Tag Archives: faith

Charles Stanley – Life’s Passing Storms

 

Psalm 107:23-32

Everyone experiences storms in life—occasions that bring pain, suffering, or loss. It’s in turbulent times that all sorts of questions come to mind: Where is God? Why has this happened? Was it something I did? Did God cause it, and if so, why? When we find ourselves in tumultuous times, the safest place to go for answers is God’s Word.

The literal tempest described in today’s passage provides insight regarding the Lord’s role in the various upheavals we face. According to Psalm 107:25, God was responsible for this storm, as He was the one who raised the winds and waves that frightened the sailors.

Sometimes the Lord interrupts our life by sending turbulence so we will do what those sailors did—in their misery and helplessness, they cried for God’s help. He then brought them out of their distress by calming the storm and guiding them to a safe haven. In response, they thanked the Lord for His lovingkindness and wondrous deliverance and praised Him to other people.

There’s nothing like the sense of relief that comes when a storm is past. But let’s not forget to respond like those grateful sailors.

Bible in One Year: Nehemiah 4-7

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Why Me?

 

Bible in a Year:

Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you?

Job 7:20

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Job 7:17–21

The Book of Odds says that one in a million people are struck by lightning. It also says that one in 25,000 experiences a medical condition called “broken heart syndrome” in the face of overwhelming shock or loss. In page after page the odds of experiencing specific problems pile up without answering: What if we’re the one?

Job defied all odds. God said of him, “There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8). Yet Job was chosen to suffer a series of losses that defied all odds. Of all people on earth, Job had reason to beg for an answer. It’s all there for us to read in chapter after chapter of his desperate struggle to understand, “Why me?”

Job’s story gives us a way of responding to the mystery of unexplained pain and evil. By describing the suffering and confusion of one of God’s best examples of goodness and mercy (ch. 25), we gain an alternative to the inflexible rule of sowing and reaping (4:7–8). By providing a backstory of satanic mayhem (ch. 1) and an afterword (42:7–17) from the God who would one day allow His Son to bear our sins, the story of Job gives us reason to live by faith rather than sight.

By:  Mart DeHaan

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Christianity Without Christ?

 

Paul Tillich, the noted existentialist theologian, traveled to Asia to hold conferences with various Buddhist thinkers. He was studying the significance of religious leaders to the movements they had engendered. Tillich asked a simple question. “What if by some fluke, the Buddha had never lived and turned out to be some sort of fabrication? What would be the implications for Buddhism?” Mind you, Tillich was concerned with the indispensability of the Buddha—not his authenticity.

The scholars did not hesitate to answer. If the Buddha was a myth, they said, it did not matter at all. Why? Because Buddhism should be judged as an abstract philosophy—as a system of living. Whether its concepts originated with the Buddha is irrelevant. As an aside, I think the Buddha himself would have concurred. Knowing that his death was imminent, he beseeched his followers not to focus on him but to remember his teachings. Not his life but his way of life was to be attended to and propagated.

So, what of other world religions? Hinduism, as a conglomeration of thinkers and philosophies and gods, can certainly do without many of its deities. Some other major religions face the same predicament.

Is Christianity similar? Could God the Father have sent another instead of Jesus? May I say to you, and please hear me, that the answer is most categorically No. Jesus did not merely claim to be a prophet in a continuum of prophets. He is the unique Son of God, part of the very godhead that Christianity calls the Trinity. The apostle Paul says it this way:

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Christianity Without Christ?

Joyce Meyer – Obeying God

 

But Peter and John replied to them, Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you and obey you rather than God, you must decide (judge). — Acts 4:19 (AMPC)

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

The apostles were often threatened with punishment if they continued to talk about Jesus, but because they valued their reputation with God more than their reputation with people, they kept speaking truth. In the same way, it’s extremely important that we obey God first, even if those around us aren’t always happy. This world is not our home—we’re just passing through.

We’ll all face times in life when we have to choose between doing what a friend or family member wants us to do and doing what we truly believe God wants us to do. Always choose God, and strive to keep a clear conscience with Him and others (see Acts 24:16). As you obey Him and let Him guide you with His peace, you’ll end up doing now what you’ll be happy with later on in life!

Prayer Starter: Father, please give me the grace I need to obey You, especially when that might make someone close to me unhappy. Thank You for having my back, and for the peace that You give me every day. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Wait Patiently and Confidently

 

“But if we must keep trusting God for something that hasn’t happened yet, it teaches us to wait patiently and confidently” (Romans 8:25).

During my college days, I was not a believer. Only in retrospect can I appreciate in some measure the testimony of one of my professors, who was the head of the education department.

He and his wife were devout Christians. They had a Mongoloid child, whom they took with them wherever they went, and I am sure that their motivation for doing so – at least in part – was to give a testimony of the fruit of the Spirit, patience and love.

They loved the child dearly and felt that God had given them the responsibility and privilege to rear the child personally as a testimony of His grace, rather than placing her in a home for retarded children. The Bible teaches us that God never gives us a responsibility, a load or a burden without also giving us the ability to be victorious.

This professor and his wife bore their tremendous burden with joyful hearts. Wherever they went, they waited on the child, hand and foot. Instead of being embarrassed and humiliated, trying to hide the child in the closet, they unashamedly always took her with them, as a witness for Christ and as an example of His faithfulness and sufficiency.

They demonstrated patience and love by drawing upon the supernatural resources of the Holy Spirit in their close, moment-by-moment walk with God. Because of the working of the Holy Spirit in their lives, they were able to bear their trials supernaturally without grumbling or complaining. This is not to suggest that every dedicated Christian couple would be led of God to respond in the same way under similar circumstances. In their case, their lives communicated patience.

Bible Reading: Romans 8:18-24

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Knowing that God’s Holy Spirit indwells me and enables me to live supernaturally, I will claim by faith the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23) with special emphasis on patience for today and every day.

 

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Max Lucado – Let God Train You

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

All tests are temporary, limited in duration.  1 Peter 1:6 says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”  Some tests end on earth, but all tests will end in heaven, right?  In the meantime, let God train you.  He watches the way you handle the little jobs.  Jesus promised in Matthew 25:21, “If you’re faithful over a few matters, I will set you over many.”

Do you aspire to do great things?  Excel in the small things.  Don’t complain.  Let others grumble, not you.  When you’re given a task, take it.  When you see a hurt, address it.  Compassion matters to God.  This is the time for service, not self-centeredness.  Cancel the pity party.  Love the people God brings to you.  He will work in you what is pleasing to Him.  You will get through this.

Read more You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Turbulent Times

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Christian singer announces, ‘I no longer believe in God’: How you can experience Jesus more personally than ever before

Jon Steingard is a pastor’s son and a musician, singer, and songwriter. He has been the lead singer for the Christian band Hawk Nelson since March 2012.

Now he has made an Instagram announcement that is generating headlines: “After growing up in a Christian home, being a pastor’s kid, playing and singing in a Christian band, and having the word ‘Christian’ in front of most of the things in my life—I am now finding that I no longer believe in God.”

He explained: “The process of getting to that sentence has been several years in the making. It’s more like pulling on the threads of a sweater, and one day discovering that there was no more sweater left.”

I am glad to report that several Christian musicians responded not with criticism or condemnation but with unconditional grace. Tenth Avenue North singer Mike Donehey wrote: “Man, I love that you shared this. You know I’m always around to talk about our belief in God or lack thereof. Love you and always will.” Another added: “To echo so many others here, I have nothing but love in my heart for [you], old friend.”

A foundational problem for the church in our culture 

I don’t know any more about Jon Steingard’s faith story than I have read today. I don’t know what issues caused him to come to this decision, whether they are personal, rational, cultural, or relational. My purpose is not to criticize him in any way.

Instead, I’d like to think with you about his statement, “I no longer believe in God,” since it’s a sentiment many share today.

One of C. S. Lewis’s most profound essays was titled “God in the Dock.” (In the British court system, the accused stands in the “dock”; we might change the title to “God on Trial.”)

According to Lewis, “The ancient man approached God (or even the gods) as the accused person approaches his judge. For the modern man, the roles are quite reversed. He is the judge: God is in the dock. He is quite a kindly judge; if God should have a reasonable defense for being the god who permits war, poverty, and disease, he is ready to listen to it. The trial may even end in God’s acquittal. But the important thing is that man is on the bench and God is in the dock.”

The declaration, “I no longer believe in God,” or its opposite, “I believe in God,” identifies God as the object to my subject. I have the right and capacity to choose whether or not I believe in him, just as I can decide whether or not I believe in the internet or marriage.

This kind of relationship describes many people who would disagree with Jon Steingard’s statement but agree with its subject-object assumptions.

This is a foundational problem for the church in our culture.

Why I believe in the internet 

I believe in the internet, not because I can prove its existence on logical or scientific grounds (I don’t know enough about it to do so), but because I am experiencing it as I write this article on my Wi-Fi-connected computer. I believe in marriage not on logical grounds, but because I have experienced it for nearly forty years.

God does not seek to be an object in whom we choose to believe. He seeks to be a Father with whom we have a daily, transforming personal relationship.

Unfortunately, in our consumeristic, capitalistic culture, we have commodified this intimate relationship into a religion we can “buy” or “sell” as we wish. Inheriting Greco-Roman transactional religion, we have separated our souls from our bodies and Sunday from Monday.

As a result, too many of us see Jesus as our Savior but not as our friend (John 15:15). As we noted yesterday, he wants to lead us, empower us, and use us every moment of every day. But we must choose to be led, empowered, and used.

Your six-word mantra for today 

If you are experiencing Jesus as a living, daily presence in your life, you know what I’m talking about. You don’t need to tell us that you “believe in God” any more than you would say you believe in your spouse, child, parent, or best friend. If you’re experiencing someone personally, of course you believe that they exist.

If you have asked Jesus to be your Savior but you’re not experiencing him in this way, know that he is more available to you than even your spouse, child, parent, or best friend. That’s because his Spirit lives in you (1 Corinthians 3:16).

Jesus knows your past (cf. John 4:17–18), present (cf. John 1:48–50), and future (cf. Acts 9:6). He knows your thoughts (cf. Matthew 9:4) and secrets (cf. Luke 12:2). He will speak intuitively to your spirit by his Spirit (cf. Romans 8:16; Acts 16:6–10), practically through your circumstances (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:9), and rationally through his word and your reason (cf. Luke 24:27).

However, as with any relationship, we need time with Jesus to experience him more personally and powerfully. Let me encourage you to make some time for him today. Enter his presence in praise (Psalm 100:4), confess your sins and claim his forgiving grace (1 John 1:9), then ask him to speak to you through his word and your world. Tell him about your problems and fears and ask him for his guidance and help.

Now take note of the thoughts that enter your mind and the circumstances that change in your day. Envision Jesus walking beside you as your shepherd, leading and providing for you (John 10:27). Ask him to make himself more real to you than you have ever known him to be.

Make these six words your mantra today: “Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10 NIV).

Why not right now?

 

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Charles Stanley – Don’t Neglect Your Spiritual Gift

 

1 Timothy 4:12-16

Every Christian is given a spiritual gift with which to serve and build up the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:7). Sadly, though, many believers neglect theirs. Timothy actually had some good reasons to forsake his calling, but Paul urged him not to “neglect [his] spiritual gift” (1 Timothy 4:14). We can learn from Timothy’s situation by asking ourselves if the following situations might be hindering us from fully serving God.

Age: Whatever our age, the Lord wants us to use our spiritual gifts. Because of his youth, Timothy could’ve been intimidated by those with more experience. Others think they’re too old to serve God, but we’re never called into spiritual retirement.

Inadequacy: Have you ever avoided a service opportunity simply because you felt totally unqualified? That’s probably how Timothy felt about leading the church at Ephesus. Our spiritual gifts rarely come to us fully developed. God often requires that we step out in faith and trust Him to work in and through us. Over time, as we obey and learn how to use our gifts, they become more effective for God’s kingdom.

Is anything keeping you from using your spiritual gifts? Though given to us, these abilities aren’t for us; they’re for the church. To neglect them not only deprives fellow believers; we ourselves are also robbed. We’ll find both joy and blessing by serving others and doing the work God has designated for us.

Bible in One Year: Nehemiah 1-3

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Sweeter Than Honey

 

Bible in a Year:

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Proverbs 16:24

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Proverbs 16:1–2, 21–24

His topic was racial tension. Yet the speaker remained calm and collected. Standing on stage before a large audience, he spoke boldly—but with grace, humility, kindness, and even humor. Soon the tense audience visibly relaxed, laughing along with the speaker about the dilemma they all faced: how to resolve their hot issue, but cool down their feelings and words. Yes, how to tackle a sour topic with sweet grace.

King Solomon advised this same approach for all of us: “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24). In this way, “The hearts of the wise make . . . their lips promote instruction” (v. 23).

Why would a powerful king like Solomon devote time to addressing how we speak? Because words can destroy. During Solomon’s time, kings relied on messengers for information about their nations, and calm and reliable messengers were highly valued. They used prudent words and reasoned tongues, not overreacting or speaking harshly, no matter the issue.

We all can benefit by gracing our opinions and thoughts with godly and prudent sweetness. In Solomon’s words, “To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue” (v. 1).

By:  Patricia Raybon

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Space for Sorrow

 

Sitting with clients in therapy, I am frequently overwhelmed by their experiences of loss, heartache, and suffering. Many of my clients did not have the opportunity to grieve or feel the weight of their suffering. Messages sent and received with good intention functioned to suppress emotional expression. But suppressing emotions does not mean they go away. Sooner or later they come out and often in ways that end up being destructive to the individual and to her relationships. Within the safety of the therapeutic relationship, these emotions are encouraged towards an appropriate expression.

Giving voice to grief and sadness over the loss of Ravi Zacharias—particularly during the ongoing constraints of the COVID19 pandemic feels particularly important to me. I have found myself saying to many people that even though we do not grieve as those who have no hope, we still grieve. We still experience the emotions of those who are bereft of a dearly loved leader, friend, mentor, father, brother and spouse. We grieve the loss of his presence among us and the loss of his ongoing and influential ministry around the world as an author and speaker. Holding Christian hope in the resurrection of the body does not preclude feeling and giving expression to the sorrow that is felt over the loss of Ravi’s life and the huge absence left now that he is gone from our lives in the present.

As a young girl, one of my favorite bible stories was the epic encounter between the prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. With David meets Goliath odds, Elijah faces off against 450 prophets of Baal in a contest pitting the God of Israel against the Canaanite god Baal. Which deity would answer the prayers of the respective prophets to consume the altar sacrifice?

This is a narrative filled with dramatic tension and awesome displays of power. The Lord answers Elijah with fire from heaven that not only consumes the sacrifice, but also licks up every last drop of water poured out from not one, but four pitchers of water. The story ends with the destruction of the prophets of Baal and the peoples’ declaration that the Lord is God.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Space for Sorrow

Joyce Meyer – Don’t Fall for Pride

 

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. — Proverbs 16:18 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Love Out Loud – by Joyce Meyer

Pride is something God hates, and it’s easily one of the enemy’s greatest tools. Pride comes before destruction and pre­vents promotion in our lives. Pride erases our compassion for others and causes us to treat their problems and concerns like they don’t matter. Pride will always, always always bring us down.

It’s amazing how someone can have a kind heart and a right spirit while they’re in a lower position, then when they’re promoted, suddenly become a different per­son. He or she will begin to believe they’re better than everyone else, start mistreating others and put on airs. At that point, God has to deal with them.

The apostle Paul said in Galatians 2:20: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (NKJV). Being able to honestly say, “It is no lon­ger I” is a sign of real maturity because pride is all about “I.” Pride says, “I’m better than you. I’m smarter than you. My opinion matters, yours doesn’t.” Did you know that “me, myself, and I” are the greatest problems most people have? We are often full of ourselves, when in reality we’re supposed to be full of God and empty of ourselves. We need to have the same attitude as Jesus and esteem others more highly than we do ourselves, caring for their needs and interests (see Philippians 2:3-5). With God’s help we can learn to keep a humble attitude, love others, and keep pride from taking root in our hearts.

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me to keep a humble attitude, and to say no when pride tries to sneak into my life. Thank You for giving me the grace I need to grow. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Wisdom Brings Peace

 

“Wisdom gives a good, long life, riches, honor, pleasure, peace” (Proverbs 3:16,17).

High up in the Andes Mountains stands a bronze statue of Christ – the base of granite, the figure fashioned from old cannons – marking the boundary between Argentina and Chile.

“Sooner shall these mountains crumble into dust,” reads the Spanish engraving, “than Argentines and Chileans break the peace sworn at the feet of Christ the Redeemer.”

Peoples of these two countries had been quarreling about their boundaries for many years, and suffering from the resultant mistrust.

In 1900, with the conflict at its highest, citizens begged King Edward VII of Great Britain to mediate the dispute. On May 28, 1903, the two governments signed a treaty ending the conflict.

During the celebration that followed, Senora de Costa, a noble lady of Argentina who had done much to bring about the peace, conceived the idea of a monument. She had the statue of Christ shaped from the cannons that had been used to strike terror into Chilean hearts.

At the dedication ceremony, the statue was presented to the world as a sign of the victory of good will. “Protect, Oh Lord, our native land,” prayed Senora de Costa. “Ever give us faith and hope. May fruitful peace be our first patrimony and good example its greatest glory.”

The monument stands today as a reminder that only Christ – the Prince of Peace – can bring real peace to the world. And that refers as much to individual peace as it does to national and international peace.

Bible Reading: Proverbs 3:18-23

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Like Solomon of old, I shall seek the wisdom that brings a good, long life, riches, honor, pleasure and the lasting peace that comes from God’s indwelling Holy Spirit.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – God’s Delights in Our Development

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Howard Rutledge came to appreciate his time as a POW in Vietnam.  He wrote:  “After twenty-eight days of torture, I could remember I had children but not how many.  I prayed for strength. During long periods of enforced reflection it became so much easier to separate the important from the trivial.  My hunger for spiritual food soon outdid my hunger for steak.  It took prison to show me how empty life is without God.”

God is at work in each of us, whether we want it or not.  He takes no pleasure in making life hard. Philippians 1:6 says, “He doesn’t relish in our sufferings, but He delights in our development.”  No one said the road would be painless or easy, but God will use this mess for something good.  God is doing what is best for us, training us to live His holy best.  Have this assurance…you will get through this.

Read more You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Turbulent Times

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – A soldier lived because another soldier died: The transforming relevance of the Suffering Servant today

Yesterday was a Memorial Day unlike any in memory. Outdoor concerts and events were limited; parades to honor our fallen veterans were driven rather than walked. But the pandemic did not deter us from remembering with gratitude those who died for our freedoms.

As I reflected yesterday on more than one million women and men who died that we might live, I read John Stonestreet’s Memorial Day column. John’s BreakPoint articles are always excellent, but this one especially impressed me.

In it, John shared a story Chuck Colson once told to honor Memorial Day. It was February 1945, three months before World War II ended in Europe. Eighteen-year-old Sergeant Joseph George was stationed in France and was preparing to go out on evening patrol.

His friend, Private James Caudill, volunteered to take his place. He pointed out that, at age thirty-six, he was nearly twice as old as George. He told him, “You’re young. Go home. Get married. Live a full, rich life.” Then Private Caudill went out on patrol.

A few hours later, he was killed by a German sniper.

Sgt. Joseph George returned home safely. He married and fathered five sons. One of them, Princeton Professor Robert George, has been identified by the New York Times as “this country’s most influential conservative thinker.”

Dr. George and his brothers will always know that their father survived the war because his friend died in his place.

“I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting” 

Isaiah 50 is one of the “suffering servant” sections of the book (along with 42:1–4; 49:1–6; and 52:13–53:12). Each foretold what our Savior would experience centuries later.

In our text, the Servant (Jesus) testifies: “The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught” (Isaiah 50:4).

Continue reading Denison Forum – A soldier lived because another soldier died: The transforming relevance of the Suffering Servant today

Charles Stanley – Turning Our Back on God

 

2 Chronicles 33:1-25

Hezekiah was a god-fearing king who brought about reformation. His son Manasseh, however, was an evil ruler. He had watched his father walk with God and live according to Scripture. Yet he chose to ignore the Lord. Manasseh worshipped false gods, even to the point of sacrificing his sons. He practiced evil—including witchcraft and sorcery—and led the people astray, thereby provoking the Lord to anger. This story illustrates that God doesn’t tolerate an attitude of indifference toward Him.

Now consider our country. We, too, are a nation that largely disregards the Lord—one that has turned away from Him and embraced idols. Maybe ours aren’t statues of stone, but we worship money, athletic ability, fame, politics, and reputation. Over time, we’ve removed the Lord from many aspects of public life. What was once a nation founded on godly principles has become a country that tolerates a variety of sins.

When Israel turned its back on the Lord, God’s wrath was inevitable unless the people repented and made Him Lord once again. As believers, we have responsibility to pray that God will draw our heart—and the heart of our country—back to Himself, and that He will help the gospel and truth spread through our land.

Bible in One Year: Ezra 8-10

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Our Daily Bread — Remembering

 

Bible in a Year:

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:13

Today’s Scripture & Insight:John 15:9–17

On Memorial Day, I think of many military veterans but especially my dad and uncles, who served in the military during World War II. They made it home, but in that war hundreds of thousands of families tragically lost loved ones in service to their country. Yet, when asked, my dad and most soldiers from that era would say they were willing to give up their lives to protect their loved ones and stand for what they believed to be right.

When someone dies in defense of their country, John 15:13—“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”—is often recited during the funeral service to honor their sacrifice. But what were the circumstances behind this verse?

When Jesus spoke those words to His disciples during the Last Supper, He was about to die. And, in fact, one of His small group of disciples, Judas, had already left to betray Him (13:18–30). Yet Christ knew all of this and still chose to sacrifice His life for His friends and enemies.

Jesus was willing and ready to die for those who’d one day believe in Him, even for those who were still His enemies (Romans 5:10). In return, He asks His disciples (then and now) to “love each other” as He has loved them (John 15:12). His great love compels us to sacrificially love others—friend and foe alike.

By:  Alyson Kieda

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Face to Face

 

Many of us may likely have missed it. Couched between Wednesday’s building crescendo of assignments and zoom calls and Friday’s promise of their conclusion, Thursday hardly seems more than a means to an end. Though the day is every bit as holy as Easter Sunday, most of the world moves through it unsuspectingly—even those who have confessed the momentous lines of the Apostles’ Creed: “On the third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.”

Last Thursday was Ascension Day, the day that marks the ascension of Jesus Christ. For those of us grieving losses and loved ones, it is a profession of faith worth peering into closely. For those of us grieving the immense loss of Ravi Zacharias, the Ascension is a personal and particular comfort we might hold near. Forty days after the celebration of Easter and the resurrection of Jesus, the church around the world holds in remembrance this eventful day. The gospel writer records: “Then [Jesus] said to his disciples…. ‘See, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’ Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.”(1)

The ascension of Christ may not seem as momentous to the Christian story as the resurrection or as rousing as the image of Jesus on the cross. After the death and resurrection, in fact, the ascension might even seem somewhat anti-climatic. The resurrection and ascension statements of the Apostles’ Creed are essentially treated as one in the same: On the third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. One might even think that the one miraculous act flowed immediately into the other: as if the death of the body of Jesus was answered in the resurrection, a presence who then floated onto heaven. Unfortunately, the result of this impression is that many think of the ascension as somehow casting off of Christ’s human nature, as if Jesus is a presence that only used to be human. Hence, Jesus seems one more fit to memorialize than one we might expect to actually see face-to-face one day.

But in fact, this couldn’t be farther from the experience of the disciples, to whom Jesus appeared repeatedly in the days following the resurrection. To them it was abundantly clear that Jesus was not any sort of spiritual ghost or remote presence. He ate with them; he talked with them; he instructed them as to the ministries they would lead and the deaths they would face because of him. He was in fact more fully human than they ever realized, and it was this holy body, this divine person that they held near as they lived and died to proclaim his kingdom. In the words of poet Malcolm Guite:

We saw his light break through the cloud of glory
Whilst we were rooted still in time and place
As earth became a part of Heaven’s story
And heaven opened to his human face.

The ascension they reported was no different than the very future they envisioned with him: he was raised as a human, fully human. As the disciples were watching and Jesus was taken up before their very eyes, a cloud hid him from their sight. The text then refers to them “looking intently up into the sky as he was going” when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them: “‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go’”(3) In this resurrected body, Christ ascended to heaven, fully human, fully divine, entirely glorified. They said goodbye face-to-face. And it will be the same when they greet him again.

For the Christian, no action of Jesus is without weight, and this, his last action on earth, is weighed with far more hope than is often realized. Ascending to heaven, the work God sent him to accomplish was finally completed. The ascension was a living and public declaration of his dying words on the Cross: It is finished. In the ascension, Jesus furthered the victory of Easter—the victory of a physical body in whom God had conquered death. Because of the ascension, the incarnation is not a past or throwaway event. Because of the ascension, we know that the incarnate Son who was raised from the dead is sharing in our humanity even now. And just as the men in white informed the disciples, so we carry in our own flesh a guarantee that Christ will one day bring us to himself. It is for these reasons that N.T. Wright affirms, “To embrace the Ascension is to heave a sigh of relief, to give up the struggle to be God (and with it the inevitable despair at our constant failure), and to enjoy our status as creatures: image-bearing creatures, but creatures nonetheless.”(3)

Ascension Day, a holy day falling inconspicuously on a Thursday in May, is the conspicuous declaration that we are not left as orphans. In the same post-resurrection body that he invited Thomas to touch, Jesus invites us to full humanity even today. He ascended with a body, he shares in our humanity, extending his own body even now, promising to return for our own bodies. Christ is preparing a room for us, and we can know it is real because he himself is real. We say goodbye face-to-face. And it will be the same when we greet our Lord and our loved ones once again.

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

 

(1) Luke 24:49-53.
(2) Acts 1:9-11.
(3) N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (New York: Harper Collins, 2008), 114.

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Joyce Meyer – Keep Pressing On

 

I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward. — Philippians 3:13-14 (AMPC)

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

Our relationship with God is a process; we’re all moving from one level to another. No one ever “masters” communication with God, because there’s no limit to the depths of who He is, or the relationship we can have with Him. It just keeps growing, keeps going deeper, keeps getting stronger. Our ability to hear and understand His voice develops and improves over time, and with practice we get better at sharing our hearts with Him. We never become experts in prayer and we never stop learning to communicate with God—our experiences with Him just keep getting richer and better.

God has so much for you, and even though you may not be exactly where you want to be yet, you can thank God that you’re on the right track to get there. As long as you’re making progress, it really doesn’t matter if you’re crawling, walking, or running—just keep pressing on.

You’re okay and you’re on your way!

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for being patient with me as I grow in my ability to hear your voice. Please help me to be patient with myself and to keep pressing on. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Give Him the First Part

 

“Honor the Lord by giving Him the first part of all your income, and He will fill your barns with wheat and barley and overflow your wine vats with the finest wines” (Proverbs 3:9,10).

“Yes, I tithe,” said John D. Rockefeller, Sr., “and I would like to tell you how it all came about.

“I had to begin work as a small boy to help support my mother. My first wages amounted to $1.50 per week. The first week after I went to work I took the $1.50 home to my mother and she held the money in her lap and explained to me that she would be happy if I would give a tenth of it to the Lord.

“I did,” Rockefeller said, “and from that week until this day I have tithed every dollar God has entrusted to me. And I want to say if I had not tithed the first dollar I made I would not have tithed the first million dollars I made.

“Tell your readers to train the children to tithe, and they will grow up to be faithful stewards of the Lord.”

As R. G. Le Tourneau observed years ago, “We do not give to God because it pays, but it does pay to give to God and to serve Him faithful.” Without any question, God honors faithful stewardship – of time, energy, money, all that we have and are.

The importance of tithing is one of the first lessons I learned as a new Christian. Now I realize that that is only the beginning, because everything that I enjoy has been entrusted to me by a gracious, loving Father, who expects me to maximize all that he has put into my hands; therefore, tithing must be followed by offerings, based on clear Word of God that as we sow we reap. The more we give back to God, the more He will entrust to us, but we are to give with a cheerful heart out of a deep sense of gratitude for all that God has given to us.

Bible Reading: Malachi 3:8-12

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: God will have the first fruits of my life, the first part of my money, my time, my talent, my energy.

 

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Max Lucado – Your Test Will Be Your Testimony

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

God can make something good out of your mess.  The test you’re experiencing will become your testimony.  2 Corinthians 1:4-5 says, “God comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, He brings alongside someone who’s going through hard times so we can be there for that person, just as God was there for us.” (MSG)

You didn’t sign up for this crash course in single parenting?  No, God enrolled you.  He’s taken the intended evil and rewoven it into this curriculum.  Why?  So you can teach others what He’s taught you.  Rather than say, “God, why?” ask “God, what?  What can I learn from this experience?” Rather than ask God to change your circumstances, ask Him to use your circumstances to change you. Life is a required course — might as well do your best to pass it.  You will get through this.

Read more You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Turbulent Times

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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