In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Praying to Our Sovereign God

God gives us the privilege of participating in His work here on earth.

James 5:13-18

Prayer is the heartbeat of the believer’s walk with God, and He commands us to pray about everything (Philippians 4:6). But we sometimes wonder what kind of influence our conversations with the Lord really have, and we find ourselves asking the following two questions:

  1. If God controls all things, why does He want us to pray? He’s self-sufficient and needs no help to accomplish His purposes, so what could any of us possibly contribute? 
  2. Would God’s plans fail if we chose not to pray? The Lord isn’t subservient to us. His plans are contingent only upon Himself. He works all things according to the counsel of His will, not necessarily on the basis of our prayers. 

These truths reveal the Lord’s grace toward believers. He doesn’t need us, yet He’s chosen to include us in His eternal purposes by letting us participate in His work through prayer. Though we may not understand the influence our prayers have, we know God chooses to use them in achieving His purposes. 

So keep praying. Being consistent in prayer helps maintain a sense of humble dependence upon the Lord. And answered prayer produces increasing trust in Him, along with greater gratitude for His sovereign care and protection.

Bible in One Year: Hosea 10-14

Our Daily Bread — Imaginative Faith

Bible in a Year:

The mountains and hills will burst into song before you.

Isaiah 55:12

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Isaiah 55:6–13

“Look, Papa! Those trees are waving at God!” As we watched young birches bending in the wind before an oncoming storm, my grandson’s excited observation made me smile. It also made me ask myself, Do I have that kind of imaginative faith?

Reflecting on the story of Moses and the burning bush, the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote that “Earth’s crammed with heaven, / And every common bush afire with God; / But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.” God’s handiwork is evident all around us in the wonders of what He has made, and one day, when the earth is made new, we’ll see it like never before.

God tells us about this day when He proclaims through the prophet Isaiah, “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12). Singing mountains? Clapping trees? Why not? Paul noted that “the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).

Jesus once spoke of stones crying out (Luke 19:40), and His words echo Isaiah’s prophecy about what lies ahead for those who come to Him for salvation. When we look to Him with faith that imagines what only God can do, we’ll see His wonders continue forever!

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

What do you imagine the new earth will be like in God’s forever kingdom? How will you serve Him with imagination today?

Loving God, I praise You that no one is more creative than You are! I look forward to seeing the wonder of all that You are and all that You can do!

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Extinguishing Satan’s Fiery Darts

“In addition to all, [take] up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one” (Eph. 6:16).

Don’t elevate Satan’s will above God’s will in your life.

In Ephesians 6:13 Paul characterizes Satan as “the evil one” who attacks believers with flaming missiles. The Greek word translated “evil one” literally means “bad,” “vile,” or “wretched.” All are apt descriptions of the archenemy of our souls, who seeks to maim and destroy us spiritually.

The term “flaming missiles” pictures one of the Roman weapons of Paul’s day: arrows that had pitch-soaked cotton material affixed to their tips. In battle they were set on fire and shot at the enemy. As the arrow hit its target, flaming pitch spread onto clothing and other flammable surfaces. Under such attacks a Roman soldier without a shield was in a perilous situation indeed.

Satan’s flaming arrows come in many forms: solicitations to impurity, selfishness, doubt, fear, disappointment, greed, vanity, covetousness, and the like. But whatever the specific form, all are seducing temptations aimed at eliciting ungodly responses.

Your faith protects you from such attacks when you elevate God’s will above Satan’s in your life. When tempted by Satan, Jesus responded by saying in effect, “I will not violate my Father’s will by yielding to your devious schemes. In His own time He will feed Me, anoint Me as Messiah, and give Me the kingdoms of the world. I will not elevate your will and timing above His” (Matt. 4:1-11).

Jesus could have created food. He is the Messiah and the sovereign Lord over the kingdoms of the world. But He trusted the Father and yielded to His will, even though it meant personal discomfort and, eventually, the cross. When Satan saw that Jesus’ trust in the Father was unshakable, he left Him (v. 11). That’s the power of faith.

I pray you will show similar strength in times of testing. Satan will flee from you if you “resist him, firm in your faith” (1 Pet. 5:9).

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise Jesus for His sinless character and His example of how to triumph over temptation.

For Further Study

Memorize James 4:7 as a reminder of the importance of resisting Satan.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – God Is on Your Side

For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation and adorn the wretched with victory.

— Psalm 149:4 (AMPC)

Consider this verse from Ephesians 3:19: That you may be…a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself!

If you never face trials, you will never have to exercise your faith. But even when facing hard times, you shouldn’t dread life. Isaiah 8:13 (AMPC) says, The Lord of hosts — regard Him as holy and honor His holy name [by regarding Him as your only hope of safety], and let Him be your fear and let Him be your dread [lest you offend Him by your fear of man and distrust of Him].

If you dread life and fear people, you are not trusting the Lord to save you. Keep your reverential fear and awe of God; dread displeasing Him, but don’t fear anything else. If God is for you, who can be against you? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37 NIV).

Prayer of the Day: Lord Jesus, thank You for being with me every day and helping me not to dread or fear. I know You are for me, so who can be against me! That’s a great place to start today, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Your Heartbeat or Your Weariness?

For this child I prayed.

1 Samuel 1:27

Devout souls delight to reflect upon those mercies that they have obtained in answer to prayer, for they can see God’s special love in them. When we can name our blessings Samuel—that is, “asked of God”—they will be as dear to us as this child was to Hannah. Peninnah had many children, but they came as common blessings unsought in prayer. Hannah’s one heaven-given child was far more precious, because he was the fruit of sincere pleadings. How sweet was the water that Samson found at “the spring of him who called.”1

Did we pray for the conversion of our children? How doubly sweet, when they are saved, to see in them our own petitions answered! Better to rejoice over them as the fruit of our pleadings than as the fruit of our bodies. Have we asked the Lord for some choice spiritual gift? When it comes to us, it will be wrapped up in the golden cloth of God’s faithfulness and truth and will be doubly precious. Have we sought success in the Lord’s work? How joyful is the prosperity that comes flying on the wings of prayer!

It is always best to get blessings into our house in the legitimate way, by the door of prayer; then they are blessings indeed, and not temptations. Even when prayer is not speedy, the blessings grow all the richer on account of the delay; the child Jesus was all the more lovely in the eyes of Mary when she found Him after having searched for Him. What we gain by prayer we should dedicate to God, as Hannah dedicated Samuel. The gift came from heaven; let it go to heaven. Prayer brought it, gratitude sang over it—let devotion consecrate it. Here will be a special occasion for saying, “Of Your own I have given to You.” Reader, is prayer your heartbeat or your weariness? Which?

1) Judges 15:19, margin

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is My Comforter

“In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul” (Psalm 94:19).

How many thoughts go through your mind in a single day? Would you like to take a guess? Hundreds? Thousands? It is estimated that the average person has around fifty thousand thoughts in one single day! That means you think about thirty-five thoughts per minute. Wow! That’s a lot of brain power. What kind of things do you think about during the day? You likely have thoughts about school, family, friends, chores, entertainment, what’s for dinner; the list goes on and on.

Out of all of the things that you think about in a day’s time, how often do thoughts of God cross your mind? If you could somehow track how often you think about God or His Word, you would find that the number of thoughts you have about God are not very many compared to fifty thousand thoughts per day!

The writer of Psalm 94 realized that out of all of the thoughts that went through his mind in a single day, his thoughts of God were of greatest comfort to him. We all go through times when we need comforting. Maybe you are facing sickness or are nervous about the big math test next week; or maybe you have experienced the death of someone close to you. No matter what the reason, God is always there to comfort you, but you have to practice thinking about Him and what you know to be true about God from His Word, the Bible! The more you practice this type of thinking, and the more you read Gods’ Word, the more often you will find that God helps to comfort you in your time of need.

Thinking about God and His Word can comfort us.

My response:

» Am I turning to God for comfort by thinking about Him?

» Am I spending more time in God’s Word so I know Him better?

Denison Forum – The most watched broadcast of all time: Honoring the Queen by serving her King

Up to a million people are lining the streets of London this morning for Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral. Five hundred heads of state have assembled from around the world. The service is likely to be the world’s most watched broadcast of all time with 4.1 billion viewers.

It began at 11 a.m. in the UK, which is 6 a.m. EST and 5 a.m. in Dallas. If America’s response so far to the queen’s death is any indication, we can assume that millions of Americans are up watching.

The New York Times wondered recently if Elizabeth was the “Queen of America.” The article noted that the NFL’s first game of the season observed a moment of silence for her. Apple turned over its home page to a black-and-white photo of the young monarch. Even the Old North Church in Boston, where two lanterns were held high in 1775 to warn that the British were coming, invited visitors to sign a condolence book for the queen.

When Charles gave his first speech as king, ABC, CBS, and NBC covered it live, with CBS reporting 2.8 million viewers. By contrast, the broadcast networks declined to televise a speech by President Biden a week earlier. Only 23 percent of Americans say they have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the presidency; in 1975, even after Watergate and the resignation of President Nixon, the figure stood at 52 percent.

There’s a lesson here we dare not miss.

All the monarchy we want

America’s fascination with the British monarchy and concurrent resentment of our own government are both ironic and instructive. As I noted recently, our nation rebelled against Elizabeth’s great-great-great-grandfather, King George III. We fought a War for Independence to rid ourselves of a monarchy.

However, scholars responding to the outpouring of affection for the queen in recent days have explained that for Americans, we get the upside of the monarchy without the downside. We continue to cultivate a political relationship with the United Kingdom that is vital to our economic and military interests. We can participate in the pomp and circumstance, history and tradition of the crown.

And yet, we pay no taxes to support the royal family and are in no way under their authority. You might say that for Americans, the British royal family is all the royalty we want.

In a way, our fascination with a monarch who has no power in our lives reflects America’s cultural ethos. As does our frustration with American leaders who do.

“All the thrills of religion and none of the cost”

More than 80 percent of Americans say they believe in God or a “higher power,” but less than 50 percent are members of a church, synagogue, or mosque. Pew Research Center reported last week that if current trends continue, Christians could make up less than half of the US population within a few decades.

And yet, we continue to claim that we are “spiritual” even if we are not religious. I heard one of the Pew researchers in a radio interview last week; when asked if their report means Americans are becoming less spiritual, she stated that this is clearly not the case. It is just that we are choosing what we wish to believe outside the confines of established religions.

In a culture that defines all truth as personal and subjective, why would religious “truth” be any different?

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis described such religion as belief in an amorphous “Life-Force”: “When you are feeling fit and the sun is shining and you do not want to believe that the whole universe is a mere mechanical dance of atoms, it is nice to be able to think of this great mysterious Force rolling on through the centuries and carrying you on its crest.

“If, on the other hand, you want to do something rather shabby, the Life-Force, being only a blind force, with no morals and no mind, will never interfere with you like that troublesome God we learned about when we were children. The Life-Force is sort of a tame God. You can switch it on when you want, but it will not bother you.

“All the thrills of religion and none of the cost. Is the Life-Force the greatest achievement of wishful thinking the world has yet seen?

“Today we need a special kind of courage”

George Washington would have disagreed strongly with this approach to God. On this day in 1796, the “Father of Our Country” issued his “Farewell Address” as he approached the end of his second term in office. In it, he famously stated, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.” And he added, “Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.”

Queen Elizabeth II would have agreed with our first president.

In 1957, she delivered her first Christmas broadcast on television. The Cold War was escalating and the Soviet Union was apparently winning the space race with their Sputnik spacecraft. The conflict in Vietnam was growing; the Asian Flu pandemic had claimed over 150,000 lives around the world; racial tensions in the US were increasing.

She therefore stated: “Today we need a special kind of courage. Not the kind needed in battle, but a kind which makes us stand up for everything that we know is right, everything that is true and honest. We need the kind of courage that can withstand the subtle corruption of the cynics, so that we can show the world that we are not afraid of the future.”

She consistently and publicly found that “special kind of courage” in her faith, calling Jesus “an inspiration and an anchor in my life.” Just last month, she prayed for Anglican bishops that “you will continue to be sustained by your faith in times of trial and encouraged by hope in times of despair.”

If the Queen of England, one of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the world, needed a King, how much more do we?

Now she has joined the saints of the ages and the angels of all eternity in proclaiming, “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever” (1 Timothy 1:17).

How will you emulate her commitment to this King today?

Denison Forum