In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – When Human Strength Fails

2 Samuel 11

In 1 Corinthians 10:13, Paul says that God provides us an escape route whenever we are tempted. But what happens when we refuse to take the help and instead implement our own ideas? Eventually, our human strength fails, and we give in to temptation. So it was with King David. He’d experienced the Lord’s rescue countless times, but he still allowed temptation to fill his mind and dictate his actions. And it came with consequences.

In today’s passage, we see that David took some time off and stayed at the palace, which probably appeared harmless enough—one of the perks of being king. And requesting Bathsheba’s presence must have seemed like a pathway to pleasure. But these choices led to the murder of Bathsheba’s husband and set in motion a cover-up. Ultimately, the Lord demanded an accounting.

Like David, we may consider the company we keep, places we go, and choices we make as relatively harmless. But later, after we’ve succumbed to temptation, we’re filled with regret.

Fortunately, that is not the end of the story for the king or for us. David’s heartfelt repentance was accepted by God, and if we confess, ours will be, too (1 John 1:9). Ask the Lord today for discernment to recognize the temptations in front of you and the strength to take His way of escape.

Bible in One Year: 1 Samuel 10-12

Our Daily Bread — Slum Songs

Bible in a Year:

They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads.

Isaiah 35:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Isaiah 35

Cateura is a small slum in Paraguay, South America. Desperately poor, its villagers survive by recycling items from its rubbish dump. But from these unpromising conditions something beautiful has emerged—an orchestra.

With a violin costing more than a house in Cateura, the orchestra had to get creative, crafting its own instruments from their garbage supply. Violins are made from oil cans with bent forks as tailpieces. Saxophones have come from drainpipes with bottle tops for keys. Cellos are made from tin drums with gnocchi rollers for tuning pegs. Hearing Mozart played on these contraptions is a beautiful thing. The orchestra has gone on tour in many countries, lifting the sights of its young members.

Violins from landfills. Music from slums. That’s symbolic of what God does. For when the prophet Isaiah envisions God’s new creation, a similar picture of beauty-from-poverty emerges, with barren lands bursting into blooming flowers (Isaiah 35:1–2), deserts flowing with streams (vv. 6–7), castaway war tools crafted into garden instruments (2:4), and impoverished people becoming whole to the sounds of joyful songs (35:5–6, 10).

“The world sends us garbage,” Cateura’s orchestra director says. “We send back music.” And as they do, they give the world a glimpse of the future, when God will wipe away the tears of every eye and poverty will be no more.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

How have you seen God turn the “garbage” of your life into something beautiful? How might He wish to bring “music” out of your pain?

Holy Spirit, turn the poverty in my life into something beautiful.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Enemies of Humility: The Power Play

“Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Him with her sons, bowing down, and making a request of Him. And He said to her, ‘What do you wish?’ She said to Him, ‘Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left’” (Matthew 20:2-21).

Use of the power play in our personal dealings is incompatible with scriptural humility.

One of the most common tactics people use to get ahead is to draw upon the influence of family and friends. Even professing believers have not hesitated to “play politics” to get what they want. I know of a pastor some years ago who said that for his denomination’s annual meeting he always booked a hotel room near the top leaders’ rooms. He wanted to cultivate their friendships in hopes of receiving consideration for pastorates in larger churches.

Incredibly, today’s passage has two of Jesus’ closest disciples, James and John, coming with their mother to Jesus to ask a huge, unprecedented favor— that each brother be seated next to Him in His kingdom. It was even more amazing that this brazen, self-serving request came right after Christ predicted His imminent persecution and death. It’s as though James and John each let Jesus’ sobering words go in one ear and out the other. That’s because they were so preoccupied with their own interests and plans.

The three probably were trying to exploit their family relationship with Jesus. By comparing John 19:25 with parallel passages, we know that the disciples’ mother (Salome) was a sister of Mary, Jesus’ mother. That would make James and John His first cousins and their mother His aunt.

So the three undoubtedly were relying on their kinship to Jesus as they made their selfish request for greater power and prestige within His kingdom. Obviously, they still had not grasped Christ’s earlier promise from the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the gentle [meek, humble], for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). But such sublime teaching ought to be enough to convince us that the truly humble don’t need power plays to achieve greatness. They already have it in Christ.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord for the many privileges you already enjoy as His child.

For Further Study

Read Matthew 23.

  • What was Jesus’ general attitude toward the Pharisees’ motives and actions?
  • List some specific characteristics you ought to avoid.

Joyce Meyer – Don’t Be a Know-It-All

 As for God, His way is perfect! The word of the Lord is tested and tried; He is a shield to all those who take refuge and put their trust in Him.

— Psalm 18:30 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Hearing from God Each Morning – by Joyce Meyer

Hearing and reading the truth in God’s written Word helps keep us stable through the storms of life. It never changes or wavers in its intent for us, and the message of God’s love never changes. Even if His Word doesn’t speak specifically to the details of our situation, it always speaks accurately of God’s heart and character, and reassures us that He’ll always take care of us and make a way for us. That alone makes it worth studying!

The Word teaches that our knowledge in this life is fragmented, incomplete, and imperfect. According to 1 Corinthians 13:9, we know only “in part” (NKJV). This tells me there will never be a time in our lives when we can honestly say, “I know everything I need to know.” Go to God in humility and be hungry to learn from His Word. Ask Him daily to teach you what you should do in each situation you’re facing, and receive the Holy Spirit as your Teacher. When you do, He will lead you into all truth, revealing things to you that you could never figure out on your own (see John 16:13). I’ve decided to be a lifetime learner and student of God’s Word, and I strongly encourage you to do the same—you won’t regret it!

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for the gift of Your Word. Today I invite You, Holy Spirit, to teach me, to reveal truth to me, and to open my eyes more and more to the beauty of who Jesus is. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Let Them Go

Jesus answered . . . ‘So, if you seek me, let these men go.’

 John 18:8

Mark, my soul, the care that Jesus displayed even in His hour of trial toward his precious sheep! The ruling passion is strong in death. He resigns Himself to the enemy, but He interposes a word of power to set His disciples free. As to Himself, like a sheep before her shearers He is dumb and opens not His mouth, but for His disciples’ sake He speaks with almighty energy. Herein is love—constant, self-forgetting, faithful love. But is there not far more here than is immediately apparent? Do we not have the very soul and spirit of the atonement in these words?

The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep and pleads that they must therefore go free. The Surety is bound, and justice demands that those for whom He stands as substitute should go free. In the middle of Egypt’s bondage, the voice rang out with power, “Let these men go.” Out of slavery of sin and Satan the redeemed must come. In every cell of the dungeons of Despair, the sound is echoed, “Let these men go,” and out come Despondency and Fearful. Satan hears the well-known voice and lifts his foot from the neck of the fallen; and Death hears it, and the grave opens her gates to let the dead arise. These men go the way of progress, holiness, triumph, glory, and none shall dare to keep them from it. No lion shall hinder their progress, and no fierce opponent shall prevent them.

The Lord Jesus has drawn the cruel hunters upon Himself, making the most timid of His followers to discover perfect peace in His unbounded love. The thundercloud has burst over the cross of Calvary, and the pilgrims of Zion shall never be smitten by the bolts of vengeance.

Come, my heart, rejoice in the immunity that your Redeemer has secured for you, and bless His name all day and every day.

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Wants Us To Bind Ourselves To Him

 “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” (Psalm 27:14)

Have you ever seen a vine twisted tightly around a tree? I recently saw a big vine as I was in the woods enjoying a picnic. When I first looked at the big tree, it was difficult to tell the vine from the tree itself. But as I looked more closely, I began to see the outline of a vine that had grown higher and higher by wrapping itself tightly around the tree and growing up as the tree grew up. I went over and tried to rip the vine away from the tree, but it was no use. The vine had twisted around and bound itself into the strong trunk of the tree. That vine was not going anywhere, except where the tree was going!

The word “wait” in Psalm 27:14 has the idea of binding together by twisting. God wants us to wrap our hearts and minds around Him through His truth – just like a vine wraps itself tightly around the giant tree. God is like the firm, unmovable tree that grows high. We should be like the vine that grabs hold of God so tightly that we only go and grow in the direction He wants us going and growing!

God has given us His Word so that we might think and believe right thoughts about Him. Because of God’s grace, we can wrap ourselves tightly around God through His Word. When we think and believe rightly about God, and therefore trust Him, we wait on the LORD like it says in Psalm 27:14.

Just like Jacob refused to let the angel of the Lord go (Genesis 32:26), we should refuse to let go of any truth that God has taught us from His Word. We should never let go of the truths that God is a holy God and angered by any sin. We should never let go of the truths that God is loving, kind, and forgiving. If we let these truths go, then we would be like a vine unraveling itself from its tree. A vine that does not cling tightly to a tree will fall to the ground and begin to die.

The more tightly we wrap ourselves around God, the more strength He gives. The vine is not strong, but the tree is! When the vine embeds itself into the tree, the vine is safe, it climbs high, and it shares in the great strength of the tree. Christ invites us to do all things through Him, and He will give the strength we need. Are you clinging to Him today?

We should greatly desire to attach our hearts and minds to God through His Word.

My Response:
» Am I clinging to God through His Word, or am I loosening my grip?
» What are some Bible truths about God that I can wrap my heart and mind around today?

Read in browser »

Denison Forum – One-armed player dominates basketball tournament: Courageous service that changes the world

March Madness, otherwise known as the NCAA basketball playoffs, continues to dominate sports headlines. Meanwhile, another basketball story deserves our attention today.

Hansel Emmanuel plays for Life Christian Academy in Kissimmee, Florida. Over a recent weekend tournament, the sixteen-year-old averaged twenty-five points and eleven rebounds per game. He can dunk and otherwise dominate a game. 

He also has only one arm, having lost his left arm when a wall accidentally fell on him at the age of six. 

Fireball meteor creates a sonic boom 

Living in a fallen world requires courage. For instance, a rare daytime fireball meteor created a massive sonic boom over the UK last weekend; it may have landed in the sea since there were no reports of a meteorite on land. But since several thousand fireball meteors burn through our atmosphere every day, one may be falling near you—or on you

In addition to acts of nature, acts of humans can be horrendous, as with the suspected gunman in the Boulder supermarket shooting who made his first court appearance yesterday. A lawyer told the court that the suspect has an unspecified mental illness; prosecutors vow to file more charges against him. The day before, several memorials were held for Officer Eric Talley, the hero who responded to the shooting on Monday and was killed. 

Acts in the present can lead to the need for courage in the future. For example, Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin signed their historic peace agreement on this day in 1979, a commitment for which Mr. Sadat was assassinated three years later by Muslim extremists. 

Speaking of Egyptians, security forces in Cairo killed seven suspected militants this week. A police officer died and three others were wounded; the suspected terrorist cell was reportedly plotting attacks against the country’s Coptic Christians to coincide with their Easter celebration. 

Meanwhile, a Jewish high school baseball player is being profiled in the New York Times not only for his talent (he is a star pitcher and switch hitter) but for his dedication to the Shabbat (the Sabbath). He will not play games between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday, a commitment that may cost him in the future but one which he refuses to change. 

Evangelicals classified as “extremists” 

Courage is especially vital for those who follow Jesus in our post-Christian (some would say anti-Christian) culture.

A Marine Corps officer warned Congress this week against classifying Christians in the military as “religious extremists.” Mike Berry, who is also general counsel for the First Liberty Institute, noted that a US Army Reserve training presentation on religious extremism lists al-Qaeda, Hamas, and the Ku Klux Klan as “groups that use or advocate violence to accomplish their objectives and are therefore rightly classified as extremists.”

However, Berry added that evangelical Christianity and Catholicism were also included in the presentation as “extremists.” He stated, “The Pentagon cannot possibly believe that because Evangelical Christians and Catholics hold fast to millennia-old views on marriage and human sexuality, they should be labeled as ‘extremists’ and deemed unfit to serve.”

And Jack Phillips is back in the news. The Colorado baker who won a partial victory at the Supreme Court three years ago for refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple went on trial Monday in yet another lawsuit. This one involves a “birthday” cake for a transgender woman. 

“Antibodies to the virus of indifference” 

Courage has always been at the heart of Christian discipleship. 

When the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would be the mother of God’s Son, she replied, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). She would risk her marriage, her future, and perhaps even her life to obey God’s call. And the world would forever be changed by her courageous service. (For more, please see the video I recorded yesterday: “How to have the power of God to fulfill the purpose of God,” embedded below.) 

Service often requires such courage, but it always makes a difference that transcends its cost. 

In Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future, Pope Francis responds to the coronavirus pandemic by applauding healthcare workers who died fighting the disease: “They did not prefer saving their own lives to saving others’. So many of the nurses, doctors, and caregivers paid that price of love, as did priests and religious and ordinary people whose vocation is service. We return their love by grieving for them and honoring them. 

“Whether or not they were conscious of it, their choice testified to a belief: that it is better to live a shorter life serving others than a longer one resisting that call. That’s why, in many countries, people stood at their windows or on their doorsteps to applaud them in gratitude and awe. They are the saints next door who have awoken something important in our hearts, making credible once more what we desire to instill by our preaching. 

“They are the antibodies to the virus of indifference. They remind us that our lives are a gift and we grow by giving of ourselves: not preserving ourselves but losing ourselves in service. 

“What a sign of contradiction to the individualism and self-obsession and lack of solidarity that so dominate our wealthier societies! Could these caregivers, sadly gone from us now, be showing us the way we must now rebuild?” 

When faith comes at a cost 

Are you paying a price to follow Jesus in our fallen world? If not, why not? 

We don’t need to encourage persecution, of course, but we should not be surprised when it comes. Jesus told us, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matthew 5:11). Notice that he said when, not if

When our faith comes at a cost, we can ask Jesus for the courage we need to be faithful. We can ask for the strength to love and pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44). We can ask for the compassion to forgive as we have been forgiven (Ephesians 4:32). 

Scottish theologian and minister John Baillie prayed: “As I lean on his cross may I not refuse my own; but rather may I bear it by the strength of his.” 

Will you make his prayer yours today?

Upwords; Max Lucado –God Has Not Left You Adrift

Listen to Today’s Devotion

“Spiritual life comes from the Spirit” (John 3:6). Your parents may have given you genes, but God gives you grace. Your parents may be responsible for your body, but God has taken charge of your soul. You may get your looks from your mother, but you get your eternal life from your Father, your heavenly Father.

God is willing to give you what your family didn’t. Didn’t have a good dad? God will be your Father. The Scripture says, “Through God you are a son; and, if you are a son, then you are certainly an heir” (Galatians 4:7). Didn’t have a good role model? Try God. God has not left you adrift on a sea of heredity. The past does not have to be your prison. You have a say in your life. You have a choice in the path you take. Choose well…choose God.