In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Ministers of Comfort

Psalm 72:12-14

When you hear about a calamity, how do you respond? As believers, we should approach such situations with a selfless and compassionate attitude. True compassion not only tries to understand the pain of others but also provides practical help.

In times of disaster, remember that you and I have the privilege of touching anybody anywhere through prayer. No matter how far away victims might be, they can be comforted by God as He responds to your heartfelt cries. So as soon as word of a tragedy reaches you, start praying. Let the Holy Spirit guide you in petitioning for protection, provision, comfort, and awareness of His presence (Rom. 8:26).

Next, remember that donations (whether money or goods) and hands-on assistance are usually high priority. It is wise to team up with dependable relief organizations and consult trusted sources about what’s needed. In local situations, you can also provide words of comfort, a warm embrace, or simply a listening ear.

We should take care to notice others’ needs and to reach out with Christ’s love. Through these actions, the world will recognize the light of Jesus, who was anointed to bring good news to the afflicted, bind up the brokenhearted, and comfort all who mourn (Isa. 61:1-2).

Bible in One Year: Obadiah 1Jonah 1-4


http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Frolicking in Freedom

Bible in a Year:

You will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.

Malachi 4:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Malachi 4:1–3

A third-generation farmer, Jim was so moved when he read “You who revere my name . . . will go out and frolic like well-fed calves” (Malachi 4:2) that he prayed to receive Jesus’ offer of eternal life. Vividly recalling his own calves’ leaps of excitement after exiting their confined stalls at high speed, Jim finally understood God’s promise of true freedom.

Jim’s daughter told me this story because we’d been discussing the imagery in Malachi 4, where the prophet made a distinction between those who revered God’s name, or remained faithful to Him, and those who only trusted in themselves (4:1–2). The prophet was encouraging the Israelites to follow God at a time when so many, including the religious leaders, disregarded God and His standards for faithful living (1:12–14; 3:5–9). Malachi called the people to live faithfully because of a coming time when God would make the final distinction between these two groups. In this context, Malachi used the unexpected imagery of a frolicking calf to describe the unspeakable joy that the faithful group will experience when “the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays” (4:2).

Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of this promise, bringing the good news that true freedom is available to all people (Luke 4:16–21). And one day, in God’s renewed and restored creation, we’ll experience this freedom fully. What indescribable joy it will be to frolic there!

By:  Lisa M. Samra

Reflect & Pray

How have you experienced freedom in Jesus? What other images help you to visualize joy?

Jesus, help me to live joyfully as I remember the freedom only You provide.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Taking the Offensive

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

God’s Word is your primary offensive spiritual weapon.

All the armor Paul lists in Ephesians 6 is defensive, with one exception: the sword of the Spirit. That’s your offensive weapon for defeating Satan.

We’ve seen that Roman soldiers carried two swords: the large broadsword and the small dagger. The Greek word translated “sword” in verse 17 refers to the dagger, which was anywhere from six to eighteen inches in length and was carried in a sheath or scabbard at the soldier’s side.

The dagger was a common weapon. The Roman soldiers who arrested Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane were each armed with one (Matt. 26:47). Peter used one to cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant (Matt. 26:51). A dagger was used to kill James, the brother of John (Acts. 12:2). Hebrews 11:37 tells us that such a weapon was used against the heroes of the faith.

“The sword of the Spirit” isn’t a direct reference to the Holy Spirit as such. The implications is that since our enemy is spiritual, our weapons also must be spiritual (2 Cor. 10:4). Our sword is spiritual because it is the Word given by the Holy Spirit. He inspired its writing and through it convicts and redeems sinners (John 16:8; Heb. 4:12-13). The Word abides in you and transforms you. It supplies everything you need for a godly, victorious life. It builds you up and produces holiness (Acts 20:32). And it equips you for good works by teaching, reproving, correcting, and training you in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).

The Bible is a powerful and effective weapon. The question is, Do you know how to use it? Do you diligently study it and apply its principles to your life? Do you have a storehouse of biblical truth to draw from in the heat of battle?

The Roman dagger was a precision weapon aimed at a specific spot to produce a specific result. Similarly, the sword of the Spirit is most effective when you apply specific biblical principles to specific situations in your life. Do you do that?

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Ask God to increase your desire to know His Word.
  • Ask for wisdom in applying what you already know to the decisions and situations you’ll face today.

For Further Study

Read 1 Peter 1:22—2:3. How are believers to approach the Word?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – The Stepping Stones to Your Success

I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live.

— Deuteronomy 30:19 (AMPC)

We all want to succeed in life. No one sets out to fail or wants to fail. But I do believe failure can be an important steppingstone on the way to success. Failure certainly teaches us what not to do, which is often as important as knowing what we are to do! So called failure is all about how we look at it.

I have often pondered why some people do great things with their lives while others do little or nothing at all. I know that the outcome of our lives is dependent not only upon God but also upon something in us. Each of us must decide if we will reach down deep inside and find the courage to press past fear, mistakes, mistreatment at the hands of others, seeming injustices, and all the challenges life presents. This is not something anyone else can do for us; we must do it ourselves.

I want to encourage you to take responsibility for your life and its outcome. What will you do with what God has given you? I truly believe God gives everyone equal opportunity. He said, “I have set before you life and death . . . choose life.” Fear is in the category of death; faith and progress fill us with life. It is your choice, and I believe you will make the right one!

What have you succeeded at that took many steps to get to victory? There is no such thing as failure if you simply refuse to quit. Trust God to teach you through each steppingstone on your way to success.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank you for each and every success I have experienced. Help me to see the steppingstones as a means to the positive end result. In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Objects of Divine Satisfaction

He has blessed us in the Beloved.

Ephesians 1:6

What a state of privilege! It includes our justification before God, but the term “blessed” in the Greek means more than that. It signifies that we are the objects of divine satisfaction, even of divine delight. How marvelous that we—worms, mortals, sinners—should be made the objects of divine love!

But it is only “in the Beloved.” Some Christians seem to be accepted in their own experience—at least that is their apprehension. When their spirit is lively and their hopes bright, they think God accepts them, for they feel so high, so heavenly-minded, so drawn above the earth! But when their souls cleave to the dust, they are the victims of the fear that they are no longer accepted. If they could only see that all their high joys do not exalt them, and all their low despondencies do not really depress them in their Father’s sight, but that they stand accepted in One who never alters. This One is always the beloved of God, always perfect, always without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. How much happier they would be, and how much more they would honor the Savior if they could grasp Him!

Rejoice then, believer, in this: You are blessed “in the Beloved.” You look within, and you say, “There is nothing acceptable here!” But look at Christ, and see if everything is not acceptable there. Your sins trouble you; but God has cast your sins behind His back, and you are accepted and blessed in the Righteous One. You have to fight with corruption and wrestle with temptation, but you are already accepted in Him who has overcome the powers of evil. The devil tempts you, but be of good cheer—he cannot destroy you, for you are accepted in Him who has broken Satan’s head.

Know by full assurance your glorious standing. Even glorified souls are not more accepted than you are. They are only blessed in heaven “in the Beloved,” and you are even now blessed in Christ after the same manner.

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – The LORD Is Merciful

“They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness. The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” (Psalm 145:7-9)

“But, Mrs. Kedo, I promise!” Sam was feeling a little nervous, now. “My dog really did eat my homework!”

That’s the same excuse you gave me the last three times, Samuel.”

Mrs. Kedo stood up from her desk and picked up the chalkboard eraser. (For a split second, Sam wondered whether she was going thump him with it.) “Your dog must be a very hungry dog, indeed,” she said. Turning her back to Sam, she began erasing the chalkboard.

Sam just watched her for a moment and thought about it. Mrs. Kedo might be a little too strict. She might be a little too skinny. She might even be a little too tall. But one thing Mrs. Kedo isn’t – she isn’t dumb.

“Mrs. Kedo?”

She kept on erasing the board. “Yes, Samuel?”

“My dog didn’t eat my homework.”

“No?” Mrs. Kedo turned around and set the eraser on her desk. “Well, Samuel. Then I have one question: If your dog didn’t eat your homework, who did?”

“Uh…nobody ate it, Mrs. Kedo. I just didn’t want to do it.”

“You told me a lie.”

“Yes, ma’am. I told you a lie. I’m really sorry. Will you forgive me?”

“Samuel, do you know what the school’s policy is for little boys who lie to their teachers?”

“I don’t know.” Sam was beginning to wish he had done his homework.

“I believe that the punishment for lying is expulsion, Samuel. ‘Expulsion’ means you should be expelled – kicked out of school.”

“Oh, no.” Sam was really sorry now.

“Oh, yes.”

“Couldn’t you just – thump me with that eraser instead?”

Mrs. Kedo laughed. “Well, I had thought about that,” she said. “But what do you deserve for lying?”

“Ex– explosion?”

Mrs. Kedo sat down suddenly and put her head in her hands. Sam felt even worse, then. What if she was crying?

When she uncovered her face, it was all red, but she did not seem to be crying anymore. “Samuel, I’ve decided to forgive you. And I am not going to punish you with expulsion.” She smiled. “Or explosion!”

“Really?”

“Not this time. If you ever lie to me again, I do not want to say which of those words will happen to you.”

Sam nodded his head. “OK, Mrs. Kedo. OK. I promise. Thanks, Mrs. Kedo! Here, let me finish that for you.” He grabbed the eraser off her desk and went up to the chalkboard.

“Erase quickly, Samuel,” she said. “You do have a great deal of un-eaten homework to turn in to me tomorrow morning.”

Psalm 145 talks about the LORD’s mercy. Mercy is what Mrs. Kedo decided to show to Sam. Mercy is the holding back of deserved punishment. Even though we cannot earn mercy, the LORD has the authority to show mercy to us. We sin often, and we all deserve punishment for our sins. For sinners, the LORD’s mercy is our only hope of escaping punishment. We are always having to count on the LORD’s mercy.

How about you? Can you think of ways God has shown mercy to you? He is the greatest Authority in our lives, because He created us. But because He created us, and because of Jesus Christ’s Gospel, God can also choose to show us mercy instead of punishment. We never could earn mercy, but we can rejoice in it!

The LORD is a merciful God!

My Response:
» What are some ways that God has shown me His mercy?
» In my daily life, how can I show my faith in God’s mercy?


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Denison Forum – Why did the Taliban request a seat at the UN?

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NOTE: Thank you to Ryan Denison for writing today’s Daily Article. He is the Denison Forum Senior Fellow for Theology and has written more than four hundred articles for Denison Forum.

The United Nations General Assembly began this week in New York City and it didn’t take long to start making waves. But while a number of issues—ranging from climate change to Covid—have dominated the discussion, the storyline I’ll be watching most closely revolves around the Taliban seeking to replace Afghanistan’s current representative with one from the new regime.

Currently, the former Afghan government is the only authority from the country credentialed by the UN, meaning that the Taliban is currently locked out even though they are clearly in control of the country. As such, the people representing Afghanistan to the world have been largely forced to flee their own nation.

The UN has said that they are unlikely to make a decision during the current session, though it’s possible something could happen later this year. However, recognizing a representative from the Taliban would, in the eyes of many, be akin to recognizing and legitimizing their government—and that has left many nations more than a little wary.

As such, the UN is using the status as a carrot of sorts to try and entice the terrorist organization turned ruling government to make some changes on how they operate. Chief among those changes is addressing what remains a concerning record of human rights violations, both before taking power and in the weeks since.

Amnesty International, for example, outlined earlier this week how the “Taliban are steadily dismantling the human rights gains of the last twenty years . . . including targeted killings of civilians and surrendered soldiers and the blocking of humanitarian supplies in the Panhshir Valley, which constitute crimes under international law.” Moreover, they warn that “restrictions have also been reimposed on women, freedom of expression, and civil society.”

In short, the Taliban has yet to show a genuine interest in governing according to the standards by which most nations are judged. And while other countries that have UN representation are also guilty of similar crimes—China among the most prominent—the new leaders of Afghanistan are being held to an understandably high standard (at least for now).

“Dialogue could be fruitful”

That the Taliban is encountering resistance in their quest to be recognized as the official government of Afghanistan should not come as a surprise. That they want to be legitimized on the global level, however, is an even more important development.

Such a desire demonstrates that their goals are not necessarily the same as we often think about when it comes to radical Islam and terrorist activity. While certain groups, such as al-Qaeda, are often focused on attacking western countries in defense of Islam—or at least that’s what they claim—the Taliban have long had a different objective in mind. For them, Afghanistan is not just a launching pad for jihad. It’s home, and it has been for centuries.

While many of their ideals are aligned with other terrorist organizations, they legitimately desire to be seen by the world as the ones in charge of their homeland. It’s why they can state with all sincerity that they believe “It is the responsibility of the United Nations to recognize our government (and) for other countries, including European, Asian, and Islamic countries, to have diplomatic relations with us.”

That the world doesn’t seem to agree is of lesser importance than that they see themselves as worthy of that level of legitimacy.

And there is, perhaps, some logic behind the idea that they should be treated as more than usurpers. As the leadership from Qatar noted, “Boycotting them would only lead to polarization and reactions, whereas dialogue could be fruitful.”

If the Taliban show signs that global recognition is more important than re-establishing their old ways of governance, then perhaps there is hope that the situation for the Afghani people could begin to improve. However, it is uncertain what that would mean for their relationship with other radical Islamic groups—most of whom do not tend to look kindly upon compromising what they perceive to be the only way to correctly live out their faith. Stranger things have happened, though, and we can (and should) be praying that they are willing to make those changes.

But it’s hard to pray about what we’re not thinking about, and therein lies the problem for many of us.

What to do when you lose spiritual focus

I suspect that for most Americans, the situation in Afghanistan has already begun to work its way to the periphery of our collective awareness. We know it’s not good, but unless something abnormally bad happens—a high bar to clear for that region at the moment—then we’re probably not going to give it much thought.

And the same is true for other areas of our lives as well. That’s just part of what it means to be fallen, finite humans.

Fortunately, we serve a perfect, infinite God and, if we’ll take the time to stay in touch with him, he will direct our focus where it needs to go. And when it comes to praying in a way that aligns our hearts and minds with his, giving him that authority is essential.

So take some time right now to ask God to help you see the world around you through his eyes today. Ask him to make the things he wants you to be praying about stand out in a way that’s hard to ignore. Ask him to bring to mind people and places that need to go to the top of your prayer list. Then stand back and silently give him room to work.

When giving God the authority to direct your thoughts becomes a way of life, you’ll start to notice a real difference in how you pray and how you perceive the world around you:

  • Seemingly innocuous Facebook posts will start to look like requests for prayer.
  • Conversations will take on an added layer of depth.
  • People you haven’t thought about for years will pop into your mind without any explanation other than that God wanted you to think about them.
  • And your interactions with coworkers, neighbors, family members, and anyone else the Lord brings across your path will seem like opportunities rather than obligations.

In short, when God is the one in charge of how you experience and interpret life throughout the course of your day, then every day takes on a new level of purpose and meaning.

It won’t happen unless we are intentional about asking God to make it happen, though.

Have you made that request today?

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –God Works in All Things

GOD WORKS IN ALL THINGS – September 23, 2021

There are so many things we don’t know. We don’t know if the economy will dip or if our team will win. We don’t know what our spouse is thinking or how our kids will turn out. And Scripture reminds us we don’t even know “what we ought to pray for” (Romans 8:26).

But according to Paul’s words in Romans 8:28, we can be absolutely certain about four things. We know: God works; he is ceaseless and tireless. God works for our ultimate good. God works for the good of those who love him. And God works in all things. Not a few things, in all things.

Puppet in the hands of fortune or fate? Not you. You are in the hands of a living, loving God. Your life: a crafted narrative written by a good God who’s working for your supreme good.

MaxLucado.com