Tag Archives: love

Denison Forum – What a self-described liberal said about Amy Coney Barrett: Fighting for truth with courageous grace

 

It’s not often that we get to see history being made, but that’s what happened Saturday afternoon when President Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court of the United States.

Any nomination to our nation’s highest court is historic. If confirmed, Judge Barrett will become only the 115th person in American history to sit on this court and only the fifth woman. Moreover, she will be the first person with school-age children to serve.

But what most concerns opponents of the president’s nomination is another historic fact: she would give the court a six-to-three conservative majority by replacing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, long considered the leader of the liberal faction of the court. This could be crucial with upcoming cases on the Affordable Care Act, abortion restrictions, and perhaps the 2020 presidential election.

Much has already been said in opposition to this outcome. Today, I’d like to explain why this opposition is so heated and what it means for every evangelical in America today.

“A brilliant and conscientious lawyer” 

Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s judicial qualifications to serve on the court are beyond dispute. Harvard law professor Noah Feldman, a self-described liberal who is “devastated” over Justice Ginsburg’s death and “revolted by the hypocrisy” of considering the president’s nomination, nonetheless writes: “I want to be extremely clear. Regardless of what you or I may think of the circumstances of this nomination, Barrett is highly qualified to serve on the Supreme Court.”

He explains: “I disagree with much of her judicial philosophy and expect to disagree with many, maybe even most of her future votes and opinions. Yet despite this disagreement, I know her to be a brilliant and conscientious lawyer who will analyze and decide cases in good faith, applying the jurisprudential principles to which she is committed. Those are the basic criteria for being a good justice. Barrett meets and exceeds them.”

If a self-described liberal would endorse Judge Barrett in such strong terms, why is opposition to her nomination mounting so quickly? Their problem lies not with her capacities or qualifications, but with her faith.

“The dogma lives loudly within you” 

Friday night, HBO’s Bill Maher called her a “****ing nut” and said she was “Catholic—really Catholic. I mean really, really Catholic—like speaking in tongues.” Although Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was deeply influenced by her Jewish faith, such faith was acceptable to Maher and those like him since they shared her liberal worldview.

In 2018, Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) confronted Brian Buescher, a nominee to the US district court in Nebraska, over his membership in the Knights of Columbus, a faith-based service organization that supports traditional Catholic positions on marriage, abortion, and human sexuality. The senator asked if the nominee would terminate his membership in this organization since it had taken “a number of extreme positions” on social issues including abortion and marriage.

When Amy Coney Barrett was nominated for the Seventh Circuit Court in 2017, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) stated, “Whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different. And I think in your case . . . the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern when you come to the big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country.”

The senator added: “Over time, we learn to also judge what they think, and whether their thoughts enable them to be free to observe the law.”

The senator’s statement crystallized the problem I’m addressing today.

“A judge must apply the law as written” 

Following the president’s announcement Saturday, Judge Barrett stated: “I clerked for Justice Scalia more than twenty years ago, but the lessons I learned still resonate. His judicial philosophy is mine, too. A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.”

This is known as “originalism,” the theory that “the constitutional text ought to be given the original public meaning that it would have had at the time that it became law.” Justice Ginsburg, by contrast, was a staunch advocate of the “living” Constitution theory, which holds that the meaning of the text changes over time as social attitudes change.

Originalists focus not on what “they think” (to quote Sen. Feinstein) but on what the law says. This is why Judge Barrett’s personal Catholic beliefs on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage should be irrelevant during her confirmation hearing since they have no bearing on decisions based strictly on the law as it currently exists.

The fact that her beliefs have been and will be attacked says more about her attackers than it does about her. They clearly would judge based not on the original meaning of the Constitution but according to their personal beliefs. Here we find the larger problem in our culture: we now live in a postmodern culture in which all truth, whether found in the US Constitution or claimed by your neighbor, is deemed personal and subjective.

This is why the Supreme Court has become so legislative in the postmodern era, making laws Congress did not enact when the unelected justices discovered “rights” to abortion and same-sex marriage that are clearly not in the text of the Constitution. And it is why critics of unchanging biblical morality are becoming more vociferous in their opposition with each passing day.

“Holding fast to the word of life”

We will have reason to say much more about the debate over truth as Judge Barrett’s confirmation process moves forward. For today, let’s deepen our resolve to obey and share the word of God, remembering the psalmist’s prayer that “the sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever” (Psalm 119:160).

Let’s intercede for those who consider Judge Barrett’s nomination, praying that they conduct themselves with the decorum and civility befitting their positions and that the hearings do not further fracture our divided culture. And let’s pray for Judge Barrett to manifest the character of Christ (Romans 8:29) and the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23) as she faces intense scrutiny and global attention.

“Holding fast to the word of life” is our mission and should be our mantra (Philippians 2:16). Is it yours today?

 

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Charles Stanley – God Alone Deserves Worship

 

James 4:4-8

For us, jealousy isn’t attractive, but for God, it’s a holy attribute. God is unhappy when we worship anyone besides Him. Only He deserves our praise.

When reading in the Old Testament, we may not understand why people would bow before idols—surely they didn’t think that these objects were living and powerful. But we make a similar mistake, placing too high a value on money, relationships, power, and the like. Though not bad in themselves, such things can become the focus of our worship. That’s why the Father is jealous for our heart.

There are two reasons God won’t tolerate our misplaced devotion. First, He deserves the glory. And second, there is nothing better for us than His love. Praising Him above all else is actually in our own best interest. Therefore, when our heart doesn’t belong solely to Christ, He will use discipline and reminders so we will prioritize Him.

This week, notice where you spend your time and money and what dominates your thoughts. Even if your pursuits seem good on the surface, pray about what might be an idol in your life. Confess any misplaced affection, and ask the Lord for help in making Him the object of your devotion.

 

Bible in One Year: Micah 1-4

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Never Too Sinful

 

Bible in a Year:

You are a forgiving God . . . abounding in love.

Nehemiah 9:17

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Nehemiah 9:17, 27–31

“If I touched a Bible, it would catch fire in my hands,” said my community college English professor. My heart sank. The novel we’d been reading that morning referenced a Bible verse, and when I pulled out my Bible to look it up, she noticed and commented. My professor seemed to think she was too sinful to be forgiven. Yet I wasn’t bold enough to tell her about God’s love—and that the Bible tells us we can always seek God’s forgiveness.

There’s an example of repentance and forgiveness in Nehemiah. The Israelites had been exiled because of their sin, but now they were allowed to return to Jerusalem. When they’d “settled in,” Ezra the scribe read the law to them (Nehemiah 7:73–8:3). They confessed their sins, remembering that despite their sin God “did not desert” or “abandon them” (9:17, 19). He “heard them” when they cried out; and in compassion and mercy, He was patient with them (vv. 27–31).

In a similar way, God is patient with us. He won’t abandon us if we choose to confess our sin and turn to Him. I wish I could go back and tell my professor that, no matter her past, Jesus loves her and wants her to be part of His family. He feels the same way about you and me. We can approach Him seeking forgiveness—and He will give it!

By:  Julie Schwab

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Defining Atheism

 

A popular tendency among some atheists these days is to define atheism, not as the positive thesis that God does not exist, but as the neutral claim that an atheist is one who simply lacks belief in God. If we could scan the mind of the atheist and catalogue all the beliefs the atheist holds, we would not find a belief of the form, “God exists.” Those who insist on defining atheism in this manner want to avoid the implications of having to defend the claim that God does not exist. They demand justification for faith in God while insisting that they bear no rational burdens in the debate since they are not making any positive claims on the question of God’s existence.

This strategy is mistaken on several levels. To begin with, there is no logical connection between a lack of belief about God in someone’s mind and the conclusion that God does not exist. At best, this definition leads us to agnosticism, roughly the view that we do not know whether or not God exists. For example, there are millions of people on this planet who hold no belief about the Los Angeles Lakers. But it would be quite a stretch to conclude from that empirical fact that the Lakers therefore do not exist.

 

Additionally, atheism thus defined is a psychological condition, not a cognitive thesis. Conduct a quick search on the Internet, and you will even find atheists who claim that babies are atheists because they lack belief in God. But, as some philosophers have pointed out, that is not a flattering state of affairs for the atheist, for, strictly speaking, a cow, by that definition, is also an atheist. For someone who is intent on merely giving a report about the state of his or her mind, pity, or an equivalent emotion, is the appropriate response, not a reasoned exchange. But nobody who has reflected long and hard about the issues and is prepared to argue vehemently about them should be let off the hook that easily.

In any case, such a definition of atheism goes against the intuitions held by almost everyone who has not been initiated into this way of thinking. In spite of the myriads of nuances one can give to one’s preferred version of denying God’s existence, the traditional view has been that there are ultimately only three attitudes one can take with regard to a particular proposition. Take the proposition, “God exists”. One could (1) affirm the proposition, which is theism, (2) Deny the proposition, which is atheism, or (3) withhold judgment with regard to the proposition, which is agnosticism. Those who affirm the proposition have to give reasons why they think it is true. Those who deny it have to give reasons why they think it is false. Only those who withhold judgment have the right to sit on the fence on the issue. Thus J. J. C. Smart states matter-of-factly, “‘Atheism’ means the negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God.”(1)

Nor will an attempt to defend this new definition on the basis of the etymology of the word “atheist” work. The word “atheist” is from the Greek word “Theos” which means “God”, and the “a” is the negation. The “a” is taken to mean “without”, and hence “atheism” simply means “without belief in God”. But this will not do. Even if we grant that the “a” means “without”, we will still not arrive at the conclusion that atheism means “without belief in God”. What is negated in the word “atheism” is not “belief” but “God”. Atheism still means “without God”, not “without belief”. There is no concept of “belief” in the etymology of the word – the word simply means the universe is without God, which is another way of saying that God does not exist.

Semantic quibbles aside, there are deeper problems with this position. The same atheists who decry the irrationality of believing in God still insist on shoehorning theistic ideas into their ontology. Most of them continue to defend the meaning and purpose of life, the validity of objective morality and the assurance that humanity is marching on towards progress and would move thus faster were it not for the shackles of religion. Such cosmic optimism would be unrecognizable to the most prominent atheists of yesteryear, not to mention the many in our day who say as much. It is recognized as a remnant of a biblical tradition that still has some of its grip on the western psyche.

Speaking about the belief that every human life needs to be protected, Richard Rorty wrote, “This Jewish and Christian element in our tradition is gratefully invoked by free-loading atheists like myself.”(2) But if God does not exist, theists live on false hope, and the freeloaders fair no better. Sever the cord between God and those elements of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and the honest among us fly into oblivion with shrills of despair to which only a Nietzsche or a Jean Paul Sartre can do full justice; for the validity of such positive attitudes about life is directly propositional to the plausibility of the existence of a caring God who directs the affairs of humanity.

J.M. Njoroge is a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Nairobi, Kenya.

 

(1) J. J. C. Smart, “Atheism and Agnosticism”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).

(2) Richard Rorty, “Postmodernist Bourgeois Liberalism,” in The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 80, No. 10, Part 1: (Oct., 1983), pp. 583-589.

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Joyce Meyer – Let Your Tears Flow

 

As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. — Nehemiah 1:4 (ESV)

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

Nehemiah was not afraid of emotion, or reluctant to show it. Notice that he “wept and mourned.” Some of us flat-out refuse to show any of our emotions, which is not healthy. Pent‑up feelings are harmful if not dealt with, and need to be released in healthy ways. If we don’t release our emotions at appropriate times, as Nehemiah did when he heard the walls of Jerusalem had been destroyed, our emotions will eat away at us on the inside.

Stuffing or suppressing our feelings can also cause physical problems like trouble sleeping, or even digestive issues. Maybe you know someone who went to the doctor because they felt so bad and were convinced something was wrong with them, only to find out—after all kinds of medical tests—that the doctor found nothing and simply said their symptoms were related to stress or anxiety.

Our emotions will always manifest in some way, so it’s best to deal with them before they deal with us. God created us with tear glands and the ability to cry, which must mean there will be times in life when we, like Nehemiah, need to cry. In the Old Testament, Hannah wept and even stopped eating because she was brokenhearted over not having a child (see 1 Samuel 1:7). When David and the men with him discovered the Amalekites had burned the city of Ziklag and taken everyone in it (including their own wives and children) captive, they “raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep” (1 Samuel 30:4). David also wept when his son became deathly ill (see 2 Samuel 12:21–22). Even Jesus wept over the death of His friend Lazarus (see John 11:35).

Tears are certainly part of the process of healing in our soul. God speaks through the prophet Jeremiah: “Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the LORD” (Lamentations 2:19). This proves to us that God wants us to bring our pain to Him. We can tell Him everything, holding nothing back. He knows it all anyway, but getting it out in the open is incredibly helpful to us.

Though it is important to express our deep feelings through tears at times, God didn’t create us to stay in a season of weeping forever. There is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). God’s Word promises us that “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5 NKJV). Whatever you’re going through right now, ask God to help you deal with it in a healthy way. Cry when you need to, and know that this season of sadness will come to an end. As you walk with God, He will heal your heart and lead you into new seasons with joy.

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me express and deal with my emotions in a healthy way. If there’s anything I’ve been putting off dealing with, please show me and give me the strength to deal with it. Thank You for being there for me, for listening, and for healing me from the inside out. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Key to Real Joy

 

“Remember what Christ taught and let His words enrich your lives and make you wise; teach them to each other and sing them out in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing to the Lord with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, and come with Him into the presence of God the Father to give Him your thanks” (Colossians 3:16,17).

As I travel and speak throughout the world, I meet many individuals who are caught up in the emotionalism of a religious experience which they attribute to the Holy Spirit. They live from experience to experience, with little knowledge of what the Bible teaches. As a result, they seldom grow past the baby stage. They are seeking and talking about their experiences with the Holy Spirit instead of the Lord Jesus, forgetting that the Holy Spirit came to glorify Christ.

At the other extreme, I find that most Christians seldom mention the Holy Spirit. The supernatural life is a life of balance.

Notice the close parallel between Ephesians 5:18-20 and Colossians 3:16-17. The Spirit-filled person and the one whose mind and heart are saturated with the person and the Word of Jesus Christ will be joyful and thankful, and he will do all as a testimony of love to Him who is our Lord and Savior.

We can no more live a joyful, abundant, fruitful, victorious, supernatural life apart from the Word of God than we can do so apart from the Spirit of God. They are like the two wings of an airplane; a plane cannot fly with only one wing. Neither can we live balanced, victorious lives if we do not invest time in reading, studying, memorizing and meditating on God’s Word, while at the same time depending on the Holy Spirit, who inspired its writing centuries ago, to illuminate its truth to our minds and hearts.

Bible Reading: I Corinthians 10:31-33

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today – and every day – I will claim the Holy Spirit’s power to enable me to read, study, memorize and meditate on God’s holy, inspired Word with comprehension. I will claim by faith the help of the Holy Spirit to live in accordance with the teaching of God’s revealed truth. With His help, I will live a balanced, Spirit-controlled, supernatural life.

 

 

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Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devos – Don’t Get Lost!

 

By Kids4Truth Clubs on 09/24/20

https://equipu.kids4truth.com/podcast-player/10888/dont-get-lost-2.mp3

 

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6).

Have you ever been lost? I have. When I was a young boy, about eight- or nine-years-old, my brother and I were walking home from school. Instead of walking down the streets we knew, we followed a creek for a while, thinking it would take us toward home. But it didn’t. It went another direction. When we realized we were lost, I got a little scared. We finally asked a man where the street we lived on was, and he told us. As we followed his guidance, we got back to familiar territory and home!

What my brother and I did is what Proverbs 3:5 tells us not to do. We leaned on our own understanding. We thought we knew what we were doing, but we didn’t. This is how most people are for most of their lives. They think they know what they are doing, and instead of getting their guidance from the Lord, they go their own direction. And they get lost—every time! Why is that? It is because no one has the ability in himself to go the right direction, to do the right thing. The prophet Jeremiah even admitted this fact to God when he said, “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).

If we don’t have the ability in ourselves to go the right way or do the right thing, how can we get it? We must believe, obey, and honor the Lord, and He will make sure we go the right direction and do the right thing. That is what Proverbs 3:6 tells us. The Lord has already given us the guidance we need. We just have to find out what it is and do it.

God’s guidance will always take us in the right direction. It will always take us home—to Him.

My response:

» Do I ask God for guidance or lean on my own understanding—on what seems right to me?

» When I sin, do I confess it to God and turn back to Him, or do I try to fix it myself (leaning on my own understanding)?

» Do I learn God’s Word, obey it, and use it to guide me?

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Denison Forum – If “Love Island” is our future: The legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the urgency of moral purpose

 

My wife and I watched NCIS Tuesday night. When the show ended, Love Island began. We watched the first minute and were so shocked we turned the television off.

CBS describes the show this way: “Love Island is the sizzling summer series based on the international smash hit and cultural phenomenon. The matchmaking begins as a group of single ‘Islanders’ come together in a stunning villa in Las Vegas, ready to embark on a summer of dating, romance, and ultimately, relationships.”

Note the order: dating, followed by romance, which then leads to relationships. Not the reverse.

The description continues: “Every few days the Islanders pair up and those who are not coupled are at risk of being dumped from the island.” When the swimsuit-clad contestants began to “pair up” in the part of the show we saw, it was obvious what came next.

Here’s my point: CBS airs this highly sexualized show at 8:00 p.m. (CT), early enough for my grandchildren to watch.

An army of law clerks 

An army of more than a hundred former law clerks for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg met her casket at the Supreme Court yesterday. They accompanied it up the steps to the Great Hall for the private ceremony and public viewing that followed.

One of Justice Ginsburg’s greatest legacies is the degree to which she influenced the generations following her. As the Wall Street Journal notes, “Few generations of lawyers—particularly women—have looked to her as a role model as much as the students entering the profession today.”

Her iconic cultural status and tireless work on behalf of women’s equality changed the legal profession. One recent graduate credits the composition of her law-school class—nearly equal numbers of men and women—largely to Justice Ginsburg’s pioneering path.

One of the mantras of our relativistic culture is that we have no right to “force our values” on others. Ruth Bader Ginsburg clearly did not ascribe to this philosophy with respect to the values she championed. Whether we agree or disagree with those values—and many of us do both—we can learn from her culture-changing example.

In fact, we must.

“Optimism by another name” 

According to historian Maurizio Valsania, pessimists have been forecasting the demise of America since our founding. For example, in the 1800 election, one newspaper predicted these results if Thomas Jefferson were to be elected: “Murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will openly be taught and practiced, the air will be rent with the cries of the distressed, the soil will be soaked with blood, and the nation black with crimes.”

In a day when France and Great Britain were the global superpowers, our infant nation’s future was perilous. From then to now, voices predicting doom have seldom been in short supply.

However, as Valsania notes (following the work of political scientist Francis G. Wilson), there are two types of pessimism in America: absolute and conditional. Absolute pessimism “is the belief that the nation is a big lie, a fraud, a trick that cunning white males have been playing on women, native populations, African Americans, working classes, immigrants. As such, this nation deserves to be cursed, canceled, sunk, forgotten.”

By contrast, conditional pessimists “deliver a prophecy of disaster because they want to provide a new hopeful solution. They speak to Americans’ sense of pride, exhort them, incite them, mobilize them, increase the level of commitment to a common cause and enact a ritual whose upshot should be a deeper awareness.”

Valsania calls this type of pessimism “optimism by another name.”

“God has no grandchildren” 

It is incumbent upon Christians to follow the example of Justice Ginsburg by investing in the coming generations. In our case, the stakes are even higher, since Christianity is always one generation from extinction.

As evangelist Reinhard Bonnke noted, “God has no grandchildren. He has only children.” Scripture agrees: “To all who did receive [Jesus], who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Note the little word with global implications, “all.”

However, we should engage our broken culture with the kind of conditional pessimism that warns of God’s judgment against sin while offering his grace to sinners. We should be famous for hope, not hate; for generosity, not guilt.

Of all people, we who have experienced the crucified love of Jesus should be especially passionate about offering such love to all.

Identifying our enemy and trusting our refuge 

Love Island and all it represents should call us to brokenhearted intercession, not self-righteous condemnation. Those who made the series and those who watch it are not the enemy—they are deceived by the enemy (2 Corinthians 4:4). And there, but for the grace of God, go we.

When we are discouraged by the sinfulness around us, this testimony can be ours: “When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul” (Psalm 94:19). And we can say with the psalmist, “The Lord has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge” (v. 22).

Then we can pray for God to use us to lead others to make him their refuge as well.

I read John Baillie’s classic A Diary of Private Prayer each morning and evening. His prayer for this morning includes this petition: “Teach me, O God, to use all the circumstances of my life today to nurture the fruits of the Spirit rather than the fruits of sin.”

Let’s make his prayer ours today.

 

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Charles Stanley – The Burden of Inadequacy

 

Deuteronomy 1:19-36

Because we’re human, we all experience feelings of inadequacy from time to time. But the real issue facing us is not whether we are sufficient for a task, but how we will respond to such a challenge.

The Israelites felt inadequate as they stood on the edge of the Promised Land. The size and strength of the enemy contrasted sharply with their own weakness and inability, and they didn’t trust the Lord’s promise. So they refused to conquer the land and as a result were made to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. How tragic that they never saw the land God wanted to give them.

Like the children of Israel, we become fearful and expect to fail. As the obstacle grows in our mind, we run from the challenge and toward safety. However, turning away from a God-given task will lead us not to security but into bondage. Faith, on the other hand, will set us on the path our Father has planned for us.

When the Lord calls you to an assignment beyond your abilities, rely on what you know about Him and His promises. You will discover that our faithful God always empowers us for the work He wants us to accomplish.

 

Bible in One Year: Obadiah 1Jonah 1-4

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — God-Paved Memories

 

Bible in a Year:

Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me.

Deuteronomy 4:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Deuteronomy 4:3–10

When my grown son faced a difficult situation, I reminded him about God’s constant care and provision during his dad’s year of unemployment. I recounted the times God strengthened our family and gave us peace while my mom fought and lost her battle with leukemia. Highlighting the stories of God’s faithfulness stitched into Scripture, I affirmed He was good at keeping His word. I led my son down our family’s God-paved memory lane, reminding him about the ways He remained reliable through our valley and mountaintop moments. Whether we were struggling or celebrating, God’s presence, love, and grace proved sufficient.

Although I’d like to claim this faith-strengthening strategy as my own, God designed the habit of sharing stories to inspire the future generations’ belief in Him. As the Israelites remembered all they’d seen God do in the past, He placed cobblestones of confidence down their divinely paved memory lanes.

The Israelites had witnessed God holding true to His promises as they followed Him (Deuteronomy 4:3–6). He’d always heard and answered their prayers (v. 7). Rejoicing and reminiscing with the younger generations (v. 9), the Israelites shared the holy words breathed and preserved by the one true God (v. 10).

As we tell of our great God’s majesty, mercy, and intimate love, our convictions and the faith of others can be strengthened by the confirmation of His enduring trustworthiness.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Shelf Life of an Idea

 

The concept of “shelf life” has always intrigued me. It is an expression that describes exactly what it attempts to define. For instance, Twinkies have a shelf life of twenty-five days, after which, their existence on the shelf as something edible expires. But shelf life is also an expression that is metaphorically full. One might say of the American “Cabbage Patch Kids” that they were once a quite a phenomenon; shoppers were injured as the dolls were pulled off the shelves and seized by anxious crowds. But the craze was relatively short-lived; as far as fads go, the shelf life was fairly brief.

In high school chemistry we took in the ponderous thought that everything has a shelf life. In fact, in many substances this is an incredibly important number to watch. A variety of compounds, particularly those containing certain unstable elements, become more unstable as they approach their shelf life. Chemical explosives grow increasingly dangerous over time and with exposure to certain factors in the environment becoming liable to explode without warning.

There is a tendency to view ideas and thoughts as having a similar aging process. When something is deemed ancient or even slightly “behind the times” it is often accordingly considered obsolete, needing to be removed from the shelf. As if it has become out-dated like a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk, the aging thought or idea, in many minds, grows more unusable with time. And in many cases, history has shown this to be an accurate picture. Certain philosophies might come to mind as movements that rendered themselves useless over time and exposure to the world. Like compounds approaching their shelf life, their collapse was inevitable and they eventually imploded without warning.

Ideas undeniably have consequences and some approach their shelf lives more dangerously than others. While some have not fully burst at the seams, signs of instability appear. Grumbles of discontent from within their own ideological camps may hint at incoherence. Even so, the noticeable shelf life of specific ideas should cause us to question the cause of their expiration, rather than assume it is time alone that moves an idea to expire.

This is no doubt well-studied in science. Factors that increase and decrease the shelf life of a product move well beyond time itself. When certain compounds are stored at decreased temperatures, their shelf life is increased significantly. Likewise, the development of preservatives dramatically set back the expiration dates on food in our pantries. Like compounds and breakfast items, all ideas do not expire equally. We are thus badly mistaken to dismiss a thought solely because it is old.

The Christian story speaks of the promising hope of Father, Son, and Spirit as something that does not expire, but rather, continues to transform generation after generation. “Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them,” writes the psalmist. “I have learned from your words and acts that you established them to last forever.” Personally I know how often I have lived with quite a different assumption, thinking that surely modern thought has improved this or that idea, only to find myself returning to things generations old with new intrigue. The story of one who takes creation so seriously that he joins us within it is one such idea I cannot seem to remove haphazardly from the shelf because it seems to defy the notion of shelf life. A God who can come that near and be that available, while remaining really God, is a gift that won’t be outdated. It is the sort of thing that rearranges everything else on the shelf.

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

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Joyce Meyer – Be Tenacious

 

David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of this Philistine; your servant will go out and fight with him. . . . David said, The Lord Who delivered me out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said to David, Go, and the Lord be with you!  — 1 Samuel 17:32, 37 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource The Confident Woman – by Joyce Meyer

When David came against Goliath, he didn’t stand for hours looking at the giant wondering how to win the battle. The Bible says that he ran quickly to the battle line, all the time talking about the greatness of God and declaring his victory ahead of time. David didn’t run away from his giant— he courageously ran toward him.

Robert Schuller said, “If you listen to your fears, you will die never knowing what a great person you might have been.”

If David had run from Goliath, he would never have been king of Israel. He was anointed by God to be king twenty years before he wore the crown. During those years he faced his giants and proved that he had the tenacity to endure difficulty without quitting.

Did David feel any fear as he approached Goliath? I think he did. In David’s writings he never claimed to be free from the feelings of fear, but he chose to do it afraid, and God honored his faith!

Prayer Starter: Father, I know I have some giants that I need to face… please help me to be tenacious and to do it afraid. Thank You for having my back in every battle. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He’s in the Midst

 

“For where two or three gather together because they are Mine, I will be right there among them” (Matthew 18:20).

What better proof is there of the fact that Jesus is God, that He is omnipresent? As you and I gather with our little groups – whether two or three, or 200 – Jesus is there in the midst. And at the same time that wonderful promise applies to similar groups in Africa, Israel, China and anywhere else!

This general assertion is made to support the particular promise made to his apostles in verse 19. Those who meet in His name can be sure He is among them.

An omniscient, omnipotent God – and His Son Jesus Christ – are omnipresent (everywhere present at the same time)! What a glorious truth! Let your imagination soar: among the Masai tribe in Kenya, Africa, or the Quechua Indians in Ecuador – if they are meeting in that name which is above every name, even Jesus Christ our Lord, He is right there meeting with them.

Equally important, you and one or two friends meeting together in His name can have the assurance that He is right there meeting with you as well. And you can feel His presence – especially as you acknowledge the fact that He is there and begin to worship Him for who and what He is.

Joy of joys, God and Jesus Christ who meet with missionaries and national believers on the field and with church leaders in their councils also meet with you and me today.

Bible Reading: Acts 20:32-38

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will look for new opportunities to invoke His presence in my midst by fellowshipping with other believers in His name.

 

 

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Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devos – Jesus Will Never Change

 

By Kids4Truth Clubs on 09/23/20

 

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8).

Have you ever gotten ready for school in the morning and decided you did not like your outfit? Unless you are short on time, it is usually okay to change your clothes. People do it all the time.

Have you ever realized that a food you used to hate is starting to become a favorite food now? Maybe you used to hate spinach. After all those years of hating spinach, you are starting to love it. People are like that. As we grow older, our tastes change.

Did you ever lose track of someone who used to be a good friend of yours? Some friends will always be a part of our lives. But some of our friendships will change over the years. We make new friends. We may never forget the old friends, but we might spend less time with them or go a long time without seeing them.

Change is a part of every human being’s life. We have to deal with that change. Sometimes it takes a very long time for us to change, just as it takes a long time to grow taller or wiser. On other things, we might change overnight.

Every human being has to change. But one encouraging thing about Jesus Christ is that He is always the same. He is God, so He will always have the great character that only God has.

Because Jesus never changes, we do not have to wonder about Him. We can trust that Jesus will always be exactly Who He always has been. He will never lose His love for us. He will never forget us or let us down or change His mind about us. He will never make mistakes. He will never do wrong. Because He is faithful and never changing, Jesus deserves our trust and worship. What a great God He is!

The Lord Jesus Christ is always going to be exactly Who He always has been.

My response:

» Do I ever doubt whether Jesus is still the same person He was in Bible times?

» Do I ever wonder how Jesus could keep on showing grace to me every day?

» How should I respond as I learn more about the unchanging goodness and greatness of Jesus Christ?

The post Jesus Will Never Change appeared first on EquipU Online Library.

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Denison Forum – Two reasons the Supreme Court has become so divisive: The most important book I have read this year and a calling beyond compare

 

Sen. Mitt Romney announced yesterday his support for a process whereby the Senate could confirm a nominee to the Supreme Court before Election Day. His statement seems to ensure that a candidate could be confirmed barring missteps by the nominee during the confirmation process.

This process has become extraordinarily contentious for two reasons. One is obvious; the other is less so but even more fundamental to our nation and her future.

Why the Republicans will nominate a candidate 

Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Antonin Scalia were known as fierce advocates for liberal and conservative philosophies, respectively. However, Justice Ginsburg was confirmed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by a vote of 96–3; Republican leaders Bob Dole and Mitch McConnell voted for her. Justice Scalia was confirmed in 1986 by a vote of 98–0; Democrat leaders Al Gore, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, and Joe Biden voted for him.

That was then; this is now.

When Merrick Garland was nominated by President Barack Obama for the Supreme Court following Justice Scalia’s untimely death in 2016, the Republican-led Senate refused to consider his candidacy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell explained that not since the 1880s had the US Senate considered an election-year Supreme Court candidate put forth by a president from the opposition party.

When Justice Ginsburg died last Friday, Sen. McConnell quickly announced that the Senate would consider a candidate put forward by President Trump, since both the Senate and the White House are led by the same party. Nonetheless, many have condemned his decision as hypocrisy, given that this is once again an election year.

Critics are also claiming that there is not enough time before the November 3 election to investigate a candidate appropriately. However, of the 163 nominations in US history to the Supreme Court, more than half were formally nominated and confirmed within forty-five days. Justice Ginsburg’s process took forty-two days; Sandra Day O’Connor was confirmed in thirty-three days.

To this point, it might seem that I am defending Republicans against Democratic charges of hypocrisy and unfairness. In the interest of fairness, it is plausible to suggest that if the roles were reversed, many Republicans would be saying the same of Democrats that Democrats are saying of Republicans.

Therein lies my second point.

“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom” 

I am reading Jonathan Sacks’s magisterial new book, Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times. I’m halfway through it and already consider it the most important book I have read this year. The author was the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth in the UK for more than two decades. He is the recipient of the Templeton Prize among numerous other recognitions.

A review of what I have read so far would take far longer than space permits today. However, I want to focus on one insight I find to be enormously profound and urgent.

Rabbi Sacks correctly claims that morality is essential to a healthy society and its freedoms. He quotes George Washington: “Human rights can only be assured among a virtuous people.” And Benjamin Franklin, who noted: “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.” A team cannot win if its members do what they want to the exclusion of what is best for the team. An orchestra cannot perform well if each member plays what they want rather than what the conductor directs.

When a society loses its collective moral compass, it outsources moral standards to the government to legislate morality. But Rabbi Sacks warns that this cannot work: “Morality cannot be outsourced because it depends on each of us. Without self-restraint, without the capacity to defer the gratification of instinct, and without the habits of heart and deed that we call virtues, we will eventually lose our freedom.”

Why the Court has become so divisive 

How is this discussion relevant to the Supreme Court?

Many Americans began abandoning biblical sexual morality decades ago. Many other Americans have resisted the epidemic of sexual immorality that has resulted, along with redefinitions of marriage and gender. Our elected officials represent and reflect these deep divides and thus have been unable to enact legislation with regard to abortion, same-sex marriage, and LGBTQ rights.

Those seeking such “rights” appealed to the courts. In my view (shared by many), the Supreme Court adopted a legislative rather than a judicial role when it then discovered rights to abortion, same-sex marriage, and LGBTQ advocacy that clearly are not articulated in the US Constitution.

Now that the Supreme Court has become a means of legislating morality which advocates are unable to advance through our elected governance, fights over the court’s membership and future have become more vociferous than ever before.

A calling beyond compare 

Today’s article leaves Christians with this familiar but urgent fact: “You are the salt of the earth . . . You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13, 14, my emphasis). Jesus’ definite articles show that the world has no other salt or light but God’s people. When we speak and obey God’s word in God’s Spirit for God’s glory, God uses us in ways he can use no one else.

Members of the Supreme Court come and go, but “kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations” (Psalm 22:28). One day, he assures us, “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).

In the meantime, we are God’s agents of moral change in an immoral world. This is a calling beyond compare and a purpose worthy of our lives.

Max Lucado noted, “Thanks to Christ, this earth can be the nearest you come to hell. But apart from Christ, this earth is the nearest you come to heaven.”

With whom will you share those facts today?

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Charles Stanley – Salvation Gifts

 

1 Peter 1:3-5

Gifts are an expression of love, yet sometimes we take them for granted. This is certainly true when it comes to salvation. Perhaps the reason is that we’ve forgotten how amazing this gift is and what it cost the Father and Son to give it.

As Christians, we know that salvation results in forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with a holy God, and adoption as His beloved children. But maybe we aren’t as familiar with its other benefits:

We become new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17). We undergo a radical internal change. Our old self has been crucified with Christ, and we have a brand-new self, which is created in righteousness and holiness.

We are joined to the body of Christ (Rom. 12:5). Not only do we have union with the triune God, but we are also united with every other believer.

We receive an inheritance in heaven (1 Peter 1:4). Salvation transforms us from those destined for hell to those who are fellow heirs with Christ in His kingdom.

Salvation is an unfathomable treasure for which we will spend eternity praising, thanking, and worshipping God.

 

Bible in One Year: Hosea 1-5

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Risky Detour

 

Bible in a Year:

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season.

2 Timothy 4:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Timothy 4:1–5

What a waste of time, thought Harley. Her insurance agent was insisting they meet again. Harley knew it would be yet another boring sales pitch, but she decided to make the most of it by looking for an opportunity to talk about her faith.

Noticing that the agent’s eyebrows were tattooed, she hesitantly asked why and discovered that the woman did it because she felt it would bring her luck. Harley’s question was a risky detour from a routine chat about finances, but it opened the door to a conversation about luck and faith, which gave her an opportunity to talk about why she relied on Jesus. That “wasted” hour turned out to be a divine appointment.

Jesus also took a risky detour. While traveling from Judea to Galilee, He went out of His way to speak to a Samaritan, something unthinkable for a Jew. Worse, she was an adulterous woman avoided even by other Samaritans. Yet He ended up having a conversation that led to the salvation of many (John 4:1–2639–42).

Are you meeting someone you don’t really want to see? Do you keep bumping into a neighbor you normally avoid? The Bible reminds us to be always ready—“in season and out of season”—to share the good news (2 Timothy 4:2). Consider taking a “risky detour.” Who knows, God may be giving you a divine opportunity to talk to someone about Him today!

By:  Leslie Koh

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Space to Fall

 

Amusement parks had always been destinations of choice for my family while I was growing up. It didn’t matter the vacation spot. We would, if there was an amusement park nearby, make it a priority visit. The reason for this priority was that we loved roller-coasters. The Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disney Land, Space Mountain at Disney World, and all the various roller-coasters at Six Flags theme parks called to us to ride them over and over again to our sheer delight.

There was one exception: The free fall ride. I do not know if it is still in existence, but when I knew it at my local Six Flags, it was a ride like an elevator without a door. Only a seatbelt harness held us in. Up six stories it climbed while our stomachs fell. Climbing higher and higher, the expanse of the park and the surrounding communities became like miniature-versions of themselves. It seemed the ride would climb as high as the heights of heaven. Then suddenly, the ascent ended. The car would tilt forward ever so slightly, so that all you could see below was the drop back to earth. For maximum thrill or terror, the car wouldn’t plunge down immediately. Riders sat for what seemed to be an eternity of waiting; suddenly, the mechanical support drew back and the elevator-like car would make its free fall back down to the ground at speeds as high as 90 mph. I only ever went on the free fall once. I hated that ride.

“Sometimes suffering feels like a free fall,” writes J. Todd Billings in his book Rejoicing in Lament.(1) It is a free fall away from all that was normal and routine in one’s life down into what seems to be a spiraling abyss of chaos and despair. After receiving the phone call in the early morning hours that my husband had suffered sudden cardiac arrest, I fell into my own free fall. While sitting in the airport waiting for my flight home, I remember saying to my mother, “My life will never be the same again.” I would free fall into another world never to return to the world I had inhabited for seventeen years with my husband. There would be no return to what was “normal.” There would only be a steadying of my legs, like I had to do after the free fall ride at the amusement park, landing in the strange new world of grief and loss that was mine.

 

Fortunately for me, I was not the first person to ever experience a loss like this, just as surely as I was not the first to ride the free fall, nor the last to experience its terror. There were many who reached out to me from similar experiences in person, and others who reached out to me through the pages of articles and books chronicling this shared journey. Of course, Christianity affirms a God who joins us in this journey, not as a fellow rider on a free fall, but as the foundation on which we might find our footing again. For author and theologian Todd Billings, this foundation has been tested in his own journey of grief and suffering as a result of a terminal cancer diagnosis. Yet, he writes:

“In a deeply paradoxical way, full of a mystery that blinds by its brightness, Jesus Christ, the God-human, displays the love of God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—by taking on our human suffering and terror. Christ, the God-human, takes on the path of human suffering so that we are not pioneers in the darkness, so that we are not in free fall. Instead, even when our suffering seems senseless, even when we feel like we are in free fall, we can look to Christ to see, hear and taste that we are still in the ever-faithful, ever-loving hands of God.”(2)

The “Man of sorrows” and the one “acquainted with grief” is the reason why Christians can affirm that nothing is able to separate us from the love of God…not even death. Jesus Christ offers those who experience the free fall of suffering a firm foundation on which to land. Becoming fully human, Jesus is made the “high priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses.” And it is here, Billings notes, in the mystery of the Incarnation “that in Christ, the impassible God becomes one with suffering flesh in order to heal it.”(3) God is not caught off-guard because of human suffering and misery, even as God in Christ identifies with all that it means to be human. “We hope because in Christ, God has taken on human suffering and death so that they are emptied of their ultimate sting.”(4)

But this is not a truth easily gained. In my own free fall into grief, despair, and pain, I needed the space to fall; if only to see and to know that there was a foundation on which I could depend, and which could sustain the weightiness of my pain. I needed to scream all the way down as I fell—screams of desperation, abandonment, anger, and loss. And it was necessary for me to lose all those supports that were, in reality, flimsy and faulty. It was only then, after this long, hard fall that I could begin to steady myself, strengthen my legs and stand up—again.

In the psalms of lament, the anguished cries of the prophets, and in the life and ministry of Jesus, there are pioneers who have gone before all who grieve and suffer. They have experienced the terror of all the twists and turns, the drops and descents of human life. They gave voice to their lament. Perhaps like myself, Dr. Billings, and all those who would wish for a different way, who would wish they didn’t have to ride the free fall of grief and loss, the paradox of the Incarnation—that God is in Christ enveloping human suffering—will yet invite sufferers to stand on this firm foundation.

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

(1) J. Todd Billings, Rejoicing In Lament (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2015), 151.
(2) Ibid., 157.
(3) Ibid., 163
(4) Ibid., 163.

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Joyce Meyer – Enjoy Life as You Grow

 

You, therefore, must be perfect [growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect. — Matthew 5:48 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Ending Your Day Right – by Joyce Meyer

Being perfect sounds good, but trust me—it’s not reality. Reality is that every one of us is a human being, and no matter how hard we try to be perfect, we’ll still make mistakes sometimes. Our hearts can be perfect toward God, but our performance will never be perfect as long as we’re on earth, and that’s okay.

You are legally and positionally perfect in Christ, but experientially, you’re in the process of changing every day from glory to glory. It’s a growing process, and it takes time.

Struggling for perfection to gain acceptance and approval from God or others only brings frustration and never-ending exhaustion. And it isn’t necessary, because Jesus accepts you just as you are. He will never pressure you to perform, or demand something of you that you don’t know how to give. So just do your best . . . and enjoy life while you’re maturing.

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me be more patient with myself, and to learn to enjoy the growing process. Thank You for being patient with me as I’m maturing. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Power to Witness

 

“But ye shall receive power, after the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8, KJV).

While I was speaking to a group of theological students in Australia, one young man became very angry and argumentative when I emphasized the importance of witnessing for Christ daily as a way of life and explained that disobedient Christians cannot be Spirit-filled. Not to witness for Christ is to disobey our Lord’s specific command. Therefore, any Christian who does not regularly share his faith in Christ cannot walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

“I work day and night to maintain good grades,” he declared, “I don’t have time to witness while in seminary. I can witness after I become a pastor.”

Many Christians make similar excuses for their lack of witness, but none are valid. Some say they do not have the gift of evangelism. Others say they are still preparing for the day when they will be witnesses. Some pastors believe it is the responsibility of their members to witness, and they are to preach and teach the Word. Yet the Bible clearly teaches that all believers are to be witnesses with their lives and with their lips. It is a command of God.

On thousands of occasions we have found that pastors, students and laymen who have never introduced anyone to our Lord become fruitful witnesses when they learn how to live a Spirit-filled life and are taught how to share their faith in Christ with others. The apostle Paul, who was a Spirit-filled witness, shares in Colossians 1:28 how everywhere we go we are to tell everyone who will listen about Christ.

Bible Reading: Luke 24:45-49

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today – and every day – I will ask the Holy Spirit to direct me to those whose hearts He has prepared, and to anoint and empower me to speak convincingly, lovingly and effectively of our Savior.

 

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