Tag Archives: religion

Charles Stanley – Wait Upon the Lord

 

Psalm 40:1-3

Patience is hard work! This is especially true when we are waiting on God, who keeps to His own timetable. But believers who trust Him to deliver can look forward to rich blessing.

A person’s willingness to be patient reveals the value of what he or she desires. No one goes wrong waiting for the Lord to send His best in His perfect timing. Of course, believers don’t receive everything they ask for. At times, God simply says no. Other times, He adjusts our desires to match His. In our humanness, we can’t possibly know all the details of a situation. So we ask for what we think we need, based on our limited information. A submissive heart accepts the Father’s gentle redirection. When the awaited object of desire comes, it may not look like what we originally requested, but it will be exactly what we need.

Another benefit is that waiting patiently on the Lord is an awesome witness. When He responds, others see the reality of God, His faithfulness, and the wisdom of our commitment. In addition, our own faith is strengthened. Fools rush to seize their prize, but wise believers know that blessing will come in God’s good time.

 

Bible in One Year: Zechariah 6-10

 

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Rooted in Love

 

Bible in a Year:

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power . . . to grasp . . . the love of Christ.

Ephesians 3:17–18

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ephesians 3:14–21

“That’s all it takes!” Megan said. She had clipped a stem from her geranium plant, dipped the cut end into honey, and stuck it into a pot filled with compost. Megan was teaching me how to propagate geraniums: how to turn one healthy plant into many plants, so I would have flowers to share with others. The honey, she said, was to help the young plant establish roots.

Watching her work, I wondered what kinds of things help us establish spiritual roots. What helps us mature into strong, flourishing people of faith? What keeps us from withering up or failing to grow? Paul, writing to the Ephesians, says that we are “rooted and established in love” (Ephesians 3:17). This love comes from God, who strengthens us by giving us the Holy Spirit. Christ dwells in our hearts. And as we begin to “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (v. 18), we can have a rich experience of God’s presence as we’re “completely filled and flooded with God Himself” (v. 19 amp).

Growing spiritually requires rooting into the love of God—meditating on the truth that we are beloved by the God who is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (v. 20). What an incredible basis for our faith!

By:  Amy Peterson

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Unseen

 

There is something deeply unsettling about biological threats. The very idea of unseen but deadly toxins or viruses is a modern nightmare. The sad thing is that we have too many actual examples to fuel our fears. For multitudes in the industrial town of Bhopal, India, a normal working day turned into a catastrophe of biblical proportions as people were poisoned and killed by gas leaking from a local factory. Similarly catastrophic, the events surrounding the reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine combined the worst of leftover Soviet era paranoia and secrecy with a calamity of truly mind-boggling proportions. Hundreds of young men were ushered in to fight a fire, knowing nothing of the deadly radiation saturating the area, and as a result, thousands died. And of course, the recent chemical attacks in Syria were heartrending.

The weight and power of these deadly issues grips us. We feel it acutely. There are things in our universe that are invisible, but real and sometimes deadly. And there are few guaranteed fail-safe mechanisms to protect us, in all circumstances, from harm. This feeling of vulnerability, this sense that there are things beyond our control, this notion of powerlessness is something the modern mind finds repulsive. We want security, we demand certainty, and we feel entitled to assurance. But what is this assurance, and where is it to be found?

Several decades ago, Ernest Becker wrote a very challenging book called The Denial of Death. He showed how society works to create hero-systems and elaborate ways of suppressing or altogether avoiding the reality of death. Woody Allen adds degree of humor to the problem: “It’s not that I’m afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

Here the Christian story speaks clearly to the human dilemma. In his first letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul writes, “As in Adam, all die.” There are no exceptions, no escape routes, and no exits. It is as inclusive as it gets. Death is the great leveler. It respects everyone.

However, the apostle does not stop here. He goes on to say that in Christ will all be made alive. This is the great distinction. Death occurs on a hundred percent scale. To put this in theological terms, our link to Adam is inviolable. We are all descendants and inheritors of all that this implies. Like those infected with a deadly virus, the issue is not morality or effort. We need a solution, an antidote beyond us. What Christ embodies is an answer that is a transfer.

What do I mean? We are all subject to the outworking of death, brokenness, and suffering that is a part of the human condition. But there is an invitation to a deeper humanity in the invitation Jesus embodies for us. What does this mean? Several things. It means the risen, human, incarnate Jesus provides what we cannot provide for ourselves—namely, healing and help. It means we can surrender our failings and seek his face. And it means we can open ourselves to receive a new kind of life within and without by means of the gift of the Holy Spirit.

These two great antagonists, life and death, are at play in the Christian story. As I watch ageing, decaying people, I recognize something sad and good at the same time. Death is unyielding, but the grave is not the end. Jesus is even now at work making all things new but we will also one day pass through death and into the fullness of resurrection. Joni Erickson Tada brought this home to me some years ago as she spoke from her wheel chair, testifying of a love for Jesus and her great expectations as a believer, despite her very real suffering and restrictions as a paraplegic. She announced to us all that when she sees Jesus face to face, she will dance. I believe it. This is a resurrection hope that brings assurance today and certainty tomorrow. There are many unseen but real threats, but there are also unseen but real promises. “Behold, I make all things new.”

Stuart McAllister is global support specialist at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Joyce Meyer – God’s Plan Always Wins

 

blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is everyone who fears, reveres, and worships the Lord, who walks in His ways and lives according to His commandments. — Psalm 128:1 (AMPC)

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

The Bible says, Do not be deceived and deluded and misled; God will not allow Himself to be sneered at (scorned, disdained, or mocked . . . For whatever a man sows, that and that only is what he will reap”(Galatians 6:7 AMPC).

God’s Word is true, and He will not be overcome. Nothing can stop His plan, no matter how many obstacles might try to block the way (see Isaiah 54:17; 55:11; Psalm 33:11). Jesus has already completely defeated and disarmed Satan and all his demonic forces, so they cannot and will not win (see Colossians 2:15). If it seems like the enemy has built walls that are keeping you from your purpose, keep doing what’s right anyway—the harvest you’re waiting for will come at the right time (see Galatians 6:9-10).

When you’re feeling overwhelmed and discouraged, remember that God’s plan for you is good (see Jeremiah 29:11), He’s empowering you to do everything you need to (see Philippians 4:13), and nothing can snatch you out of His hand (see John 10:28). As you follow Him, He’s got your back—no matter what—and He’s the One who will give you the grace to keep going.

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me trust You with my calling and purpose, even when I feel overwhelmed. Thank You that nothing can stop Your good plan from coming to pass in my life, and that You haven’t forgotten me. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Helping the Church

 

“The Holy Spirit displays God’s power through each of us as a means of helping the entire church” (1 Corinthians 12:7).

A friend once asked me, “Are all the spiritual gifts for today?” and “How can I discern my spiritual gifts?”

He had been reading a number of books with conflicting views on gifts and had heard sermons – some encouraging him to discover his gifts and others saying the gifts are not for today. He was woefully confused.

I shared with this friend that I have been a Christian for more than 35 years and have known the reality of the fullness of the Spirit for more than 30 years. I explained that I have seen God do remarkable – even miraculous – things in and through my life throughout the years.

Yet, I have not felt the need to “discover” my gifts, because I believe that whatever God calls me to do He will enable me to do if I am willing to trust and obey Him, work hard and discipline myself.

The Holy Spirit obviously controls and distributes all the gifts. So when I am filled, controlled and empowered with the Holy Spirit I possess all of the gifts potentially. God will give me any gifts I need.

I went on to tell my young friend that some of the gifts of the Spirit are supernatural enhancements of abilities common to all men, wisdom for instance. Other gifts, such as healing, are granted by the Holy Spirit to only a select few.

But the gifts differ in another way, too. Some are instantaneous, and others are developmental in nature. Primarily, we need to remember that whatever God calls us to do, He will enable us to do. “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13, NAS).

Bible Reading: I Corinthians 12:24-31

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will dwell on God’s ability to do in and through me what ever He calls upon me to do, rather than to spend precious time seeking to discover my spiritual gifts.

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devos – God Wants Us to Live by Faith

 

“Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:38–39).

How is a person saved? You have probably memorized a verse that gives the answer to that question. Ephesians 2:8 says that we are saved by grace, through faith. If you are a Christian today, you were saved only by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

But does that mean that we Christians don’t need faith anymore? No, we need faith for the rest of our lives! All of the Christian life is like a long journey toward Heaven, and the road that we’re traveling could be called “Faith.” God says that “the just,” or those who have been made righteous through Christ (Christians), will live by faith.

Faith, as Hebrews 11:1 explains, means being confident of something that we cannot see. If there is anything in your life right now that seems difficult, sad, or confusing, God is asking you to live by faith. You cannot see how the situation is going to turn out. You cannot see what direction your life will take in the future. Perhaps you are having trouble seeing anything good about the situation you are in. If that is the case, you are going through a trial that God is using to strengthen your faith. He wants to see whether—and how much—you will trust Him, even when you can’t see all of the answers, results, and reasons.

What do you know about the God you cannot see? You know that He is wise. You know that He loves you. You know that He wants you to grow into a stronger, more contented, and happier Christian. So exercise some faith! Believe that God is working for your good in ways that you cannot understand right now. Praise Him for the things He is doing and for the things He is going to do in the future. It takes faith to do this—but faith is what we live by!

God wants us to live by faith when things happen that we can’t understand.

My response:

» What do I need to have faith about?

» What seems sad, confusing, or difficult in my life today?

» Am I complaining and questioning God about it, or am I living by faith, trusting God even when I can’t see any good?

The post God Wants Us to Live by Faith appeared first on EquipU Online Library.

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Denison Forum – Who won the debate? Remembering how God measures success

 

The first of three scheduled presidential debates took place last night at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Chris Wallace of Fox News moderated the event, which took place over ninety minutes in six fifteen-minute blocks. President Trump and Vice President Biden were asked about their records, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, the economy, race and violence in our cities, and the integrity of the election.

The debate was contentious from the beginning, with each candidate contradicting the other repeatedly throughout. Fox News is calling the debate “fiery”; CNN describes it as “rancorous and chaotic.” According to USA Today, it was “one of the most chaotic, insult-laden presidential debates in modern history.”

How Richard Nixon’s suit affected the 1960 election 

Before last night, more than 70 percent of Americans said the debate wouldn’t matter much to them. Fewer people than at any time since 2000 consider debates important to deciding how they will vote.

However, televised presidential debates have been changing history since 1960, when Richard Nixon’s light gray suit blended into the background on black-and-white television and his opponent, Sen. John Kennedy, began the ascendancy that led to his eventual victory.

Ronald Reagan’s memorable response in 1984 to a question about his age (“I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience”) led to his easy reelection. President Ford’s insistence that “there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe” may have contributed to his loss in 1976; Ronald Reagan’s clear dominance of his debate with President Carter in 1980 likely contributed to his landslide victory.

The contentious nature of last night’s debate reflects the contentious nature of our culture. Our politics are locked in a zero-sum game: abortion is legal or it is not; LGBTQ rights and sexual liberty take precedence over religious liberty or they do not. More than ever before, Republicans and Democrats both consider the other side to be “brainwashed,” “hateful,” and “racist.”

Why these are good days for compassion and love 

In the midst of such political animosity, let’s gain a larger perspective.

The world passed one million confirmed coronavirus deaths on Monday, losing 3,819 lives per day since the start of the year (by comparison: 2,977 people were killed on 9/11). It has been estimated that the US has lost two million “years of life” from early deaths due to the pandemic. Dr. Anthony Fauci is warning Americans to prepare for a second wave of COVID-19 this fall.

In other news, one of the largest medical cyberattacks in US history occurred last weekend. Multiple people died during a hostage situation in Oregon on Monday. A priest in China was reportedly abducted and tortured for refusing to join the government-controlled Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.

And a Texas pastor and his wife were killed when a driver crossed into their lane and struck their vehicle head-on. Their three small children survived.

I took you through these stories to make two related points.

One: Every day’s news reminds us that ours is a broken world. Many people are suffering in ways that far transcend political divisions. And such divisiveness is nothing new in America. We are fallen people living in a fallen culture.

Two: Tragedy and hatred are opportunities for compassion and love. The more acrimonious our country becomes, the more urgent and powerful our ministry becomes.

Let’s close by focusing on this fact.

“What is the invitation of God in your fear?” 

Not in my lifetime have I seen an election this intense, with supporters on each side convinced that our nation’s future depends on their candidate’s victory. We can and must vote, pray, and speak biblical truth to the issues of the day.

But it is vital to remember that God measures success not by outcomes in our world but by obedience to his word.

When Jeremiah warned his people not to flee to Egypt (Jeremiah 42), they “did not obey the voice of the Lord” (Jeremiah 43:7) and in fact forced the prophet to go with them (v. 6). This was not the outcome he wanted, but Jeremiah’s obedience resonates still today.

In fact, fear of failure can be reframed as an opportunity for greater faith.

Writing for the Society of St. John the Evangelist in Boston, Curtis Almquist notes: “Fear is not a sign of the absence of God. In our fear we rather find the bidding presence of God. Our fear most often arises out of something that is bigger than we are, and we find that in and of ourselves, there isn’t enough—not enough energy, or patience, or hope, or encouragement, or provision. We come up short.

“Where is God in your fear? What is the invitation from God in your fear?”

How would you answer his questions today?

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Charles Stanley – God Acts on Our Behalf

 

Lamentations 3:19-26

We’re so used to a hurried world that we sometimes expect speed in our spiritual life, too. However, God “acts on behalf of those who wait for him” (Isa. 64:4 NIV). Let’s look at three reasons believers are called upon to wait.

God may be preparing us to receive His blessings. Perhaps we need new skills, maturity, or a particular spiritual insight before we’re ready for God’s plan. For example, David waited years to sit on his appointed throne. But when he did, he was stronger, wiser, and a battle-tested king.

Our Father is often teaching us to have confidence in Him. How would we learn faith if He immediately fulfilled our every request? In my own life, the Lord has often said two words: “Trust Me.” And He has never been late to meet my needs. No matter how we justify rushing ahead of God, doing so amounts to saying, “I don’t trust You.”

The Lord will sometimes withhold blessing to protect us. We may never find out why, but be assured that God carefully decides whether to place the object of our desire in our hands.

Waiting isn’t easy, but rushing ahead of the Lord can short-circuit His plan. When that happens, believers are left unsatisfied, and they often live with the consequences. Be patient while God works out details. His best is on the way.

 

Bible in One Year: Zechariah 1-5

 

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Eyes to See

 

Bible in a Year:

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

Psalm 119:18

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 119:97–104

I recently discovered the wonder of anamorphic art. Appearing at first as an assortment of random parts, an anamorphic sculpture only makes sense when viewed from the correct angle. In one piece, a series of vertical poles align to reveal a famous leader’s face. In another, a mass of cable becomes the outline of an elephant. Another artwork, made of hundreds of black dots suspended by wire, becomes a woman’s eye when seen correctly. The key to anamorphic art is viewing it from different angles until its meaning is revealed.

With thousands of verses of history, poetry, and more, the Bible can sometimes be hard to understand. But Scripture itself tells us how to unlock its meaning. Treat it like an anamorphic sculpture: view it from different angles and meditate on it deeply.

Christ’s parables work this way. Those who care enough to ponder them gain “eyes to see” their meaning (Matthew 13:10–16). Paul told Timothy to “reflect” on his words so God would give him insight (2 Timothy 2:7). And the repeated refrain of Psalm 119 is how meditating on Scripture brings wisdom and insight, opening our eyes to see its meaning (119:18, 97–99).

How about pondering a single parable for a week or reading a gospel in one sitting? Spend some time viewing a verse from all angles. Go deep. Biblical insight comes from meditating on Scripture, not just reading it.

Oh, God, give us eyes to see.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Why Isn’t God More Obvious?

 

Why is it that God does not seem to approach in a much more obvious way? One answer has been that God’s existence is not a matter of reality and facts. Isn’t it more of a faith position, anyway? Isn’t it more about a leap in the dark than an embrace of evidence?

I would agree that God isn’t “forcefully obvious,” but I don’t think that this confines God to being a “take-it-or-leave-it” matter of faith. I think it makes more sense to see God as clearly visible, whilst not being forcefully obvious.

Did you know that the Bible actually recognizes the validity of this question? First, we see passages that affirm the human perception that God seems hidden. In Job 23:8-9 we read, “But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.”

Interestingly, there are also many examples of God appearing as if veiled in darkness, whilst still simultaneously offering his presence.(1) For instance we read that, “The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.” Jesus, too, invites people to trust in him and then leaves and hides himself. In John we find the story of a paralytic man who is healed, but then Jesus slips away into the crowd. Luke records that as news about Jesus spread, “he often withdrew to lonely places.” Later, Jesus tells the disciples that, “Before long, the world will not see me any more, but you will see me.” Interestingly in many of these cases, God provides a clear sense of presence, while at the same time veiling the fullness of that presence.

So perhaps an unavoidable part of the Bible’s answer to why God seems hidden is because it’s true. But why? And what about those times when we need a present God most, when God could offer us real hope in times of suffering?

Well, when Jesus resisted the crowd, he concealed his identity until exactly the right moment in time to explicitly disclose it. This was a wise decision as the consequences of more explicit or obvious disclosure led fairly quickly to a successful campaign to have him executed. Could it be that God isn’t unavoidably obvious, but clear in a more qualified sense? Crucially, there is also no reason why something of this nature might not require some learning to begin to perceive or see on our part.

For example, imagine that I said that it is obvious, but not forcefully so, that you will need your passport to fly internationally. Now, notice carefully that you have to learn this bit of information. It is certainly not like a forcefully obvious brick wall that you cannot avoid. But it would still perhaps be a case of a failure to grasp the obvious if you arrived at the airport with your bags packed but without your passport. It’s this second sense (of non-forceful obviousness or avoidable clarity) that the case for God can be confidently approached.

But might this idea of God hiding merely provide a clever way for Christians to cling onto God in a scientific and evidence demanding age? This has been argued. Yet Christians do not claim that God doesn’t show himself, but rather that God chooses the means of the showing. And hiddenness may well be necessary to bring focus to the way God declares his existence through Jesus Christ. In fact, divine hiding creates the possibility of a more obvious disclosure or uncovering.

Atheist Bertrand Russell famously quipped that if he were faced with God when he died, he would demand an explanation for why God made the evidence of his existence so insufficient. We might be tempted to think he was being entirely reasonable. But perhaps the evidence we demand for God is directly related to who we think God is and what we think God’s purposes are. Hiddenness would make no sense if God’s aim was simply to relate to us as an object of knowledge that offered no real relational connection or friendship. If this was the divine purpose—that we would simply acknowledge God’s existence—then I am sympathetic to Russell’s demand for more evidence.

But let us suppose that God was unwilling to make an approach to human life merely through the intellect. Instead, let us imagine that God is seeking a relationship that is based upon a deeper and more profound personal insight or perception. Have you ever asked what kind of a relationship God might want with you?

Moreover, God has indeed been revealed plainly in the reality of a redemptive plan and action. The gospel is described as a mystery now made known. Many Christians can recall moments, or even seasons spanning years, where God has been plainly and clearly at work and life has been saturated with the presence and grace of Father, Son, and Spirit. Faith isn’t a blind faith, but a response to the evidence. It is based on real events that can be investigated. A leap in the dark has never been the offer, as it is about stepping into the light.

So perhaps the evidence that we demand is a consequence of who we think God is and what we think God’s purposes are? If God loves you and wants you to freely choose to return that love then perhaps sending his Son for you is enough to catch your attention.

 

(1) Cf. Psalm 10:1; 22:1-2; 30:7; 44:23-24; 88:13-14; 89:46; Isaiah 45:15.

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Joyce Meyer – No More Excuses

 

Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come! — 2 Corinthians 5:17 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Battlefield of the Mind – by Joyce Meyer

“I’ve always had a short temper. That’s just the way I am.”

“I’m a straightforward person. That’s who I am, and that’s how people need to accept me.”

“I call things as I see them. I don’t sugarcoat anything.”

This list could go on endlessly, but the one thing these excuses have in common is that each is meant to justify people remaining the way they are. It’s a way of resisting change.

Making excuses also creates space for Satan to creep into our minds. Being the deceiver that he is, he tells us that we’re not rude—we’re just being honest, and people need to respect that quality in us. We think we speak the truth as we see it, and we’re not cowards or hypocrites. If the devil can convince us that we don’t need to grow—that we’ll always be fine exactly the way we are—he’s won a serious battle in our lives.

In fact, the devil can give us a lot of excuses for not changing. If he convinces us that other people are at fault because “they’re just too sensitive” or “they don’t want to hear the truth and face reality,” we don’t feel responsible to grow in the way we communicate, and we think it’s all right to say whatever we want, which isn’t true.

Another example is this: No matter how negative we might be in our thinking, most of us wouldn’t call ourselves “negative.” We’d prefer words like logicalrealisticforthright, or candid. Not facing the truth about ourselves is one part of Satan’s deceptive work.

When I went through a season where I was extremely negative, I wouldn’t have thought of myself as a negative person—I thought I was just being honest. If I saw something wrong, I spoke up, and often offered my counsel on ways for people to change. Because I could see the weaknesses and problems of others, I was happy to show them how they could overcome. On my worst days, I found things wrong with all my friends and everything they did. I didn’t have to look for things to criticize—they just appeared without me having to look for them. I didn’t consider it negative because I thought I was merely trying to be helpful. I was so full of pride at the time that it never occurred to me that people didn’t really want my help. They wanted acceptance and encouragement, not judgment and criticism.

As I said, I had never thought of myself as being negative—that is, until God dealt with me and convicted my heart about the way I was treating people.

I’m not trying to condemn anyone for being negative, frank, blunt, candid, or whatever term you use for it, because condemning is in itself being negative. Instead, I want to help believers recognize if this is an attitude problem for them, and help them know that God is willing and able to help them get free from it. The path to freedom begins when we face our problems—without making excuses—and invite Him to help us overcome them.

We start the Christian life as new creations of God. Our past is wiped away. Our walk with God is one of change—of growth—of moving onward. We know what we’ve been in the past, but we also know that we don’t have to remain that way now or in the future. With Jesus’ help, we can have our minds renewed with His Word and always be growing.

The most difficult part may be to say to God, “I’m a negative person, but I want to change.” Once you’re honest with Him about your struggle, you can begin to win the battle and see more freedom in your thoughts, words and attitudes.

Prayer Starter: Father, please give me the grace to let go of negative, critical thinking, and help me see people and situations the way You do. Thank You for helping me renew my mind with truth, and to use my words to encourage and build others up. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Holy Spirit Will Speak

 

“But when you are arrested and stand trial, don’t worry about what to say in your defense. Just say what God tells you to. Then you will not be speaking, but the Holy Spirit will” (Mark 13:11).

Have you even had the experience of trying to say a word for the Lord, just sharing your faith, and breathing a prayer for guidance – then marveling as the Lord Himself, by His indwelling Holy Spirit, put the very words in your mouth that needed to be said?

Such has been my experience – many times. And I marvel and rejoice each time. On some occasions, I have addressed crowds of varying sizes, often not only feeling totally inadequate but also concluding my message of the evening with the feeling that I had been a poor ambassador of Christ. Then, someone had approached me after the service and thanked my for saying just the word he needed at that moment.

We serve a faithful God. That neighbor who needs a word of encouragement – ask the Lord to give you the right words to say to him or her. That correspondent hundreds of miles away – trust God for His message to him or her through you.

Certain conditions must prevail, of course, before the Holy Spirit can speak through us. But they are easily met. I must come with a clean heart, surrendered to the Holy Spirit, with my sins forgiven, having forgiven other people, holding no resentment or ill feeling against anyone. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm 66:18, KJV).

Let us trust God and His indwelling Holy Spirit for the very words of counsel we should say to a loved one or friend today.

Bible Reading: Acts 2:1-4

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will trust God and His Holy Spirit to put the very words in my mouth this day that need to be said to others whose lives I touch.

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devos – God Is Kind to Sinners

 

 

“For we ourselves were sometimes foolish, disobedient, . . . but after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared” (Titus 3:3a–4).

Have you disobeyed your parents recently? How did they treat you the day after you disobeyed? They probably gave you food to eat, provided you with clothing to wear, and allowed you to keep living under their roof—at the very least. They may even have done something especially nice for you. Your parents’ love for you does not change after you disobey them. They continue to show love and kindness to you, day after day, even when you disappoint or disobey them. That’s because loving you is natural for them. You are in their family. Loving you is part of who they are as your parents.

God loved us even when we were not in His family. Romans 5:8 says He showed His love for us while we were outside His family, still lost in our sins. Titus 3:3–4 tell us that He loved us even after we had been foolish, disobedient, and hateful. If you are saved today, God loved you and showed mercy to you after you had sinned against Him thousands of times. He brought you into His family and gave you eternal life (Titus 3:7). He saved you just because of His mercy. He showed kindness and love to you—because that is His nature. It is part of Who He is. God is kind to sinners.

Are you ever tempted to think God is not kind? Have you ever thought that because He has not given you some of the things you want, He does not love you? God has already proven His love and kindness toward you. He has already shown you much greater love and kindness than you could ever deserve. He will not keep back His kindness from you now. Sometimes God waits to give us good things, and sometimes He refuses to give us things we want because He knows they would harm us. When you are tempted to doubt God’s kindness and love, just look back to the day He saved you. He loved you when you were still a sinner—and He will always love you. It is part of Who He is.

God is kind and loving toward sinners.

My response:

» Have I remembered God’s gift of salvation today?

» Have I thanked Him for His love and kindness?

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Denison Forum – Amy Coney Barrett and the People of Praise: How to respond when critics don’t understand our faith

 

Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett are set to begin on October 12. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said the committee should clear her nomination by October 26, leaving the Republican-led Senate roughly a week to confirm Barrett before the November 3 election.

Attacks on her family and faith have already begun.

Focusing on the fact that she and her husband adopted two children from Haiti, one critic suggested without any evidence the possibility that “her kids were scooped up by ultra-religious Americans, or Americans who weren’t scrupulous intermediaries & the kids were taken when there was family in Haiti.” Judge Barrett and her husband have also been likened to “White colonizers” for adopting “Black children.”

If past is prologue, we can expect more character assassination attempts in the weeks ahead.

Many critics have focused on the fact that Judge Barrett is a member of a group called People of PraiseNewsweek headlined: “How Charismatic Catholic Groups Like Amy Coney Barrett’s People of Praise Inspired ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’” Their original headline incorrectly claimed that People of Praise directly inspired the dystopian novel; editors were forced to issue a retraction and change their headline (though not the “reporting” in the article itself).

Such guilt by association was echoed by other outlets but has been soundly debunked. This controversy illustrates an important point about the state of our culture and the best way for Christians to respond.

“Glaring gaps in religious knowledge” 

Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan explains that People of Praise is part of the Charismatic Renewal movement that began in the 1970s and “emphasizes personal conversion and bringing forward Christ’s teachings in the world.” Noonan notes: “Members include Protestants as well as Catholics. They have joined together intentionally, in community, to pray together, perform service, and run schools. They’re Christians living in the world.”

David French’s response is especially helpful. He quotes this New York Times description of the group in 2017: “Members of the group swear a lifelong oath of loyalty, called a covenant, to one another, and are assigned and are accountable to a personal adviser, called a ‘head’ for men and a ‘handmaid’ for women. The group teaches that husbands are the heads of their wives and should take authority over the family.”

French responds: “The more I looked into People of Praise, the more I had two simultaneous thoughts: First, many millions of American Christians see echoes of their lives in Judge Barrett’s story. And second, lots of folks really don’t understand both spiritual authority and spiritual community. The concerns about Barrett reflect in part the glaring gaps in religious knowledge in elite American media.”

He’s precisely right.

“A war for worldview dominance” 

People of Praise took “handmaid” from Mary’s response to Gabriel’s announcement that she would become the mother of God’s Son: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38 KJV). (The group later changed the term to avoid confusion after The Handmaid’s Tale came out.)

French reports that the group has been lauded by Cardinal Francis George; one of its members was appointed by Pope Francis as auxiliary bishop of Portland. It has founded three schools that have won nine Department of Education Blue Ribbon awards.

The furor sparked by misunderstandings of Judge Barrett’s faith illustrates an admission New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet made to NPR’s Terry Gross, “We don’t get religion. We don’t get the role of religion in people’s lives.” They’re not alone.

A recent study reported that only 2 percent of America’s millennials hold a biblical worldview. Among Gen X (thirty-seven to fifty-five years of age), only 5 percent subscribe to such a worldview. Only an estimated 9 percent of adults over the age of fifty-six hold a biblical worldview.

George Barna noted that the report “suggests a nation that is at war with itself to adopt new values, lifestyles, and a new identity. In other words, there is a war for worldview dominance.”

How do we win this “war”? Let’s close by focusing on an important part of the answer.

“His kingdom shall never be destroyed” 

Across the coming weeks of divisiveness over confirmation hearings and the presidential election, my prayer for Judge Barrett and for all believers is that we will demonstrate the integrity of Daniel.

His political opponents “could find no ground for complaint or any fault” (Daniel 6:4), so they reverted to attacking him “in connection with the law of his God” (v. 5). However, the Lord redeemed Daniel’s faithfulness so miraculously that King Darius eventually proclaimed: “He is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end” (v. 26).

Like Daniel, we face opposition that does not understand our faith or believe in our God. They need and deserve our compassion and our witness. But they will receive neither unless we live with such integrity that they see the unmistakable imprint of Jesus on our lives.

If skeptics are going to find fault with us, let them say that we are too committed to our Lord.

Is this what the world would say of you?

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Charles Stanley – Ministers of Comfort

 

Psalm 72:12-14

During hard seasons or times of disaster—whether natural or man-made, national or local—we are called to show kindness. True compassion tries to understand people’s pain, but it also provides practical help. So, how we can express care and concern for others?

First, remember we have the wonderful privilege of prayer anytime, anywhere. As soon as word of a tragedy reaches you, lift up the victims, rescue workers, and others involved. Let the Holy Spirit guide you in petitioning God for protection, provision, comfort, awareness of His presence, and whatever else He deems fitting (Rom. 8:26).

Second, labor and donations of money, food, clothing, or household goods are usually high priority. So donations of time and resources are helpful (after wisely consulting trusted sources about what’s needed). You also can express compassion with words of comfort, a warm embrace, or a listening ear. Through this kind of love, the world will recognize the true Light—Jesus Christ, who brings good news, binds up the brokenhearted, and comforts all who mourn (Isa. 61:1-2).

We should notice the needs around us and reach out with Christ’s love. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal ways to pray for those around you. Your concern can have a profound impact.

 

Bible in One Year: Zephaniah 1-3, Haggai 1-2

 

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Never Enough

 

Bible in a Year:

The eye never has enough of seeing.

Ecclesiastes 1:8

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ecclesiastes 1:1–11

Frank Borman commanded the first space mission that circled the moon. He wasn’t impressed. The trip took two days both ways. Frank got motion sickness and threw up. He said being weightless was cool—for thirty seconds. Then he got used to it. Up close he found the moon drab and pockmarked with craters. His crew took pictures of the gray wasteland, then became bored.

Frank went where no one had gone before. It wasn’t enough. If he quickly tired of an experience that was out of this world, perhaps we should lower our expectations for what lies in this one. The teacher of Ecclesiastes observed that no earthly experience delivers ultimate joy. “The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing” (1:8). We may feel moments of ecstasy, but our elation soon wears off and we seek the next thrill.

Frank had one exhilarating moment, when he saw the earth rise from the darkness behind the moon. Like a blue and white swirled marble, our world sparkled in the sun’s light. Similarly, our truest joy comes from the Son shining on us. Jesus is our life, the only ultimate source of meaning, love, and beauty. Our deepest satisfaction comes from out of this world. Our problem? We can go all the way to the moon, yet still not go far enough.

By:  Mike Wittmer

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – On Creativity

 

I remember the mixed feelings of setting up the nativity scene at home for Christmas. My mum was always so excited that she made a special appointment for us every year, and she would come up with creative ideas on how to build up Joseph and Mary’s cave. As my twin brother and I grew up, she let us help her in making the river and the sky more realistic, or in better securing the angel so it wouldn’t fall from the mountain. One of my favorite parts was the task of carrying the magi figurines every day closer and closer to the manger. For my brother and me, it was a special time and we used to fight for the responsibility because it made the story so real.

But I mentioned that I had mixed feelings, and that is because my dad didn’t like this tradition of ours one bit. Every year I saw his face, filled with worry for us, keeping a distance from these plastic dolls as if they were something dangerous, as if somehow they would put us all in trouble. I couldn’t understand why he told us we shouldn’t focus our attention on the scene or the images, why he was so worried we would end up worshiping that baby plastic Jesus. I was shocked to hear him say so, and I kept asking myself: Why would I worship a plastic thing? I knew that was not Jesus.

I knew this, but I also knew that his anguish was real.

Years later at art school, we studied artists in history who illustrated and decorated churches since the early times of Christianity. As some of you know, in Spain, there are Catholic churches in almost every town. Many of these buildings are ancient, and whenever I went to visit one I admired with wonder all the artistic finery. I couldn’t help but connect my childhood memories, those marvelous structures, and the emptiness my local church seemed to have in comparison. Added to this, while I learned more and more history of my country, some of this imagery became loaded with the civil war memories, and the scars of war that as a country we are carrying still. So, yes. I still have mixed feelings of wonder, terror, and sadness.

But in the midst of it all, a question started to form in my head, as I struggled to cope what God was calling me to do and be, what I was learning of art, illustration, and painting, what my parents and church expected, and what society was telling me I should do. And that is: why and when did being an artist become something wrong in the church? Why and when did only certain forms of creativity become acceptable in the church? When did we start thinking imagination was a bad thing? When did we become afraid of images, of figures, of color and gold and wood and structures made in the divina proportione?

 

I study with nostalgia all those artists who were paid to portray the glory of God, artists who impacted their culture and led the thinkers of yesterday to make changes in their society. Like me, many artists today long to live into the call to creativity while keeping our core beliefs. It is not an easy task. We struggle to pay bills or maintain ourselves and receive little support from our churches. Many end up quitting; others have to leave. Then I look at the men and women who actually are influencing the culture with who they are and what they do, and I wonder: Where are the Christians, followers of Jesus, sons and daughters of the most high king, priests and priestesses, church leaders, missionaries, created in the image of God? Where are those who should be the light of the world and not be hidden under a bowl? And when did we forget the first revelation we received from God: that God is a Creator?

Since deciding to follow Jesus at the age of 19, I have wrestled with understanding what it means to be who God has called me to be: an artist in this world in need of his light and his colors. I struggle because I feel what the prophets sometimes described. I have a torrent in me that shakes my view of the world, that wants to come out, but I have often had to silence it because it has brought me nothing more than suffering and incomprehension from my family, friends, and church.

But I cannot be silent. This call to participate in God’s creative work in the world is like a fire burning in me and I know that I cannot not write. I cannot not paint. I cannot look at the world through creative eyes and suppress how God created me. I am filled with imagination. For so many years, I have been taught that this was a dangerous business. But God is filled with imagination too! The universe and everything in it springs from the voice of a creative God. And graciously, we are invited to join in this very creativity. If everything God created was good, how can imagination itself be a bad thing? Sin has made things complicated, yes. But if leadership offered in reverence to God and empowered by the Holy Spirit helps to build Christ’s church, then why not imagination?

How might the church and the culture be different if we empowered artists and their imaginations to speak to this generation? Why not empower, support, and free creatives to be who God called them to be to impact the world? The world needs it. And the crops are ready.

Today, I still sometimes feel misunderstood. I also must tell you that my dad continues to worry (a little less though) when my mum, my brother, and I build onto Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus’s cave. But what I also will tell you is that as I embrace my artistic call, I see and understand God in ways I never could have imagined. I understand God’s heart a little more. And my own heart bends toward the world and the church, praying that we could grasp how deep, how high, how vast is the love of the Father, how kind the Spirit, and how creative the gift and work of the Son.

Noemi Navarro is an artist and the Administrative Manager of RZIM Academy in Spanish at Fundación RZ in Madrid, Spain.

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http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Manifesting Your Reality

 

For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]. — Philippians 4:8 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource New Day, New You – by Joyce Meyer

“Manifesting your reality” might sound like something from a contemporary self-help course, but the concept comes straight from Scripture: As he thinks in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7 AMPC). I like to say it like this: “Where the mind goes, the man follows.”

Positive thoughts play a huge role in creating a positive life. On the other hand, our lives can also become miserable by having a mind full of anxious thoughts and negative expectations. We usually think our problems are the thing ruining our life, but our attitude toward them is often the bigger problem that keeps us from enjoying our lives.

I’m sure we’ve all encountered people who have a great attitude despite being in extremely trying circumstances. We’ve also probably met those who have seemingly endless money and privilege, yet they’re negative, critical, and filled with self-pity and resentment. Like it or not, we actually have more to do with how our lives turn out than we realize. Thoughts affect emotions, and both affect the body, so learning how to think right is actually mandatory for good health.

Today you can make a decision that you’re going to have a healthy, positive mind. Renewing your mind will take some time and effort, but it’s more than worth it. As you ask God for His grace and study His Word, you’ll grow and experience more and more freedom.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for giving me the ability to enjoy my life. Please teach me how to renew my mind with Your Word, and help me focus on life-giving thoughts. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – So He May Forgive Us

 

“And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25, KJV).

You and I have a way by which we can be absolutely certain of God’s forgiveness. It is two-fold.

First, we must be sure that we have forgiven anyone and everyone against whom we may have anything or hold any resentment.

Second, we must believe His Word unquestioningly – and His Word does indeed tell us we will be forgiven when we ask under these conditions.

Most familiar, of course, is the glorious promise of 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (KJV).

Though today’s verse uses the word stand in reference to praying, Scripture clearly states that the posture in prayer was sometimes standing. God, however, looks on the heart rather than on our position as we pray.

If the heart is right, any posture may be proper. All other things being equal, however, the kneeling position seems more in keeping with the proper attitude of humility in our approach to God. (Physical condition, of course, sometimes makes this inadvisable or impossible.)

Most important, we are to forgive before we pray. That much is certain.

Bible Reading: Matthew 6:9-15

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will examine my heart throughout the day to be sure I have forgiven any who should be forgiven – before I pray.

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devos – God Wants Us to Trust Him

 

By Kids4Truth Clubs on 09/28/20

“Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you” (Exodus 16:4a).

“And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey” (Exodus 16:31).

Every evening at dusk, I fill my bird feeders with bird seed. In the morning—to the birds’ amazement, I’m sure—there is more seed for them to eat. If they could talk, I wonder if they might say, “Where did this come from? It was almost gone when we went to bed. Does the seed grow overnight? This is a mystery we don’t understand. But we sure are happy when we see the food again!” I give my birds food because I care about them.

When Moses was leading the Israelites through the wilderness to the Promised Land, the people were hungry and needed food for their health and strength. Moses couldn’t go to the grocery store to buy food. Instead, He depended on God to supply what the people needed. But the Israelites were unhappy with Moses. They accused him of taking them into the wilderness to kill them (Exodus 16:4b).

God heard the complaint from His people and told Moses that He would “rain bread” from Heaven. God also gave strict instructions, telling the Israelites how much food they could have each day, but some did not obey Him. They did not believe there would be enough food for them the next day, so they gathered more than God had instructed, and they kept some overnight. During the night worms infested it, and the next day it stank and had to be thrown away. God provided manna during the morning, but as soon as the sun came out, the manna melted. In the evening God provided meat. He wanted the Israelites to know “that I am Lord your God” (Exodus 16:12b). The Israelites did not have to worry about food again. They knew exactly where it had come from.

God wants us to trust Him and believe that He will provide all that we need. Today, thank God for all the provisions that He gives you daily. Can you name some of His blessings?

My response:

» Do I tell God my needs and trust Him to provide them?

» Do I thank God for the blessings He has already given me?

» When God meets one of my needs, do I remember to thank Him?

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