explaining to a group of Christians the meaning of Proverbs 15:13-15, “A happy face means a glad heart, a sad face means a breaking heart. When a man is gloomy, everything seems to go wrong and when he is cheerful everything seems to go right.”

God’s Word reminds us that the source of joy is the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 1:6). So if a man is filled with the Spirit, he will have a joyful heart. When we are filled with the Spirit, we will express love by singing and making melody in our hearts to the Lord. A happy heart will inevitably produce a joyful countenance (Ephesians 5:18-21).

If we do not have a joyful, peaceful countenance, there is reason to question whether we have a loving, joyful heart. And if we do not have a loving, joyful heart, it is not likely that we are filled with the Spirit.

One Christian leader, who had heard me speak, approached me later. He just happened to have a very somber, stern countenance. He explained to me that this was a new concept to him, and since he was reared in another culture, he felt that his somber countenance was a cultural thing.

“In our part of the world [the Middle East],” he said, “we don’t smile and express ourselves like American Christians.”

Together we analyzed the Scripture and concluded that culture has nothing to do with this truth, since Jesus, Paul and other writers of the New Testament were also born in the Middle East. If we truly understand the Spirit-filled life, whatever our cultural background, the joy of the Lord will flow from us – from our “innermost being shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38, NAS).

Bible Reading: John 7:33-37

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Recognizing love, joy and peace as trademarks of the Spirit-filled life, I will consciously seek to be Spirit-controlled so that these expressions will be a natural overflow of my life. I will teach this spiritual truth to others today.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Feed Your Faith, Not Your Fears

Listen to Today’s Devotion

I’m just checking in to make sure that you are feeding your faith more than you are feeding your fears. You know if you feed your faith, your fears will starve.  But if you feed your fears, your faith will.  So we have to make an intentional decision during this season of high anxiety and turbulence to encourage one another and to feed one another’s faith.  And also we need to take the initiative to feed our own faith.

So I encourage you my friend, I encourage you.  Don’t give into despair.  Don’t give into anxiety.  We’re gonna get through this.  We really are.  I know that we’re getting new news day by day.  I know that developments are changing it seems by the hour. But let me tell you the thing that has not changed.  Our heavenly father is still on the throne.

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Denison Forum – ‘People are coming to us saying, I need hope’: Fighting on the front lines of spiritual awakening

The Civil War ended 155 years ago next month. World War II ended 75 years ago this fall.

In the midst of both horrific conflicts, a spiritual war was being waged as well.

During the Civil War, revival services were common on both sides. Nightly prayer meetings were held in many regiments; tent meetings were filled to overflowing. A Confederate chaplain noted that “scores of men are converted immediately after great battles.” A Pennsylvania soldier wrote, “The fact that I must die became to me living and real.”

Wall Street Journal article notes that after World War II, “Americans, chastened by the horrors of war, turned to faith in search of truth and meaning. In the late 1940s, Gallup surveys showed more than three-quarters of Americans were members of a house of worship, compared with about half today. Congress added the words ‘under God’ to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954. Some would later call this a Third Great Awakening.”

“Virtual cell phone choir” sings “It Is Well with My Soul” 

We are fighting a war today that is just as real as those deadly conflicts.

At a news briefing yesterday, President Trump stated that “the peak in death rate” in the pandemic “is likely to hit in two weeks” and announced that the federal government is extending its social-distancing guidelines through April 30.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US government’s foremost infectious disease expert, said yesterday that the US could experience “millions of cases” of COVID-19 and “between one hundred thousand and two hundred thousand” deaths in the US based on what “we’re seeing now.”

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, also said Sunday that the administration is “asking every single governor and every single mayor to prepare like New York is preparing now.” She added, “No state, no metro area will be spared.”

In the face of this crisis, Americans are responding to the coronavirus pandemic in remarkably creative ways.

Continue reading Denison Forum – ‘People are coming to us saying, I need hope’: Fighting on the front lines of spiritual awakening

Charles Stanley – The Truth About Self-Love

 

Galatians 5:13-26

In many places, the Bible says, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18; Matt. 19:19; Gal. 5:14), but we often overlook the “as yourself” part. We can’t fully love God or anyone else unless we love ourselves. This means realizing that we’re a child of God, created for fellowship with Him.

Everyone’s valuable to the Lord. But our self-worth is rooted in the fact that we have a relationship with God. We need to care for ourselves because He’s offered us salvation, given us the Holy Spirit, and developed a unique plan for our life.

Love of self is essential to God’s plan for every believer. He wants us to exercise proper care for ourselves, which helps us relate to Him. If we dislike ourselves, we may feel unworthy of God’s love and refuse to approach Him as Father. But love teaches us to see ourselves the way He sees us—as His beloved children, each with unique gifts and talents.

Whoever you are and whatever your circumstances may be, I can tell you something about yourself. God has a special plan for you. But He can’t set you on the path to achieving His goals for your life until you recognize your worth and learn to love the person He created you to be.

Bible in One Year: Numbers 17-19

 

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Our Daily Bread — When Life Is Hard

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Leviticus 15–16
  • Matthew 27:1–26

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”

Psalm 16:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 16

Physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, I curled up in my recliner. Our family had followed God’s leading and had moved from California to Wisconsin. After we arrived, our car broke down and left us without a vehicle for two months. Meanwhile, my husband’s limited mobility after an unexpected back surgery and my chronic pain complicated our unpacking. We uncovered costly problems with our new-to-us, old home. Our senior dog suffered with health issues. And though our new pup brought great joy, raising a furry ball of energy was far more work than anticipated. My attitude soured. How was I supposed to have unshakable faith while traveling on a bumpy road of hardships?

As I prayed, God reminded me of the psalmist whose praise didn’t depend on circumstances. David poured out his emotions, often with great vulnerability, and sought refuge in the presence of God (Psalm 16:1). Acknowledging God as provider and protector (vv. 5–6), he praised Him and followed His counsel (v. 7). David affirmed that he would “not be shaken” because he kept his eyes “always on the Lord” (v. 8). So, he rejoiced and rested secure in the joy of God’s presence (vv. 9–11).

We too can delight in knowing our peace doesn’t depend on our present situation. As we thank our unchanging God for who He is and always will be, His presence will fuel our steadfast faith.

By: Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

How can offering God praise for His unchanging character and wondrous works increase your faith during challenging circumstances? What situations do you need to place in God’s trustworthy hands?

Thanks for being You, Father!

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Every Problem of Pain

“On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your pain today, Sir?”

Ironically, the question, a hospital’s attempt to understand and manage the pain of cancer patients, only seemed to cause my father more pain. He hated the daily inquiry that seized him almost as consistently as the sting of the growing tumor. It aggravated him deeply, more than I could say I understood. It was a philosophical quagmire for him that somehow mocked pain and amplified the problem of suffering. If he answered “10” in the midst of a painful morning, only to discover a greater quantity of pain in the afternoon, the scale was meaningless. The numbers were never constant, and what is a scale if its points of measurement cannot stand in relation to one another? If he answered “10” on any given day would that somehow control the ceiling of his own pain? He knew it would not, and that uncertainty seemed almost literally to add painful insult to an already fatal injury.

Considerations of pain and suffering are among the most cited explanations for disbelief in God, both for professionally trained philosophers and for the general public. If a good, powerful, and present deity exists, why is there so much pain and suffering in the world? Even for those who argue that the existence of God and the presence of evil can be reconciled, the vast amount of suffering in the world certainly compounds the dilemma. We can sympathize with Ivan Karamazov in his depiction of the earth as one soaked through with human tears. Imagine not merely one person measuring their pain on a scale of 1 to 10 but innumerable individuals: the temptation is to add all of these scales together as one giant proof against God.

In his 1940 book The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis warns us against espousing such a temptation. “We must never make the problem of pain worse than it is by vague talk about the ‘unimaginable sum of human misery,’” he writes. “Search all time and space and you will not find that composite pain in anyone’s consciousness. There is no such thing as a sum of suffering, for no one suffers it.”(1) Or, said in another way, there are as many problems of pain as there are conscious beings—and God must deal with each and every one of them.

For someone like my dad, for whom weighing pain was both disparaging and unfeasible, this would perhaps have been one comfort in a maddening abyss of darkness. It means his own problem of pain was not lost in a sea of meaningless scales and indescribable measurements. It means that his frustrating, inconsistent ceiling of sorrow was itself held in the arms of God—and not vaguely absorbed in an immeasurable sum, nor given a distant, theoretical answer. It means that God had to come near not simply to pain in general, but to him and his cancer in person.

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Joyce Meyer – Cracked Pots

 

We possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves. — 2 Corinthians 4:7 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource The Confident Women Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

God works through jars of clay, or what I often call “cracked pots.” This means we are flawed, so when people look at us and see amazing things happening, they know it must be God at work because it certainly could not be us.

I believe anyone who really knows me does not have any difficulty realizing the work I am doing on earth today certainly must be God at work in and through me. They give Him the glory, not me, because they see my imperfections and know my limitations. God chooses the weak and foolish things on purpose so no human can have reason to boast in His presence (1 Corinthians 1:27–29).

Imagine a pot with a lamp in it and a lid on it. Even though it may be filled with light, no one can see the light within it. Yet if the pot is cracked, the light will shine through the cracks. In the same way, God works through our imperfections.

Can you love a cracked pot? God can! It is godly to love yourself in a balanced, healthy way. It is ungodly to reject and despise yourself.

Prayer Starter: Father, You and I are both well aware of my imperfections. Please shine Your light through my life, and help me remember that You get every ounce of glory for it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Deliverance from Fears

 

“I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4, KJV).

Susie seemed outwardly to be a well-poised, lovely young wife and mother with everything under control. She was active in her church and attended other Christian gatherings during the week. But secretly she was filled with fear from which psychologists and psychiatrists with whom she consulted were unable to set her free.

She became very discouraged and depressed. “What can I do?” she asked through her tears. “I have everything to live for and no real reason to be afraid, but my days are consumed with worry and dread and fear, as I anticipate all kinds of evil things happening to me, to my husband , to my children.”

“Do you believe that God in heaven has the power to remove your fears, Susie?” I asked.

“Yes, of course,” she replied.

“Do you believe He loves you?”

“Yes, I believe that.”

“Do you believe He wants to remove that fear from you?” And I read her the above passage.

We turned together to 1 John 5:14, 15: “If we ask anything according to God’s will, He hears and answers.” This is the promise that every believer can claim whenever there is a command or another promise. I asked her if she would like to join with me in a prayer of faith that God would deliver her according to this promise.

Together we prayed, and though there was no immediate, dramatic deliverance, with the passing of days God set her free. Day after day she claimed by faith this and other promises from God’s holy, inspired Word.

Are you plagued with fears? Are your days consumed with worry? Saturate your mind with God’s truth — God’s supernatural promises – and begin to claim by faith this supernatural life which is your heritage in Christ.

Bible Reading: Psalm 34:1-7

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: At the first sign of a fear in my life, I will commit it to the Lord and trust Him for deliverance, and I will seek to help others whose hearts are filled with fear. I will seek to introduce them to the Prince of Peace – the God of all comfort.

 

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Max Lucado – God’s Truth Defines All People

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Every person you see was created by God to bear his image and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.  Imagine the impact this promise would have on the society that embraced it.  What civility it would engender.  What kindness it would foster.  Racism will not flourish when people believe their neighbors bear God’s image.

Will society write off the indigent, the mentally ill, the inmate or the refugee?  Not if we believe, truly believe, that every human being is God’s idea.  And he has no bad ideas.  High IQ or low standing—doesn’t matter.  First string or cut from the squad—doesn’t matter.  You are a diamond, a rose, and a jewel, purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ.  And because God’s promises are unbreakable our hope is unshakable!

Read more Unshakable Hope

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Denison Forum – ‘Bachelor’ contestant makes her faith public: A Valentine’s Day call to courageous love

Madison Prewett is a contestant on The Bachelor. For those of us who don’t know how the show works (myself included until I did research for this article), a single bachelor meets a pool of eligible women. He then eliminates candidates, culminating in a marriage proposal to his final selection.

During the process, a one-on-one date with a candidate is a significant step forward for her. Thus, when Madison secured such a date with Peter Weber (this season’s bachelor) in last Monday’s show, she needed things to go well in order to stay in the competition.

This is what she told him: “Faith is more than just this passed-down thing to me, it’s literally my whole life and all of who I am. I want, in a marriage, someone who also has that relationship with the Lord and loves that about me and wants to raise a family in that way.”

Of course, ABC cut out her spiritual confession.

In the network’s preview for the next episode, Prewett also says she is saving sex for marriage. “If he sleeps with anybody else, it’s gonna be hard for me to continue to move forward,” she added.

Let’s hope Prewett keeps embracing her faith as the show continues.

Did Geoffrey Chaucer invent today’s holiday? 

Valentine’s Day, as everyone knows, is named for St. Valentine. Except we’re not sure which one.

Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni were both early Christians who died for their faith.  However, according to legend, St. Valentine of Rome signed a letter “from your Valentine” to his jailer’s daughter, whom he had befriended and healed from blindness. Another legend says he defied the emperor’s orders and secretly married couples to spare husbands from war.

Continue reading Denison Forum – ‘Bachelor’ contestant makes her faith public: A Valentine’s Day call to courageous love

Charles Stanley – Our Choices in the Midst of Tragedy

 

Job 1:6-22, Job 2:1-10

Imagine what it felt like to be in Job’s shoes. Warriors, fire, and wind wiped out his fortune and killed his children. Then, his body was so covered with boils that he scratched at the inflamed skin with broken pottery. Had Job not believed in the Lord’s faithfulness, he probably would have taken his wife’s advice to just “curse God and die” (Job 2:9).

Job was brought low, and he didn’t know why—nor did he ever find out the reason. Thanks to Scripture, we are privy to the conversation between God and Satan, but the Lord didn’t share those details with Job. Left in the dark, he had to decide if his faith in God’s goodness would stand.

Job decided to trust God in the midst of tragedy (Job 42:2). He could have railed against the Lord, as his wife suggested. Or he might have followed his friends’ advice and racked his brain for some unconfessed sin. But neither of those actions would have been fruitful. Instead, Job chose to view everything as part of the divine plan, acknowledging the Lord’s right to do whatever He wanted for the glory of His name (Job 1:21).

Accepting the good that God sends our way is easy. Our challenge is to receive tragedy with a willing attitude and a teachable spirit. Chance is not part of the equation—nothing comes into our life except through the Lord’s permission.

Bible in One Year: Numbers 14-16

 

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Our Daily Bread — Freed from Our Cage

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Leviticus 14
  • Matthew 26:51–75

[God] brought me out into a spacious place.

Psalm 18:19

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 18:3–6, 16–19

While out taking walks, writer Martin Laird would often encounter a man with four Kerry Blue Terriers. Three of the dogs ran wild through the open fields, but one stayed near its owner, running in tight circles. When Laird finally stopped and asked about this odd behavior, the owner explained that it was a rescue dog that had spent most of his life locked in a cage. The terrier continued to run in circles as though contained inside a confined box.

The Scriptures reveal that we’re trapped and hopeless unless God rescues us. The psalmist spoke of being afflicted by an enemy, entrapped by “the snares of death” with the “cords of death . . . coiled around” him (Psalm 18:4–5). Enclosed and shackled, he cried to God for help (v. 6). And with thundering power, He “reached down . . . and took hold” of him (v. 16).

God can do the same for us. He can break the chains and release us from our confining cages. He can set us free and carry us “out into a spacious place” (v. 19). How sad it is, then, when we keep running in small circles, as if we’re still confined in our old prisons. In His strength, may we no longer be bound by fear, shame, or oppression. God has rescued us from those cages of death. We can run free.

By: Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

What are the cages that have you confined? How are you living as though an old cage still traps and holds you?

God, You say You set the captives free. Help me to believe it. Help me to live it. I want to be free. I want to be in Your spacious place.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joyce Meyer – Choose Inner Purity

 

The inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit . . . is very precious in the sight of God.— 1 Peter 3:4 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource The Confident Women Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

How would you label your thoughts, attitudes, imaginations, opinions, and judgments? Are they clean or corrupt? Pure or carnal?

Inner purity is a challenge that requires you to pay attention to your inner life with determination and diligence. In the beginning, it may feel like most of your thoughts, imaginations, and attitudes are corrupt. But as you keep at it (with the Holy Spirit’s help), new habits will develop, and you’ll be able to enjoy inner purity.

What you do outwardly—the things that people see—determines your reputation with people, but your inner life determines your reputation with God.

Choosing inner purity is something you do to honor God. No wonder He says a pure heart is precious in His sight!

Prayer Starter: Father, please give me grace to pay close attention to my inner life, and to consistently choose pure, positive thoughts. Thank you for helping me to walk in greater levels of purity and closeness with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Bears and He Gives

 

“What a glorious Lord! He who daily bears our burdens also gives us our salvation” (Psalm 68:19).

Did it ever occur to you that you are disobeying God when you carry your own burdens, when you are worried, frustrated and confused over circumstances? That is exactly what God’s Word says.

In 1 Peter 5:7, God gives a specific command to His children, “Cast…all your cares upon Him; for He careth for you” (KJV). Not to cast all of one’s cares upon the Lord is to disobey Him and to deny oneself that supernatural walk with God among men.

Is it not logical to believe that He who loved us so much that He was willing to give His only begotten Son would also be faithful to keep His promise to bear our burdens daily?

As the psalmist so aptly states, the Lord bears our burdens on a daily basis for the believer, the day will never come when God fails to carry our load, to strengthen us, to impart power to us through His indwelling Holy Spirit – if we but ask.

Marvel of marvels, the psalmist points out, our heavenly Father not only is our great burden-bearer; He is also the very one who gives us our salvation and the assurance of eternal life. How could anyone ask for more!

With the sure knowledge that our sins are forgiven (salvation) and the assurance that He knows all about every burden we face – more important, He bears them for us – our lives should reflect honor and glory to Him by the way in which we share His blessings and the message of His great love with others.

Provision for the supernatural life is promised in the Old Testament as well as the New, as evidenced by this glorious promise in the Psalms.

Bible Reading: Psalm 68:15-18

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will take careful inventory of my burdens and my worries and be sure that I am casting them all on the Lord with the certain knowledge that He cares for me. I will also encourage those around me to cast their cares upon the Lord.

 

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