In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – How to Seek God

Our longing for the Lord is cultivated through intentional time and effort.

Psalm 105:1-8

Yesterday we learned what it means to seek God, but many of us don’t know where to begin.  

Start with the Scriptures and prayer. Set aside time each day for meditating on God’s Word: Listen for His voice, slowly digest what you read, talk to the Lord, ask Him questions, and apply what you learn. Don’t just read the Bible—study it, perhaps starting with a verse or short passage. Some of you may say, “I’ve never been into that.” My advice: Get into it! The deep things of God don’t just drop into our brains; they are placed there through diligent study. 

Hunger for the Lord is an acquired taste. The more we pursue Him, the greater our craving will be. However, if we ignore God, what little hunger we have will diminish even further. 

Do you find this last statement describes your experience? Then ask the Lord to whet your appetite for Him, and follow through by becoming a seeker. This requires time and effort, two things we want to invest wisely. 

To neglect the Lord would mean cheating yourself of the benefits He promises to those who diligently seek Him. No one wants to go after that which is fleeting. Choose instead to pursue the Eternal One—the source of all contentment, joy, and hope. 

Bible in One Year: 2 Kings 21-23

Our Daily Bread — Spiritual Diagnosis

Bible in a Year:

We will not listen to the message you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord.

Jeremiah 44:16

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Jeremiah 44:16–18, 20–23

Chemotherapy reduced the tumor in my father-in-law’s pancreas, until it didn’t. As the tumor began to grow again, he was left with a life-and-death decision. He asked his doctor, “Should I take more of this chemo or try something else, perhaps a different drug or radiation?”

The people of Judah had a similar life-and-death question. Weary from war and famine, God’s people wondered whether their problem was too much idolatry or not enough. They concluded they should offer more sacrifices to a false god and see if she would protect and prosper them (Jeremiah 44:17).

Jeremiah said they had wildly misdiagnosed their situation. Their problem wasn’t a lack of commitment to idols; their problem was that they had them. They told the prophet, “We will not listen to the message you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord!” (v. 16). Jeremiah replied, “Because you have burned incense and have sinned against the Lord and have not obeyed him or followed his law or his decrees or his stipulations, this disaster has come upon you” (v. 23).

Like Judah, we may be tempted to double down on sinful choices that have landed us in trouble. Relationship problems? We can be more aloof. Financial issues? We’ll spend our way to happiness. Pushed aside? We’ll be equally ruthless. But the idols that contributed to our problems can’t save us. Only Jesus can carry us through our troubles as we turn to Him.

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

What personal problem has you stumped and how are you tempted to respond in a sinful way? What do you think Jesus might want you to do?

Jesus, I’d rather fail with You than succeed without You.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Our New Bodies

“Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Corinthians 15:49).

All believers can look forward to one day receiving new bodies and new images.

Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances present a glimpse of the greatness, power, and wonder that our own resurrection bodies will have. Our Lord appeared and disappeared at will and always reappeared in other places. He was able to go through walls and doors, but He could also eat, drink, sit, talk, and be seen by others. Jesus was remarkably the same as before His death, yet He was even more remarkably changed. The body the disciples and other followers saw after the Resurrection was the same one we’ll see when we go to be with Him. Christ will also appear in the same form when He returns to earth (Acts 1:11).

As it was with Jesus, our perishable, natural, and weak bodies will be raised imperishable, spiritual, and powerful. No longer will they limit us in our service to God. In Heaven we’ll blaze forth the magnificent glory that God so graciously gives to His own (Matt. 13:43). Christ promises to “transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (Phil. 3:21).

The future resurrection of believers to the glories of Heaven has always been a blessed hope and motivation for the church through the centuries— and it should be for you and me. No matter what our present bodies are like— healthy or unhealthy, beautiful or plain, short-lived or long-lived, pampered or abused—they are not our permanent bodies. One day these natural, created bodies will be re-created as supernatural. Even though the Bible gives us just a glance at what those new bodies will be like, it is a precious assurance to know that “we shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2).

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for an opportunity to share insights from this study with a Christian friend, especially if he or she has been discouraged recently.

For Further Study

Read Luke 24:33-53.

  • What do verses 37-43 verify about Jesus’ new body?
  • Write down other things from the entire passage that describe how Jesus had changed from the way He was prior to the cross. How had He remained the same?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – How to Live a Balanced Life

Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.

— 1 Peter 5:8 (AMPC)

Listening to the Holy Spirit will keep us balanced in every area of our life. The Spirit will tell us when we’re spending too much money or not spending enough, when we’re talking too much or not talking enough, or even when we’re resting too much or not resting enough. Any time we are doing too much or too little of something, we are out of balance.

The verse for today states that we are to be well-balanced so Satan cannot take advantage of us. For years, he took advantage of me because I was not balanced in my approach to work. I felt that my whole life should be arranged around work. As long as I was working and accomplishing something, I didn’t feel the guilt that the devil used against me. But that urge to work all the time was not from God; it did not push me toward godly balance in my life. Work is a good thing, but I also needed to rest and have enjoyment.

Each day as you seek to hear from God, ask Him to show you any area in your life that is out of balance and work with Him to make adjustments. We have many things in life to juggle and therefore it is easy to get out of balance, but God is always available to help us in this area. Simply ask Him if you are doing much or too little of anything and make the changes He recommends.

Prayer Starter: Lord, I rejoice today that you will give me all the tools I need to stay balanced in every area of my life. I worship You, and I receive from You all the grace that I need for this day, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Christ’s Comprehensive Love

The Lord takes pleasure in his people.

Psalm 149:4

How comprehensive is the love of Jesus! There is no part of His people’s interests that He does not consider, and there is nothing that concerns their welfare that is not important to Him. He doesn’t merely think of you, believer, as an immortal being, but as a mortal being too. Do not deny it or doubt it: “Even the hairs of your head are all numbered.”1 “The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way.”2

It would be sad for us if this covering of love did not tackle all our concerns, for what mischief might be done to us in that part of our lives that did not come under our gracious Lord’s protection! Believer, rest assured that the heart of Jesus cares about your smallest concerns. The breadth of His tender love is such that you may turn to Him in every case; for in all your afflictions He is afflicted, and just like a father cares for his children, so He cares for you. The smallest interests of all His saints are all borne upon the heart of the Son of God.

And what a heart He has, which does not merely understand the nature of His people but also comprehends their diverse and innumerable concerns. Do you think, Christian, that you can measure the love of Christ? Consider what His love has brought you—justification, adoption, sanctification, eternal life! The riches of His goodness are unsearchable; you will never be able to convey them or even conceive them.

Oh, the breadth of the love of Christ! Shall such a love as this have only half our hearts? Shall it have a cold love in return? Shall Jesus’ marvelous loving-kindness and tender care be met with only faint response and delayed acknowledgment? My soul, tune your harp to a glad song of thanksgiving! Go to your rest rejoicing, for you are not a desolate wanderer but a beloved child, watched over, cared for, supplied, and defended by your Lord.

1) Matthew 10:30
2) Psalm 37:23

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Always Alive — Everywhere!

“And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: snd as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:2-5)

In Luke 24, Jesus had already been crucified and buried in the tomb. The people who loved Him were heartbroken. Three women went to Jesus’ tomb, only to find it empty. As they wonder what happened, two angels reminded them that Jesus had taught His disciples He would rise up again after three days. The angels told the women that Jesus was not dead anymore–He is now among the living!

When the women told this to the rest of Jesus’ disciples, they did not believe the news. Peter and John ran to the tomb, and they also found it empty. They believed, but they were still very confused about what had really happened and where Jesus was if He was not in His grave!

A couple days later, two other followers of Jesus were walking along on a road with a stranger who had joined them. They did not realize it at first, but it turned out that the stranger was Jesus Himself, and He preached to them a message that showed the Gospel story from the Old Testament until His resurrection. Imagine how it would be if Jesus Himself came and talked over the Gospel with you, with His scarred hands and feet and all His knowledge of the Scriptures!

It was not until later that the men finally realized who had been walking and talking with them. In Luke 24:32, they say, “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?”

Does your heart ever “burn within” you when you hear the Gospel story preached? If you are a believer, do you spend time thinking about what Jesus Christ’s resurrection means for you personally? Are you confused like Jesus’ disciples were at first, or have you really come to understand that Jesus is no longer dead? When we talk to Jesus and seek to know Him better, we need to remember to seek for Him among the living. He is not just a story. He is not a dead and buried historical prophet. He is God–so He is everywhere at once–and He is alive!

Jesus Christ is living, not dead! We can seek Him anytime, anywhere.

My Response:
» Do I sometimes pray or listen to preaching as though the Gospel were just a pretend story?
» What habits would I change if I really believed and acted like God is alive and everywhere?
» How can remembering that Jesus has power over death help me be brave in fighting sin and sharing the Gospel?

Denison Forum – The Holocaust survivor who married her American liberator

Gerda Weissmann’s entire family was murdered in the Holocaust. She weighed sixty-eight pounds when she was discovered by two American soldiers a few hours after Germany officially surrendered to Allied forces. After six years under Nazi terrorism, her feet were so frostbitten, doctors feared they might have to amputate. She was critically ill and in and out of consciousness for days as she was slowly nursed back to health at a field hospital.

One of the soldiers who found Gerda held the door of his Jeep open for her. “That was the moment of restoration of humanity, of humaneness, of dignity, of freedom,” she said later. That soldier, Kurt Klein, and Gerda fell in love and eventually married. They moved to the US where they had three children. They were married for more than fifty years until his death in 2002. By her death on April 3 at ninety-seven years of age, she had eight grandchildren and eighteen great-grandchildren.

In 1996, a documentary about her won an Oscar. When she took the stage with the director, she told a global audience, “In my mind’s eye, I see those years and days, and those who never lived to see the magic of a boring evening at home.” In 2011, President Barack Obama awarded her the highest civilian honor in America, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“We must remember the past or it will become our future”

Yesterday was one of the most somber days of the year for me. Not because of anything happening where I live, but because of what happened seven thousand miles to the east in a country I consider my “second home.”

As the Times of Israel reports, “Israel came to a standstill at 10 a.m. on Thursday as sirens wailed throughout the country in memory of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis during World War II.”

I have led more than thirty study tours to the Holy Land and have been in Israel on Yom HaShoah, the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day. For two minutes, everything stops. Cars and buses pull over and drivers and passengers stand on the roads with their heads bowed. Ceremonies are held in schools, public institutions, and army bases across the country. An hour later, the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) holds the “Unto Every Person There is a Name” ceremony during which lawmakers read out the names of Holocaust victims.

This annual remembrance is vital not only so the Jewish people can remember those who were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators but so the world can vow that such a tragedy must never happen again. One hundred Holocaust survivors stated in a video released yesterday, “One-third of the world’s Jews were systematically murdered” and added, “We must remember the past or it will become our future.”

This at a time when reports of antisemitic activity throughout the world have reached a record high. The number of antisemitic incidents throughout the US in 2021 rose 34 percent from the previous year to the highest number on record. According to a new survey, nearly half of Israelis fear that a second Holocaust is coming.

Why German churches flew Nazi flags

Why would the Nazis and their collaborators believe murdering six million people (a quarter of them children) was morally defensible on religious grounds?

As the German Catholic Church admitted in 2020, German bishops were motivated by nationalism, anti-communist sentiment, and a desire to preserve the church by avoiding confrontation with the Nazis. As a result, many told their followers to support the regime during the war. On Hitler’s fiftieth birthday in 1939, churches even flew Nazi flags and prayed for protection for the “Fuhrer and the Reich.”

Now let’s ask our question differently: Why would Vladimir Putin believe invading Ukraine and murdering Ukrainians is morally defensible on religious grounds?

As Dr. Ryan Denison notes in a recent Denison Forum article, the Patriarch of Moscow has endorsed the war as a holy struggle, describing it as the government’s attempt to protect Russia from the scourges of Western debauchery and stating that, in battling Ukraine, Russia is battling the Antichrist.

It is therefore unsurprising that, as Mark Legg reports in a recent Denison Forum article, Putin’s approval rating has jumped to around 83 percent since the invasion while only 4 percent of Russians think he is responsible for the war.

These are only two examples of using religion for horrifically immoral ends. In Recovering Our Sanity: How the Fear of God Conquers the Fears that Divide Us, Michael Horton explains this tragic phenomenon, noting that many religions across history have been practiced to “manage God’s judgment.” He writes: “We have to be the star of our own life movie. So, individually and collectively, we invent ‘religion’ and ‘spirituality’ as ways of avoiding reality.”

If I can construct a religion that permits me to do what I wish and even endorses my immoral decisions, that religion will be both utilitarian and popular. Thus we see the popularity of “sacred prostitution” in the ancient world (having sexual relations with temple prostitutes was viewed as a way of worshiping the gods served by these prostitutes). We find false prophets endorsing the king’s agendas for the sake of their personal advancement (cf. 1 Kings 22). We see the religious authorities inciting the crowds to demand Jesus’ crucifixion (Matthew 27:21–23). From then to now, religions have often been a means to immoral ends.

“Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal”

Let’s bring this discussion home: Is there a transactional dimension to your relationship with God? Are you tempted to worship God on Sunday so he will bless you on Monday? To start the day with prayer (and perhaps this Daily Article) so he will bless your day? To respond in anger if he doesn’t “keep up his end of the bargain”?

The antidote is twofold.

One: Remember that God is the “everlasting King” of the universe whether we acknowledge his sovereignty or not (Jeremiah 10:10). He is not an object to our subject, a means to our ends. Let’s therefore join Paul in praying, “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever” (1 Timothy 1:17).

Two: Celebrate the unconditional love of this king for us today. He loved us “while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8) and he loves us today “with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). We cannot make him love us any more or any less than he does because by his very nature, “God is love” (1 John 4:8).

The Irish writer Thomas Moore invited us:

Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish,
Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel;
Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.

What “sorrow” do you need heaven to heal today?

Denison Forum

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Pursuing the Lord

Seeking God isn’t about following rules; it’s about enjoying His presence.

Psalm 119:1-8

We all have ambitions and desires, but as believers, we should weigh them against God’s Word. As important as our earthly pursuits, responsibilities, and relationships may be, they cannot compare to the value of a life spent seeking our heavenly Father. 

What does it mean to seek God? The phrase describes a wholehearted effort to know the Father and follow Him more closely. Those who pursue this kind of fellowship with God are determined to spend time with Him. They also want to forsake anything that could hinder growth in their relationship with the Lord. God’s committed followers claim His promises and trust Him to fulfill His Word. Their experiences with the Lord bring amazing satisfaction yet cause them to hunger for more of Him. 

The Christian life is meant to be an ongoing pursuit of God. To walk through the door of salvation and stand still, without drawing any closer to Him, is to miss the treasures that are available in Christ. Those who seek the Lord soon discover that knowing Him is the greatest reward of all. 

Bible in One Year: 2 Kings 18-20

Our Daily Bread — Growing in Faith

Bible in a Year:

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:4

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

James 1:2–4

At the beginning of my gardening journey, I’d wake up early and run to my vegetable garden to see if anything had sprouted. Nothing. After an internet search for “fast garden growth,” I learned that the seedling stage is the most important phase of a plant’s lifespan. Knowing now that this process couldn’t be rushed, I came to appreciate the strength of small sprouts fighting their way through the soil toward the sun and their resilience to temperamental weather. After waiting patiently for a few weeks, I was finally greeted by bursts of green sprouts creeping through the soil.

Sometimes it’s easy to praise the victories and triumphs in our lives without similarly acknowledging that growth in our character often comes through time and struggle. James instructs us to “consider it pure joy” when we “face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). But what could possibly be delightful about trials?

God will sometimes allow us to go through challenges and hardships so that we can be molded into who He’s called us to be. He waits in anticipation for us to come out of the trials of life “mature and complete, not lacking anything” (v. 4). By staying grounded in Jesus, we can persevere through any challenge, growing stronger and ultimately allowing the fruit of the Spirit to blossom in our lives (Galatians 5:22–23). His wisdom gives us the nourishment we need to truly flourish each and every day (John 15:5).

By:  Kimya Loder

Reflect & Pray

What trials have you been working through recently? What lessons are these circumstances revealing to you?

Dear heavenly Father, sometimes the trials I face seem unbearable. Please give me the strength to persevere, and help me as I grow in faith and develop into the fruit-bearing believer that You’ve called me to be.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Three Kinds of Persecution

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me” (Matt. 5:10-11).

When you speak out for Christ, you can expect harassment, insults, and slander.

Jesus mentioned three broad categories of suffering that Christians will experience. The first is persecution. “Persecuted” (Matt. 5:10) and “persecute” (v. 11) both come from the same Greek root meaning “to pursue” or “chase away.” Over time it came to mean “to harass” or “treat in an evil manner.” Verse 10 literally reads, “Blessed are those who have been allowing themselves to be persecuted.” You are blessed when people harass you for your Christian stance and you willingly accept it for the sake of your Lord.

The second form of suffering is “insults” (v. 11), which translates a Greek word that means “to reproach,” “revile,” or “heap insults upon.” It speaks of verbal abuse—attacking someone with vicious and mocking words. It is used in Matthew 27:44 of the mockery Christ endured at His crucifixion. It happened to Him and it will happen to His followers as well.

The final category Jesus mentioned is slander—people telling lies about you. That’s perhaps the hardest form of suffering to endure because our effectiveness for the Lord is directly related to our personal purity and integrity. Someone’s trying to destroy the reputation you worked a lifetime to establish is a difficult trial indeed!

If you’re going through a time of suffering for righteousness’ sake, take heart: the Lord went through it too and He understands how difficult it can be. He knows your heart and will minister His super-abounding grace to you. Rejoice that you are worthy of suffering for Him and that the kingdom of heaven is yours.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Pray for those who treat you unkindly, asking God to forgive them and grant them His grace.
  • Pray that you might always treat others with honesty and fairness.

For Further Study

Throughout history God Himself has endured much mocking and slander. Read 2 Peter 3:3-9, then answer these questions:

  • What motivates mockers?
  • What do they deny?
  • Why doesn’t God judge them on the spot?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthu

Joyce Meyer – How to Relieve Stress God’s Way

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

— Philippians 4:6–7 (ESV)

Stress is one of the biggest problems we face in our society today. Everything is so fast-paced, loud, and excessive that our mental, emotional, and physical systems stay on overload. We are inundated with information. We have newspapers, magazines, and twenty-four-hour news networks that don’t just reach us through our television but through our cell phones and other mobile devices. At one time, a popular web search engine indexed more than 3,307,998,701 web pages! It’s hard enough to think about that number, let alone the content that goes with it. We have information overload, and it is no wonder we have trouble calming our minds down so we can rest.

In addition to what the world throws at us, we have schedules that are insane. There are never enough hours in any day to get everything done we are trying to do. We hurry and rush, we feel frustrated and tired, and we’re the first to say, “I’m under so much stress that I feel I am going to explode.” And stress takes its toll on our confidence.

Prayer Starter: Lord, I can’t change the world around me, but I can bring my life and requests to You. May Your peace guard my heart and mind today. Thank You that I can rest in You, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – A Hard Forehead and Stubborn Heart

All the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart.

Ezekiel 3:7

Are there no exceptions? No, not one. Even God’s chosen are described in this way. If the best are so bad, then what must the worst be like? Come, my heart, consider to what extent you share in this universal accusation; as you think, prepare to be ashamed of those things of which you are guilty.

The first charge is impudence, or hardness of forehead, an absence of holy shame, an unholy boldness in evil. Before my conversion, I could sin and feel no regret, hear of my guilt and remain unhumbled, and even confess my iniquity without any accompanying humiliation. When a sinner goes to God’s house and pretends to pray to Him and praise Him, he displays a brazen-facedness of the worst kind! Sadly, since the day of my new birth I have doubted my Lord to His face, murmured unblushingly in His presence, worshiped Him in a slovenly manner, and sinned without bewailing myself on account of it. If my forehead were not like a diamond, harder than flint, I would display more holy fear and a far deeper contrition of spirit. Woe is me, for I am one of the impudent house of Israel.

The second charge is hard-heartedness, and I dare not attempt to plead innocent here. Once I had nothing but a heart of stone, and although through grace I now have a new and fleshy heart, much of my former stubbornness remains. I am not affected by the death of Jesus as I ought to be; neither am I moved as I should be by the lostness of my fellowmen, the wickedness of the times, the chastisement of my heavenly Father, and my own failures. O that my heart would melt at the recital of my Savior’s sufferings and death. Would to God I were rid of this dreadful burden within me, this hateful body of death.

Blessed be the name of the Lord, the disease is not incurable; the Savior’s precious blood is the universal remedy, and it will effectually soften me, even me, until my heart melts as wax before the fire.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Created Everything in Six Normal Days

“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31)

Have you ever built something? Maybe you wanted to build a bird-house or a dog-house. Stop and think how long it took you to build whatever you built. How long did it take you? Did it take you a day? Two days? Maybe even a week?

Now take a look around you. Look at the sky, the trees, and the ground. Look at your brother and sister, and your mom and dad and your friends. Now think of all the billions of people in the world and the trillions of animals and the quadrillions of stars and planets. Can you believe that God created all that and everything else in just six days? Not six years. Not six months. Not even six weeks. Just six days!

Almighty God created everything out of nothing. Nothing existed before God created it–nothing except for God himself. If you were to build a bird-house, you would probably copy another one that has already been built. At least you have seen one before to know what one looks like. But, when God created everything, He not only made it, but He imagined everything first. A tree never existed, before God made it; and neither did water or a fish or a human! And God created everything, and He did it out of nothing, in only six days! (Genesis 1:31)

There are some people who would like to tell you that the six days we read about in the Bible are not six actual days. They think that the word “day” represents a year or a hundred years or even thousands of years. However, if God would have wanted to say “a year,” He would have said “a year.” A “day” means a “day.” And our great Creator God created everything in these six days.

So, look around today, and think about all that God has created. He is our Almighty Creator. Praise Him! He created everything for His own glory’s sake, so we ought to worship Him.

God created everything out of nothing in only six days, all by Himself.

My Response:
» Do I meditate on how great the one true God must be?
» Am I living like God created me to live?
» How can I share with others what the Bible says about Creation?

Denison Forum – Man marries a fictional character: Learning to “spot the lie”

The New York Times is profiling a movement called “fictosexuals.” These are people who consider themselves married to a fictional character, whether a doll, a character in a video game, or a similar “person.” One person who “married” a doll wants us to know that as artificial intelligence and robotics allow for more profound interactions with the inanimate, the number of “fictosexuals” is likely to increase.

In other news, Google has launched an “inclusive language” function that warns writers to avoid certain words and phrases that “may not be inclusive to all readers.” It will prompt you to change “mankind” to “humankind” and “policeman” to “police officer,” for example. I wonder if one day I will be prompted to change “same-sex marriage” to “marriage equality” and “sex change operation” to “gender affirmation therapy” as such euphemisms normalize a “personal truth” culture.

Speaking of normalizing behavior once considered immoral, my hometown Dallas Morning News informs us that a local town’s embrace of LGBTQ “Pride” will “show [us] how to do things right” as a “perfect example of community leaders looking farther down the road than how to get a few books banned from the library.”

As the NFL draft approaches tonight, yahoo!sports tells us about a tight end who “could be the first NFL player with same-sex parents.” And celebrity Megan Fox reports that her transgender “brave child” has “chosen this journey for a reason.”

How we got here

The so-called “sexual revolution” could be dated to 1953 when Hugh Hefner began popularizing and normalizing pornography. In 1983, videotape moved films (including pornography) out of theaters and into private homes. In the late 1990s, pornographic films began to be distributed on DVD. Tragically, the internet has now made pornography an epidemic available to every cellphone in America.

Meanwhile, birth control pills were legalized in 1960, allowing couples to have sex outside of marriage without fear of pregnancy. Helen Gurley Brown’s 1962 book Sex and the Single Girl encouraged single women to be sexually active. The decade saw a rising movement protesting the Vietnam War and promoting rock music, the use of drugs, public displays of nudity, and complete freedom of sexual activity.

The Stonewall Riots of 1969 were a galvanizing event in the movement for LGBTQ rights. The intentional strategy that ensued first normalized LGBTQ behavior through popular culture (the TV show Will & Grace was a major contributor) and continues today through Pride Month, the promotion of LGBTQ characters on TV and in movies, and a concerted effort to make such relationships commonplace.

The next stage was legalizing same-sex marriage, beginning in Massachusetts in 2004 and culminating with the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell decision. As Chief Justice John Roberts warned in his Obergefell dissent, this effort has since moved to legalizing polygamy.

Now advocates are stigmatizing those who disagree as homophobic, prejudiced, and discriminatory. And our culture is moving toward criminalizing such disagreement through the so-called Equality Act and similar legislation.

The urgency of discernment

My point is that evangelical Christians must be discerning of secular culture on a level unprecedented in American history.

Never before have prime-time television shows (and even commercials) normalized LGBTQ behavior as they do today. Never before has pornography been as ubiquitous or as widely accepted as it is today. We are even seeing movements to normalize and legalize prostitution (“sex work”) despite the fact that 89 percent of prostitutes urgently want to escape prostitution.

Sex positivity” endorsing “all forms of sexual expression between consenting adults” has entered the cultural lexicon alongside such euphemisms as “marriage equality” and “gender affirmation therapy.” It is difficult to engage popular culture on any level without being forced to confront unbiblical sexual morality. Our children and grandchildren are growing up in a society that seeks to indoctrinate them with its secular “values” on a very intentional level.

If you’re like me, right now you’re wishing there was an “off-ramp” you could take to escape the cultural collisions of our day. But we discover a better way from an easily overlooked detail in the New Testament.

A surprising choice

Acts 28 tells the story of the Apostle Paul’s voyage to Rome. After spending three months on the island of Malta, he and his entourage “set sail in a ship that had wintered in the island, a ship of Alexandria, with the twin gods as a figurehead” (v. 11). These were Castor and Pollux, the twin sons of Zeus and Leda who were considered to be the gods who protected seamen.

Why did the Holy Spirit inspire Luke to include this detail?

Imagine Saul the Pharisee setting foot on a Gentile ship, especially one that displayed such idolatrous figures. But Paul the apostle has learned to use his fallen culture to advance God’s kingdom. He has traveled on Roman roads to Roman cities and employed the Greek language to share God’s word “in public and from house to house” (Acts 20:20) while ultimately writing thirteen of the New Testament’s twenty-seven books.

In the context of today’s article, the apostle would encourage us to balance two priorities: “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18) while using the culture where we can (1 Corinthians 9:22) to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

For example, the New York Times “fictosexuals” story is an opportunity to share the fulfillment God brings to those who are married to “real” people within his blessing. The Google “inclusive language” story is a chance to endorse the biblical equality of men and women (Genesis 1:27Galatians 3:28) while exposing the deeper narrative that seeks to normalize immorality.

A game we should all play

A good friend of mine plays a game with his children when they watch TV called “spot the lie”: they compete to be the first to recognize when something is said or done that is unbiblical. He is teaching them to be not paranoid but discerning.

We should do the same with our children and with our souls.

Denison Forum

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Walking With God in Dark Times

Dark, challenging times are never wasted when you follow the Lord.

Genesis 39

Yesterday, we discussed Joseph’s faith. Today we’ll look at some principles that guided him during challenging moments in his life. 

Dark times may continue until God’s purpose is accomplished. The Lord’s plan was to prepare Joseph to rescue his family, as well as the nation of Egypt, from famine. But first, God placed Joseph in the role of a servant, where he earned credibility with Egyptian leaders. Then, it was in prison that the Lord “extended kindness” (Gen. 39:21), positioning him to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. Through these difficult situations, Joseph was chosen by Pharaoh to lead Egypt and save the nation from famine as God planned. 

We learn in both the dark and the light. Besides discovering God’s faithfulness, Joseph learned to handle high and low positions, to say no to temptation, and to discern God’s presence. 

What we learn in the darkness, we’re to share in the light. Joseph did not let imprisonment discourage him from helping others (Genesis 40:1-23). In fact, when interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams, he openly shared his faith and God-given knowledge (Genesis 41:15-16). 

No one goes looking for hard times, but they seem to find some of us regularly. Instead of fearing them, we can trust God and embrace His plan, knowing He uses trials for His glory and our gain. 

Bible in One Year: 2 Kings 16-17

Our Daily Bread — Sing Again

Bible in a Year:

Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel!

Zephaniah 3:14

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Zephaniah 3:14–20

Australia’s regent honeyeater bird is in trouble—it’s losing its song. Though once an abundant species, just three hundred birds now remain; and with so few others to learn from, the males are forgetting their unique song and failing to attract mates.

Thankfully, conservationists plan to rescue the honeyeaters by singing to them. Or, more precisely, play them recordings of other honeyeaters singing so they can relearn their heart song. As the males pick up the tune and attract females again, it’s hoped the species will flourish once more.

The prophet Zephaniah addressed a people in trouble. With so much corruption among them, he announced that God’s judgment was coming (Zephaniah 3:1–8). When this later came to pass through capture and exile, the people too lost their song (Psalm 137:4). But Zephaniah foresaw a time beyond judgment when God would come to this decimated people, forgive their sins, and sing to them: “He will take great delight in you, in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17). As a result, the heart song of the people would be restored (v. 14).

Whether through our own disobedience or the trials of life, we too can lose our heart song of joy. But a Voice is singing over us songs of forgiveness and love. Let’s listen to His melody and sing along.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

When do you find it hardest to retain your joy in God? What song, poem, or prayer can you give to God in response to His rejoicing over You?

Loving God, it’s amazing to imagine that You would sing songs of joy over me. I praise You and sing my own song of praise to You.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Are You Avoiding Persecution?

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness” (Matt. 5:10).

If you don’t experience persecution, people probably don’t know you’re a Christian.

I heard of a man who was fearful because he was starting a new job with a group of unbelievers whom he thought might give him a bad time if they found out he was a Christian. After his first day at work his wife asked him how he got along with them. “We got along just fine,” he said. “They never found out I’m a Christian.”

Silence is one way to avoid persecution. Some other ways are to approve of the world’s standards, laugh at its jokes, enjoy its entertainment, and smile when it mocks God. If you never confront sin or tell people Jesus is the only way to heaven, or if your behavior is so worldly no one can distinguish you from unbelievers, you will probably be accepted and won’t feel the heat of persecution. But beware!

Jesus said, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you. . . . Whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory” (Luke 6:269:26). The last thing anyone should want is for Christ to pronounce a curse on them or be ashamed of them. That’s an enormous price to pay for popularity!

If you take a stand for Christ and manifest Beatitude attitudes, you will be in direct opposition to Satan and the evil world system. Eventually you will experience some form of persecution. That has been true from the very beginning of human history, when Abel was murdered by his brother Cain because Cain couldn’t tolerate his righteousness.

You should never fear persecution. God will grant you grace and will never test you beyond what He enables you to endure (1 Cor. 10:13). Nor should you ever compromise biblical truth to avoid persecution. In Philippians 1:29 Paul says that persecution is as much a gift of God as salvation itself. Both identify you as a true believer!

Suggestions for Prayer

Memorize 1 Peter 2:20-21. Ask God to continually grant you the grace to follow Christ’s example when difficulties come your way.

For Further Study

Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-33, noting the severe persecution Paul endured for Christ’s sake.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Laugh on Purpose

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.

— Psalm 51:12 (AMP)

One of the most valuable things I have learned in my life is that I don’t have to wait to feel like doing something before I can do it…and neither do you. You can actually create opportunities for laughter.

• Plan to laugh…and then do it. Take a few minutes away from the busyness of the day and focus on something funny that a friend said or something enjoyable you’re looking forward to.

• Hang around funny and encouraging people. Spend time with people who are lighthearted and encouraging. Their humor and their positive nature are infectious.

• Change your perspective. You can be joyful if you begin each day with a think session. Think about some happy, joyful things on purpose.

Learn to enjoy yourself rather than being so intense about your imperfections. I can promise it will add laughter to your life.

David prayed, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation.” We can pray the same thing. If you feel life has sapped you of your joy and taken away your laughter, ask God for His help and take every opportunity you can to laugh.

Prayer Starter: Lord, restore to me the joy of Your salvation. Please help me to seek out and take every opportunity to laugh, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Long Live the King!

The Lord is king forever and ever.

Psalm 10:16

Jesus Christ is not a tyrant claiming divine right, but He is really and truly the Lord’s anointed! “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.”1 God has given to Him all power and all authority.

As the Son of man, He is now head over all things in His church, and He reigns over heaven and earth and hell with the keys of life and death at His belt. Certain princes have been glad to call themselves kings by the popular will, and certainly our Lord Jesus Christ is such in His church. If it could be put to the vote whether He should be King in the church, every believing heart would crown Him. We ought to crown Him more gloriously than we do! We would regard no expense too great if we could glorify Christ. Suffering would be pleasure, and loss would be gain, if through that we could surround His brow with brighter crowns and make Him more glorious in the eyes of men and angels. Yes, He shall reign. Long live the King! All hail to You, King Jesus! Go on, you virgin souls who love your Lord. Bow at His feet; cover His path with the lilies of your love and the roses of your gratitude: “Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all.”

Our Lord Jesus is King in Zion by right of conquest: He has taken the hearts of His people by storm and has defeated their enemies who held them in cruel bondage. In the Red Sea of His own blood, our Redeemer has drowned the Pharaoh of our sins: Shall He not be Lord and King? He has delivered us from sin’s dominion and from the heavy curse of the law: Shall not the Liberator be crowned? We are His portion, whom He has taken out of the hand of the enemy with His sword and with His bow: Who will snatch His conquest from His hand? All hail, King Jesus! We gladly own Your gentle sway! Rule in our hearts forever, You lovely Prince of Peace.

1) Colossians 1:19

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God is the Good Shepherd

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. ” (Psalm 23:1-3)

450 Sheep Jump to their deaths in Istanbul, Turkey — “‘First, one sheep jumped to its death. Then stunned Turkish shepherds, who had left the herd to graze while they had breakfast, watched as nearly 1,500 others followed, each leaping off the same cliff,’ Turkish news media reported. In the end, 450 dead animals lay on top of one another in a billowy white pile. Those who jumped later were saved as the pile got higher and their falls more cushioned.”

Wow. What a story! It is amazing to think that these sheep would be so dumb that they would jump off a cliff to their deaths. Before you say too many mean things about the sheep, though, remember what Isaiah 53:6 says: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

What a humiliating thought it is to remember that we are spiritually what those sheep were physically. It sure makes perfect sense that we would need a good, guiding shepherd. Remember this: We are the sheep, and God is the good Shepherd.

Psalm 23 says, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” The shepherds of the cliff-jumping sheep in the news story had left their flocks in order to take a breakfast break. In other words, they were busy feeding themselves instead of watching over the sheep that were in their care. Is God that kind of shepherd? No, He laid down His life for His sheep. The Lord Who is our Shepherd never leaves or forsakes His sheep.

We may stumble and fall as we travel from pasture to pasture, but our Shepherd is always there to help us up clean us up and lead us along. Maybe you have sung the hymn that goes like this: “In shady, green pastures so rich and so sweet, God leads His dear children along.” A shepherd protects and provides for his sheep. A good shepherd leads sheep to where the grass is green and where the clear water is flowing. He makes sure they are well taken care of.

God is our Shepherd and supplies the spiritual “food” that satisfies and nourishes our souls. Are you being satisfied with the spiritual food of the God’s Word? Are you being led by the good Shepherd? Stay away from spiritual “cliffs”! Do not destroy yourself by straying and wandering from the care and guidance of the good Shepherd. Rebellion against God’s shepherding leads to spiritual death and defeat. Remember: We are the sheep. God is the good Shepherd. Cling near the Shepherd’s side. Spend time listening to His voice, and follow His leadership. If you do, you will be protected and safe. You will be provided for and satisfied. And you will enjoy the fellowship that is only possible in the presence of the Lord.

God is the good Shepherd. His sheep know His voice and follow Him.

My Response: » Am I tempted sometimes to go do my “own thing” even if it goes against God’s leading? » How should trusting in God’s direction and provision help me fight against temptations to sin against Him? » What can I do to help other “sheep” who are heading off on their own self-destructive way?