In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Weathering Our Storms

When God’s promises seem hazy, we must remind ourselves of His faithfulness in the past.

Mark 6:45-52

Yesterday we saw what happened when the disciples encountered a storm on the sea. They’d experienced many miraculous moments in their time with the Lord, but when waves battered their boat, it was as if they’d forgotten who He was. Their minds couldn’t recollect what they had witnessed about His power and purposes. Even the appearance of Jesus walking on the water did not bring immediate relief. 

When trouble strikes, we too sometimes forget what we know to be true about the Lord. We struggle to recall past answers to prayer, God’s faithfulness in earlier situations, and lessons learned in previous crises. Only the present seems real as our minds struggle with fears about the future and our troubled emotions prevent us from thinking clearly. 

Reading Scripture is the best way to remember biblical truths, but another helpful tool is a spiritual journal. It’s a place for you to document your pilgrimage with the Lord and specific details of how He’s worked in your personal life. This kind of written record can serve as a map to trace where you’ve been and how God has helped you along the way. Your current trial may be a new one—but you will be encouraged to look back and see God’s faithfulness and unchangeable nature over the years. 

Bible in One Year: 2 Samuel 23-24

Our Daily Bread — Like Us, for Us

Bible in a Year:

For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way.

Hebrews 2:17

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Hebrews 2:10–18

Derek noticed his son didn’t want to take off his shirt to swim and realized it was because he was self-conscious about a birthmark that covers parts of his chest, belly, and left arm. Determined to help his son, Derek underwent a lengthy and painful tattooing process to create an identical mark on his own body.

Derek’s love for his son reflects God’s love for His sons and daughters. Because we, His children, “have flesh and blood” (Hebrews 2:14), Jesus became like us and took on a human form and “shared in [our] humanity” to free us from the power of death (v. 14). “He had to be made like [us], fully human in every way” (v. 17) to make things right with God for us.

Derek wanted to help his son overcome his self-consciousness and so made himself “like” him. Jesus helped us overcome our far greater problem—slavery to death. He overcame it for us by making Himself like us, bearing the consequence of our sin by dying in our place.

Jesus’ willingness to share in our humanity not only secured our right relationship with God but enables us to trust Him in our moments of struggle. When we face temptation and hardship, we can lean on Him for strength and support because “he is able to help” (v. 18). Like a loving father, He understands and cares.

By:  Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

How might Jesus relate to the struggle you’re facing right now? What keeps you from leaning on Him in this moment?

Thank You, Jesus, for taking on a human form to relate to me in my struggles and pay for my wrongdoings. I want to trust You more.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Unjust Condemnation

“‘Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?’ They answered and said, ‘He is deserving of death!’” (Matthew 26:65-66).

Like many through the centuries, members of the Sanhedrin rejected Jesus Christ without fairly judging all the evidence.

Lynching is an activity we don’t hear much about today. But during earlier generations, the heinous crime occurred quite regularly. Innocent people, or those merely presumed guilty (prior to any trial), were tortured and killed, usually by angry, hateful mobs. Often the person lynched was a victim of racial or political prejudice or some other irrational fear held by the perpetrators.

The members of the Sanhedrin certainly held blind prejudices against Jesus. No amount of evidence would open their eyes to the truth of who He was. Those unbelieving leaders of Israel discounted Jesus’ claims to deity long before they placed Him on trial. He had even pleaded with them, “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father” (John 10:37-38).

In today’s passage the high priest Caiaphas reacts forcefully to Jesus’ agreement that He is God’s Son and the Messiah (see Matt. 26:64). Caiaphas’s mind was made up; he was convinced that Jesus had blasphemed, and he was determined to rush forward with this “evidence” to condemn Jesus to death. Caiaphas and the Council could barely wait to render a verdict. The high priest asked for their opinion on Jesus’ guilt, and immediately the Council members asserted, “He is deserving of death!”

The irony of the Jewish leaders’ condemnation of Jesus was their blind insistence that He was a blasphemer when in reality they were the blasphemers for their rejection of the Lord and His message. Even more sobering is that every person who has ever finally rejected Christ is also guilty of blasphemy and will suffer the same fate as the chief priests and elders: “He who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for someone you know who has been closed to the gospel. Ask God to open his or her heart and grant him or her repentance.

For Further Study

Read Hebrews 3—4. What spiritual attitude do these chapters warn of? What Old Testament parallel does the writer make?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Jesus Is Merciful

When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

— Mark 10:47 (NIV)

Mark 10:46–52 tells us the story of a man sitting beside a road begging. The man, named Bartimaeus, was blind, so we might assume he was unable to work and had to depend on people’s kindness to meet his needs.

One day, Jesus was walking down the road near Bartimaeus and heard him shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (see Mark 10:47). The crowd around Bartimaeus told him to be quiet and stop bothering Jesus. But Bartimaeus ignored them and kept crying out anyway. I believe he was determined to have an encounter with God.

Jesus had a choice to make. He could have pretended not to hear Bartimaeus, or He could have simply kept moving without saying anything. But Jesus was merciful, and His mercy was on full display toward Bartimaeus that day. He stopped and asked some of His disciples to bring Bartimaeus to Him. When Jesus asked Bartimaeus what he wanted Him to do for him and Bartimaeus responded that he wanted his sight restored, Jesus healed him.

I have said many times that mercy precedes healing. Many of us do not cry out for God’s mercy enough. There may be various reasons for this, such as feeling unworthy or spending our time trying to earn it, when we can never do so.

When people in the Scriptures found out Jesus was nearby, they went to Him and asked for mercy. Always remember that Jesus is near to you, too. You can ask Him for mercy at any time, under any circumstances, and He will hear your cry. A father whose son was terribly tormented, to the point of hurting himself, asked Jesus for mercy for the young man, and Jesus healed him (see Matt. 17:15–18). A woman whose daughter needed deliverance from demonic oppression cried out for mercy (see Matt. 15:22–28), and Jesus set her free. Ten men afflicted with the horrible disease of leprosy asked for His mercy, and He healed them all (see Luke 17:12–19). As you can imagine, they were so excited, but only one of them thought to go back to Jesus to thank Him.

A word that is similar in meaning to mercy is compassion. The King James Version of Matthew 9:36 says that as Jesus traveled and ministered, He was moved with compassion toward people. In other words, His awareness of people’s needs touched His heart. He cared about each one, and His mercy and compassion moved Him to action. His mercy is available for you today.

The Bible says that His mercies are new every morning (see Lamentations 3:22–23). When you need mercy from God, all you have to do is ask. And when He gives it to you, remember to thank Him!

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for your mercy available to me, every single day.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – The King’s Garden

… The king’s garden …

Nehemiah 3:15

Mention of the king’s garden by Nehemiah brings to mind the paradise that the King of kings prepared for Adam. Sin has utterly ruined that delightful dwelling and has driven out the children of men to till the ground, which yields thorns and thistles to them. My soul, remember the Fall, for it was your fall. Weep much because the Lord of love was so shamefully ill treated by the head of the human race, of which you are a member, as undeserving as any. Behold how dragons and demons dwell on this fair earth, which was once a garden of delights.

Look now at another King’s garden, which the King waters with His bloody sweat—Gethsemane, whose bitter herbs are far sweeter to renewed souls than the luscious fruits of Eden. In Gethsemane the mischief of the serpent in the first garden was undone: There the curse was lifted from earth and borne by the woman’s promised seed. My soul, learn to ponder Christ’s agony and passion; visit the garden of the olive-press, and view your great Redeemer rescuing you from your lost condition. This is the garden of gardens; indeed, here the soul may see the guilt of sin and the power of love, two sights that surpass all others.

Is there no other King’s garden? Yes, my heart, or should be. How do the flowers flourish? Do any choice fruits appear? Does the King walk there and rest in the arbor of my spirit? Let me ensure that the plants are trimmed and watered, and the mischievous foxes hunted out. Come, Lord, and let the heavenly wind blow at Your coming, that the spices of Your garden may cast their fragrance everywhere. I must not forget the King’s garden of the church. O Lord, send prosperity to it. Rebuild her walls, nourish her plants, ripen her fruits, and from the huge wilderness reclaim the wasteland and make of it a King’s garden.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Knows Our Ways

“Thou compasseth my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.” (Psalm 139:3)

The Matthews household was in an uproar. No one had seen the family cat all day, and it was almost time for bed. Aaron thought he had heard a faint “meow” a couple of times, but when he called, “Here, Kitty, Kitty,” Angel did not come.

The family had tried all the usual tricks, to no avail. Even the sound of the can opener and the smell of tuna had not coaxed Angel out of hiding. Their beloved cat had been with them for six years and had never gone away for more than a few hours. Whatever could have happened to her now?

Anna had an idea. She opened her closet door, and sure enough, out ran Angel, her eyes wide and black. “Meow!” she cried, and Anna followed her to the kitchen to set out the tuna and some fresh milk.

She explained to Aaron how she had gotten the idea to check the closet. “You know how Angel loves to nap on soft things? I thought maybe she might have been resting on my new fuzzy slippers this morning when I closed the closet door.” Anna left her slippers under her bed from then on, so that Angel could nap on them whenever she pleased without getting trapped in the closet again.

Just as Anna understood the ways of her pet, our Heavenly Father sees and understands everything about us. He knows our habits and our thoughts. It is not possible for us to go anywhere He cannot find us.

Jeremiah 23:24 says, “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? Saith the Lord.” Is it hard for you to remember that God knows and cares about and watches you? Meditate on this truth from Scripture, and let it change how you respond to scary situations, times of sorrow, or temptations to sin.

God knows and understands us even better than we do.

My Response:
» Do I sometimes feel like I am on my own, or like no one is watching me?
» What habits would I change if I really believed and acted like God is everywhere and knows everything and sees all that I do?
» How can remembering that God knows my ways help me to trust and obey Him more?

Denison Forum – “Oreos Gone Woke”: Nabisco produces gay-affirming movie

Oreo is the best-selling cookie brand in the US and the number one selling cookie globally. In this age of “woke” business, it’s not surprising that Oreo’s parent company, Nabisco, would want to capitalize on the popularity of their commodity. On Monday, they released a short film affirming a young Asian man who is coming out as gay.

Their film is just one example of the escalation of unbiblical sexual morality in American culture. Here are some others: GLAAD, a leading LGBTQ watchdog group, is urging Hollywood to incorporate more LGBTQ content into children’s programming. A former Disney Channel actor recently spoke of witnessing his female co-stars being sexually exploited at an early age. And new sex education guidelines in New Jersey will teach first-graders about gender identity.

“My identity isn’t a golf score”

However, if you’re discouraged by Western society’s continued decay and decline, take heart: God is still using his people in culture-changing ways.

For example, after Scottie Scheffler won the Masters last Sunday, he was asked at a press conference how he balances his fierce desire to compete without letting it define who he is as a person. He replied: “The reason why I play golf is I’m trying to glorify God and all that he’s done in my life. So for me, my identity isn’t a golf score.”

Then he added: “Like Meredith [his wife] told me this morning, ‘If you win this golf tournament today, if you lose this golf tournament by ten shots, if you never win another golf tournament again, I’m still going to love you, you’re still going to be the same person, Jesus loves you and nothing changes.’”

As a result, he said, “All I’m trying to do is glorify God and that’s why I’m here and that’s why I’m in [this] position.”

“No one ever spoke like this man!”

Yesterday we focused on the power of the Spirit to transform us into the character of Christ (Romans 8:29). Today, let’s build on this theme by focusing on one aspect of Jesus’ life and work: his brilliant mind.

On Tuesday of Holy Week, our Lord was confronted by the religious leaders of his day. They had already determined to put him to death (John 11:47–53) and now sought to bring charges that would turn the crowds against him as a false teacher and prophet.

One of their questions was especially incendiary: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” (Matthew 22:17). If Jesus said that it was, the crowds would turn against him for supporting the hated Roman Empire. If he said it was not, the Romans would arrest him for insurrection. It seemed that they had him trapped.

But Jesus turned the tables on them, asking to see the coin used to pay the tax in question. It was a denarius, with a profile of Tiberius Caesar. He then made his famous declaration, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (v. 21). Matthew records that “when they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away” (v. 22).

This event was by no means unusual in the life of our Lord. Even when he was just twelve years old, “all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers” (Luke 2:47). When he concluded the Sermon on the Mount, “The crowds were astonished at his teaching” (Matthew 7:28).

When the authorities earlier sent soldiers to arrest him (John 7:30), the officers returned empty-handed and explained, “No one ever spoke like this man!” (v. 46). Jesus was such a brilliant thinker and speaker that biblical scholar Jonathan T. Pennington could write an entire book titled Jesus the Great Philosopher. (I recommend Pennington’s work highly, by the way.)

“He will teach you all things”

Here’s my point: Jesus taught and spoke in the power of the Holy Spirit.

John said of him: “He whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure” (John 3:34). Jesus said of himself, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63).

He promised the same to us: “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26). Jesus added that the Spirit “will guide you into all the truth . . . and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13).

If we will seek and submit to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit each day, he will help us develop the “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16Philippians 2:5). We will “be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2). And we will “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

“The test of the artist”

In To Change the World, sociologist James Davison Hunter demonstrated conclusively that we change culture by achieving our highest place of influence and living there faithfully. Scottie Scheffler is an example: he was as fully devoted to Jesus before he began winning PGA tournaments as he is now that he is the world’s No. 1 golfer. But his excellence on the golf course has empowered his witness and platform off it.

You and I can follow the same culture-changing approach: work hard to be and do your best to the glory of God in daily submission to the omniscience and wisdom of the Spirit. He will “guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13) if you are willing to be led. And he will use your excellence for his glory and our good.

Thomas Aquinas observed, “The test of the artist does not lie in the will with which he goes to work, but in the excellence of the work he produces.”

What kind of work will you produce today?

NOTE: Christians today are increasingly marginalized—yet consider how the early Christians lived under Roman rule. In our new book, How to Bless God by Blessing Others, Dr. Ryan Denison looks at how the early church responded to their culture—which was arguably much more antagonistic to the Christian faith. Request your copy today to learn How to Bless God.

Denison Forum