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Sunday, December 16, 2018

DECEMBER 16, 2018 Why the Storms? - Joyce Meyer Ministries daily devotion

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation
— Psalm 42:5
As I think about the storms we all face in life, I can understand why people sometimes ask, “Why the storms? Why do we have so many problems and struggles in life? Why do God’s people have to deal with so much suffering?”
As I considered these questions, I began to see that Satan plants these questions in our minds. It is his attempt to keep us focused on our problems instead of focusing on the goodness of God. If we persist in asking these questions, we’re implying that God may be to blame. I don’t think it’s wrong to ask God why things happen. The writers of the psalms certainly didn’t hesitate to ask.
I think of the story of Jesus when He visited the home of Mary and Martha after their brother, Lazarus, died. Jesus waited until Lazarus had been dead for four days before He visited. When He arrived, Martha said to Jesus, Master, if You had been here, my brother would not have died (John 11:21 AMPC). She went on to say, And even now I know that whatever You ask from God, He will grant it to You (John 11:22 AMPC).
Did she really believe those words? I wonder, because Jesus said to her, Your brother shall rise again. Martha replied, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day (John 11:23-24 AMPC). She didn’t get what Jesus was saying.
I don’t want to be unkind to Martha, but she missed it. When Jesus came, she didn’t ask, “Why didn’t You do something?” Instead she said, “If You had been here—if You had been on the job—he’d be alive.”
When Jesus assured her that Lazarus would rise again, she didn’t understand that it was going to happen right then. She could focus only on the resurrection. By looking at an event that was still in the future, she missed the real meaning of Jesus’ words for the present.
But aren’t many of us like Martha? We want our lives to run smoothly, and when they don’t, we ask why? But we really mean, “God, if You truly loved and cared for me, this wouldn’t have happened.”
Let’s think a little more about the “why” question. For example, when someone dies in an accident, one of the first questions family members ask is why? “Why her? Why now? Why this accident?”
For one moment, let’s say God explained the reason. Would that change anything? Probably not. The loved one is still gone, and the pain is just as severe as it was before. What, then, did you learn from the explanation?
In recent years, I’ve begun to think that “why” isn’t what Christians are really asking God. Is it possible that we’re asking, “God, do You love me? Will You take care of me in my sorrow and pain? You won’t leave me alone in my pain, will You?”
Is it possible that, because we’re afraid that God doesn’t truly care about us, we ask for explanations?
Instead, we must learn to say, “Lord God, I believe. I don’t understand, and I could probably never grasp all the reasons why bad things happen, but I can know for certain that You love me and You are with me—always.”
Prayer Starter: Heavenly Father, instead of asking for answers to the “why” questions, help me to focus on Your great love for me. When Satan tries to fill my mind with troublesome questions, help me to feel the protection of Your loving, caring arms around me. Help me always to show my gratitude and devotion for all that You do for me. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.

Mirrors and Hearers - Our Daily Bread Ministries daily devotion 16 December


Whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it . . . will be blessed in what they do. James 1:25
When I emerged from my hotel in Kampala, Uganda, my hostess, who had come to pick me up for our seminar, looked at me with an amused grin. “What’s so funny?” I inquired. She laughed and asked, “Did you comb your hair?” It was my turn to laugh, for I had indeed forgotten to comb my hair. I’d looked at my reflection in the hotel mirror. How come I took no notice of what I saw?
In a practical analogy, James gives us a useful dimension to make our study of Scripture more beneficial. We look in the mirror to examine ourselves to see if anything needs correction—hair combed, face washed, shirt properly buttoned. Like a mirror, the Bible helps us to examine our character, attitude, thoughts, and behavior (James 1:23–24). This enables us to align our lives according to the principles of what God has revealed. We will “keep a tight rein” on our tongues (v. 26) and “look after orphans and widows” (v. 27). We will pay heed to God’s Holy Spirit within us and keep ourselves “from being polluted by the world” (v. 27).
When we look attentively into “the perfect law that gives freedom” and apply it to our lives, we will be blessed in what we do (v. 25). As we look into the mirror of Scripture, we can “humbly accept the word planted in [us]” (v. 21).
Heavenly Father, “open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law” (Psalm 119:18). Help me to order my life according to what You show me in Scripture.
As a mirror reflects our image, the Bible reveals our inner being.
By Lawrence Darmani | See Other Authors

INSIGHT

What’s interesting about James’s definitions of good and bad religion is that they’re not simply opposites. James says bad religion is summarized by not controlling one’s speech (v. 26). Following that, we would expect James to say that good religion has something to do with taming our tongue. Instead, good religion is defined by looking after the helpless and needy and not being influenced by the ways of the world.

DECEMBER 15, 2018 Leading Joyce Meyer Ministries daily devotion

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
— Psalm 23:1-2
In order to reach our goals, you and I must follow God’s leading. People will offer us a lot of advice, and some of it may be good, but some of it may not. Or it may be good advice, but simply not what will work for us.
It’s important that we always look to God first and listen for His guidance and instruction.
God has created us as unique individuals, and He does not lead us all in the same way. So, if you want to win your race, you will need to find your own running style or your own way of doing things.
Of course, we can learn from other people, but we dare not try to copy them at the cost of losing our own individuality. Appreciate the advice and example of others, but follow God’s leading in your life.
Prayer Starter: Lord, I know You have a great plan for my life, and You desire to lead and guide me every step of the way. Help me to seek and follow Your leadership in my life more than anyone or anything else. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Mosaic of Beauty - Our Daily Bread Ministries 15 December

My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Luke 1:46–47
Sitting in the courtyard of the Church of the Visitation in Ein Karem, Israel, I was overwhelmed with the beautiful display of sixty-seven mosaics containing the words of Luke 1:46–55 in as many languages. Traditionally known as the Magnificatfrom the Latin “to magnify,” these verses are Mary’s joyous response to the announcement that she will be the mother of the Messiah.
Each plaque contains Mary’s words, including: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. . . . For the Mighty One has done great things for me” (vv. 46–49). The biblical hymn etched in the tiles is a song of praise as Mary recounts the faithfulness of God to her and the nation of Israel.
A grateful recipient of God’s grace, Mary rejoices in her salvation (v. 47). She acknowledges that God’s mercy has extended to the Israelites for generations (v. 50). Looking back over God’s care for the Israelites, Mary praises God for His powerful acts on behalf of His people (v. 51). She also thanks God, recognizing that her daily provision comes from His hand (v. 53).
Mary shows us that recounting the great things God has done for us is a way to express praise and can lead us to rejoice. This Christmas season, consider God’s goodness as you reflect on the year. In doing so, you may create a mosaic of great beauty with your words of praise.
Father, we praise You for the great things You’ve done in our lives this year. We rejoice in Your mercy and care for us.
Make a list of the ways God has blessed you this year and reflect on it in silence. Then share stories of His goodness with someone.
By Lisa Samra | See Other Authors

INSIGHT

The birth of Jesus was a miracle because the Holy Spirit formed the body of Jesus in the womb of a young virgin girl. That this information comes to us from Luke is significant, because Luke was a doctor (Colossians 4:14) and understood the audacity of the claims of Jesus’s virgin conception and birth. But Luke first tells of another miraculous conception that predated Jesus by six months—that of John the Baptist (Luke 1:24–26). By human standards, his parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, were too old to have a baby (vv. 7, 18). But in both the birth of Jesus and John the Baptist we see the working of God for whom nothing is impossible (v. 37 nasb).
For more, see Mary and Joseph: Reflecting on the Wonder of Christmas at discoveryseries.org/hp074.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

DECEMBER 14, 2018 Practice Common Courtesy - Joyce Meyer Ministries daily devotion


…[Love] is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly.…
— 1 Corinthians 13:5 (AMPC)
Being courteous is a way to show kindness and respect for others. One way to be courteous is to always say “please” and “thank you.” These are two forms of common courtesy that I encourage you to practice.
I want to especially encourage you to be courteous at home with your family. I am trying to remember to always say “please” when I ask Dave to do something for me, and “thank you” when he has done it.
It is very important that we don’t take our loved ones for granted. Having good manners in public should be an overflow of what we normally do at home behind closed doors.
Love is not rude, according to 1 Corinthians 13:5. Rudeness usually results from selfishness, and one way to fight it is to use good manners at all times. Our society is filled with rudeness, harshness, and crudeness, but this does not display the character of God.
Jesus said He is “not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing” (Matthew 11:30 AMPC), and we need to follow His example.
We certainly need to make a point of being thankful and expressing our gratitude. In several places, the Bible makes the point that we are to be thankful and say so. We may think we are thankful, grateful people, but what is in the heart does come out of our mouths (see Matthew 12:34). If we are indeed appreciative, expressing thanks should come naturally for us.
Prayer Starter: Lord, help me today to show courtesy—kindness and respect—with everyone around me. I don’t want to be selfish or rude. Please continue to change me and make me more like Jesus. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Heaven’s Love Song - Our Daily Bread Ministries daily devotion 14 December

We love him because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19
In 1936, songwriter Billy Hill released a popular hit song titled “The Glory of Love.” Before long a nation was singing about the joy of doing even little things out of love for one another. Fifty years later, lyricist Peter Cetera wrote a more romantic song with a similar title. He imagined two people living forever, knowing together they did it all—for the glory of love.
Revelation, the last book in the Bible, describes a new love song that will someday lift the voices of everyone in heaven and earth (Revelation 5:9, 13). The music begins, however, in a minor key of mourning. John, our narrator, cries, seeing no answer to all that has gone wrong with the world (vv. 3–4). But his mood brightens and the music builds to a crescendo (vv. 12–13) as John learns the real glory and story of love. Soon he hears all creation praising the powerful Lion-King of Judah (v. 5), who has won the hearts of His subjects by lovingly sacrificing Himself, like a Lamb, for our rescue (v. 13).
In the most moving lyrics ever sung, we see why even simple acts of kindness rise on the wings of a song. The glory we sing about reflects the heart of our God. We sing about Him because He gave us our song. 
Father, please help us to see that even the smallest acts of love and kindness can remind us of Your love for us.
In what ways can you thank God today through simple acts of kindness?
By Mart DeHaan | See Other Authors

INSIGHT

A repeated word in today’s passage is worthy (vv. 2, 4, 9, 12), which is used to describe Jesus. But what does worthy mean? While a dictionary definition is helpful, the passage itself defines it. First, Jesus is worthy because He has triumphed (v. 5) and can therefore open the scroll and break the seals. But John goes on to describe how He has triumphed. Jesus is worthy because He has triumphed by being slain and purchasing people with His blood (v. 9).

DECEMBER 13, 2018 Desire Unity - Joyce Meyer Ministries daily devotion

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!
— Psalm 133:1

Bickering between God’s people is nothing new. It was a problem in the early church, just as it is now.
Paul strongly encouraged and urged the Church toward unity and wrote in Philippians 2:2 (AMPC): Fill up and complete my joy by living in harmony and being of the same mind and one in purpose, having the same love, being in full accord and of one harmonious mind and intention.
Where there’s unity, there’s blessing and anointing. When people are thankful for each other and choose to live in unity, they will experience the power of agreement.
But the power of God can’t work in our lives if we stay bitter and angry toward people. His love can’t flow through us if we’re holding on to strife and resentment. Peace equals power, and no peace equals no power.
Prayer Starter: I thank You today, Father, for the power we can experience when we decide to come together in unity. Today, I choose to put aside strife and arguments in order to pursue peace and unity. I am grateful that You will help me do this in Your strength. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

DECEMBER 16, 2018 Why the Storms? - Joyce Meyer Ministries daily devotion

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation — Psalm ...