In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Value of Our Adversities

James 1:2-4

Are you wasting your troubles? Anytime God allows trials in your life, He has a purpose for them. We often won’t know His specific aim at the time; nevertheless, we should squeeze out every possible ounce of spiritual growth instead of falling into despair and discouragement. With a shift in perspective, the trial that looks as if it might destroy you could become an instrument of blessing.

The most natural response to adversity is to plead with the Lord to remove it. If that doesn’t work, we might be tempted to look for our own way out or blame whoever caused the problem. But no matter where affliction originates, by the time it reaches you, it’s been shaped according to the Father’s good purposes. The question is, Will you cooperate with Him or resist? When you let adversity do its work in you, it becomes an opportunity for growth. 

Although we can’t see all the specifics of God’s plan, we know His goal is to use our hardship for good. So we are wise to let it mature us in the meantime. Even though the experience is painful, rest in the Father’s comforting arms, and trust that it’s all for a greater purpose.

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 31-32

Our Daily Bread — God Knows Your Story

Bible in a Year:

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 139:1–6, 23–24

As I drove home after lunch with my best friend, I thanked God out loud for her. She knows me and loves me in spite of things I don’t love about myself. She’s one of a small circle of people who accept me as I am—my quirks, habits, and screw-ups. Still, there are parts of my story I resist sharing even with her and others that I love—times where I’ve clearly not been the hero, times I’ve been judgmental or unkind or unloving.

But God does know my whole story. He’s the One I can freely talk to even if I’m reluctant to talk with others.

The familiar words of Psalm 139 describe the intimacy we enjoy with our Sovereign King. He knows us completely! (v. 1). He’s “familiar with all [our] ways” (v. 3). He invites us to come to Him with our confusion, our anxious thoughts, and our struggles with temptation. When we’re willing to yield completely to Him, He reaches out to restore and rewrite the parts of our story that make us sad because we’ve wandered from Him.

God knows us better than anyone else ever can, and still . . . He loves us! When we daily surrender ourselves to Him and seek to know Him more fully, He can change our story for His glory. He’s the Author who’s continuing to write it.

By:  Cindy Hess Kasper

Reflect & Pray

What assurance do you have that God will always love you unconditionally? How can you make yielding to Him a daily practice?

Precious Father, thank You for loving me as Your child despite the times I’ve disappointed You. Help me to yield all of myself to You in full assurance that You’re faithfully walking beside me.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Treating Others with Consideration

“[Love] does not act unbecomingly” (1 Cor. 13:5).

Considerate behavior demonstrates godly love and adds credibility to your witness.

When I was a young child, I loved to slurp my soup. I didn’t see any harm in it even though my parents constantly objected. Then one evening I ate with someone who slurped his soup. He was having a great time but I didn’t enjoy my meal very much. Then I realized that proper table manners are one way of showing consideration for others. It says, “I care about you and don’t want to do anything that might disrupt your enjoyment of this meal.”

On a more serious note, I know a couple who got an annulment on the grounds that the husband was rude to his wife. She claimed that his incessant burping proved that he didn’t really love her. The judge ruled in her favor, stating that if the husband truly loved her, he would have been more considerate. That’s a strange story but true, and it illustrates the point that love is not rude.

“Unbecomingly” in 1 Corinthians 13:5 includes any behavior that violates acceptable biblical or social standards. We could paraphrase it, “Love is considerate of others.” That would have been in stark contrast to the inconsiderate behavior of the Corinthians—many of whom were overindulging at their love feasts and getting drunk on the Communion wine (1 Cor. 11:20-22). Some women were overstepping bounds by removing their veils and usurping the role of men in the church (1 Cor. 11:3-16; 14:34-35). Both men and women were corrupting the worship services by trying to outdo one another’s spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 14:26).

Undoubtedly the Corinthians justified their rude behavior—just as we often justify ours. But rudeness betrays a lack of love and is always detrimental to effective ministry. For example, I’ve seen Christians behave so rudely toward non-Christians who smoke that they destroyed any opportunity to tell them about Christ.

Be aware of how you treat others—whether believers or unbelievers. Even the smallest of courtesies can make a profound impression.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Holy Spirit to monitor your behavior and convict you of any loveless actions. As He does, be sure to confess and forsake them.

For Further Study

Read Luke 7:36-50. How did Jesus protect the repentant woman from the Pharisee’s rudeness?

Joyce Meyer – Hold Your Tongue

Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; seek, inquire for, and crave peace and pursue (go after) it!

— Psalm 34:13-14 (AMPC)

“You really have the gift of gab,” one man told me many years ago, when I first started in the ministry. He had pointed out something that I already knew: God had given me “a ready tongue,” that is, I speak easily. Words are my tools. The Lord first gave me that gift, and then He called me into the ministry to use that ability to work for Him.

I have no trouble talking. That’s my gift; that’s also been my greatest problem. Because I seem to always have something to say, I have struggled many, many years over the right use of my tongue. 

It has not been an easy battle. 

Over the years, I’ve heard various people saying things like, “Hold your tongue.” “Do you have to speak every word that comes to your mind?” “Do you always speak first and think later?” “Must you sound so harsh?” Had I truly listened to what people were saying, I might have realized that God was trying to tell me something. But I ignored their comments and continued in my own stubborn ways. 

I know I have wounded people with my words in the past, and I am sorry for that. I’m also grateful that God has forgiven me. 

Several years ago, I realized that if God was going to use my life, I had to gain control of my tongue not to just stop talking, but to keep my tongue from evil, and my lips from speaking deceit, as the psalmist David says. 

I had a choice. I could hurt people with my words, or I could bring my lips into subjection to God. Obviously, I wanted to be subject to the Lord, but it was still a battle. 

Our words are expressions of what’s going on in our hearts. If we want to know who a person really is, all we need to do is listen to their words. If we listen long enough, we learn a lot about them. 

As I learned to listen to my own words, I also began to learn a lot about myself. Some of the things I learned did not please me, but they did help me realize that I had a character flaw that needed to be addressed. My words were not pleasing God, and I wanted them to. Once I confessed my failure to God, the victory came—not all at once and not perfectly, but God is patient with me. I’m growing, and part of my growth is keeping my lips from evil. 

No matter how negative you are or have been, or how long you’ve been that way, God wants to change you. In the early days after my confession to God, I still failed more often than I succeeded, but every time I did succeed, I knew I was closer to God’s plan for my life. God can do the same for you. 

It won’t be easy, but you can win. And the effort will be worth it.

Prayer Starter: Lord, help me use my mouth for right things. Put a watch over my mouth lest I sin against You with my tongue. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You. I ask it in Jesus’ wonderful name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Foreigners in the Lord’s House

Foreigners have come
into the holy places of the Lord’s house.

Jeremiah 51:51

In this account the faces of the Lord’s people were covered with shame, for it was a terrible thing for men to intrude upon the Holy Place that was reserved exclusively for the priests. Everywhere around us we see similar cause for sorrow. How many ungodly men are now studying with a view to entering the ministry! What a crying sin is that solemn lie by which our whole population is nominally part of a National Church! How fearful it is that ordinances should be pressed upon the unconverted, and that among the more enlightened churches of our land there should be such laxity of discipline. If the thousands who will read this portion will take this matter before the Lord Jesus today, He will interfere and avert the evil that otherwise will come upon His Church. To adulterate the church is to pollute a well, to pour water upon fire, to sow a fertile field with stones. May we all have grace to maintain in our own proper way the purity of the Church as being an assembly of believers and not a nation, an unsaved community of unconverted men.

Our zeal must, however, begin at home. Let us examine ourselves as to our right to eat at the Lord’s Table. Let us see to it that we are wearing our wedding garment, lest we ourselves should be regarded as foreigners in the Lord’s holy place. Many are called, but few are chosen; the way is narrow, and the gate is strait. O for grace to come to Jesus aright, with the faith of God’s elect. He who smote Uzzah for touching the ark is very jealous of His two ordinances. As a true believer I may approach them freely; as a foreigner I must not touch them in case I die. Heart-searching is the duty of all who are baptized or come to the Lord’s Table. “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!”1

1) Psalm 139:23

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Sent Jesus at the Perfect Time

 “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” (Galatians 4:4)

Mom smiled. “Not till after breakfast. Would you like to help me set the table?”

Natalie gulped her food at breakfast. As soon as she finished the last bite of her cinnamon roll, she asked, “Is it time to open presents now?

Dad pushed his chair back from the table. “Not yet, sweetheart. We’ll read the Christmas story from the Bible and sing some carols first.”

Natalie listened to Dad reading, and she sang with all her heart during the carol-singing time. But her eyes kept roving to that pile of Christmas presents wrapped in shiny, colorful paper.

Finally Mom turned from the piano and said, “Guess what, Natalie? Now it’s time!”

Like Natalie, you might have a hard time waiting to open presents on your birthday or at Christmas-time. When there is something that we really want, the time that we spend waiting for it can seem like forever. God’s people in the Old Testament probably felt the same way. God’s prophets had told them that God would send a Messiah, Someone Who would be their Savior. But hundreds and hundreds of years went by. God’s people waited and waited.

God had a perfect time for His Son to be born. He knew what that time was even before He created the world. Galatians 4 tells us that He sent Jesus into the world only when the time was exactly right – the time that He had planned. When Jesus came into the world, conditions were just right for all of the prophecies about Him to be fulfilled. For example, the Roman emperor at the time of His birth required everyone to travel to His birthplace for a census. Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem. Micah’s prophecy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem came true (Micah 5:2). The Romans were still in power when Jesus died. Crucifixion was their normal way of putting criminals to death. Jesus’ death by crucifixion was also a fulfillment of prophecy (Psalm 22; Psalm 34:20). God made sure that His Word, given long ago through His prophets, would come true. His people had to wait for their Messiah, but God sent Jesus at the perfect time.

God sent Jesus at the perfect time to fulfill prophecies about His life and death.

My Response:
» Do I believe that God has a perfect time for working out His plans in my life too?

Read in browser »

Denison Forum – Why the future of women in Afghanistan matters so much

“I am sitting here waiting for them to come. There is no one to help me or my family. I’m just sitting with them and my husband. And they will come for people like me and kill me. I can’t leave my family. And anyway, where would I go?”

This is how Zarifa Ghafari, the youngest mayor in Afghanistan, describes her future with the Taliban now in charge of her country. They have frequently vowed to kill her in the past. Her father was gunned down last November, twenty days after the third attempt on her life failed.

The Taliban declared an “amnesty” yesterday and called on women to join their new government. Their spokesman declared during a news conference Tuesday in Kabul, “We assure that there will be no violence against women.”

However, when the Taliban last ruled Afghanistan, their fighters tortured and killed the country’s former president, then hanged his body from a traffic post. Women who were unaccompanied in public places could be beaten; an Afghan mother was forced to kneel in a stadium and then shot dead between the goal posts.

According to the US State Department, women over the age of eight were prohibited from attending school; females were given only the most rudimentary access to health care; the Taliban raided and temporarily closed a foreign-funded hospital in Kabul because male and female staff allegedly mixed in the dining room and operating wards.

Which should women and girls in Afghanistan believe: the future now promised by the Taliban or the one predicted by their past?

“Life can only be understood backwards”

Søren Kierkegaard was right: “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

The crisis facing Afghanistan is a tragic object lesson in the importance of history to a culture and corresponding civilization. However, this lesson is not limited to Afghanistan. I believe there are principles to be learned that apply directly to America and our future in these critical days.

As I noted earlier this week, the Taliban have been driven by a version of Islamic theology known as “Deobandi.” It excludes all studies and traditions not directly related to the study of the Qur’an. Crucially, it claims that the “purity” of the Qur’an and the practices of the Prophet Muhammad (known as the Sunnah) is the goal for which Muslim society should strive.

In essence, the Taliban seek to create a culture mirroring the seventh-century world in which Islam began. This worldview motivates their disparaging view of women, non-Muslims (“infidels”), and Muslims who disagree with them (“apostates”).

In addition, they are a product of their Afghan history. As National Geographic notes, their country is landlocked and surrounded by mountains, deserts, and competing empires. It has been surrounded historically on the north by countries influenced by Russia, on the west by Iran and Persian influence, on the south by Pakistan and British influence, and on the east by Chinese influence.

The Afghan people have been resisting foreign incursions for centuries, nearly all by non-Muslim powers. The Taliban have also thrived in rural areas neglected by governing elites in major cities. Their tribal culture is the product of their faith, their environment, and their history.

Their governing approach in the future is likely to reflect these values, to the tragic detriment of women and all who oppose their puritanical version of Islam.

The “cultural climate change” we face today

Os Guinness is one of the most perceptive cultural analysts in the Christian world. His new book, The Magna Carta of Humanity: Sinai’s Revolutionary Faith and the Future of Freedom, is a work I cannot recommend too highly.

In it, he explains our cultural moment as a conflict between two versions of freedom: the 1776 American revolution and its commitment to freedom within a Judeo-Christian worldview, and the 1789 French revolution and its commitment to freedom within a radically secularist worldview.

Guinness notes that the Russian and Chinese revolutions which followed the French shared its commitment to secularism. They also produced genuine totalitarianism and “became the epitome of oppressive evil and the complete denial of liberty.”

These revolutions “were overtly antibiblical, antireligious, and anti-Christian, and their overall record on freedom has been dismal. . . . their claims to be the true and reliable source of human freedom have been left in tatters by the history of their repressive secularist regimes in the twentieth century and the slaughter of millions of their own citizens.”

Why is this history relevant to the current moment? Because there is a transformative movement afoot in America and the West that repudiates the 1776 American revolution and seeks to remake our country along the secularist lines of the 1789 French revolution.

Guinness writes: “In the form of postmodernism, political correctness, tribal politics, and the extremes of the sexual revolution, the advocates of cultural Marxism and critical theory are now posing serious threats not just to freedom and democracy but to earlier understandings of humanity and to Western civilization itself.” He calls this “cultural climate change” and warns that it is “damaging the way we used to live and beginning to shape the way we need to live if humanity is to flourish.”

Four crucial commitments

What does a biblical approach to a flourishing civilization look like? Let’s identify four foundational commitments:

One: God is the creator and sustainer of the universe and of all life (Genesis 1:1Colossians 1:16–18). His word is true (John 17:17Psalm 119:160) and guides every dimension of life (2 Timothy 3:16–17Psalm 119:105Matthew 4:4).

Two: All people are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and thus are equal in value and worth to God (Acts 10:34Galatians 3:28) and should be to each other (Mark 12:31).

Three: People are inherently sinful (Romans 3:23) and thus require governing authority and the rule of law to which they owe obedience and support (Romans 13:1–71 Timothy 2:1–2). At the same time, those in authority should lead by serving (Luke 22:26) with personal integrity (1 Timothy 4:12) and humility (Philippians 2:3).

Four: Society and individuals should do all they can to care for those in need, including the poor and afflicted (Deuteronomy 10:1824:1727:19), the widow and the orphan (James 1:27), and all who need our help (Matthew 25:35–40).

How Afghans have flourished

Taken together, these commitments fuel a culture motivated by personal character and collective progress in which individuals and society each serve the other for the common good. They clearly contradict the antireligious French revolution, the communistic dictatorships of China, Cuba, and North Korea, the corrupt authoritarianism of contemporary Russia, and the secularist revolution currently sweeping the West.

It should not surprise us that civilizations that reject these biblical principles tend to struggle, while those who embrace them tend to flourish. This is not a health-and-wealth gospel or a promise that people who live biblically will not suffer in our fallen world (John 16:33). Rather, it is a historical observation built on the logical fact that creatures who live according to the plans and purposes of an all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful Creator should expect to experience the results of his “good and acceptable and perfect” will (Romans 12:2).

Consider the results of democracy in Afghanistan across the last two decades. While decidedly imperfect and often led by corrupt officials, the society there thrived in significant ways:

  • Infant mortality rates fell by half.
  • In 2005, fewer than one in four Afghans had access to electricity; by 2019, nearly all did.
  • Denied education under the Taliban, more than one in three teenage girls today can read and write.
  • The “social progress index” in Afghanistan, measuring prosperity, human development, and overall happiness, rose dramatically.

My point is not that Afghan society, like that in America and every other nation in our fallen world, has not struggled with massive challenges. Rather, it is that worldview matters. The foundational beliefs of a society are enormously influential in determining its present outcomes and future flourishing.

The crucial question

I am praying that the Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan will not lead to dramatic reversals for women and others in Afghan society, but if the past is a reliable predictor of the future, the prospects for them are indeed dim.

I am also praying that America and the West learn from the failed revolutions of the past and present. Os Guinness is right: “Either America goes forward best by going back first [to biblical foundations and morality], or America is about to reap a future in which the worst will once again be the corruption of the best.”

This statement is a present-tense reality: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lᴏʀᴅ” (Psalm 33:12). However, nations are made of people. So let’s add: “Blessed is the person whose God is the Lᴏʀᴅ.”

Are you living a life God can bless today?

Upwords; Max Lucado –Being Stuck

BEING STUCK – August 18, 2021

The man near the pool of Bethesda didn’t use the word stuck, but he could have. For thirty-eight years near the edge of a pool, it was just him, his mat, and his paralyzed body. They must have made a miserable sight. Crowds of people—blind, lame, despondent, dejected, one after the other—awaiting their chance to be placed in the pool where healing waters bubbled up.

All the gospels’ stories of help and healing invite us to embrace this wonderful promise: “Wherever Jesus went he healed people of every sort of illness. And what pity he felt for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great and they didn’t know what to do or where to go for help” (Matthew 9:35–36 TLB). Jesus had a heart for the hurting in his day. He still does today.