In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Praising the Lamb of God

The more we get to know God, the more we will praise Him and crave His presence.

Revelation 5

John’s revelation of heaven’s throne room is a picture of true praise. He describes the place exploding with worship and adoration of Jesus. Those present—the elders and “myriads of myriads” of angels (Rev. 5:11)—are motivated to sing their love of Christ because they know who He is. He is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). He is the Lion of Judah (Rev. 5:5), the only one worthy to judge the earth and bring forth its renewal. 

What motivates believers to lift hands and voice in worship—shouldn’t the reason be to praise the Savior for who He is? To do that, we must take the time to know as much as we can about Him. That happens through regular Bible study and prayer that is less self-focused. 

Once we glimpse a side of Christ’s character that’s bigger and more amazing than we realized, there will be a yearning to know more. We hunger and thirst for God because only He can truly satisfy (Matthew 5:6). 

Praise is part of a cycle: Learn more of God’s character, love Him more deeply, worship and serve Him better, and receive spiritual fulfillment. Amazingly, even as we are satisfied, we crave more of His presence in our life. And so we dig into His Word and continually gain in the Lord. 

Bible in One Year: 1 Samuel 17-18

Our Daily Bread — Past the Boundaries of Knowing

Bible in a Year:

We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:18

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

2 Corinthians 4:7–18

It was a hard day when my husband found out that, like so many others, he too would soon be furloughed from employment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We believed that God would meet our basic needs, but the uncertainty of how that would happen was still terrifying.

As I processed my jumbled emotions, I found myself revisiting a favorite poem by sixteenth-century reformer John of the Cross. Entitled “I Went In, I Knew Not Where,” the poem depicts the wonder to be found in a journey of surrender, when, going “past the boundaries of knowing,” we learn to “discern the Divine in all its guises.” And so that’s what my husband and I tried to do during this season: to turn our focus from what we could control and understand to the unexpected, mysterious, and beautiful ways God can be found all around us.

The apostle Paul invited believers to a journey from the seen to the unseen, from outward to inward realities, and from temporary struggles to the “eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Paul didn’t urge this because he lacked compassion for their struggles. He knew it would be through letting go of what they could understand that they could experience the comfort, joy, and hope they so desperately needed (vv. 10, 15–16). They could know the wonder of Christ’s life making all things new.

By:  Monica La Rose

Reflect & Pray

When have you experienced God’s glory in ways you couldn’t understand? In what areas of your life might you experience God beyond the “boundaries of knowing”?

Loving God, there’s so much heartbreak and uncertainty in our world. Help me to learn to follow You past what I can understand to the wonder of Your life breathing new life all around me.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Seeking God’s Protection

“Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:13).

Have a healthy sense of self-distrust.

At the moment of your salvation, judicial forgiveness covered all of your sins—past, present, and future. Parental forgiveness restores the joy and sweet fellowship broken by any subsequent sins. But concurrent with the joy of being forgiven is the desire to be protected from any future sins. That’s the desire expressed in Matthew 6:13: “Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

That petition seems simple enough at first glance, but it raises some important questions. According to James 1:13, God doesn’t tempt anyone to commit sin, so why ask Him to protect us from something He apparently wouldn’t lead us into in the first place?

Some say the word “temptation” in Matthew 6:13 means “trials.” But trials strengthen us and prove the genuineness of our faith. We are to rejoice in them, not avoid them (James 1:2-4).

The solution to this paradox has to do with the nature of the petition. It is not so much a technical theological statement as it is an emotional plea from one who hates sin and wants to be protected from it. Chrysostom, the early church father, said it is a natural appeal of human weakness as it faces danger (Homily 19.10).

I don’t know about you, but I have a healthy sense of self-distrust. That’s why I carefully guard what I think, say, watch, read, and listen to. If I sense spiritual danger I run into the presence of God and say, “Lord, I will be overwhelmed by this situation unless You come to my aid.” That’s the spirit of Matthew 6:13.

We live in a fallen world that throws temptation after temptation our way. Therefore it’s only natural and proper for us as Christians to continually confess our sins, receive the Father’s forgiveness, and plead with Him to deliver us from the possibility of sinning against Him in the future.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank the Lord that He loves you and ministers through you despite your human weaknesses.
  • Ask Him to protect you today from any situation that might cause you to sin.

For Further Study

Read 1 Corinthians 10:13 and James 1:13-16.

  • To what degree will God allow you to be tempted?
  • What is a common source of temptation?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Healing in His Wings

But unto you who revere and worshipfully fear My name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings and His beams, and you shall go forth and gambol like calves [released] from the stall and leap for joy.

— Malachi 4:2 (AMPC)

Around our world, horrible crimes and unspeakable acts happen every day to women and children who are powerless to stop them. Every act affects the life of a precious person, created in God’s image. Many women are hurt, wounded little girls trapped inside adult bodies, afraid to come out for fear of being hurt more.

I understand the feelings of these women. As I often shared, I was sexually abused by my father for many years. I also suffered abuse at the hands of other men throughout the first 25 years of my life. I developed a hardened attitude toward all men and adopted a harsh, hard manner.

But I want everyone to know that, through God’s Word and the help of the Holy Spirit, I was healed in my spirit, emotions, mind, will, and personality. It was a process that unfolded over several years, and I have enough firsthand experience to highly recommend God’s ways of restoration and healing rather than the world’s ways. It is much better to let God heal you than to spend your life being bitter about the past.

Prayer Starter: Lord, I rejoice today that you did not leave me to heal myself. I worship You alone, and I receive from You all the healing and grace that I need for this day, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – The Delay of Unanswered Prayers

I called him, but he gave no answer.

Song of Songs 5:6

Prayer sometimes lingers, like a petitioner at the gate, until the King comes with the blessings that she seeks. The Lord, when He has given great faith, has been known to test it by long delays. He has allowed His servants’ voices to echo in their ears as if the heavens were brass. They have knocked at the golden gate, but it has remained immovable, as though it were rusted upon its hinges. Like Jeremiah, they have cried, “You have wrapped yourself with a cloud so that no prayer can pass through.”1

In this manner true saints have continued to wait patiently without a reply, not because their prayers were not strong, nor because they were unaccepted, but because it so pleased Him who is a Sovereign and who gives according to His own pleasure. If it pleases Him to test our patience, shall He not do as He wishes with His children? Beggars must not be choosers either as to time, place, or form.

But we must be careful not to take delays in prayer for denials. God’s postdated checks will be punctually honored; we must not allow Satan to shake our confidence in the God of truth by pointing to our unanswered prayers. Unanswered petitions are not unheard. God keeps a file for our prayers—they are not blown away by the wind; they are treasured in the King’s archives. This is a registry in the court of heaven in which every prayer is recorded.

Struggling believer, your Lord has as it were a tear-bottle in which the costly drops of your sacred grief are put away, and a book in which your holy groanings are numbered. By-and-by your case shall prevail. Can you not be content to wait a little? Will the Lord’s time not be better than yours? By-and-by He will comfortably appear, to your soul’s joy, and will cause you to put away the sackcloth and ashes of long waiting and put on the scarlet and fine linen of full fruition.

1) Lamentations 3:44

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Can Turn Evil for Good

“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” (Genesis 50:20)

If you have ever read through Genesis, chapters 38-50 or so, you will probably remember the story of Joseph pretty well. Can you imagine how you might feel if your brothers and sisters decided one day to sell you off to some strangers passing through town? I would guess that there have been times that your brothers or sisters have done some things to you that were not nice. They may have even tried to hurt you in some way, but they have probably never tried to sell you. Joseph’s brothers did. (See Genesis 37:1-28.)

Joseph’s brothers hated him because he was the favorite son of their father Jacob. Joseph’s brothers hated him so much and wanted to get rid of him. They decided to sell Joseph as a slave to slave traders who were passing through on their way to the country of Egypt.

What a terrible thing to do! Or at least it seems terrible! But God is sovereign, which means He is in control of everything. He can take any bad situation and turn it into something good. God had a bigger plan for Joseph and his brothers. God used the evil intentions of Joseph’s brothers to save their family from starving in a famine many years later. Even though Joseph’s brothers wanted to do evil things to Joseph, God used their evil actions to accomplish something good.

God let them do what they wanted to do with Joseph, but He had very good reasons. He was in control the whole time, and He never forgot Joseph. In His Providence, God used evil-hearted men like tools, or like hands and feet, to help Him provide for His people. That does not make the brothers any less wrong for doing what they did, but it does show what a great and good God we have. He can turn even the worst situations around and work good things for His people. (See Genesis 45:1-15.)

Do you have something in your life that seems like it is going to end up really bad? Remember, God can take any bad situation and turn it to good. There is nothing that can stop God from doing what is good. Trust God that He will take your bad situation and change it to what is best for His glory and for your ultimate good.

God is great and good enough to change even the worst trials into what is best for His glory and for His people’s good.

My Response:
» Have I been feeling forsaken (left on my own) by God?
» Do I need to ask God for the faith to believe that He is bigger than my situation, that He cares about what is happening, that He is in control of everything, and that He has not forgotten me?
» How can I encourage other believers who are mistreated or who have been going through really terrible things?

Denison Forum – A “massive great white shark” and three illuminating articles on the end of the war in Ukraine

According to CNN, “Florida’s got yet another spring breaker in town: Scot, a massive great white shark, has been recorded swimming off the Gulf Coast.” The shark measures over twelve feet long and weighs sixteen hundred pounds.

A “massive great white shark” swimming just offshore feels like a metaphor for much that is happening in our culture, from rising inflation to a more contagious version of COVID-19 to deepening partisan divisions. But, of course, the “shark” that dominates the news each day and has captured so many of our hearts is the horrific invasion of Ukraine and the untold suffering that it is producing. 

As face-to-face talks between Ukraine and Russia continue this week, many analysts are asking how Russia’s aggression in Ukraine will end (assuming it does). In this context, three recent articles have greatly illuminated Vladimir Putin’s thinking and are therefore relevant to us today.

A “personalist regime” 

In a New Yorker article titled “What is Putin Thinking?,” David Remnick points back to the failure of democracy in Russia after the 1991 fall of the USSR. Oligarchs bought up the country’s most valuable state enterprises and made their fortunes while the people struggled. One historian said at the time, “These last four or five years in Russia have produced little besides pure hysteria.” 

In response, when Putin came to power in 1999, he set up what Remnick calls “a personalist regime built around his patronage and absolute authority.” Remnick explains that the national identity Putin created in opposition to the West “has played an essential role in his brutal invasion of Ukraine.” 

He also cites thinkers such as Nikolai Berdyaev and Ivan Ilyin who believed in the exalted destiny of Russia and the artificiality of Ukraine, both of whom were extremely influential for Putin.

A “civilization-state” 

Cultural commentator Andrew Sullivan takes us further back into history in “The Strange Rebirth Of Imperial Russia.” He cites Russian intellectuals who claimed after the fall of the Soviet Union that Russia is not just a nation-state but a “civilization-state.” 

Sullivan explains that this is “a whole way of being, straddling half the globe and wrapping countless other nations and cultures into Mother Russia’s spiritual bosom.” This worldview claims that Russia has always had such a civilizational destiny and mission which the West has countered and sought to undermine. Aleksandr Dugin popularized such theories in The Foundations of Geopolitics, which Sullivan calls “perhaps the best guide to understanding where Putin is coming from, and what Russia is now.” 

In light of this worldview, Putin proposed in 2011 a “Eurasian Union” to counter the European Union, reject the strategic control of the US, and resist Western liberal values. His invasion of Ukraine is but the next step in his passion to rebuild Imperial Russia.

An occupying force 

Journalist Jonathan Tepperman conducted a very illuminating interview with Alexander Gabuev, a former diplomatic correspondent and Russian newspaper editor who is now a scholar on Russia at the Carnegie Moscow Center. 

Gabuev explains that Putin thought his invasion would demoralize the Ukrainian army and that “part of the country would greet Russia with flowers and the other part would not resist.” He was clearly wrong. 

When Tepperman asked Gabuev if he can imagine a deal that could end the war, he replied that Ukraine would not “accept a peace settlement that makes them semi-dependent on the aggressor, even if it saves their cities.” To achieve Putin’s imperialistic agenda, Gabuev predicts that the Russian leader will seek to “occupy Ukraine, and there will be an Iraq-type insurgency, and ultimately this will end badly, because there is no way that Russia can occupy Ukraine forever.”

“An evil person will not go unpunished” 

In Romans 1 we read that God “gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done” (Romans 1:28). This is the permissive judgment of God whereby he allows us the consequences of our misused freedom. Tragically, the innocent are often harmed by these consequences as well. 

If nations and people do not repent, God then moves to his punitive judgment whereby he works directly to punish sin and lead sinners to repentance. We see this with the plagues of Egypt, divine judgment against King Herod (Acts 12:23), and the cataclysmic judgments depicted in the book of Revelation. 

Since we know that God judges nations (Psalm 110:6), it is plausible that Russia is experiencing God’s permissive judgment on its immoral invasion. If Putin persists, he and his people could see God’s punitive judgment. 

Here is what we can know without question: “An evil person will not go unpunished” (Proverbs 11:21) because “vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Romans 12:19). Whether in this world or in the next (cf. Luke 16:19–31), God’s judgment on sin is sure (Hebrews 9:27).

A missionary prayer I have not forgotten 

How does the thought of God’s judgment on Vladimir Putin resonate with you?  

Your first thought might be, “The sooner the better.” Obviously, the fewer Ukrainians who suffer or die at his immoral hands, the better. 

But we must not forget that God loves Russians as much as he loves Ukrainians. He loves North Koreans as much as he loves Americans and Iranians as much as he loves Israelis (cf. Galatians 3:28). He loves each of us as if there were only one of us because he is love (1 John 4:8). 

If we loved the Russians as God does, we would be praying fervently for their nation and leaders to repent of this sinful invasion. If we love Ukrainians as God does, we would be praying fervently for their protection and future. If we loved all nations as God does, we would be praying fervently for every person on earth to know Jesus as Savior and Lord. 

I will long remember the time I heard a missionary pray, “Lord, break my heart for what breaks your heart.” 

What breaks your heart today? 

Denison Forum