In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – God Acts on Your Behalf

Proverbs 3:5-6

Do you trust God? Most believers will quickly answer yes. But stop and consider if that’s true in your prayer life. When your need is urgent but God isn’t answering as soon as you desire, do you still trust Him? Scenarios like this lead some believers to doubt that the Lord has His children’s best interests at heart.

However, Isaiah 64:4 assures us that God “acts on behalf of those who wait for him” (NIV). Joseph had to wait in very difficult circumstances before the Lord set him free from prison and gave him authority as a ruler in Egypt (Gen. 37:18-28Gen. 39:19-20). From an outsider’s viewpoint, it didn’t look as if God was acting on Joseph’s behalf. But from a heavenly perspective, events were right on track (50:20).

The same is true in your life. During a period of waiting, God could be preparing you for a future answer that will come at just the right time. Or He might be teaching you to trust Him so you can walk by faith rather than sight. Another possibility is that your desire would ultimately involve something against His will, and withholding it serves as protection.

You may never find out why God delays answering your prayer, but you can always trust in His goodness, wisdom, and love.

Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 32-33

Our Daily Bread — Resting Secure in God

Bible in a Year:

Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long.

Deuteronomy 33:12

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Deuteronomy 33:1–5, 12

I wrote a letter to our children as each became a teenager. In one I talked about our identity in Christ, remembering that when I was a teenager, I felt unsure of myself, lacking confidence. I had to learn that I was God’s beloved—His child. I said in the letter, “Knowing who you are comes down to knowing Whose you are.” For when we understand that God has created us and we commit to following Him, we can be at peace with who He’s made us to be. And we also know that He changes us to be more like Him each day.

A foundational passage from Scripture about our identity as God’s children is Deuteronomy 33:12: “Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.” Just before Moses died, he proclaimed this blessing over the tribe of Benjamin as God’s people prepared to enter the land He’d promised them. God wanted them to always remember that they were His beloved and to rest secure in their identity as His children.

Knowing our identity as God’s children is equally important for everyone—teenagers, those in the middle of life, and those who have lived a long time. When we understand that God created us and watches over us, we can find security, hope, and love.   

By:  Amy Boucher Pye

Reflect & Pray

How does knowing that you can “rest between his shoulders” increase your love for God? How does this deepen your understanding of who you are?

Loving Father, You created me and You hold me close. Let my identity as Your child permeate my thoughts and actions.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Standing Firm

“Stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Eph. 6:11).

Keep your spiritual armor on at all times.

Every battle has an offensive and defensive strategy. Paul outlines the Christian’s offensive strategy in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5: “Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”

Our defensive strategy is to rely on Christ’s strength and put on our spiritual armor (Eph. 6:10-11). Paul was probably chained to a Roman soldier when he wrote to the Ephesians, so he had a ready illustration of spiritual armament at hand. But unlike Roman soldiers, who removed their armor when off duty, Christians must remain fully protected at all times. That thought is captured in the Greek word translated “put on” in Ephesians 6:11, which carries the idea of permanence—putting it on once and for all.

“Stand firm” in verse 11 translates a military term that speaks of holding your ground while under attack. When properly employed, your spiritual armor serves as a lifelong companion that enables you to fight against the forces of evil and do so without retreat. Just as Jesus personally instructed the churches in Thyatira and Philadelphia to hold fast until He returns (Rev. 2:25; 3:11), so He also instructs us to stand our ground without wavering.

Similar New Testament exhortations call us to hold fast to biblical truth (1 Cor. 15:2), to that which is good (1 Thess. 5:21), to our confidence in Christ (Heb. 4:6), and to our confession of faith (Heb. 4:14). Those are marks of a strong and stable believer against whom the schemes of Satan have little effect.

Suggestions for Prayer

Is there an area of your Christian life in which you’re not standing as firm as you should—perhaps prayer, Bible study, or personal ministry? If so, confess it to the Lord and begin to strengthen that area today. Don’t give Satan a weakness to attack.

For Further Study

Memorize 1 John 4:4 as a reminder of God’s power in your life.

Joyce Meyer – Realistic Expectations

In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]

— John 16:33 (AMPC)

If you get the idea in your head that everything concerning your life should always be perfect, you are setting yourself up for a fall. This is not to suggest you should be negative. But you do need to be realistic enough to realize ahead of time that very few things in life are ever perfect.

You should not plan for failure, but you do need to remember Jesus said you will have to deal with tribulation and trials and distress and frustration. These things are part of life on this earth—for the believer as well as the unbeliever. But all the mishaps in the world cannot harm you if you will remain in the love of God.

Prayer Starter: Lord Jesus, help me to trust You to bring about the complete change I need. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Living as Lights

. . . In the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.

Philippians 2:15

We use lights for display. A Christian should so shine in his life that a person could not live with him a week without knowing the Gospel. His conversation should be such that all who spend time with him would understand clearly to whom he belongs and who it is he serves and would see the image of Jesus displayed in his daily actions. Lights are intended for guidance. We are to help those around us who are in the dark. We are to declare to them the Word of life. We are to point sinners to the Savior and the weary to a divine resting-place. Sometimes men read their Bibles and fail to understand them; we should be ready, like Philip, to instruct the inquirer in the meaning of God’s Word, the way of salvation, and the life of godliness.

Lights are also used for warning. On our rocks and sandbanks a lighthouse is sure to be erected. Christians should know that there are many false lights everywhere in the world, and therefore the right light is needed. The wreckers of Satan are always abroad, tempting the ungodly to sin under the name of pleasure as they hoist the wrong light. It is our responsibility to set the true light upon every dangerous rock, to point out every sin and tell what it leads to, so that we may be clear of the blood of all men, shining as lights in the world. Lights also have a very cheering influence, and so have Christians. A Christian ought to be a comforter, with kind words on his lips and sympathy in his heart; he should carry sunshine wherever he goes and diffuse happiness around him.

Gracious Spirit dwell with me;
I myself would gracious be,
And with words that help and heal
Would Thy life in mine reveal,
And with actions bold and meek
Would for Christ my Savior speak.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – Jesus Wants Us To Make Disciples

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 28:19)

Lena’s mom was sitting at the kitchen table with twelve cardboard tubes laid in a row in front of her. She was cutting out pieces of felt and gluing them around the tubes. “What are you doing, Mom?” Lena asked.

“I’m making disciples,” said Mom. She laughed. “I really am! I’m teaching my Sunday school class about the twelve disciples. These little cardboard figures represent the twelve men Jesus chose to be His special followers. Would you like to help me glue their faces on?”

As Lena and Mom worked on the cardboard disciples, Mom told Lena about a verse in Matthew that says Christians are to “teach” all nations. “Do you know what the word teach means in that verse? It means to make disciples!”

“Like this?” Lena finished gluing Peter’s yarn beard in place and held him up.

“No, not the way we’re making disciples. The verse means that Christians are to teach other people how to be followers of Jesus – just like these twelve disciples were His followers.”

Lena thought about that for a few moments. “How can we help people be Jesus’ followers?” she asked. “Does that just mean telling people how to be saved?”

“That’s only the beginning of it,” said Mom. “After people get saved, they need other Christians to encourage them and help them grow. Helping somebody might mean praying with him about his problems, taking him to church, answering his questions, or telling him what a verse in the Bible means.”

“That sounds like a lot of work,” said Lena.

Mom carefully drew a smiling face on one of the disciples she was making. Then she looked up at Lena with a smile of her own. “It’s not always easy,” she said. “But Jesus promises to be with us always – and all the power in the universe is His. Isn’t it worth putting in a little extra time and effort to serve a Master like Him?”

Jesus wants believers to make disciples of other people.

My Response:
» Do I know anyone who needs encouragement to follow Jesus?
» How can I help that person?

Read in browser »

Denison Forum – The one path to true rest for weary souls

This Saturday, I watched OU defeat Tulane in NCAA football (barely), UT defeat Louisiana (handily), Georgia defeat Clemson (suspensefully), and Alabama defeat Miami (of course). Along the way, I monitored the third round of the PGA Tour Championship and watched the Texas Rangers play baseball (sort of).

In other words, it was a typical Labor Day holiday. Watching sports has become synonymous with the symbolic last weekend of summer, as have barbecues, family outings, blockbuster movies, and anything else we can do to create a few days of rest and retreat.

But the world is waiting for our return tomorrow, of course.

As the death toll from flooding in the Northeast climbs above fifty people, the Washington Post reports that nearly one in three Americans experienced a weather disaster this summer. Meanwhile, the hiring slowdown in August shows Delta’s impact as the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect every part of our lives. Here’s a surprising consequence of the pandemic: auto thefts have spiked as people have left their cars unattended for longer than usual.

The Labor Day holiday offers us a respite from all of this. But wouldn’t it be wonderful to find a source of rest and peace that sustains and empowers us not just for a weekend, but for every day of the year?

An amazing invitation

In Matthew 11, Jesus issues this amazing and encouraging invitation: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (vv. 28–30). Each word repays study and reflection.

Let’s begin with verse 28:

  • “Come” is better translated as hurry or come hither.
  • “To me” is Jesus’ invitation to hurry to him—not to the church, or religion, or other people, or ourselves. Go to Jesus now. Don’t wait until tomorrow or the end of this day.
  • “All” means all. No person on our planet is excluded, including you.
  • “Labor” translates the Greek word for working. This is active—those who are working hard to advance their careers, help their families, and serve God and his church.
  • “Heavy laden,” by contrast, is passive, referring to burdens placed on us by other people. The original context was the Jewish law (cf. Acts 15:10) in which the people were given 613 laws to keep, but it refers to any expectations or requirements placed on us by someone else.
  • “I will give you rest” could be translated, “I will rest you.” Note the word will—this is Jesus’ guarantee to us.

Verse 29:

  • “Yoke” refers to the typical means of guiding working animals in Jesus’ day. The farmer used the yoke to tell the ox where to go, what to do, and how fast, far, and long to do it. The yoke guided every part of the ox every moment that it was worn.
  • “Take my yoke upon you” thus means to submit to Jesus’ will completely. We are to bear no yoke but his. To take his yoke, we refuse the yoke of our own pride and ambitions, the yoke of others’ expectations, the yoke of cultural definitions of success. We can wear only one yoke at a time—we are to wear his.
  • “Learn from me” repeats this invitation in a different way. The phrase could be rendered, “Enroll in my school.” In Jesus’ day, a student gave his life to his teacher, following him twenty-four hours a day. Students were not just learners but holistic disciples.
  • “I am gentle” shows why we should enroll in Jesus’ school. “Gentle” translates praus, which describes the person who always does the right thing. Because Jesus’ will for us is “perfect” (Romans 12:2), we can trust him with every dimension of our lives and days.
  • “Lowly in heart” points to his humility, the fact that he came to serve (Mark 10:45), and that he only and always wants our best.
  • “I will give you rest” repeats Jesus’ promise of verse 28 for emphasis.

Verse 30:

  • “My yoke is easy”—easy means that his yoke fits well. An ancient tradition says that Jesus the carpenter made the best yokes in all of Galilee, and that over his carpenter’s shop there was the sign, “My yokes fit well.” If the yoke is well-fitted to the animal, it is “easy” to bear. Jesus alone knows what purpose best fits our gifts, abilities, shortcomings, experiences, education, and future. His yoke alone fits well.
  • “My burden is light”—if the strap fits well, the backpack is light. If the yoke fits well, the burden attached to it is light. If your burden is heavy today, check your yoke.

What happens when we wear Jesus’ yoke

You are wearing someone’s yoke today. If you are wearing any yoke but the one Jesus intends for you, you can find rest only by taking it off for a while, getting away for a holiday weekend, or finding other ways to distract from your stress and retreat from your pressures. But your yoke is always waiting for your return.

However, Jesus’ yoke will bring you rest every moment of every day. It will bring you rest in the midst of your work and the burdens you bear. It will lead you to a life of eternal significance and present fulfillment. It will produce the “fruit of the Spirit” in your life—the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control you will find nowhere else (Galatians 5:22).

Henri Nouwen expressed well the difference Jesus makes when we wear his yoke by trusting our lives completely to his leadership and care:

“Dear Lord:

“Today I thought of the words of Vincent van Gogh: ‘It is true there is an ebb and flow, but the sea remains the sea.’ You are the sea. Although I experience many ups and downs in my emotions and often feel great shifts and changes in my inner life, you remain the same. Your sameness is not the sameness of a rock, but the sameness of a faithful lover.

“Out of your love I came to life, by your love I am sustained, and to your love I am always called back. There are days of sadness and days of joy; there are feelings of guilt and feelings of gratitude; there are moments of failure and moments of success; but all of them are embraced by your unwavering love. . . . O Lord, sea of love and goodness, let me not fear too much the storms and winds of my daily life, and let me know there is ebb and flow but the sea remains the sea.”

Whose yoke are you wearing today?

Upwords; Max Lucado – Bold Prayers

BOLD PRAYERS – September 6, 2021

How bold are your prayers?

As John Wesley crossed the Atlantic, he was reading in his cabin and became aware of heavy winds knocking the ship off course. He responded in prayer. A colleague wrote it down: “Almighty and everlasting God…Thou holdest the winds in thy fists and sittest upon the water floods…command those winds and these waves that they obey Thee. Take us speedily and safely to the haven whither we would go.”

Having offered the prayer, Wesley took up his book and continued reading. On deck his colleague found calm winds and the ship on course. Wesley made no mention of the answered prayer. His friend wrote, “So fully did he expect to be heard that he took it for granted he was heard.”

How bold are your prayers?