In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Knowing God’s Love

Ephesians 3:8-21

One of the first things children learn in Sunday school is that Jesus loves them, and they are quick to believe it. But as we get older, the hardships and disappointments of life may cause us to doubt this truth. We wonder how a gracious God could allow the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, a financial crisis, or a painful terminal illness.

But we cannot judge God’s love on the basis of circumstances. Hardship is a certainty in life (John 16:33), and it does not reflect the depth, breadth, and height of God’s love for us. This is why Paul urged the Ephesians not to let his tribulations discourage them (Eph. 3:13)—he knew those hardships were part of God’s plan. And the same is true for every believer. Through our trials, God works powerfully within us to do more than we can perceive or imagine (Eph. 3:20).

The Lord wants you to believe that His love for you is steadfast—and that it can ground you in the difficult seasons of life. Are you seeking to grow in your comprehension of His love? The more you dwell on divine grace, the more firmly you’ll stand during trials. Begin by asking God to give you a deeper understanding as you mediate on His love as described in His Word.

Bible in One Year: Proverbs 1-4

Our Daily Bread — Blocked Prayers

Bible in a Year:

When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

Mark 11:25

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Mark 11:20–25

For fourteen years, the Mars rover Opportunity faithfully communicated with the people at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. After it landed in 2004, it traversed twenty-eight miles of the Martian surface, took thousands of images, and analyzed many materials. But in 2018, communication between Opportunity and scientists ended when a major dust storm coated its solar panels, causing the rover to lose power.

Is it possible that we can allow “dust” to block our communication with Someone outside of our world? When it comes to prayer—communicating with God—there are certain things that can get in the way.

Scripture says that sin can block our relationship with God. “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18). Jesus instructs, “When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (Mark 11:25). Our communication with God can also be hindered by doubt and relationship problems (James 1:5–71 Peter 3:7).

Opportunity’s blockage of communication seems to be permanent. But our prayers don’t have to be blocked. By the work of the Holy Spirit, God lovingly draws us to restored communication with Him. As we confess our sins and turn to Him, by God’s grace we experience the greatest communication the universe has ever known: one-to-one prayer between us and our holy God.

By:  Dave Branon

Reflect & Pray

How can confessing your sins to God improve your communication with Him? What can you do to enrich your prayer life?

Father, guide me to discover what’s limiting my communication with You. Thank You for helping me connect with You!

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Joy in God

“We also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (Romans 5:11).

The final link in the chain that eternally binds believers to Christ is their joy or exultation in God.

Perhaps nowhere outside of Scripture has Christian joy been expressed more beautifully than in these stanzas from Charles Wesley’s hymn “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing”:

O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!

Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb,
Your loosened tongues employ;
Ye blind, behold your Savior come;
And leap, ye lame for joy!

Galatians 5:22 says that “joy” is one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit, and as such it is one of the great securities of salvation. The Greek for “joy” means “to exult,” “to rejoice jubilantly,” or “to be thrilled.” What is our motivation to be so thrilled? Paul says it’s because we received reconciliation from Christ. God gives us abundant joy both in our salvation and ultimately for who God is. Thus our present sense of internal joy is an additional guarantee of our future salvation.

One of the reasons David was a man after God’s own heart was his rejoicing in the Lord for the Lord’s own sake. He said, “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together” (Ps. 34:3). Other psalmists echoed that same joy. One wrote, “For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name” (Ps. 33:21), while another said, “Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and upon the lyre I shall praise Thee, O God, my God” (Ps. 43:4). As you make God the focus of your joy, He will grant you an assurance only He can give.

Suggestions for Prayer

How often do you exult in what God has accomplished for you? Ask God to give you a greater joy in Him as you learn more about Him from His Word.

For Further Study

  • Look up “joy” in a concordance and determine the percentage of the references that refer to joy in one’s salvation.
  • What significant application can you make from those verses?

Joyce Meyer – Exchanging “I Can’t” for “I Can”

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

— 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)

Have you ever walked into a store before with something to exchange? Maybe it was an article of clothing that you decided you didn’t like, a pair of shoes that were uncomfortable, or a gadget that didn’t do what you’d expected. You entered the store with something that didn’t work for you, exchanged it, and left with something that did work for you. You had to trade what was not effective for something that was.

The same principle applies to your thinking. If you exchange your “I can’t” thoughts for “I can” thoughts, you will see remarkable changes begin to happen. If you build into your character the thought that, with God’s help, you can do whatever you need to do in life, you will have more zeal and enthusiasm about facing every day. I have found that I even have more physical energy when I think “I can” thoughts. It helps me to not dread anything, because dread is an energy drainer.

It’s never too late to begin saying, “I can.” Say things like: “My marriage has problems, but it can work”; “My house is a mess, but I can clean it so it will bring me joy and relaxation when I come home from work”; “I can get out of debt”; “I will own a home or have a new car”; or, “I have some problems right now, but I can still enjoy my life.”

Some of the challenges you face may be very difficult ones; however, God never allows more to come on us than we can bear. With every temptation, He always provides a way out. I challenge and encourage you right now to consistently believe you can do anything that comes your way, with God’s help.

Trust in Him Which “I can’t” belief in your life do you need to exchange for an “I can”? Trust God to not allow you to be tempted beyond your ability and to always provide a way out.

Prayer Starter: Lord God, I know that with Your help, I can exchange my negatives for positive, and I can do all things through You, In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –The Secret Strength of Faith

Tell me where your great strength lies.

Judges 16:6

Where does the secret strength of faith lie? It lies in the food it feeds on; for faith studies what the promise is-an emanation of divine grace, an overflowing of the great heart of God. And faith says, “My God could not have given this promise except from love and grace; therefore it is quite certain His Word will be fulfilled.” Then faith thinks, “Who gave this promise?” It considers not so much its greatness as, “Who is the author of it?” She remembers that it is God, who cannot lie-God omnipotent, God immutable-and therefore concludes that the promise must be fulfilled; and onward she proceeds in this firm conviction. She remembers why the promise was given—namely, for God’s glory—and she feels perfectly sure that God’s glory is safe, that He will never stain His own insignia, nor spoil the sparkle of His own crown; and therefore the promise must and will stand.

Then faith also considers the amazing work of Christ as being a clear proof of the Father’s intention to fulfill His word. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”1 Moreover, faith looks back upon the past, for her battles have strengthened her, and her victories have given her courage. She remembers that God has never failed her, that He never once failed any of His children. She recalls times of great peril when deliverance came, hours of awful need when as her day her strength was found, and she cries, “No, I never will be led to think that He can change and leave His servant now. Thus far the Lord has helped me, and He will help me still.”

Thus faith views each promise in its connection with the promise-giver and, because she does so, can with assurance say, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life!”2

1) Romans 8:32
2) Psalm 23:6

C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Not the Kind of God Who Leaves

 “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Have you ever missed the school bus or a ride to an activity that was important to you? Being left is a terrible feeling! It is embarrassing and frustrating, and it can also be really sad – especially if you miss out on something you were really hoping to see or do. Sometimes it can even be dangerous to be left behind. What if you accidentally got left in a football stadium? What if you were on a hiking trail and got separated from your friends? It could be scary, and lonely, and maybe even harmful to be left like that.

Sometimes we rely on people too much. It is okay to count on your friends and family to keep an eye out for you and to remember your needs and hopes. But friends and family are human, and sometimes they forget or make mistakes. Some people might take off on you because they want to do something selfish for themselves, or some might turn their back on you when you have done something wrong. People are human. They might let you down. They might give up on you. They might leave you.

The writer of Hebrews 13:5 was reminding readers of what Jesus said to His disciples – that He would never leave them. He would never forsake them. Jesus is God; He is greater than our human friends and family. He is better than anything we might try to be or to get on our own. In this verse, the Bible shows us the kind of God Who promises to be faithful. That means He is not the kind of God Who lets His people down. He is not the kind of God Who leaves His people alone. He keeps His promises.

God is not a leaver. He has always been more trustworthy than anything or anyone else. He has always been more faithful than any of our friends and family could ever hope to be. He is God and always has been. In the Old Testament (Psalm 27:10), the psalmist writes, “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.” Most fathers and mothers would die before giving up on their children or leaving their children! But if a parent ever did give you up or leave you behind, you could still count on God. Even if you yourself fail, even if your best-loved friends and family fail, and even if everything you know and trust were to drop suddenly off the face of the Earth, you can remember that God is not a leaver. He is not a forsaker.

Again, the writer of Hebrews 13:5 was reminding the Hebrew Christians what Jesus told His disciples about never leaving them. It is for this reason – that Jesus does not leave us – that this verse teaches we should not covet. If we remember the kind of God we have – that He will never leave or forsake His people – then we do not need to want things we do not have. We should not desire something so much that we think we need it in addition to God or instead of God.

Do you ever wish you could have a certain thing? Do you ever wish you could have a certain someone for a friend? Remember that things, and even humans who love you, will fail you. Look at those things and people you trust the most. If they were ever to leave you or let you down, would you have anything left? Do not covet things or people to keep you company. Count on God to stay with you.

God is not the kind of God Who leaves. We can count on Him more than anyone or anything else.

My Response:
» Am I trying to collect things or get friends so that I can protect myself from being lonely?
» What are some Bible reasons for trusting God to take care of me and be with me?

The post God Is Not the Kind of God Who Leaves appeared first on EquipU Online Library.

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Denison Forum – Children send handmade cards to Surfside first responders: The paradoxical path to God’s strength and peace

Let’s begin with some good news: First responders at the Surfside condominium tragedy are receiving hundreds of homemade cards from children. One note said, “Dear First Responders, thank you for everything you did and are doing even tho some people have not been recovered you guys are working day and night to find those that are missing that’s what makes you guys hero’s.”

So far, nearly five hundred similar notes, crafted by children of all ages from near and far, have been hand-delivered to first responders at the scene of the collapse. Hundreds more are expected to pour in as the search for victims continues.

The idea began with Florida state Sen. Lauren Book, who returned home from visiting the site and had to explain the tragedy to her four-year-old twin children. They wanted to help, so they spent the day at their dining room table with crayons and construction paper, creating about fifty cards. Their mother brought the notes to the site the next day, handing them to any first responder she met. Many of them cried instantly, she said.

She then posted the idea on Twitter, asking for children to mail in similar notes of encouragement. Cards have been delivered from around the country.

Death toll from COVID-19 passes four million

People obviously need such encouragement today.

Eighteen more bodies were recovered from the rubble Wednesday as the search of the collapsed building in Surfside, Florida, turned from a rescue effort to a recovery operation.

The global death toll from COVID-19 passed four million yesterday, a number equivalent to the population of Los Angeles. Japan’s prime minister announced a coronavirus state of emergency for Tokyo this morning as organizers consider banning all spectators from the Olympics.

The Washington Post reports that “America’s workers are exhausted and burned out” after fifteen months of pandemic-related stress. Axios notes that many Americans are responding to such stress by drinking more alcohol—a lot more for some—even though the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism warns that alcohol-related death is the third-leading preventable cause of death in the US.

Reflecting the stress of recent months, an American Psychological Association survey found that 61 percent of US adults experienced undesired weight changes since the pandemic began. And experts are calling the ransomware attack that began over the Fourth of July weekend a “landmark event” that could lead to future “disruption on an absolutely massive scale.”

“He is our actual hope”

Where can we turn to find the best source of strength and peace in these hard days? The answer would surprise most people in our secularized culture.

MacKenzie Scott, the former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, recently made headlines when she and her current husband made a $2.7 billion donation to several groups. She included several progressive Christian groups but excluded evangelical ministries.

Kelly Kullberg, editor and co-author of the bestseller Finding God at Harvard, responded: “The Left is attempting to redefine the gospel, using biblical words but not their accurate meanings. If we, as individuals, no longer admit our sin, we no longer turn to Jesus. And he is our actual hope. And biblical truth yields great love for people and great progress for cultures.”

Kullberg is exactly right. The paradoxical truth is that we will not turn to Jesus as our “actual hope” unless we recognize that we need what he alone can provide. As we noted yesterday, to fear and revere the Lord is to recognize that he is the true King and Judge of the universe and to admit that we need his forgiveness, grace, and peace.

“The mind of Zeus is hard to soften with prayer”

How can we experience God in such a transforming way? The key is to see him as he actually is.

In Isaiah 6, the prophet “saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up” (v. 1) and saw himself in the light of God’s holiness (vv. 3, 5). Isaiah’s confessional response led to his cleansing (vv. 6–7) and his commission as one of the greatest prophets in history (vv. 8–9).

We are not to fear God as did the Greek and Romans, whose deities were capricious, sinful, and vengeful. Zeus was unfaithful to his wife Hera, Poseidon was known to foist storms and shipwrecks on those who displeased him, and Ares was feared for his violent temper. In Prometheus Bound, the Greek playwright Aeschylus (525–455 BC) said of their gods, “Many a groan and many a lamentation you shall utter, but they shall not serve you. For the mind of Zeus is hard to soften with prayer.”

Nor should we see God as a “resident policeman,” “parental hangover,” “grand old man,” or “managing director,” as J. B. Phillips notes in his classic Your God Is Too Small.

Rather, we are to fear and revere God as “holy, holy, holy” (Isaiah 6:3), the one true King of the universe. The more we worship him with humility, repentance, and submission, the more we experience his perfect will and empowering presence.

When last were you awed by God?

I invite you to take some time today to experience God as Isaiah did. Read Isaiah 6 and imagine yourself in the text. See God on his exalted throne. Hear the angelic worship. Feel the foundations shaking. Smell the smoke filling his temple.

Ask him to reveal anything in your life that displeases him, then confess all that comes to your thoughts and trust him for his cleansing grace. Now surrender your life to his purpose—whatever he asks, wherever he leads, whatever the cost. And know that as you fear and revere your King, he will use your life for his eternal glory and your greatest good.

When last were you awed by God?

Why not today?

Upwords; Max Lucado –He Is Able to Do What You Cannot


What will happen if your job disappears? Or your health diminishes? Or the economy takes a nosedive? Does God have a message for his people when calamity strikes? He certainly had a word for Isaiah. The prophet wrote:

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up…above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:1-3).

God calmed the fears of Isaiah, not by removing the problem, but by revealing his divine power and presence. Rejoice that God is able to do what you cannot do! Your anxiety decreases as your understanding of your heavenly father increases.