In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Restoration of Prayer

Psalm 51

There’s something refreshing about a cool shower after a hot, humid day spent working outside. All the filth and sweat is washed away, dirty clothes are replaced with clean ones, and you feel like a new person. Imagine having this kind of experience spiritually every day when you bow in prayer to confess your sins and receive cleansing. The weight of guilt is lifted, and you come away restored to the joy of your salvation. 

Last week, we learned about David and Bathsheba. Psalm 51 is David’s prayer of confession after having sinned against the Lord in connection with Bathsheba. In Psalm 32, which scholars believe also stemmed from this transgression, David speaks of the physical and spiritual turmoil he experienced when he tried to hide his wrongdoing and refused to acknowledge his sin (Psalm 32:3-4). After he finally humbled himself in repentance, the Lord forgave and cleansed him and removed his burden of guilt and shame (Psalm 32:5).

Confession is a privilege and a refreshing spiritual “shower” that renews us in our relationship with the Lord. We come away cleansed of sin, relieved of guilt, renewed in our love and commitment to Christ, and filled with joy and hope.

Bible in One Year: 1 Samuel 17-18

Our Daily Bread — Facing the Battles with God

Bible in a Year:

In the Lord I take refuge.

Psalm 11:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 11

The heroic deeds of US Army soldier Desmond Doss are featured in the 2016 movie Hacksaw Ridge. While Doss’ convictions wouldn’t allow him to take human life, as an army medic he committed himself to preserving life even at the risk of his own. The citation read at Doss’ Medal of Honor ceremony on October 12, 1945, included these words: “Private First Class Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying them one by one to the edge of the escarpment. . . . He unhesitatingly braved enemy shelling and small arms fire to assist an artillery officer.”

In Psalm 11, David’s conviction that his refuge was in God compelled him to resist suggestions to flee rather than face his foes (vv. 2–3). Six simple words comprised his statement of faith: “In the Lord I take refuge” (v. 1). That well-rooted conviction would guide his conduct.

David’s words in verses 4–7 amplified God’s greatness. Yes, life can sometimes be like a battlefield, and hostile fire can send us scattering for cover when we’re bombarded with health challenges or financial, relational, and spiritual stresses. So, what should we do? Acknowledge that God is the king of the universe (v. 4); take delight in His amazing capacity to judge with precision (vv. 5–6); and rest in His delight in what’s right, fair, and equitable (v. 7). We can run swiftly to God for shelter!

By:  Arthur Jackson

Reflect & Pray

When have you experienced life’s hostile fire and been tempted to find shelter in something other than God? Can you recall times when God came to your rescue and your hope in Him was renewed?

Father, help me to see You more clearly than any force that opposes me and run to You for true safety and security.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Servanthood: Humility in Action

“‘Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave’” (Matthew 20:26-27).

In God’s sight, greatness is marked by a humble, servant’s heart.

Bible commentator R.C.H. Lenski once wrote that God’s “great men are not sitting on top of lesser men, but bearing lesser men on their backs.” Jesus would have agreed with Lenski’s observation, but He did not see it as wrong to desire greater usefulness to God. Those standards of usefulness, however, are much more demanding than any worldly ideals for self-serving, domineering leadership. For example, Paul lists for us the high standards God has for church overseers (1 Tim. 3:1-7). God considers men great who are among those willing to be servants.

In Matthew 20:26-27, Jesus was speaking of genuine servanthood, not the “public servant” who merely uses his position to gain power and personal prestige. The original Greek word for “servant” referred to a person who did menial labor and was the lowest level of hired help. Jesus could have used a more noble word to denote obedient discipleship, but He picked this one (from which we get deacon) because it best described the selfless humility of one who served.

But in verse 27, Jesus intensifies His description of God’s way to greatness. He tells us if we want to be great in His kingdom, we must be willing to be slaves. Whereas servants had some personal freedom, slaves were owned by their masters and could go only where their masters allowed and do only what their masters wanted. The application for us as believers is that “whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Rom. 14:8).

If you desire real spiritual greatness, you will be willing to work in the hard place, the lonely place, the place where you’re not appreciated. You’ll be willing to strive for excellence without becoming proud, and to endure suffering without getting into self-pity. It is to these godly attitudes and more that Christ will say, “Well done, good and faithful slave . . . enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:21).

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Lord to help you cultivate a servant’s heart.

For Further Study

  • Read 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and make a list of the qualifications for an overseer (elder).
  • Meditate on the implications of each trait, and write down ways in which humility relates to these leadership qualities.

Joyce Meyer – The Growing Times

…Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, [even] Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

— Ephesians 4:15 (AMPC)

– by Joyce Meyer

When we look back over our lives, we often see that we didn’t grow during the easy times, but we grow significantly during hard times. In the easier times, we’re able to enjoy what we’ve gained during the harder times.

This is really a life principle. You work all week, then you receive your paycheck and enjoy your time off. You exercise, eat right, and take care of yourself, then you enjoy a healthy body. You clean your house, or basement, or garage, and then you enjoy your neat, clean surroundings each time you walk through them. This concept reminds me of Hebrews 12:11 (NIV): No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

To be truly victorious, we need to grow to the place where we’re not afraid of hard times but are actually challenged by them, because God uses them to ultimately prepare us for the good times. I encourage you today to ask God for the grace to appreciate and grow, even in the difficult things you’re facing. When you do, He’ll work in and through you to accomplish it (see Philippians 2:13).

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me today to see how You’re working in my life and give me the grace I need to grow, even in the harder things I’m dealing with. Thank You for promising to be there for me, and for working in me and through me to bring about real maturity. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –He Learned Obedience through What He Suffered

Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.

 Hebrews 5:8

We are told that the Captain of our salvation was made perfect through suffering; therefore we who are sinful and who are far from being perfect must not wonder if we are called to pass through suffering too. Shall the head be crowned with thorns while the other parts of the body enjoy only comfort and ease? Must Christ pass through seas of His own blood to win the crown while we walk to heaven dry-shod in silver slippers? No; our Master’s experience teaches us that suffering is necessary, and the true-born child of God must not, would not, escape it if he could.

But there is one very comforting thought in the fact of Christ’s “being made perfect” through suffering—it is that He can have complete sympathy with us. He is not a high priest who is “unable to sympathize with our weaknesses.”1 In this sympathy of Christ we find a sustaining power. One of the early martyrs said, “I can bear it all, for Jesus suffered, and He suffers in me now; He sympathizes with me, and this makes me strong.” Believer, grasp this thought in every agonizing experience. Let the thought of Jesus strengthen you as you follow in His steps. Find a sweet support in His sympathy; and remember that to suffer is an honorable thing—to suffer for Christ is glory. The apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to do this. Just so far as the Lord shall give us grace to suffer for Christ, to suffer with Christ, just so far does He honor us.

The jewels of a Christian are his afflictions. The regalia of the kings whom God has anointed are their troubles, their sorrows, and their griefs. Let us not, therefore, shun being honored. Let us not turn aside from being exalted. Griefs exalt us, and troubles lift us up. “If we endure, we will also reign with him.”2

1) Hebrews 4:15
2) 2 Timothy 2:12

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Can Turn Evil for Good

“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” (Genesis 50:20)

If you have ever read through Genesis, chapters 38-50 or so, you will probably remember the story of Joseph pretty well. Can you imagine how you might feel if your brothers and sisters decided one day to sell you off to some strangers passing through town? I would guess that there have been times that your brothers or sisters have done some things to you that were not nice. They may have even tried to hurt you in some way, but they have probably never tried to sell you. Joseph’s brothers did. (See Genesis 37:1-28.)

Joseph’s brothers hated him because he was the favorite son of their father Jacob. Joseph’s brothers hated him so much and wanted to get rid of him. They decided to sell Joseph as a slave to slave traders who were passing through on their way to the country of Egypt.

What a terrible thing to do! Or at least it seems terrible! But God is sovereign, which means He is in control of everything. He can take any bad situation and turn it into something good. God had a bigger plan for Joseph and his brothers. God used the evil intentions of Joseph’s brothers to save their family from starving in a famine many years later. Even though Joseph’s brothers wanted to do evil things to Joseph, God used their evil actions to accomplish something good.

God let them do what they wanted to do with Joseph, but He had very good reasons. He was in control the whole time, and He never forgot Joseph. In His Providence, God used evil-hearted men like tools, or like hands and feet, to help Him provide for His people. That does not make the brothers any less wrong for doing what they did, but it does show what a great and good God we have. He can turn even the worst situations around and work good things for His people. (See Genesis 45:1-15.)

Do you have something in your life that seems like it is going to end up really bad? Remember, God can take any bad situation and turn it to good. There is nothing that can stop God from doing what is good. Trust God that He will take your bad situation and change it to what is best for His glory and for your ultimate good.

God is great and good enough to change even the worst trials into what is best for His glory and for His people’s good.

My Response:
» Have I been feeling forsaken (left on my own) by God?
» Do I need to ask God for the faith to believe that He is bigger than my situation, that He cares about what is happening, that He is in control of everything, and that He has not forgotten me?
» How can I encourage other believers who are mistreated or who have been going through really terrible things?

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Denison Forum – Responding to the Oral Roberts University controversy: Two interrelated imperatives all Christians should embrace today

My wife’s parents lived in Arkansas for many years; we think it is a beautiful state. I have visited the campus of Oral Roberts University (ORU) in Tulsa only one time; we drove around and then left. And yet, I really wanted Max Abmas‘ last-second three-point shot to go in Saturday night, as that would have given ORU the win over Arkansas in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and sent them to the Elite Eight tonight. But it was not to be.

My sentiments had nothing to do with athletes on either team but with ORU’s commitment to biblical sexual morality and the enormous criticism the school is facing as a result. 

USA Today writer went so far as to condemn the NCAA for even allowing the team to play in the tournament, complaining about ORU’s “deeply bigoted anti-LGBTQ+ policies” that “can’t and shouldn’t be ignored.” In her view, the school’s policies are “wildly out of line with modern society and the basic values of human decency.” 

Over the weekend, I saw an interview with the university’s president in which he was asked about such criticism. He made the point that ORU simply believes in biblical morality and always has. He added that the school considers such morality to be best for all its students, faculty, and alumni. 

In other words, ORU embraces biblical morality because such morality promotes “the basic values of human decency.” 

“This is a stunning 180” 

To their credit, USA Today later ran a response by Dr. Ed Stetzer, professor and dean at Wheaton College. He describes the “new moral dogma” of our day which “teaches that tolerance must mean agreement, then brands all who disagree as intolerant and harmful. Not satisfied that we respect opposing views on human sexuality, all must affirm homosexuality as acceptable within our own theology. There can no longer be any disagreement, only compliance.” 

He adds: “This is a stunning 180 from the arguments we heard in 2009 when LGBTQ+ advocates maintained, ‘All we want is the right to marry. How will my gay marriage hurt you?’ Now it’s: ‘We want your college accreditation, your athletic participation and more.’ 

“Considering how much those who expressed concern a decade ago were mocked for advancing slippery slope arguments, the rhetoric deployed against ORU . . . suggests these concerns were underemphasized.”

Here’s the irony: as Christianity Today reports, ORU’s “involvement in basketball is part of a much longer story of Christian engagement with the game.” The article notes that James Naismith invented basketball in 1891 at a Christian college: the YMCA International Training School. He described the task of a YMCA physical director: “to win men for the Master through the gym.” 

From then to now, many Christian colleges and universities have developed outstanding basketball programs. In fact, the article notes that ORU is just one of six Christian schools which advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in this year’s tournament. 

A familiar yet stunning story 

My purpose in writing on the ORU controversy is not to vilify those who condemn biblical morality today. Rather, it is to elevate Jesus’ response to his critics on this day in Holy Week as our model. 

The story is familiar yet stunning: “Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, ‘It is written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers.”‘ And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them” (Matthew 21:12–14). 

explained the background of this event in last year’s Holy Monday Daily Article and have noted that “at no point did [Jesus] endanger or harm humans” by his actions. For today, let’s focus on two interrelated imperatives our Lord displayed on this day twenty centuries ago. 

One: Be courageous.

Jesus had already told his disciples that in coming to Jerusalem he was coming to die (cf. Matthew 17:22–23). He knew his actions at the temple would provoke the very authorities who would later arrange his torture and execution. 

A skeptic could argue that his actions would not effect permanent change—the moneychangers could go back to their sinful ways after he returned to heaven. What difference would or could he make? 

But God assures us that his word “shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). The temple would soon be destroyed and its moneychangers dispersed, but we are still discussing Jesus’ courage twenty centuries later.  

Two: Be compassionate. 

Note that shortly after Jesus cleaned the temple, “the blind and the lame” came to him and “he healed them.” His courage paved the way for his compassion. 

What’s more, his courage was an act of compassion. He knew that rebuking the sin of the moneychangers was best for the moneychangers. The doctor who tells the patient he has cancer is delivering difficult but essential news. The attorney who convinces her guilty client to accept his guilt is serving her client. The first step in every Twelve Step program is for the addict to admit their addiction. 

ORU’s president was right: biblical morality is best for all people, LGBTQ individuals included. We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) knowing that love requires speaking the truth and that speaking the truth is an act of love. 

“There are two ways of spreading light” 

Jesus proclaimed, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Novelist Edith Wharton noted that “there are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” 

Jesus is the candle. Will you be his mirror today?

Upwords; Max Lucado –Let Christ Be Kind to You

Listen to Today’s Devotion

There is a correlation between the way you feel about yourself and the way you feel about others. If you are at peace with yourself you will get along with others. The converse is also true. If you don’t like yourself, if you’re ashamed, embarrassed, or angry, other people are going to know it. Unless the cycle is interrupted.

Which takes us to one of the kindest verses in the Bible. Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives” (Matthew 11:28). “Come to me,” the verse reads. Let Christ be kind to you. And as you do, you’ll find it easier to be kind to others.