In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley –A Haven from Loneliness

  • MAY 18, 2021

Ephesians 4:1-6

God created humanity with a need for companionship with Himself and one another. When we don’t experience it, we suffer the emotional turmoil of loneliness. But in His Word, God assures us of His constant presence. He wants all believers to know that He is near and will never leave them (Deut. 31:6).

Another way God meets our need for companionship is through the church. When we trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior, we become one not only with Him but also with every other believer. The church is called the body of Christ, and one of its purposes is to meet our need for person-to-person connection. A spiritual body works much like a human one—parts are both independent and interdependent, each needing others in order to function well.

To be spiritually and emotionally healthy, we all need support from our brothers and sisters in Christ. In his letter to the Ephesian church, Paul emphasizes Christlike character qualities that make this possible: humility, gentleness, patience, tolerance, and love. He also admonishes believers to accept one another (Rom. 15:7) and bear each other’s burdens (Gal. 6:2).

If you’re feeling lonely, draw near to God and His people to receive the comfort He gladly supplies.

Bible in One Year: 2 Chronicles 24-25

Our Daily Bread — Facing the Darkness

Bible in a Year:

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.

Isaiah 9:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Isaiah 9:2–6

In the mid-1960s, two people participated in research on the effects of darkness on the human psyche. They entered separate caves, while researchers tracked their eating and sleeping habits. One remained in total darkness for 88 days, the other 126 days. Each guessed how long they could remain in darkness and were off by months. One took what he thought was a short nap only to discover he’d slept for 30 hours. Darkness is disorienting.

The people of God found themselves in the darkness of impending exile. They waited, unsure of what would take place. The prophet Isaiah used darkness as a metaphor for their disorientation and as a way of speaking about God’s judgment (Isaiah 8:22). Previously, the Egyptians had been visited with darkness as a plague (Exodus 10:21–29). Now Israel found herself in darkness.

But a light would come. “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2). Oppression would be broken, disorientation would end. A Child would come to change everything and bring about a new day—a day of forgiveness and freedom (v. 6).

Jesus did come! And although the darkness of the world can be disorienting, may we experience the comfort of the forgiveness, freedom, and light found in Christ.

By:  Glenn Packiam

Reflect & Pray

What would it look like to embrace a new day of freedom and forgiveness? How can you welcome the light of Christ today?

Dear Jesus, shine Your light into my life. Bring forgiveness and freedom. Help me to live in the light of Your arrival.

Denison Forum – Supreme Court to consider case that could undermine Roe v. Wade: The power of ideas and steps to biblical thinking

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that could undermine Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion across America. The Wall Street Journal explains that the case in question is “a Mississippi abortion law that seeks to ban the procedure after fifteen weeks of pregnancy, a case that gives the justices an opportunity to revisit the court’s precedents protecting abortion rights.”

According to the New York Times, pro-life supporters are “expressing excitement at the court’s decision to consider the case, saying they hoped the justices would overturn Roe and allow states to restrict abortion at any stage of pregnancy.”

John F. Kennedy famously noted, “A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.” If anyone doubts the wisdom of his statement, they need look no further than the idea that led to legalized abortion in this country.

More than sixty-two million abortions have occurred since Roe v. Wade; 93 percent of abortions in the US are elective. This means that 57 million lives have been ended through abortion for reasons that have nothing to do with rape, fetal health, or the mother’s health.

Why you should “watch your thoughts”

Abortion is just one example of the power of ideas. The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas is another: the latter was created in 1987 “for the purpose of liberating Palestine” from the former.

Article Thirteen of Hamas’ charter rejects all “so-called peaceful solutions” to its conflict with Israel and states, “There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad” (holy war). Article Thirty-Three calls on all Muslims to continue this war “until liberation is completed, the invaders are vanquished, and Allah’s victory sets in.” Accordingly, its history is one of aggression and violence toward Israel and the Jewish people.

Another example is the idea that biological males who identify as females should be able to compete against females in sports. Female athletes who have lost to such competitors are now speaking out against regulations they consider unfair. The NCAA claims that strength and endurance advantages of transgender women “dissipate after about one year of estrogen or testosterone-suppression therapy,” but a study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine reports that such individuals continue to have a competitive advantage over female athletes.

The philosopher Lao Tzu warned us: “Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”

Three steps to biblical thinking

In Monday’s Daily Article, I stated the importance of investigating truth claims before accepting them. We are to worship God “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24) as we “make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge” (2 Peter 1:5). “Fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7), but “the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6).

In other words, to think effectively, we need to think biblically.

I recently studied a prayer in Psalm 119 that offers practical help in this regard. Here we find three steps to biblical thinking and living.

One: Choose to immerse ourselves in God’s word and worship.

The psalmist testified: “With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord! I will keep your statutes” (v. 145). Obedience is the natural and joyful response of a person who worships God with passion. When last did you pray to God and obey his word with your “whole heart”?

Two: Meet God early and late.

The psalmist continued: “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words” (v. 147). The best way to walk with God is to begin walking with God. The sooner we connect with the Spirit of God and the word of God, the sooner they can empower and guide us.

The psalmist then added: “My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise” (v. 148). The best way to end the day is by meditating on God’s promises and presence.

Three: Seek God’s word for the challenges we face.

Being immersed in God’s word through the day does not prevent obstacles and challenges. Rather, it empowers us to face the temptations and opposition of a fallen world. For example, after the psalmist noted, “They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose” (v. 150), he claimed the biblical truth, “But you are near, O Lord, and all your commandments are true” (v. 151).

Like Jesus, who confronted the wilderness temptations of Satan by reciting biblical truth (Matthew 4:1–11), we should know God’s word and use its wisdom to defeat our enemy and glorify our Father.

Billy Graham’s pastor

Thinking and living biblically is the path to God’s best for our lives and for our culture. The less popular God’s word becomes, the more God’s word is needed. And the more we need to think and live biblically to glorify the One who has given us his word and his Son.

Don Wilton has served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina, since 1993. He was also Billy Graham’s personal pastor. I am reading his new book, Saturdays with Billy, in which he describes his weekly visits with Dr. Graham.

As Dr. Wilton told the Christian Post, humility was a constant theme of his encounters with Dr. Graham. The world-famous evangelist’s life reflected Galatians 6:14, a verse that was posted in a number of places around his home. It reads: “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

If we take time to immerse our minds in this biblical truth, it will become true in our lives and our legacy.

Why not today?

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley –Praying in a Crisis

James 5:13-20

When was the last time you cried out to God about something other than personal issues? Sometimes we’re so engrossed in our own life that we fail to see the crises others face. Whether circumstances involve total strangers or hit close to home, it may feel as if such matters are too big for one person’s prayer to make a difference.

Well, don’t believe it. James 5:16 assures us that “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (NIV). In order to accomplish His will in Israel, the Lord used Elijah’s prayers in a mighty way, even though the prophet was just a human being like us.  

Almighty God is able to heal, bring peace, and change circumstances, and He has chosen to let His children participate in the process through prayer. He instructs us to talk with Him about everything (Phil. 4:6) and promises to hear and answer our requests that align with His will (1 John 5:14-15).

You can have an impact on the lives of others when you intercede on their behalf. So let news of a tragedy or problem—regardless of whether it affects you—become a catalyst to talk to God.

Bible in One Year: 2 Chronicles 21-23

Our Daily Bread — Pursued by Love

Bible in a Year:

I will say, “Salvation comes from the Lord.”

Jonah 2:9

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Jonah 2:1–9

“I fled Him, down the nights and down the days,” opens the famous poem “The Hound of Heaven” by English poet Francis Thompson. Thompson describes Jesus’ unceasing pursuit—despite his efforts to hide, or even run away, from God. The poet imagines God speaking to him and saying, “I am He whom thou seekest!”

The pursuing love of God is a central theme of the book of Jonah. The prophet received an assignment to tell the people of Nineveh (notorious enemies of Israel) about their need to turn to God, but instead “Jonah ran away from the Lord” (Jonah 1:3). He secured passage on a ship sailing in the opposite direction of Nineveh, but the vessel was soon overcome by a violent storm. To save the ship’s crew, Jonah was thrown overboard before being swallowed by a large fish (1:15–17).

In his own beautiful poem, Jonah recounted that despite his best efforts to run away from God, God pursued him. When Jonah was overcome by his situation and needed to be saved, he cried out to God in prayer and turned toward His love (2:2, 8). God answered and provided rescue not only for Jonah, but for his Assyrian enemies as well (3:10).

As described in both poems, there may be seasons of our lives when we try to run from God. Even then Jesus loves us and is at work guiding us back into restored relationship with Him (1 John 1:9).

By:  Lisa M. Samra

Reflect & Pray

When have you tried to run from God? How did He provide rescue?

Jesus, thank You for lovingly pursuing me to offer rescue.

Denison Forum – Pet tiger recaptured in Houston: Trusting God’s word when we do not understand his ways

A pet tiger that had been wandering around a Houston neighborhood for several days has been found safe. It was taken to an animal sanctuary yesterday morning, and for good reason: there really is no such thing as a “pet” tiger. As the Humane Society notes, attacks by captive tigers have killed children and adults.

What is true physically is even more true spiritually: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He has clearly been roaring lately, as a scan of the headlines shows:

  • A four-year-old boy was found dead Saturday morning on a street in Dallas. Police said he died in a violent manner and have arrested a suspect in connection with his death.
  • The Biden administration is seeking ways to prevent cyber threats such as the ransomware attack that caused havoc for Americans on the East Coast.
  • Economists are concerned about rising inflation and disappointing jobs reports.
  • As the conflict in Israel continues, observers report that Hamas is winning the battle for leadership of the Palestinian national movement, with significant consequences for the future of peace in Israel.

If you and I were all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful, we would not allow tigers to attack humans or humans to mistreat tigers. We would not allow children to be harmed, much less murdered. We would not allow attacks of any kind on innocent people, or inflation to threaten our financial wellbeing, or military conflicts and their inevitable destruction.

And yet, our all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God does. Obeying God’s word when we don’t understand his ways is one of the great challenges of the Christian life and a significant obstacle to faith for many skeptics. In a culture with greater scientific progress and technological sophistication than ever before in human history, it is easy to deceive ourselves into believing that we should not believe what we cannot understand.

However, with God the opposite is actually true. To paraphrase the classic song, the less we understand his hand, the more we need to trust his heart.

The miracle of medicinal mud

John 9 finds Jesus in the Temple precincts, where he had been debating with the religious authorities. As he left, he and his disciples “saw a man blind from birth” (v. 1). The Great Physician responded to the man’s plight in a strange way: “He spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’” (vv. 6–7a).

If I were the man born blind, I would question both what Jesus did and what he asked me to do.

Using mud for medicinal purposes was common in the ancient world. So-called “medicinal clay” is described on Mesopotamian tablets around 2500 BC and by ancient Egyptians as well. It can draw toxic substances from the body, protect against bacterial infections, and help with skin diseases. But none of this would be true for a person born blind.

Nor does Jesus’ command to the man make sense in human terms. The pool of Bethesda was adjacent to the temple area; we visit it whenever I lead groups to Israel. The pool of Siloam, by contrast, was at the opposite end of the city. Formed by Hezekiah’s tunnel in 701 BC, it has been partially excavated and is a remarkable site. I have taught John 9 many times when visiting it.

But we make our way there on buses as sighted people. Imagine being blind, your face caked with mud, making your way through the city streets. None of this would make sense to you. But the man obeyed what he did not understand, with this result: “He went and washed and came back seeing” (v. 7b).

Obeying God’s will when we don’t understand his word is a common theme of Scripture. Noah built an ark to protect from a flood such as the world had never seen; Moses stood before a Red Sea that only God could part; Joshua and the people stepped into a flooded Jordan river that the Lord then stopped; the disciples who left their nets to follow Jesus had no idea they would become the spiritual forebears of billions of saved souls.

Each testifies today: when we do not see God’s hand, we can trust his heart.

Teaching calculus to a three-year-old

Where are you being asked to trust what you do not understand? What does God want you to do or stop doing in order to be more like Jesus? Who is he asking you to forgive? From whom is he calling you to seek forgiveness? Where is he calling you to use your influence and witness even more passionately and courageously for your Lord?

When it’s hard to trust God, remember this fact: human minds cannot understand divine sovereignty (Isaiah 55:8–9).

This should come as no surprise. If God is omniscient and our minds are finite and fallen, how should we understand his thoughts? He is not withholding explanations he could give if he wished—there are times when we simply are unable to understand his purposes and ways.

If we cannot explain calculus to a three-year-old, how much less can the King of the universe explain his thoughts to fallen humans?

Far from a problem for skeptics, this proposition should encourage faith in God. If our minds could fully understand God, either he would not be God or we would be. If we could understand every word of the Bible, we would have good reason not to believe that God inspired it.

I traveled in Turkey many years ago doing research for a book on the seven churches of Revelation. My driver and guide was a committed Muslim. During our conversations, he explained that he could not become a Christian because he could not understand the doctrine of the Trinity. I asked him: If there were no mystery to the nature of God, would he truly be God?

When you cannot see his hand

As we’ll see tomorrow, I am not asking you to suspend your intellect or to accept truth claims without investigation. Rather, I am encouraging us to believe that a Father who sent his Son to die on a cross so we could live eternally is a God who always wants our best.

I can testify both rationally and personally that it really is true: when we cannot see his hand, we can trust his heart.

Would you trust your greatest challenge to your Father’s heart today?

Upwords; Max Lucado –Everyone Needs a Cheerleader


Every person needs to hear a “wonderful.” Here’s why: companies spend billions of dollars to convince us that we are chubby, smelly, ugly, and out-of-date. Inadequacy indwells a billion hearts. Would you distribute encouragement? Will you make some happiness happen? Will you remind humanity that we are made in God’s image? That we are chosen and destined and loved?

Start by listening intently. Ask someone to tell you his or her story. Give the rarest of gifts: your full attention. Praise abundantly. Biblical encouragement is no casual kind word, but rather a premeditated resolve to lift the spirit of another person. Everyone needs a cheerleader. Give the gift that God loves to give: the gift of encouragement. This is how happiness happens.

‘The A-Team’ — Show’s Continuing Appeal a Cultural Victory

A Love Letter to The A-Team


The series holds up after all these years, its sustained appeal representing a certain cultural victory.`

We tend to be ashamed of our childhood heroes. I, in particular, idolized a fair number of idiots. However, my admiration for The A-Team remains intact over the years. My childhood would have been much duller without Murdock, Face, B. A., and Hannibal Smith — may he rest in peace. Now, I’ve rewatched the series and understood why it has stood the test of time much better than the poems I wrote to my first girlfriend. Those four madmen were a cornucopia of values: loyalty, justice, kindness, patriotism, freedom, and a fine sense of humor. They also exhibited a very justifiable skepticism about the goodness of the government. It was everything I miss in today’s television and, almost always, in society too. And in politics. Oddly enough, there is much we can still learn from The A-Team. And I don’t mean how to make bazookas out of pipes and lettuce.

The whole series was dreamt up by Stephen J. Cannell and Frank Lupo (Lupo passed away in Florida last February from cardiac arrest). Both poured not only their talent into the show, but also their moral code, something Cannell always attributed to his parents’ strong Christian convictions. The A-Team is more than the sentimental biography of several generations. It is also our moral biography. From it, I learned to keep calm, smile, and light a cigar every time the enemy locks me in a shed and threatens to kill me. Life is better that way. You know: Be happy. It disconcerts the enemy.

From these four men, we learned never to cooperate with evil. On one occasion in my own life, I learned in a bar that someone was hatching a dirty scheme to force my dismissal from a company, quite unfairly. Far from succumbing to discouragement, I lit a cigarette, put on my best smile, ordered a round for my confidants, and we toasted to the future — moments after I called my boss and quit. I felt like Hannibal when he smiles at the camera as everything explodes behind him.

My attempts to emulate Face were less fortunate. More than once, I tried to get out of my tedious gym classes under the most diverse pretexts. While enjoying a rare lucky streak one day, I decided it would be a good idea to pretend that I had suffered a terrible injury. My strategy failed because I invented a muscle that doesn’t exist and my teacher — oh dear me — was also a doctor. These things happened to Face too, I thought, to console my humiliation.

As for the other characters, Murdock would suddenly come to his senses when his friends were in danger, and B. A. could not bear the suffering of the weak. His rudeness was a front. Even in spite of the constant bickering between the two, in the episode where Murdock is badly wounded and dying, B. A. whispers in his ear, “Come on, hang in there. I like your crazy stuff.”

On another occasion, a religious group that did not approve of their use of violence hired them. Mobsters wanted to drive the religious group out of their camp to take over their land. Hannibal, respectful of the group’s beliefs, promised to act without shooting or fighting, but the A-Team fails and has to hand out a few slaps. Not too many, but the client, appalled, fires them. When they are on their way home after abandoning the mission, the colonel decided to backtrack: They would return, no longer as mercenaries, but just to pass the time, to beat up the bad guys. Face thought it was madness and a waste of time, but, once in combat, he was the first one to defend the cause for which they were no longer going to be paid.

They were, without a doubt though, mercenaries. Life unwittingly placed them on the fringes of the law. But there are many occasions in which they accepted missions for clients who didn’t have the means to pay them, because once again, in The A-Team, there is something intrinsically linked to American values: helping those who suffer injustice at the hands of thugs.

They themselves were the victims of injustice, accused of a crime they had not committed. This ease of conscience permeated the whole storyline, and that soon awakened the audience’s complicity. While the antagonists, Colonels Decker and Lynch, persecuted the team more to bolster their own egos than to pursue the law, and are often moved by hatred, there was no trace of resentment against them among the four protagonists.

Hannibal, for his part, simply seemed to get a kick out of thwarting Decker’s attempts to catch him. And here we have another life lesson: to distinguish between enemies. There are bad guys, and then there are those who are simply mistaken. For instance, the military police, whom the A-Team always defeated but who showed certain signs of complicity, usually end up cooperating by helping to catch mobsters and other bad guys. It is impossible not to be reminded of G. K. Chesterton’s words: “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him”.

Worshipping violence is easy, and on television, you can make things look more horrible than in reality. The action movies of the last 40 years prove it. The A-Team though, simply didn’t go for it. The bad guys never died. Even after they’d flipped over 200 times, they’d come out of the flaming car, dazed but alive. It would have been more plausible for the bad guys to die, but it would have been less fun.

Our heroes, however, were not angels. They were deeply human. Murdock was a basket case and could be a real pain in the ass; Face could spoil any plan if a pretty girl got in the way, and would always do his best to keep his suit tidy; B. A. suffered from a pathological bad temper, although that was perhaps his only vice; and as for Hannibal, despite his old colonel’s diligence, his arrogance would often make life complicated. The characters were so well woven that all these defects only succeeded in awakening sympathy and laughter in the spectator.

Unfortunately, the last season was a disaster. The writers decided to bet everything on action with no comedy, and they subjected the A-Team to a police protectorate. Naturally, the audience was crushed. Since then, despite being a cult series for millions of viewers, everything we’ve heard about our heroes has been confusing. We’ve heard that the actors got along terribly and that the real characters were not as wonderful as the fictional ones. That’s not exactly the case either. Progressive do-gooderism has also tried to undermine the show’s legacy. All things considered, Face didn’t like boys, B. A. despised vegans, Hannibal’s plans weren’t exactly carbon-neutral, and Murdock’s greatest folly was his love of America. Netflix wouldn’t give a dime for something like that.

Context is important. George Peppard (who played Hannibal) was the only one who was already a big star when the series was launched. It stands to reason that he might have acted with a certain arrogance, amending scripts on a whim. Perhaps that tension between management and Peppard himself helped make the series better. His co-stars say that he would often arrive on set and cross out half a script from that day’s shoot, saying, “This is all I’m going to say, man.” And the rest of them had to adapt. I don’t think that’s necessarily a flaw.

What is certain is that George Peppard was not an easy guy to work with. Dwight Schultz (who played Murdock) joked about it. When they met in the dressing room on the first day, Peppard held out his hand and said, “Hi, I’m George Peppard and I’m not a very nice guy.” That cynicism of the character, which made him so cool, was not a pose. Neither was Face’s gentlemanly style — just look at him today! — B. A.’s competitive spirit, or Murdock’s madness and brilliant sense of humor. As for Peppard’s fights with B. A., there was a logical competition of egos. Hannibal was the show’s star and B. A. had become popular with children.

Peppard’s own view of The A-Team on British television years later confirms all the keys to the success of the series:

I think the A-Team are the worst shots in the world. But it is good, because it tells everybody we’re out for fun, there’s going to be no blood, there’s going to be no horror, you know what we intend, you know we don’t like the bad guys, and we do defeat them. It also gave us some leeway into farce, because basically, the best thing about The A-Team to me is when you have something utterly ridiculous that’s treated with absolute seriousness, and when we did that well, I thought we were very funny.

A few weeks ago, I conducted an experiment: I put the series on for a group of children between six and ten years old. I thought they would get bored within the first minute. Ten episodes later, they’re still begging me to sit down and watch the next episode, they’re playing the A-Team at the playground, and they’ve forgotten all about their deplorable monster dolls or their school’s gender-role-swapping games. Now they know what it’s like to fight for the moral code they inherited from their elders, and it’s more fun for them than the woke stuff, or Disney’s phony sentimentality.

I never thought that the great American cultural battle would consist, after all’s said and done, of sitting and watching television for a while.


ITXU DÍAZ is a Spanish journalist, political satirist, and author. 

Source: ‘The A-Team’ — Show’s Continuing Appeal a Cultural Victory | National Review

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Choosing to Believe

John 3:1-21

Salvation isn’t something we can claim because we were born to believing parents or have attended church. Jesus warned that many would call Him Lord without actually belonging to Him (Matt. 7:22-23). To become a genuine believer in Jesus Christ, we need the following:

• An understanding of the gospel. In order to believe and receive the good news of Jesus Christ, a person must have an understanding of his or her hopeless, sinful condition. It’s also necessary to recognize Jesus’ death on the cross as the sufficient sacrifice required to remove all sins.

• A definite turning point. When someone understands the gospel, he or she will turn from sin in repentance and toward God in faith and obedience.

• A changed life. Changing direction from our old fleshly lifestyle makes way for new life in Christ. Believers have a changed heart, and the sins we once loved, we now hate.

By grace, God’s salvation is offered to all who will believe and receive it through faith. Those who follow Jesus don’t often trudge through the practices of religion out of habit. Instead, their worship and joy are a vibrant response to the personal relationship they have with the Lord.

Bible in One Year: 2 Chronicles 1-4

Our Daily Bread — Listening to Wise Advice

Bible in a Year:

The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.

Proverbs 12:15

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Proverbs 12:2–15

During the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln once found himself wanting to please a politician, so he issued a command to transfer certain Union Army regiments. When the secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, received the order, he refused to carry it out. He said that the president was a fool. Lincoln was told what Stanton had said, and he replied: “If Stanton said I’m a fool, then I must be, for he is nearly always right. I’ll see for myself.” As the two men talked, the president quickly realized that his decision was a serious mistake, and without hesitation he withdrew it. Though Stanton had called Lincoln a fool, the president proved wise by not digging in his heels when Stanton disagreed with him. Instead, Lincoln listened to advice, considered it, and changed his mind.

Have you ever encountered someone who simply wouldn’t listen to wise advice? (See 1 Kings 12:1–11.) It can be infuriating, can’t it? Or, even more personal, have you ever refused to listen to advice? As Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” People may not always be right, but the same goes for us! Knowing that everyone makes mistakes, only fools assume they’re the exception. Instead, let’s exercise godly wisdom and listen to the wise advice of others—even if we initially disagree. Sometimes that’s exactly how God works for our good (v. 2).

By:  Con Campbell

Reflect & Pray

Why are you sometimes reluctant to listen to the wise advice of others? How can you be sure the advice you receive reflects true wisdom?

God of wisdom, teach me Your ways and help me to avoid folly. Thank You for putting others in my life who are in a position to offer helpful advice when I need it.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Trials’ Lessons: Increased Wisdom

“‘But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man does not know its value, nor is it found in the land of the living’” (Job 28:12-13).

God’s wisdom is our source for understanding life and all its trials.

The supernatural wisdom believers need in order to understand their trials is simply not available from our society. During Job’s ordeal he soon learned the utter inadequacy both of his reason and his friends’ misguided advice. That led him to the profound conclusion that the Lord’s wisdom is the only source for comprehending life and all its difficulties.

Wisdom in general has always been among the highest, most respected virtues believers can have. The Lord was greatly pleased when Solomon asked for wisdom rather than riches or power (1 Kings 3:5-13), and Solomon later set forth the basic importance of God’s wisdom: “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Prov. 2:6).

God’s wisdom puts things in the right perspective during trials and helps us endure them. But as we have already noted, it is not something we will have automatically. The apostle James, in the context of a passage about trials, says we must ask for wisdom: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).

In keeping with our series on trials’ lessons, it’s crucial that as we experience difficult tests, we ask God for wisdom to persevere according to His Word. Without a practical understanding of how to live according to His will and Word, we will not see His sovereign hand of providence at work in our trials. And we will miss one of God’s most important purposes in bringing sufferings and trials to us—that we would become more dependent on Him.

Once we have the Lord’s wisdom and realize that we have become more and more dependent on Him, we’ll be like Job, who received this answer to his earlier questions: “‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding’” (28:28).

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that you would be more diligent in gleaning wisdom from your study of Scripture.

For Further Study

Read 1 Kings 3:5-13.

  • What does Solomon’s request reveal about his character?
  • What rewards and closing promise did God give to him as a result?

Joyce Meyer – Let the Spirit Take the Lead

 …I am the Lord your God, Who teaches you to profit, Who leads you in the way that you should go.

— Isaiah 48:17 (AMPC)

Most people are afraid not to be like everyone else. Many people are more comfortable following specified rules than daring to follow the leading of God’s Spirit. When we follow man-made rules, we please people, but when we step out in faith and follow God’s Spirit, we please Him. We do not need to feel pressured to pray a certain way for a certain length of time or to focus on specific things because other people are doing so. Instead, we need to be free to express our uniqueness as we pray the way God is teaching us. God uses each of us to pray about different things and that way all the things that need to be prayed about get covered.

Somehow, we feel safe when we are doing what everyone else is doing, but the sad thing is that we will feel unfulfilled until we learn to “untie the boat from the dock,” so to speak, and let the ocean of God’s Spirit take us wherever He wills. I spent many years tied to the dock following specified rules and regulations of prayer that others had taught me, and it was a good beginning, but eventually my prayer experience became very dry and boring. When I learned to untie my boat from the dock and give myself to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, a freshness and creativity came, and it has been wonderful. I find that the Holy Spirit leads me differently almost every day as I pray, and I no longer do it according to rules, regulations, and time clocks.

Start asking God to show you who you are, and the uniqueness He has given you, and to help you hear and follow His voice according to the one-of-a-kind, wonderful way He has created you.

Prayer Starter: Lord, I ask you right now to help me be the person You created me to be and to learn to pray the way You would have me pray. Help me to be bold and brave and unique! In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –It Is Good

I am with you always.

Matthew 28:20

It is good that there is One who is always the same and who is always with us. It is good that there is one stable rock amidst the billows of the sea of life. Let us not set our soul’s affections upon rusting, moth-eaten, decaying treasures but set our hearts upon Him who remains faithful forever. Let us not build our house upon the moving quicksands of a deceitful world but base our hopes upon this rock that, amid descending rain and roaring floods, shall stand immovably secure.

My soul, I charge you, lay up your treasure in the only secure cabinet; store your jewels where you can never lose them. Put your all in Christ; set all your affections on His person, all your hope in His merit, all your trust in His efficacious blood, all your joy in His presence, and then you may laugh at loss and defy destruction. Remember that all the flowers in the world’s garden fade by turns, and the day comes when nothing will be left but the black, cold earth and death will soon put out your candle.

How sweet to have the sunlight when the candle is gone! The dark flood must soon roll between you and all you have; so join your heart to Him who will never leave you; trust Him who will go with you through the surging current of death’s stream and who will bring you safely to the celestial shore and have you sit with Him in heavenly places forever. In the sorrows of affliction, tell your secrets to the Friend who sticks closer than a brother. Trust all your concerns to Him who can never be taken from you, who will never leave you, and who will never let you leave Him, even “Jesus Christ [who] is the same yesterday and today and forever.”1 “I am with you always” is enough for my soul to live upon no matter who forsakes me.

1) Hebrews 13:8

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Knows What Is Best

“Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.” (John 11:5-6)

When Jesus’ friend Lazarus was sick, everyone must have expected Jesus to go right away to help him. Lazarus’s sisters, Mary and Martha, had sent the alarming message of their brother’s serious illness to Jesus because they hoped that He would come quickly and heal him. But, strangely, Jesus did not go to help Lazarus right away. Two days went by, and Lazarus had died before Jesus and disciples began the journey to Lazarus’s home at Bethany.

No one seemed to understand why Jesus had waited so long, allowing Lazarus to die. Before Jesus even reached the place where Lazarus lived, first Martha and then Mary sadly came to meet Him. Greatly disappointed, they told Jesus that if He had come earlier to heal Lazarus, their brother would not have died. Although Mary and Martha did not understand why Jesus allowed such a terrible thing to happen, Jesus had a special reason for not coming earlier to heal Lazarus.

Jesus asked that someone roll away the tombstone in front of the place where the body of Lazarus had been buried. Then Jesus called out, “Lazarus, come forth.” Suddenly, the man who had been dead walked out of the tomb. Jesus had done something better than just making a sick person well. He had brought a dead man back to life! Jesus knew what was best.

Even though sometimes you may not understand why God allows things to happen as He does, God always knows what is best for you, too. Even though you may not understand why God doesn’t answer your prayers the way you would like, He wants you to trust Him (Proverbs 3:5-6). He always has a special reason for answering your prayers in the way that He does. Even though you, just like Mary and Martha, may become disappointed when God does not answer your prayers in the way that you expect Him to, God often has something better planned for you than you can imagine. “All things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28).

God knows what is best for you.

My Response:
» Do I believe that God knows what is best for me?
» Do I trust God to do what is best even when He seems to allow bad things to happen?

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Denison Forum – Rocket attacks and violent riots escalating in Jerusalem: The one pathway to true peace

“A struggle is now raging over the heart of Jerusalem,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated yesterday. He was addressing riots in the Old City of Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount. What sparked the violence?

Thomas Friedman explains in today’s New York Times: Jerusalem Day is an Israeli national holiday commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem and establishment of Israeli control over the Old City after the Six-Day War in 1967. It was celebrated with prayer services at the Western Wall beginning Sunday night.

It roughly coincided with Muslims’ Laylat al-Qadr, or “Night of Power”, commemorating the night when the first verse of the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by the angel Gabriel. It is the most sacred night of the Islamic calendar and is marked by thousands of Muslims gathering at the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount.

As Israelis celebrated Jerusalem Day, Palestinians threw rocks at them. Israeli police raided the mosque, where Palestinians had stockpiled stones. Hundreds of Palestinians were wounded; more than twenty Israeli police officers suffered injuries as well.

Yesterday’s violence was part of a weeks-long escalation. A month ago, Israel blocked some Palestinian gatherings at the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Then a plan to evict dozens of Palestinians from an East Jerusalem neighborhood engendered further conflicts.

The Palestinian militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, has called for a new intifada—or uprising—in response. Hamas militants fired a barrage of rockets into Israel yesterday, one setting off air raid sirens as far away as Jerusalem. The Israeli military responded with airstrikes.

I have led more than thirty study tours to Israel and love the Holy Land deeply. I have lifelong Jewish friends in Jerusalem and Palestinian friends in Bethlehem. Out of my decades of travel to the region, I have a personal insight I’d like to share with you today. But first, let’s consider a very brief overview of the region from two perspectives.

The Jewish version

The Jewish people believe that the land we call Israel was promised to them through Abraham (Genesis 12:7). His grandson Jacob became the father of twelve sons who became the progenitors of twelve tribes. Under Joshua, these tribes took possession of the land of Canaan in obedience to God’s direction.

Around 950 BC, King Solomon completed the first temple atop Mt. Moriah (1 Kings 6) where Abraham had offered Isaac centuries earlier (Genesis 22). After that temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC, it was rebuilt when the Jews returned to their land from Babylonian captivity but was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70.

Following the second Jewish revolt in AD 132, Emperor Hadrian quashed their armies and scattered their people. He renamed the land “Palestine” (the Latin version of “Philistine,” the sea peoples that inhabited the Mediterranean coastal plain of the nation). Until 1948, the Holy Land would be known as Palestine and its inhabitants as Palestinians.

In AD 312, the Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and legalized his new religion the next year. This began the Byzantine or “Christian” era in Israel. However, in AD 637, an Arab Muslim advance conquered Jerusalem and Palestine. The Muslim era continued until the Crusaders “liberated” and ruled the land from 1095–1291.

Egyptian Mamluks drove the Crusaders from Palestine and controlled the land until the Ottoman Turks gained control in 1517. They dominated Palestine until they were defeated by the British in World War I. In 1917, the British Empire was given control of Palestine. They left in 1947; on May 14, 1948, the modern State of Israel was born.

However, the eastern part of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount (where the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque stand), remained under Jordanian control. In 1967, Israel gained control of all of Jerusalem. They allow Jordanian administration of the Temple Mount itself, while Israel controls the Western Wall and adjacent areas.

Nonetheless, Israel considers the entire, united city of Jerusalem to be its capital.

The Muslim version

Muslims tell the story very differently. They believe that Abraham offered not Isaac but Ishmael to God. Since they trace the Arab race to Ishmael, this makes the Arab nation God’s “chosen people,” not the Jews.

They also believe that the Prophet Muhammad was transported by God from Mt. Moriah to heaven and returned to Mecca the same night, making Mt. Moriah their third-holiest site (after Mecca, the birthplace of the prophet, and Medina, where he died). They completed the Dome of the Rock in AD 691 as a shrine over this location, followed by the al-Aqsa Mosque.

Arab Muslim residents of Palestine who were displaced by the creation of Israel in 1948 still claim the land as their own. Some, such as the leaders of Hamas, believe that the Jews should be driven from the region and the entire land reclaimed for a modern nation of “Palestine.” Many who reject the existence of Israel also claim that the Jewish temples never existed in Jerusalem.

Other Palestinians seek a “two-state” solution whereby Israel would keep some of the land and the Palestinians the rest. Both Palestinian groups claim East Jerusalem (including the Temple Mount) as the capital of a future nation of Palestine.

In recent years, Jewish settlers have been building homes and communities in the West Bank (an area located on the western bank of the Jordan river and including East Jerusalem). Many do not recognize the Palestinians’ right to the land; some claim the entire region as part of God’s mandate for the Jewish people. This land, however, is vital to a future Palestinian state, making the “settlements” extremely controversial and problematic.

“The way of peace they have not known”

As much as I love my Jewish and Palestinian friends in the Holy Land, I am convinced that the solution to their conflict lies with neither. Controlling the city of Jerusalem and its Temple Mount or finding a way for both peoples to live in one tiny region will not create the peace each seeks.

This is because we cannot have true peace with each other until we are at peace with God. Peace is one of the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22), God’s gift to those who have made his Son their Savior and Lord. Otherwise, as Paul explained, “all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin” (Romans 3:9) so that “none is righteous, no, not one” (v. 10) and “the way of peace they have not known” (v. 17).

The good news is that, according to friends of mine who are missionaries in the Middle East, Muslims and Jews are coming to faith in Jesus in unprecedented numbers. We can “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6) by praying for all who live in Jerusalem and the Holy Land to meet the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:7).

Would you join me in making this your daily prayer, beginning today?

Upwords; Max Lucado –Build Each Other Up

BUILD EACH OTHER UP – May 11, 2021

My big brother used to pick on me. For Dee, no day was complete unless he had made mine miserable. He stole my allowance, he called me a sissy. But all his cruel antics were offset by one great act of grace on a summer day in the park. He picked me to play on his baseball team.

Everyone else was a middle-schooler. I was a third-grader. I went from the back of the pack to the front of line, all because he picked me. Dee didn’t pick me because I was good. He called my name for one reason only: he was my big brother. And on that day he decided to be a good big brother.

The New Testament has a word for such activity: encouragement. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). This is how happiness happens.

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Letting Go of Baggage

Hebrews 12:1-3

If you’ve ever had to carry luggage while running to catch a flight or the bus, you know how difficult and exhausting it can be. Have you considered that the same could be said about carrying baggage from your past into your Christian life? 

Sometimes the burdens we carry have been with us since childhood—painful experiences during those formative years can have a profound impact, even into adulthood. And things we saw, heard, or felt could negatively affect our spiritual life today. In fact, it’s possible to be unaware of the load because after bearing it for so long, we may have become accustomed to the weight and bulk. Perhaps it even feels normal, but it’s not what the heavenly Father wants for His children.

To run with endurance the course God has set for your life, you must lay aside these encumbrances. He can break any lingering unhealthy pattern and replace it with hope and deep satisfaction in Him. As you consider your background and childhood experiences, ask God to reveal the truth clearly. When you recognize ways in which others have had a negative influence, pray the He will give you a forgiving spirit and healing for any wounds that remain.

Bible in One Year: 1 Chronicles 28-29

Our Daily Bread — Singing Over Us

Bible in a Year:

[He] will rejoice over you with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Zephaniah 3:14–17

A young father held his baby boy in his arms, singing to him and rocking him in soothing rhythm. The baby was hearing-impaired, unable to hear the melody or the words. Yet the father sang anyway, in a beautiful, tender act of love toward his son. And his efforts were rewarded with a delightful smile from his little boy. 

The imagery of the father-son exchange bears a striking resemblance to the words of Zephaniah. The Old Testament prophet says that God will joyfully sing over His daughter, the people of Jerusalem (Zephaniah 3:17). God enjoys doing good things for His beloved people, such as taking away their punishment and turning back their enemies (v. 15). Zephaniah says they no longer have any reason for fear and instead have cause for rejoicing.

We, as God’s children redeemed by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, sometimes are hard of hearing—unable, or perhaps unwilling, to tune our ears to the exuberant love God sings over us. His adoration of us is like that of the young father, who lovingly sang to his son despite his inability to hear. He has taken away our punishment too, giving us further reason to rejoice. Perhaps we might try to listen more closely to hear the joy ringing loudly in His voice. Father, help us to hear Your loving melody and savor being held safely in Your arms.

By:  Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

What keeps you from hearing God? How can you tune your ears to hear His delight in you?

Thank You, God, for taking great delight in me. May I always listen to your voice as You joyfully sing over me.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Building a Leader: The Right Results (Peter)

The twelve apostles included “Simon, who is called Peter” (Matt. 10:2).

God knows how to get results.

God makes leaders by taking people with the right raw material, putting them through the right experiences, and teaching them the right lessons. That’s how he trained Peter, and the results were astonishing. In the first twelve chapters of Acts we see Peter initiating the move to replace Judas with Matthias, preaching powerfully on the Day of Pentecost, healing a lame man, standing up to the Jewish authorities, confronting Ananias and Sapphira, dealing with Simon the magician, healing Aeneas, raising Dorcas from the dead, and taking the gospel to the Gentiles. In addition, he wrote two epistles that pass on to us all the lessons he learned from Jesus. What a leader!

Peter was as much a model of spiritual leadership in death as he was in life. Jesus told him he would be crucified for God’s glory, and early church tradition tells us that Peter was in fact crucified. But before putting him to death, his executioners forced him to watch the crucifixion of his wife. As he stood at the foot of her cross, he encouraged her by saying over and over, “Remember the Lord, remember the Lord.” When it was time for his own crucifixion, he requested that he be crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to die as his Lord had died. His request was granted.

Just as God transformed Peter from a brash and impulsive fisherman into a powerful instrument for His glory, so He can transform everyone who is yielded to Him.

You will never be an apostle, but you can have the same depth of character and know the same joy of serving Christ that Peter knew. There’s no higher calling in the world than to be an instrument of God’s grace. Peter was faithful to that calling—you be faithful too!

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God for the assurance that He will perfect the work He has begun in you (Phil. 1:6).
  • Ask Him to use the experiences you have today as instruments that shape you more into the image of Christ.

For Further Study

Read John 21:18-23.

  • How did Jesus describe Peter’s death?
  • What was Peter’s reaction to Christ’s announcement?
  • What misunderstanding was generated by their conversation?

Joyce Meyer – Be Responsible

She looks well to how things go in her household, and the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity) she will not eat.

— Proverbs 31:27 (AMPC)

Our friend in Proverbs is a responsible woman. She stays alert to how things go in her household, she refuses to be idle, and she doesn’t waste her time in things such as sitting around gossiping or wallowing in self-pity. She is not discontented. She appreciates life, and I believe she celebrates it fully each day. Idleness, waste, self-pity, gossip, and discontentment are thieves of the great life Jesus died to give you. 

The apostle Paul gave this exhortation to some members in the church in Thessalonica, Indeed, we hear that some among you are disorderly [that they are passing their lives in idleness, neglectful of duty], being busy with other people’s affairs instead of their own and doing no work (2 Thessalonians 3:11 AMPC). Don’t allow these sins to rule you. When you maintain a positive attitude, you will enjoy more confidence. 

Doing what one believes to be right will always increase confidence. You can’t go wrong when you keep God as the focus of your life. Follow the example of the Proverbs 31 woman. She gives us tremendous insight in how to be the best and most confident homemaker, wife, and mother we can be.

Prayer Starter: Father, guide me in the way You would have me go. Never let me waste my time on the foolish things of the world, but rather, help me be the best I can be, doing what You would have me do. Amen.