In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Facing Life’s Mountains

Anytime believers face overwhelming problems, they can rely on the Holy Spirit for the help they need.

Zechariah 4:1-10

Are you facing what seems like an insurmountable obstacle? It might be a problem too complex to solve, a task beyond your ability, a sin too tempting to overcome, or a situation over which you have no control. Facing such things can make us feel weak, helpless, and vulnerable. But always remember that we have an almighty God, and nothing is too difficult for Him.

Zerubbabel was a Jewish leader who, together with 50,000 of his countrymen, returned to Jerusalem from Babylonian captivity. They set about rebuilding the temple, but the obstacles were daunting. The people became disheartened, so God gave His prophet Zechariah a vision to encourage them. The message reminded Zerubbabel that progress is made “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit” (Zech. 4:6).

This same truth applies to us today. Your obstacles may seem like mountains too big to move, and in your own strength, they certainly are. But as a believer, you have the power of the Holy Spirit within you. Although your circumstances may not change, He’ll give you His comfort, joy, peace, patience, and strength to go through it. The Spirit is God’s promise of continual help to His weary people.

Bible in One Year: John 8-9

Our Daily Bread — Hearing Christ, Not Chaos

Bible in a Year:

My sheep listen to my voice.

John 10:27

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

John 10:1–6, 27

After watching TV news for hours each day, the elderly man grew agitated and anxious—worried the world was falling apart and taking him with it. “Please turn it off,” his grown daughter begged him. “Just stop listening.” But the man continued to spend an excessive amount of time on social media and other news sources.

What we listen to matters deeply. We see this in Jesus’ encounter with Pontius Pilate. Responding to criminal charges brought against Jesus by religious leaders, Pilate summoned Him and asked, “Are you the king of the Jews?” (John 18:33). Jesus replied with a stunning question: “Is that your own idea . . . or did others talk to you about me?” (v. 34).

The same question tests us. In a world of panic, are we listening to chaos or to Christ? Indeed, “my sheep listen to my voice,” He said. “I know them, and they follow me” (10:27). Jesus “used this figure of speech” (v. 6) to explain Himself to doubting religious leaders. As with a good shepherd, He said that “his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice” (vv. 4–5).

As our Good Shepherd, Jesus bids us to hear Him above all. May we listen well and find His peace.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

What do you hear on the news or social media that makes you feel anxious? How can you give more time to hearing the voice of God?

Loving God, in a noisy world, when You speak to my heart, mind, and spirit in and through the Scriptures, may I hear You over all.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Having a Faith That Responds

“Faith is . . . the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).

True faith goes beyond assurance to action.

When the writer said, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”, he used two parallel and almost identical phrases to define faith.

We’ve seen that faith is the assurance that all God’s promises will come to pass in His time. “The conviction of things not seen” takes the same truth a step further by implying a response to what we believe and are assured of.

James addressed the issue this way: “Someone may well say, ‘You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’. . . But are you willing to recognize . . . that faith without works is useless? . . . For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (James 2:1826). In other words, a non-responsive faith is no faith at all.

Noah had a responsive faith. He had never seen rain because rain didn’t exist prior to the Flood. Perhaps he knew nothing about building a ship. Still, he followed God’s instructions and endured 120 years of hard work and ridicule because he believed God was telling the truth. His work was a testimony to that belief.

Moses considered “the reproach of Christ [Messiah] greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward” (Heb. 11:26). Messiah wouldn’t come to earth for another 1,400 years, but Moses forsook the wealth and benefits of Egypt to pursue the messianic hope.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, when faced with a life- threatening choice, chose to act on their faith in God, whom they couldn’t see, rather than bow to Nebuchadnezzar, whom they could see all too well (Dan. 3). Even if it meant physical death, they wouldn’t compromise their beliefs.

I pray that the choices you make today will show you are a person of strong faith and convictions.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Ask God to increase and strengthen your faith through the events of this day.
  • Look for specific opportunities to trust Him more fully.

For Further Study

Read Daniel 3:1-20. How was the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego tested?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Be Strong

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

— Ephesians 6:10 (NIV)

We live in Christ, and He lives in us. The victory that He has won is available to us. Don’t talk yourself into being weak and powerless. Confess today’s scripture aloud several times each day by saying, “I am strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” As you do, you will begin to feel stronger and more powerful.

God’s Word says, According to your faith let it be done to you (Matthew 9:29 NIV). If you believe nobody likes you, there is a good chance that nobody will. Because of what you believe, you will behave in ways that will cause people to avoid being around you. On the other hand, if you believe you are the kind of person people love to be around, you will have many friends because your behavior will reflect what you believe about yourself.

Satan is the great deceiver, and he delights in telling us lies about ourselves, hoping we will believe them. If we do, then his lies become our reality simply because we have believed them. Be sure that what you believe is backed up by God’s Word, because that will help you stay strong on the narrow path that leads to life (see Matthew 7:14).

Prayer of the Day: Father, help me believe that I am strong and that I have Your power inside of me. Help me recognize and resist the lies of the devil. I want to be all You want me to be, and I need Your strength and power in order to do that. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – A Covenant of Commitment

All the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses…” So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son.

Ruth 4:11, Ruth 4:13

In biblical times, the city gate was the main hub of local activity, serving as both a marketplace and civic center. Merchants, beggars, city officials, religious leaders, and a host of others gathered there to conduct business, administer the law, receive alms, shop, and socialize. It was to that crowded place that Boaz went to declare publicly his commitment to marry Ruth. Their marriage helpfully leads us to consider the biblical definition of marriage.

First, biblical marriage is to involve committed love. Such love is not based purely on emotion or circumstances but remains deeply rooted and unconditional through all of life’s seasons and situations. This is reflected in the vows the church uses today in marriage ceremonies—commitment for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.

Second, marriage involves committed witnesses. When a man and a woman marry, they become one unit under a covenant of love and care. As fallible humans, we need others to hold us accountable to this commitment. This is why wedding ceremonies must have at least one witness to attest to the forming of a new union, a new family. Boaz put this into practice at the city gate, where a crowd of people and the elders of the town witnessed his pledge to take Ruth’s hand in marriage. They were then able to hold him to his word.

Third, godly marriage must have committed communion. God intends marriage to reflect the growing depth of intimacy that we experience with Him as His pursued bride. The personal relationship between husband and wife should deepen within marriage through, among other things, sexual intimacy. Such physical union should only take place within the context of a committed, loving, publicly recognized relationship. To try and isolate the physical commitment of marriage from the emotional, psychological, spiritual, and intellectual aspects makes a mockery of God’s design.

Much of the world’s perception of love and marriage pales in comparison with the beauty and benefit of a reliable, faithful, committed monogamous heterosexual union. When we see each facet of this covenant lived out, we are seeing a glimpse of the riches of our heavenly Bridegroom’s commitment to His church (Ephesians 5:22-27). Christian marriage is a blessing itself, and a portrait of that even greater reality. No marriage but that greater one is perfect, but every marriage between believers is to strive to picture it. In how you think of, speak about, pray for and behave towards marriage (whether your own or the marriages around you), be sure to uphold the biblical definition and to live it out.


Topics: Marriage Sexuality

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Fair

“Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.” (Psalm 116:5)

When God flooded the whole wide world, He was being fair.

When God told Abraham to sacrifice his one and only son Isaac, He was being fair.

When God sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross, He was being fair.

In the Hebrew language, another word for “fair” is righteous – a word used often to describe God. Psalm 11:7 begins, “For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness.”

Truth is, God is fair. God is always fair.

When your life is good, God is fair. When you feel sad, God is fair. When you make your parents happy, God is fair. When you fail a test, God is still fair. He knows about your problems even before you pray. God allows you to face your hard times, as well as your good times – not because God is unfair or unloving – but because He is righteous. Everything God does is right, because it is God Who does it.

Eight years ago, a man named Steve was killed in a car accident. The accident happened on Steve’s first wedding anniversary. Steve had a wife. He had parents. He had a little sister. When he was killed so unexpectedly, Steve left behind many family and friends who were very sad and wondering if God was really being fair!

Why does God allow bad things to happen? Why does it often seem like God Himself causes tragic things to happen? Isn’t God a loving God? Isn’t God an all-powerful God? Couldn’t He make it so only happy things happen? Couldn’t He take away all the bad things? Maybe you have asked that same question about something hard in your life.

The answer is simple, even if it is not simple to understand or simple to get used to. The answer is this: God allows bad things to happen for the same reason He allows good things to happen to us – for His great glory and for our greatest good. We do not deserve good and wonderful lives, but God in His lovingkindness can look ahead and see what is ultimately best for us, and He works those things out, for His own glory and for our own good. He never makes mistakes, because He is God. God wants what is best for our lives – and that is fair.

God cannot be unfair because God cannot be wrong.

My Response:
» Am I having a hard time accepting something that God is doing in my life right now?
» How can I change my heart responses and my words and actions to show that I am trusting a perfect God Who never makes mistakes?

Denison Forum – Joanna Gaines was “full, but running on empty” as she battled burnout

“Be still before the Lᴏʀᴅ and wait patiently for him.” —Psalm 37:7

Joanna and Chip Gaines are two of the best-known evangelical Christians in popular culture. Their long-running home improvement show, Fixer Upper, was one of HGTV’s highest-rated franchises ever and was nominated for two Primetime Emmys. The couple has expanded into restaurants, home décor, a realty company, and a TV network.

However, in a personal essay for the winter issue of her Magnolia Journal, Joanna opened up about her experience with burnout. While expressing deep gratitude for all the ways she and her family have been blessed, she writes: “I knew I couldn’t keep going the way I have. It’s hard to explain how I was feeling. I was grateful beyond measure, but exhausted. Loved, but feeling unworthy. Full, but running on empty. And because my world kept me busy, I could still feel the wheels of my life humming. What became harder to tell is where they should be headed.”

In writing her memoir, which is set to release on November 8, she was able to reflect on her life in a way that made her more intentional about being present in the moment. She says, “When I look back next time, I don’t want to see a kind of kaleidoscope life—out of focus and jumbled.” Instead, she continues, “I want to live the next season of this beautiful life in focus.”

“Take away my life”

Joanna Gaines is a committed believer who experienced burnout in the midst of great success. She is not the first, nor will she be the last. Job in his travails comes to mind immediately, as do David fleeing from Saul, Moses leading his people through the wilderness, and Peter after his denials of Christ.

But no one in Scripture pivoted from incredible success to deep personal discouragement more starkly than the prophet Elijah. In 1 Kings 18, “the fire of the Lᴏʀᴅ” fell on the altar he constructed (v. 38) and the people fell on their faces and said, “The Lᴏʀᴅ, he is God” (v. 39). However, as soon as wicked Queen Jezebel learned of Elijah’s triumph over her false prophets, she vowed his death (1 Kings 19:2).

So the prophet ran for his life, traveling from Mt. Carmel in the north to Beersheba in the south (v. 3), a distance of 120 miles and as far from Jezebel as he could go. Here, he “asked that he might die, saying, ‘It is enough; now, O Lᴏʀᴅ, take away my life’” (v. 4).

But God sent an angel to sustain him (vv. 5–7), and Elijah “went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God” (v. 8). Here he complained again to God: “The people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away” (v. 10). God responded in a “low whisper” (v. 12) to his prophet, calling him to anoint new kings and a new prophet to continue his ministry (vv. 15–17).

And he assured Elijah that he had “seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him” (v. 18).

God “remembers your sins no more”

Like Elijah, you and I can face seasons of deep discouragement and despair. Such struggles come to us from at least three sources: sin, temptation, and circumstances.

If, like Peter, you have failed your Lord through personal sin (Luke 22:54–62), know that God has not given up on you. As he restored Peter (John 21:15–19), so he wants to forgive you and restore you to your kingdom calling.

Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind anything in your life that is displeasing to God. Now confess what comes to your thoughts specifically and honestly. Claim God’s promise to forgive all you confess (1 John 1:9), knowing that he then separates your sins from you “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12), buries them in “the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19), and “remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25 NIV).

Now, the next time guilt comes back, remember that you confessed that sin and are forgiven for it and claim the fact that grace is greater than guilt. You may need to do this one hundred times today and ninety times tomorrow, but eventually the guilt will leave and grace will prevail.

“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”

Temptation is a great discourager of God’s people as well. Satan loves to tempt us and then to tempt us to feel guilty that we are being tempted. The opposite is actually the case: the more fervently you serve the Lord, the greater a threat you are to his enemy. If he would tempt Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1–10), he will certainly tempt his followers.

Name your temptation and give it immediately to God, asking him for the strength and wisdom you need. Claim his promise: “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Now turn to Scripture in response, as Jesus did. Use your temptation as an opportunity for prayer, worship, and intimacy with your Lord. Note and follow this order: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). As Erasmus noted, Satan hates nothing so much as for his evil to be used for good.

“Let us not grow weary of doing good”

Circumstances can be a third source of discouragement for believers. From the stock market and rising interest rates to threats of nuclear war in Ukraine and a “worrying resurgence of tuberculosis,” today’s news can feel hopeless.

But it is always too soon to give up on God. Scripture calls us to “be still before the Lᴏʀᴅ and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” (Psalm 37:7). We are promised: “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

To that end, we’ll close with an eighth-century Irish prayer that was translated into one of the most beloved hymns of the church. I invite you to pray these transforming and empowering words slowly to God today:

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart; Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night, Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word; I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son; Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight; Be Thou my dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower; Raise Thou me heavenward, Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise, Thou mine inheritance, now and always;
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart, High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won, May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Denison Forum