In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Developing Patience

Colossians 3:12-17

On any given day, we may encounter frustrating people and situations, such as a mischievous child, uncooperative coworker, or slow commute. We might feel like lashing out, but God wants us to stay calm and be patient with everyone (1 Thess. 5:14). Scripture has a number of things to say about believers developing this important attribute.

First, it is our calling. God urges us to be tolerant, kind, and bear each other’s burdens (Eph. 4:1-3). Second, the Lord has set an example for us: He demonstrated patience toward Peter’s actions, the crowd’s demands, and the leaders’ false accusations. We should aspire to such composure. And third, we should recognize how damaging impatience is. It can hurt others and close off dialogue. Responding calmly gives people room to confess wrongdoing, explain their attitude, and make changes.

Patience is part of the spiritual fruit that increasingly develops as we’re conformed to Christ’s image (Gal. 5:22-23). When we rely on the Holy Spirit, He empowers us to wade through moments of waiting and provocation—without becoming agitated. A calm demeanor in times of delay or adversity can be a powerful witness to the transforming work of God.

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 49-50

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Loving Your Enemy

Bible in a Year:

You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria.

Acts 1:8

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Acts 1:1–8

I ducked into a room before she saw me. I was ashamed of hiding, but I didn’t want to deal with her right then—or ever. I longed to tell her off, to put her in her place. Though I’d been annoyed by her past behavior, it’s likely I had irritated her even more!

The Jews and Samaritans also shared a mutually irritating relationship. Being a people of mixed origin and worshiping their own gods, the Samaritans—in the eyes of the Jews—had spoiled the Jewish bloodline and faith, erecting a rival religion on Mount Gerizim (John 4:20). In fact, the Jews so despised Samaritans they would walk the long way around rather than take the direct route through their country.

Jesus revealed a better way. He brought salvation for all people, including Samaritans. So He ventured into the heart of Samaria to bring living water to a sinful woman and her town (vv. 4–42). His last words to His disciples were to follow His example. They must share His good news with everyone, beginning in Jerusalem and dispersing through Samaria until they reached “the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Samaria was more than the next geographical sequence. It was the most painful part of the mission. The disciples had to overcome lifetimes of prejudice to love people they didn’t like.

Does Jesus matter more to us than our grievances? There’s only one way to be sure. Love your “Samaritan.”

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

How can you begin to show love to those who aren’t very loving? When have you been loving to a difficult person and then found them softening?

Father, may the waves of Your love crash over me, producing a torrent that streams to others through me.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Letting the Fog Lift

“‘Do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on’” (Matthew 6:25).

God’s Word commands us not to worry.

A story I once read reminded me that worry is like fog. According to the article, dense fog covering seven city blocks a hundred feet deep is composed of less than one glass of water—divided into sixty billion droplets. In the right form, a few gallons of water can cripple a large city. Similarly, the object of a person’s worry is usually quite small compared to the way it can cripple his thinking or harm his life. Someone has said, “Worry is a thin stream of fear that trickles through the mind, which, if encouraged, will cut a channel so wide that all other thoughts will be drained out.”

All of us have to admit that worry is a part of life. The Bible commands us, however, not to worry. To break that command is sin. Worry is the equivalent of saying, “God, I know You mean well by what You say, but I’m just not sure You can pull it off.” Worry is the sin of distrusting the promises and providence of God; yet we do it all the time.

We don’t worry about anything as much as we worry about the basics of life. In that regard we are similar to the people whom Jesus addressed in Matthew 6:25-34. They were worried about having sufficient food and clothing. I suppose if they were to try and legitimize their worry, they would say, “After all, we’re not worrying about extravagant things. We’re just worrying about our next meal, a glass of water, and something to wear.” But there is no reason for a believer to worry about the basics of life since Jesus says He will provide for him. You are neither to hoard material possessions as a hedge against the future (vv. 19-24) nor be anxious about your basic needs (vv. 25-34). Instead of letting the fog of worry roll in, it’s time to let it lift.

Suggestions for Prayer

“Rejoice in the Lord always. . . . Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:4, 6).

For Further Study

What counsel does 1 Peter 5:7 give?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Worry Is No Good

And who of you by worrying and being anxious can add one unit of measure (cubit) to his stature or to the span of his life?

— Matthew 6:27 (AMPC)

Worrying does us absolutely no good. It doesn’t change anything, and we waste time by being upset over things we can’t do anything about. The Bible says we can’t even add one inch to our height by worrying. Yet we often worry, worry, worry, which gets us nowhere. 

Every time we get upset, it takes a lot of emotional energy, tires us out, can harm our health, steals our joy, and still doesn’t change one thing. We need to stop trying to fix things only God can fix. 

Jesus essentially tells us to calm down (see John 14:27) and cheer up (see John 16:33). I believe these two things combined serve as a one-two knockout punch to the devil. When you realize you can’t fix everything, you calm down; and when you know God can, you cheer up! 

Refuse to worry; worrying doesn’t change a thing.

Prayer Starter: Lord, please help me to give everything to You that I’m worried about! In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –No Weeping in Heaven

I will rejoice in Jerusalem
 and be glad in my people;
no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping
 and the cry of distress.

Isaiah 65:19

In heaven the glorified do not weep, for all outward causes of grief are gone. There are no broken friendships, nor unfulfilled longings in heaven. Poverty, famine, danger, persecution, and slander are unknown there. There will be no pain to distress us, no anxious thoughts of death or bereavement to sadden. Those there do not weep, for they are perfectly sanctified. No evil heart of unbelief prompts them to depart from the living God; they are faultless before His throne and fully conformed to His image. Well might they stop mourning since they have stopped sinning. They do not weep, because all fear of change is past. They know that they are eternally secure. Sin is shut out, and they are shut in. They are safe in a city that will never be taken; they bask in a sun that shall never set; they drink of a river that will never run dry; they pluck fruit from a tree that will never wither. Countless cycles may revolve, but eternity will not be exhausted; and while eternity endures, their immortality and blessedness shall endure with it.

They are forever with the Lord. They do not weep because every desire is fulfilled. They cannot wish for anything that they do not have. Eye and ear, heart and hand, judgment, imagination, hope, desire and will—all the faculties are completely satisfied; and although our present ideas of what God has prepared for those who love him are imperfect, still we know by the revelation of the Spirit that the saints above are supremely blessed. The joy of Christ, which is an infinite fullness of delight, is in them. They bathe themselves in the bottomless, shoreless sea of infinite blessing. That same joyful rest awaits us. It may not be too long before the weeping willow is exchanged for the palm-branch of victory, and sorrow’s tears will be transformed into the pearls of everlasting bliss. “Therefore encourage one other with these words.”1

1) 1 Thessalonians 4:18

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Helps Our Unbelief

“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:23-24)

The crowds that had gathered around Jesus were shocked and probably a little frightened. A man had brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus. As soon as the boy met Jesus, he fell to the ground, rolling and foaming at the mouth.

Jesus asked the father how long this problem had been going on. The father replied that the boy had had the demon since he was a child. Sometimes the demon threw the boy into fire or water as though trying to destroy him. If you can do anything, please have compassion on us, and help us, the father pleaded.

Jesus’ eyes saw right into the man’s heart as He said, All things are possible to him who believes.

The father knew that he had unbelief in his heart. He said to Jesus very honestly, Lord, I believe; help me overcome my unbelief.

Jesus rebuked the demon and told it to come out of the boy – and with an awful cry, it did! For a moment, everyone thought the boy was dead. Then Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up. He was healed – free from the horrible demon that had tortured him all his life.

Is there anything in God’s Word that you have trouble believing? God says He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). But maybe you have prayed for an unsaved grandparent or friend for years. Nothing seems to be happening. God says He will complete the good work He began in you when you were saved (Philippians 1:6). But maybe it seems like you will never be able to conquer the sin of losing your temper. Or maybe you long to be free from fear – fear of the dark, fear of a certain person, fear of being home alone, or fear of giving oral book reports at school.

Maybe it seems God is not keeping His promise, and that He will never help you change. You can trust God’s Word. If you doubt it, even a little, confess your unbelief to God. Just like the father in Mark 9, tell Jesus, Lord, I believe; help my unbelief. God can and will turn your doubts into faith.

God helps you believe His Word when you have a heart of unbelief.

My Response:
» Have I asked God to forgive me for my unbelief and help me believe His Word?


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Denison Forum – Storms in the US and chaos in Afghanistan: Steps to spiritual awakening today

Tropical Storm Henri made landfall Sunday afternoon in Rhode Island. More than 135,000 customers from Maine to New Jersey are without power this morning; storm surges threaten eastern Long Island and southern New England. A state of emergency was declared in New York and Connecticut due to the storm, with five hundred National Guard troops activated for deployment to Long Island and the Hudson Valley.

In other weather news, severe flooding in Middle Tennessee has left at least twenty-two people dead as of this morning and dozens of people missing. The dead reportedly include twin toddlers who were swept from their father’s arms.

President Biden spoke yesterday afternoon on the tropical storm and the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan. He announced that his administration had activated the Civil Reserve Air Fleet, ordering US commercial airlines to provide flights for the Afghanistan evacuation efforts. The flights would not go to Afghanistan but would be used to transport those already flown out of the country.

The conflict in Afghanistan continues to dominate headlines and hearts today. Germany’s armed forces reported a firefight at Kabul airport this morning between unidentified gunmen, Western security forces, and Afghan guards. One Afghan guard was killed and three were wounded at the airport’s north gate. All gates were closed in response.

An American mom trapped in the Taliban-controlled country pleaded for help in evacuating. Reports indicate that the Taliban set a woman on fire for “bad cooking” as other women are reportedly being forced into sex slavery. Many are concerned that the Taliban now possess tens of billions of dollars of military equipment and supplies formerly under control of the Afghan security forces, some of which they could transfer or sell to transnational terror groups such as al-Qaeda or ISIS.

And we continue to hear reports of the Taliban searching for Christians. The leader of an underground church in Afghanistan said, “The Taliban has a hit list of known Christians they are targeting to pursue and kill. The US Embassy is defunct and there is no longer a safe place for believers to take refuge.” An Afghan church leader said the Taliban will “eliminate the Christian population” in the country.

In a world racked with natural and man-made disasters, what is the way forward for the gospel?

“The Unconquerable Islamic World”

Robert Nicholson’s article in the Wall Street Journal caught my eye. Titled “The Unconquerable Islamic World,” it declares that “Afghanistan shows the folly of mistaking Christian ideals for ‘universal’ ones.”

Discussing the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, he writes: “We Westerners failed not for lack of effort, but because military and economic power alone cannot change the Islamic world in a lasting way.” He claims, “It never occurred to us that America was what it was because of Christianity, and Afghanistan was what it was because of Islam.”

He identifies the “pillars” on which Islam stands: “The Qur’an is Allah’s final revelation, binding on all humanity; faith is a matter of private devotion as well as public law, best lived out in a state that blends religion and politics; and Muslims should, where possible, hold power over non-Muslims to ensure that Allah’s law is rightly enforced.”

Nicholson claims, “It is doctrines like these that cause the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and Hamas to fight the ‘Jews and Crusaders’ who tread on land that historically belonged to Islam. But their commitments are far from radical; most Muslims see them as normative even if they fail to act on them.”

As a result, he declares, “The West cannot change the Islamic world.” He believes that “the best strategy will move from rollback to containment and prioritize the defense of American interests and allies over the promotion of values and institutions.” He adds, “This does not mean we will stand by when their choices cross American red lines, but the US must affirm their right to make them.”

I am seeing similar arguments across the political spectrum as analysts begin dissecting what went wrong in Afghanistan and suggesting better paths forward. The consensus is that the West cannot change Islam. Unless we are forced to defend ourselves from Islamic extremists, we should learn to live and let live.

“The man in a white robe”

This argument is attractive and compelling for Americans, not just for our engagement with Muslims but for Christians’ engagement with the secular culture in which we live. As more and more Americans reject organized religion and embrace unbiblical morality, evangelicals are told that tolerance is our society’s highest value and that we should live and let live.

Secularists ask us: What business is it of ours if others choose abortion or euthanasia? What right do we have to tell people what gender they can love and marry? Isn’t everyone’s sexual orientation and gender identity their business? The “culture wars,” by which evangelicals have sought to declare and defend biblical truth and morality, are being lost—or so we’re told.

As with Muslims in Afghanistan, our critics claim that it would be best for us to recognize that we cannot change others and stop promoting “values and institutions” that are countercultural.

But Nicholson overlooks a crucial factor: the spiritual awakening now occurring in the Muslim world. As missionary Tom Doyle and many others have documented, Muslims in recent years have been coming to Christ in unprecedented numbers. Some are hearing the gospel through media ministries, while many are seeing visions and dreams of Jesus.

Tom Doyle told author Lee Strobel of ministries placing ads in Egyptian newspapers that say, “Have you seen the man in a white robe in your dreams? He has a message for you. Call this number.” Doyle added, “So many Muslims were having these dreams that Christian ministries started placing ads to reach them.”

What the Holy Spirit is doing in the Muslim world is the key to the transformation we need in our culture as well.

“Religion has become more important than God”

Why are we not seeing such a spiritual awakening in the West? The fault is not with God. He never changes (Malachi 3:6Hebrews 13:8). Anything the Spirit has ever done he can still do.

The fault is with us.

In his most recent newsletter, former Christianity Today editor-in-chief Mark Galli highlighted a sermon by German pastor Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt (1842–1919). At one point, Blumhardt observed: “Our civilization simply doesn’t need God anymore. What good is God when you are on the train? The man at the controls, it is his job to get me to Stuttgart. The conductor can groan, the fireman can break his back, the engineer can worry, but isn’t it all the same to me? I just sit there on the train.

“That is why we can be so crude and ruthless about enjoying everything these modern times offer us; we do not need God. Science and technology do not need God. They are succeeding quite well without him!”

He added: “God is of no real importance, even for people with religion, because religion has become more important than God. Though people get into tremendous arguments about religious questions, all the time God is dead. And it is perfectly all right with them if he is dead, because they can do what they like. That is another trait of our times, people want to be able to do whatever pops into their heads or feels good at the moment.”

Blumhardt responds: “God in Christ is not dead; he still is the Alpha and the Omega. And everything in between is chaos, not just a spiritual alienation in which people don’t know where life is going, but real chaos. Men and women are meant to share in the work for the end, for God’s kingdom on earth, but they won’t share. And so the madness goes on.”

For his part, Blumhardt testifies: “I don’t want a minute of easy happiness until this earth knows that God is alive! We must bow down under the living God and weep aloud for having killed him up to now. We are born for trouble, born for battle. Shame on us Christians who are always wanting to have it nice and soft, with a bit of God in our lives! We’ve got to fight until we’re dead, or we aren’t worth Christ’s name. God calls out to us, ‘Share in my business!’ and we are fooling ourselves until we do this.”

He concludes: “Let each one of us be earnest with himself and get off his soft bed. Even if it costs you your life, go right in, into the thick of the fight! Jesus is alive, and Jesus is victor, and he has given us our part to carry out.”

“We must obey God rather than men”

Before Pentecost, when Peter was asked whether he was a follower of Jesus, “he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, ‘I do not know this man of whom you speak’” (Mark 15:71). After Pentecost, when the same Sanhedrin that arranged Jesus’ execution demanded that he cease preaching the gospel, Peter replied, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29) and proceeded to declare God’s word to them (vv. 30–32).

Before Pentecost, when John and his brother James encountered Samaritans who “did not receive” Jesus, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (Luke 9:53–54). After Pentecost, when John and Peter encountered a crippled man beside the temple gate, they stopped for him, shared Christ with him, and helped him experience Jesus’ healing transformation (Acts 3:1–10).

Before Pentecost, the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane “left Jesus and fled” (Matthew 26:56) and met together behind locked doors “for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19). After Pentecost, they were so bold in their faith that the religious authorities were “astonished” (Acts 4:13).

The difference was simple: at Pentecost, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4).

“The greatest imperative in the Christian life”

To be “filled” with the Spirit is to be controlled and empowered by him. God commands every Christian every day to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). To experience this “filling,” we must take these steps:

  1. Get alone with the Lord.
  2. Ask the Spirit to bring to mind anything in our lives that displeases God and is blocking the Spirit’s power in our lives (we will say more of this later in the week).
  3. Confess all that comes to our thoughts, claiming God’s forgiving grace (1 John 1:9).
  4. Ask the Spirit to take control of our feelings, attitudes, thoughts, words, and actions. Submit our plans for the day specifically to him.
  5. Believe that he has answered our prayer.
  6. Stay in surrendered communion with the Spirit throughout the day. When we face challenges and temptations, pray for his help. If we fall to temptation, pray for him to forgive us, cleanse us, and restore us. When we face opportunities and decisions, pray for him to lead us. Stay “connected” with him all day long.

When I lead study tours to Israel, we always go to the “Upper Room,” a Crusader-era structure located near the place where Pentecost occurred. I always teach the Acts 2 Pentecost miracle to the group and the steps I just outlined.

Then I say to them what I say to you today: “The greatest imperative in the Christian life is to be filled with the Spirit. The greatest enemy of the Christian life is self-sufficiency that resists such empowerment. Self-reliance is spiritual suicide. Spirit dependence is spiritual victory.”

Whether we are facing natural disasters, man-made crises, or the daily challenges of living in a fallen world, you and I were designed by God to depend daily on the power of his Spirit.

“In Afghanistan, the real church is going on”

An Afghan pastor and evangelist named David Paiman was recently interviewed by Christianity Today. His father was a Muslim imam; Paiman went to Mecca six times before coming to faith in Jesus. He first heard the gospel from a former Muslim who had a vision of Christ during a pilgrimage to Mecca. Paiman came to Christ after Christians prayed for a friend with epilepsy who was healed.

His explanation of the crisis in Afghanistan is different from what we are seeing in the secular media. When asked what life was like for Christians after the American invasion in 2001, he replied: “That’s what I call false hope. I will never forget in 2001 when the American army came and took over, everyone was celebrating, everyone got freedom and people were praising and thankful for America. Exactly twenty years later, we see what’s happening now.”

The interviewer asked, “With the hope that you experienced, what did you think might happen?”

In words that echo Pastor Blumhardt’s indictment of Western religion, Paiman replied, “The real hope is Jesus Christ. Afghanistan has been trying many ways to get hope, to get peace inside Afghanistan, but they did not try Jesus Christ. They did not try God. They did not try his love and his mercy. My prayer and zeal are to share Christ with them.

“They can receive Christ and they can get the real hope, the living hope that never ends.”

Then the pastor noted: “In Afghanistan, people know they are the church, and they understand that. But here, in most of America, they say the building is a church. There is a building with a cross on it. That’s what they call church but, in Afghanistan, the real church is going on.”

Would the Holy Spirit say “the real church is going on” in your life today?

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –The God of Forward Motion

THE GOD OF FORWARD MOTION – August 23, 2021

Believe in the Jesus who believes in you. “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11).

What will God do for you? It is not ours to say what God will do. It simply falls to us to stand up, take up, and walk. Jesus is serious about this command. When he found the just-healed man in the temple, he told him, “Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you” (John 5:14). To indulge in inertia, as the man had done, well that is to sin. Stagnant, do-nothingness is deemed as a serious offense.

God is the God of forward motion, the God of tomorrow. The God of what’s next?, and he is ready to write a new chapter in your biography.

http://www.MaxLucado.com