Tag Archives: spirituality

Charles Stanley – Turning Our Back on God

 

2 Chronicles 33:1-25

Hezekiah was a god-fearing king who brought about reformation. His son Manasseh, however, was an evil ruler. He had watched his father walk with God and live according to Scripture. Yet he chose to ignore the Lord. Manasseh worshipped false gods, even to the point of sacrificing his sons. He practiced evil—including witchcraft and sorcery—and led the people astray, thereby provoking the Lord to anger. This story illustrates that God doesn’t tolerate an attitude of indifference toward Him.

Now consider our country. We, too, are a nation that largely disregards the Lord—one that has turned away from Him and embraced idols. Maybe ours aren’t statues of stone, but we worship money, athletic ability, fame, politics, and reputation. Over time, we’ve removed the Lord from many aspects of public life. What was once a nation founded on godly principles has become a country that tolerates a variety of sins.

When Israel turned its back on the Lord, God’s wrath was inevitable unless the people repented and made Him Lord once again. As believers, we have responsibility to pray that God will draw our heart—and the heart of our country—back to Himself, and that He will help the gospel and truth spread through our land.

Bible in One Year: Ezra 8-10

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Our Daily Bread — Remembering

 

Bible in a Year:

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:13

Today’s Scripture & Insight:John 15:9–17

On Memorial Day, I think of many military veterans but especially my dad and uncles, who served in the military during World War II. They made it home, but in that war hundreds of thousands of families tragically lost loved ones in service to their country. Yet, when asked, my dad and most soldiers from that era would say they were willing to give up their lives to protect their loved ones and stand for what they believed to be right.

When someone dies in defense of their country, John 15:13—“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”—is often recited during the funeral service to honor their sacrifice. But what were the circumstances behind this verse?

When Jesus spoke those words to His disciples during the Last Supper, He was about to die. And, in fact, one of His small group of disciples, Judas, had already left to betray Him (13:18–30). Yet Christ knew all of this and still chose to sacrifice His life for His friends and enemies.

Jesus was willing and ready to die for those who’d one day believe in Him, even for those who were still His enemies (Romans 5:10). In return, He asks His disciples (then and now) to “love each other” as He has loved them (John 15:12). His great love compels us to sacrificially love others—friend and foe alike.

By:  Alyson Kieda

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Face to Face

 

Many of us may likely have missed it. Couched between Wednesday’s building crescendo of assignments and zoom calls and Friday’s promise of their conclusion, Thursday hardly seems more than a means to an end. Though the day is every bit as holy as Easter Sunday, most of the world moves through it unsuspectingly—even those who have confessed the momentous lines of the Apostles’ Creed: “On the third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.”

Last Thursday was Ascension Day, the day that marks the ascension of Jesus Christ. For those of us grieving losses and loved ones, it is a profession of faith worth peering into closely. For those of us grieving the immense loss of Ravi Zacharias, the Ascension is a personal and particular comfort we might hold near. Forty days after the celebration of Easter and the resurrection of Jesus, the church around the world holds in remembrance this eventful day. The gospel writer records: “Then [Jesus] said to his disciples…. ‘See, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’ Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.”(1)

The ascension of Christ may not seem as momentous to the Christian story as the resurrection or as rousing as the image of Jesus on the cross. After the death and resurrection, in fact, the ascension might even seem somewhat anti-climatic. The resurrection and ascension statements of the Apostles’ Creed are essentially treated as one in the same: On the third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. One might even think that the one miraculous act flowed immediately into the other: as if the death of the body of Jesus was answered in the resurrection, a presence who then floated onto heaven. Unfortunately, the result of this impression is that many think of the ascension as somehow casting off of Christ’s human nature, as if Jesus is a presence that only used to be human. Hence, Jesus seems one more fit to memorialize than one we might expect to actually see face-to-face one day.

But in fact, this couldn’t be farther from the experience of the disciples, to whom Jesus appeared repeatedly in the days following the resurrection. To them it was abundantly clear that Jesus was not any sort of spiritual ghost or remote presence. He ate with them; he talked with them; he instructed them as to the ministries they would lead and the deaths they would face because of him. He was in fact more fully human than they ever realized, and it was this holy body, this divine person that they held near as they lived and died to proclaim his kingdom. In the words of poet Malcolm Guite:

We saw his light break through the cloud of glory
Whilst we were rooted still in time and place
As earth became a part of Heaven’s story
And heaven opened to his human face.

The ascension they reported was no different than the very future they envisioned with him: he was raised as a human, fully human. As the disciples were watching and Jesus was taken up before their very eyes, a cloud hid him from their sight. The text then refers to them “looking intently up into the sky as he was going” when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them: “‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go’”(3) In this resurrected body, Christ ascended to heaven, fully human, fully divine, entirely glorified. They said goodbye face-to-face. And it will be the same when they greet him again.

For the Christian, no action of Jesus is without weight, and this, his last action on earth, is weighed with far more hope than is often realized. Ascending to heaven, the work God sent him to accomplish was finally completed. The ascension was a living and public declaration of his dying words on the Cross: It is finished. In the ascension, Jesus furthered the victory of Easter—the victory of a physical body in whom God had conquered death. Because of the ascension, the incarnation is not a past or throwaway event. Because of the ascension, we know that the incarnate Son who was raised from the dead is sharing in our humanity even now. And just as the men in white informed the disciples, so we carry in our own flesh a guarantee that Christ will one day bring us to himself. It is for these reasons that N.T. Wright affirms, “To embrace the Ascension is to heave a sigh of relief, to give up the struggle to be God (and with it the inevitable despair at our constant failure), and to enjoy our status as creatures: image-bearing creatures, but creatures nonetheless.”(3)

Ascension Day, a holy day falling inconspicuously on a Thursday in May, is the conspicuous declaration that we are not left as orphans. In the same post-resurrection body that he invited Thomas to touch, Jesus invites us to full humanity even today. He ascended with a body, he shares in our humanity, extending his own body even now, promising to return for our own bodies. Christ is preparing a room for us, and we can know it is real because he himself is real. We say goodbye face-to-face. And it will be the same when we greet our Lord and our loved ones once again.

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

 

(1) Luke 24:49-53.
(2) Acts 1:9-11.
(3) N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (New York: Harper Collins, 2008), 114.

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Joyce Meyer – Keep Pressing On

 

I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward. — Philippians 3:13-14 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Hearing from God Each Morning – by Joyce Meyer

Our relationship with God is a process; we’re all moving from one level to another. No one ever “masters” communication with God, because there’s no limit to the depths of who He is, or the relationship we can have with Him. It just keeps growing, keeps going deeper, keeps getting stronger. Our ability to hear and understand His voice develops and improves over time, and with practice we get better at sharing our hearts with Him. We never become experts in prayer and we never stop learning to communicate with God—our experiences with Him just keep getting richer and better.

God has so much for you, and even though you may not be exactly where you want to be yet, you can thank God that you’re on the right track to get there. As long as you’re making progress, it really doesn’t matter if you’re crawling, walking, or running—just keep pressing on.

You’re okay and you’re on your way!

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for being patient with me as I grow in my ability to hear your voice. Please help me to be patient with myself and to keep pressing on. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Give Him the First Part

 

“Honor the Lord by giving Him the first part of all your income, and He will fill your barns with wheat and barley and overflow your wine vats with the finest wines” (Proverbs 3:9,10).

“Yes, I tithe,” said John D. Rockefeller, Sr., “and I would like to tell you how it all came about.

“I had to begin work as a small boy to help support my mother. My first wages amounted to $1.50 per week. The first week after I went to work I took the $1.50 home to my mother and she held the money in her lap and explained to me that she would be happy if I would give a tenth of it to the Lord.

“I did,” Rockefeller said, “and from that week until this day I have tithed every dollar God has entrusted to me. And I want to say if I had not tithed the first dollar I made I would not have tithed the first million dollars I made.

“Tell your readers to train the children to tithe, and they will grow up to be faithful stewards of the Lord.”

As R. G. Le Tourneau observed years ago, “We do not give to God because it pays, but it does pay to give to God and to serve Him faithful.” Without any question, God honors faithful stewardship – of time, energy, money, all that we have and are.

The importance of tithing is one of the first lessons I learned as a new Christian. Now I realize that that is only the beginning, because everything that I enjoy has been entrusted to me by a gracious, loving Father, who expects me to maximize all that he has put into my hands; therefore, tithing must be followed by offerings, based on clear Word of God that as we sow we reap. The more we give back to God, the more He will entrust to us, but we are to give with a cheerful heart out of a deep sense of gratitude for all that God has given to us.

Bible Reading: Malachi 3:8-12

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: God will have the first fruits of my life, the first part of my money, my time, my talent, my energy.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Your Test Will Be Your Testimony

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

God can make something good out of your mess.  The test you’re experiencing will become your testimony.  2 Corinthians 1:4-5 says, “God comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, He brings alongside someone who’s going through hard times so we can be there for that person, just as God was there for us.” (MSG)

You didn’t sign up for this crash course in single parenting?  No, God enrolled you.  He’s taken the intended evil and rewoven it into this curriculum.  Why?  So you can teach others what He’s taught you.  Rather than say, “God, why?” ask “God, what?  What can I learn from this experience?” Rather than ask God to change your circumstances, ask Him to use your circumstances to change you. Life is a required course — might as well do your best to pass it.  You will get through this.

Read more You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Turbulent Times

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Denison Forum – A conversation I will not forget: Reflecting on Memorial Day in a pandemic

Today is Memorial Day, an observance held annually in the United States on the last Monday in May. On this day, we especially remember the more than 1.3 million Americans who have died in our nation’s wars.

As the son and grandson of soldiers and a proud and grateful American, I want to honor this day each year in the Daily Article and each day in my heart.

However, there is a companion theme on this Memorial Day I’d like us to consider as well.

A nurse with tears in her eyes 

I had minor outpatient surgery last week. I say that only to say that I interacted with several medical staff in the days leading up to and through the procedure. Each of them was wearing a mask and gloves; several were wearing protective gowns as well.

That’s because, so far as they knew, I was infected with COVID-19 and capable of spreading the infection to them.

One nurse with whom I spoke had an especially touching story. When she and her colleagues were cleared to return to work several weeks ago, her daughter moved out of their home. This daughter has been living with her older brother because her mother could become infected with SARS-CoV-2 at work and bring the infection home to her.

As a result, this nurse has not been in the physical presence of her daughter for two months. They speak over Skype or Zoom every day, but it’s not the same. I will not forget her or the tears in her eyes as she told me her story.

Thousands of healthcare workers have been infected with COVID-19 so far. Add to them the multiplied thousands of people working in other frontline capacities during this pandemic, from those who deliver groceries and supplies to those who police our streets to keep us safe.

Each of them is risking their life and their family to serve us.

How best can we observe this Memorial Day during a pandemic? Consider three biblical priorities.

One: Remember 

Paul said of the Philippians, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you” (Philippians 1:3). Like him, we should remember those we are honoring today and express gratitude to God for them and their families.

Take time today to think about the 1.3 million women and men who have died to protect the freedoms you enjoy. Envision their lives and sacrifice; consider the years they lost in serving our nation. If you know a member of their families, express your gratitude to them for the sacrifice their loved ones made for you.

I especially encourage you to participate in the National Moment of Remembrance by stopping at 3:00 p.m. local time for one minute of silence. If you know a veteran or current member of the military, find a way to express your gratitude to them as well.

Extend this commitment to the healthcare providers and other frontline workers you know. Find a way to express your gratitude today and every day.

Two: Pray 

Paul said of the Ephesians, “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers” (Ephesians 1:16). As he prayed for them, we should pray for those we are considering today.

Pray for our military and their families, asking God for their protection and encouragement. Pray for those who have lost loved ones in the service of our country, asking God for their strength and peace.

And pray for our healthcare workers and others on the frontlines of this pandemic. Ask God to keep them and their families safe. Pray for them to feel the encouragement and gratitude of our nation.

Three: Emulate 

Think of the millions of women and men who chose to serve our nation at the cost of their lives. Consider their families living with the pain of their loss. Think about the women and men serving in harm’s way around the world, willing to die that we might live. And consider the healthcare providers and other frontline workers who are serving us at risk to themselves and those they love.

You and I may not be called into their service, but we have our own kingdom assignments. With our calling comes a commitment to fulfill that calling at any cost. Those God uses most fully are those who are most fully surrendered to his use.

Scripture teaches, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23). Paradoxically, this is the best way to serve the Lord and men.

The path to “true happiness” 

Remember, then pray, then emulate.

Helen Keller noted: “True happiness is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”

What “worthy purpose” will you serve with your life?

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Charles Stanley – May 24, 2020

 

Sunday Reflection: The Transformation of Our Desires

In John 6, a massive crowd has been following Jesus, and He miraculously feeds them by turning a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish into food for 5,000 people (John 6:9-13). The crowd recognizes that a prophet like Moses has been raised (John 6:14; Deut. 18:15), and the next day they continue to seek after Him—perhaps hoping to see more miracles or be fed in abundance yet again.

He challenges them, saying, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst” (John 6:35). They are excited that He can take away their hunger and free them from starvation, but they haven’t thought about the promise of salvation—of everlasting life in Him. Let us remember, then, that Jesus wants to do more than just fill us with food and offer us earthly comfort; He wants to transform our desires.

Think about it
•  Throughout this chapter, Jesus uses eating and drinking to speak about belief in Him. How can these ordinary practices remind us of our faith in Christ?

  •  What does it mean to pursue the “food” of eternal life?

Bible in One Year: Ezra 5-7

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Talking Tables

 

Bible in a Year:

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.

Acts 2:46

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Acts 2:42–47

Loneliness is one of the greatest threats to our sense of well-being, affecting our health through our behaviors on social media, food consumption, and the like. One study suggests that nearly two-thirds of all people—regardless of age or gender—feel lonely at least some of the time. One British supermarket has created “talking tables” in their store cafés as a way to foster connection between people. Those looking for human interaction simply seat themselves at a table designated for that purpose, joining others or indicating a desire to be joined. Conversation ensues, providing a sense of connection and community.

The people of the early church were committed to shared connection too. Without each other, they would likely have felt very alone in the practice of their faith, which was still new to the world. Not only did they “[devote] themselves to the apostles’ teaching” to learn what following Jesus meant, they also “[met] together in the temple courts” and “broke bread in their homes” for mutual encouragement and fellowship (Acts 2:4246).

We need human connection; God designed us that way! Painful seasons of loneliness point to that need. Like the people of the early church, it’s important for us to engage in the human companionship our well-being requires and to offer it to those around us who also need it.

By:  Kirsten Holmberg

 

 

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Streams in the Desert for Kids – Lazy Is as Lazy Does

 

Hebrews 6:12

Sometimes it’s interesting to look up a word in the dictionary and see what it really means. “Lazy” means “not easily aroused to activity.” A lazy person just doesn’t want to try very hard. For example, lazy students don’t make much effort in school; they don’t study very hard or do their homework well. They might even try to get someone else to do it for them!

There is something inside all of us that wants to be lazy. But the Bible teaches that we must not be lazy when it comes to our faith. Instead, we need to be willing to make an effort. We are to follow the examples of people in the Bible who demonstrated faith and patience, even when they had problems. That’s how they grew strong spiritually. It’s good advice because being lazy—especially being lazy about prayer and reading our Bibles—in the long run doesn’t feel good. There’s nothing like jumping in, doing a task well, and then feeling the satisfaction of a job well done.

Dear Lord, Help me to be faithful to my work, both at home and in school and help me to remember to pray and read the Bible so that I can be everything you want me to be. Amen.

 

Joyce Meyer – The Fear of Man

 

The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever leans on, trusts in, and puts his confidence in the Lord is safe and set on high. — Proverbs 29:25 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource The Confident Woman – by Joyce Meyer

We’re always faced with two choices: We can live to please other people, or we can live to please God. The apostle Paul made it clear that if he’d been trying to be popular with people, he wouldn’t have chosen to follow Jesus (see Galatians 1:10). God works through men and women who are determined to obey and live for Him, not those who are controlled by the fear of man. We all want to be liked and accepted, but we can’t let that desire run our lives. If it does, we’re guaranteed to reap Henry Swope’s formula for failure, which is “try to please everybody.”

King Saul lost the kingdom of Israel because he allowed his fear of man to cause him to disobey God (see 1 Samuel 13:8–14). As a result, God took the kingdom from Saul and gave it to David, who was a man after His own heart. David did not let people control him the way Saul did. David’s own brother Eliab clearly disapproved of him, but the Bible says that David walked away from Eliab and kept on doing what he was supposed to do (see 1 Samuel 17:28–30). In the same way, we should walk away from the people who try to discourage, control or accuse us. Instead of allowing what they say or think to take root in our hearts, we can choose to move forward into what God has called us to do, knowing that He’s proud of us.

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me not to give in to the fear of what others think about me. Thank You for giving me the strength I need to live to please You first. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Long, Satisfying Life

 

“If you want a long and satisfying life, closely follow my instructions” (Proverbs 3:2).

A famous children’s specialist declared, “When it comes to a serious illness, the child who has been taught to obey has four times the chance of recovery that the spoiled and undisciplined child has.”

Every parent should consider well the implications of that statement. We have all been taught that one of the Ten Commandments was for children to obey their parents.

But it is doubtful that many of us have ever considered that obedience might mean the difference between the saving or losing of a child’s life.

The hymnwriter who said that we should “trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus” well knew what he was saying. A “long and satisfying life” certainly would be synonymous with a “happy life.”

Many Christians have every intention of following God’s instructions – without ever really knowing what those instructions are. That is why it is supremely important for every believer to spend time in God’s Word, the book of instructions for Christians.

Are you one of those who truly want a long satisfying life? Then, are you willing to follow God’s instructions for your life? Are you willing to familiarize yourself thoroughly with His instructions so that you will have no difficulty knowing and following them?

Bible Reading: Proverbs 3:1-8

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will follow closely God’s instructions in order that I may live a long and satisfying life.

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Charles Stanley – When We Ignore God

 

James 4:17

Have you ever felt ignored? We all long for love, acceptance, and attention, but perhaps an important person in your life has shown little interest in you or what you have to say.

There’s something even worse, though, than ignoring others: disregarding God. But we’ve all done it. One way we ignore Him is by failing to obey His instructions. Or maybe we sense His leading but don’t follow. And unless we seek time with our Father—whether in His Word, prayer, or worship—we are neglecting Him again.

The consequences are painful. For one thing, neglect grieves God because He is our heavenly Father, who desires closeness with each of His children. We also miss out on the best for our life. Ignoring our connection with the Lord and choosing not to abide in Him would mean missing out on His plan and the fruit of the Spirit. As a result, we shortchange ourselves out of fulfilling the purpose for which He created us—glorifying Him. And remember, we eventually will be held accountable for our actions.

How are you choosing to live—do you pay attention to what God says, or are you living with your own set of standards? Your conscious choices affect your walk with Jesus. If you tune your spirit to listen and discipline yourself to obey, you’ll enjoy great intimacy with the Lord.

Bible in One Year: Ezra 1-4

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Keepers of the Light

 

Bible in a Year:

For God . . . made his light shine in our hearts.

2 Corinthians 4:6

Today’s Scripture & Insight:John 8:12–16

They call them “Keepers of the Light.”

At the lighthouse on the cape of Hatteras Island just off the North Carolina coast of the United States, there’s a memorial to those who’ve tended the light stations there since 1803. Shortly after the existing structure was moved inland because of shoreline erosion, the names of the keepers were etched on the old foundation stones and arranged into an amphitheater shape facing the new site. That way—as a placard explains—today’s visitors can follow in the historical keepers’ footsteps and “watch over” the lighthouse as well.

Jesus is the ultimate light-giver. He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). That’s a radical thing for anyone to claim. But Jesus said it to affirm His relationship with His heavenly Father, the Creator of light and life who sent Him.

When we look to Jesus for salvation and follow His teaching, we’re restored in relationship with God, and He gives us new power and purpose. His transforming life and love—“the light of all mankind” (1:4)—shines in us and through us and out to a dark and sometimes dangerous world.

As believers in Jesus, we become “keepers of the light.” May others see His light shine from us and discover the life and hope He alone can give!

By:  James Banks

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Joyce Meyer – What’s Your Gift?

 

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…

— Jeremiah 1:5 (ESV)

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

One of the amazing things that happens as God is healing your soul is that you start to see yourself the way He sees you. Over time, you receive His love in new ways, and you realize that He’s made you uniquely and has a reason for you to be on earth. God has gifted you to fulfill His purpose for your life, but if you’re like a lot of people, you may not have recognized your gifts yet. When we’re in pain in our soul, sometimes all we can focus on is what seems wrong about us; it can be extremely difficult to see what is good and right about us. As God begins to heal our mind, will, and emotions, we find it easier to think about encouraging things and even recognize positive aspects of ourselves.

I encourage you to start asking God to show you something special about the way He’s made you. To some people, He’s given a very tender, compassionate heart. Some He has wired to lead others effectively, and others He’s created to be excellent followers. Some can cook, some can sew, and some can’t do those things, but they’re amazing at other things. To some, He has given a gift of being able to communicate clearly, to teach, to make scientific discoveries, or to write beautiful music. Only you can discover all the dynamic gifts He’s placed in you. Romans 12:6–8 talks about giving ourselves to our gifts. In other words, we need to find out the things we’re designed for, and then devote ourselves wholeheartedly to exercising those gifts.

People usually enjoy doing what they’re gifted to do. Some people feel they’re not good at anything, but that’s not true. When we make an effort to do what others are good at doing, we often fail because we’re not gifted for those things, but that does not mean we’re good for nothing. We should look for what we are good at and begin developing those talents. As we do what God has created and gifted us to do, we find joy and fulfillment in life. People who are secure and confident in God know that He’s created them to be unique and that they have a one-of-a-kind purpose. They realize that God loves them and has a plan for them, and they don’t compare themselves to others, which is very freeing. I encourage you to be secure enough to enjoy what other people can do and to enjoy what you can do, but never try to be anyone but yourself. Start saying positive things about yourself instead of negative things, because that will help release the gifts God has placed in you.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for creating me with purpose, and for placing amazing gifts in me. Please show me what they are, and help me develop and use them to help those around me! In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Practicing the Presence of God

 

“How precious it is, Lord, to realize that You are thinking about me constantly! I can’t even count how many times a day Your thoughts turn towards me. And when I waken in the morning, You are still thinking of me!” (Psalm 139:17,18).

Our sons, Zac and Brad, have helped me to understand, in some small measure, the truth of this promise, for in the course of a single day, I will lift them up in prayer many times. I am finite, but God is infinite. My love for our sons is limited, but his love is inexhaustible and unconditional. It is because of God’s love in my heart that I am able to love my sons unconditionally, even as He loves me.

What a comforting, encouraging thought, that the omnipotent Creator, God, who possesses all power and control of creation, loves me enough that He is constantly thinking about me. When I allow Him to do so, He talks to me, expressing His love, wisdom and grace from His Word, through divine impressions and the counsel of wise and godly friends. His eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth to make Himself strong and mighty in my behalf (2 Chronicles 16:9).

Just as He is constantly thinking about me, I have been admonished to pray without ceasing. To talk to Him, to think about Him all the time – as difficult as it may sound – is a joyful reality to those who practice the presence of God, is that the kind of relationship you are experiencing day by day? If not, it can be.

Bible Reading: Psalm 139:1-10

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Mindful that God loves, cares and thinks about me constantly, I shall seek to live the supernatural life by practicing His presence, by praying without ceasing and by claiming His supernatural power by faith.

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Charles Stanley – How to Reach Your Goals

 

1 Kings 5:1-12; 1 Kings 6:38

When setting goals, here are five things to consider:

Cooperation is needed. First, we cooperate with God by agreeing to His plan. Second, we enlist the cooperation of others, starting with prayer support.

Reaching a goal requires consistency. Since God is involved in establishing our goals, we can remain fixed on accomplishing them. Even if others discourage us, we stay the course as the Lord has asked.

Clear focus means staying fixed on our purpose. By remembering that God set the goal for us, we will not allow others to change our direction.

Courage is often necessary to reach a God-given goal. Being courageous involves a willingness to take action without knowing the outcome—and we can do that because it is God who asks. As we deepen our trust in Him, boldness will come.

Developing a lifestyle of dependence on God is important. When aiming for a goal, it’s easy to rely on our own strength and forget about leaning on God. True success requires dependence.

These items aren’t a standard by which to measure ourselves; they’re pointers to help us move in the right direction. If you’re not sure how best to set and reach goals, seek out someone with experience and be open what God might teach you through him or her.

Bible in One Year: 2 Chronicles 35-36

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Take Your Tears to God

 

Bible in a Year:

My eyes will flow unceasingly, without relief, until the Lord looks down from heaven and sees.

Lamentations 3:49–50

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Lamentations 3:49–66

Last summer, an orca named Talequah gave birth. Talequah’s pod of killer whales was endangered, and her newborn was their hope for the future. But the calf lived for less than an hour. In a show of grief that was watched by people around the world, Talequah pushed her dead calf through the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean for seventeen days before letting her go.

Sometimes believers in Jesus have a hard time knowing what to do with grief. Perhaps we fear that our sorrow might look like a lack of hope. But the Bible gives us many examples of humans crying out to God in grief. Lament and hope can both be part of a faithful response.

Lamentations is a book of five poems that express the sorrow of people who have lost their home. They’ve been hunted by enemies and were near death (3:52–54), and they weep and call on God to bring justice (v. 64). They cry out to God not because they have lost hope, but because they believe God is listening. And when they call, God does come near (v. 57).

It’s not wrong to lament the broken things in our world or in your life. God is always listening, and you can be sure that God will look down from heaven and see you.

By:  Amy Peterson

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Embodied Truth

 

We have been sharing some of our favorite A Slice of Infinity essays written by Ravi Zacharias over the years. Thank you for sharing your own stories, testimonies, reflections, and letters. Ravi’s family and the RZIM global team have been greatly encouraged by the outpouring of support during this difficult time.

 

The first and most important step to understanding the nature of truth is exemplified in a conversation between Jesus and Pilate. The conversation began with Pilate asking Jesus if indeed he was a king. The very surprising answer of Jesus was, “Are you asking this of your own, or has someone else set you up for this?”

In effect, Jesus was asking Pilate if this was a genuine question or purely an academic one. He was not merely checking on Pilate’s sincerity. He was opening up Pilate’s heart to himself, to reveal to Pilate his unwillingness to deal with the implications of Jesus’s answer. In the pursuit of truth, intent is prior to content, or to the availability of it. The love of truth and the willingness to submit to its demands is the first step.

But second, Jesus said something even more extraordinary. After claiming his lordship was rooted in a kingdom that was not of this world, he said, “They that are on the side of truth, listen to me.”(1) Jesus was not merely establishing the existence of truth, but his pristine embodiment of it. He was identical with the truth. This meant that everything he said and did, and the life he lived in the flesh, represented that which was in keeping with ultimate reality. And therefore, to reject him is to choose to govern one’s self with a lie.

 

God’s answers to life’s questions of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny are not just proven by the process of abstract reasoning, but are also sustained by the rigors of experience. And in the reality of history, God has demonstrated empirically the living out of truth in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of his Son, recently celebrated. In short, the intimations of truth come in multisensory fashion. God as guardian of reason leads us to check the correspondence of his word with reality and to ascertain the coherence of the assertions. But our experience in life proves those truths in concrete reality. Our grand privilege is to know God, to bring our lives into conformity with truth, which leads us to that coherence within. Christ has said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” In a world increasingly enslaved by error and alienation and seduced by ideas and images to believe a lie, how wonderful to be freed by the truth to Christ’s peace. The Scriptures tell us that the enemy of our souls is the father of all lies. He will do anything to keep us from coming to the truth because it is the most valuable thing in the world, and leads us to the source of all truth, to God alone.

To all of this the skeptic might say that such conclusions may be drawn only if the God of the Bible exists. To that I heartily answer, Absolutely! And on numerous campuses around the world it has been my thrilling privilege to present a defense for the existence of God, the reality of the resurrection, and the authority of the Scriptures unique in their splendor and convincing in the truth they proclaim. But let us not miss what the skeptic unwittingly surrenders by saying that all this could be true only if God exists. For implicit in that concession is the Law of Non-contradiction and the Law of Rational Inference, which exist only if truth exists. Truth, in turn, can exist only if there is an objective standard by which to measure it. That objective, unchanging absolute is God, further revealed to us in the person of Christ.

I heard a cute little story, growing up in India. It is the story of a little boy who had lots of pretty marbles. But he was constantly eyeing his sister’s bagful of candy. One day he said to her, “If you give me all your candy, I’ll give you all of my marbles.” She gave it much thought, and agreed to the trade. He took all her candy and went back to his room to get his marbles. But the more he admired them the more reluctant he became to give them all up. So he hid the best of them under his pillow and took the rest to her. That night, she slept soundly, while he tossed and turned restlessly, unable to sleep and thinking, “I wonder if she gave me all the candy?”

I have often wondered, when I see our culture claiming that God has not given us enough evidence, if it is not the veiled restlessness of lives that live in doubt because of their own duplicity. The battle in our time is posed as one of the intellect, in the assertion that truth is unknowable. But that may be only a veneer for the real battle, that of the heart, which even now the risen Christ pursues.

 

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

(1) John 18:37.

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Joyce Meyer – Watch and Pray

 

Keep awake (give strict attention, be cautious and active) and watch and pray, that you may not come into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. — Matthew 26:41 (AMPC)

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

Suppose you knew your house was surrounded by thieves, and at any moment they might break through the door and attack you. Do you think you’d be likely to stay awake and watch the door?

What would you do if for some reason you couldn’t stay awake and watch? Wouldn’t you make sure someone else in your house was awake and alerted to the danger?

Just like we’re careful to guard our homes, we need to be careful to guard our hearts against any attacks from the enemy of our soul. The devil is out to destroy us, so we need to watch and pray at all times, looking to God for help when we feel weak.

When you feel willing but exhausted, ask God to give you the strength you need to overcome any temptation or attack the enemy brings your way. As you take refuge in Him, He’s promised to help you and rescue you, so you can trust Him (see Psalm 37:40).

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me to be aware and intentional to stay on guard against the enemy’s attacks. Thank You for watching out for me and always being there to help. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

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