Tag Archives: current-events

Charles Stanley – Developing a Servant Spirit

 

Matthew 20:17-28

Personal ambition and servanthood aren’t always compatible. In fact, they are often at odds with each other. A servant’s goal is to please his or her master in whatever way is required, but personal ambition strives for self-advancement. Jesus’ words from today’s passage must have sounded foreign to the disciples’ ears since, according to the thinking of their culture, greatness was acquired by striving for it, not by serving.

Like them, we live in a world where many people are seeking to make a name for themselves. They set goals, make plans, and do whatever is necessary to achieve what they’ve set out to do. But as Christians, we’re to live by a different standard: exalt Christ, obey His commands, and serve Him faithfully by doing His will, not our own.

We’re not called to gain fame and fortune by leaving our footprints in concrete for all to admire.  Our task is to humbly follow in Jesus’ footsteps. Whether our lives have a large or small impact is up to God, not us. The greatest acts of service are not usually flashy displays; more often they’re commonplace gestures like being kind to strangers, ministering to fellow believers, and praying for others.

Jesus humbled Himself, surrendered His rights, and obeyed God even to the point of death on the cross (Phil. 2:5-8). Being His servant begins with the same attitude. It requires helping others when it’s not convenient, doing tasks that are not glamorous, and obeying the Lord even if it’s costly. We aren’t on earth to build our own kingdom but to faithfully serve God as He builds His.

Bible in One Year: Acts 21-22

 

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Our Daily Bread — Loving the Stranger

 

Bible in a Year:

Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.

Exodus 22:21

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Exodus 23:1–9

After a member of my family converted to a different religion, Christian friends urged me to “convince” her to return to Jesus. I found myself first seeking to love my family member as Christ would—including in public places where some people frowned at her “foreign-looking” clothes. Others even made rude comments. “Go home!” one man yelled at her from his truck, not knowing or apparently caring that she already is “home.”

Moses taught a much kinder way to act toward people whose dress or beliefs feel different. Teaching laws of justice and mercy, Moses instructed the children of Israel, “Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt” (Exodus 23:9). The edict expresses God’s concern for all strangers, people vulnerable to bias and abuse, and it is repeated in Exodus 22:21 and Leviticus 19:33.

Therefore, when I spend time with my family member—at a restaurant, in a park, taking a walk together or sitting and talking with her on my front porch—I seek first to show her the same kindness and respect that I would want to experience. It’s one of the best ways to remind her of the sweet love of Jesus, not by shaming her for rejecting Him, but by loving her as He loves all of us—with amazing grace.

By: Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

What attitudes do you hold about people who appear “different” or “foreign”? In what ways can you practice God’s edict to not mistreat a “stranger” or “sojourner” in your land?

Gracious Father, open my heart today to a stranger or foreigner in my land, helping them to encounter You.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Imagination Reborn

 

Nicodemus was confused. He had come to Jesus under the secrecy of the night professing what he thought he knew: “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”(1) Nicodemus was a Pharisee in the time of Jesus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He was highly regarded, which most likely explains the veil of night by which he sought to meet the controversial rabbi. He did not want to draw unnecessary attention to his consideration of Jesus. Even so, it was perhaps an act of faith to seek out the divisive young man from Galilee, an act of humility to grapple with a message that thoroughly confused him, a message that seemed to call the very basis of his faith into question.

In reply to Nicodemus’s admission that night, Jesus offered one of his own: “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” The ensuing conversation is one of mystery and semantics.

“How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb.”

Again Jesus answered curiously, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”(2)

Nicodemus replied as many of us reply on a journey of faith, belief, doubt, and confusion: as one reaching for light to see dim outlines of a picture before him. “How can this be?” he asked, and the conversation that followed showed a man not asking hypothetically but actually, as one really longing to understand the logistics of rebirth. Nicodemus came to Jesus in the obscurity of darkness and found himself confronted by a conversation about flesh and spirit and light: “[W]hoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

G.K. Chesterton once said that it is important for the landlady who is considering a lodger to know his income, but it is more important to know his philosophy. Likewise, for the general about to fight an enemy, it is important to know the enemy’s numbers, but still more important to know the enemy’s worldview. “[T]he question” writes Chesterton, “is not whether the theory of the cosmos affects matters, but whether in the long run, anything else affects them.”(3) The big picture is always the most important picture. And when the picture is God, God outgrows every frame through which our eyes begin to see the divine. In a manner reminiscent of the exchange between Aslan and Lucy, God as noun, verb, and all always moves beyond the God we imagine.

“Aslan,” said Lucy, “You’re bigger.”

“I am not,” said the great lion. “But every year you grow; you will find me bigger.”

For Nicodemus, the entire picture was turned on its head. Everything he knew was cast into shadows by the light who stood before him. “How can this be?” are the last words we hear from Nicodemus this night. The darkened exchange of Christ and the Pharisee is one that ends without clarity. Yet true to our own lives, his confusion does not seem to disperse in the expanse of one chapter. There are two more references to Nicodemus in John’s Gospel, and they suggest that that this initial meeting with Jesus was the beginning of something of a journey. In the darkness of faith, Nicodemus seemed to discover the God who is there, the light who draws us further up and further in, until standing before the divine, we ourselves are reborn.

 

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

(1) John 3:2.
(2) John 3:3-21.
(3) G.K. Chesterton, Heretics (Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing, 2003), 15.

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Joyce Meyer – Are You Not Worth Much More Than They?

 

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? — Matthew 6:26

Adapted from the resource New Day, New You Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

It might do all of us good to spend some time watching birds. That’s what our Lord told us to do. If not every day, then at least every now and then we need to take the time to observe and remind ourselves how well our feathered friends are cared for. They literally do not know where their next meal is coming from, yet I have personally never seen a bird sitting on a tree branch having a nervous breakdown due to worry.

The Master’s point here is really very simple: “Are you not worth more than a bird?” Even though you may be wrestling with a poor self-image, surely you can believe that you are more valuable than a bird, and look how well your heavenly Father takes care of them.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for reminding me that when life is overwhelming or I’m tempted to worry, I have tremendous value in Your eyes, and You’ll never let me down. Help me to be mindful that You will always love me, provide for me, and take care of every need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Wonderfully Comforts

 

“What a wonderful God we have – He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does He do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us” (2 Corinthians 1:3,4).

Whatever God does for you and me is without merit on our part and by pure grace on His part, and it is done for a purpose. Here the apostle Paul tells the Corinthian believers why God so wonderfully comforts and strengthens them, and us, in our hardships and trials.

This scriptural principle is a good one to remember: God never gives to or benefits His children solely for their own selfish ends. We are not comforted and strengthened in our hardships and trials just so that we will feel better.

Eleven out of the 13 Pauline epistles begin with the exclamations of joy, praise and thanksgiving. Second Corinthians, obviously, is one of those. Though Paul had been afflicted and persecuted, he had also been favored with God’s comfort and consolation.

Paul delighted in tracing all his comforts back to God. He found no other real source of happiness. The apostle does not say that God’s comfort and strength is given solely for the benefit of others, but he does say that this is an important purpose. We are not to hoard God’s blessings.

Bible Reading: Hebrews 13:15-19

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: As I live in the supernatural strength of the Lord God, I will make an effort, with His help, to share that strength (and other blessings) with others

 

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Max Lucado – Whispered Reminders

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

In Matthew 6 Jesus prayed, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.  Your kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

A prayer that begins…May I not view you as a distant father, but as one who has come to earth and understands the challenges and temptations of my life.  Be near me today, whisper reminders that you’re close.  My friends need you today as they make difficult decisions in their workplace and in their families.  Show them you are closer than even their earthly fathers. Thank you for hearing me and listening to my pleas.  It’s in Jesus’ name I pray this, amen.

Here’s my challenge for you!  Every day for four weeks, pray four minutes.  Then get ready to connect with God like never before!

Read more Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer

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Denison Forum – Four people killed at family gathering in Fresno: Why we need to emulate the kindness of Tom Hanks

I had planned to begin my article today by focusing on the kindness of Tom Hanks, whose portrayal of Fred Rogers will open in theaters this Friday. Then I opened my computer this morning to learn that another shooting was making headlines.

Fresno Police Lt. Bill Dooley described the tragedy: “This was a gathering, a family and friend gathering in the backyard. Everyone was watching football this evening when unknown suspects approached the residence, snuck into the backyard and opened fire.”

Ten people were shot and four died.

Tom Hanks “is just as nice as you think he is”

The more that violence fills the news, the more we need examples to give us hope. That’s why Tom Hanks is such an important model for our culture.

Hanks’ movies have grossed nearly $10 billion worldwide. His portrayal of Fred Rogers will be at least his seventy-first film.

But Hanks is known at least as much for who he is in real life as for who he is on the movie screen. His powerful recent interview with the New York Times is subtitled: “Hanks is playing Mister Rogers in a new movie and is just as nice as you think he is.”

Here are some examples cited by the Times reporter: When Hanks was shooting Angels & Demons in Rome, a bride and her father couldn’t approach the chapel because of the film crew, so Hanks stopped filming and escorted them to the altar. He once bought some boxes of Girl Scout cookies, then offered selfies to passers-by as an enticement to buy. He found a woman’s student ID and used his Twitter feed to get it back to her.

What do college students want most in a mate?

Time magazine reports that researchers asked 2,700 college students to narrow down the characteristics that were most important to them in a lifetime mate, and one emerged from all cultures: kindness.

Kindness works for churches: Congregations in California are responding to the state’s housing crisis by sharing their parking lots with people who live in cars, providing mobile showers for the homeless, and exploring ways to build affordable apartments on their own land. One minister explained: “This is just one part of how we live out our faith.”

Kindness works for managers: according to Forbes, science now shows that it’s more productive to praise people for their successes than to correct their mistakes.

Kindness even works for popes: Pope Francis hosted 1,500 homeless and needy people for lunch yesterday as the Roman Catholic Church marked its World Day of the Poor. Last week, a mobile clinic was set up in St. Peter’s Square, where volunteer doctors gave free specialist health care to the poor.

Why is kindness so rare?

Why is kindness newsworthy? One reason is that it is so rare.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Four people killed at family gathering in Fresno: Why we need to emulate the kindness of Tom Hanks

Charles Stanley –Jesus Calms the Storm

 

Matthew 8:23-27

We live in a fallen world filled with sin and all manner of evil, yet so often we put on rose-colored glasses and expect our life to be full of comfort, ease, and pleasure. And then when storms come upon us, bringing disruption, trouble, conflict, and heartache, we start wondering where the Lord is. After all, we are believers in Jesus Christ, and God is our loving heavenly Father. So why is He letting this happen?

The disciples would have preferred smooth sailing, too—across the Sea of Galilee. But in the storm, they saw Jesus in a new way. After He calmed the waves with His words, they asked in amazement, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” (Matt. 8:27). Through that storm, they recognized Jesus as almighty God, who has power even over the physical laws of the universe. His purpose was not to drown them but to show them His glory.

The same is true of us. Storms in our life are opportunities to see the Lord in a new light and in a magnified way. It’s in our extreme need that we begin to see we have too small a view of God. We must be careful not to reduce Him to a doting Father who winks at our sin and just wants us happy, healthy, and wealthy.

Perhaps you are going through a personal storm of some kind right now. If so, ask the Lord to open your eyes to a greater understanding of Him. Even if your circumstances don’t change, Jesus Christ is the Lord of peace, and He can comfort you.

Bible in One Year: Acts 18-20

 

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Our Daily Bread — Easily Entangled

 

Bible in a Year:

Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.

Hebrews 12:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Hebrews 2:17–18; 12:1–2

Soldiers fighting in a sweltering jungle many years ago encountered a frustrating problem. Without warning, a pervasive prickly vine would attach itself to the soldiers’ bodies and gear, causing them to be trapped. As they struggled to get free, even more of the plant’s tentacles entangled them. The soldiers dubbed the weed the “wait-a-minute” vine because, once entwined and unable to move forward, they were forced to shout out to other members of their team, “Hey, wait a minute, I’m stuck!”

In a similar way, it’s hard for followers of Jesus to move forward when we’re ensnared by sin. Hebrews 12:1 tells us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” and “run with perseverance.” But how do we throw off the sin weighing us down?

Jesus is the only one who can free us from pervasive sin in our lives. May we learn to fix our eyes on Him, our Savior (12:2). Because the Son of God became “fully human in every way,” He knows what it’s like to be tempted—yet not sin (2:17–18; 4:15). Alone, we may be desperately entwined by our own sin, but God wants us to overcome temptation. It’s not through our own strength, but His, that we can “throw off” entangling sin and run after His righteousness (1 Corinthians 10:13).

By: Cindy Hess Kasper

Reflect & Pray

What sin or sins have a strong hold on you? What can you do to gain freedom from the struggle you’re experiencing?

Jesus, give me Your strength to overcome the sin in my life. Help me to trust in Your power rather than my own and lead me in the right path.

 

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Joyce Meyer – Receive Mercy

 

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. — Hebrews 4:16

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

God is full of mercy and loving-kindness! He is extending His mercy to you right now, but you must believe it and receive it in order for it to benefit you. When we sin, we don’t need to punish ourselves, because Jesus already took our punishment and now offers us His mercy. Amazing!

Mercy would not be mercy if it could be deserved, because it is said to be kindness that exceeds what could be expected. If you are suffering from guilt, shame, and condemnation, God is reaching out to you now and offering you mercy. Don’t turn away because you know you don’t deserve it. Receive it and let it make you fall more in love with Jesus than ever before.

We need mercy every day, and God has provided it because His Word says that His mercy is new every day and His faithfulness is great and abundant (see Lamentations 3:23). Our sin will never exceed God’s mercy because where sin abounds, grace abounds much more (see Romans 5:20).

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You very much for Your amazing mercy. Teach me how to receive not only mercy but also all of Your gracious benefits. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – His Great Love for Us

 

“But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8).

A dear friend and Christian leader from another country hated and resented his father, who was an alcoholic. Through the years, my friends had been humiliated and embarrassed by his father’s conduct. He wanted nothing to do with him.

As he grew more and more mature in his faith, and the Christlike qualities began to develop in his life, he began to realize that his attitude toward his father was wrong. He knew well that God’s Word commanded him to love and honor his mother and father, with no conditions.

Then he began to comprehend and experience the truth of loving by faith after a message which he had heard me give. As a result, he went to his father and, as an act of the will, by faith – because at that point he did not honestly feel like doing so – he expressed his love.

He was amazed to discover that his father had been hurt for years because he had sensed that his son despised and rejected him.

When the son began to demonstrate love for him – to assure him that he cared for him, whether he drank or did not drink – it prompted the father to commit his life to Christ and to trust Him to help him overcome the problem which had plagued him most of his life.

Through this new relationship with the Lord, my friend’s father became a new creature and was able to gain victory over the addiction to alcohol several years before he died – a dramatic example of the power of love.

Bible Reading: Romans 5:9-15

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Knowing Christ’s great love for me, I will claim His supernatural love for others today

 

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Charles Stanley –Sharing Our Hope

 

1 Peter 3:13-18

For believers in Jesus Christ, the condition of lost humanity ought to be both sobering and motivating. Ephesians 2:12 says we were “separate from Christ … having no hope and without God in the world.” Is there anything worse than this? But apart from a relationship with God through His Son, there is no eternal hope.

Jesus Christ came into the world to take the punishment for sin and die the death that we deserved. In so doing, He satisfied God’s demands for justice, thereby removing the guilt and condemnation of everyone who believes in Him as Savior and Lord. The result is that those who were formerly “far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13).

Now we who have received this hope are called to share it with others. But people cannot know that Jesus is the only hope unless they learn about Him from us. As Peter points out, this assignment may not always be easy because some people are hostile to our message. Yet we are called to “give an account for the hope” that is in us “with gentleness and reverence” (1 Pet. 3:15).

Our witness for Jesus Christ should be evident in both our words and actions. As the Holy Spirit begins the work of renewing our mind with the Word of God, our attitudes and behavior become increasingly Christlike. And that is a powerful witness to a world without hope. Christ offers a transformed life now and the promise of eternal life for all who will come to Him in repentance and faith. So let’s share our hope!

Bible in One Year: Acts 16-17

 

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Our Daily Bread — Dad, Where Are You?

 

Bible in a Year:

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Deuteronomy 31:8

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Deuteronomy 31:1–8

“Dad! Where are you?”

I was pulling into our driveway when my daughter, panicking, called me on my cell phone. I’d needed to be home by 6:00 to get her to play practice; I was on time. My daughter’s voice, however, betrayed her lack of trust. Reflexively, I responded: “I’m here. Why don’t you trust me?”

But as I spoke those words, I wondered, How often could my heavenly Father ask that of me? In stressful moments, I too am impatient. I too struggle to trust, to believe God will keep His promises. So I cry out: “Father, where are you?”

Amid stress and uncertainty, I sometimes doubt God’s presence, or even His goodness and purposes for me. The Israelites did too. In Deuteronomy 31, they were preparing to enter the Promised Land, knowing their leader, Moses, would stay behind. Moses sought to reassure God’s people by reminding them, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (v. 8).

That promise—that God is always with us—remains a cornerstone of our faith today (see Matthew 1:23; Hebrews 13:5). Indeed, Revelation 21:3 culminates with these words: “God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.”

Where is God? He’s right here, right now, right with us—always ready to hear our prayers.

By: Adam Holz

Reflect & Pray

What Scripture brings to mind the truth of God’s presence? Place it somewhere easily visible to remind you.

Father, help us to see how much You love us!

 

 

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Streams in the Desert for Kids – No Stress

 

2 Corinthians 1:8–9

Today we call pressure stress. You hear many people talking about stress. Stress can be bad if all we do is worry. It can be good if it pushes us toward the only One who has answers for our stress—God our Father.

Once a stressful situation has passed, you come out of it with the ability to help other people. Think about the last time you had to study for a hard test. You probably felt pressure until you finished the test. But now when a friend talks about being stressed out about an exam, you know exactly how he or she feels.

Or do you remember a time when your mom got really sick or your dad traveled away for several weeks? Was it stressful for the rest of your family? But when the sickness or travel was over, you were relieved. Now, you can be understanding when others face a similar situation.

The most important thing to remember is that any time you face pressure, turn to God first. If you learn to rely on him, you will experience his peace and the stress won’t be as overwhelming. Then you will have a truly helpful answer to offer others—God’s strength.

Dear Lord, Everybody talks about being “stressed out.” I’m so glad you are the answer to all stressful situations. Amen.

Joyce Meyer – Take Care of Your Body

 

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own — 1 Corinthians 6:19

Adapted from the resource Love Out Loud Devotional

I want to ask you today the same question Paul asked the believers in Corinth centuries ago: Do you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit? You are the home of God! Are you loving yourself, God, and others by caring for your physical body, treating it well, and using it for God’s purposes?

Some Christians focus Only on the spiritual Side of life, and they fail to properly care for their bodies. Other people have such low self esteem or a shame based nature that they don’t feel their bodies are worth caring for. But God’s plan for us involves maintaining spiritual, emotional, and physical health. He wants us strong in every way! He wants us to feel good physically so we can serve Him and others, and be able to enjoy the life He has provided for us.

No matter what shape you are in physically, it’s never too late to improve and do some repair or maintenance on your temple. You can start by learning the basic principles of good nutrition, drink lots of water, employ stress management, exercise, and rest. Laughter is also important. It has been scientifically proven to improve your health. It’s amazing how much better you can feel if you will begin to make positive changes in these areas. Give it a try; I promise, you’ll be glad you did.

Prayer Starter: Father, I ask for Your grace to take practical steps toward good physical health. Help me to treat my body with respect so I can serve you to the best of my ability. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Gives the Victory

 

“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57, KJV).

In our busy lives, yours and mine, there are days when victory seems an impossibility. Heartaches, trials, burdens, or just the ordinary cares of the day, all seem foreign to the idea of being victorious.

And yet the fact remains that we are “more than conquerors” even when we do not feel like it. God graciously allows His children to be human and to express our doubts and fears when suffering and pain and testing and trial seem to overwhelm us.

“I have to be very honest,” confessed Joyce Landorf, well-known Christian author and speaker, during a long period of illness. “One of the things I have learned from severe pain is that I have felt totally abandoned by God. I didn’t think he’d let that happen to me, but He has.

“And maybe the feeling of abandonment when pain is at its writhing best..maybe that’s what makes it so sweet after the pain goes and the Lord says, ‘I was here all the time. I haven’t left you. I will never forsake you.’ Now those words get sweeter to me because I know what it has felt like to not feel His presence.”

We do not have all the answers, but we know one who does. And that is where our victory begins – acknowledging (1) that God is a God of love, one who never makes a mistake, and (2) he will never leave us or forsake us.

Bible Reading: Romans 7:18-25

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will consider myself a victor, whatever may transpire, because I serve the victorious one

 

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Charles Stanley – Hope Despite a Changing World

 

Psalm 46

Where do you place your hope and security? If it’s in governments, financial markets, or education, you will be disappointed. Our world is always changing. Trusted governments fail, great economies falter, and strong institutions prove to be unstable. When this happens, people struggle with fear and insecurity.

The world, however, won’t become more trustworthy. Ever since the time of the tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1-32), people have been promising a better civilization, but no man-made advance has permanently enhanced life. Certainly some institutions go through periods in which humanity is greatly benefited, but ultimately any part of society that challenges God won’t last. It’s because the talented and knowledgeable people involved are also sinful people. Greed, pride, and lust have brought about the downfall of many civilizations.

Brilliant, charismatic leaders may claim to offer a better tomorrow, but no man or woman is the solution to the world’s problems. Only Christ can deliver on His promise of hope to those of us who trust in Him. He lives in us, guiding our path, comforting us in loss and sorrow, and promising an eternal future of heavenly bliss.

This changing world can be a scary place—especially for people who trust in themselves. But those who trust in God can have hope and confidence because even in a chaotic environment, He is the one constant. His Word is always true, His power is absolute, and His promises are certain. Human institutions fail, but when Jesus Christ returns to rule the earth, all will be made right.

Bible in One Year: Acts 14-15

 

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Our Daily Bread — Aiming for the Prize

 

Bible in a Year:

Run in such a way as to get the prize.

1 Corinthians 9:24

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 Corinthians 9:19–27

In the 1994 fictional movie Forrest Gump, Forrest becomes famous for running. What began as a jog “to the end of the road” continued for three years, two months, fourteen days, and sixteen hours. Each time he arrived at his destination, he set another one and continued to run, zig-zagging across the United States, until one day when he no longer felt like it. “Feeling like it” was the way his running began. Forrest says, “That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run.”

In contrast to Forrest’s seemingly whimsical running, the apostle Paul asks his readers to follow his example and “run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24). Like disciplined athletes, our running—the way we live our lives—might mean saying no to some of our pleasures. Being willing to forgo our rights might help us reach others with the good news of our rescue from sin and death.

With our hearts and minds trained on the goal of inviting others to run the race alongside us, we are also assured of the ultimate prize—eternal fellowship with God. The victor’s crown God bestows will last forever; we win it by running our lives with the aim of making Him known while relying on His strength to do so. What a reason to run!

By: Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

What is your “aim” in life? How is it similar to or different than Paul’s?

Jesus, help me stay focused on the reason I run: to share about You with those around me.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Definitive Fingerprints

He seemed to brace himself for what had become the typical barrage of questioning after stating his occupation. The once unrecognized field of “forensic science” now comes attached with visions of beautiful men and women swabbing for DNA, replicating gunfire trajectories, decoding cyber movement, and piecing together the truth with hair, bugs, and CODIS. The tremendous popularity of forensic dramas has made crime scene investigating a household subject. So with a real forensic scientist standing in front of me, I admit it was hard to repress my enthusiasm. Predictably, I asked if he watched any of the shows. Humoring my line of questioning for the moment, he admitted that he did not.

The vast public intrigue with forensic science has been increasing as feverously as the viewerships of crime scene television. In Great Britain alone, the increase in students applying for forensic programs is up nearly 33 percent, attributed entirely to the influence of CSI, NCIS, Bones, and many similar programs.(1) They come into their programs believing they already know a great deal about the job because they have seen it all performed. In a more damaging vein, criminologists note the pervasive misinformation that is powerfully influencing criminal justice systems in various ways, particularly and significantly in the minds and expectations of jurors.(2)

Analysts refer to this global phenomenon of forensic pop culture and its consequences as the “CSI Effect,” though speculation on the reasons for our feverish embrace of the motif is wider ranging. In my own right, I find something compellingly clean in the uncomplicated movement from mystery and crisis through clues and evidence to truth. In less than an hour, viewers are taken from dark riddle to conclusive resolution. Truth and justice emerge plainly, even where deception, obscurity, and injustice once reigned. In the rare instance when the suspect does not personally own up to the crime after the facts have emerged, the science and its expert witnesses are so definitive that it hardly matters. The truth is clear.

Of course, I know in reality that mysteries are not typically so easily dissected nor the truth so mechanically laid out for the taking. But in that brief hour, I am relieved at the clarity of truth, presented to me quickly and with watertight certainty. English professor Scott Campbell further speculates on the allure of “a longed-for world where deceit is no longer possible and where language finds a close, unbreachable connection to the events it seeks to describe.”(3) On the nature of truth in such a world he notes, “If we know how to look for it, the truth is self-evident. It will, in effect, narrate itself.”

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Joyce Meyer – Stay Safe in God’s Word

 

But test all things carefully [so you can recognize what is good]. Hold firm to that which is good. — 1 Thessalonians 5:21 (AMP)

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

Hearing from God clearly and avoiding the possibility of deception comes only from spending regular time with Him and learning His Word. Listening for God’s voice without having knowledge of His Word is a mistake. Knowing God’s written Word protects us from deception.

Trying to hear from God without knowing His Word is irresponsible and even dangerous. People who want to be led by the Spirit but are too lazy to spend time in the Word and in prayer set themselves up for deception because evil spirits are eager to whisper to listening ears. The devil tried to say things to Jesus, and He always replied, “It is written,” and then quoted Scripture to refute the lies of the enemy (see Luke 4).

Some people seek God only when they are in trouble and need help. But if they are not used to hearing from God, they will find recognizing His voice difficult when they really need Him.

We need to compare any idea, prompting, or thought that comes to us with God’s Word. If we don’t know the Word, we won’t have anything against which to measure theories and arguments that rise up in our thoughts. The enemy can present wild ideas that make sense to us. The fact that thoughts are logical doesn’t mean they are from God. We may like what we hear, but the fact that something appeals to us doesn’t mean it is from God. We may hear something that feels good to our emotions, but if it fails to give us peace, it is not from God. God’s advice to us is to always follow peace and let it be an umpire in our lives (see Colossians 3:15).

Test everything you hear against the Word of God, because that is the only standard of truth that exists.

Prayer Starter: Father, help me to hear from You more clearly. Help me to always test everything I believe against the perfect standard of Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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