In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Thoughtful Living

Looking for evidence of God every day reveals how He holds the entire universe together.

Psalm 25:8-15

Are you living thoughtfully or automatically? It’s easy to get up each morning, do our work, enjoy some relaxation or entertainment, and fall into bed each night without giving any thought to God’s involvement in our lives. But consider the benefits of keeping our spiritual eyes and ears open throughout the day—to see how God has blessed, guided, protected, and warned us.

Being aware of the Lord’s presence reminds us He is always in control and working to accomplish His good purposes. When we look for God’s footprints in our days, we discover the scope of His involvement in our life. Maybe He strengthened you for a task or opened a door of opportunity. Perhaps He guided your decisions or helped you respond in a compassionate way to a difficult person. Furthermore, if our ears are attuned to the Lord’s warnings and instructions, we’re less likely to repeat our mistakes. 

Each night before you go to sleep, take some time to reflect on the day’s activities. Know that the Lord is constantly with you, guarding you and offering guidance. He wants you to understand life from His perspective as you rely on His wisdom and power to face any challenge. 

Bible in One Year: 1 Kings 15-17

Our Daily Bread — Come and Worship

Bible in a Year:

Assemble the people—men, women and children, and the foreigners residing in your towns.

Deuteronomy 31:12

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Deuteronomy 31:9–13

As they sang praise songs together in the multi-generational worship service, many experienced joy and peace. But not a frazzled mother. As she jiggled her baby, who was on the verge of crying, she held the songbook for her five-year-old while trying to stop her toddler from running off. Then an older gentleman sitting behind her offered to walk the toddler around the church and a young woman motioned that she could hold the songbook for the eldest child. Within two minutes, the mother’s experience was transformed and she could exhale, close her eyes, and worship God.

God has always intended that all His people worship Him—men and women, old and young, longtime believers, and newcomers. As Moses blessed the tribes of Israel before they entered the promised land, he urged them all to meet together, “men, women and children, and the foreigners residing in your towns,” so that they could “listen and learn to fear the Lord your God” and to follow His commands (Deuteronomy 31:12). It honors God when we make it possible for His people to worship Him together, no matter our stage of life.

That morning in church, the mother, the older gentleman, and the young woman each experienced God’s love through giving and receiving. Perhaps the next time you’re at church, you too could either extend God’s love through an offer of help or you could be the one accepting the act of grace.

By:  Amy Boucher Pye

Reflect & Pray

How have you experienced the body of Christ as encompassing many generations and people groups? How have you given and received God’s love while at church?

Loving Jesus, You long that all people would feel welcomed when they come to worship You. Help us to be those who notice others and reach out in love.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Thinking Biblically

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8).

The way you think determines the way you behave.

God is concerned about the way you think. That’s why Paul said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). In Philippians 4:8 he instructs us to think about that which is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and praiseworthy.

When Jesus spoke of a pure heart in Matthew 5:8, He was talking about sanctified thinking. The Greek word translated “heart” is kardia, from which we get the word cardiac. While we often relate heart to the emotions (e.g., “He has a broken heart”), the Bible relates it primarily to the intellect (e.g., “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders”; Matt. 15:19). That’s why you must “watch over your heart with all diligence” (Prov. 4:23).

In a secondary way, however, heart relates to the will and emotions because they are influenced by the intellect. If you are committed to something, it will affect your will, which in turn will affect your emotions.

The Greek word translated “pure” in Matthew 5:8 means “to cleanse.” In the moral sense it speaks of being free from the filth of sin. It also refers to something that is unmixed, unalloyed, or unadulterated. Spiritual integrity and sincere motives are appropriate applications of its meaning to the Christian life.

Jesus was saying the kingdom citizen is blessed because he or she has pure thoughts and pure motives that together produce holy living. Someone might say he’s religious and has pure motives, but if his behavior isn’t righteous, his heart isn’t fixed on God. Similarly, you can go to church, carry a Bible, and recite verses, but if your heart isn’t clean, you haven’t met God’s standard.

You must do the will of God from a pure heart (Eph. 6:6). Toward that end, make David’s prayer yours as well: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10).

Suggestions for Prayer:

Memorize Psalm 19:14 and make it a part of your daily prayers.

For Further Study:

Read the following verses, noting the characteristics of a pure heart: Psalm 9:126:227:828:7, and 57:7.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Abound in Grace

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

— 2 Corinthians 9:8 (ESV)

My definition of “get” is to obtain by struggle and effort and “receive” is to act like a receptacle and simply take in what is offered. We can receive mercy, grace, strength, forgiveness, and love from the Lord. It is a new day—and God’s mercy is new every morning (see Lamentations 3:22–23).

You can have a brand-new start today. Allow God’s mercy to strengthen and heal you before starting your routine activities. Receive His healing power and let its grace work in you. Today can be effortless as you depend on God’s grace to do what He has called you to do.

Prayer Starter: Father, help me to be strong in You and keep showing up and doing what is right, no matter how I feel or what my circumstances are like. Thank You.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – The Great Confirmer

The words of the Amen.

Revelation 3:14

The word Amen solemnly confirms what went before, and Jesus is the great Confirmer; immutable forever is “the Amen” in all His promisesSinner, I would comfort you with this reflection. Jesus Christ said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”1 If you come to Him, He will say “Amen” in your soul; His promise shall be true to you. He said in the days of His flesh, “A bruised reed he will not break.”2 Poor, broken, bruised heart, if you come to Him, He will say “Amen” to you, and it will be true in your soul as in hundreds of cases in years gone by.

Christian, isn’t this very comforting to you also, that there is not a word that has come from the Savior’s lips that He has ever retracted? The words of Jesus will stand when heaven and earth pass away. If you get ahold of but half a promise, you will find it true. Watch out for those who ignore the promises and so miss much of the comfort of God’s Word.

Jesus is Yes and Amen in all His offices. He was a Priest to pardon and cleanse once; He is Amen as Priest still. He was a King to rule and reign for His people and to defend them with His mighty arm; He is an Amen King, the same still. He was a Prophet of old, to foretell good things to come; His words remain trustworthy and true—He is an Amen Prophet. He is Amen as to the merit of His blood; He is Amen as to His righteousness. That sacred robe will remain most fair and glorious when nature shall decay. He is Amen in every single title that He bears; your Husband, never seeking a divorce; your Friend, sticking closer than a brother; your Shepherd, with you in death’s dark vale; your Help and your Deliverer; your Refuge and your Strong Tower; the Vessel of your strength, your confidence, your joy, your all in all, and your Yes and Amen in everything.

1) Matthew 11:28
2) Matthew 12:20

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God’s Word Should Be Part of Us

“And thou shalt bind [God’s words] for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes” (Deuteronomy 6:8).

When I was in Jerusalem a few months ago, I saw Jews who had little black boxes bound to their foreheads. These boxes had pages of Scripture inside. The Jews had similar boxes fastened to their hands by straps that circled around their arms. God’s Word was literally bound on their hands and between their eyes!

In Deuteronomy 6, is God really commanding that pages of the Bible be strapped to our hands and foreheads? Is that what God wants us to do?

Actually, in that passage God was reminding the Israelites of how important it was that they constantly keep His words in their minds. God wanted His people to think about His words all the time so that they would remember to obey Him. He asked the Israelites to talk about His words while at home and while in the streets. He wanted His people to remember His words when going to bed at night and when getting up in the morning. He commanded His people to remind themselves and others about what He had done and about what He expected them to do.

When God said His words should be bound to the heads and hands of His people, He was trying to give His people a picture of how they should be thinking about and obeying His words all the time.

God wants us to memorize His Word, think about it, and obey it so much that it becomes an inseparable part of us. He wants us to keep loving it and trying to understand it more. My pastor sometimes says, “The Bible should be the default setting in your brain. God’s Word should be what your thoughts come back to whenever you don’t have to be thinking about something else.”

God desires that we always keep His Word in our minds and hearts.

My Response:
» Do I ever memorize verses so that I can think of God’s Word at all different times and in all different places? What does Psalm 119:11 tell me about why I should memorize God’s Word?
» Have I asked God to help me remember to think about Him (His words) when I am playing and working?

Denison Forum – Federal judge voids public transportation mask mandate

 “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

The national mask mandate covering airplanes and other public transportation was set to expire yesterday, but the CDC extended it until May 3, stating it needed more time to study the BA.2 omicron subvariant now responsible for the vast majority of cases in the US. Airlines countered that air filters on modern planes make transmission of the virus during a flight highly unlikely. Critics also pointed to the fact that states have rolled back rules requiring masks in restaurants, stores, and other indoor settings, yet COVID-19 cases have fallen sharply since mid-January.

Yesterday, a federal judge in Florida sided against the CDC, striking down the national mask mandate. Her ruling freed airlines, airports, and mass transit systems to make their own decisions about mask requirements.

How do you feel about her decision?

Your answer likely depends at least in part on the degree to which you trust the CDC. At the beginning of the pandemic, 69 percent of Americans believed what they heard from the agency; earlier this year, the number had fallen to 44 percent.

This aligns with a larger narrative:

  • Only 40 percent of Americans say they trust the federal government to do what is right.
  • Only 38 percent consider its impact on the US to be positive.
  • Only 23 percent believe it to be transparent.
  • And only 27 percent say it listens to the public.

The reasons behind this phenomenon are vital not just for our government but for the very future of our democracy.

“The shattering of all that had seemed solid”

Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist and bestselling author. In a brilliant new Atlantic article, he explains the social changes we are witnessing more holistically than anyone I have seen. I’ll summarize his article briefly, then we’ll respond biblically.

Haidt discusses “the shattering of all that had seemed solid, the scattering of people who had been a community” and “what is happening not only between red and blue [states], but within the left and within the right, as well as within universities, companies, professional associations, museums, and even families” (his emphasis).

He reports that “social scientists have identified at least three major forces that collectively bind together successful democracies: social capital (extensive social networks with high levels of trust), strong institutions, and shared stories.” However, over the last ten years, social media has weakened all three.

Haidt points to “the intensification of viral dynamics” beginning in 2009 by which Facebook users can publicly “like” posts with the click of a button and Twitter users can “retweet” and thus publicly endorse a post while sharing it with all their followers. Facebook soon copied this innovation with its own “share” button; “like” and “share” buttons soon became standard features of most other platforms.

Facebook then developed algorithms to bring each user content more likely to generate a “like” or “share.” Research later showed that posts that trigger emotions—especially anger at others—are the most likely to be shared.

“When citizens lose trust in elected leaders”

By 2013, social media had become a “new game” in which creating “viral” content or demeaning content with which we disagree became the norm. Users were guided by reward and punishment dynamics that were “almost perfectly designed to bring out our most moralistic and least reflective selves.” Haidt notes that “the volume of outrage was shocking.”

This phenomenon is especially dangerous for democracy.

The Framers of the US Constitution knew democracy had an Achilles’ heel: it depended on the collective judgment of the people, but communities are subject to “the turbulency and weakness of unruly passions,” as James Madison noted. The founders created a sustainable republic in response with mechanisms requiring compromise and giving leaders insulation from the mania of the moment while holding them accountable to the people periodically through elections.

But social media is undoing what the founders intended. Haidt writes that “a democracy depends on widely internalized acceptance of the legitimacy of rules, norms, and institutions. . . . When citizens lose trust in elected leaders, health authorities, the courts, the police, universities, and the integrity of elections, then every decision becomes contested; every election becomes a life-and-death struggle to save the country from the other side.”

How to experience divine omnipotence

We will explore Haidt’s article in further detail tomorrow. For today, let’s focus on two responses: thinking biblically and acting redemptively.

Paul’s goal should be ours: “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). We do this by measuring every truth claim against the unchanging truth of Scripture (Hebrews 4:12). Then we can fulfill the apostle’s mandate: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8).

As we think biblically, we should then act redemptively.

In Acts 19, the “town clerk” in Ephesus (the chief administrative officer in the city) said of Christians in their city, “these men . . . are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess” (v. 37). Like them, we should make “speaking the truth in love” our constant goal (Ephesians 4:15). In response to the vitriol and divisions of our day, God needs us to be not cultural warriors so much as cultural missionaries.

You might think it’s too late for Christ-followers to make a significant difference in a culture as broken as ours. But it’s always too soon to give up on an omnipotent God. Anne Graham Lotz was right: “If our lives are easy, and if all we ever attempt for God is what we know we can handle, how will we ever experience his omnipotence in our lives?”

Will you experience his omnipotence today?

Denison Forum