In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – When Life Crumbles

Psalm 46

In those frightening times when our well-ordered life appears to disintegrate around us, what are we to do? Today’s psalm gives valuable advice that can steady us in the midst of chaos.

Remember that “God is our refuge and strength, a very ready help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1)—and that security is found in Him, not in this world. Troubles will come, but we can rest in the knowledge that He is sovereign over every situation and will bring about His good purposes for those who seek refuge in Him. 

Next, our heavenly Father admonishes us to stop striving and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). In other words, we’re to rest in Him and the truths of His Word instead of fretting, panicking, and trying to control or manipulate the situation toward our desired end.

Peace comes through trusting in the Lord’s sovereign control, submitting to Him in the midst of our circumstances, and believing that He will work it out for our good and His glory. Ultimate relief comes in eternity, but until then, we have His strength to help us in times of trial. Keep an eternal perspective and live by faith, not by sight.

Bible in One Year: 1 Kings 15-17

Our Daily Bread — Quarantined by Fear

Bible in a Year:

Seek his kingdom.

Luke 12:31

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Luke 12:22–34

In 2020, an outbreak of the coronavirus left the world in fear. People were quarantined, countries were put under lockdown, flights and large events were canceled. Those living in areas with no known cases still feared they might get the virus. Graham Davey, an expert in anxiety, believes that negative news broadcasts are “likely to make you sadder and more anxious.” A meme that circulated on social media showed a man watching the news on TV, and he asked how to stop worrying. In response, another person in the room reached over and flipped off the TV, suggesting that the answer might be a shift in focus!

Luke 12 gives us some advice to help us stop worrying: “Seek his kingdom” (v. 31). We seek God’s kingdom when we focus on the promise that His followers have an inheritance in heaven. When we face difficulty, we can shift our focus and remember that God sees us and knows our needs (vv. 24–30).

Jesus encourages His disciples: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (v. 32). God enjoys blessing us! Let’s worship Him, knowing He cares for us more than the birds of the air and the flowers of the field (vv. 22–29). Even in difficult times, we can read the Scriptures, pray for God’s peace, and trust in our good and faithful God.

By:  Julie Schwab

Reflect & Pray

What’s causing you to fear today? What’s one thing you can do to seek God’s kingdom when you begin to worry?

Loving God, instead of living in fear or worry, help me to focus on Your care for me.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Thinking Biblically

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8).

The way you think determines the way you behave.

God is concerned about the way you think. That’s why Paul said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). In Philippians 4:8 he instructs us to think about that which is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and praiseworthy.

When Jesus spoke of a pure heart in Matthew 5:8, He was talking about sanctified thinking. The Greek word translated “heart” is kardia, from which we get the word cardiac. While we often relate heart to the emotions (e.g., “He has a broken heart”), the Bible relates it primarily to the intellect (e.g., “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders”; Matt. 15:19). That’s why you must “watch over your heart with all diligence” (Prov. 4:23).

In a secondary way, however, heart relates to the will and emotions because they are influenced by the intellect. If you are committed to something, it will affect your will, which in turn will affect your emotions.

The Greek word translated “pure” in Matthew 5:8 means “to cleanse.” In the moral sense it speaks of being free from the filth of sin. It also refers to something that is unmixed, unalloyed, or unadulterated. Spiritual integrity and sincere motives are appropriate applications of its meaning to the Christian life.

Jesus was saying the kingdom citizen is blessed because he or she has pure thoughts and pure motives that together produce holy living. Someone might say he’s religious and has pure motives, but if his behavior isn’t righteous, his heart isn’t fixed on God. Similarly, you can go to church, carry a Bible, and recite verses, but if your heart isn’t clean, you haven’t met God’s standard.

You must do the will of God from a pure heart (Eph. 6:6). Toward that end, make David’s prayer yours as well: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10).

Suggestions for Prayer:

Memorize Psalm 19:14 and make it a part of your daily prayers.

For Further Study:

Read the following verses, noting the characteristics of a pure heart: Psalm 9:1, 26:2, 27:8, 28:7, and 57:7.

Joyce Meyer – A Confused Mind

If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him. Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind. For truly, let not such a person imagine that he will receive anything [he asks for] from the Lord, [for being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides].

— James 1:5-8 (AMPC)

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

A close friend of mine received a summons for jury duty in a robbery trial. For two days, 12 citizens listened to the prosecuting attorney as he presented evidence to indicate that the accused had broken into a home and stolen many items. My friend was ready to convict him.

On the third day, the defense attorney presented the other side of the picture. The more my friend listened, the more confused she became. What had seemed very obvious at first now seemed ambiguous and contradictory.

Although the jury did convict the man, my friend said she struggled over making the right decision. Each attorney, when he was speaking, had seemed to be the most convincing.

Many Christians live much the same way day today. They have become what James calls double minded. They’re sure of one thing until something else happens, and then they flip-flop to the opposite opinion.

In their double mindedness, they flit from one opinion to the other. They’re sure they know what to do, and then they switch again. The moment they feel sure they have made the decision they plan to stick with, they begin to wonder if it was the correct one. They continually doubt and question their reasoning.

This kind of behavior is not the same as being open-minded. To be open-minded means we’re willing to hear all sides of an issue—like jurors should be at a trial. But eventually we have to sort through the evidence or the circumstances in life and say, “This is what I’m going to do.”

That sounds good, but too many people have trouble being decisive. “What if I make a mistake?” they ask. “What If I choose the wrong thing?” Those are legitimate questions, but they are not meant to paralyze God’s people and prevent them from acting. Too often, these are tools that Satan uses to distract and prevent Christians from taking action.

God’s Spirit is always available to free you from natural reasoning that leaves you confused. Ask of the One who gives wisdom liberally, and He will free you of being indecisive and double minded.

Prayer Starter: God, thank You for always showing me the way and helping me make decisions. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Torn in Two

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

 Matthew 27:51

No small miracle was performed in the tearing of so strong and thick a curtain; but it was not intended merely as a display of power—many lessons were contained in it.

The old law of ordinances was put away and, like a worn-out garment, torn and set aside. When Jesus died, the sacrifices were all finished, because they were fulfilled in Him; and therefore the place of sacrifice, the temple, was marked with a clear sign of this change.

With the curtain torn, all the hidden things of the old dispensation became apparent: The mercy-seat could now be seen, and the glory of God gleaming above it. By the death of our Lord Jesus we have a clear revelation of God, for He was “not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face.”1 Life and immortality are now brought to light, and things that have been hidden since the foundation of the world are displayed in Him.

The annual ceremony of atonement was also abolished. The atoning blood that once every year was sprinkled inside the curtain was now offered once for all by the great High Priest, and therefore the place of the symbolical rite was finished. No blood of bullocks or of lambs is needed now, for Jesus has entered inside the curtain with his own blood.

Therefore access to God is now permitted and is the privilege of every believer in Christ Jesus. It is not just a small opening through which we may peer at the mercy-seat, but the tear reaches from the top to the bottom. We may come with boldness to the throne of heavenly grace.

Is it wrong to suggest that the opening of the Holy of Holies in this marvelous manner by our Lord’s expiring cry was signifying the opening of the gates of paradise to all the saints by virtue of the Passion? Our bleeding Lord has the key of heaven; He opens and no man shuts; let us enter in with Him to the heavenly places and sit with Him there until our common enemies shall be made His footstool.

1) 2 Corinthians 3:13

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God’s Word Should Be Part of Us

 “And thou shalt bind [God’s words] for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes” (Deuteronomy 6:8).

When I was in Jerusalem a few months ago, I saw Jews who had little black boxes bound to their foreheads. These boxes had pages of Scripture inside. The Jews had similar boxes fastened to their hands by straps that circled around their arms. God’s Word was literally bound on their hands and between their eyes!

In Deuteronomy 6, is God really commanding that pages of the Bible be strapped to our hands and foreheads? Is that what God wants us to do?

Actually, in that passage God was reminding the Israelites of how important it was that they constantly keep His words in their minds. God wanted His people to think about His words all the time so that they would remember to obey Him. He asked the Israelites to talk about His words while at home and while in the streets. He wanted His people to remember His words when going to bed at night and when getting up in the morning. He commanded His people to remind themselves and others about what He had done and about what He expected them to do.

When God said His words should be bound to the heads and hands of His people, He was trying to give His people a picture of how they should be thinking about and obeying His words all the time.

God wants us to memorize His Word, think about it, and obey it so much that it becomes an inseparable part of us. He wants us to keep loving it and trying to understand it more. My pastor sometimes says, “The Bible should be the default setting in your brain. God’s Word should be what your thoughts come back to whenever you don’t have to be thinking about something else.”

God desires that we always keep His Word in our minds and hearts.

My Response:
» Do I ever memorize verses so that I can think of God’s Word at all different times and in all different places? What does Psalm 119:11 tell me about why I should memorize God’s Word?
» Have I asked God to help me remember to think about Him (His words) when I am playing and working?

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Denison Forum – Man runs from Disneyland to Walt Disney World: How to turn our discouragement into God’s transforming strength

Don Muchow recently ran from Disneyland in Southern California to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida—a trip of more than two thousand five hundred miles. He completed his cross-country trek to bring awareness to Type 1 diabetes, a disease with which he has been living since 1972.

Eight years ago, Heather Abbott was standing near the finish line at the Boston Marathon when two bombs exploded. Four days later, her left leg was amputated below the knee. She received a prosthesis for walking, but insurance would not cover additional prostheses for other activities. When she learned of this problem, she created the Heather Abbott Foundation, which has now raised more than $1 million and helped provide customized prosthetic devices to more than forty-two amputees across the US.

Queen Elizabeth II has announced that she will allow self-guided tours of the historic Buckingham Palace gardens for the first time in the palace’s history. Members of the public will be able to enjoy meadows “carpeted with primroses and bluebells . . . flowering camellia, magnolia and azalea shrubs and trees,” according to the press release.

A paradoxical point of redemption

There is good news to celebrate, but there is bad news to grieve as well.

Three people were shot and killed in Austin, Texas, yesterday. Three other people died in a shooting early yesterday morning in Wisconsin.

The global COVID-19 death toll passed three million on Saturday as cases surge worldwide. A couple was preparing to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary when the husband was killed in the FedEx mass shooting last Thursday. And a grieving pastor and his wife are asking the public to help police catch whoever killed their daughter in a Birmingham, Alabama, park on Easter Sunday.

Both sides of the news provoke discouragement in me. I cannot run continents, raise millions of dollars for amputees, or offer historic gardens to the public. I cannot stop the pandemic, prevent shootings, or solve the murder in Birmingham.

Here’s the paradoxical point I would like us to consider today: God wants to redeem such discouragement for his highest glory and our greatest good.

This ministry exists to help people respond biblically and redemptively to our fallen culture. But such responses can feel like an exercise in frustration and futility. The moral trajectory of our society is clearly downward; our political divisions are deepening; street violence is threatening; Christian influence seems to be waning.

But when we recognize our inability to make a transforming difference in our broken world, that’s when we can be used by the One who can.

“When I am weak, then I am strong”

Today’s Daily Article was sparked by Br. Todd Blackham’s recent devotional for the Society of St. John the Evangelist in Boston: “The paradox, the crux of our faith, is God’s power being made perfect in weakness. When we can face the sober reality of our helplessness, our powerlessness over sin and separation from the source of life, that’s when Jesus can step in to lift us up.”

When Paul asked the Lord to remove his “thorn in the flesh,” God refused and instead told his apostle, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9a). Paul responded, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (v. 9b). He had learned the source of transforming strength: “When I am weak, then I am strong” (v. 10).

I believe the greatest challenge we face in engaging our fallen culture lies not in the culture but in ourselves. All that Jesus has ever done, he can still do. All of God there is, is in this moment. But he can do through us only what we allow him to do in us.

Self-reliance constricts the Holy Spirit. He can use fully those who depend fully on him. His best for us is far better than our best for ourselves.

Why God gives us discernment

History turns on tiny hinges formed by sacrificial service.

The Battles of Lexington and Concord took place on this day in 1775. Eight Americans were killed at the Battle of Lexington: John Brown, Samuel Hadley, Caleb Harrington, Jonathan Harrington, Robert Munroe, Isaac Muzzey, Asahel Porter, and Jonas Parker. They died never knowing that their sacrifice would spark the American Revolution and change history.

The next time you encounter something in the news that discourages you, embrace that feeling. Don’t turn off the news or turn away in despair. Instead, name the hopelessness you feel and the inadequacy it incites in your spirit.

Now turn your weakness into a request for God’s strength. Ask him to give you words to pray and say, steps to take, compassion to offer.

Oswald Chambers reminded us that “God never gives us discernment so that we may criticize, but that we may intercede.” When we choose to pray and serve despite all opposition and discouragement, we experience the power of God in ways that will change our lives and our culture.

One of my great privileges as a pastor in Dallas was to develop very close friendships with two other pastors in our community. I was eating lunch with them one day when we began discussing the persecuted church around the world and the joy that believers experience when they suffer for Jesus.

One of my friends made this profound point: “When Christianity is easy, it is hard. When Christianity is hard, it is easy.”

Which is true for you today?

Upwords; Max Lucado –Enough to Save You

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Some people feel so saved that they never serve. Some serve at the hope of being saved. Does one of those sentences describe you? Do you feel so saved that you never serve? So content in what God has done that you do nothing? The fact is, we’re here to glorify God in our service.

Or is your tendency the opposite? Perhaps you always serve for fear of not being saved. You’re worried there’s some secret card that exists with your score written on it and your score is not enough. Is that you? Then you need to know this: the blood of Jesus is enough to save you. John 1:29 announces that Jesus is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” The blood of Christ doesn’t cover your sins, conceal your sins, postpone your sins, or diminish your sins. It takes away your sins, once and for all. And since you are saved, you can serve with joy.