TODAY’S DAILY PRAYER
Lord God, whose might is over all the world, over heaven and over earth, we want to find strength in you, for you have given us thousands of proofs that you are with us, helping in all that happens. And when we meet with difficulties, we want all the more to find strength in you, we want all the more to hope in you and await your victory. Let your light shine into everything, in life and in death. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Reflections for Advent and Christmas
Verse of the Day
Thoughts on Today’s Verse…
What grand “Kingdom dreams” do you have for God’s glory? What incredible ideas can you imagine requesting that God would bring to fruition? What are your expectations of heaven with God? Now that you have stretched mind, challenged your imagination, and loaded up your expectations, are you ready for some down to earth truth straight from the Marvel of heaven? God is able to do far more than any of that. His power is at work in us to do his glorious will and accomplish his eternal purposes. So let’s not set our sights too low and expect too little. Live for his glory and expect to see it at work in your life.
O LORD, God of heavens and earth, my Abba Father and loving Shepherd, please stir my thoughts by your Spirit to dream bigger dreams and have higher hopes than my earthbound and selfish brain can imagine. Give me a sense of wonder and expectation as I live for your glory. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
BIBLE STUDY BUDDY
Read Psalm 33:1-22…
Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. 2. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. 3. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. 4. For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. 5. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. 6. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. 7. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. 8. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him. 9. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. 10. The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. 11. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. 12. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance. 13. From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; 14. from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth- 15. he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. 16. No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. 17. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. 18. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, 19. to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. 20. We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. 21. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. 22. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.
Blessed is the fact that Christians can rejoice even in the deepest distress; although trouble may surround them, they still sing; and, like many birds, they sing best in their cages. The waves may roll over them, but their souls soon rise to the surface and see the light of God’s countenance; they have a buoyancy about them which keeps their head always above the water, and helps them to sing amid the tempest, “God is with me still.” To whom shall the glory be given? Oh! to Jesus—it is all by Jesus. Trouble does not necessarily bring consolation with it to the believer, but the presence of the Son of God in the fiery furnace with him fills his heart with joy. He is sick and suffering, but Jesus visits him and makes his bed for him. He is dying, and the cold chilly waters of Jordan are gathering about him up to the neck, but Jesus puts His arms around him, and cries, “Fear not, beloved; to die is to be blessed; the waters of death have their fountain-head in heaven; they are not bitter, they are sweet as nectar, for they flow from the throne of God.” As the departing saint wades through the stream, and the billows gather around him, and heart and flesh fail him, the same voice sounds in his ears, “Fear not; I am with thee; be not dismayed; I am thy God.” As he nears the borders of the infinite unknown, and is almost affrighted to enter the realm of shades, Jesus says, “Fear not, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Thus strengthened and consoled, the believer is not afraid to die; nay, he is even willing to depart, for since he has seen Jesus as the morning star, he longs to gaze upon Him as the sun in his strength. Truly, the presence of Jesus is all the heaven we desire. He is at once
“The glory of our brightest days;
The comfort of our nights.”
Smiling In Church…
My wife and I visited a church in another city not long ago. As we were returning home, she asked, ”Did you notice anything unusual about the people in that church?” I couldn’t say that I had. So she explained, ”No one was smiling.” As I thought about it, I agreed. A tone of rather grim seriousness pervaded the music and message. Even the foyer afterward was unusually quiet.
This experience reminded me of a newspaper column written by Erma Bombeck a few years ago. She told of sitting in church a few rows behind a little boy and his mother. He was looking over the back of the pew and smiling at everyone behind him. And they were smiling back. Suddenly his mother realized what he was doing. She turned his head around and whispered in a voice everyone could hear, ”Stop that grinning. You’re in church!”
If any people ever had a right to be joyful, it’s believers in Christ (1 Pet. 1:3-8). He died for us, forgave our sin, sent us the Holy Spirit, and walks with us daily. Whenever we get together, we ought to be rejoicing in those truths.
If we’re experiencing day by day the grace of Jesus, we have every reason to be smiling- especially in church. ”Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous!” (Ps. 33:1).
-David C. Egner
Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare
Then he [angel] continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Daniel 10:12-13
There is considerable interest and teaching today about “territorial spirits,” that is, spiritual warfare waged against high-ranking principalities and powers assigned to a locale. The Scripture passage here indicates that a particular evil spirit was assigned to Daniel’s human government or territory. But what we lack biblically is any example of or injunction to engage these spirits directly or by name. Daniel only prayed to his God who sovereignly directs angels to war against the territorial rulers. The Apostle Paul taught that demonic emissaries who attack the church and hinder its mission can be overcome only through reliance on the power of God.
That same power of God is much needed in the world today. For example, witchcraft is being used as a strategic weapon by traditional Indian authorities in western Colombia in an attempt to weaken and even stamp out the faith of indigenous Christians. Sorcerers or witchdoctors, called te walas by the indigenous peoples, have started sending messengers to sit in the back during church services, rather than going directly themselves. When the pastors invite listeners to receive Christ, these messengers say, “No, we have just come to listen.” But while Christians are praying, the te walas’ messengers sprinkle the cursed waters around the church.
If their incantations bring no results, the te walas themselves come to the church, surrounding it with occult rites to cause the believers to lose their desire to pray and read the Bible. In some recent night-time visits by these traditional “healers,” the witchdoctors made pacts with animal blood as well as sprinkled their cursed waters on the church.
A 17-year-old girl in one church was induced to participate in these practices, despite having Christian parents. She actually made a pact of witchcraft, her pastor said, to give over one of her relatives to Satan. Discouraged, her parents cannot understand how this could happen in their home, where she learned to know and love God. Church leaders and the pastor have united with this family to intercede for urgently for this young girl’s deliverance. The pastor admitted that he feared that more such cases are happening that have yet to be discovered. They need our prayers.
RESPONSE: Today I’ll not underestimate the power of God to defeat all that Satan throws against me.
PRAYER: Lord, may Your mighty power overcome the evil united against Your Church in Colombia.
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.—MATT. iv. 4.
A man’s life conisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.—LUKE xii. 15.
Whate’er God does is well,
Whether He gives or takes!
And what we from His hand receive
Suffices us to live.
He takes and gives, while yet He loves us still;
Then love His will.
Is that beast better, that hath two or three mountains to graze on, than a little bee, that feeds on dew or manna, and lives upon what falls every morning from the storehouse of heaven, clouds, and providence?
For myself I am certain that the good of human life cannot lie in the possession of things which for one man to possess is for the rest to lose, but rather in things which all can possess alike, and where one man’s wealth promotes his neighbor’s.
Every lot is happy to a person who bears it with tranquillity.
Quote of the Day
“This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
Has Your Passion Cooled?
What was the greatest moment of your life? For some people, the answer might be their wedding day, the birth of a child, or an important promotion. But for believers, the best experience is salvation, when their eternal destiny was changed.
New Christians often have a fervor to share their faith. In time, however, many find their hearts cooling as they focus less on their relationship with Jesus Christ. Hebrews 2:1 tells us to “pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.”
Salvation is God’s amazing solution to man’s sinful condition: it is His gift of rescue — through the death of Jesus — from the penalty for our transgressions. Before Christ entered our life, we were all sinners existing, as Paul says, “in the lusts of our flesh” (Ephesians 2:3). No matter how good our behavior may have seemed, we were spiritually dead and separated from God. Receiving Christ’s forgiveness breathed life back into our spirits so that we could go before the Father’s throne.
We must not forget what Jesus did for us.
We have the balm to soothe the hurting hearts we come in contact with every day. But if excuses crowd our minds before passion fills our hearts, people will never hear. Thankfully, we can rediscover the passion of our early christian days. Take time today to praise God for His salvation, which delivered you from a path toward disaster. Then commit to carrying out your part in the Great Commission by talking about jesus with someone in your life (Matthew 28:19).
Taken from “our great salvation” by In Touch Ministries (used by permission).
I sense 2018 will be a year of ‘everything at once’. All hell will break loose and all of heaven will break loose, but heaven is greater than hell. I sense the presence of a great cloud of heavenly witnesses, including family members, standing to cheer us on this coming year. The eyes of heaven are upon us, waving checkered flags in the distance.
The heavens are shouting, “Don’t lose your excitement for what God has called you to do. Your excitement excites Him and activates the angels among you. Excitement is a powerful weapon against the enemy, as it ties his hands.”
A challenging year is ahead. It will seem like everything is happening at the same time. People will be saying, “It’s always something. It’s always something,” in a negative tone. On the other hand, if we stay focused on the Lord, we will be saying, “He’s always doing something. He’s always doing something good, in spite of the situation.”
The mindset we need to have for this new year is: “We do bears, we do lions and we do giants. That’s what we do.” For they will come this year to find out what is in us. These will be distractions to keep us from focusing on the Lord and worshipping Him no matter what. I sense the enemy saying, “I hope you don’t feel like worshipping the Lord this year with what I have in mind. If you do, it will bring Him down into your situation, and if He shows up, I’m out of here, for He doesn’t know how to lose. Defeat is not in Him.”
Extreme Trials and Extreme Victories
It will be a year like Houston being hit by a hurricane and winning the World Series. Extreme testings and extreme victories. Testings will bring them on. Priorities will change as these challenges show up.
I hear the Father saying, “Batten Down the Hatches.” I sense this means the prayer closet will become a very important place in our lives. “Batten down the hatches,” I sense, refers to closing the door on distractions as we not only pray but listen to him speaking to us.
2018: I See Bear Rugs, Lion Furs and Giants’ Heads on Gold Platters
This will be a year when mighty men and mighty women will rise up because they’ve killed a bear, a lion or a giant, for these have come to make us strong. God says, “They will be your nourishment, your bread, your sustenance.” We will get to eat honey out of the belly of the lion. We will see what a lion’s fur looks like hanging in our house,.and we will see the heads of giants on gold platters. I see bear rugs, lion furs and giants’ heads laid all over the place in your house. These will be trophies awarded to those who didn’t give up the good fight of faith.
Giants Are the Breakfast of Champions
I hear the Father asking, “How hungry are you? When you get hungry enough, you get to eat giants! The giants aren’t showing up to take you out, they’re showing up so you can eat them. Eat your giants today. They are your nourishment. They are your bread and sustenance. Giants are the breakfast of champions.”
“Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of th land because they are btread for us. Their defense i sgone from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them” (Num. 14:9).
I have wondered why it’s still my favorite No. 1 song going into this new year. “I’m no longer a slave to fear; I am a child of God.” Why is “Do Not Fear” mentioned so often throughout the Bible? Because God knows there will be times and reasons why we will be afraid, but He is with us. He has already slain every bear, every lion and every giant we will ever face, so we can too. Remember: Jesus lives in us, He is not afraid and He doesn’t worry about anything.
Bill Younthas been a member of Bridge of Life in Hagerstown, Maryland, for the past 36 years, where he is now an elder and a home missionary. He is currently an adviser at large for Aglow International. Bill faithfully served in prison ministry at Mount Hope for 23 years and now travels full-time, both in the U.S. and internationally, ministering in churches and Aglow circles. Humility and humor characterize his ministry as he brings forth a fresh word that is “in season,” proclaiming the word of the Lord. The shofar, or ram’s horn, is often used in his meetings, breaking the powers of darkness over regions, churches and households. The shofar represents God’s breath blowing into the nostrils of His people, reviving them and awakening the lost. Many of God’s messages, which Bill ministers prophetically, come out of his everyday life with his family and friends. Please visit Bill’s website atbillyount.com.
What Is Apostasy? Bible Verses Describing Apostasy
The Bible says a lot about apostasy, even in the Old Testament, so what Bible verses give us the best definition of apostasy?
One sign or evidence of apostasy is that it comes in under cover. It is sometimes cloaked within a biblical doctrine, but subtle differences can have huge implications. The Apostle Paul wrote that apostate teachings were already entering the church, “because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you” (Gal 2:4-5). Of course, this “slavery” is referring to the Jews who were trying to convince believers that they must keep the law. Even though we shouldn’t be lawbreakers, keeping the law is not how we’re saved. We must uphold the law, but this was not the law that the Jews were insisting on. Rather than referring to the Ten Commandments, the Jews were insisting that the Gentile believers must be circumcised, and be put under the Mosaic Law, so Paul asks them, “how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years” (Gal 4:9-10). Apparently the Jews insisted they keep the Jewish feast days and Sabbaths, which were only shadows of the fulfillment in Christ, so they wanted to make the Mosaic Law part of the requirement of being saved, however God is concerned with the circumcision that takes place in the heart (Deut 30:6; Jer 4:4), and not on the outside.
The Apostle Paul was already dealing with false teachers in his day, and near the time of his departure from this life, he warned Timothy that “the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim 4:3-4). I believe that time has come, but it was still a problem, even when Jude wrote his epistle. He wrote, “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:3-4). First of all, the faith that Jude refers to, has already been delivered, meaning it’s completed, and just as this is in the past tense, so it what the author of Hebrews writes; “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Heb 1:1-2). God has already spoken, and most clearly through Jesus Christ, and the faith has already been delivered, once and for all, and the reason that Jude had to contend for the faith is because others were still delivering it, but these “deliveries” were not the faith that was once delivered. It was another, but false, gospel. There’s no need for more truth, is there? Is the Bible sufficient for us and efficient for all? If we believe we are still receiving new revelations from God, or that we need new revelation from God, we’re saying, “Sorry God…your Word is good, but it’s just not enough.” By proclaiming new revelation from God, there is a danger of adding too or taking away from God’s Word. The implications of receiving new revelation from God is that they presume to speak for God, but that’s clearly adding to what God may not have said at all, or been just the opposite of God’s will, and therein lies danger (Deut 4:2; Prov 30:6; Rev 22:18-19).
Evil for Good
Just a few decades ago, what society considered acceptable on TV, is now almost called evil, and what was then called evil (like public nudity on TV), is now considered acceptable, and for some, even called “good,” however, God’s ways are not our ways. King Solomon wrote, “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD” (Prov 17:15), including those things done by those who will not inherit the kingdom (1 Cor 6:9; Rev 21:8), but now even, “both prophet and priest are ungodly; even in my house I have found their evil, declares the Lord” (Jer 23:11), but the day of His judgment is coming. Isaiah the Prophet wrote, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter”(Isaiah 5:20)! This shouldn’t surprise as, as Paul had written that “the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared” (1 Tim 4:1-2), and how that has come true. Jesus saw this coming too when he said “false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand” (Matt 24:24-25).
Apostasy can be defined as abandonment or defiance of what was previously held to be true and practiced, and choosing to rebel against those same beliefs and practices, but also, renouncing or disassociating oneself from a particular religion or certain religious beliefs. Those who do such things are considered apostate, however, this should not make them our enemy. We should pray for them, but also expose their false teachings if they’re contrary to the gospel that Jesus Christ brought (Mark 1:14-15), so a last bit of advice from the Apostle Paul in recognizing apostasy is, “even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed”(Gal 1:8-9). If someone claims Jesus is not God, Mary was not a virgin at Jesus’ birth, or that we are not saved by grace alone but also by works (Eph 2:8-9), then you’ve got another gospel, which is no gospel at all. The Apostle Peter warned us that “false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed” (2 Pet2:1-2). Yes, many, not a few.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.
Feed on Christ, and then go and live your life, and it is Christ in you that lives your life, that helps the poor, that tells the truth, that fights the battle, and that wins the crown.
A Prayer to Look Beyond Life’s Interruptions
By Boyd Bailey
“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” John 4:29 (NIV)
Early one morning as I sat in my prayer chair at home, my precious 7-year-old grandbaby Lily caught me reading and praying the Psalms.
Instead of being glad she saw her Pop reading the Bible, I was a little annoyed my time with God had been interrupted. As she crawled into my lap, my heavenly Father spoke words that warmed my heart as He reminded me, “My dear son, this is not an interruption, but an illustration of My love, care and affection for you.”
As she sat in my lap I couldn’t help but notice several bruises, scratches, bug bites and a matted band aid on her legs. To which the Holy Spirit whispered, “Boyd, you are bruised and broken — and I Am — your Comforter and Healer.”
Peace, joy, confidence, hope, faith and love all at once erupted in my heart, moving me closer to Christ. My heavenly Father illustrated through an interruption what I was seeking all along: His loving presence.
One day an unnamed Samaritan woman, going about her daily business, was interrupted by a stranger who asked her for a drink of water: “The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water’” (John 4:9-10, NIV).
He asked her for a favor — a drink of water — but what was Jesus’ bigger idea for stopping by the well? To give a gift. He offered it to this searching, hardworking woman who needed living water for her thirsty soul. The Messiah she’d heard about was in her presence to offer her
His forgiveness and love.
So she couldn’t help but tell everyone what Jesus had done: “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” (John 4:29)
Our lives are full of interruptions.
Traffic, a sick child, a financial surprise, a long line, a needy neighbor, a complaining customer, a co-worker in crisis, unfaithfulness, divorce, illness and death. These all look, sound and feel like interruptions. However, with eyes of faith we have the ability to look beyond life’s interruptions and instead see illustrations of God’s love.
Interruptions can be appointments for compassion. Life may feel unfair, but in your everyday routine recognize the Lord in the little things and love like Jesus. Interruptions represent people to love and are opportunities for you to be loved!
Loving people is the business of Jesus’ followers. It may be a person in your immediate presence, or it could be an individual in your peripheral vision, such as a restaurant server who needs to be included in your mealtime prayer.
A doctor or nurse who cares for you, a loved one who needs to be encouraged, or a critic who doesn’t have the full story — they too need the gifts of your patience and grace. Look for illustrations of God’s hand at work, home, vacation and especially during the holidays. Let interruptions slow you down, so you can better focus on receiving and giving God’s love.
Has your life been interrupted? How can you turn this into an opportunity to love and be loved?
Lean into God and learn of His love for the person who may have interrupted your life, then go share your story. Today, settle into the lap of your Lord, rest secure in His comfort and compassion. He beautifully illustrates His story of love for you, written with grace by His Son and your Savior, Jesus.
Heavenly Father, open my eyes of faith to see Your illustrations of love in the interruptions of my life today. Lord, help me see these moments as opportunities to love and to accept Your love and the love of others. Help me share the good news of Your great love with everyone I know. Slow me down, so that I can receiving and give to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
|THIS DAY IN HISTORY|
Millions tune in to find out who shot J.R.
On this day in 1980, 350 million people around the world tune in to television’s popular primetime drama “Dallas” to find out who shot J.R. Ewing, the character fans loved to hate. J.R. had been shot on the season-ending episode the previous March 21, which now stands as one of television’s most famous cliffhangers. The plot twist inspired widespread media coverage and left America wondering “Who shot J.R.?” for the next eight months. The November 21 episode solved the mystery, identifying Kristin Shepard, J.R.’s wife’s sister and his former mistress, as the culprit.
The CBS television network debuted the first five-episode pilot season of “Dallas” in 1978; it went on to run for another 12 full-length seasons. The first show of its kind, “Dallas” was dubbed a “primetime soap opera” for its serial plots and dramatic tales of moral excess. The show revolved around the relations of two Texas oil families: the wealthy, successful Ewing family and the perpetually down-on-their-luck Barnes family. The families’ patriarchs, Jock Ewing and Digger Barnes, were former partners locked in a years-long feud over oil fields Barnes claimed had been stolen by Ewing. Ewing’s youngest son Bobby (Patrick Duffy) and Barnes’ daughter Pam (Victoria Principal) had married, linking the battling clans even more closely. The character of J.R. Ewing, Bobby’s oldest brother and a greedy, conniving, womanizing scoundrel, was played by Larry Hagman.
As J.R. had many enemies, audiences were hard-pressed to guess who was responsible for his attempted murder. That summer, the question “Who Shot J.R.?” entered the national lexicon, becoming a popular t-shirt slogan, and heightening anticipation of the soap’s third season, which was to air in the fall. After a much-talked-about contract dispute with Hagman was finally settled, the season was delayed because of a Screen Actors Guild strike, much to the dismay of “Dallas” fans. When it finally aired, the episode revealing J.R.’s shooter became one of television’s most watched shows, with an audience of 83 million people in the U.S. alone—a full 76 percent of all U.S. televisions on that night were tuned in—and helped put “Dallas” into greater worldwide circulation. It also popularized the use of the cliffhanger by television writers.
The shooting of J.R. wasn’t “Dallas’”only notorious plot twist. In September 1986, fans learned that the entire previous season, in which main character Bobby Ewing had died, was merely a dream of Pam’s. The show’s writers had killed the Bobby character off because Duffy had decided to leave the show. When he agreed to return, they featured him stepping out of the shower on the season-ending cliffhanger, and then were forced the next season to explain his sudden reappearance.
The last premiere episode of “Dallas” aired on May 3, 1991. A spin-off, “Knots Landing,” aired from December 27, 1979 until May 13, 1993. “Dallas” remains in syndication around the world.
An Attitude of Thankfulness
This devotional was written by Jim Burns
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. —1 Thessalonians 5:18
There is always a reason to be thankful. Notice that today’s Scripture doesn’t say to be thankful for all things but to be thankful in all things. Even in the most difficult of circumstances, you can find a reason for a thankful heart. I like the phrase that says, “I complained because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” No matter what your circumstances, I believe there is a reason to be thankful. Your situation may never change, but your attitude can change and that will make all the difference in the world.
Terry Fox was a Canadian distance runner who started a run from one side of Canada to the other. He ran at least 26 miles each day to raise money for cancer research. He was a cancer victim himself. He ran every mile on one leg, since his right leg had been amputated above the knee. Almost every day, a television announcer or radio newscaster would put a microphone in front of Terry and ask him how his run for cancer was going. Often exhausted and losing valuable strength, Terry would say, “I don’t know about tomorrow, but God gave me another day to live and I’m thankful for each day I’m alive.”
Terry didn’t finish his run across Canada because he died of the dreaded disease. Yet even to the end, he remained thankful for each day and considered each one God’s gift to him. With an attitude of thankfulness, he made the most of a difficult situation.
1. What is the difference between being thankful for all circumstances and being thankful in all circumstances as prescribed in 1 Thessalonians 5:18?
2. What are your circumstances right now? Is it time for you to begin developing a greater attitude of thankfulness in your life?
Why You Can’t Make a Deal with God
We’ve all heard it, and most of us have either thought it or even prayed it. “God, if You [do this thing I currently want], then I’ll [do something I probably should do but haven’t].” We find ourselves in a situation we don’t like or lacking something we crave, yet we feel incapable of attaining our desire. Thus, we turn to someone we believe is capable of accomplishing what we want and hope God will show us favor.
But we understand how life works. People don’t just give away favors. They want something in return. So we begin to barter with others when we are seeking their favors. We started doing this when we were young (e.g., trading your sandwich for your friend’s crackers). The other person has something we want—either an item (good) or the ability to accomplish something (service)—so we offer him something we think he wants. In our society the most common bartering item is money—you give me something and I give you money in exchange. But we occasionally offer other goods or services (e.g., housing and food in exchange for childcare; use of vehicles in exchange for professional work, etc.). In each situation, the offer is successful only if both parties have something the other lacks or needs.
But there’s a problem when we try to barter with God. He doesn’t lack or need anything! The truth that God does not need anything is part of a larger truth of God’s self-sufficiency or aseity. This means that God’s existence comes from Himself, thus He is not dependent on anyone or anything else. We as humans derive our existence from God and live continually in dependence on Him (Col 1:17), but God exists in Himself and needs nothing (Exod 3:14; Acts 17:24-25).
Most pagan gods respond to the barter system. You offer sacrifices to a god, and he responds to help you in the way that he can. Thus, you worship the god of travel, and he in return gives you safe travel; you bring a sacrifice to the god of fertility, and he makes you fruitful; or you give to the god of war to make your army successful.
The Christian God is nothing like these pagan gods, which means we have nothing to offer God that would make Him respond by giving us a favor.
Why does it matter whether or not we can barter with God? Because if we can’t barter with Him, that means we have to accept His terms. We can’t entice Him with our offers. We can only accept His offers. He is not impressed by our promises of service or obedience and will not respond to them. But He, of His own will, determined to offer us a relationship with Him as a gift on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ. We must submit ourselves fully to Him, offering our lives to Jesus as Lord. And He promises to give us eternal life—a relationship with Him.
God is the one who establishes what He will do and what we will do, and we either accept or reject those terms. But we can’t try to change the terms to something we prefer—you can’t barter with God.
Jesus Calling for Kids
By Sarah Young
No Matter Where I Lead
You keep your loving promise. You lead the people you have saved. With your strength you will guide them to your holy land. —Exodus 15:13 (ICB)
Follow Me. No matter where I lead you, just follow Me. Don’t worry about how everything will turn out. Just trust Me, and I’ll show you the way.
Think of your life as an adventure, with Me as your Guide and Companion. Don’t worry about where our path will lead tomorrow— just live in the adventure of today. Keep your mind on staying close to Me.
If our path takes us to the bottom of a steep cliff, don’t be afraid. Just hold tightly to My hand, and take a deep breath. I’ll help you climb all the way up to the top. And when we come to a peaceful resting place, stop there a while and rest with Me. You already know where our journey will end. Someday I will take you into heaven—to live with Me there forever. But for now, just follow Me as I guide you along today’s path. And enjoy the adventures you share with Me—your faithful Guide.
© 2010 by Sarah Young
Consumed by Lust
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. – >Titus 3:4-5
Radio personality Paul Harvey once told of how an Eskimo kills a wolf. The Eskimo coats his knife with animal blood and lets it freeze. Another layer of blood is added, then another, until the blade is completely concealed. The hunter then fixes his knife in the ground with the blade up. A wolf follows the scent, finds the source, and begins licking. Aroused by the taste, it licks the blood-covered blade progressively faster and harder.
Amidst the wolf’s frenzy, it doesn’t notice the eventual sting of the exposed blade on its own tongue, nor that it’s now consuming its own warm blood. The wolf simply craves more–until it falls dead in the snow.
It’s a grisly story, but a poignant illustration of how we too stand in danger of being consumed by our own lusts.
“My will was perverse and lust had grown from it; and when I gave in to lust, habit was born; and when I did not resist the habit it became a necessity. These were the links which together formed what I have called my chain, and it held me fast in the duress of servitude.” -St. Augustine (354-430)
And God Laughed
Though I walk in the middle of trouble, you will revive me. You will stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies. Your right hand will save me. Yahweh will fulfill that which concerns me; your loving kindness, Yahweh, endures forever. Don’t forsake the works of your own hands. Psalm 138:7 WEB
They say that if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. While this sounds strange, I have found it often to be so painfully true. It is not ‘our’ plans and purpose that the Lord fulfills, it is His. When our plans and purpose align themselves with His, they work out gracefully as intended.
Often we dream too small and His plans are bigger than that. Sometimes its because He has something better right around the corner and He does not want us to settle for something mediocre now. Other times we just need to get in ‘tune’ with Him and what He is doing today. Take a risk and pray ‘Lord, make what is important to You, important to me.’ When His plans become our plans, then our life becomes amazing.
I never planned to be a pastor. Over twenty five years ago He told me that one day, I would be in the ministry and to begin to prepare myself. So I thought what anyone else would have thought: ‘Go through Bible college, get a degree, get ordained, and then you will preach in a church somewhere.’
So I did all of that, except the last step. When I got out of seminary, every single door in ministry was closed. I began to work on computers and was soon pushed into my own computer business full time. I spent the next twenty years working on computers and networks, until we hit a time when that suddenly dried completely up.
The week that we were packing to move out of our home, a job as a pastor opened up. A couple of years later, we began to build an online church using the skills that I had learned along the way. Now we are connecting people to Jesus right where they are, all over the world.
His plan for preparing me included more than I had originally thought, and His vision for ministry was outside of the normal box. He is the Boss, I just try and do what He says. The Lord knows what He is doing in all of this. The best that we can do is to get in step with Him and what He is doing on the earth today. Don’t worry about others are doing as that may not be what He has for you. Let’s just make sure that our plans, align with His plans.
Prayer: Heavenly Father I ask that You make what is important to You, important to me. Share Your thoughts with me and fulfill Your plans in my life. Don’t forsake the work of Your hands, but remember me today. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray.
Note: For those traveling this week for Thanksgiving, we pray that God blesses you with traveling mercies and with His protection!
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me–just as the Father knows me and I know the Father–and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.“John 10:14-16 NIV
Thoughts for Today
Unfortunately, Christians are often seen through caricatures. A caricature is an image rooted in reality but distorted in a way that drastically overemphasizes some features of that reality. “No Fun Nellie.” “Ignorant Irving.” “Willie the Wimp.” Christians are often seen as close-minded, hypocritical, judgmental, or extreme.
Most of these images have to do with the practice of religion. Although Christianity is thought of as a religion, that’s not what real Christianity is all about. It’s about relationship. A personal relationship with a loving Father (God the Father). A relationship with someone who was willing to give his life for us – Jesus (God the Son). A relationship with the Holy Spirit (God the Holy Spirit), who guides and comforts and helps us in our day-to-day living.
Consider this …
In today’s Scripture, Jesus is talking about relationship. He is our Shepherd. Because of his devotion to the Father and his love for us, he died on a cross to pay the penalty for our sin. Through that unimaginably great sacrifice, he is offering us a relationship with God. All we have to do is say yes. To choose to be a part of his flock. To receive his love, his forgiveness, and his help throughout our life on earth. Our problems may not disappear, but when we enter this relationship with Jesus and follow him as our Shepherd, we’ll never have to face them alone. And we have the promise of eternity with him.
God, I believe Jesus died on the cross for my sins. Please forgive me for all the wrong I’ve done. I choose to follow Jesus and thank you for allowing me to have a personal relationship with you. In Jesus’ name .
Join us on our podcast each weekday for an interesting story, well told, from Charisma News. Listen at charismapodcastnetwork.com.
Touched by an Angel star Della Reese has died, co-star Roma Downey says.
“On behalf of her husband, Franklin Lett, and all her friends and family, I share with you the news that our beloved Della Reese has passed away peacefully at her California home last evening surrounded by love. She was an incredible wife, mother, grandmother, friend and pastor, as well as an award-winning actress and singer. Through her life and work she touched and inspired the lives of millions of people,” her co-star Roma Downey confirmed to PEOPLE in an exclusive statement.
“She was a mother to me and I had the privilege of working with her side by side for so many years on Touched by an Angel. I know heaven has a brand-new angel this day. Della Reese will be forever in our hearts. Rest In Peace, sweet angel. We love you.”
Her congregation was part of “New Thought Christianity,” a philosophy that dates to the 1800s and emphasizes the teachings of Jesus, practical principles of a liberal form of Christianity and an openness to metaphysics and other philosophical thought, according to the Religion News Service.
“I love God,” Lett said in 1996. “I love Jesus. I love the truth. I love peace, joy and happiness, and my ministry gives me all that.”
Of her church, Lett says:
Understanding Principles for Better Living Church (UP Church) started in my living room as a small group of eight Christians seeking to gain more divine knowledge of how to bring about change in their lives. Using the Holy Bible as our inspiration and the Rev. Dr. Johnnie Colemon as our guide, we studied, read and prayed. Soon we were too big for my home, and we started moving to larger facilities. The benefit of those moves has provided us with a wonderful cross-section of people who have benefited from our teaching ministry.
We teach to fill that spiritual hunger of those who are unhappy with the way they are living their lives, and need to reacquaint themselves with God’s principles for achieving the Good Life, which is the God Promised Life.
At UP Church, we do not attempt to teach you what to think, but rather how to think on a higher level. And that level of thinking will immune you from the doubt and fear that causes us not to see the best in ourselves and others; immune you from magnifying our mistakes; immune you from procrastination, and immune you from failure.
Immunizing yourself from negative thinking and actions allows the God qualities of confidence, diligence, compassion, forgiveness and most importantly Love to fill your life. This is how we achieve a healthy spiritual outlook … eliminate the negative and hold on to the positive.
A daily prayer to help you do this is, “God promised me that I am whole, perfect and complete. I believe it!”
Jessilyn Justice @jessilynjustice is the director of online news for Charisma.
A Business Problem Leads to a Call
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
November 21, 2017
Now the donkeys belonging to Saul’s father Kish were lost, and Kish said to his son Saul, “Take one of the servants with you and go and look for the donkeys.” – 1 Samuel 9:3
The people of Israel wanted a king. God finally agreed. Samuel was the prophet of Israel who was to anoint the man God had chosen. God selected a young man to be the first king of Israel-his name was Saul.
It is interesting to look at the circumstances in which God called Saul into his new vocation. It seems that Saul’s father had a business that used donkeys. During these times, donkeys were often used for commerce. It was obviously important to the father to find these lost donkeys, so he sent Saul and his servant out to find them.
They went from region to region, unable to find the donkeys. Finally, Saul told his servant that they should go back. He thought that his father would be worried.
But the servant replied, “Look, in this town there is a man of God; he is highly respected, and everything he says comes true. Let’s go there now. Perhaps he will tell us what way to take” (1 Samuel 9:6).
Saul took his advice. Near the town they met some young girls who told them that Samuel had just come to their town that day.
When they arrived, they met Samuel who told them that the donkeys were safe and he would also tell Saul the next morning all that was in his heart. He then informed Saul of his new calling to be the next king of Israel.
Can you see what circumstances led to Saul’s receiving his call? It started with a business problem – lost donkeys. It led to connecting Saul with Samuel through a number of divine appointments and circumstances. God still does this today.
God will provide the necessary circumstances to accomplish His purposes in your life. You must realize that a business problem may lead to a new calling for your life. Saul had no idea lost donkeys would be the instrument used to change his life. So, too, we must realize God’s ways are not our ways.
It’s possible that, in the best of circumstances, Charles Manson would have turned out to be an evil, demented cult leader and mass murderer. And it’s also possible he suffered from lifelong psychiatric issues that clouded his thinking and moral judgment. Only God knows. But what is clear is that his upbringing and early life experiences were a formula for disaster.
A 2013 article in the Daily Mail notes that, “According to his cousin, JoAnn, whose parents raised Manson in their home in McMechen, West Virginia, for several years, ‘There was never anything happy about him. He never did anything good.'” Yes, the cousin reports, “The boy was obsessed with knives and guns and when he lost control of his anger, his eyes blazed with an intensity that convinced her he was capable of injuring or even killing her.” The article also claims that Manson’s mother feared her “crazy-eyed” son when he was just 5 years old.
But this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Manson’s mother was married and gave birth to him when she was just 15 years old, her husband and Manson’s father being five years older. But he quickly abandoned the family, leaving Manson fatherless. As for the mother, she was arrested on armed robbery charges when Manson was only 4 years old, sentenced to five years in prison. What a horrific start to life.
The Mail notes that, “it is equally clear that when offered any choice as to which path to take Manson invariably opted for the wrong one.” In other words, regardless of his upbringing, he made wrong choices. And as I stated at the beginning of this article, that could well be the case. But you have to stop and wonder for a moment what would have happened if Manson had been raised in a solid, stable, loving, godly environment. Again, only God knows.
Then there is element to factor in: “As [an] undersized boy he was a target for sexual abuse and beatings from older boys.
“He found his best defense was to convince them he was crazy. He did just that with screeches, facial tics, flapping arms and twitches.”
Not surprisingly, he started having serious brushes with the law while still a young teen, and by the time he was 32 years old, he had spent more than half of his life incarcerated (17 out of 32 years).
And in an odd repeat of his parents’ actions, at the age of 20, he married a 15-year-old girl, ending up back in prison after she had their child. Such is the cycle of sin and destruction.
How much was Manson conscious of the lacks he experienced growing up?
In a chilling interview posted on The Sun, he explained that he felt no guilt over the crimes he had committed, only wondering if he should have killed “four or five hundred people. Then,” he said, “I would have felt better. Then I would have felt like I really would have offered society something.”
But he also said this, “My awareness and my consciousness [are] not the same as someone who goes to school and has a mom and dad. Not having parents has left me in another dimension, so to say, you know.”
In the end, he was responsible for his actions, and no one forced him to do evil. He is accountable to society and to God for his crimes, which are without excuse and cannot be minimized.
At the same time, knowing the effects of broken homes on children—especially fatherless homes and their direct link to crime—one can only wonder how much an upbringing without father and without mother, coupled with physical and sexual abuse from peers, helped make Manson into the monster that he was.
And while it’s too late to redeem his life, let us do our best to reach out to those whose upbringing and environment were far from ideal while also seeking to build stable, loving homes that will give our kids the best chance in life. And even for those who serve out life-sentences in prison, there are some, like David Berkovitz, who go from being the “Son of Sam” to the “Son of Hope.”
While there’s breath, there’s still a chance.
Dr. Michael Brown(www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Saving a Sick America: A Prescription for Moral and Cultural Transformation. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.
Passion for Praise: ‘Even the Children Were Shouting!’
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
The blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed them. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David.”