Tag Archives: church

Charles Stanley –God Uses Our Suffering

 

Hebrews 12:10-11

Joseph’s life involved much suffering. The young man was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, unjustly imprisoned, and forgotten. But when God’s plan was revealed, Joseph declared that it was good (Gen. 45:7-8).

Scripture tells us that the Lord has many purposes for the pain we experience. One is to develop personal righteousness in us. Desiring that we walk in holiness before Him, God utilizes discipline to direct us away from ungodliness and to increase our fruitfulness. He will use difficult people and circumstances to prune away any “deadwood”—attitudes, behaviors, and relationships that do not fit a child of God (Eph. 4:25; Eph. 4:29, Eph. 4:31). While such pruning is not a pleasant experience, it can effectively train us to lead a godly life.

God also uses suffering to manifest the life of Christ in us. For that to happen, we must learn to depend on Him for both our work and our words. If circumstances did not press in upon us, we would probably go our own way. But we are to be like Jesus, who relied on His Father no matter how easy or hard the situation became. As Christ’s ambassadors, we are to be living examples of His character. This may mean forgiving our enemies, bearing our burdens with patience, or finding joy in the midst of sorrow, just as He did. Our witness will not be a perfect one, but we should display a growing “family resemblance” to the Lord.

Life is full of trouble. But in the hands of a loving God, our suffering is being used for eternal purposes.

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 33-36

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Marvelous Maker

 

Read: Psalm 104:24–34 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 103–104; 1 Corinthians 2

How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Psalm 104:24

As an amateur photographer, I enjoy capturing glimpses of God’s creativity with my camera. I see His fingerprints on each delicate flower petal, each vibrant sunrise and sunset, and each cloud-painted and star-speckled sky canvas.

My camera’s powerful zoom option allows me to take photos of the Lord’s creatures too. I’ve snapped shots of a chattering squirrel in a cherry blossom tree, a colorful butterfly flitting from bloom to bloom, and sea turtles sunning on a rocky, black beach. Each one-of-a-kind image prompted me to worship my marvelous Maker.

I’m not the first of God’s people to praise Him while admiring His unique creations. The writer of Psalm 104 sings of the Lord’s many works of art in nature (v. 24). He regards “the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number” (v. 25) and rejoices in God for providing constant and complete care for His masterpieces (vv. 27–31). Considering the majesty of the God-given life around him, the psalmist bursts with worshipful gratitude: “I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live” (v. 33).

While reflecting on the Lord’s magnificent and immense creation, we can look closely at His intentional creativity and attention to detail. And like the psalmist, we can sing to our Creator with thankful praise for how powerful, majestic, and loving He is and always will be. Hallelujah!

Share your favorite photo of God’s creation at Facebook.com/ourdailybread.

God’s works are marvelous, and so is He.

By Xochitl Dixon

INSIGHT

This remarkable psalm is like an orchestra proclaiming the different sights and sounds of creation. Land and sea; sky and clouds; animal and plant life; light and darkness all point to the ultimate reality of God. It’s easy for the reader to be reminded of the Genesis account of creation that describes the glory of God (Genesis 1–2). Psalm 104 doesn’t read like an objective and dispassionate record of what we see in nature, however. Instead, the psalmist finds in all of creation a marvelous symphony that exalts the Creator. Creation is the signpost pointing to the majesty of God: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Romans 1:20).

Be on the lookout today for something in creation for which you can express praise to God.

Dennis Fisher

 

http://www.odb.org

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – Joseph and God’s Plan

 

JUDAH ASSUMES LEADERSHIP

Genesis 43:1–15

Can people change? The answer has been debated for generations by philosophers, psychologists, and poets. Some argue we are born as blank slates to be shaped by our circumstances. Others claim we come into this world with our personalities and proclivities already determined. Christians believe that faith in God can transform anyone through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Joseph’s test of whether his brothers had changed from selfish vindictiveness ran into an obstacle. He would not provide any more food for the family unless they brought Benjamin with them—but Jacob refused to let him go. Reuben tried to convince his father by offering the lives of his own two sons as a guarantee that he would bring Benjamin back (42:37). Jacob would not listen.

Judah now stepped up to the challenge of leadership among his family. With food running out, Judah analyzed the situation and decides: “Send the boy along with me . . . so that we and you and our children may live and not die” (v. 8). Yes, it is a risk to send Benjamin. But if they do not take that risk, Benjamin will die of starvation.

Notice especially that Judah is no longer derailed by his father’s clear favoritism. As one commentator says, “Judah’s reference to Benjamin as ‘our brother’ (43:4) counters Jacob’s label (‘my son’) and the exclusivity (‘he alone is left’) with which he talks of Benjamin (42:38).”

Judah offered himself as a pledge of Benjamin’s safety (v. 9). The last time Judah offered a pledge, it was a foolish gift to a prostitute. The last time he made a convincing speech to his family, it was to sell Joseph to a traveling band of Ishmaelites. His priorities had been transformed.

APPLY THE WORD

Ephesians 2 says, “You were dead in your transgressions and sins . . . But God . . . made us alive with Christ.” When God transforms us, it becomes possible to restore broken relationships. Do you have relationships that need God’s healing? Rejoice today that we worship a God that allows for and enables radical change in people’s lives.

 

http://www.todayintheword.org

Joyce Meyer – Have a Glad Heart

 

From the fruit of his words a man shall be satisfied with good, and the work of a man’s hands shall come back to him [as a harvest]. — Proverbs 12:14 (AMPC)

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

I used to live with an ongoing sense of dread until I asked God to show me what was wrong. He spoke the words “evil forebodings,” and then showed me His Word concerning this subject: “All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances]” (Proverb 15:15 AMPC).

Anxious thoughts make the day evil. If you expect to have a dismal day, you will be unpleasant yourself. Evil forebodings ruin the day, but faith makes the heart glad and brings miraculous results. If you want to have a good day, raise your expectations to be in line with God’s Word.

Prayer Starter: Father, You have good things planned for my day. Help me to actively expect Your goodness in everything I do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Guardian Angels 

 

“For the angel of the Lord guards and rescues all who reverence Him” (Psalm 34:7).

For many years my travels have taken me from continent to continent, to scores of countries each year. I have traveled under all kinds of circumstances, not a few times faced with danger. But always there was peace in my heart that the Lord was with me and I was surrounded by His guardian angels to protect me.

In Pakistan, during a time of great political upheaval, I had finished a series of meetings in Lahore and was taken to the train station. Though I was unaware of what was happening, an angry crowd of thousands was marching on the station to destroy it with cocktail bombs.

The director of the railway line rushed us onto the train, put us in our compartments and told us not to open our doors under any circumstances – unless we knew that the one knocking was a friend. The train ride to Karachi would require more than 24 hours, which was just the time I needed to finish rewriting my book Come Help Change the World.

So I put on my pajamas, got in my berth and began to read and write. It was not until we arrived in Karachi some 28 hours later that I discovered how guardian angels had watched over us and protected us. The train in front of us had been burned when rioting students had lain on the track and refused to move. So the train ran over them and killed them. In retaliation, the mob burned the train and killed the officials.

Now we were the next train and they were prepared to do the same for us. But God miraculously went before us and there were no mishaps. We arrived in Karachi to discover that martial law had been declared and all was peaceful. A Red Cross van took us to the hotel and there God continued to protect us. When the violence subsided we were able to catch a plane out of Karachi for Europe.

Bible Reading:Isaiah 63:7-9

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will make a special point of expressing my gratitude to God for assigning guardian angels to watch over me, protect and help me in my time of trouble. I will not take for granted the protection that many times in the past I have overlooked, not recognizing God’s miraculous, divine intervention, enabling me to live a supernatural life.

 

http://www.cru.org

Charles Stanley – Effective Prayer

 

John 15:7-11

I’ve never met a Christian who didn’t want an effective prayer life. We all long to see the Lord answering our prayers and actively intervening in the concerns and needs we bring before Him, but are we willing to do what’s required? Jesus’ promise of answered prayer is linked with two prerequisites, both found in verse 7 of today’s reading.

“If you abide in Me.” To abide means to remain, dwell, or continue, and according to 1 John 3:24, abiding in Christ is characterized by keeping His commands. Therefore, if we want to pray effectively, we must be committed to obey God in every area of our life. Any rebellion robs us of the wisdom we need in order to pray rightly. It also hinders our fellowship with the Father and keeps Him from hearing and answering our requests.

“And [If] My words abide in you.” We must ask ourselves these questions: Does God’s Word remain, dwell, and continue in me? Am I more preoccupied with talking to God in prayer than with listening to what He’s said in His Word? Scripture is the basis for effective prayer. As we read and meditate upon God’s Word, it convicts us of sin so we can repent and be cleansed. Scripture adjusts our focus from earthly priorities to heavenly ones. It also shapes our thoughts to align with God’s so we’ll know how to pray according to His will instead of ours.

There are no fast and easy shortcuts to a fruitful prayer life. It was meant to develop through a lifestyle of obedience and dedication to the Word. These are cultivated over a lifetime and glorify God by bearing much lasting fruit.

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 31-32

 

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Our Daily Bread — Sky Garden

 

Read: Psalm 102:1–2, 18–28 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 100–102; 1 Corinthians 1

He looked down from His holy height. Psalm 102:19 nasb

While in London, a friend arranged for my wife Marlene and me to visit the Sky Garden. On the top floor of a thirty-five-story building in London’s business district, the Sky Garden is a glass-encased platform filled with plants, trees, and flowers. But the sky part captured our attention. We gazed down from a height of over 500 feet, admiring St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London, and more. Our views of the capital city were breathtaking—providing a helpful lesson on perspective.

Our God has a perfect perspective of everything we experience. The psalmist wrote, “For He looked down from His holy height; from heaven the Lord gazed upon the earth, to hear the groaning of the prisoner, to set free those who were doomed to death” (Psalm 102:19–20 nasb).

Like the hurting people pictured in Psalm 102, we are often locked into the present with its struggles, “groaning” with despair. But God sees our lives from beginning to end. Our Lord is never caught off guard by the things that can blindside us. As the psalmist anticipated, His perfect perspective will lead to an ultimate rescue that sets free even those “doomed to death” (vv. 20, 27–28).

In difficult moments, remember: We may not know what is coming next, but our Lord does. We can trust Him with every moment that stretches before us.

For more perspective on the trying seasons of life, read Why? Seeing God in Our Pain at discoveryseries.org/cb151.

Focusing on Christ puts everything else into perspective.

By Bill Crowder

INSIGHT

Altitude expands our field of view, not just our perspective. From the heights we can see things that are hidden from us when we are on the ground. This can be an analogy for God’s view of our life. God looks down from the heavens and sees us (Psalm 102:19). His view takes in both time and space; He sees the ends of the earth and the beginning and end of our lives.

How does knowing that God sees everything from beginning to end offer comfort?

J.R. Hudberg

 

http://www.odb.org

Streams in the Desert for Kids – It’s All Good

 

Romans 8:28

If ever there was a story of how God can take the worst stuff that happens to us and turn it to good, it is the biblical story of Joseph. Joseph was the second youngest son of Jacob. Jacob had twelve sons and when Joseph, the little guy, said that one day he would rule over his brothers, they got angry. They threw him in a pit then sold him to the first caravan of traders that came along.

Those rotten brothers told their father that Joseph had been eaten by wild animals. It broke Jacob’s heart. But Joseph was not dead. He was beginning a new life in Egypt. First, he was a lead servant in the household of Potiphar. Potiphar’s wife told lies about him, and he wound up in prison. Then through an amazing series of divine events, Joseph was taken from prison and made the ruler of the land. And it all happened just in time to save Egypt from a seven-year famine.

Oh, and those brothers who threw him in a pit? They came begging for food in Egypt. Joseph gave it to them twice before he told them that he was their little brother. They were really scared that he was going to have them all killed for what they had done to him. Instead, Joseph said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20). Everything worked out for the best because God was watching over them.

Dear Lord, Help me to trust you. Everything bad that happened to Joseph turned out to be for the best. I know I belong to you and that everything that happens is part of your plan for me. Amen.

 

Joyce Meyer – Thoughts, Words and Habits

 

Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” — Matthew 9:29

Adapted from the resource Power Thoughts Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

How do our thoughts and the words we speak affect our habits? In my opinion, they are the starting point for breaking all bad habits and forming all good habits. In fact, thinking and speaking negatively is a bad habit in itself—and one we need to break by beginning to think and speak positively.

You can literally think and talk yourself into victory or defeat. You not only get all the things you think and say, but you can have anything God says you can have in His Word. Jesus told people they would have what they believed, even sight for the blind men (see Matthew 9:27–30). They simply had to believe—to renew their minds to think as God thinks (see Romans 12:2 and Colossians 3:10)—and they could have the blessings God wanted them to have…and so can you!

Prayer Starter: Lord, help me to be more aware of my thoughts and words. Help me to continually keep Your Word in front of me and think like You think more and more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Subduing the Enemy 

 

“At that time Samuel said to [the Israelites], ‘If you are really serious about wanting to return to the Lord, get rid of your foreign gods and your Ashtaroth idols. Determine to obey only the Lord; then He will rescue you from the Philistines'” (1 Samuel 7:3).

As I was reading and meditating upon the Word of God this morning, the thought struck me forcefully that this passage relates to multitudes of defeated, frustrated Christians today who feel that they have lost contact with God. They are puzzled as to why He has withdrawn His blessing from them, but the reason, in most cases, is very simple.

Throughout the history of Israel, the people alternately obeyed God and disobeyed Him. When they obeyed, He blessed, and when they disobeyed, He disciplined. At this particular time the Lord seemingly had abandoned them. It was because, as Samuel explained, they were worshiping foreign gods and idols. “If you will only obey God,” he counseled, “He will rescue you from the Philistines.”

So they destroyed their idols and worshiped the Lord, and then a miracle happened. Samuel invited all of Israel to come to Mispah and said, “I will pray to the Lord for you.” As they gathered there, the Philistine leaders heard about it and mobilized their army to attack. Of course, the Israelites were terribly frightened, but God spoke with a mighty thunder from heaven, and the Philistines were thrown into terrible confusion. Israel surrounded them, and subdued them, and the Philistines did not invade Israel again for the remainder of Samuel’s life.

Enemies can take many forms, but their intent is always to destroy. What are the Philistines in your life? Lust, pride, jealousy, materialism, financial indebtedness, physical illness, resentments, antagonism, criticism, discrimination? Do you feel that God has forsaken you?

Why not look into the mirror of God’s Word? Ask the Lord to reveal the idols of your life, then turn away from them. Confess your sins and claim God’s victory over those areas of life that are destroying you.

Bible Reading:I Samuel 7:1-12

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will carefully examine my life to see if I am harboring any idols that would cause the Spirit of God to be grieved and quenched. I will destroy any that I find, and will confess my sins and appropriate God’s fullness to live a supernatural life for His glory.

 

http://www.cru.org

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – Joseph and God’s Plan

 

Family Reunion: Part 2

Genesis 42:18–38

In Shakespeare’s masterpiece Macbeth, the title character murders King Duncan to fulfill his own ambition of becoming king of Scotland. Wracked by guilt and the fear of being found out, he is unable to enjoy his royal position. Ultimately, he falls into madness.

After three days in prison, Joseph presented his brothers with their test. One of them must stay behind in prison while the rest bring food back to their households. Then they are to bring the youngest brother, Benjamin, to Egypt to prove that their story was true (v. 20).

This harsh treatment was not what Joseph’s brothers expected. Why were they being singled out? Their minds immediately went back to what they had done to Joseph. Verse 21 makes clear that they all felt responsibility for the crime they had committed: “They said to one another, ‘Surely we are being punished because of our brother. . . .’” They vividly recalled Joseph’s distress and his pleading with them from the pit. How often had those words and that image come into their minds in the last twenty years? They had been living in their own kind of prison created by the guilt from their sin.

Joseph had been communicating to his brothers through an interpreter, and they did not know he could understand their conversation. Though he was deeply moved by their words, he was still not ready to confront them directly. His test of their character must continue.

Now Joseph’s brothers faced another difficult conversation, this time with Jacob, who demonstrated little sympathy for their plight. He was too focused on his own grief and loss: “You have deprived me of my children . . . Everything is against me! . . . My son will not go down there with you” (vv. 36–38).

APPLY THE WORD

In Psalm 32, David describes what it was like for him to live with guilt: “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long” (v. 3). But God has provided freedom from the prison of our guilt! “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

 

http://www.todayintheword.org

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – Joseph and God’s Plan

 

Family Reunion: Part 1

Genesis 42:1–17

During World War II, Corrie ten Boom was arrested for hiding Jewish people from the Nazi regime. She was sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, where her sister Betsie died. After the war, she was speaking on forgiveness at a church in Munich where she saw a former prison guard. She later described seeing him: “Suddenly it was all there—the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face.” What would she do when seeing this guard face to face?

Joseph finally came face to face with his brothers after twenty long years. Undoubtedly, the memory of how they treated him came to the surface. But Joseph also remembered something else: the dreams that God had given him (v. 9).

Joseph—and the reader—must wonder at this point whether his brothers have changed. This chapter opens with Jacob urging ten of the remaining brothers to go down to Egypt to buy food because of the famine. But Jacob did not want to send Joseph’s younger brother, Benjamin, with them because “he was afraid that harm might come to him” (v. 4). Jacob was still heartbroken with grief over the loss of Joseph. He still had a favorite son who received preferential treatment. Did the brothers harbor resentment against Benjamin like they did against Joseph?

Joseph is in an interesting position to test his brothers. He recognized them at once, but they do not recognize him (v. 8). He is dressed like an Egyptian official, and surely, it never occurred to them that their enslaved brother could possibly be an important leader. Joseph devised a test for his brothers’ honesty and character: he has all but one put in prison, and they must choose one brother to return with Benjamin to authenticate their story.

APPLY THE WORD

This passage illustrates the tension and difficulty of forgiveness and reconciliation. Can Joseph trust his brothers? What would it take for him to do so? Participating in God’s work of forgiveness and reconciliation might require us to walk slowly toward someone else, trusting that God will provide the answers and healing we need.

 

http://www.todayintheword.org

Charles Stanley – Turning the Other Cheek

 

Matthew 5:38-42

The Bible passage that says to turn the other cheek may confuse us. Are we to stand still while someone beats us up physically or emotionally? That’s not the message Jesus was delivering. When He gave the Sermon on the Mount, He was expanding outward obedience to the Law to include attitudes and motives.

The familiar expression “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” comes from Exodus 21:23-25, an Old Testament law describing appropriate penalties for injury. Some interpreted this as allowing retaliation by civil government. But Jesus was showing a better option—the way of love.

Pride will certainly trigger a desire for revenge if a coworker takes credit for our work or a family member repeatedly says unkind words. Yet we are not to “repay evil with evil or insult with insult” but should instead give a blessing (1 Peter 3:9 NIV).

In daily practice, the form a righteous response takes depends on the situation. We may need to ignore the other person’s actions, walk away from the abuse, or confront our enemy. Instead of trying to get even, we should seek to understand that person and the reason for any animosity toward us.

God has lessons for us to learn in these difficult situations. When we endure unjust treatment, we are following in Christ’s footsteps. No one was more unjustly treated than the sinless Son of God. Yet He “did not revile in return” and “uttered no threats” but kept entrusting Himself to His Father, knowing that He judges righteously (1 Peter 2:20-23). Surely God can also handle our grievances if we’ll respond as Christ did.

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 28-30

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Jesus Reached Out

 

Read: Matthew 14:22–33 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 97–99; Romans 16

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. Matthew 14:31

Sometimes life gets busy—classes are hard, work is exhausting, the bathroom needs to be cleaned, and a coffee date is on the day’s schedule. It gets to the point where I force myself to read the Bible for a few minutes a day and tell myself I’ll spend more time with God next week. But it doesn’t take long before I’m distracted, drowning in the day’s tasks, and forget to ask God for help of any kind.

When Peter was walking on water toward Jesus, he quickly became distracted by the wind and waves. Like me, he began to sink (Matthew 14:29–30). But as soon as Peter cried out, “immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him” (vv. 30–31).

I often feel as if I have to make it up to God after being so busy and distracted that I lose sight of Him. But that’s not how God works. As soon as we turn to Him for help, Jesus reaches out without hesitation.

When we’re unsettled by the chaos of life, it’s easy to forget that God is standing in the middle of the storm with us. Jesus asked Peter, “Why did you doubt?” (v. 31). No matter what we’re going through, He is there. He is here. Next to us at that moment, in this moment, ready to reach out and rescue us.

Lord, help me to turn to You in the midst of my busyness and life’s distractions. Thank You for always being here, ready to catch me.

God is waiting for us to turn to Him so He can reach out and help.

By Julie Schwab | See Other Authors

INSIGHT

The fear-filled disciples who saw Jesus walking on the lake cried out, “It’s a ghost!” (Matthew 14:26). But then they worshipfully acknowledged, “Truly you are the Son of God” (v. 33). In between the collective voices of the disciples, we hear the voices of Jesus and Peter. Following the words of Jesus in verse 27, Peter spoke, “Lord, if it’s you . . . tell me to come to you on the water” (v. 28). At first glance it’s easy to interpret Peter’s “if” as implying uncertainty. An alternate rendering of the word if is since. Given Peter’s actions, it seems to me that this translation makes sense. When Jesus is the one directing us, doubt can yield to confidence.

Arthur Jackson

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Triumphant Defeat

French philosopher Michel de Montaigne once said, “There are triumphant defeats that rival victories.” His words fit awkwardly into the battles that fill our days with sweat or worry. Whether battling disease or bidding in an auction, defeat is far from our goal. It is a word that, presumably for most of us, carries with it tender recollections of loss and disappointment. Past defeats always with us, even the smallest of victories can offer a hopeful sweetness. And perhaps this is so, at least at first, even in those victories of which we should not be proud.

With his mother on his side, Jacob won the battle of wits over his brother and father. Posing as Esau before his blind and aging father, equipped with animal skin and stew, Jacob convinced his father of his status as the first born and lawful heir of the blessing. Shortly thereafter, a defeated Esau returned to find his younger brother promised all that was rightfully his own. Jacob won the battle, but then he was forced to live on the run.

The battles we win at the expense of honesty or at the expense of others have a way of staying with us. Years after the fight for firstborn, Jacob seemed to still be living in fear of that victorious scheme and the brother he defeated with lies. When word came that Esau (and the four hundred men with him) were quickly approaching, Jacob suddenly stood at an impasse with no where else to run. Genesis 32 reports that in the silence of the night before Jacob would face the brother he cheated, he found himself in a battle once more: “So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.”(1)

Along the road to surrendering to God, for some of us a battle is unavoidable. In fact, there may be some truth in the notion that surrender is a fight that begins again every day as if nothing had yet been done. For Jacob, the battle over his life and will took place in that moment when he found himself completely alone. With no one else to come to his aid, no possessions to bribe or barter with, stripped of all his usual tools of combat, Jacob wrestled with his attacker and only to find he was wrestling with God—and losing.

Physically broken, the socket of his hip now dislocated, Jacob nonetheless continued in a battle with words: “I will not let you go unless you bless me,” he told his assailant. Yet this time it was Jacob who was outwitted. “What is your name?” asked the one he wrestled with, a question hastening back to the very lie that sealed Jacob’s deceptive victories of the past. This time, he answered correctly, and though limping, Jacob walked away blessed.

In the presence of the one who can move the mountains of shortfall and estrangement, we have reason to surrender as often as it is necessary. For we surrender to a fortress far mightier than our best days of battle. In the words of a fellow wrestler:

Did we in our own strength confide,

our striving would be losing;

Were not the right Man on our side,

the Man of God’s own choosing:

Dost ask who that may be?

Christ Jesus, it is He;

Lord Sabaoth, His Name,

from age to age the same,

And He must win the battle.

However often God must win, it is our most difficult but always most triumphant loss. For in this great surrendering we find, as Frederick Buechner says, “the magnificent defeat of the human soul at the hands of God.”(2)

Carrying the scars of a fresh wound, the humbled Jacob limped toward the brother he betrayed, on his way to becoming the father of a great nation. We, too, can be humbled by the God who refuses to leave despite the words we shout in protest and despite our constant refusal to surrender. We can be awed by the one who says, “Follow me!” and expects us to trust that he will neither leave us nor forsake us. And we can marvel at the kindness of a God who, carrying in his own body the scars of defeat, invites us to the very nearness that is our victory.

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

(1) Genesis 32:24.

(2) Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat (New York: Harper Collins, 1985), 18.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Run to God, Not from Him

 

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. — John 6:37

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

When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they tried to hide from God, and they sewed some fig leaves together hoping to hide their nakedness (see Genesis 3:7).

I seem to be very impacted lately by remembering that we never have to run from God, we never need to hide, and we can be totally honest with Him about everything. In fact, instead of running away, He invites us to do the opposite and run to Him! He promises to never reject anyone who comes to Him, no matter their condition.

If you feel guilty about something or have failed miserably, run to God as fast as you can and get a hug from Him. He will forgive, restore, and set you right again. God is the only one who can help us in our times of discouragement, failure, and fear, so it is foolish to run away from the only help we have. Even if you are a little angry with God because of disappointments in your life, run to Him anyway. Tell Him how you feel and ask for His help.

Jesus is able to understand us because He was tempted, tested, and tried. He shared the feeling of our weaknesses and infirmities, and yet He never sinned (see Hebrews 4:15). Jesus knows exactly how you and I feel, and we have an open invitation to come into His presence anytime. We can come just as we are!

Prayer Starter: : Father, I am so grateful for Your love and acceptance. It is wonderful to know that You will never reject me. I need You! Help me to always run to You and never to run away. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Joy and Gladness 

 

“And the Lord will bless Israel again, and make her deserts blossom; her barren wilderness will become as beautiful as the Garden of Eden. Joy and gladness will be found there, thanksgiving and lovely songs” (Isaiah 51:3).

When the editors of a Christian publication came to Arrowhead Springs sometime ago to interview me, the discussion turned to the subject of problems in the Christian life. They were skeptical when I explained my way of handling difficult circumstances, potential sources of anxiety and frustration.

As you will note from this verse in Isaiah, thanksgiving is a spiritual way of singing to the Lord. As we sing with a thankful heart, we receive the joy of the Lord in return.

So it was that I explained to the editors: “Many years ago I learned to obey God’s command to be thankful in all things as an act of faith. And since I am assured from God’s Word that He rules in the affairs of men and nations, that He is all wise, all-powerful and compassionate and that He loves me dearly, I would be very foolish indeed to worry about my problems, cares and tribulations even for a few moments. I cast them upon the Lord as soon as they are brought to my attention.

“For example, I can list at least 25 major problems that I have given to the Lord today – some of which would crush me and destroy my effectiveness if I tried to carry them myself.”

Then I recalled an earlier week beset with illness, surgery and bereavement for loved ones and friends. “But,” I told them, “I chose to obey the Lord’s command to give them all to Him, and to retain a thankful spirit.”

Bible Reading:Ephesians 5:18-21

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will trust God’s Holy Spirit to establish a thankful spirit in my heart and life today and every day as a way of life.

 

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Max Lucado – Heirs of God, Co-Heirs With Christ

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

After spending the better part of an hour reciting the woes of my life to my wife, Denalyn interrupted me with a question. “Is God in this anywhere?” I hate it when she does that.

What had happened to me?  I was focusing on my resources. I wasn’t consulting God. I had limited my world to my strength, my wisdom, and my power. No wonder I was in a tailspin. For such moments God gives this promise: “We are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:17).

The cronies of dismay, gloom and rejection have no answer for the promise of inheritance.  Tell them, the gauge may be bouncing on empty, but I will not run out of fuel. “I am a child of the living and loving God, and he will help me!” And because God’s promises are unbreakable our hope is unshakable!

Read more Unshakable Hope

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Our Hope Is Coming

Torrential rainfall may have led to a freak accident on Tuesday. An overpass collapsed in Genoa, Italy, leaving at least thirty-eight people dead and fifteen injured. Dozens of vehicles were cast toward the ground as part of the accident, and hundreds of emergency workers and firefighters are still searching for survivors within the rubble.

In the midst of such unpredictable tragedy, we turn to stories like that of Gianluca Ardini, who claims a miraculous escape from the accident after a blast of air threw him out from under the falling wreckage. Rescuers were able to bring him down from the bridge via ropes. His companion, tragically, had already fallen to his death.

The world’s response to tragedy

It is this one-in-forty survival story that allows emergency responders to still “speak of not giving up hope, although they accept there is very little chance anyone will now be found alive.” It is this attitude of hopefulness that we must strive to maintain as believers who live in a fallen world.

Just this week, forty-eight were killed in the suicide bombing of an education center in Kabul, Afghanistan. Many were teenagers preparing for another semester of university. At the same time, at least seventy-three were killed by heavy monsoon rains in the Indian state of Kerala.

How is it that God calls us to live amid such tragedy?

The world’s response to tragedy is hopelessness. Over seventy people were arrested on Tuesday night next to Yale University’s campus after overdosing on a new strain of marijuana laced with fentanyl, a lethal painkiller in even the smallest doses. People know the world is not as it should be, but escapism is only a temporary cure-all.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Our Hope Is Coming

Charles Stanley – Blessing Our Enemies

 

Luke 6:27-28

As stories of the persecuted church reach us, we learn about Christians who respond to imprisonment, beatings, and harassment with unimaginable grace and dignity. These saints have learned to obey Christ’s command to “love your enemies” (Luke 6:27), even in the harshest of circumstances.

We may never face physical persecution for our faith, but we will run across people who hate and mistreat us. The most natural response is to dislike them in return, but harboring ill will and bitterness chokes our witness and poisons our souls. Instead, Jesus instructs us to love our adversaries and treat them well.

The Greek word for this kind of love is agape—this is not a feeling based on the other person’s likability or favor toward us but, rather, an action of the will that does what is best for the other person. It’s the type of love God has and, therefore, is not something we can muster within ourselves. But as the Holy Spirit produces His fruit in us, agape love will flow through us, even to our enemies.

When someone wrongs or hurts us, it’s an opportunity to be a witness for Christ. Rather than harboring animosity or seeking revenge, we are told to pray for our adversary. Instead of begging the Father to defeat our enemy, we can ask Him for the strength to express genuine Christlike love in the face of opposition. That’s the kind of prayer God is delighted to answer. And when we are privileged to meet the need of one who despises us, we might just see an amazing change in his life.

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 25-27

 

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