In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Living Worry-Free

When we fill our minds with righteous thoughts and trust God’s provision, we worry less.

Philippians 4:4-9

We live in a culture inundated with anxiety and fear, where people make a habit of worrying because it provides a false sense of control. But Christians don’t have to give in to these feelings, as we have a Savior who has promised us His peace, “which surpasses all comprehension” (Phil. 4:7). Thankfully, there are a couple of practices we can employ to guard against worry.

First, we must be careful about what we allow to fill our mind—listening to the many purveyors of doom and gloom can easily lead to fear, anxiety, or panic. If you become agitated after hearing the news, listening to podcasts, or reading social media, it’s time to take a break. Instead, do what Paul encourages in today’s passage: Think about whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, commendable, and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8).

Another source of worry is materialism. The more we have, the more we fret about what might happen to our possessions and financial security. But Jesus warned against storing up treasure on earth (Matthew 6:19-20). Instead, we should seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness and trust Him to provide for our needs (Matthew 6:33). If we’ll put Him first, worry won’t gain a foothold in our lives.

Bible in One Year: Joshua 16-19

Our Daily Bread — Revelation and Reassurance

Bible in a Year:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Philippians 4:6

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Philippians 4:1–7

Baby-gender reveals in 2019 were dramatic. In July, a video showed a car emitting blue smoke to indicate, “It’s a boy!” In September, a crop-duster plane in Texas dumped hundreds of gallons of pink water to announce, “It’s a girl!” There was another “reveal,” though, that uncovered significant things about the world these children will grow up in. At the conclusion of 2019, YouVersion revealed that the most shared, highlighted, and bookmarked verse of the year on its online and mobile Bible app was Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

That’s quite the revelation. People are anxious about many things these days—from the needs of our sons and daughters, to the myriad ways family and friends are divided, to natural catastrophes and wars. But in the middle of all these worries, the good news is that many people cling to a verse that says, “Do not be anxious about anything.” Furthermore, those same people encourage others as well as themselves to present every request to God “in every situation.” The mindset that doesn’t ignore but faces life’s anxieties is one of “thanksgiving.”

The verse that didn’t make “verse of the year” but follows it is—“And the peace of God . . . will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (v. 7). That’s quite the reassurance!

By:  John Blase

Reflect & Pray

What are two or three situations you’re worried about? How might reflecting on the ways God’s peace has carried you in the past be helpful?   

Jesus, some days and weeks and years feel overwhelming. Thank You for Your peace, which guards me yesterday, today, and forever.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Relying on God’s Character

“Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments. . . . righteousness belongs to Thee. . . . To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness” (Dan. 9:479).

God’s attributes authenticate your prayers.

Prior to the Babylonian Captivity God had warned His people not to adopt the idolatrous ways of their captors. Their gods were idols that could neither hear nor deliver them from distress (Isa. 46:6-7).

In marked contrast, our God loves us and delivers us from evil. When we confess our sins and intercede for others, He hears and responds. In Isaiah 45:21-22 He says, “There is no other God besides Me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none except Me. Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.”

In his prayer Daniel mentions several attributes of God that have a direct bearing on answered prayer. In verse 4 he calls Him “the great and awesome God.” That speaks of His power and majesty. You can pray with confidence because God is powerful enough to change your circumstances when it serves His purposes.

God’s faithfulness is reflected in the phrase “who keeps His covenant” (v. 4). He always keeps His promises. He made a covenant with Israel that if they repented He would forgive them (Deut. 30:1-3). He promised never to forsake them (Deut. 31:6; cf. Heb. 13:5).

God’s love is seen in His acts of mercy toward those who love Him (v. 4). His justice and holiness are inherent in the phrase “righteousness belongs to Thee” (v. 7). God’s actions are always loving and righteous. He never makes a mistake (Gen. 18:25).

Verse 9 mentions two final attributes: compassion and forgiveness. Compassion is a synonym for mercy. Forgiveness means He pardons your wrongdoings by canceling the penalty sin has charged to your account. He reconciles you to Himself in sweet communion.

What a gracious God we serve! Rejoice in His love and lean on His promises. He will never fail you.

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise God for His attributes of power, majesty, faithfulness, love, holiness, compassion, and forgiveness.

For Further Study

Read Isaiah 44 which contains a stern warning for Israel to avoid the idolatry of Babylon during the Babylonian Captivity.

  • What promises did God make to Israel?
  • How did God characterize idolaters?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Forgiveness Is Forever

For by a single offering, He has forever completely cleansed and perfected those who are consecrated and made holy … He then goes on to say, and their sins and their lawbreaking I will remember no more.

— Hebrews 10:14,17 (AMPC)

God’s forgiveness is forever and ongoing for the duration of our lives; it is for every day. When Jesus died on the cross, He not only forgave everything we had done in our pasts, but He also committed Himself to forgive and forget every sin we would commit in the future.

He knows our thoughts before we think them; He knows our words before they come out of our mouths; He knows every wrong decision we will ever make—and they’re all covered. All we have to do is stay in a relationship with Him. After all, what He wants from us more than anything else is not perfect performance, perfect behavior, or perfect attitudes, but hearts that really love Him.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for sending Jesus to die on the cross for me and because of that tremendous sacrifice, covering every sin I will ever commit.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Hold Lightly to Earthly Things

Man … is few of days and full of trouble.

Job 14:1

It may be of great service to us, before we fall asleep, to remember this mournful fact, for it may lead us to hold lightly to earthly things. There is nothing very pleasant in the recollection that we are not above the arrows of adversity, but it may humble us and prevent us from boasting like the psalmist that our mountain stands firm, that we shall never be moved. It may prevent us from making our roots too deep in this soil from which we are so soon to be transplanted into the heavenly garden.

Let us keep in mind the frail tenure upon which we hold our temporal mercies. If we remember that all the trees of earth are marked for the woodman’s axe, we will not be so ready to build our nests in them. We should love, but we should love with the love that expects death, and that reckons upon separations. Our dear relations are simply loaned to us, and the hour when we must return them to the lender’s hand may be sooner than we think.

This is also true of our worldly goods. Do not riches take to themselves wings and fly away? Our health is equally precarious. Frail flowers of the field, we must not reckon upon blooming forever. There is a time appointed for weakness and sickness, when we will have to glorify God by suffering and not by earnest activity.

There is no single point in which we can hope to escape from the sharp arrows of affliction; out of our few days there is not one secure from sorrow. Man’s life is a cask full of bitter wine; he who looks for joy in it would be better looking for honey in a salty ocean.

Beloved reader, do not set your affections upon things of earth, but seek those things that are above, for here the moth devours, and the thief steals, but there all joys are perpetual and eternal. The path of trouble is the way home. Lord, make this thought a pillow for many a weary head!

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Forgives Only the Broken and Contrite Heart

“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” (Psalm 66:18)

Sometimes Dylan told lies. If his parents caught him, they would punish him. They would also encourage him to pray and ask God to forgive him. At first, Dylan really meant what he was praying – sometimes he would pray for God’s forgiveness even when his parents didn’t know about the lie and weren’t making him pray.

Soon, Dylan found himself praying to God all the time, but not for forgiveness! He would pray that his parents wouldn’t find out about what he had done or said. Dylan was more afraid of being punished than he was of being unforgiven. Soon he started to wonder whether God would listen to his prayers at all.

Dylan did not understand very much about Who God is and what God expects of His children. God does not forgive us if we are not truly repentant. He does not forgive us if we are asking for the wrong reason and our hearts are set on sinning again.

Over time, Dylan had let himself start viewing God as someone who does whatever we ask Him to do. But repentance, forgiveness, and salvation all come from the Lord. We cannot just sin, pray about it, and expect that to fix everything. God tells us in His Word that if we regard (or know about and hold onto) sin in our hearts, He will not even listen to our prayers.

Instead, Dylan ought to look at the sin in his heart and think about it like God thinks about it – as something very evil, hurtful, and displeasing to God and others. Instead of planning to tell lies again, Dylan should pray for help to resist the temptation to tell lies again. He should also be willing to take whatever punishment is coming to him for lies he has already told. Asking forgiveness doesn’t get us out of being punished.

God will not even hear our prayers if we are looking at sin as something we don’t mind keeping around in our lives. But there’s good news for people like Dylan – and us. Psalm 51:17 says this: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” God does hear the prayers of a broken and contrite (or repentant, humble) heart. If we come to Him with repentance and humility, thinking about our sins the way He does, then He has promised to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

God will hear you and forgive you only if you ask with a repentant spirit.

My Response: » When I ask forgiveness for a certain sin, am I determined to avoid that sin in the future, or do I still want to keep it around in my life? » When I come to God, is it proudly, with my own interests in mind? Or do I come to Him with a humble heart, thinking about my sin the way He thinks about it?

Denison Forum – Girl sings “Let It Go” in Ukrainian shelter, video goes viral

My granddaughter’s favorite song is “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen. When I watched this little girl sing the song in a Ukrainian shelter, I was nearly moved to tears. She is likely someone’s granddaughter.

What if she were mine? What if she were yours? 

Russia’s illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine is generating some of the most moving stories that I have ever seen. For example, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave the first speech by a foreign leader ever to Britain’s House of Commons Tuesday, echoing Winston Churchill’s famous words to the same chamber at the dawn of World War II: “We will fight till the end, at sea, in the air. We will fight in the forests, in the fields, on the shores, in the streets.” 

The whereabouts of his wife, First Lady Olena Zelenska, and their two children are secret since Ukraine believes they are being targeted by Russia for assassination. However, she has played an active role on social media, shining a spotlight on what she calls “the mass murder of Ukrainian civilians.” 

Then there are the children who are such innocent victims of Vladimir Putin’s escalating atrocities. 

At least three people were killed and seventeen were wounded when a Russian airstrike bombed a maternity hospital yesterday. One million children have been forced to flee Ukraine, leaving behind their lives and their friends. Polio is even making a comeback as the war has halted vaccination efforts. Russian bombardment has killed so many people in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol that workers are forced to bury civilians and soldiers in a mass grave. 

And US intelligence leaders are warning that Putin is likely to escalate attacks even further in the coming days. 

Only 4 percent of Russians blame Russia for the invasion 

While the world increasingly sees Putin and Russia as an international pariah, the story is far different on the Russian side. ​​

The New York Times reports this morning that top diplomats from Ukraine and Russia failed to reach an agreement today to calm the fighting in Ukraine or even to ease the worsening humanitarian crisis. Note this statement by Russian foreign minister Sergey V. Lavrov: “We are not planning to attack other countries. We didn’t attack Ukraine, either.” He was repeating Russian claims that his country was forced to conduct a “special military operation” in Ukraine to protect its own security.

Many in Russia believe him.

Putin’s approval rating soared as Russia prepared to attack Ukraine. While thousands of protesters have demonstrated against the invasion, only 4 percent of Russians blame the conflict on Russia. More than two-thirds blame it on the US, NATO, or Ukraine. 

The vast majority who do not blame Russia for the invasion is unlikely to blame Putin for Western sanctions enacted in response to the invasion. In fact, such measures may harden their opinion against the West and reinforce Putin’s narrative that he is defending his people from Western aggression. This does not mean that the West should not do all we can to defend and support Ukraine, of course. But it does illustrate the fact that nations have narratives. 

Even the way the two sides describe the country being invaded demonstrates this reality. Russians refer to it as “the Ukraine,” with the definite article indicating that it is a region rather than an independent entity. Ukrainians refer to their homeland as “Ukraine” without the definite article to reinforce its independent status. Americans follow this custom when we speak of “the Bluegrass region” (with the definite article) of “Kentucky” (without the definite article). 

In reading British scholar Geoffrey Hosking’s Russian History this week, I found context that further clarifies Russia’s narrative of this conflict. Hosking reports, “Whatever else they may have wanted, Russians have always longed for security from terrifying and murderous assaults across the flat open frontiers to east and west.” 

This need “motivated the creation of the first Rus” state in the ninth century. It explains their support for Ivan IV (1530–84), the first “Tsar” (a form of the Roman imperial title Caesar), and later for Peter the Great (ruled 1682–1725), who built Russia into an empire. 

Rebuilding this empire is Vladimir Putin’s expressed and determined purpose. To the degree that Russians see his invasion of Ukraine as necessary in defending them from alleged threats from the West and restoring their national pride and power, they are supporting his invasion. 

“It is good for me that I was afflicted” 

So, each side of the war in Ukraine believes that its side is “moral.” Notice what is missing in this debate: a question as to whether objective morality exists. 

As I have discussed often over the years (and in two chapters of The Coming Tsunami), it is conventional wisdom in our postmodern culture that all truth claims are personal and subjective. But when children are hiding in shelters and bombs are falling on a children’s hospital, such relativism is one of the first casualties. 

Suffering has a way of clarifying our priorities and exposing our fallacies. The psalmist spoke for many when he admitted to God, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word” (Psalm 119:67). He could then observe, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes” (v. 71). 

I am praying that postmodern skeptics learn from this horrific conflict the absolute fact of absolute truth, the moral imperative of embracing and defending objective morality. I am praying for Christians to exhibit the transformative power of living by such morality as revealed in the word of God (Hebrews 4:12) and empowered by the Spirit of God (cf. Galatians 5:22–23). 

And I am praying that such Spirit-empowered integrity will begin with me. 

“God will make you fit” 

The reality of suffering and sin forces us to admit the reality of our finitude and our consequent need for divine grace. Oswald Chambers noted in a devotional that to be united with Jesus Christ, “We must relinquish all pretense of being anything, all claim of being worthy of God’s consideration.” 

He explains: “There will have to be the relinquishing of my claim to my right to myself in every phase. . . . When a man really sees himself as the Lord sees him, it is not the abominable sins of the flesh that shock him, but the awful nature of the pride of his own heart against Jesus Christ.” 

He concludes: “If you are up against the question of relinquishing, go through the crisis, relinquish all, and God will make you fit for all that he requires of you.” 

Do you see yourself as the Lord sees you today?

Denison Forum