Tag Archives: church

Charles Stanley – Sunday Reflection: The Blessing of Gentleness

 

Modern life constantly bombards us with messages that say happiness depends on working hard to get every single thing we desire. It urges and even commands us to aggressively pursue satisfaction, sometimes at any cost (even when it hurts other people). Yet in turning to God’s Word, we find encouragement to live with meekness—or gentleness—toward the Lord, each other, and the world around us. But how?

It often feels like a struggle to express this kind of humility and compassion to the world, especially when there is so much brokenness all around us—and within our own heart. Being angry or despondent is much easier and perhaps also serves to protect ourselves. But think about the way God loves us and never holds back. Consider how you might press onward, following His example and sharing His goodness with everyone you meet this week.

Think about it
• What does it mean to be meek in our day-to-day life? Can you think of opportunities to be calmer, less selfish, or more genuine? To live with the awareness that we truly have nothing but yet are promised everything?

  •  Meditate on Galatians 5:22-24, contemplating the fruit of the Spirit and how the qualities listed relate to meekness.

Bible in One Year: 2 Samuel 4-6

 

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Our Daily Bread — The One Who Saves

 

Bible in a Year:

They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!”

John 12:13

Today’s Scripture & Insight:John 12:12–18

He was called “one of the bravest persons alive,” but he wasn’t what others expected. Desmond was a soldier who declined to carry a gun. As a medic, he single-handedly rescued seventy-five injured soldiers in one battle, including some who once called him a coward and ridiculed him for his faith. Running into heavy gunfire, Desmond prayed continually, “Lord, please help me get one more.” He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism.

Scripture tells us that Jesus was greatly misunderstood. On a day foretold by the prophet Zechariah (9:9), Jesus entered Jerusalem and the crowd waved branches, shouting, “Hosanna!” (John 12:13). Quoting Psalm 118:26, they cried: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (John 12:13). But the very next verse in that psalm refers to bringing a sacrifice “with boughs in hand” (Psalm 118:27). While the crowd in John 12 anticipated an earthly king to save them from Rome, Jesus was much more. He was King of Kings and our sacrifice—God in the flesh, willingly embracing the cross to save us from our sins—a purpose prophesied centuries earlier.

“At first his disciples did not understand all this,” John writes. Only later “did they realize that these things had been written about him” (John 12:16). Illumined by His Word, God’s eternal purposes became clear. Watch Grant Stevenson’s devotional video, “Jesus, the Savior,” to learn more about the One who saves.

By:  James Banks

 

 

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Joyce Meyer – Peace in the Midst of the Storm

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

When life feels overwhelming, there’s only one place we can go for true, lasting peace—Jesus Christ. He is the “Prince of Peace” (see Isaiah 9:6) and the Bible says He’s our shelter in the storm. (see Isaiah 4:6).

I used to think that the way to have peace was to get rid of all my problems. It was a wonderful day when the Lord helped me realize that I could come to Him for peace in the midst of my problems.

It reminds me of the old hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” This is what the refrain says:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face;

And the things of the earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.

You see, when we take our cares and worries to God and spend time with Him, we magnify Him or make Him “bigger” in our eyes. When we do, all of our problems and concerns suddenly look smaller. Compared to God, they grow dim and insignificant.

Your problems may be big, and they are not insignificant to God. But when you keep your eyes on Him, He gives you perspective.

I love Matthew 11:28 (NIV). Jesus says, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

When we “come to Him”—when we read God’s Word, sing a song of worship or just sit and tell Him how good He is—He takes all of our worry, anxiety, fear and sadness and exchanges it with His peace, joy, hope and love.

When you feel worried and anxious, I know it’s easy to panic and allow fear to take over. That’s when you need to slow down, get still and focus on Jesus. He’s always with you, available any time of the day for you to cry out to Him for His supernatural peace.

Pray: “Father, right now I take a moment to come to You. Thank You for Your amazing love and how good You have been to me. Your strength, guidance and protection make all the difference in my life. Help me to always keep my eyes focused on You and receive Your supernatural peace and comfort. In Jesus’ Name, amen.”

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Your Joy Restored

 

“Create in me a clean heart, O God: and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence: and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation: and uphold me with Thy free Spirit. Then will I teach transgressors Thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto Thee” (Psalm 51:10-13, KJV).

“The Christian owes it to the world to be supernaturally joyful,” said A. W. Tozer.

How do we attain that joy?

When we refuse to exhale spiritually by confessing our sins, we are miserable. On the other hand, when we do confess our sins, we experience God’s complete forgiveness. He removes our guilt and fills our lives with joy, the kind of joy we will very much want to share with others.

The psalmist also knew this when he wrote: “Create in me a new, clean heart, O God, filled with clean thoughts and right desires…Restore to me again the joy of Your salvation, and make me willing to obey You. Then I will teach Your ways to other sinners, and they – guilty like me – will repent and return to You” (Psalm 51:10,12,13).

There was a time when I allowed moods and circumstances to prevent the joyful launching of a new day with the Lord. As a result, I did not feel that close relationship with Him, that beautiful awareness of His presence that comes from fellowship with Him in His Word and in prayer, and through faithful witnessing of His reality to others.

Without that time with Him, there is no joy and the day often begins and continues in the energy of the flesh. There is no personal awareness of God’s presence, and things just seem to go wrong. We can begin every day with that joyful communion with Christ that gives us the assurance of His presence throughout the day. We are the ones who make that choice. God is available; we are the variable.

Bible Reading: Psalm 51:1-9

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will begin this day on my knees, praising and rejoicing in the Lord as an expression of my desire to be with Him. I will read His Word and offer prayers of adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. I will ask Him to lead me to others whose hearts He has prepared for this same joyful relationship with God.

 

http://www.cru.org

Charles Stanley – A Training Course in Obedience

 

Luke 5:1-11

In today’s passage, Peter’s initial interaction with Christ seems unimportant. We assume Jesus asked Peter for the use of his boat, which meant that the weary fisherman put aside his cleanup duties in order to steer the craft for an itinerant preacher. It was a small decision, but Peter ended up with a front-row seat for a miraculous display of Jesus’ power that day.

Then, Peter obeyed Jesus’ second request —to let down the nets for a catch—even though doing so contradicted his expertise in fishing. The results were incredible: a catch so great that a second boat had to come and take part of the haul.

Though Peter probably considered both of these decisions fairly insignificant, Jesus found them telling. He was preparing the disciple and teaching him to follow. It’s often obedience in the small details that prepares the believer for obedience in all things. What Peter did with regard to the boat and net eventually convinced him that giving up everything to follow Christ was the wisest choice.

This is how God teaches us to follow His will, too. Our decisions can set us on a course to fulfill God’s good purpose for our life and His kingdom—if we choose to heed His voice.

Bible in One Year: 2 Samuel 1-3

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Our Deepest Longings

 

Bible in a Year:

Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied.

Ecclesiastes 5:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ecclesiastes 5:10–12

As a young man, Duncan had been afraid of not having enough money, so in his early twenties, he began ambitiously building his future. Climbing the ladder at a prestigious Silicon Valley company, Duncan achieved vast wealth. He had a bulging bank account, a luxury sports car, and a million-dollar California home. He had everything he desired; yet he was profoundly unhappy. “I felt anxious and dissatisfied,” Duncan said. “In fact, wealth can actually make life worse.” Piles of cash didn’t provide friendship, community, or joy—and often brought him only more heartache.

Some people will expend immense energy attempting to amass wealth in an effort to secure their lives. It’s a fool’s game. “Whoever loves money never has enough,” Scripture insists (Ecclesiastes 5:10). Some will work themselves to the bone. They’ll strive and push, comparing their possessions with others and straining to achieve some economic status. And yet even if they gain supposed financial freedom, they’ll still be unsatisfied. It’s not enough. As the writer of Ecclesiastes states, “This too is meaningless” (v. 10).

The truth is, striving to find fulfillment apart from God will prove futile. While Scripture calls us to work hard and use our gifts for the good of the world, we can never accumulate enough to satisfy our deepest longings. Jesus alone offers a real and satisfying life (John 10:10)—one based on a loving relationship that’s truly enough!

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

What brings you true satisfaction and fulfillment? How can you more fully live out the fact that only God is enough?

Gracious God, allow me to find my true fulfillment and joy in You. Keep me from a wrong view of work and material things.

 

 

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Joyce Meyer – This Too Shall Pass

 

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. — 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NIV)

Sometimes, when we’re going through a difficult season, we don’t think we can make it through. But God promises us in His Word that He will never allow more to come on us than we can bear as we rely on Him (see 1 Corinthians 10:13).

Second Corinthians 2:9 says that His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses. This means when we go through hard times, God wants to show Himself strong through us.

In our family, when difficult things are happening, we like to say, “This too shall pass.” It’s an important reminder that it won’t last forever.

The truth is, getting upset about our problems never changes them. However, I’ve learned that choosing to adopt a positive attitude can make a difference. When bad things happen or we’re uncertain about the future, it can be even tougher to think and say things that are positive. But it’s helpful to remember that things will change…a new season is right around the corner.

When I am in the midst of a difficult time, I choose to dwell on passages like Romans 8:35-39. I remind myself that God loves meno matter how difficult life is at the moment. I focus my thoughts on His strength and ability to pull me through any situation. As I do, I can sense faith rising up inside of me.

During tough times, it’s easy to think, I can’t do this—it’s just too hard. Watch for that type of thinking. Then, when you recognize it, replace it with a God-inspired thought like:

I can do whatever I need to do because God is with me. This too shall pass. (See Philippians 4:13; Psalm 16:8.)

Pray: “God, thank You for the strength to make it through this season. I know You are with me and it won’t last forever. Help me to choose faith-filled thoughts and attitudes that will bring peace to the situation and remind me that You have good things in store for the future. In Jesus’ Name, amen.”

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Gift of His Spirit

 

“This is what God has prepared for us and, as a guarantee, He has given us His Holy Spirit” (2 Corinthians 5:5).

A dynamic young business man sat across from me in my office. By almost every standard of human measure he was an outstanding success in both his business and his religion.

He was one of the leading men in his field of specialty in the world. A highly moral, religious person, he was very active in his church. And yet, he was not sure that he was a Christian.

He wanted desperately – more than anything else in the world – to have real assurance, but he did not know how to go about obtaining it. Step by step, I explained to him from the Bible how he could receive Christ into his life and be sure of his salvation.

Soon we were on our knees in prayer, after which he went on his way rejoicing in the assurance of his salvation to begin a supernatural walk with God.

Many pastors and other Christian leaders, I have discovered, also have this same gnawing doubt about their salvation. One pastor who had preached the Bible-centered gospel for 40 years told me that he was still unsure of his salvation.

The wife of an evangelist confided, “During the past 30 years, my husband and I have introduced thousands of people to Christ, but I have never been sure of my own salvation. Never before have I had the courage to share this concern with anyone, but now I am so desperate that I have come to seek your help.”

I explained that we receive Christ as our Savior by faith or on act of the will; then, as a guarantee, He gives us His Holy Spirit.

Bible Reading: II Corinthians 5:6-10

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  With God’s Holy Spirit as my constant witness, I will daily give thanks to Him for assurance of my salvation.

http://www.cru.org

Streams in the Desert for Kids – You Are Worth More than Flowers

 

Matthew 6:30–33, The Message

Have you ever wandered deep into the woods and found a beautiful flower blooming there? Ever wondered who, besides you, will ever see that beautiful flower? Jesus talked about that. He said that God gives a flower so much beauty and detail and then he may put it in a place where no one ever sees it. Why? It is because God makes everything perfect whether or not anyone notices. Everything he makes has a purpose. You have a purpose. And he didn’t make any mistakes when he made you. Even if you sometimes feel like you are hidden in the woods where no one notices you, God has a purpose for your life.

Because you are his child, God will take care of all your needs. Jesus told the people of his time to stop worrying about everything. He told them that God knew they needed certain things to live. He said that if God dressed the flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, God will certainly take care of his children—that includes you—who are much more important to him than flowers.

If you can understand that God loves you and wants to take care of you, life will be a lot easier. God knows what you need. God knows what your family needs. Count on the fact that God knows, and trust him.

Dear Lord, I know you love me and that you care about my needs. Help me to trust you to take care of me and my family. Amen.

Charles Stanley – A Divine Demonstration of Love

 

1 John 4:7-19

To better understand divine love, consider its opposite —false “love,” which sets limitations and always withholds something. This so-called love clings to control and gives only in order to manipulate. It is emotionally detached and unwilling to be vulnerable.

Genuine love, on the other hand, respects people as they are. It means understanding who the other person really is and loving without restriction. If you must be in control and your heart is not 100% in it, you’re missing true love.

Looking at the love of Jesus Christ on the cross, I see the most perfect demonstration of love anywhere. The Savior showed us how unlimited His love is: He gave His life for us and withheld nothing (Rom. 8:32)! He did not give His love to manipulate us but instead gave us free will to accept or reject Him. And He loved us with vulnerability, already knowing His love would be rejected—even ignored or mocked. In loving with His whole heart, Jesus was willing to be turned down.

If you’re ever unsure about what true love really looks like, turn to the cross. Jesus gave His best—His all—to love us so that we could become children of God (1 John 3:1).

Bible in One Year: 1 Samuel 30-31

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — What Comes Next?

 

Bible in a Year:

There is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord . . . will award to me on that day.

2 Timothy 4:8

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Timothy 4:1–8

On the night of April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King gave his final speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” In it, he hints that he believed he might not live long. He said, “We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. . . . [But] I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” The next day, he was assassinated.

The apostle Paul, shortly before his death, wrote to his protégé Timothy: “I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. . . . Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day” (2 Timothy 4:68). Paul knew his time on earth was drawing to a close, as did Dr. King. Both men realized lives of incredible significance, yet never lost sight of the true life ahead. Both men welcomed what came next.

Like them, may we “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

By:  Remi Oyedele

Reflect & Pray

What is your understanding of this life’s temporary nature? How do you think it plays into the life that comes next?

Heavenly Father, help us to keep our eyes on You and not on the troubles and trials of this life.

Read Life to Come: The Hope of the Christian Faith at discoveryseries.org/q1205.

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Giving Up the Self

In his 1989 book, In the Name of Jesus, Henri Nouwen recounts a time of grave spiritual atrophy. Nouwen was a highly regarded Ivy League professor as well as an in-demand speaker and author. He was the toast of any town. And most impressive of all (to me), he was personal friends with Fred Rogers.

Nouwen was also growing increasingly empty inside. When an opportunity arose to work with Daybreak in Toronto, Henri bravely walked away from his old life and jumped into service for the intellectually disabled. He had gone from the pinnacle of renown in Christian circles to serving a marginalized group where there was sure to be little thanks and even less fame. And yet, he was revitalized during this time.

Once Henri had to go to a speaking engagement but did not want to go alone. He ended up taking “Bill” with him, one of the permanent residents at Daybreak, and the two had a great time. During breakfast the next day, Bill asked Henri if he had liked the trip. Henri said that, yes, he had enjoyed the trip very much. Bill responded with, “And we did it together, didn’t we?”

Henri writes: “Then I realized the full truth of Jesus’ words, ‘Where two or three meet in my Name, I am among them’ (Matthew 18:20). In the past, I had always given lectures, sermons, addresses, and speeches by myself. Often I had wondered how much of what I had said would be remembered. Now it dawned on me that most likely much of what I said would not be long remembered, but that Bill and I doing it together would not easily be forgotten. I hoped and prayed that Jesus, who had sent us out together and had been with us all during the journey, would have become really present to those who had gathered in the Clarendon Hotel in Crystal City.”(1)

I saw this up close and personal when a Lutheran pastor I worked for (whose name really is Bill) answered the call to lead a diminished and declining flock in a smaller town. No one wanted to lose this talented teacher and preacher. And this was not the best career decision to make; in the metrics of worldly success, this was a demotion. That was the point, though. He told me that we must truly go where God leads us and anything else is simply career advancement. We need be people who proclaim with Isaiah, “Here am I. Send me!”

These counterintuitive stories are reflections of Christ’s example. In the Lenten origin story, Jesus goes without food for 40 days, and so Lent is typically a time of “fasting” from certain foods, although now someone may choose to fast from social media, watching Netflix, etc. If we look deeper into the narrative, though, we are introduced to some of the most grand paradoxes. There is something fascinating taking place behind the fast.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Giving Up the Self

Joyce Meyer – Overcome Fear with Faith

 

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. — Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

Fear can take many forms—worry, anxiety, panic or even dread. But it’s so important for us to get the upper hand on fear because it does not come from God.

Even when we face uncertainty or difficulties in life, God wants us to have faith that He is with us in the struggle and that He can do great things. He wants us to remain positive and full of hope!

Faith is the opposite of fear. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith allows us to believe that God is going to do something great even before it comes to pass. Faith enables us to believe things that may not make sense to our natural minds.

One of the main ways we release our faith is through what we say. So, even when it doesn’t look like good things are happening, it’s important to say what God’s Word says about our situation.

When you are going through a difficult time or find yourself expecting the worst, I encourage you to say things like:

“God has a great plan for my future, and I believe something good is going to happen today!” (See Jeremiah 29:11.)

“My future is bright, and I have nothing to worry about—God is taking care of me. The Lord’s goodness and mercy follow me every single day of my life!” (See Philippians 4:6; Psalm 23:6.)

“I don’t have to fear, because God is always with me.” (See Joshua 1:9.)

Living by faith doesn’t mean that we ignore our circumstances, but it means that we choose to focus on God and believe that He is greater than anything we are going through (see Ephesians 3:20).

Pray: “God, thank You for watching over every detail of my life. When things are uncertain, help me to believe Your Word more than my doubts and fears. Help me to speak words of faith and say what You say about my situation. I know that You are greater than my fears and You have good things planned for my future. In Jesus’ Name, amen.”

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Clothed in Christ

 

“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves in Christ” (Galatians 3:27, NAS).

You may be surprised, as I was, at the result of our personal surveys having to do with church members and salvation.

Such surveys indicate that somewhere between 50 and 90% of all church members are not sure of their salvation. Like Martin Luther, John Wesley and many others who became mighty ambassadors for Christ, some spend many years “serving God” before they experience the assurance and reality of their salvation.

The pastor of a large fashionable church of 1,500 members once reacted negatively when I shared these statistics, doubting that such large percentages of church members lacked assurance of their salvation.

He decided personally to survey his own congregation at the church where he had served as senior pastor for 15 years. To his amazement and shock, more than 75% of the membership indicated they were not sure of their salvation.

The following Sunday, the pastor arranged for the Four Spiritual Laws booklet, which contains the distilled essence of the gospel, to be distributed to each member of the congregation.

For his sermon he read the contents of the booklet aloud, as the congregation followed him, reading from their own copies of the Four Laws. Then he invited all who wished to receive Christ as their Savior and Lord to read aloud with him the prayer contained in the booklet. Almost the entire congregation joined in the prayer audibly. As a result the church was changed, because changed individuals in sufficient numbers equal a changed church, a changed community and a changed nation.

Have you clothed yourself in Christ?

Bible Reading: Galatians 4:4-7

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will not take for granted that I have found faith in Christ simply because I belong to a church, nor will I assume that all church members have assurance of their salvation. I shall encourage all who are not sure to receive Christ and be clothed in His righteousness.

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Cast Yourself Upon the Grace of Christ

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Guilt sucks the life out of our souls.  Grace restores it.  No one had more reason to feel the burden of guilt than did the apostle Paul.  He had orchestrated the deaths of Christians—he was an ancient version of a terrorist.

Paul gave his guilt to Jesus.  Period.  He surrendered it to Jesus.  As a result he could write, “I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us.”  (Philippians 3:13-14).

What would the apostle say to the guilt-ridden?  Simply this: Rejoice in the Lord’s mercy.  Trust in his ability to forgive. Cast yourself upon the grace of Christ and Christ alone!

Read more Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Funerals in the Holy Land and a virtual tour of Jerusalem: Using the pandemic for eternal good

There is nothing like being in the Holy Land during the Easter season. After leading more than thirty study tours to Israel, I can tell you that each time feels like the first time. There is something miraculous and transforming about this ancient land, especially during this season.

This year, April is not only the month of Easter for Christians, but of Passover for the Jewish people and the beginning of Ramadan for Muslims. Because of the pandemic, however, the streets of Jerusalem are virtually empty. Churches and other religious sites are closed. Even burials are different.

In Israel, Jewish dead are typically laid to rest in a cloth smock and shroud without a coffin. Now, the bodies of COVID-19 victims are taken for ritual washing, which is performed in full protective gear, wrapped in impermeable plastic, and wrapped again in plastic before interment. Muslim bodies are not washed or shrouded but buried in a plastic body bag. Funerals can be attended by no more than twenty people in an open space. The bereaved are not embraced.

Here’s some good news, however: Israel’s Tower of David Museum is using virtual reality to allow us to visit the Western Wall during Passover, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre during Easter, and the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan.

The museum has created an immersive 360-degree virtual reality experience for anyone with internet access. We will be able to see the Holy City as it is today and as it looked twenty centuries ago. The link will be available free of charge from the first day of Passover to the first day of Ramadan (April 9–24).

“Our routine is the scaffolding of life”

The philosopher Walter Benjamin noted, “History is made up of images, not stories.” The images coming out of the coronavirus pandemic, like empty streets in Jerusalem, tell the story of this unfolding tragedy.

In addition to the escalating numbers of victims and patients and its devastation of our economy, the pandemic is disrupting our daily lives in unprecedented ways. Adrienne Heinz, a clinical research psychologist at the Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD, notes: “Our routine is the scaffolding of life. It’s how we organize information and our time. And without it, we can feel really lost.”

As a result, she says, “I’m . . . really worried about families. I’m worried about increases in alcohol use. I’m worried about domestic violence. I’m worried about child abuse, because parents are under-resourced.”

Psychologist Susan Clayton adds: “Most of us have not faced a situation like this. So we have no previous experience that we can use to interpret it. We have no guidance about how we should be responding.”

Continue reading Denison Forum – Funerals in the Holy Land and a virtual tour of Jerusalem: Using the pandemic for eternal good

Charles Stanley – How Do We Seek God?

 

Deuteronomy 4:21-31

We will find God when we seek Him with all our heart. That is a biblical promise we can depend on. But how do we go about seeking Him?

First, we must exhibit certain attitudes. Scripture implores us to pursue wholeheartedly, diligently, continually, confidently, and humbly. These qualities are essential for learning and spiritual growth.

Then we get into God’s Word, studying and meditating upon it with a receptive heart. We also take up the discipline of prayer, because it’s the primary way we communicate with Him, and He with us.

The next step is to consider how God is operating in our circumstances. Think back on His patterns of faithfulness to you in the past, and you’ll see glimpses of how He worked, even during times of adversity in your life. You may even be able to recognize His involvement in the lives of other believers, and that awareness can also enrich your growth.

When we seek God, we find the capacity to love and serve Him. If you’ve been feeling apathetic towards the Father, consider pursuing Him in one of the ways described above, and pray that it ignites your passion.

Bible in One Year: 1 Samuel 27-29

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Cheerful Givers

 

Bible in a Year:

God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:7

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Corinthians 9:6–9

Years ago, my wife received a small rebate from something she’d purchased. It wasn’t something she’d expected, it just showed up in the mail. About the same time, a good friend shared with her the immense needs of women in another country, entrepreneurial-minded women trying to better themselves by way of education and business. As is often the case, however, their first barrier was financial.

My wife took that rebate and made a micro-loan to a ministry devoted to helping these women. When the loan was repaid, she simply loaned again, and again, and so far has made twenty-seven such investments. My wife enjoys many things, but there’s rarely a smile as big on her face as when she receives an update on the flourishing taking place in the lives of women she’s never met.

We often hear emphasis on the last word in this phrase—“God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7)—and rightly so. But our giving has a specific quality about it—it shouldn’t be done “reluctantly or under compulsion,” and we’re called not to sow “sparingly” (vv. 6–7). In a word, our giving is to be “cheerful.” And while each of us will give a little differently, our faces are places for telling evidence of our cheer.

By:  John Blase

Reflect & Pray

When did you last “cheerfully” give? Why do you believe God loves a cheerful giver?

Generous Father God, thank You for the joy that comes in giving from a cheer-filled heart. And thank You for the ways in which You provide abundantly for our needs.

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Giving Up Chocolate

Confession: I love Tom Waits. How do you classify him? He has been many things: a lounge singer, a street poet, actor, songwriter. He has the voice of a rusty exhaust manifold. One aspect of his persona(s) over the years that is endlessly fascinating is his way of tapping into the words and thoughts of the common sense of common man. Some of his characters are salt of the earth; others are down-on-their-luck lovable outcasts or outsiders.

In his song “Chocolate Jesus,” Tom describes a divine confection for those who cannot or do not want to go to church on Sundays:

Well, I don’t go to church on Sunday
Don’t get on my knees to pray
Don’t memorize the books of the bible
I got my own special way

I know Jesus loves me
Maybe just a little bit more
Fall down on my knees every Sunday
At Zerelda Lee’s candy store

Well, it’s got to be a chocolate Jesus
Make me feel good inside
Got to be a chocolate Jesus
Keep me satisfied.(1)

Much of the song is up to interpretation: Is he describing the one with a young, innocent faith? The one who would rather do their own thing because church has too many rules? The apathetic? The one who wants salvation without sacrifice? The one who wants God without the pain of past church experiences? Sometimes there are understandable reasons why people want the chocolate Jesus, the one who just loves them, makes them feel good inside, and keeps them satisfied.

This has been me before. Perhaps you can relate. Before I became a Christian, I would visit churches from time to time looking for something, but it was never there. That might have been a self-fulfilling prophecy, but it was the honest feeling. Years later, after becoming a Christian, I felt lost in a discipleship-less church that was big on rule-following but felt very small on love. Eventually I left and fell back into old patterns of a life without God. I tried church and it wasn’t for me. Wearily, I just wanted the God who loved me as I was.

Looking back, though, I notice something about that young man: I wanted the chocolate Jesus, sweetness without nutrition. God did love me as I was, but I started to get the impression that that was the end of the story.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Giving Up Chocolate

Joyce Meyer – You Are Not Alone

 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God…. — Isaiah 43:2-3 (NIV)

When you’re going through difficult times, it’s so important to remember that God is right there with you, and you can trust Him to help you through it.

God never promised us a trouble-free life, but He does promise to never leave us or forsake us (see Hebrews 13:5). In the hard times, we can take comfort knowing that He loves us tremendously, He has His eye on us, and He is already working behind the scenes to help us (see Romans 8:38-39; Psalm 33:18).

I’ve also learned from experience that we can trust God to use these times for our benefit (see Romans 8:28). When everything seems uncertain and unstable, He helps us draw closer to Him and hang on to the rock of our salvation—Jesus Christ—who cannot be moved or shaken!

When we’re hit by life’s storms or experience things we don’t understand, that’s when we have to remember that God is always with us—no matter what we think or feel, and no matter what our circumstances look like.

Jesus is with you through every storm, and you are going to come out stronger on the other side. He’s the One Who loves you unconditionally, and He’s the One Who can turn your difficult times into something great.

And as you trust God through it all, He will give you something stable—He will give you more of Himself.

Pray: “God, I thank You for always being with me—in the good times and also when life gets difficult. Please help me to draw closer to You when life doesn’t make sense. I trust You, and I know that You will work everything out for My good. In Jesus’ Name, amen.”

 

 

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