In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – How to Hold On

Commit to trust God and discover His peace, which enables you to endure whatever life brings.

Psalm 37:5-7

Job knew trouble and temptation, but he boldly claimed, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him” (Job 13:15). He had lost his children, his fortune, and his health, but he didn’t abandon his faith. He was determined to hold on because he trusted God.

Unlike Job, we have Scripture, in which God reveals His nature and promises. His Word tells us that our Father is always good, always just, always faithful, and always trustworthy. When we focus on honoring and following Him, we find a consistent peace that carries us through everything.

Life is challenging, so we can easily get distracted and allow circumstances to dictate our emotions. But if we operate that way, then when life is good, we’re happy; when times are tough, we’re frustrated; and when hardship pours in, we’re miserable. On the other hand, unwavering commitment to the Lord is a cornerstone of faith. When we are situated on that foundation, we can focus solely upon God.

In order to hold on to the Lord through any trial or temptation, commit to trust and follow Him all of your days. Lay claim to His promises: The unchanging Lord and Savior is committed to caring for you in all circumstances and will never leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5Hebrews 13:81 Peter 5:7).

Bible in One Year: Lamentations 3-5

Our Daily Bread — Just Ask!

Bible in a Year:

You do not have because you do not ask God.

James 4:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Philippians 4:4–7

The gleeful shouts arising from our basement came from my wife, Shirley. For hours she’d wrestled with a newsletter project, and she was ready to be done with it. In her anxiety and uncertainty about how to move forward, she prayed for God’s help. She also reached out to Facebook friends and soon the project was completed—a team effort.

While a newsletter project is a little thing in life, small (and not so small) things can bring about worry or anxiousness. Perhaps you’re a parent walking through the stages of childrearing for the first time; a student facing newfound academic challenges; a person grieving the loss of a loved one; or someone experiencing a home, work, or ministry challenge. Sometimes we’re needlessly on edge because we don’t ask God for help (James 4:2).

Paul pointed the followers of Jesus in Philippi and us to our first line of defense in times of need: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). When life gets complicated, we need reminders like the one from the hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”:

Oh what peace we often forfeit,

oh what needless pain we bear,

all because we do not carry,

everything to God in prayer.

And perhaps in our asking God for help, He’ll lead us to ask people who can assist us.

By:  Arthur Jackson

Reflect & Pray

What situations challenge you that you can bring to God in prayer? Why do you hesitate to ask Him or others for help?

Dear God, forgive me for not bringing my burdens to You in prayer. Help me to reach out to others and ask for help too.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Living Life to the Fullest

“‘Which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life’s span?’” (Matthew 6:27).

You can worry yourself to death, but not to life.

Dr. Charles Mayo of the renowned Mayo Clinic wrote, “Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands and the whole nervous system. I have never met a man or known a man to die of overwork, but I have known a lot who died of worry.” We live in a day when people worry about how long they will live. That’s a harmful practice because you can worry yourself to death, but not to life.

In Matthew 6:27 Jesus said that worry cannot “add a single cubit” to a person’s life span. A cubit was the distance from the elbow to the tips of the fingers—about eighteen inches. He was saying, “Which of you by worrying can lengthen your life?” Exercise and good health can help you function better while you’re living your span, but you can’t worry yourself into a longer life.

The quest for living longer is not new. In the early sixteenth century, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon set out to find the fountain of youth, a spring whose waters had the power to restore youth. Although no such fountain exists, there is something far better: a fountain of life. Proverbs 14:27 says, “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may avoid the snares of death.” By fearing the Lord you will experience life to the fullest and not worry. Proverbs 9:10-11 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by me your days will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you.” I believe the Lord has sovereignly determined each person’s life span—He has designed how long you will live. And He gives you the gift of life because He wants you to enjoy it to the fullest by fearing and obeying Him.

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise the Lord that you may enjoy life fully by fearing Him.

For Further Study

According to John 10:10, why did Jesus come?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – You Are Free to Be Yourself

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)

When we have been deeply wounded in our soul, we can struggle with identity as a result, meaning that we go through life feeling we do not know who we truly are. This can cause us to feel confused, purposeless, or directionless, empty, and unsatisfied no matter how hard we try to find fulfillment. One reason our woundedness has such a negative effect on our identity is that it causes us to want to hide our true feelings and to hesitate to express who we really are.

For example, if someone is afraid to be vulnerable, she may pretend to be tough, confident, and self-sufficient to keep others from viewing her as weak or needy. This type of pretending to be something we are not or presenting a certain image that does not accurately represent us can be a temptation to everyone who has been wounded. Our hunger for acceptance and approval may cause us to try to alter our personalities to try to be what we think people want us to be instead of feeling free to be our true selves.

The chameleon is a lizard-like animal that can change its color so it will blend in with everything around it. Chameleons do this to protect themselves. If their predators can’t distinguish them from a log or a leaf, they can’t hurt them. Although people cannot change colors, we have our own protective mechanisms, one of which is to develop false identities to guard ourselves against rejection or disapproval.

Those who fear rejection often become people pleasers, doing what they think others want them to do instead of becoming their true selves. That is sad, because we are never truly free until we are free to be ourselves.

The world urges us to conform to its image. It tells us what we should wear, how we should style our hair, what kind of car we should drive, how much education we need—and on and on. We sense intuitively that if we do not measure up to the world’s standards, we will not be accepted.

God loves and accepts us unconditionally, and when we receive Jesus as our Savior, He makes us new. All the old pressures we have felt melt away. We no longer have to feel guilty about old mistakes. When God makes us new, we become like fresh lumps of spiritual clay. The world wants to fashion us in its image, but the Holy Spirit wants to mold us into something new, to shape us in such a way that we can fulfill God’s amazing plans for our lives. In Christ, we are finally free to be our true selves, and that’s the best person we can possibly be.

Prayer Starter: Thank You for loving me unconditionally and for making me new. Thank You that I am truly free to be who You made me to be—free to be myself, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Your Choice Treasure

Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

Psalm 31:5

These words have been frequently used by the godly in their hour of departure. We may profitably consider them this evening. The object of the believer’s interest in life and death is not his body or his possessions but his spirit; this is his choice treasure: If this is safe, then all is well. What is our physical condition compared with the soul?

The believer commits his soul to the hand of God; it came from Him, it is His own, He has until now sustained it, He is able to keep it, and it is fitting that He should receive it. All things are safe in Jehovah’s hands; what we entrust to the Lord will be secure, both now and in that day of days toward which we are hastening. It is peaceful living and glorious dying to rest in the care of heaven. At all times we should commit everything to Jesus’ faithful hand; then even if life should hang on a thread, and difficulties multiply like the sands of the sea, our soul shall live in safety and delight itself in quiet resting places.

You have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.” Redemption is a solid basis for confidence. David did not know Calvary as we do, but even as redemption cheered him, so our eternal redemption will sweetly console us. Past deliverances are strong guarantees for present assistance. What the Lord has done He will do again, for He does not change. He is faithful to His promises and gracious to His saints; He will not turn away from His people.

Though Thou slay me I will trust,
Praise Thou even from the dust,
Prove, and tell it as I prove,
Thine unutterable love.

Thou may chasten and correct,
But Thou never can neglect;
Since the ransom price is paid,
On Thy love my hope is stayed.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Heals

 “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

Today I was praying for several people. Many were sick, injured, or recovering from surgery. At the same time, my back was hurting.

I have noticed that most prayer requests between Christians and in the church are related to healing the body. We are shown multiple times in the Bible that God heals. Jesus healed the sick. God healed kings, lepers, nations. We pray for healing.

If you have studied the science of how our bodies work, you can see that from the beginning, God had a plan for healing. Take the eye for example. Tears wash dirt from the eyes. Then there is how God designed our skin to heal cuts and scrapes. Even our blood clots so wounds can heal. And of course our white blood cells attack infections.

So, with healing come tears, pain, and even scars. Healing takes time. Sometimes it is not how we expect it. But God heals according to His will. Some people are made whole, while others are allowed to keep their illnesses. And some are healed through death, because they’re taken to Heaven where there isn’t any more sickness, disease, pain, or suffering. Whether the body is whole, sick, or dying, it is to glorify God. We can depend on Him.

God chooses to heal, or not to heal, according to His plan.

My response:

» Will I pray and then wait for God to heal according to what He knows will be the best to bring Him glory?

» Will I pray for others who need God’s healing?

» Will I write down the answers to those prayers?

Denison Forum – “It had to be God”: Bus driver helps save kids from floodwater

A driver and monitor on a school bus in Dallas, Texas, helped save two children who were caught up and nearly swept away in the recent flooding in our area. The driver said later, “It had to be God to send me that way because I don’t normally go that way.”

As our schools open across the country, so does concern for our schools and students. After gun violence in schools tripled over the previous year, wearable panic buttons are being mandated or encouraged by multiple states across the country. Bulletproof backpack sales are on the rise as well.

School violence is not the only risk to our youth: self-harm claims among US teenagers increased by 99 percent during the pandemic, claims related to overdoses jumped 119 percent, and claim reports for anxiety and major depressive disorders rose 94 percent and 84 percent, respectively.

Unsurprisingly, a record 58 percent of Americans say our best days are behind us and three-quarters of voters say the country is heading in the wrong direction. United States Poet Laureate Joseph Brodsky claimed, “Life—the way it really is—is a battle not between good and bad, but between bad and worse.”

And yet, as theologian Teilhard de Chardin observed, “The future belongs to those who give the next generation reason for hope.”

How can you and I offer hope most effectively?

A better way to change minds

Harvard professor Arthur C. Brooks writes in the Atlantic that changing people’s minds is extremely difficult, especially through argumentation that attacks the beliefs of others.

He notes: “When people fail to live up to your moral values (or your expression of them), it is easy to conclude that they are immoral people. Further, if you are deeply attached to your values, this difference can feel like a threat to your identity, leading you to lash out, which won’t convince anyone who disagrees with you” (his emphasis).

By contrast, Brooks observes, “Effective missionaries present their beliefs as a gift. And sharing a gift is a joyful act, even if not everyone wants it.” He encourages us to follow their example by offering our values “with love, not insults and hatred.”

To this end, we should “go out of your way to welcome those who disagree with you as valued voices worthy of respect and attention.” We should refuse to take rejection personally. And we need to listen empathetically: research shows that “listening and asking sensitive questions almost always has a more beneficial effect than talking.”

“Though I was blind, now I see”

Early Christians believed that the “gospel” (literally “good news”) was so valuable that many sacrificed their lives to share this gift with others. And their transformed lives were evidence that this gift works. What changed them could change others and, through them, the world.

The psalmist declared, “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul” (Psalm 66:16). The man born blind told the religious authorities, “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see” (John 9:25). Paul never tired of telling the story of God’s transforming grace in the heart of the “chief” of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15 NKJV).

However, Satan knows the power of a changed life as well.

That’s why he is working to turn the culture not only against Christian beliefs but against Christians themselves. For the first time in American history, those who affirm biblical sexual morality are being branded as homophobic, discriminatory, and dangerous. Pro-life advocates are being castigated as part of a “war on women.”

Tragically, we cooperate with Satan’s strategy when our clergy abuse children and congregants, our churches and denominations go to war with each other over theology and buildings, and some of our leaders embrace unbiblical immorality while criticizing those who uphold biblical truth.

Following my guide through the jungle

The key to living a transformed life that draws others to Christ is practicing the presence of the transforming Christ. Jesus was clear on this: “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, my emphasis).

From our Lord’s statement we learn this fact: We experience God to the degree that we are surrendered to him. This is how all relationships work: a gift must be opened to be useful; a doctor must be trusted to be helpful.

When I served as a college missionary on the island of Borneo, our guide took us one day through deep jungles to a remote village. He could lead us only when we followed his path and not our own.

Oswald Chambers wrote: “We never know the joy of self-sacrifice until we abandon in every particular.” Paradoxically, many of us have surrendered just enough of our lives to Christ to miss both what the world offers and what God offers. Thus we forfeit the joy of the Lord that would draw the world to the Lord.

However, Chambers assured us, “As soon as we do abandon, the Holy Ghost gives us an intimation of the joy of Jesus.” The results will be visible to others: a life fully surrendered to Jesus is “unutterably humble, unsulliedly pure, and absolutely devoted to God.”

“In his will is our peace”

It is not easy to live a surrendered life. This is a death to self, but a death that leads to abundant life we can find in no other way (John 10:10). As Dante noted in The Divine Comedy, “In his will is our peace.”

World champion weightlifter Jerzy Gregorek observed: “Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.”

My dear friend and fellow minister Dr. Ron Scates puts it this way: “When Christianity is hard, it is easy. When Christianity is easy, it is hard.”

Which will be true for you today?

Denison Forum