In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Rekindling the Flame

2 Timothy 1:1-14

Burnout is a term heard frequently today—it describes a lack of motivation that results when something produces frustration or exhaustion instead of inspiration. This often happens in high-stress jobs, long-term relationships like marriage, and even in the church. Every year there are pastors who walk away from their work because the joys of ministry are overshadowed by the difficulties. This type of weariness is something most Christians struggle with at some point in life.

Timothy was experiencing burnout—as the pastor of the church in Ephesus, he was being worn down by the constant battle for the truth that was under attack by false teachers. For this reason, Paul wrote to him with encouragement to “kindle afresh” his spiritual gift (2 Timothy 1:6).

In the same way, sometimes the pressures of daily life, hardships, physical ailments, or relational conflicts can make us feel spiritually dry and empty of zeal. Although an ebb and flow of emotions is normal, a persistently dry spiritual life is a reason for concern. To rekindle the fire, we need the fuel of God’s Word and His Spirit. Pray with the psalmist, “Revive me according to Your word” (Psalm 119:25).

Bible in One Year: 1 Kings 6-7

Our Daily Bread — The Baggage Activity

Bible in a Year:

Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.

Leviticus 19:34

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Leviticus 19:32–34

Karen, a middle school teacher, created an activity to teach her students how to better understand one another. In “The Baggage Activity” students wrote down some of the emotional weights they were carrying. The notes were shared anonymously, giving the students insight into each other’s hardships, often with a tearful response from their peers. The classroom has since been filled with a deeper sense of mutual respect among the young teens, who now have a greater sense of empathy for one another.

Throughout the Bible, God has nudged His people to treat one another with dignity and show empathy in their interaction with others (Romans 12:15). As early in the history of Israel as the book of Leviticus, God pointed the Israelites toward empathy—especially in their dealings with foreigners. He said to “love them as [themselves]” because they too had been foreigners in Egypt and knew that hardship intimately (Leviticus 19:34). 

Sometimes the burdens we carry make us feel like foreigners—alone and misunderstood—even among our peers. We don’t always have a similar experience to draw on as the Israelites did with the foreigners among them. Yet we can always treat those God puts in our paths with the respect and understanding that we, ourselves, desire. Whether a modern-day middle schooler, an Israelite, or anything in between, we honor God when we do.

By:  Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

Who around you might need your empathy for the burdens they carry? How can you “love them as yourself”?

God, You know the weight in my heart and You graciously unburden me as I put my trust in You. Help me to offer care and compassion toward those in my life.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Reaching Out to Others

“‘Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise’” (Luke 23:43).

The circumstances are never too adverse, nor the hour too late, to offer the gospel of Christ to someone.

Jesus was crucified between two criminals (thieves)—one on each side of His cross. At first the two men both joined the onlookers in hurling unbelieving rhetoric at the Lord (Mark 15:32). But one of the thieves obviously had a change of heart as the hours elapsed. He rebuked the other thief by pointing out Jesus’ sinlessness (Luke 23:40-41) and then expressed his need of salvation: “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” (v. 42). And Jesus graciously answered the thief’s request.

The dying thief’s conversion is an extraordinary story. At Calvary there was nothing convincing or favorable about Jesus. From man’s vantage point He was dying because He had been completely rejected; even the disciples had deserted Him. Jesus appeared weak, disgraced, and ashamed. When the thief uttered his plea for help, no one was pointing to Jesus and saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

Given the circumstances, it is difficult to comprehend how Christ could be concerned with the immediate salvation of a wretched thief who was justly being executed for his crimes. But our Lord cared very much about the destiny of that man’s soul. Jesus’ desire to see sinners saved was constant, because He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). His concern for the unsaved is the supreme example and motivation to us in reaching out to others.

The thief’s salvation is also a clear illustration of the sovereignty of God in redemption. So often the church wants to attribute someone’s salvation to human cleverness in presenting a well-crafted message at just the right time and in the most appropriate place. But salvation is always the direct result of God’s intervening grace. The sovereign work of God’s Spirit, not circumstances, gave the thief a saving understanding about who Jesus was and what His death was accomplishing.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God for the courage to reach out with the good news of salvation no matter what the circumstances.

For Further Study

Read John 4:1-42.

  • What excuses could Jesus have used for not talking to the woman?
  • How did He keep His focus during His conversation with her?

Joyce Meyer – God Lives in You

Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.]…

— John 15:4 (AMPC)

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

Why would God want to live in us? And how can He do so? After all, He is holy, and we are weak, human flesh with frailties, faults, and failures.

The answer is simple: He loves us and chooses to make His home in us. He does that because He is God; He has the ability to do what He wants, and He elects or chooses to make His home in our hearts. This choice is not based on any good deed we have done or ever could do; it based solely on God’s grace, power, and mercy. We become God’s home by believing in Jesus Christ (as God instructs us in the Bible). The verse for today emphasizes the fact that we must believe in Jesus Christ as the one God sent in order to experience intimacy with Him. Believing in Him enables us to hear His voice, receive His Word in our hearts, and feel His presence.

In addition to believing in Jesus as God’s heaven-sent gift to mankind, we are to simply believe that Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins was enough to allow us into the presence of God. We become the home of God when we receive Jesus as our Savior and Lord. From that position, by the power of the Holy Spirit, He begins a wonderful work in us.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for living in my heart. I am so grateful for the incredible sacrifice You made for me. Help me to always feel Your presence. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Has He Forsaken You?

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

 Psalm 22:1

Here we view the Savior in the depth of His sorrows. No other place displays the griefs of Christ like this, and no other moment at Calvary is so full of agony as when His cry rends the air—“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” At this moment physical weakness was united with acute mental torture from the shame and ignominy through which He had to pass; His grief culminated in suffering the spiritual agony beyond all telling that resulted from the departure of His Father’s presence. This was the black midnight of His horror—when He descended the abyss of suffering.

No man can enter into the full meaning of these words. Some of us think at times that we could cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” There are seasons when the brightness of our Father’s smile is eclipsed by clouds and darkness; but let us remember that God never really does forsake us. It is only a seeming forsaking with us, but in Christ’s case it was a real forsaking. We grieve at a little withdrawal of our Father’s love; but the real turning away of God’s face from His Son—who can calculate how deep the agony that caused Him?

In our case, our cry is often dictated by unbelief: In His case, it was the utterance of a dreadful fact, for God had really turned away from Him for a season. Poor, distressed soul who once lived in the sunshine of God’s face but now in darkness, remember that He has not really forsaken you. God in the clouds is as much our God as when He shines forth in all the beauty of His grace; but since even the thought that He has forsaken us gives us agony, what must the suffering of the Savior have been when He exclaimed, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Shelters His Children

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1)

The weather was not what they had hoped for, but the Herbergers were determined not to let a little rain spoil their camping trip. They needed to put up their tent before the storm broke.

Hurriedly, they spread the canvas, hammered stakes into the ground, and raised the poles. Thunder rumbled. The children made one last dash to the van for snacks and flashlights. Just as they returned, the downpour began. Mr. Herberger zipped up the door of the tent and closed the vents.

For the next couple of hours, the family sang, played games, and ate popcorn and cookies together in the close quarters. Rain pounded on the tent roof and turned the dirt campsite into mud, but the tent kept the Herbergers dry and comfortable.

Like a comforting shelter, God wants to be our place of safety from the storms of life. He wants us to trust in His care. If we make God our “dwelling place,” He will not allow evil to happen to us (Psalm 91:10).

God has the power and the will to protect His loved ones: He can do it, and He wants to do it. Nothing can happen to us except what He allows. Sometimes He permits hard times to come our way. Even then, His grace covers us completely and gives us peace and strength as we live in Him.

God wants to be our hiding place.

My Response:
» Am I trusting God to be my shelter?

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Denison Forum – Pro-life activist was nearly aborted: The power of changed lives and encouragement from one of the greatest sermons of the twentieth century

Christianity Today is profiling a woman who was nearly aborted in 1989. Claire Culwell’s mother had an abortion at twenty weeks that killed Claire’s sibling. Soon thereafter, she discovered that she was still pregnant (she had not known she was carrying twins). She returned for a second abortion, but it never took place due to complications from the first.

Claire is now a wife, the mother of four children, and an activist for the cause of life.

In 1989, there were reportedly 1,396,658 abortions in the US. When you read Claire’s story, do you resonate with gratitude that she was not one of them? That sentiment is a God-given belief that every life is intrinsically valuable, a fact Christians call the “sanctity of life” doctrine.

We see this doctrine on display every day. For example, nationwide grief over the deaths of George Floyd and Daunte Wright continues to make headlines. We have seen tributes to Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball’s color barrier on this day in 1947.

We have seen the good news that a federal court has upheld an Ohio law banning abortions on babies with Down syndrome. And we have seen the tragic news that a father drowned last Saturday while rescuing two sons from a riptide on the Texas coast.

Each story is another reminder that, as St. Augustine noted, “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”

Remarkable good news about faith 

I have been making a case for Christian optimism in recent days based on these facts:

  • It is always too soon to give up on God’s grace.
  • Jesus is as active in our world today as when he first rose from the dead.
  • God’s capacity to change our fallen world depends not on our finitude but on his omnipotence.
  • Secularism fails to keep its promises, demonstrating our need for faith in a transcendent God.

Today, let’s consider a fifth factor: our lives are lived best in relationship with our Maker, a fact that demonstrates the abiding relevance of our Lord to our broken world.

As you may know, Gallup recently announced that church membership in America has fallen below 50 percent for the first time. The Boston Globe is responding with two paradoxical reports. One is that “the unwavering faith and passion of true belief is increasingly being channeled not into religious observance but into identity politics and the culture wars.” This can be problematic on a variety of levels.

The other part of the article is far more positive. It states (with links to substantiating research) that “regular worshipers tend to live longer, to suffer lower levels of stress, to have fewer symptoms of depression, and to have better cardiovascular and immune function. Similarly, the data suggests that religious worshipers tend to be happier, to drink less, to have lower rates of drug abuse, and to give to charity and donate blood at above-average rates.”

The article adds: “Amid the uniquely difficult circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, a survey of self-reported health conditions found that Americans who attended religious services regularly were the only demographic group that appeared to avoid a decline in their mental health in 2020.”

It then offers this sobering response: “To the extent that religious practice across America is weakening, it seems only too likely that those benefits will fade too.”

They “recognized that they had been with Jesus” 

It stands to reason that those who experience the “abundant life” of Jesus will demonstrate the results of that life to the world (John 10:10). For example, I was drawn to the Christian faith by the faith of Christians. I did not ask my tenth-grade Sunday school teacher how I could be saved, regenerated, or justified—I asked her how I could have what she had. She sat down with me and led me to Jesus.

When the Spirit fell at Pentecost, Peter declared the word of God just as his Savior had earlier (Acts 2Matthew 5–7). When he and John met a “man lame from birth,” they cared for him just as Jesus had earlier cared for a lame man (Acts 3:1–10John 5:8–9). When Peter and John refused to stop preaching the gospel, the religious authorities saw their “boldness” and “recognized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

If others don’t see the difference Jesus makes in our lives, they have the right to question whether Jesus will make a difference in their lives. Conversely, if we are controlled by the Spirit who empowered our Lord (Ephesians 5:18Acts 10:38), Jesus will fulfill his promise that “whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do” (John 14:12).

Here’s the bottom line: if God’s people will seek the power of God’s Spirit to speak God’s word and share God’s love, our lives must inevitably impact our secular culture in ways we can see and ways we cannot.

“Death couldn’t handle him, and the grave couldn’t hold him” 

I was honored to bring the keynote address at the 57th Annual Louisiana Governor’s Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday. It was deeply moving to hear Gov. John Bel Edwards describe his faith so personally and to join legislators and Christian leaders as they prayed for their state and our nation. 

The purpose of my address was to invite those present to a deeper commitment to the kingship of Jesus than they had ever known so God can use their influence to shape their culture in transformative ways. I closed with quotations from one of the greatest sermons of the twentieth century, a message delivered by Dr. S. M. Lockridge on the kingship of Jesus. The brilliant preacher said this of our risen Lord:

“He’s the centerpiece of civilization. He’s unparalleled. He’s unprecedented. He’s preeminent. He’s the loftiest idea in literature. He’s the fundamental doctrine of true theology. He’s the key of knowledge. He’s the wellspring of wisdom. He’s the doorway of deliverance. He’s the gateway of glory. He’s the pathway of peace. He’s the roadway of righteousness. He’s the highway of holiness. 

“The Pharisees couldn’t stand him, but they found out they couldn’t stop him. Pilate couldn’t find any fault in him. Herod couldn’t kill him. Death couldn’t handle him, and the grave couldn’t hold him!”

The pastor closed with this declaration: 

“He’s the master of the mighty. He’s the captain of the conquerors. He’s the head of the heroes. He’s the leader of the legislatures. He’s the overseer of the overcomers. He’s the governor of governors. He’s the prince of princes. He’s the King of kings, and he’s the Lord of lords. That’s my king!”

Is he your king?

Upwords; Max Lucado –The Message from the Cross

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Why did Jesus live on the earth as long as he did? To take on our sins is one thing. To experience death, yes. But to put up with the long roads, the long days? Why did he do it? Because he wants you to trust him. Even his final act on earth was intended to win your trust. Mark 15:22 says, “They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha where they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him.”

Why? Why did he endure all this suffering, all these feelings? Well because he knew you’d be weary, disturbed, and angry. He knew you’d be grief-stricken, and hungry, that you’d face pain. A pauper knows better than to beg from another pauper. He needs someone who’s stronger than he is. Jesus’ message from the cross is this: I am that person. Trust me.