Tag Archives: human-rights

Charles Stanley – Trust in the Wait

 

Psalm 33:13-22

Waiting on God stretches our trust in Him, especially when we are urgently longing for His intervention or guidance in a situation. From our earthly perspective and with our limited knowledge, it may seem as if He doesn’t care, but that is far from the truth.

God uses times of waiting to strengthen our trust in Him, and reminding ourselves of His character and abilities helps build confidence in our Father. So as you wait, remember:

The Lord has all-encompassing knowledge of every detail of your circumstances.
He has complete understanding of the motives and intentions of everyone involved in your situation.
God’s power is greater than all your efforts to solve your problems. Neither you nor anyone else can thwart His plans.
His eye is always on you during the wait, and He is your help and protection.
His lovingkindness continually rests upon you.

Whenever you’re overcome with a sense of urgency or uncertainty, remember who God is and what He has promised to do for you. Although He may not work everything out as you desire, it will be according to His perfect wisdom and for your good—and in this you can rejoice.

 

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 6-8

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — On the Bubble

 

Bible in a Year:

You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you . . . into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:9

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 Peter 2:4–10

A news article in May 1970 contained one of the first uses of the idiom “on the bubble.” Referring to a state of uncertainty, the expression was used in relation to rookie race car driver Steve Krisiloff. He’d been “on the bubble,” having posted a slow qualifying lap for the Indianapolis 500. Later, it was confirmed that his time—though the slowest of those who qualified—allowed him to compete in the race.

We can feel at times that we’re “on the bubble,” uncertain we have what it takes to compete in or finish the race of life. When we’re feeling that way, it’s important to remember that in Jesus we’re never “on the bubble.” As children of God, our place in His kingdom is secure (John 14:3). Our confidence flows from Him who chose Jesus to be the “cornerstone” on which our lives are built, and He chose us to be “living stones” filled with the Spirit of God, capable of being the people God created us to be (1 Peter 2:5–6).

In Christ, our future is secure as we hope in and follow Him (v. 6). For “[we] are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that [we] may declare the praises of him who called [us] out of darkness into his wonderful light” (v. 9).

In Jesus’ eyes we’re not “on the bubble.” We’re precious and loved (v. 4).

By:  Ruth O’Reilly-Smith

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Nothing Without Love

 

Love is patient and kind
Love is not jealous or boastful…
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, love never ends.

What many may not realize is that this is a poem from the pen of the apostle Paul. And while this poem is used to paint a picture of young love at weddings, its intent far transcends the romance of the occasion, and a fairly limited understanding of this virtue.

Romantic love was not in the apostle’s mind when he penned this verse. Instead, tremendous conflict in the fledgling Corinthian church caused Paul great grief. There were dissensions and quarrels over all kinds of issues in this community; quarrels over leadership and allegiance, over moral standards, over marriage and singleness, over theology, and quarrels so extreme that lawsuits were being filed!(1)

So after reminding the Corinthian followers of Jesus that they represented his body—a body with many members and unique gifts and functions—Paul lifts up love as the height of what it means to be a mature human being:

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing….Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away….but now abide faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love (13:1-3, 8, 13).

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Joyce Meyer – Stick with Truth

 

Sanctify them [purify, consecrate, separate them for Yourself, make them holy] by the Truth; Your Word is Truth. — John 17:17 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Healing the Soul of a Woman – by Joyce Meyer

God’s Word is truth, and when we love it and obey it, we’re set free from things that have held us back and held us captive. Embrace the light of God’s truth; let it dispel the darkness. It can be a little difficult to look at the light if we’ve been in the dark for a long time, but if we’re willing to stick with it, we’ll adjust to the light and be able to see how much better it is than the darkness.

The Holy Spirit is always teaching us and revealing truth to us in each situation. It’s an ongoing process in our lives, one that can be beautiful and exciting. He shows us what’s right to encourage us, and shows us what’s wrong because He wants to set us free and make our lives even better. In order to do that, we need to keep our eyes open to truth, listen for His voice, be willing to repent when we’re wrong, and quickly turn back into the light.

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me to receive truth, even when it’s hard to swallow. Thank You for being faithful to guide and strengthen me so I can be free in every area of my life! In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Perfect Peace

 

“He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in Him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord” (Isaiah 26:3).

John shared how, during the serious illness and death of his beloved Agnes, God had enveloped him with His perfect peace. Tom spoke with moistened eyes, of how God filled his heart with peace when he lost his job of more than 25 years. Roger and Kim shared how they experienced perfect peace in the loss of their darling two-year-old who had just died of leukemia. Peter had just received the solemn word from his doctor that he had no more than six months to live. What joy, soon he would see his Lord and witness perfect peace!

How can these things be?

Because the Prince of Peace dwells within the heart of every believer and He promised, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27 KJV). God is waiting to pour out His supernatural peace upon all who will trust and obey Him.

In my experience with thousands of businessmen, laymen and students, I have discovered an interesting fact. In a time of crisis when one’s world is crumbling, wealth, fame, power, position, glory, are not important any more. It is inner peace that every man longs for and for which he would gladly give his fortune. But remember that perfect peace comes only to those who walk in faith and obedience. Such peace is not the experience of those who live self-centered lives, violating the laws of God.

Bible Reading: John 14:27-31

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: As a candidate for God’s perfect peace, I will meditate upon His laws and through the enabling of His Holy Spirit, seek to obey His commands.

 

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Max Lucado – God’s Love Never Leaves

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

George Matheson was a teenager when doctors told him he was going blind. He graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1861. By the time he finished graduate seminary studies, he was sightless. His fiancée returned his engagement ring with a note: “I cannot see my way clear to go through life bound by the chains of marriage to a blind man.”

Matheson adapted to his sightless world but never quite recovered from his broken heart. He became a powerful and poetic pastor, led a full and inspiring life, turning to the unending love of God for comfort. And he penned these words: “O love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in thee; and I give thee back the life I owe, that in thine ocean depths its flow may richer fuller be.” The love of people may come and go, but God’s love? It never leaves.

Read more 3:16: The Numbers of Hope

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Denison Forum – Who should Joe Biden nominate for VP? Three biblical commitments we owe his selection

 

Joe Biden is expected to announce his running mate this week. Reportedly, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Susan Rice, national security advisor to President Obama, are the top contenders. Either would make history as the first Black woman to be a vice presidential candidate for a major party.

Biden is reportedly also considering Rep. Karen Bass of California, Rep. Val Demings of Florida, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois.

Four factors seem to be at work:

  • Age: Biden would be the oldest president ever elected if he wins in November, so some want him to choose a running mate who is younger and can be the future of the party.
  • Balance: some perceive Biden to be too moderate for the progressive wing of the party and want him to select a nominee that will excite these voters.
  • Demographics: some want him to select a Black candidate to gain support among Black voters.
  • Politics: as one politics professor notes, “the vice-presidential candidate can help a little or hurt a lot.” He would advise candidates, “Above all, do no harm.”

My purpose this morning is not to help Mr. Biden make his decision, but rather to discuss our reaction once he makes it.

Where are you on this spectrum? 

You are likely approaching the upcoming election in one of eight ways on a political spectrum from “right” to “left.”

  • You believe Joe Biden is wrong for America and will vote for his opponent.
  • You believe Donald Trump is right for America and will vote for him.
  • You believe Republican policies—such as the party’s positions on abortion and religious liberty—are right and will therefore vote for Donald Trump despite personal misgivings about him.
  • You support Republican policies but believe Donald Trump is so wrong for America that you cannot vote for him. (This is the “Never Trump” movement.) You will not vote at all, or you will cast your ballot for Mr. Biden or for a third candidate.
  • You support Democratic policies but believe Joe Biden is so wrong for American that you cannot vote for him. You will not vote at all, or you will cast your ballot for Mr. Trump or for a third candidate. (I am not seeing this position reflected in the present campaign, but I include it as a logical possibility.)
  • You support Democratic policies and will vote for Joe Biden despite personal misgivings about him.
  • You believe Joe Biden is right for America and will vote for him.
  • You believe Donald Trump is wrong for America and will vote for his opponent.

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Charles Stanley – Soldiers for Christ

 

1 Timothy 6:11-16

In today’s passage, Paul tells a young pastor named Timothy, “Fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12). But this command isn’t limited to pastors; every believer needs to be a faithful soldier of Christ. That’s because we’re all in a battle—not against people but against spiritual forces of wickedness (Eph. 6:12).

This war began when Satan and other angels rebelled against God. Then Satan tempted Eve to disobey the Lord as well. As a result of Adam and Eve’s rebellion, the earth was cursed, and the entire human race was corrupted by sin. Ever since that day, the battle for truth and righteousness has raged.

Although we may often feel overwhelmed by temptations and deceptions, Jesus modeled the path to victory when He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11). He used only one weapon to refute each enticement and falsehood—the Word of God.

This is the same powerful weapon our heavenly Father has given us to fight the good fight. When we view daily battles biblically with full reliance on the trustworthiness and authority of Scripture, we can flee sin, pursue righteousness, and stand firmly for the truths of the faith.

 

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 63-66

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Letting Go

 

Bible in a Year:

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.

Psalm 116:15

Today’s Scripture & Insight:John 11:21–36

“Your father is actively dying,” said the hospice nurse. “Actively dying” refers to the final phase of the dying process and was a new term to me, one that felt strangely like traveling down a lonely one-way street. On my dad’s last day, not knowing if he could still hear us, my sister and I sat by his bed. We kissed the top of his beautiful bald head. We whispered God’s promises to him. We sang “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” and quoted the 23rd Psalm. We told him we loved him and thanked him for being our dad. We knew his heart longed to be with Jesus, and we told him he could go. Speaking those words was the first painful step in letting go. A few minutes later, our dad was joyously welcomed into his eternal home.

The final release of a loved one is painful. Even Jesus’ tears flowed when His good friend Lazarus died (John 11:35). But because of God’s promises, we have hope beyond physical death. Psalm 116:15 says that God’s “faithful servants”—those who belong to Him—are “precious” to Him. Though they die, they’ll be alive again.

Jesus promises, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (John 11:25–26). What comfort it brings to know we’ll be in God’s presence forever.

By:  Cindy Hess Kasper

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Grief Is Great

 

“Please—Mr. Lion—Aslan, Sir?” said Digory working up the courage to ask. “Could you—may I—please, will you give me some magic fruit of this country to make my mother well?”

A child in one of the Narnia books, Digory, at this point in the story, had brought about much disaster for Aslan and his freshly created Narnia. But he had to ask. In fact, he thought for a second that he might attempt to make a deal with Aslan. But quickly Digory realized the Lion was not the sort of person with which one could try to make bargains.

C.S. Lewis then recounts, “Up till then the child had been looking at the lion’s great front feet and the huge claws on them. Now in his despair he looked up at his face. And what he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and wonder of wonders great shining tears stood in the lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the lion must really be sorrier about his mother than he was himself.”(1)

Charles Dickens often spoke of his characters as beloved and “real existences.” I have often wondered if the “safe but never tame” Lion cared for C.S. Lewis half as much as this figure has comforted others. Lewis was a boy about the age of Digory when his mother lay dying of cancer and he was helpless to save her.

“My son, my son,” said Aslan. “I know. Grief is great. Only you and I in this land know that yet. Let us be good to one another…”

The character that fills each of the gospel stories towers above all attempts we have made to describe him. And yet, had we been in charge of writing the story of God becoming human, I doubt it would have been Christ we described. “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3). He was not the stoic, man of nerves we might have imagined. Nor was he the ever-at-peace teacher we often describe. He was, among other things, a man of sorrows.

If I am honest, there is, for me, immense comfort in a Christ who was not always smiling. As I picture his face set as flint toward Jerusalem, readying himself for the tortuous events of the cross, my fear is unfastened by his fortitude. As I imagine the urgency in his voice as he defended a guilty woman amidst a crowd holding rocks, my shame is undone by his mercy. And as I picture him weeping at the grave of Lazarus, crying out at injustice, sweating blood in the garden of Gethsemane, my tears are given depth, maybe even life, by his own cries. We do not grieve alone.

“But you, O God,” cried the psalmist, “do see trouble and grief.” Becoming man, the character of God was not compromised or misrepresented. As the vicarious Son of God knew tears, so the heart of God is one that knows grief. The heart of the Father is one who knows the loss of a child. “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted,” writes the prophet Isaiah. Matthew describes the extent of these words: “Then [Pilate] released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified” (Matthew 27:26). Indeed, our grief is great; let us be good to one another.

Perhaps those who mourn are called blessed because they are at this point closest to the deepest wound of the heart of God. Until every tear shall be wiped dry, we have before us the hopeful figure of the Man of Sorrows, who bore on his shoulders our grief and his own. “My son, my daughter, I know.”

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

(1) C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew, (New York: Harper Collins, 2001), 83.

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Joyce Meyer – Agree with God

 

Again I tell you, if two of you on earth agree (harmonize together, make a symphony together) about whatever [anything and everything] they may ask, it will come to pass and be done for them by My Father in heaven. — Matthew 18:19 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Power Thoughts Devo – by Joyce Meyer

Not only does God have a plan for your life, but the enemy has a plan for you too, and it’s up to you to decide which one you’ll agree and get on board with. I encourage you to choose wisely, because the Bible says when people come into agreement, power increases.

When the devil tries to tell you that you don’t have any future left or you’ve made too many mistakes, you need to say, “God is the God of second chances. I not only have a future, but I’ve got a good future. God has great things ahead for my life.” If the enemy can get you to agree with him, you’ll have what he wants you to have—pain, regret and brokenness—but if you stay in agreement with God, then you’ll have what God wants you to have—life, and life more abundantly (see John 10:10). Who are you going to agree with?

Prayer Starter: Father, I choose to agree with You and Your plan for my life. Thank You for wanting and planning good things for my life, and for helping me recognize and refuse to agree with the lies of the enemy. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – His Mighty Power Within

 

“Last of all I want to remind you that your strength must come from the Lord’s mighty power within you” (Ephesians 6:10).

When my saintly mother became a Christian at 16, she immediately determined to become a woman of God with the help of the Holy Spirit. She devoted her life to my father and to the rearing of seven children.

Through the years, as I have observed her attitudes and actions closely, I have never seen her do anything that reflected negatively on the Lord.

As a result, my life has been greatly affected in a positive way. There is no question in my mind that everything God has done and ever will do in and through me will be, in no small measure, a result of those unique, godly qualities of my mother, and especially of her prayers.

In today’s world, there often is considerable criticism of a woman who finds her fulfillment as a wife, mother and homemaker, as though such roles are demeaning to the woman. The popular thought is that there is something better, such as a professional career.

I would not minimize the fact that there are gifted women who should be involved in business and professional life, but in most cases this would be a secondary role compared to the privilege of being a mother, especially a godly Christian mother in whose life the fruit of the Spirit is demonstrated.

What I can say about my mother, I believe my sons can say about theirs, for Vonette has demonstrated those same godly, Christlike qualities toward them as a mother – and , as a wife, toward me.

These two examples underscore a wonderful, basic truth of supernatural living: As we continue to live supernaturally, walking in the power and under the guidance and control of the Holy Spirit, the personality and character of Christ become more and more a part of us.

Bible Reading: Ephesians 6:11-20

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: When I need special strength – whether physical or spiritual – I will claim by faith the Lord’s mighty power within me to meet the need.

 

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Max Lucado – Catalog God’s Goodness

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Short memories harden the heart so make careful note of God’s blessings! Declare with David, “I will daily add praise to praise. I’ll write the book on your righteousness, talk up your salvation the lifelong day, and never run out of good things to write or say” (Psalm 71:14-15 MSG).

Catalog God’s goodnesses. Meditate on them. He has led you and earned your trust. Remember what he’s done for you. And acknowledge what you have done against God. The scripture says, “If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts” (1 John 1:10).  Sin-hoarding stiffens us. Confession softens us. Is your heart hard? Take it to the Father. You’re only a prayer away from tenderness. You live in a hard world but you don’t have to live with a hard heart!

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Denison Forum – Bride’s wedding video cut short by Beirut explosion: Three keys to living in a non-linear world

 

Lebanese bride Israa Seblani stood in a long white gown and veil, smiling and posing for her wedding video, when the scene was shattered by a horrific roar and a shockwave nearly threw her from her feet.

The footage captured the moment on Tuesday when a massive explosion rocked Beirut, killing at least 135 people and injuring more than 5,000.

Seblani, a doctor working in the US, helped check on the injured before fleeing the area to safety. She said later, “What happened during the explosion here—there is no word to explain . . . I was shocked, I was wondering what happened, am I going to die? How am I going to die?”

“There are no words to describe the catastrophe” 

Lebanon’s president, Michel Aoun, said that 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate caused the massive fireball that sent a shockwave across the city. “There are no words to describe the catastrophe that hit Beirut,” he stated.

The Port of Beirut was destroyed. Shop and apartment windows were blown out two miles from where the explosion occurred. Losses are estimated to be between $10 billion and $15 billion.

Protests erupted last night in central Beirut. More than three hundred thousand people—more than 12 percent of the city’s population—are now homeless. Hospitals are overwhelmed with the injured. Images of a shattered city convey just some of the horror.

Why was the ammonium nitrate there? A vessel called the MV Rhosus entered the port at Beirut in 2013 due a lack of seaworthiness and was forbidden from sailing. The ship’s owner abandoned the vessel, and the ammonium nitrate remained in a storage facility in Beirut’s port. Authorities were supposed to dispose of it safely but failed to do so.

Many in Lebanon blame years of mismanagement and corruption by the country’s political leaders. Some speculate that Hezbollah, a radical Shiite organization that controls much of Lebanon and is pledged to the destruction of Israel, was holding on to this material to use against Israel in missiles or bombs.

What “could change life as we know it” 

The explosion in Beirut was two orders of magnitude greater than the most powerful nonnuclear weapon in the US arsenal. This fact leads to another story in the news this week.

Yesterday was the seventy-fifth anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Nine countries currently possess nuclear weapons: the US, Russia, France, China, the UK, Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea. A recent report in the Wall Street Journal states that Saudi Arabia may be working with China to join their number.

Some nine thousand nuclear weapons exist; as the Union of Concerned Scientists notes, “the use of even one could change life as we know it.”

A university professor who studies nuclear events warns that “the risk of a nuclear exchange—and its devastating impact on medicine and public health worldwide—has only escalated compared to previous decades.” He adds that “the developing technological sophistication among terrorist groups and the growing global availability and distribution of radioactive materials are also especially worrying.”

“The linear life is dead” 

The tragedy in Beirut and the threat of nuclear annihilation point to the unpredictable and chaotic nature of our fallen world. In Life Is in the Transitions, Bruce Feiler expresses this fact bluntly: “The linear life is dead.” By the “linear life” he means “the idea that life follows a series of carefully calibrated progressions—childhood to young adulthood to middle age to old age; dating to marriage to children to empty nest; low-level job to mid-level job to senior-level job to retirement.”

According to Feiler’s research, this idea “seems preposterously outdated.” He discovered that the average person experiences a life “disruptor” every twelve to eighteen months and a “lifequake” (one big event or multiple disruptors at the same time) three to five times in adulthood.

In addition, he reports, the average worker today will hold twelve different jobs before the age of fifty. Those with higher education can expect to change their jobs fifteen times and alter their skill set three times. The typical job now lasts four years; among those under thirty-five years of age, it drops to three.

To navigate such a chaotic, non-linear world, Feiler believes we need agency (“the belief that you can impact the world around you”), belonging (a community that surrounds and nurtures you), and a cause (“a transcendent commitment beyond yourself that makes your life worthwhile”).

Feiler’s insights are more biblical than he may know.

What should be our “greatest fear”? 

God’s word is replete with promises of agency, the assurance that your Father can use your life to impact your world even in the gravest of circumstances. From Joseph, Peter, and Paul in prison to Daniel in a lions’ den and John on Patmos, God uses us in spite of and often because of our challenges (cf. Philippians 4:6–7, 13).

Our Father also offers us belonging in a community of faith so strong and enduring that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). And he has a cause for us that gives our lives eternal significance (Matthew 28:19–20).

So, admit that you live in Beirut, wherever you live. Pray for those who are suffering and find ways to share with them the hope and community of Christ. Live fully in this day, for it is the only day you have.

And remember: “Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter” (Francis Chan).

Will your life “really matter” today?

 

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Charles Stanley – Using Spiritual Gifts

 

1 Peter 4:7-11

Any person who belongs to Christ has received a spiritual gift for God’s glory and the good of the church. Serving the Lord is not a suggestion but a command. When we waste the opportunity, we deprive both ourselves and others of the service God intended for us to provide.

In today’s reading, Peter separates the spiritual gifts into two categories: gifts of serving and speaking. However, within these two groups are an endless variety of ways service for Christ is put into action. Even if two believers have the same gifting, they will express it in unique ways—and with different results.

We should remember that though there are a variety of gifts, ministries, and outcomes, the Holy Spirit is the source of them all, and God is the one doing the work (1 Corinthians 12:4-6). For instance, the teaching gift has a wide range of applications. It can be used by one person to instruct toddlers while someone else uses it to teach seminary students. Both uses are essential in God’s eyes and bring Him glory.

God doesn’t rank the spiritual gifts, so never think that yours isn’t important. What He desires is faithfulness in employing it.

 

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 58-62

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — In the Father’s Ways

 

Bible in a Year:

They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.

1 Samuel 8:3

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 Samuel 8:1–9

In the 1960s, the bustling community of North Lawndale, on Chicago’s West Side, was a pilot community for interracial living. A handful of middle-class African Americans bought homes there on “contract”—that combined the responsibilities of home ownership with the disadvantages of renting. In a contract sale, the buyer accrued no equity, and if he missed a single payment, he would immediately lose his down payment, all his monthly payments, and the property itself. Unscrupulous sellers sold at inflated prices, then the families were evicted when they missed a payment. Another family would buy on contract, and the cycle fueled by greed just kept going.

Samuel appointed his sons judges over Israel, and they were driven by greed. His sons “did not follow his ways” (1 Samuel 8:3). In contrast to Samuel’s integrity, his sons “turned aside after dishonest gain” and used their position to their own advantage. This unjust behavior displeased the elders of Israel and God, putting in motion a cycle of kings that fills the pages of the Old Testament (vv. 4–5).

To refuse to walk in God’s ways allows room for the perversion of those values, and as a result injustice flourishes. To walk in His ways means honesty and justice are clearly seen not only in our words but in our deeds as well. Those good deeds are never an end in themselves but always that others may see and honor our Father in heaven.

By:  John Blase

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Love and Sorrow Meet

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself, alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

His hour had come. He had walked among them, taught them, performed miraculous signs, and he had loved and cared for them. But now, his hour had come and the cross lay ahead of him. The hour he faced would be filled with trial and suffering: Now, my soul has become troubled and what shall I say, Father, save me from this hour?(1)

Jesus would walk the long, lonely road to the cross. Rather than taking the way of self-preservation, he would offer his life, like a grain of wheat. He would die; he would be buried in the darkness of the earth, but as a result he would bear much fruit. Despite what lay ahead of him, and despite the trouble in his soul, he affirms: For this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Thy Name.

Of what was transacted there on that cross, there are many theories.(2) In formal theology, these theories attempt to get at the very nature and the very essence of what Jesus accomplished through his death. For theologians, atonement studies are a fertile field of inquiry because the meaning and impact of the atonement are rich, complex, and paradoxical. One theory, for example, suggests that the atonement stands as the preeminent example of a sacrificial life—an example that followers of Jesus are called to model in their own lives. Other theories argue that the cross is the ultimate symbol of divine love, or that the cross demonstrates God’s divine justice against sin as the violation of his perfect law. Still other theories suggest the cross overcame the forces of sin and evil, restored God’s honor in relation to God’s holiness and righteousness, or served as a substitution for the death we all deserved because of sin.

 

While the nature of the atonement may include a portion of all of these theories, Jesus’s statements as recorded in John’s gospel indicate that his death would be a path to abundant life resulting in the production of much fruit. And in this case, Jesus doesn’t construct a theory of the atonement, but instead chooses an agrarian image to indicate what would be accomplished in the cross. The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified… unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Charles Spurgeon, the nineteenth century theologian and preacher, wrote that this passage of Scripture is rich with paradoxical statements describing the nature of atonement:

“[P]aradox is this—that his glory was to come to him through shame…[that] the greatest fulness of our Lord’s glory arises out of his emptying himself, and becoming obedient to death, even the death of the cross. It is his highest reputation that he made himself of no reputation. His crown derives new luster from his cross….We must never forget this, and if ever we are tempted to merge the crucified Saviour in the coming King we should feel rebuked by the fact that thus we should rob our Lord of his highest honour.”(3)

Spurgeon expands on the paradoxical nature of death bringing forth life. It is only through the cross, just as a kernel of wheat must die in order to produce a harvest, that new life in Christ and reconciliation with God are accomplished. Most powerfully, Spurgeon notes that this teaches us where the vital point of Christianity lies, Christ’s death is the life of his teaching. See here: if Christ’s preaching had been the essential point, or if his example had been the vital point, he could have brought forth fruit and multiplied Christians by his preaching, and by his example. But he declares that, except he shall die, he shall not bring forth fruit.(4)

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Love and Sorrow Meet

Joyce Meyer – Get Your Confidence Back

 

So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them. — Genesis 1:27 (AMPC)

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

Have you ever taken time to consider what you think about yourself? Most people haven’t, but it’s an important thing to do. I can remember desperately struggling for many years with my confidence and self-esteem, but when I finally learned to see myself as God does, it revolutionized my life. My father had told me I was no good and would never amount to anything, but God tells me the truth: that I’m His, and through Him I can do greater things than I could ever imagine. And the same is true for you!

It really isn’t what other people think about us that hurts us the most; it’s what we think of ourselves. This is why it’s so important to see yourself through the perspective of God’s Word. He’s created you with unique gifts, talents, and purpose, He paid the highest price (Jesus’ life) to redeem you, and He loves you with an everlasting love. Knowing that, you can truly walk in the confidence that you are a child of God!

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me see myself the way You do. Thank You for seeing me as Your child, and for reminding me of who I am in You when I forget. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Praying in His Will

 

“This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have requests which we have asked from Him” (1 John 5:14,15 NAS). 

A very dedicated church member, who came to me for counsel concerning her prayer life, said, “I pray all the time, but I don’t seem to get any answers. I have become discouraged and I wonder if God really answers prayer.”

I showed her this wonderful promise and asked, “First of all, do you pray according to the will of God?” This was a new thought to her.

“What do you mean?” she inquired. I explained by reminding her what God’s Word says. How do our requests relate to the Word of God and to the desires which He places in our hearts? As we read in Psalm 37:4, if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He gives us the desires of our hearts, and in Phillipians 2:13 Paul states that it is God who works in us both to will and to do His good pleasure. For example, we can always know that we are praying according to the will of God and the Word of God when we pray for the salvation of souls, for God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. We can pray for the maturing of believers because God wants all of us to be conformed to the image of Christ. We can also pray for all the needs of our brothers and sisters materially, emotionally, and most of all, spiritually – because God’s Word promises that He will supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

One can know that selfish prayers for “me, myself and only my interests” are not likely to be heard because we are to seek first God’s kingdom.

If we want to receive blessings from God for ourselves, we must forget ourselves and help others find their fulfillment. In the process, God will meet our needs. This does not suggest that we should not give attention to our own needs and to the needs of our loved ones, but rather we are not to seek only that which is for our personal best.

No prayer life can be effective without a thorough knowledge and understanding of God’s Word, the basis from which we can know the will of God and thus pray with assurance that our prayers will be answered.

Bible Reading: I John 3:22-24

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will saturate my mind with the Word of God and seek to know and do His will so that when I pray, my prayers will have ready answers.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – God Is Life Himself

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Life at times appears to fall to pieces. It seems irreparable. But it’s going to be okay! How can you know? Because as John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world!” Those are God’s arms you feel. Trust him. Believe him. Allow the only decision maker in the universe to comfort you. Since he has no needs, you cannot tire him. Since he is without age, you cannot lose him. Since he has no sin, you cannot corrupt him.

Paul said in Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can be against us.” If God can make a billion galaxies, can’t he make good out of our bad and sense out of our faltering lives? Of course he can. He is not just alive, but He is life himself. John 5:26 confirms for us,  “The Father has life in himself.” He is God! And God loves you.

Read more 3:16: The Numbers of Hope

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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