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

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Little Foxes

Bible in a Year:

Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards.

Song of Songs 2:15

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Song of Songs 2:3–15

A pilot couldn’t fit his tea into the cupholder, so he set it on the center console. When the plane hit turbulence, the drink spilled onto the control panel, shutting off an engine. The flight was diverted and landed safely, but when it happened again to a crew from a different airline two months later, the manufacturer realized there was a problem. The plane cost $300 million, but its cupholders were too small. This seemingly small oversight led to some harrowing moments.

Small details can wreck the grandest plans, so the man in the Song of Songs urges his lover to catch “the little foxes that ruin the vineyards” of their love (2:15). He’d seen foxes climb over walls and dig out vines in search of grapes. They were hard to catch as they darted into the vineyard then melted back into the night. But they must not be ignored.

What threatens your closest relationships? It may not be large offenses. It might be the little foxes, a small comment here or a slight there that digs at the root of your love. Minor offenses add up, and what once was a blossoming friendship or passionate marriage might be in danger of dying.

May God help us catch the little foxes! Let’s ask for and grant forgiveness as needed and nourish our vineyards in the soil of ordinary acts of thoughtfulness as God provides what we need.

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

What “little foxes” are damaging one of your close relationships? What can you do to seek forgiveness and a fresh start in Christ?

Father, may Your extraordinary love flow through me in ordinary ways.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Placing Others Above Yourself

“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).

One important way to prevent factionalism in the church is to regard other members as more important than yourself.

“Humility of mind” is a distinctive New Testament expression. There were similar terms in secular writings, but none that exactly fit the purposes of the New Testament writers. One form of the Greek word was used to describe the mentality of a slave. It was a term of derision, signifying anyone who was considered base, common, shabby, or low. Among pagans before Christ’s time, humility was never a trait to be sought or admired. Thus the New Testament introduced a radically new concept.

In Philippians 2:3 Paul defines “humility of mind” simply as seeing others as more important than yourself. But how often do we really consider others that way? Frequently, even within the church, we think just the opposite of what Paul commands. For example, we are sometimes prone to criticize those with whom we minister. It is naturally easier for us to speak of their faults and failures than it is to refer to our own.

But Paul’s attitude was different. He knew his own heart well enough to call himself the worst of sinners: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all” (1 Tim. 1:15). The apostle was also humble enough to realize that in his own strength he was not worthy of the ministry to which he had been called: “I am the least of the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle” (1 Cor. 15:9).

Your knowledge of others’ sins and graces is based on their outward words and actions, not on what you can read from their hearts. But you, like Paul, do know your own heart and its sinful shortcomings (cf. Rom. 7). That ought to make it much easier to respect and honor others before yourself. And when you do that, you are helping prevent factionalism in your church and contributing to the edification of fellow believers.

Suggestions for Prayer

Examine your life and ask God to help you turn from anything that would be keeping you from “humility of mind.”

For Further Study

Read Genesis 13, and notice what happened between Abraham and his nephew Lot. How did God reassure Abraham after his graciousness toward Lot?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Bear Good Fruit

When you bear (produce) much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine.

— John 15:8 (AMPC)

Our lives are not given to us for us to waste them. God desires that we bear good fruit on a regular basis. Doing good, being creative, helping others, accomplishing goals, and other such things gives me a feeling of accomplishment, and I must admit that it feels really good. On the other hand, when I waste a day doing nothing, feeling sorry for myself, being angry or lazy, that doesn’t feel good.

I am not suggesting that we need to spend all our time working, but we should be productive on a regular basis. Praying for others as we go about our day is productive. Being friendly and encouraging others is a simple way to bear good fruit.

I remember once, several years ago, going to visit my mother in the hospital, and when I got there a young woman was in her room administering a heart test. She had lovely skin and hair and a beautiful smile. She was also very kind. Instead of just thinking these things, I told her that she was really pretty. The look on her face let me know that she didn’t hear it nearly often enough and that it made her feel really good.

It is easy to focus on people’s flaws and totally miss the good things about them, but we don’t have to be like that if we purpose to bear good fruit by making a big deal out of each good thing we notice about people. You and I have the power to make someone else’s day awesome by being God’s voice and letting them hear through us the good things He sees in them. Make today and every day a special day by bearing good fruit that will honor God.

Prayer Starter: Father, I love You very much. I want to bear good fruit and I need Your help in this, as I do in everything else in my life. I lean and rely on You to help me see various ways that I can make this day and every day fruitful!

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – The Divine Method of Love

As the father has loved me, so have I loved you.

John 15:9

As the Father loves the Son, in the same manner Jesus loves His people. What is that divine method? He loved Him without beginning, and thus Jesus loves His members. “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”1 You can trace the beginning of human affection; you can easily find the beginning of your love to Christ. But His love to us is a stream whose source is hidden in eternity.

God the Father loves Jesus without any change. Christian, take this for your comfort, that there is no change in Jesus Christ’s love to those who rest in Him. Yesterday you were on the mountain, and you said, “He loves me.” Today you are in the valley of humiliation, but He loves you still the same. On the hills and among the peaks, you heard His voice, which spoke so sweetly of His love; and now on the sea, or even in the sea, when all His waves and billows go over you, His heart is still faithful to His ancient choice.

The Father loves the Son without any end, and this is how the Son loves His people. Saint, you need not fear the prospect of death, for His love for you will never cease. Rest confident that even down to the grave Christ will go with you, and that up again from it He will be your guide to the celestial hills.

Moreover, the Father loves the Son without any measure, and this is the same immeasurable love the Son bestows upon His chosen ones. The whole heart of Christ is dedicated to His people. He “loved us and gave himself for us.” His is a love that surpasses knowledge. We have indeed an immutable Savior, a precious Savior, one who loves without measure, without change, without beginning, and without end, even as the Father loves Him! There is rich food here for those who know how to digest it. May the Holy Spirit lead us into its marrow and fatness!

1) Jeremiah 31:3

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 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 – How Christians are serving courageously in Ukraine

 “It’s been a joy in the midst of all this tragedy to see how God’s people have responded. . . . God’s church is operating exactly like it was intended to, to minister to people and getting them hope and to share Christ with them.” This is how Keith Townsend, International Cooperating Ministries’ director for Russia and former Soviet Republics, characterizes humanitarian efforts underway in Ukraine.

He describes churches and ministry centers that are removing their chairs and pews so people can sleep in them: “They’re housing the people, feeding the people, making sure they’re taken care of with their medical issues and things like that.” 

In related news, a fifteenth-century Romanian Orthodox monastery has opened its doors to Ukrainian refugees. Roughly one hundred people, mostly women and children, have so far taken shelter there. The archdiocese has offered hundreds of beds in monasteries and parish houses as well. 

Samaritan’s Purse is operating an emergency field hospital in Ukraine and has stationed scores of disaster response specialists in the region. I am hearing daily about other ministries and churches that are working on specific projects to assist the Ukrainian people and the millions of refugees fleeing the country. 

One more example: an American pastor in Bronx, New York, has traveled to Ukraine with a team of four others at the invitation of the Ukrainian military. He is working with the army to provide combat field trauma supplies. He says that as he serves soldiers and civilians who are “hit with a bullet or they’re hit with shrapnel,” he is also working to “provide spiritual, emotional, and psychological support and also to pray with people, to be a pastor to people, to share God’s love and to give them hope.” 

Is Putin a “war criminal”? 

When Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine three weeks ago, the Russian Defense Ministry said it was using precision weapons and claimed that “there is no threat to [the] civilian population.” Since that time, Russian airstrikes have hit a maternity hospital, a church, and apartment towers. Nearly one million child refugees have fled the country since the war began. Fears are rising that Russia could resort to chemical or biological weapons of mass destruction. 

According to Ukrainian officials in the besieged city of Mariupol, Russian forces bombed a theater in which thousands had taken refuge, even though satellite footage shows the word children in Russian written on the ground near the theater. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia in an overnight speech of deliberately attacking the theater. A Ukrainian news platform reports this morning that Russian troops have destroyed 90 percent of Mariupol and killed thousands of town residents. 

In light of such atrocities, President Biden called Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” this week. He amplified his condemnation yesterday, calling Putin “a murderous dictator, a pure thug who is waging an immoral war against the people of Ukraine.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken commented, “Personally, I agree. Intentionally targeting civilians is a war crime.” 

Tragically, analysts warn that we can expect such tragedies to escalate. 

How the war “could get much worse” 

Angela Stent, a former US National Intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia, writes in Foreign Affairs: Putin’s “overarching aim” is “reversing the consequences of the Soviet collapse, splitting the transatlantic alliance, and renegotiating the geographic settlement that ended the Cold War.” As a result, “the current crisis is ultimately about Russia redrawing the post-Cold War map and seeking to reassert its influence over half of Europe, based on the claim that it is guaranteeing its own security.” 

Another Foreign Affairs article warns that the war in Ukraine “could get much worse.” It explains that an “insecurity spiral ensues when the choices one country makes to advance its interests end up imperiling the interests of another country, which responds in turn.” The result can be a “vicious cycle of unintended escalation, something that’s happened many times before.” 

Scholars point to “the stability-instability paradox, in which states, stalemated in the nuclear realm, might be more willing to escalate in conventional terms.” For example, Putin might respond to economic sanctions against Russia with cyberattacks on NATO countries. NATO leaders might consider such attacks to trigger Article 5 of NATO’s founding treaty, which states that an attack on one member state is an attack on them all, and respond with retaliatory cyberattacks on Russia. Such cyberattacks could prompt military responses leading to another world war. 

Or conflict in Ukraine could spill over its borders. Russia could attack land transfers of support into Ukraine from NATO states bordering the war zone, which could kill or harm NATO personnel and trigger Article 5. Or Ukrainian forces could withdraw into NATO countries; if Russia attacked them there, this could also trigger Article 5. 

When “I have no right to preach the gospel” 

This growing crisis is an opportunity for God’s people to demonstrate God’s compassion in the power of God’s Spirit. The darker the room, the more necessary and powerful the light. 

I was interviewed recently by nationally syndicated radio host Bill Martinez. As we discussed Russia’s illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine, he quoted this convicting statement in Proverbs 24: “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, ‘Behold, we did not know this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?” (vv. 11–12). 

In other words, you and I are responsible to know what is happening, to pray about it, and then to find ways to answer our prayers personally. When we do this, the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27) acts as the hands and feet of Jesus in our war-torn world. We demonstrate the relevance of our faith by the relevance of our service. Those who experience our courageous compassion will be marked by God’s grace at work in and through us. 

This is the model of Jesus at work. Our Savior healed bodies so he could heal souls. He opened blind eyes so he could open blind hearts. He met felt need to meet spiritual need, and he calls us to do the same. 

My friend Dr. Randel Everett is right: “I have no right to preach the gospel to a hungry person.” 

What “hungry person” will you serve in Jesus’ name today?

Denison Forum