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?

Denison Forum – Matt Chandler placed on leave from The Village Church

When Matt Chandler became pastor of Highland Village First Baptist Church in 2002, the church averaged 160 in attendance. Now known as The Village Church (TVC), the DFW-area congregation has planted multiple churches and has grown to over fourteen thousand attendees.

Chandler was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2009 but was declared cancer-free a year later following medical treatment. He has written numerous books and leads the Acts 29 Network, a church planting partnership with more than four hundred churches in the US and around the world.

Then came an announcement yesterday that shocked everyone who knows Matt Chandler and his ministry.

“A Message to Our Church Family”

According to a statement by TVC titled, “A Message to Our Church Family,” a woman approached Chandler a few months ago with “concerns about the way he was using direct messaging on social media with a woman who was not his wife.” Chandler told the church yesterday that the messages were not sexual or romantic but that they crossed a line with their “frequency” and “familiarity.”

According to the church, Chandler shared these concerns with his wife and two elders that same evening and “submitted to their leadership in addressing the situation.” The elders in turn commissioned an independent law firm to review Chandler’s messaging history across all media platforms. Their report “led the elders to conclude that Matt violated our internal social media use policies, and more importantly that, while the overarching pattern of his life has been ‘above reproach,’ he failed to meet the 1 Timothy standard for elders being ‘above reproach’ in this instance.”

The elders did not determine that this issue rose to the level of disqualification, but they concluded that “Matt’s behavior was a sign of unhealth in his life” and determined that “the best course of action would be for him to take a leave of absence.” They added that this leave of absence “is both disciplinary and developmental, which allows him to focus on growing greater awareness in this area.” And they noted, “The timeline for his return will be dictated by the expectations the elders have laid out for his development.”

Four biblical responses

I do not know Matt Chandler or TVC personally. This announcement was made only a day ago; I know only what has been made public through it. Nonetheless, I can make four biblical statements this morning.

First and most obviously, “An overseer must be above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2; cf. 1 Peter 5:3).

The TVC elders and Chandler emphasized this fact. This principle is crucial in part because otherwise the body of Christ faces crises precisely like the one we are discussing today. It is human nature to judge a movement by its leaders. And it can be devastating for church members when trust in their leaders is broken or abused.

Consequently, churches must hold their leaders accountable.

Scripture warns, “We who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1). God knows those who are false shepherds and will judge them for their sins (Ezekiel 34:1–10). Chandler and the church elders are to be commended for taking this matter seriously and responding in a way that appears to be transparent and redemptive.

At the same time, we need to recognize that pastors are under attack.

As Anglican minister Tish Harrison Warren noted in her New York Times newsletter yesterday, pastors are facing burnout and discouragement at epidemic levels. She cites a Barna study showing that 42 percent of pastors have considered quitting full-time ministry within the past year. Stress, isolation, political division, coping with death and grief from the coronavirus pandemic, and the “relentless pace of issues” are all factors. Satan’s attack on Peter mirrors his hatred for all Christian leaders today (Luke 22:31).

While we need to encourage and pray for our pastors, we must also care deeply for those who are harmed by clergy misconduct.

Yesterday, TVC lead pastor Josh Patterson thanked the woman who confronted Chandler for her conviction and courage. The woman who received his inappropriate messages deserves compassion and care from her church family. And TVC leaders and their faith family need our compassion and intercession. We are to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

Three bold statements

As I prayed about the way I should close this difficult Daily Article, I felt directly led to make three bold statements to you and to myself as well.

One: If we are hearing this news without a spirit of grief for everyone concerned, we need to repent of our lack of compassion and pray for “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another” (Colossians 3:12–13).

Two: If we are responding to this story with a sense of personal superiority, we need to repent of our prideful sin and “clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another” (1 Peter 5:5).

Three: You and I must pray every day for the power of the Spirit to live with such godliness that our private lives always honor our Lord (2 Corinthians 7:1).

Matt Chandler could not have imagined that his personal direct messages would become headline news months later and would affect multitudes of people in the Dallas area and around the world. In a day of instant digital communication and global social media, our private lives can become public more quickly than ever before.

Billy Graham’s greatest personal fear was that “I’ll do something or say something that will bring some disrepute on the gospel of Christ before I go.”

The less you share his fear today, the more you need to.

Denison Forum