In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Grace to Keep Going

Instead of asking God to remove a trial, ask for His strength so you can persevere through the difficulty.

       2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Would you rather be rescued from suffering and affliction or be given the grace to go through them? Our natural inclination is to escape. That’s why Paul pleaded with the Lord to remove his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7-8). But when he understood what God was doing through it, he gladly accepted his weakness. That’s because Paul saw the value of relying on God’s all-sufficient grace and having Christ’s power dwell in him.  

Logically, you’d think that the Lord would want to make Paul’s life easier so his ministry would be unhindered, but that was not His priority. God’s goal was to humble Paul so his ministry would not be ruined by pride and self-reliance. 

Perhaps you’re struggling with your own “thorn” right now, when all you see is the pain and difficulty. And since God’s purpose isn’t obvious, you keep asking Him to rescue you from the situation. Maybe it’s time to begin asking Him for the grace and strength to endure. It’s through your weakness that the Lord proves Himself strong in your life. His goal is not your comfort but spiritual transformation—along with your increased trust and complete dependence upon Him. 

Bible in One Year: Acts 3-4

Our Daily Bread — You’re Not Alone

Bible in a Year:

I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal.

1 Kings 19:18

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

1 Kings 19:8–11, 15–18

“So great to see you!” “You, too!” “So glad you’re here!” The greetings were warm and welcoming. Members of a ministry in Southern California gathered online before their evening program. As their speaker, calling in from Colorado, I watched silently as the others gathered on the video call. As an introvert and not knowing anyone, I felt like a social outsider. Then suddenly, a screen opened and there was my pastor. Then another screen opened. A longtime church friend was joining the call, too. Seeing them, I no longer felt alone. God, it seemed, had sent support.

Elijah wasn’t alone either, despite feeling like “the only [prophet] left” after fleeing the wrath of Jezebel and Ahab (1 Kings 19:10). Journeying through desert wilderness for forty days and forty nights, Elijah hid in a cave on Mount Horeb. But God called him back into service, telling him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet” (vv. 15–16).

God then assured him, “Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him” (v. 18). As Elijah learned, while serving God we don’t serve alone. As God brings help, we’ll serve together.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

What support has God recently sent when you were serving Him? Whom could you invite to serve with you to grow your ministry impact for God?

Dear God, when I feel alone while serving You, remind me that others are with me as we joyfully serve.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Walking with God

“Enoch walked with God” (Genesis 5:24).

Walking with God includes reconciliation, obedience from the heart, and ongoing faith.

When Scripture speaks of walking with God, it’s referring to one’s manner of life. For example, Paul prayed that the Colossian believers (and us) would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so they could walk (live) in a manner worthy of the Lord (Col. 1:9-10). To the Ephesians he said, “Walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind . . . [but] be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you” (Eph. 4:175:1-2).

The Old Testament describes Enoch as a man who walked with God. Though relatively little is said about this special man, we can derive implications from his life that will help us better understand what it means to walk with God.

First, Enoch’s walk with God implies reconciliation. Amos 3:3 says, “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” (NIV). Two people can’t have intimate fellowship unless they agree. Obviously Enoch wasn’t rebellious toward God, but had been reconciled with Him through faith.

Second, walking with God implies loving service. Second John 6 says, “This is love, that we walk according to His commandments.” We obey Christ, but our obedience is motivated by love, not legalism or fear of punishment.

Third, a godly walk implies continuing faith, “for we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). Colossians 2:6-7 adds, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith.” By grace Enoch believed God and pleased Him all his life.

Do those who know you best see you as one who walks with God? I trust so. After all, that’s the distinguishing mark of a true believer: “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6).

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise God for granting the reconciliation, faith, and love that enables you to walk with Him day by day.

For Further Study

What do the following verses teach about your Christian walk: Romans 8:4Galatians 5:16Ephesians 2:101 Thessalonians 2:12; and 1 John 1:7?

Joyce Meyer – Believe God Is Leading You

When you walk, your steps shall not be hampered [your path will be clear and open]; when you run, you shall not stumble.

— Proverbs 4:12 (AMPC)

In my journey of learning how to hear from God, I realized that eventually we must simply believe He is leading and guiding us supernaturally. We ask Him to guide our steps and believe by faith that He is doing what we ask of Him.

There are times when I hear a very clear word from God, but much of time I pray about my day and then go about it in faith. I may have nothing occur that day that seems supernatural or mystical. There are no visions, no voices, nothing out of the ordinary, but I know in my heart that God kept me safe and following the right path.

God keeps us from many things that we never even know of. I wonder how often I could have been in an accident had I not prayed for God’s guidance that morning? How many terrible traffic jams I missed because I simply felt that I was to take a different route than the one I usually took?

I want to strongly encourage you to pray—ask for God’s guidance and leadership, and then say throughout the day, “I believe I am being guided by God today and every day.” Psalm 139:2 (AMPC) says that God knows my downsitting and my uprising. If He knows each time we sit down or stand up, and took the time to tell us about it in His Word, then surely He sees and cares about everything else.

Prayer Starter: Father, guide and direct my every thought and action today, and help me to believe that You are leading me in every direction I go today, in Jesus’ name, amen!

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –God, Our Refuge

The eternal God is your dwelling place.

Deuteronomy 33:27

“Dwelling place” may be translated “refuge” or “abiding-place” and provides the thought that God is our abode, our home. There is a fullness and sweetness in the metaphor, for our home is dear to our hearts, although it may be the humblest cottage or the tiniest loft; and dearer still is our blessed God, in whom we live and move and have our being.

It is at home that we feel safe: We shut the world out and dwell in quiet security. So when we are with our God we fear no evil.

He is our shelter and retreat, our abiding refuge. At home we take our rest; it is there we find repose after the fatigue and toil of the day. And so our hearts find rest in God when, wearied with life’s conflict, we turn to Him, and our soul dwells secure.

At home also we relax; we are not afraid of being misunderstood, nor of our words being misconstrued. So when we are with God we can commune freely with Him, laying open all our hidden desires; for if the Lord gives favor to the humble, then they may share their secrets with Him, confident in His love.

Home, too, is the place of our truest and purest happiness: And it is in God that our hearts find their deepest delight. We have joy in Him that far outweighs all other joy.

It is also for home that we work and labor. The thought of it gives strength to bear the daily burden, and quickens the hands to perform the task; and in this sense we may also say that God is our home.

Love for Him strengthens us. We think of Him in the person of His dear Son, and a glimpse of the suffering face of the Redeemer constrains us to work in His cause. We feel that we must work, for there are many still to be saved, and we desire to gladden our Father’s heart by bringing home His wandering sons; we would fill with holy laughter the sacred family among whom we dwell. Happy then are those who have the God of Jacob for their refuge!

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – Jesus Is a Wonderful Counselor

 “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Have you ever been to camp? If you have, you know what it is to have a counselor. Your counselor is a person who answers your questions, helps you find your way around the camp, stays in the cabin with you at night, and basically looks out for you during your week at camp. If you have been to a Christian camp, your counselor might have prayed with you, talked with you about problems in your life, or answered your questions about the preacher’s messages. If you had a good counselor, you probably came away from camp thinking that your counselor was the next best thing to chocolate ice cream!

Isaiah 9:6 calls the Messiah, Jesus Christ, a Wonderful Counselor. Jesus is far better than the best of the best counselors you could have at camp. Those counselors might be good people who truly want to help you, but they are not the kind of counselor that Jesus is. Jesus is a perfectly holy and powerful Person. He is 100% God and 100% Man, and He knows exactly how to help you with any problem you have.

Just a few years ago, your camp counselors were probably campers just like you – campers who needed counselors themselves. Romans 11:34 tells us that Jesus has never needed to have a counselor. He has never needed any help or advice from anyone. He has always been perfect in wisdom and knowledge. He is a Counselor you do not have to leave behind at the end of an exciting week of camp. Once He becomes Your Savior, He will go with you through your entire life – guiding you, caring for you, listening to you, and giving you wisdom for each problem you face.

How do we get counsel (wise advice or help) from Jesus? In James 1:5, God promises to give us wisdom if we ask him for it. In Psalm 119:24, the psalmist says that we can find His counsel in His Word, the Bible. As you read God’s Word, look for things that apply to your life. Look for commands you can obey. Look for promises you can trust in. Look for guidance about specific problems you might have. You can never go wrong following the counsel of Jesus. He is a Wonderful Counselor.

Jesus is a Wonderful Counselor.

My Response:
» Am I looking for and following the counsel of Jesus in His Word?

Denison Forum – Who are the nones and why are they important?

If you’re not familiar with the term the nones, you should get acquainted with it. 

One of the best ways to do that is by reading Ryan P. Burge’s book, The Nones: Where They Came From, Who They Are, and Where They Are Going.

The nones represent both the demographic group in this country most likely to be reached with the gospel and the group most resistant to its appeal.

The reason behind that apparent contradiction lies in a quirk in the way that social scientists describe religious affiliation in this country, generally placing Americans in one of seven categories:

  • Evangelical Protestant
  • Mainline Protestant
  • Black Protestant
  • Catholic
  • Jewish
  • Observant of other faith traditions
  • Nonaffiliated

The Nones: Where They Came From, Who They Are, and Where They Are Going by Ryan P. Burge

These nonaffiliated Americans, the “nones,” are lumped together even though their situations differ. As a whole, they represent the fastest-growing category, and Burge is one of the leading experts on their rise. A pastor in the American Baptist Church, he is also a political science professor at Eastern Illinois University.

When raw data from the 2018 General Social Survey (GSS) came out, he began to crunch the numbers. “It had finally happened: the nones were now the same size as both Roman Catholics and evangelical Protestants,” Burge wrote. “That meant that the religiously unaffiliated were statistically the same size as the largest religious groups in the United States.”

Burge put together a graph showing the trend, tweeted it, and, when he checked his phone later, found it had been retweeted almost one hundred times.

“What followed was one of the busiest periods of my life,” he wrote.

Reporters lined up to interview him. Most major news outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and CNN, carried the story. C-SPAN interviewed Burge on Easter Sunday.

“Journalists, podcasters, and pastors were all asking me the same questions: How did this happen? And what does this mean for the future of American religion?” Burge wrote.

The Nones provides some of the answers, but there is still much to learn, including the number of nones. Estimates vary by as much as twenty million people.

Burge described the GSS as “the gold standard in measuring religious change in America,” largely because it has been asking questions about religious affiliation in basically the same way since the survey was created in 1972.

But it does not ask people who describe themselves as unaffiliated if they are atheist or agnostic. The Pew Research Center, on the other hand, offers three options for the religiously unaffiliated: atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular.”

In 1972, just one in twenty Americans said they had no religion. In 2018, the GSS indicated that group had grown to one in four. As the group has grown, it has become more diverse and now represents every segment of our society.

Mainline Protestants have declined from 30 percent of the population to 10 percent in about four decades, but Burge said it would be too simplistic to give this as the sole reason for the rise of the nones. Many factors seem to be at work, including secularization, politics, and the internet.

However, he wrote, “In essence, moderate Protestants are going extinct, while conservative Christianity is holding the line.”

Instead of people growing up in a religious tradition, drifting away from it in their teens and twenties, and then returning to it as they age, Burge wrote, “More people are entering adulthood without a religious affiliation, and they become more likely to stay a none as they age.”

He continued: “It’s clear that every successive generation starts out less religious than the one prior, but that’s only a part of the puzzle. As these young people [have] become more outspoken about their move away from religious affiliation, that gave permission to older people who had been sliding to disaffiliation to finally declare their true religious attachments. If this is truly the case, then many more nominal Christians are going to check the ‘no religion’ box going forward, and that’s not necessarily true just among the youngest Americans.”

Atheists and agnostics are much more likely to be openly hostile to religion than Americans who would check the “nothing in particular” box. And that’s of more than academic interest.

Burge put it this way: “If one wants to identify the harvest for new religious converts, it can be found in the one in five Americans who say that they are nothing in particular.”