Tag Archives: god

Charles Stanley – Our Testimony

 

Colossians 4:1-6

Think about the last argument you had with someone. Generally, disagreements arise when two people see things differently. Part of the problem is that most issues can be seen from diverse perspectives. Therefore, it’s easy for people to take opposing sides on a subject since they make different assumptions based on the same facts.

This can present a problem when we witness to people. Our goal isn’t to start a debate but to share the gospel. If someone objects to what we say, we could become sidetracked with arguments. However, we each have one thing that no one else can refute: our personal testimony. This isn’t an issue for debate but an opportunity to explain our own experience and the results of our decision to follow Christ.

Realize that every believer has a powerful weapon in his spiritual arsenal. When you share what Christ has done in your life, no one else can say, “That’s not right,” or “That didn’t really happen.” Our testimony of faith is our own credible, first-hand, eyewitness narrative of the power of God.

That’s why it’s important that we be prepared to share our story. Opportunities often come unexpectedly, and we don’t want to let the moment pass simply because we’re not sure what to say.

This week set aside a few moments to think about your history with Christ and sketch an outline of your faith story. Then ask Him to open a door for you to share the message of Jesus Christ. Then when an opportunity comes, you’ll be ready to share what Christ has done in your own life.

Bible in One Year: Deuteronomy 3-5

 

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Our Daily Bread — He Holds Our Hand

 

Bible in a Year:Numbers 4–6; Mark 4:1–20

I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Isaiah 41:8-13

The little girl who navigated the stairway one Sunday at church was cute, spunky, and independent. One by one the child—who appeared to be not much older than two years—took the steps down to the lower level. Descending the stairs was her mission and she accomplished it. I smiled to myself as I pondered the daring independence of this courageous toddler. The child wasn’t afraid because she knew her caring mother’s watchful eye was always on her and her loving hand was extended to help her. This aptly pictures the Lord’s readiness to help His children as they make their way through life with its varied uncertainties.

Today’s Scripture includes two “hand” references. After cautioning His ancient people not to fear or be dismayed, the Lord told them, “I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). Many anxious and fearful children have been steadied by the strength of a parent. Here God’s power comes into view. In the second “hand” reference, once again it’s the Lord who acted to secure the safety of His own. “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand” (v. 13). While life situations and times have changed, the Lord hasn’t. We need not despair (v. 10) because the Lord still assures us with the promise of His support and with the words we desperately need to hear: “Do not fear” (vv. 10, 13).

By Arthur Jackson

Today’s Reflection

Father, thank You for always watching over me.

For help, read Navigating the Storms of Life at discoveryseries.org/hp061

 

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Joyce Meyer – God’s Vision for You

 

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. — Jeremiah 29:11

Adapted from the resource Battlefield of the Mind Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

God’s plan for the people of the nation of Israel was only for their good. Yet they wandered around in the wilderness for 40 years on what was actually an 11-day journey. Why? Was it their enemies, their circumstances, the trials along the way, or something entirely different that prevented them from arriving at their destination in a timely manner?

God called the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt to go to the land He had promised to give them as a perpetual inheritance—a land that flowed with milk and honey and every good thing they could imagine—a land in which there would be no shortage of anything they needed—a land of prosperity in every realm of their existence.

But the Israelites had no positive vision for their lives—no dreams. They knew where they came from, but they did not know where they were going. Everything was based on what they had seen in the past or what they could presently see. They did not know how to see with “the eye of faith.”

We really shouldn’t view the Israelites with astonishment, because most of us do the same thing they did. We keep dealing with the same problems over and over again. The disappointing result is that it takes us years to experience victory over something that could have and should have been dealt with quickly.

I come from a background of abuse. My childhood was filled with fear and torment, and my personality was a mess! I built up walls of protection to keep people from hurting me, not realizing that while I was locking others out, I was also locking myself in. I was filled with fear and believed that the only way I could face life was to be in control so no one could hurt me.

As a young adult trying to live for Christ and follow the Christian lifestyle, I knew where I had come from, but I did not know where I was going. I felt that my future would always be marred by my past. I thought, How could anyone with a past like mine ever be all right? It’s impossible!

But Jesus had a different plan. He said, The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me…to preach the good news (the Gospel) to the poor; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity](Luke 4:18 AMPC).

Jesus came to open the prison doors and set the captives free—and that included me. However, I did not make any progress until I started to believe that I really could be set free. I had to get rid of my negative thinking and replace it with a positive vision for my life. I had to believe that neither my past nor my present could determine my future. Only then could Jesus free me from the bondage of my past—and free me, He did. What a marvelous miracle!

You may have had a miserable past; you may even be in current circumstances that are very negative and depressing. You may be facing situations that are so bad it seems you have no real reason to hope. But I say to you boldly: Your future is not determined by your past or your present!

Most of the generation the Lord called out of Egypt never entered into the Promised Land. Instead, they died in the wilderness. To me, this is one of the saddest things that can happen to a child of God—to have so much available and yet never be able to enjoy any of it.

Start believing that God’s Word is true. Mark 9:23 assures you that with God all things are possible. Because you serve a God who created everything you see out of the unseen realm (see Hebrews 11:3), you can give Him your nothingness and watch Him go to work on your behalf. All you have to do is have faith in Him and believe His Word—He will do the rest!

Prayer Starter: Dear Father, I thank You for loving me and having a vision—a good plan—for my life. I pray that You will help me overcome any negative thoughts of problems, past or present, that come against my mind, and make my life what You want it to be. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Inherit My Holy Mountain

 

“Let’s see if the whole collection of your idols can help you when you cry to them to save you! They are so weak that the wind can carry them off! A breath can puff them away. But he who trusts in Me shall possess the land and inherit My Holy Mountain” (Isaiah 57:13).

It was the very last week prior to our deadline for raising two million dollars to purchase the property at Arrowhead Springs for our international Campus Crusade for Christ headquarters. A dear friend had offered a $300,000 matching fund as a gift if we could raise the balance of the $2 million by a certain date.

Because of a very heavy speaking schedule at both the student and faculty conferences held at Arrowhead, I was unable to make any significant contribution to the raising of funds. And yet somehow in my heart of hearts I knew that God was going to supply our need in a miraculous way.

The late Dr. V. Raymond Edman, then president of Wheaton College, was one of the featured speakers at the conferences. At breakfast, one day Dr. Edman shared with my wife, Vonette, and me this very meaningful verse in Isaiah – a verse that God had impressed upon him that morning to share with us as he prayed about our urgent financial needs.

Now we were all the more encouraged to believe God in an even greater way than before. We truly expected to see Him provide the remaining funds – miraculously. In the evening of the day of the deadline, I was informed that we still needed $33,000 and that every possible source of revenue had been exhausted. There was nothing more, humanly speaking, we could do. Yet, through a series of circumstances between 11:00 and midnight, those funds were pledged, and we met the deadline. Exactly at midnight, the last of God’s miracles had been wrought and the goal had been reached. God had promised, “He who trusts in Me shall possess the land and inherit My Holy Mountain” – Arrowhead Springs.

Bible Reading: Isaiah 57:10-15

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Whether the need be for funds, for health, for wisdom, or whatever, I will believe God to supply my every need as He has so wonderfully promised in His Word to those who trust in Him.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – An Honest Heart

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

In Acts 1:8 Jesus says, “You will be my witnesses—in Jerusalem, in all of Judea, in Samaria, and in every part of the world.”  We are God’s witnesses.  And we are to speak truthfully.  God loves the truth and God hates deceit.  But Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that “the heart is deceitful above all things.” How do we explain our dishonesty?

Well, for one thing, we don’t like the truth because the truth isn’t always fun.  The wages of deceit is death.  Not death of the body, perhaps, but death of a marriage, a conscience, a career, or faith.  But perhaps the most tragic death that occurs from deceit is our witness. Examine your heart.  Do you tell the truth…always?  If not, start today.  Be just like Jesus.  Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Read more Just Like Jesus

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Which are the “most sinful states” in the US?

 

A new study has compared America’s fifty states using forty-three indicators of immorality. The data set ranges from violent crimes to excessive drinking to gambling disorders.

Unsurprisingly, Nevada ranks first, primarily because of “greed” and “lust.” Florida comes in second because of “jealousy,” “lust,” and “vanity.” The rest of the top (or bottom) ten in order: California, Texas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, and Arizona. The least sinful states in order are Vermont, Maine, North Dakota, Nebraska, and Idaho.

Sin may be measured collectively, but it is committed personally. And it never stays secret.

A Minnesota man was eating a hot dog at a hockey game last month. He wiped his mouth with a napkin and tossed the remains in the trash. Authorities then used DNA on the napkin to tie him to an unsolved murder from 1993.

In similar news, DNA from a genealogical database has led authorities to arrest a Colorado man for the murder of an eleven-year-old girl in 1973. Last fall, DNA evidence led to an arrest in a 1997 murder.

Meanwhile, prosecutors in the Jussie Smollett case say they have the $3,500 check used by the actor to pay two brothers to stage his assault last month. Smollett was arrested yesterday for allegedly filing a false report about the January 29 incident. After paying a $10,000 bond, he was released and is due back in court on March 14.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson alleged yesterday that the brothers’ motive for helping Smollett was money. “There was never a thought in their mind that we would be able to track them down,” he added.

Scripture warns us: “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

Why temptation is so tempting today

There’s something about temptation that causes us to think this warning doesn’t really apply to us. We will get away with it. No one will know, no one will be hurt, no consequences will follow. Or so we think.

Here’s why the temptation to yield to temptation is especially tempting in our culture.

Our post-Christian, relativistic society has jettisoned the concept of absolute truth and morality. In such a worldview, “sin” is a subjective idea rather than an objective reality.

What the Bible calls a “baby” (as when Elizabeth’s “baby leaped in her womb,” Luke 1:41), Planned Parenthood calls a “product of conception.” What the Bible calls “men committing shameless acts with men” (Romans 1:27), our culture calls “marriage equality.”

As a result, sins are no longer objectively sinful. It’s easier for Satan to tempt us to sin if we don’t believe in sin.

“There is no such thing as the devil”

It’s also easier for Satan to tempt us to sin if we don’t believe in him. A Barna survey found that nearly 60 percent of American Christians believe the devil “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.”

An article in Psychology Today was blunt: “There is no such thing as the devil, just as there is no such thing as fairies, imps, or goblins. The two largest religions in the world–Christianity and Islam–teach that there is a devil. And they are wrong. There is no evidence for such a thing. Not a shred. It is simply something that germinated from the unscientific, irrational minds of early humans.”

Of course, that’s just what the devil wants us to think.

(For more, please watch Does Satan exist?, the most recent YouTube video from our new series, “Biblical Insight to Tough Questions.”)

The two categories of sin

The first step in defeating temptation is to admit that sin exists and the tempter is real. The second is to understand his strategy.

In essence, there are two categories of sin.

The first includes those temptations you and I can defeat in our ability. For instance, I happen not to be susceptible to illegal drugs. (I’m not boasting–there are other temptations to which I am far less immune). You can name sins that are easy for you not to commit.

The second category includes those temptations you and I cannot defeat in our ability. When we face these attacks, we need to turn immediately to God for help, knowing that “he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey” (Mark 1:27).

Here’s the problem: Satan seeks to mask these temptations so that we think they belong to the first category. That way, we’ll try to resist them in our strength rather than turning to God for his help. Satan wants to draw us into spiritual quicksand a foot at a time until we are trapped.

The solution is for us to take all temptation immediately to God, asking for his strength to refuse. Here’s how: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

Submit and you can resist. Resist and you will win. Every time.

If you think you’re getting away with sin

Let’s close with two additional life principles.

One: Satan is playing the long game.

When we defeat him with God’s help, he will bring this temptation against us again later. He wants us to think we didn’t win the victory since we’re facing the same temptation.

After Jesus defeated him in the wilderness, the devil “departed from him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13). He does the same with us. Every time we face temptation, even the same temptation, we must “submit” and “resist.”

Two: The time to repent is now.

If you think you’re getting away with sin, you’re not. The enemy might be waiting until you climb further up the ladder so that your fall will hurt even more people as you plummet down.

“Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19) is a present-tense imperative, an ongoing command for each of us.

Is it relevant for you today?

 

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Every Man Ministries – Facing Truth

 

 “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” Psalm 86:11

Facing up to the truth always produces a loss of some kind of income, a pastime you enjoy, your image in the community, a wrong relationship, or the companionship of certain friends.  Jesus knows a man must risk, but He also knows what’s waiting on the other side: “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for gospel will save it” (Mark 8:35).

When we are confronted with the truth about where God wants us to go in our spiritual journey, we can choose the paths that leads to health, wholeness, and God’s glory.  Furthermore, we then have the confidence and humility to keep making the needed adjustments for Him.

God is in the business of confronting us for our benefit, to heal us from our bondage to whatever, guilt, shame, depression, and hatever brings us into self-absorption.  These surgeries of the soul require faith in the Surgeon and His promised outcomes.  Those who accept “going under the knife” often make the necessary changes to turn things around in their lives.

Winston Churchill once said, “Personally, I am always ready to learn although I do not always like to be taught.”  His point is that coming under the direction of another person has it‘s own built-in tension, despite the value of the truth to be discovered from the experience.  At least Churchill was being honest. Seeing and accepting truth requires action, but action – doing something – often produces tension.

Father, it is your will that I am free from the bondage of whatever brings me down. Tighten up my belt of truth.

 

Every Man Ministries.

Charles Stanley – Who Owns It All?

 

1 Chronicles 29:10-14

A serious error has made its way into the church. Some Christians think that their beliefs and their wallet belong in separate spheres. The truth is, obedience to God includes how we handle our finances. He owns everything (Hag. 2:8; Psalm 24:1). Cash, possessions, and ways to earn more are gifts from the Lord; we are simply stewards.

A steward oversees the use and care of someone else’s riches. A wise steward bases financial decisions upon the owner’s rules for using and multiplying material goods. In our case, God has woven financial principles into the fabric of Scripture. Since money touches nearly every aspect of life, it is mentioned hundreds of times in different contexts. For example, God urged the Israelites to stay faithful to His teachings and to avoid the trap of self-reliance. He reminded them that the power to make wealth resides with Him rather than in their own hands (Deut. 8:17-18).

The minute a steward presumes that he owns the money he manages, trouble is at hand. He stops consulting the Owner and spends as he sees fit. Even in trying to do good, the wayward steward is ruled by his shortsighted perspective rather than by God’s omniscient view and gentle guidance. He will suffer the consequences of choosing his own way over the Lord’s.

Faith and finances are intertwined. The bottom line is that we cannot keep our money out of God’s hand, because He holds it all—we simply manage it. And we are to do so in the way He directs us. A maturing believer trusts the Lord’s principles for using and growing wealth.

Bible in One Year: Deuteronomy 1-2

 

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Our Daily Bread — Living Sacrifice

 

Bible in a Year:Numbers 1–3; Mark 3

I urge you . . . in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice.

Romans 12:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Romans 12:1-8

My great aunt had an exciting job in advertising and traveled between Chicago and New York City. But she chose to give up that career out of love for her parents. They lived in Minnesota and needed to be cared for. Both of her brothers had died young in tragic circumstances and she was her mom and dad’s only remaining child. For her, serving her parents was an expression of her faith.

The apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Rome urged Christian believers to be “a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1). He hoped they would extend Christ’s sacrificial love to each other. And he asked them not to think of themselves more highly than they should (v. 3). When they fell into disagreements and division, he called them to lay down their pride, because “in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (v. 5). He yearned that they would show each other sacrificial love.

Each day we have the opportunity to serve others. For instance, we might let someone go ahead of us in a line or we might, like my great aunt, care for someone who is ill. Or maybe we share from our experience as we give another advice and direction. When we offer ourselves as living sacrifices, we honor God.

By Amy Boucher Pye

Today’s Reflection

Lord Jesus Christ, You humbled Yourself and lay down Your life that I might live. May I never forget this most precious gift of grace and love.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – On Giving

 

At an open lecture in a leading software company, I made the comment: “Love is seeking the highest best of the other person; it is not about your own interests.” An employee caught up with me at the end and inquired: “Is that kind of love possible?” I gave her an illustration of a mother who takes care of an ailing child—sacrificing her own comforts and well-being to ensure that the child is comfortable. This young lady thought for a moment and quipped: “Perhaps the mother does it because it is her own child.” She was suggesting that the reason for the mother’s selflessness is actually self-centeredness. A few years ago, a leading magazine in India carried a cover page article titled, “Twenty-five ways to be happy” written by a well-known columnist. Her very first point was similar: “Be selfish.”

Khaled Hosseini, award-winning author of The Kite Runner, presents a darkly selfish story about a man who found a magic cup and discovered that if he wept into the cup, his tears turned into pearls. But even though he had always been poor, he was a happy man and hardly shed a tear. So he found ways to make himself sad so that his tears could make him rich. As the pearls heaped up, so did his greed grow. The story ended with the man sitting on a mountain of pearls, knife in hand, weeping helplessly into the cup with his beloved wife’s slain body in his arms.

On the contrary, it is heartening to read of many leading billionaires in the world who are setting a remarkable model on giving. Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates unveiled the largest philanthropic drive ever. They started a campaign to get the richest men and women in the world to give away fifty percent of the wealth to charity during their lifetime or after their death. Buffett has pledged to give away an unbelievable ninety-nine percent of his wealth.

With a similar altruism, the heroes and heroines of the terrorist attack at the Taj hotel in Mumbai were its employees. Putting their lives on the line, these men and women braved the attack, and although they knew where the exit points were in the hotel, they stayed back to rescue as many guests as possible. In the process, eleven of them paid with their lives. No wonder Professor Rohit Deshpande at Harvard Business School has made this example a case study on customer-centric leadership.

It appears that one camp seeks to be at the giving side and another prefers to be stay put at the receiving end.

The Bible says, “Greater love has no man (or woman) than that he (or she) lay down their life for their friends.” Jesus died on the cross in a supreme example of love for his friends, even friends who turned away from him, and ‘friends’ who had no awareness of what he was doing. He commanded his disciples to love their enemies and at a climactic moment near death, looked at his tormentors who crucified him and prayed; “Father forgive them.”

While we may all be guilty of self-centeredness, Jesus can make a change in our lives. Opening our hearts, he pours his love into our lives.(1) Jesus gave himself up for you and me and the best response we could exhibit is to give back our lives to him in gratitude, for it is far more blessed to give than to receive.

Neil Vimalkumar Boniface is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Chennai, India.

(1) See Romans 5:1-5.

 

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Your True Identity

 

…Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. — Matthew 5:48 (MSG)

Adapted from the resource Wake Up to the Word Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Identity: The distinct personality of an individual regarded as a persisting entity.

The best way to defeat a lie is to know and speak the truth. The next time the enemy lies to you about who you are and accuses you of being unworthy, declare your identity in Christ. Answer him by saying:

Those are just a few of the many things that identify you as a child of God. You are not identified by your background, your level of education, your mistakes, or your friends—you are identified by what God has done for you and in you.

Prayer Starter: Thank You, Father, that my identity is in You. In Christ, I am righteous, forgiven, and more than a conqueror. When I become focused on my own weaknesses or get discouraged about the things I’m not, help me to remember who You say that I am. Through the power of Your Word, change my self-image and help me to truly understand my identity as a child of the King. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Hunger and Thirst

 

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6, KJV).

Do you hunger and thirst after righteousness, for the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit in your life? If so, you can claim that fullness and power right now by faith.

“The great difference between present-day Christianity and that of which we read in these letters (New Testament epistles),” declared J.B. Phillips in his introduction to the Letters to Young churches, “is that to us it is primarily a performance; to them it was a real experience.

“We are apt to reduce the Christian religion to a code, or, at best, a rule of heart and life. To these men it is quite plainly the invasion of their lives by a new quality of life altogether. They do not hesitate to describe this as Christ living in them.”

The disciples were used of God to change the course of history. As Christian homemakers, students, businessmen and professionals, we have that same potential and privilege today.

The amazing fact that Jesus Christ lives in us and expresses His love through us is one of the most important truths in the Word of God. The standards of the Christian life are so high and so impossible to achieve, according to the Word of God, that only one person has been able to succeed. That person is Jesus Christ.

When we receive Christ into our lives, we experience a new birth and are also indwelt by the Holy Spirit. From that point on, everything we need – including wisdom, love, power – to be men and women of God and fruitful witnesses for Christ is available to us simply by faith, by claiming this power in accordance with God’s promise.

Bible Reading: Romans 10:6-10

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: “Dear Lord, create within me a hunger and thirst after righteousness that is greater than my hunger and thirst for meat and drink for my physical body. By faith I claim the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit to enable me to live a victorious, fruitful life to the glory of God and to share this good news of the Spirit-filled life with everyone who will listen.”

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – The Heart on Target

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Jesus’ heart was so focused that his last words were “It is finished.”  God wants us to have focused hearts like Jesus.  Here are four simple questions to help us stay on course:

1)  Am I fitting into God’s Plan?  His plan is to save his children, and we are to tell others about the God who loves them.

2)  What are my longings?  Our assignment is found at the intersection of God’s plan and our pleasures.  You are created to serve God in a unique way.

3)  What are my abilities?  Identify your strengths—and major in them.

4)  Am I serving God now?  As a young boy, Jesus sensed the call of God. But he went home and learned the family business.

Do the same. Go home, love your family, be a good employee. And get your life on course.

Read more Just Like Jesus

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – One of the most moving articles I’ve ever read

 

Michael Gerson was President George W. Bush’s chief speechwriter and senior policy advisor and is now a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post. It was my privilege to meet him and to work together at a recent Dallas Baptist University event.

He has been named one of the “25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America” and is one of the most popular and respected conservative voices in American culture.

He also suffers from clinical depression.

Gerson preached last Sunday at Washington National Cathedral. His sermon was adapted into a Washington Post article titled “I was hospitalized for depression. Faith helped me remember how to live.” It is one of the most moving and illuminating articles I have ever read.

If you have time, I encourage you to stop and read it before continuing with this Daily Article. If you do not, I hope you’ll read it as soon as you can.

“Despair can grow inside you like a tumor.”

Gerson describes his disease: “The brain experiences a chemical imbalance and wraps a narrative around it. So the lack of serotonin, in the mind’s alchemy, becomes something like, ‘Everybody hates me.’ Over time, despair can grow inside you like a tumor.”

There are times when the body is incapable of healing without medical intervention. God calls medical professionals just as he calls pastors and missionaries. Faith is a key part of the solution, but depression and other clinical conditions require clinical responses as well.

That’s why Gerson offers this crucial advice: “I’d urge anyone with undiagnosed depression to seek out professional help. There is no way to will yourself out of this disease, any more than to will yourself out of tuberculosis.”

However, as he adds, “Those who hold to the wild hope of a living God” find help and grace in him.

I found myself wondering, are there resources the God of Scripture offers that no other source can?

Help for the past

Much of the despair of life comes from guilt over the past.

We know that we need forgiveness from those we have hurt. However, we don’t even know all the people we have hurt.

Nor can we ask forgiveness from everyone we know we have hurt. Some are deceased. Others might be injured further by our attempt to make amends (as Step Nine of the Alcoholics Anonymous “Twelve Steps” program notes).

But God is different.

David prayed after his affair with Bathsheba, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:4). He did not mean that his adultery with Bathsheba and the death of her husband were not sins against them. He meant that his sin was ultimately against the holy God who made him and who rules the universe.

The good news is that this God can and will forgive every sin we confess (1 John 1:9). He then separates our sin from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), buries it in the depths of the deepest sea (Micah 7:19), and will “remember [our] sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12).

No one else can make this promise.

Help for the present

Much of our discouragement comes from struggles in the present. We carry burdens too heavy to bear and face obstacles too high to climb.

But Jesus knows what you are feeling today. He was rejected by his hometown and mocked by his own family. He experienced overwhelming stress in the Garden of Gethsemane, horrific pain and torture after he was betrayed by his friends, and abandonment beyond anything we can understand (Matthew 27:46).

Now he is praying for us with empathy and passion (Romans 8:34) and assures us, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

No one else can make this promise.

Help for the future

Much of our despair comes from fears about the future. But God testifies, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come” (Isaiah 46:10 NIV).

Our timeless Lord sees tomorrow better than we can see today and promises to lead us “in paths of righteousness” (Psalm 23:3).

No one else can make this promise.

“My name is Lazarus”

Let me repeat Michael Gerson’s statement: Depression is a medical condition requiring professional treatment. But for those suffering from depression–and for the rest of us on this fallen planet–there is help and hope in Jesus that we can find nowhere else.

In testifying to the transforming power of his conversion to Christ, Gerson quotes G. K. Chesterton’s poem, “The Convert”:

The sages have a hundred maps to give
That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
They rattle reason out through many a sieve
That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
And all these things are less than dust to me
Because my name is Lazarus and I live.

Gerson then cites “God’s promise”: “That even when strength fails, there is perseverance. And even when perseverance fails, there is hope. And even when hope fails, there is love. And love never fails.

“So how do we know this? How can anyone be so confident?

“Because we are Lazarus, and we live.”

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Charles Stanley – Prayer-Based Planning

 

Luke 14:28-30

In Luke 14, Jesus’ example of building a tower shows the importance of planning and using resources wisely. Otherwise, money may run out before the work is done. As with any plans we make, those involving finances should be covered with prayer. First, ask God for the wisdom to understand His teachings about money and how they apply to your situation. Next, pray for clarity about how much is spent versus how much is earned, as well as all the other details.

One final step is to seek the Lord’s guidance in assessing whether your spending habits are in line with His priorities. In evaluating this, it is helpful to divide expenses into categories, including:

  • Giving to the local church, missionaries, and other organizations.
    Basic needs—food, clothing, and housing.
    Insurance, retirement plan, savings.
    • Debt, such as mortgages, loans, and credit cards.
    Spending on extras—phones, internet, TV, eating out, vacations, etc.

Some of us will discover that our finances are not in line with scriptural principles, which may be discouraging. If this is true of you, turn to the Lord, confess what has happened, and pray for the strength to handle your God-given resources His way.

Financial discipline is a learned skill. It requires a commitment to live according to Scripture, persistent effort to change bad habits, concentration to develop new ones, and faith that we can learn to live according to God’s priorities. We’re blessed when we practice prayer-based planning.

Bible in One Year: Numbers 33-36

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Send It in a Letter

 

Bible in a Year:Leviticus 26–27; Mark 2

Since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you.

Colossians 1:9

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Colossians 1:9-12

Like most four-year-olds, Ruby loved to run, sing, dance, and play. But she started complaining about pain in her knees. Ruby’s parents took her in for tests. The results were shocking—a diagnosis of cancer, stage 4 neuroblastoma. Ruby was in trouble. She was quickly admitted to the hospital.

Ruby’s hospital stay lingered on, spilling over into the Christmas season, a hard time to be away from home. One of Ruby’s nurses came up with the idea to place a mailbox outside her room so family could send letters full of prayers and encouragement to her. Then the plea went out on Facebook, and that’s when the volume of mail coming in from friends and complete strangers surprised everyone, most of all Ruby. With each letter received (more than 100,000 total), Ruby grew a little more encouraged, and she finally got to go home.

Paul’s letter to the people at Colossae was exactly that—a letter (Colossians 1:2). Words penned on a page that carried hopes for continued fruitfulness and knowledge and strength and endurance and patience (vv. 10–11). Can you imagine what a dose of good medicine such words were to the faithful at Colossae? Just knowing that someone was praying nonstop for them strengthened them to stay steady in their faith in Christ Jesus.

Our words of encouragement can dramatically help others in need.

By John Blase

Today’s Reflection

How have others’ words encouraged me? What opportunities do I have to give someone else the “letter” of encouragement they need?

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Another Story

The world of belief-systems and worldviews is a complicated playground of stories, storytellers, and allegiances. What makes it most complicated is perhaps what is often our inability to perceive these interacting powers in the first place. That which permeates our surroundings, subconsciously molds our understanding, and continuously informs our vision of reality is not always easy to articulate. The dominate culture shapes our world in ways we seldom even realize, and often cannot realize, until something outside of our culture comes along and introduces us, and the scales fall from our eyes.

Further complicating the great arena of narratives is the fact that we often do not even recognize certain systems for the metanarratives that they are, or else we grossly underestimate the story’s power. Whatever versions of the story we utilize to understand human history—atheism, capitalism, pluralism, consumerism—their roots run very deep in the human soul. This is why Bishop Kenneth Carder can refer to the global market economy as a “dominant god,” consumerism, economism, and nationalism as religions.(1) These deeply rooted ideologies are challenged only when a different ideology comes knocking, when a different faith-system comes along and upsets the system in which we have placed our faith and ordered our worlds.

This is perhaps one reason the Bible calls again and again for the action of remembering: Remember the story, tell of the acts of God in history, remember that there is one who has come near. For into this world of belief-systems and worldviews, God repeatedly tells the story of creation and the pursuit of its redemption and re-creation. God himself comes and proclaims in a body a kingdom both among us and entirely other. The narrative we discover introduces us not only to a new world, but a kingdom that jarringly shows us our own world and a savior who shows us what it means to be human.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Another Story

Joyce Meyer – Ask God Boldly!

 

Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. — John 16:24

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

I believe there are people who are not receiving from God what He wants them to have because they won’t ask Him boldly. They make weak, faithless requests.

I’ve had people ask for prayer and say: “Is it okay if I ask for two things?” Their uncertainty is sad to me because Jesus clearly told us to ask so that our joy would be complete.

I want whatever God wants to give me spiritually, emotionally, financially, physically, socially, and mentally. I pray boldly, but I don’t do it because I think I’mworthy. I know that I have faults, but I also know that God loves me, and my confidence is not in myself—it’s in Him.

My joy isn’t from having things that God gives to me, but from loving God intimately and knowing that He wants me to be totally dependent on Him for everything I need. I get up every day and do the best I can, and by faith I want to receive all that God wants me to have.

A few years ago, I stepped out in faith and prayed a bold prayer that even sounded crazy to me. I said, “God, I’m asking You to let me help every single person on the face of the earth.”

My mind said: “Now that is stupid.” But I kept praying that prayer anyway, and our TV ministry has expanded greatly since that time. God has caused tremendous growth; one station that we added after that prayer increased our coverage to 600 million people in India alone!

I don’t know how God is going to let me help every person on the face of the earth, but I am going to continue trusting Him. I would rather ask for a lot and get part of it than ask for a little and get all of it.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for caring about every single area of my life. Right now, I lift up all of my needs to You and boldly ask for Your blessings, provision, healing, protection, grace and strength. I choose to raise my expectations, knowing that You can perform the impossible in my life! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Exalting a Nation

 

“Godliness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).

God’s Word (1 Timothy 2:2) reminds us that we are to pray for those in authority over us, so that we can live in peace and quietness, spending our time in godly living and thinking much about the Lord.

We should pray daily for all those in authority over us, from the precinct to the White House, and we should seek through the writing of letters and personal appointments to communicate God’s love to each one of them, so that they may contribute to those qualities of godliness that will cause the blessing of God to continue to be poured out upon this nation.

One day I walked into a senator’s office in Washington, D.C. I had never met the man before, but a mutual friend had suggested that I drop by to see him.

Within a few minutes it seemed as if we had known each other for a lifetime. A natural opportunity arose for me to ask him if he were a Christian, and I was able to share the good news of the gospel with him through the Four Spiritual Laws. Before I left his office, the senator said he would like to receive Christ.

Another time, I spoke at a congressman’s home, to which several other congressmen and their wives had been invited. After the meeting, several individuals requested personal appointments.

I went by the office of one of the congressmen the next day.

“Did what I said last night make sense to you?” I asked him.

“It surely did,” he replied.

“Would you like to receive Christ?” I asked. He said that he would and knelt beside his couch to pray.

Down the hall, I shared Christ with still another congressman who had been present the night before. He too said he would like to receive Christ. All three of these men and many others continue to walk with God, seeking His wisdom to help them lead our nation wisely.

Because “godliness exalts a nation,” we feel it is important for every Christian to pray for and witness to all of our nation’s elected officials. Supernatural enablement of the Holy spirit is available to assist us in our communication.

Bible Reading: Psalm 33:12-16

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will pray today for one or more of our nation’s leaders, and I will seek opportunities to witness to them and other governmental leaders personally or through correspondence.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – People Are Watching

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

 

A vibrant, shining face is the mark of one who has stood in God’s presence.  After speaking to God, Moses had to cover his face with a veil.

But not only does God change the face of those who worship; he changes those who watch us worship.  Paul told the Corinthian church to worship in such a way that if an unbeliever entered, he would find the secrets of his heart revealed; and would fall down on his face and worship God.

Seekers may not understand all that happens in a house of worship.  They may not understand the meaning of a song or the significance of communion.  But they know joy when they see it.  And when they see your face changed, they may want to see God’s face.  People, including your family, are watching.  Believe me.  They are watching.

Read more Just Like Jesus

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

http://www.maxlucado.com