In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Secret of Contentment

When we choose to focus on Jesus, our circumstances won’t have the power to rob us of peace and joy.

Philippians 4:10-14

What kind of life do you think brings contentment? You might assume it’s one with few problems, good health, financial security, and a loving family. But that was not the apostle Paul’s experience. His life was filled with dangers, rejection, personal attacks, beatings, and imprisonment, yet he claimed to have learned the secret of being content in every circumstance. The source of his contentedness was obviously not his situation, and that can be true for you as well. 

The secret that he discovered was to focus on and rejoice in the Lord. Paul knew he was spiritually rich and had been given “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). The comforts and pleasures of this life were not worthy to be compared to the eternal glory that awaited him (Romans 8:18). 

Contentment is hard to find and even harder to keep. There’s always something newer and better to acquire or a more appealing relationship to pursue. What’s more, the hardships of life can easily drag us down if we don’t keep our focus on the Lord. When you feel unsatisfied, remember all you have in Christ and respond according to these truths rather than your feelings.

Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 17-19

Our Daily Bread — When We Gather Together

Bible in a Year:

Let us not neglect our meeting together, . . . but encourage one another.

Hebrews 10:25

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Hebrews 10:19–25

Denmark is among the happiest countries in the world, according to the World Happiness Report. The Danes weather their lengthy, dark winters by gathering with friends to share a warm drink or a gracious meal. The word they use for the feelings associated with those moments is hygge (hoo-gah). Hygge helps them offset the impact of enjoying less sunlight than their counterparts at lower latitudes. By circling around a simple table with loved ones, their hearts are nourished.

The writer of Hebrews encourages gathering together as a community. He acknowledges that there will be difficult days—with challenges far more significant than the weather—requiring those who follow Christ to persevere in faith. Though Jesus has made certain our acceptance by God through our faith in the Savior, we may struggle against shame or doubt or real opposition. By gathering together, we have the privilege of encouraging one another. When we’re sharing company, we’re able to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” which bolsters our faith (Hebrews 10:24).

Gathering with friends doesn’t assure us of a ranking on a “happiness report.” It is, however, something the Bible offers as a means to bear us up in faith under the common frustrations of life. What a wonderful reason to seek out the community of a church or to open our homes—with an attitude of Danish simplicity—to nourish one another’s hearts!

By:  Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

How has gathering together with others encouraged you? Who can you encourage with an open heart?

Thank You, God, that I can encourage other believers and be encouraged by them when we gather together.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Reality of Spiritual Warfare

“Be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:10-12).

Victory in battle comes when you identify the enemy, resist his attacks, and then take the initiative against him.

Our nation has known many wars, but Vietnam was an especially frustrating campaign. Thick jungle terrain made the enemy hard to find and guerrilla warfare made him hard to fight. Many Vietnamese who peacefully worked the rice paddies by day donned the black garb of the Viet Cong soldier by night and invaded unsuspecting U.S. forces camped nearby. American public opinion was strongly anti-war and morale among our troops was often low.

Spiritual warfare has similar parallels. Subtly and deceitfully, Satan disguises himself as an angel of light and “prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). His emissaries disguise themselves as apostles of Christ and servants of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:13-15). It takes wisdom and discernment to identify them and defend yourself against their attacks.

Most people are defenseless, however, because they scoff at the supernatural and deny the reality of spiritual warfare. They think Satan may be fine for movie plots and book sales, but assume only the superstitious and credulous take him seriously. Unfortunately, many Christians have succumbed to their ridicule and forsaken the battle.

Ephesians 6:10-24 reminds us that spiritual warfare is real and that God has given us all the resources we need— not only to defend ourselves, but also to take the initiative and win the victory over the forces of darkness.

I pray that our studies this month will encourage you in the battle and challenge you to always have on “the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Eph. 6:11).

Suggestions for Prayer

Seek discernment and grace to identify the enemy and stand against him courageously.

For Further Study

Read Ephesians 6:10-24. What armor has God supplied to protect you in spiritual warfare?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Seasons of Change

He changes the times and the seasons….

— Daniel 2:21 (AMPC)

Years ago, I enjoyed a good job as part of a church staff. I had a thriving ministry, a regular paycheck, and plenty of opportunities to do what I loved and felt called to do. Then there came a time when God spoke to me about leaving that job and taking my ministry “to the north, south, east, and west.” I heard Him say, “This season in your life is complete; I am finished with you in this place.”

In my heart, I knew God had spoken. Nevertheless, I had a mixture of excitement and fear about starting my own ministry. I wanted to venture beyond what I had known to that point, but I was afraid of making a mistake and losing what I had. I wanted to see what God would do, but I was afraid to take such a big step into unknown territory.

Sometimes God gets finished with something and we keep hanging on to it. My spirit wanted to step out, but my flesh wanted to stay. I had a lot of security in the position God was calling me to leave, and I didn’t want to give it up. But eventually I did obey Him and today I enjoy ministry around the world. Remember that God changes things and when He does, we must be willing to follow His leading.

Prayer of the Day: God, please help me as I listen for Your voice. Please lead me when I need to make changes in my life, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Truth in All Things

Trust in him at all times.

Psalm 62:8

Faith is the rule of both temporal as well as spiritual life; we ought to have faith in God for our earthly affairs as well as for our heavenly business. It is only as we learn to trust in God for the supply of our daily needs that we will live above the world. We are not to be idle; that would show we did not trust in God, who is always working, but in the devil, who is the father of laziness. We are not to be hasty or rash; that would be to trust chance rather than the living God, who is a God of economy and order. Acting sensibly and honestly, we must rely simply and entirely on the Lord all the time.

Let me commend to you a life of trust in God in secular things. Trusting in God, you will not be compelled to mourn as a result of using sinful means to grow rich. Serve God with integrity, and if you are unsuccessful, at least sin will not lie upon your conscience. Trusting God, you will be free from self-contradiction. The one who trusts in craftiness, sails this way today and that way tomorrow, like a sailboat tossed about by the fickle wind; but the one who trusts in the Lord is like a powerful boat cutting through the waves, defying the wind, and making one bright silvery straightforward track to her desired haven. Be courageous as you act on principle; do not bow to the varying customs of worldly wisdom.

Walk on the path of integrity with confidence, and show that you are invincibly strong in the strength that confidence in God alone confers. In this way you will be delivered from anxious care; you will be untroubled by evil tidings, and your heart will be fixed, trusting in the Lord. How pleasant to float along on the stream of providence! There is no more blessed way of living than a life of dependence upon a covenant-keeping God. We do not need to worry because He cares for us; we do not need to carry burdens because He invites us to cast them upon Him.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Has Created Colorful Scenery

“Sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving. . . . Who covereth the heavens with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains” (Psalm 147:7, 8).

Charlie, Ashley, and Jared hopped into the van with their pillows and duffle bags. Finally, the weekend had arrived, and they were going to spend it with their grandma. They loved staying with her at her house in the country. It always smelled like cinnamon sticks, and her beds were so comfortable. She made chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast and baked the best blueberry pies for dessert after dinner. Saturday afternoon she’d even let Charlie, Ashley, and Jared ride horses.

But before they could get there, they had three hours to pass in the van. The first hour usually flew by as they were leaving the city. There were exciting buildings to look at and cool cars to check out. But the last couple hours of the ride weren’t so thrilling. The two-lane country road didn’t have much traffic, and the cows in the fields started to look the same after twenty minutes.

“Today sure is a beautiful day,” Dad said from the driver’s seat. All three children in the back rolled their eyes. He was always saying stuff like that. But today they didn’t care what kind of day it was. They just wanted to get to Grandma’s!

After a couple minutes of riding in silence, Ashley said, “You know what? Dad’s right! The sky is a really bright blue today, and those fluffy white clouds really stand out against that color.”

“Yeah, and I guess the grass and trees are really bright green after all that rain we got last month,” added Charlie.

All three stared out the windows of the van for a while with a new appreciation for the view. “We’ve been on this road so many times and never noticed the great view before,” said Jared. “I love those bright colors all together. They’re my favorites.”

“I just thought of something!” Charlie pointed out. “Dogs see things in black and white, so they can’t see all these colors. They’re missing out on this cool scenery. Why do you think God lets us see color? He could’ve made everything black and white.”

“That’s a good question,” replied Dad. “God created everything for His glory, so this beautiful countryside filled with bright colors is here for us to remember how wonderful God is. His creation points to His greatness.” The three children thought about that as they continued to ride through the countryside.

“Look!” exclaimed Ashley. “There’s Grandma’s driveway. I can’t believe we’re here already. The trip really flies by when you admire God’s scenery. Now I’m looking forward to the trip home. But first I have some pie to eat and horses to ride!”

God created beautiful scenery to direct glory to the Creator.

My response:

» Am I remembering the wonderful Creator, Who made the lovely scenery?

» Do I think of the bright colors around me as a gift from God?

» Do I thank Him for them?

Denison Forum – How likely is civil war in America?

A new poll asked Americans about changes in the US political climate, including whether divisions have worsened and what they expect for the future. Here were their responses:

  • 66 percent believe political divisions have gotten worse since the beginning of 2021.
  • 62 percent expect political divisions to get even worse in the future.
  • 66 percent say political violence has increased since the start of 2021.
  • 60 percent expect such violence to increase in the next few years.

Here’s the most sobering part of the report: a plurality (43 percent) believes a civil war is at least somewhat likely in the next decade. Only 35 percent say it is not likely; 22 percent are unsure.

Of course, conditions are markedly different today than they were in 1861, when the South and the North were contiguous geographical entities each dominated by a single party (Republicans in the North, Democrats in the South). By contrast, today’s electoral map indicates blue coasts and a red middle, but many states are experiencing deep internal divisions.

In Texas, for instance, Austin is clearly “blue” while West Texas is clearly “red.” If our state attempted to secede from the Union, I’m not sure which side would lead the effort or what the other side would do if secession were successful. Electoral maps reveal similar divisions in Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, among other states. And it is a surprising fact that in the 2020 election, Donald Trump received more votes in California (6,006,429) than he did in Texas (5,890,347).

While an organized, military, two-sided civil war such as occurred in 1861 may be implausible today, the divisions and distrust reflected in recent polls are nonetheless ominous for our future as the “United” States of America.

“Public virtue is the only foundation of republics”

Our nation’s founders were convinced that personal virtue is indispensable to political unity. George Washington observed, “Human rights can only be assured among a virtuous people.” Benjamin Franklin added, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.” And John Adams was insistent: “Public virtue cannot exist in a nation without private, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics.”

What would they think of our nation’s character today?

The answer is not simple, of course. There are many areas of American life where progress has been significant and transformational. I am grateful for our declining poverty rate, the tremendous contribution of minority businesses to the US economy, and the fact that our high school graduation rate is at an all-time high. We have seen great advances with regard to the rights of women and minorities, though we have far to go.

But when a majority of a nation’s people endorse abortion and unbiblical marriage, when premarital sex is the norm and pornography is an epidemic, when nearly eleven million children live in poverty in America and violent crime is escalating, is God able to bless that nation?

If not, what is her future?

“Reveling until they learned about the capture”

America has been the world’s only superpower since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Our analogy in the seventh century before Christ was the Babylonian Empire, a massive military power that conquered the nation of Judah and destroyed her temple in 586 BC.

Babylon, the empire’s capital city, was the first ancient city to exceed two hundred thousand people. Its outer defensive wall was so wide that chariots driven by four horses could pass each other. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus called Babylon the world’s most splendid city. He described its walls as fifty-six miles in length, eighty feet thick, and three hundred and twenty feet high.

And yet, according to the prophet Jeremiah (who lived during the zenith of their empire), the Babylonians’ fall was sure and certain: “Her young men shall fall in her squares, and all her soldiers shall be destroyed on that day, declares the Lᴏʀᴅ” (Jeremiah 50:30). That “day” was the day of judgment coming on the nation because of her sin: “You were found and caught, because you opposed the Lᴏʀᴅ” (v. 24).

As a result, “The Lᴏʀᴅ has opened his armory and brought out the weapons of his wrath” (v. 25) because the nation “has proudly defied the Lᴏʀᴅ, the Holy One of Israel” (v. 29). This judgment was enacted by the Persian Empire when it overthrew and replaced the Babylonians on the world stage in 539 BC.

According to Herodotus, when the Persian king Cyrus captured the city of Babylon, “the inhabitants of the central parts . . . long after the outer portions of the town were taken, knew nothing of what had chanced, but as they were engaged in a festival, continued dancing and reveling until they learned about the capture.”

What a sobering reminder that “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).

“The truest friend of the liberty of his country”

I am not predicting the demise of the United States of America, but I would remind you that the average age of empires is 250 years, an age our nation will reach in four years.

Presuming that a nation’s future is guaranteed is a guaranteed way to hasten its demise. The best way to serve America is to help America be a nation God can bless (cf. Psalm 33:12).

What is the best way to do that?

Samuel Adams was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and was considered by Thomas Jefferson to be “truly the Man of the Revolution.” Adams was adamant: “Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt. He therefore is the truest friend of the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue.”

How true a friend of your country will you be today?

Denison Forum