In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – A Healthy Body

The Spirit of God dwells within us, and He is reflected in what we think, say, and do.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

We tend to separate our spiritual life from our physical life, but that’s not what God intended. He who carefully crafted each of us places high value on our physical being (Psalm 139:13). The human form is a masterpiece, which our Creator has entrusted to our care. And as with any other resource, He expects us to be wise stewards.

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians addresses some of the unsavory issues their city was known for. People in the church had been engaging in offensive practices, including sexual misconduct and gluttony (1 Corinthians 5:11 Corinthians 11:21). They incorrectly regarded this behavior as separate from their spiritual lives, as if they could do whatever they pleased with their bodies and still be considered “good Christians.”

But the body and the spirit are one. In 1 Corinthians 6:19, Paul declares, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you?” The apostle reminds us that God’s Holy Spirit has come to indwell every believer. If you have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, then His Spirit lives in you, and your body has become a walking testimony. What does your physical being say about your walk with Christ?

Bible in One Year: Psalm 50-54

Our Daily Bread — Trustworthy Love

Bible in a Year:

Love does no harm.

Romans 13:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Romans 12:9–21

Why can’t I stop thinking about it? My emotions were a tangled mess of sadness, guilt, anger, and confusion.

Years ago, I’d made the painful decision to cut ties with someone close to me, after attempts to address deeply hurtful behavior were merely met with dismissal and denial. Today, after hearing she was in town visiting, my thoughts had spiraled into hashing and rehashing the past.

As I struggled to calm my thoughts, I heard a song playing on the radio. The song expressed not just the anguish of betrayal, but also a profound longing for change and healing in the person who’d caused harm. Tears filled my eyes as I soaked in the haunting ballad giving voice to my own deepest longings.

“Love must be sincere,” the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:9, a reminder that not all that passes for love is genuine. Yet our heart’s deepest longing is to know real love—love that isn’t self-serving or manipulative, but compassionate and self-giving. Love that’s not a fear-driven need for control but a joyful commitment to each other’s well-being (vv. 10–13).

And that’s the good news, the gospel. Because of Jesus, we can finally know and share a love we can trust—a love that will never cause us harm (13:10). To live in His love is to be free.

By:  Monica La Rose

Reflect & Pray

How have you experienced or seen a difference between sincere and self-serving love? How can a community of faith help us learn to love others wholeheartedly?

Loving God, help me to learn the difference between real and counterfeit love and to share Christ’s love with those around me.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Integrity Is a Powerful Witness

“Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the furnace of blazing fire; he responded and said, ‘Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, come out, you servants of the Most High God, and come here!’ Then Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego came out of the midst of the fire. And the satraps, the prefects, the governors and the king’s high officials gathered around and saw in regard to these men that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men nor was the hair of their head singed, nor were their trousers damaged, nor had the smell of fire even come upon them” (Daniel 3:26-27).

A righteous life attracts people to God.

When Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven” (Matt. 5:16; compare v. 14), He was teaching that what we believe as Christians must be evident in the way we live. When it is, others will be drawn to God and honor Him.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were powerful witnesses for God because they lived according to their convictions. Nebuchadnezzar had done everything he could to intimidate them into compromise, and when that failed he called for their death. But God’s protection of them was so thorough that the intense flames didn’t even singe their hair or scorch their clothing. In fact, they emerged from the furnace without so much as the smell of smoke on them.

So powerful was the integrity of these young men and the hand of God upon their lives that within just a few short verses Nebuchadnezzar went from defying God to exulting Him as “the Most High God.” That phrase doesn’t mean he had abandoned his traditional worship of many gods (apparently that comes in Daniel 4), but he was placing the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego at the top of the list.

So it is when your life impacts others for Christ. They may not yet fully believe, but God uses your faithfulness as a foundation for His future work in their lives.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Lord to use you to witness to someone today.

For Further Study

We have seen the impact of a consistently godly life, but according to Romans 2:17-24, what is the impact of a hypocritical life?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Secure Enough to Say “No”

Now am I trying to win the favor of men, or of God? Do I seek to please men? If I were still seeking popularity with men, I should not be a bond servant of Christ (the Messiah).

— Galatians 1:10 (AMPC)

Have you ever felt that you could not be everything that everybody wanted you to be? Have you ever known deep down inside that you really needed to say “no” to a lot of people—but the fear of displeasing them had your mouth saying, “I’ll try,” while your heart was screaming, “I can’t do it!”?

Sometimes, insecure people say “yes,” when they really mean “no.” Those who succeed at being themselves don’t allow others to control them. They are led by a bold heart that knows God loves them, not by the fear of displeasing others or being rejected by them.

We should not get angry at people because they place demands on us, because in reality it is our responsibility to order our lives. Thankfully, we can be secure in Christ and bold enough to say “no” to people when we know it is the right thing to do.

Prayer Starter: When I am in a situation, Father, where I am tempted to overcommit to something or someone even though I don’t have a peace about it, help me to be secure enough to say “no.” I thank You that my security is found in You, not in pleasing others.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Immediately

And immediately they left their nets and followed him.

Mark 1:18

When they heard the call of Jesus, Simon and Andrew obeyed at once without hesitation. If we did likewise and punctually with resolute zeal put into practice what we hear immediately, then our attendance at the means of grace and our reading of good books could not fail to enrich us spiritually. He will not lose his loaf who has taken care to eat it immediately; neither can he be deprived of the benefit of the doctrine who has already acted upon it. Most readers and hearers become moved to decide to take action; but sadly, the proposal is a blossom that has not flowered, and as a result no fruit comes from it; they wait, they waver, and then they forget, until, like the ponds on frosty nights, when the sun shines by day, they are only thawed in time to be frozen again.

That fatal tomorrow is blood-red with the murder of good resolutions; it is the slaughterhouse of the innocents. We are very concerned that our little book of “Evening Readings” should not be fruitless, and therefore we pray that readers may not be readers only, but doers of the Word. The practice of truth is the fruit of profitable reading.

Should the reader be impressed with any duty while perusing these pages, let him be quick to fulfill it before the holy glow has departed from his soul, and let him leave his nets and all that he has rather than be found rebellious to the Master’s call. Do not give place to the devil by delay! Act while opportunity and desire are working in happy partnership. Do not be caught in your own nets, but break the meshes of worldliness, and go where glory calls you. Happy is the writer who will meet with readers resolved to carry out his teachings: His harvest will be a hundredfold, and his Master will have great honor. We can only pray that this might be our reward from these brief meditations and hurried hints. Grant it, O Lord, to Your servant!

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God the Son Is Better

“God, who…spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds….Being made so much better than the angels.” (Hebrews 1:1-2, 4a)

When I was in school I had a friend who was really smart. Every time we finished taking a test, I asked him how he did. I remember the extremely rare times when I did better than he did. I was so happy! I think all of us have a desire to be better than someone else.

Did you know that the Bible tells us that Jesus is better than anyone else who has lived? The first chapter of Hebrews tells us that He is better than prophets and angels.

First, Jesus is better than the prophets. God used men called prophets to tell the world what He wanted them to know (vv.1-3). These prophets were important people who did amazing things. For example, Elijah asked God for fire to come down from heaven, and God sent it. And Daniel was thrown into a den of lions, but God didn’t let the lions hurt him. A third prophet, Elisha, made a river split into two so he could walk across on dry land.

But the only way these prophets could do these things was because God worked through them. The first part of Hebrews 1 teaches us that Jesus is better than the prophets. Why? First, because Jesus is the Creator of everything, including those prophets! Second, because He upholds everything, He is the one who made it possible for the prophets to do their work. Third, the prophets were sinners, so they could not save anyone from his sins. But Jesus never sinned. In fact, He cleansed our sins (v. 3).

Not only is Jesus better than the prophets, but second, He is better than the angels. We know that God uses angels for special jobs. An angel warned Lot and his family that judgment was coming to their city. It was an angel who told Mary that she would give birth to Jesus. It was an angel who told Jesus’ disciples that He had risen from the dead.

But for all of the supernatural power that angels have, Jesus is still better than they are. God hasn’t called any of the angels His Son – only Jesus has that honor (v. 5). In fact, God told the angels to worship Jesus when Jesus came to earth to be born as a baby (v. 6). Angels have their place, but they are under Jesus the King (vv. 7-9). Angels are to care for those who will be saved, but Jesus is the one who provides the salvation (v. 14).

If a prophet or even an angel were to die for you, it would do nothing to save you from your sins. But since Jesus is God, His death provides a way for you to be saved from your sins. That power makes Him far better than prophets and angels.

Jesus is better than anyone else, including prophets and angels.

My Response:
» Do I recognize Jesus for all He is worth?

The Denison Forum Daily Article – “Lightyear” star calls critics of film’s same-sex kiss “idiots” who will “die off like dinosaurs”

Chris Evans plays the title character in Disney’s new film, Lightyear, that released in theaters Friday. As you probably know, the movie has generated controversy by featuring two women in a lesbian relationship and a kiss between the two. When asked about those who have raised concerns, Evans said, “The real truth is those people are idiots.”

He explained that the “human story” is “one of constant social awakening and growth” and claimed that people who oppose such “growth” will “die off like dinosaurs.” According to Evans, “the goal is to pay them no mind” and to “march forward and embrace the growth that makes us human.” (For more on the film, please see Mark Legg’s article, “’Lightyear’ features same-sex kiss: Should kids see Disney’s latest film?”)

Our post-Christian culture is certainly attempting to follow Evans’s advice and is especially focusing on indoctrinating our kids. Disney has launched an LGBTQ clothing line for children. CNN is promoting a “guide to LGBTQ summer reading for kids and teens.” Earlier this month, a group of four Colorado elementary schools staged an after-school celebration of Pride Month including a drag queen story hour.

Our rejection of biblical morality is a symptom of our broader rejection of biblical truth. Gallup announced Friday that belief in God in the US has fallen to 81 percent, a new low. Abortions are increasing in America, reversing a thirty-year decline. And attacks on religious liberty continue: a Jewish school in New York has been ordered by a state judge to recognize an LGBTQ student club despite its religious objections.

Why Juneteenth is a spiritual holiday

A fifteen-year-old boy was killed and three adults were shot when gunfire erupted last night at a music festival in Washington, DC. An ethnic attack in Ethiopia left more than two hundred dead. The FBI is investigating a series of attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers and churches. A New York Times editorial writer explicitly describes her difficulties with childbirth as an argument for abortion over adoption.

It may seem that our world is too broken to repair. But yesterday’s Juneteenth celebrations remind us that it is always too soon to give up on God and his work among us.

Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, with news that the Civil War was over and slavery in the US was abolished. Juneteenth Freedom Day (combining “June” and “nineteenth”) has become the oldest known celebration observing the end of the enslavement of humans in the US. In 1979, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday. In June 2021, President Biden signed a bill making it a federal holiday.

Reflecting on the theological significance of Juneteenth, teaching pastor Rasool Berry writes in Christianity Today, “It is always good for Christians to celebrate freedom. The end of the evil institution of slavery in our midst is valuable and valid no matter how messy and incomplete it is. There’s a renewal possible with a celebration such as Juneteenth—it’s a reminder of where we’ve been and hopefully where we’re going.”

He reminds us of Paul’s admonition to “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15) and states, “Juneteenth provides a unique national moment to do both.”

Beware a self-fulfilling prophecy

Slavery grieves the heart of the God who made every human in his image (Genesis 1:27) and loves each of us as if there were only one of us (quoting St. Augustine). And yet he used humans to liberate humans. He used Abraham Lincoln to emancipate the slaves in 1863 and the US government to enforce that emancipation across the nation. He used Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and legions of brave Christians to lead the fight for civil rights, a struggle that continues today.

If we give up on God and on our nation, we will obviously be unavailable to either. Then our spiritual and cultural pessimism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

However, being change agents in a broken world requires more than a willingness to be used by God—it requires loving those we are called to serve. Paul grieved so deeply for his fellow Jews who rejected their Messiah that he could wish himself “accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:3).

His compassion came from the One who “had compassion” on those he served (Matthew 14:14), the Shepherd who would leave the ninety-nine sheep to find the one who was lost (Luke 15:3–7), the Savior who would call a hated tax-collector by name and stay in his home so that salvation could come to his house (Luke 19:1–10).

Such love is a “fruit” of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22) manifested in every Christian who is “filled” and controlled by him (Ephesians 5:18).

“Allow your heart to be a marketplace of humanity”

If our response to Chris Evans’s ridiculing of biblical Christians was anything less than loving grief for his soul, we need to be “filled” with the Spirit. If we could read about the falling rate of belief in God and the rising rate of abortion without pain in our spirit for our nation, we need to be “filled” with the Spirit.

Henri Nouwen observed: “One of the greatest human spiritual tasks is to embrace all of humanity, to allow your heart to be a marketplace of humanity, to allow your interior life to reflect the pains and joys of people not only from Africa and Ireland and Yugoslavia and Russia but also from people who lived in the fourteenth century and will live many centuries forward. Somehow, if you discover that your little life is part of the journey of humanity and that you have the privilege to be part of that, your interior life shifts. You lose a lot of fear and something really happens to you. Enormous joy can come into your life. It can give you a strong sense of solidarity with the human race, with the human condition. It is good to be human.”

To experience such loving “solidarity with the human race,” we need the help of God’s Spirit. English theologian Edwin Hatch’s prayer should therefore be our daily intercession:

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love,
And do what Thou would do. 

Would you make his words your heart’s cry to God right now?

(For more on experiencing the love of God in the power of the Spirit, please see my latest personal blog, “Is this the end of the English bulldog?”)

Denison Forum

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – God Is Present Even in Dark Times

The Lord is not absent during our times of trouble. His purpose is steadfast.

June 17, 2022

Genesis 39:1-23

The story of Joseph illustrates how God’s sovereign hand guides His children when they go through a season of darkness. Joseph was rejected by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused, and imprisoned. But in the midst of those terrible times, he experienced God’s favor.

Joseph didn’t comprehend the Lord’s intentions during those long years of slavery and imprisonment. After becoming second-in-command to Pharaoh, however, he recognized God’s purpose in allowing those lengthy struggles. Then Joseph testified to what he knew to be true: His brothers had meant to harm him, but God used all the hardship to accomplish a wonderful divine plan (Genesis 45:4-8Genesis 50:20).

This is a helpful story to remember when troubles hit. In dark times, we’re often tempted to feel neglected by God and may even become angry with Him for letting the situation persist so long. Though we, like Joseph, may have difficulty seeing beyond our present suffering, there is a bigger picture.

If you’re living in a season of hardship, have faith that God is using it for His glory and your eternal good. All your protests cannot thwart His purpose (Isaiah 14:27), so yield to His hand as He shapes you into His Son’s image. And remember that whether it’s apparent or not, our Father’s favor is with you.

Bible in One Year: Psalm 35-38

Our Daily Bread — Pride and Deception

Bible in a Year:

The pride of your heart has deceived you.

Obadiah 1:3

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Obadiah 1:1-4

Loving God, thank You for Your gentle, nudging correction. With my shoulders slumped, I murmured those difficult words. I’ve been so arrogant, thinking I could do it all on my own. For months, I’d been enjoying successful work projects, and the accolades lulled me into trusting my capabilities and rejecting God’s leading. It took a challenging project for me to realize I wasn’t as smart as I thought. My proud heart had deceived me into believing I didn’t need God’s help.

The powerful kingdom of Edom received discipline from God for its pride. Edom was located amid mountainous terrain, making her seemingly invulnerable to enemies (Obadiah 1:3). Edom was also a wealthy nation, situated at the center of strategic trade routes and rich in copper, a highly valued commodity in the ancient world. It was full of good things yet also full of pride. Its citizens believed their kingdom was invincible, even as they oppressed God’s people (vv. 10–14). But God used the prophet Obadiah to tell them of His judgment. Nations would rise up against Edom, and the once-powerful kingdom would be defenseless and humiliated (vv. 1–2).

Pride deceives us into thinking we can live life on our terms, without God. It makes us feel invulnerable to authority, correction, and weakness. But God calls us to humble ourselves before Him (1 Peter 5:6). As we turn from our pride and choose repentance, God will guide us toward total trust in Him.

By:  Karen Huang

Reflect & Pray

What happens when blessings in your life become sources of pride? How can pride deceive you?

Father, protect me from pride. Please give me a humble heart.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Integrity Incurs the World’s Wrath

“Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with wrath, and his facial expression was altered toward Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. He answered by giving orders to heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. And he commanded certain valiant warriors who were in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, in order to cast them into the furnace of blazing fire” (Daniel 3:19-20).

Persecution is the world’s futile attempt to silence the voice of godly integrity.

King Nebuchadnezzar was a brilliant and powerful man who had built an enormous empire by bringing entire nations under his control. Yet when three youths refused to compromise their devotion to God, he lost rational control and flew into such an intense rage that his face became visibly distorted.

Wanting to vent his wrath upon Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, Nebuchadnezzar ordered that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual. You might expect him to have turned the fire down, thereby punishing them more severely by prolonging their pain. But the king was reacting emotionally, not logically, which often is the case when sinful people are confronted by righteousness.

We see the same pattern throughout Scripture. For example, King Herod’s wife hated John the Baptist and had him beheaded for confronting her sinful marriage to the king (Mark 6:19 ff.). Those who couldn’t cope with the wisdom and spirit of Stephen stirred up the Jews against him, which eventually led to his death by stoning (Acts 6:9 ff.). The Old Testament prophets and the Lord Himself were killed by those who were hostile to God. Similarly, the Thessalonian and Judean Christians endured angry persecution from their own countrymen (1 Thess. 2:14-15).

The opposition we face today may be more subtle, but it all has its source in Satan, who “was a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44). So don’t be surprised if subtle opposition suddenly erupts into murderous wrath. But be encouraged, knowing that even when it does, it can never thwart God’s plans or overcome His sustaining grace.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for boldness to speak the truth in love and never to fear the world’s reaction.

For Further Study

Read 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10.

  • Why does God allow Christians to suffer persecution?
  • When and how will God deal with those who persecute His children?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Dread Drains Your Strength

 For sighing has become my daily food; my groans pour out like water. What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.

— Job 3:24–26 (NIV)

How many times have you said something like this: “Oh, I just dread having to work in the yard this weekend,” or “I’m really dreading the Friday afternoon meeting with my boss”? Most of us have made remarks such as these when we know we must do something we do not enjoy. What we really mean is that we do not look forward to the task ahead of us and would rather not do it. But when we dread things, we drain ourselves of strength, perhaps without realizing that’s what we’re doing.

Dread is a symptom of a negative attitude, not the fruit of a positive attitude, and it affects our joy in a negative way. Dread is also a close relative of fear.

We can’t feel dread and joy at the same time. We all enjoy doing some things more than others, but we can choose to remain joyful and upbeat even while we do things we don’t particularly like. When we stay happy and positive, we usually do things faster and better, and we can then move on to other activities.

Whatever you need to do today, even if you are not looking forward to it, decide right now that you will not dread it. Instead, ask God to help you do it with a positive attitude. Don’t let an item on your to-do list decrease your joy, because “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (see Nehemiah 8:10).

Prayer Starter: Father, help me not to dread anything, but to have a positive attitude toward everything I need to do. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Promises Fulfilled

Then Israel sang this song: ‘Spring up, O well! Sing to it!’

Numbers 21:17

This well was famous in the wilderness because it was the subject of a promise: “That is the well of which the LORD said to Moses, ‘Gather the people together, so that I may give them water.’” The people needed water, and it was promised by their gracious God. We need fresh supplies of heavenly grace, and in the covenant the Lord has pledged Himself to give us all we require.

The well also became the cause of a song. Before the water gushed out, cheerful faith prompted the people to sing; and as they saw the crystal fountain bubbling up, the music grew more joyful. In similar fashion, we who believe the promise of God should rejoice in the prospect of divine revivals in our souls, and as we experience them our holy joy should overflow. Are we thirsting? Then let us not grumble but sing. Spiritual thirst is bitter to bear, but we need not bear it—the promise indicates a well; so let us be of good heart, and look for it.

Moreover, the well was the center of prayer. “Spring up, O well.” What God has promised to give, we must seek after, or we show that we have neither desire nor faith. This evening let us ask that the Scripture we have read, and our devotional exercises, may not be an empty formality but a channel of grace to our souls. May God the Holy Spirit work in us with all His mighty power, filling us with all the fullness of God. Lastly, the well was the object of effort. “The nobles of the people delved, with the scepter and with their staffs.” The Lord wants us to be active in obtaining grace. Our implements are ill suited for digging in the sand, but we must use them to the best of our ability. Prayer must not be neglected; the gathering of God’s people must not be forsaken; ordinances must not be set aside. The Lord will give us His peace most generously, but not on the path of laziness. Let us, then, stir ourselves to seek Him in whom we find all our fresh and flowing springs.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – Christ Has Promised His Presence

“I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20b)

Have you ever had such wonderful news that you were just bursting to tell someone else? Maybe you got a good grade on a test, or perhaps you won an important ballgame. Good news is something you always enjoy sharing, isn’t it?

But what about the Gospel – the Good News about Christ’s death and resurrection? Do you enjoy sharing that Good News?

For some reason, it’s easy to talk to other Christians about what Jesus Christ has done and is doing in your life. But when it comes to talking to people who don’t know Him, it just seems a lot harder. What if they think you’re weird? Or what if they make fun of you? Or what if they just don’t understand? Because you don’t know how they may respond, there are times when you might feel afraid, or even pretend that you don’t know Jesus.

But Jesus wants you to share Him with others! In fact Jesus says in Matthew 28:19-20a, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” These are words that Jesus spoke to His disciples, in His last earthly message, before He ascended to heaven. Jesus told them that they should teach others about Him and show them how to be followers of Him. If you are serious about being a follower of Christ, then this command is for you, too.

Wow, what a big task! Maybe even a scary one as well! But the best part is that Jesus offers you a promise with His command: I am with you always, even to the end of the world. (Matthew 28:20b). Always – that includes when you speak to others about Jesus! Even though you may feel afraid and even outnumbered at times, Jesus is always with you. You can be confident because Jesus has assured you that you are not alone!

Jesus is with me when I talk to others about Him.

My Response:
» Am I obeying God by sharing Jesus with others? Am I trusting Him to help me tell others about Him?

Denison Forum – The latest on the church shooting in Alabama

There has been another church shooting, this time in the Birmingham, Alabama, area. Two people were killed and another person was injured yesterday evening in an attack at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills. The suspect, who has not yet been identified publicly, is in custody.

When I saw the news, I had to decide whether or not to report it. If it seems mass shootings are daily occurrences, that’s because it’s true. The Gun Violence Archive has counted at least 246 mass shootings through early June. Since this is the 168th day of the year, we are averaging 1.5 such tragedies every day.

In a culture as broken as ours, compassion fatigue is real. How many of the signs are you experiencing?

  • Feeling exhausted physically and psychologically
  • Feeling helpless, hopeless, or powerless
  • Feeling irritable, angry, sad, or numb
  • A sense of being detached or having decreased pleasure in activities
  • Ruminating about the suffering of others and feeling anger towards the events or people causing the suffering
  • Blaming yourself and having thoughts of not having done enough to help the people who are suffering
  • A decreased sense of personal and professional accomplishment
  • A change in your worldview or spirituality
  • Physical symptoms, including sleep and appetite disturbances, nausea, and dizziness.

It can feel especially overwhelming to be a parent in these days. Unsurprisingly in these crisis-filled times, 44 percent of non-parents ages eighteen to forty-nine say they are not likely to have children. This is an increase of 7 percentage points in four years. According to Pew Research Center, the reasons range from just not wanting kids to concerns about finances, climate change, and “the state of the world.”

With Father’s Day coming on Sunday, I’d like to reframe such discouragement as a spiritual opportunity: what fathers need most cannot be found in our fallen world, but our Father can give us what no one else can.

We must love God most to love others best

My greatest desire as a father is to love my wife, our sons and their wives, and our grandchildren well. However, as author Jon Bloom notes, “The most loving thing we can do for others is love God more than we love them. For if we love God most, we will love others best.”

He explains: “Those who have encountered the living Christ understand what I mean. They know the depth of love and breadth of grace that flows out from them toward others when they themselves are filled with love for God and all he is for them and means to them in Jesus. And they know the comparatively shallow and narrow love they feel toward others when their affection for God is ebbing.”

So, to love my family well, I must love God well. But that’s a problem.

Charles Spurgeon wrote: “There is no light in the planet but that which proceedeth from the sun; and there is no true love to Jesus in the heart but that which cometh from the Lord Jesus Himself. From this overflowing fountain of the infinite love of God, all our love to God must spring. This must ever be a great and certain truth, that we love him for no other reason than because he first loved us.”

The great English pastor was quoting the Apostle John: “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Our love for God comes from the God who “is love” (v. 8).

Asking for a gift to give a gift

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis described this transaction well: “When we talk of a man doing anything for God or giving anything to God, I will tell you what that is really like. It is like a small child going to its father and saying, ‘Daddy, give me sixpence to buy you a birthday present.’ Of course, the father does, and he is pleased with the child’s present. It is all very nice and proper, but only an idiot would think that the father is sixpence to the good on the transaction.”

So, to love my family well, I must love my Lord well. But to love my Lord well, I need the gift of love which only he can give. How can I receive from him this gift that I can then give to him and others?

When I am “filled” and controlled by the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), I experience the “fruit of the Spirit,” the first of which is “love” (Galatians 5:22). Here is what happens in our lives when we experience this “fruit”: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:4–8).

Would my family say these statements describe my relationships with them? If not, why not?

When the devil fears us

St. Antony of Padua (1195–1231) was a personal friend of St. Francis of Assisi and one of the most profound thinkers of his day. In one of his sermons, he noted: “The man who is filled with the Holy Spirit speaks in different languages. These different languages are different ways of witnessing to Christ, such as humility, poverty, patience, and obedience; we speak in those languages when we reveal in ourselves these virtues to others. Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak.”

St. Antony also observed, “The devil is afraid of us when we pray and make sacrifices. He is also afraid when we are humble and good. He is especially afraid when we love Jesus very much.”

Will the devil fear you today?

NOTE: For more on our theme, please see my latest blog, “What I don’t want for Father’s Day,” and my sermon for this Sunday, “My favorite Father’s Day story.”

Denison Forum

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Our Protector

Though hardship in life is inevitable, God is our protector and refuge, and He is with us through it all.

Psalm 62:5-8

Have you noticed all the instability in our world today? There is much to fear if we have only ourselves or others to rely on in these troubling times. But God is our Protector, and when we run to Him, we can have peace in the midst of uncertainty. If He is our Rock, then we won’t be shaken by the events in this world or even those in our own life.

The Lord is able to safeguard us in treacherous times. No matter where trouble originates—with others, external circumstances, or our own actions—we can find ourselves in danger and afraid. Thankfully, we have a loving God who leads us to safety.

Now that doesn’t mean the Lord will rescue us from all trouble, but He will walk with us through every painful circumstance. As we pour out our heart to God and let His Word bring comfort, He will renew our mind, calm our fears, and strengthen our trust in Him.

Do you take refuge in God when circumstances are frightening, or do you watch the news or browse the web looking for hope and reassurance? The world cannot provide the help you seek. Only when the Lord is your stronghold will you remain unshaken.

Bible in One Year: Psalm 23-28

Our Daily Bread — Investing in Others

Bible in a Year:

Use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves.

Luke 16:9

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Luke 16:1–12

When a corporation offered one thousand frequent-flier miles for every ten purchases of one of their foods, one man realized their cheapest product was individual cups of chocolate pudding. He bought more than twelve thousand. For $3,000, he received gold status and a lifetime supply of air miles for himself and his family. He also donated the pudding to charity, which netted him an $800 tax write-off. Genius!

Jesus told a controversial parable about a cunning manager who, as he was being fired, reduced what debtors owed his master. The man knew he could rely on their help later for the favor he was doing them now. Jesus wasn’t praising the manager’s unethical business practice, but He knew we could learn from his ingenuity. Jesus said we should shrewdly “use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:9). As “the pudding guy” turned twenty-five cent desserts into flights, so we may use our “worldly wealth” to gain “true riches” (v. 11).

What are these riches? Jesus said, “Give to the poor” and you will “provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys” (12:33). Our investment doesn’t earn our salvation, but it does affirm it, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (v. 34).

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

How have you recently helped meet someone’s physical needs? Why is your charity an investment?

Loving God, help me to invest in the poor, for Jesus’ sake and Yours.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Integrity Walks in Humility

“Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and anger gave orders to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego; then these men were brought before the king. Nebuchadnezzar responded and said to them, ‘Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, and bagpipe, and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, very well. But if you will not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?’” (Daniel 3:13-15).

God humbles the proud but gives grace to the humble.

When King Nebuchadnezzar asked Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego “What god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?” he showed the extent to which a person can be blinded by sinful pride and arrogance. It is sheer folly to pit one’s power against God’s, but that’s precisely what he did.

Nebuchadnezzar’s attitude reflects that of Satan himself, who boasted that he would ascend into Heaven and make himself like the Most High God (Isa. 14:13-14). God is quick to correct such foolish notions. Later in his life Nebuchadnezzar learned that “everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; assuredly, he will not be unpunished” (Prov. 16:5). After being severely chastened by God, the king came to his senses and proclaimed, “I Nebuchadnezzar praise, exalt, and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride” (Dan. 4:37).

Although they may not be as openly defiant as Nebuchadnezzar was, everyone who willfully disobeys God’s Word is following his example by exalting their own will over God’s and challenging His authority in their lives.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Lord to keep you humble and to forgive any subtle pride you may be harboring in your heart.

For Further Study

Read Psalm 31:23-24 and James 4:13-16.

  • How does the psalmist encourage the humble?
  • What is James’s caution to those who live as if they are not accountable to God?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Come Close

Come close to God and He will come close to you….

— James 4:8 (AMPC)

Not everyone is willing to pay the price required to be close to God. Not willing to simply take the time required or make the investments needed for spiritual growth. God doesn’t ask for all our time. He certainly wants us to do things we don’t consider “spiritual.” He designed us with bodies, souls (minds, wills, and emotions), and spirits, and He expects us to take care of all these areas. Exercising our bodies and caring for our souls takes time and effort. Our emotions need to be ministered to; we need to have fun and be entertained, and we need to enjoy being with other people. Our minds need to grow and be renewed daily. In addition, we have a spiritual nature that needs attention. To stay balanced and healthy, we must take time to take care of our entire being.

I believe the whole issue of intimacy with God is a matter of time. We say we don’t have time to seek God, but the truth is that we take time to do the things that are most important to us. Even though we all have to fight distractions every day, if knowing God and hearing from Him is important to us then we will find time to do it. Don’t try to work God into your schedule, but instead work your schedule around time with Him.

Getting to know God is a long-term investment, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t get instant results. Be determined to honor Him with your time and you will reap the benefits.

Prayer Starter: Father, I want to get more intimate with You. Help me to keep the distractions to a minimum and help me to make spending time with You my first priority. I pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – He Sets an Open Door

… Who opens and no one will shut.

Revelation 3:7

Jesus is the keeper of the gates of paradise, and before every believing soul He sets an open door, which no man or devil will be able to close. What joy it will be to find that faith in Him is the golden key to the everlasting doors. My soul, do you carry this key close to you, or are you trusting in some dishonest locksmith who will fail you in the end?

Pay attention to a parable of the preacher, and remember it. The great King has made a banquet, and He has proclaimed to all the world that no one will enter except those who bring with them the fairest flower that blooms. The spirits of men advance to the gate by thousands, and each one brings the flower that he esteems the queen of the garden; but in crowds they are driven from the royal presence and do not enter into the festive halls. Some are carrying the poisonous plant of superstition, others the flaunting poppies of empty religion, and some the hemlock of self-righteousness; but these are not precious to the King, and so those carrying them are shut out of the pearly gates.

My soul, have you gathered the rose of Sharon? Do you wear the lily of the valley on your lapel constantly? If so, when you arrive at the gates of heaven you will know its value, for you only have to show this choicest of flowers, and the Porter will open and without a moment’s delay, for to that rose the Porter always opens. You will find your way with the rose of Sharon in your hand up to the throne of God Himself, for heaven itself possesses nothing that excels its radiant beauty, and of all the flowers that bloom in paradise, none of them can rival the lily of the valley. My soul, get Calvary’s blood-red rose into your hand by faith, by love wear it, by communion preserve it, by daily watchfulness make it your all in all, and you will be blessed beyond all bliss, happy beyond a dream. Jesus, be mine forever, my God, my heaven, my all.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Created Everything

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

When you look at a building, you know that there had to be a builder. The evidence of his work is right in front of you. When you look at a painting, you know that there had to be an artist. When you look at a pizza, you know that there was a pizza-maker!

What if I told you that the building built itself, that the painting painted itself, and that I had an empty fridge, but somehow pepperoni and cheese and flour just appeared and became a pizza? You would probably laugh just thinking about it. Many people, however, think that the universe did just that; it just “came together” on its own. They don’t believe that there was a Designer or Creator. Are they right? God says in Genesis that God created all things. He created the sun, moon, and stars; He created the animals and plants; He created us!

Let’s look for a moment at our Universe. Did you know that there are 70,000-million-million-million (that’s 7 with 22 zeros behind it) stars in the universe? Did you know that there are 206 bones in our body (and 6 of them are in your ear!)? Wow!

Those are only two facts that demonstrate how amazing our universe is. It is so complicated that even the most brilliant scientists do not understand how everything works together. What does that show you and I? Paul says in Romans 1:20 that since the beginning of the world, God’s invisible attributes – specifically His power and “God-ness” – have been clear to anyone with eyes because God’s creation proves that He’s powerful and that He’s God. If we simply look around us, we can clearly see that there must be a Creator and Designer of the world.

God says that He cannot lie (Titus 1:2). He has told us that He created everything. Let us praise Him for His wonderful design and creation!

God tells me in His Word that He is the Creator of all things.

My Response:
» Do I believe that God created everything?
» Do I praise God for creating everything?