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