Tag Archives: human-rights

Charles Stanley – Time for Success

Charles Stanley

Ephesians 5:15-17

For Christ-followers, succeeding in God’s eyes is the only kind of achievement that matters. Sometimes, however, success seems to elude us. When it does, examining what we are thinking and how we’re spending our time can help us move forward. There’s a relationship between spiritual success and the way we use our time. To become the person God wants each of us to be and to achieve the tasks He’s given us to do, we must manage our time carefully.

Time is a gift God has given us, and we’re accountable to Him for the way we spend it. We need to recognize that time is not ours to fill as we choose, but rather, it’s a trust from the Lord to be utilized in ways that fulfill His plan. Reviewing our schedule regularly will help ensure that we invest this precious resource His way.

Take a moment right now to review your calendar for the rest of this week, and ask yourself the following questions:

1. Does this schedule reveal a wise use of my time, according to God’s principles?

2. Where will I end up if I continue to invest my time in the same activities I’m currently involved in? Will it be where God wants me to be?

3. What will I be accomplishing for the kingdom of God if I continue to use my time in this way?

4. Does the way I spend my time help me move closer to achieving the Lord’s goal for me—namely, ongoing personal transformation into Christlikeness?

Respond to what the Holy Spirit reveals about your schedule, so that you may make wise use of your days. Remember that God wants you to succeed.

 

Alistair Begg – David, The Psalmist

Alistair Begg

The sweet psalmist of Israel.

2 Samuel 23:1

Among all the saints whose lives are recorded in Holy Scripture, David possesses an experience of the most striking, varied, and instructive character. In his history we meet with trials and temptations that are not found, as a whole, in other saints of ancient times, and as a result he provides us with a shadowy picture of our Lord. David knew the trials of all ranks and conditions of men. Kings have their troubles, and David wore a crown. The peasant has his cares, and David handled a shepherd’s crook. The wanderer has many hardships, and David hid in the caves of Engedi. The captain has his difficulties, and David found the sons of Zeruiah too hard for him.

The psalmist also faced trials from his friends; his counselor Ahithophel forsook him: “[He] who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.”1 His worst foes came from his own household: His children were his greatest affliction. The temptations of poverty and wealth, of honor and reproach, of health and weakness all tried their power upon him. He had temptations from without to disturb his peace and from within to mar his joy. David no sooner escaped from one trial than he fell into another, no sooner emerged from one season of despondency and alarm than he was again brought into the lowest depths and all God’s waves and billows rolled over him. This is probably the reason that David’s psalms are so universally the delight of experienced Christians. Whatever our frame of mind, whether ecstasy or depression, David has exactly described our emotions. He was an able master of the human heart because he had been tutored in the best of all schools-the school of heartfelt, personal experience.

As we are instructed in the same school, as we grow mature in grace and in years, we increasingly appreciate David’s psalms and find them to be “green pastures.”2 My soul, let David’s experience cheer and counsel you today.

1Psalm 41:9

2Psalm 23:2

Presidential Prayer Team; C.H. – No Substitute

ppt_seal01

Over 50 million students are headed back to school in America. Millions of students mean millions of teachers. Unfortunately, of those teachers, some will need to call in sick. An estimated 15,000 educators are ill on any given school day – so substitute teachers must fill in the gaps. Regrettably, students often take advantage of their replacement instructors. So when a returning educator gets a good report in her absence, it’s a big deal.

Rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.   Colossians 2:5

Paul must have felt like one of those absent teachers when he received good news from the church in Colossae. He brags in today’s passage on how the new Christians were in order and standing strong in their faith. Paul knew how easy it was to fall away when the teacher wasn’t around. He’d seen it happen in many other churches.

Christ is the ultimate teacher. What you can learn through Him is limitless. There is no substitute for His truth. Is your life is a reflection of “good order” and firm faith? Ask God to strengthen your character, and then intercede for your nation’s leaders. Pray He will give them discernment when it comes to making choices that affect America. You’ll make Him proud when He returns.

Recommended Reading: Matthew 25:14-29

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Unsearchable Things

Ravi Z

Common is the sentiment among recent college graduates that they went in feeling like they knew something, and leave realizing, in fact, how little they know. I remember what this felt like, walking down the aisle to accept my diploma, wondering at the wondering at the irony. Yet as uncomfortable as that moment of recognition might be, I am convinced that the thought is an important place at which to arrive.

Ravi Zacharias tells of being a graduate student when the new encyclopedia Britannica was released in its fifteenth edition. It was a massive collection that had taken fourteen years to produce, and he remembers being fascinated by the statistics: two hundred advisors, three hundred editors, four thousand contributors, over a hundred thousand entries, thirty-four million dollars, forty-three million words. Even so, in the last pages of that work, one of the editors had the audacity to conclude: “Herein contains the entirety of human knowledge.” The number of outdated encyclopedias lying in thrift stores and recycling bins does not help their point.

In the stories of Scripture where God is encountered, we find men and women who, having come in contact God, find themselves blown away by the notion that they didn’t know all that they didn’t know. As Jacob lay dreaming, he saw God appear above a great ladder where God was introduced as the God of his ancestors. Upon waking, Jacob’s his first words were filled with astonishment: “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”(1) Hagar, the maidservant of Sarah, had a similar reaction after she encountered God in the desert. Having run away from Sarah’s abuse, Hagar was resting beside a spring when God spoke to her and told her to return. We read that she was amazed: “And she gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the one who sees me.’”(2)

Whatever we see, there is almost always more. It is probably the one thing we can count on—and the one thing we do not. Christian philosopher Esther Lightcap Meek writes, “We labor under the misimpression that we see what we see, that seeing is believing, that either I see it or I don’t.”(3) Perhaps seeing is not always about 20/20, and seeing God is something else altogether.

Christianity and its stories introduce a God who makes known God’s surprising presence again and again, a God whose revelation is both piecemeal and profound. “O LORD,” proclaims David, “for your servant’s sake and according to your own heart, you have done all this greatness, in making known all these great things. There is none like you, O LORD, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears.”(4) God is well worth our efforts in learning to see. Whether in Jacob’s dream or in Hagar’s distress, God seeks to be known and seeks to gather. The Spirit seeks to surprise and comfort. The Son seeks to be near. Says the LORD, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”(5)

There is something relieving in knowing that there is much that we do not know. It keeps us grounded in reality. It keeps us with a grateful eye toward things of mystery and beauty and kindness. It keeps us looking to the one who wills to be known. When Job was confronted by God with the great thunder of 62 questions about the foundations of the world and the inner workings of life, he realized that he might have spoken out of turn. Confronting the reality of all that he did not know brought Job to a deeper certainty of God and himself. “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you,” he said. There is no more grateful, honest cry before the God who sees.

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

(1) Genesis 28:16.

(2) Genesis 16:13.

(3) Esther Lightcap Meek, Longing to Know: The Philosophy of Knowledge for Ordinary People (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2003), 99.

(4) 1 Chronicles 17:19,20.

(5) Jeremiah 33:3.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Guardian Angels

dr_bright

“For the angel of the Lord guards and rescues all who reverence Him” (Psalm 34:7).

For many years my travels have taken me from continent to continent, to scores of countries each year. I have traveled under all kinds of circumstances, not a few times faced with danger. But always there was peace in my heart that the Lord was with me and I was surrounded by His guardian angels to protect me.

In Pakistan, during a time of great political upheaval, I had finished a series of meetings in Lahore and was taken to the train station. Though I was unaware of what was happening, an angry crowd of thousands was marching on the station to destroy it with cocktail bombs.

The director of the railway line rushed us onto the train, put us in our compartments and told us not to open our doors under any circumstances – unless we knew that the one knocking was a friend. The train ride to Karachi would require more than 24 hours, which was just the time I needed to finish rewriting my book Come Help Change the World.

So I put on my pajamas, got in my berth and began to read and write. It was not until we arrived in Karachi some 28 hours later that I discovered how guardian angels had watched over us and protected us. The train in front of us had been burned when rioting students had lain on the track and refused to move. So the train ran over them and killed them. In retaliation, the mob burned the train and killed the officials.

Now we were the next train and they were prepared to do the same for us. But God miraculously went before us and there were no mishaps. We arrived in Karachi to discover that martial law had been declared and all was peaceful. A Red Cross van took us to the hotel and there God continued to protect us. When the violence subsided we were able to catch a plane out of Karachi for Europe.

Bible Reading: Isaiah 63:7-9

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will make a special point of expressing my gratitude to God for assigning guardian angels to watch over me, protect and help me in my time of trouble. I will not take for granted the protection that many times in the past I have overlooked, not recognizing God’s miraculous, divine intervention, enabling me to live a supernatural life.

Presidential Prayer Team; H.L.M. – Your Name Here

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Imagine you committed a crime. When you appear before a judge, you will need a lawyer. This attorney will represent you and help give you confidence to face the judge with boldness.

We have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.  Ephesians 3:12

In the same way, Satan accuses you of all your sins to God. Yet the Bible says, “If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (I John 2:1) Jesus appears before God on your behalf and says, “Father, I know (your name) is a sinner, but repentance has been made and my blood has brought cleansing. (Your name) belongs to me.”

As a result of Christ’s death and resurrection, you have the authority to enter directly into God’s presence with freedom and confidence! He loves you completely – and is always waiting with open arms to welcome you as His child and not as a guilty slave.

The Lord knows you by name…so talk with Him about everything. Intercede for your family, friends and neighbors. Regularly pray that the nation’s leaders will make choices based upon godly principles. Expectedly ask that many of them who don’t have a personal relationship with Christ will turn their hearts toward God. Then thank Him for their changed lives!

Recommended Reading: Romans 8:31-39

 

Charles Stanley – Responding to Stress

Charles Stanley

We become steadfast Christians, able to endure and overcome, through the power of Jesus Christ. Job stress has become such a universal problem that many medical professionals now classify it as an occupationally related disease, precipitating numerous other serious problems such as ulcers, depression, and even suicide.

Causes of Stress

In our complex environment, however, pressure on the job is just one of many causes of high tension and anxiety. Family trouble, financial difficulty, and other factors induce a great deal of turmoil. In fact, there is even a detailed list that assigns points to the various sources of stress. For example, the most stressful of events is the death of a spouse, divorce, marital separation, a jail term, death of another family member, and illness or injury. Still, the strains of work account for many of the stress-producing agents, including dismissal, retirement, business readjustment, change to a different kind of work, change in work responsibilities, trouble with supervision, and change in work hours or conditions.

Common Reactions to Stress

There are several common reactions to stress. Many try to flee the problem—changing jobs, bosses, or environment—in the hopes that the irritation will go away. Some internalize their duress, seeking to suppress it. However, it usually spills over into some other area, most often into the family life. Still others crumble emotionally, giving way to despair and depression.

The Christian’s Responses to Stress

The believer’s response to such adversity is critical if he is to emerge successfully. The Word of God reveals several fundamental principles that can bring us through tough times and even positively benefit our spiritual and emotional well-being in the process.

First, we should look at our situation as with a telescope, not under a microscope. All too often, we magnify our troubles beyond their significance and in so doing increase their pressure. Instead, remember that God is the author and finisher of our faith, knowing the end from the beginning and providing all of our necessities for the present. Concentrate on today’s problems, not tomorrow’s, and thank God for His daily grace to sustain you.

Second, rely on God’s strength, not yours. Satan deceives us into thinking we can handle our strains in our own cleverness and abilities—until we are almost at the breaking point. The key is to lean on His indwelling might at the initial stage of the problem. God’s strength comes as He stabilizes our emotions with His peace, infuses our hearts with His joy, and provides us with His all-sufficient wisdom to deal with any hardship in life. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10). “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength” (Isaiah 40.29).

Third, thank God that He is at work producing some positive results from your stressful circumstances. Trials always turn us toward the Lord, seeking and trusting Him with new fervor. Trials also are working in us to create sturdier Christian character and the ability to persevere under the load. “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3, 4). As we turn to the sufficiency of Christ and trust in His power and wisdom, we gain new spiritual maturity and hardiness of spirit.

How God Uses Our Stressful Times

God is never out to break us or shatter us. He knows our frame and will not overload us in times of stress. Rather, He seeks to use our stressful times as cleverly disguised opportunities for us to gain His perspective, lean on His strength, and develop steadfastness with which we can run life’s course.

God may not change the circumstance that is pressing so grievously on you. He may not remove that person who vexes you so greatly. He may not heal that affliction that daily grates away at your body and soul. But He will dramatically alter your own emotions and responses as you turn to Him instead of running or exploding.

Over time, you truly will find His strength, wisdom, and presence sufficient for the fray. Your stress will become a catalyst for spiritual stability instead of an agent of destruction and despair. The pressure will reinforce your faith, not weaken it. We became steadfast Christians, able to endure and overcome through the power of Jesus Christ.

“Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22).

For further insights, read the following passages:

Isaiah 30:15
Matthew 5:11-12
Matthew 6:25-34
Luke 12:22-34
Acts 5:40-41

Adapted from “Priority Profiles for Today’s Workplace” by Charles F. Stanley.

 

Alistair Begg – Foreigners in The Lord’s House

Alistair Begg

Foreigners have come into the holy places of the Lord’s house.

Jeremiah 51:51

In this account the faces of the Lord’s people were covered with shame, for it was a terrible thing for men to intrude upon the Holy Place that was reserved exclusively for the priests. Everywhere around us we see similar cause for sorrow. How many ungodly men are now studying with a view to entering the ministry! What a crying sin is that solemn lie by which our whole population is nominally part of a National Church! How fearful it is that ordinances should be pressed upon the unconverted, and that among the more enlightened churches of our land there should be such laxity of discipline. If the thousands who will read this portion will take this matter before the Lord Jesus today, He will interfere and avert the evil that otherwise will come upon His Church. To adulterate the church is to pollute a well, to pour water upon fire, to sow a fertile field with stones. May we all have grace to maintain in our own proper way the purity of the Church as being an assembly of believers and not a nation, an unsaved community of unconverted men.

Our zeal must, however, begin at home. Let us examine ourselves as to our right to eat at the Lord’s Table. Let us see to it that we are wearing our wedding garment, lest we ourselves should be regarded as foreigners in the Lord’s holy place. Many are called, but few are chosen; the way is narrow, and the gate is strait. O for grace to come to Jesus aright, with the faith of God’s elect. He who smote Uzzah for touching the ark is very jealous of His two ordinances. As a true believer I may approach them freely; as a foreigner I must not touch them in case I die. Heart-searching is the duty of all who are baptized or come to the Lord’s Table. “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!”

1Psalm 139:23

John MacArthur – Treating Others with Consideration

John MacArthur

“[Love] does not act unbecomingly” (1 Cor. 13:5).

When I was a young child, I loved to slurp my soup. I didn’t see any harm in it even though my parents constantly objected. Then one evening I ate with someone who slurped his soup. He was having a great time but I didn’t enjoy my meal very much. Then I realized that proper table manners are one way of showing consideration for others. It says, “I care about you and don’t want to do anything that might disrupt your enjoyment of this meal.”

On a more serious note, I know a couple who got an annulment on the grounds that the husband was rude to his wife. She claimed that his incessant burping proved that he didn’t really love her. The judge ruled in her favor, stating that if the husband truly loved her, he would have been more considerate. That’s a strange story but true, and it illustrates the point that love is not rude.

“Unbecomingly” in 1 Corinthians 13:5 includes any behavior that violates acceptable biblical or social standards. We could paraphrase it, “Love is considerate of others.” That would have been in stark contrast to the inconsiderate behavior of the Corinthians–many of whom were overindulging at their love feasts and getting drunk on the Communion wine (1 Cor. 11:20-22). Some women were overstepping bounds by removing their veils and usurping the role of men in the church (1 Cor. 11:3-16; 14:34-35). Both men and women were corrupting the worship services by trying to outdo one another’s spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 14:26).

Undoubtedly the Corinthians justified their rude behavior–just as we often justify ours. But rudeness betrays a lack of love and is always detrimental to effective ministry. For example, I’ve seen Christians behave so rudely toward non-Christians who smoke that they destroyed any opportunity to tell them about Christ.

Be aware of how you treat others–whether believers or unbelievers. Even the smallest of courtesies can make a profound impression.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to monitor your behavior and convict you of any loveless actions. As He does, be sure to confess and forsake them.

For Further Study:

Read Luke 7:36-50. How did Jesus protect the repentant woman from the Pharisee’s rudeness?

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Rethinking Atheism

Ravi Z

“The story I have to tell is the history of the next two centuries….For a long time now our whole civilization has been driving, with a tortured intensity growing from decade to decade, as if towards a catastrophe: restlessly, violently, tempestuously, like a mighty river desiring the end of its journey, without pausing to reflect, indeed fearful of reflection….Where we live, soon nobody will be able to exist.”(1)

This terrifying place without human existence is the world after the death of God as envisioned by Friedrich Nietzsche. His vision casts a bleak view of humanity and paints a frightening portrait of a world where the memory of God is but a void. Nietzsche’s vision directly contrasts with many of the contemporary anthems that sing the praises of a world without God and without religion.

Imagine there’s no heaven

It’s easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people

Living for today

Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace.(2)

In many ways, the vision of Nietzsche won the day in the early part of the twentieth century. Under regimes like that of Stalin in Russia or Pol Pot in Cambodia millions of people were slaughtered. Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution saw religious institutions as priority targets. Buddhist temples, churches and mosques were razed to the ground or converted to other uses. Sacred texts, as well as Confucian writings, were burned, along with religious statues and other artwork. Ironically, Nietzsche offers a healthy critique of the optimistic atheism of Lennon, various communist regimes, or popular authors who envision a world free of religion, and perhaps religious people.

Nietzsche’s vision, in and of itself, can offer the theist a healthy offensive to the typical onslaught of atheistic critiques on religion. In addition, there are many other questions that can be offered by theists to those who might come to atheistic or agnostic conclusions. If there is no God, for example, many of “the big questions” remain unanswered. Where did everything come from and why is there something rather than nothing? Why is there conscious, intelligent life on this planet and why is there a near-universal desire to assign meaning to sometimes the smallest of events? Does human history lead anywhere or is it all in vain since death is merely the end? How does one come to understand good and evil, right and wrong? If these concepts are merely social constructions or human opinions, where does one look to determine morality?

Without God there is both a crisis of meaning and morality. Without God, as Nietzsche articulated, meaning becomes nothing more than one’s own self-interests, pleasures, or tastes. Without God, the world is just stuff, thrown out into space and time, going nowhere, meaning nothing.

Moreover, without God or any sort of transcendent standard, how can atheists critique religions or religious people in the first place? Whose voice will be heard? Whose tastes or preferences will be honored? Without God, human tastes and opinions have no more weight than we give them, and who are we to give them meaning anyway? Societies might make these things “illegal” and impose penalties or consequences, but human cultures have at various times legally or socially disapproved of everything from believing in God to believing the world revolves around the sun, from slavery to interracial marriage, from polygamy to monogamy. Human taste or opinion, societal laws or culture are hardly dependable arbiters of truth.

The problem of evil and suffering are in no way solved without a God to blame for allowing them to happen. Where does one locate hope for the redemption of suffering and evil? Without God it is neither redemptive nor redeemable.  It might be true that there is no God to blame now, but neither is there a God to reach out to for strength, transcendent meaning, or comfort.  There is only madness and confusion in the face of suffering and evil.

Finally, if there is no God, human beings don’t make sense.  How does one explain human longing and desire for the transcendent? How do we explain human questions for meaning and purpose or inner thoughts of unfulfillment or emptiness? Why do humans hunger for the spiritual? How can we understand these questions if nothing exists beyond the material world? How do we get laws out of luck or predictable processes out of brute chance? If all that makes us different from animals is learning and altruism, why do the brutish seemingly outnumber the wise in our world?

Nietzsche argued that the death of God would bring the upheaval of all morality and meaning and not its preservation. By raising these questions, Christians remind atheists who see the possibility of morality, meaning, and hope without God of their own prophetic heritage.

Margaret Manning is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Seattle, Washington.

(1) As quoted by Erich Heller in The Importance of Nietzsche (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), 5.

(2) John Lennon, Imagine (September, 1971).

Charles Stanley – The Danger of Bitterness

Charles Stanley

1 Samuel 18:1-30

King Saul had it all: God’s anointing on him as ruler; the prophet Samuel to guide him; the power and wealth of the kingdom of Israel; the applause of the people. Yet he died a bitter man. What steps led to his downfall?

• Anger. When Goliath was defeated, the crowds praised Saul as a killer of thousands but David as a slayer of tens of thousands. Instead of rejoicing that God had raised up someone to slay the giant, Saul grew angry with David for receiving more praise than he did.

• Wrong thinking. Saul’s flaring temper affected his mind, and he became suspicious of David’s motives. He started thinking that since the Lord was with David, the young man would want to take over the kingdom right away.

• Fear. Saul’s fear led to plotting against David and throwing spears at him.

• Rejection. The king sent David away from his presence.

• Dread. Saul’s fear grew stronger with David’s military success and the people’s growing love for the younger man.

• Deceitful action. Twice the king tried to manipulate David by offering one of his daughters in marriage. Both times he plotted to get David killed by the Philistines, and each attempt failed. Saul’s response was to become David’s enemy for the rest of his days. From then on, bitterness reigned.

Although the details of our lives differ from Saul’s, the steps to bitterness and ruin are the same. What unresolved anger do you allow to fester? Whom do you avoid because of ill will? Won’t you confess your sin, turn to God, and be set free?

 

 

Our Daily Bread — Contained But Not Extinguished

Our Daily Bread

Hebrews 10:19-39

For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. —Hebrews 10:37

In June 2012, the Waldo Canyon fire destroyed 346 homes in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and burned more than 18,000 acres of mountain forest. The fire was declared 100-percent contained when perimeter lines had been built around the entire area of the blaze. It had been confined to a defined area until it could be fully extinguished. A fire information official warned residents that they might continue to see smoke in the burn area because even though the fire was fully contained it “is not controlled and it is not out.”

When our world is rocked by tragic events and evil acts, we long for the day when evil will finally be destroyed and God will bring history to a close and fully establish His kingdom. Until that time, however, the Lord gives us His grace to live purposeful lives of faith as we await His coming. In Hebrews 10, we are urged to draw near to God with sincere hearts (v.22); hold fast to the hope we profess (v.23); spur each other on to love and good works (v.24); and continue meeting together for encouragement “and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (v.25).

Until the time God extinguishes the fires of evil forever, He gives us His grace and strength to endure the trials of life as we look forward to His return. —David McCasland

Dear Lord, thank You for the grace You give us to live

each day for Your glory. We look forward to the day

when You return, all evil will be extinguished, and

we will live with You in perfect harmony forever.

Jesus is coming—perhaps today!

Bible in a year: Psalms 94-96; Romans 15:14-33

 

Charles Stanley – Results of Uncontrolled Weakness

Charles Stanley

Romans 6:17-23

It is normal for children, at some point, to become aware of growing stronger. “Let’s see your muscles,” a parent will say. The child bends an arm, makes a fist, and proudly displays the evidence. Parents often encourage their children to increase strength and overcome any weakness. Some youngsters cooperate, but others act indifferent or feel defeated even before they start.

We all have weak areas in our lives. How do we respond to them? Do we make a plan to overcome them? Do we pretend they are unimportant or surrender to them without much effort? None of these responses is what God desires for us. He wants our weaknesses to remind us how totally dependent we are upon His strength and how great our need is for Him. His plan is for our frailties to be a powerful motivator to deepen our relationship with Him.

Handled improperly, those areas in which we lack ability can become stumbling blocks that hurt us and those around us. A proper response—namely, turning to God—means He will take charge of our weaknesses and no longer allow them to dominate our lives.

Samson was a man whom God set apart and equipped for divine purposes. But he had an uncontrollable weakness, which he allowed to run unchecked until it destroyed his work for the Lord (Judg. 13-16). We, as Christ-followers, have also been set apart for God’s work and equipped by Him. We should heed the warning of Samson’s life and turn quickly to God every time our weakness surfaces. Delay could mean disaster.

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Rethinking Atheism

Ravi Z

“The story I have to tell is the history of the next two centuries….For a long time now our whole civilization has been driving, with a tortured intensity growing from decade to decade, as if towards a catastrophe: restlessly, violently, tempestuously, like a mighty river desiring the end of its journey, without pausing to reflect, indeed fearful of reflection….Where we live, soon nobody will be able to exist.”(1)

This terrifying place without human existence is the world after the death of God as envisioned by Friedrich Nietzsche. His vision casts a bleak view of humanity and paints a frightening portrait of a world where the memory of God is but a void. Nietzsche’s vision directly contrasts with many of the contemporary anthems that sing the praises of a world without God and without religion.

Imagine there’s no heaven

It’s easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people

Living for today

Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace.(2)

In many ways, the vision of Nietzsche won the day in the early part of the twentieth century. Under regimes like that of Stalin in Russia or Pol Pot in Cambodia millions of people were slaughtered. Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution saw religious institutions as priority targets. Buddhist temples, churches and mosques were razed to the ground or converted to other uses. Sacred texts, as well as Confucian writings, were burned, along with religious statues and other artwork. Ironically, Nietzsche offers a healthy critique of the optimistic atheism of Lennon, various communist regimes, or popular authors who envision a world free of religion, and perhaps religious people.

Nietzsche’s vision, in and of itself, can offer the theist a healthy offensive to the typical onslaught of atheistic critiques on religion. In addition, there are many other questions that can be offered by theists to those who might come to atheistic or agnostic conclusions. If there is no God, for example, many of “the big questions” remain unanswered. Where did everything come from and why is there something rather than nothing? Why is there conscious, intelligent life on this planet and why is there a near-universal desire to assign meaning to sometimes the smallest of events? Does human history lead anywhere or is it all in vain since death is merely the end? How does one come to understand good and evil, right and wrong? If these concepts are merely social constructions or human opinions, where does one look to determine morality?

Without God there is both a crisis of meaning and morality. Without God, as Nietzsche articulated, meaning becomes nothing more than one’s own self-interests, pleasures, or tastes. Without God, the world is just stuff, thrown out into space and time, going nowhere, meaning nothing.

Moreover, without God or any sort of transcendent standard, how can atheists critique religions or religious people in the first place? Whose voice will be heard? Whose tastes or preferences will be honored? Without God, human tastes and opinions have no more weight than we give them, and who are we to give them meaning anyway? Societies might make these things “illegal” and impose penalties or consequences, but human cultures have at various times legally or socially disapproved of everything from believing in God to believing the world revolves around the sun, from slavery to interracial marriage, from polygamy to monogamy. Human taste or opinion, societal laws or culture are hardly dependable arbiters of truth.

The problem of evil and suffering are in no way solved without a God to blame for allowing them to happen. Where does one locate hope for the redemption of suffering and evil? Without God it is neither redemptive nor redeemable.  It might be true that there is no God to blame now, but neither is there a God to reach out to for strength, transcendent meaning, or comfort.  There is only madness and confusion in the face of suffering and evil.

Finally, if there is no God, human beings don’t make sense.  How does one explain human longing and desire for the transcendent? How do we explain human questions for meaning and purpose or inner thoughts of unfulfillment or emptiness? Why do humans hunger for the spiritual? How can we understand these questions if nothing exists beyond the material world? How do we get laws out of luck or predictable processes out of brute chance? If all that makes us different from animals is learning and altruism, why do the brutish seemingly outnumber the wise in our world?

Nietzsche argued that the death of God would bring the upheaval of all morality and meaning and not its preservation. By raising these questions, Christians remind atheists who see the possibility of morality, meaning, and hope without God of their own prophetic heritage.

Margaret Manning is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Seattle, Washington.

(1) As quoted by Erich Heller in The Importance of Nietzsche (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), 5.

(2) John Lennon, Imagine (September, 1971).

Presidential Prayer Team; C.H. – Courage on a Camel

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Often the setting of adventure stories, the Sahara desert has a reputation for danger that is no exaggeration. So why would 20 men choose to load up camels once a month and cross the world’s hottest lands? They are boldly carrying the Word of God to the Islamic people. To avoid their Bibles being discovered, these Christians are willing to risk potentially fatal desert conditions to bring His truth to those who need it.

And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly.  Acts 19:8

The apostle Paul also took risks in sharing the good news of Christ. “Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea.” (II Corinthians 11:25) Sharing Jesus takes courage – even in the relative safety of America, where biblical principles are under more scrutiny than ever.

People question the legitimacy of Jesus as God’s Son as well as the Bible being the true Word of God. Christ followers must have courage to stand in the face of attack. Pray for God to give you the courage to share His truth, even when it’s not the popular viewpoint. Then ask Him to strengthen Christians in the House and the Senate to not bend or sway to opposition.

Recommended Reading: Romans 1:8-17

Greg Laurie – God’s Restoration Plan

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And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ–everything in heaven and on earth. —Ephesians 1:10

From the beginning of time, mankind has searched for peace. He has joined peace movements. He has marched for peace. He has awarded prizes for peace. He has even gone to war for peace. And when you hear of someone being arrested for disturbing the peace, you wonder where they found any to disturb.

There are people today who put bumper stickers on their car that say, “Visualize world peace.” Then they cut you off on the freeway.

One day there will be peace. But it won’t be brought about by the United Nations. It won’t be brought about by any nation. It will be brought about by God Himself. It will happen when the Creator Himself returns, takes possession of what is rightfully His, and hangs a sign over this war-weary planet that says, “Under new management.” Christ will return, and He will bring lasting peace.

God’s perfect plan, according to Ephesians 1:10, is to “bring everything together under the authority of Christ.”

Peter preached in Acts 3:21 that Christ “must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets.” God is going to make earth into heaven and heaven into earth. Just as the wall that separates man and God was torn down as a result of the Cross, so too will the wall that separates heaven and earth be demolished.

Have you ever seen a completely restored classic car cruise down the street? It catches your eye. You think, That is awesome! That is beautiful! That is incredible! That is because you love to see something restored to its original condition.

God is into restoration. He is into restoring lives. He is into restoring bodies. And He is even into restoring our planet.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Will Uphold Us

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“Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with My victorious right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

An obsolete Army transport plane was filled with people from various parts of the world. We flew, at the invitation of the president of a third world country, for a dedication ceremony of a historic sight. But it was not until we were crowded into the plane and ready to take off that we observed that there were no seatbelts. In fact there were not even enough seats for all of the guests. It was quite an unusual experience at best. Yet, I was able to claim this assuring promise that God gave to Isaiah and gives to all of his children who trust and obey Him.

Many times in my trips to various parts of the world, I have encountered difficulties, opposition, problems and challenges. In such times as these, I have needed and claimed the promises of God.

God’s banquet table is full to overflowing. Not only can we be free from fear, but we can also be encouraged knowing that He is our God and thus He will strengthen and help and uphold us with His victorious right hand. If you and I come to such a banquet table and come away with only crumbs, we should not blame the one who has prepared the table. He has made all things possible for us and given us all things in Him. Even if your task today is simply to perform routine duties, you may approach them without fear, even of boredom, knowing that God is with you.

Bible Reading: Isaiah 41:1-9

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Claiming this marvelous promise from God’s word, I will not fear, but will claim with joyful confidence His faithful promise to meet my every need, knowing that I am complete in Him who will enable me to live the supernatural life.

Presidential Prayer Team; C.P.- Determine to be Determined

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Harry Truman was an example of determination. He was a quiet, unassuming man who found a huge responsibility dropped in his lap when he inherited the presidency. He believed in ending World War II (enough to release the atomic bombs), hoped for America’s recovery, and endured tensions with the Soviet Union and many other problems. “America was not built on fear,” he said. “America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.”

Love…believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.   I Corinthians 13:7

In the Bible, Daniel interceded for his country, fasting and praying for 21 days, persistently committed to receiving an answer. Ultimately, a man with “eyes like flaming torches” told Daniel his prayers were heard immediately, even though he and Michael were hindered by “the prince of the kingdom of Persia.” (Daniel 10) Even against spiritual opposition, Daniel’s prayers were being honored by God.

In today’s verse, we see three characteristics of love. With God’s love dwelling in you, you can have the determination to believe God can do anything; hope because He answers prayers, and endure to see His answers for this country. In love, determine to be as determined as Daniel and courageous as Truman, praying for America – believing, hoping and enduring.

Recommended Reading: Luke 18:1-8

Charles Stanley – God’s Grace and Our Finances

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Ephesians 2:1-10

Ice cream is popular in the summer. But not all stores serve portions of the same size. Some establishments are generous with their scoops, others are fair, and one or two seem stingy with the frozen treat. It doesn’t take long for customers to learn the “standard” that is used by a particular store.

God uses a very generous measure with us, making His grace abound to us so we have all we need to serve and obey Him (2 Cor. 9:8). And He ensures that His grace—in other words, His unmerited favor and goodness—will affect all areas of life, including our finances. He does this so we can generously invest in His kingdom with our resources and our lives.

But the definition of generosity varies greatly. Some Christians understand God’s principles and give willingly and liberally. These believers have learned that God applies grace to our finances so we can be generous toward others rather than concerned simply about our own prosperity. For others, giving is “fair”—they faithfully give an “adequate amount.” But sadly, too many of God’s children appear stingy toward Him: they either refuse to share much of what they have or spend most of it on themselves.

Generosity is a matter of the heart and a way of life. With a focus on others, giving is to be done freely and cheerfully. People with this attitude trust God to meet their needs and are set free to give away even what they long to keep. No matter how little we have, the Lord wants us to be magnanimous people. Do you know someone who is considered generous? Is it you?

 

John MacArthur – Benevolence Without Love

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“If I give all my possessions to feed the poor . . . but do not have love, it profits me nothing” (1 Cor. 13:3).

If you’ve ever donated to your church or another charitable organization out of obligation, peer pressure, legalism, guilt, a desire for recognition, or simply a tax deduction, you know what it means to give without love. In our society it’s easy to fall prey to that kind of giving because the needs are so great and fund raisers appeal to every conceivable motive. In addition, many cults and false religions encourage the giving up of possessions and other sacrificial gestures as a supposed means of earning God’s favor. But God is more interested in why you give than what you give.

Paul’s hypothetical illustration in 1 Corinthians 13:3 is of someone who sacrificed everything he had to feed the poor. The Greek word translated “to feed” means “to dole out in small quantities.” Apparently this guy didn’t simply write out a check for a food distribution program; he was personally involved in a long-term, systematic program that would eventually consume every resource he had.

Paul doesn’t mention motives–only that this person lacked love. Consequently, the benefits of his benevolence were limited to the physical realm. Any spiritual benefits were forfeited.

Jesus, making a similar point, said, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 6:1). If your motive for giving is to gain the approval of men, their accolades will be your only reward. If you’re motivated by love for God, He will reward you abundantly (vv. 2-4).

When you give to the Lord, what is your motive? Do you want others to think more highly of you? Do you feel obligated? Those are subtle influences, so be sure to guard your motives carefully. Remember, the only acceptable motive is love.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to keep you sensitive to the needs of others, enabling you always to give out of genuine love.

For Further Study:

Read Luke 18:9-14.

How did the Pharisee’s prayer differ from the tax- gatherer’s?

How did God respond to each prayer?