In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Impact of Prayer

Psalm 139:23-24

When we think about prayer, we frequently focus on what we want the Lord to do for us or others, but communing with Him also impacts us in spiritual ways that we may not realize. Scripture tells us to devote ourselves to prayer and to pray without ceasing (Col. 4:21 Thess. 5:17). Continuous conversations with our heavenly Father are one of the means He uses to impact us personally.

Prayer changes us. As we seek the Lord and regularly spend time in His Word, we’ll be transformed. Our desires will be replaced by His, and our thinking will align more closely with His thoughts. As our understanding of His character grows, we’ll have a better idea of how to pray in accordance with His will.

Through prayer, we invite God to accomplish His work in us. While we can’t alter a single divine plan or make the Lord change His mind, we can invite Him to alter us. In prayer, we submit to God’s will, repent of sin, and ask Him to shape us into the image of His Son. And He will hear and answer this kind of prayer because it is exactly what He desires to do in each of us.

Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 40-42

Our Daily Bread — Hotel Corona

Bible in a Year:

Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all . . . . From now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.

2 Corinthians 5:1416

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

2 Corinthians 5:14–20

The Dan Hotel in Jerusalem became known by a different name in 2020—“Hotel Corona.” The government dedicated the hotel to patients recovering from COVID-19, and the hotel became known as a rare site of joy and unity during a difficult time. Since the residents already had the virus, they were free to sing, dance, and laugh together. And they did! In a country where tensions between different political and religious groups run high, the shared crisis created a space where people could learn to see each other as human beings first—and even become friends.

It’s natural, normal even, for us to be drawn toward those we see as similar to us, people we suspect share similar experiences and values to our own. But as the apostle Paul often emphasized, the gospel is a challenge to any barriers between human beings that we see as “normal” (2 Corinthians 5:15). Through the lens of the gospel, we see a bigger picture than our differences—a shared brokenness and a shared longing and need to experience healing in God’s love.

If we believe that “one died for all,” then we can also no longer be content with surface-level assumptions about others. Instead, “Christ’s love compels us” (v. 14) to share His love and mission with those God loves more than we can imagine—all of us.

By:  Monica La Rose

Reflect & Pray

When do you find yourself most prone to forget the “bigger picture” of your shared humanity with others? What helps remind you of our equal brokenness and need for Jesus’ love?

In hard times, Jesus, thank You for those moments when I see a glimmer of breathtaking beauty through the love and joy of others. Help me to live each day this way, regarding “no one from a worldly point of view.”

Grace to You; John MacArthur – We Need One Another

 “To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7).

The Holy Spirit uses believers to minister to other believers.

Right in line with modern culture’s emphasis on personal independence, it’s often easy for one to say, “If I have the all-sufficient Holy Spirit living within me, that’s all I need to live my Christian life.” That is true, but because you are not completely sanctified, you do not always allow the Spirit to fully do His work. Therefore, God needs to use other believers to minister the Spirit’s correction, exhortation, or encouragement.

The Bible is very clear about this. The Epistle to the Hebrews says God wants followers who do not waver in their profession of faith. And a primary way Christians will fulfill that is by regularly meeting together and seriously stimulating one another to love and good works (Heb. 10:23-25).

We don’t have to look far for the proper setting in which to meet regularly and encourage one another. It’s any Bible-believing local church that is exercising its spiritual gifts. These special gifts are simply the loving channels through which the Holy Spirit ministers to those within the fellowship of believers. Today’s verse suggests that each of us has a gift, and this truth is explained a little more in verse 11: “One and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.” Here the apostle Paul reveals yet one more way in which the Holy Spirit sovereignly helps us and others to become more mature.

What’s remarkable about the Spirit’s working through us is that we become extensions of His voice. Perhaps you’ve thought of that comparison at times when you’ve shared the gospel with the lost. But the analogy fits equally well when you reach out and minister to someone within your church. The idea of being an extension of the Holy Spirit’s ministry ought to encourage you toward greater faithfulness in using your spiritual gifts to help other believers. Likewise, it should make you more sensitive to the Spirit’s correcting and edifying work in your life as others come alongside and minister to you (Col. 3:12-13).

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Lord to keep you always faithful to the commands of Hebrews 10:23-25.

For Further Study

Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-7.

  • What kind of example did the Macedonians set regarding aid to other believers?
  • How should that motivate us (v. 7)?

Joyce Meyer – The Key to Self-Acceptance

…When they measure themselves with themselves and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding and behave unwisely.

— 2 Corinthians 10:12 (AMPC)

Advertising is often geared to make people strive to look the best, be the best, and own the most. If you buy “this” car, you will really be number one! If you buy “this” particular brand of clothes, you will be just like “this” famous celebrity and people will really admire you. The world constantly gives us the impression that we need to be something other than what we are.

Confidence begins with self-acceptance—which is made possible through a strong faith in God’s love and plan for our lives. I believe it is insulting to God when we compare ourselves with others and desire to be what they are. Make a decision to be grateful for the person God made you to be, and then you will never again compare yourself with someone else. Appreciate others for who they are and enjoy the wonderful person you are.

Prayer Starter: Father, help me to love and appreciate the person You created me to be. I thank You that I don’t have to compare myself to others in order to be accepted. You created me with a unique and wonderful purpose. I’m thankful that to You, I am special and beyond compare.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Prevailing Prayer

I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

Jeremiah 33:3

There are different translations of these words. One version renders it, “I will show you great and fortified things.” Another, “great and reserved things.” Now, there are reserved and special things in Christian experience: Every development in the spiritual life does not take place in the same way or in the same time frame. There are the common benefits and feelings of repentance and faith and joy and hope, which are enjoyed by the entire family; but there is an upper realm of delight, communion, and conscious union with Christ, which is far from being the routine enjoyment of believers.

We do not all have the high privilege of John, to lean upon Jesus’ bosom; nor of Paul, to be caught up into the third heaven. There are heights in experimental [experiential] knowledge of the things of God that the eagle’s eye has never seen and the philosopher’s mind has never grasped. God alone can take us there; but the chariot in which He transports us, and the horses with which that chariot is pulled, are prevailing prayers.

Prevailing prayer is victorious with the God of mercy, “In his manhood he strove with God. He strove with the angel and prevailed; he wept and sought his favor. He met God at Bethel, and there God spoke with us.”1 Prevailing prayer takes the Christian to the mountain and enables him to cover heaven with clouds of blessing, and earth with floods of mercy. Prevailing prayer lifts the Christian and shows him his inheritance and transfigures him into the likeness of his Lord. If you would reach to something higher than ordinary groveling experience, look to the Rock that is higher than you, and gaze with the eye of faith through the window of consistent prayer. When you open the window on your side, it will not be bolted on the other.

1) Hosea 12:3-4

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God’s Way Is Perfect

“For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall. As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God? It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.” (Psalm 18:29-32)

“Nobody’s perfect.”

Have you ever heard that phrase? Usually, it is what people say after someone makes a very small mistake. It is true. No human being can be perfect. We are human. We have limits. We get sleepy. We miss things. We lose things. We sin against one another. We sin against God. Whether imperfections are “small” or very, very large, humans will always have imperfections.

“He’s such a perfectionist.”

Have you ever heard that phrase? Many people try to never make mistakes. They try to be good all the time. They do good deeds. They do regular things with their best skill and the highest quality. A perfectionist might wash the same dish three times, and dry it with a clean towel until that dish just sparkles. And a perfectionist gets very upset with himself and with other people when things turn out less than perfect, after all. Have you ever known someone like that? Are you like that?

“As for God, his way is perfect…. It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.”

When a translation of the Bible uses the word “perfect,” it is not exactly talking about the kind of “perfect” we would normally think of first. In our time, we use the word “perfect” to describe something that has no flaws, no mistakes, no shortcomings, no limits, no sin. But what does “perfect” mean when we see it in the Bible?

when the Bible talks about perfection, it is talking about the absolute completion, or carrying-out, or accomplishment of something. Basically, it means totally righteous, totally whole, totally the way things should be. Have you ever heard someone mention “a perfect circle”? They do not mean “perfect” in the sense that the circle is sinless or never makes mistakes! Of course a circle cannot be “perfect” that way. They mean “perfect” in the sense that a perfect circle would not have wavy lines or gaps. A perfect circle comes all the way around to form a whole, rather than just a part of a circle.

That kind of ‘perfect’” is what King David is singing about in Psalm 18. He was praising God for doing such a full, wonderful job of what David (with all his weaknesses and shortcomings) could never have done on his own. If David had tried to leap over a wall or escape from enemy troops all by himself, he would not have been able to. He would have fallen short. But God is the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the Earth. God IS perfect, in every sense of the word “perfect.” He never gets weary. He never loses things. He never sins. He has no flaws. And what He chooses to do, He does the best way possible. He brings it to completion. He accomplishes whatever He sets out to do.

King David was rejoicing that this God, Whose way of doing things is all perfection, is also the kind of God Who can and will help those who call upon Him. He can and will help us overcome our weaknesses and limits and mistakes. He can and will give us strength to do what it takes to finish a job we have to do. He can and will give us strength to say “no!” to temptations. He can and will help us believe wholly in Him, even when our faith is small. No wonder David was so full of praise! He had a perfect God Who was making him whole.

God is totally perfect in every sense of the word, and He can and will help those who call on Him.

My Response:
» Do I rely on myself and my strength rather than asking for God’s help?
» When I am frustrated with my limitations, do I rejoice that God does not have any?

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Denison Forum – Mark Cuban’s gift to New York City: 9/11 and the redemptive grace of God

Mark Cuban is known for being many things: billionaire entrepreneur, maverick owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Shark Tank “shark.” Now we can add 9/11 benefactor.

Cuban recently purchased what Axios describes as a “stunning set of drawings of the World Trade Center.” They were made in 1963, ten years before the buildings’ 1973 dedication, and they capture the majestic and monumental nature of those iconic structures. Cuban is not keeping the drawings in Dallas, however—he is donating them to the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City. He made his gift ahead of Saturday’s 9/11 anniversary.

Cuban explained that the tragedy “strikes an emotional chord with every American” and added, “I wanted the actual drawings to be where any American can see them, and the Smithsonian was the right home.”

Where were you on 9/11?

Any American old enough to remember September 11, 2001, is grieving its upcoming twenty-year anniversary.

We are remembering where we were on that Tuesday morning as we watched the news: airplanes flying through a cloudless sky into skyscrapers, the fire and billowing smoke, the collapse of the twin towers into rubble. Images of people jumping to their deaths rather than burning to death are especially imprinted on our minds and hearts.

Twenty years later, we can find retrospectives on nearly every dimension of the tragedy: its impact on our culture, our unity, our politics, our military, our economy, and our spiritual lives. No aspect of American life has been untouched.

9/11 truly “strikes an emotional chord with every American.”

When horrific events happen to us, it’s human nature to seek ways to make good from bad. We don’t want to feel that our suffering is wasted, that our pain has no purpose.

This desire reflects our Creator’s heart.

From the prison to the palace

All through Scripture and human history, we find God using evil for good and problems for his purposes. Joseph’s prison led to Pharaoh’s palace; Moses’ exile led to the Exodus; the threat of Goliath led to the enthronement of David; the persecution of the early church led to the spread of the gospel (cf. Acts 8:1).

I often state that God redeems all he allows. People sometimes respond by asking if this is true even for 9/11, or the Holocaust, or other horrifying tragedies. I believe that it is. And I believe that God wants to redeem even this heartbreaking anniversary for his glory and our good.

We are focusing this week on Jesus’ invitation to “take my yoke upon you” (Matthew 11:29) by submitting our lives to his leadership, purpose, and power. We have learned that our omniscient Master sees a future better than we can possibly imagine and will guide all who will follow. His Spirit will speak to us in the present and empower us to impact our culture where we live today.

Today, let’s claim the fact that he knows our past better than any historian and is working to redeem even our greatest tragedies for his eternal purposes.

Should we fear radical Islam?

You have gifts, abilities, and experiences which are uniquely yours and which God wants to use for his purposes today. You have also experienced pain and disappointment that God wants to use in making you a “wounded healer” for others.

If you will submit to Jesus’ “yoke” today, asking his Spirit to empower, control, and use your life, he will answer your prayer (Ephesians 5:18). And you will prove the axiom that changed people change the world.

This fact relates to issues raised by 9/11 that continue to affect us today. Denison Forum writer Mark Legg has produced an outstanding article explaining the need and opportunity for Christians to engage the Muslim world. Mark has also written an article documenting miraculous ways God is reaching Muslims today and calling us to join him at work.

What about terrorists like those who attacked us on 9/11? Ryan Denison has written an excellent overview of contemporary radical groups such as ISIS, al Qaeda, and the Taliban; he also identifies practical ways we can join God in reaching even them with the gospel.

God wants to use our past, both good and bad, as he equips and leads us to engage Muslims where we live and around the world. And he wants to use the grief we feel over 9/11 as motivation to reach as many people as we can in the knowledge that tomorrow is promised to none.

“He didn’t hesitate a single second”

Dr. W. L. Steiger was on a World War II ship in a submarine zone. Their ship was carrying ten thousand soldiers. One morning, he and the captain were looking at the sunrise through their binoculars. Here is what he says happened next:

“Suddenly each of us saw the white wake of a torpedo headed straight for our ship. . . . We could not dodge it; we had no room or time to move our ship out of its path. The captain turned to me, thinking of those boys still asleep in the ship, and said, ‘This is it!’

“There was no way out—this was the end. Then suddenly something happened which none on our ship had considered. There was a destroyer riding to our port, battling the waves. Suddenly, the skipper of that small ship saw the same thing that we saw from our bridge—that torpedo headed straight for our midships. That young skipper shouted down the tube to his engine room, ‘All engines ahead flank!’ and headed his destroyer straight into the path of that torpedo.

“She took its full impact and sank in ten minutes with most of her officers and crew. He was my best friend, that young skipper. He knew when he gave that order that he and his crew would be lost, but he didn’t hesitate a single second.”

Dr. Steiger never forgot that sacrifice. He told the story everywhere he could, to everyone he could—the story of the man who died for him.

Like W. L. Steiger, you have a story to tell of the Man who died for you. His crucified past is the pathway to our glorious future.

Who will hear his story from you today?

Upwords; Max Lucado –At the Right Moment

AT THE RIGHT MOMENT – September 9, 2021

Satan tried to write his own story in which he was the hero and God was an afterthought. He admitted as much: “I will ascend to the heavens…I will make myself like the Most High” as quoted in Isaiah 14:13 and 14.

Satan wanted to take God’s place, but God wasn’t—and isn’t—moving. Satan wants to win you to his side, but God will never let you go. You have his word. Even more, you have his help. Scripture says: “For our high priest (Jesus) is able to understand our weaknesses…he was tempted in every way that we are, but he did not sin. Let us then…come before God’s throne where there is grace…to help us when we need it” (Hebrews 4:15-16).

You don’t have to face Satan alone! We shout, and God runs—at the right moment.