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.