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?

Joyce Meyer – God Is Just

…The LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him.

— Isaiah 30:18 (NKJV)

The world’s way of dealing with people who have hurt us is to try to get revenge. We don’t have to look farther than the daily news to hear about someone who has tried to take revenge on another person for some reason. Many times, the person taking revenge is determined not simply to hurt the person who hurt them, but to do something worse.

One of the facts of life is that people will hurt each other. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33 NIV). This means we will be hurt at times and even suffer injustice. But we are not to try to avenge ourselves. Bringing justice is God’s job. The apostle Paul writes in Romans 12:19 (ESV): Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the LORD.”

I have studied the character of God thoroughly, and one aspect of His character that gives me great comfort is the fact that He is just. The simplest way I know to explain this is to say that God will always make wrong things right. I have personally experienced God’s justice in many situations. When I am going through something I feel is unjust or unfair to me, I have learned to trust God to make it right in His own way and in His timing. As long as we are trying to get revenge, the person who hurt us is still controlling us, but when we give it to God, we are set free.

Life is not always fair. Sometimes people hurt us in ways that are terribly unjust. If you have ever been completely innocent in a situation and suffered in those circumstances anyway, you know what I mean. If anyone has ever treated you in a way you did not deserve—such as a friend or a family member who hurt you deeply when you had been nothing but good to that person— you also know what I mean. But thank God, He is always fair. He understands justice and injustice better than we do, and He sees every wrong thing that happens to us. And He makes it right.

I encourage you today to trust God to bring justice to every injustice that has happened to you. Trusting Him in this way will relieve you completely of feeling you have to somehow take revenge on people who have hurt you. Trusting Him to bring justice means never again wondering how you can get back at someone or trying to figure out how you can make the person pay for what he or she did to you. Remind yourself often that God is just and that He will bring justice to you. It may not happen the way you envision or as soon as you would like, but He will do it.

Prayer Starter: Lord, I trust You to bring justice to my life, making every wrong situation right. Amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Stooping Down

The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man.

Psalm 33:13

Perhaps no figure of speech represents God in a more gracious light than when He is spoken of as stooping from His throne and coming down from heaven to attend to the needs and to behold the woes of mankind. We love Him who, when Sodom and Gomorrah were full of iniquity, would not destroy those cities until He had made a personal visitation to them. We cannot help pouring out our heart in affection for our Lord who turns His ear from the highest glory and puts it to the lip of the dying sinner, whose failing heart longs for reconciliation. How can we do anything but love Him when we know that He numbers the very hairs of our heads, marks our path, and orders our ways?

This great truth is brought especially near to our heart when we realize how attentive He is, not merely to the passing interests of His creatures, but to their spiritual concerns. Though vast distances lie between the finite creature and the infinite Creator, yet there are links uniting both. When a tear is wept by you, do not think that God does not see it; for “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.”1 Your sigh is able to move the heart of Jehovah; your whisper can incline His ear to you; your prayer can stay His hand; your faith can move His arm. Do not think that God sits on high taking no account of you. Remember that however poor and needy you are, still the Lord thinks of you. “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.”2

Oh! then repeat the truth that never tires;
No God is like the God my soul desires;
He at whose voice heaven trembles, even He,
Great as He is, knows how to stoop to me.

1) Psalm 103:13
2) 2 Chronicles 16:9

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 Serious about Sin

“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:28-31)

Crystal knew she was in big trouble. Her dad had told her not to play with the lawn dart game when he was not home. He had said that kids had died playing that game. But her friend Alicia had come over this afternoon, and they were bored. So Crystal had gotten her bright idea – and she was pretty sure that her dad would not mind making an exception to his rule, just for this one special occasion. And they would not be foolish; they would be very, very careful. Anyway, it was just this once.

Mom was inside doing laundry and would probably never notice, so Crystal had gotten the lawn darts out of their box in the garage and taken them outside to play. She and Alicia had been tossing them farther and farther, and it was really fun – until they heard a weird crunching sound.

There, lodged in the windshield of her mom’s car, was a lawn dart. There were little cracks in the glass all around the dart, and the dart itself was stuck in the hole it had made.

Crystal felt terrible. She knew exactly how her dad would respond, and she dreaded him coming home. He would say, “You knew the rules, Crystal. This is deliberate disobedience.” Or maybe he would say, “Don’t you see that you could have gotten hurt? This could have been you.” Maybe he would say, “This is exactly why I warned you to wait for me.” Or, “I am going to have to punish you, Crystal. And you have to pay for the windshield to be replaced.” What if he said all of those things? If he did, she knew she would deserve every word.

Have you ever sinned willfully against God? Hebrews 10:28-31 shows us something about God’s character and His reaction to deliberate disobedience. It says that Old Testament lawbreakers were rebellious enough to die without mercy, so how much more would we deserve punishment for disobeying God – we who have the knowledge of Jesus’ perfect life and sacrificial death? When God reaches down and saves you, He is saving you from eternal punishment in hell. Do you realize God is actually saving you from Himself?

When she was deciding to disobey, Crystal had all kinds of “good reasons” in her head for why it would be OK “just this once” – she couldn’t let her friend be bored, they would be very careful, her parents probably wouldn’t mind at all, this was a special one-time thing, and so on! But you know what? Crystal was wrong. The game was not any less dangerous just because it was for “just this once.” As it turned out, Crystal did not know as much as she thought she did, and she realized in the end that she deserved whatever punishment her dad gave her.

Because God is holy and wise, He cannot let sin go unpunished. He would not really be God if He ignored our sins. We should not take sin lightly, either, especially if we love God. God takes sin seriously, and there is a sense in which we ought to fear disobeying God. Think about it – the thought of God’s judgment and His wrath over sin, and the thought that Jesus had to come live and die to save us from that judgment and wrath – these thoughts should keep us from sinning.

God takes sin very seriously.

My Response:
» How serious am I about staying away from sin?
» Do I treat God and His Word flippantly?
» How might meditating on God’s character and works keep me from sinning when I am tempted?

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Denison Forum – How did God destroy Sodom and Gomorrah? Recent meteoric evidence may prove the biblical account

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction is among the more well-known tales of the Old Testament. It is also included in the Qur’an (11:74–83 and 29:28–35) and is cited by Jesus as a clear example of God’s judgment against sin (Matthew 10:14–15). 

For a long time, it was presumed that something like the great earthquake that rocked the region around 1900 BCE was the cause of the two cities’ destruction, turning it from a fertile land with plenty of fresh water into a barren waste. While this account never fit all that well with the biblical description, it at least offered a plausible explanation for what might have happened and why those who witnessed it could have passed down that account in the fashion we have today. 

Recent research, however, offers another explanation.

A meteor may have destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah

After fifteen years of excavations and study, archaeologist Christopher R. Moore and his team found evidence that, around 1650 BCE, a massive meteor burst through earth’s atmosphere near the ancient city of Tall el-Hammam—the location where Sodom and Gomorrah are commonly thought to have existed—and exploded 2.5 miles above the ground, raining fiery debris on the cities below. 

The ensuing blast was roughly a thousand times more powerful than the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, and everything in its wake would have been instantly incinerated as air temperatures rose to more than 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit. The shockwave that followed a few seconds later raged at speeds of up to 740 miles per hour as deadly winds destroyed whatever the initial blast did not.

Ultimately, there’s no way to know this side of heaven if the meteor is what God used to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah or if it was something else entirely, but the plausibility of that scenario offers us an important reminder for how we should look at the Bible today. 

Is the Bible true?

As Christians, we don’t need historical evidence to believe that the Bible is true (See Dr. Jim Denison’s “Why do we believe the Bible is actually the word of God?“) But that doesn’t mean it’s not welcome when it happens. 

The meteor that very well could have destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah is far from the only time history has backed up the Bible. 

Daniel’s prophetic description of events in chapters 7–12, for example, is so accurate that it forms the primary reason many scholars today date the book to the second century BCE rather than when Scripture claims Daniel actually wrote it. 

The Pool of Bethesda in John 5 was thought to be a myth until it was uncovered exactly where the Bible said it would be, and now it serves as a common stop on tours through Jerusalem. 

Pontius Pilate was considered by many to be a fictional character until a Roman inscription documenting his office and life was discovered. 

And that’s just to name a few examples. 

The truth is that regardless of how many times history proves the Bible to be correct, there will always be enough gaps between what Scripture describes and our ability to prove it that those who want to doubt its veracity can find reasons to do so.

But just because holes in our understanding exist does not mean that the fault is with Scripture rather than us. When weighed against evidence to the contrary, the balance tips heavily in favor of the Bible’s veracity. Believing that God’s word is true is the most logical approach to take, even if arguments can be made to the contrary. 

At the end of the day, though, what Abraham Lincoln once said of the Bible remains the best advice for us today: “Take all that you can of this book upon reason, and the balance on faith, and you will live and die a happier man.” 

Adopt that approach today, and you will learn just how right he was.

Upwords; Max Lucado –Jesus Values You

JESUS VALUES YOU – September 28, 2021

Jesus’ love does not depend upon what we do for him. Not at all. In the eyes of the King, you have value simply because you are. You don’t have to look nice or perform well. Your value is inborn. Period.

Think about that for just a minute. You’re valuable just because you exist. Not because of what you’ve done, but simply because you are. Remember that the next time you are left bobbing in the wake of someone’s steamboat ambition. Or some trickster tries to hang a bargain basement price tag on your self-worth. Remember that the next time someone tries to pass you off as a cheap buy.

Just think about the way Jesus honors you, and smile. I do. Because I know I don’t deserve love like that—none of us do.