In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Damage of Prayerlessness

When we bring our problems to God in prayer, He responds with encouragement.

Colossians 4:2-6

Prayer should be a priority in the life of every Christian. If Jesus, who was the Son of God, often slipped away to talk to His Father, then we surely need it even more! Without prayer and Bible reading, believers are prone to feel discouraged and distant from God. 

When troubles loom, do you seek man-made options in place of taking your concerns to the Lord? Chasing counterfeit solutions only leads you away from God and His will. What’s more, they are short-lived at best and utter failures at worst. Under such conditions, discouragement is unavoidable. But a believer who’s immersed in prayer and Scripture reading finds security in God’s power and presence.

Even though a habit of neglecting prayer has negative consequences, the direction can be reversed at any time. First, confess your prayerlessness. Then ask the Lord to give you the strength and desire to make communication with Him a regular discipline. Then set aside time every day to read your Bible and pray. In those moments of communion, He’ll make burdens lighter, offer encouragement, and fill you with confidence in His faithfulness and care for you.

Bible in One Year: Judges 10-12 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Thanks, but No Thanks

Bible in a Year:

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.

2 Corinthians 6:14

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Ezra 4:1–5, 24

A Christian school for autistic children in India received a big donation from a corporation. After checking that there were no strings attached, they accepted the money. But later, the corporation requested to be represented on the school board. The school director returned the money. She refused to allow the values of the school to be compromised. She said, “It’s more important to do God’s work in God’s way.”

There are many reasons to decline help, and this is one of them. In the Bible we see another. When the exiled Jews returned to Jerusalem, King Cyrus commissioned them to rebuild the temple (Ezra 3). When their neighbors said, “Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God” (4:2), the leaders of Israel declined. They concluded that by accepting the offer of help, the integrity of the temple rebuilding project might have been compromised and idolatry could have crept into their community since their neighbors also worshiped idols. The Israelites made the right decision, as their “neighbors” then did all they could to discourage the building.

With the help of the Holy Spirit and the counsel of wise believers in Jesus, we can develop discernment. We can also be confident to say no to friendly offers that may hide subtle spiritual dangers because God’s work done in His way will never lack His provision.

By:  Poh Fang Chia

Reflect & Pray

What are the dangers of joining hands with those who would bring a conflict of interest to God’s work? How can you develop discernment?

Loving Father, You know my need. Help me to be wise and discerning in knowing when to partner with others.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Threats to Humility: Doctrine and Hypocrisy

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

Avoid pride in your position, intelligence, or spirituality.

Years ago, when my children were young, my son Mark told my youngest child, Melinda, to take something out of the room. She said, “You’re not my boss.” Mark replied, “Dad is the boss of Mom, Mom is the boss of Matt, Matt is the boss of Marcy, Marcy is the boss of me, and I am the boss of you.” So Melinda obeyed. After that, Melinda decided she was the boss of the dog, and the dog was boss of nobody. No one wants to be on the bottom rung of the ladder!

Everyone holds a certain position in life, and everyone is tempted to take advantage of it. Look at Herod in Acts 12:21-22: “Herod, having put on his royal apparel . . . began delivering an address to them. And the people kept crying out, ‘The voice of a god and not of a man!’” He loved the attention. What happened? “Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died” (v. 23).

Intellectual pride can also be a stumbling block. It’s easy for Christians to think their theology is perfect and they have all the answers. But the more I study the Bible, the more I realize how little I know. I feel like a child who fills a pail in the ocean. My learning is only a small bucket of water compared to the vast sea of knowledge. I know very little, and I’m still learning.

The worst type of pride is external spirituality without internal holiness. Jesus reserved His greatest condemnations for those who had such pride: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matt. 23:27-28). You may look spiritual on the outside, going to church and acting “Christianly,” but your heart may be full of sin.

Suggestions for Prayer

Examine your heart, and confess any pride in your position, intelligence, or spirituality.

For Further Study

Read in Daniel 5 about what happened to a king who took pride in his position. Notice how God humbled him. Such sin wasn’t trivial to God; it shouldn’t be to us either.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Pray and Give Thanks

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his hours…he got down upon his knees three times a day prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.

— Daniel 6:10 (AMPC)

Giving thanks is so important to being able to hear God’s voice because, like praise and worship, it is something God responds to. It’s something God loves, something that warms His heart. Any time we give God pleasure like that, our intimacy with Him increases—and that makes for a better relationship with Him.

Also, when we are thankful, we are in a position to receive more from the Lord. If we are not thankful for what we have, why should He give us something else to murmur about? On the other hand, when God sees that we genuinely appreciate and are thankful for the big and little things, He is inclined to bless us even more. According to Philippians 4:6, everything we ask God for should be preceded and accompanied by thanksgiving—we should pray with a thankful heart for what we already have and thank Him in advance for hearing and answering our prayers! No matter what we pray for, thanksgiving should always go with it. A good habit to develop is starting all our prayers with thanksgiving. An example of this would be: “Thank You for all You have done in my life, You are awesome and I really love and appreciate You.”

I encourage you to examine your life, to pay attention to your thoughts and your words, and see how much thanksgiving you express. Do you grumble and complain about things? Or are you thankful? If you want a challenge, just try to get through an entire day without uttering one word of complaint. Develop an attitude of thanksgiving in every situation. In fact, just become outrageously thankful—and watch as your intimacy with God increases and as He pours out greater blessings than ever before.

Prayer Starter: Lord, thank you for the way You lead me when I pray. Help me to remember to thank You first before I do anything else. Let thankfulness be the basis of my prayer life. I choose right now to put replace complaining with gratitude.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Keep Me Back from Sin

Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins.

Psalm 19:13

Such was the prayer of the “man after God’s own heart.” Did holy David need to pray like this? How needful, then, such a prayer must be for us babes in grace! It is as if he said, “Keep me back, or I shall rush headlong over the precipice of sin.” Our evil nature, like an ill-tempered horse, is apt to run away. May the grace of God put the bridle upon it and hold it in, that it rush not into mischief.

What would the best of us do if it were not for the checks that the Lord sets upon us both in providence and in grace! The psalmist’s prayer is directed against the worst form of sin—that which is done with deliberation and willfulness. Even the holiest need to be “kept back” from the vilest transgressions. It is a solemn thing to find the apostle Paul warning saints against the most loathsome sins: “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”1

What! Do saints really need to be warned against such sins as these? Yes, they do. The whitest robes, unless their purity be preserved by divine grace, will be defiled by the blackest spots.

Experienced Christian, do not boast in your experience; you will trip if you look away from Him who is able to keep you from falling. You whose love is fervent, whose faith is constant, whose hopes are bright, do not say, “We shall never sin,” but rather cry, “Lead us not into temptation.” There is enough kindling in the heart of the best of men to light a fire that shall burn to the lowest hell, unless God shall quench the sparks as they fall. Who would have dreamed that righteous Lot could be found drunk and committing immorality? Hazael said, “Is Your servant a dog, that he should do this thing?” and we are very apt to use the same self-righteous question. May infinite wisdom cure us of the madness of self-confidence.

1) Colossians 3:5

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’s Stories Teach Us What To Do

“But be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22)

Tyrell and Tia couldn’t wait to get to Sunday School. Last week, the teacher, Mrs. Naginflagin, had told them that each person in the class could get up in front of the class and tell his or her favorite Bible story. So, all week long, Tyrell and Tia had been getting ready to tell their favorite Bible story.

Tyrell’s favorite Bible story was David and Goliath. Tyrell wasn’t very tall; in fact he was the shortest in his class–even the girls were taller than him! He liked the story of a small boy taking down a big giant.

Tia’s favorite story was about the birth of Moses. She loved the fact that Moses’ mother gave up her baby so that his life would be saved. She liked seeing how God made it possible for Moses’ mother to get Moses back, in a way. She got to raise her own son because Pharaoh’s daughter found him floating in the basket and wanted one of his own people to help her care for him.

Sunday morning finally came. As Tyrell and Tia took their seats, they looked around wondering what was everyone else’s favorite story would be. “Good morning, class,” said Mrs. Naginflagin. “Today, each of you will get to tell the rest of the class your favorite Bible story. Who wants to go first?”

Immediately Tyrell’s hand shot up into the air. Mrs. Naginflagin invited him to walk to the front of the room, and he began to tell the class the story of David and Goliath. And Tyrell got excited! He went into all the great details of the story, even bringing up other classmates to help act out the awesome fight scene (of course, Tyrell was “David” and the biggest boy on the class had to be “Goliath”). It made Tyrell feel good when his “stone” (it was really a crumpled up piece of paper) hit the “giant” in the forehead and knocked him to the ground.

One by one, each kid in the class told his or her favorite story. When it was all done, Mrs. Naginflagin began to teach the Sunday School lesson. She began with a question. “What do you think God wants you to do because of the story you just told?” Tyrell and Tia had never thought about that before; they just liked the stories.

Mrs. Naginflagin told them to turn to James 1:22–“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” Mrs. Naginflagin began to teach the class a very important lesson. She said that God’s Word does not have these stories in it only because they are “cool stories.” God’s stories are wonderful stories, but they are more than that! These stories are actual events–they really did happen! And God included them in the Bible so that we would learn about Him from them, and so that we would know how we should act.

Tyrell and Tia had never really thought of God’s stories that way before. Now as they remembered their favorite stories, they paid attention. They thought about how God might want them to act based on the truths they learned about Him from the stories. Tyrell leaned that God can give strength to fight His battles, even when the chances of winning seem impossible, and no matter how hard it seems. And Tia learned from what happened with Moses’ mom that she should rely on God for protection and blessing, even when everything seems hopeless. Both of them saw good reasons in their favorite stories for trusting God and obeying God.

God gave us His stories to teach us about Himself, and we should act on what we learn from them.

My Response:
» What is my favorite Bible story?
» Have I ever thought about what my favorite Bible story teaches me about God?
» Have I changed my behavior based on what God has taught me about Himself from His Word?

Denison Forum – Zelensky’s speech to Congress today could be the “most important by a foreign leader since Churchill in 1941”

It is surreal to consider how different the world has become in three weeks.

As of this morning, more than three million refugees have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech to the US Congress later today “could be [the] most important by a foreign leader since Churchill in 1941.” The leaders of the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovenia traveled to Kyiv last night to meet with Mr. Zelensky to offer a broad package of support. The White House announced that President Biden will travel to Brussels for a March 24 NATO summit on the invasion. 

The Metropolitan Opera presented a benefit performance Monday night in New York City, with all ticket sales and donations going to support relief efforts in Ukraine. And a Russian television producer courageously interrupted a live TV state media broadcast on Monday to hold up a sign protesting the war. Her actions prompted others to protest; she was found guilty of organizing an illegal protest and fined. 

“World War III may already have arrived” 

It is obvious that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is changing the world far beyond Ukraine. The question is, how much of the world? 

Veronika Melkozerova, a journalist based in Kyiv, writes in the Atlantic, “Every night I close my eyes thinking I might be next on Putin’s death-toll list. Nowadays, you never know where the Russians will drop their bombs—onto a residential building, a kindergarten classroom, a monastery, or a maternity hospital.” She understands that people of the West “are scared of World War III” but adds, “Don’t you understand that World War III may have already arrived?” 

Putin clearly wants to rebuild a new Russian Empire, which could lead him to advance beyond Ukraine into NATO-allied countries and force the US into the conflict. I noted on Monday the growing concern that Russia could use “tactical nuclear weapons” to win its war with Ukraine; that same day, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters, “The prospect of nuclear conflict, once unthinkable, is now back within the realm of possibility.” 

China’s continued escalation of its nuclear capacities only adds to the growing danger. Adm. Charles Richard leads US Strategic Forces, which oversees the military’s nuclear arsenal. He told lawmakers last week, “Today, we face two nuclear-capable near peers who have the capability to unilaterally escalate to any level of violence, in any domain worldwide, with any instrument of national power, at any time.” 

How might God redeem the fears of these days? 

By now your stress level is probably higher than it was when you began reading this article. And we haven’t even considered that the world has now surpassed six million COVID-19 deaths as the US nears one million such tragedies. Vox has reported that “deaths of despair” (suicide, drug overdoses, and alcohol-related liver disease) “amount to the equivalent of a catastrophic pandemic every single year.” And now we are dealing with an enemy that might deploy nuclear weapons with unforeseeable global consequences. 

However, none of this surprises God. He is not reading these words with the same anxiety you and I might be feeling. 

Since I am convinced that the Lord redeems all he allows, I asked myself today how he might redeem the fears of these perilous days. Instantly a simple thought occurred to me: by showing us how deeply we need what only our Father can give. 

It is human nature to depend on human nature. From the first sin in human history to the last sin you and I committed, the common denominator has been the same: we want to be our own god (Genesis 3:5), to be king of our own kingdom. To show us our need for his redemptive grace, God then responds by allowing us the consequences of our misused freedom (cf. Romans 1:24–32). Inevitably, such self-exaltation comes at the expense of others. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is the latest in a line of murderous crimes extending to the dawn of human history (cf. Genesis 4:1–16). 

The defining question of our lives 

Denison Ministries Creative Director Josh Miller has a fascinating new article on our website titled “‘Blessed are the self-sufficient’: How the anti-Beatitudes explain our cultural anxieties.” After exposing the fallacy of living by our culture’s self-sufficient values, he asks, “What kingdom defines your life?” 

This is the defining question of our lives. You and I can seek to advance our own kingdoms, or we can “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” in the assurance that “all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). 

When we turn our world and our fears over to the true king of the universe, what does he give us in return? Jesus assured us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27, my emphasis). 

When we name our fears and trust them specifically and unconditionally to Jesus, we experience more than his help and hope—we experience him. We experience his peace, his joy (Hebrews 12:2), his abundant life (John 10:10). We can say with Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). We can experience fully “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). 

Henri Nouwen observed: 

“We tend to emphasize the distance between Jesus and ourselves. We see Jesus as the all-knowing and all-powerful Son of God who is unreachable for us sinful, broken human beings. But thinking this way, we forget that Jesus came to give us his own life. He came to lift us up into loving community with the Father. Only when we recognize the radical purpose of Jesus’ ministry will we be able to understand the meaning of the spiritual life. Everything that belongs to Jesus is given for us to receive. All that Jesus does we may also do.” 

Do you “understand the meaning of the spiritual life” today? 

Denison Forum