In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Willing to Wait for God’s Way

It’s easier to wait on God when we remember that His plans are best.

Lamentations 3:24-26

Many Christians struggle with waiting. There are a lot of things we want right now—and we usually have the ability to follow through on our desires. In fact, that’s what the entire credit card industry is all about: Have it now; pay later. But possessions aren’t the only thing we’re in a rush for. Some people are so eager to be married that they make an unwise choice regarding a mate. Others are in such a hurry to become successful and well-respected in their career that they look for shortcuts to get ahead. 

So why might the Lord have us delay? One reason is to protect us. Those who can’t say no to their own desires end up enslaved to them. God wants us to be mature believers who have the character and self-restraint to wait for Him to provide in His perfect time. Because our heavenly Father is omniscient, He alone knows what’s best. You can trust that if He asks you to hold off, He has something more wonderful in mind than you could ever provide for yourself. 

Does anything seem to have a power over you? If so, it may be an area that requires the practice of self-restraint. Yield to the Lord and submit your desires to Him. Then, begin saying no to temptations as you wait for God to reveal His will for your life.

Bible in One Year: 1 Samuel 15-16

Our Daily Bread — His Peace

Bible in a Year:

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Isaiah 26:3

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Isaiah 26:3–7

For several months, I coped with intense workplace politics and intrigues. Worrying is second nature to me, so I was surprised to find myself at peace. Instead of feeling anxious, I was able to respond with a calm mind and heart. I knew that this peace could come only from God.

In contrast, there was another period in my life when everything was going well—and yet I felt a deep unrest in my heart. I knew it was because I was trusting in my own abilities instead of trusting God and His leading. Looking back, I’ve realized that true peace—God’s peace—isn’t defined by our circumstances, but by our trust in Him.

God’s peace comes to us when our minds are steadfast (Isaiah 26:3). In Hebrew, the word for steadfast means “to lean upon.” As we lean on Him, we’ll experience His calming presence.  We can trust in God, remembering that He’ll humble the proud and wicked and smooth the paths of those who love Him (vv. 5–7).

When I experienced peace in a season of difficulty rather than ease, I discovered that God’s peace isn’t an absence of conflict, but a profound sense of security even in distress. It’s a peace that surpasses human understanding and guards our hearts and minds in the midst of the most difficult of circumstances (Philippians 4:6−7).

By:  Karen Huang

Reflect & Pray

What do you do to experience peace? In what areas of your life do you need to trust God and lean on Him? 

Father, help me to trust You and have a steadfast mind. Thank You for the perfect peace that comes to me when I choose to trust You.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Forgiving As You Are Forgiven

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. . . . For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matt. 6:1214-15).

An unforgiving Christian is a contradiction in terms.

It’s possible to confess your sins and still not know the joy of forgiveness. How? Failure to forgive others! Christian educator J. Oswald Sanders observed that Jesus measures us by the yardstick we use on others. He didn’t say, “Forgive us because we forgive others,” but “Forgive us even as we have forgiven others.”

An unforgiving Christian is a contradiction in terms because we are the forgiven ones! Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” God forgave us an immeasurable debt, saving us from the horrors of eternal hell. That should be motivation enough to forgive any offense against us, yet some Christians still hold grudges.

Here are three practical steps to dealing with the sin of unforgiveness. First, confess it and ask the Lord to help you mend the relationship in question. Second, go to the person, ask for forgiveness, and seek reconciliation. You might discover that he or she wasn’t even aware of the offense. Third, give the person something you highly value. This is a very practical approach based on our Lord’s teaching that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matt. 6:21). Whenever I’ve given a book or other gift to someone who has wronged me, I’ve felt a great sense of liberty in my spirit. In addition, my joy is compounded because I feel the joy of giving as well as the joy of forgiving.

Don’t ever let a grudge stand between you and another person. It will rob you of the full joy of God’s forgiveness.

Suggestions for Prayer

Before praying, examine your heart. If you harbor bitterness toward another person, follow the procedure given above. Then pray, thanking the Lord for the joy of reconciliation.

For Further Study

Read the parable of the servant in Matthew 18:21-35.

  • What question prompted the parable?
  • How did the king respond to his servant’s pleading?
  • What did the servant do later on? Why was that wrong?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Healing for the Brokenhearted

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds….

— Psalm 147:3 (AMPC)

Those who are brokenhearted are broken in their personality. They are unable to function properly because of their wounds. They have been deeply hurt and are unable to move beyond their past pain.

It is important that we don’t merely park at the point of our pain and remain there for the rest of our lives. God is the author of new beginnings, and whether we are wounded due our own sin, or because of the sin of others who have harmed us, we are the only ones who can decide whether to move on or stay parked. Take your life out of park and start moving forward toward the great future God has arranged for you.

The apostle Paul is a great example of someone who kept shaking off the past and pressing forward. He moved past his own sin, past the persecution he received from others as his reward for simply trying to help them, past unfair imprisonment, beatings, abandonment, and many other painful things. He also moved past his own imperfections in his daily walk with God and said that letting go of what was behind was his determined purpose in life.

When we are hurting, moving forward isn’t always easy because our mind and emotions are telling us to just give up. Although change isn’t easy and is often painful, we have only two choices— to endure the pain of change or to endure the pain of never changing. It is easy to see which choice makes the most sense. If there will be pain either way, why not choose the pain of progress?

To keep going forward in the midst of personal pain takes a lot of courage. You may not even want to get out of bed in the morning, let alone be active and do what life requires that day, but if you live by wise choices rather than by your feelings, you can do it.

I vividly remember my father repeatedly telling me, “You will never amount to anything,” but with God’s help, I overcame his negative words. If those who should have affirmed you tore you down with their words, you too can overcome their words by seeing what God says about you and meditating on His words instead. God says many wonderful things about you, things such as: You are fearfully and wonderfully made (see Psalm 139:14). You are loved unconditionally (see Jeremiah 31:3) and accepted (see John 6:37). You are precious and honored in His sight (see Isaiah 43:4). His Word includes many similar truths that will build you up and renew your mind so you can think about yourself and your life the way God wants you to.

Don’t settle for less than the best life that God wants to give you. Perhaps you are facing a time of testing in your life right now, and the temptation to quit and give up is strong. Know this: You have what it takes to go through it and experience victory on the other side.

It’s not too late! I’m sure the devil has told you the lie that it is too late for you. However, it is never too late for God to heal and restore anyone who truly wants Him to.

Prayer Starter: Lord, thank You for healing my broken heart and making me whole.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – The Incense of Your Praise

As a pleasing aroma I will accept you.

Ezekiel 20:41

The merits of our great Redeemer are as a pleasing aroma to the Most High. Whether we speak of the active or passive righteousness of Christ, there is an equal fragrance. There was a pleasing aroma in His active life by which He honored the law of God and made every precept to glitter like a precious jewel in the pure setting of His own person.

Such, too, was His passive obedience, when He endured with unmurmuring submission hunger and thirst, cold and nakedness, and at the end sweat as it were great drops of blood in Gethsemane. He gave His back to the smiters and His cheeks to them that plucked out the hair and was fastened to the cruel wood, that He might suffer the wrath of God in our behalf. These two things are sweet before the Most High; and for the sake of His doing and His dying, His substitutionary sufferings and His vicarious obedience, the Lord our God accepts us.

What a preciousness there must be in Him to overcome our lack of preciousness! What a pleasing aroma to put away our nasty odor! What a cleansing power in His blood to take away sin such as ours! And what glory in His righteousness to make such unacceptable creatures to be accepted in the Beloved!

Consider, believer, how sure and unchanging is our acceptance, since it is in Him! Take care that you never doubt your acceptance in Jesus. You cannot be accepted without Christ; but when you have received His merit, you cannot be unaccepted. Despite all your doubts and fears and sins, Jehovah’s gracious eye never looks upon you in anger; though He sees sin in you, in yourself, yet when He looks at you through Christ, He sees no sin. You are always accepted in Christ, are always blessed and dear to the Father’s heart. Therefore lift up a song, and as you see the smoking incense of the Savior’s merit coming up this evening before the sapphire throne, let the incense of your praise go up also.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Doesn’t Play Favorites

“Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.” (Acts 10:34b)

“Hey, let’s play kickball!” someone yelled.

“Yeah!” shouted some of the other kids around the playground.

“Ok, we need to make teams then. Ben and Jamie, you can be the captains to choose the teams.”

Group games can be a lot of fun, but the waiting-to-be-picked part can be torture sometimes, especially if you are never among the first to be chosen. As you stand there waiting for someone to say your name, it’s easy to think, “Oh, why couldn’t I be a fast runner like Jenny?” or “Why can’t I throw far like Andrew? If I were better, then I know I’d get picked sooner!”

Or perhaps you are just “different” somehow. Maybe your skin color is different, or maybe you do not have the same kind of family background as the other kids in your neighborhood. Your wish might be, “Oh, if I only looked like the other kids!” or “If only my family were normal!”

But did you know that there is Someone who does not judge you by your abilities (or lack of them!) or by your appearance?

Acts 10:34b-35 says, “God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.”

What a comfort! God does not love us less or more based on how talented or impressive we are. More than that, God does not judge us according to where we come from. In fact, it was the Apostle Peter who said these words to a group of people who were considered to be “different” from him. What is important to God is that we honor and obey Him!

The next time you find yourself in a situation where people are playing favorites, if you feel discouraged, remember that God never plays that game! If you have found grace in the eyes of God, be grateful for His mercy and lovingkindness, and honor Him with your life.

God does not show partiality or respect of persons based on their appearance or abilities. He accepts us in the Beloved (His Son Jesus Christ).

My Response:
» Have I been comparing my abilities and appearance and family situation to others’?
» Can I rest in the truth that God will never love me for what I can be or do, but that He loves unconditionally?
» How can I be like God in not “playing favorites” with people?

Denison Forum – Will Smith slaps Chris Rock: the Academy Awards, Ukraine, and the frailty of life

CODA made history last night as the first film distributed by a streaming service to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Jessica Chastain won her first Oscar when she was named Best Actress for The Eyes of Tammy Faye, and Will Smith received his first Academy Award when he won for Best Actor in King Richard.

But the headline story is that after comedian Chris Rock made a joke about actor Smith’s wife during the evening, Smith ran up on stage and struck Rock in the face. He later apologized “to the Academy and to all my fellow nominees” during his acceptance speech.

Of course, the conflict on everyone’s mind and heart is the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Several attendees at the Oscars paid tribute to Ukraine in various ways. Actress Mila Kunis, who was born in Ukraine, has partnered with her husband Ashton Kutcher to raise more than $35 million in humanitarian aid for the Ukrainian people. “Recent global events have left many of us feeling gutted,” she said last night. “Yet when you witness the strength and dignity of those facing such devastation, it’s impossible to not be moved by their resilience. One cannot help but be in awe of those who find strength to keep fighting through unimaginable darkness.”

Russian Nobel Prize winner will donate his medal for Ukraine relief

Kunis’ moving statement is not the only positive story amidst the horrific war in Ukraine. Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov has announced he will auction off the Nobel Peace Prize he won last year to raise money for Ukrainian refugees. He also called on Russia to stop combat fire, exchange prisoners, provide humanitarian assistance and corridors, release the bodies of the dead, and support refugees.

The Academy Awards and Vladimir Putin’s immoral invasion of Ukraine have this in common: they illustrate the brevity and fragility of life.

Who won last year’s Best Actor award? Anthony Hopkins. Best Actress? Frances McDormand. Best Picture? Nomadland. (I had to look up each answer).

Here’s an illustration of human frailty and fallenness from the Ukraine invasion: radioactive materials are reportedly missing from the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. Experts warn that they could be combined with conventional explosives to create a “dirty bomb” that would spread contamination over a wide area.

The weekend news brought more examples of life’s fragility:

  • A Colorado wildfire forced the evacuation of nineteen thousand people.
  • Country music singer Jeff Carson died of a heart attack at the age of fifty-eight.
  • Phil Collins, who has been dealing with health concerns for years, held his last concert ever in London.
  • A man who fell to his death from a Dallas rooftop had planned to propose to his longtime girlfriend.
  • A fourteen-year-old boy fell to his death from an Orlando amusement ride.
  • A mother was shot and killed while visiting her late son’s grave on his birthday.
  • A Montana hiker and father of four was killed when he was apparently attacked by a grizzly bear outside Yellowstone National Park.
  • Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins died at the age of fifty.
  • A police officer was gunned down in a Starbucks parking lot north of Seattle.

Prayer as a spiritual weapon

Last week, we discussed ways God uses his people to advance his kingdom and change their culture. Today, in the midst of our crises and challenges, as we face daily the brevity and fragility of life, let’s focus on ways our Father can change us.

In a Public Discourse article, philosopher Joshua Hochschild brilliantly describes the ways digital technology and social media are changing not just our world but also our minds. He explains that artificial intelligence is now using algorithms that predict our patterns of behavior, present us with customized digital stimuli, and thus shape what we think and do.

How should we defend ourselves? Professor Hochschild points us to “the power of prayer, sometimes described as a spiritual weapon.” He notes, “More than any other deliberate activity, prayer activates and directs the soul’s various modes of cognition, disciplining them and orienting them to deeper understanding of self and union with God.”

He recommends the prayer cycle in St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises as a model:

  • Composition: Exercise your imagination and memory to recall sins and visualize yourself in the presence of God. 
  • Analysis: Use your intellect to conceive, understand, and assent to truths (especially from Scripture, I would add), reasoning about their implications and contemplating their connections to your life. 
  • Colloquy: Reflect on what you have learned and resolve to make good decisions, “exerting the will in acts of humility and love.”

“So shall my courage be firm”

Jesus promised us, “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit” (John 15:5a). But he warned that the converse is also true: “for apart from me you can do nothing” (v. 5b). 

Charles Spurgeon was right: “The stream must flow constantly from the fountainhead, or else the brook will soon be dry.” To this end, let’s make Scottish minister John Baillie’s prayer ours:

“By your grace, O God, I will go nowhere today where you cannot come, nor seek anyone’s presence that would rob me of yours. By your grace I will let no thought enter my heart that might hinder my closeness with you, nor let any word come from my mouth that is not meant for your ear. So shall my courage be firm and my heart be at peace.”

Is your heart at peace today?

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