In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Lifting the Weight of Our Burdens

Psalm 55:16-22

Have you ever suddenly awoken in the middle of the night with a heavy burden on your heart? Sometimes this kind of weight is from the Lord and will be lifted when He has accomplished His purpose—for example, an impulse to pray or a strong motivation to do God’s will. Other burdens are caused by sin and weigh us down until we confess them.

But regular, daily burdens are not for us to carry. We tend to think of worries as our lot in life—like responsibilities we’re to handle without “bothering” God. But really our lot is to walk obediently with God and trust Him to do the heavy lifting in our life. Scripture says we are to cast every burden on Him (1 Peter 5:7). We must identify the concern, surrender it into His care, and have faith He will sustain us as He has promised.

Relinquishing our grasp on burdens does not mean we stop thinking about them. We still prayerfully bring them to God, listen for His guidance, and bless His name for bearing worries on our behalf (Psalm 68:19). But our concerns won’t destroy us if they’re set on God’s shoulders. Are you carrying a heavy load? God wants to hold it—and you—in His hand.

Bible in One Year: 2 Kings 4-6

Our Daily Bread — Seeing with New Eyes

Bible in a Year:

[Don’t look] to your own interests but each of you to the interests of . . . others.

Philippians 2:4

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Philippians 2:1–5

A video game, one that’s become a cultural phenomenon, places a hundred players on a virtual island to compete until one player remains. Whenever a player eliminates you from the contest, you can continue to watch through that player’s vantage point. As one journalist notes, “When you step into another player’s shoes and inhabit their point of view, the emotional register . . . shifts from self-preservation to . . . communal solidarity. . . . You begin to feel invested in the stranger who, not too long ago, did you in.”

Transformation happens whenever we open ourselves to see another’s experience, looking beyond our own vision and encountering another’s pain, fear, or hopes. When we follow Jesus’ example and “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit” and instead “in humility value others above [our]selves,” then we notice things we would have missed otherwise (Philippians 2:3). Our concerns broaden. We ask different questions. Rather than being preoccupied with only our own needs or angst, we become invested in others’ well-being. Rather than looking to “[our] own interests,” we become committed “to the interests of . . . others” (v. 4). Rather than protecting what we assume we need to thrive, we joyfully pursue whatever helps others flourish.

With this transformed vision, we gain compassion for others. We discover new ways to love our family. We may even make a friend out of an enemy!

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

How can the Holy Spirit help you avoid becoming small, narrow, or selfish? How do you think God’s inviting you to see others with new eyes?

Jesus, too often what I see is only my fear, my pain, or my lack. Help me to see my sisters and brothers. I want to truly see them and love them.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Hindrances to Peace

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

Sin and falsehood hinder true peace.

Just as righteousness and truth are the noble companions of peace, so sin and falsehood are its great hindrances. The prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately [evil]; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9). Jesus said, “Out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man” (Mark 7:21-23).

People with sinful hearts create a sinful society that resists true peace. Ironically, many who talk of peace will also pay huge sums of money to watch two men beat the daylights out of each other in a boxing ring! Our society’s heroes tend to be the macho, hard-nosed, tough guys. Our heroines tend to be free-spirited women who lead marches and stir up contention. Psychologists and psychiatrists tell us to stand up for our rights and get everything we can for ourselves. That breeds strife and conditions people to reject the peace of the gospel.

Beyond that, the unbelieving world has never tolerated God’s peacemakers. Christ Himself often met with violent resistance. His accusers said, “He stirs up the people” (Luke 23:5). Paul’s preaching frequently created conflict as well. He spent much time under house arrest and in filthy Roman prisons. On one occasion his enemies described him as “a real pest . . . who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world” (Acts 24:5).

All who proclaim the gospel will eventually meet with opposition because sin and falsehood have blinded people’s hearts to true peace. That’s why Paul warned us that all who desire to be godly will suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12). You can avoid strife by remaining silent about the Lord, but a faithful peacemaker is willing to speak the truth regardless of the consequences. Let that be true of you.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for Christ, who is the solution for the world’s problem of sin and falsehood.
  • Follow Paul’s example by praying for boldness to proclaim God’s truth at every opportunity (Eph. 6:19).

For Further Study

Read Matthew 10:16-25, noting the kind of reception the disciples were to expect from unbelievers.

Joyce Meyer – Get a Goal

 …He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].

— Hebrews 11:6 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Power Thoughts Devo – by Joyce Meyer

Think of an area in your life in which you need to refuse to give up. Come up with a goal—one that will require you to be disciplined and overcome some obstacles, but one that also promises great reward. It may be as basic as making your bed each morning, or as ambitious as running a marathon or climbing Mount Everest. It may be to break free from a fear of flying or a fear of public speaking, or it may be to overcome an addiction of some kind. It may be cleaning your house or getting out of debt. Just make sure you and God are in agreement, depend on Him for the strength to do it, and then go after your goal with everything in you.

Be full of holy determination—not some kind of fleshly determination or willpower—but true God-given determination. You do have self-control. It is a fruit of the Spirit, and it is in you— believe it and begin walking in it.

In agreement with God, you can pursue your goals with diligence and determination.

Prayer Starter: Thank You, Lord, for giving me the determination to set goals and pursue my dreams with diligence. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –How Are You Fighting Sin?

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

 Romans 8:37

We go to Christ for forgiveness, and then too often look to the law for power to fight our sins. Paul issues this rebuke: “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? . . . Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”1 Take your sins to Christ’s cross, for the flesh can only be crucified there: We are crucified with Him. The only weapon to fight sin with is the spear that pierced the side of Jesus.

To give an illustration—if you want to overcome an angry temper, how do you go about it? It is very possible that you have never tried the right way of going to Jesus with it. How did I get salvation? I came to Jesus just as I was, and I trusted Him to save me. I must kill my angry temper in the same way. It is the only way in which I can ever kill it. I must go to the cross with it and say to Jesus, “Lord, I trust You to deliver me from it.” This is the only way to give it a deathblow.

Are you covetous? Do you feel the world entangle you? You may struggle against this evil as long as you please, but if it is your besetting sin, you will never be delivered from it in any other way than by the blood of Jesus. Take it to Christ. Tell Him, “Lord, I have trusted You, and Your name is Jesus, for You save Your people from their sins. Lord, this is one of my sins; save me from it!”

Ordinances are nothing without Christ as a means of mortification. Your prayers, and your repentances, and your tears—the whole of them put together—are worth nothing apart from Him. Only Jesus can do helpless sinners good, and helpless saints too. You must be conquerors through Him who has loved you if you will be a conqueror at all. Our laurels must grow among His olives in Gethsemane.

1) Galatians 3:1-3

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Forgiving

“He will turn again; He will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19)

Have you ever wondered if God has really forgiven you of your sin after you’ve confessed it to Him, and asked His forgiveness? Do you fear there’s a possibility that He’ll hold your sin against you in the future? In our verse for today, God compares His forgiveness of our sins as if He has thrown them “into the depths of the sea.”

Consider the following amazing facts about the deepest part of the sea:

– The deepest point of the Pacific Ocean is called the “Marianas Trench.”

– Its depth is 36,089 ft. (nearly 7 miles!)

– The lowest part of the Marianas Trench is called the “Challenger Deep.”

– “Mt. Everest could fit into the Challenger Deep and its peak still be covered by over a mile and a quarter of ocean. If you dropped a steel ball into the Challenger Deep from a ship, the ball would fall through the ocean for sixty-three minutes before it hit bottom.” (Science 5 for Christian Schools, Second Edition, BJU Press, 1990, page 31.)

Just think what that means! The deepest part of the sea could completely cover Mt. Everest! Now, with that thought in mind, read Micah 7:19 once more. God is giving us a wonderful illustration to show us that our sins are forgiven for all eternity. We read in Jeremiah 31:34b, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” You will never have to wonder again whether your confessed sin will be forgiven by God. He has “cast all your sin into the depths of the sea.”

Spend some time today in prayer thanking God for His assurance that your sins are forgiven. Another good verse to memorize would be 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

God forgives our sins and puts them far away from Him.

My Response:
» Have I been doubting God’s promises about forgiven sin?
» How can I show others that I rejoice in an amazing, forgiving God?

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Denison Forum – The national conversation over Ma’Khia Bryant’s shooting: A call for responding with reason

While the world waited in anticipation for the final verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial on Tuesday, sixteen-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant was shot and killed by police in Columbus, Ohio. Hours later, the body cam footage was released and appears to show that the officer delivered the fatal blow moments before Bryant, who was holding a knife, could do the same to another young woman.

Do those circumstances alter the tragedy of Bryant losing her life at such a young age? Absolutely not. But they do give it context, and that context is important for understanding what really happened and how we should respond.

You see, even the few hours between when the news of Bryant’s death was first reported and when the footage was released were enough for many to form and voice very strong opinions about the heartbreaking event. And for many, those opinions were not greatly changed by the video.

NBA star LeBron James, for example, was among the most prominent and controversial voices to weigh in. On Wednesday he tweeted and then quickly deleted a picture of a Columbus police officer with the caption “You’re next. #accountability.” He later explained that he removed the tweet because people used it “to create more hate” and that “ANGER does (not do) any of us any good and that includes myself! Gathering all the facts and educating does though. My anger is still here for what happened that lil girl. My sympathy for her family and may justice prevail!”

As the protests over Bryant’s death in the days since demonstrate, many share LeBron’s anger and frustration. And while we can debate the degree to which those emotions are warranted and well-placed in this instance, I’d like to focus our attention today on a different question, one that pertains to a problem that has been building across our culture for some time now and shows few signs of changing anytime soon.

Know why you’re speaking

While discussing the shooting on-air Wednesday night, CNN’s Chris Cuomo praised Don Lemon’s initial response of choosing to be “cautious about it . . . because there was a lot of emotion, and understandably so. You’ve got a sixteen-year-old kid who’s gone.” The two then went on to describe the challenges police face when called to a scene where, whether or not the officer fired his weapon, “I think that someone’s life probably would have ended.”

In highly charged situations, such as the shooting in Ohio, responding with reason rather than emotion is an essential but difficult task. It becomes even more challenging, however, when making a fast response is more important than making an informed response, which unfortunately is often the case in today’s cultural climate.

As Christians, we cannot afford to fall into that trap, as doing so drastically increases the chances we will speak, tweet, or post something that quickly looks foolish or offensive (often because it is).

Fortunately, there is a fairly simple question we can ask ourselves to help avoid that temptation: Why do I feel the need to share this thought with others?

It may sound simplistic, but so many of the mistakes we make in conversations on a variety of platforms come about because we are either trying to contribute to a conversation we don’t fully understand, earn points with friends and those we admire, or vent our frustrations at a given topic.

Knowing why you feel the need to speak is a big part of making sure you won’t regret what you say. And it’s a principle Jesus modeled well throughout his ministry.

Think before you speak

In John 8:1–11, for example, we find Jesus teaching at the temple when, in an effort to test him, the scribes and Pharisees dragged a woman in front of him and asked, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now, in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”

Instead of answering right away, Jesus bent down and started writing on the ground with his finger. When he was finally ready to answer, he stood and said, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” He then knelt back down and continued writing in the dirt.

Over time, what had begun as a tense and emotionally charged situation eventually de-escalated to the point that he was left alone with the woman.

While Jesus could have responded correctly without hesitation—an ability we often lack—by taking a moment to collect his thoughts, he not only ensured that his words were chosen carefully but also waited until at least some of the initial furor had died down. He was then able to bring God’s wisdom and perspective to bear on the situation in a way that otherwise would not have been possible.

A challenge for you today

The national conversation surrounding the death of Ma’Khia Bryant could have been far more productive if there were more voices that prioritized speaking reasonably rather than rapidly.

Unfortunately, it’s rare if we make it more than a few days before the next social calamity provides us the chance to try again.

When it does, will you take a moment to ask yourself why you feel the need to share your thoughts before you do so? How you answer that question often has a direct correlation to how much God is able to use those thoughts to advance his kingdom.

Choose them wisely.

Upwords; Max Lucado –Leave Your List at the Cross

Listen to Today’s Devotion

God not only wants the mistakes we’ve made, he wants the ones we’re making. Are you drinking too much? Are you cheating at work or cheating at marriage? Mismanaging your life? Don’t pretend nothing’s wrong. The first step after a stumble must be in the direction of the cross. 1 John 1:9 promises, “If we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away.”

So start with your bad moments. And while you’re there, give God your mad moments. There’s a story about a man bitten by a dog, and when he learned the dog had rabies he began a list. The doctor said, “There’s no need for you to make a will—you’ll be fine.” “Oh I’m not making a will,” he said. “I’m making a list of all the people I want to bite.” God wants that list. He wants you to leave it at the cross.