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

http://www.intouch.org/

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.

http://www.odb.org

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 

http://www.gty.org/

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.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

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. 

http://www.truthforlife.org

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