In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Avoiding Foolish Choices

No believer is immune to sin, but we fare better when we slow down and rely on God’s Word.

Proverbs 14:12-18

Most people don’t set out to sabotage their future, yet it can happen anyway because of their own ignorance, rebellion, or blatant disregard for God and His Word. The course of one’s entire life can be derailed by foolish errors in judgment, and future consequences can be disastrous.

As Christians, we have God’s Word and His Spirit to guard and guide us, but that doesn’t make us immune to poor choices, especially in times of weakness. We’re more likely to make unwise decisions when extremely hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. Let these conditions—and the acrostic H-A-L-T—signal to us that it’s time to pause and evaluate our decision-making.

Impatience and strong desires can also lead us astray and blind us to potential consequences. That’s why we must learn to make decisions by using a long-term perspective instead of focusing on what is immediately in front of us.

As you look back over your life, do you see choices made in times of weakness or impatience that have led to negative outcomes? Even when a need seems urgent, it’s best to slow down and carefully consider your steps so you can be satisfied with the course ahead. 

Bible in One Year: Job 5-8

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Set Apart

Bible in a Year:

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.

Matthew 11:29

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Ephesians 4:29–32

In November 1742, a riot broke out in Staffordshire, England, to protest against the gospel message Charles Wesley was preaching. It seems Charles and his brother John were changing some longstanding church traditions, and that was too much for many of the townsfolk.

When John Wesley heard about the riot, he hurried to Staffordshire to help his brother. Soon an unruly crowd surrounded the place where John was staying. Courageously, he met face to face with their leaders, speaking with them so serenely that one by one their anger was assuaged.

Wesley’s gentle and quiet spirit calmed an angry mob. But it wasn’t a gentleness that occurred naturally in his heart. Rather, it was the heart of the Savior whom Wesley followed so closely. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). This yoke of gentleness became the true power behind the apostle Paul’s challenge to us: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).

In our humanness, such patience is impossible for us. But by the fruit of the Spirit in us, the gentleness of the heart of Christ can set us apart and equip us to face a hostile world. When we do, we fulfill Paul’s words, “Let your gentleness be evident to all” (Philippians 4:5).

By:  Bill Crowder

Reflect & Pray

Why does today’s culture see gentleness as weakness? How is gentleness actually strong?

Dear God, remind me that Jesus displayed a heart of gentleness and compassion to His adversaries.

Read more about Jesus.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Integrity Triumphs over Adversity

“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god” (Daniel 1:1-2).

Integrity shines brightest against the backdrop of adversity.

Our passage today tells of the tragic time in Israel’s history when God chastened her severely by allowing King Nebuchadnezzar and the wicked nation of Babylon to march against her and take her captive. God never coddles His people, nor does He wink at their sin. Israel’s chastening illustrates the principle that “judgment [begins] with the household of God” (1 Peter 4:17). But as severe as His discipline can be, it is always aimed at producing greater righteousness and godly integrity in His children (Heb. 12:5-11).

The Babylonian captivity set the stage for a truly uncommon display of integrity from Daniel and his three Hebrew friends. In the days ahead we will examine their character in some depth. For now, however, be encouraged that adversity of any kind—even chastening for sin—is God’s way of providing the rich soil for nourishing and strengthening the spiritual fruit of integrity. Without the adversities of Babylon, Daniel’s integrity and that of his friends would not have shone as brightly as it did and would not have had the significant impact it had on King Nebuchadnezzar and his entire kingdom.

Perhaps you are currently experiencing adversities that are especially challenging, and you may not yet understand what God is accomplishing through them. But like Daniel and his friends, you can pray for the wisdom to understand His will and the faith to trust Him through the process. And you can be assured He will never fail you.

Suggestions for Prayer

Each day your integrity is tested in many ways. Ask the Lord to help you be aware of those times and to make choices that honor Him.

For Further Study

Read 1 Kings 9:3-5.

  • What kind of integrity did God require of Solomon?
  • What promises did He make if Solomon obeyed?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – The Beauty of Faith

Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.

— Psalm 37:5 (NKJV)

I see more clearly than ever before how simple and beautiful faith is and how self-effort complicates life and steals peace and joy. Man’s mind plans his own way (see Proverbs 16:9), but God’s ways are much higher than ours and they always work better (see Isaiah 55:9). I have finally learned that whenever I feel frustrated, it almost always indicates that I have trusted myself to do what only God can do. It is my signal to return to full faith in God and once again enjoy His peace.

Apart from faith we cannot please God (see Hebrews 11:6), and apart from Him, we can do nothing (see John 15:5). If you are worried or feel burdened by anything, I urge you to let it go and return to simple faith in God without delay. “Commit your way to the Lord” and “He shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:5). God already has a perfect plan for your situation, and as you rest in Him, He will work!

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You that You are working in my life while I rest in You. I trust You to do the right thing at the right time. Help me walk in faith at all times, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Christ Is My Teacher

Teacher.

Matthew 19:16

If the young man in the Gospel used this title in speaking to our Lord, it is only right that we should address Him in this way. He is indeed my Teacher in that He rules and teaches me. I am glad to run His errands and to sit at His feet. I am both His servant and His disciple and count it my highest honor to serve Him in this way. He is a good teacher. If He should ask me why I call Him “good,” I could answer easily.

It is true that “no one is good except God alone,”1 but then He is God, and all the goodness of Deity shines in Him. In my experience I have found Him to be good, indeed so good that all the good I have has come to me through Him. He was good to me when I was dead in sin, for He raised me by His Spirit’s power; He has been good to me in all my needs, trials, struggles, and sorrows. There could never be a better Teacher, for His service is freedom, His rule is love: I wish I were one thousandth part as good a servant. When He teaches me, He is unspeakably good, His doctrine is divine, His manner is gracious, His spirit is gentleness itself.

There is no error in His instruction: Pure is the golden truth that He presents, and all His teachings lead to goodness, sanctifying as well as edifying the disciple. Angels know that He is good and delight to worship at His footstool. The ancient saints proved Him to be a good Teacher, and each of them rejoiced to sing, “I am Your servant, O Lord!”

My own humble testimony must certainly be to the same effect. I will declare this before my friends and neighbors, for possibly they may be led by my testimony to seek my Lord Jesus as their Teacher. O I long that they might do so! They would never regret the decision. If they would submit to His easy yoke, they would find themselves in such royal service that they would never want to leave. The school of grace rejoices to have such a Teacher!

1) Mark 10:18.

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Reveals Himself to Those Who Love Him

“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21)

Jesus had just told His disciples that He was going to go away from them. He said that He was going to go and prepare a place for them in His Father’s house. For three years, His disciples had followed Him. They had walked beside Him, listened to Him teach, watched Him heal sick people, and even eaten meals with Him. But now He said that He was leaving, and they weren’t going to see Him for a while. Their hearts were sad and troubled. Jesus was their Master, their Teacher, their dearest Friend.

But Jesus had good news for them. He was going to send them a Helper—the Holy Spirit—who would stay with them always. Even though Jesus was returning to heaven after His death, and even though His followers would not see Him anymore, He promised that they could still know Him, talk with Him, and be close to Him.

Do you have a desire in your heart to know God—I mean really know Him? Do you want to have a deep, personal relationship with Him, even though you can’t see Him with your eyes? Do you want to know what He thinks and how He feels? Do you want to understand Him as He really is?

According to this verse, knowing God starts with obedience. The very first thing we have to obey is the Gospel. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” (John 14:6) But after we’ve entered into a relationship with God through repentance and faith in Christ, we need to keep on obeying Him. We need to take everything that He tells us in His Word very seriously. That is the best way to show God that we love Him. And once we are saved, we have His Holy Spirit dwelling in us. The Holy Spirit helps us understand God’s Word and gives us power to obey it.

Jesus said that He will manifest Himself, or make Himself known in a special way, to those who love Him. If you really want that kind of closeness with Jesus Christ, He wants to give it to you. Ask Him for it, and then start listening to His voice and obeying Him. A close relationship with Jesus carries a price tag of obedience. But it is a price well worth paying, and the rewards will last through eternity.

Jesus reveals Himself to those who love and obey Him.

My Response:
» How much do I want to know God?
» Am I willing to pay the price of obedience?

Denison Forum – Have scientists discovered hell?

“Imagine if Earth were much, much closer to the Sun. So close that an entire year lasts only a few hours. So close that gravity has locked one hemisphere in permanent searing daylight and the other in endless darkness. So close that the oceans boil away, rocks begin to melt, and the clouds rain lava.”

This is how NASA describes 55 Cancri e, a planet fifty light-years away from us. In the coming weeks, the James Webb Space Telescope is expected to give scientists their first look at this fiery world.

However, you don’t have to turn to the skies to find a planet filled with hellish behavior.

There has been another mass shooting, this one in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where at least four people were killed on a hospital campus. Several others were injured; the gunman apparently then took his own life. In other news, the man accused in the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, has been indicted on more than two dozen charges. And the victims in Uvalde are being remembered and honored as burials continue this week. I could go on.

But even in our fallen and broken world, there is a pathway to peace available to each of us today.

Why temptation is spiritual dopamine

In The Life We’re Looking For: Reclaiming Relationship in a Technological World, Andy Crouch explains addiction in a way I had not understood before. He cites Cambridge neuroscientist Wolfram Schultz, who reported that “drugs of addiction” such as cocaine, amphetamine, nicotine, and alcohol “generate, hijack, and amplify the dopamine reward signal.” However, Crouch notes that “the real power of these drugs goes beyond their ability to generate rewards.”

According to Crouch, Schultz and his collaborators discovered that “not only do these drugs unleash floods of rewarding dopamine, but they prevent us from learning that their rewards are fleeting. By interfering with ‘reward prediction,’ the most powerful hijackers of the dopamine pathway create the sensation, at a primal level of our brains, that their rewards are ever new and ever worth pursuing—even as our own self-awareness and reflection tell us they are damaging and degrading.”

Crouch warns that “everything from gambling to social media can grant us the same superpower sensation—and create the same learning-resistant illusion.”

Temptation works in the same way. Satan assures us that we can get away with whatever we are being tempted to do, that the benefits will outweigh the costs. Otherwise, we would not commit the sins we are being tempted to commit.

But Jesus warned us that Satan is “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). As I often warn, sin will always take us further than we wanted to go, keep us longer than we wanted to stay, and cost us more than we wanted to pay.

In a culture filled with conflict and confusion, what is the path to the peace our souls long to experience?

How to find “perfect peace”

The prophet Isaiah testified, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3). Keep translates a Hebrew word meaning to “watch, guard, protect.” Perfect peace translates shalom, which refers to “completeness, soundness, prosperity, being whole.” The mind refers to “forming a purpose through thought.” Stayed means to “support, lean on.” Trusts means to “be full of confidence.”

A literal translation of this assurance would therefore be: “You keep and protect in completeness and wholeness the person who forms his thoughts and purposes by depending on you, because he places his full confidence in you.”

Why should we trust God in this way? The text continues: “Trust in the Lᴏʀᴅ forever, for the Lᴏʀᴅ God is an everlasting rock” (v. 4). The prophet responded, “My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you” (v. 9a). For this reason: “For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness” (v. 9b).

However, if we seek this peace from any source but God, he cannot bless such idolatry: “If favor is shown to the wicked, he does not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness he deals corruptly and does not see the majesty of the Lᴏʀᴅ” (v. 10). As we noted yesterday, God cannot encourage idolatry lest he participate in it and reward that which harms us.

By contrast, when we seek God, “O Lᴏʀᴅ, you will ordain peace for us, for you have indeed done for us all our works” (v. 12).

We may have committed such idolatry in the past, but it is not too late to repent: “O Lᴏʀᴅ our God, other lords besides you have ruled over us, but your name alone we bring to remembrance” (v. 13). If we do not, judgment is inevitable: “Behold, the Lᴏʀᴅ is coming out from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it, and will no more cover its slain” (v. 21).

“How can we be a blessing in this neighborhood?”

Let’s respond to this remarkable text in two ways.

One: Seek divine peace today. 

Ask the Spirit to bring to mind any ways in which you are trusting someone or something other than the Lord for your peace. Then confess what comes to your thoughts, claim his forgiving grace (1 John 1:9), and make the intentional decision to rely on his peace and power.

Two: Extend the peace of Christ to others. 

A church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, asked its neighbors, “How can we be a blessing in this neighborhood?” Their response: “Help us close Rebels Bar,” a “nuisance bar” that had been used for prostitution, drug sales, and other criminal activity for decades. So the church bought the bar. Since that time, new businesses and restaurants have moved into the area. And the church has brought the peace of Christ into its community.

“Let that loving voice be my guide”

Let’s close with a prayer by Henri Nouwen that seeks the peace our Lord offers:

Dear God,

Speak gently in my silence.
When the loud outer noises of my surroundings
and the loud inner noises of my fears
keep pulling me away from you,
help me to trust that you are still there
even when I am unable to hear you.
Give me ears to listen to your small, soft voice saying:
“Come to me, you who are overburdened, and I will give you rest
for I am gentle and humble of heart.” Let that loving voice be my guide.

Amen.

Denison Forum