Tag Archives: Joy

Charles Stanley – How Do We Seek God?

 

Deuteronomy 4:21-31

We will find God when we seek Him with all our heart. That is a biblical promise we can depend on. But how do we go about seeking Him?

First, we must exhibit certain attitudes. Scripture implores us to pursue wholeheartedly, diligently, continually, confidently, and humbly. These qualities are essential for learning and spiritual growth.

Then we get into God’s Word, studying and meditating upon it with a receptive heart. We also take up the discipline of prayer, because it’s the primary way we communicate with Him, and He with us.

The next step is to consider how God is operating in our circumstances. Think back on His patterns of faithfulness to you in the past, and you’ll see glimpses of how He worked, even during times of adversity in your life. You may even be able to recognize His involvement in the lives of other believers, and that awareness can also enrich your growth.

When we seek God, we find the capacity to love and serve Him. If you’ve been feeling apathetic towards the Father, consider pursuing Him in one of the ways described above, and pray that it ignites your passion.

Bible in One Year: 1 Samuel 27-29

 

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Cheerful Givers

 

Bible in a Year:

God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:7

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Corinthians 9:6–9

Years ago, my wife received a small rebate from something she’d purchased. It wasn’t something she’d expected, it just showed up in the mail. About the same time, a good friend shared with her the immense needs of women in another country, entrepreneurial-minded women trying to better themselves by way of education and business. As is often the case, however, their first barrier was financial.

My wife took that rebate and made a micro-loan to a ministry devoted to helping these women. When the loan was repaid, she simply loaned again, and again, and so far has made twenty-seven such investments. My wife enjoys many things, but there’s rarely a smile as big on her face as when she receives an update on the flourishing taking place in the lives of women she’s never met.

We often hear emphasis on the last word in this phrase—“God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7)—and rightly so. But our giving has a specific quality about it—it shouldn’t be done “reluctantly or under compulsion,” and we’re called not to sow “sparingly” (vv. 6–7). In a word, our giving is to be “cheerful.” And while each of us will give a little differently, our faces are places for telling evidence of our cheer.

By:  John Blase

Reflect & Pray

When did you last “cheerfully” give? Why do you believe God loves a cheerful giver?

Generous Father God, thank You for the joy that comes in giving from a cheer-filled heart. And thank You for the ways in which You provide abundantly for our needs.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Giving Up Chocolate

Confession: I love Tom Waits. How do you classify him? He has been many things: a lounge singer, a street poet, actor, songwriter. He has the voice of a rusty exhaust manifold. One aspect of his persona(s) over the years that is endlessly fascinating is his way of tapping into the words and thoughts of the common sense of common man. Some of his characters are salt of the earth; others are down-on-their-luck lovable outcasts or outsiders.

In his song “Chocolate Jesus,” Tom describes a divine confection for those who cannot or do not want to go to church on Sundays:

Well, I don’t go to church on Sunday
Don’t get on my knees to pray
Don’t memorize the books of the bible
I got my own special way

I know Jesus loves me
Maybe just a little bit more
Fall down on my knees every Sunday
At Zerelda Lee’s candy store

Well, it’s got to be a chocolate Jesus
Make me feel good inside
Got to be a chocolate Jesus
Keep me satisfied.(1)

Much of the song is up to interpretation: Is he describing the one with a young, innocent faith? The one who would rather do their own thing because church has too many rules? The apathetic? The one who wants salvation without sacrifice? The one who wants God without the pain of past church experiences? Sometimes there are understandable reasons why people want the chocolate Jesus, the one who just loves them, makes them feel good inside, and keeps them satisfied.

This has been me before. Perhaps you can relate. Before I became a Christian, I would visit churches from time to time looking for something, but it was never there. That might have been a self-fulfilling prophecy, but it was the honest feeling. Years later, after becoming a Christian, I felt lost in a discipleship-less church that was big on rule-following but felt very small on love. Eventually I left and fell back into old patterns of a life without God. I tried church and it wasn’t for me. Wearily, I just wanted the God who loved me as I was.

Looking back, though, I notice something about that young man: I wanted the chocolate Jesus, sweetness without nutrition. God did love me as I was, but I started to get the impression that that was the end of the story.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Giving Up Chocolate

Joyce Meyer – You Are Not Alone

 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God…. — Isaiah 43:2-3 (NIV)

When you’re going through difficult times, it’s so important to remember that God is right there with you, and you can trust Him to help you through it.

God never promised us a trouble-free life, but He does promise to never leave us or forsake us (see Hebrews 13:5). In the hard times, we can take comfort knowing that He loves us tremendously, He has His eye on us, and He is already working behind the scenes to help us (see Romans 8:38-39; Psalm 33:18).

I’ve also learned from experience that we can trust God to use these times for our benefit (see Romans 8:28). When everything seems uncertain and unstable, He helps us draw closer to Him and hang on to the rock of our salvation—Jesus Christ—who cannot be moved or shaken!

When we’re hit by life’s storms or experience things we don’t understand, that’s when we have to remember that God is always with us—no matter what we think or feel, and no matter what our circumstances look like.

Jesus is with you through every storm, and you are going to come out stronger on the other side. He’s the One Who loves you unconditionally, and He’s the One Who can turn your difficult times into something great.

And as you trust God through it all, He will give you something stable—He will give you more of Himself.

Pray: “God, I thank You for always being with me—in the good times and also when life gets difficult. Please help me to draw closer to You when life doesn’t make sense. I trust You, and I know that You will work everything out for My good. In Jesus’ Name, amen.”

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – His Mark of Ownership

 

“He has put His brand upon us – His mark of ownership – and given us His Holy Spirit in our hearts as guarantee that we belong to Him, and as the first installment of all that He is going to give us” (2 Corinthians 1:22).

Some time ago, a young Christian came to share his problems. He was very frustrated and confused, and he spoke of the constant defeat and fruitlessness which he experienced in the Christian life.

“You don’t have to live in defeat,” I said to him.

The young man registered surprise.

“You can live a life of victory, a life of joy, a life of fruitfulness,” I assured him. “In fact, by the grace of God – and to Him alone be the glory – for more than 25 years as a Christian I do not recall a single hour of broken fellowship with the Lord Jesus.”

He was really shocked at that.

“Do you mean you haven’t sinned in 25 years?” he asked.

“No, that’s not what I mean, I replied. “I have sinned regrettably, I have grieved and quenched the Spirit at times with impatience, anger or some other expression of the flesh. But when I grieve the Spirit, I know exactly what to do. I breathe spiritually. I confess my sin to God and immediately receive His forgiveness and cleansing, and by faith I continue to walk in the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit.”

Bible Reading: I Corinthians 12:3-11

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Realizing that a believer can live a supernatural, holy life only as he yields to the control of the Holy Spirit, I will seek to practice holiness in my personal life and encourage other Christians to do the same.

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Our Sovereign God

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Many years ago I spent a week visiting the interior of Brazil with a longtime missionary pilot.  Just to say, Wilbur and Orville had a sturdier aircraft!  I could not get comfortable.  I kept thinking the plane was going to crash in the jungle and I’d be gobbled up by piranhas.  I kept shifting around, looking down and gripping my seat—as if that would help.

Finally the pilot had enough of my squirming.  He looked over at me and shouted over the airplane noise, “We won’t face anything that I can’t handle.  You might as well trust me to fly the plane.”  Is God saying the same to you?  Examine those poles of your faith, those truths which sustain your belief in God.  Make sure one of them is etched with the words, “My God is sovereign!”  Then be anxious for nothing!

Read more Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

Home

Denison Forum – Joe Buck will make your home movie: Finding meaning in crisis through solitude with God

Joe Buck has one of the best-known voices in America. He has called twenty-two World Series and six Super Bowls. The son of legendary announcer Jack Buck, he is ubiquitous in the world of sports broadcasting.

Now you can have his voice on your home videos.

People are sending him videos of dogs chasing each other in an empty field, chickens on a seesaw, and an airline employee guiding a plane to its gate. For each, Buck provides his very funny personal analysis.

This is his way of helping people deal with the anxiety and loneliness of these days.

Advice from “the world’s foremost expert on grief” 

One of the most-read articles ever on Harvard Business Review is an interview with David Kessler on the grief we are feeling in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The article describes Kessler as “the world’s foremost expert on grief.”

He notes that “we’re feeling a number of different griefs. We feel the world has changed, and it has. We know this is temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way, and we realize things will be different. . . . The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air.”

In addition, we’re feeling what Kessler calls “anticipatory grief,” which he defines as “that feeling we get about what the future holds when we’re uncertain. . . . There is a storm coming. There’s something bad out there. . . . I don’t think we’ve collectively lost our sense of general safety like this. Individually or as small groups, people have felt this. But all together, this is new. We are grieving on a micro and a macro level.”

When asked what we can do to manage such grief, Kessler applies the well-known stages of grief: “There’s denial, which we say a lot of early on: This virus won’t affect us. There’s anger: You’re making me stay home and taking away my activities. There’s bargaining: Okay, if I social distance for two weeks everything will be better, right? There’s sadness: I don’t know when this will end. And finally there’s acceptance: This is happening; I have to figure out how to proceed.”

Kessler adds a sixth stage: meaning. He explains: “I did not want to stop at acceptance when I experienced some personal grief. I wanted meaning in those darkest hours. And I do believe we find light in those times.”

What it means to seek God’s “face” 

The US topped one thousand coronavirus deaths in a single day for the first time yesterday. Officials say the daily death toll could more than double by mid-April.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Joe Buck will make your home movie: Finding meaning in crisis through solitude with God

Charles Stanley – When We Seek God

 

2 Chronicles 34:1-33

Take a moment to clear your mind, and breathe. Now ask yourself this question with the intention of being completely honest: What am I seeking most in life?

The majority of people in the world are seeking things they will never be able to keep once this lifetime is over. However, true fulfillment comes only through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and that is eternal. Like Josiah in today’s passage, we too can seek that relationship with the Lord. It requires a desire to …

Find out what He is like. Examining God’s Word in depth gives us more understanding of who God is and how He relates to His creation.

Fellowship with Him intimately. Spending time alone with God reorients our heart with His, but it must be quality time—consistent, alone, quiet, and unhurried.

Follow Him more closely. The more you allow the Holy Spirit to work His Word into your heart, the more you will want to obey and please our heavenly Father.

These three things undoubtedly bring us closer to God, but we have to make the decision to pursue them. Do you want to seek God? Let us resolve to know and love Him more today, and turn to Him for help.

Bible in One Year: 1 Samuel 25-26

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Praying Like Jesus

 

Bible in a Year:

Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.

Luke 22:42

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Luke 22:39–44

Every coin has two sides. The front is called “heads” and, from early Roman times, usually depicts a country’s head of state. The back is called “tails,” a term possibly originating from the British ten pence depicting the raised tail of a heraldic lion.

Like a coin, Christ’s prayer in the garden of Gethsemane possesses two sides. In the deepest hours of His life, on the night before He died on a cross, Jesus prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). When Christ says, “take this cup,” that’s the raw honesty of prayer. He reveals His personal desire, “This is what I want.”

Then Jesus turns the coin, praying “not my will.” That’s the side of abandon. Abandoning ourselves to God begins when we simply say, “But what do You want, God?”

This two-sided prayer is also included in Matthew 26 and Mark 14 and is mentioned in John 18. Jesus prayed both sides of prayer: take this cup (what I want, God), yet not My will (what do You want, God?), pivoting between them.

Two sides of Jesus. Two sides of prayer.

By:  Elisa Morgan

Reflect & Pray

What might we learn if we prayed honestly and with complete abandon, as Jesus did? What situation are you facing right now where you can pray honestly yet with abandon to God?

Father, help me follow the example of Your Son, who spent everything so that I might possess real life that includes experiencing intimate prayer with You.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Man of Sorrows

 

“Prosperity, pleasure, and success may be rough of grain and common in fibre, but sorrow is the most sensitive of all created things.”

Those are the words of the famed pleasure seeker, Oscar Wilde. In his De Profundis, written in prison, he wrote with profound earnestness about how much sorrow had taught him. He went on to add, “Where there is sorrow there is holy ground. Some day people will realize what that means. They will know nothing of life till they do.”

As I reflect on those words, I take note first of the one who wrote them. A life of pain was the farthest thing from his mind when he made his choices. In that sense, none of us ever really choose sorrow. But I take note of something else in his words. His claim is bold; he is not merely confessing an idea written across his worldview, but one he insists is written across the world: Sorrow is holy ground and those who do not learn to walk there know nothing of what living means. What he means at the very least is that some of life’s most sacred truths are learned in the midst of sorrow. He learned, for example, that raw unadulterated pleasure for pleasure’s sake is never a fulfilling pleasure. Violation of the sacred in the pursuit of happiness is not truly a source of happiness. In fact, it kills happiness because it can run roughshod over many a victim. Pleasure that profanes is pleasure that destroys.

Sorrow on the other hand—while never pursued—comes into one’s life and compels us to see our own finitude and frailty. It demands of us seriousness and tenderness if we are to live life the way it is meant to be lived. One of the most important things sorrow does is to show us what it needs and responds to. Wilde said it himself: “Sorrow is a wound that bleeds when any hand but that of love touches it, and even then must bleed again, though not in pain.”

Of all the descriptions given about Jesus, there is one that unabashedly stands out to confront us. It is a description uttered by the prophet Isaiah, prodding mind and heart at once: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. Like one from whom men hide their faces; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:3). Whether holding glimpses of global suffering or personal pain and loss or both, Isaiah’s is a fitting description to reflect upon.

Maybe you are at a time in your life when hurt is writ large upon your thoughts. Jesus is not unacquainted with your pain. In fact, he draws near particularly with a hand of love. Your wound may still bleed for a while to remind you of your weakness. But he can help carry the pain to carry you in strength. This could indeed be holy ground for you. It most certainly was for him.

 

Ravi Zacharias is founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

Read in browser »

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – I Will Not Fear!

 

The Lord is my helper; I will not fear…. — Hebrews 13:6 (ESV)

There was a time in my life when I had more fears than I could count. I was always afraid the absolute worst would happen. I worried about our finances, our kids, the state of the world and what tomorrow would bring. As a result, I couldn’t enjoy my life or have the peace God wanted to give me.

Fear is one of the primary weapons Satan uses to keep us from moving forward and enjoying the good life God has for us. Especially when something negative happens, the enemy wants us to focus on all of the “what ifs” and fill our lives with worry and anxiety. He desires to pull our focus away from God’s love and faithfulness.

The Bible says, There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear… (1 John 4:18 NIV). Understanding God’s love is the antidote for fear! God wants us to know just how much He loves us and desires to help us.

When I think of my own children, especially when they were younger, there’s almost nothing I wouldn’t do to help them if they were in trouble. Or if someone tried to harm them, they’d better watch out…because no one gets between a mom and her kids!

If we feel this way about our children, then how do you think God feels about us? And unlike us, He has no limitations. Nothing is impossible with Him—He can help us in every situation, on every occasion.

Hebrews 13:5-6 (AMP) is one my favorite passages of Scripture. Just look at what God says about you: “…I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless, nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!

Remember, whatever you’re facing today, God is bigger than your worries, your problems and your fears. He knows every one of your needs before you ever have them, and He delights in taking care of you.

Pray: “God, when I am fearful, help me to focus on Your love and faithfulness. Especially during times of difficulty or uncertainty, fill my heart with Your peace and help me to place my trust in You. In Jesus’ Name, amen.”

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Clothed in Christ

 

“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves in Christ” (Galatians 3:27, NAS).

You may be surprised, as I was, at the result of our personal surveys having to do with church members and salvation.

Such surveys indicate that somewhere between 50 and 90% of all church members are not sure of their salvation. Like Martin Luther, John Wesley and many others who became mighty ambassadors for Christ, some spend many years “serving God” before they experience the assurance and reality of their salvation.

The pastor of a large fashionable church of 1,500 members once reacted negatively when I shared these statistics, doubting that such large percentages of church members lacked assurance of their salvation.

He decided personally to survey his own congregation at the church where he had served as senior pastor for 15 years. To his amazement and shock, more than 75% of the membership indicated they were not sure of their salvation.

The following Sunday, the pastor arranged for the Four Spiritual Laws booklet, which contains the distilled essence of the gospel, to be distributed to each member of the congregation.

For his sermon he read the contents of the booklet aloud, as the congregation followed him, reading from their own copies of the Four Laws. Then he invited all who wished to receive Christ as their Savior and Lord to read aloud with him the prayer contained in the booklet. Almost the entire congregation joined in the prayer audibly. As a result the church was changed, because changed individuals in sufficient numbers equal a changed church, a changed community and a changed nation.

Have you clothed yourself in Christ?

Bible Reading: Galatians 4:4-7

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will not take for granted that I have found faith in Christ simply because I belong to a church, nor will I assume that all church members have assurance of their salvation. I shall encourage all who are not sure to receive Christ and be clothed in His righteousness.

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – God is Testing the Church

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

I think God is testing the church.  By that I mean He is strengthening us.  He’s calling upon us to be the people He desires for His church to be.

You will remember that when Jesus fed that crowd of 5,000 men plus women and children, the gospel tells us that Jesus tested his followers by telling them to feed those people.  They could have and they should have looked to him and said, “Lord, you can do this.”  And so that’s the call of the church right now…to be the people who come to God and say, God we cannot solve this but you can.

Bless our leaders.  Bless those in research.  Bless those who are vulnerable, we ask you Lord.  So let’s be that people, folks.  Let’s be people who call out to God in asking for help. We’re gonna get through this.  I’m not saying it’s going to be easy.  I’m not saying it’s gonna be quick.  But God will take this and He will use it for good.

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

Home

Denison Forum – Woman allegedly tosses Molotov cocktail at boyfriend’s residence: April Fools and the urgency of collective prayer

April Fool’s Day has seldom seemed less appropriate than in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. But in the spirit of the day, let’s begin with the story of a woman in New Jersey who violated her state’s stay-at-home order when she allegedly tossed a Molotov cocktail at a boyfriend’s residence.

She has been charged with a disorderly persons offense for violating the governor’s order. As you might expect, she also faces arson and weapons charges. Fortunately, as the Attorney General’s office noted, her weapon “did not detonate.”

An asteroid the width of Manhattan Island 

For some more good news on this April 1: a giant, “potentially hazardous” asteroid will miss us this month. NASA has named the asteroid 1998 OR2. It is about the width of Manhattan Island and could wreak havoc if it crashed into Earth.

However, at its closest it will be 3.9 million miles from us (more than sixteen times the average distance between us and the moon). We won’t see it again until May 18, 2031. It will return again in 2048, 2062, and 2079, when it will only be 1.1 million miles away.

When I read about 1998 OR2, here was my thought: How do NASA’s experts know how far it will be from us? Or when it will return?

I had a similar question while walking early yesterday morning. Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter were all visible in the predawn sky. Or so a website told me. I would have otherwise been unable to name them or to know that they are planets in our solar system.

As I continued walking, I realized that I don’t know how to make anything that I saw. I don’t know how to make bricks, much less a brick house. I don’t know how to make a car’s fender, much less the entire car. I couldn’t make the concrete on which I was walking or the clothes I was wearing.

Nearly everything we take for granted is something some group of people didn’t take for granted. Rather, they pooled their experience and expertise to do what none of them could have done alone.

“The main business of their lives” 

I am taking us down this road to make a point that relates directly to our spiritual awakening series this week.

President Trump told Americans yesterday to brace for “a very painful two weeks” as public health officials warn that the coronavirus pandemic could leave 100,000 to 240,000 people in the US dead. We are responding to a crisis that is unprecedented in my lifetime by seeking a spiritual awakening that is also unprecedented in my lifetime.

We’re focusing on this familiar text: “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Yesterday, we discussed the foundational urgency of humility, noting that God cannot give what we will not admit we need. Today we’ll consider God’s call to pray. The Hebrew word means to “entreat, supplicate, beg.” It is also collective, meaning to pray as a nation for the nation.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Woman allegedly tosses Molotov cocktail at boyfriend’s residence: April Fools and the urgency of collective prayer

Charles Stanley – The Rewards of Truth

 

Proverbs 2:1-9

Seeking God’s truth is like digging for gold: If we find a tiny flake, we keep scraping and shoveling until we come upon another, which may be a morsel no bigger than an apple seed. That little bit keeps us searching until we find a chunk the size of a marble, and so on. Each new nugget of God-experience is so exciting that we can’t stop excavating for more.

Just think of the advantages of this pursuit. First of all, seeking truth about the Lord naturally results in a more intimate relationship with Him. And aligning our life with these discoveries brings us confidence and the assurance that He is always guarding and guiding us.

Learning about God leads to an additional benefit: the development of spiritual discernment. This is the capacity to distinguish truth from falsehood even when the latter is presented as supportable fact. Having this type of godly insight in turn equips us for greater kingdom service, especially with regard to discipling others.

When it comes to our infinite God, there are always new and exciting treasures for us to unearth. So make it your goal to build a foundation of His truth for your life. By doing so, you will gain wisdom and discover new opportunities to serve Him.

Bible in One Year:   1 Samuel 23-24

 

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Inheritance Isn’t Earned

 

Bible in a Year:

He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.

Ephesians 1:5

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Ephesians 1:3–14

“Thanks for dinner, Dad,” I said as I set my napkin on the restaurant table. I was home on a break from college and, after being gone for a while, it felt strange to have my parents pay for me. “You’re welcome, Julie,” my dad replied, “but you don’t have to thank me for everything all the time. I know you’ve been off on your own, but you’re still my daughter and a part of the family.” I smiled. “Thanks, Dad.”

In my family, I haven’t done anything to earn my parents’ love or what they do for me. But my dad’s comment reminds me that I haven’t done anything to deserve to be a part of God’s family either.

In the book of Ephesians, Paul tells his readers that God chose them “to be holy and blameless in his sight” (1:4), or to stand without blemish before Him (5:25–27). But this is only possible through Jesus, in whom “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (1:7). We don’t have to earn God’s grace, forgiveness, or entrance into His family. We simply accept His free gift.

When we turn our lives over to Jesus, we become children of God, which means we receive eternal life and have an inheritance waiting for us in heaven. Praise God for offering such a wonderful gift!

By:  Julie Schwab

Reflect & Pray

In what ways do you feel or act as if you have to earn God’s love? How can you practice living in the freedom of His love?

Faithful God, thank You for freely giving Your Son so I can be a part of Your family. Help me to honor You in all You’ve done for me.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Day Four

It was a day without hope: March 11, 2011. The 8.9 magnitude earthquake set off a devastating tsunami that washed away coastal cities in Northeastern Japan. Thousands of homes were destroyed. Roads were impassable, transportation destroyed or shut down, and power remained down for weeks in the cold temperatures of early spring. All around were scenes of desperation, as stranded survivors cried for help, buried alive under the rubble of what remained of their cities, communities, and homes. Things couldn’t get much worse when the damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor was discovered, making it impossible to return home. Over three hundred thousand were left homeless and over eighteen thousand people died.

March 11, 2011 was a day without hope for me, as well. Like many around the world, I couldn’t believe that yet another massive earthquake and tsunami of such magnitude—like the Southeast Asian tsunami of 2004—had wrought so much destruction and devastation. Yet on this same day, I attended the funeral for my husband who had died suddenly on March 2, 2011. I felt as if I was buried by the rubble of grief over his lost life and the life we shared together for nearly twenty years.

Even those unacquainted with the biblical narrative have likely heard the familiar story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. It is one of the critical events in John’s Gospel for it is the last miracle Jesus performs prior to his entry into Jerusalem and his crucifixion.(1) As readers of this story, we have the privilege of knowing the triumphant ending, but for Mary, Martha, and all who loved Lazarus, his death and burial must have also felt like a day without hope. Mary and Martha had sent word to Jesus informing him of their brother’s illness. Surely he would rush to their aid and save their ailing brother. Lord, he whom you love is ill.

But rather than rushing to their side, or simply speaking the words of healing as he had done for others, Jesus delays going to them. The Gospel reads: Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, so when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Jesus delays going to them and this sets up one of the difficult tensions in this passage. Jesus loves this family, and yet his delay means Lazarus will die, and worse, his delay will prompt the grief, heartache, and misunderstanding that must have arisen by his absence.

When Jesus does arrive, Lazarus has been dead for four days. Jewish belief taught that after three days the soul would leave the body and corruption would set in. So for those who mourned Lazarus, there was no hope of resuscitation or of saving him now. The fourth day was truly a day without hope. And yet this is the day Jesus shows up.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Day Four

Joyce Meyer – Love Includes Everyone

 

But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. — Luke 6:32 (NIV)

Adapted from the resource Love Out Loud – by Joyce Meyer

The Bible teaches us that love is the most important thing—”the main thing”—and we should let the main thing be the main thing in our lives. Are you majoring in things that really don’t matter and paying very little attention to walking in love? For many years that was exactly what I did, and as a result I constantly felt unfulfilled and dissatisfied. I had a relationship with God; I even had a ministry to others! But I wasn’t happy, and I couldn’t understand why. It seemed like I had most of what I wanted in life, but joy evaded me. As I cried out to God to help me, He showed me that my priorities were out of line—I was more concerned with how I was being treated than with how I treated others.

I believe our level of love for others can be seen (or not seen) in how we treat people, espe­cially people who don’t particularly interest us or have the ability to do anything for us. According to Jesus, our love should include everybody, not just those who can pay us back. He said if you only love those who love you, what credit do you get? Even a sinner can do that!

We don’t have the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives to help us do easy things, but to do things that are hard and sacrificial. Loving some people is very hard. They don’t act lovable, they don’t seem to want to be loved, and they certainly don’t return any love shown to them. But when we start treating others as we want to be treated and not as they treat us, we’re obeying a principle that releases countless blessings and joy into our lives and makes God smile.

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me love everyone, even those who are the hardest to love. Thank You for giving me strength to show Your love to the people around me today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – To Encourage Us

 

“These things that were written in the Scriptures so long ago are to teach us patience and to encourage us, so that we will look forward expectantly to the time when God will conquer sin and death” (Romans 15:4).

Tom had a “short fuse” and frequently exploded in anger when he was disappointed with himself or others. Then he received Christ and began to study the Word of God, obey its commands and walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

His life began to change, gradually at first, until, as he told me recently, it has now been a long time since he has allowed his old nature to express his impatience.

The story is told of an impatient man who prayed and kept praying for God to grant him the virtue he so desperately needed.

“Lord,” he prayed, “give me patience, and give it to me now!”

Patience, however, is a virtue that is developmental in nature, to a large degree. It is the result of walking in the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23). It develops out of a good heart and a godly attitude (Luke 8:15). It is spawned sometimes during times of tribulation. Remember, it is a fruit of the Spirit.

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

So patience comes from hope and trust in God. And finally, we learn patience through the study and personal application of God’s Word in our lives, as suggested in Romans 15:4, “These things that were written in the Scriptures so long ago are to teach us patience and to encourage us.”

Bible Reading: Romans 15:1-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  When delays and seeming denials occur, I will exercise patience, with the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – God is Always Sovereign

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

I love what Chuck Swindoll always says.  That “God is not sometimes sovereign.  He is always sovereign.”  The challenge that awaits us is to not give in to despair…to not do foolish things, but to trust.

The key question that we all need to be asking right now is, “What is God saying to us?”  I think He’s talking to the whole world.  I think He’s telling us that our priorities have gotten misplaced.   We need to dislodge those priorities and return to our heavenly Father.  I think He’s calling us back to Himself.  I do…I do.

Is this a signal of end times as some people are saying?  I do not know.  But I do know God is doing something in the world and He’s calling upon us.  He’s talking to the whole world.   And we are going to get through this.  It may not be quick.  It may not be easy.  But God is going to use this for good.

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

Home