In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Healing for Our Hurts

We cannot change the past, but when it weighs us down, we can turn to God for comfort.

Psalm 6:1-5

Throughout the world, people are mistreated and traumatized, and many carry deep scars throughout life. Not everyone’s experiences are extreme, but even mild hurts can fester, affecting relationships and self-image. Something as common as betrayal or rejection by friends or family can lead to distorted thinking and negative behaviors.

Unhealed hurts can lead to various symptoms, such as feelings of inferiority, fear of failure or criticism, and oversensitivity. Some people cope by criticizing others in an attempt to make themselves feel better. Others misinterpret innocent comments as personal attacks. Hurt can also overflow as unpredictable anger, as a person who’s been wounded is more likely to lash out at others. Sometimes those with a distorted self-image become loners because they’re overly concerned about others’ opinions of them.   

Now and again we’re bound to experience some of these feelings, but God doesn’t want us to be trapped by the hurts we’ve suffered. Nor does He want us to be so crushed by our experiences that we feel worthless. Those who know the Savior will find comfort, healing, and trust in the Father’s love. Then, painful experiences can make us more like Jesus so we can glorify Him with our responses. 

Bible in One Year: Judges 16-17

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Danger of Selfishness and Conceit

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself”
(Philippians 2:3).

Selfishness and conceit can prevent us from doing God’s will.

Selfishness and conceit are all too common among people today. It seems there is hardly a prominent entertainer or sports figure who doesn’t portray those characteristics to excess. Yet those traits are the very opposite of what should characterize the humble follower of Christ.

“Selfishness” in today’s passage refers to pursuing an enterprise in a factional way. It involves an egotistical, personal desire to push your own agenda in a destructive and disruptive way. “Empty conceit” describes the force behind such overbearing behavior—personal glory. A person driven by such motivation thinks he is always right.

Paul’s opening phrase in Philippians 2:3 has the force of a negative command: believers are never to act out of selfish ambition with the goal of heaping praise upon themselves. To do so inevitably leads to one of the common sin problems in our churches: factionalism, accompanied by jealousy, strife, disharmony, and partisanship. Paul knew what harm factionalism could do within a church. It was the primary problem he addressed in his letter of 1 Corinthians. The apostle summarized the Corinthian church’s condition this way: “For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?” (1 Cor. 3:3). It is spiritually immature to be jealous of and to cause strife among fellow Christians, and it reveals a fleshly perspective.

Because our flesh (sinfulness) produces selfishness and conceit, it is vitally important to keep it under control (Gal. 5:16). Plans and agendas by themselves are valid, and they are not necessarily incompatible with humility in the Christian life. But if our goals and objectives are driven by selfishness, they become competitive and harmful. One key of dealing with selfishness is realizing that others also have goals and desires. Such a realization will help you go a long way toward killing the monster of selfishness in your life.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that God’s Spirit would rid your heart and mind of any attitudes of selfishness and conceit.

For Further Study

  • The beginning of 1 Corinthians deals with the subject of factionalism. Read chapter 1. What perspective does Paul have regarding church divisions?
  • What does the second half of the chapter offer as a prime reason for divisions within the church?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Rejoice and Be Glad

Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice!

— Philippians 4:4 (AMPC)

Many serious things are going on in this world, and we need to be aware of them and prepared for them. But at the same time, because of the Spirit of God in our lives, we can learn to relax and take things as they come without getting nervous and upset about them.

Thankfully, with God’s help, we can learn how to enjoy the good life He has provided for us through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. Twice in Philippians 4:4–7, the apostle Paul tells us to rejoice. He urges us not to fret or have any anxiety about anything but to pray and give thanks to God in everything—not after every difficulty is over.

In spite of all the troubling things going on around us in the world, our daily confession can be, “This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Prayer Starter: Father, no matter what goes on around me today, I thank You that I can rejoice and be glad. Thank You that my joy is not found in my circumstances—my joy is found in You.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – First Pure, Then Peaceable

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Matthew 5:9

This is the seventh of the beatitudes: and seven was the number of perfection among the Hebrews. It may be that the Savior placed the peacemaker seventh on the list because he most nearly approaches the perfect man in Christ Jesus. He who would have perfect blessedness, so far as it can be enjoyed on earth, must attain to this seventh benediction and become a peacemaker.

There is a significance also in the position of the text. The verse that precedes it speaks of the blessedness of “the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” It is important to understand that we are to be “first pure, then peaceable.”1 Our peaceableness is never to be a contract with sin or toleration of evil. We must set our faces like flint against everything that is contrary to God and His holiness: When purity in our souls is a settled matter, we can go on to peaceableness.

In the same way, the verse that follows seems to have been put there on purpose. However peaceable we may be in this world, yet we shall be misrepresented and misunderstood; and we should not be surprised, for even the Prince of Peace, by His very peacefulness, brought fire upon the earth. He Himself, though He loved mankind and did no ill, was “despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.”2 Just in case the peaceable in heart should be surprised when they meet with enemies, the following verse reads, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” So, the peacemakers are not only pronounced to be blessed, but they are surrounded with blessings.

Lord, give us grace to climb to this seventh beatitude! Purify our minds that we may be “first pure, then peaceable” and fortify our souls, that our peaceableness may not lead us into cowardice and despair when we are persecuted for Your sake.

1) James 3:17
2) Isaiah 53:3

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Wants Me To Trust Him To Provide

“For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth. And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah.” (1 Kings 17:14-16)

1 Kings is one of the Bible’s historical books, which means that it tells us the stories of what actually happened during the time those kings and prophets lived. What good can those old stories do for us now? Some of those things that happened back then would never happen now, in the 21st century! God probably has never told your pastor to pray for a river to dry up so you could walk across it, and God probably will not tell your pastor to pray that it would not rain for three years!

Even though some of these historical stories could probably never happen nowadays, God had good reasons for including them in His Word. For one thing, we can learn a lot about God’s character and His works through reading those stories. Think about when someone at your church stands up and gives a “testimony.” What is it? It is just that person’s story of something God has done, and it gives praise to God for being the kind of God He is. We listen to testimonies of people who believe in God, and they remind us that God is powerful and cares about His people. The historical stories in the Bible are often testimonies about the greatness and goodness of God.

We can learn a lot about God from the things He commanded and promised in some of those old stories. In 1 Kings 17, God had told the prophet Elijah to pray that there would be no rain for three years. Elijah obeyed and told the wicked King Ahab what God had said. Then God told Elijah to hide near a small stream, where God would ravens (crows) bring him food. For a while, everything seemed to be going fine. The ravens brought Elijah food every single morning and evening, and he had all the water he could drink from the stream. But because there was no rain, even this stream finally began to dry up. Now what was Elijah going to do?

God spoke to Elijah again and told him to pack up and leave for a far village where God had commanded a widow woman to take care of Elijah’s needs. Elijah obeyed again, and when he arrived at the city, he saw the widow picking up some sticks so she could light a fire and cook some food. Elijah asked her if she could bring him some water. Elijah was probably very thirsty from his long journey. As the widow went to get him some water from the well, he called after her and asked if she also would bring him some food.

The widow turned around and told Elijah in all honesty that the only food she had left was barely enough to make one last meal for herself and her son. After they had eaten that, she said, she figured they would have to starve to death. Elijah listened to her, but he knew that God had promised this widow would take care of his needs. Elijah knew that if the widow was going to help him, the Lord would have to help her.

So the woman listened to Elijah’s amazing promise that the Lord was going to keep her food supplies full until the rains came again. And she cooked for him, and for her son and herself, and they never ran out of food. God did provide food–that last little bit of flour and oil stretched on for about two whole years! Elijah and the widow trusted God, and He provided for their needs by doing a miracle.

How about you? Do trust God to provide for you? He does not always work in the same way in the 21st century as He did back then, but He is the same God. That story shows us that God is strong enough and merciful enough to care for His people even when the situation is a humanly impossible thing. Maybe you have prayed for a long time for an unsaved family member to be saved. Are you trusting trust that God will save that person? Or, maybe you have a grandparent who is very sick. Do you believe that God can take care of your grandma or grandpa?

And what happens if you do trust God, and He chooses not to answer your prayer request the way you were hoping He would? Can you still trust Him that He is strong and loving? Can you still rely on Him as a great God and a good God? Yes! God’s plans are not always our plans. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” The widow could not have figured out how God would have met her need, but she trusted Him. We do not have to understand or know the future, but we can trust the God of the past, present, and future.

I can trust God to provide for me because His plan is always best.

My Response:
» Am I trusting God to provide for me?
» Even when things happen that are not what I want, do I still trust that God has a perfect reason for them?

Denison Forum – “We are fighting for the values of Europe and the world”: Responding to Volodymyr Zelensky’s remarkable speech

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed a joint session of the US House and Senate yesterday. In today’s Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove calls his speech “an extraordinarily powerful historic moment” and says that he and the Ukrainians are “defining courage for our time.”

Mr. Zelensky’s remarks were so significant that I will devote this Daily Article to them. 

Among his statements were these very perceptive observations: “Russia has attacked not just us, not just our land, not just our cities. It went on a brutal offensive against our values, basic human values. It threw tanks and planes against our freedom, against our right to live freely in our own country, choosing our own future, against our desire for happiness, against our national dreams, just like the same dreams you have, you Americans.” 

After delivering most of his speech in Ukrainian through a translator, Mr. Zelensky closed by speaking in English. He told the members of Congress, “Peace in your country doesn’t depend anymore only on you and your people. It depends on those next to you and those who are strong. Strong doesn’t mean big. Strong is brave and ready to fight for the life of his citizens and citizens of the world. For human rights, for freedom, for the right to live decently, and to die when your time comes, and not when it’s wanted by someone else, by your neighbor.” 

As Mr. Zelensky delivered these statements in English, Senator Angus King said later, “There was a collective holding of the breath.” 

“I wish you to be the leader of the world” 

President Zelensky closed his historic address with statements that deserve to be read in their entirety: “Today, the Ukrainian people are defending not only Ukraine, we are fighting for the values of Europe and the world, sacrificing our lives in the name of the future. That’s why today the American people are helping not just Ukraine, but Europe and the world to give the planet the life to keep justice in history. 

“Now, I am almost forty-five years old; today, my age stopped when the hearts of more than one hundred children stopped beating. I see no sense in life if it cannot stop the deaths. And this is my main issue as the leader of my people, great Ukrainians. 

“And as the leader of my nation, I am addressing the President Biden, you are the leader of the nation, of your great nation. I wish you to be the leader of the world; being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace. 

“Thank you. Glory to Ukraine. Thank you for your support. Thank you.” 

Peace “depends on those next to you” 

In its simplest form, human life can be reduced to two options: we can live for ourselves, or we can live for each other. We can be Cain slaying Abel, or we can be Joseph forgiving his brothers. We can be Peter denying Jesus, or we can be Peter preaching to the Pentecost crowds. 

We can make the war in Ukraine the Ukrainians’ problem, or we can make it our problem. We can say with Volodymyr Zelensky that our hearts stop when the hearts of children stop beating. We can fight “for human rights, for freedom, for the right to live decently, and to die when your time comes.” 

Said differently, we can embrace the self-evident truths “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” 

Paradoxically, the best way to assure these personal freedoms is to ensure the world’s freedom. Mr. Zelensky was right: “Peace in your country doesn’t depend anymore only on you and your people. It depends on those next to you.” 

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so perceptively noted in Letter from Birmingham Jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” 

“Let justice roll down like waters” 

When we seek “justice everywhere,” we stand on the right side of history. In accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, Dr. King stated, “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” 

The word of God agrees. Scripture assures us that “God will judge the righteous and the wicked” (Ecclesiastes 3:17). He calls us to join him: “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression” (Isaiah 1:17). We are to “let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24).  

As a biblical philosopher, my purpose today is not to take a personal position regarding political or military responses to the war in Ukraine. Rather, it is to make the biblical case that what is happening in Ukraine matters as much to God and should therefore matter as much to us as if it were happening in America. 

I agree with Volodymyr Zelensky that his people are “fighting for the values of Europe and the world.” They are “sacrificing [their] lives in the name of the future,” our future. It is incumbent upon us to join them. 

“Our most basic common link” 

Today is St. Patrick’s Day. In addition to parades and parties, we should remember his story: kidnapped from his native England by Irish invaders, he was enslaved for several years before escaping and returning home. However, years later, God called him to return to Ireland as a missionary. He led more than one hundred thousand people to faith in Christ and became the patron saint of Ireland. His death on March 17, 461, is remembered each year on this day. 

But there’s more to his story: Irish Christians who were spiritual descendants of St. Patrick’s ministry sailed to Britain in the following century, where they evangelized the heathen who had overrun the country. According to Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization, they “single-handedly refounded European civilization throughout the continent.” 

As a result, every American owes a debt to St. Patrick’s courageous ministry in Ireland and his spiritual descendants who preserved the benefits of Western civilization we enjoy today. This fact is just one more reminder that President John F. Kennedy was right: “Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet.” 

What happens to any of us should therefore matter to all of us. 

God assures us, “Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!” (Psalm 106:3). 

As we respond to President Zelensky’s historic speech, will America be “blessed”?

Denison Forum