Tag Archives: daily devotion

Max Lucado – Rely on His Energy

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Paul once asked the Galatian church a question.  “You began your life in Christ by the Spirit.  Now are you trying to make it complete by your own power?  That is foolish” (Galatians 3:3).

I used to think there were two kinds of people: the saved and unsaved.  Paul describes a third: the saved, but unspiritual.  They blend in with nonbelievers.  They let God save them, but not change them.  Their lives are marked by joyless days, contentious relationships, and thirsty hearts.  No wonder they’re tired.

Paul gives the solution in five rich words.  “Be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).  Do you desire God’s Spirit?  Ask.  The Spirit fills as prayers flow.  Try this!  Invite the Holy Spirit into every room of your heart!

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Denison Forum – Hotel manager offers free lodging for women who come to Michigan for abortions

 

helley O’Brien runs a hotel in Yale, Michigan, a small town north of Detroit. She is making headlines because of her offer to women who live in states where abortion is restricted: if they come to Yale, “we will support you with several nights lodging and transportation to and from your appointment.”

O’Brien likens her support of abortion to the Underground Railroad that was used to lead slaves to freedom. “I have three granddaughters, two great nieces and a lot of other women that I care about, and I don’t want any of them to die in back-alley abortions,” she added. “And I don’t want any of them to ever have to proceed with a pregnancy if they don’t want to. . . . People aren’t perfect, and people shouldn’t have to die for their mistakes.”

But babies should?

A $50 million trip to space

NASA has announced that private tourists can travel to, stay on, and return to earth from the International Space Station. For around $50 million, you can spend thirty days in space. But the fallen world you left will be waiting for you when you come back.

I live in Dallas, Texas, where a ferocious storm toppled a crane Sunday afternoon, falling on a downtown apartment building and killing a twenty-nine-year-old woman. Yesterday morning, giant tree branches littered our neighborhood. More than 100,000 people are still out of power this morning.

Former Red Sox star David Ortiz was transported to Boston early this morning after he was shot in a Dominican Republic club Sunday night. A helicopter crash-landed on the roof of a high-rise building in Midtown Manhattan yesterday afternoon, killing the pilot. Officials say there is no link to terrorism.

And an airplane passenger opened the emergency exit door after mistaking it for the toilet. Fortunately, the plane was still on the ground. Unfortunately, the exit slide deployed automatically and the flight was delayed by seven hours.

The power of hope in hard times

If my car breaks down, I blame the manufacturer. If my roof leaks, I blame the roofer. If my laptop crashes, I blame Apple.

When our world breaks, it’s only natural to blame its Creator.

But Christianity has never guaranteed its followers that their lives would be easier as a result of their faith. The opposite is true, in fact: “In the world you will have tribulation,” Jesus warned us (John 16:33). “Tribulation” translates the Greek word for a weight that crushes grain into flour.

Such suffering is not occasional for believers: “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22 NKJV, my emphasis). That’s because we live in a culture that has rebelled against its maker and is now dominated by Satan, the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

What Jesus did guarantee is that he would redeem all he allows. Henri Nouwen: “Our hope is not based on something that will happen after our sufferings are over, but on the real presence of God’s healing Spirit in the midst of these sufferings.”

Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was so painful that he pled three times with God to remove it (2 Corinthians 12:8). But the apostle heard from God instead: “My power is made perfect in weakness” (v. 9, my emphasis). His hope was found, not on the other side of hardship, but in its midst.

Choosing the “Way of Holiness”

But there’s a catch.

For us to experience God’s best in hard times, we must choose a lifestyle that positions us to be led and used by his Holy Spirit. When we choose the “Way of Holiness” even in the wilderness (Isaiah 35:8), the Spirit sanctifies us (1 Peter 1:2), leads us (John 16:13), empowers us (Acts 1:8), and equips us for ministry (Acts 2:4).

As Oswald Chambers noted, “The Holy Spirit is the One Who makes real in you all that Jesus did for you” (my emphasis).

Such holiness in hard times can be our most powerful witness. As Paul and Silas sang songs of worship at midnight in prison, an earthquake broke their chains and their jailer was converted (Acts 16:25–34). When John Wesley encountered Moravians worshipping during a terrifying storm, their faith helped lead him to a saving relationship with Jesus.

To quote Chambers again: “You can never give another person that which you have found, but you can make him homesick for what you have.”

“Search me, O God, and know my heart!”

When David found himself confronted by enemies (Psalm 139:19–22), here was his prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (vv. 23–24).

What hard place is your address today?

Would you make David’s prayer yours right now?

 

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Charles Stanley – Feelings of Inferiority

 

Ephesians 2:10

Early in my life, I experienced some feelings of inferiority. Because we struggled financially, my mother and I didn’t live in the “right” places, and I didn’t wear the “right” clothes. Even in school, I felt that I did not measure up academically to the other kids. The sense of failure and embarrassment at not being good enough was devastating to me.

The misery of inferiority is never what God intends for His children. Its seed usually takes root in the impressionable hearts of the young and thrives in an atmosphere of comparison. This kind of emotional baggage can have debilitating and enslaving ramifications in every area of life. Feelings of inadequacy may cause avoidance of healthy challenges; low self-esteem cripples personal relationships; and comparison steals contentment.

We need to understand how God sees us. Then, when feelings of inferiority come, we can cling to His accurate assessment rather than our own faulty one. He says we are His workmanship—His masterpieces. Each person is thoughtfully designed by the Creator for His purpose. The differences that cause us to make comparisons and feel discouraged are the very qualities that the Lord created to bring Him glory.

Feelings of inferiority are a hindrance to becoming the people that the heavenly Father designed us to be and a deterrent to fulfilling His purpose for our lives. When it comes to our value, we either accept the truth of His appraisal or decide not to believe Him and instead rely on our own feelings. What will your choice be?

Bible in One Year: Job 39-42

 

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Our Daily Bread — Sharing Slices

 

Bible in a Year:2 Chronicles 34–36; John 19:1–22

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

Proverbs 11:25

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Proverbs 11:23-31

Steve, a sixty-two-year-old homeless military veteran, made his way to a warm climate where sleeping outdoors was tolerable year-round. One evening, as he displayed his hand-drawn art—his attempt to earn some money—a young woman approached and offered him several slices of pizza. Steve gratefully accepted. Moments later, Steve shared his bounty with another hungry, homeless person. Almost immediately, the same young woman resurfaced with another plate of food, acknowledging that he had been generous with what he’d been given.

Steve’s story illustrates the principle found in Proverbs 11:25 that when we’re generous with others, we’re likely to experience generosity as well. But we shouldn’t give with expecting something in return; rarely does our generosity return to us as quickly and obviously as it did for him. Rather, we give to help others in loving response to God’s instruction to do so (Philippians 2:3–4; 1 John 3:17). And when we do, God is pleased. While He’s under no obligation to refill our wallets or bellies, He often finds a way to refresh us—sometimes materially, other times spiritually.

Steve shared his second plate of pizza too with a smile and open hands. Despite his lack of resources, he is an example of what it means to live generously, willing to cheerfully share what we have with others instead of hoarding it for ourselves. As God leads and empowers us, may the same be said of us.

By Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

With whom can you share today? How have you been blessed through another’s generosity?

We can be generous with what God’s given us.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – A World Invisible

 

Aristotle once said that the greatest thing by far is to have a command of metaphor, an eye for resemblances.(1) The prophet Isaiah had an eye for a God so near to his people that he saw the heavens being torn open and God stepping down to be among us. “O that you would rend the heavens and come down! That the mountains would quake at your presence.”(2) This commanding metaphor gave Isaiah an eye for the resemblances of God all around him, and sparked every word of the prophet who spoke so that the world too would see more.

I have a friend who refers to people like Isaiah, those with a vision for God and God’s resemblances throughout the world, as “eyes of the kingdom.” There are times when these visionaries surprise us as much as the resemblances of the God they call us to see. A homeless man in nineteenth century London was one such visionary, lamenting the ease with which we often miss the very thing in front of us:

The angels keep their ancient places—
Turn but a stone and start a wing!
‘Tis ye, ’tis your estranged faces,
That miss the many-splendored thing.(3)

The poem is titled “In No Strange Land” and was written by a man whose life oscillated between brilliant writer and homeless addict. Francis Thompson lived on the streets of England, slaking his opium addiction in London’s Charing Cross and sleeping on the banks of the River Thames. But he continued to scribble poetry on whatever paper he could find, often mailing his work to the local newspaper. “In No Strange Land” is one of the poems Thompson mailed from the streets of homelessness.

The tone of the poem is not unlike the prayer of Isaiah 64. Thompson begins with the great reality and oft unrecognized hope that is before us:

O world invisible, we view thee,
Intangible, we touch thee,
Unknowable, we know thee,
Inapprehensible, we clutch thee.

His words are reminiscent of the gift Isaiah reminds us is ours: that we are able to recount the gracious deeds of God, to see the hand of the Potter in dark times of history, to call him Father even now in the midst of blindness from sin or sadness, disappointment or distraction. The rhetorical question that follows Thompson’s praise of the unnoticed inquires of our often short-sighted vision and demanding questions to God:

Does the fish soar to find the ocean?
The eagle plunge to find the air—
That we ask of the stars in motion
If they have rumor of thee there?

Thompson wonders why we insist upon interrogating a distant God, when God may just be standing beside us, having climbed down his great ladder. The poem brings to mind the crux of Isaiah’s vision and metaphor—namely, that there is a God whose throne is before us, though our tendency is to miss it all together. As commentator John Watts notes,

“[Our] failure…to see God’s vision, to hear God’s voice, and to rise above human goals of pride, striving, and independence adds a tragic dimension to the vision [of Isaiah]. To the bitter end a large proportion of the people cling to their version of the past as the only acceptable pattern for their present and their future. They demand that God conform to their concept of what his plans ought to be and thus preclude themselves from participation in God’s new creation.”(4)

Both Thompson and Isaiah use the power of image and metaphor to bid us to look again and again, and learn to live as eyes of the kingdom. While it is true that God sometimes comes down and unmistakably transforms time and place, other times we fail to see the sacred in our midst simply because we do not want to see anything subtle. We pass over what God has extended, whether a sign of grace, a moment of transcendence, or a richer lifetime of seeing his presence. And we ironically miss the images of God all around us within a world that is made in God’s image. As the unlikely poet laments:

But (when so sad thou canst not sadder)
Cry—and upon thy so sore loss
Shall shine the traffic of Jacob’s ladder
Pitched betwixt Heaven and Charing Cross.

Yea, in the night, my Soul, my daughter,
Cry—clinging to Heaven by the hems;
And lo, Christ walking on the water,
Not of Genesareth, but Thames!

Thompson invites us to see the scandal of the particular in the story of God and the stories of our own lives. There is indeed a certain traffic about Jacob’s ancient ladder, but it may well be pitched between Heaven and Charing Cross, New York City, or Hong Kong. Christ may well come walking on the water, though perhaps not from the direction of Gennesareth, but Thames.

Like the vision of the prophet Isaiah, life itself can remind us of the coming of a deliverer, the drawing near of God to humankind, the arrival of the human Son of God, our rescuer, into our very midst. A voice is indeed crying out of the wilderness: Who will have ears to hear it, eyes to see it? Francis Thompson’s “In No Strange Land” is a call to see the strange particulars of Christ’s story, but to also see him in the faces and stories before us, perhaps even in the unlikely story of a homeless man sleeping on the banks of the river Thames.

 

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

 

(1) Quoted in Leland Ryken, Ed., The Christian Imagination(Colorado Springs: Waterbrook, 2002), 403.
(2) Isaiah 64:1.
(3) Francis Thompson, “In No Strange Land,” The Hound of Heaven and Other Poems (Wellesley, MA: Branden Books, 2000), 78.
(4) Watts, John D. W.: Word Biblical Commentary: Isaiah 1-33. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002 (Word Biblical Commentary 24), xxix.

 

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Joyce Meyer – God Can Fix It

 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. — Romans 8:28

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

A confident woman is not afraid to get out of her boat and shake things up. I’m not talking about doing whatever you want to do, but what you think God is leading you to do. If your heart is right, if you’ve done your best to seek God and done what you know to do to hear from God, and you feel like what’s come to you is right, you’ve got to step out and find out.

I’m not afraid to make mistakes, because I know that God knows I’m doing all that I know how to do, and that I’m on a journey. I’m not where I need to be, but thank God I am not where I used to be. I’m more excited about my progress than depressed about how far I have to go.

God approves of me. He doesn’t approve of everything I do, but He approves of me because I love Him and my faith is in Him, and I’m doing the best I can to follow Him. That’s what makes me bold to step out for Him and try new things and do new things. God is God. He can fix it if I make a mistake.

Prayer Starter: Lord, I take great confidence from the fact that You have the power to work all things together for good, even my mistakes. I delight in Your approval of my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – You’ve Already Won

 

“Dear young friends, you belong to God and have already won your fight with those who are against Christ, because there is someone in your hearts who is stronger than any evil teacher in this wicked world” (1 John 4:4).

“I am afraid of Satan,” a young minister once told me.

“You should be afraid of Satan,” I responded, “if you insist on controlling your own life. But not if you are willing to let Christ control your life. The Bible says, ‘Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.'”

My friend lived in a city where one of the largest zoos in the world was located.

“What do you do with lions in your city?” I asked.

“We keep them in cages,” he replied.

“You can visit the lion in its cage at the zoo,” I explained, “and it cannot hurt you, even if you are close to the cage. But stay out of that cage, or the lion will make mincemeat out of you.”

Satan is in a “cage.” He was defeated 2,000 years ago when Christ died on the cross for our sins. Victory is nowours. We do not look forward to victory, but we move from victory, the victory of the cross.

Satan has no power except that which God allows him to have. Do not be afraid of him, but do stay away from him. Avoid his every effort to tempt and mislead you. Remember, that choice is up to you.

Bible Reading: I John 2:1-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will with God’s help, stay out of Satan’s “cage,” choosing rather to enlist God’s indwelling Holy Spirit to fight for me in the supernatural battle against the satanic forces which surround me.

 

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Max Lucado – A Heart Headed Home

 

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The apostle Paul wrote, “God sent [Christ] to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so he could adopt us as his very own children” (Galatians 4:5).

Heaven knows no stepchildren or grandchildren.  God says we are “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17).  What Christ inherits, you inherit.  We are adopted but not yet transported.  We have a new family, but not our heavenly house.  He has claimed us, but has yet to come for us.  What do we do in the meantime?

Paul tells us in Colossians 3:2 to “let heaven fill your thoughts.  Do not think only about things down here on earth.”  Let today be a day full of heaven-thoughts.  Every homeless day carries us closer to the day our Father will come.  You, my friend, are headed home.

Read more Come Thirsty

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Denison Forum – The Southern Baptist abuse crisis: Two steps God is calling all Christians to take today

 

“We want our churches to be as safe as possible as soon as possible.” This is the goal of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), according to its president, J. D. Greear.

Ahead of the SBC’s annual meeting that begins tomorrow in Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. Greear and other Southern Baptist leaders are responding to an unprecedented sexual abuse crisis facing their denomination. They are seeking ways to hold churches more accountable for allowing such abuse and to keep people in their churches safe.

One sexual abuse victim is too many

This crisis was catalyzed by a report last February presenting information on 380 credibly accused Southern Baptist leaders, including pastors, deacons, Sunday school teachers, and volunteer leaders.

Reporters discovered that at least thirty-five church pastors, employees, and volunteers who exhibited predatory behavior were nonetheless able to find jobs at churches over the last two decades. In some cases, church leaders apparently failed to alert law enforcement or warn other congregations.

The stories are horrific. Victims as young as three were reportedly molested inside pastors’ studies and Sunday school classrooms. Adults seeking pastoral guidance say they were seduced or sexually assaulted.

As I wrote at the time, these tragedies occurred in a very small number of the 47,000 Baptist churches in the US. The vast majority of Southern Baptist leaders are committed to personal integrity. The vast majority of Southern Baptist churches are safe places for children and their families.

But as SBC leaders would agree, one sexual abuse victim is too many.

“Be holy in all your conduct.”

As the SBC begins its meetings, I’d like to consider the crisis they are confronting as a larger issue for Christians in America.

Continue reading Denison Forum – The Southern Baptist abuse crisis: Two steps God is calling all Christians to take today

Charles Stanley –Does God Want You to Succeed?

 

Proverbs 16:1-3

Is success a legitimate goal for believers? Is this something God wants for His children? The answers depend upon your definition of success. Many people define it as the achievement of wealth, prominence, or fame. If that’s what you’re seeking, then you are following the world’s definition, not the Lord’s.

In His eyes, true success begins internally—the first step is a relationship with Jesus, whereby you have trusted Him as Savior and are following Him obediently. His goal for you is ongoing growth in Christlike character and spiritual maturity, but that’s not all. He also has some work for you to accomplish here on earth (Eph. 2:10). God planned these tasks specifically for you and designed them with your personality, talents, abilities, and spiritual gifts in mind. You could think of them as your unique calling and responsibility in life.

Genuine success involves doing what the Lord has called you to do, not just occasionally but continually. It has to do with persistence rather than perfection. When this is your definition of success, you can know that the Lord wants you to succeed. And He’s committed to helping you become the person He designed you to be—and to accomplish the goals He’s set for you.

The ultimate evaluation of our success will take place when we stand before God and give an account of our life (Rom. 14:12). Any self-centered earthly achievements will be left behind. But if we’ve lived by His definition of success, our treasure will await us in heaven—along with the words “Well done!”

Bible in One Year: Job 13-16

 

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Our Daily Bread — Can We Relax?

 

Bible in a Year:2 Chronicles 21–22; John 14

Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27

Today’s Scripture & Insight:John 14:25-31

Darnell entered the physical therapist’s office knowing he would experience a lot of pain. The therapist stretched and bent his arm and held it in positions it hadn’t been in for months since his injury. After holding each uncomfortable position for a few seconds, she gently told him: “Okay, you can relax.” He said later, “I think I heard that at least fifty times in each therapy session: ‘Okay, you can relax.’ ”

Thinking of those words, Darnell realized they could apply to the rest of his life as well. He could relax in God’s goodness and faithfulness instead of worrying.

As Jesus neared His death, He knew His disciples would need to learn this. They’d soon face a time of upheaval and persecution. To encourage them, Jesus said He would send the Holy Spirit to live with them and remind them of what He had taught (John 14:26). And so He could say, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. . . . Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (v. 27).

There’s plenty we could be uptight about in our everyday lives. But we can grow in our trust in God by reminding ourselves that His Spirit lives in us—and He offers us His peace. As we draw on His strength, we can hear Him in the therapist’s words: “Okay, you can relax.”

By Anne Cetas

Reflect & Pray

What causes you stress? What characteristics of God can help you learn to trust Him more?

Teach me, Jesus, to trust Your faithfulness, to know Your presence, to experience Your peace—to relax.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Reordering the Imagination

I shut my eyes in order to see, said French painter, sculptor, and artist Paul Gauguin. As a little girl, though completely unaware of this insightful quote on imagination, I lived this maxim. Nothing was more exhilarating to me than closing my eyes in order to imagine far away exotic lands, a handsome prince, or climbing down a deep enough hole leading straight to China!

In fact, like many, imagination fueled my young heart and mind. After reading C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, I would walk into dark closets filled with warm winter coats fully expecting to be transported like the Pevensie children into strange and wonderful land. Charlotte’s Web took me to a farm where I could talk to my dog, like Fern talked to Wilbur, or to the spiders that hung from intricate webs in my garage. Pictures on the wall came to life and danced before me; ordinary objects became extraordinary tools enabling me to defeat all those imaginary giants and inspiring me toward powerful possibilities fueled by vivid imagination.

Sadly, as happens to many adults, my imagination has changed. I don’t often view my closet as a doorway to unseen worlds, nor do I pretend that my dogs understand one word of my verbalizing towards them. Pictures don’t come to life, and I no-longer pretend my garden rake or broom is a secret weapon against fantastical foes. Often, I feel that my imagination has become nothing more than wishful thinking. Rather than thinking creatively about the life I’ve been given, I day-dream about what my life might be like if… I lived in Holland, for example, or could back-pack across Europe, or lived on a kibbutz, or was a famous actress, or a world-renowned tennis player, or any number of alternative lives to the one I currently occupy.

Sadly, the imagination so vital in my youth doesn’t usually infuse my life with creative possibility, but rather leads me only to wonder if the grass is greener on the other side. Mid-life regrets reduce imagination to restlessness and shrivel creative thinking to nothing more than unsettled daydreams. Rather than allowing my imagination to be animated with creative ideas about living in my life now, I allow it to be tethered to worldly dreams of more, or better, or simply other.

The psalmist was not in a mid-life imaginative crisis when he penned Psalm 90. Nevertheless, this psalm attributed to Moses, was a prayer to the God who inspires imagination for our one life to live. Perhaps Moses wrote this psalm after an endless day of complaint from wilderness-weary Israelites. Perhaps it was written with regret that his violent outburst against the rock would bar him from entry into the Promised Land. Whatever event prompted its writing, it is a song sung in a minor key, with regret so great he feels consumed by God’s anger and dismayed by God’s seeming wrath towards him.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Reordering the Imagination

Joyce Meyer – The Key to Being Satisfied

 

Then shall your light break forth like the dawn…. — Isaiah 58:8

Adapted from the resource Trusting God Day by Day Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

We all probably want more light in our lives. That would mean more clarity, better understanding, and less confusion. The prophet Isaiah declared that if we would divide our bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into our homes, cover the naked and stop hiding ourselves from the needs around us, our light would break forth (see Isaiah 58:7–8). He also said our healing and restoration and the power of a new life would spring forth quickly. That sounds good to me, and I am sure it does to you also.

Isaiah also wrote of justice, and he said it would go before us and conduct us to peace and prosperity, and that the glory of the Lord would be our rear guard. If we are actively helping the oppressed, God goes before us and He also has our backs! I like that feeling of safety and certainty.

Isaiah further said if we would pour out that with which we sustain our own lives for the hungry, and satisfy the need of the afflicted, our light would rise in darkness and any gloom we experienced would be comparable to the sun at noon (see Isaiah 58:10). The sun is very bright at noon, so it sounds to me like helping people is the way to live in the light.

The Lord will guide us continually, and even in dry times He will satisfy us. He will make our bones strong and our lives will be like a watered garden (see Isaiah 58:11). All of this happens as a result of living to bring justice to the oppressed.

I hope you are seeing what I am seeing through these promises. I think most of us waste a lot of our lives trying to get what God will gladly give if we simply do what He is asking us to do: care about the poor, the hungry, the destitute, orphans, widows, the oppressed, and needy. Live your life to help others, and God will satisfy you in every way possible.

Prayer Starter: Father, help me to always have compassion on those less fortunate…and take action to help them in their time of need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Praise Brings Results

 

“And at the moment they began to sing and to praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to begin fighting among themselves, and they destroyed each other!” (2 Chronicles 20:22).

The armies of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir had declared war on King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah. So Jehoshaphat called the people together and prayed, “Oh, our God. Won’t you stop them. We have no way to protect ourselves against this mighty army. We don’t know what to do but we are looking to You.”

Then the Lord instructed the people, “Don’t be afraid, don’t be paralyzed by this mighty army for the battle is not yours, but God’s! Tomorrow, go down and attack them!…But you will not need to fight. Take your places; stand quietly and see the incredible rescue operation God will perform for you” (2 Chronicles 20:15-17).

After consultation with the leaders of the people, Jehoshaphat determined that there should be a choir, clothed in sanctified garments and singing the song, “His Loving kindness Is Forever,” leading the march. As they walked along praising and thanking the Lord, He released His mighty power in their behalf.

One of the greatest lessons I have ever learned about the Christian life is the importance of praise and thanksgiving. The greater the problem, the more difficult the circumstances, the greater the crisis, the more important it is to praise God at all times, to worship Him for who He is; for His attributes of sovereignty, love, grace, power, wisdom and might; for the certainty that He will fight for us, that He will demonstrate His supernatural resources in our behalf.

As in the case of Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah when they began to praise God and He caused the three opposing armies to fight against each other and destroy one another, God will fight for us if we trust and obey Him. There is no better way to demonstrate faith and obedience than to praise Him and to thank Him, even when our world is crumbling around us and the enemy is threatening to destroy. God honors praise. Hebrews 13:15 reminds us, “With Jesus’ help, we will continually offer our sacrifice of praise to God by telling others of the glory of His name.”

Bible Reading: Psalm 136:1, 21-26

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will continue to praise God and give thanks to Him for who He is. When difficulties arise, I will praise Him all the more and thank Him for His faithfulness. I will depend upon the supernatural resources of God which enable me to live the supernatural life, regardless of the circumstances.

 

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Max Lucado – The Infection of Sin is Universal

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

No culture, no nation, no person sidesteps the infection of sin.  You can blame the plague of sin on a godless decision.  Adam and Eve ignored God’s will…and sin, with death on its coattails, entered the world.  The sinful mind dismisses God and becomes self-centered.  Sin, for a season, quenches thirst. But, given time, the thirst returns, more demanding than ever.

God refuses to compromise the spiritual purity of heaven.  Here’s the awful truth.  Lead a godless life, and expect a godless eternity.  Spend life telling God to leave you alone, and he will.  So what can we do?  Acts 16:31 says, “Put your entire trust in the Master Jesus.”  Christ not only became the sin offering, he overcame the punishment for sin—death—through his glorious resurrection from the dead.

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Denison Forum – James Holzhauer and Susan B. Anthony: The privilege of eternal significance

 

James Holzhauer won Jeopardy! thirty-two straight times and was poised to take over the top spot on the show’s all-time, regular-play winnings list. That was before Emma Boettcher, a librarian from Chicago, defeated him in last night’s episode.

While Holzhauer’s loss is making headlines this morning, another event that happened a century ago today is receiving far less attention than it deserves.

A vote that changed history

A hundred years ago today, Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution and sent it to the states for ratification. It states simply: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

The amendment was adopted by the states the following year. While it obviously changed history, the history of the amendment is also worth our reflection this morning.

In the 1872 presidential election, Susan B. Anthony and fourteen other women cast votes. At the time, women were forbidden from voting. Three weeks later, Anthony was arrested. She was put on trial the next June.

Because she was a woman, she was forbidden from testifying in her own defense. She was found guilty of illegal voting but never paid the fine imposed by the judge.

“Women, their rights, and nothing less”

Four years later, Anthony led a protest at the 1876 Centennial celebrating America’s independence. She made famous the declaration, “Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.” Twelve years later, she helped form the National American Women’s Suffrage Association and led the group until 1900.

Continue reading Denison Forum – James Holzhauer and Susan B. Anthony: The privilege of eternal significance

Charles Stanley – Following in Christ’s Footsteps

 

Matthew 10:24-42

Much of Christianity has a distorted view of discipleship. In our desire to see more people come to Christ, we may be guilty of offering a gospel that emphasizes the benefits of following Jesus while avoiding any mention of the cost involved.

However, Jesus didn’t shy away from speaking truth. He let people know that being His disciple would not be easy, because they’d be following in His footsteps. Since Christ didn’t sail through life without challenges, why should we? Our goal should be to become like our Savior, and that means we must be willing to suffer to one degree or another.

Contrary to what many contemporary sermons suggest, following Jesus may not make your relationships better. It could become a source of contention because a true disciple’s love, devotion, and loyalty to Christ supersedes every other relationship. If what a friend or family member desires contradicts what the Lord has commanded, then the choice must be to follow Christ rather than a loved one.

As Christians, we’ll frequently be tempted to compromise in order to avoid misunderstanding, criticism, rejection, or persecution. But as Christ’s followers, we are called to live a crucified life—and compromise undercuts the wholehearted nature of crucifixion. We cannot pursue the acceptance of the world and at the same time follow the Lord. Until we stand with both feet on the side of obedience, we forfeit assurance of God’s peace and blessings.

Although discipleship is costly, the reward is great. Jesus promises to confess us as His own before God when we enter our heavenly home.

Bible in One Year: Job 9-12

 

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Our Daily Bread — Night Watches

 

Bible in a Year:2 Chronicles 19–20; John 13:21–38

On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.

Psalm 63:6

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 63:1-8

During my college days, my summers were spent working at a guest ranch in the stunningly beautiful mountains of Colorado. On a rotating basis, staff members were assigned “night watch” duty—to keep an eye out for forest fires in order to protect the guests as they slept. What initially seemed to be an exhausting and thankless task became a unique opportunity for me to be still, reflect, and find solace in the majesty of God’s presence.

King David earnestly sought and thirsted for the presence of God (Psalm 63:1), even from his bed and through the “watches of the night” (v. 6). The psalm makes it clear David was troubled. It’s possible the words contained in it reflect his deep sadness over the rebellion of his son Absalom. Yet the night became a time for David to find help and restoration in the “shadow of [God’s] wings” (v. 7)—in His power and presence.

Perhaps you’re dealing with some crisis or difficulty in your life, and the night watches have been anything but comforting. Perhaps your own “Absalom” weighs heavy on your heart and soul. Or other burdens of family, work, or finances plague your times of rest. If so, consider these sleepless moments to be opportunities to call out and cling to God—allowing His loving hand to uphold you (v. 8).

By 

Reflect & Pray

How do God’s promises encourage you when you face challenges that keep you awake at night? How can the night watches draw you closer to Him?

Dear God, thank You for always being awake and present with me in every night watch.

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Face as Figure

 

Thomas Grüter has always had trouble putting names with faces. But unlike most of us who might have trouble recollecting the name of the man who just said hello, Grüter’s trouble lies in recognizing the face of the man who just said hello—even if it is his own father’s. His condition is called prosopagnosia or “face blindness,” and until recently the disorder was thought to be exceedingly rare. But new research led by a team that included Grüter himself shows the disorder is surprisingly much more common.

Those affected with prosopagnosia are not forgetful or inattentive, nor are they the social snobs they are often accused of being. When it comes to faces—even their own—they see very little that distinguishes one from another. The part of the brain that signals face recognition simply does not respond. As a result, they may greet acquaintances as strangers, struggle to keep up with plots in movies, and have difficulty finding their own children at school pick-up time. “I see faces that are human,” notes one woman of her condition, “but they all look more or less the same. It’s like looking at a bunch of golden retrievers: some may seem a little older or smaller or bigger, but essentially they all look alike.”(1)

The more I think about what it would mean to live unable to recognize faces, the more I am amazed at our ability to do so at all. Human faces are so complex, differing in both great and minute details. Our faces change with expression or circumstance, angle or shift of light; they are transformed by emotions, altered by different situations, and slowly transformed with age. Given the intricacy of the task, it is phenomenal that we should be able to recognize so many faces so effortlessly in the first place.

Yet the face is one of the very first things we learn to respond to as infants. Developmental psychologists speak readily of the importance of the human face in the life of a newborn, particularly the faces of mother and father, which the child quickly comes to recognize. Professor James Loder speaks of the tendency of an infant to smile when one holds the mere configuration of a face on a stick beside the crib. Writes Loder, “[T]he face phenomenon is not strictly something that comes only from the environment; it is also a construct created by the child and developed out of the child’s inherent resources and deep-seated longing. Children seem uniquely endowed with a potential capacity to sum up all the complexity of the nurturing presence in the figure of the face.“(2) For the child, the face plays a central role in their developing sense of the order of their very universe. Thus, when the face of the loving nurturer goes away in any capacity (which is inevitable), the child’s world is upset on some level. For what has gone away is not merely a static face but a much greater presence.

In this, children inherently illustrate a correlation drawn in biblical language. In both Greek and in Hebrew, the word for “face” is also the word for “presence.” Though we do not literally behold the face of God, it is the Father’s greater countenance that we seek, God’s presence that comforts above all. The psalmist’s plea is that the confirming presence of God’s love would remain with him always: “Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior. Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me” (Psalm 27:9-10). Scripture seems to pronounce what is echoed in the skills and longings of a developing child: namely, our years urge us to pursue “a relationship with the One who is the cosmic ordering, self-confirming presence.”(3) That is to say, the enduring pursuit of the faithful is a pursuit of the Face that will, in fact, never go away.

I cannot imagine the hardship of those for whom no face is familiar. But there are times when God’s face certainly seems obscure to me, and it is a painful discomfort. Though evidence of God’s assuring presence may well be around me, I am at times hard-pressed to recognize it. It is in such times when I am reminded by my own longing that God is near. In my most instinctive desire is the imprint of the face for which I long. Though recognition is a task that doesn’t always come effortlessly, the longing to know the face of God is a sign placed deeply within us, an assuring mark of God’s very calming, comforting presence. Wherever we are in our stages of recognition, the promise of God, and the vicariously human presence of the Son of God, is given in mystery and kindness: For now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; but one day we shall see face to face.

 

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

 

(1) Nicholas Bakalar, “Just Another Face in the Crowd Even if It’s Your Own,” The New York Times, July 18, 2006.
(2) James E. Loder, The Logic of the Spirit (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1998), 91.
(3) Ibid., 95.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Get Up and Get Going

 

I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping…Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping. — Psalm 6:6,8

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

Even before we are totally awake, Satan is bidding to deceive us and is ready to plant defeating thoughts in our mind. He wants us to be hopeless, faithless, and negative.

He definitely doesn’t want us to be positive when we get up. He wants us to have a bad attitude and be selfish and self-centered, full of hatred, bitterness, resentment, doubt, unbelief, and fear—to be mad at everybody.

But thank God, through Jesus Christ, we have been redeemed from all of those negative patterns. We can resist Satan and trust God’s power in or­der to live victoriously today.

Prayer Starter: Father, this is the day You have made! Help me to approach it with a positive attitude, full of faith and hope, knowing You have great things in store. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org