In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Obstacle of Discouragement

Psalm 42:1-5

We all have expectations, and if our hopes fail to materialize, we feel disappointed. There’s nothing wrong with this emotion as long as we don’t let it become all-consuming despair. In such a state of mind, we might find our circumstances dominate us, which can lead to sinful responses.

For example, we may become angry at God because we think He has let us down. When that’s the case, we’re essentially saying we know better and the Lord should have worked the situation out according to our desires. Can you see the pride in such thinking? Certainly He doesn’t expect us to be happy about our adversity. But as difficult as it is, we need to humble ourselves under His sovereign hand and accept that He has jurisdiction over both our joys and our trials. This attitude becomes possible once we realize everything that happens is designed for our good so that we can become more like Christ.

When life deals you a painful blow and your soul is in despair, turn your eyes away from your situation and place them on the Lord. Put your hope in Him, knowing that difficulties and suffering are temporary. Hopefully there will soon come a time when you again joyfully praise Him here on earth, as all His children will do eternally in heaven.

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 25-27

Our Daily Bread — Active Faith

Bible in a Year:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.

James 1:27

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

James 2:14–26

Sam’s father had to flee for his life during a military coup. With the sudden loss of income, the family could no longer afford the crucial medicine that kept Sam’s brother alive. Seething at God, Sam thought, What have we done to deserve this?

A believer in Jesus heard about the family’s troubles. Finding he had enough money to cover the medicine, he bought a supply and took it to them. The life-saving gift from a stranger had a profound impact. “This Sunday, we will go to this man’s church,” his mother declared. Sam’s anger began to subside. And eventually, one by one, each member of the family put their faith in Jesus.

When James wrote about the necessity of a lifestyle of integrity accompanying a profession of faith in Christ, he singled out the need to care for others. “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food,” James wrote. “If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” (2:15–16).

Our actions demonstrate the genuineness of our faith. Significantly, those actions can influence the faith-choices of others. In Sam’s case, he became a pastor and church-planter. Eventually he would call the man who helped his family “Papa Mapes.” He now knew him as his spiritual father—the one who showed them the love of Jesus.

By:  Tim Gustafson

Reflect & Pray

How have you experienced the love of Jesus extended to you? What can you do to help someone in need?

Faithful God, help me to live out my faith in You. I want the way I serve others to honor You.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Serving Your Master

“‘No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon’” (Matthew 6:24).

The believer is to serve God, not riches.

When reading Matthew 6:24, many people say, “I believe that you can serve two masters. I work two jobs.” The reason they say that is they don’t understand the Greek word translated “serve.” It refers not to an employee in an 8-to-5 job but to a slave. A slave is one who is constantly and entirely devoted to his master. Romans 6:17-18 says that though you were once a slave of sin, God has freed you to become a slave of righteousness. You can serve God only with entire and exclusive devotion, with single-mindedness. In Matthew 6:24 Jesus is saying that if you try to serve two masters, God and riches, you will love one but hate the other.

The orders of these two masters are diametrically opposed. One commands to walk by faith, the other by sight; one commands to be humble, the other to be proud; one commands to set your affection on things above, the other on things of the earth; one commands to look at things unseen and eternal, the other at things seen and temporal; one commands to be anxious for nothing, the other to be anxious about everything. You can’t obey both orders, and you can’t serve two masters.

In 1905 Mary Byrne translated an Irish poem into prose, which was then set to music by Eleanor Hull. Today we know the poem as the hymn “Be Thou My Vision.” One stanza of this hymn tells us how to view riches correctly.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise—
Thou mine inheritance, now and always;
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart—
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

May the words of the hymn be the song of your heart and the conviction of your life.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank Christ for being your Master who loves you perfectly and provides for your every need.

For Further Study

Read Exodus 5. How does this picture the conflict between serving God’s interests and man’s? Explain.

Joyce Meyer – Learn to Enjoy Your Life

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they might have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).

— John 10:10 (AMPC)

I have a few questions for you. Are you enjoying your life? Are you generally happy and satisfied with who you are and what you do each day? Do you take time to appreciate the everyday experiences that make life rich and rewarding? Or do you race through each day to get to the next one? Do you take breaks and find things to laugh about on a regular basis, or do you allow the pressures of your responsibilities to carve a frown on your face as you keep your nose to the grindstone? 

God wants you to be happy today and every day. He doesn’t want you to merely exist, but to enjoy being alive. In fact, we know from today’s scripture that Jesus did not come to us simply to give us physical life, or to give us just enough to get through life’s challenges and difficulties. He came to impart to us true life and authentic happiness—the rich, deep, joy-filled life God intends for us, the kind of life that is in abundance, to the full, until it overflows.

I challenge you to go to a whole new level of enjoyment in your daily life. Don’t wait for a special occasion to enjoy life. Enjoy it moment by moment, day by day. Learn to be happy in ordinary experiences such as waiting in traffic or doing the dishes. You’ll find your level of joy steadily increasing in your life. Whatever your current level of happiness is, I invite you to step into greater joy. Live with more passion; laugh more; relax more; smile more; and simply enjoy more. 

Prayer Starter: Lord Jesus, I want to enjoy every day of my life. Help me experience a whole new level of Your joy. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Response to God’s Glory

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name.

Psalm 29:2

God’s glory is the result of His nature and acts. He is glorious in His character, for there is such a store of everything that is holy and good and lovely in God that He must be glorious. The actions that flow from His character are also glorious; but while He intends that they should display to His creatures His goodness and mercy and justice, He is equally concerned that the glory associated with them should be given only to Himself. Not that there is anything in ourselves in which we may glory; for who makes us different from another? And what do we have that we did not receive from the God of all grace? Then how careful we ought to be to walk humbly before the Lord!

The moment we glorify ourselves, since there is room for one glory only in the universe, we set ourselves up as rivals to the Most High. Shall an insect that’s been around for only an hour glorify itself against the sun that warmed it into life? Shall the clay pot exalt itself above the man who fashioned it upon the wheel? Shall the dust of the desert strive with the whirlwind? Or the drops of the ocean struggle with the storm? Give to the Lord, all you righteous, give to the Lord glory and strength; give to Him the honor that is due His name.

It is, perhaps, one of the hardest struggles of the Christian life to learn this sentence—“Not to us, O LORD, not unto us, but to your name give glory.”1 It is a lesson that God is always teaching us, and teaching us sometimes by the most painful discipline. Let a Christian begin to boast, “I can do all things,” without adding “through Christ who strengthens me,” and before long he will have to groan, “I can do nothing” and bemoan himself in the dust. When we do anything for the Lord, and He is pleased to accept our doings, let us lay our crown at His feet and exclaim, “Not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”2

1) Psalm 115:1
2) 1 Corinthians 15:10

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Provides All We Need

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

As the family went to bed in their spacious old farmhouse, all was well. They were grateful for what God had provided and felt safe and secure. But in the middle of the night, the parents were awakened by the sound of…was that wind? No! That was fire!

They jumped out of bed and ran to wake up their boys, who were in their bunk beds upstairs. The boys climbed out their window and got safely to the ground.

The boys and their parents watched as 12 fire trucks tried in vain to save their house. They watched as the roof caved in and the walls crumbled. They watched and cried as everything they owned burned up. Photos, furniture, toys, computers – everything was gone but their family.

As they thought about all that they had lost, they realized that all the things they had lost were just things – things that would have eventually worn out or gotten broken or been lost. Then they thought about what they had not lost: each other. God had helped each of them to get out of the burning house. They praised God that they had not lost each other and that they still had the most precious gift they had received: their salvation.

Have you been dreaming about some new “thing”? Maybe a cool toy, a faster computer, or a new electronic game?

What do we really need? Let’s see…. We need food, clothing, and a place to live. Who provides these needs? You might say, “My parents work hard to provide the money to purchase the things we need.” But Who gives your parents the strength, wisdom, health, and knowledge to do their jobs? God does. He provides the jobs, too.

What else does God give? Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” God also gives us salvation if we trust in Him alone.

God provides everything I need.

My Response:
» What do I really need?
» Am I trusting God completely to meet all of my needs?
» Have I accepted God’s gift of salvation?

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Denison Forum – What does God think of the Taliban?

The latest from Afghanistan: The US Embassy in Kabul was evacuated last night. The Taliban took control of the presidential palace yesterday. The UN Security Council has called an emergency meeting for this morning.

The Taliban’s sweeping takeover of Afghanistan is dominating world news. Tomorrow, we’ll examine America’s decision to withdraw through the lens of Scripture and Christian theology. For today, let’s ask some prior questions: Who are the Taliban? What does God think about them? How should we respond biblically to them?

Who are the Taliban?

In my 2011 book, Radical Islam: What You Need to Know, I explained the origins of the Sunni Islamist group known as the “Taliban” (from the Pashto for “students”). According to the most common explanation, when two teenage girls were kidnapped and raped in 1994 by followers of a warlord in Afghanistan, a group of thirty students joined their village cleric, Mullah Muhammad Omar, in rescuing the girls and hanging the group’s commander from a tank barrel.

Their group grew in strength and popularity, eventually gaining the support of religious parties within neighboring Pakistan. In the chaos of post-Soviet Afghanistan, their enforcement of order and law was a welcome relief to the population. They conquered Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest city, at the end of 1994. Two years later, they captured the capital city of Kabul. By 1998, they occupied 90 percent of the country.

Before long, it became clear that the Taliban would enforce a puritanical version of Islam akin to Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia. They provided sanctuary to Osama bin Laden and formed a crucial base for the rise of al-Qaeda.

After 9/11, they refused to expel bin Laden and end their support for terrorism. In response, a US-led coalition invaded Afghanistan to remove them from power. A new constitution was adopted in January 2004, creating a parliamentary democracy. However, charges of widespread corruption soon surfaced against the new government and have persisted in the years since.

US forces remained in the country as the Afghan government developed a military force intended to prevent the return of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. Over two decades, more than 2,300 US military personnel were killed in Afghanistan, with more than twenty thousand wounded.

The “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”

Following prior announcements of troop drawdowns by Presidents Obama and Trump, President Biden stated in April 2021 that the US would withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021. In response, the Taliban have escalated their military engagement across the country in recent days.

Yesterday, they seized the capital city of Kabul. They are planning a ceremony at the presidential palace renaming Afghanistan as the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.”

They are promising a new era of peace and normalcy in the country along with amnesty for those who have battled them for two decades. However, there are already indications of a return to the harsh version of Islam that Afghans lived under from 1996 until the Taliban were driven out of power in 2001.

When they previously ruled Afghanistan, they banned television, music, and cinema, and disapproved of girls over the age of ten going to school. Women had to wear the burqa and had to be accompanied by a male relative whenever they went outside. The Taliban were accused of human rights and cultural abuses such as their destruction of the famous Bamiyan Buddha statues in central Afghanistan.

Now there are reports of such atrocities again. Last month, according to the semi-official Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, Taliban fighters went door to door in one province looking for people who had worked for the government, killing at least twenty-seven civilians, wounding ten others, and looting homes.

In early July, Taliban leaders in two provinces ordered religious leaders to provide them with a list of girls over the age of fifteen and widows under the age of forty-five for “marriage” with Taliban fighters.

“Its end is the way to death”

The Taliban follow Deobandi theology (named for a seminary founded in 1866 in the city of Deobond, India). This school excludes all traditions and studies not directly related to the study of the Qur’an. It rejects reinterpretation of Islamic precepts in accommodation to changing times and seeks to return to the “purity” of the Qur’an and the Sunnah (practices of the Prophet Muhammad).

In line with this worldview, the Taliban believe religious edicts to have a divine source and thus view them as more authoritative than humanitarian laws stressing individual freedoms.

In this sense, we can view the Taliban as religious zealots. While tribal and social issues are definitely influential for them, their passionate commitment to extreme religious legalism fuels their drive to create a purified Islamic culture.

God’s word is clear: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12). Like millions of people who follow false religions, the Taliban are deceived by Satan into believing that their religious zeal can save their souls.

The atrocities they have committed in the name of their religion are in fact inspired by the “thief” who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). And their treatment of women clearly violates God’s will (cf. Galatians 3:28).

What should be our response?

In this spiritual conflict (Ephesians 6:12), Christians should be praying for God’s protection for those endangered by the unfolding tragedy in Afghanistan. And we should pray passionately for Taliban leaders and followers to meet Jesus in visions and dreams, a miraculous phenomenon now reaching Muslims around the world.

To this end, let’s make Paul’s prayer for his fellow Jews our intercession for the Taliban: “My heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:1–4).

If you question whether God can answer such a prayer, consider the man who first prayed it. If Saul the persecutor could become Paul the apostle, this fact is clear: it is always too soon to give up on God.

NOTE: I want to thank Dr. Mark Turman and Mark Legg for their outstanding work in writing last week’s Daily Articles while I was on vacation with my family. I am grateful for the privilege of partnering with such gifted and godly men. It is an honor to share this ministry with them and with you.

Upwords; Max Lucado –The Storm Walker

THE STORM WALKER – August 16, 2021

A wall of water eclipsed Peter’s view. A wind gust snapped the mast with a crack. Peter shifted his attention away from Jesus and toward the storm, and when he did, he sank like a brick in a pond. Give the storm more attention than the Storm Walker and get ready to do the same. Whether or not storms come, we cannot choose. But where we stare during a storm, we can.

God’s call to courage is not a call to naïveté or ignorance. We aren’t to be oblivious to the overwhelming challenges that life brings. We are to counterbalance them with long looks at God’s accomplishments. The scripture says, “We must pay closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it” (Hebrews 2:1 NASB). Today do whatever it takes to keep your gaze on Jesus.