In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Learning From Failure

We’re bound to make mistakes in our journey with God, and we must respond with repentance.

Luke 22:54-62

Peter was a man of great faith and bold action, but his brash style sometimes led him to make humiliating mistakes. More than once, he probably felt like a failure rather than a faithful disciple. 

I’m sure we can all relate when it comes to falling short of our own expectations. Learning to obey God is a process, and failure is a part of our development as humble servants. When we yield to temptation or rebel against God’s authority, we soon realize that sin has few rewards. 

We’d all prefer to grow in our faith without any missteps at all, but we can’t deny that our failures are instructive. They teach us humility, which is an essential character trait for those who follow Jesus. To eliminate pride, it’s important to admit that we can’t do life on our own—we need a God whose ways and purposes are higher than ours. 

The Lord doesn’t reward rebellion or wrongdoing, but He blesses those who repent and embrace chastisement as a tool for growth (Proverbs 28:13). So make it your goal to be a pliable student in the Lord’s hands, and thank Him for using your failures to benefit you while bringing Him glory.

Bible in One Year: 1 Kings 1-2

Our Daily Bread — Carried by Love

Bible in a Year:

I have made you and I will carry you.

Isaiah 46:4

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Isaiah 46:1–10

My four-year-old grandson sat on my lap and patted my bald head, studying it intently. “Papa,” he asked, “What happened to your hair?” “Oh,” I laughed, “I lost it over the years.” His face turned thoughtful: “That’s too bad,” he responded. “I’ll have to give you some of mine.”

I smiled at his compassion and pulled him close for a hug. Reflecting later on his love for me in that cherished moment also caused me to ponder God’s selfless, generous love.

G. K. Chesterton wrote: “We have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.” By this he meant that the “Ancient of Days” (Daniel 7:9) is untainted by sin’s decay—God is ageless and loves us exuberantly with a love that never falters or fades. He’s fully willing and able to fulfill the promise He made to His people in Isaiah 46: “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you” (v. 4).

Five verses later He explains, “I am God, and there is none like me” (v. 9). The great “I am” (Exodus 3:14) loves us so deeply that He went to the extreme of dying on the cross to bear the full weight of our sin, so that we might turn to Him and be free of our burden and gratefully worship Him forever!

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

In what ways does God carry you through each day? How can you draw new strength from Him in this moment?

Beautiful Savior, I’m so thankful Your love for me never grows old! Help my love for You to grow ever deeper.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Being Filled with Mercy

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matt. 5:7).

Mercy is a characteristic of true believers.

Like the other beatitudes, Matthew 5:7 contains a twofold message: to enter the kingdom you must seek mercy. Once there, you must show mercy to others.

The thought of showing mercy probably surprised Christ’s audience because both the Jews and the Romans tended to be merciless. The Romans exalted justice, courage, discipline, and power. To them mercy was a sign of weakness. For example, if a Roman father wanted his newborn child to live, he simply held his thumb up; if he wanted it to die, he held his thumb down.

Jesus repeatedly rebuked the Jewish religious leaders for their egotistical, self-righteous, and condemning attitudes. They were intolerant of anyone who failed to live by their traditions. They even withheld financial support from their own needy parents (Matt. 15:3-9).

Like the people of Jesus’ time, many people today also lack mercy. Some are outright cruel and unkind, but most are so consumed with their quest for self-gratification that they simply neglect others.

Christians, on the other hand, should be characterized by mercy. In fact, James used mercy to illustrate true faith: “What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself” (James 2:14- 17). He also said mercy is characteristic of godly wisdom: “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy” (3:17).

As one who has received mercy from God, let mercy be the hallmark of your life.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for His great mercy.
  • Ask Him to give you opportunities to show mercy to others today.

For Further Study

Read Luke 10:25-37.

  • Who questioned Jesus and what was his motive?
  • What characteristics of mercy were demonstrated by the Samaritan traveler?
  • What challenge did Jesus give His hearer? Are you willing to meet that challenge?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Purchased by the Blood of Jesus

In Him we have redemption (deliverance and salvation) through His blood, the remission (forgiveness) of our offenses (shortcomings and trespasses), in accordance with the riches and the generosity of His gracious favor.

— Ephesians 1:7 (AMPC)

Say aloud to yourself, “I was bought and cleansed from sin with a price; purchased with a preciousness; paid for and made God’s own.” You are delivered from sin and all the “death” it brings with it.

Worry, anxiety, and fear are forms of death. Strife, bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness are forms of death. The blood of Jesus is the only antidote for death. Jesus’ blood is precious before the Father and should be precious to us. A precious thing is something we protect, something we are careful with, and something we don’t want to part with. The blood of Jesus is precious, and it allows us to be close to our heavenly Father. His sacrifice lifted the veil between God and man, and now we have free access and an opportunity for closeness and intimacy with God (see Hebrews 10:18–22).

The blood of Jesus cleanses us from sin and will continuously cleanse us (see 1 John 1:9). His blood is like a powerful cleansing agent. Just as our blood works to keep our bodies cleansed of all poison, the blood of Jesus continuously cleanses us from sin in all its forms and manifestations.

Prayer Starter: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your blood, shed for me. Thank You for the forgiveness that Your blood gives me from all sin and all its forms.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – He Was Made Sin

He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.

Leviticus 1:4

Our Lord’s being “made … sin”1 for us is pictured here by the very significant transfer of sin to the bullock, which was done by the elders of the people. The laying of the hand was not a mere touch of contact, for in some other places of Scripture the original word has the meaning of leaning heavily, as in the expression, “Your wrath lies heavy upon me” (Psalm 88:7).

Surely this is the very essence and nature of faith, which not only brings us into contact with the great Substitute, but also teaches us to lean upon Him with all the burden of our guilt. Jehovah made all the offenses of His covenant people rest upon the Substitute, and each one of the chosen is brought personally to confirm this solemn covenant act, when by grace he is enabled by faith to lay his hand upon the head of the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world.

Believer, do you remember that wonderful day when you first realized pardon through Jesus the sin-bearer? Can you make a glad confession and join with the writer in saying, “My soul recalls the day of deliverance with delight. Burdened with guilt and full of fears, I saw my Savior as my Substitute, and I laid my hand upon Him—timidly at first, but courage grew and confidence was confirmed until I leaned my soul entirely upon Him. And now it is my unceasing joy to know that my sins are no longer imputed to me but are laid on Him. Like the debts of the wounded traveler, Jesus, like the good Samaritan, has said of all my future sinfulness, ‘Set that to My account.’”

Blessed discovery! Eternal solace of a grateful heart!

My numerous sins transferr’d to Him,
Shall never more be found,
Lost in His blood’s atoning stream,
Where every crime is drown’d!

1) 2 Corinthians 5:21

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 Magnified When We Serve with His Strength

“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:11)

What does it mean to “minister…as of the ability which God giveth”? It means that when we do work for the Lord, we ought to do it by His power, and not in our own strength.

Our talents and abilities all come from God. Even the time that we have to serve God is given to us by God! But sometimes believers start to forget that without Christ, they can do nothing . (See John 15:5.) They start relying and depending on their own efforts and their own ideas and their own hard work–and they forget to rely and depend on God. In fact, they forget God altogether sometimes! These believers need to be humble and remember that they need God”s strength in order to do ministry work that glorifies Him.

On the other hand, some believers are afraid to get too involved with ministry work. They think, “I am not talented enough. I am uncomfortable in situations. So-and-so is a better such-and-such than I would be. I don”t really have time. I don”t really feel ”up to” this kind of a thing.” Sometimes, believers start to forget that through Christ, they can do anything that He wants them to do. (See Philippians 4:13.) These believers need to be encouraged and remember that they have God”s strength available to them, and that it honors Him when His people use that strength for His work.

When you help clean at your church”s meeting place, did you know that what you do ought to reflect your dependence on God”s strength? When you obey your parents, you should do so in dependence upon the Lord. When you offer to do yard work for an elderly couple in your neighborhood, or when you take care of your younger siblings, or when you are asked to do a ministry job that just really scares you for some reason–remember that you can do it with God”s help, and that it is a glory to God when you serve with the strength He gives you.

Think about the last time you offered to do some work as a ministry to someone. Were you doing it for the right reasons? Were you counting on your own ideas and your own efforts? Were you hoping to get some special recognition for all your hard labor and devoted sacrifices? Or were you really just taking the gifts and skills God has given you and glorifying Him by serving in His strength? Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Do your good works point others” attention just to you? Or do they point to your Father in heaven?

An old preacher used to say, “A Christian is the only ”Bible” some people will ever read.” What kind of things are others “reading” about your God and His people when you serve? When you have a chance to minister to someone, honor God with your service: Minister to that person as God Himself would have you minister to that person.

God has given us abilities, time, and energy so that we can rely on and glorify His strength.

My Response:
» How do I respond to ministry opportunities?
» Am I using my gifts and skills and time for myself, or do I use them to honor God and help others?
» How can I change the way I serve so that my ministry will point others to my almighty God?

Denison Forum – The latest on the Brooklyn subway shooting: The urgency and power of a “Silent Wednesday”

 “He would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (Luke 5:16).

An intensive manhunt is underway at this hour for the man who set off smoke grenades and fired a handgun on a crowded Brooklyn subway train yesterday morning. Ten people were hit by gunfire, making the shooting the worst in the history of the New York City subway. Another thirteen people suffered injuries related to the attack.

In other New York news, Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin, the No. 2 official to Gov. Kathy Hochul, resigned yesterday after he was arrested in a federal corruption investigation. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has paid a fine for breaking lockdown rules at Downing Street, making him the first holder of his office in living memory to be sanctioned for breaking the law while in office.

An Olympian’s mother was killed by a stray bullet while sewing in her Connecticut home. A youth minister in the Dallas area was arrested after multiple child sexual assault allegations. Inflation has risen to the highest level since 1981 as economists warn about a possible recession by the end of the year. Sexually transmitted infections in the US surged to a record high in 2020. All this as Vladimir Putin vows to continue Russia’s bloody invasion of Ukraine.

In the midst of such challenging times, this story could be a cultural parable: an enormous container ship has been stuck in the Chesapeake Bay for more than a month. After other attempts to free the ship proved unsuccessful, the next course of action will be to remove cargo containers from the boat to lighten it.

If we cannot change the world, we can change the way we respond to it.

“The great enemy of spiritual life”

This day in Holy Week is sometimes called “Silent Wednesday” since the Gospels do not record any activities by our Lord on this day. So far as we know, Jesus spent the day in Bethany at the home of his dear friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, preparing for the monumental events to come.

Do you and I need to follow his example?

I just read John Mark Comer’s marvelous book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry and recommend it most highly. This very transparent (and humorous) pastor tells his story of learning to imitate Jesus’ approach to time and the challenges of life. Early in the book, he quotes noted philosopher Dallas Willard: “Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

Comer notes that for much of history, life was experienced within the rhythms of nature, sleeping at night and working during the day. Then, in 1370, the first public clock tower was erected in Cologne, Germany, creating “artificial time.” As a result, Comer writes, “We stopped listening to our bodies and started rising when our alarms droned their oppressive siren—not when our bodies were done resting. We became more efficient, yes, but also more machine, less human being.”

Then, in 1879, Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, making it possible for people to stay up past sunset. Remarkably, as Comer notes, the average person previously slept for eleven hours a night. Now we’re down to about seven. Technology has further hurried our lives as we can work more hours in more ways so that the average American works nearly four more weeks per year than they did in 1979.

With the iPhone and the advent of the digital age in 2007, our lives became even more hurried and crowded. Now technology companies exploit the dopamine rush that results from “likes” and “shares” on social media and constant interaction with the culture, causing many of us to be actually addicted to our devices and the engaging experiences they provide.

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life”

By contrast, Comer notes that Jesus lived by the spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude, Sabbath, simplicity, and “slowing,” which John Ortberg defines as “cultivating patience by deliberately choosing to place ourselves in positions where we simply have to wait.” In response, Comer says he has reorganized his life around three simple goals:

  1. Slow down.
  2. Simplify my life around the practices of Jesus.
  3. Live from a center of abiding in Christ.

He quotes Frank Laubach’s beautiful observation, “Every now is an eternity if it is full of God.” And he has made Paul’s assertion his personal manifesto: “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life” (1 Thessalonians 4:11 NIV). As he notes, “ambition” and “quiet” sound more like enemies than friends, when the first actually amplifies the significance of the second.

Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, offered similar advice: “Try to keep your soul always in peace and quiet.”

“Worshiping the Lord and fasting”

The church at Antioch changed the world by modeling today’s topic. When “they were worshiping the Lord and fasting,” the Holy Spirit instructed them to “set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2). Then, “after fasting and praying” once again, “they laid their hands on them and sent them off” (v. 3). And the world has never been the same.

On this Silent Wednesday, Jesus “fasted” from the world and prayed.

How will you follow his example today?

Denison Forum