Tag Archives: spirituality

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Another Story

The world of belief-systems and worldviews is a complicated playground of stories, storytellers, and allegiances. What makes it most complicated is perhaps what is often our inability to perceive these interacting powers in the first place. That which permeates our surroundings, subconsciously molds our understanding, and continuously informs our vision of reality is not always easy to articulate. The dominate culture shapes our world in ways we seldom even realize, and often cannot realize, until something outside of our culture comes along and introduces us, and the scales fall from our eyes.

Further complicating the great arena of narratives is the fact that we often do not even recognize certain systems for the metanarratives that they are, or else we grossly underestimate the story’s power. Whatever versions of the story we utilize to understand human history—atheism, capitalism, pluralism, consumerism—their roots run very deep in the human soul. This is why Bishop Kenneth Carder can refer to the global market economy as a “dominant god,” consumerism, economism, and nationalism as religions.(1) These deeply rooted ideologies are challenged only when a different ideology comes knocking, when a different faith-system comes along and upsets the system in which we have placed our faith and ordered our worlds.

This is perhaps one reason the Bible calls again and again for the action of remembering: Remember the story, tell of the acts of God in history, remember that there is one who has come near. For into this world of belief-systems and worldviews, God repeatedly tells the story of creation and the pursuit of its redemption and re-creation. God himself comes and proclaims in a body a kingdom both among us and entirely other. The narrative we discover introduces us not only to a new world, but a kingdom that jarringly shows us our own world and a savior who shows us what it means to be human.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Another Story

Joyce Meyer – Ask God Boldly!

 

Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. — John 16:24

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

I believe there are people who are not receiving from God what He wants them to have because they won’t ask Him boldly. They make weak, faithless requests.

I’ve had people ask for prayer and say: “Is it okay if I ask for two things?” Their uncertainty is sad to me because Jesus clearly told us to ask so that our joy would be complete.

I want whatever God wants to give me spiritually, emotionally, financially, physically, socially, and mentally. I pray boldly, but I don’t do it because I think I’mworthy. I know that I have faults, but I also know that God loves me, and my confidence is not in myself—it’s in Him.

My joy isn’t from having things that God gives to me, but from loving God intimately and knowing that He wants me to be totally dependent on Him for everything I need. I get up every day and do the best I can, and by faith I want to receive all that God wants me to have.

A few years ago, I stepped out in faith and prayed a bold prayer that even sounded crazy to me. I said, “God, I’m asking You to let me help every single person on the face of the earth.”

My mind said: “Now that is stupid.” But I kept praying that prayer anyway, and our TV ministry has expanded greatly since that time. God has caused tremendous growth; one station that we added after that prayer increased our coverage to 600 million people in India alone!

I don’t know how God is going to let me help every person on the face of the earth, but I am going to continue trusting Him. I would rather ask for a lot and get part of it than ask for a little and get all of it.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for caring about every single area of my life. Right now, I lift up all of my needs to You and boldly ask for Your blessings, provision, healing, protection, grace and strength. I choose to raise my expectations, knowing that You can perform the impossible in my life! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Exalting a Nation

 

“Godliness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).

God’s Word (1 Timothy 2:2) reminds us that we are to pray for those in authority over us, so that we can live in peace and quietness, spending our time in godly living and thinking much about the Lord.

We should pray daily for all those in authority over us, from the precinct to the White House, and we should seek through the writing of letters and personal appointments to communicate God’s love to each one of them, so that they may contribute to those qualities of godliness that will cause the blessing of God to continue to be poured out upon this nation.

One day I walked into a senator’s office in Washington, D.C. I had never met the man before, but a mutual friend had suggested that I drop by to see him.

Within a few minutes it seemed as if we had known each other for a lifetime. A natural opportunity arose for me to ask him if he were a Christian, and I was able to share the good news of the gospel with him through the Four Spiritual Laws. Before I left his office, the senator said he would like to receive Christ.

Another time, I spoke at a congressman’s home, to which several other congressmen and their wives had been invited. After the meeting, several individuals requested personal appointments.

I went by the office of one of the congressmen the next day.

“Did what I said last night make sense to you?” I asked him.

“It surely did,” he replied.

“Would you like to receive Christ?” I asked. He said that he would and knelt beside his couch to pray.

Down the hall, I shared Christ with still another congressman who had been present the night before. He too said he would like to receive Christ. All three of these men and many others continue to walk with God, seeking His wisdom to help them lead our nation wisely.

Because “godliness exalts a nation,” we feel it is important for every Christian to pray for and witness to all of our nation’s elected officials. Supernatural enablement of the Holy spirit is available to assist us in our communication.

Bible Reading: Psalm 33:12-16

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will pray today for one or more of our nation’s leaders, and I will seek opportunities to witness to them and other governmental leaders personally or through correspondence.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – People Are Watching

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

 

A vibrant, shining face is the mark of one who has stood in God’s presence.  After speaking to God, Moses had to cover his face with a veil.

But not only does God change the face of those who worship; he changes those who watch us worship.  Paul told the Corinthian church to worship in such a way that if an unbeliever entered, he would find the secrets of his heart revealed; and would fall down on his face and worship God.

Seekers may not understand all that happens in a house of worship.  They may not understand the meaning of a song or the significance of communion.  But they know joy when they see it.  And when they see your face changed, they may want to see God’s face.  People, including your family, are watching.  Believe me.  They are watching.

Read more Just Like Jesus

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Charles Stanley – When Fear Comes Calling

 

2 Timothy 1:3-7

Fear is an emotion that can be helpful or harmful. For instance, it’s helpful to have the fear—or reverence—of the Lord, which keeps us from sin. And it’s also beneficial to have a healthy fear that warns of dangers. But oftentimes we are plagued by a different kind of fear, which keeps us from obeying God; this kind is usually rooted in self-focus rather than faith. As Paul wrote to Timothy, we may have “a spirit of timidity,” which originates in faulty thinking (2 Timothy 1:7).

Adequate vs. Inadequate. When adverse circumstances arise, we may become anxious because we are convinced we’re inadequate for the situation. However, it’s not the situation but an error in our thinking that is causing the fear. Our adequacy is never in ourselves but in God, who makes us adequate for whatever He brings into our life (2 Corinthians 3:4-5).

God’s Standards vs. Our Standards. Many of us set goals for ourselves that are unrealistic. Such standards impose undue pressure and generate anxiety when we fail. Although we may believe these goals are what God expects, they could be our own expectations. We must let the Lord direct our steps so His plans are accomplished, not ours (Prov. 16:9).

Grace vs. Guilt. Some of us are afraid of making a mistake, because we live with guilt over something we’ve done in the past and assume God is still displeased about it. However, Scripture assures us that in Christ, all our sins are forgiven and our guilt has been removed (Rom. 8:1).

The next time fear comes calling, take your eyes off yourself, answer it with the truth of God’s Word, and let faith take its place.

Bible in One Year: Numbers 31-32

 

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Our Daily Bread — Shelve Them and Move On

 

Bible in a Year:Leviticus 25; Mark 1:23–45

Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise.

Proverbs 15:31

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Proverbs 15:30-33

I’m reminded of some wise advice a radio broadcaster friend once gave me. Early on in his career, as my friend struggled to know how to deal with both criticism and praise, he felt that God was encouraging him to shelve both. What’s the essence of what he took to heart? Learn what you can from criticism and accept praise. Then shelve both and humbly move on in God’s grace and power.                

Criticism and praise stir in us powerful emotions that, if left unchecked, can lead to either self-loathing or an overinflated ego. In Proverbs we read of the benefits of encouragement and wise counsel: “Good news gives health to the bones. . . .Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding” (15:30, 32).

If we’re on the receiving end of a rebuke, may we choose to be sharpened by it. Proverbs states, “Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise” (v. 31). And if we’re blessed with words of praise, may we be refreshed and filled with gratitude. As we walk humbly with God, He can help us learn from both criticism and praise, shelve them, and then move on in Him (v. 33).

By Ruth O’Reilly-Smith

Today’s Reflection

Father God, thank You for the gift of praise and criticism. As I humbly surrender to You, may I grow and be sharpened by both.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Reordering Darkness

The capture of one of the most notorious drug loads—leader of the Sinaloa Cartel—El Chapo, Joaquin Guzman made global headlines. Guzman was captured without the firing of a single bullet. This was quite a feat given that he kept an arsenal of weapons around him at all times: semi-automatic rifles, hand-grenades, rocket-launchers, and other weapons of mass-destruction. Yet, he was completely caught off guard when police arrested him in his home in the early dawn of 2014. He escaped not five months later by creating a tunnel from his shower. While the media hailed his capture and re-capture in January 2016 as well as his recent trial and upcoming sentencing as huge successes in the fight against drug trafficking, most citizens in Mexico are less sure. There is little confidence that Guzman’s capture will slow the traffic or violence of the drug trade and its cartels, which for many seems an intractable feature of Mexican life.

The moral depravity of the real-life drug cartels has often been fictionalized in television and film. Whether the popular television show Breaking Bad or the 2007 film No Country for Old Men (adapted from the novel by Cormac McCarthy), the violence intertwined with the illegal drug trade has often been used as a metaphor for exploring the underbelly of evil just below the surface of ‘civilized’ life. Specifically, it is a force that seems to advance without end or solution. The recent news about heroin epidemics and overdoses in typically “middle-American” towns is a chilling example. Given the chaotic elements inherent in addiction and violence, it is understandable how a kind of nihilistic despair can take hold. As the sheriff laments in the film No Country for Old Men:

“I was sheriff of this county when I was twenty-five years old. Hard to believe. My grandfather was a lawman; father too. You can’t help but compare yourself against the old-timers. Can’t help but wonder how they would have operated these times. The crime you see now, it’s hard to even take its measure. It’s not that I’m afraid of it. I always knew you had to be willing to die to even do this job. But, I don’t want to push my chips forward and go out and meet something I don’t understand. A man would have to put his soul at hazard. He’d have to say, ‘O.K., I’ll be part of this world [emphasis mine].’”(1)

When I read the headlines or encounter some of the ways in which these realities are depicted in film, television, novels, and other artistic media, I wonder with the Sheriff in McCarthy’s novel how to make a difference in the kind of world most would be terrified to enter. Is there any hope for redemption, transformation, and justice that goes beyond simply punishment? As a Christian, I wonder what difference the good news of Jesus can make in a world of drug lords, traffickers, and violence?

In the face of these kinds of questions, I learned about the work of the artist Pedro Reyes. His musical project titled “Disarm,” transformed 6,700 guns that were turned in or seized by the army and police into musical instruments.(2) The guns came from Ciudad Juarez, a city of about 1.3 million people that averaged about 10 killings a day at the height of its drug violence. In 2010, Ciudad Juarez had a murder rate about 230 per 100,000 inhabitants. Reyes remarked of the guns he used that this is “just the tip of the iceberg of all the weapons that are seized every day and that the army has to destroy.” But rather than succumb to the despair, Reyes took the very instruments used for violence and created instruments for music.

Reyes already was known for a 2008 project called “Palas por Pistolas,” or “Pistols to Shovels,” in which he melted down 1,527 weapons to make the same number of shovels to plant the same number of trees. Reyes stresses that his work “is not just a protest, but a proposal.” His proposal is to take objects of destruction and transform them into objects of creation. It is not by accident that Reyes’s creative work hearkens back to the ancient vision of the prophet Isaiah when on the great day of the Lord “they will hammer their swords into plowshares.”(3)

It is not by accident that the gospel of John hearkens back to the chaos of the primordial creation: “In the beginning was the Word…In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters…All things came into being by Him and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In him was life, and the life was the light of all people.”(4) John’s gospel presents Jesus as the one who brings order from chaos, light from darkness, just like God’s action at the original creation. Out of what was formless and void order and meaning come forth. The light that comes does not simply banish the darkness; it is re-worked and re-ordered by the light. Light transforms the darkness. The creation of music from the violence of the drug cartels takes a similar cue. “To me at least,” Reyes says, “the concept is about taking weapons that are destructive in nature and chaotic and trying to make them for something else. So instead of objects of destruction, they become objects of creation.”(5) Art, for Reyes, is about transformation; about shining light into the darkness.

Could God take the chaos and destruction we often see in our world and transform it with our deceptively simple, seemingly small acts of creative engagement? For those who follow Jesus, that kind of engagement with the destructive forces of the world gives witness to the reality of Jesus Christ, the Creator of life, light, goodness, and love. For the light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it.

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

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – A Natural Expression of Thanksgiving

 

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! — Psalm 107:1

Adapted from the resource The Power of Being Thankful Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Thanksgiving can be a part of who we are deep down in our hearts; it is a type of prayer and it should flow out of us in a natural way that is simple and genuine.

Being thankful does not mean merely sitting down at the end of a day, trying to remember everything we need to be thankful for because we think we have to thank God in order to make Him happy, or to satisfy some spiritual requirement, or try to get Him to do something else for us.

Instead, it means having a heart that is sensitive to God’s presence in our everyday lives, and just breathing out grateful prayers of thanksgiving every time we see Him working in our lives or blessing us.

Prayer Starter: Father, I am thankful that prayer is not some ritual or formula that I am required to follow. I am grateful that prayer is a comfortable, ongoing conversation with You based on an intimate relationship with You. I love You, Father, and I am excited to give You thanks all day long. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Security for the Children

 

“Reverence for God gives a man deep strength; his children have a place of refuge and security” (Proverbs 14:26).

Mary, the daughter of African missionaries, recalled how her father – the leader of a large missionary thrust – would on occasion call the family together and share something in his life that he felt was not pleasing to God, which he would confess both to the Lord and to his family whenever they happened to be involved.

This he did for at least two reasons: (1) he had a reverential fear of God, a fear that he might grieve or quench the Spirit by acts of disobedience, and (2) he wanted to be an example to his wife and children, not parading as one who was perfect. Like them, he needed to breathe spiritually, exhaling and confessing his sins whenever he became aware of them and inhaling and appropriating the fullness of God’s Holy Spirit by faith so that he could keep walking in the light as God is in the light.

He would then ask other members of the family if they wanted to share anything in their lives that was grieving or quenching the Spirit, so that together they might pray for each other. This, Mary said, was such an encouragement to her and to other members of the family, helping her to have a greater sense of security and feeling of refuge, knowing that her father was a man of God who was honest with the Lord and with his family.

The example of her father and mother had played an important role in inspiring her to become a missionary as well, and now God is using her in a marvelous way for His glory.

In a day when children and young people lack a feeling of security, perhaps more than at any other time in history, it behooves Christian parents to cooperate with God in helping to provide for their families such a sense of security and refuge.

Bible Reading: Proverbs 14:15-21

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will begin to pray regularly that God will grant to me an understanding of His attributes as I study His Word so that I will learn to reverence God and thereby provide refuge and security to those who look to me for leadership.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Preparing for Worship

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Do you prepare for church worship?  We’re sadly casual when it comes to meeting God. Suppose you were invited to a Sunday morning breakfast at the White House?  How would you spend Saturday night?  Would you think about your questions and requests?  Should we prepare any less for an encounter with the Holy God?

Come to worship prepared to worship.  Pray and read the Word before you come, and come expecting God to speak. Then you’ll discover the purpose of worship—to change the face of the worshiper.  Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “Our faces, then, are not covered.  We all show the Lord’s glory, and we are being changed to be like him.”  God wipes away our tears, softens our furrowed brows and touches our cheeks.  He changes our faces as we worship.

Read more Just Like Jesus

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – The reward a Texas couple found in a bottle from 1962

While walking on the Gulf Shore near Corpus Christi, Jim and Candy Duke found an unusual bottle. It contained a note explaining that the bottle had been released in 1962 by scientists studying the role of water currents on the movement of shrimp.

Here’s the good news: if the person finding the bottle completed and mailed the enclosed postcard, they would receive “a fifty cent reward.”

The current lab director offered to pay the Dukes as promised, though it would cost the agency fifty-five cents for a stamp and three dollars to print the check.

What was the most powerful computer in 1962?

I’ve been thinking about some of the changes to our culture since 1962.

Technological advances are an obvious example. In 1962, the most powerful computer in the world was the Ferranti Atlas. It filled a room, took six months to assemble, and was difficult to keep running for ten minutes at a time.

Technology has revolutionized our lives, but its advances are a double-edged sword: they have put mobile computing in our pockets but also fueled the plague of pornography and provided a platform for terrorist recruiting.

In 1962, the Civil Rights Act was still two years away. Governmental legislation soon advanced the biblical mandate to reject racism (cf. Galatians 3:28), but other legislation has overturned centuries of biblical morality regarding marriage, gender, and the sanctity of life.

The Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1962 celebrated groundbreaking discoveries “concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material.” This work was foundational to genetic advances that are revolutionizing medicine today. However, these advances could also enable eugenic alterations that would redefine and threaten the future of our species.

In 1962, President Kennedy announced the goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Thomas Kuhn’s book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, was a landmark event in science, history, sociology, and philosophy. Global travel was making the world smaller for cultural exchange and educational advancement.

However, the academic rejection of absolute truth and objective morality was also gaining momentum. The “sexual revolution” was one manifestation of such relativism. As Mary Eberstadt has documented, this “massive experiment in chaos and confusion” has radically and negatively impacted our culture.

What problem is the root of our problems?

Many of the technological, legislative, medical, and academic achievements of the last fifty-seven years have clearly improved our lives. But have they improved our souls?

Are humans more moral as a species today? Would you say that the overall moral trajectory of our culture is positive or negative?

What is the problem at the root of our problems?

The answer is a reality our culture considers so outdated and Puritanical that we seldom discuss it. But ignoring something makes it no less real and can make its consequences even worse.

The Bible diagnoses our root issue: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The problem of sin cannot be solved by technology, legislation, medicine, or scholarship. We can regulate it through laws and meliorate some of its effects through education, medicine, and technology.

But we cannot change the underlying human condition: “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). The consequences of our sin nature are spiritual, emotional, relational, and–eventually–eternal death.

Here’s the solution: “But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23b).

How can temporal work bear eternal fruit?

If healing bodies could save souls, the apostles with their miraculous healing ministries would have gone into health care (cf. Acts 3:1-10; 5:15-16; 20:9-10). If technology could save souls, Jesus would have used his divine omniscience to revolutionize carpentry and other industries (cf. Mark 6:3).

If scholarship could save souls, Saul of Tarsus would have continued with his remarkable academic career (Acts 22:3). If laws could save souls, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus would have sought political leadership through their roles in the Sanhedrin (Mark 15:43; John 3:1).

Let me be clear: God calls his people into medicine, technology, academics, and legislative service today. These are vital and valuable roles in our society. But they cannot save souls. Nor can the sentences I’m typing right now or the words I spoke in church last Sunday.

Only the Holy Spirit can convict of sin and save sinners (John 16:8). Only God has the miraculous power to make us a “new creation” so that “the old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

As a result, the most valuable way to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39) is to share Jesus with them. The greatest gift you can give is the good news of God’s saving grace and transforming love. You’re not forcing your beliefs on others–you are offering them the only antidote to the deadly poison of sin, the only chemotherapy that cures spiritual cancer, the only path that leads to eternal life.

If you and I see our vocations as opportunities to model and share Jesus’ transforming love, our temporal work will bear eternal fruit. But only then.

When will the moon be destroyed?

The largest “supermoon” of the year was visible last night. At 221,734 miles from earth, it is closer to us right now than it will be at any other time this year.

However, our relationship with our closest celestial companion is not permanent. According to one scientist, the earth and moon will be destroyed in about five billion years when the Sun swells enough to incinerate them both.

When (or if) that happens, eternity will only have begun.

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Charles Stanley – The Right Perspective

 

Philippians 1:19-26

The way we perceive our situation often has a greater impact on our life than the situation itself. You’ve probably seen this for yourself in those who profess to know Christ. One Christian goes through debilitating medical treatments with such trust in God that contentment and joy overshadow the suffering, whereas another believer becomes anxious and resentful.

The setting for today’s passage is Paul’s house arrest. Although the apostle had committed no crime, he found himself unjustly locked up. But despite such dire and seemingly hopeless conditions, he knew he had nothing to lose. If Caesar decided to have him executed, he’d immediately be with Christ, and that was a much better option in Paul’s eyes. If, on the other hand, God allowed him to live, then he could continue a fruitful ministry for the kingdom. His conclusion was, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).

When we are saved by the blood of Christ, Paul’s statement is true for us as well. Our life is intricately bound up with our Savior, and we can never be separated from Him by any circumstance—not even death.

The word circumstance comes from two Latin roots meaning “around” and “to stand.” Therefore, our circumstances are those things that stand around us, but Christ is the person who dwells within us. Everything we face, He faces. Our difficult and painful situations are an invitation to let Christ shine though us. When He is our life, then no matter what happens, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. So let’s fix our eyes on Jesus as He leads us through whatever lies ahead.

Bible in One Year: Numbers 28-30

 

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Our Daily Bread — Praying and Growing

 

Bible in a Year:Leviticus 23–24; Mark 1:1–22

Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God.

Colossians 3:17

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Jonah 4:1-11

When my friend David’s wife developed Alzheimer’s disease, the changes it brought to his life made him bitter. He needed to retire early to care for her; and as the disease progressed, she required increasingly more care.

“I was so angry at God,” he told me. “But the more I prayed about it, the more He showed me my heart and how I had been selfish for most of our marriage.” Tears welled in his eyes as he confessed, “She’s been sick ten years, but God has helped me see things differently. Now, everything I do out of love for her, I also do for Jesus. Caring for her has become the greatest privilege of my life.”

Sometimes God answers our prayers not by giving us what we want but by challenging us to change. When the prophet Jonah was angry because God spared the wicked city of Nineveh from destruction, God caused a plant to shade him from the hot sun (Jonah 4:6). Then He made it wither. When Jonah complained, God answered, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” (vv. 7–9). Jonah, focused only on himself, insisted it was. But God challenged him to think about others and have compassion.

God sometimes uses our prayers in unexpected ways to help us learn and grow. It’s a change we can welcome with open hearts because He wants to transform us with His love.

By James Banks

Today’s Reflection

Lord Jesus, thank You for helping me grow when I pray. Help me to be sensitive to what You want for my life today.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Joyce Meyer – Be Proactive

 

O turn to me and have mercy and be gracious to me; grant strength (might and inflexibility to temptation) to Your servant…. — Psalm 86:16 (AMPC)

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

Jesus warned His disciples about all that He was to go through, because He knew it would be difficult for them too.

He said, “Pray that you won’t be tempted” (see Matthew 6:13Matthew 26:41). He didn’t say, “Wait to pray until you have been tempted, or until you have given in to temptation.” Jesus teaches us to be proactive, which Webster defines as “acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes.”

Many Israelites had already died from snake bites before the rest of them finally said, “Pray for us, Moses, for we have sinned” (see Numbers 21:4–9). They should have recognized their need for God’s help much sooner than they did!

Don’t wait until you are in trouble to seek God. Ask Him to keep you from being tempted to sin today.

Prayer Starter: Father, I need Your help in every single area of my life. Please strengthen me so I can handle everything that comes my way today. Help me to be proactive when it comes to my relationship with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Is Your Faith Worth Sharing?

 

“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18, KJV).

I had just finished giving a message, challenging students and young executives to commit their lives to helping to fulfill the Great Commission when Steve approached me with words that shocked me. I had known him for a long time and believed his life to be totally committed to Christ.

“If I were to respond to your challenge to take what I have to the rest of the world,” he said, “I’m afraid not much would be accomplished, because my brand of Christianity -quite frankly – is not that attractive, exciting or fruitful.”

He went on to share how he was not experiencing the joy of the resurrection in his life. The study of the Word of God had no appeal, his prayer life was nil and it had been a long time since he had introduced anyone to Christ. His outward evidence of being a man of God was just a facade, by his own admission.

What about you? Is your brand of Christianity truly the revolutionary, first-century kind that helped turn the world upside down and that changed the course of history? If not, it can be – and that is what this daily devotional guide is all about.

Every Christian needs to echo daily the sentiments of an unknown poet:

My life shall touch a dozen lives
Before this day is done,
Leave countless marks of good or ill,
Ere sets the evening sun.
This, the wish I always wish,
The prayer I always pray;
Lord, may my life help other lives
It touches by the way.

That goal should reign supreme during my waking hours – to touch lives for eternity. For if the all-powerful God, in the Person of His Holy Spirit, truly lives and reigns and triumphs, surely I can tap into that supernatural power and give evidence of it in my life.

Bible Reading:Proverbs 4:14-19

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Knowing that this dark world desperately needs light, I will trust God to let His light shine through me today. I pray that my life will be so radiant, joyful, attractive and fruitful for Christ that it will demonstrate the kind of Christianity that can be exported to others, to members of my family, neighbors and friends, as well as to people in other countries.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Practicing the Presence of God

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

How do I detect God’s unseen hand on my shoulder and his inaudible voice in my ear?  Give God your waking thoughts.  Before you face the day, face the Father.  Psalm 5:3 says, “Every morning, I tell you what I need, and I wait for your answer.”

Give God your waiting thoughts.  Spend time with him in silence.

Give God your whispering thoughts.  During your lifetime, you could spend six months at stoplights and eight months opening junk mail.  Give these moments to God.  Simple phrases such as “Thank you, Father,” can turn a commute into a pilgrimage.

Give God your waning thoughts.  Conclude the day as you began it–  talking to God.  If you fall asleep as you pray, don’t worry.  What better place to doze off than in the arms of your Father.

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Denison Forum – College intern began work the day he was killed

 

Gary Montez Martin went into his local Circle K convenience store to buy a few cigars last Friday. He did this almost every day. Store clerks said he seemed fine. Hours later, he learned he had been fired from his job and allegedly shot five co-workers to death.

We’re now learning more about his victims.

One was Josh Pinkard, who sent his wife this text: “I love you, I’ve been shot at work.” He did not survive, leaving his wife and three children. Vicente Juarez was a father of three and grandfather of eight. Russell Beyer had a daughter and a son and would have turned forty-eight this Thursday. Clayton Parks left his wife and a young son.

And Trevor Wehner was a student at Northern Illinois University who began as an intern that day. He was scheduled to graduate in May.

The company is determining if anything can be done in the future “to ensure this horrible incident is never repeated.”

“Pessimism is a mark of superior intellect”

Since the Parkland shooting on February 14, 2018, there have been nearly 350 mass shootings in the US–nearly one a day.

Whether the issue is crime and violence, disasters, or disease, when we look at the future through the prism of the present, it’s easy to abandon hope.

Socrates taught us that the key to knowledge is to “know thyself.” From then to now, Western civilization has focused on the individual. Our existentialist worldview limits our experience to ourselves. Jean-Paul Sartre claimed that “man is nothing else but what he makes of himself.”

As a result, we cannot believe in a future we cannot see in the present. That’s why Nietzsche could say, “Regarding life, the wisest men of all ages have judged alike: it is worthless.” Economist John Kenneth Galbraith: “We all agree that pessimism is a mark of superior intellect.”

Cyrano de Bergerac claimed that “a pessimist is a man who tells the truth prematurely.” Actually, the opposite is true: a pessimist is a man who decides the truth prematurely. As Robert Schuller noted, “Pessimism drops the curtain on tomorrow.”

“The famine was severe in the land”

I’ve been studying the biblical story of Joseph lately. In Genesis 43, we learn that “the famine was severe in the land” (v. 1). This was the seven-year famine Joseph predicted years earlier. To prepare for it, Pharaoh elevated him to second-in-charge of the nation.

Those suffering from the famine had no way to know that God was using this disaster for a larger redemptive purpose. They could not know that the famine would lead Joseph’s family to join him in Egypt, where they would be saved. They could not know that Joseph’s family would establish the nation from which the Messiah of the world would one day come.

All the world knew was that “the famine was severe in the land.”

To whom will the world “belong tomorrow”?

Much of what God is doing to redeem tragedy is not apparent at the time. Think of the forty years Moses spent in the desert before he led his people out of Egyptian slavery. Remember the forty years they spent in the wilderness until a new generation was ready to enter their Promised Land.

Think of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as they were condemned to the fiery furnace. Or Daniel as he was thrown into the lions’ den. Or Peter in prison the night before he was to be executed by Herod. Or Paul in a Philippian jail. Or John exiled on Patmos.

None of them could know when and how their suffering would be redeemed by God’s providential omnipotence. When we’re in the darkness of night, we cannot see the brightness of day.

If “the world will belong tomorrow to those who brought it the greatest hope” (Teilhard de Chardin), how can we offer our culture a realistic path to hope for the future? How can we find such hope for our souls?

One: Expect God to do what is best.

Frederick Buechner once met an Episcopal laywoman who had a ministry of faith healing. Here was the essence of her message: “You had to expect. You had to believe. . . . It was faith that unbound the hands of Jesus so that through your prayers his power could flow and miracles could happen, healing could happen, because where faith was, healing always was too, she said, and there was no power on earth that could prevent it.

“Inside us all, she said, there was a voice of doubt and disbelief which sought to drown out our prayers even as we were praying them, but we were to pray down that voice for all we were worth because it was simply the product in us of old hurts, griefs, failures, of all that the world had done to try to destroy our faith.”

Is that voice speaking to you this morning?

Two: Trust that the present will be used for a redemptive future.

Oswald Chambers: “At times God puts us through the discipline of darkness to teach us to heed Him. Song birds are taught to sing in the dark, and we are put into the shadow of God’s hand until we learn to hear Him.”

Chambers also notes that “God does not give us overcoming life; He gives us life as we overcome” (his italics). He adds: “If we will do the overcoming, we shall find we are inspired of God because He gives life immediately.”

What do you need to overcome today?

Three: Offer someone hope for the future in the present.

Henri Nouwen: “The fragmentation of humanity and its agony grow from the false supposition that all human beings have to fight for their right to be appreciated and loved.” This “false supposition” seems to make the news daily.

If you and I offer someone the appreciation and love of God’s inclusive grace, how much hope will we infuse into their soul? And ours?

 

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Charles Stanley – God Rules in Your Circumstances

 

Philippians 1:12-18

If you could change your circumstances, would you? Most of us would respond in the affirmative. Even if we’re experiencing relatively peaceful and comfortable conditions, we can always imagine a better life. And for those of us enduring difficult, painful, or trying situations, we long to see the burden lifted.

In reality, there are some circumstances over which we have no control. We can’t maneuver our way out, so our only option is to go through them. However, if we are redeemed children of God, we are exactly where He wants us, because His sovereignty rules over all our situations at all times.

This was true for Paul despite his being imprisoned, chained, and watched by the Roman guard. After a fruitful ministry of proclaiming the gospel and founding churches throughout the Roman Empire, he found himself under house arrest. But even during these difficult circumstances, God remained in control, and His work in and through Paul hadn’t stopped.

What seemed like a very negative aspect of the apostle’s life—being chained and watched—turned out to be the means God used to deliver the gospel to the entire praetorian guard. Paul’s imprisonment also prompted other believers to boldly proclaim Christ. Some did it out of love while others acted in envy; but in both cases, the goal of spreading the gospel was accomplished.

The same sovereign God who used Paul’s circumstances for His purposes can do so with yours. But like the apostle, you’ll have to trust that the Lord will comfort and strengthen you to endure, and yes, even to rejoice.

Bible in One Year: Numbers 26-27

 

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Our Daily Bread — Atmosphere of Encouragement

 

Bible in a Year: Leviticus 21–22; Matthew 28

Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.

Romans 15:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Romans 15:1-7

I’m encouraged every time I visit the fitness center near our house. In that busy place, I’m surrounded by others who are striving to improve their physical health and strength. Posted signs remind us not to judge each other, but words and actions that reveal support for others’ conditioning efforts are always welcomed.

What a great picture of how things should look in the spiritual realm of life! Those of us who are striving to “get in shape” spiritually, to grow in our faith, can sometimes feel as if we don’t belong because we’re not as spiritually fit—as mature in our walk with Jesus—as someone else.

Paul gave us this short, direct suggestion: “Encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). And to the believers in Rome he wrote: “Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up” (Romans 15:2). Recognizing that our Father is so lovingly gracious with us, let’s show God’s grace to others with encouraging words and actions.

As we “accept one another” (v. 7), let’s entrust our spiritual growth to God—to the work of His Spirit. And while we daily seek to follow Him, may we create an atmosphere of encouragement for our brothers and sisters in Jesus as they also seek to grow in their faith.

By Dave Branon

Today’s Reflection

Lord, help me today to encourage others along the way. Guide me to say what will not discourage but will spur them toward a deeper walk with You in Your love.

 

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Joyce Meyer – Absolute Faith

 

For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus [the leaning of your entire human personality on Him in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness] and of the love which you [have and show] for all the saints (God’s consecrated ones). — Colossians 1:4 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Power Thoughts Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

God’s will is for us to live by faith. You might be thinking of how far you have to go in order to be all God wants you to be, and you feel overwhelmed. Your mind wants to think, This is just too much; I will never be able to do all He needs.

This is where faith comes in. You can think, I don’t know how I am going to do it, but I am expecting God’s help. With God, all things are possible.

Just get started and keep going day after day. Be encouraged by any progress you make and refuse to be discouraged by how far you think you still have to go. God is pleased that you are on your way to perfection (see Philippians 3:12).

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for Your love and faithfulness in my life as I continue to grow in You. Help me to keep moving forward even when it doesn’t feel like I’m making progress. Help me to stay focused on You, knowing that You can do the impossible in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org