In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – When We Don’t Understand

 

Job 23

Starting at a very early age, children will repeatedly ask their parents the question Why? And this desire for reasons isn’t something we outgrow. As adults, especially during dark times when we cannot figure out what the Lord is doing, we tend to think, If I could just know whythen it would be easier to bear.

In his extreme suffering, Job experienced pain and frustration at God’s silence. He longed to present his case and hear what the Lord had to say. But when God did not immediately respond, Job nevertheless clung to Him and relied upon what he knew to be true: “He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).

Like Job, we should channel our emotions and responses through the truth of God’s Word. Otherwise, we might be tempted to doubt our Father’s goodness and love, since they aren’t readily visible in times of hardship. But if we trust in what the Scriptures reveal about God’s character and ways, we can endure affliction faithfully, whether or not He ever explains why. After all, God never guaranteed us answers during our time on earth, but He did promise to be with us.

Bible in One Year: Numbers 31-32

 

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — We’re Not God

 

Bible in a Year:

In the pride of your heart you say, “I am a god.”

Ezekiel 28:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ezekiel 28:1–10

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis recommended asking ourselves some questions to find out if we’re proud: “How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, . . . or patronize me, or show off?” Lewis saw pride as a vice of the “utmost evil” and the chief cause of misery in homes and nations. He called it a “spiritual cancer” that eats up the very possibility of love, contentment, and even common sense.

Pride has been a problem throughout the ages. Through the prophet Ezekiel, God warned the leader of the powerful coastal city of Tyre against his pride. He said the king’s pride would result in his downfall: “Because you think you are . . . as wise as a god, I am going to bring foreigners against you” (Ezekiel 28:6–7). Then he would know he wasn’t a god, but a mortal (v. 9).

In contrast to pride is humility, which Lewis named as a virtue we receive through knowing God. Lewis said that as we get in touch with Him, we become “delightedly humble,” feeling relieved to be rid of the silly nonsense about our own dignity that previously made us restless and unhappy.

The more we worship God, the more we’ll know Him and the more we can humble ourselves before Him. May we be those who love and serve with joy and humility.

By:  Amy Boucher Pye

Reflect & Pray

How did you answer Lewis’ questions about whether or not you’re proud? Did that surprise you? Why or why not?

Almighty God, help me to revel in my identity as one You created, knowing You are great and mighty and yet You love me.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Meaning of Grace

 

“‘The Lord, the Lord God, [is] compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth’” (Exodus 34:6).

God’s grace is His undeserved favor shown to sinners.

God’s grace has always been a focus of praise for believers. Today’s verse is quoted several times in the Psalms and elsewhere in Scripture (for example, Neh. 9:17, 31; Ps. 86:15; 103:8; 145:8). Paul is grateful for God’s abundant grace in 1 Timothy 1:14, and John writes, “For of His fulness we have all received, and grace upon grace” (John 1:16). Today some of our favorite hymns are “Amazing Grace,” “Marvelous Grace of Our Loving Lord,” and “Wonderful Grace of Jesus.”

What exactly is grace? It is simply God’s free, undeserved, and unearned favor. It is a gift given by God not because we are worthy of it, but only because God, out of His great love, wants to give it.

Grace is evident to Christians in two main ways. The first is electing, or saving, grace. God “has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (2 Tim. 1:9). “By grace [we] have been saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8). This is God’s grace to sinners, for “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom. 5:20).

Another grace in our lives is enabling, or sustaining, grace. We didn’t just receive grace to be saved; we now live in grace. It is the grace of God that enables us to live the Christian life. When Paul asked that some debilitating “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7) be removed, the Lord told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (v. 9). Paul elsewhere says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

Remember, we have earned neither saving nor sustaining grace. Nothing we can do can make us worthy of one more bit of grace. God says, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious” (Ex. 33:19). This truth should make us all more grateful because He saved us and sustains us despite our sin. It should also make us humble because we have no worthiness to boast about (Eph. 2:9).

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for His grace in saving and sustaining you.

For Further Study

Read Genesis 9:8-19.

  • How did God extend grace to Noah and his family?
  • What was the visible sign or symbol?

 

 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – The Leading of the Holy Spirit

 

. . .Be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs . . .

— Ephesians 5:18-19 (KJV)

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

The Holy Spirit acts somewhat like a traffic signal inside of us. When we do the right things, we get a “green light” from Him, and when we do wrong things, we get a “red light.” If we’re about to get ourselves into trouble, but haven’t fully made a decision to proceed, we get a caution signal, or a “yellow light.”

The more we stop and ask God for directions, the more sensitive we become to the Holy Spirit’s signals in our hearts. Thankfully, He doesn’t scream and yell at us; He simply whispers in a still, small voice (see 1 Kings 19:12) and lets us know what we need to do. Each time we listen and obey, it becomes easier to hear Him the next time. He will always lead us to new levels of life and inner peace if we yield to Him.

I want to challenge you: when the Holy Spirit says something to you today, take action on it. Even if it doesn’t seem to make sense at first, you’ll be glad you did it.

Prayer Starter: Father, when I’m in a situation where I’m not sure whether to move forward or not, please help me hear and follow Your voice. Thank You that You have a clear direction for my life, and that You’re leading me one step at a time into Your plan. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –The Forerunner of Mercy

 

Thus says the Lord God: this also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them.

 Ezekiel 36:37

Prayer is the forerunner of mercy. Turn to sacred history, and you will find that scarcely ever did a great mercy come to this world unheralded by supplication. You have found this true in your own personal experience. God has given you many an unsolicited favor, but still great prayer has always been the prelude of great mercy with you.

When you first found peace through the blood of the cross, you had been praying much and earnestly interceding with God that He would remove your doubts and deliver you from your distresses. Your assurance was the result of prayer. When at any time you have had high and rapturous joys, you have been obliged to look upon them as answers to your prayers. When you have had great deliverances out of sore troubles and mighty help in great dangers, you have been able to say, “I sought the LORD, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”1

Prayer is always the preface to blessing. It goes before the blessing as the blessing’s shadow. When the sunlight of God’s mercies rises upon our necessities, it casts the shadow of prayer far down upon the plain. Or, to use another illustration, when God piles up a hill of mercies, He Himself shines behind them, and He casts on our spirits the shadow of prayer, so that we may rest confident, if we are much in prayer, that our pleadings are the shadows of mercy.

Prayer is thus connected with the blessing to show us the value of it. If we had the blessings without asking for them, we should think them common things; but prayer makes our mercies more precious than diamonds. The things we ask for are precious, but we do not realize their preciousness until we have sought them earnestly.

Prayer makes the darken’d cloud withdraw;
Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw;
Gives exercise to faith and love;
Brings every blessing from above.

1) Psalm 34:4

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

 

 

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – Only God Satisfies

 

 

“O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is…. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips.” (Psalm 63:1, 5)

If you look up Psalm 63 in your Bible, you will probably see this title: “A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.” Have you ever wondered what “the wilderness” was like in Bible times?

One summer, Erika’s family went on vacation to the Holy Land. They spent some time in the wilderness area where David was when he wrote this psalm. Erika’s dad had a water bottle with him, and she was really glad. It was hot, dry, and dusty, and she began to understand what David the psalm-writer must have meant when he described being thirsty and longing for God “in a dry and thirsty land.” She could not see any rivers. There were not many trees or plants. What a barren, lonely desert it was!

Then, the group Erika was with visited the Dead Sea. Water! At last! But it was not the kind of water you could drink. The Dead Sea is saltier than any other ocean in the world. Erika could hardly wait to get back on the bus and grab another water bottle from Dad’s cooler. But when she opened it and reached inside, she saw that they were out of water.

Have you ever been thirsty? Really thirsty? So thirsty that water is all you want, all you can think about? That’s how Erika felt. And that is the kind of feeling David was using to describe his desire for God. He longed for God. He longed to know Him, to see His power and His glory. He knew that God was the only thing that could satisfy the empty, dry feeling deep inside–the thirst in his soul.

When their bus finally stopped at a little shop that day, Erika and her family were willing to pay any price for water. Erika hurried inside the shop and saw that there were two choices in the refrigerator—water and orange pop. Erika made a dumb decision. She looked at the bright orange pop cans and suddenly thought she’d like something sweeter and fizzier than plain old water. That can of orange pop was gone in about twenty minutes. But it didn’t refresh her. When the can was empty, she was still thirsty. Why? Because what she really needed was water.

How often do we reach out for other things to satisfy our souls when God is what we really need? Everything else is like orange pop in a dry and dusty wilderness where no water is. It might look good, but it doesn’t refresh and satisfy us deep down in our souls. Only God can do that.

Only God satisfies the thirst in our souls.

My Response:

» Am I looking for satisfaction in something other than God?

 

Read in browser »

Denison Forum – Churches respond to the weather crisis in Texas: How I learned a transforming lesson about gratitude this week

 

In each of my radio interviews this week, I have been asked about our weather crisis in Texas. People from California to Minnesota to Florida and points in between are following this story. Our winter weather even made the New York Times, and for good reason.

A family in Killeen has been forced to ration oxygen for their premature baby. They had to burn their three-year-old daughter’s wooden blocks in their fireplace for warmth. Most of us have now seen our power restored, but more than thirteen million Texans—almost half our state’s population—do not have access to clean, running water. As of this morning, the extreme weather has been blamed for at least forty deaths in Texas and elsewhere.

But there is good news in the news as well: Dallas churches and other faith groups helped create an emergency warming shelter for the homeless. The Salvation Army and other faith groups are providing meals and other supplies for those in need. Volunteers are helping migrants who are sheltering in the cold. Lakewood Church in Houston is just one of many churches that has opened its doors to serve as emergency shelters.

I will never take electricity and clean water for granted again. Or those who provide such essential services.

Sleeping by our fireplace 

As a result of our power outages, I became interested for the first time in our state’s electricity infrastructure. I learned that Texas utilizes more than 650 power generation facilities connected by more than 46,500 miles of transmission lines to provide electricity for our state. Our power is produced from natural gas, coal, wind, nuclear, solar, hydro, and biomass resources.

Someone had to design and build every one of these facilities, lay every mile of transmission line, and create the means by which we convert natural resources into electricity. People have to operate the infrastructure that delivers this electricity to us, then repair that infrastructure as needed. Workers have been braving dangerously cold conditions this week to restore our power.

Until this week, I confess that I had never considered any of this.

You and I could create a long list of other services we take for granted. Who built and operates the internet or cellular connection you are using to read these words? Who designed and built the electronic device on which you are reading them? How much of your home or office could you build? How much of your food could you produce? How many of your clothes could you make?

Earlier this week, Janet and I were sitting and sleeping near our gas fireplace for warmth. We talked about the days when this was how most people kept warm in the winter. But I admit that I didn’t consider the fact that we have a gas fireplace and gas to power it, a convenience much of the world does not enjoy.

 

“Man in his pomp will not remain” 

One way God redeems suffering is by using it to inspire gratitude for that which suffering threatens.

Our electricity and water crisis in Texas calls us to gratitude for electricity and water. The coronavirus pandemic calls us to gratitude for life and health. The recession calls us to gratitude for the financial resources we still possess. The January 6 attack on the Capitol calls us to gratitude for the democracy it threatened. The growing threats against religious liberty call us to gratitude for the religious freedom we enjoy.

And the finitude of this life calls us to gratitude for the greater life to come.

The psalmist noted: “Even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others. Their graves are their homes forever, their dwelling places to all generations, though they called lands by their own names. Man in his pomp will not remain; he is like the beasts that perish” (Psalm 49:10–12).

By contrast, the psalmist rejoiced to testify, “God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me” (v. 15). If Jesus is your Lord, he will receive you as well (John 14:3).

 

Gratitude for the friendship of God 

Father Stephen Freeman, a priest in the Orthodox Church in America, recently wrote an insightful essay titled “The Last Temptation.” Focusing on Satan’s offer to give Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world” in exchange for his worship (Matthew 4:8–9), he notes that Jesus chose instead to make his Father his King through the suffering of the cross.

Fr. Freeman suggests that Jesus’ temptation is ours. Rather than serving God through the way of suffering, we want God to eliminate all suffering. When he does not, we reject him in anger for what he will not do rather than serving him in gratitude for all he has done.

The season of Lent began last Wednesday. As we travel these weeks on the way to Calvary, my prayer is that we will make this a season of gratitude. Let’s turn the needs we face into gratitude for the blessings we have received (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Let’s turn the temptations of our enemy into gratitude for the strength of our Father (2 Corinthians 12:9). Let’s turn the enmity of the world into gratitude for the friendship of God (James 4:4).

Then, let’s express our gratitude for our Father’s grace by serving him and others at any cost (Romans 12:11 Peter 4:10). Let’s see the price of our obedience as an opportunity to show our Savior the depth of our love.

Fr. Freeman notes, “The Cross always appears to be weakness and foolishness—and thus its followers must be willing to become weak fools.”

How will you be a “weak fool” for Jesus today?

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –The Holy Spirit Speaks for You

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Romans 8:26–27 says, “The Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.”

 

The impoverished orphan of Russia, the distraught widow of the battlefield, the aging saint in the convalescent home. They may think they have no voice, no clout, no influence, but they have a friend. They have a counselor, a comforter—the blessed Spirit of God, who speaks the language of heaven in heaven.

 

None of us pray as much as we should, but all of us pray more than we think because the Holy Spirit turns our sighs into petitions and tears into entreaties. He speaks for you and he protects you. And he makes sure you are heard, he makes sure you get home.

 

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

Home