In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Reality of God’s Love

No matter what our circumstances might suggest, God still loves us and will never stop.

2 Corinthians 11:23-27

Have you ever wondered why a God of love lets bad things happen to you? Or whether your past keeps Him from loving you? But just because you may feel unloved doesn’t mean that you actually are. The apostle Paul could probably relate. In today’s reading we see that he encountered hardship after hardship while following God. And his past was so checkered with sin (Acts 8:1-3Acts 9:1-2) that he could have assumed he had good reason to feel unloved. 

Yet Paul kept spreading his message of hope—that God loves us and sent His Son to die for our sins. The situation we find ourselves in may be unfair, painful, or humiliating, but it doesn’t mean God has stopped loving us. Sometimes we face difficulty because He is smoothing our rough edges and molding us into His image. Other trials are instigated by Satan but are allowed through the Lord’s permissive will. 

Either way, God is working everything out for our good, according to His specific purposes for each believer’s life (Romans 8:28). The key to accepting the truth of God’s unconditional love is to focus attention on Him rather than on your circumstances. When you are learning of Him, talking with Him, and sharing your life with Him, trust and faith will replace doubt and fear. 

Bible in One Year: Esther 6-10

Our Daily Bread — Hope Cuts through Storms

Bible in a Year:

He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.

Psalm 107:29

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 107:23–32

In the spring of 2021, several storm-chasers recorded videos and took photos of a rainbow next to a tornado in Texas. In one video, long stalks of wheat in a field bent under the power of the whirling winds. A brilliant rainbow cut across the gray skyline and arched toward the twister. Bystanders in another video stood on the side of the road and watched the symbol of hope standing firm beside the twisting funnel-shaped cloud.

In Psalm 107, the psalmist offers hope and encourages us to turn to God during difficult times. He describes some who were in the middle of a storm, “at their wits’ end” (v. 27). “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress” (v. 28).

God understands His children will sometimes struggle to feel hopeful when life feels like a storm. We need reminders of His faithfulness, especially when the horizon looks dark and tumultuous.

Whether our storms come as substantial obstacles in our lives, as emotional turmoil, or as mental stress, God can still our storms “to a whisper” and guide us to a place of refuge (vv. 29–30). Though we may not experience relief in our preferred way or time, we can trust God to keep the promises He’s given in Scripture. His enduring hope will cut through any storm.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

When have you struggled to feel hopeful during a storm in your life? How has God given you reminders of His promises through Scripture and His people when you needed a burst of hope?

Loving God, thank You for being my hope-giver no matter what’s going on in my life.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Our Ultimate Example

“And while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23).

Jesus Christ, as the sinless sufferer, is the only model we need as we endure life’s trials.

Prior to his death in 1555, the English Reformer and martyr Hugh Latimer expressed his convictions this way: “Die once we must; how and where, we know not. . . . Here is not our home; let us therefore accordingly consider things, having always before our eyes that heavenly Jerusalem, and the way thereto in persecution.” Latimer knew much about how to face suffering, but he knew that Jesus Himself was the final model regarding how to deal with suffering and death.

That model is summarized in today’s verse, which is a quote from the Suffering Servant passage in Isaiah 53. All the horrible physical and verbal abuse Christ endured just prior to the cross, along with the evil tearing down of His perfectly virtuous character, was unjustified, and yet He did not strike back. As the Son of God, Jesus had perfect control of His feelings and powers.

Jesus found the strength to endure such an abusive final trial when He “kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.” Literally, Jesus kept handing Himself and all His circumstances, climaxing with His death on Calvary (Luke 23:46), over to the Father. The Son had complete trust in God, the just and fair Judge of the entire earth (see Gen. 18:25).

We can follow His example and endure persecution and unjust suffering without answering back, whether it be in the workplace, among relatives, or in any social setting. The key is simply entrusting our lives, by faith, to a righteous God who will make everything right and bring us safely into His glory (1 Peter 5:6-10).

Stephen and Paul are notable role models for how we can triumph over life’s persecutions and hardships, even death. But those great men were themselves merely “fixing [their] eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Heb. 12:2). We must do the same.

Suggestions for Prayer

As you daily experience life’s normal difficulties and challenges, ask God to help you better remember the perfect example Jesus set in facing the worst of pain and suffering.

For Further Study

Read Hebrews 1:1-2 and 4:14-16.

  • Compare and contrast what these passages tell us about Christ’s deity and humanity.
  • What do they reveal about the superiority of His example?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Sometimes You Just Stand

And all Judah stood before the Lord, with their children and their wives.

— 2 Chronicles 20:13 (AMPC)

I especially like the verse for today and the fact that an entire nation stood still before God. You see, in God’s economy, standing still in faith is action. It isn’t physical action, of course; it is spiritual action. Often in our lives, we take action naturally and do little or nothing spiritually. But when we discipline ourselves to be still and wait on the Lord, we are engaging in powerful spiritual activity. Our willingness to be still says to the Lord, “I am going to wait on You until You do something about this situation. In the meantime, I am going to be peaceful and enjoy my life while I wait on You.”

The people of Judah, who stood still before God, had every reason to try to do something— anything other than standing still. Faced with an overwhelming force descending on them and threatening to destroy their land and enslave them, they must have been tempted to revolt or at least defend themselves. But they didn’t. They simply stood still, waiting on God and He miraculously delivered them. Waiting on God brings strength (see Isaiah 40:31). We may need the strength we gain while waiting in order to do what God will instruct us to do when He gives us direction. Those who wait on the Lord hear His voice, receive answers, get direction, and gain strength to obey what He speaks to them.

Prayer Starter: Father, help me to stand firm in faith, that in Your perfect timing, You will move my mountain, give me answers and direction, and the strength to obey You as you speak to my heart, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Healing of a Divine Physician

. . . Who heals all your diseases.

Psalm 103:3

Humbling as this statement is, yet the fact is certain that we are all more or less suffering under the disease of sin. What a comfort to know that we have a great Physician who is both able and willing to heal us! Let us think of Him for a moment tonight.

His cures are very speedy—there is life for a look at Him; His cures are radical—He strikes at the center of the disease; and so His cures are sure and certain. He never fails, and the disease never returns. There is no relapse where Christ heals, no fear that His patients should be merely patched up for a season. He makes new men of them: He also gives them a new heart and puts a right spirit within them.

He is well skilled in all diseases. Physicians generally have some specialty. Although they may know a little about almost all our pains and ills, there is usually one disease that they have studied more than others; but Jesus Christ is thoroughly acquainted with the whole of human nature. He is as much at home with one sinner as with another, and He never yet met an unusual case that was difficult for Him. He has had extraordinary complications of strange diseases to deal with, but He has known exactly with one glance of His eye how to treat the patient. He is the only universal doctor; and the medicine He gives is the only true panacea, healing in every instance.

Whatever our spiritual malady may be, we should apply at once to this Divine Physician. There is no brokenness of heart that Jesus cannot bind up. “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”1 We have only to think of the myriads who have been delivered from all sorts of diseases through the power and virtue of His touch, and we will joyfully put ourselves in His hands. We trust Him, and sin dies; we love Him, and grace lives; we wait for Him, and grace is strengthened; we see Him as he is, and grace is perfected forever.

1) 1 John 1:7

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Changes Hearts

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” (Proverbs 21:1)

King Nebuchadnezzar was rich and powerful. He was king of Babylon, and his country had conquered many other nations in wars. He had many slaves, many soldiers, and many wise men to give him advice and answer his hard questions. Because of his greatness, King Nebuchadnezzar was proud.

One day the king was walking in the palace. Looking around he said, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built . . . by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?”

A very humbling thing happened to Nebuchadnezzar that very hour. He lost his mind. He was driven away from the palace, and he lived like an animal, eating grass. His hair grew thick and shaggy, and his nails became as long as birds’ claws.

After a time, Nebuchadnezzar’s reason returned. He became a normal man again. But one thing about him was very different—his heart. At the end of Daniel 4, we find him praising God instead of himself. God had changed his heart from a proud one to a humble one.

Is there someone you know who needs a heart change? Maybe one of your friends or loved ones needs to trust Jesus Christ as Savior. Or maybe someone you know is living a proud and disobedient life. What is the best thing you can do for that person? Ask God to change that person’s heart into a heart that loves and glorifies God. God can change anyone’s heart for His own glory.

God changes hearts that He might receive glory.

My Response:
» Am I praying regularly for God to change the hearts of people I know?
» Have I ever asked God to change my heart to love and glorify Him more?

Denison Forum – How a nine-year-old killed in Uvalde shared the gospel

Ellie Garcia was one of the nineteen children murdered at Robb Elementary School in Texas last week. She died about a week before her tenth birthday.

Her father shared a photo he took in January of his daughter praying. He wrote, “I love you baby girl and I love the way you pray.” He also posted a TikTok video she made recently, where she said, “Hey, guys. I just wanted to give you a little catch-up. Jesus. He died for us. So when we die, we’ll be up there with him. In my room, I have three pictures of him.”

Now Ellie sees her Savior face to face.

In stark contrast, a ten-year-old boy in Florida was arrested Saturday evening for threatening in a text message to attempt a mass shooting. Detectives interviewed the boy and developed probable cause for his arrest.

In such troubled times, how can we raise more Ellie Garcias?

Let’s consider this story as a cultural parable: a severe lifeguard shortage is delaying public pool openings from coast to coast. Philadelphia has enough lifeguards to open only eighteen of the city’s sixty-five available outdoor pools. Chicago needs hundreds more lifeguards. The shortage will likely cause a large decline in swim lessons, which could lead to increased drownings.

Clearly, we need spiritual lifeguards to keep us from spiritual drowning. As we will see today, we have a binary choice to make. The wrong choice imprisons us, while the right choice liberates us.

Option one: “We belong to ourselves”

Alan Noble is one of the most perceptive evangelical cultural analysts in America. He has written for the AtlanticVoxChristianity Today, the Gospel Coalition, and First Things.

His latest book, You Are Not Your Own: Belonging to God in an Inhuman World, has received praise from Tim Keller, Michael Wear, Karen Swallow Prior, and Tish Harrison Warren among other leading evangelical voices. I had not seen his explanation of our cultural moment anywhere else and found it both biblical and empowering.

Noble views our root problem as “a particular understanding of what it means to be human: we are each our own, we belong to ourselves.” He quotes the influential claim of John Rawls that “freedom consists in pursuing our own conception of the good life while respecting the rights of others to do the same.”

However, Noble warns that if “we belong to ourselves,” there can be no common good, only “billions of private goods.” Since we have no objective means of validating ourselves with reference to objective truth or morality, we are constantly chasing the validation of others.

Some have given up, according to Noble, choosing an “alternative space to pursue existential justification” through social media and video games. Some choose marijuana, psychiatric medications, or other drugs and substances. But the prevalence of “deaths of despair” (suicides, alcohol-related deaths, and drug overdoses) and the epidemic of depression driven by feelings of inadequacy illustrate the pain we cannot resolve through self-reliance.

Option two: “You are not your own”

Noble then pivots to the good news: you are not your own. As Paul noted, “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God” (1 Corinthians 6:19). As a result, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price” (vv. 19–20).

When we submit our lives to the One who made us and knows what is best for us, we experience a significance we can find nowhere else from no one else. Jesus sets us free from bondage to sin and self, the constant quest to be enough and to do enough.

There is now no image for us to maintain because we were made in the image of God. There is no identity for us to discover or create because our identity is found in Jesus’ love for us.

Noble notes that we are then free to live in light of God’s existence, goodness, and providence, trusting that he will make of us what is for his highest glory and our greatest good. We serve others because we wish to serve them whether they serve us or not. We have no need to justify ourselves before others because we are justified by the God of the universe.

We extend grace to others because we have received grace. And we do our best in the power of God’s Spirit and trust the results to him. Noble quotes T. S. Eliot, “For us there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.”

(For more, please see my reflections on Dr. Noble’s brilliant book in my personal blog.)

The key to spiritual dynamite

Paul said of Jesus, “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:28–29).

Struggling translates a Greek word meaning to “fight, compete, do everything possible.” While Paul is giving his very best to help people know Christ, he is not alone in this fight: with all his energy that he powerfully works within me could be translated “with all the supernatural energy of Christ that is right now powerfully [dunamis, from which we get “dynamite”] energizing me.”

A saying often attributed to St. Ignatius or St. Augustine captures Paul’s testimony: “I will work as if everything depended on me; I will pray as if everything depended on God.” Said more briefly: as I work, God works. As Oswald Chambers noted, “When we choose deliberately to obey him, then he will tax the remotest star and the last grain of sand to assist us.”

Consequently, here’s the simple but transforming question: To whom will you belong today?

Denison Forum