In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – A Reason for Confidence

Negativity doesn’t fit who we are as God’s children—we should have confidence in our almighty Lord.

Proverbs 3:21-26

Negativity affects us in both spiritual and physical ways. Even simply spending time with a pessimistic individual can take a toll. On the other hand, positivity—especially that related to confidence in the Lord—enables us to live as our Father desires.  

As God’s children, we have every reason to live with assurance. His very presence is permanently within us, and He has granted us His peace, which passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7). In addition, He promises to provide for our needs and empower us to obey and serve Him. 

Sometimes, however, we have trouble accepting and living in these spiritual blessings. When that’s the case, we should purposefully take steps to develop confidence in our all-powerful God. This begins with meditating on His Word and drawing near to Him in prayer. As we grow in our understanding of the Lord and His promises, our faith is strengthened and confidence in Him increases.  

The world is full of distrust, fear, and uncertainty. Don’t allow yourself to be influenced by negative messages that take your eyes off Christ. Focus on the truth of Scripture and put your confidence in almighty God. Facing each day with His strength will drive away doubt and anxiety.

Bible in One Year: Exodus 10-12 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Stay Awake!

Bible in a Year:

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Matthew 26:41

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Matthew 26:36–46

A German bank employee was in the middle of transferring 62.40 euros from a customer’s bank account when he accidentally took a power nap at his desk. He dozed off while his finger was on the “2” key, resulting in a 222 million euro (300 million dollar) transfer into the customer’s account. The fallout from the mistake included the firing of the employee’s colleague who verified the transfer. Although the mistake was caught and corrected, because he hadn’t been watchful, the sleepy employee’s lapse almost became a nightmare for the bank.

Jesus warned His disciples that if they didn’t remain alert, they too would make a costly mistake. He took them to a place called Gethsemane to spend some time in prayer. As He prayed, Jesus experienced a grief and sadness such as He’d never known in His earthly life. He asked Peter, James, and John to stay awake to pray and “keep watch” with Him (Matthew 26:38), but they fell asleep (vv. 40–41). Their failure to watch and pray would leave them defenseless when the real temptation of denying Him came calling. In the hour of Christ’s greatest need, the disciples lacked spiritual vigilance.

May we heed Jesus’ words to remain spiritually awake by being more devoted to spending time with Him in prayer. As we do, He’ll strengthen us to resist all kinds of temptations and avoid the costly mistake of denying Jesus.

By:  Marvin Williams

Reflect & Pray

What part of your prayer life needs to be more devoted and disciplined? How can you intentionally spend more time alone with God this week? 

Jesus, because I’ve been spiritually sleeping, I haven’t been praying. And because I haven’t been praying, I haven’t depended on You. I’m sorry. Please help me to spend more time with You.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Christ’s Gentle Example

“Walk . . . with all . . . gentleness” (Ephesians 4:1-2).

Jesus is the greatest example of gentleness: He became angry when God the Father was dishonored, but not when He, the Son, was.

Jesus Christ is our supreme example of gentleness. Paul refers specifically to this in 2 Corinthians 10:1. Jesus Himself said, “I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matt. 11:29).

Jesus showed righteous indignation when it was proper. When He found the Temple filled with people selling exorbitantly priced sacrificial animals, He drove them out, pouring out their money and overturning tables (Matt. 21:12). He told them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ den” (v. 13). Jesus later said to the scribes and Pharisees, “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell?” (23:33). He did not stand idly by while the Temple was defiled. He spoke out in judgment against hypocrites who dishonored God.

Even though Jesus became angry when God was maligned, He neither retaliated against nor condemned those who attacked Him. “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:21-23). When God’s Temple was defiled, Jesus cleaned it out. But when the temple of His body was defiled, enduring the agony of the cross, with mockers all around, all He said was, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). That’s supreme gentleness—total selflessness.

It’s so easy to strike back when someone criticizes or attacks us, but that’s not the way of the gentle Christian trying to walk worthy. The only time we should let the lion in us roar is when God’s honor is at stake. Jesus forgave those who crucified Him. How can we do any less to those who hurt us?

Suggestions for Prayer                

We all fall short of Christ’s example of gentleness.  Pray that God would help you each day to reflect more and more the gentleness of Christ.

For Further Study

Read the account of Christ’s arrest and crucifixion in Matthew 26:47—27:50.

  • Did He have the power to strike back (26:53)?
  • Find all the instances you can in which Christ demonstrated His gentleness.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Let It Go

And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted . . . forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you.

— Ephesians 4:32 (AMPC)

The Bible teaches us to forgive “readily and freely.” That is God’s standard for us, no matter how we feel about it. We are to be quick to forgive.

According to 1 Peter 5:5, we can clothe ourselves with the character of Jesus Christ, meaning that we can choose to be long-suffering, patient, not easily offended, slow to anger, quick to forgive, and filled with mercy. My definition of “mercy” is to look beyond what is done to me that hurts and discover the reason why it was done. Many times, people do things even they don’t understand themselves, but there is always a reason why people behave as they do. Perhaps they are hurting and in their own pain they don’t even realize they are hurting someone else.

God forgives! We are to be merciful and forgiving, just as God in Christ forgives us our wrongdoing. He not only sees what we do that is wrong, but He understands why we did it, and is merciful and long-suffering. The choice to forgive others is ours. God will not force anyone to do it. Even if you don’t understand it, believe that God’s way is the best. It works. He can take what Satan meant to destroy you and turn it for your good.

Prayer Starter: Father, help me to try to control my anger and forgive quickly. In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Learn at the Feet of Jesus

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.

Luke 24:45

He whom we viewed last evening as opening Scripture, we here perceive opening the understanding. In the first work He has many fellow-laborers, but in the second He stands alone; many can bring the Scriptures to the mind, but the Lord alone can prepare the mind to receive the Scriptures. Our Lord Jesus differs from all other teachers.

They reach the ear, but He instructs the heart; they deal with the outward letter, but He imparts an inward taste for the truth, by which we perceive its savor and spirit. The most unlearned of men become ripe scholars in the school of grace when the Lord Jesus by His Holy Spirit unfolds the mysteries of the kingdom to them and grants the divine anointing by which they are enabled to behold the invisible.

Happy are we if we have had our understandings cleared and strengthened by the Master! How many men of profound learning are ignorant of eternal things! They know the killing letter of revelation, but its killing spirit they cannot discern; they have a veil upon their hearts that the eyes of carnal reason cannot penetrate.

Such was our case a little time ago. We who now see were once utterly blind; truth was to us as beauty in the dark, a thing unnoticed and neglected. Had it not been for the love of Jesus we should have remained to this moment in utter ignorance, for without His gracious opening of our understanding, we could no more have attained to spiritual knowledge than an infant can climb the Pyramids or an ostrich fly up to the stars.

Jesus’ College is the only one in which God’s truth can be really learned; other schools may teach us what is to be believed, but Christ’s alone can show us how to believe it. Let us sit at the feet of Jesus and by earnest prayer call upon His blessed help, that our dull wits may grow brighter, and our feeble understandings may receive heavenly things.

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 – God Brings Good out of Sadness

Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Will I trust God to bring good out of the sad time I’m going through?

One day, I brought home a bright red helium balloon. I was so proud of it! I could hardly wait to get it out of the car and begin playing with it. But no sooner had my feet touched the pavement of our driveway than it slipped out of my hand and went floating away toward the clouds. I was disappointed and angry. It wasn’t fair! I had lost my balloon before I even had a chance to play with it.

But my dad had an idea. “I’ll get my binoculars,” he said. “Let’s watch your balloon till it’s out of sight.” We stood out in the backyard, my dad and I, for a long time that evening. We passed the binoculars back and forth, tracking the red balloon’s flight into the sky. What fun we had! That evening that had begun so sadly ended up filled with laughter and joy. It was one of my favorite times spent with my father.

God, our Father, sometimes allows things to happen in our lives that seem very bad to us. Things might happen that hurt and disappoint us and make us want to scream, “It’s not fair!” But God has wonderful plans for those painful times. He may want to teach us something new about Himself. He may want us to come closer to Him. We get to know Him better as we pray and trust Him in times of suffering. He causes all things to work together for good to us if we are His children. Maybe someday you will look back on your saddest time as the best time you ever spent with your Father.

God brings good out of His children’s pain and suffering.

Denison Forum – Man drinks bleach at restaurant, awarded more than $9M by jury

William Cronnon was eating lunch at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in April 2014. His waitress accidentally refilled his glass with a mixture of water and Eco-San, a commercial-grade bleach.

According to his attorney, Cronnon went to the emergency room for treatment and developed gastrointestinal issues I won’t describe here. The attorney stated that Cronnon’s injuries were “severe and persistent enough” that he could no longer work. The case went to trial, where a jury awarded Cronnon compensatory damages totaling $4.3 million and punitive damages of $5 million.

I can find no evidence that the waitress intended to harm him or that he intended to be harmed. She sincerely thought she was refilling his glass with water. He sincerely thought he was drinking water. 

But both were sincerely wrong.

Former policeman indicted in death of his mother

This week we’re exploring ways to relate redemptively to our broken society. On Monday, we discussed New York Times columnist David Brooks’ compelling description of America as “falling apart at the seams.” Yesterday, we identified three reasons to choose compassion in responding to those who reject biblical truth and morality.

Today, let’s take an additional step into such solidarity.

Some sins are obviously intentional and deserve the opprobrium of society. An example is the former New York police officer who has been indicted in the death of his mother, who was found nearly decapitated in her Queens home last year. 

At other times, those who suffer are not at fault and deserve our full sympathy and support. An example is the disaster in Tonga caused by the largest volcanic eruption in more than thirty years and the resulting tsunami waves it sent crashing across the Pacific. Clearly, no one on the island could have caused or prevented the destruction they experienced.

Two compelling calls for compassion

Most who reject biblical truth and morality fall in the latter category for two reasons, both of which relate directly to followers of Jesus today.

One: They need our help in understanding spiritual truth.

Scripture teaches: “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). This is why non-Christians need Christians to teach and model biblical truth in ways that are accessible and relevant to them.

Much of our Christian vocabulary is foreign to those outside our faith; words like sin and lost feel pejorative to those who have no context for understanding their true meaning. Evangelism feels to them like the unfair imposition of our opinions on them. They view attending our churches in the same way you and I would view attending a Muslim mosque or a Buddhist temple.

They need precisely what you and I needed before others helped us understand and accept the truth of God’s word. They are sincerely lost, but they don’t know they’re lost. They need and deserve someone to show them the path to life in a spirit of compassion and grace.

Two: They are the victims of the true enemy.

Yesterday, I referred to 2 Corinthians 4:4. Here is the full verse: “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” This is why “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

As a result, the first step in influencing the lost is interceding for the lost. It is praying for the Spirit to defeat the work of Satan in their minds and hearts. It is asking God to lead them to himself, to guide and use us to that end, and to protect them from the deceptions and antagonism of our fallen culture.

While some people clearly understand and yet reject biblical truth and are willing accomplices in Satan’s work of deception, the vast majority do not know what they do not know. They do not understand that they are lost and in need of salvation. They do not understand that they are the victims of the enemy of their souls and that they desperately need our intercession and compassion.

A hymn I encourage you to pray

Millions of people in our lost culture are sincerely drinking “water” that leads to death rather than “living water” that leads to life (John 4:14). This is because they need Christians to explain and model biblical truth in relevant and empowering ways while interceding for the lost to hear and respond to the gospel in the power of the Spirit.

If I am holding the only flashlight in a dark room, whose fault is the darkness?

Rather than condemning those who need my witness and intercession, should I not renew my commitment to both?

To have God’s heart for the lost, however, I must first experience God’s heart for myself. I must encounter his loving grace, his transforming mercy, his empowering presence and peace. To that end, I’ll close with a hymn I came across recently that greatly encouraged me. It was written by Charles Wesley, the brother of John and co-leader of the Methodist movement.

Charles wrote the words for more than 6,500 hymns, including “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.” He could make such a profound impact on his culture and on Christian history because Jesus was so real in his heart, a fact he expressed in words I encourage you to pray slowly to God right now:

Jesus, my all in all thou art;
My rest in toil, my ease in pain,
The medicine of my broken heart,
In war my peace, in loss my gain,
My smile beneath the tyrant’s frown,
In shame my glory and my crown:

In want my plentiful supply,
In weakness my almighty pow’r,
In bonds my perfect liberty,
My light in Satan’s darkest hour,
My help and stay whene’er I call,
My life in death, my heav’n, my all. Amen.

Amen?

http://www.denisonforum.org/