Tag Archives: church

Charles Stanley – Grace in Sorrow

 

John 20:11-19

The famous hymn “How Firm a Foundation” describes God’s purpose for our trials: “For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless, and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.” The pain and hardship we endure is meant not to crush us but to refine and shape us into Christ’s image. God alone knows how to replace ashes with a crown, and mourning with the oil of gladness (Isa. 61:3).

This is what Mary Magdalene discovered on the morning of the Christ’s resurrection. She went to the garden tomb, overwhelmed by sorrow and loss. The darkness of despair was swallowing her when she turned around and saw Jesus. After He spoke her name, she immediately recognized the Lord and clung to Him, fearing that even now He might be taken away from her.

But Jesus assured her that He had not yet ascended to His Father. Although there would come a day when He would physically depart from her and all His followers, in reality nothing could separate them from Him. Because He had paid the penalty of their sins with His death, His Spirit would soon indwell them. And one day Jesus would come to take them back to His Father’s house to be with Him forever (John 14:3).

We can all relate to feelings of despair. Dashed hopes—even small ones—can lead to suffering. But when expectations are high or personal loss hangs in the balance, our hope can be crushed if disaster strikes. Then it’s important to remember that when we have Christ, weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Ps. 30:5).

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 25-27

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Sad Story

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 94–96; Romans 15:14–33

The thing David had done displeased the Lord.

2 Samuel 11:27

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Samuel 11:2–15

Painfully, the evil that has long been swept under the rug—sexual abuse of many women by men who had power over them—has come to light. Enduring headline after headline, my heart sank when I heard proof of abuse by two men I admired. The church has not been immune to these issues.

King David faced his own reckoning. Samuel tells us that one afternoon, David “saw a woman bathing” (2 Samuel 11:2). And David wanted her. Though Bathsheba was the wife of one his loyal soldiers (Uriah), David took her anyway. When Bathsheba told David she was pregnant, he panicked. And in a despicable act of treachery, David arranged for Joab to have Uriah die on the battlefield.

There is no hiding David’s abuse of power against Bathsheba and Uriah. Here it is in full color, Samuel ensuring we see it. We must deal with our evil.

Also, we must hear these stories because they caution us against the abuse of power in our times. This was David, “a man after [God’s] own heart” (Acts 13:22), but also a man who needed to be held accountable for his actions. May we also prayerfully hold leaders accountable for how they use or abuse power.

By God’s grace, redemption is possible. If we read further, we encounter David’s profound repentance (2 Samuel 12:13). Thankfully, hard hearts can still turn from death to life.

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

Why is it important to prayerfully address the abuse of power in our midst and in our world? How did Jesus reveal the right way to live out true power?

God, I don’t know what to do with all the brokenness I see in my world, the brokenness in me. Will You shine Your light and heal us?

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Wandering Aimlessly

 

Dr. John Ratey is a fan of walking with no purpose. A professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Ratey has done extensive research on exercise, creativity and depression. His research suggests that when we walk without any goal or agenda—when we wander, in other words—our brains are able to pick up more information.(1) In fact, walking aimlessly allows the free flow of thoughts and ideas that don’t occur when we focus on something specific. In addition to inspiring creative thought, Ratey has found that exercise can be therapeutic for depression and ADHD. When patients would walk for even ten minutes a day, these ailments would lift. Dr. Ratey notes, “A bout of exercise is like taking a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin.”(2) Who knew that wandering aimlessly could be so good for well-being and creativity?

In a fast-paced and efficiency driven world, these ideas are counter-intuitive. For many, walking without any purpose sounds like a complete waste of time. After all, there is so much to do! Days overflow with so many demands on time and attention. Flooded by obligations, it is no wonder that hypertension, depression, and other stress-related diseases are so prevalent. Living life becomes all about doing, without much thought for being. Exercise, when it is undertaken, is for most just one part of a day’s hoped-for accomplishments. “Bucket lists” are created so that even the living of one’s life is marked by checking off one event or experience after another. As we move at hyper-speed, wandering for the sake of wandering sounds ridiculous.

While it would be unlikely to characterize the earthly ministry of Jesus as time spent wandering aimlessly, our efficiency-driven, goal-oriented world might wonder at his unusual pace and priorities during those short, three years. Some might wonder, for example, at the seemingly wasted hours eating and drinking with a sundry and often sordid cast of characters. Luke’s gospel alone mentions meals around the table (or implies them) ten times, with guests and hosts as diverse as religious leaders and tax collectors, lawyers and well-known sinners. When a highly regarded official begged Jesus to come and heal his daughter, Jesus is willing to be delayed by an unnamed, unknown woman grabbing the hem of his garment in spite of the throngs of people pressing around. In other words, Jesus willingly allows himself to be interrupted by a seemingly unimportant individual, on his way to the synagogue official’s home. Other times, the gospel writers tell of Jesus going off to ‘lonely places’ to pray. Even the way Jesus taught spiritual truths—the telling of parables and stories—suggests a whimsy, a wandering from a style of teaching that was purely didactic. And of course, while one could argue that the tremendous amount of time he spent walking the countryside was simply utilitarian, his willingness toward these disruptions, stories, and ministry along the way demonstrate otherwise.

Why would he have done it this way? From our modern perspective, it can seem like such a waste of time. Didn’t he need to save the world? Weren’t there more important things he should have been doing? Perhaps it is in these examples from his own life where even the casual reader might see a different set of priorities than those that govern most in the modern world. Perhaps Jesus understood the power of a long walk with his disciples, and the need for a story to pull in listeners. Perhaps Jesus understood that looking at the birds of the air and observing the lilies of the field could give life and strength to one’s being, gifts imbued by their Creator. Perhaps Jesus understood for himself the power of abiding in God as a result of his time spent alone in prayer. Perhaps Jesus knew that meaningful accomplishments were not always efficient and output is often a byproduct of input.

Considering Jesus’s way of being in the world—even when he knew his life would be cut short—I have been inspired to think about my own priorities and the manner in which I move through the day. Generally rushed and hurried, I wander from the path of busyness by rest and withdrawal, prayer and stillness. I stop to notice the purple Echinacea plant, rocking in time with the wind. I see the bees gathering pollen on its brown cones and antique violet petals. I allow myself to be distracted by the hummingbirds hovering around the feeder. I wander into my backyard, or through my neighborhood letting thoughts, feelings and prayers rise and fall with my breath and my steps. I allow the precious interruptions of colleagues, family, friends to call me more deeply into the kind of love Jesus demonstrated in his own ministry.

Meanwhile, all the tasks of the day still hound me; like barking dogs, they will not relent at demanding my attention. Their urgency conspires against my attempts to intentionally slow the pace of the day. I hear a persistent chorus singing the minor note that I am wasting my time. I am not immune to the compulsion to view my worth by my productivity, my busyness, or by how many items I’ve crossed off my ‘to do’ list.

And yet, the busyness is not what is useful nor is it what brings meaning, beauty, joy, or wonder to living. Creating space for wandering in the crowded days and weeks of our lives allows our thoughts to roam toward new priorities and paths, toward encounters along the road that surprise and nourish the soul, like the disciples who walked unknowingly with the risen Jesus. Wandering—whether that involves the purposeless walking of Dr. Ratey, being distracted by beauty in the person right in front of us or in the natural world, or the intentional withdrawal into silence, stillness, and prayer—is itself a purposeful work.

 

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

 

(1) Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson, “Why Walking Matters” Here and Now (Monday, May 19, 2014).
(2) Ibid.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Reach Your Full Potential

 

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair — 2 Corinthians 4:8 (NIV)

Adapted from the resource The Power of Being Thankful Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

I fully believe that reaching your potential is linked to the way you handle adversity. Adversity isn’t always bad. Actually, adversity can be something to be thankful for because God can use it to strengthen you. Winston Churchill said, “Difficulties mastered are opportunities won,” and I wholeheartedly agree.

If you allow difficulties and challenges to frustrate, intimidate, or discourage you, you will never overcome them. But if you face them head-on and press through the adversities you encounter, refusing to give up in the midst of them and move forward with a heart of gratitude, you will develop the skills and determination needed to be everything you were created to be and experience everything God intends for you.

Prayer Starter: I thank You, Father, that I don’t have to give up when I face adversity—I can meet it head-on, knowing that You are always with me. Thank You for Your promise that says, …He who is in you is greater than he (Satan) who is in the world…(1 John 4:4 AMP). In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Perfect Healing

 

“Jesus’ name has healed this man – and you know how lame he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name – faith given us from God – has caused this perfect healing” (Acts 3:16).

This is another of the great “3:16” verses of the Bible – with a truth and a promise that you and I need probably every day of our lives. Jesus claimed “all authority in heaven and earth” (Matthew 28:18). “In Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9, KJV; see also 1:15-19).

There is a great power in the name of Jesus. Throughout Scripture that fact is emphasized. And I have seen it illustrated in miraculous ways through the Jesus film, which has been used of God to introduce tens of millions of men, women, young people, and children to Christ in most countries of the world.

The promise, equally clear, is that if we exercise faith in that wonderful name of Jesus – faith that is a gift from God – we can see healing, both physical and spiritual.

I sit in astonishment often as I try to comprehend such great love that would give us the very gifts He requires of us – faith, in this instance. We need not conjure up such faith; it is made available on simple terms: Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

And we may appropriate this truth and this promise today.

Bible Reading: Acts 3:12-18

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: “Dear Lord, I dare to believe that You are still the same yesterday, today and forever, so I can trust you to heal, and to enable me to live a supernatural life.”

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Examine Your Gifts and Strengths 

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Be careful!  In a desire to be great, one might cease being any good.  Not every teacher is equipped to be a principal.  Not every carpenter has the skill to head a crew. Not every musician should conduct an orchestra.  A promotion might promote a person right out of their sweet spot.  For the love of more, a person might lose their purpose.  Greed makes a poor job counselor.

Examine your gifts; know your strengths.  Romans 12:3 says to “Have a sane estimate of your capabilities.”  Proverbs 15:16 says, “It is better to have little with fear for the LORD than to have great treasure with turmoil.”  Don’t let the itch for things or the ear for applause derail you from your God-intended design!

Read more Cure for the Common Life

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – 📉 Recession worries and the ‘yield curve inversion’: 📈 How and why to trust the sovereignty of God

 

The stock market fell more than eight hundred points Wednesday, the largest one-day drop of the year. It rebounded somewhat yesterday to finish up nearly one hundred points, but concerns about the global economy persist.

The decline Wednesday was precipitated by a “yield curve inversion” that made headlines when it occurred for the first time since 2007. What is this? Why does it matter?

Is a recession coming?

The Washington Post explains that an “inverted yield curve” occurs “when the interest rates on short-term bonds are higher than the interest rates paid by long-term bonds.” In other words, “people are so worried about the near-term future that they are piling into safer long-term investments.”

According to the Post, “the yield curve has inverted before every US recession since 1955, suggesting to some investors that an economic downturn is coming.” The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco has also stated that the yield curve “has a strikingly accurate record for forecasting recessions.”

However, there are also strong reasons to believe the economy will not go into a recession. The labor market is strong—the economy added 164,000 jobs in July as employers say this is a “golden age” to get a job or to ask for better pay and benefits.

One expert stated as recently as July 26, “I don’t see any warning signs right now. It’s hard to be against the economy when the consumer is in such good shape.” Another expert added, “I wouldn’t forecast a recession just on the yield curve. I would want to see other signals that point to that, but we’re not seeing them right now.”

Continue reading Denison Forum – 📉 Recession worries and the ‘yield curve inversion’: 📈 How and why to trust the sovereignty of God

Charles Stanley – The Consequences of Sin

 

Genesis 3:14-19

Christians tend to categorize sins, rating some as small and inconsequential, and others as huge and far-reaching in the damage they cause. In reality, no one sins in isolation. Each act of disobedience affects not only the sinner but also others in both the present and the future.

If we were to separate Adam and Eve’s sin from its context, few of us would convict them of great transgression. All they did was swallow some fruit from a tree with a “do not eat” sign. Today people think nothing of ignoring commands—even biblical ones.

But God has a totally different view of our sins. Each one is followed by negative consequences. Adam and Eve’s disobedience led to pain and frustration in two basic areas of fulfillment—relationships and meaningful work. The whole earth fell under sin’s curse, and all people born since then have entered the world with a sin nature that alienates them from the Lord.

That first rebellion plunged humanity into a terrible condition. Civilization is now plagued by ramifications of the sins committed by millions of human beings throughout the ages. Is it any wonder the world is in such sad shape? Sin not only causes suffering; it also robs us of God’s best. The Garden of Eden is closed and locked to sinful mankind.

The good news of Christ’s grace and forgiveness is our only real hope in this fallen world. Though unpleasant, focusing on sin’s consequences is necessary at times to remind us of the greatness of our salvation and to move us to obey God, even in the small things.

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 22-24

 

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Our Daily Bread — Lincoln’s Pockets

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 91–93; Romans 15:1–13

Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.

Romans 15:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Romans 15:1–6

The night US president Abraham Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theater in 1865, his pockets contained the following: two spectacles, a lens polisher, a pocketknife, a watch fob, a handkerchief, a leather wallet containing a five-dollar Confederate bill, and eight newspaper clippings, including several that praised him and his policies.

I wonder what the Confederate money was doing in the president’s pocket, but I have little doubt about the glowing news stories. Everyone needs encouragement, even a great leader like Lincoln! Can you see him, in the moments before the fateful play, perhaps reading them to his wife?

Who do you know who needs encouragement? Everyone! Look around you. There isn’t one person in your line of vision who is as confident as they seem. We’re all one failure, snide comment, or bad hair day away from self-doubt.

What if we all obeyed God’s command to “please our neighbors for their good, to build them up”? (Romans 15:2). What if we determined only to speak “gracious words” that are “sweet to the soul and healing to the bones”? (Proverbs 16:24). What if we wrote these words down, so friends could reread and savor them? Then we’d all have notes in our pockets (or on our phones!). And we’d be more like Jesus, who “did not please himself” but lived for others (Romans 15:3).

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

Whose words have most encouraged you? Who might need encouragement that you’ve been overlooking?

Loving God, help me to encourage others with my words, actions, and presence.

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Indicators of Need

The difficult question of pain forms a thorny question on which volumes have been written. Why do the innocent suffer? Why do we face all these diseases? Why the suffering of millions because of natural disasters or the tyranny of demagogues? I do not pretend to have the answers, but one thing I know: pain is a universal fact of life. Likewise, there are moral dimensions in the way we phrase our questions concerning pain, and every religion explicitly or implicitly attempts to explain pain.

But why do we even ask these questions about suffering within the context of morality? Why have we blended the fact of physical pain with the demand for a moral explanation? Who decided that pain is immoral? Indeed, almost every atheist or skeptic you read names this as the main reason for his or her denial of God’s existence.

In the Judeo-​Christian framework, pain is connected to the reality of evil and to the choices made by humanity at the beginning of time. The problem of pain and the problem of evil are inextricably bound. So when we assume evil, we assume good. When we assume good, we assume a moral law. And when we assume a moral law, we assume a moral law-​giver.

You may ask, Why does assuming a moral law necessitate a moral lawgiver? Because every time the question of evil is raised, it is either by a person or about a person—and that implicitly assumes that the question is a worthy one. But it is a worthy question only if people have intrinsic worth, and the only reason people have intrinsic worth is that they are the creations of One who is of ultimate worth. That person is God. So the question self-​destructs for the naturalist or the pantheist. The question of the morality of evil or pain is valid only for a theist.

And only in Christian theism is love preexistent within the Trinity, which means that love precedes human life and becomes the absolute value for us. This absolute is ultimately found only in God, and in knowing and loving God we work our way through the struggles of pain, knowing of its ultimate connection to evil and its ultimate destruction by the One who is all-​good and all-​loving; who in fact has given us the very basis for the words good and love both in concept and in language.

Not far from my home lives a young woman who was born with a very rare disease called CIPA, congenital insensitivity to pain with anhydrosis. Imagine having a body that looks normal and acts normally, except for one thing: You cannot feel physical pain. That sounds as if it would be a blessing. But the reason it’s a problem is that she lives under the constant threat of injuring herself without knowing it. If she steps on a rusty nail that could infect her bloodstream, she wouldn’t even realize it by sensation. If she placed her hand on a burning stove, she would not know she had just burned her hand except by looking at it. She needs constant vigilance because she could sustain an injury that could take her life or cause serious debilitation. When her family was interviewed some years ago, the line I most remember is the closing statement by her mother. She said, “I pray every night for my daughter, that God would give her a sense of pain.”

If that statement were read in a vacuum, we would wonder what sort of mother she is. But because more than anyone else she understands the risks of this strange disease, there is no greater prayer she can pray than that her daughter feel pain and be able to recognize what it portends.

I ask you this simple question: If, in our finitude, we can appreciate the value of pain in even one single life, is it that difficult to grant the possibility that an infinite God can use pain to point us to a greater malady? We see through a glass darkly because all we want is to be comfortable. We cannot understand the great plan of an all-​knowing God who brings us near through the value of pain—or of disappointment with pleasure.

And yet the very thing that enslaves and traps us becomes the indicator of our need for God and the means to draw us to the recognition of our own finitude and to the rescuing grace of God. The pain of pain may well clasp the lifesaving hand of God and draw us into God’s arms.

 

Ravi Zacharias is founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – God Will Help You

 

The Lord will give [unyielding and impenetrable] strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace. — Psalm 29:11 (AMP)

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

God has been showing me that we need to be aware of His present provisions now, and not just in the future. In Psalm 28:7, David said of God…I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I shall thank Him and praise Him (AMP). He did not say, “I will be helped.”

Wait on God, because God’s help will strengthen you to behave in a godly way all day long if you trust in Him. Even while you wait on God to manifest His plan, your heart can greatly rejoice in His presence. Tell someone something good that God has done for you, and then watch Him move in the presence of your praise.

Prayer Starter: Father, You are the great “I am,” and I thank You for being with me…right here, right now. Help me today to recognize Your goodness and begin expecting You to show up in my life in mighty ways. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Shine Like the Sun 

 

“And those who are wise – the people of God – shall shine as brightly as the sun’s brilliance, and those who turn many to righteousness will glitter like stars forever” (Daniel 12:3).

Did it ever occur to you that as a child of God you are to radiate in your countenance the beauty and glory of God? Have you ever considered the inconsistency of having a glum expression while professing that the Son of God, the light of the world, dwells within you?

Proverbs 15:13 reminds us that a happy face means a glad heart; a sad face means a breaking heart.

When missionary Adoniram Judson was home on furlough many years ago, he passed through the city of Stonington, Connecticut. A young boy, playing about the wharves at the time of Judson’s arrival, was struck by the missionary’s appearance. He had never before seen such a light on a man’s face.

Curious, he ran up the street to a ministers’s home to ask if he knew who the stranger was. Following the boy back, the minister became so engaged in conversation with Judson that he forgot all about the lad standing nearby.

Many years later that boy – unable to get away from the influence of what he had seen on the man’s face – became the famous preacher, Henry Clay Trumbull. One chapter in his book of memoirs is entitled, “What a Boy Saw in the Face of Adoniram Judson.”

A shining face – radiant with the love and joy of Jesus Christ – had changed a life. Just as flowers thrive when they bend toward the light of the sun, so shining, radiant faces are the result of those who concentrate their gaze upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

May we never underestimate the power of a glowing face that stems from time spent with God. Even as Moses’ countenance shone, may your face and mine reveal time spent alone with God and in His Word.

Bible Reading: Matthew 5:13-16

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will spend sufficient time with the Lord each day to insure a radiant countenance for the glory of God and as a witness to those with whom I have contact each day.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – You Were Made for This

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Listen to the way God described the builder Bezalel, “I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, intelligence and skill in all kinds of crafts. . .” (Exodus 31:3-5). Can you hear the pleasure in God’s voice?

When you do the most what you do the best, you pop the pride buttons on the vest of God.  In the movie Chariots of Fire Eric Liddell defended his devotion to running by telling his sister, “God made me fast, and when I run I feel his pleasure.”  When do you feel God’s pleasure?  When do you look up into the heavens and say, “I was made to do this?”  When it comes to being you, you were made for the part.  So speak your lines with confidence!

Read more Cure for the Common Life

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Police attacked in Philadelphia: Three vital responses

 

“I thank God for these cops.”

That’s the sentiment of a woman protected by police officers amid an unfolding crisis in Philadelphia last night.

Officers went to a house to serve a state narcotics warrant when they came under fire. Nearby daycare centers with dozens of children inside were evacuated. Women were escorted from the building where the suspect was located. Police urged residents to avoid the area.

Some of the officers responding to the incident had to escape the building through windows and doors. Six officers were injured, but the Philadelphia mayor said they have been released from the hospital and are in “good spirits.” SWAT officers helped evacuate two other officers and four women who had been trapped inside the home.

After almost eight hours, the suspect surrendered just after midnight. The city’s police commissioner identified him as Maurice Hill, age thirty-six, and stated that he has an extensive criminal history.

The death of Officer Andre Moye, Jr.

Much attention has been focused recently on those killed by police officers. Scrutiny has especially centered on allegations of police misconduct.

But much less attention has been paid to officers who have died in the line of duty.

As the Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP) notes, “When a police officer is killed, it’s not an agency that loses an officer, it’s an entire nation.” The ODMP lists seventy-three line of duty deaths this year, 163 last year, and 908 in the last five years.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Police attacked in Philadelphia: Three vital responses

Charles Stanley – External Causes of Discouragement

 

Colossians 3:23-24

Whether in the workplace or elsewhere, discouragement can hit from many angles, depleting energy and productivity. To lessen its paralyzing effect, wise believers learn to detect its sources and symptoms. Let’s examine some external causes.

Unresolved disappointments. This could be letdowns caused by our own failed expectations or someone else’s.

Constant criticism. Frequent put-downs can make us think, What’s wrong with me? Yet unless God reveals truth in such comments, learn to let them go.

The feeling that no one’s listening. This can leave us with a sense of rejection.

A sense we aren’t appreciated after doing our best. We at times get so tied to our work that someone’s failure to acknowledge our efforts can feel like a personal rebuff.

Bad working conditions. Many believers enjoy what they do but pick up on coworkers’ cruelty, bitterness, or refusal to recognize their investment of time, energy, or creativity. This can make it extremely difficult to get motivated about going to work each day.

Lacking opportunities to shine. A job that doesn’t make the best use of one’s gifts and abilities can wear a person down. So can tight-fisted management that limits freedom to make innovations.

Oftentimes, it’s the people we see every day who seem to have the most power for causing discouragement in our lives. Read through the list again. Do any of the above scenarios sound familiar? If so, pray for the strength to face these external discouragers with renewed confidence and grace.

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 18-21

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — The Illusion of Control

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 89–90; Romans 14

You do not even know what will happen tomorrow.

James 4:14

Today’s Scripture & Insight:James 4:13–17

Ellen Langer’s 1975 study titled The Illusion of Control examined the level of influence we exert over life’s events. She found that we overestimate our degree of control in most situations. The study also demonstrated how reality nearly always shatters our illusion.

Langer’s conclusions are supported by experiments carried out by others since the study was published. However, James identified the phenomenon long before she named it. In James 4, he wrote, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (vv. 13–14).

Then James provides a cure for the delusion, pointing to the One who’s in absolute control: “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’” (v. 15). In these few verses, James summarized both a key failing of the human condition and its antidote.

May we understand that our fate doesn’t rest in our own hands. Because God holds all things in His capable hands, we can trust His plans!

By:  Remi Oyedele

Reflect & Pray

In what ways have you given in to the illusion that you’re in control of your fate? How can you turn over your plans to God and leave your future in His hands?

Heavenly Father, I place all of my life in Your loving hands. Thank You for Your good plans for me.

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Longing Rendered

The places in literature that most often slow my mind to a reflective halt are usually intensely visual. Among them, perhaps surprisingly to some, are images from ancient scriptures that offer some of the most beautiful depictions. The resounding cry of Isaiah 64:1, “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,” seems to leave a trail of the most desperate, sorrowing, hopeful faces in its wake, men and women longing in agreement. Fitting with Isaiah’s vision for a world that revolves around God as good and worthy king, his cry was a fervent prayer for the severe presence of a God he knew could come nearer.

Like the God for which he longed, the prophet’s words are intense, stirring, and intentional. Isaiah’s use of words—in fact, the entire genre of prophetic literature—cries out with poetic vision. As Abraham Heschel comments, “Prophecy is the product of a poetic imagination. Prophecy is poetry, and in poetry everything is possible, e.g. for the trees to celebrate a birthday and for God to speak to man.”(1) And that is to say, God gives us something of the divine character in the prophet’s powerful interplay of word, metaphor, and image. As messenger, the prophet yields the words of God, and the poetic nature of prophetic speech reveals a God who speaks in couplets, a God who uses simile and metaphor, rhythm and sound, alliteration, repetition, and rhetorical questions. Any reading of prophetic speech requires that one engage these poetic structures. A quick scan of Isaiah 64:1 reveals a depth of interacting words and key patterns, and a metaphor that moves us like the mountains Isaiah describes:

If only you would cleave the heavens!
(If only) you would come down,
From facing you, mountains would quake!

These few stanzas make use of repeated words and paired images to convey an intensity about human longing for the transcendence of God. The cry is not merely for God’s presence, but a presence that will tear open the heavens and cause mountains—even Mount Zion and the children of God—to tremble. Set in the opening line, the Hebrew word qarata is as illustrative in tone as it is meaning. The guttural sound and sharp stop in its pronunciation contribute to the severity of the word itself, which means to tear, to rend, to sever, or to split an object into two or more parts. “Oh that you would rend the heavens…”  “If only you would cleave open the heavens and come down…”

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Longing Rendered

Joyce Meyer – Passing the Test

 

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test you [that is, to test the quality of your faith], as though something strange or unusual were happening to you. — 1 Peter 4:12 (AMP)

Adapted from the resource Power Thoughts Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

God sometimes allows us to be in less than desirable situations to test our “quality.” Quite often, He is planning a promotion for us in life if we pass the test in front of us. We are like children in school who must pass tests in order to be promoted to the next grade. Are you passing the test—refusing to murmur, complain, or blame when things don’t go your way?

You should praise and bless God while you are in the low valleys of life as well as when you are on the mountaintops. If you are in a difficult or trying situation right now, discipline yourself not to complain, but instead give praise and glory to God.

Prayer Starter: Father, You see my current circumstances, and Your Word says that You’ll never allow more to come on me than I can handle (see 1 Corinthians 10:13). Please help me to glorify You today…to press forward and do everything I need to do with a good attitude. Help me to press past my difficulties and never give up. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Whatsoever You Desire 

 

“For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:23,24, KJV).

How big is your God? If the Holy Spirit were to withdraw from your life and from the fellowship of your local church, would he be missed? In other words, is there anything supernatural about your life or the local church where you have fellowship with other believers?

A skeptic, contrasting the actor and Christian worker, gave this evaluation: The actor presents fiction as though it were true. The Christian worker all too often presents truth as though it were fiction.

A militant atheist attacked Christians with this accusation: “You say that your God is omnipotent, that He created the heavens and the earth. You say that He is a loving God who sent His only Son to die on the cross for the sins of man and on the third day was raised from the dead. You say that through faith in Him one could have a whole new quality of life, of peace, love and joy; a purpose and meaning plus the assurance of eternal life. I say to you that is a lie and you know it, because if you really believe what you say you believe, you would pay whatever price it took to tell everyone who would listen. What you claim is without question the greatest news the world has ever heard, but it couldn’t be true or you would be more enthusiastic about it. If I believed what you believe, I would sell everything I have and use every resource at my command to reach the largest possible number of people with this good news.”

Unfortunately, the critics and the skeptics have good reason to find fault with us. It is true that, if we really believed what we say we believe, we would be constrained, as the apostle Paul, to tell everyone who would listen about Christ, mindful that there is nothing more important in all the world that we could do. At the same time we would claim our rights as children of God, drawing upon the supernatural resources of God.

Bible Reading: Mark 11:20-26

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will seek to know God better by studying His Word and meditating upon his attributes so that His supernatural qualities will become more and more a part of my life for the glory and praise of His name.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

The apostle Paul said, “Don’t compare yourself with others.  Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life”  (Galatians 6:4-5).

Before Thomas Merton followed Christ, he followed money, fame and society.  He shocked many of his colleagues when he exchanged it all for the life of a Trappist monk.  Many years later a friend visited the monastery and could see no important difference in him.  “Tom, he said, “you haven’t changed at all.”  “Why should I?  “Here,” he said, “our duty is to be more like ourselves, not less.”

God never called you to be anyone other than you.  But he does call you to be the best you that you can be.  The big question is, at your best, who are you?

Read more Cure for the Common Life: Living in Your Sweet Spot

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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