In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – An Awesome Privilege

In Jesus, we have access to the Father’s presence and confidence that He hears our prayers.

Hebrews 7:11-28

Prayer is a truly remarkable privilege, and we must be careful to treat it as such. Have you ever paused to consider why a holy God would condescend to even listen to our petitions, let alone answer them? The Lord is so perfect that the smallest hint of sin is incompatible with His presence. Human beings, on the other hand, are inherently sinful. Yet God wants to commune with us, so He made a way for that to be possible. 

Before Jesus’ death and resurrection, priests repeatedly offered sacrifices to cover the people’s transgressions. Animal blood, however, never permanently did away with sin. So God sent His Son to be the perfect “once for all time” atoning sacrifice for everyone who trusts in the Savior (Heb. 7:27). Because Jesus Christ paid our entire sin debt with His precious blood, we can now enter into God’s holy presence. 

Let’s not underestimate the significance of being able to speak with the Lord. As those who have been forgiven of all sin, we are now welcome to draw close to the Father in prayer because His Son is our permanent high priest, eternally covering us in a veil of His righteousness. 

Bible in One Year: 1 Chronicles 25-27

Our Daily Bread — The Sunflower Battle

Bible in a Year:

In Christ you have been brought to fullness.

Colossians 2:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Colossians 2:6–14

The deer in our neighborhood and I have two different opinions about sunflowers. When I plant sunflowers each spring, I’m looking forward to the beauty of their blooms. My deer friends, however, don’t care about the finished product. They simply want to chew the stems and leaves until there’s nothing left. It’s an annual summertime battle as I try to see the sunflowers to maturity before my four-hoofed neighbors devour them. Sometimes I win; sometimes they win.

When we think about our lives as believers in Jesus, it’s easy to see a similar battle being waged between us and our enemy—Satan. Our goal is continual growth leading to spiritual maturity that helps our lives stand out for God’s honor. The devil wants to devour our faith and keep us from growing. But Jesus has dominion over “every power” and can bring us “to fullness” (Colossians 2:10), which means He makes us “complete.” Christ’s victory on the cross allows us to stand out in the world like those beautiful sunflowers.

When Jesus nailed the “record of the charges against us” (the penalty for our sins) to the cross (v. 14 nlt), He destroyed the powers that controlled us. We became “rooted and built up” (v. 7) and made “alive with Christ” (v. 13). In Him we have the power (v. 10) to resist the enemy’s spiritual attacks and to flourish in Jesus—displaying a life of true beauty.

By:  Dave Branon

Reflect & Pray

In what areas does the enemy try to nibble away at your growing spiritual maturity? Why is it vital for you to call out to God when you experience spiritual attacks?

Loving God, make my life beautiful for You. Help me to resist the enemy through Your power because I can’t do it on my own. Thank You for Jesus’ death and resurrection—my source of hope, power, and courage.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Building a Leader: The Right Lessons (Peter)

The twelve apostles included “Simon, who is called Peter” (Matt. 10:2).

Peter learned five lessons that every believer must also learn.

We have seen that God uses our experiences to mold us into more effective Christians and leaders. Using Peter as our example, let’s briefly look at five lessons we can learn from our experiences: submission, restraint, humility, sacrifice, and love.

Leaders tend to be confident and aggressive, so they must learn to submit to authority. Jesus illustrated that by telling Peter to go fishing and look for a coin in the mouth of the first fish he caught (Matt. 17:24-27). He was to use that coin to pay their taxes. Peter was a citizen of God’s Kingdom, but he needed an object lesson in submitting to governmental authorities.

When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Peter grabbed a sword and would have fought the entire group if Jesus hadn’t restrained him. Peter needed to learn to entrust His life to the Father, just as Christ was doing.

Peter bragged that he would never leave or forsake Christ—but he did. Perhaps humility was the most painful lesson he had to learn.

Jesus told Peter that he would die as a martyr (John 21:18-19). From that day forward Peter knew his life was on the line, yet he was willing to make the necessary sacrifice and minister anyway.

Leaders tend to be task oriented and often are insensitive to people. Peter was that way, so Jesus demonstrated love by washing his feet and instructing him to do loving deeds for others (John 13:6-934).

Submission, restraint, humility, sacrifice, and love should be characteristic of every believer—no matter what role he or she has within the Body of Christ. I pray they are characteristic of your life, and that you will constantly seek to grow in those graces as God continues His work in you.

Suggestions for Prayer

Spiritual lessons are sometimes painful to learn, but God is patient and gracious. Thank Him for His patience and thank Him also for Christ, who is the perfect example of what we should be.

For Further Study

Peter learned his lesson well. Read 1 Peter 2:13-1821-234:816; and 5:5. What can you learn from Peter’s instructions on submission, restraint, love, sacrifice, and humility?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – The Happiest People on Earth

…I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).

— John 10:10 (AMPC)

I think some people have a perception of Christianity as a stern, severe, and joyless lifestyle. That’s because many who call themselves Christians have sour attitudes and sad faces. They can be critical of others and quick to judge. Those of us who love and serve God and His Son, Jesus Christ, should be the happiest people on Earth. We should be able to enjoy everything we do, simply because we know God is present. God sent Jesus to ensure we would enjoy life. Our joy makes God happy!

Happiness is an emotion that fosters well-being, and it is contagious. One of the best ways to witness to others about Jesus is to be happy and enjoy all you do. Since everyone simply wants to be happy, if they see truly happy Christians, they will be open to learning about and receiving Jesus themselves.

Power Thought: I enjoy every moment of my life.

Prayer Starter: Lord, I want to be happy and to show others the joy only found in You. Thank You for helping me find my joy, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – With Jesus at Our Side

Come, my beloved, let us go out into the fields … Let us … See whether the vines have budded.

Song of Songs 7:11-12

The bride was about to engage in hard work and desired her beloved’s company in it. She does not say, “I will go,” but “let us go.” In like fashion, it is a blessing to work when Jesus is at our side! It is the business of God’s people to be trimmers of God’s vines. Like our first parents, we are put into the garden of the Lord for usefulness; let us then go out into the fields.

When God’s people are thinking properly, they desire to enjoy communion with Christ. Some may imagine that they cannot serve Christ actively and still have fellowship with Him; they are mistaken. There is no doubt that we may easily neglect our inward life in outward exercises and be forced to say, “They made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard have I not kept!”1 There is no reason why this should be the case except for our own foolishness and neglect. It is certain that a professing Christian may do nothing and end up just as lifeless in spiritual things as those who are most busy.

Mary was not praised for sitting still, but for her sitting at Jesus’ feet. Even so, Christians are not to be praised for neglecting duties under the pretense of having secret fellowship with Jesus: It is not sitting, but sitting at Jesus’ feet that is commendable. Do not think that activity is in itself an evil: It is a great blessing and a means of grace to us. Paul called it a grace given to him to be allowed to preach; and every form of Christian service may become a personal blessing to those engaged in it. Those who have most fellowship with Christ are not recluses or hermits, who have time on their hands, but tireless workers who are toiling for Jesus and who, in their endeavor, have Him side by side with them, so that they are workers together with God.

Let us remember then, in anything we have to do for Jesus, we can do it and should do it in close communion with Him.

1) Song of Solomon 1:6

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Always Provides

“And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.” (I Kings 17:4)

During the days of Elijah the prophet, God sent a drought–a long period of time without rain–to the land of Israel. God was punishing Israel because the wicked rulers, King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, were causing the people to stop serving the Lord and to worship idols. Even though Elijah had warned King Ahab that God would punish them, Ahab did not listen. So God did not send any rain to Israel for a long time, and food could not grow. The people of Israel, including Elijah, soon became hungry and thirsty. Even though Elijah trusted in the Lord, he must have wondered where he would find food and water.

But God still took care of Elijah. Even though there was no rain and little food or water, God provided for the needs of His faithful servant. God knew where to find water, and He told Elijah to go to a little brook that still had water to drink. God also knew where to find food, and He commanded the ravens to bring bread and meat to Elijah. What a surprising way to meet the prophet’s needs! Twice a day, the black birds delivered food to him. Even though the people who worshipped idols were hungry and thirsty, Elijah always had enough to eat and drink. God always provided for the needs of His servant.

God will always take care of you, as well. If you truly know the Lord, He will always provide for your needs, just like He did for Elijah’s. Sometimes, like Elijah in the drought, you may find yourself in the middle of a hard situation. Maybe one of your parents has lost a job, and your family needs money. Or maybe you have moved to a new school, and you need to find good friends. Whatever your need, God will never forget about you. Like in Elijah’s time, God knows where to find the things you need (Matthew 6:8). He will always be faithful to provide for you–sometimes in surprising ways!

God will always meet your needs.

My Response:
» What are some needs I have?
» Am I trusting the Lord to provide for my needs?

Denison Forum – Pro-choice protests at churches: How should Christians fight the culture wars?

When my wife and I sat down to watch the “Greatest Two Minutes in Sports” Saturday afternoon, we had no idea we would witness history. Rich Strike did not enter this year’s Kentucky Derby until thirty seconds before the deadline Friday after another horse was scratched. The colt had exactly one previous victory in his career. He went on to win in the second-biggest upset in the Derby’s 148-year history.

In another weekend surprise, First Lady Jill Biden made an unannounced visit to Ukraine on Mother’s Day to meet with Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska. The next day, Russia held its annual Victory Day parade to pay tribute to those who fought and died in World War II.

The New York Times is reporting this morning that Vladimir Putin used his speech to “try to channel Russian pride in defeating Nazi Germany into support for this year’s invasion of Ukraine. But contrary to some expectations, he did not make any new announcements signaling a mass mobilization for the war effort or an escalation of the onslaught.”

Closer to home, a pro-life organization in Wisconsin was set on fire yesterday in an apparent arson attack. A pro-life pregnancy center in Denton, Texas, was defaced with graffiti. A Sunday Mass at a Los Angeles church was disrupted by protesters in red hooded gowns. Abortion supporters blocked the door of a church in Manhattan Saturday; one protester chanted, “God killed his kid, why can’t I kill mine?”

Saturday evening, pro-choice activists protested outside the homes of Supreme Court justices John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh. More demonstrations outside the justices’ homes are planned for this Wednesday. The organizer of the Saturday night protests said, “The time for civility is over, man. Being polite doesn’t get you anywhere.”

Is this true?

Are civility and decency “secondary values”?

Sporting events are obviously competitive and typically “zero-sum” affairs: if one competitor wins, the others lose. Ukraine must obviously defend its country against Putin’s immoral invasion or fall to Russia. But how should Christians respond to “culture wars” such as the conflict over abortion? Is it true that “the time for civility is over”?

This is the argument of a First Things article by New York Post editor Sohrab Ahmari: “Progressives understand that culture war means discrediting their opponents and weakening or destroying their institutions. Conservatives should approach the culture war with a similar realism. Civility and decency are secondary values.” Ahmari wrote his article to oppose what he calls “David French-ism,” which he criticizes as being too “polite” and not nearly adversarial enough.

French is a Harvard Law School graduate, Iraq veteran, noted religious rights advocate, prolific author, and committed evangelical Christian. Denison Forum Executive Director Dr. Mark Turman and I were honored last week to record a podcast with him. During our conversation, David made the argument that we must not choose between “Sermon on the Mount” character and a “Romans 13” ruler—followers of Jesus should seek both.

In response to a growing sentiment that “desperate times call for desperate measures,” he similarly noted in yesterday’s French Press article that “the spirit of fear that grips so much of the modern American church might be a reason why so many Christians have scorned civility and decency in the public square, but it’s not a justification.”

How, then, should we respond to the “culture wars”? In his latest book, Divided We Fall: America’s Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation, David eloquently calls for Christians to engage in political conflict in ways that honor our Lord and exemplify the “fruit” of his Spirit.

He observes, “Those who care the most often hate the most, and one of their chief methods of discrediting ideological allies with whom they compete is by portraying them as too tolerant of the hated political enemy. Kindness is perceived as weakness. Decency is treated as if it’s cowardice. Acts of grace are an unthinkable concession to evil.”

So, who is right?

“You also must forgive”

Paul writes in Colossians 3: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (vv. 12–13, my emphasis). Let’s focus on the italicized half of this remarkable sentence.

“If” could be translated “whenever,” recognizing the reality of what follows. “One has a complaint” refers to a plaintiff’s legal allegation against another person.

“Forgiving” could be translated as “pardoning,” the gracious decision not to punish. As ethicist Lewis Smedes shows in his classic book Forgive and Forget, biblical forgiveness does not mean that we excuse the hurtful behavior, tolerate it, or pretend it did not occur. When a governor pardons a criminal, she does none of these things. Instead, she chooses not to punish the criminal.

This is how “the Lord has forgiven you”—he has “forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13–14). In light of such forgiveness, Paul tells us, “You also must forgive” (Colossians 3:13; cf. Ephesians 4:32).

If not, why not?

I plan to say more about forgiveness and our “culture wars” tomorrow. For today, let’s make this conversation personal.

Do you have a “complaint” against someone? Will you pardon them as your Father has pardoned you?

If not, why not?

Does someone have a “complaint” against you? Will you seek their pardon?

If not, why not?

NOTE: I hope you’ll listen to our entire podcast with David French. During our wide-ranging conversation, he reflects on the Supreme Court leak and our larger cultural moment with a depth of wisdom I commend to you with gratitude.

Denison Forum