In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Making a Difference

One person choosing to obey God can make a huge impact in the lives of others.

Ezekiel 13:1-16

In the book of Ezekiel, God says, “I searched for a man among them who would build up a wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it” (Ezekiel 22:30). And this is true for us today—the eyes of the Lord are scanning the earth for godly men and women who will exalt righteousness in their land. 

The “gap” in this verse refers to a place where error or falsehood has crept in, allowing evil confusion and inviting the judgment of God. Sometimes these gaps are so serious that they carry entire nations to the brink of destruction. This actually happened to Israel after the exodus, but God’s Word records this remarkable statement: “He said that He would destroy them, if Moses, His chosen one, had not stood in the gap before Him, to turn away His wrath from destroying them” (Psalm 106:23). 

In all likelihood, most of us will never be called upon to save a nation. But we can still encourage righteousness in our communities by speaking the whole counsel of God and resisting the perversions of our age. In Moses’ day one man made all the difference. Why not be the one who makes a difference today?

Bible in One Year: Luke 10-11

Our Daily Bread — Trusting God’s Foresight

Bible in a Year:

They returned to their country by another route.

Matthew 2:12

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Matthew 2:1–2, 7–12

While driving us to an unfamiliar location, my husband noticed that the GPS directions suddenly seemed wrong. After entering a reliable four-lane highway, we were advised to exit and travel along a one-lane “frontage” road running parallel to us. “I’ll just trust it,” Dan said, despite seeing no delays. After about ten miles, however, the traffic on the highway next to us slowed to a near standstill. The trouble? Major construction. And the frontage road? With little traffic, it provided a clear path to our destination. “I couldn’t see ahead,” Dan said, “but the GPS could.” Or, as we agreed, “just like God can.”

Knowing what was ahead, God in a dream gave a similar change in directions to the wise men who’d come from the east to worship Jesus, “born king of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). King Herod, disturbed by the news of a “rival” king, lied to the magi, sending them to Bethlehem, saying: “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him” (v. 8). Warned in a dream “not to go back to Herod,” however, “they returned to their country by another route” (v. 12).

God will guide our steps too. As we travel life’s highways, we can trust that He sees ahead and remain confident that “he will make [our] paths straight” as we submit to His directions (Proverbs 3:6).

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

When has God presented you with a change in your life’s direction? As you trusted Him, what was the outcome?

I can’t see the road ahead, God, as You can. Please give me discernment to know when a change in direction is coming from You.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Heeding God’s Warnings

“By [Thy judgments] Thy servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward” (Ps. 19:11).

Heeding God’s warnings brings spiritual protection and great joy.

Psalm 19:11 concludes David’s hymn on the sufficiency of Scripture. How appropriate that it ends noting the value of God’s warning, because guarding His people against temptation, sin, error, foolishness, false teachers, and every other threat to their spiritual well-being is a major concern to God.

For example, God said to the prophet Ezekiel, “Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth, and give them warning from Me” (Ezek. 33:7). The great tragedy of the Old Testament is that Israel rejected God’s “statutes and His covenants which He made with their fathers, and His warnings with which He warned them” (2 Kings 17:15).

The apostle Paul defined his ministry as that of proclaiming Christ and warning “every man and teaching every man with all wisdom” (Col. 1:28). After exhorting the Thessalonian church to maintain sexual purity, Paul added, “The Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you” (1 Thess. 4:6).

He also warned the Ephesian church, saying, “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish [warn] each one with tears” (Acts 20:29-32). He did that by declaring to them the whole counsel of God (v. 27).

The warnings of Scripture aren’t intended to frustrate or stifle you. On the contrary, when you heed them they shelter you from spiritual harm and bring the joy of knowing you’re in God’s will. That’s the “great reward” David speaks of in Psalm 19:11. May you earn it as he eventually did through heeding God’s Word in every aspect of life.

Suggestions for Prayer

Overwhelmed with the sufficiency of God’s Word, David prayed, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer” (Ps. 19:14). Make that your prayer as well.

For Further Study

Reread Psalm 19:7-11, reviewing each characteristic and benefit of Scripture. Think carefully about how they apply to your life.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – A Thorn in the Flesh

To keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.

2 Corinthians 12:7

If you gather many talented musicians who are only interested in their individual parts, you won’t have an orchestra. What you will produce is merely discordant noise: an affront to the listening ear. However, when that giftedness is exercised in selflessness and humility, under the headship of a conductor and the rule of a score, you get beautiful, harmonious music.

Just as a musician’s desire for individual greatness is the death knell of orchestral usefulness, so it is with our Christian faith. A spiritual gift should never be the source of pride—because, after all, it’s a gift! Yet we are often tempted to take God-given gifts and attribute them to ourselves as if we developed or deserve them, or to use them for ourselves as if they were ours. This puts us in extreme danger of cherishing exaggerated ideas about our own importance—and those with the most significant gifts are typically in the greatest danger.

Paul himself had to face this temptation. He was particularly bright, had a strong education, was from the best kind of background, and was influential in many lives (see Philippians 3:4-6).

When taking on the false apostles of the day, who were making elaborate claims about their knowledge of God, Paul honestly described having seen extraordinary visions (2 Corinthians 12:2-4). He was a prime target for an inflated ego. What protected him from that? A thorn in his flesh. He does not specify precisely what it was, and so we would be wise not to speculate. What matters is not what it was so much as what it achieved; for Paul recognized that this thorn in the flesh was a humbling reminder from God of his inherent weakness, given so that he would not boast about his own importance and so that he would continue to rely on God.

Like the false teachers Paul addressed, we are often tempted to allow our influence and apparent success, whether great or small, to serve as the means by which we judge our worth. Eventually, however, such temporary matters will be exposed as temporary and will fade away.

In the providence and goodness of God, Paul’s “thorn” helps us to understand our own difficulties such as illness, financial lack, relational challenges, the effort of raising children, and even the ongoing struggle with sin. God knows what He’s doing when He allows these necessary, uncomfortable, unrelenting elements in our lives. Better to be a humble believer beset by thorns than a proud, self-reliant no-longer-believer unplagued by anything. We need to know our own weakness in order to continue to rely on God’s grace for our eternal salvation and God’s power for our daily lives. The question, then, is not whether the thorns will come to you but whether you will allow God to use your “thorns” to remind you that He alone is the source of your gifts and the one who makes you spiritually useful.


2 Corinthians 11:30-33, 2 Corinthians 12:1-10

Topics: Affliction Dependence on God Pride Spiritual Gifts

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg,

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Gives Courage

 “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid . . . for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (Deut. 31:6).

“Remember Mason Sullivan, in my class?” Cory asked as he sat down at the supper table. “His father was hurt in the train wreck. Mason and his mom have to go to a faraway hospital every morning to see his dad. Today the kids at school were saying bad things about him.”

Cory’s dad didn’t understand. “If Mason wasn’t there, what were the kids saying?”

“Oh, stuff like it’s good that something bad happened to his family because Mason’s so mean.” Cory poured himself some milk. “Mason is mean, Dad. He’s always in trouble for saying bad things, hitting other kids, or just doing things he’s not supposed to do.”

“The Sullivan family is sad right now,” dad said. “Maybe Mason does get in trouble a lot. Still, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care about the family and pray for them.”

“Let’s pray for them right now,” he suggested.

After his dad finished praying, Cory kept thinking about Mason.

“Cory, are you okay?” dad asked after a while. “You haven’t touched your supper.”

“I was thinking how sad I would be if you were in a train accident,” he said. “I wish I could help Mason. But I’m afraid.”

“Let’s figure it out. What could you do to help him?” his dad asked.

“I could take his schoolwork to him. I could tell him that I’m sorry about his father and that I’m praying for him.”

“Those are all good ideas,” said Cory’s mom. “Why don’t you ask your teacher for Mason’s work tomorrow?” his dad said. “I’ll take you over to his house after school.”

The next morning, before Cory left for school, he said, “I want to ask our teacher about Mason’s schoolwork. But I’m still afraid.”

Cory’s mother put her arm around him. “In Sunday School you’ve been learning about the great things the Lord has done. Don’t you think He can give you the courage to talk to Mason?”

Cory nodded. He knew she was right.

Cory got Mason’s books and papers from his teacher. After school he and his dad went to Carson Street. The closer they got, the more afraid Cory felt. His knees were shaky and his tummy felt jumpy. Quietly he said, “Dear God, I know You have all the power in the whole world. Give me courage to visit Mason.” He felt better after praying. But walking up the front steps of Mason’s house was still hard.

Cory pressed the doorbell and waited. Mason opened the door.

“What do you want?” he demanded.

“I brought your schoolwork. I’m sorry about your dad,” Cory said quickly, before he lost courage. “I’m praying for your family.”

Mason grabbed the books and papers and slammed the door.

But Cory felt better. He knew he had done just what God wanted him to do. He had shown Mason that he cared about him and that God cared too.

God gives us courage to do the right thing when we ask Him for help.

My response:

» Do I depend on God to give me courage in difficult situations?

» What are some things I can pray and ask God to help me with today?

Denison Forum – Rishi Sunak will become the UK’s prime minister today: His unusual challenge and the bridge across our cultural divide

 “There is no doubt we face profound economic challenges. We now need stability and unity, and I will make it my utmost priority to bring my party and country together.” This was the promise made Monday by Rishi Sunak, who today will become Britain’s third prime minister in seven weeks. As the New York Times reports, Sunak will also be the youngest prime minister in two centuries and the first person of Hindu faith to achieve the UK’s highest elected office.

However, the new prime minister faces a personal challenge that his predecessors did not: his personal wealth is more than double that of King Charles III, constituting what may be the first time in history that the residents of Downing Street are richer than those of Buckingham Palace.

Here’s why this is a problem: Sunak has ascended to his nation’s highest office at a time when the UK has more food banks than McDonald’s and many are being forced to choose between eating and heating their homes. Critics fear that Sunak cannot identify with the people he will lead and the rising challenges they face.

The new prime minister wants to lead Britain to “stability and unity,” but as Cornel West noted, “You can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people.” I would amend his wise observation: You cannot lead the people if they don’t believe you love them. No matter your claims to care about their challenges and empathize with their pain, if they consider you to be out of touch with their world, they’ll conclude that you cannot understand their problems.

And if you cannot understand a problem, you cannot solve it.

Is America “irredeemably woke”?

This fact helps explain America’s growing political animosity.

According to a new poll reported by NBC News, “80 percent of Democrats and Republicans believe the political opposition poses a threat that, if not stopped, will destroy America as we know it.” In his latest Dispatch article, David French explains the two “sides” of this conflict in ways that underscore the deep cultural chasm bisecting our national soul.

He reports that the far left believes “America was a racist, colonial power. It began as a slave empire, expanded through conquest and genocide, and then—even as it cast itself as a liberator in the world wars and Cold War—propped up vicious tyrants in the name of liberty.

“In this telling, all of the bad aspects of American history were highlighted, amplified, sometimes exaggerated or even fabricated, and then repeated endlessly to create a picture of a nation in whose DNA racism and conquest were inescapably imprinted. The solution to the crisis of America’s past and present was nothing less than revolution—a dismantling of America’s classic liberal founding and its replacement with illiberal structures that used the force of law and government to uproot entrenched power structures and re-order society from the top down.”

By contrast, the far right “sees America as irredeemably woke. All of the institutions of American life are ‘captured’ by the left—from the academy, to corporate America, to the military, to pop culture. Even our churches and religious schools are infected by wokeism.”

Neither side understands the other or wants to resolve this conflict through compassion and compromise. To the contrary, French writes, “The radical left seethes with fury at the America that was and believes that the America that is cannot escape its horrific past, at least not without revolutionary change. The radical right longs for the America that was, loathes the America that is, and believes the America that will be is doomed, at least not without revolutionary change.”

Three quintessential Roman qualities

What both sides are missing is the theological fact that humans cannot change human nature. If either side of our political divide got everything they wanted, our deepest problems would remain. This is because we are at our most primal level fallen sinners (Romans 3:23) who desperately need redemption and transformation we cannot effect (cf. Jeremiah 17:9).

A drowning man cannot save other drowning victims, much less himself.

The ancient Romans tried. In his remarkable biography of Julius Caesar I referenced yesterday, historian Adrian Goldsworthy reports that “what it meant to be Roman” included “such quintessentially Roman qualities as dignitas, pietas, and virtus.” Dignitas was “the sober bearing that displayed openly the importance and responsibility of a man and so commanded respect.” Pietas “embraced not merely respect for the gods, but for family and parents and the law and traditions of the Republic.” Virtus embraced “not simply physical bravery, but confidence, moral courage, and the skills required by both soldier and commander.”

Dignity, piety, and virtue are admirable foundation stones on which to build a flourishing society. But as Roman history proves, humans are incapable of exercising these values consistently. The Republic gave way to an Empire that eventually collapsed when its external enemies proved stronger than its internal character.

Will America suffer the same fate?

“We are ambassadors for Christ”

Today’s conversation underscores the urgent need for our secularized culture to turn to the God who alone can transform our sinful hearts and heal our divided nation. Remember his promise: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17, my emphasis).

Our role in such transformation is clear: “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation” (vv. 18–19).

As a result, “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (v. 20).

An ambassador “lives in a foreign country and represents his or her own country’s interests there.”

By this definition, will you be an ambassador for Christ today?

Denison Forum