Tag Archives: Prayer

Charles Stanley – Is God Always Good?

 

Romans 11:33-36

Because God’s thoughts are so much higher than ours, we don’t always see His goodness in painful situations. We ask, If God is good, why do bad things happen to us? Or, Why is there a hell? We forget that His perspective is superior to ours (Job 42:1-5). Then we accuse Him of being unjust, ask Him to bend to our rules, and disregard His goodness.

Suffering and heartache began when Adam and Eve doubted God’s goodness. The serpent convinced them the Lord was trying to cheat them out of knowledge. How often do we have the same bitter feeling? Yet, behind every one of the Lord’s restrictions, exhortations, or commands is His goodness. He wants to protect us from the tormenting consequences of sin.

God created us with free will so we might choose to love Him—and that means His permissive will may allow bad things to happen. Sin’s consequences hurt , but this doesn’t diminish God’s goodness: For those who love Him, He can bring good out of the worst circumstances (Rom. 8:28).

If you can’t trace God’s hand or discern what He’s doing in difficult situations, remember that He cares for you and He is good. Though we may not understand His ways, we can trust them.

Bible in One Year: 2 Samuel 7-9

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Good Man

 

Bible in a Year:

By grace you have been saved, through faith—and that is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.

Ephesians 2:8

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Romans 3:10–18

“Jerry was a good man,” the pastor said at Jerald Stevens’ memorial service. “He loved his family. He was faithful to his wife. He served his country in the armed services. He was an excellent dad and grandfather. He was a great friend.”

But then the pastor went on to tell the friends and family gathered that Jerry’s good life and good deeds were not enough to assure him a place in heaven. And that Jerry himself would have been the first to tell them that!

Jerry believed these words from the Bible: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and “the wages of sin is death” (6:23). Jerry’s final and eternal destination in life’s journey was not determined by whether he lived a really good life but entirely by Jesus—the perfect Son of God—dying in his place to pay sin’s penalty. He believed that each of us must personally accept the free gift of God, which is “eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (v. 23).

Jerry was a good man, but he could never be “good enough.” Watch Rasool Berry’s “Jesus, the Good Man” devotional video. He, like us, had to learn that salvation and righteousness aren’t the results of human effort. They’re gifts by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8).

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).

By:  Cindy Hess Kasper

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Enveloping Darkness

Someone told me recently that he wondered if humans only truly ever pray when we are in the midst of despair. Despite creed or confession, is it only when we have no other excuses to offer, no other comfort to hide behind, no more façades to uphold, that we are most likely to bow in exhaustion and be real with God and ourselves? “For most of us,” writes C.S. Lewis, “the prayer in Gethsemane is the only model.” In our distress, we stand before God as we truly are: creatures in need hope and mercy.

The words within the ancient Hebrew story of Jonah that are of most interest to me are words that in some ways seem not to fit in the story at all.(1) Interrupting a narrative that quickly draws in its hearers, a narrative about Jonah, the text very fleetingly pauses to bring us the voice of Jonah himself in his own words before returning again to the narrative. The eight lines come in the form of a distraught and despairing, though poetic prayer of desperation. And while it is true that the poem could be entirely omitted without affecting the coherence of the story, the deliberate jaunt in the narrative text seems to provide a moment of significant commentary to the whole. The eight verses of poetry not only mark an abrupt shift in the tone of the text, but also in the attitude of its main character who has been swallowed up by despair and darkness. The poetic words of the prophet, spoken as a cry of deliverance, arise from within the belly of the great fish that has swallowed him. It is a stirring image reminiscent of another despairing soul’s question: O Lord, cries the psalmist: Where can I flee from your presence? If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me.

Jonah’s eloquent prayer for deliverance stands out in a book that is detailed with this prophet’s egotistic mantras and glaring self-deceptions. By his own actions, Jonah finds himself in darkness, and yet it is in the dark that he speaks most honestly to God. The story is vaguely familiar to many hearers, and yet memory often seems to minimize the distress that breaks Jonah’s silence with God. The popular notion that Jonah went straight from the side of the ship into the mouth of the fish is not supported by either the narrative as a whole or Jonah’s prayer. As one theologian suggests, “[Jonah] was half drowned before he was swallowed. If he was still conscious, sheer dread would have caused him to faint—notice that there is no mention of the fish in his prayer. He can hardly have known what caused the change from wet darkness to an even greater dry darkness. When he did regain consciousness, it would have taken some time to realize that the all-enveloping darkness was not that of Sheol but of a mysterious safety.”(2)

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Enveloping Darkness

Joyce Meyer – A Great Big Happy Life

 

…It is more blessed (makes one happier and more to be envied) to give than to receive.— Acts 20:35 (AMPC)

 

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

Since being good to people has become one of my personal goals, my ” joy tank” never runs dry for very long. I’ve even discovered that when I do get sad or discouraged, I can begin to think on purpose about what I can do for someone else, and before long I’m feeling better.

You might have heard the verse, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35 NKJV). The Amplified Bible says it this way: “It is more blessed (makes one happier and more to be envied) to give than to receive.” You may know that verse, but do you really believe it? If you do, then you’re probably doing your best to be a blessing everywhere you go. For a long time, I could quote this verse, but I obviously didn’t believe it because I spent my time trying to be blessed rather than looking to bless others.

I’ve now learned that we don’t really know what joy is until we forget about ourselves, start focusing on others, and become generous givers. To be generous, we need to do more than just toss some change in a bucket during the holidays or give to our church once a week. Giving on Sunday should simply be practice for the way we live our everyday lives outside the four walls of the church. I don’t want to just give offerings; I want to be a giver. I want to offer myself every day to God for whatever He might need me to do. It took me a long time to develop this attitude, though! Over many years, I had to tell myself thousands of times, “I love people, and I enjoy helping people.” If you’ll put it into practice, this thought will change your life.

As you become a generous giver, you’ll be amazed at how happy you are and how much more you enjoy life! If you want to be like God, always go the extra mile, always give more than enough, and always be generous.

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me be more intentional to love, serve and give generously. Thank You for showing me how to bless people today! In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Fair in Everything

 

“The Lord is fair in everything He does, and full of kindness. He is close to all who call on Him sincerely” (Psalm 145:17,18).

Are you afraid to trust the Lord? I find that many people who have had unfortunate experiences in their youth with their parents, especially their fathers, have a reluctance to trust God.

In my talks with thousands of students, I have found a number of young people who have such an attitude problem.

Even the best of earthly parents, at times, are unfair and fail to demonstrate kindness. Yet how wonderful it is to know that our Lord is fair in everything He does and is full of kindness, and He is always close to all who call upon Him sincerely.

Notice that the Scripture promise quoted above is a categorical statement. The psalmist permits no exceptions, even when we are sure we deserved better than we received. Thus we need to claim the promise in God’s Word by faith and live by it. Some day we will see events from God’s side and recognize the fairness we could not see here.

We often see “as in a glass darkly,” but God has perfect 20/20 vision. That’s why the attitude of trust alone will help us overcome our feelings that God or the world, is unfair. Only then can we live a supernatural life of daily acceptance of what God sends our way.

Bible Reading: Psalm 145:8-12

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Today I will put my trust in God and His goodness, no matter how I feel. I will move beyond preoccupation with my disappointments and carry out God’s appointments in the certainty that our Lord is fair in everything He does and will enable me to live supernaturally as I continue to trust and obey Him.

 

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Max Lucado – The Problem with Unresolved Guilt

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

What kind of person does unresolved guilt create? An anxious one, forever hiding, running, denying, pretending. As one man admitted, “I was always living a lie for fear someone might see me for who I really was and think less of me.  I hid behind my super spirituality but this lie was exhausting and anxiety producing.”

Unresolved guilt will turn you into a miserable, weary, angry, fretful mess.  In a psalm David wrote after his affair with Bathsheba, the kind said, “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.  Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.  My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.”  (Psalm 32:3-4)

As Paul told Titus, God’s grace is the fertile soil out of which courage sprouts! “God’s readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation’s available for everyone!” (Titus 2:11, 15 MSG).

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

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

 

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Denison Forum – ‘We are beginning to see the glimmers of progress’: A Holy Monday invitation to the cleansing power of Jesus

Vice President Mike Pence said last night, “We are beginning to see the glimmers of progress” in the fight to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the US and around the world. I watched the press conference and was also encouraged by Dr. Deborah Birx, the US coronavirus coordinator. She reported on hopeful signs from Spain and Italy, “where we see, finally, new cases and deaths declining.” As she said, “It’s giving us hope of what our future could be.”

All this because more people than ever are practicing social distancing. However, stay-at-home orders are also affecting many people in damaging ways. Some cities in China are reporting record-high divorce rates after stay-at-home orders were lifted. Pornography consumption rates in the US are up. Isolation is challenging those in recovery from other addictions as well.

This Holy Week, we will focus each day on what Jesus did that day on his way to Calvary and the resurrection. What does Holy Monday say to us as we are socially distancing on a level unprecedented in our lifetimes?

“Hosanna to the Son of David!” 

Our Lord entered Jerusalem triumphantly on Palm Sunday (Mark 11:1–10), then spent the night in Bethany (vv. 11–12). On Holy Monday, he cursed a barren fig tree as a symbol of the “fruitless” nation of Israel (vv. 12–14; cf. Jeremiah 8:13; Micah 7:1). He next drove moneychangers from the temple (Mark 11:15–18).

Then “the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them” (Matthew 21:14). He received the praise of children “crying out in the temple, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’” (v. 15), despite the indignation of the chief priests and scribes (vv. 15–16). Then, “leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there” (v. 17).

Let’s focus today on Jesus’ cleansing of the temple. Five financial functions took place there during Holy Week, each of which incurred our Lord’s wrath.

Five reasons Jesus cleansed the temple 

People came to Jerusalem for Passover “from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). Since there were no banks along the way, they had to bring the money they would need to finance their trip to Jerusalem and back. (Some stayed in the Holy City for fifty days until Pentecost, which made their trip even more expensive; cf. Acts 2:5–11).

Three financial functions were performed at the temple which carried their own Greek designation but are translated into the same English term: money-changers.

One: Foreign coins had to be changed into local currency, which was the function of the kollybistes (the “money-changers” of Matthew 21:12).

Two: Travelers would typically bring large denominations of money for ease of transport, which had to be converted into smaller coins. This was the function of the kermatistes, (the “money-changers” of John 2:14).  Continue reading Denison Forum – ‘We are beginning to see the glimmers of progress’: A Holy Monday invitation to the cleansing power of Jesus

Charles Stanley – Sunday Reflection: The Blessing of Gentleness

 

Modern life constantly bombards us with messages that say happiness depends on working hard to get every single thing we desire. It urges and even commands us to aggressively pursue satisfaction, sometimes at any cost (even when it hurts other people). Yet in turning to God’s Word, we find encouragement to live with meekness—or gentleness—toward the Lord, each other, and the world around us. But how?

It often feels like a struggle to express this kind of humility and compassion to the world, especially when there is so much brokenness all around us—and within our own heart. Being angry or despondent is much easier and perhaps also serves to protect ourselves. But think about the way God loves us and never holds back. Consider how you might press onward, following His example and sharing His goodness with everyone you meet this week.

Think about it
• What does it mean to be meek in our day-to-day life? Can you think of opportunities to be calmer, less selfish, or more genuine? To live with the awareness that we truly have nothing but yet are promised everything?

  •  Meditate on Galatians 5:22-24, contemplating the fruit of the Spirit and how the qualities listed relate to meekness.

Bible in One Year: 2 Samuel 4-6

 

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Our Daily Bread — The One Who Saves

 

Bible in a Year:

They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!”

John 12:13

Today’s Scripture & Insight:John 12:12–18

He was called “one of the bravest persons alive,” but he wasn’t what others expected. Desmond was a soldier who declined to carry a gun. As a medic, he single-handedly rescued seventy-five injured soldiers in one battle, including some who once called him a coward and ridiculed him for his faith. Running into heavy gunfire, Desmond prayed continually, “Lord, please help me get one more.” He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism.

Scripture tells us that Jesus was greatly misunderstood. On a day foretold by the prophet Zechariah (9:9), Jesus entered Jerusalem and the crowd waved branches, shouting, “Hosanna!” (John 12:13). Quoting Psalm 118:26, they cried: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (John 12:13). But the very next verse in that psalm refers to bringing a sacrifice “with boughs in hand” (Psalm 118:27). While the crowd in John 12 anticipated an earthly king to save them from Rome, Jesus was much more. He was King of Kings and our sacrifice—God in the flesh, willingly embracing the cross to save us from our sins—a purpose prophesied centuries earlier.

“At first his disciples did not understand all this,” John writes. Only later “did they realize that these things had been written about him” (John 12:16). Illumined by His Word, God’s eternal purposes became clear. Watch Grant Stevenson’s devotional video, “Jesus, the Savior,” to learn more about the One who saves.

By:  James Banks

 

 

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Joyce Meyer – Peace in the Midst of the Storm

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

When life feels overwhelming, there’s only one place we can go for true, lasting peace—Jesus Christ. He is the “Prince of Peace” (see Isaiah 9:6) and the Bible says He’s our shelter in the storm. (see Isaiah 4:6).

I used to think that the way to have peace was to get rid of all my problems. It was a wonderful day when the Lord helped me realize that I could come to Him for peace in the midst of my problems.

It reminds me of the old hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” This is what the refrain says:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face;

And the things of the earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.

You see, when we take our cares and worries to God and spend time with Him, we magnify Him or make Him “bigger” in our eyes. When we do, all of our problems and concerns suddenly look smaller. Compared to God, they grow dim and insignificant.

Your problems may be big, and they are not insignificant to God. But when you keep your eyes on Him, He gives you perspective.

I love Matthew 11:28 (NIV). Jesus says, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

When we “come to Him”—when we read God’s Word, sing a song of worship or just sit and tell Him how good He is—He takes all of our worry, anxiety, fear and sadness and exchanges it with His peace, joy, hope and love.

When you feel worried and anxious, I know it’s easy to panic and allow fear to take over. That’s when you need to slow down, get still and focus on Jesus. He’s always with you, available any time of the day for you to cry out to Him for His supernatural peace.

Pray: “Father, right now I take a moment to come to You. Thank You for Your amazing love and how good You have been to me. Your strength, guidance and protection make all the difference in my life. Help me to always keep my eyes focused on You and receive Your supernatural peace and comfort. In Jesus’ Name, amen.”

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Your Joy Restored

 

“Create in me a clean heart, O God: and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence: and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation: and uphold me with Thy free Spirit. Then will I teach transgressors Thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto Thee” (Psalm 51:10-13, KJV).

“The Christian owes it to the world to be supernaturally joyful,” said A. W. Tozer.

How do we attain that joy?

When we refuse to exhale spiritually by confessing our sins, we are miserable. On the other hand, when we do confess our sins, we experience God’s complete forgiveness. He removes our guilt and fills our lives with joy, the kind of joy we will very much want to share with others.

The psalmist also knew this when he wrote: “Create in me a new, clean heart, O God, filled with clean thoughts and right desires…Restore to me again the joy of Your salvation, and make me willing to obey You. Then I will teach Your ways to other sinners, and they – guilty like me – will repent and return to You” (Psalm 51:10,12,13).

There was a time when I allowed moods and circumstances to prevent the joyful launching of a new day with the Lord. As a result, I did not feel that close relationship with Him, that beautiful awareness of His presence that comes from fellowship with Him in His Word and in prayer, and through faithful witnessing of His reality to others.

Without that time with Him, there is no joy and the day often begins and continues in the energy of the flesh. There is no personal awareness of God’s presence, and things just seem to go wrong. We can begin every day with that joyful communion with Christ that gives us the assurance of His presence throughout the day. We are the ones who make that choice. God is available; we are the variable.

Bible Reading: Psalm 51:1-9

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will begin this day on my knees, praising and rejoicing in the Lord as an expression of my desire to be with Him. I will read His Word and offer prayers of adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. I will ask Him to lead me to others whose hearts He has prepared for this same joyful relationship with God.

 

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Charles Stanley – A Training Course in Obedience

 

Luke 5:1-11

In today’s passage, Peter’s initial interaction with Christ seems unimportant. We assume Jesus asked Peter for the use of his boat, which meant that the weary fisherman put aside his cleanup duties in order to steer the craft for an itinerant preacher. It was a small decision, but Peter ended up with a front-row seat for a miraculous display of Jesus’ power that day.

Then, Peter obeyed Jesus’ second request —to let down the nets for a catch—even though doing so contradicted his expertise in fishing. The results were incredible: a catch so great that a second boat had to come and take part of the haul.

Though Peter probably considered both of these decisions fairly insignificant, Jesus found them telling. He was preparing the disciple and teaching him to follow. It’s often obedience in the small details that prepares the believer for obedience in all things. What Peter did with regard to the boat and net eventually convinced him that giving up everything to follow Christ was the wisest choice.

This is how God teaches us to follow His will, too. Our decisions can set us on a course to fulfill God’s good purpose for our life and His kingdom—if we choose to heed His voice.

Bible in One Year: 2 Samuel 1-3

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Our Deepest Longings

 

Bible in a Year:

Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied.

Ecclesiastes 5:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ecclesiastes 5:10–12

As a young man, Duncan had been afraid of not having enough money, so in his early twenties, he began ambitiously building his future. Climbing the ladder at a prestigious Silicon Valley company, Duncan achieved vast wealth. He had a bulging bank account, a luxury sports car, and a million-dollar California home. He had everything he desired; yet he was profoundly unhappy. “I felt anxious and dissatisfied,” Duncan said. “In fact, wealth can actually make life worse.” Piles of cash didn’t provide friendship, community, or joy—and often brought him only more heartache.

Some people will expend immense energy attempting to amass wealth in an effort to secure their lives. It’s a fool’s game. “Whoever loves money never has enough,” Scripture insists (Ecclesiastes 5:10). Some will work themselves to the bone. They’ll strive and push, comparing their possessions with others and straining to achieve some economic status. And yet even if they gain supposed financial freedom, they’ll still be unsatisfied. It’s not enough. As the writer of Ecclesiastes states, “This too is meaningless” (v. 10).

The truth is, striving to find fulfillment apart from God will prove futile. While Scripture calls us to work hard and use our gifts for the good of the world, we can never accumulate enough to satisfy our deepest longings. Jesus alone offers a real and satisfying life (John 10:10)—one based on a loving relationship that’s truly enough!

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

What brings you true satisfaction and fulfillment? How can you more fully live out the fact that only God is enough?

Gracious God, allow me to find my true fulfillment and joy in You. Keep me from a wrong view of work and material things.

 

 

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Joyce Meyer – This Too Shall Pass

 

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. — 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NIV)

Sometimes, when we’re going through a difficult season, we don’t think we can make it through. But God promises us in His Word that He will never allow more to come on us than we can bear as we rely on Him (see 1 Corinthians 10:13).

Second Corinthians 2:9 says that His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses. This means when we go through hard times, God wants to show Himself strong through us.

In our family, when difficult things are happening, we like to say, “This too shall pass.” It’s an important reminder that it won’t last forever.

The truth is, getting upset about our problems never changes them. However, I’ve learned that choosing to adopt a positive attitude can make a difference. When bad things happen or we’re uncertain about the future, it can be even tougher to think and say things that are positive. But it’s helpful to remember that things will change…a new season is right around the corner.

When I am in the midst of a difficult time, I choose to dwell on passages like Romans 8:35-39. I remind myself that God loves meno matter how difficult life is at the moment. I focus my thoughts on His strength and ability to pull me through any situation. As I do, I can sense faith rising up inside of me.

During tough times, it’s easy to think, I can’t do this—it’s just too hard. Watch for that type of thinking. Then, when you recognize it, replace it with a God-inspired thought like:

I can do whatever I need to do because God is with me. This too shall pass. (See Philippians 4:13; Psalm 16:8.)

Pray: “God, thank You for the strength to make it through this season. I know You are with me and it won’t last forever. Help me to choose faith-filled thoughts and attitudes that will bring peace to the situation and remind me that You have good things in store for the future. In Jesus’ Name, amen.”

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Gift of His Spirit

 

“This is what God has prepared for us and, as a guarantee, He has given us His Holy Spirit” (2 Corinthians 5:5).

A dynamic young business man sat across from me in my office. By almost every standard of human measure he was an outstanding success in both his business and his religion.

He was one of the leading men in his field of specialty in the world. A highly moral, religious person, he was very active in his church. And yet, he was not sure that he was a Christian.

He wanted desperately – more than anything else in the world – to have real assurance, but he did not know how to go about obtaining it. Step by step, I explained to him from the Bible how he could receive Christ into his life and be sure of his salvation.

Soon we were on our knees in prayer, after which he went on his way rejoicing in the assurance of his salvation to begin a supernatural walk with God.

Many pastors and other Christian leaders, I have discovered, also have this same gnawing doubt about their salvation. One pastor who had preached the Bible-centered gospel for 40 years told me that he was still unsure of his salvation.

The wife of an evangelist confided, “During the past 30 years, my husband and I have introduced thousands of people to Christ, but I have never been sure of my own salvation. Never before have I had the courage to share this concern with anyone, but now I am so desperate that I have come to seek your help.”

I explained that we receive Christ as our Savior by faith or on act of the will; then, as a guarantee, He gives us His Holy Spirit.

Bible Reading: II Corinthians 5:6-10

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  With God’s Holy Spirit as my constant witness, I will daily give thanks to Him for assurance of my salvation.

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Streams in the Desert for Kids – You Are Worth More than Flowers

 

Matthew 6:30–33, The Message

Have you ever wandered deep into the woods and found a beautiful flower blooming there? Ever wondered who, besides you, will ever see that beautiful flower? Jesus talked about that. He said that God gives a flower so much beauty and detail and then he may put it in a place where no one ever sees it. Why? It is because God makes everything perfect whether or not anyone notices. Everything he makes has a purpose. You have a purpose. And he didn’t make any mistakes when he made you. Even if you sometimes feel like you are hidden in the woods where no one notices you, God has a purpose for your life.

Because you are his child, God will take care of all your needs. Jesus told the people of his time to stop worrying about everything. He told them that God knew they needed certain things to live. He said that if God dressed the flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, God will certainly take care of his children—that includes you—who are much more important to him than flowers.

If you can understand that God loves you and wants to take care of you, life will be a lot easier. God knows what you need. God knows what your family needs. Count on the fact that God knows, and trust him.

Dear Lord, I know you love me and that you care about my needs. Help me to trust you to take care of me and my family. Amen.

Charles Stanley – A Divine Demonstration of Love

 

1 John 4:7-19

To better understand divine love, consider its opposite —false “love,” which sets limitations and always withholds something. This so-called love clings to control and gives only in order to manipulate. It is emotionally detached and unwilling to be vulnerable.

Genuine love, on the other hand, respects people as they are. It means understanding who the other person really is and loving without restriction. If you must be in control and your heart is not 100% in it, you’re missing true love.

Looking at the love of Jesus Christ on the cross, I see the most perfect demonstration of love anywhere. The Savior showed us how unlimited His love is: He gave His life for us and withheld nothing (Rom. 8:32)! He did not give His love to manipulate us but instead gave us free will to accept or reject Him. And He loved us with vulnerability, already knowing His love would be rejected—even ignored or mocked. In loving with His whole heart, Jesus was willing to be turned down.

If you’re ever unsure about what true love really looks like, turn to the cross. Jesus gave His best—His all—to love us so that we could become children of God (1 John 3:1).

Bible in One Year: 1 Samuel 30-31

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — What Comes Next?

 

Bible in a Year:

There is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord . . . will award to me on that day.

2 Timothy 4:8

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Timothy 4:1–8

On the night of April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King gave his final speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” In it, he hints that he believed he might not live long. He said, “We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. . . . [But] I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” The next day, he was assassinated.

The apostle Paul, shortly before his death, wrote to his protégé Timothy: “I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. . . . Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day” (2 Timothy 4:68). Paul knew his time on earth was drawing to a close, as did Dr. King. Both men realized lives of incredible significance, yet never lost sight of the true life ahead. Both men welcomed what came next.

Like them, may we “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

By:  Remi Oyedele

Reflect & Pray

What is your understanding of this life’s temporary nature? How do you think it plays into the life that comes next?

Heavenly Father, help us to keep our eyes on You and not on the troubles and trials of this life.

Read Life to Come: The Hope of the Christian Faith at discoveryseries.org/q1205.

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Giving Up the Self

In his 1989 book, In the Name of Jesus, Henri Nouwen recounts a time of grave spiritual atrophy. Nouwen was a highly regarded Ivy League professor as well as an in-demand speaker and author. He was the toast of any town. And most impressive of all (to me), he was personal friends with Fred Rogers.

Nouwen was also growing increasingly empty inside. When an opportunity arose to work with Daybreak in Toronto, Henri bravely walked away from his old life and jumped into service for the intellectually disabled. He had gone from the pinnacle of renown in Christian circles to serving a marginalized group where there was sure to be little thanks and even less fame. And yet, he was revitalized during this time.

Once Henri had to go to a speaking engagement but did not want to go alone. He ended up taking “Bill” with him, one of the permanent residents at Daybreak, and the two had a great time. During breakfast the next day, Bill asked Henri if he had liked the trip. Henri said that, yes, he had enjoyed the trip very much. Bill responded with, “And we did it together, didn’t we?”

Henri writes: “Then I realized the full truth of Jesus’ words, ‘Where two or three meet in my Name, I am among them’ (Matthew 18:20). In the past, I had always given lectures, sermons, addresses, and speeches by myself. Often I had wondered how much of what I had said would be remembered. Now it dawned on me that most likely much of what I said would not be long remembered, but that Bill and I doing it together would not easily be forgotten. I hoped and prayed that Jesus, who had sent us out together and had been with us all during the journey, would have become really present to those who had gathered in the Clarendon Hotel in Crystal City.”(1)

I saw this up close and personal when a Lutheran pastor I worked for (whose name really is Bill) answered the call to lead a diminished and declining flock in a smaller town. No one wanted to lose this talented teacher and preacher. And this was not the best career decision to make; in the metrics of worldly success, this was a demotion. That was the point, though. He told me that we must truly go where God leads us and anything else is simply career advancement. We need be people who proclaim with Isaiah, “Here am I. Send me!”

These counterintuitive stories are reflections of Christ’s example. In the Lenten origin story, Jesus goes without food for 40 days, and so Lent is typically a time of “fasting” from certain foods, although now someone may choose to fast from social media, watching Netflix, etc. If we look deeper into the narrative, though, we are introduced to some of the most grand paradoxes. There is something fascinating taking place behind the fast.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Giving Up the Self

Joyce Meyer – Overcome Fear with Faith

 

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. — Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

Fear can take many forms—worry, anxiety, panic or even dread. But it’s so important for us to get the upper hand on fear because it does not come from God.

Even when we face uncertainty or difficulties in life, God wants us to have faith that He is with us in the struggle and that He can do great things. He wants us to remain positive and full of hope!

Faith is the opposite of fear. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith allows us to believe that God is going to do something great even before it comes to pass. Faith enables us to believe things that may not make sense to our natural minds.

One of the main ways we release our faith is through what we say. So, even when it doesn’t look like good things are happening, it’s important to say what God’s Word says about our situation.

When you are going through a difficult time or find yourself expecting the worst, I encourage you to say things like:

“God has a great plan for my future, and I believe something good is going to happen today!” (See Jeremiah 29:11.)

“My future is bright, and I have nothing to worry about—God is taking care of me. The Lord’s goodness and mercy follow me every single day of my life!” (See Philippians 4:6; Psalm 23:6.)

“I don’t have to fear, because God is always with me.” (See Joshua 1:9.)

Living by faith doesn’t mean that we ignore our circumstances, but it means that we choose to focus on God and believe that He is greater than anything we are going through (see Ephesians 3:20).

Pray: “God, thank You for watching over every detail of my life. When things are uncertain, help me to believe Your Word more than my doubts and fears. Help me to speak words of faith and say what You say about my situation. I know that You are greater than my fears and You have good things planned for my future. In Jesus’ Name, amen.”

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org