In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – God Is at Work in You

Philippians 2:12-13

There are many books promising a successful Christian life, but no humanly inspired technique can ever achieve the work of God. Any commitment or rededication that is based on our own effort will not last; true transformation comes from the Holy Spirit alone. That’s why the Lord wants our humble dependence on Him for strength, growth, and perseverance.

Today’s passage reminds us of these basic truths about the Christian life:

• We participate in the working out of our salvation. This isn’t referring to our initial conversion through faith in Christ; rather, it’s the process of sanctification by which we grow into Christlikeness. An obedient, holy lifestyle is something we must choose and pursue.

• We need an attitude of fear and trembling. There should be no flippancy about how we live, because God is holy and we must one day give Him an account of our life.

• God works in us. Jesus said we can do nothing apart from Him (John 15:5). He’s the one who equips and enables us to live in the way He desires.

God has not left us to do the best we can on our own. He is always at work in believers, to fulfill His desired goals for each of us.

Bible in One Year: Zechariah 6-10

Our Daily Bread — All That You Need

Bible in a Year:

God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:26

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 73:23–28

Seated at the dining room table, I gazed at the happy chaos around me. Aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews were enjoying the food and being together at our family reunion. I was enjoying it all, too. But one thought pierced my heart: You’re the only woman here with no children, with no family to call your own.

Many single women like me have similar experiences. In my culture, an Asian culture where marriage and children are highly valued, not having a family of one’s own can bring a sense of incompleteness. It can feel like you’re lacking something that defines who you are and makes you whole.

That’s why the truth of God being my “portion” is so comforting to me (Psalm 73:26). When the tribes of Israel were given their allotments of land, the priestly tribe of Levi was assigned none. Instead, God promised that He Himself would be their portion and inheritance (Deuteronomy 10:9). They could find complete satisfaction in Him and trust Him to supply their every need.

For some of us, the sense of lack may have nothing to do with family. Perhaps we yearn for a better job or higher academic achievement. Regardless of our circumstances, we can embrace God as our portion. He makes us whole. In Him, we have no lack.

By:  Karen Huang

Reflect & Pray

What’s one thing lacking in your life that you feel would make you whole? How can you surrender it to God and find satisfaction in Him as your portion?

Father, thank You for making me complete in Christ. Help me to say along with the psalmist, “As for me, it is good to be near God” (Psalm 73:28).

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Using Spiritual Gifts

 “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12).

To be effective, spiritual gifts must be used in the power of the Holy Spirit, not in the power of the flesh.

One of the constant battles all believers face is to avoid ministering their spiritual gifts in the power of the flesh. Even those of us who are called to be preachers (prophets) need to subject our spirits to other mature believers (1 Cor. 14:32). As a pastor, I am not spiritual just because I stand behind a pulpit and preach. Paul instructs us, “Let two or three prophets speak, and let others pass judgment” (1 Cor. 14:29). Those who teach God’s Word are not infallible; therefore, they must allow other qualified believers to verify the truth of what they proclaim.

Whenever Christians rely on their own strength, wisdom, and desire to minister, whatever they accomplish is a mockery and a waste. But whenever they minister by the Spirit’s power, the result is pleasing to God and has lasting value (“gold, silver, precious stones. . . . If any man’s work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward,” 1 Cor. 3:12, 14). Essentially, all a believer needs to pray is, “Spirit of God, use me,” and divine energy will activate and flow through his or her ministry to fellow believers and unbelievers.

You can use your spiritual gift effectively by faithfully following three basic steps: Pray—continually confess and turn from your sins (1 John 1:9) and ask God to use you in the Holy Spirit’s power. Yield yourself—always determine to live according to God’s will, not the world’s (Rom. 6:16; 12:12). Be filled with the Spirit—let the Spirit control all of your thoughts, decisions, words, and actions. Commit everything to Him, and He will minister through you.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Confess any and all times lately that you have counted on your human ability rather than on the Spirit’s power to minister to others.
  • Pray that this week God would give you a clear opportunity to exercise your spiritual gift for His glory.

For Further Study

Read 1 Samuel 15:1-23.

  • In what way did King Saul use his own insight rather than follow God’s command?
  • What can be the consequence of such disobedience (vv. 22-23; see also 1 Sam. 13:8-14)?

Joyce Meyer – You’re an Original

He fashions their hearts individually.

— Psalm 33:15 (NKJV)

Psalm 33:15 speaks about us as individuals. Because God has fashioned our hearts individually, our prayers need to flow out of our hearts and be consistent with the way He has designed us. As we develop our individual styles of communication with God, we can learn from people who may be more experienced than we are, but we need to be careful not to imitate them or allow them to set standards for us. I hope to be an example to many, but I want Jesus to be their standard. There is nothing at all wrong with incorporating something someone else is doing into your own prayer life if you truly feel God’s Spirit is leading you to do so, but it is wrong to force yourself to do what others do if you are not comfortable with it in your spirit.

I encourage you to develop your own style of talking to God and listening to His voice. Don’t try to keep up with others or copy their prayer styles—and don’t feel compelled to work every “prayer principle” you have ever learned every time you pray. Just be who you are, remembering that God has fashioned you just the way He wants you to be, that He takes pleasure in who you are, and that He wants to speak to you in unique and personal ways.

Prayer Starter: Thank You, God for making me unique and for being my standard! I love you! In Jesus’ name, amen!

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Not an Option

Sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise!

Psalm 66:2

It is not left to our own option whether or not we will praise God. Praise is God’s most righteous due, and every Christian, as the recipient of His grace, is bound to praise God from day to day.

It is true that we have no authoritative text for daily praise; we have no commandment prescribing certain hours of song and thanksgiving: But the law written upon the heart teaches us that it is right to praise God; and the unwritten mandate comes to us with as much force as if it had been recorded on the tables of stone or handed to us from the top of thundering Sinai.

Yes, it is the Christian’s duty to praise God. It is not only a pleasurable exercise, but it is the absolute obligation of his life. Those of you who are always mourning should not think that you are guiltless in this respect or imagine that you can discharge your duty to God without songs of praise. You are bound by the bonds of His love to bless His name as long as you live, and His praise should continually be in your mouth, for you are blessed in order that you may bless Him—“the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise”;1 and if you do not praise God, you are not bringing forth the fruit that He has a right to expect from you.

Do not let your harp hang on the willows, but take it down and strum with a grateful heart, bringing out its loudest music. Arise and declare His praise. With every morning’s dawn, lift up your notes of thanksgiving, and let every setting sun be followed with your song. Surround the earth with your praises; circle it with an atmosphere of melody, and God Himself will listen from heaven and accept your music.

E’en so I love Thee, and will love,
And in Thy praise will sing,
Because Thou art my loving God,
And my redeeming King

1) Isaiah 43:21

Devotional material is taken from Morning and Evening, written by C. H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Chastens His Children

“And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Hebrews 12:5-7)

“Joey and Cam, let’s go! We need to head home.” Cam’s mom called, as she wiped ketchup and bits of french fries off of the baby’s fingers and face.

Cam heard her, but he and Joey really wanted to keep playing on the restaurant’s playground for a few more minutes, so they pretended not to hear her. They got “lost” deep inside the maze and climbed backwards up the slides instead of coming out on the ground near her table. Cam did not make eye contact with his mom, but he could hear his little sister starting to get fussy. He did not care. He wanted to keep on playing. So that’s what he and Joey did.

“Cam! Joey! Last call! We are leaving now!” Cam’s mom did not sound too happy.

When they finally got into the van, she turned to the boys and said, “What was that all about at the playground? I know you heard me call the first time. Were you deliberately disobeying?”

The boys looked at one another. Joey nodded slowly, and Cam said a very quiet “Yes, ma’am, we were.”

It was mostly silent in the van until after they had dropped Joey off at his house. Cam’s mom turned to him then and said, “You do realize I’ll have to punish you for deliberate disobedience, don’t you, Cameron?”

“But, Mom, I thought you were done being mad. You didn’t say anything else to Joey!”

“Cam, I don’t have to say anything else to Joey. (Although I am thinking about talking it over with his mom later on.)”

“No fair! Joey did the same thing I did! It might’ve even been his idea! – I don’t even remember exactly, but it probably was Joey’s idea!”

“I’m not responsible to punish Joey. Joey is not my son. You are. Your father and I love you, and we believe our children should not deliberately disobey us. If they do choose to disobey us, they will not go unpunished. You know that.”

It began to sink into Cam’s head, then. His mom was focused on punishing him, not Joey, because she loved him far more than she could ever love Joey. She was not going to bother to punish Joey (his own parents could deal with him), but it was important to her to deal with Cam. You know, thought Cam, that’s really something to be glad about! Not that Cam was feeling very glad about whatever he was going to get as punishment – he wasn’t feeling good about that at all! But it did make sense why his mom was going to punish him: She didn’t want someone she loved so much to grow up into the kind of person who would rather sin than do right.

On a smaller scale, the lesson Cam was learning that day is exactly the lesson God teaches in His Word in Hebrews 12:5-7. To “chasten” someone is to punish, or discipline, that person. Parents like Cam’s make the effort to discipline their children because they love them and want them to become the right kind of people. And God disciplines His children, too. He chastens the “sons” and “daughters” whom He loves. What kind of sons and daughters would they be, really, if no one cared enough about them to claim them and chasten them for wrongdoing? If they were not God’s children, He would not bother to discipline them. But they are His, and they can delight (even in the middle of painful punishment) in knowing that He loves them too much to let them get away with wrongdoing. He wants them to grow and change into “the family resemblance” – into the likeness of His glorious Son, Jesus Christ.

God lovingly disciplines His children, for His own glory and for their own good.

My Response:
» Does the Lord ever have to “chasten” me?
» How do I respond to punishment and discipline from the Lord?
» How should I respond?

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Denison Forum – Did Benjamin Franklin’s personal religion help him achieve “moral perfection”?

As a Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin was instrumental in winning America’s independence and framing our constitution. 

He was also an inventor. He didn’t invent electricity, but he invented the lightning rod. His other inventions included bifocals, the Franklin stove, and the $100 bill—not really. 

You might not realize it, but Ben Franklin even invented his own personal religion. 

Benjamin Franklin’s personal religion

Franklin was raised in a Puritan Presbyterian family and was baptized at an early age. Based upon his writings, it’s clear that he was a God-fearing man. However, in his adult years, he seldom attended church and he viewed Jesus as a great moral teacher, like Socrates. But he didn’t believe that Jesus was God in the flesh. 

When Benjamin Franklin was a young adult, he established his own religious system to be a good moral person. In his autobiography, he wrote: “It was about this time [age twenty] I conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection. I wished to live without committing any fault at any time. . . . As I knew, or thought I knew, what was right and wrong, I did not see why I might not always do the one and avoid the other. But I soon found I had undertaken a task of more difficulty than I had imagined.”

Franklin’s thirteen “moral habitudes”

Franklin enumerated thirteen moral qualities that he tried to attain. He called these his “moral habitudes” (a cross between a habit and an attitude). They included temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility. 

Franklin took his personal religion seriously. He had a little book with his thirteen moral qualities written down the left side. Then he had seven columns for the seven days of the week. He would judge himself and, if he failed or needed improvement, he would make a mark in that column. Each week he would erase the marks and start over. He soon found that there were so many marks that erasing them tore a hole in the page! He got a new book, and, when a page would fill up with marks against his plan, he would tear that page out and start over. 

Failing at perfection

Later in life when he wrote his autobiography, he reflected on the failure of his system: “I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it. . . . In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself. . . . For, even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.”

Ben Franklin was a wise, powerful individual. However, he admitted that he failed to live a life of perfect moral purity. He could have saved himself a lot of frustration and paper if he had applied Galatians 2:20 to his life. Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”  

We can never achieve moral perfection ourselves. There is only one person who ever lived a perfect life: his name is Jesus, and he lives in those who have placed their faith in him.

Instead of inventing thirteen moral habitudes, we already have God’s list. Galatians 5:22 describes nine character qualities that Jesus was to live out through us: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” 

But you don’t have to create a checklist and make a daily mark when you try to live up to those character qualities. Those nine words simply describe the personality of Jesus. 

As you surrender to Jesus living in you, he energizes those qualities in your life.

Dr. David O. Dykes served as pastor of Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas before retiring on September 1, 2021. He is the author of 21 books, including three action-packed novels, writing as David Orlo; all are available on Amazon. He is currently booking speaking engagements and can be reached at dod75701[at]

Upwords; Max Lucado –God’s Abounding Grace

GOD’S ABOUNDING GRACE – September 30, 2021

Scripture says in Romans 5:20 that “the more we see our sinfulness, the more we see God’s abounding grace.” To abound is to have a surplus, an abundance, an extravagant portion. Should the fish in the Pacific worry that it will run out of ocean? No. Why?  The ocean abounds with water. Need the lark be anxious about finding room in the sky to fly? No, the sky abounds with space.

So should the Christian worry that the cup of mercy will run empty? He may. For he may not be aware of God’s abounding grace. Are you? Are you aware that the cup God gives you overflows with mercy? Or are you afraid your cup will run dry? Or your mistakes are too great for God’s grace? God is not a miser with his grace. Your cup may be low on cash or clout, but it is overflowing with mercy.

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Blessings of Inadequacy

2 Corinthians 3:4-6

Have you ever considered inadequacy a blessing? Life is filled with struggles that reveal our insufficiency, and it arouses uncomfortable emotions that make us feel useless, insignificant, and weak. No one likes the frustration and fear of facing challenges that are too big to handle, but God can use them for our good. Our job is to acknowledge our helplessness, depend on His strength, and step out with confidence in Him.

Inadequacy can be a blessing since it …

• Drives us to the Lord as we recognize our helplessness.
• Relieves us of trying to do God’s will in our own strength.
• Motivates us to live in the power of the Holy Spirit.
• Provides opportunity for God to demonstrate His power.
• Humbles our pride.
• Allows Christ to receive all the glory.
• Produces peace as we rely on Him.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, believers have the ability to endure difficulty and accomplish whatever the Lord calls them to do. By claiming the adequacy of Christ, we can face every circumstance with confidence—not in ourselves but in God, who is totally capable.

Bible in One Year: Zechariah 1-5

Our Daily Bread — Joyful Learning

Bible in a Year:

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Romans 12:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Romans 12:1–3

In the city of Mysore, India, there’s a school made of two refurbished train cars connected end-to-end. Local educators teamed up with the South Western Railway Company to buy and remodel the discarded coaches. The units were essentially large metal boxes, unusable until workers installed stairways, fans, lights, and desks. Workers also painted the walls and added colorful murals inside and out. Now, sixty students attend classes there because of the amazing transformation that took place.

Something even more amazing takes place when we follow the apostle Paul’s command to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). As we allow the Holy Spirit to uncouple us from the world and its ways, our thoughts and attitudes begin to change. We become more loving, more hopeful, and filled with inner peace (8:6).

Something else happens too. Although this transformation process is ongoing, and often has more stops and starts than a train ride, the process helps us understand what God wants for our lives. It takes us to a place where we “will learn to know God’s will” (12:2 nlt). Learning His will may or may not involve specifics, but it always involves aligning ourselves with His character and His work in the world.

Nali Kali, the name of the transformed school in India, means “joyful learning” in English. How’s God’s transforming power leading you to the joyful learning of His will?

By:  Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Reflect & Pray

Which areas of your thought life are most in need of God’s transforming power? How willing are you to act when you clearly understand His will for your life?

Dear God, I invite You to transform me by renewing my mind today. Thank You for all that’s possible when I surrender to You.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Extinguishing Satan’s Fiery Darts

“In addition to all, [take] up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one” (Eph. 6:16).

Don’t elevate Satan’s will above God’s will in your life.

In Ephesians 6:13 Paul characterizes Satan as “the evil one” who attacks believers with flaming missiles. The Greek word translated “evil one” literally means “bad,” “vile,” or “wretched.” All are apt descriptions of the archenemy of our souls, who seeks to maim and destroy us spiritually.

The term “flaming missiles” pictures one of the Roman weapons of Paul’s day: arrows that had pitch-soaked cotton material affixed to their tips. In battle they were set on fire and shot at the enemy. As the arrow hit its target, flaming pitch spread onto clothing and other flammable surfaces. Under such attacks a Roman soldier without a shield was in a perilous situation indeed.

Satan’s flaming arrows come in many forms: solicitations to impurity, selfishness, doubt, fear, disappointment, greed, vanity, covetousness, and the like. But whatever the specific form, all are seducing temptations aimed at eliciting ungodly responses.

Your faith protects you from such attacks when you elevate God’s will above Satan’s in your life. When tempted by Satan, Jesus responded by saying in effect, “I will not violate my Father’s will by yielding to your devious schemes. In His own time He will feed Me, anoint Me as Messiah, and give Me the kingdoms of the world. I will not elevate your will and timing above His” (Matt. 4:1-11).

Jesus could have created food. He is the Messiah and the sovereign Lord over the kingdoms of the world. But He trusted the Father and yielded to His will, even though it meant personal discomfort and, eventually, the cross. When Satan saw that Jesus’ trust in the Father was unshakable, he left Him (v. 11). That’s the power of faith.

I pray you will show similar strength in times of testing. Satan will flee from you if you “resist him, firm in your faith” (1 Pet. 5:9).

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise Jesus for His sinless character and His example of how to triumph over temptation.

For Further Study

Memorize James 4:7 as a reminder of the importance of resisting Satan.

Joyce Meyer – Take Responsibility

[So] they summoned them and imperatively instructed them not to converse in any way or teach at all in or about the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied to them, Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you and obey you rather than God, you must decide (judge). But we [ourselves] cannot help telling what we have seen and heard.

— Acts 4:18–20 (AMPC)

What is your boat? Is it a boat of passivity and indecision? Is there something crying out in you, “I wish I had a life . . . had some friends . . . could lose some weight . . . could have some fun . . could get out of debt. I want to be free!” Well, get up and get out of the boat. Get going. Stop whining and moaning about it. You are the only one who can do anything about it. Take responsibility for your life.

You can pray until you’re blue in the face for God to make it happen miraculously, but what if God is saying you have to confront it yourself and deal with it yourself? Are you too afraid to do it? Perhaps you feel that if you make no decisions, you can’t be wrong. And if you make no decisions, you think you have no responsibility. But you have to stay in the boat and take the consequences.

Prayer Starter: Lord, I hate being lulled into passivity and staying trapped when You are calling me to action. With Your help, I will take responsibility for my life today and start turning my wishes into reality, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Lessons from Leprosy

And if the leprous disease has covered all his body, he shall pronounce him clean of the disease.

Leviticus 13:13

This regulation appears to be very strange, but there was wisdom in it, for the throwing out of the disease proved that the constitution was sound. This morning it may be well for us to see the typical teaching of this singular principle. We, too, are lepers and may read the law of the leper as applicable to ourselves. When a man sees himself to be completely lost and ruined, covered all over with the defilement of sin, and with no part free from pollution, when he disclaims all righteousness of his own and pleads guilty before the Lord, then is he clean through the blood of Jesus and the grace of God.

Hidden, unfelt, unconfessed iniquity is the true leprosy, but when sin is seen and felt it has received its death blow, and the Lord looks with eyes of mercy upon the soul afflicted with it. Nothing is more deadly than self-righteousness or more hopeful than contrition. We must confess that we are nothing else but sin, for no confession short of this will be the whole truth. And if the Holy Spirit is at work within us, convincing us of sin, there will be no difficulty in making such an acknowledgment—it will spring spontaneously from our lips.

What comfort this text provides to those under a deep sense of sin! Sin mourned and confessed, however deep and foul, will never shut a man out from the Lord Jesus. “Whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”1 Though dishonest as the thief, though immoral as the woman who was a sinner, though fierce as Saul of Tarsus, though cruel as Manasseh, though rebellious as the prodigal, the great heart of love will look upon the man who feels himself to have no health in him and will pronounce him clean when he trusts in Jesus crucified. Come to Him, then, poor heavy-laden sinner.

Come needy, come guilty, come loathsome and bare;
You can’t come too filthy—come just as you are.

1) John 6:37

Devotional material is taken from Morning and Evening, written by C. H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Everywhere We Go

“Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” (Psalm 139:3-7)

“This is the conductor, Brittany. His name is Mr. Ben. He’ll take care of you during your train ride, honey.” Brittany’s dad handed her suitcase to the man with the blue uniform and scruffy mustache. Slowly, she reached up to shake Mr. Ben’s hand, but he was already turning to lead her up the little staircase and into the coach car of the train.

Her dad hugged her good-bye and held onto her shoulders for a second. “Remember what we talked about. Mom and Grandpa and them will be waiting for you at the station. If you need anything during the trip, ask Mr. Ben. He knows where the restrooms and the dining car are.”

Brittany nodded her head.

“You OK?”

She nodded her head again. She was feeling like there might be some kind of crazy hamster wheel twirling in her stomach.

“I’m sorry you’re having to go on by yourself. But Mr. Ben will take good care of you on the train, and I’ll be able to join the rest of the family when I get off work on Friday night. All right?”

She nodded again.

“OK, then. I love you, Britt. See you soon!”

Brittany climbed the staircase and sat down in a seat. She got the whole seat to herself, and she was right by a window. Mr. Ben handed her a carton of chocolate milk. The twirling-hamster-wheel feeling in her stomach was starting to go away. This wasn’t so bad, after all. From where he stood on the platform outside, her dad was waving to her, and she smiled as she waved back.

Have you ever had to try something new for the first time? Have you ever been in a situation that made you nervous because you were all by yourself? Like Brittany’s experience with a train trip all alone, sometimes we get stuck in uncomfortable places or circumstances that we have to go through. We cannot always pick or choose ways to make things be the way we want them to be. And Brittany had the promise of Mr. Ben taking care of her, but sometimes we really cannot turn to anyone. Sometimes we cannot count on a human being to help us through a new or difficult experience.

If you are a believer in the God of the Bible, though, you can remember that God is everywhere at all times. He is God. He is always there for us to talk to, always there for us to call on for help, and always there when we need to know we are not alone. He is always there – even though we cannot see Him.

How often do you think about the fact that God is everywhere, all the time? The word for that is “omnipresent,” which means “present everywhere.” If God’s children reminded themselves more often that He is omnipresent, they would probably feel more safe, more brave, and more willing to trust in Him. His people are never truly alone when they go through hard things in their lives. Whether it is on a train, in a hospital, around a campfire, near a grave, in front of a crowd, or up a tree, God is there. He is truly everywhere we could go.

God is everywhere at all times.

My Response:
» When I am alone, do I forget God and start thinking like I am alone?
» When I face a new experience or a hard trial, do I think the Bible truth about where God is?
» How can I show others that I believe God is everywhere I go?

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Denison Forum – An ancient solution to California’s disastrous wildfires

In 2020 and 2021, six of Californias’ ten largest fires in its history swept through the state. 

The August Complex, a collection of multiple fires that grew together, ravaged over one million acres of land in California. In the California fires of 2020, thirty-one people lost their lives and whole towns were swallowed by the massive blazes. One estimate claimed the cost was $10 billion in damages to the economy from the year 2020 alone. And 2021 hasn’t been much better. 

Only recently was the Dixie wildfire mostly controlled, after almost reaching one million acres itself. It is the second-largest wildfire, following close behind the August Complex.  

The desolate aftermath of these massive wildfires leads many to wonder if we could have done something more to prevent them. 

For decades, US policy put its efforts into preventing fires at all costs. The beloved Smokey the Bear reminded everyone to put out our campfires completely and dispose of cigarettes correctly. His catchphrase, riffing off of the World War II Uncle Sam poster, says, “Only YOU can prevent forest fires!” 

Though somewhat effective in preventing unintentional, man-made fires, this sentiment only covers part of the problem. Certainly, accidents have sparked destructive wildfires in the past, yet as our methods for fighting fires have become more advanced, the wildfires seem to be getting worse, not better. 

Surprisingly, the policy of complete fire prevention has fueled, not prevented, the new massive wildfires. 

The paradox of fire suppression

On a family trip to Wyoming many years ago, I remember surveying the pristine forests of Yellowstone National Park with wonder. I also remember the words of my grandfather, a professor with a Ph.D. in forestry. He warned against the blanket policy for national forests: never let anything burn. Like a prophet of the trees, he sagely rubbed his beard and predicted the disasters that this practice would lead to. 

And he was right. 

Though some pin the problem on climate change and others point out the record droughts in recent years that add to the problem, one expert says, “The biggest piece I’d still say is the condition of our forest. I’d say it’s 75% of our problem.” 

What is the condition of the forests in California? 

Well, interestingly, since we’ve aggressively fought the fires for so long, brush and dead forest matter have increasingly built up to frightening levels. One analysis aptly called California a “tinderbox.”

In the normal life cycle of a forest, lightning will cause natural forest fires that allow for greater biodiversity as it clears out deadwood and brush. The carefully balanced ecosystem depended on fires long before humans were there. These natural fires generally don’t kill large trees because they’re small and burn at a low level. According to one estimate from Pewtrust, before the 1800s approximately 5–12 percent of the land of California would naturally burn every year.  

Most critically, natural, low-burning forest fires act as a reset button.

Ironically, the fact that we’ve fought fires so well for so long means that the forests are like powder kegs, with forests full of dead material that will fuel more destructive fires.

A lesson from Indigenous people

Centuries ago, Native Americans regularly intentionally burned forests as part of their cultivation practices. The legacy lives on today in people like Bill Tripp, who is part of the Karuk tribe in California. He and others are leading the way to go back to the centuries-old practice of methodical burning to cultivate forests and hopefully prevent more massive wildfires.

Though some steps in the area of controlled burns are being made, California in particular has a long way to go. 

One article which I’ve drawn on several times in this article is provocatively titled We must burn the West to save it.” In it, the author concludes, “without concerted action now, the risks will only get worse.”

Wisdom lies in the past. Very quickly, the indigenous practice of forest burning became outlawed when the United States spread to the West, taking American Indian land. The American Indians lived in the Americas for thousands of years and knew how to tend the land of America with responsibility. Practical wisdom lies in the past, in practices from old and diverse cultures. 

They can lead to great lessons if properly understood.

God uses fires in our lives

The second piece of wisdom lies in a more metaphorical lesson. 

When difficulty enters our lives, it can burn like a fire. However, in my experience, times of hardship also reveal the pervasive deadwood of sin. 

Lying like unobtrusive, innocent twigs and leaves, sinful practices and postures build up in our hearts over time. If we approach hardship rightly, then God can use them as a fire to burn through the deadwood. 

Fire can also represent the Scriptures themselves, a difficult word from a friend, or some frustrated desire. All of these can lead us to get the deadwood out of our lives. 

God’s discipline can be a mercy that prevents a massive wildfire from overwhelming us and destroying our lives in a deeper way, like using a small fire to prevent a big fire. As James writes, “Sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:15). 

Fires are hot, and they can burn. “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).

Yet, Dr. Jim Denison reminds us of this truth: “God redeems all he allows.” 

The next time a door is closed, a season becomes fraught with hardship, or an inconvenience happens, reflect on your response. If you can say, “I have learned to give thanks in all circumstances” with Paul, you’re further along than me, but it’s something for everyone to strive for. 

Allow God to clear the deadwood from your heart, praying that he would reveal your hidden sins, even if it’s painful.

Maybe God is allowing a controlled burn in your life to make way for new growth.

Upwords; Max Lucado –It’s Not Over Until It’s Over

IT’S NOT OVER UNTIL IT’S OVER – September 29, 2021

In Jeremiah 32:27 God says, “I am the Lord, the God of every person on the earth, nothing is impossible for me.” We need to hear that God is still in control. We need to hear that it’s not over until he says so. We need to hear that life’s mishaps and tragedies are not a reason to bail out.

Corrie ten Boom used to say, “When the train goes through a tunnel and the world gets dark, do you jump out? Of course not. You sit still and trust the engineer to get you through.” The way to deal with discouragement? The cure for disappointment? Go back and read the story of God. Read it again and again. Be reminded that you aren’t the first person to weep. You aren’t the first person to be helped. Read the story, and remember the story is yours.

The Case for Optimism

I sat down to write an essay about President Trump’s energetic rally in Georgia before a massive crowd of ebullient patriots.  I wanted to discuss the reasons why this American leader has set himself apart from all others.  I wanted to bolster his rallying cry that “we’re going to take back our country from these lunatics.”  I thought I might entitle my final product “The Resplendent Donald Trump,” because he has shone a light on the struggles and opportunities facing Americans today better than any public figure in decades.

I put that essay aside, however, when I couldn’t get past a recurring theme showing up in the writings and commentaries I read daily.  That theme is unmistakable despair.  It seems that bad news has piled up so steadily that it is becoming harder and harder to see over that pile toward a future of our own making.

An increasing number of people now understand that the China Virus was not only a tool for drowning the 2020 presidential election with illegal mail-in ballots devoid of chain of custody or security of any kind, but also a mechanism for undermining inherent personal freedoms while ushering in a new Super-State with near-total control over speech, social gatherings, ideas, and economic relations.

For decades, Americans have been trying to put an end to rampant illegal immigration that has both fractured local communities and impoverished working-class Americans already suffering from D.C.’s bipartisan efforts to send America’s best manufacturing jobs to China.  And after the briefest respite arising solely from the efforts of President Trump (in direct opposition to the bipartisan consensus in D.C. that immigration crimes should be ignored), the border has never been more open.  Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas brags that he is so opposed to protecting the homeland’s security that he spends all his time releasing illegal aliens throughout the U.S. while formulating plans to criminalize as “domestic extremists” Trump-voting veterans who actually sacrificed to protect America.

Censorship is enforced by tech monopolists and corporate boards of directors who have decided that fascism pays better than freedom, and when they’re not actively enforcing the new Marxist “social justice” nonsense upon their employees and customers, they’re getting rich from overseas slave labor and the Federal Reserve’s Wall Street cronyism that artificially pushes up stock values while guaranteeing a future dollar collapse for everyone else.

In America — the Land of the Free — the government now declares that it may mandate what goes into each citizen’s body, decide which tenets of religion will be “allowed” to survive, outlaw speech it does not like, and tautologically vilify anyone who resists the State’s illegitimate new powers as being an “enemy of the state.”  Objecting to tyranny now makes one a “terrorist.”

The whole thing is so absurd and so unfathomable to most Americans that it is causing them to lose faith in any future at all.  We can’t vote our way out if vote counts can’t be trusted or if the Uniparty just continues seeding battleground states with tens of millions of illegal aliens who will either be granted immunity and voting privileges in short order or be encouraged to break our voting laws, just as they were encouraged to break our immigration laws.  Big Tech and Big Media have strangled information so successfully that the need for samizdat has returned.  Big Business and Big Government have worked together to transfer all the wealth of the middle class to the richest one percent of the one percent.  Vaccine passports promise a future of completely controlled movement.  Central bank digital currencies promise a future of completely controlled commerce.  Quarantine camps provide a convenient excuse for housing all the troublesome skeptics immune to groupthink socialism.  And Americans who are just itching for a chance to push back against the government’s abuses are reminded daily that a few hundred unarmed January 6 Capitol “trespassers,” whose technical crimes, if any, paled in comparison to those we’ve been forced to endure from the hands of the FBI-approved BLM and Antifa Marxists for several years, are still languishing in solitary confinement going on a full year now with laughably bereft American due process, proving that justice in the United States is, indeed, two-tiered.

Now, who could read through all that mess above and be optimistic about what is to come?  Easy.  Anybody who has been watching the Marxists’ long march through history trampling over American freedoms one decade at a time, just hoping the day would arrive when enough people would wake up to the severity of the situation to do something about it.

There is nothing more potent than fellowship.  There is nothing more formidable than an idea whose time has come.  There is nothing more frightening to those with power than when those without power start seeing clearly.  Hope and courage are contagious, which is why governments concerned only with staying in power spread loneliness and despair.  The latter protect the status quo; the former shatter the status quo forever.  This is also why each step we take to reclaim our God-given freedoms will be met with greater insults to liberty and more forceful punishments from illegitimate government actors.  This Marxist authoritarianism draped in the new clothes of globalism and technocratic managerialism runs on personal misery and despondence.  It feasts on chronic human isolation.  It survives only by extinguishing the bonds that enliven us.  It should be no surprise that the most inhuman forms of government thrive only when each person’s humanity is successfully denied.  When people understand that they have inadvertently handed their liberties to a government they no longer condone, then they begin remembering that they are many and their tormentors few.

Not long ago, the problems that plague us were treated as issues to be debated every few years; now they are understood as cancers worth fighting with each breath.  That’s a huge step forward from where we once were.  Before every great social change throughout history, the people responsible for that change first created the language for what they were setting out to do.  Even when language fortified resolve, the costs of action remained daunting.

Imagine how many naysayers still existed in the American colonies after the Declaration of Independence was first published in 1776.  Troubles with England had already existed for over a decade.  War with England would engulf the next decade.  The Articles of Confederation didn’t last the decade after that.  The U.S. Constitution and the whole American experiment in individual liberty almost evaporated when the British took a second bite at the apple during the War of 1812.  Although Americans who have resisted the brainwashing of the Marxists rewriting American history are fond of thinking of those five decades of uncertainty as being guided by God and destiny, they were filled with moments that could have stopped America’s birth.  Only the unwavering fellowship of Americans clear in their purpose kept the nation on course.  Only in hindsight did everything seem certain.

We, too, find ourselves in uncertain and explosive times.  Enemies of freedom have hardened the battle lines.  Protectors of freedom have awakened to what’s at stake.  And more and more people are seeing the light.  If you doubt that we’re gaining ground, then just consider how hostile government now is.  The appeal of personal liberty — its resplendence, if you will — is far brighter and more attractive than the government would like, which is why, every day, its enforcers work so hard to keep us apart, lost, and in despair.  When we find courage through each other, we make their mission impossible.

So be strong, be vigilant, and be hopeful, and whatever else happens, stay in the light.


By J.B. Shurk

Source: The Case for Optimism – American Thinker

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Burden of Inadequacy

Deuteronomy 1:26-36

Because we’re human, at some point we will all experience inadequacy. So the real issue you and I face is not whether we are sufficient for a task but how we respond when a challenge is beyond our capabilities. Oftentimes as an obstacle grows in our mind, we want to run in the opposite direction, away from the challenge and toward safety. However, avoiding a task that God has given us will lead to bondage. The more we feed our fear, the more we’ll be controlled by feelings of inadequacy, which can impact decisions we make and, ultimately, our future.

Look at the Israelites in today’s passage. Standing on the edge of the Promised Land, they were overcome by fear. The size and strength of the enemy was overwhelming. As a result of their refusal to trust the Lord and move forward to conquer the local inhabitants, those Israelites never saw the land that He wanted to give them. Opportunities are often lost when we let fear overrule our faith.

When God calls you to a task beyond your abilities, acknowledge your feelings of inadequacy and then choose to rely on Him and His promises. By moving forward in faith despite your fear, you will discover the Lord’s faithfulness. He always empowers us for the works He assigns.

Bible in One Year: Zephaniah 1-3Haggai 1-2

Our Daily Bread — Flight of Ichabod

Bible in a Year:

The Glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.

1 Samuel 4:22

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

1 Samuel 4:12–22

In The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving tells of Ichabod Crane, a schoolteacher who seeks to marry a beautiful young woman named Katrina. Key to the story is a headless horseman who haunts the colonial countryside. One night, Ichabod encounters a ghostly apparition on horseback and flees the region in terror. It’s clear to the reader that this “horseman” is actually a rival suitor for Katrina, who then marries her.

Ichabod is a name first seen in the Bible, and it too has a gloomy backstory. While at war with the Philistines, Israel carried the sacred ark of the covenant into battle. Bad move. Israel’s army was routed and the ark captured. Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of the high priest Eli, were killed (1 Samuel 4:17). Eli too would die (v. 18). When the pregnant wife of Phinehas heard the news, “she went into labor and gave birth, but was overcome by her labor pains” (v. 19). With her last words she named her son Ichabod (literally, “no glory”). “The Glory has departed from Israel,” she gasped (v. 22).  

Thankfully, God was unfolding a much larger story. His glory would ultimately be revealed in Jesus, who said of His disciples, “I have given them the glory that you [the Father] gave me” (John 17:22).

No one knows where the ark is today, but no matter. Ichabod has fled. Through Jesus, God has given us His very glory!

By:  Tim Gustafson

Reflect & Pray

What do you think it means for God to give us His glory? How have you experienced it?

Dear Father, thank You for revealing Your glory through Jesus. Make me mindful of Your presence throughout this day.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Butterfly, Botanist, or Bee?

“Take . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17).

Your attitude toward Scripture will determine your effectiveness in spiritual battle.

I remember enjoying the observations of a perceptive man who was gazing at a beautiful garden. First he saw a butterfly flitting from flower to flower. It spent a few seconds on the edge of each, but derived no particular benefit from any of them.

Next he saw a botanist with large notebook and microscope in hand. As the botanist carefully observed each flower and plant, he made copious entries in his book. But after hours of meticulous study, most of what he learned was shut up in his book. Very little remained in his mind.

Then came a little bee. When it entered a flower, it emerged laden with pollen. It had left the hive that morning empty, but would return full.

When it comes to Bible study, some people are like butterflys, going from one favorite verse to another, one seminar to another, or one book to another. They’re very busy and expend much energy but have little to show for their efforts. They remain unchanged in any significant way because they never really delve into the Word wholeheartedly. They’re content to simply flutter around the edges.

Others, like the botanist, may study in great depth but never apply it to their lives. I know of entire commentaries written by unbelievers. In some cases their grasp of Scripture is exceptional, but they know nothing of true love for God and obedience to biblical truth. What a tragedy! But you don’t have to be a biblical scholar to make that mistake. You need only to fail to apply what you learn to your life.

Rather, strive to be like the bee, spending time in the Word—reading, studying, taking notes, then emerging fuller than when you began. Your mind will be filled with wisdom and biblical insights. Your life will be sweeter and purer because the Word has done its work (1 Cor. 2:13).

Are you a butterfly, a botanist, or a bee?

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for the opportunities He gives you to study His Word. Take full advantage of them.

For Further Study

According to James 1:22-25, what’s the difference between someone who merely hears the Word and someone who obeys it?