AF Daily Devotional | Brainwashed

AN AMAZING FACT:  On February 4, 1974, 19-year-old Patricia Hearst was kidnapped from her Berkeley, California, apartment by a violent urban guerrilla group called the Symbionese Liberation Army, or the SLA. Efforts were made to swap Hearst for jailed SLA members, but when that failed, the SLA asked that Patricia’s family give $70 worth of food to every needy person in California. Patricia Hearst comes from a very wealthy family. She is the granddaughter of the publishing giant William Randolph Hearst and great-granddaughter of millionaire George Hearst.

After her father immediately gave $6 million worth of food to needy people in the Bay Area, the SLA still refused to release Patricia (since the food was supposedly of a poor quality). Then on April 3, 1974, Patricia Hearst announced on an audiotape that she had joined the SLA and took on the name “Tania.” Can you imagine her father’s shock and heartache when, after two months in captivity and giving out $6 million dollars, she decided to stay with her captors?

She later assisted the SLA in a bank robbery and was captured with other SLA members. During her trial she was interviewed by psychologists who believe she was brainwashed and exhibited classic symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome. Patricia was still found guilty and sentenced to 35 years’ imprisonment. Her sentence was later commuted
to seven years and later commuted again by President Jimmy Carter. On February 1, 1979, she was released and later given a full pardon by President Bill Clinton.

While being held, her kidnappers brainwashed her into thinking she was better off with them. Can you imagine how our heavenly Father must feel when we neglect to accept the freedom of eternal life and mansions He is offering us? Especially after sending his only son Jesus as the ransom to die for our sins?

“How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit?” (Hebrews 2:3, 4).

KEY BIBLE TEXTS

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 
- 2 Timothy 1:7

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AF Daily Devotional |Eating Like A Bird

AN AMAZING FACT:  You have probably heard the expression before: “he [or she] eats like a bird.” Well, you might think again before using this phrase to describe a petite eater. A study of bird eating habits has exploded the popular idea that all birds have tiny appetites. For example, it showed the average parakeet eats nearly 100 times its own weight annually in seed, cuttlebone, gravel, and water.

Because the parakeet weighs only about 3 ounces, this means that it consumes about eight pounds of food a year. To eat at the same rate, a man would have to devour some 16,000 pounds of food annually instead of his normal consumption of 1,300 pounds. Daily “bird rations” for a man would consist of about 45 pounds of food. An average hummingbird eats half its weight in sugar each day. Just imagine if a 100-pound woman ate 50 pounds of sugar a day. (On second thought … let’s not imagine that.)

Of course, there are always those exceptions of people who, at times, can even eat more than a bird. Take, for example, the famous athlete Milo of Crotona, a giant of a man who lived in ancient Greece. Milo was a top wrestler, crowned six times at the Olympic Games for wrestling, and was famous throughout the civilized world for his feats of strength—such as carrying an ox on his shoulders through the stadium at Olympia. This powerful man seemed always hungry, and devoured everything in sight. Once, when he was unusually hungry, he outdid himself and captured the world’s record for big eating. Milo managed to polish off a whole calf weighing 150 pounds in one day.

Unfortunately, modern medical research indicates more and more people are eating like birds. Harmful high-fat and high-calorie diets reign in most households. But Scripture tells us the “drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty …” (Proverbs 23:21), and gives this caution: “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in
you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19). Ultimately, we are responsible to God for the way we treat our bodies. “Eating like a bird” is something we should all try to avoid!

KEY BIBLE TEXTS

Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. 
- 1 Corinthians 6:13

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AF Daily Devotional |The Godfather of Fitness

 

AN AMAZING FACT:  As a child and teenager, Jack experienced very poor health. Addicted to sugar and junk food, his volatile moods would frequently swing between suicide and homicide. The murderous behavior was usually directed towards his older brother, who he once nearly killed with an ax, and another time with a big butcher knife. Jack described himself as short and skinny with pimples. He was constantly bullied by the other kids at school.

When he was 15, Jack’s mother, a Bible Christian, insisted he come with her to hear a nutritionist, Paul Bragg, speak on diet, health, and exercise. At the conclusion of his talk Mr. Bragg did backflips across the platform to punctuate his lecture. It was a life-changing experience. Jack instantly gave up junk food and began to focus on altering his diet and
exercise habits. The transformation was so complete by the time Jack graduated high school he was offered several sports scholarships. Jack passed up a future in sports, instead dedicating the next 80 years to teaching others how to care for their bodies.

Thousands today speak of Jack LaLanne as “The Godfather of Fitness.” Jack LaLanne firmly supported a vegetarian diet and blamed overly processed foods for many health problems. LaLanne always practiced what he preached, working out two hours a day. To promote healthful living in 1984, he fought strong winds and currents as he swam
1.5 miles while towing 70 boats with 70 people across the Long Beach Harbor. And he did this when he was 70 years old and while handcuffed and shackled! Jack’s motto was “Be happy you are alive! Get up in the morning and say, ‘Thank God I’m here again.’”

Some people think the Bible is just a spiritual book, but you would be surprised to see how much it says about practical health. David wrote, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:14). With proper self-discipline and maintenance these biological temples can provide 80-plus years of service, but if we neglect proper care of our bodies, happiness will elude us.

KEY BIBLE TEXTS

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. 
- Psalms 139:14

 

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AF Daily Devotional | Big Givers

 

AN AMAZING FACT:  What do Herb Alpert, Mel Gibson, and Jami Gertz have in common, besides being famous celebrities? According to “The Giving Back Fund,” a non-profit organization that tracks philanthropic giving worldwide, Jami Gertz and her husband, Anthony Ressler, topped the list by giving $10,569,002 to the Ressler-Gertz Foundation. Herb Alpert donated $9.1 million to the Herb Alpert Foundation, which focuses on the arts, compassion, and well being. And Mel Gibson signed a check for $6.8 million to help a foundation support the Holy Family Church.

Of course, most celebrities want their names associated with good causes. It’s great PR. The more good they do for others, the more the public will appreciate them. Many accuse celebrities of promoting themselves this way, but it’s also true that charities use celebrities to promote their work as well. So is this a virtuous cycle or a vicious cycle?
After Christopher Reeve became paralyzed, his collaboration with the American Paralysis Association caused its revenue in the next three years double to $5 million. In fact, they changed their association’s name to the Christopher Reeve Foundation.

Some of the others who made the top 30 list of celebrities contributing to non-profit organizations also include George Lucas (director, producer, writer), Nora Roberts (writer), Ndamukong Suh (NFL player), Lance Berkman and his wife, Cara (MLB player), Meryl Streep and her husband Donald Gummer (actress), and Jerry Seinfeld (comedian). Not all donations are what you might consider worthy causes. Hugh Hefner made the list for donating $900,000 to a trust for public land to save the iconic Hollywood sign from being plowed under in order to make room for four luxury homes!

Jesus said, “But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly” (Matthew 6:3, 4). The purpose of giving big gifts is not to lift up ourselves, but to touch people’s lives. Someday, God will publish a philanthropic list of people who gave much. That’s the list I want to make!

KEY BIBLE TEXTS

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. 
- Matthew 6:1

 

 

 

 

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AF Daily Devotional |Space Tourist

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AN AMAZING FACT:  Who would spend $20 million for a one-week vacation? Sixty-year-old Dennis Tito did with no regrets. In fact, you could say his vacation was literally “out of this world” after he became the first private citizen to visit the International Space Station. Dennis started his career as a space scientist, designing flight paths in the 1960s for three historic Mars missions. He then worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena for five years. He left to set up a private finance company, Wilshire Associates, where he made his fortune. But Dennis never lost his love for the heavens.

 

On April 28, 2001, after years of negotiations and red tape, Dennis Tito was chauffeured by two cosmonauts in their Soyuz TM-32 spacecraft to the International Space Station. Tito spent 7 days, 22 hours, 4 minutes in space and orbited Earth 128 times, making him the first private citizen to purchase a trip into space. (I wonder if he booked his
vacation on the Orbitz website?) Some reports say Tito paid $20 million for his trip, becoming the world’s first space tourist. While in space Dennis performed several scientific experiments that he said would be useful for his company and business. Dennis was sorry his vacation could only last a week. Since Tito’s historic vacation in space he has testified before several government agencies in the U.S. on “Commercial Human Spaceflight.”

Did you know the Bible teaches it is now possible for you to book a journey through space that will last for eons? The good news is that the travel arrangements are already paid in full. In speaking of the assurance of the return of Christ to take us to heaven, Paul writes, “Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee” (2 Corinthians 5:5).

There is a ticket for the ultimate spaceflight to heaven. It has been paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ. It can be yours if you will accept it.

 

KEY BIBLE TEXTS

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:17

 

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AF Daily Devotional |Saved by Shipwreck

AN AMAZING FACT:  Unsinkable Violet Jessop experienced and survived an almost unbelievable array of events. Violet was born in 1887 to Irish parents who had immigrated to Argentina. In 1903 she sailed to England and fell in love with the sea. At 21, Violet became a stewardess for the White Star Lines, which was building a trio of the world’s largest luxury ocean liners. The three sister ships were Olympic, Britannic, and Titanic. Violet first served on the Olympic, which she loved. But in 1911 the ship violently collided with the British warship HMS Hawke. Considering the damage, it was a miracle neither vessel sank.

 

The following year she joined the crew on the newest ship, Titanic. Violet was asleep when Titanic hit the iceberg. On deck, she saw passengers calmly strolling about. But soon women clung to their husbands as the crew tried to force them into lifeboats with their children. At this point, a ship’s officer handed Violet a misplaced baby and ordered her into boat 16 to show other women it was safe. From the water she witnessed all the terrors of the Titanic sinking. After being rescued by the ship Carpathia, the baby was reunited with its mother.

During the First World War, Violet served in 1916 as a nurse with the British Red Cross. Incredibly, she was aboard the Britannic, which had been converted into a hospital ship, when it struck a mine and sank in the Aegean Sea. Violet grabbed her toothbrush before rushing from her cabin; it was the one thing she remembered missing most following the sinking of the Titanic. As Britannic was quickly going down, she was forced to jump. “I leapt into the water but was sucked under the ship’s keel which struck my head.” She attributed her survival to her thick auburn hair that padded the blow. At the war’s end, Violet rejoined the White Star Line and again served aboard the Olympic. This Christian woman survived 42 years at sea, three historic shipwrecks, and two world wars. Violet retired to gardening in Suffolk, England, where she lived till age 84.

The Bible also speaks of someone who experienced three shipwrecks—the apostle Paul. Both Paul and Violet miraculously survived their ordeals, due to the grace of God. Have you put your life safely into God’s hands today?

 

KEY BIBLE TEXTS

Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
- 2 Corinthians 11:24-25

 

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AF Daily Devotional |Amazing Bamboo

AN AMAZING FACT:  Did you know a member of the grass family is considered to be the fastest-growing plant in the world? It is a member of the true grass family known as Poaceae (po-se-i), also known as Bambuseae. Better known as bamboo, these tall stalks are actually the largest members of the grass family. In the warmer climates of Asia they are capable of growing as much as 39 inches per day! How would you like to keep that grass mowed? Bamboo grows so fast that, if you stand in one of these bamboo forests on a sunny day, you can actually hear the plants growing. Some plants grow 98 feet tall.

 

Bamboo has economic and cultural significance to South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asia. There are around 1,500 different species of bamboo in the world that come in several different colors—such as black, green, gold, gray, red, yellow, and powder blue. The bamboo plant is also extremely versatile with an extraordinary range of uses, and can be made into many things like baskets, bicycle frames, bird cages, blinds, boats, bridges, brushes, buckets, canoes, carts, charcoal, chopsticks, clothing, cooking utensils, diapers, fans, fences, firewood, fishing rods, food steamers, furniture, garden tools, handicrafts, hats, incense, musical instruments, paper, particle board, pens, pipes, roofing, scaffold, tableware, toilets, toothpicks, toys, umbrellas, and walking sticks! In fact, during WWII in the South Pacific, the U.S. Navy even used bamboo to reinforce concrete. That is pretty incredible when you remember that bamboo is just gigantic grass.

When the apostle Peter compared mankind with the Bible, he used grass as an illustration. “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever” (1 Peter 1:24, 25). The glory of man’s accomplishments fades into insignificance when compared with God’s glory. Our corruptible works will someday disappear, but the incorruptible fruit of God’s Word will grow and last for eternity. That’s a lot longer than the lifetime of bamboo.

 

KEY BIBLE TEXTS

For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
- 1 Peter 1:24

 

 

 

 

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AF Daily Devotional |Water From A Rock

AN AMAZING FACT:  In the spring of 1921, a small group of British soldiers patrolling the Sinai Peninsula became completely lost in a terrible sandstorm. Wandering in the blistering desert, they soon ran out of water. Facing death from thirst, they decided to dig in the sand, hoping to create a well. As this effort proved fruitless, one of the men suddenly remembered the passage in the Bible where Moses struck the desert rock, and God brought forth water for the children of Israel. He reminded his companions they were in the same Sinai Desert and pointed to a rock outcropping nearby. Why not, he asked, try to find water just as Moses had done? The men were desperate enough to try anything, so they went to the rock and started to swing at the ledge with a small pick. Then, as they frantically struck out, a miracle occurred—a dribble of clear, sweet water came out of the face of the rock. The rock was actually soft limestone, and part of it covered a hidden spring. This steady trickle of water kept the men alive until they were rescued.

 

Have you ever wondered if God still answers prayer today like He did in the Bible? Countless times, modern men and women of faith have testified that He does! But the best part is that we don’t need to rely on the testimonies of others. God is delighted when we try it out for ourselves. Like a good parent, God loves giving “good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11). The first step is learning to abide in Christ: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7). As we abide in Christ, our hearts are changed, and often, our prayers are changed too. When we’re in Christ, “all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

 

KEY BIBLE TEXTS

And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
- John 14:13-14

 

 

 

 

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AF Daily Devotional |Diamonds

AN AMAZING FACT:  Diamonds are the hardest natural material known to mankind. Their hardness has been legendary since antiquity and is the reason for its name coming from the ancient Greek word adamas for “invincible.” Approximately 130 million carats are mined annually, with a value of nearly $9 billion. About 220,000 pounds of manmade diamonds are synthesized every year. Diamond formation requires exposure of carbon materials to very high pressure. Diamonds can also form in other natural events. For example, very small diamonds, known as microdiamonds, have been found in craters caused by a meteorite impact.

 

The biggest earthly diamond is the 530-carat Star of Africa, one of the British crown jewels. That was, at least until August 28, 2007, when a diamond mine in South Africa announced it found a diamond believed to be twice the size of the former record holder. The uncut diamond is expected to sell for up to $30 million. But it still may not be the biggest.
Some astronomers believe they have actually found the biggest known diamond in the universe up in the sky directly above Australia. According to American astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, a white dwarf star in the constellation of Centaurus, next to the Southern Cross, has been found to have a 2,000-mile-wide solid core of crystallized carbon, or in other words, a diamond. It weighs 2.27 thousand trillion trillion tons—that’s 10 billion trillion trillion carats, or a one followed by 34 zeroes. “It’s the mother of all diamonds,” said astronomer Travis Metcalfe, who led the team of researchers that studied the star.

God loves jewels and will decorate the New Jerusalem with many precious stones that surpass anything we’ve ever seen on Earth. When we think of the Lord’s creation in the heavens, it doesn’t seem impossible that every gate in the city of God is highly unique. “The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass” (Revelation 21:21). I look forward to walking on that street someday.

 

KEY BIBLE TEXTS

And the LORD their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people: for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land.
- Zechariah 9:16

 

 

 

 

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AF Daily Devotional |Bananas

AN AMAZING FACT:  Bananas are a fruity miracle. They are colorful, nutritious, not to mention the amusing shape is easy to hold, peel, and eat. Bananas also contain three natural sugars—sucrose, fructose, and glucose—combined with a healthy dose of fiber. When a hungry person eats a banana they receive an almost instant and sustained boost of vigor. Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. This is why bananas are the favorite fruit of Olympic athletes. In fact, compared to an apple, a banana has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrate, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of most affordable fruits around. So maybe it’s time to change that well-known proverb to “A banana a day keeps the doctor away!”

 

Studies have shown that bananas can also help overcome or prevent a substantial array of illnesses and conditions ranging from depression, heartburn, and anemia, to stroke and morning sickness. Around the world different parts of the banana plant are used for clothing, paper, and tableware, and the skin of the banana is used to heal everything from insect bites to warts. Indeed, the banana appears almost perfectly designed for human consumption and distribution. It is difficult to conceive of a more practical blueprint for the ideal fruit.

Have you noticed the banana has no seeds? Amazingly the banana is a mutant; it is the result of the cross pollination of two almost inedible Asian fruits. The banana is a freakish genetic amalgamation; one that has survived through the centuries due to the sustained intervention of diligent humans. These fragile fruits can only be cloned from suckering
shoots and cuttings taken from the underground stem of existing plants. Over time, Arab traders carried the new wonder fruit to Africa, and Spanish conquistadors brought them to the Americas.

So if you have ever pictured Adam and Eve savoring bananas in the Garden of Eden you better think again. Bananas only happen through man participating with God’s creation. This is also true regarding the fruit of the Spirit. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). I wonder what types of fruit will be on the tree of life in heaven.

 

KEY BIBLE TEXTS

In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
- Revelation 22:2

 

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