In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Praying for Change

When we pray, we can trust that our wise and loving Father will give the best answer.

James 5:16

Hanging above the door in our house was my mother’s favorite plaque, which read, “Prayer changes things.” From an early age, I witnessed her praying about difficulties and giving God glory for answering her petitions.

Indeed, this is our confidence: Anything we pray for that aligns with the Father’s plan will be granted. And the more time we spend with Him, the more we’ll come to understand His will and how to pray for it.

Some requests are granted immediately, simply because our Father loves to give us good gifts. Other requests may require time or certain preparations before they can be given. We, meanwhile, must patiently persevere, remembering that prayer transforms the believer’s heart.

Whatever the Lord’s response or timing, we should trust He has the best in store for His children. That means we might not receive what we’re asking for—but something even better. God alone perfectly knows each heart’s desire and how best to fulfill it.

Prayer is our most powerful tool for shaping the world around us, and it is always available. And as we give attention, time, and perseverance to conversation with our Father, we find no limit to what He can achieve in people’s hearts and circumstances.

Bible in One Year: Lamentations 1-2

Our Daily Bread — When You Need Help

Bible in a Year:

My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 121

It was a Monday morning, but my friend Chia-ming wasn’t in the office. He was at home, cleaning the bathroom. A month unemployed, he thought, and no job leads. His firm had shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic and worries about the future filled Chia-ming with fear. I need to support my family, he thought. Where can I go for help?

In Psalm 121:1, the pilgrims to Jerusalem asked a similar question about where to find help. The journey to the Holy City on Mount Zion was long and potentially dangerous, with travelers enduring an arduous climb. The challenges they faced may seem like the difficult journeys we face in life today—trudging the path of illness, relationship problems, bereavement, stress at work or, as in the case of Chia-ming, financial difficulty and unemployment.

But we can take heart in the truth that the Maker of heaven and earth Himself helps us (v. 2). He watches over our lives (vv. 3, 5, 7–8) and He knows what we need. Shamar, the Hebrew word for “watches over,” means “to guard.” The Creator of the universe is our guardian. We’re in His safekeeping. “God took care of me and my family,” Chia-ming shared recently. “And at the right time, He provided a teaching job.”

As we trust and obey God, we can look ahead with hope, knowing we’re within the protective boundaries of His wisdom and love.

By:  Karen Huang

Reflect & Pray

What kind of help do you need from God today? How does knowing He’s the Maker of heaven and earth encourage you?

Father, thank You for being my source of help on my life’s journey.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – A Lesson from Nature

“‘Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?’” (Matthew 6:26).

If God provides for the birds, how much more will He provide for you.

I can imagine our Lord standing on a hillside in Galilee, looking down over the beautiful north end of the sea, the breeze rippling across the water, the sun bright in the sky. The people were all gathered at His feet. As He was speaking to them, some birds might have flown across the sky.

Our Lord gives life to every bird of the sky and also sustains each one. He doesn’t say to the birds, “I have given you life; now you figure out how to keep it.” And birds don’t get together and say, “We have to come up with a strategy to keep ourselves alive.” Birds have no self-consciousness, no cognitive processes, no ability to reason. But God has given them an instinct so that they have a divine capacity to find what is necessary to live. God doesn’t just create life—He also sustains it.

In Matthew 6:26 Jesus asked the people, “Are you not worth much more than [the birds]?” He was arguing from the lesser to the greater. No bird was ever created in the image of God or designed to be a joint-heir with Christ throughout eternity. Jesus was saying, “If God sustains the life of a bird (the lesser), don’t you think He will take care of you (the greater)?” God’s provision, of course, is no excuse for man’s laziness. A bird has to work for its food, and you have to work for yours. That’s because God has designed that man should eat bread by the sweat of his face (cf. Gen. 3:19). If you don’t work, you don’t eat (cf. 2 Thess. 3:10). Just as God provides for the bird through its instinct, so God will provide for you through your effort.

Suggestions for Prayer

When you see the birds of the air, remind yourself of the Lord’s teaching, and thank Him for His faithfulness to you.

For Further Study

Read Psalm 104, which tells of God’s care over all His creation.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Dwell in Peace

Depart from evil and do good; seek, inquire for, and crave peace and pursue (go after) it!

— Psalm 34:14 (AMPC)

In our strife-torn world, do you ever long for a few peaceful moments? That is what God wants for you. He instructs you in His Word to live in unity and harmony and to pursue peace.

Why then is it so difficult to get through a day without being invaded by the spirit of strife? Satan works through the weaknesses in your flesh to keep the atmosphere in your life and the attitudes of your heart in continual turmoil. He seeks to draw you away from peace and into strife, which brings devastation and destruction.

But God’s power is greater than the devil’s power, and when you come against strife in the name of Jesus you render it powerless to rob you of the peace and joy that is your divine inheritance. Take a few moments in the quiet of this evening to enjoy the wonderful peace and presence of God.

Prayer Starter: Father, I come against strife in the name of Jesus. Help me walk in the peace and joy that is my inheritance from You, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Greater Than Moses

The crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him.

Mark 9:15

How great the difference between Moses and Jesus! When Moses had been forty days upon the mountain, he underwent a kind of transfiguration, so that his face shone with exceeding brightness, and he put a veil over it because the people were not able to look upon his glory. Not so our Savior. He had been transfigured with a greater glory than that of Moses, and yet we do not read that the people were blinded by the blaze of His countenance, but rather they were amazed and ran to Him and greeted Him.

The glory of the law repels, but the greater glory of Jesus attracts. Though Jesus is holy and just, yet blended with His purity there is so much truth and grace that sinners run to Him amazed at His goodness, fascinated by His love; they greet Him, become His disciples, and take Him to be their Lord and Master. Reader, it may be that just now you are blinded by the dazzling brightness of the law of God. You feel its claims on your conscience, but you cannot keep it in your life. Not that you find fault with the law; on the contrary, it commands your profoundest esteem.

Still you are not drawn by it to God; you are rather hardened in heart and tending toward desperation. So turn your eye from Moses with all his repelling splendor, and look to Jesus, resplendent with milder glories. Look upon His flowing wounds and thorn-crowned head! He is the Son of God and greater than Moses, but He is the Lord of love and more tender than the lawgiver. He bore the wrath of God and in His death revealed more of God’s justice than Sinai displayed, but that justice is now vindicated, and it is the guardian of believers in Jesus. Look, sinner, to the bleeding Savior, and as you feel the attraction of His love, run to His arms, and you will be saved.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Wants Your Heart

“For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments” (Ezra 7:10).

God’s people were not doing well. They had fallen into sin and were facing many enemies. They were discouraged and needed help. So God sent a man named Ezra to help His people (Ezra’s name means “help”). There is a reason that God used Ezra in such a great way. That reason is found in Ezra 7:10, “Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.”

The word “prepared” tells us that sometime in Ezra’s life, probably when he was a boy, he decided about his direction in life. He set his heart. Did you know that it is never too early to decide in your heart that you want to serve the Lord? Most missionaries around the world gave their lives to Christ when they were young people.

But what did Ezra prepare his heart to do? He decided to do three things. First, he wanted to “seek the law of the Lord.” That means he wanted to become an expert at knowing the Word of God! Have you ever decided to become an expert at something? When I was a boy, I spent a lot of time playing a game called foosball or table soccer. I remember playing against teenagers as a six year old and making them look very foolish. I became an expert at foosball. But how much better would it be for a young person to decide to become an expert at God’s Word? There is nothing more worthwhile than that!

Second, Ezra decided “to do” the Word of God. Whenever God said something, Ezra wanted to obey right away. Have you ever met a picky eater? (Maybe you are one yourself!) Some kids will poke at their food and say, “I don’t want peas,” or “I don’t like spinach.” They won’t eat it even though it is good for them. Some people are picky about God’s Word. They say, “I don’t want to do that command,” or “I don’t like this.” God doesn’t like it when we are picky eaters of His Word.

Last, Ezra decided “to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.” This means that Ezra decided early in life that he wanted to teach others about the Word of God. Maybe God would allow you to someday be a missionary or a pastor or a Sunday School teacher. Then you could teach others about the Lord, just like Ezra did!

God wants your heart!

My response:

» Am I preparing, or setting, my heart to serve the Lord?

» Do I do, or obey, God’s Word, the Bible?

» Who can I teach about what the Bible says?

Denison Forum – President Biden cancels $10,000 in student loan debt: Pros and cons

President Biden announced yesterday that he would cancel $10,000 in student loan debt for Americans earning less than $125,000 per year or households earning less than $250,000.

The White House claims that 90 percent of the relief will go to households earning $75,000 a year or less. Students who received Pell grants, which are for low-income students, will be eligible to receive an additional $10,000 in debt forgiveness.

Arguments for student loan forgiveness

According to the White House, the move is necessary because federal support has not kept pace with the cost of attending college. Pell Grants, for example, once covered nearly 80 percent of college costs but now cover only a third. Many students from low- and middle-income families thus had no choice but to borrow to get a college degree.

The administration claims that the move will help middle-class borrowers buy homes, put away money for retirement, and start small businesses. It will also help more vulnerable borrowers who could not complete their degrees due to financial constraints and now have debt but no degree. And the announcement noted that student debt falls disproportionately on Black borrowers.

On its face, according to the New York Times, the announcement could cost taxpayers about $300 billion or more in money that they effectively lent but will never be repaid. However, much of that debt was unlikely ever to be repaid: more than eight million people—one in five borrowers with a payment due—had already defaulted on their loans even before the coronavirus pandemic.

Arguments against student loan forgiveness

Many are questioning the legality of the president’s decision. The Office of the General Counsel of the US Department of Education previously determined that a presidential administration “does not have the statutory authority to provide blanket or mass cancelation, compromise, discharge, or forgiveness of student loan principal balances, and/or to materially modify the repayment amounts or terms thereof.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also stated that the president lacks the executive authority to cancel student loan debt. And she noted that under such an action, Americans would be “paying taxes to forgive somebody else’s obligations.”

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget warns that canceling student debt will add to inflation and will undermine the Inflation Reduction Act. Critics also claim that the action is unfair to those who chose not to go to college, those paying back loans taken for other purposes (such as small business loans), those who have already paid off their student loans, those who chose colleges that required them to borrow less money, and those who will take out student loans in the future (since the president’s action is only for current loans).

The political consequences are yet to be seen. USA Today notes this morning that the president’s move “is a major gamble, presenting both an opportunity to energize young voters and handing Republicans new lines of attack on fairness and wealth.” Republican pollster Frank Luntz responded: “Make no mistake, you cut college debt and individuals in their twenties will reward Biden in record numbers. It’s just that the other people who paid off their debt will be really angry.”

How to become human

If you are like most of us, my guess is that you’re processing this debate through the prism of your personal perspective. If you’re a supporter of the president, you probably support his decision. If you’re a critic, you’re probably critical. If your student loans just got canceled, you’re probably grateful. If you paid back your student loans, you’re probably angry that some will not have to pay back theirs.

It is human nature to measure the world through our personal experience. After all, you have no eyes through which to see the world but your own. But we must beware: our fallen condition prompts us to be our own god (Genesis 3:5), a desire empowered by scientific and technological advances that enable us to bend the world to our will more than ever before.

Paradoxically, this quest for self-advancement comes at the detriment of the self.

In his book Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl observed: “Man is originally characterized by his ‘search for meaning’ rather than his ‘search for himself.’ The more he forgets himself—giving himself to a cause or another person—the more human he is. And the more he is immersed and absorbed in something or someone other than himself, the more he becomes himself” (his emphases).

Has this day come for you?

Jesus took this theme a step further: “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). “Loses” translates a Greek word meaning “to destroy utterly, to bring to ruin.” If we obliterate our life for Jesus’ sake, we will find it—guaranteed. And only then.

The Bible repeatedly calls us to submit our lives completely to God with the promise that he will give us in return a life we could never achieve or experience otherwise:

  • “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (James 4:10).
  • “Trust in the Lᴏʀᴅ with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6).
  • “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
  • “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

In The Normal Christian Life, the Chinese theologian Watchman Nee wrote: “A day must come in our lives, as definite as the day of our conversion, when we give up all right to ourselves and submit to the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ.”

Has this day come for you?

Here’s one way to know. Nee asked, “Is there anything God is asking of you that you are withholding from him? Is there any point of contention between you and him?” He added: “Not till every controversy is settled and the Holy Spirit is given full sway can he reproduce the life of Christ in the heart of any believer.”

Can the Spirit “reproduce the life of Christ” in your heart today?

Denison Forum