In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Devotion in Despair

In troubling times, turning to God’s unfailing love will be a place of refuge and escape.

Psalm 42:1-8

Where do you turn in times of trouble? For believers, the first response should be to cry out to the Lord for help. That’s exactly what we see in today’s passage. When the psalmist was in despair, his soul yearned for God. He knew that even in raging adversity, he could count on the Lord’s unfailing love being poured out on him (Psalm 42:8). It was a truth that gave him hope and the ability to praise the Lord, even in the midst of his trouble.

This is a recurring theme in the psalms, many of which begin with images of despair and hopelessness but end with affirmations of God’s unfailing love. He’s often described as a rock, a stronghold, or a refuge in times of trouble. 

When you are overwhelmed by difficulty and despair, turn to the psalms for encouragement and restoration of hope. In good times, we can easily grow distant from God, but adversity drives us to draw near Him with yearning—not just for deliverance but for intimacy with our loving Father. Then as we read about His love and faithfulness, we find hope and a sure foundation upon which to rest. 

Bible in One Year: 1 Timothy 4-6

Our Daily Bread — What Should I Say?

Bible in a Year:

I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king.

Nehemiah 2:4–5

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Nehemiah 2:1–6

When I stopped to browse through a box of books marked “C. S. Lewis” at a used bookshop, the store owner appeared. As we chatted about the available titles, I wondered if he might be interested in the faith that inspired much of Lewis’ writing. I prayed silently for guidance. Information from a biography came to mind, and we began to discuss how C. S. Lewis’ character pointed to God. In the end, I was thankful that a quick prayer had reoriented our conversation to spiritual matters.   

Nehemiah paused to pray before a pivotal moment in a conversation with King Artaxerxes in Persia. The king had asked how he could help Nehemiah, who was distraught over Jerusalem’s destruction. Nehemiah was the king’s servant and therefore in no position to ask for favors, but he needed one—a big one. He wanted to restore Jerusalem. So, he “prayed to the God of heaven” before asking to leave his job so he could reestablish the city (Nehemiah 2:4–5). The king consented and even agreed to help Nehemiah make travel arrangements and procure timber for the project.

The Bible encourages us to pray “on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18). This includes moments when we need courage, self-control, or sensitivity. Praying before we speak helps us give God control of our attitude and our words.

How might He want to direct your words today? Ask Him and find out!

By:  Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Reflect & Pray

What patterns of speech do you need God’s help to change? What types of situations in your life could benefit most from prayer?

Dear God, I surrender my words to You. Use them for Your glory. Help them to inspire and encourage others.

To learn more about the act of prayer.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Christ’s Superior Nature

“Of the angels He says, ‘Who makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire.’ But of the Son He says, ‘Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever'” (Heb. 1:7-8).

Jesus Christ is God, and He created the angels.

People today who claim that Jesus was just a man, an angel, a prophet, or some inferior god are in error and bring upon themselves the curse of God. The Bible, and especially the writer of Hebrews, are clear about who Christ is.

First, the writer deals with the nature of angels when he says, “Who makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire.” “Makes” simply means “to create.” The antecedent of “who” is Christ. Therefore it is obvious that Christ created the angels.

They are also His possession: “His angels.” They are His created servants, who do not operate on their own initiative, but on the direction of Christ.

But the greatest difference between the nature of angels and Christ is that He is the eternal God. The Father says to the Son, “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.” That is one of the most powerful, clear, emphatic, and irrefutable proofs of the deity of Christ in Scripture.

Jesus throughout His ministry claimed equality with God. He said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). The apostle John closed his first epistle by saying, “We know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).

God the Son came to help us understand that God is truth and that Christ Himself is the true God. Our faith is based on the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Suggestion for Prayer

Ask God to give you a greater understanding of the reality that Jesus is in fact God.

For Further Study

Read John 1:1-18 and mark the verses that define Christ’s relationship to God. If an unbeliever were to ask you what that passage means, how would you answer him or her?

Joyce Meyer – Wait for the Lord

Keep the charge of the Lord your God, walk in His ways, keep His statutes, His commandments, His precepts, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may do wisely and prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.

— 1 Kings 2:3 (AMPC)

When you pray, wait for the Lord. This means to look for, to expect, and to hope in God. This isn’t a passive state of mind, but one of expectancy.

Tell Him, “God, I have my hope in You. I believe that You are working on my problems. I believe that You are making arrangements for my day. You are posting angels all throughout my walk, everywhere along my path where You already know I am going to walk today. Thank you, Lord, that You are a pioneer who has already gone before me and made a way for me to. Have a blessed day.”

Prayer Starter: Lord, I have all my hope in You. I am waiting hopefully, expectantly and believing that You have gone before me and made a way for me in my life, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –From Strength to Strength

They go from strength to strength.

Psalm 84:7

“They go from strength to strength.” There are various renderings of these words, but all of them contain the idea of progress. “They go from strength to strength.” That is, they grow stronger and stronger. Usually, if we are walking we go from strength to weakness; we start fresh and in good order for our journey, but by and by the road is rough, and the sun is hot; so we sit down by the wayside and then resume our weary way.

But the Christian pilgrim, having obtained fresh supplies of grace, is as vigorous after years of weary travel and struggle as when he first set out. He may not be quite so elated and buoyant, nor perhaps quite so hot and hasty in his zeal as he once was, but he is much stronger in all that constitutes real power; and if he travels more slowly, he does so more surely.

Some gray-haired veterans have been as firm in their grasp of truth and as zealous in spreading it as they were in their younger days. But sadly, it must be confessed it is often otherwise, for the love of many grows cold, and iniquity flourishes; but this is their own sin and not the fault of the promise, which still holds good: “Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”1

Fretful spirits sit down and trouble themselves about the future. “Unfortunately,” they say, “we go from affliction to affliction.” Very true, O you of little faith; but you go from strength to strength also. You will never find a bundle of affliction that does not have in it somewhere sufficient grace. God will give the strength of ripe maturity along with the burden allotted to full-grown shoulders.

1) Isaiah 40:30–31

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – The LORD Is Longsuffering and of Great Mercy

“The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty.” (Numbers 14:18a)

This verse (Numbers 14:18) shows in one place how God can be so forgiving and yet still so holy. He will not let sin go by without dealing with it (“will by no means clear the guilty”), but He will deal forgiveness out to those guilty people who come to Him asking (“longsuffering and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression”).

Have you ever met an “unforgiving” person? When someone refuses to forgive something, we say that person is “holding a grudge.” God does not hold grudges. If you confess your sins, 1 John 1:9 promises that God is faithful and just to forgive them and to cleanse you from all your unrighteousness. If you are repenting of the things you have done against Him, God will not hold them against you. Instead, those things are covered by the righteousness of Christ.

How about you? Are you longsuffering and patient with other people? Do you “put up with” them, or do you choose to “hold a grudge” over them? Do you show mercy to your sister or brother? Do you forgive your friends when they do something wrong against you? Are you the kind of person who loves holiness but also loves to be merciful? It is hard for human beings to be like that!

Only God can be perfectly longsuffering. Only God can show mercy that great. Only God is powerful enough to forgive people who sin against Him. We can pray that God will help us have the strength and patience we need to forgive others. We can pray that God will help us be humble enough to ask Him to forgive our iniquity and clear us of our guilt.

God is merciful and powerful enough to make repentant sinners “not guilty.”

My Response:
» Am I humble enough to confess my sins to God and ask for His forgiveness?
» Can God forgive me and still be holy? How?

Denison Forum – Bishop tells children Santa doesn’t exist: The quest for hope and a tribute I will never forget

Is it true that Santa Claus’ red costume was created by the Coca-Cola Company for publicity?

Italian Bishop Antonio Stagliano reportedly made this comment during a recent religious festival at which he also said Santa does not exist. Now his diocese in Sicily is apologizing to outraged parents. Apparently, the bishop was trying to underline the true meaning of Christmas and the story of St. Nicholas, a Christian leader who gave gifts to the poor and was persecuted by a Roman emperor.

While I would never want to be on the wrong side of Santa Claus, I also appreciate the bishop’s desire to ground the hope of Christmas in truth and history. We clearly need such hope today.

Pastor and wife shot at vigil

The Kentucky governor stated yesterday afternoon that Friday night’s tornado outbreak killed at least seventy-four people in his state. With around eight hundred thousand deaths from the coronavirus pandemic in the US, the New York Times reports that one in one hundred older Americans have died from the virus.

Britain is battling an Omicron “tidal wave” as infections double every two or three days and the first death from the variant was recorded. And CNN reports that cities across the US are breaking all-time homicide records this year.

One example stands for the rest: a pastor and his wife were shot while attending a vigil in the Houston area being held by a mother for her son, who was killed at his home a couple of weeks ago. The drive-by shooting Sunday evening killed one person and injured at least thirteen others.

Napoleon Bonaparte observed, “Courage is like love; it must have hope for nourishment.” Psychologists tell us that hope is essential to managing stress and anxiety as we cope with adversity.

In these difficult days, where can we turn to find the hope our hearts need most?

The 4 “comings” of Jesus

I was privileged to talk with Chris Brooks on his national radio show yesterday. We discussed the tornado outbreak and the recent high school shooting in Michigan that occurred not far from the church where he serves as pastor.

Chris made the profound point that God uses suffering to point us beyond this world to the next and to call us from our finitude to his omnipotence. I agreed and noted that “Advent” (from the Latin adventus, “coming”) is a season when the church has historically focused not just on Jesus’ first coming but on his Second Coming as well.

In fact, as I noted with Chris, there are four “comings” of Jesus in our world:

  • The first was at Christmas when God “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).
  • The second is when Christ comes into believers’ lives by his Spirit at salvation (Ephesians 1:13–14).
  • The third is when, if his return to earth tarries, he comes for us at death to bring us with him to heaven (John 14:3).
  • The fourth is when he comes back to this fallen planet (Acts 1:11) as our King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16).

If you are a Christian, you are living between Jesus’ second coming and his third or the fourth. Every day that passes is one day closer to that day when we go to him or he comes for us. In the meantime, it is vital that we share the compassionate grace of our suffering Savior wherever and whenever we can. Each day’s news proves again that “you do not know what tomorrow will bring” (James 4:14), which is why “now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Every day is God’s invitation to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), remembering with Mark Dever that “today is what the Lord has prepared you for.”

A daughter’s tribute to her fallen father

To prove that God can empower us to share his love in the most painful of circumstances, I’ll close with a tribute I will never forget.

My community has been grieving the death of Richard Houston II, a twenty-one-year veteran of the police department in Mesquite, a suburb of Dallas. He was fatally shot December 3 while responding to a domestic dispute.

Officer Houston received forty-eight letters of commendation during his career, two Life Saving Awards, and one police commendation bar. But his greatest achievement was the way he lived for Jesus. The married father of three “walked with God each day,” as Mesquite Assistant Police Chief Doug Yates stated at his funeral.

His eighteen-year-old daughter Shelby exemplified her father’s faith with a tribute I urge you to watch. At one point she stated:

“I remember having conversations with my dad about him losing friends and officers in the line of duty. I have heard all the stories you can think of, but I’ve always had such a hard time with how the suspect is dealt with. Not that I didn’t think there should be justice served, but my heart always ached for those who don’t know Jesus—their actions being a reflection of that.

“I was always told that I would feel differently if it happened to me. But as it’s happened to my own father, I think I still feel the same. There has been anger, sadness, grief, and confusion. And part of me wishes I could despise the man who did this to my father. But I can’t get any part of my heart to hate him.

“All that I can find is myself hoping and praying for this man to truly know Jesus. I thought this might change if the man continued to live. But when I heard the news that he was in stable condition, part of me was relieved. My prayer is that someday down the road, I’d get to spend some time with the man who shot my father, not to scream at him, not to yell at him, not to scold him. Simply to tell him about Jesus.”

The same Spirit who empowered Shelby to speak these miraculous words lives in you as well. Would you ask him to give you the compassion and the courage to share the hope of Jesus with someone today?