In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Listening With Expectation

1 Samuel 3:1-10

What do you expect when you read the Bible? Is it something to cross off your to-do list, or are you expecting to hear from the Lord? Sermons, Sunday school lessons, Bible studies, and personal quiet time in Scripture are all means the Lord uses to strengthen, comfort, and encourage us in our walk with Him. But God’s Word can have influence only on a believer who’s ready to receive and respond to its message.

To get the most out of our time in God’s Word, we first need to prepare our heart. That means We come ready to listen with a prayerful, humble attitude. Today’s passage tells the story of young Samuel’s encounter with God. The priest Eli instructed the boy to say, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9). This is valuable advice for us as well. Before you open your Bible, consider praying those simple words; then ask God to help you understand His message and apply it to your life.

God’s Word is an amazing gift. It comforts the mourner, strengthens the weary, convicts the sinner, gives peace to the repentant, and brings joy to those who read and obey it. Let Him speak into your life today.

Bible in One Year: 2 Samuel 15-17

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Our Daily Bread — Refuge for the Rejected

Bible in a Year:

Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge.

Psalm 57:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Psalm 57

George Whitefield (1714–1770) was one of the most gifted and effective preachers in history, leading thousands to faith in Jesus. But his life wasn’t without controversy. His practice of preaching outdoors (to accommodate large crowds) was sometimes criticized by those who questioned his motives and felt he should speak only within the four walls of a church building. Whitefield’s epitaph sheds light on his response to others’ harsh words: “I am content to wait till the Day of Judgment for the clearing up of my character; and after I am dead, I desire no other epitaph than this, ‘Here lies George Whitefield—what sort of a man he was, the great day will discover.’ ”

In the Old Testament, when David faced harsh criticism from others, he too entrusted himself to God. When Saul falsely accused David of leading a rebellion and he was forced to hide from Saul’s approaching army in a cave, David described being “in the midst of lions,” among “men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords” (Psalm 57:4). But even in that difficult place, he turned to God and found comfort in Him: “For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies” (v. 10).

When others misunderstand or reject us, God is our “refuge” (v. 1). May He be forever praised for His unfailing and merciful love!

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

How does dwelling on God’s mercy help you when you’re discouraged? How can you demonstrate His love to another?

Abba Father, I praise You that I can be accepted by You forever because of Your Son. I take refuge in Your perfect love today.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Taking up the Sword in Vain

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword’” (Matthew 26:52).

It is wrong to violently take justice into our own hands, even to defend or promote the name of Christ.

The Body of Christ does not grow and strengthen itself by physical warfare. Every time it has endeavored to do so, the name and cause of Jesus Christ have been harmed. Such wars as the Crusades in the Holy Land or later religious wars between Catholics and Protestants in Europe served no scriptural purpose. As Jesus taught many times, and as Paul reiterated to the Corinthians, “The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses” (2 Cor. 10:4).

Peter, in his usual headstrong fashion, had not yet understood this principle the night of Jesus’ arrest. That’s when Peter used his sword and cut off the ear of one of the high priest’s prominent slaves. But the impulsive disciple’s reaction was all wrong. Peter no doubt took Christ’s earlier statement, “Let him who has no sword sell his robe and buy one” (Luke 22:36) much too literally. Our Lord was actually speaking of preparedness for spiritual, not physical, warfare.

Jesus therefore had to instruct Peter to put away his weapon. In effect, He was saying, “Peter, no matter how unjust My arrest is, you must not respond with vigilante action. If you do that and kill someone else, your own life will justly be forfeited as punishment.”

Christ’s power has been demonstrated many times—in person to Peter and through Scripture to us. It is incredible that any of us should think He needs the puny help of a sword, a gun, or any other human device. Christ’s battles are won in the strength of His sovereign power alone, as He pointed out to Peter: “Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions [72,000] of angels?” (Matt. 26:53).

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God’s forgiveness for times when you’ve been too quick to seek your own justice during arguments or conflicts.

For Further Study

Read 2 Kings 19:14-37.

  • How did King Hezekiah respond when God’s people and land were threatened?
  • How did the prophet Isaiah support Hezekiah’s actions?
  • How did God finally respond to the Assyrians’ threat?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – The New Covenant

This is the agreement (testament, covenant) that I will set up and conclude with them after those days, says the Lord: I will imprint My laws upon their hearts, and I will inscribe them on their minds (on their inmost thoughts and understanding).

— Hebrews 10:16 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Wake Up to the Word – by Joyce Meyer

A mutual consent or agreement of two or more persons under the old covenant, our sin could be covered by the sacrifices of animals, but never removed. The sense of guilt connected to sin was always present.

But the good news is that God has made a new covenant with man. It is a better covenant—far superior to the old. The old covenant was initiated with the blood of animals, but the new was initiated with the sinless blood of Jesus Christ.

Jesus took the punishment that we deserve and promises that if we will believe in Him and all that He did for us, He will forever stand in our place, and our responsibility to keep the law will be met in Him. The old covenant focused on what man could do, but the new covenant focuses on what God has done for us in Jesus Christ (see Romans 5).

Prayer Starter: Lord, help me see myself the way You see me, as a new creature in You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –The Source of His Grief

And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him.

 Luke 23:27

Among the rabble that hounded the Redeemer to His doom, there were some gracious souls whose bitter anguish found an outlet in wailing and lamentations—suitable music to accompany that woeful march. When I can, in imagination, see the Savior bearing His cross to Calvary, my soul joins the godly women and weeps with them; for, indeed, there is true cause for grief—cause lying deeper than those mourning women recognized. They bewailed innocence maltreated, goodness persecuted, love bleeding, meekness about to die; but my heart has a deeper and more bitter cause to mourn. My sins were the scourges that lacerated those blessed shoulders and crowned with thorns those bleeding brows: my sins cried, “Crucify Him! crucify Him!” and laid the cross upon His gracious shoulders.

His being led forth to die is sorrow enough for one eternity: but my having been His murderer is more, infinitely more, grief than one poor fountain of tears can express. The reason for those women’s love and tears is plain to read, but they could not have had greater reasons for love and grief than my heart has. The widow of Nain saw her son restored—but I myself have been raised to newness of life. Peter’s mother-in-law was cured of the fever—but I of the greater plague of sin. Out of Magdalene seven devils were cast—but a whole legion out of me. Mary and Martha were favored with visits—but He dwells with me. His mother bore His body—but He is formed in me, the hope of glory. Since I am not behind the holy women in debt, let me not be behind them in gratitude or sorrow.

Love and grief my heart dividing,
With my tears His feet I’ll lave— 
Constant still in heart abiding,
Weep for Him who died to save.

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Wants Us To Pray

“Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God for Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18)

One of the hardest commandments in the Bible is that we ought to pray. Prayer takes serious thought and time. Have you ever started to pray but then got interrupted or distracted?

What is prayer? Prayer is talking to God. When we talk to God, we develop our relationship with Him. God is the only perfect Source of power, strength and wisdom. The disciples wanted to know how to communicate with God and to have a relationship with God, so they asked Jesus to teach them to pray.

Early in life, it is wise to learn how to pray, when to pray, and what to pray. Each person is different, and each person prays differently, but each prayer is precious in the sight of God. He hears, knows what is on your heart, and wants you to “talk” to Him. Prayer gives honor and glory to God.

A man named Fenelon (who lived from 1651-1715) wrote this: Let us not be content to pray morning and evening, but let us live in prayer all day long. All should become prayer, that is, a loving consciousness of God’s presence.

Read Matthew 6:5-13, if you have a few minutes to do that right now. Prayer is not difficult to do, but it does take determination. Will you decide to pray? Will you intend to pray? Will you make yourself pray? Will you ask God to help you pray? Will you pray?

God wants us to pray, and He teaches and enables us to pray if we will ask Him.

My Response:
» Do I spend thought and time in prayer?
» What distractions and interruptions keep me away from talking to God?
» How can I change around my priorities so that my relationship with God comes first?


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Denison Forum – Post-pandemic cosmetic procedures and escalating depression: Making a counterintuitive case for Christian optimism

I am writing today to make a case for Christian optimism.

My argument is not based on post-pandemic hopes, though the International Monetary Fund predicts a remarkable global economy this year and people are already discovering exercise routines and cosmetic procedures intended to help them look their best as they reenter society. 

Nor do I intend to ignore evidence to the contrary such as the horrific mass shootings in Bryan, Texas, and in South Carolina or the record-high violence by Islamic extremists in Africa. The CDC estimates that more people died of drug overdoses in the twelve months ending in August 2020 (the latest figures available) than ever before in a single year. The pandemic sent rates of depression and anxiety soaring. We are facing attacks on religious liberty that threaten the nature of our democracy in a time of growing secularization.

My case for Christian optimism transcends the good and bad news in the news. In brief, I want to convince you that negativism and pessimism are self-fulfilling prophecies that have no place in a biblical worldview.

“Seek the welfare of the city”

Jeremiah 29 finds the Jewish people exiled in Babylon. The Lord sends them a message that must have shocked them: “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (v. 7). 

Like them, we are called to pray for our nation and her leaders, whoever they are (1 Timothy 2:1–2). Our call to “honor everyone” includes the injunction to “honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:17). We are to serve Jesus by serving those in need (Matthew 25:35–40) and to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19), beginning in our Jerusalem and extending to “the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). 

God calls us to pray and work for the salvation of all because he “is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). He “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). 

This does not mean that all “reach repentance” or “come to the knowledge of the truth.” To the contrary, Jesus stated clearly that “whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18). In the final judgment, “if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

Are we the last generation? 

We may be the last generation before judgment. We may be living in that generation that refuses to repent and return to God and is so far gone, a holy Lord has no choice but to judge us. As is often said, if God does not bring judgment against America, he owes Sodom and Gomorrah an apology.

But we may not be that generation. It may not be too late. It may be that many in our nation will turn to God in repentance leading to genuine spiritual awakening.

Every spiritual awakening in American history was preceded by desperation. Perhaps the immorality and spiritual destitution of our day will turn God’s people to him with passionate humility and intercession that sparks the awakening we need.

However, if we decide beforehand that it is too late for America, obviously we will not pray and work for America to turn to God. We will not risk our social status by standing for biblical morality in our anti-Christian culture. We will not share Christ with those who are likely to reject us and our witness. We will not pay a price to take the light of Jesus to the darkness of our world (Matthew 5:14–16). 

In this case, giving up on America will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If God’s people stop sharing God’s truth and standing for God’s word, the lost culture will obviously become more lost. The light will stay under a basket while the darkness persists. 

This is not our decision. You and I have no right to tell God that our nation is too far gone and that we will no longer pray and work for the spiritual awakening America needs. No one but God knows the final “day and hour” (Matthew 24:36). Our job is to stay faithful to our kingdom calling until Jesus calls us to heaven or returns to earth.

Choosing a “culture of #JOY” 

I plan to continue this discussion on Monday. For today, let’s close with examples of God’s work demonstrating that he’s not yet finished with us. 

Churches across America baptized multitudes of new believers during last Sunday’s Easter services. So long as we can partner with the Spirit in bringing the lost to Jesus, we must. 

World Vision announced recently that its COVID-19 response reached fifty-nine million people (twenty-six million of them children) with compassionate aid and the good news of the gospel. So long as we can meet needs in Jesus’ name, we must. 

The Scottish Parliament has congratulated evangelical churches and ministries for their service supporting people and communities in need throughout the pandemic. So long as we can glorify our Lord by sharing his love, we must. 

The official Twitter account of the Baylor University men’s basketball team states: “Culture of #JOY.” Head Coach Scott Drew explained after his team won the national title last Monday: “Our joy is Jesus, Others, Yourself.”

Will you choose this “joy” today?

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –One Good Choice for Eternity

Listen to Today’s Devotion

It would’ve been nice if God had let us order life like we order a meal. I’ll take good health and a high IQ. I’ll pass on the music skills, but give me a fast metabolism. Would’ve been nice, but it didn’t happen. When it came to your life on earth you weren’t given a voice or a vote. But when it comes to life after death you were. In my book that seems like a good deal. Wouldn’t you agree? Have we been given any greater privilege than that of choice?

You’ve made some bad choices in life, haven’t you? You’ve chosen the wrong friends, maybe the wrong career, even the wrong spouse. You look back and say, “If only—if only I could make up for those bad choices.” Well, you can. One good choice for eternity offsets a thousand bad ones on earth. The choice is yours.

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