In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Power of Consistency

 

Daniel 6

We live in a noncommittal world, where perseverance is all too rare. If a job is difficult or boring, people often think, Why not find another one? Or when a marriage becomes unhappy, many wonder, Should I be with someone else?

Sadly, this mindset is also found among believers. At the first sign of conflict, some Christians hop to another church instead of working through difficulties with their local body of believers. And when it comes to our personal walk of faith, many of us struggle to maintain a consistent quiet time with the Lord.

Daniel was a man of steadfast loyalty. Not even the awareness that he could be killed interfered with his practice of praying three times a day. Such commitment to the Lord was noted by others. Jealous officers and governors used Daniel’s consistency to trap him, but the king made a remarkable statement: “Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you” (Dan. 6:16). Apparently, he believed Daniel’s devotion would be the key to the young man’s deliverance

Daniel’s victory in the lion’s den led to great influence, as it inspired the king’s decree to worship the Lord. Have you considered that the Lord was able to use him because of his unwavering obedience and worship? Imagine what God can do with you when you also commit yourself to Him.

Bible in One Year: Numbers 28-30

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Remember to Sing

 

Bible in a Year:

How good it is to sing praises to our God.

Psalm 147:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 147:1–7

Nancy Gustafson, a retired opera singer, was devastated when she visited her mother and observed her decline from dementia. Her mom no longer recognized her and barely spoke. After several monthly visits, Nancy had an idea. She started singing to her. Her mother’s eyes lit up at the musical sounds, and she began singing too—for twenty minutes! Then Nancy’s mom laughed, joking they were “The Gustafson Family Singers!” The dramatic turnaround suggested the power of music, as some therapists conclude, to evoke lost memories. Singing “old favorites” has also been shown to boost mood, reduce falls, lessen visits to the emergency room, and decrease the need for sedative drugs.

More research is underway on a music-memory link. Yet, as the Bible reveals, the joy that comes from singing is a gift from God—and it’s real. “How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!” (Psalm 147:1).

Throughout the Scriptures, in fact, God’s people are urged to lift their voices in songs of praise to Him. “Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things” (Isaiah 12:5). “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him” (Psalm 40:3). Our singing inspires us but also those who hear it. May we all remember: our God is great and worthy of praise.

By:  Patricia Raybon

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Reflect & Pray

What role does singing play in your life? How can you make more time for singing songs of praise with those who are experiencing memory problems?

 

 

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Grace to You; John MacArthur – A Prayer for Godliness

 

“This I pray” (Phil. 1:9).

Your prayers reveal the level of your spiritual maturity.

As we come to our study of godliness in Philippians 1:9-11, we note that this passage is a prayer. Typically, Paul’s prayers reflected his concern that his readers would mature spiritually. That is impossible without prayer because spiritual growth depends on the Holy Spirit’s power, which is tapped through prayer.

Prayer is so vital that Jesus instructed His disciples to pray at all times (Luke 18:1). Paul commands us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Peter said we should be “of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer” (1 Pet. 4:7).

Scripture gives many other commands to pray, but the true test of your spirituality is your compulsion to pray, not simply your obedience to commands. As a Christian you exist in a spiritual realm in which prayer is as natural as breathing is in the natural realm. Just as atmospheric pressure exerts force on your lungs, compelling you to breathe, so your spiritual environment compels you to pray. Resisting either brings devastating results.

The more you see life through God’s eyes, the more you are driven to pray. In that sense your prayers reveal the level of your spiritual maturity. Paul prayed with urgency day and night because he shared God’s love for His people and His concern for their spiritual maturity.

Examine your own prayers. Do you pray from a sense of duty or are you compelled to pray? Do you pray infrequently or briefly? Do your prayers center on your own needs or the needs of others? Do you pray for the spiritual maturity of others? Those important questions indicate the level of your spiritual maturity and give guidelines for making any needed changes in your pattern of prayer.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the privilege and power of prayer.
  • If you have neglected prayer or if your prayers have been centered on yourself rather than others, confess your sin and ask God to give you a sense of holy urgency in praying as you should.
  • Is there someone for whom you should be praying more consistently?

For Further Study

Read Daniel 6:1-28.

  • What was Daniel’s pattern of prayer?
  • What accusation did the political leaders bring against Daniel?
  • What was the king’s attitude toward Daniel?

How did God honor Daniel’s faith?

 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Receive God’s Gifts

 

If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.

— Isaiah 1:19 (AMPC)

What good is it to have a glass of water if we won’t drink it? Our thirst won’t be quenched until we do. Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let them come to Me and drink!” (see John 7:37). He said that if we have any kind of need, we are to ask Him for what we want, and then receive it. The good things of God are available to those who simply surrender themselves to Him and accept His blessings and mercy.

People often beg God for forgiveness but forget to say, “I receive that forgiveness right now; I believe I am forgiven.” Mercy is a free gift. You can’t earn it, you can’t deserve it, and you can’t buy it. The only thing you can do is receive it. Just humble yourself, accept God’s forgiveness, and move forward knowing that you’re made right with Him, and He loves you.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You so much for making Your mercy, forgiveness and grace freely available to me. Please help me not to panic, but to remember and intentionally receive Your blessings today. Thank You, Jesus! In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Why Do I Face Trials?

 

Let me know why you contend against me.

 Job 10:2

Perhaps, weary soul, the Lord is doing this to develop your graces. There are some of your graces that would never be discovered if it were not for your trials. Do you not know that your faith never looks as good in summer as it does in winter? Love is too often like a glowworm, showing but little light unless it is surrounded by darkness.

Hope itself is like a star—not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity. Afflictions are often the black foils in which God sets the jewels of His children’s graces, to make them shine brighter. It was only a little while ago that on your knees you were saying, “Lord, I fear I have no faith. Let me know that I have faith.” Were you not really, though perhaps unconsciously, praying for trials? For how can you know that you have faith until your faith is exercised? Depend upon it—God often sends us trials so that our graces may be discovered and that we may be convinced of their existence. Besides, it is not merely discovery; real growth in grace is the result of sanctified trials.

God often takes away our comforts and our privileges in order to make us better Christians. He trains His soldiers not in tents of ease and luxury, but by turning them out and subjecting them to forced marches and hard service. He makes them ford through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains, and walk many long miles with heavy backpacks of sorrow. Well, Christian, may this not account for the troubles through which you are passing? Is the Lord bringing out your graces and making them grow? Is it for this reason He contends with you?

Trials make the promise sweet;
Trials give new life to prayer;
Trials bring me to His feet,
Lay me low, and keep me there.

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

 

 

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Our Stronghold

 

Psalm 144:1-2 “Blessed be the LORD my strength… my goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust.”

God is a stronghold for us when Satan tempts us to sin.

There is a place in Israel near the Dead Sea called Masada. It looks like a mountain with a flat, square top. Masada was once a huge getaway palace for Herod the Great. In the first century after the time of Christ, Jewish people used it as a fortress. Men, women, and children lived there for three years, hiding from the Romans who had attacked and destroyed their cities. “The Romans cannot get to us here,” they thought. “We are safe in Masada.”

But they were not safe. The Roman army built a siege ramp all the way up the side of the mountain. Day after day, the Jews saw the Romans working on the ramp, and they knew that they had only a little time.

When the Romans finally stormed up the siege ramp to take the fortress, they found all of the Jewish people dead. The Jews had decided to kill themselves rather than lose their freedom. Their Masada had not protected them after all.

The word Masada comes from a Hebrew word that is often translated “fortress,” “defence,” or “stronghold.” This word is often used in the Psalms to describe God. God is a stronghold for us as believers. Because we belong to God, we have an enemy, Satan, who is the enemy of God. Satan would like us to turn away from God and live in sin, doubt, and defeat.

But when Satan and his forces attack our minds and hearts, God is a safe fortress for us to hide in. When we believe His Word and depend on His help to obey it, He will keep us from sin. God is stronger than Masada. He will never fail or be taken by the enemy. Satan can never defeat us when we make God our stronghold. God is a stronghold for us when Satan tempts us to sin.

Am I abiding in God as my stronghold?

Denison Forum – Rush Limbaugh and writing in a winter storm: How perspective can strengthen our faith and embolden our witness

 

Rush Limbaugh died yesterday at the age of seventy. He is being remembered today in ways that align fully with his political and cultural influence. Whether you considered him a vital voice for freedom or a danger to our liberties depended entirely on your perspective. To some he was a hero; to others, a threat.

What no one can question is that he used his influence to advance his vision for our country.

I saw the news of his passing while navigating the power outages that are afflicting the entire state of Texas. My wife and I had three hours of electricity yesterday and have no idea how much power we’ll have today.

I think things are hard until I check the news and find that so many people are dealing with much worse.

Some in our state have had no power since Sunday. Pipes are bursting all over our area, driving people from their homes and apartments. Water shortages are requiring many to boil water; some have no water at all and are using snow.

And the death toll from the storms and outages continues to climb. At least seventeen have died so far, including a grandmother and three children who died in a house fire trying to keep warm in a town near Houston.

I say all of that to say this: perspective changes suffering.

 

How to “run with endurance” 

Evangelicals in the US are frustrated with the rise of censorship against biblical morality; some ministries worry about the loss of their tax-exempt status and government intrusion into religious freedom. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, most Americans expect evangelicals to lose influence under the Biden administration.

My friends in Cuba would not understand our complaints as they face prison or worse for their faith. The underground church pastors I met in Beijing would agree, as would Christian converts in the Muslim world who face horrific persecution for following Jesus.

On the one hand, perspective does not change circumstances. Learning of the intense suffering of others in my state does not make the power stay on in my house. Social media platforms and other media are still censoring evangelicals; many are still facing ostracism and worse for their biblical convictions.

On the other hand, perspective changes how we respond to our circumstances. The writer of Hebrews called us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). To encourage us, he stated: “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted” (v. 3).

When we remember all it cost Jesus to secure our salvation, we are empowered to pay any price to serve him in gratitude for such grace. When we remember the courage of other believers around the world, we are emboldened to stand for our Lord where we live.

A surprising fact I learned in Cuba 

Perspective serves a second purpose: it clarifies our priorities.

During my first visit to Cuba many years ago, I told a pastor that I was praying for persecution to lessen against his people. He asked me to stop. Seeing the surprise on my face, he explained that persecution was purifying the faith of his people. It was separating true believers from those who were not authentic Christians and strengthening their resolve in serving Jesus.

Tertullian was right: the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.

The world’s fastest-growing evangelical movement is not in the US or Europe but in Iran. Despite government oppression, interest in Christianity is escalating. One teacher says his Bible study has seen online attendance grow from forty to more than six hundred. His church has planted twenty-five other Christian groups in twelve cities.

Since the Communist government expelled Christian missionaries from China in 1953, the church there has exploded in growth. The government’s current oppression of Christians is not working: Protestant Christianity is the fastest-growing faith in the country.

There are more Christians in China than in France or Germany. Some estimate that by 2030, there will be more Christians in China than in the US or any other country on earth.

The winter storms in Texas remind us of our finitude and God’s omnipotence. Despite all our technological sophistication and energy resources, our infrastructure has been no match for nature.

The coronavirus pandemic shows us that our medical advances cannot prevent mortality. The economic recession caused by the pandemic shows us that our financial resources cannot prevent financial loss.

When we allow suffering to show us how much we need God, our Father redeems our pain and emboldens our faith.

 

You are “the Beloved from all eternity” 

What challenges are you facing today? You may not be battling a winter storm and its effects, but you are dealing with something you wish were different. Jesus was bluntly transparent when he told his followers, “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33a). But then he promised us: “But take heart; I have overcome the world” (v. 33b).

Now we have a choice. Difficulties can make us bitter or better. When we are suffering, we can blame our doctor, or we can seek her help. Pain can drive us away from God or closer to him.

Here was Paul’s choice: “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3–5).

Henri Nouwen advised us: “You have to keep unmasking the world about you for what it is: manipulative, controlling, power-hungry, and, in the long run, destructive. The world tells you many lies about who you are, and you simply have to be realistic enough to remind yourself of this. Every time you feel hurt, offended, or rejected, you have to dare to say to yourself: ‘These feelings, strong as they may be, are not telling me the truth about myself. The truth, even though I cannot feel it right now, is that I am the chosen child of God, precious in God’s eyes, called the Beloved from all eternity, and held safe in an everlasting embrace.’”

When we live in the truth that we are God’s Beloved, others will want the faith we display. God will use our courage to draw many to Jesus. And we will one day hear our Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).

Will you ask Jesus for the strength to trust his promises and the courage to share them today?

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –Doused with the Love of God

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

“The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5). Note the preposition of. The Holy Spirit pours the love of God into our hearts, not love for God. God hands a bucket of love to the Spirit and instructs, “Douse their hearts.”

 

There are moments when the Spirit enchants us with sweet rhapsody. You belong to the Father. Signed, sealed, and soon-to-be delivered. Been a while since you heard him whisper words of assurance? Then tell him. He’s listening to you, and he’s speaking for you. Romans 8:26 says, “The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness” Weak bodies, weak wills, weakened resolves. Whether we are feeble of the soul or body or both, how good to know it’s not up to us. Verse 26 of Romans 8 says, “The Spirit himself is pleading for us.”