In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – God’s Purpose in Our Hardships

We may not always perceive God’s presence during hardship, but He promised He’ll always be with us.

Genesis 37

We all go through difficult seasons. When we’re hurting but see no relief for the future, what can we be sure of?

God is with us in our troubles. He gives us what we need—whether it’s His love and strength, a sense of security, or the knowledge that we are not alone. Jesus knows what it’s like to suffer, be rejected, and lose a loved one. He comprehends the temptations and obstacles we face. What’s more, He carries our burdens (Psalm 68:19) and offers peace for our hurting heart. The God who walks with us is not limited by anything (Matthew 19:26), so there’s no reason be afraid. 

God has a purpose for allowing hard times. In the book of Genesis, Joseph could not see God’s intentions when his brothers were plotting against him—and neither will we, most of the time. But Joseph knew the Lord’s character and trusted Him through the many trials that came his way. And Joseph’s faith was rewarded when he ultimately rescued his family (Genesis 45:1-8). 

We are called to live a life of faith. That means we are to believe God’s promises even if our circumstances confound us. When troubles surround you, remember what is true: God will never desert you nor abandon you (Hebrews 13:5), and His good purposes will always be accomplished (Isaiah 14:27). 

Bible in One Year: 2 Kings 13-15

Our Daily Bread — Age Is Just a Number

Bible in a Year:

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

1 Timothy 4:12

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

1 Timothy 4:6–13

Youthfulness shouldn’t stop anyone from achievement. It certainly didn’t stop eleven-year-old Mikaila. Instead of putting up a lemonade stand, Mikaila opened a lemonade business. Me & the Bees Lemonade started with her grandmother’s recipe and eventually earned a $60,000 investment from investors on the television show Shark Tank. She also signed a contract with a major grocer to sell her lemonade at fifty-five of the chain’s stores.

Mikaila’s drive and dreams point us back to Paul’s words to Timothy: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young” (1 Timothy 4:12).

Timothy, though not a child like Mikaila, was likely considerably younger than most in his congregation. After interning with the apostle Paul, some thought that Timothy wasn’t mature enough to lead them. Instead of telling him to prove himself by showing his credentials, Paul encouraged Timothy to demonstrate spiritual maturity by the way he used his words, lived his life, loved his parishioners, exercised his faith, and remained sexually pure (v. 12). No one could discredit him as a teacher and pastor if he backed it up with a godly example.

Regardless of our age, we can impact the world. We do it by setting a Christ-centered example for others as God provides what we need. May He shape our lives with the gospel, so whether we’re seventeen or seventy, we’ll be worthy to share it with others.

By:  Marvin Williams

Reflect & Pray

How has God been helping you grow in spiritual maturity and effectiveness for Him? Why is age not the most important factor?

Father, help me to model what it means to be devoted to Jesus in the way I speak, exercise my faith, and love others.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Paying the Price of Righteousness

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness” (Matt. 5:10).

There is a price to pay for being a Kingdom citizen.

Unlike many today who try to make the gospel palatable for reluctant sinners, Jesus made it clear that following Him had its price. Rather than acceptance, fame, prestige, and prosperity, you can expect rejection and persecution. That’s not a popular approach to evangelism, but it’s honest. Also it insures that no one will try to enter the kingdom on the wrong basis.

Jesus wanted His hearers to count the cost of discipleship. He knew that many of them would be disowned by their families and excommunicated from the Jewish synagogues. Many would suffer persecution or martyrdom at the hands of the Roman government. They needed to count the cost!

Persecution did come to those early Christians. The Emperor Nero smeared many of them with pitch, crucified them, and then burned them to light his garden parties. He condemned Christians for refusing to worship him as a god, and blamed them for the burning of Rome in [sc]A.D. 64. Christians were accused of cannibalism because Jesus said, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him” (John 6:56). They were said to be revolutionaries because they believed that God would one day destroy the earth.

The world’s animosity toward Christians hasn’t changed. You might not face the severe persecutions the first-century believers faced, but you will be persecuted (Phil. 1:29). Even new Christians often face difficulties. If they refuse to join their former friends in sinful activities, they might be rejected. If they work for a dishonest boss who expects them to participate in or condone his evil practices, they might be fired or have to quit their jobs. That might bring extreme financial hardship to their families.

God won’t always shield you from persecution, but He will honor your integrity and give you strength to endure any trial that comes your way. Praise Him for His all-sufficient grace!

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Pray for those you know who are suffering hardship for Christ’s sake.
  • Ask God for the wisdom and strength to face persecution with integrity and unwavering faith.

For Further Study

Read James 1:2-4 and 1 Peter 5:10.

  • What purpose does suffering serve?
  • How should you respond to suffering?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Overcoming the Accuser

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”

— Revelation 12:10–11 (ESV)

Sometimes the devil complicates the healing process because he bombards your mind with negative thoughts and accusations. He will whisper to your mind accusations such as, “You are so wounded you can never be healed.” Or “You aren’t worth having a better life than you have right now.” Or “You deserve the pain you’re going through.” The devil is a liar, and he wants you to feel guilty and condemned. He can put thoughts in your mind, but that doesn’t mean that they are true.

The mind is part of the soul, and for your soul to be healed, your mind also needs to be healed and renewed. The devil often comes against God’s people on the battlefield of the mind, and he will try to influence your thoughts and use them to stop or slow down your healing journey.

The way to overcome and conquer the accuser is to believe God’s promises more than we believe the lies the enemy puts in our minds. It is so important to remember that all of the thoughts that enter our minds are not necessarily true. Only God’s Word is truth.

Revelation 12:11 tells us how to conquer the accuser—with the blood of the Lamb (Jesus) and the word of our testimony, which means knowing God’s Word and letting it be your guide for life. It is also good to tell others what God has done for you. As a person whose soul is in the process of healing, part of your testimony is still being crafted. But part of it is already settled: You are a beloved, redeemed child of God, filled with potential! You are a miracle in the making, a masterpiece of God’s handiwork. While you were still in sin, Jesus died for you (see Romans 5:8), so just imagine what He wants to do for you now that you have been forgiven and desire to grow in relationship with Him. No matter what you think or how things seem right now in your life, God’s plans for your future will astound you!

God’s great plans for your life will unfold day by day as you continue to live by His Word and let Him lead you. Remember this when the devil hurls accusations against you in your mind. Remind him of the blood of Jesus and the word of your testimony, which is that God is healing you and strengthening you more and more each day. Open the Word of God and read all the wonderful things God says about you instead of listening to the enemy’s lies.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for all the wonderful things You say about me in Your Word. In Your name, I will overcome every accusation of the enemy, by the blood of Jesus and the word of my testimony!

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Dangers of Our Day

Blessed is the one who stays awake.

Revelation 16:15

“Idie every day,”1 said the apostle. This was the life of the early Christians; they went everywhere with their lives in their hands. We are not at this time being called to pass through the same fearful persecutions: if we were, the Lord would give us grace to bear the test. But the tests of Christian life, at the present moment, though outwardly not so terrible, are still more likely to overcome us than even those of the fiery age.

We have to bear the sneer of the world—that is small; its flatteries, its soft words, its oily speeches, its fawning, its hypocrisy are far worse. Our danger is that we might grow rich and become proud; we might give ourselves up to the fashions of this present evil world and lose our faith. Or if wealth does not test us, worldly care is quite as mischievous. If we cannot be torn in pieces by the roaring lion, we may be hugged to death by the bear.

The devil cares very little which it is, as long as he destroys our love for Christ and our confidence in Him. I am afraid that the Christian church is far more likely to lose her integrity in these soft and easy days than in those rougher times. We must stay awake now, for we are crossing enchanted ground and are most likely to fall asleep to our own ruin, unless our faith in Jesus is a reality and our love for Jesus an ardent flame. Many in these days of easy-believism are likely to prove to be tares, and not wheat; hypocrites with attractive masks on their faces, but not the true-born children of the living God.

Christian, do not think that these are times in which you can dispense with watchfulness or with holy ardor; you need these things more than ever, and may God the eternal Spirit display His omnipotence in you, that you may be able to say, in all these softer things as well as in the rougher, “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”2

1) 1 Corinthians 15:31
2) Romans 8:37

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 with You in the Dark

“If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.” (Psalm 139:11-12)

Are you afraid of the dark? It is easy to feel afraid at night, isn’t it? The dark makes everything look a little bit different. When Eileen was a little girl, she used to worry that there was a robber or maybe even a bear hiding in her closet. Eileen sometimes felt afraid that her toys would come to life after she went to sleep! Things that she and her family would laugh about during the day would start to seem very real and frightening when the sun went down and things got dark.

God is not afraid of the dark. These verses from Psalm 139 tell us that He can see just as well in the dark as He can in the light! In fact, night is just as bright as day to Him. Nothing can be hidden from Him, not even in the darkest dark. And that includes you!

Did you know that fear is a sin? God does not want His children to be controlled by fear (Romans 8:15; 2 Timothy 1:7). Fear takes our minds off the powerful, loving God who is greater than anything that could ever hurt us. If you are God’s child, you could trust Him to take care of you, even if there really were a robber or a bear in your room!

Next time you get ready to go to sleep, ask your mom, dad, brother, or sister to read Psalm 139 to you right before the light goes out. Then lie there and think about what it says. God is with you all the time. He is with you in the dark. He sees you. He knows your fears. He wants you to turn away from your fears and think about Him. He wants you to learn to trust Him–even in the dark.

God sees you and takes care of you in the dark.

My Response:
» Am I trusting God to take care of me when I lie down to sleep at night?
» When I do feel afraid, what are some ways I can remind myself of God’s watchful care over me?

Denison Forum – The football coach at the center of a Supreme Court religious liberty case

While the headlines were focusing on Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter yesterday for $44 billion, an event involving a high school football coach could affect the future of religious liberty in America.

Following a twenty-year career in the Marine Corps, Joseph A. Kennedy was hired in 2008 as assistant football coach for the varsity and head coach of the junior varsity squad at Bremerton High School near Seattle, Washington. Soon after, he began kneeling to pray at the fifty-yard line after each game. After a few games, some of his players asked to join him. Visiting players later joined them.

His post-game prayer continued for several years, but, in 2015, Bremerton’s athletic director told Kennedy his prayers were against the rules. He refused to stop and was placed on leave; the school district did not rehire him for the following season. Yesterday, First Liberty defended Coach Kennedy before the US Supreme Court.

Critics allege that the prayers were public, not private, and that the coach was acting coercively in his professional capacity. By contrast, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Coach Kennedy explained his position and the stakes involved: “Unless the US Supreme Court rules in my favor, teachers could be fired for praying over their lunch in the cafeteria if students can see them. That doesn’t seem like the Constitution I fought for in the Marine Corps.

“I just want to be back on the field with my guys, building a team to accomplish a mission. I hope the Supreme Court agrees.”

The latest euphemism for immorality

Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah, is refusing to cancel an elective class where students will watch hardcore porn together. Despite widespread outrage, the college insists that pornography is “an art form that requires serious contemplation.”

This headline in the Washington Post is a harbinger of our moral future: “These Christian leaders embraced sex positivity—and now preach it.” The article reveals the latest cultural euphemism, using “sex positivity” to refer to “the belief that all forms of sexual expression between consenting adults are permissible and should be destigmatized.”

The writer cites aberrant theologians and ministers, many of whom are gay, to undergird her claim that the ethic limiting sex to a married heterosexual couple is less biblical than Puritan. Of course, the writer could not be more wrong from a biblical perspective. But her use of “sex positivity” to describe her position aligns with “pro-choice,” “death with dignity,” and “marriage equality” as recent additions to our cultural vernacular.

Each frames its issue in a way that resonates emotionally. Who isn’t for “positivity,” “choice,” “dignity,” and “equality”? Euphemisms can be powerfully persuasive, whether they are accurate or not.

“Lord, paint the dragon red”

Yesterday we introduced the concept of “besetting” sins, defined as sins “we continually struggle with and have a weakness toward.” What are some practical ways to gain victory over them? Let’s consider today’s news in reverse order.

First, to counter Satan’s spiritual euphemisms, we need to pray for the wisdom to recognize sin as sin.

When we deal with repetitive temptations, our moral sensitivity can grow dull and our objections weaken. Over time, we cease seeing sin as sin. The person being tempted believes the tempter’s lies (Genesis 3:4–5) and is “enticed by his own desire” (James 1:14). Then desire “gives birth to sin” and “sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (v. 15).

This is why we need to begin every day by submitting to the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). Ask him to bring to your mind anything that displeases God, then confess what comes to your thoughts. Some of what he reveals may surprise you at the time, indicating the degree to which you have been deceived. Then ask him to help you see temptation for what it is and to refuse sin as a result.

A wise friend of mine prays often, “Lord, paint the dragon red.” Let’s join him: pray for the Spirit to reveal the spiritual euphemisms of our day and give you the strength to defeat them in the power of God.

“Kindle sacred flames of love in my heart”

The next way to defeat “besetting” sins is to do what we believe to be right, whatever the cost. Coach Kennedy has paid for his convictions with his job and has endured widespread scorn and opposition across the years his case has been litigated. But he is defending his religious freedom on behalf of all those who may face similar threats in the future.

When you know you are being tempted, take these steps in this order: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). And remember that the cost of what you are being tempted to do must outweigh any benefit or your spiritual enemy who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” would not offer it to you (John 10:10).

Speaking of idols, the psalmist warned, “Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them” (Psalm 115:8). I often warn that sin will always take you further than you wanted to go, keep you longer than you wanted to stay, and cost you more than you wanted to pay.

So pray for the discernment to know what is right and for the courage to do it. Charles Spurgeon prayed: “To come to Thee is to come home from exile, to come to land out of the raging storm, to come to rest after long labor, to come to the goal of my desires and the summit of my wishes.”

Then he added: “But Lord, how can a stone rise, how can a lump of clay come away from the horrible pit? O raise me, draw me. Thy grace can do it. Send forth thy Holy Spirit to kindle sacred flames of love in my heart, and I will continue to rise until I leave life and time behind me, and indeed come away.”

Would you make his prayer yours right now?

Denison Forum

The Role of Parents in Education

The Role of Parents in Education

The education of children is one of the more consequential issues in American politics.  This is so, not merely because of concerns regarding the poor quality of education in many locations throughout the country, but also because the issue is used to justify alterations to established institutions and norms. The family and the individual dignity and welfare of the child are among these institutions and norms. Debate regarding education thus tends to wander into such areas as “parental rights” and whether children “belong” to society.  These are the issues of actual interest to progressive ideologies, and education is merely one front on which the ideologues seek to advance their agenda.

The idea that society has an interest in children that diminishes the role of families was expressed by former MSNBC commentator Melissa Harris-Perry when she claimed, in 2016, that “…we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.” This claim of Ms. Harris-Perry is not an original one nor, as history has demonstrated, a successful one.  Children were regarded as children of the state in ancient Sparta, but the practice did not endure. In Book III of The Republic, Plato has Socrates float the idea that wives and children of the Guardian class be shared for the benefit of the state.  This idea is expanded upon in Book V, wherein it is suggested that children not be permitted to know their birth parents at all.  It should also be noted that it has been about 2400 years since the writing of The Republic.  Advocates of the idea that children belong to the state have had ample time to prove their theory, yet the family remains the center and fundamental unit of every enduring society, and parents remain the stewards of their children’s upbringing.

It may also be noted that the institution of the family precedes that of the state, and in all relevant examples, survives it as well.  Given this fact, it is the proponents of change in favor of the state who bear the burden of proving their case, and they have been consistent in their inability to do so.  There is something weird, dystopian, and hopeless about the notion that children belong to the state, or indeed, “belong” to anyone.  If such a circumstance is necessary for the existence of the state, both the rationale for the state and its moral existence collapse.

Given the intellectual, practical, and moral fragility of the idea that there is some benefit to the state usurping the role of parents and families, it is not surprising that acolytes of centralization and state authority have narrowed their focus to the more modest issue of education. Thus, we may review Terry McAuliffe’s declaration that he did not “think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” This did not serve him well in his gubernatorial campaign.  The public rejected the notion that parents’ role in their children’s education is subordinate to that of “experts.”  The public also rejected the unfounded assertion that parents who expressed concerns to school boards and educators were a fringe minority or a species of “domestic terrorist.”

The idea that parental concern is a form of unhelpful meddling in education has not gained much traction, and for good reason.  History provides few, if any, examples of societies that failed because parents were too involved in their children’s education.  The reasons for this include that educating a child is not the same as, or a substitute for, raising a child.  It is the parents who are responsible for the latter and, while education is an essential part of a child’s upbringing, it is only part of the process by which children develop into healthy, productive and happy members of a society.  Parents must also be concerned with development of the child’s character and values, a process that necessarily continues beyond the time spent in the schoolhouse. The care, nurturing, and development of a child into a thriving individual involves more than formal education, but mishandled education can impede such development.  This is one reason that parental involvement in education is not merely a discretionary accommodation by the educational system, or a “right” grudgingly tolerated within narrow limits; it is essential to the processes by which children, families, and societies flourish. Theories of education must be compatible with raising of the children, rather than the other way around.

Competent teachers are vital to education. Children who are exposed to good teachers are, in a real sense, blessed. No one should discount the contribution that talented educators can make, but nor should they confuse this with role of parents.  In the ordinary case teachers and parents are not adversaries, but neither are they equals.  Parents have unique bonds with their children that develop both long before and long after any interactions with a particular educator. The parent has responsibilities to the child — legal, moral, and innate — that transcend those of any teacher or administrator, and this precludes the idea that any part of a child’s education is not appropriate for parental surveillance and concern.  Moreover, discrete considerations of a child’s upbringing, such as matters of sexual maturity, religious belief, and the bases of moral conduct remain parental responsibilities despite certain social theories that claim they are properly the concern of educational bureaucrats.

There are, of course, exceptions to the ideal of committed parents who are stewards of their child’s development and who take an appropriate interest in their children’s education.  There are also some exceptional educators — teachers, coaches, counselors — who have a disproportionately beneficial effect on a particular child.   But it is poor practice to formulate policy as though the exceptions were the norm.  There are bad parents, just as there are bad teachers, but this is not a valid reason for interposing education professionals between parents and their children.  It is far from established that educational institutions are optimal for, or even capable of, addressing complex issues that affect a child’s life, without appropriate parental involvement.  Parents do not need to justify their involvement in their children’s education, but educational bureaucracies do have to justify interfering with such involvement.

Like many issues in contemporary discourse, the discussions and controversies surrounding education are not about what they appear.  They are not really about academic freedom or parental rights or equity or inclusion.  They do not arise from concern that education might be impaired by heightened levels of parental attention or annoying transparency.  The issues are not really just about education.  They arise rather from the millennia-old fact that the traditional role of the family is an impediment to cultural fads and ideological abstractions.

Source: The Role of Parents in Education – American Thinker