In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Obedience: A Learning Process

Practicing obedience to earthly authorities helps us learn to obey God’s commands.

Ephesians 6:1-9

Throughout the Bible, God commands His people to obey Him. But submission doesn’t come naturally to us because we’re all born with a rebellious spirit. We must be taught to obey the Lord, and we begin to understand how to yield through interactions with people in authority over us. 

The most common place for learning obedience is the home. Today’s passage tells children to honor and obey their mother and father (Eph. 6:1-2). God planned that our earliest experiences of authority would involve submitting to parents who love and care for us. Through their admonitions and discipline, we learn what it takes to master our rebellious spirit. 

At every stage of life, God places us under leaders, whether parents, teachers, coaches, employers, or governing officials (Romans 13:1-2). Of course, like all of humanity, these people were born into sin, so they’ll make mistakes and sometimes treat us unfairly—but they’re still His instruments. Whether or not we approve of how we’re ruled, people in these roles teach us the value of obedience and the consequences of disobedience.  

We often balk at the idea of answering to someone else. But it helps to realize that the ultimate goal is to obey the Lord—and that God’s commands are for our good (Deuteronomy 10:12-13). 

Bible in One Year: 2 Samuel 1-3

Our Daily Bread — Wise Counsel

Bible in a Year:

The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.

Exodus 18:18

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Exodus 18:13–22

While attending seminary, I was working full-time. Add to that a chaplaincy rotation and an internship at a church. I was busy. When my father visited me, he said, “You’re going to have a breakdown.” I shrugged off his warning thinking he was of another generation and didn’t understand goal-setting.

I didn’t have a breakdown. But I did experience a very rough, dry season in which I fell into depression. Since then, I’ve learned to listen to warnings—especially from loved ones—more carefully.

That reminds me of Moses’ story. He too was diligently working, serving as Israel’s judge (Exodus 18:13). Yet he chose to listen to his father-in-law’s warning (vv. 17–18). Jethro wasn’t in the thick of things, but he loved Moses and his family and could see trouble ahead. Perhaps that’s why Moses was able to listen to Jethro and heed his advice. Moses set up a system for “capable men from all the people” to take on the smaller disputes, and he took the more difficult cases (vv. 21–22). Because he listened to Jethro, rearranged his work, and entrusted others to shoulder the load, he was able to avoid burnout during that season of life.

Many of us take our work for God, our families, and others seriously—passionately even. But we still need to heed the advice of trusted loved ones and to rely on the wisdom and power of God in all we do.

By:  Katara Patton

Reflect & Pray

Whose voice can you trust to remind you to serve wisely? What mechanisms do you have in place to avoid burnout? When did you implement them last?

Almighty God, thank You for allowing me to serve You in many ways. As I passionately care for others, teach me to also work wisely so that I’ll have energy to do what You want me to do.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Being Poor in Spirit

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3).

If you are poor in spirit, certain characteristics will mark your life.

The Puritan writer Thomas Watson listed seven ways to determine if you are poor in spirit (The Beatitudes [Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1971], pp. 45-48):

  1. You will be weaned from selfPsalm 131:2 says, “Like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me.” When you are poor in spirit you will focus not on yourself but on glorifying God and ministering to others.
  2. You will focus on ChristSecond Corinthians 3:18 says that believers are “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, [and] are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” When you are poor in spirit, the wonder of Christ captivates you. To be like Him is your highest goal.
  3. You will never complain—If you are poor in spirit you accept God’s sovereign control over your circumstances, knowing you deserve nothing anyway. Yet the greater your needs, the more abundantly He provides.
  4. You will see good in others—A person who is poor in spirit recognizes his own weaknesses and appreciates the strengths of others.
  5. You will spend time in prayer—It is characteristic of beggars to beg. Therefore you will constantly be in God’s presence seeking His strength and blessing.
  6. You will take Christ on His terms—Those who are poor in spirit will give up anything to please Christ, whereas the proud sinner wants simply to add Christ to his sinful lifestyle.
  7. You will praise and thank God—When you are poor in spirit, you will be filled with praise and thanks for the wonder of God’s grace, which He lavishes on you through Christ (Eph. 1:6).

Do those principles characterize your life? If so, you are poor in spirit and the kingdom of heaven is yours (Matt. 5:3). If not, you must seek God’s forgiveness and begin to live as His humble child.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart, revealing any attitudes or motives that displease Him. Seek His grace in changing them.

For Further Study

Read 3 John. Would you characterize Gaius as poor in spirit? Diotrephes? Explain.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Know the Truth

…If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. And You will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.

— John 8:31-32 (AMPC)

In my book Battlefield of the Mind, I shared about Mary’s husband, John, a low-key type of person. He was a man who had been verbally abused by his mother and taunted by playmates in childhood. He hated confrontation and couldn’t stand up to Mary’s strong will. In his own way, John was as much a prisoner as his wife. He blamed her; she blamed him and here we see Satan’s deceptive ways again.

John was convinced that it didn’t do any good to stand up to anyone; he was going to lose anyway. He thought the only way to get along was to be quiet and accept whatever happened.

John also believed another lie of the devil—that he wasn’t truly loved by God. How could he be? He wasn’t worth loving. Because he felt that way; he had believed the devil’s lies. “I felt as if God said to the world, ‘Believe in Jesus and you’ll be saved.’ I got in on package deal, but I never felt I was worth loving.”

That is one of Satan’s biggest lies: “You are nobody. You are not worth anything.” If the enemy of your mind can convince you that you’re too bad or too worthless, he has set up a stronghold in your mind.

Although John was a Christian, his mind had been imprisoned by his enemy. John had to learn that he is important to God. For a long time, he did not know the truth. His mother had not told him that he was good, worthwhile, and a child of God. His friends didn’t encourage him, and in the first years of marriage to Mary, her criticism convinced him even further that he was a hopeless failure.

John had to learn and know that he is loved, and that he is as valuable to the kingdom of God as Paul, Moses, or anybody else. Jesus cares for him, and He is with him. For John to win his battle and cast down the mental strongholds the devil built, he needed to know the truth. Jesus said, If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free (John 8:31b-32 AMPC). John learned the truth as he read God’s Word, prayed, and meditated on what it says. He also learned as he applied God’s Word to his daily life and experienced it working as Jesus said it would. Experience is often the best teacher. I have learned from the Word of God and life’s experiences that God’s Word is filled with power and will tear down the strongholds Satan has built in our minds.

You cannot be free unless you know that the weapons of warfare are available to you and that you can learn to use them. As you learn to resist Satan and call him a liar, your life will change dramatically for the better.

Prayer Starter: Lord God of heaven, remind me that I am important to You and that I am loved by You, even if I don’t feel loved. Help me to learn that I am as important to You as any other Christian and that You love me as much as You love them. I thank You in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – An Exploit of Climbing

Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord.

Isaiah 2:3

It is exceedingly beneficial to our souls to rise above this present evil world to something nobler and better. The cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches are apt to choke everything good within us, and we grow fretful, desponding, perhaps proud and carnal. It is good for us to cut down these thorns and briers, because heavenly seed sown among them is not likely to yield a harvest.

Where will we find a better scythe with which to cut them down than communion with God and the things of the kingdom? There are places in the world where the lowlands are a breeding ground for sickness. Doctors will often suggest that their patients head for the mountains where they can breathe the clear, fresh air. Heeding such advice, the valley dwellers leave their homes among the marshes and the fever mists to inhale the bracing elements upon the hills.

It is to such an exploit of climbing that I invite you this evening. May the Spirit of God assist us to leave the mists of fear and the fevers of anxiety and all the ills that gather in this valley of earth, and to ascend the mountains of anticipated joy and blessedness. May God the Holy Spirit cut the cords that keep us here below and enable us to climb! We are too often like chained eagles fastened to the perch, and even worse, unlike the eagle, we begin to love our chain and might even, if it came to the test, be loath to have it snapped.

May God now grant us grace, if we cannot escape from the chain as to our flesh, yet to do so as to our spirits; and leaving the body, like a servant, at the foot of the hill, may our soul, like Abraham, reach the top of the mountain, so that we can enjoy communion with the Most High.

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 Obey His Word

“Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go; keep her; for she is thy life.” (Proverbs 4:13)

Pretend you have invented something very special. It took a very long time for you to design, and it is very useful. Let’s say you call it a “Jillipy-Bop.” The Jillipy-Bop is so special and useful that all your friends tell you they want a Jillipy-Bop of their own! Your parents are so impressed with the Jillipy-Bop that they help you get your Jillipy-Bop patented, mass-produced, and marketed. A store in your hometown has agreed to sell your Jillipy-Bops, and you are now in business!

However, your Jillipy-Bops each come with some small parts that the buyer must put together before it works. You must put a set of instructions in every Jillipy-Bop box. You write up the instructions and ship out the boxed Jillipy-Bops. The instructions you wrote up are very simple, so you are sure that no one will have trouble putting your invention together if they follow the instructions.

But soon you receive a letter from a customer that has a problem with his Jillipy-Bop. “This thing doesn’t work!” the customer writes. “I want my money back!” This customer includes his name, address and telephone number, so your parents tell you that, as a businessman, it would be wise if you call and try to find out what happened.

Your first question is” “Was the Jillipy-Bop broken during shipment?” The answer: “Well, no.”

Your next question: “Were all the parts there?” The answer: “Yes, I guess so.”

Finally: “Were the instructions in your box?” The answer: “Yes, I guess so.”

“Did you read the instructions carefully before you tried to put your Jillipy-Bop together?”

There is a long silence…so you decide to ask him again: “Did you read the instructions carefully before you put your Jillipy-Bop together?”

The answer, when it finally comes out, is spoken very quietly: “No. But I thought it looked easy enough that I could put it together myself. The instructions are still in the box.”

Your reply: “In order for it to work properly, you have to read and follow the instructions. When I hang up, read the instructions , take your Jillipy-Bop apart, and put it back together again. Then call me back and let me know if it works.”

Later the phone rings, and a much more cheerful voice tells you that after following the instructions, he put the Jillipy-Bop together. It is working perfectly now, and he thanks you.

You might think this is a silly story, but it illustrates something that happens every day in many believers’ lives. We get frustrated because it is hard for us to trust God or to respond rightly when we are in trouble. We get confused about what we ought to do or how we should handle a certain situation. And sometimes we call out to God and say, “Why isn’t this working? Why does this have to be so hard? I don’t know what I’m doing wrong! I want to give up!”

The last place we seem to want to look is God’s Word–and yet it is our very best source for the wisdom we need! Our “instructions” from God are all in the Bible. If our Bibles go un-touched and un-read, we cannot expect to know what God says about “life” and “how to handle it.” We will go through life trying to figure it out on our own, without any clue what God is trying to teach us! God’s instructions are not all that difficult, if we will just be willing to follow them. He desires for us to be able to “put all the pieces together” for His glory and for our good.

Proverbs 23:12 says, “Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.” To “apply your heart” means to heed, or pay serious attention to. Are you paying attention to God’s Word?

God wants us to read and obey the instructions that He gives in His Word.

My Response:
» Am I serious about reading God’s Word and “hearing” His instructions for life?
» Do I decide daily to obey God’s instructions for life?

Denison Forum – Denzel Washington on Will Smith slapping Chris Rock: “The only solution was prayer”

Denzel Washington spoke at pastor T. D. Jakes’ International Leadership Summit last Saturday, where he explained his reaction when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Academy Awards last week. Washington went immediately to speak with Smith, a decision he explained to the group: “I don’t know all the ins and outs of this situation, but I know the only solution was prayer, the way I saw it, the way I see it.”

In other headline news, North Carolina defeated Duke last Saturday in what is being called a “game for the ages” and will play Kansas in tonight’s NCAA men’s basketball championship. When Hubert Davis, North Carolina’s first-year coach, was introduced last April, he told a press conference that his faith “is the most important thing to me. My faith and foundation is firmly in my relationship with Jesus. It just is.”

By contrast, this Atlantic headline caught my eye: “Why People Are Acting So Weird.” The writer documents a variety of ways people are acting more rudely and violently and points to heightened stress, the increased use of alcohol and drugs, and isolation enforced by the pandemic.

Today’s news offers tragic examples: at least six people were killed and at least twelve were wounded in a shooting yesterday morning in Sacramento, California. A man was shot to death in Atlanta. And one person was killed and at least eleven people were hospitalized Saturday night after a shooting incident at a concert in Dallas.

In light of all the bad news, how are Americans doing? In a recent Gallup poll, only 17 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with the direction of the country. However, 85 percent were satisfied with their own lives.

This disparity highlights the point I want to make today.

The challenge of “compassion fatigue”

Denzel Washington and Hubert Davis are Christians who act on their faith when the opportunity arises. By contrast, the perennial temptation in Western culture is to keep our personal lives and our public lives separate.

This temptation extends not only to our actions but also to our intercession. “Compassion fatigue” is a real challenge in these hard days.

For example, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appeared on screen last night at the Grammy Awards. His speech began: “The war. What’s more opposite than music.” In reference to the music industry’s biggest night, he said, “Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos. They sing to the wounded in hospitals.”

When you see the daily reports about the ongoing tragedy in Ukraine, are you praying with the same passion you did a month ago?

Here’s another example: Ramadan began last Friday. There are more than two billion Muslims in the world, each of whom rejects the divinity of Jesus and is therefore without true hope of eternal life (cf. Romans 8:9). Does this fact weigh on your heart today?

By contrast, our Father loves each of us as if there were only one of us, Muslims included. And he is working in the Muslim world in ways we have not seen in Islamic history.

A sheikh leading other sheikhs to Christ

My friend Tom Doyle has been ministering in the Middle East for many years. His marvelous book, Dreams and Visions: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World? tells story after story of ways God is “awakening” the Muslim world by his Spirit.

Over the weekend, I read a companion book, David Garrison’s A Wind in the House of Islam: How God is drawing Muslims around the world to faith in Jesus Christ. Garrison reinforces Tom’s point by documenting statistically the fact that “Muslim movements to Jesus Christ are taking place in numbers we’ve never seen before.” He reports on nine different geographical regions in the Muslim world, identifying eighty-two movements to Christ in “what appears to be a historic hinge moment in the spread of the gospel across the Muslim world.”

Here’s just one example: Sheikh Hakim is a hafez, which means he has memorized the Qur’an. He told Garrison, “If someone said that Jesus was God, we would kill him. When I was a Muslim, I burned churches for Islam.”

He was an overseer of four mosques and was training three hundred Islamic teachers when an African evangelist gave him a New Testament in Arabic. “That night Isa [Jesus] came to me in a dream,” he says. He saw himself chopping down a mosque’s minaret. When he told the evangelist, “He smiled and explained to me, ‘You are going to win many sheikhs to the Lord.’”

When Hakim came to faith in Christ, he lost his job and his farm, and his father tried to murder him. Today he moves from town to town because there are always some trying to kill him. He has since led four hundred Muslim sheikhs to Christ, more than three hundred of whom have already been baptized.

Three ways to pray today

I invite you to join me in three prayer requests today.

First, ask God to give you his heart for our hurting world so that you can pray with passionate compassion.

Second, pray each day during the month of Ramadan (April 2–May 1) for millions of Muslims to come to faith in Jesus and for God to protect Ukraine, end this war, and redeem this tragedy.

Third, pray for the Spirit to move in power in our churches and broken culture. We have never needed a spiritual awakening more than we need a transformative movement of God today.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on this day in 1968. He died knowing that the movement for racial justice he led would ultimately triumph. While we still have far to go, we can claim his testimony as our own today: “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”

Will you pray for the passion to speak unarmed truth in unconditional love today?

Denison Forum