In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – God Acts on Our Behalf

 

Isaiah 64:1-4

The Lord is a God of action. Even when He rested after six days of creation, it wasn’t because He was tired and needed to recuperate—His creative activity may have stopped, but He never ceased working. And throughout history He has always been intimately involved in individual lives without ever relaxing control over the universe.

Sometimes, however, it may seem He’s unconcerned about us, because our prayers aren’t answered as quickly as we expect. When that happens, we need to remember it doesn’t mean God has stopped working. He is still actively involved in our lives but often in ways that are not always visible. He orchestrates circumstances, changes people’s hearts, and protects His children from making foolish decisions that could have disastrous consequences. Waiting times are opportunities for growth in character, obedience, faith, and service.

By intentionally choosing to trust and depend on God rather than doubt Him, you are cooperating with His process of spiritual growth. He alone knows what you need and when you need it. Be encouraged, knowing that God has planned good things for those who wait (Isa. 64:4). Even if you don’t get specifically what you requested, your Father’s answer will be for your eternal good and His glory.

Bible in One Year: Deuteronomy 28-30

 

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Our Daily Bread — Safe and Still

 

Bible in a Year:

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 91:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 91

As a full-of-energy preschooler, my son Xavier avoided afternoon quiet time. Being still often resulted in an unwanted, though much-needed, nap. So, he’d wiggle in his seat, slide off the sofa, scoot across the hardwood floor, and even roll across the room to evade the quiet. “Mom, I’m hungry . . . I’m thirsty . . . I have to go to the bathroom . . . I want a hug.”

Understanding the benefits of stillness, I’d help Xavier settle down by inviting him to snuggle. Leaning into my side, he’d give in to sleep.

Early in my spiritual life, I mirrored my son’s desire to remain active. Busyness made me feel accepted, important, and in control, while noise distracted me from fretting over my shortcomings and trials. Surrendering to rest only affirmed my frail humanity. So I avoided stillness and silence, doubting God could handle things without my help.

But He’s our refuge, no matter how many troubles or uncertainties surround us. The path ahead may seem long, scary, or overwhelming, but His love envelops us. He hears us, answers us, and stays with us . . . now and forever into eternity (Psalm 91).

We can embrace the quiet and lean into God’s unfailing love and constant presence. We can be still and rest in Him because we’re safe under the shelter of His unchanging faithfulness (v. 4).

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

In what ways have you seen God’s protection in your life? How can you face difficulties knowing that God has you under His wings?

Heavenly Father, thank You for providing a safe haven of unfailing love.

 

 

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Grace to You; John MacArthur – Unlimited Prayer

 

“Men ought always to pray” (Luke 18:1, KJV).

Prayer should never be limited to certain times, places, or circumstances.

As a child I was taught to pray with my head bowed, eyes closed, and hands folded. Even as a young man I thought that was the only acceptable mode of prayer.

In my seminary days I sang in a quartet that traveled to various churches throughout the United States. The first time I traveled with them we had a prayer meeting in the car, and the driver prayed with his eyes open. All of us were glad he did, but I wondered if God really heard his prayer.

I have since learned that praying with my eyes closed is a helpful way to avoid distractions, but it isn’t mandated in Scripture—nor are most of the other limitations people often place on prayer. For example, some people want to limit prayer to a certain posture, but Scripture tells of people praying while standing, sitting, kneeling, looking upward, bowing down, and lifting up their hands.

Some try to limit prayer to certain times of the day, such as morning or evening. But in the Bible people prayed at all times: morning, evening, three times a day, before meals, after meals, at bedtime, at midnight, day and night, in their youth, in their old age, when troubled, and when joyous.

Similarly, Scripture places no limits on the place or circumstances of prayer. It tells of people praying in a cave, in a closet, in a garden, on a mountainside, by a river, by the sea, in the street, in the Temple, in bed, at home, in the stomach of a fish, in battle, on a housetop, in a prison, in the wilderness, and on a cross.

The point is clear: there is no specific correct mode or kind of prayer, and prayer isn’t limited by your location or circumstances. You are to pray always. That includes any kind of prayer, on any subject, and at any time of the day or night.

Suggestions for Prayer

Make a list of your current plans, thoughts, and concerns. Have you made each of them a matter of prayer? Commit yourself to sharing every aspect of your life with God.

For Further Study

Read Psalm 136. Note how the Lord is intimately involved in the lives of His people.

 

 

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Joyce Meyer – Think About What You Are Thinking About

 

Whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].

— Philippians 4:8b (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Battlefield of the Mind – by Joyce Meyer

Some people are very unhappy, and they’ve been that way so long that they no longer realize there is another option. I can well remember being like that. I blamed my unhappiness on the way others behaved, and thought my husband and children caused me the most unhappiness. I thought for sure if they would change and just be a little more sensitive to my needs, I would feel better. If they would help around the house more, volunteer to run errands, or just ask how I was doing, I knew I’d be happy. Of course, I never said anything to them to communicate how I felt. If they were sensitive and caring, I thought, they would be able to see how they could help me and make my life easier.

I did pray about it, and I often told God how much happier I would be if they cooperated more, but they didn’t change.

One day, God spoke to me—but not with the words I wanted to hear. He said, Think about what you are thinking about. I had no idea what God meant. In fact, the words didn’t make sense. How could I think about what I was thinking about?

Then I realized the truth. My mind was constantly racing from one thought to another. That was bad enough, but worse, most of my thoughts centered around myself and my needs. I had thought that if they—the other people in my life—changed, I would be happy. I finally reluctantly admitted that even if they changed, I’d find something else to be upset about. I was just unhappy, and didn’t need any particular reason; it was first one thing and then another.

As I thought about my condition, I thought of Philippians 4:8, where Paul presented a list of the kind of things we need to focus on. If God didn’t want me to think about the things I had been thinking about, I first needed to know what I should think about. I soon realized I had a lot to learn. Although I had been attending church for years, I couldn’t remember anyone ever telling me how important my thoughts were to God and to my quality of life.

If we concentrate our thoughts on good things—the kind of things Paul mentioned in that verse—we will be built up, grow spiritually and become strong in the Lord.

The more I meditated on God’s message, I realized how my thoughts affected my attitude, and how this is true of all of us. God only tells us to do things that are for our good. He wants us to be happy and fulfilled, and the only way to be happy and fulfilled is by doing life God’s way. If we’re full of wrong thoughts, we’re miserable. That’s not only a theory—that’s both spoken from my own experience, and it’s found in God’s Word. I’ve also learned that when we’re miserable, we usually end up making others around us miserable, too.

Since those days, I’ve made it a practice to take a regular inventory of my thoughts—I review the way I think. What have I been thinking about? I ask myself.

I stress this because—as I learned from my own experience—­Satan deceives us into thinking that the source of our misery or pain is other people, or sometimes our circumstances. He tries not to let us face the fact that our own thoughts are often the source of our unhappiness. I would venture to say that it’s practically impossible to be happy while maintaining negative, critical, depressing thoughts.

As we take action by intentionally redirecting our thoughts to the kinds of things God told us to focus on, and by inviting Him to help us, we’ll start to overcome the enemy in the battle for our thoughts (see Romans 12:2; Philippians 2:13).

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Wisdom in War

 

But every one of the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, or his sickle.

 1 Samuel 13:20

We are engaged in a great war with the Philistines of evil. Every weapon within our reach must be used. Preaching, teaching, praying, giving—all must be brought into action, and talents that have been thought too mean for service must now be employed.

These various tools may all be useful in slaying Philistines; rough tools may deal hard blows, and killing need not be elegantly done, so long as it is done effectually. Each moment of time, in season or out of season; each fragment of ability, educated or untutored; each opportunity, favorable or unfavorable, must be used, for our foes are many and our force but slender.

Most of our tools need sharpening; we need quickness of perception, tact, energy, promptness—in a word, complete adaptation—for the Lord’s work. Practical common sense is a very scarce thing among the conductors of Christian enterprises. We might learn from our enemies if we would, and so make the Philistines sharpen our weapons. This morning let us note enough to sharpen our zeal during this day by the aid of the Holy Spirit.

Witness the energy of some, how they travel over sea and land to make one proselyte—are they to monopolize all the earnestness? Consider what tortures some endure in the service of their idols! Are they alone to exhibit patience and self-sacrifice? Observe the prince of darkness, how persevering in his endeavors, how unabashed in his attempts, how daring in his plans, how thoughtful in his plots, how energetic in all!

The devils are united as one man in their infamous rebellion, while we believers in Jesus are divided in our service of God and scarcely ever work with unanimity. O that from Satan’s infernal industry we may learn to go about like good Samaritans, seeking whom we may bless!

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

 

 

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Does Not Fail

 

“I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” (Joshua 1:5b)

In life we make a lot of friends, but most of us have only a few friends who are very close. Statistics and surveys have shown that the average number of close friends per person is only eight. Can you think of eight close friends you have? Your close friends may change as you grow older, too. Have any of your friends ever been mean to you or let you down? We have probably all had friends who have let us down before. It is also probably true that we ourselves have let our friends down! Even our moms and our dads, who love us very much, are not perfect. Even they have let us down before.

What does it mean to fail or to forsake someone? To “fail” means to let someone down, or to respond lazily to someone’s need. To “forsake” means to leave someone, to leave them all alone in time of need.

Did you know that God never lets us down? You might be thinking, “God has too let me down! You don’t know me or the stuff I’ve gone through.” You are right that no human being can really understand what you think and feel. But God does. You might have been born with a physical handicap. Maybe you are not as smart as your classmates or your siblings. You might not be very athletic. Maybe you do not have the musical talents or the good looks that you wish you could have. Maybe you cannot even think of one person who is your friend, nevermind eight.

You know what? In the first chapter of the book of Joshua, God made some promises to Joshua. Joshua was a young man and a pretty new leader. One thing God promised Joshua was that He would not fail him. You can be sure that Joshua really needed the Lord in the many battles he faced as he led the Israelites into the promised land. If God had failed Joshua, some of those battles would not have been won. God kept His promises to Joshua. When Joshua needed God, God did not fail him or forsake him.

God does not respond with laziness when He sees we need His help. When we trust and obey God, we are trusting and obeying the only Person Who has never failed or forsaken anyone who trusted or obeyed Him. God was not messing up when He gave you the life you have now. He was not a failure when He made you with the mind and looks and abilities you have. If you are relying on God and looking to Him for your help, He will never let you down or leave you alone when you need Him most.

The Bible speaks of a kind of friend that sticks closer than a brother. Well, God sticks even closer than that kind of friend! God told Joshua that when it came time for Him to be there, He would be there. You do not have any friend or family member who would be able to make and keep a promise like that! You probably would admit that you could never make that promise truthfully. But God could make and keep a promise like that. He did make and keep His promise for Joshua, and He will for you if you trust Him and obey Him and look to Him for help.

God never fails those who trust Him and obey Him.

My Response:
» Do I forget sometimes that the God of the Bible is faithful and that He can never let down people?
» Do I ever fail my friends and family members? How can I be more faithful like God, when it comes to keeping my word and being there for those I love?
» How can I show in my life that I believe God is trustworthy and that He deserves to be obeyed?

 

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Denison Forum – Canceling Hyatt Regency and Dr. Seuss: A testimony of hope and four practical ways to engage our opponents with grace

 

Let’s start with some good news: the late Alex Trebek’s TV wardrobe was donated to men who are homeless or leaving jail. When an H-E-B grocery store near Austin, Texas, lost power in the recent winter storm and was unable to check out customers, employees let them take their goods home for free. A delivery driver’s vehicle got stuck in a client’s driveway when the storm began, so the couple took her into their home for five days.

Have you seen any of these stories headlined in recent days?

Riots in Portland and “negativity bias” 

In other news, cancel culture has come for a Hyatt Regency hotel in Orlando, Florida. The hotel hosted the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last weekend. Former President Donald Trump spoke, as did a number of other Republican and conservative figures. As a result, critics called online for the hotel to be boycotted.

Cancel culture is also coming for Dr. Seuss on claims of racist stereotypes in his books. A school district in Virginia is just one example. And rioters vandalized several buildings in downtown Portland, Oregon, over the weekend, protesting the Biden administration’s immigration policy and the federal agency Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Unfortunately, such bad news is much easier to find in the news than good news.

“Negativity bias” is the psychological term for our collective hunger to hear and remember bad news. Part of this is schadenfreude, the pleasure we derive from another person’s misfortune. However, studies indicate that we are also conditioned to avoid danger and thus respond more quickly to bad news that threatens us.

This means that we often look for the negative and overlook the positive. As a result, we can make things worse than they are. Our fears become self-fulfilling prophecies and we miss much of the good that surrounds us each day.

 

Hiding from a king in a cave 

Let’s relate this fact to yesterday’s Daily Article, which focused on the importance of supporting religious freedom while speaking the truth in love with LGBTQ persons and their advocates. Toward the close of the article, I stated my plan to suggest specific ways we can do both.

For foundational guidance, we turn to Psalm 57, David’s prayer when he was hiding from King Saul in a wilderness cave (probably 1 Samuel 22:1, but possibly 1 Samuel 24:3). Here we find four principles that apply when we face opposition to our faith. Each of them calls us to focus on the good in the midst of the bad.

One: Trust God’s presence. 

David begins his prayer: “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by” (v. 1). He knows that the Lord is sheltering him in the face of mortal peril, even though he cannot see his “wings” at the time.

Two: Trust God’s purpose. 

David continues: “I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me” (v. 2). Note that it is God, not David, who “fulfills” this purpose. The darkness of the tunnel does not contradict the sovereignty of the engineer driving the train.

Three: Trust God’s power. 

David testifies: “He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me” (v. 3, my emphasis). He knows that the King of the universe is more powerful than the king of Israel.

Four: Trust God’s providence. 

David admits: “My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts” (v. 4). Yet he can pray, “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!” (v. 5). He knows that God knows his challenges and will bring his glory “over all the earth,” including the threat he faces.

 

Four steps to the spring of the Spirit 

With this backdrop, how can we respond redemptively to those who advocate for causes that threaten our religious freedom and attack our beliefs?

In Crisis in America: A Christian Response, Pastor Garland Hunt offers practical wisdom for this moment in our nation’s history. I would summarize his suggestions for facing opposition in four steps:

  • Perception: What is God saying to us through this event?
  • Personal accountability: Is there wrongdoing I must admit and change?
  • Prayer: How can I intercede for those affected and for God to act for their best?
  • Persuasion: What changes are needed? How can I help people make them?

Because God is sovereign in every “cave” of life, we can trust his presence, purpose, power, and providence. We can therefore look for his hand in the challenges we face.

Before we can ask others to change, however, we must ask God what changes we need to make (1 Peter 4:17). Then we can pray for God to work in the minds and hearts of our opponents (Matthew 5:44). Only then can we be effective catalysts for change in our broken culture.

I’ll close with a lesson from the winter storm we recently suffered in Texas. My home in Dallas was blanketed with more snow than I have ever seen in our city. However, when the temperature finally climbed above freezing and the sun came out, the snow began to melt. Not so quickly that you could watch it happen, but slowly over time.

In a day or two, the snow had melted in the sunlight. However, it persisted far longer in the shade.

If we do our job as the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14), we will make an eternal difference in our winter-gripped world. We may not see the spiritual snow melt today, but the spring of the Spirit is coming.

This is the promise and the invitation of God.

 

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Upwords; Max Lucado –The God-Sanctioned Gauge for Love

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

The sight of the healthy or successful prompts us to conclude, God must really love him.  He’s so blessed with health, money, good looks, and skill.  Or we gravitate to the other extreme. Lonely and frail in the hospital bed, we deduce, God does not love me. How could he?  Look at me.

 

Rebuff such thoughts!  Success signals God’s love no more than struggles indicate the lack of it.  The definitive, God-sanctioned gauge is not a good day or a bad break but the dying hours of his Son.  Consider them often. Let the gap between trips to the cross diminish daily.

 

Discover what David Brainerd, the eighteenth-century missionary to American Indians, meant when he said, “My heart was swallowed up in God most of the day.”  Accept this invitation of Jesus from John 15:9, “Abide in My love.”

 

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