In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Ignoring God

Psalm 81:8-16

Most of us dislike being ignored. We feel frustrated and overlooked when our concerns are disregarded, especially by loved ones. Yet this is often how we treat the One who loves us the most—the Lord.  He is always attentive to every detail of our life, but we’re often too distracted by our own interests to think about Him.

Our God—who formed each of us in the womb and gives us life, breath, and all we have—deserves our full attention. Sadly, a majority of the world ignores Him, but those of us who have received His divine mercy, forgiveness, and grace should make Him our top priority. 

Distractions come in many forms. Usually it’s the pleasures and cares of this world that cause us to forget about God. We’re so busy pursuing our own desires and agendas that we fail to stop and consider what pleases Him.

To change this trend, we must learn what the Lord desires for us, as revealed in His Word. When we begin to think the way He does, we’ll see our life through a filter of Scripture and have a desire to please Him.

Bible in One Year: 2 Samuel 23-24

Our Daily Bread — Serving the Least

Bible in a Year:

The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Matthew 25:40

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Matthew 25:31–40

His name is Spencer. But everybody calls him “Spence.” He was a state track champion in high school; then he went on to attend a prestigious university on a full academic scholarship. He lives now in one of America’s largest cities and is highly respected in the field of chemical engineering. But if you were to ask Spence his greatest achievements to date, he wouldn’t mention any of those things. He would excitedly tell you about the trips he makes to Nicaragua every few months to check in on the kids and teachers in the tutoring program he helped establish in one of the poorest areas of the country. And he’d tell you how enriched his life has been by serving them.

“The least of these.” It’s a phrase people use in a variety of ways, yet Jesus used it to describe those who, according to the world’s standards, have little or nothing to offer us in return for our service. They are the men and women and children the world often overlooks—if not forgets completely. Yet it’s exactly those people Jesus elevates to such a beautiful status by saying, “Whatever you did [for them], you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). You don’t have to have a degree from a prestigious university to understand Christ’s meaning: serving “the least” is the same as serving Him. All it really takes is a willing heart.

By:  John Blase

Reflect & Pray

Who comes to mind when you hear the phrase “the least of these”? What’s something you could do for them?

King Jesus, I’m afraid I make serving You harder than it is. Your words are clear—You call me to the least and the littlest, perhaps in Nicaragua or maybe in my neighborhood. Give me courage to serve.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Unjust Condemnation

“‘Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?’ They answered and said, ‘He is deserving of death!’” (Matthew 26:65-66).

Like many through the centuries, members of the Sanhedrin rejected Jesus Christ without fairly judging all the evidence.

Lynching is an activity we don’t hear much about today. But during earlier generations, the heinous crime occurred quite regularly. Innocent people, or those merely presumed guilty (prior to any trial), were tortured and killed, usually by angry, hateful mobs. Often the person lynched was a victim of racial or political prejudice or some other irrational fear held by the perpetrators.

The members of the Sanhedrin certainly held blind prejudices against Jesus. No amount of evidence would open their eyes to the truth of who He was. Those unbelieving leaders of Israel discounted Jesus’ claims to deity long before they placed Him on trial. He had even pleaded with them, “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father” (John 10:37-38).

In today’s passage the high priest Caiaphas reacts forcefully to Jesus’ agreement that He is God’s Son and the Messiah (see Matt. 26:64). Caiaphas’s mind was made up; he was convinced that Jesus had blasphemed, and he was determined to rush forward with this “evidence” to condemn Jesus to death. Caiaphas and the Council could barely wait to render a verdict. The high priest asked for their opinion on Jesus’ guilt, and immediately the Council members asserted, “He is deserving of death!”

The irony of the Jewish leaders’ condemnation of Jesus was their blind insistence that He was a blasphemer when in reality they were the blasphemers for their rejection of the Lord and His message. Even more sobering is that every person who has ever finally rejected Christ is also guilty of blasphemy and will suffer the same fate as the chief priests and elders: “He who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for someone you know who has been closed to the gospel. Ask God to open his or her heart and grant him or her repentance.

For Further Study

Read Hebrews 3—4. What spiritual attitude do these chapters warn of? What Old Testament parallel does the writer make?

Joyce Meyer – Hear and Obey

Sacrifice and offering You do not desire, nor have You delight in them; You have given me the capacity to hear and obey [Your law, a more valuable service than] burnt offerings and sin offerings [which] You do not require.

— Psalm 40:6 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Ending Your Day Right – by Joyce Meyer

God delights in your obedience. Naturally, it doesn’t do Him any good to speak to you if you aren’t going to listen and obey.

For many years, I wanted God to talk to me, but I wanted to pick and choose what to obey. I wanted to do what He said if I thought it was a good idea. If I didn’t like what I was hearing, I would act like it wasn’t from God.

Some of what God says will be exciting. Some things might not be so thrilling to hear. But that doesn’t mean what He tells you won’t work out for good if you will just do it His way. God does not require a higher sacrifice than obedience.

Prayer Starter: Lord, thank You for Your Word. Help me to always be obedient to Your will for my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –A Heavy Heart

My heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast.

 Psalm 22:14

Our blessed Lord experienced a terrible sinking and melting of soul. “A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?”1 Deep spiritual depression is the most devastating of all trials; nothing compares to it. No wonder the suffering Savior cries to His God, “Do not be far off,” for more than at any other time a man needs his God when his heart is melted within him because of heaviness.

Believer, come to the cross this morning, and humbly worship the King of glory as one who has been brought far lower, in mental distress and inward anguish, than anyone among us; and consider Him a faithful High Priest who is able to sympathize with our weakness. Especially let those of us whose sadness springs directly from the withdrawal of a present sense of our Father’s love enter into near and intimate communion with Jesus. Let us not give in to despair; our Master has already walked this dark road.

Our souls may sometimes long and faint, and thirst even to the point of anguish, to see the light of the Lord’s face; at such times let us calm ourselves by focusing on the sympathy of our great High Priest. Our drops of sorrow may be forgotten in the ocean of His griefs; how high ought our love to rise! O strong and deep love of Jesus, come in like a flood, cover all my powers, drown all my sins, wash away all my cares, lift up my earthbound soul, and bring me up to my Lord’s feet.

Let me lie, a poor broken shell, washed up by His love, having no virtue or value; but knowing that if He will bend His ear to me, He will hear within my heart faint echoes of the vast waves of His own love that have brought me to where I am happy to stay, even at His feet forever.

1) Proverbs 18:14

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Knows Our Ways

 “Thou compasseth my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.” (Psalm 139:3)

The Matthews household was in an uproar. No one had seen the family cat all day, and it was almost time for bed. Aaron thought he had heard a faint “meow” a couple of times, but when he called, “Here, Kitty, Kitty,” Angel did not come.

The family had tried all the usual tricks, to no avail. Even the sound of the can opener and the smell of tuna had not coaxed Angel out of hiding. Their beloved cat had been with them for six years and had never gone away for more than a few hours. Whatever could have happened to her now?

Anna had an idea. She opened her closet door, and sure enough, out ran Angel, her eyes wide and black. “Meow!” she cried, and Anna followed her to the kitchen to set out the tuna and some fresh milk.

She explained to Aaron how she had gotten the idea to check the closet. “You know how Angel loves to nap on soft things? I thought maybe she might have been resting on my new fuzzy slippers this morning when I closed the closet door.” Anna left her slippers under her bed from then on, so that Angel could nap on them whenever she pleased without getting trapped in the closet again.

Just as Anna understood the ways of her pet, our Heavenly Father sees and understands everything about us. He knows our habits and our thoughts. It is not possible for us to go anywhere He cannot find us.

Jeremiah 23:24 says, “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.” Is it hard for you to remember that God knows and cares about and watches you? Meditate on this truth from Scripture, and let it change how you respond to scary situations, times of sorrow, or temptations to sin.

God knows and understands us even better than we do.

My Response:
» Do I sometimes feel like I am on my own, or like no one is watching me?
» What habits would I change if I really believed and acted like God is everywhere and knows everything and sees all that I do?
» How can remembering that God knows my ways help me to trust and obey Him more?

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Denison Forum – The death of Prince Philip: Continuing the case for Christian optimism

Buckingham Palace announced Friday that Prince Philip had died at the age of ninety-nine.

His story is truly remarkable. He was born on the Greek island of Corfu, the only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg. His uncle, King Constantine I of Greece, was forced to abdicate the throne in 1922. The family fled just ahead of a riotous mob, smuggling the eighteen-month-old prince out of Greece in an orange crate they converted into a makeshift crib. 

Philip and the future Queen Elizabeth II first met as children at the wedding of his cousin in 1934. They met again at Dartmouth Royal Naval College and began corresponding while he served in the Mediterranean and Pacific Fleets during World War II. 

The two were married when she turned twenty-one. He served his adopted country for more than seventy-five years. By the time of his death, he had undertaken 22,191 solo engagements, delivered 5,493 speeches, and served as the patron of 800 charitable organizations. 

The queen has described being left with a “huge void in her life” after his death, their son Andrew said yesterday. Prince Philip’s funeral is planned for next Saturday at Windsor Castle. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the ceremony will be limited to thirty mourners with no public processions or viewings. 

“Did not our hearts burn within us?” 

I have been an Anglophile for many years. I have visited Westminster Abbey numerous times, the church where Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth were married in 1947. I have visited their homes at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. I have even watched every episode of every season of The Crown. But I never had the privilege of knowing Prince Philip personally. 

The same can happen for us with Jesus. Two people who met the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus knew all about him—that he was “a prophet mighty in deed and word” (Luke 24:19), that he had been crucified (v. 20), and that many had hoped he would be their Messiah (v. 21). They had even heard the report that he was alive (v. 23). However, they did not know him (v. 16). 

But when Jesus “interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (v. 27) and led them in prayer and worship (v. 30), “their eyes were opened, and they recognized him” (v. 31). Then they told each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (v. 32). 

Their story is in God’s word because it can be our story. It is possible to know Jesus in the same way I knew Prince Philip—familiar with the facts of his life and respectful of his influence in the world. But knowing about someone is not the same as knowing them. 

Do you remember a time when you asked Jesus to forgive your sins and become your Savior and Lord? That was the time you established a personal, saving relationship with him. If you don’t remember making such a commitment, I urge you to do so today. (For more, please see my website article, “Why Jesus?“) 

If you have established a personal relationship with Jesus, how would he describe that relationship today? To draw closer to him, do what these two did: listen to him in his word and meet with him in worship. Ask his Spirit to show you anything that is blocking your relationship with him and confess what comes to your thoughts. Then ask Jesus to make himself more real to you than ever before, knowing that he wants such intimacy with you even more than you do with him. 

“The Bible says to take strength from weakness” 

Last Friday, I offered a case for Christian optimism based on the fact that none of us knows when our Lord will return. If we give up on our culture, our pessimism will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. As a result, we must believe, pray, and work for the spiritual awakening our culture so desperately needs while leaving the results and the timing of God’s judgment to him. 

Today, let’s add this fact: All that Jesus has ever done, he can still do. As a result, all that his followers have ever done, his followers can still do.

If Jesus could transform Peter from a despondent failure into the preacher of Pentecost, he can transform any life. If his followers, empowered by his Spirit, “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6 KJV), we can do the same.

The chaplain of the House of Representatives recently followed the example of the apostles before the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:29–32). When the House approved a coronavirus relief package almost entirely on party lines, she prayed in their presence: “Forgive them, all of them. For when called upon to respond to a once-in-a-century pandemic that has rocked our country, upended its economy and widened the chasm of partisan opinion, they have missed the opportunity to step above the fray and unite to attend to this national crisis.” 

A street preacher in Brazil has been following the apostolic example in praying for the sick with passion and compassion (cf. Acts 9:36–4128:7–9). He is leading his people in ministry to COVID-19 patients by standing outside their hospitals while lifting their voices in worship and intercession. “The Bible says to take strength from weakness,” he explains. “We sing and pray because our voice can bring assurance of the love of God to those taking their last breaths.” 

A predominantly white congregation in St. Louis recently followed the inclusive example of early Christians (cf. Galatians 3:28). After his church made a $100,000 contribution to a predominantly Black congregation, the pastor explained: “Any time you begin to do life together with somebody who’s different than you, you get different perspectives. You get different histories and you begin to create a shared history together.” 

Joining Jesus on the way to Emmaus 

The best way to convince a skeptical culture that Christ is relevant to our challenges is for Christians to be relevant to our challenges. The best way for Christians to be relevant to others is for Christ to be relevant to us. 

I invite you to join Jesus on the road to Emmaus today. Listen to his voice in his word; spend time with him in worship; ask him to make himself real to you and then through you. 

A case for Christian optimism rests on the fact that Christ is as fully alive and as powerfully active today as when he first walked our planet. William Carey, the father of the modern missions movement, was therefore right when he encouraged his followers to “expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”

Let’s do both today, to the glory of God.

Upwords; Max Lucado –Pride & Shame

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Pride and shame. You’d never know they’re sisters. They appear so different. Pride puffs out her chest. Shame hangs her head. Pride boasts. Shame hides. Pride seeks to be seen. Shame seeks to be avoided. But don’t be fooled, the emotions have the same parentage. And the emotions have the same impact: they keep you from your Father.

Pride says, “You’re too good for him.” Shame says, “You’re too bad for him.” Pride drives you away, shame keeps you away. If pride is what goes before a fall, then shame is what keeps you from getting up after one. God, the sinless and selfless Father, loves us in our pride and shame. 2 Corinthians 5:19 says, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.”