In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – In the Midst of Trials

Be assured that your pain will not last forever and God will bring good from it.

Genesis 39:6-20

Joseph’s enslavement lasted for 13 years and went from bad to worse. He lost his favored position in Potiphar’s household and went to prison when the master’s wife told lies about him. His hope for release from jail died when the king’s servant forgot his promise (Genesis 40:14Genesis 40:23). His future looked bleak.

Despite the evidence of circumstances, God was carrying out His plan to bless Joseph and his entire family. In fact, Joseph was God’s appointed person to rescue them from the coming famine. But for that to happen, he had to learn the Egyptian language and culture, develop leadership abilities, and mature spiritually. The Lord’s plan made it all possible.

Joseph learned two helpful lessons. First, the Lord is a faithful companion who uses our troubles to prepare us for His work. Second, once the Lord has accomplished His purposes, the difficulty will end. At God’s chosen moment, Joseph was freed from jail, rewarded with a high-ranking appointment, and reconciled with his family.

Adversity can be painful, but the Lord uses it to further His purposes and equip us to carry out His plan. What is He trying to teach you in the midst of your trials?

Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 13-16

Our Daily Bread — When Knowledge Hurts

Bible in a Year:

For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.

Ecclesiastes 1:18

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Ecclesiastes 1:12–18

Zach Elder and his friends pulled up to shore after a twenty-five-day rafting trip through the Grand Canyon. The man who came to retrieve their rafts told them about the COVID-19 virus. They thought he was joking. But as they left the canyon their phones pinged with their parents’ urgent messages. Zach and his friends were stunned. They wished they could return to the river and escape what they now knew.

In a fallen world, knowledge often brings pain. The wise Teacher of Ecclesiastes observed, “With much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief” (1:18). Who hasn’t envied a child’s blissful ignorance? She doesn’t yet know about racism, violence, and cancer. Weren’t we happier before we grew up and discerned our own weaknesses and vices? Before we learned our family’s secrets—why our uncle drinks heavily or what caused our parents’ divorce?

The pain from knowledge can’t be wished away. Once we know, it’s no use pretending we don’t. But there’s a higher knowledge that empowers us to endure, even thrive. Jesus is the Word of God, the light that shines in our darkness (John 1:1–5). He “has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Your pain is your reason to run to Jesus. He knows you and cares for you.

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

What’s something you wished you didn’t know? Tell Jesus about it. Then leave it with Him. Whenever it troubles you, take it to Jesus again.

Jesus, I don’t enjoy pain, but if it drives me to You, it’s worth it.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Seeking God’s Kingdom

“‘. . . All these things shall be added to you’” (Matthew 6:33).

God will provide for those who seek what is eternal.

What did Jesus mean when He said we are to seek God’s kingdom first? It means our top priority in life should be to seek what is eternal. That was the priority for the apostle Paul. In Acts 20 he was ready to leave for Jerusalem to defend the faith, not knowing if he might be put in prison or lose his life. The prospect of persecution did not deter him, for he said, “I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself” (v. 24). He was not concerned about how long he would live or worried about what he would eat or wear. Instead, he wanted to “finish [his] course, and the ministry which [he] received from the Lord Jesus” (v. 24).

Seeking the kingdom means you want Christ’s rule to be manifest in your life as righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). So, when the lost see those spiritual qualities in your life instead of worry, they know the kingdom of God is there. That is an attractive testimony that the Lord can use to bring the lost to Himself. Seeking God’s kingdom means desiring to extend His kingdom.

Seeking the kingdom also means you long for Jesus to return in His millennial glory. We will be joint-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:1-7), reign with Him forever (Rev. 22:5), live in a new heaven and earth throughout all eternity (21:1), and have all the majesty and riches of eternal Heaven (21:1—22:5). There’s no need to be preoccupied or worried about material things since the whole earth is going to be destroyed and the Lord is going to make a new one.

Instead of seeking riches, “seek . . . His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). Pursue godliness and holiness, and “all these things shall be added to you” (v. 33). God will provide for those who live a righteous life.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • According to Matthew 6:33, are the priorities of your life in the right order?
  • Confess and forsake any sin, and thank the Lord for the privilege of serving Him.

For Further Study

Read Psalm 34:9-10. What is the promise to those who fear and seek the Lord?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Begin Again

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

— 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

The promise of new beginnings is abundantly clear in Scripture. The good news is not only that this promise provides benefits to new believers in Christ, but that it is available to us as often as we need it. The one requirement for its fulfillment is that we let go of failure and take hold of the new beginning God offers us.

I have needed to apply this promise to my own life recently. I believe God has asked me to do something, and although I agree with Him and get started well, I seem to eventually fail, and then I need to start over again. My two choices are to feel guilty because of my failure or to begin again. I choose to begin again, and if you need a new beginning, I pray that you will do likewise.

No matter how you need a new beginning in some area of your life, Jesus has His arms outstretched and is waiting for you to let Him help you begin again.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for new beginnings. Help me let go of the old and start fresh without feelings of guilt and failure. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Hope in Barrenness

Sing, O barren one.

Isaiah 54:1

Although we may have brought forth some fruit and have a joyful hope that we are abiding in the vine, yet there are times when we feel very barren. Prayer is lifeless, love is cold, faith is weak, each grace in the garden of our heart languishes and droops. We are like flowers in the hot sun, desperately needing the refreshing shower. In such a condition what are we to do? The text is addressed to us in just such a state. “Sing, O barren one … break forth into singing and cry aloud.” But what can I sing about? I cannot talk about the present, and even the past looks full of barrenness. I can sing of Jesus Christ. I can talk of visits that the Redeemer has paid to me in the past; or if not of these, I can magnify the great love with which He loved His people when He came from the heights of heaven for their redemption.

I will go to the cross again. Come, my soul, you were once heavy-laden, and you lost your burden there. Go to Calvary again. Perhaps that very cross that gave you life may give you fruitfulness. What is my barrenness? It is the platform for His fruit-creating power. What is my desolation? It is the dark setting for the sapphire of His everlasting love. I will go to Him in my poverty, I will go in my helplessness, I will go in all my shame and backsliding; I will tell Him that I am still His child, and finding confidence in His faithful heart, even I, the barren one, will sing and cry aloud.

Sing, believer, for it will cheer your own heart and the hearts of others who are desolate. Sing on, for although you are presently ashamed of being barren, you will be fruitful soon; now that God makes you hate to be without fruit He will soon cover you with clusters. The experience of our barrenness is painful, but the Lord’s visits are delightful. A sense of our own poverty drives us to Christ, and that is where we need to be, for in Him our fruit is found.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God’s Suitcase for the Journey of Life

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16–17).

“You put your suitcase in the car. Right, honey?” TJ’s mom asked as she pulled out of the driveway.

TJ was going to camp for the first time, and he was excited. “Yes,” he called from the back seat.

“Okay, just checking,” she smiled as she said it. For about a week, she had been packing TJ’s suitcase for camp. She kept it open in his room so she could add necessary items as she thought of them. TJ didn’t really know what all was in there, but he knew she had been to Walmart four times just to buy things for his trip.

TJ enjoyed his week at camp. But when he got home, he admitted to his mom that parts of his week hadn’t been the best. “I got really hungry in the afternoons, Mom, and I wanted to buy some snacks and souvenirs but didn’t have any cash.”

“Oh, TJ,” his mom replied. “I put your wallet in your suitcase. It had $30 in it for you to spend. Did you eat all the snacks I sent you?”

“What snacks?” TJ asked.

“Oh, honey. It was all in your suitcase. Did you even open it?”

“Not really, Mom,” replied TJ “I didn’t want to take the time. Were there clean clothes in there too?”

You’re probably thinking, TJ wasn’t very smart to hardly open his suitcase all week! But believe it or not, you actually make a similar choice when you don’t open your Bible. Here’s why: You’ve probably heard people compare the Christian life to a journey. Throughout this trip you need encouragement, food and supplies for each day, wisdom in dealing with various situations, and correction when you’re going the wrong way. God has packed everything you need into His Word, according to 2 Timothy 3:16–17. It is your “suitcase” for the “journey” of life. Just as it would be dumb to barely open your suitcase during a trip to camp, it isn’t wise to neglect opening God’s Word from day to day. And God promises that His Word can make you “perfect,” which means “complete.” It’s all there for you; you just have to open it.

God has packed everything you need for life into His Word.

My response:

» Am I spending time in God’s Word every day to get what I need for my journey through life?

» When I’m reading His Word, am I looking for truths about Him?

Denison Forum – Last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev dies at 91: A surprising part of his historic story

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, passed away yesterday at the age of ninety-one. When he came to power in 1985, he introduced key political and economic reforms to the USSR that helped end the Cold War without the firing of a single shot. For his courageous leadership, he was awarded the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize.

He is one of the few people in history who can be said to have changed history.

Here’s a part of his story that surprised me: while Gorbachev is being hailed as a hero today by the West, he is widely seen as a villain in Russia. In a 2017 poll, only 8 percent of Russian citizens saw him in a positive light; more than 60 percent said they had a “distaste” or “hatred” for him.

This is because many Russians agree with President Vladimir Putin’s assertion that the collapse of the Soviet empire was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” In the same 2017 poll that held Gorbachev in such contempt,  83 percent held a positive view of Putin, while less than 5 percent responded negatively to him.

“To zero, to ashes, to smoke”

Has the invasion of Ukraine changed this perception?

Putin’s approval rating stands at 87 percent today, while 69 percent of Russians believe their country is on the right track. By contrast, only 10 percent of Americans believe our country is heading in the right direction; only 6 percent of us have confidence in Putin’s leadership.

In the Kremlin-controlled news media, the invasion of Ukraine is seen as part of a long history of enemies trying to subjugate Russia. According to this view, a wider civilizational war is being waged by the West against Mother Russia. As a result, only 14 percent of Russians are opposed to the war.

Unsurprisingly, Gorbachev felt his life’s work was being undone by Putin.

During Gorbachev’s tenure, the Russian words glasnost (“openness”) and perestroika (“rebuilding”) entered the English lexicon as he forged policies that allowed for greater freedom of speech, economic reforms, and easing of tensions with the West. However, since Putin invaded Ukraine on February 24, Russia has passed laws that make criticizing the war an offense that can result in hefty jail sentences. Dissenting voices have been silenced; Moscow finds itself isolated internationally due to sanctions imposed by the West.

Alexei Venidiktov, a prominent Kremlin critic and personal friend of Gorbachev, says, “All Gorbachev’s reforms—to zero, to ashes, to smoke.” When asked for evidence of this, he answers, “When Gorbachev left, there were four thousand NATO rapid reaction forces in Europe. Now NATO has announced that there will be three hundred thousand by the end of next year.”

“He makes nations great, and he destroys them”

Americans are lauding today a Russian leader many Russians despise. At the same time, Russians are following today a Russian leader many Americans despise.

This does not bode well for future relations between nations possessing the largest nuclear arsenals in the world.

Add other geopolitical threats: a nuclear-armed North Korea, an ascendant China with aspirations of a global empire, and a rising Iranian threat to the Middle East and beyond. Now include the ongoing pandemic, global economic uncertainties, and deep and rancorous political divisions within the US and many other countries.

What more will it take to convince us that we need a Power beyond ourselves?

Job said of the Lord, “He makes nations great, and he destroys them; he enlarges nations, and leads them away” (Job 12:23). On what basis? “The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17). By contrast, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lᴏʀᴅ” (Psalm 33:12).

The Lord told his prophet: “If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it” (Jeremiah 18:7–10).

“Our wills are ours, to make them thine”

I plan to apply today’s discussion directly and specifically to America tomorrow. For today, let’s close by applying it to ourselves. What is true of nations is true of those who live in them: “It is better to take refuge in the Lᴏʀᴅ than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lᴏʀᴅ than to trust in princes” (Psalm 118:8–9).

When we “take refuge in the Lᴏʀᴅ” rather than in ourselves, we position ourselves to be used by God in ways we could never accomplish ourselves. When we begin every day by yielding it to his Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), he uses us to influence eternal souls in ways that affect their eternal destinies. When we surrender our resources to the One who gave them to us, he uses our service to exalt his Son and advance his kingdom.

You may never become a historical figure like Mikhail Gorbachev, but if Jesus is your Lord, you are the beloved of God, a child of the King. And ten thousand millennia after the Soviet Union and the United States of America are forgotten, your next act of faithfulness to your Lord will echo in eternity.

So begin your day by saying to your Father what Jesus said to him: “Your will be done” (Matthew 26:42). Say it to him all through your day and then follow where his Spirit leads in response. And remember that the will of God never leads where the grace of God cannot sustain.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson prayed, “Our wills are ours, to make them thine.”

Make your will his today, to the glory of God.

Denison Forum

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – God planned for His children to rely on each other, which includes both providing and receiving help.

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the scriptures referenced throughout.

Deep, honest relationships require time and effort. But as human beings, we all have physical, mental, and emotional limits that we can’t ignore. Even Jesus, who was all-powerful, took time to step away from the crowds and His disciples to recharge by connecting with the Father (Luke 5:16).

When we can’t give as much to our relationships as we hoped, it might be our turn to receive. Moses is a great example of this. When he held up the staff of God, Israel prevailed over Amalek, but as his arms grew tired and he lowered them, Amalek gained around. So “Aaron and Hur supported [Moses’] hands, one on one side and one on the other. So his hands were steady until the sun set. And Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword” (Exodus 17:12-13).

Moses’ story reminds us that sometimes the best thing we can do is let our family and friends help. God designed us to lean on one another, after all (1 Corinthians 12:18-26).

Think About It

• Do you know when to invest in your relationships and when to step back? Take a moment to ask the Lord for wisdom to navigate this gave and take.

Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 4-6

Our Daily Bread — Leave the Light On

Bible in a Year:

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

Matthew 5:14

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Matthew 5:13–16

A hotel chain’s commercial featured one little building standing amidst a dark night. Nothing else was around. The only light in the scene came from a small lamp near the door on the porch of the building. The bulb cast enough illumination for a visitor to walk up the steps and enter the building. The commercial ended with the phrase, “We’ll leave the light on for you.”

 A porch light is akin to a welcome sign, reminding weary travelers that there’s a comfortable place still open where they can stop and rest. The light invites those passing by to come on in and escape from the dark, weary journey.

Jesus says the lives of those who believe in Him should resemble that of a welcoming light. He told His followers, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14). As believers, we’re to illuminate a dark world.

As He directs and empowers us, “[others] may see [our] good deeds and glorify [our] Father in heaven” (v. 16). And as we leave our lights on, they will feel welcomed to come to us to learn more about the one true Light of the World—Jesus (John 8:12).  In a weary and dark world, His light always remains on.

Have you left your light on? As Jesus shines through you today, others may see and begin radiating His light too.

By:  Katara Patton

Reflect & Pray

In what ways can you shine your light for Jesus today? What can prevent you from shining for Him?

Jesus, help me to shine brightly so that others may be drawn to You.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Rejecting the World

“Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).

The world is opposed to everything God stands for.

Loving the world begins with thinking that God doesn’t know what’s best for you and is trying to cheat you out of something you deserve. That thought soon blossoms into a willingness to disregard God’s warnings altogether and take whatever Satan has to offer.

Love of the world started in the Garden of Eden and continues to this day. Genesis 3:6 says, “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.” What made them think the fruit was good for food or able to make them wise? God didn’t tell them that. In fact, He warned them that they would die if they ate the fruit (Gen. 2:17). But Eve believed the serpent’s lie and Adam followed suit.

Satan continues to propagate his lies but you needn’t fall prey to them if you love God and remember that the world is opposed to everything He stands for. It is spiritually dead; void of the Spirit (John 14:17); morally defiled; and dominated by pride, greed, and evil desires. It produces wrong opinions, selfish aims, sinful pleasures, demoralizing influences, corrupt politics, empty honors, and fickle love.

You can’t love the world and God at the same time because love knows no rivals. It gives its object first place. If you love God, He will have first place in your life. If you love the world, the love of the Father isn’t in you (1 John 2:15).

Galatians 1:3-5 explains that Jesus “gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore.” Christ died to deliver us from Satan’s evil system. What greater motivation could there be to reject the world and live to God’s glory?

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God for greater wisdom and grace to resist the world’s influences.

For Further Study

According to Ephesians 6:10-18, how can you as a believer protect yourself against Satan’s evil system?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Letting Go of the Past

Do not [earnestly] remember the former things; neither consider the things of old.

— Isaiah 43:18 (AMPC)

God offers us a new life, a new nature, and a new beginning. God seems to love new things, and His Word encourages us in many places to let go of the past. Perhaps you didn’t get a good start in life, but you can have a great finish! God has a plan for your future, and it is a good one. Let go of what is behind you and press toward the good things that are ahead.

One of the best ways to let go is to stop thinking about the past and stop talking about it. The more we think and talk about a thing, the more impossible it is to forget it and move on. Whether your past was wonderful or tragic, it is over, and what you have left is today and the rest of your life! Give yourself fully and completely to the life God is offering you now. Today is the first day of the rest of your life, so make it a good day.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for a new beginning. Help me let go of the past and embrace the future with enthusiasm.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Walking in Light

If we walk in the light, as he is in the light …

1 John 1:7

“As he is in the light”! Can we ever attain to this? Will we ever be able to walk as clearly in the light as He is whom we call “Our Father,” of whom it is written, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (verse 5)? Certainly this is the model that is set before us, for the Savior Himself said, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”;1 and although we may feel that we can never rival the perfection of God, yet we are to seek after it and not be satisfied until we attain to it. The youthful artist as he grasps his newly sharpened pencil can hardly hope to equal Raphael or Michelangelo; but still, if he did not have a noble ideal before his mind, he would only attain to something very mean and ordinary.

But what is meant by the expression that the Christian is to walk in light as God is in the light? We conceive it to convey likeness but not degree. We are as truly in the light, we are as heartily in the light, we are as sincerely in the light, as honestly in the light, although we cannot be there in the same measure. I cannot dwell in the sun—it is too bright a place for my residence, but I can walk in the light of the sun; and so, though I cannot attain to that perfection of purity and truth that belongs to the Lord of hosts by nature as the infinitely good, yet I can set the Lord always before me and strive, by the help of the indwelling Spirit, to conform to His image.

The famous old commentator John Trapp says, “We may be in the light as God is in the light for quality, but not for equality.” We are to have the same light and are as truly to have it and walk in it as God does, though as for equality with God in His holiness and purity, that must be left until we cross the Jordan and enter into the perfection of the Most High. Notice how the blessings of sacred fellowship and perfect cleansing are bound up with walking in the light.

1) Matthew 5:48

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Righteous

“Thy righteousness is like the great mountains” (Psalm 36:6a).

At the age of ten, I saw mountains in real life for the first time. The Rocky Mountains in Colorado were the tallest, largest, and most impressive natural wonder I had ever seen. They were huge! Even though I was small and weak compared to the immense and firm mountains, they were approachable and accessible. I could see, touch, and walk on them.

According to Psalm 36:6, mountains are a picture of God’s righteousness. Mountains and God’s righteousness are constant. When night, a cloudy sky, or fog obscure the mountains, they are still there. God’s righteousness never goes away either; God is always righteous. God always has and always will do the right thing. Another similarity between mountains and God’s righteousness is greatness. Mountains extend to great heights and across vast areas. God’s righteousness has no limits. And, like mountains, God’s righteousness can be seen and experienced. Just as the awe-inspiring and breath-taking mountains are available to you and me, so is God’s righteousness.

The fact that God gives His righteousness to those who believe is even more stunning than the tallest mountain in the world. I do not deserve God’s righteousness; I deserve punishment, eternal torment, and separation from God, because I am a sinner. But God made sinless Jesus bear my sin and your sin on the cross so we could be made righteous. Second Corinthians 5:21 says, “For he hath made him [Jesus] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

Those who believe that Jesus paid the penalty for their sins are saved and can be used by God to do right things that honor Him when they obey and follow Him. The book of Romans calls these people “instruments of righteousness” (Romans 6:13). This righteousness comes from God and is for His glory. It does not come from ourselves, nor is it for the purpose of making us look good. We need God’s righteousness, because none of us are righteous without Him (Romans 3:10).

The next time you see mountains, either in pictures or in person, remember that God’s righteousness is like mountains.

God is righteous. We must proclaim His righteousness and praise Him for His righteousness.

My response:

» Do I thank, praise, and worship God because of His righteousness?

» How can I be used as an instrument of righteousness for God today?

Denison Forum – Student raises funds to help him adopt baby he found in trash can

Tennis superstar Serena Williams announced earlier this month that she would retire sometime after the US Open, so her first-round victory last night captured headlines. However, a tennis event last week deserves attention as well: the US Open held a “Tennis Plays for Peace” exhibition to raise funds for Ukraine relief. Tennis luminaries such as Rafael Nadal, John McEnroe, and Coco Gauff participated. The event raised $1.2 million.

In other recent news, a firefighter playing in a semi-pro basketball game used his knowledge of CPR to save a referee who had collapsed from a heart attack. A stranger searched for days using a metal detector until he found a woman’s engagement ring lost in the ocean. A British mother who lost her teenage son to cardiac arrest has installed twenty defibrillators in their town.

And a university student has raised more than $159,000 in donations as of this morning to help him adopt a baby he found abandoned in a trash can while visiting his family in Haiti.

Measuring God by the evidence

When people act in benevolent ways, we feel better about human nature. When people act in hurtful ways, we feel worse about human nature. This is especially true when religious leaders make the news for the wrong reasons, as with Matt Chandler’s leave of absence from his Dallas area megachurch, an announcement that is still echoing in my community and across the evangelical world.

We tend to measure not just the people of God but God himself by the evidence. When he answers our prayers and otherwise acts in gracious ways toward us, we respond with worship and thanksgiving. But when he does not answer our prayers in the way we ask and acts in other ways we do not understand, we are prone to question his power, his love, and even his existence.

The skeptic Sam Harris claimed that the existence of a suffering child anywhere in the universe negates belief in an all-knowing, all-loving God. You and I would not go that far. We continue to pray and try to have faith. But when God seems silent or distant or even asleep in our crisis, it can be hard to keep trusting him.

So, let’s consider a time when God actually did fall asleep in a storm.

Facing a mega seismos

In Matthew 8, Jesus “gave orders to go over to the other side” of the Sea of Galilee (v. 18), then he “got into the boat, [and] his disciples followed him” (v. 23). Suddenly there “arose a great storm on the sea” (v. 24a); the Greek calls it a mega seismos, a “massive shaking.” The boat was being “swamped by the waves”—so much water was getting inside the boat that it could soon sink.

Where was Jesus in this crisis? “He was asleep” (v. 24b). So his disciples “went and woke him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing’” (v. 25). These veteran fishermen knew their very lives were in jeopardy and cried to Christ for help.

His response seems surprising: “He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’” (v. 26a). What did they do wrong? They were in the storm because they had followed Jesus at his command. He had taught them in the Sermon on the Mount, “Ask, and it will be given to you” (Matthew 7:7). Their prayer was not superficial but heartfelt, sincere, and passionate.

The rest of the story gives us our answer: “Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?’” (vv. 26b–27).

“You rule the raging of the sea”

The healing miracles Jesus’ disciples had seen him perform had been performed by others. However, prior to this event, no man had ever calmed a storm with only his words. Furthermore, the Jews considered calming storms to be the providence of God alone: “You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them” (Psalm 89:9; cf. Psalm 46:1–3Psalm 107:29).

So the disciples went to Jesus for what help he could give, hoping he might be able to do something but nonetheless “afraid” he could not (v. 26). And when he answered their prayer, they marveled at “what sort of man is this” (v. 27, my emphasis).

They did not yet know what we know. They did not know that he would be raised from the dead and ascend back to heaven. At this point, they apparently saw Jesus as other Jews saw the Messiah: an anointed person used greatly by God but nonetheless a man, not God.

In their Jewish monotheism, “the Lᴏʀᴅ is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4). God could not be in heaven and on earth. Jesus could not be man and God. So, when he did what only God could do, “they marveled” at him.

They needed to learn what we need to remember: Jesus is God, and God is always enough.

“Who can drain a fountain?”

The storms of life can cause us to question the sufficiency of the God who allows them, but when we understand his providence the least is when we need his power the most.

When the crisis comes, we can turn from God because we do not understand his will, or we can trust that he knows what we do not (Isaiah 55:9) and will always act consistently with his perfect holiness (Revelation 4:8) and perfect love (1 John 4:8).

Then, the more we experience his power, the more we are transformed by gratitude for his grace. As A. W. Tozer paraphrased St. Bernard of Clairvaux: “The blacker the iniquity, the deeper the fall, the sweeter is the mercy of God who pardoned all.”

So trust the Savior who loved you enough to die for you, who is holding you in his hand right now (John 10:28) and praying for you at this very moment (Romans 8:34). And believe that this God is enough.

Charles Spurgeon wrote: “The cattle on a thousand hills will suffice for our most hungry feeding, and the granaries of heaven are not likely to be emptied by our eating. If Christ were only a cistern, we might soon exhaust his fulness, but who can drain a fountain? Myriads of spirits have drawn their supplies from him, and not one of them has murmured at the scantiness of his resources.”

He added: “A fish can more easily drink the oceans dry than we can ever exhaust the love of God in heaven. Drink away, little fish, you’ll never drink it all dry!”

What storm are you fighting today?

Denison Forum

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Walking Through Dark Valleys

God will never leave us to face difficulty alone.

Genesis 37:18-28

When he was 17, Joseph lost almost everything. His family, his position as the favored son, his home, and his freedom were abruptly taken from him. But he didn’t lose his faith in the Lord.

Life is like that at times for all of us. Changes in health or finances, the death of a loved one, or abandonment by a friend can bring us into a dark season. We don’t understand why God allows the trial or lets the pain continue. Joseph probably wondered the same things, but he managed to hold fast to his faith.

One of the keys to walking through a valley is to embrace the reality of God’s presence with us. At the moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit comes to live permanently within us and seals us as belonging to God forever. Because of Him, we are never apart from the Lord. No circumstance, suffering, or loss can separate us from Him or His love (Romans 8:35Romans 8:38-39).

Take a few minutes each day and reflect on Jesus’ promise to be with us always (Matthew 28:20). The result will be that this truth becomes planted deep within your soul to sustain you in hard times.

Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 10-12

Our Daily Bread — Seeds of Time

Bible in a Year:

Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop.

Mark 4:20

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Mark 4:13–20

In 1879, people watching William Beal would likely think he was loony. They’d see the professor of botany filling twenty bottles with various seeds, then burying them in deep soil. What they didn’t know was that Beal was conducting a seed viability experiment that would span centuries. Every twenty years a bottle would be dug up to plant its seeds and see which seeds would germinate.

Jesus talked a lot about seed planting, often likening the sowing of seed to the spreading of “the word” (Mark 4:15). He taught that some seeds are snatched by Satan, others have no foundation and don’t take root, and yet others are hampered by the life around them and are choked out (vv. 15–19). As we spread the good news, it’s not up to us which seeds will survive. Our job is simply to sow the gospel—to tell others about Jesus: “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (16:15 esv).

In 2021, another of Beal’s bottles was dug up. The seeds were planted by researchers and some sprouted, having survived more than 142 years. As God works through us and we share our faith with others, we never know if the word we share will take root or when. But we’re to be encouraged that our sowing of the good news might, even after many years, be received by someone who will “accept it, and produce a crop” (4:20).

By:  Kenneth Petersen

Reflect & Pray

Consider an example of how you shared the good news with someone. How did that person respond? How are you praying for that person today?

Dear God, please give me courage to share Jesus with friends and colleagues.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Seven Things God Hates

“There are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers” (Prov. 6:16-19).

God is clear about the things that displease Him.

God hates sin in any form, but Proverbs 6:17-19 lists seven that are especially loathsome to Him. First is haughty eyes (v. 17), which pictures a proud and arrogant person with his nose in the air and his eyes uplifted. The pride in his heart is reflected in his mannerisms.

Pride is perhaps listed first because it is at the heart of all rebellion against God—beginning with Lucifer himself, who cried out against God, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” (Isa. 14:13-14).

God also hates a lying tongue (v. 17). Men often toy with truth, denying or distorting it to gain some supposed advantage. But God can’t tolerate deception of any kind. He expects us to live according to His truth.

Third, He hates murderous hands (v. 17). That speaks of people whose hatred and greed are so strong they will kill rather than be denied what they want. God created life and established its sanctity. That’s why He ordained that murderers be put to death (Gen. 9:6).

God also hates a wicked heart and malevolent feet (v. 18). Sometimes people fall into sin inadvertently. But these people carefully plot their sinful activities, then hurry to execute their plans.

Finally, God hates a false witness and a divisive spirit (v. 19). Bearing false witness is telling lies about an innocent party. That can obstruct justice, destroy a reputation, and even destroy a life. A divisive spirit is one who creates divisions where there should be unity.

Those sins characterize unbelievers, but Christians aren’t immune from them. So be on guard not to stray into attitudes and actions that God hates.

Suggestions for Prayer

If you are practicing any of those things, confess it and repent.

For Further Study

According to Philippians 2:1-5, how should Christians treat one another?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Letting Go of the Past

Do not [earnestly] remember the former things; neither consider the things of old.

— Isaiah 43:18 (AMPC)

God offers us a new life, a new nature, and a new beginning. God seems to love new things, and His Word encourages us in many places to let go of the past. Perhaps you didn’t get a good start in life, but you can have a great finish! God has a plan for your future, and it is a good one. Let go of what is behind you and press toward the good things that are ahead.

One of the best ways to let go is to stop thinking about the past and stop talking about it. The more we think and talk about a thing, the more impossible it is to forget it and move on. Whether your past was wonderful or tragic, it is over, and what you have left is today and the rest of your life! Give yourself fully and completely to the life God is offering you now. Today is the first day of the rest of your life, so make it a good day.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for a new beginning. Help me let go of the past and embrace the future with enthusiasm.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – The Reward of Careful Walking

All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, not even the seeds or the skins.

Numbers 6:4

Nazirites had taken, among other vows, one that debarred them from the use of wine. In order that they might not violate the obligation, they were forbidden to drink the vinegar of wine or strong liquors; and to make the rule even clearer, they were not to touch the unfermented juice of grapes, nor even to eat the fruit either fresh or dried. In order to secure the integrity of the vow, they were not even allowed anything that had to do with the vine; they were, in fact, to avoid the appearance of evil.

Surely this is a lesson to the Lord’s separated ones, teaching them to come away from sin in every form, to avoid not merely its grosser shapes but even its spirit and likeness. Such strict walking is much despised in these days, but rest assured, dear reader, it is the safest and happiest path. He who yields a point or two to the world is in fearful peril; he who eats the grapes of Sodom will soon drink the wine of Gomorrah. A little crevice in the seawall in Holland lets in the sea, and the gap soon swells until a province is drowned.

Worldly conformity, in any degree, is a snare to the soul and makes it more and more liable to presumptuous sins. The Nazirite who drank grape juice could not be completely certain whether or not it had fermented and consequently could not be clear in heart that his vow was intact. In a similar way the yielding, vacillating Christian cannot have a clear conscience but is constantly aware of his double standard. Doubtful things we need not wonder about; they are wrong for us. Tempting things we must not play with, but run from them speedily. Better to be sneered at as a Puritan than to be despised as a hypocrite. Careful walking may involve much self-denial, but it has pleasures of its own that are more than a sufficient reward.

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

 “Mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good” (Proverbs 14:22).

One morning when Susan woke up, she remembered that she wanted to buy a gift for her mother’s birthday. But Susan couldn’t get it without her mother seeing, so she asked her father to take her to the store. She knew exactly what to buy her mother. Many times when they had been in that store, Susan and seen her mother look longingly at a pair of earrings, but then decide at the last minute not to buy them. After saving up her Christmas and birthday money, Susan finally had enough to buy the gift. So she bought the earrings. When Susan gave them to her mother, Susan’s mom nearly cried tears of joy.

Susan had a giving attitude. She had planned out everything exactly. She had watched to see what her mother wanted, and then she had worked things out to surprise her mother. Susan planned to do good.

God is pleased with this kind of attitude. The sacrifice honors Him, and the thoughtfulness makes Him smile, because He, too, is thoughtful. Before He ever made the world, God planned to do good to all people by sending Jesus Christ as a substitute to pay for everyone’s sin. God has enormous delight in those who follow His example of planning to do good.

God plans to good and delights when we plan to do good too.

My response:

» What kind of attitude do I have: a giving one or a greedy one?

» Do I plan ahead to do good, or is it an afterthought?

» Do I ask God to help me do good to others to show them what He is like?