In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Looking Beyond Disappointment

We’ve all felt disappointed by God at some point, but the key is to remember His ways are better than ours.

John 11:1-15

Disappointment is an emotional response to dashed hopes, goals, and desires. Sometimes it’s the result of circumstances beyond our control, but when others are involved, it’s easy to blame them for the situation. We might even lose faith in the person we think let us down. 

Martha and Mary could relate. The gospel of John tells us that Jesus loved Martha, her sister Mary, and their brother Lazarus (John 11:5). Because of this, they expected He would come immediately after learning that Lazarus was sick. But Jesus didn’t come until after Lazarus had died.  

We’re often like Martha and Mary. We pray for God to intervene in a situation the way that we desire. But if He doesn’t, we’re confused and disappointed in Him. Now, maybe we don’t voice these feelings, but we’ve all felt let down. 

Today’s passage reminds us that the Lord has higher purposes than we can perceive. Don’t let your disappointment shape your view of God. Instead, rely on what you know to be true about Him—that His love for you never fails, and He orchestrates all the events in your life for His glory and your ultimate good. When you’re feeling disappointed, the best response is simply to trust Him. 

Bible in One Year: 1 Samuel 25-26

Our Daily Bread — Witness Marks

Bible in a Year:

Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.

Romans 15:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Romans 15:1–6

“See that?” The clock repairman pointed his flashlight beam on a small, fine mark roughly engraved inside the old grandfather clock he was working on in our home. “Another repairman could have put that there almost a century ago,” he said. “It’s called a ‘witness mark,’ and it helps me know how to set the mechanism.”

Before the age of technical bulletins and repair manuals, “witness marks” were used to help the person making a future repair align moving parts with precision. They were more than just time-saving reminders; they were often left as a simple kindness to the next person doing the work.

The Bible encourages us to leave our own “witness marks” as we work for God by serving others in our broken world. The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome: “Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up” (Romans 15:2). This is the example of our God, “who gives endurance and encouragement” (v. 5). It’s about being a good citizen of both earth and heaven.

Our “witness marks” may seem like small things, but they can make a vital difference in someone’s life. An uplifting word, a financial gift to someone in need, and a listening ear—all are kindnesses that can have a lasting impact. May God help you make a mark for Him in someone’s life today!

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

What “witness marks” have others left in your life to encourage you? What simple kindness can you do for another believer today?

Almighty Father, thank You for the loving-kindness You’ve shown me through Your Son, Jesus. Please help me to reflect Your love in even the smallest things I do today.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Cultivating Beatitude Attitudes

“When [Jesus] saw the multitudes, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.  And opening His mouth He began to teach them” (Matt. 5:1-2).

Only Christians know true happiness because they know Christ, who is its source.

Jesus’ earthly ministry included teaching, preaching, and healing. Wherever He went He generated great excitement and controversy. Usually great multitudes of people followed Him as He moved throughout the regions of Judea and Galilee. Thousands came for healing, many came to mock and scorn, and some came in search of truth.

On one such occasion Jesus delivered His first recorded message: the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7). In it He proclaimed a standard of living diametrically opposed to the standards of His day—and ours. Boldly denouncing the ritualistic, hypocritical practices of the Jewish religious leaders, He taught that true religion is a matter of the heart or mind. People will behave as their hearts dictate (Luke 6:45), so the key to transformed behavior is transformed thinking.

At the beginning of His sermon Jesus presented the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12): a list of the godly attitudes that mark a true believer and insure true happiness. The Greek word translated “blessed” in those verses speaks of happiness and contentment. The rest of the sermon discusses the lifestyle that produces it.

Jesus taught that happiness is much more than favorable circumstances and pleasant emotions. In fact, it doesn’t necessarily depend on circumstances at all. It is built on the indwelling character of God Himself. As your life manifests the virtues of humility, sorrow over sin, gentleness, righteousness, mercy, purity of heart, and peace, you will experience happiness that even severe persecution can’t destroy.

As we study the Beatitudes, I pray you will be more and more conformed to the attitudes they portray and that you will experience true happiness in Christ.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Holy Spirit to minister to you through our daily studies. Be prepared to make any attitude changes that He might prompt.

For Further Study

Read the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7).

  • What issues did Christ address?
  • How did His hearers react to His teaching? How do you?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Don’t Avoid the Pain of Change

He restores my soul….

— Psalm 23:3 (NKJV)

For a period of time in my life, I rebuked whatever I didn’t want because I thought it must be from the devil. I rebuked the devil until my “rebuker” was just totally worn out. But then I discovered that lot of what I was trying to rebuke was from God. Many things I did not like or want were things God had allowed for my growth and development.

The writer of Hebrews said that we must submit to the discipline of God. He chastises us only because He loves us. Don’t try to resist what God intends to use for your good. Ask the Lord to do a deep and thorough work in you so you can be all He wants you to be, do all He wants you to do, and have all that He wants you to have.

During my years of resisting anything that was painful or difficult, the simple truth is that I did not grow spiritually. I kept going around and around the same old mountains (problems). Finally, I realized that I was trying to avoid pain, but I had pain anyway. The pain of staying the way we are is much worse than the pain of changing.

Our personality is our soul (mind, will, and emotions), but often it has been wounded by our experiences in the world. God promises to restore our souls if we will cooperate with the work of the Holy Spirit in us. I had a broken soul, one that had no peace or joy, but God has made me whole, and He wants to do the same for you.

Prayer Starter: Lord, thank You for loving me enough to bring me through the hard and painful things in life, so that I can learn and grow in You, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – It Is Time

It is the time to seek the Lord.

Hosea 10:12

The month of April is said to derive its name from the Latin verb aperio, which means to open, because all the buds and blossoms are now opening, and we have arrived at the gates of the flowery season.

Reader, if you are not yet saved, may your heart, in keeping with the universal awakening of nature, be opened to receive the Lord. Every blossoming flower warns you that it is time to seek the Lord; do not be out of tune with nature, but let your heart bud and bloom with holy desires. If you tell me that the warm blood of youth leaps in your veins, then I entreat you, give your vigor to the Lord. It was my unspeakable happiness to be called in early youth, and I am thankful to the Lord every day for that. Salvation is priceless, let it come when it may, but oh, an early salvation has a double value in it.

Young men and women, since you may die before you reach your prime, “It is the time to seek the Lord.” You who feel the first signs of decay, quicken your pace: That chest pain, that biopsy report, are warnings that you must not trifle with; with you it is definitely time to seek the Lord. Did I observe a little gray, a little thinning in your hair? Years are flying by, and death is drawing nearer by the day; let each return of spring arouse you to set your house in order.

Dear reader, if you are now advanced in years, let me entreat and implore you to delay no longer. There is a day of grace for you now—be thankful for that—but it is a limited season and grows shorter every time the clock ticks. Here in the silence of your room, on this first night of another month, I speak to you as best I can by paper and ink, and from my inmost soul, as God’s servant, I lay before you this warning, “It is the time to seek the Lord.” Do not make light of this; it may be your last call from destruction, the final syllable from the lip of grace.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Wants Us To Bear Fruit

“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing…. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” (John 15:5,16)

“These are the best apples in the world!” exclaimed Savannah.

“You like those, eh?” asked Grandpa Gooberman.

“Yes, I do!” replied Savannah, with bits of apple flying out of her mouth.

With a twinkle in his eye, Grandpa Gooberman said, “Yup. Sure was a good harvest. I picked them right off of the pear tree this year.”

Savannah stopped chewing, mid-bite. “You did what?”

Grandpa Gooberman took out his red handkerchief and appeared to be blowing his nose. “I picked them off the pear tree!”

“How could you get apples from a pear tree?” asked Savannah.

“Why do you ask? You don’t think it’s possible?”

“No, way! That’s impossible!”

Of course, Grandpa Gooberman did not pick the apples off a pear tree. But why would he tell his granddaughter that? It was because he wanted to teach her a lesson about her relationship with God. Grandpa Gooberman asked Savannah to run and go get his Bible. As she opened the old, worn Bible, she saw that it was full of verses that were underlined and had lots of notes in the margins.

Grandpa Gooberman turned the pages to the book of John. He wanted to show her two verses. The first verse was John 15:5. In John 15, we are described as branches and Jesus is the Vine. Jesus was using this description as a way of teaching that if you really do have a relationship with Him, you will produce a certain kind of fruit. Just like an apple tree produces apples, and just like a pear tree produce pears, a Christian must and will produce fruit that is consistent with Christ.

The second verse that Grandpa Gooberman wanted Savannah to see was verse 16. He showed her in the verse that God has chosen people, and that He has special purposes in mind for them: to save them and to help them produce good works. He reminded her that the book of Ephesians teaches us that good works do not save us, but that, as the book of James teaches us, good works are always a fruit of salvation.

So, the whole point of Grandpa Gooberman’s lesson was to remind Savannah that if she was trusting in Christ as the only way of salvation, then she should be bearing the “fruit” of good works. Just as it is impossible for a pear tree to produce apples, it is impossible for a non-Christian to do good works that please God.

God wants every believer to produce the good works that are appropriate (fitting) for a child of God.

My Response:
» Am I really trusting in God for salvation?
» What “good works” does the Bible command us to do?
» Is my life marked by the fruit of Christian?

Denison Forum – Atheist is “ready to give God a try”: An April Fool’s Day reflection

 “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” —Psalm 14:1

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus illustrated the unpredictability of life with his now-famous metaphor, “You cannot step into the same river twice.” He might have been reading the news:

  • Skippy is recalling 161,692 pounds of peanut butter because of possible contamination with stainless steel fragments.
  • Bruce Willis is retiring from acting after being diagnosed with aphasia, a language disorder caused by brain damage that affects a person’s communication ability.
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians is unexpectedly retiring.
  • A massive pileup caused by a sudden snow squall on a Pennsylvania highway involved eighty vehicles and left six people dead.
  • Singer Tom Parker passed away from brain cancer at the age of thirty-three.
  • Americans will be able to choose a gender X designation on passport applications starting April 11.
  • Yesterday was the international “Transgender Day of Visibility.”

In contrast to the constant flux and chaos of our fallen world, the Bible proclaims of our Maker, “From everlasting to everlasting you are God!” (Psalm 90:2). But fewer Americans than ever seem to agree.

Secularism continues to grow in the US. According to Pew Research, roughly three in ten Americans have no religious affiliation of any kind. Younger generations are less engaged in church than their parents; many committed Christians are not active in a local congregation.

On this April Fool’s Day, let’s consider King David’s admonition in Psalm 14:1: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” His observation applies not just to atheists and secularists but also to committed Christians in ways we may not fully appreciate today.

“The most dangerous period since the Soviet Union collapsed”

Our secular culture increasingly insists that personal authenticity is the path to flourishing, defining authenticity as “a feeling that people interpret as a sign that what they are doing in the moment aligns with their true self.”

Historian Carl Trueman calls this viewpoint “expressive individualism.” He explains that it enables a person to believe they are “a woman trapped in a man’s body” or that an unborn child is an organism encroaching on a woman’s life she is therefore free to remove. As I note in The Coming Tsunami, Christians who disagree are stigmatized as outdated, intolerant, oppressive, and even dangerous to society.

And yet, we might ask, how is this radical secularism working for us?

Consider this statement by the Wall Street Journal editorial board: “The world is entering the most dangerous period since the Soviet Union collapsed, and perhaps since the 1930s.” The editorial focuses on geopolitical dangers, but we could add the opioid epidemic and other “deaths of despair,” deepening political sectarianism that threatens democracy, and the escalating crime rate in the US.

“I think we are ready to listen”

In response, an op-ed in the Dallas Morning News caught my eye: “I’m an atheist, but between COVID and nuclear weapons, I’m ready to give God a try.”

Josh Selig is a ten-time Emmy Award-winning television producer and director. He writes: “We’ve entered a pantomime of our own lives. More often than not, it feels like we’re pretending. Pretending to live. Pretending to work. I read an article that said more people than ever are quitting their jobs. Perhaps it’s because our jobs no longer seem important. Not much does. All of our ceremonies feel unceremonious.”

He then tells God: “Although I check daily, there are no answers in my newsfeed, in my inbox, or on my phone. So, I’ve come to you. If you don’t exist then, of course, never mind. The joke’s on me. But if you do exist, and I suspect in your own way you do, then I hope you’ll get back to me.”

Selig concludes: “I’m here. We are all here. And, finally, I think we are ready to listen. Hope to see you on the mountain one day.”

Secular reasons for spiritual engagement

An atheist indeed has good reasons to “listen.” Contrary to American secularism, religion is growing dramatically around the world. Ramadan begins tonight, a month of fasting in Islam that is just one example of religion’s pervasive attraction for billions of people. (For more, see Shane Bennett’s article on our website, “4 things every Christian should know about Ramadan.”)

Even secular writers agree that “on average, religious people are generally happier, healthier, and live longer” and that “religious people are more likely to feel that they belong to a community.” Numerous studies show that the rituals and social bonding inherent in religious engagement are vital to flourishing.

The health benefits of religion are clear as well: a comprehensive Harvard study found that people who attend religious services weekly or more are 16 percent less likely to become depressed and show a 29 percent reduction in smoking and 34 percent reduction in heavy drinking.

For secular reasons alone, Psalm 14:1 turns out to be right.

Why Scottie Scheffler plays golf

Scottie Scheffler poses for photos with the trophy after winning the Dell Technologies Match Play Championship golf tournament, Sunday, March 27, 2022, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

However, the best evidence for biblical faith is its transformative effect on those who embrace it.

Pro golfer Scottie Scheffler is an example. Now ranked #1 in the world heading into next week’s Masters, Scheffler was profiled in Golf Digest after winning a difficult tournament last month. He explained how he keeps his composure under pressure: “I don’t place my value in golf. It’s kind of a tough balance because I spend so much of my time trying to improve and to be good at this game.

“You’ve really got to look at the motivation for why I play. For me, I have a relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s why I play golf. I’m out here to compete because that’s where he wants me. He’s in control of what happens in the end. So just really staying the course and staying faithful and letting him be the guidance for me versus anything that I do.”

When secular people like Josh Selig see the way our truth has changed our lives, they may consider making it their truth. When they do, they meet the Truth (John 14:6).

Is the Truth your truth today?

Denison Forum