In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Conquering Faith

We can respond boldly because God’s power is available to us for each battle we face.

1 Samuel 17:1-58

The Lord wants to build strong faith in us so we can stand firm in His mighty power. He does this by placing us in challenging situations that are beyond our strength. If we trust in ourselves, we’ll fail. But we will discover God’s great faithfulness if we imitate David’s example from today’s passage:

• Godly motivation. The young shepherd’s desire was to defend the Lord’s name. In our challenges, we must examine our motives to be certain they’re Christ-centered, not self-focused.

• Recognition of the battle’s nature. David’s struggle in the physical realm was against Goliath. But the real battle was spiritual, and so is ours (Ephesians 6:12). 

• Memory of God’s past faithfulness. David’s confidence was based on the Lord’s power that enabled him to protect his sheep from wild animals. Even if you’re a fairly new Christian, you also have a history of God’s faithfulness to strengthen and encourage you.

• Dependence on the Lord. David didn’t rely on traditional armor or weapons; he trusted the power of God to direct a small stone into the head of Goliath.

The One who conquered sin for you will also watch over, strengthen, and care for you in every challenging situation you face. Trust Him.

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 22-24

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — The Marriage Metaphor

Bible in a Year:

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Ephesians 4:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Ephesians 4:2–13

After twenty-two years together, I sometimes wonder how my marriage to Merryn works. I’m a writer; Merryn is a statistician. I work with words; she works with numbers. I want beauty; she wants function. We come from different worlds.

Merryn arrives to appointments early; I’m occasionally late. I try new things on the menu; she orders the same. After twenty minutes at an art gallery, I’m just getting started, while Merryn is already in the cafe downstairs wondering how much longer I’ll be. We give each other many opportunities to learn patience!

We do have things in common—a shared sense of humor, a love of travel, and a common faith that helps us pray through options and compromise as needed. With this shared base, our differences even work to our advantage. Merryn has helped me learn to relax, while I’ve helped her grow in discipline. Working with our differences has made us better people.

Paul uses marriage as a metaphor for the church (Ephesians 5:21–33), and with good reason. Like marriage, church brings very different people together, requiring them to develop humility and patience and to “[bear] with one another in love” (4:2). And, as in marriage, a shared base of faith and mutual service helps a church become unified and mature (vv. 11–13).

Differences in relationships can cause great frustration—in the church and in marriage. But managed well, they can help us become more Christlike.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

How have differences between you and those close to you helped you both to grow? How can differences between church members help to develop godliness?

Heavenly Father, please use our differences to help us mature.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Overcoming Jealousy

“Love . . . is not jealous” (1 Cor. 13:4).

Jealousy thrives in a climate of selfish ambition.

Jealousy is an insidious sin that cries out, “I want what you have, and furthermore, I don’t want you to have it.” It replaces contentment with resentment and spawns a myriad of other sins.

The Corinthians, in truth, were jealous of one another’s spiritual gifts. First Corinthians 12:31 literally says, “You are earnestly desiring the showy gifts, but I show you a more excellent way.” The word translated “earnestly desiring” is translated “jealous” in 1 Corinthians 13:4. It means “to boil” and speaks of the inner seething that comes from wanting something that someone else has. In 1 Corinthians 3:3 Paul rebukes them for the jealousy and strife that existed among them.

Paul knew what it meant to be victimized by jealous people. During one of his imprisonments he candidly wrote, “Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment” (Phil. 1:15-17).

Paul’s attitude toward those who envied him was exemplary: “Whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice” (v. 18). He wasn’t motivated by personal comfort or selfish ambition. He loved Christ deeply and wanted as many people as possible to hear the gospel. As long as Christ was being proclaimed, Paul was happy—regardless of his own circumstances or the motives of others. That should be your perspective too.

Love is the antidote for jealousy. When godly love governs your heart, you can rejoice in the spiritual successes of others, even when you know their motives are wrong. But if you seek prominence and selfish gain, you become an easy target for jealousy and resentment.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Confess any jealousy you might be harboring toward others.
  • Ask God to deepen your love for Christ so jealousy can’t gain a foothold in your heart in the future.

For Further Study

Read 2 Corinthians 11:2. Is there such a thing as godly jealousy? Explain.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Practice Makes Perfect

You shall walk after the Lord your God and [reverently] fear Him, and keep His commandments, and obey His voice…

— Deuteronomy 13:4 (AMPC)

Once we begin listening to and hearing from God, it is important to obey whatever we hear Him say. Obedience increases our quality of fellowship with Him and strengthens our faith. We might say, “Practice makes perfect” when it comes to hearing and obeying Him. In other words, we become more and more confident as we gain experience. It takes a lot of practice to reach the point of complete submission to God’s leading. Even knowing that God’s ways are perfect and that His plans always work, we still feign ignorance sometimes when He asks us to do something that requires personal sacrifice, or we might even be afraid that we are not hearing clearly and therefore too cautious to take action.

Don’t be fearful of sacrifice or of making a mistake. There are many things in life that are worse than being wrong. Jesus said, “Follow Me.” I firmly believe that when we have done our best to hear from God, then we must “step out and find out,” if we truly are hearing His voice or not. Shrinking back in fear all our lives will never allow us to make progress in our ability to hear from God.

He did not say, “You take the lead, and I will follow you.” I have learned that we may as well do quickly whatever God says, because if we don’t, I can guarantee that we will be miserable.

When our children are learning how to walk, we don’t get angry when they fall down. We realize they are learning, and we work with them. God is the same way, and He will teach you how to hear from Him if you walk in faith and not fear.

Prayer Starter: Father, I want to hear Your voice and follow your lead. Please help me to not get out ahead of You, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Stone or Flesh?

And I will give you a new heart . . . A heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:26

A“heart of flesh” is known by its tenderness concerning sin. To have indulged a foul imagination or to have allowed a wild desire to linger even for a moment is quite enough to make a heart of flesh grieve before the Lord. The heart of stone calls a great iniquity nothing, but not so the heart of flesh.

If to the right or left I stray,
That moment, Lord, reprove;
And let me weep my life away,
For having grieved Thy love.

The heart of flesh is tender to God’s will. Unlike a strong heart that refuses to bow before God’s dictates, when the heart of flesh is given, the will quivers like an aspen leaf in every breath of heaven and bows like a willow in every breeze of God’s Spirit. The natural will is cold, hard iron, which refuses to be hammered into form, but the renewed will, like molten metal, is quickly molded by the hand of grace. In the fleshy heart there is a tenderness of the affections. The hard heart does not love the Redeemer, but the renewed heart burns with affection toward Him.

The hard heart is selfish and coldly demands, “Why should I weep for sin? Why should I love the Lord?” But the heart of flesh says, “Lord, You know that I love You; help me to love You more!” There are many privileges of this renewed heart. It is here the Spirit dwells; it is here that Jesus lives. It is fitted to receive every spiritual blessing, and every blessing comes to it. It is prepared to yield every heavenly fruit to the honor and praise of God, and therefore the Lord delights in it. A tender heart is the best defense against sin and the best preparation for heaven. A renewed heart stands on its watchtower looking for the coming of the Lord Jesus. Do you have this heart of flesh?

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 Sometimes Makes Us Wait

“The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord” (Lamentations 3:25–26).

“Wait.” Most of the time we don’t like to hear that word, do we? Sometimes we are looking forward to something, like a vacation or a birthday, because we know that something fun or exciting is going to happen. When we have to wait for this type of event, it seems like forever before it comes. But it’s just as hard to wait for something to be over as it is for something that we want to happen. For example, when we are in the dentist chair getting a tooth drilled to fill a cavity, it seems to take a very long time, doesn’t it? No matter what, it’s hard to wait!

Lamentations 3:25 and 26 were written by a prophet named Jeremiah. A prophet was called by God to bring God’s people a special message from Him. Sometimes the people the prophet spoke to were not nice, because they did not want to hear what God had to say. They wanted to keep living the way they wanted to live, instead of living God’s way. That’s what happened to Jeremiah. One time, people threw him into an empty cistern (“a pit that can hold water”). Jeremiah did not have an easy life, but in these verses he writes, “The Lord is good unto them that wait for him.” Jeremiah understood that sometimes waiting, even though it’s hard to do, is really God’s way of showing good to us.

How can waiting be good? We must remember that God is always working for our good, even if we must wait for something that we really want, or even when we must wait for a hard time to be over. If God is always working for our good, then what should we do as we wait for Him? Lamentations 3:25 and 26 say we should first seek God. That means we need to talk to Him through prayer. Don’t be afraid to tell God how hard it is to wait. Ask Him to give you the faith you need to trust Him while you wait. These verses also tell us we should wait quietly and expect God to help us. Waiting quietly means that we don’t complain or fight against what God is trying to do for us. That’s sometimes very hard, but God’s timing is different from our timing. As we wait for Him quietly and with faith that He will work things for our good, our faith will grow. This pleases the Lord. So, the next time you must wait for something, remember that God is working for your good, even though it may be hard to wait.

When God makes us wait, waiting is what’s best for us.

My response:

» When I must wait for something, will I seek God by praying to Him?

» When I must wait for something, I will not complain. I will trust God instead!

Denison Forum – School board votes to stop reciting the Pledge of Allegiance

The school board in Fargo, North Dakota, has voted to stop reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before their biweekly meetings, ruling that the Pledge does not align with the district’s diversity code. The board’s vice chairman explained that the problem is two words: “Under God.”

The words “under God” were added to the Pledge in 1954 by a joint resolution of Congress and have withstood numerous legal challenges over the years. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, upon signing the bill, stated: “In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource, in peace or in war.”

How many of our leaders today believe that “spiritual weapons” are “our country’s most powerful resource”?

The Fargo school board certainly does not. In fact, the board’s president recommended that members replace the Pledge of Allegiance with a “shared statement of purpose” which she thought was more appropriate for their work.

In other words, rather than being “one nation under God,” they will be “one nation under us.”

Salman Rushdie remains hospitalized after attack

While our nation slides ever further into moral relativism and missional chaos, many of our geopolitical enemies are choosing the opposite course. Consider Iran as an example.

Author Salman Rushdie was stabbed roughly ten times Friday as he prepared to speak at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York. His family said yesterday that he remains in critical condition in the hospital. Rushdie was taken off a ventilator over the weekend but is being treated for multiple wounds and may lose his right eye.

His attacker’s motives are not yet known, but an initial investigation suggested he had posted on social media about his support of Iran. He may have acted in response to an edict (known as a fatwa) by Iran’s Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989 calling for Rushdie’s death.

Rushdie’s novel, Satanic Verses, is considered blasphemous by many Muslims. The fatwa calls for Rushdie’s murder and offers a $3 million bounty for anyone who kills him. It has never been revoked by Iran’s leaders.

An Iranian government official denied today that Tehran was involved in the assault, but he added that his country considers “[Rushdie] and his supporters worth [sic] of blame and even condemnation.” The front page of a newspaper in Tehran said yesterday that Rushdie had gotten “divine vengeance” and claimed that former President Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo, his former secretary of state, “are next.”

In related news, the Justice Department unsealed charges last week against a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards for attempting to arrange the murder of former National Security Advisor John Bolton. Mike Pompeo and former State Department Iran policy coordinator Brian Hook have received extended Secret Service protection due to Iranian threats as well.

Three steps to getting elected

A perceptive essay in the New York Times explains why Iran remains such a threat to the US. Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, reminds us that the 1979 Iranian revolution was fueled by religious fundamentalists focused on anti-Americanism. From then until today, the regime’s rulers have made their opposition to the United States central to their nation’s revolutionary identity.

Whether the issue is Iran’s nuclear program, its sponsorship of terrorist regimes in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Gaza, or its geopolitical ambition to rebuild the Persian Empire, the ideological pattern is clear: America is the “Great Satan” who must be opposed for the sake of Iran’s survival. Iran’s entrenched leaders depend on this “threat” to legitimize their power, unify their military, and forestall meaningful reforms within their country.

I am reminded of an observation a perceptive friend shared with me many years ago. He noted that to motivate people to your cause, do three things: (1) convince them they have an enemy; (2) convince them they cannot defeat their enemy; and (3) convince them you will defeat their enemy if they vote for you, give you money, or do whatever else you want them to do.

This strategy has empowered Iran’s leaders for more than four decades. The despotic rulers of Russia, China, Cuba, and North Korea are similarly fixated on the “threat” of the West. This missional focus enables and protects their leadership despite their manifest failures to enhance the lives of their people.

Embracing a mission God can bless

On one hand, we have the West’s relativistic insistence on tolerance of all truth claims (except those considered “intolerant”), to the demise of truth and the forfeiture of missional focus. On the other, we have autocratic regimes that focus missionally on external threats (usually America and the West) to enhance their personal power at the expense of their citizens.

Scripture offers us a third way: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Let’s consider three reasons we should embrace this missional command.

One: God cannot empower any other purpose, because to glorify anyone or anything ahead of himself is to commit idolatry. As a result, when we seek to glorify God, we position ourselves to experience his omnipotent power and omniscient leadership. When we don’t, we don’t.

Two: He made all that is, which is why “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). (For more on the stupendous magnificence of God’s creation, see my latest website article, “Supergiant Betelgeuse has unprecedented stellar eruption.”)

Three: He purchased our eternal salvation. We should therefore respond with gratitude: “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20).

I plan to say more tomorrow about living for God’s glory. For today, let’s close with advice from the Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca (4 BC–AD 65): “Adopt once and for all some single rule to live by, and make your whole life conform to it.”

What “single rule” will you live by today?

Denison Forum