In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Defeating Giants

1 Samuel 17:41-54

Life’s “Goliaths” come in all shapes, sizes, and intensities—such as an unhappy relationship, a rebellious child, a difficult job, a pile of debt, or an uncontrollable habit. But if we avail ourselves of God’s power, then we, like David, can ultimately gain victory over a seemingly insurmountable problem.

Notice that David declared victory over Goliath before the battle even began (1 Samuel 17:46). His confidence came from …

• Remembering times in the past when the Lord protected and strengthened him, such as moments when a lion or bear threatened his flock (1 Samuel 17:37). As he faced the fearsome giant, David wisely recalled how faithful God had always been.

• Strong convictions about the Lord and what He could do. David knew he had full access to his Father’s storehouses of power, courage, and wisdom.

• Practical habits that bolstered his faith. David had spent hours alone in the wilderness, listening to God’s voice. So he knew how to discern what the Lord was telling him to do.

I encourage you to try following David’s example. Keep a record of the Lord’s work in your life, and meditate on who He is. Then you, too, can be confident that God is sufficient, no matter how large the problem you’re facing.

Bible in One Year: 2 Kings 1-3

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Risking True Peace

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).

True peace exists only where truth reigns.

People often define peace as the absence of conflict, but God sees it differently. The absence of conflict is merely a truce, which might end overt hostilities but doesn’t resolve the underlying issues. A truce simply introduces a cold war, which often drives the conflict underground, where it smolders until erupting in physical or emotional disaster.

James 3:17 says, “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable.” Godly wisdom, purity, and peace go hand- in-hand. Peace is wisdom in action and is never established at the expense of righteousness. It brings righteousness to bear on the situation, seeking to eliminate the source of conflict and create right relationships. Feuding parties will know true peace only when they are willing to admit that their bitterness and hatred is wrong and humbly seek God’s grace to make things right.

Some people equate peacemaking with evading issues, but true peace can be very confrontive. In Matthew 10:34 Jesus says, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” That may seem to contradict Matthew 5:9, but it doesn’t: Jesus knew that sinful people have to be confronted with the truth before they can experience peace. That can be a painful and difficult process because people usually have a hostile reaction to the gospel before they finally embrace it. Even believers will sometimes react negatively when confronted with God’s truth.

Being a biblical peacemaker has its price. You can expect to upset unbelievers who openly oppose God’s Word as well as believers who compromise its truth for the sake of maintaining “peace” among people of differing doctrinal persuasions. Some will call you narrow-minded and divisive for dealing with controversial issues. Some will misunderstand your motives or even attack you personally. But that’s been the path of every true peacemaker— including our Lord Himself. Take heart and be faithful. Your efforts to bring peace show that you are a child of God.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Ask God for the boldness never to compromise His truth.
  • Pray for those you know who are suffering for the sake of the gospel.

For Further Study

Read Luke 12:51-53, noting how the gospel can bring division even among families.

Joyce Meyer – Tell God Everything

Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people).

— Ephesians 6:18 (AMPC)

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

I encourage you to talk with God about absolutely everything. You can tell Him how you feel, what you desire and what your goals are. Tell Him what you love about Him and about your life and express your gratitude for all that He has done for you.

You can tell God about the things in your life that you don’t like or that are hard for you. Tell Him what you have done that is wrong and talk with Him about all your concerns for yourself, your life, and your loved ones.

You can tell God absolutely anything, and He is never shocked or surprised because He knew all about it before it ever happened. He’s not surprised about anything!

Prayer Starter: Lord, thank You for being my friend and listening to everything I have to say. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Exalted with Him

God exalted him.

 Acts 5:31

Jesus, our Lord, who once was crucified, dead, and buried, now sits upon the throne of glory. The highest place that heaven affords is His by undisputed right. It is vital and helpful to remember that the exaltation of Christ in heaven is a representative exaltation. He is exalted at the Father’s right hand, and though as Jehovah He had eminent glories, in which finite creatures cannot share, yet as the Mediator, the honors that Jesus wears in heaven are the heritage of all the saints.

It is delightful to think of how close Christ’s union is with His people. We are actually one with Him; we are members of His body; and His exaltation is our exaltation. He will allow us to sit upon His throne, even as He has overcome and is seated with His Father on His throne. He has a crown, and He gives us crowns too. He has a throne, but He is not content with having a throne to Himself; on His right hand there must be His queen, dressed in fine gold. He cannot be glorified without His bride.

Look up, believer, to Jesus now. Let the eye of your faith see Him with many crowns upon His head; and remember that one day you will be like Him, when you will see Him as He is. You shall not be as great as He is, you will not be as divine; but you will, in some measure, share the same honors and enjoy the same happiness and the same dignity that He possesses. Be content to live unknown for a little while and to walk your weary way through the fields of poverty or up the hills of affliction; for soon enough you will reign with Christ, for He has “made [us] a kingdom and priests to our God,” and we shall reign forever and ever.1

What a wonderful thought for the children of God! We have Christ for our glorious representative in heaven’s courts right now, and soon He will come and receive us to Himself, to be with Him there, to see His glory and to share His joy.

1) Revelation 5:10

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God’s Strong Arm

“For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them.” (Psalm 44:3)

Do you like to have strong friends? Strong friends can really come in handy. A strong friend can help you lift something heavy. A strong friend can hit the ball really far for your team. A strong friend can stand-up for you if a bully is mean to you.

In Psalm 44, the Hebrew songwriter remembers when the Lord God brought the Hebrews into the Promised Land. The songwriter says in Psalm 44:3 that the Hebrews were not able to win the battles by themselves, but God’s strong right arm won the battles for them.

Does God literally have an arm? No, not really. We know that God is a spirit (John 4:24), and a spirit does not have arms or legs that we can actually see. The songwriter is using a word picture to say that the Lord God of Israel is very strong. Think about it. When you see someone who is very strong, what do notice first? Their arms. Sometimes kids want to show off their muscles. Do you flex your leg to show off your muscles? No! You would probably flex your arms to show how strong you are. When the songwriter says that God’s “arm” saved the Hebrews, he is using a word picture to express that God was stronger than all of Israel’s enemies.

And God is stronger than your enemies, too. The devil is one of our enemies, because he wants us to disobey God. But God is stronger than the devil! Sometimes other people want you to disobey God, and God wants to help you be strong so that you will obey Him. Every person who is trusting in Jesus for salvation is sometimes still tempted to disobey God. God is stronger than any temptation a child of God might face. Just as God defeated the Hebrews’ enemies a long time ago, He wants to defeat our spiritual enemies today. And He can, because God is very strong!

God is stronger than anyone or anything.

My Response:
» Have I been relying on my own strength to help me face a problem?
» What are some “battles” I’m fighting right now that I should give over to God to fight for me?
» How can I show others my faith that my God is stronger than anyone or anything?

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Denison Forum – Carrie Underwood and CeCe Winans steal the show at the 2021 ACM Awards: How excellence leads to gospel opportunities

The attention of the nation has been understandably fixed on the aftermath of Derek Chauvin’s trial and the jury’s verdict that he is guilty of all three charges. As such, other significant events in our culture have largely gone overlooked.

And while I’m not sure I would normally classify the Academy of Country Music Awards as an event of significance, this year’s show qualifies. The ACM made an effort to highlight diversity within their industry, tabbing Mickey Guyton as the first Black woman to co-host the awards show—she shared the evening’s duties with Keith Urban—and capping the night with a performance by the Brothers Osborne, whose lead singer came out as gay last year.

What struck me most, however, was that out of all the storylines and performances that defined the evening, it was the gospel music performance by Carrie Underwood and CeCe Winans from the former’s new album My Savior that stole the show by most accounts. (For more on the album, please read Minni Elkins’ excellent article.)

Now, I feel like I need to say upfront that I’m not a fan of country music. Maybe it was an act of rebellion after moving back to Texas in Junior High or perhaps it’s a character flaw I have yet to fully rectify, but the 2021 Academy of Country Music Awards was among the last things I expected to be writing about this week.

Underwood and Winans’ performance, however, goes beyond country music. The response it has received from various media and news outlets offers two important lessons for us to consider today.

Excellence is easy to appreciate

Some of the same outlets that praised Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s performance of “WAP” at the Grammys last month as “show stealing” and “incredible” described Underwood and Winans’ musical journey through the gospel message in similar terms. And after listening to the latter duo’s stirring performance, it’s easy to understand the appreciation it has garnered.

Both Underwood and Winans demonstrated remarkable vocal range and a clear passion for the songs they shared. Whether it was Carrie’s stirring acapella rendition of “Amazing Grace” or the duo’s collaboration on “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” and “The Old Rugged Cross,” it would be difficult to deny the excellence of their performance, even for those who may not ordinarily have given a second thought to the content of what they sang.

But while few can replicate both women’s vocal brilliance, each of us can aspire to their commitment to using the unique set of gifts that God has granted us to the best of our ability and to the pursuit of his glory. Fortunately, that’s precisely what he asks of us.

You see, there is something about the pursuit of excellence that is easy for people to notice and appreciate, regardless of the context in which it occurs. Perhaps it is easier to recognize when it comes to music, athletics, or other more public displays, but the principle applies to our work, our relationships, and our personal pursuits as well.

We see this pattern displayed in the Bible throughout the course of Daniel’s life.

From the time he was brought to Babylon, Daniel’s commitment to excellence and fulfilling his God-given potential attracted the notice and praise of others. Whether it was as a young man with Nebuchadnezzar after he excelled in his training (Daniel 1) or toward the end of his life with Darius (Daniel 6), Daniel modeled Paul’s instruction to the Colossians: to treat every task and every facet of his life as an opportunity to serve God by pursuing excellence in his service to others (Colossians 3:23–24).

And while that unwavering commitment made enemies among those who looked on with jealousy, it also enabled him to share the message of God in ways that would have otherwise been impossible. That, in turn, leads us to our second point of consideration.

Excellence earns the opportunity to share the gospel

While Carrie Underwood and CeCe Winans are exceptional singers, the music industry is filled with gifted musicians and they would be among the first to tell you that there are others who can at least rival their vocal abilities. Yet, it’s difficult to see many others being given a platform at a secular award show to spend more than seven minutes singing hymns about the Lord.

Granted, country music tends to be a bit more open to lyrics that speak of God than many other genres, but it is still noteworthy that, on a night when they made a point of celebrating their diversity, the faith often seen at odds with certain elements of that diversity was given such a showcase.

Underwood, however, has spent the better part of two decades building a reputation as one of the industry’s brightest stars, winning sixteen ACM awards throughout her still-thriving career. She has also earned the respect of legends like Dolly Parton, who introduced the performance by saying “I have always admired Carrie’s incredible talent, but I am just as impressed with her personal qualities—compassion, kindness, generosity, and, most of all, the powerful faith that we both share.”

As such, she was given the freedom to “TAKE US TO CHURCH,” as the ACM Awards’ official Twitter account described it. And that’s just what she did, sharing the message of our need for God’s grace, the Lord’s unwavering faithfulness, and his offer of salvation through the gift of “The Old Rugged Cross” before concluding with a powerful invitation to celebrate his greatness.

Everyone who witnesses that performance walks away having encountered the gospel. They may not fully realize it, but the seeds have been planted for the Holy Spirit to work through those lyrics to help people encounter the Lord, perhaps for the first time. And it was her consistent commitment to excellence that earned her that opportunity.

What is your motivation?

A. W. Tozer once wrote that “It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it. The motive is everything. Let a man sanctify the Lord God in his heart and he can thereafter do no common act.”

If we will commit to serving the Lord in excellence, offering our best to him in recognition of the fact that he has offered his best to us, then there is no limit to what he can accomplish through our lives. And each day offers us a new opportunity to do just that.

What will God be able to accomplish through your life today?

Upwords; Max Lucado –How Wide Is God’s Love

Listen to Today’s Devotion

It’s nice to be included. You aren’t always. Universities exclude you if you aren’t smart enough. Businesses exclude you if you aren’t qualified enough. And sadly, some churches exclude you if you aren’t good enough. But though they may exclude you, Christ includes you. When asked to describe the width of his love, he stretched one hand to the right and the other hand to the left and had them nailed in that position so you would know he died loving you.

Surely there has to be a limit to this love. You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But David the adulterer never found it. Paul the murderer never found it. Peter the liar never found it. When it came to life, they hit bottom. But when it came to God’s love, they never did. How wide is God’s love? Wide enough for the whole world, and you’re included.