In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – God’s Will and Prayer

Nehemiah 1

Certain aspects of God are beyond our full understanding, and one of them is how He uses our prayers to work out His will. Although He is the sovereign, omnipotent, all-knowing God who needs no one’s help, He has chosen to allow us to participate in the achievement of His divine plans through our prayers. 

Nehemiah was moved to pray after hearing about the hardships of the Jews who’d returned to Jerusalem following Babylonian captivity. At the time, he was doing his job as the cupbearer to the King of Persia. But the Lord quickly answered Nehemiah’s prayer by paving the way and providing the resources that would allow him to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem.

Although we may not see answers as dramatic and obvious when we pray, the Lord still wants us to present our needs and believe that He’ll respond in a way that furthers His will for our life. There will be times when we can’t perceive any change, but that doesn’t mean God is not working everything for our good. And remember, even when we don’t pray as we should, the Holy Spirit helps our weakness by interceding for us according to God’s will (Rom. 8:26-28).

Bible in One Year: 1 Samuel 19-21

Our Daily Bread — Got Your Nose

Bible in a Year:

I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt.

Exodus 12:12

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Exodus 12:12–19

“Why are the statues’ noses broken?” That’s the number one question visitors ask Edward Bleiberg, curator of Egyptian art at the Brooklyn Museum.

Bleiberg can’t blame it on normal wear and tear; even two-dimensional painted figures are missing noses. He surmises that such destruction must have been intentional. Enemies meant to kill Egypt’s gods. It’s as if they were playing a game of “got your nose” with them. Invading armies broke off the noses of these idols so they couldn’t breathe.

Really? That’s all it took? With gods like these, Pharaoh should have known he was in trouble. Yes, he had an army and the allegiance of a whole nation. The Hebrews were weary slaves led by a timid fugitive named Moses. But Israel had the living God, and Pharaoh’s gods were pretenders. Ten plagues later, their imaginary lives were snuffed out.

Israel celebrated their victory with the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when they ate bread without yeast for a week (Exodus 12:1713:7–9). Yeast symbolizes sin, and God wanted His people to remember their rescued lives belong entirely to Him.

Our Father says to idols, “Got your nose,” and to His children, “Got your life.” Serve the God who gives you breath, and rest in His loving arms.

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

What false god is suffocating your life? How might you show God you’re trusting only in Him?

Father of life, I give You my life. Help me recognize that any perceived “enemies” in my life are nothing compared to Your power.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – God-Centered Teamwork

“He who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow-workers” (1 Corinthians 3:8-9).

Humble teamwork in ministry gives God all the glory and promotes humility.

Paul’s agricultural illustration of planting and watering makes it clear that the ministry works best in a team concept and that all credit for results must go to God. Paul (the one planting) and Apollos (the one watering) had done their God-appointed work faithfully and well, but they had to wait on the Lord for whatever was accomplished.

Paul mentions just two kinds of ministry in today’s passage: planting the seed of the gospel by evangelism and watering it by further teaching. However, the apostle’s point applies to every kind of ministry you might engage in. You might be tempted to think that your ministry is glamorous or significant and that everything revolves around your efforts. Or you could be envious of another believer who has a more public ministry than you. But all God’s work is important, and Paul is reminding us that whatever work He has called us to is the most important ministry we can have.

First Corinthians 3 also reminds us that all believers who minister are one in the Body of Christ. If you recognize and accept this fact, it is a sure guarantee that humility will be present as you serve God. Humility simply leaves no place for fleshly competitiveness or selfish jealousy toward other Christians.

God will be certain to recognize your individual, faithful work—“according to [your] own labor”—in His day of rewards. But Jesus also taught His disciples and us the parable of the laborers in the vineyard (Matt. 20:1-16) to keep our perspectives balanced regarding the corporate nature of ministry in God’s kingdom. None of us should look with pride at our own service and see ourselves as deserving more reward than someone who worked less time or in a less prominent position. It is not our ministry, any more than it was Paul’s or Apollos’s. It is God’s, and all the glory goes to Him, not us.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that God would give you a greater sense of humble gratitude for whatever type of ministry opportunity you have.

For Further Study

Compare Matthew 19:27-30 with 20:1-16.

  • Why could the disciples have been tempted to feel superior?
  • What does the landowner’s behavior in the parable suggest about the character of God?

Joyce Meyer – Anointed to Bring Deliverance

 The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me, because He has anointed Me [the Anointed one, the Messiah] to preach the good news (the Gospel) to the poor; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity], to proclaim the accepted and acceptable year of the Lord [the day when salvation and the free favors of God profusely abound].

— Luke 4:18-19 (AMPC)

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

Did you know Jesus’ first public appearance recorded in Luke’s gospel was in His hometown’s synagogue in Nazareth? When the leader handed Him the scroll of Isaiah, Jesus read the words you see in today’s verse. What the people there didn’t understand yet was that what He was reading to them was describing Himself: “The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me . . . to announce release to the captives” (v. 18). Isn’t that what Jesus did then? Isn’t that what Jesus does now? He said God had anointed Him specifically for that task. If that’s true—and I don’t doubt it for a second—do I honor Jesus by remaining a captive? Do I honor Him by believing that I can never overcome my past? Because Jesus received the anointing to deliver me, there’s only two possible results: He sets me free or He doesn’t.

This is what happens on the battlefield of the mind, as I’ve pointed out again and again—the enemy and Jesus are both always speaking to you. Your deliverance (and mine) depends on which voice we listen to. If we listen to Jesus and believe Him, He says that deliverance is not only possible, but it becomes our reality. If God anointed Jesus for that purpose, it means God empowered Him to open prison doors and set captives free. You and I can’t be set free until we start to believe it’s possible. If you believe that God loves you, wants only the best for you, and has a perfect plan for your life, how can you doubt?

Even if you’ve had a terrible, heartbreaking and abusive past, as I did, please know that so many others are walking through this with you, and that healing and freedom are possible for you. Even one of the most broken people in the Bible—a man who was possessed by multiple demons, living in a graveyard and far beyond human help—was completely restored and set free when he met Jesus (see Mark 5:1-20). Jesus did that because that’s what the Lord does—He sets prisoners free, and He’ll set you free.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for anointing Jesus to set me free. Please forgive me for the times I’ve listened to the enemy’s voice that makes me feel like I’m beyond help. You are the Deliverer. Thank You for delivering me from everything that holds me back from fully serving You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Jesus Our Counselor

He poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors.

 Isaiah 53:12

Why did Jesus cause Himself to be enrolled among sinners? This wonderful condescension was justified by many powerful reasons. By doing so He could better become their advocate. In some trials there is an identification of the counselor with the client, nor can they be looked upon in the eye of the law as separate from each other. Now, when the sinner is brought to the bench, Jesus appears there Himself. He stands to answer the accusation. He points to His side, His hands, His feet, and challenges Justice to bring anything against the sinners whom He represents. He pleads His blood, and pleads so triumphantly, being numbered with them and having a part with them, that the Judge proclaims, “Let them go, deliver them from the pit, for He has provided a ransom.”

Our Lord Jesus was numbered with the transgressors in order that they might feel their hearts drawn toward Him. Who can be afraid of one whose name appears on the same list with us? Surely we may come boldly to Him and confess our guilt. He who is numbered with us cannot condemn us. Was He not entered in the transgressor’s list that we might be written in the red roll of the saints? He was holy and written among the holy; we were guilty and numbered among the guilty. He transfers His name from that list to this dark indictment, and our names are taken from the indictment and written in the roll of acceptance, for there is a complete transfer made between Jesus and His people.

All our condition of misery and sin Jesus has taken; and all that Jesus has comes to us. His righteousness, His blood, and everything that He has He gives us as our dowry. Rejoice, believer, in your union to Him who was numbered among the transgressors; and prove that you are truly saved by being clearly identified with those who are new creatures in Him.

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – We Cannot Hide From God

 “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 23:24)

There is no place we can go to hide from God.

When God told Jonah to go to Ninevah, Jonah disobeyed and “rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” He boarded a ship headed for Tarshish, but God saw him even there. You probably know the rest of the story. God sent a mighty storm. Knowing that the storm was meant for him, Jonah told the sailors to throw him overboard. He was swallowed by a huge fish, and was carried in the fish’s stomach for three days. He repented of his sin, prayed to God, and God answered his prayers, causing the fish to spit Jonah out onto the land.

God sees our disobedience.

Sometimes when we do wrong, we try to hide it from our friends, our parents, and even God. But it doesn’t work. God sees us no matter where we go. He always knows what we are doing and what we are thinking. Jonah couldn’t leave God’s presence by going to Tarshish. God is everywhere.

God also sees our troubles.

Sometimes when we are hurting, we think no one else understands; but God always does. When you feel lonely, you aren’t really alone. You can pray to God and ask him for help no matter where you are. There is no place you can go that he won’t hear you. Jonah prayed to God from the belly of the fish, and God answered his prayers.

The next time you want to disobey, and you think no one is around, remember that God is. He can always see you. And the next time you feel lonely, or think there is trouble in your life that no one else understands, ask for God’s help.

The Bible teaches that there is nowhere we can go that the Lord is not there. That means we can never hide from Him, but it also means He is always there when we need Him. Call on Him. No matter where you are or what kind of trouble you are in, He can always hear you.

God is already everywhere we could go. We cannot escape from His presence, and we can count on Him to be close by at all times.

My Response:
» Have I been forgetting that God is omnipresent (everywhere at once)?
» How should remembering that God is everywhere keep me from doing wicked things?
» How should remembering that God is everywhere keep me from worry or fear?

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Denison Forum – A stranded megaship and censored Christians: Three ways to engage our critics with redemptive truth

What ship is longer than the Eiffel Tower’s height and, when loaded, weighs more than twenty-two Eiffel Towers? 

A week ago, most of us would have had no idea. Today, you likely know the answer: the Ever Given, the massive vessel that ran aground in the Suez Canal last Tuesday.

In the days since, according to the Wall Street Journal, over three hundred and sixty vessels waited to pass through the canal. Since 13 percent of all maritime trade and 10 percent of seaborne oil shipments transit through the canal, this has been a global problem. Yesterday, salvage teams were finally able to free and refloat the megaship, allowing traffic to resume. 

As they worked over the last week, if you had been standing on the banks of the canal, you would probably have felt impotent in your own strength to solve such a massive problem. 

That’s the way many of us feel about the culture we are called to engage with the gospel today. 

Satan-themed sneakers and rising censorship 

The rapper Lil Nas X has been making headlines with his Satan-themed sneakers. Christian cakemaker Jack Philipps is back in court, this time facing a lawsuit from a transgender lawyer who requested a gender-transition cake. 

Meanwhile, an article in the Wall Street Journal reports that religious groups and figures have been silenced by tech companies at the rate of about one a week. The writer states: “It seems likely that religious groups and individuals will face mounting threats from tech companies. Their views on marriage, sexuality, life and other moral issues are unpopular among the Silicon Valley set.” 

However, he concludes: “Religious groups should refuse to silence themselves, change their views, or otherwise back down. Censorship is a symptom of a national collapse in civic culture. Curing the deeper disease will take all the courage and conviction we can muster.” 

Where do we find such “courage and conviction”? 

“When they heard it, they marveled” 

Today is Tuesday of Holy Week. On this day, Jesus faced his critics in a daylong series of debates (cf. Matthew 21–23). Perhaps their most famous exchange came when his opponents asked our Lord, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” (Matthew 22:17). This was a very hot cultural button in the day. 

The taxes to which they referred were the poll-tax or “census” tax paid by all males over the age of fourteen and all females over the age of twelve. It was paid directly to the Roman emperor. And it required the use of a coin which was despised by the Jewish people. 

This was the “denarius,” a silver coin minted by the emperor himself. It was the only Roman coin that claimed divine status for the Caesar. One side pictured the head of Emperor Tiberius with the Latin inscription, “Tiberius Caesar son of the divine Augustus.” The other side pictured Pax, the Roman goddess of peace, with the Latin inscription “high priest.” 

This coin was idolatrous in the extreme. The tax it paid led to a Jewish revolt in AD 6 that established the Zealot movement. This movement eventually resulted in the destruction of the temple and the Jewish nation in AD 70. In Jesus’ day, the Zealots were growing in power and influence. 

As a result, Jesus’ critics were challenging him to take a position on the most inflammatory issue of the time. If he said it was right to pay this tax, the Jewish public would turn from him and his movement would end. If he said it was wrong to pay the tax, he would be considered a traitor to Rome and the authorities would arrest and execute him. Either way, the hands of his enemies would be clean and yet they would be rid of their enemy. Or so they thought. 

You know Jesus’ timeless response. He asked for “the coin for the tax” (v. 19) and then asked, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” (v. 20). They said that it was Caesar’s. Jesus replied, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (v. 21). With this response: “When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away” (v. 22). 

Three lessons on Holy Tuesday  

How can this Holy Tuesday exchange guide us in responding to those who oppose our faith? Let’s consider three principles. 

One: Engage our critics. 

In the face of such vociferous opposition, Jesus could have retreated to the safety of Galilee or deferred on this controversial subject. Instead, he spoke directly to the question at hand, refusing to keep the salt of God’s word in the saltshaker or his light under a basket (Matthew 5:13–16). Like him, we are called to respond to those who reject our Lord, knowing that the greater their opposition to the truth, the more they need the truth. For more, please see my newest video below, “Caring for a culture that rejects the gospel.”

Two: Use reason to defend revelation. 

Jesus was wiser than the wisest man who ever lived (Matthew 12:42). Now “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16) and are indwelt by the Spirit who “will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). By submitting to the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) and loving God with our minds (Matthew 22:37) through excellent scholarship (cf. Luke 1:3) and continued study (cf. 2 Timothy 4:13), we can stay “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). I plan to say more on this subject tomorrow. 

Three: Stay faithful whatever the outcome. 

Jesus’ critics were defeated on this occasion, but they were undeterred. On Maundy Thursday, they arranged for Jesus’ arrest and illegal trial. On Good Friday, they incited the crowds to turn against him, leading to his torture and murder. 

But the writer Susan Coolidge was right: “Earth’s saddest day and gladdest day were just three days apart!” Because of Easter, Paul could testify, “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). 

Can you say the same today?

Upwords; Max Lucado –The Dwelling Place of God

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Do-it-yourself Christianity isn’t much encouragement to the done-in and worn-out. “Try a little harder” is little encouragement for the abused. At some point we need more than good advice; we need help. Somewhere on this journey we realize that the fifty-fifty proposition is too little. We need help from the inside out. The kind of help Jesus promised. “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it does not see him or know him. But know him, because he lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17).

Note the dwelling place of God: in you. Not near us, above us. But in us. In the hidden recesses of our beings dwells not an angel, not a philosophy, not a genie, but God. Imagine that.