In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Remain Hopeful

When difficulty comes, choose to trust God.

Acts 27:13-26

Life doesn’t always meet our expectations. Even when our plans are according to God’s will, we may nevertheless face difficulties. I remember a season of life when I felt all alone and abandoned by the Lord. My mind said God was with me, but my feelings said He wasn’t. To counter those emotions, I had to pray and focus my mind on Scripture.

In today’s passage, the weather threatened Paul’s voyage to Rome. Even though the Lord was clearly directing His path, a violent storm arose on the sea. The sailors worked hard to save the ship, but gradually they gave up hope of being saved. The only one who persevered in hope was Paul, and he encouraged the crew with his confidence in God.  

Frustration over obstacles can lead to discouragement. Many times we can’t change what has happened—whether it’s a job loss, a loved one’s death, or a devastating diagnosis. Circumstances over which we have no control are often the ones that trip us up.

In times of discouragement, you have a choice. Will you focus on your circumstances, or will you fix your gaze on God and His Word? 

Bible in One Year: John 10-11

Our Daily Bread — God Redeems Our Pain

Bible in a Year:

The Lord bless him! . . . That man is our close relative.

Ruth 2:20

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Ruth 2:20–22; 4:13–17

Olive watched her friend loading her dental equipment into his car. A fellow dentist, he’d bought the brand-new supplies from her. Having her own practice had been Olive’s dream for years, but when her son Kyle was born with cerebral palsy, she realized she had to stop working to care for him.

“If I had a million lifetimes, I’d make the same choice,” my friend told me. “But giving up dentistry was difficult. It was the death of a dream.”

We often go through difficulties we can’t understand. For Olive, it was the heartache of her child’s unexpected medical condition and relinquishing her own ambitions. For Naomi, it was the heartache of losing her entire family. In Ruth 1:21 she lamented, “The Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”  

But there was more to Naomi’s story than what she could see. God didn’t abandon her; He brought restoration by providing her with a grandson, Obed (Ruth 4:17). Obed would not only carry on the name of Naomi’s husband and son, but through him, she would be a relative of an ancestor (Boaz) of Jesus Himself  (Matthew 1:516).

God redeemed Naomi’s pain. He also redeemed Olive’s pain by helping her begin a ministry for children with neurological conditions. We may experience seasons of heartache, but we can trust that as we obey and follow God, He can redeem our pain. In His love and wisdom, He can make good come out of it.  

By:  Karen Huang

Reflect & Pray

How has God redeemed your trials in the past? How is He encouraging you in your present difficulties?

Dear God, thank You that You’re redeeming the painful stories of my life.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Gaining God’s Approval

“By [faith] the men of old gained approval” (Heb. 11:2).

God makes His approval known to those who trust in Him.

The book Catch-22 tells of a squadron of World War II fliers stationed on the fictitious island of Pianos in the Mediterranean. Before a flier could transfer off the island, he had to complete 25 extremely dangerous missions over southern Europe.

One flier, Yosarian, was especially anxious to leave. After completing his twenty-fifth mission, his commanding officer began raising the number of qualifying missions. Insanity became the only justification for a transfer. But the commander decided that whomever feigned insanity to obtain a transfer simply proved his sanity by that sane act!

Realizing it was all a cruel game with no way out, Yosarian devised a plan to build a raft and float to Sweden. Even though there was a whole continent between him and Sweden and the ocean currents would take him in the opposite direction, he couldn’t be dissuaded. He took a leap into the absurd with a hopeless and impossible plan to escape a hopeless and impossible situation.

In their relentless quest for meaning in life, many people become spiritual Yosarians. Rejecting God, who is the only sure and rational answer to life, they jump headlong into alcohol, drugs, witchcraft, astrology, reincarnation, or countless other absurdities.

Many acknowledge God, but try to gain His approval through self-righteous deeds apart from true faith. In either case the results are the same: no faith, no salvation, no hope, no peace, and no assurance.

But those who take God at His word and approach Him in true faith receive His approval and enjoy His blessings. Theirs isn’t a blind leap into the absurd, but a living hope in the God who made man and who alone can fulfill man’s deepest longings. They know the joy and satisfaction of a life spent in service to Christ, and the peace and assurance that all is well—both now and for eternity.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for those you know who have rejected God or are trying to gain His approval on their own. Explain to them the meaning and purpose Christ alone can bring to their lives.

For Further Study

According to 2 Timothy 2:24-26, what is the spiritual state of those who oppose the gospel, and how are we to approach them?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Beware of Deception

Keep me safe, Lord, from the hands of the wicked; protect me from the violent, who devise ways to trip my feet. The arrogant have hidden a snare for me; they have spread out the cords of their net and have set traps for me along my path.

— Psalm 140:4-5 (NIV)

Satan and those through whom he works are masters of deception. We should pray regularly to have discernment between good and evil and for God to protect us from deception.

Sometimes I think the devil seems to know us better than we know ourselves. He knows our weak points, and I often say that he sets us up to get us upset. One thing in which the devil delights is for us to lose our peace. For example, if having to spend money on repairs for your home makes you upset, the devil will make sure things break down. I can easily become frustrated and sometimes angry if a repairperson has an appointment to fix something in our home and doesn’t show up or even bother to call to cancel. But getting upset does no good. It doesn’t change anything except that it steals my peace, and makes the devil happy.

You can see from our scriptures today that Satan sets traps for us, but we can avoid them if we are aware of his tactics. The Bible says we are to resist the devil at his onset (1 Peter 5:9 AMPC), meaning immediately when we realize he is working against us. He roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour (1 Peter 5:8 AMPC). But you and I don’t have to let him devour us. God will help us and teach us how to watch for the enemy’s deception, and we should resist him immediately, knowing that God is on our side.

Prayer of the Day: Father, help me recognize the traps that the enemy sets for me, and give me discernment so I can avoid his wicked ways.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Glory in the Ordinary

The women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age…” Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse.

Ruth 4:14-15, Ruth 4:16

Anew baby being introduced to a beaming grandparent is not an unusual scene. But Naomi’s history and the future of this little family make this scene quite extraordinary.

Naomi had returned to Bethlehem having buried her husband and sons, empty-handed and sorrowful. Now her life and lap were full again with joy and hope. Here was a future generation of her family to bring life and nourishment in her old age. In this sense, the child brought her freedom—redemption. But as we look back on this ordinary scene from this side of the incarnation, we also know that it declares extraordinary news: because of God’s gracious care for two defenseless widows, all of Israel—indeed, all of mankind—was helped. Through Ruth, God continued a family line that would later lead to King David, and then on to Jesus Christ Himself.

Even Jesus, this King of kings and Lord of lords, was found among the ordinary things of life. He too lay in someone’s lap. He had ordinary earthly parents. He was born in an animal stable, not a great palace. His victory came through a criminal’s cross, not a conquered throne. This is not what most would expect of the incarnate God Almighty—yet, just as the wise men looked for Jesus first at the palace (Matthew 2:1-3), so we often start looking for Him in the wrong places. And when we do, we are in danger of ending up as a “Mara” rather than a “Naomi” (Ruth 1:20), feeling bitter rather than enjoying contentment.

God’s eternal plans unfold in the midst of the ordinary—ordinary people in ordinary places doing ordinary things. If you lead an ordinary life, this should encourage you! Very few of us will even be a footnote in history. Whether you are an ordinary mother raising ordinary kids doing ordinary things day in and day out, an ordinary grandpa telling the same old ordinary stories, or an ordinary student going about your ordinary routine homework and activities—whatever sort of ordinary you are—the glory of God can be found all around you. And your faithfulness in the midst of the ordinary may, by His grace, become the means of extraordinary impact for the sake of the gospel.

When you are tempted to feel like you’re not doing much—to believe the devil’s lie that you cannot make a difference or are outside of God’s purposes—remember this: long after human achievement, words, and wisdom fade, the faithfulness, kindness, integrity, love, and gentleness that God works in and through you will be seen to have had a more dramatic impact on the lives of men and women than you could ever imagine. This is the wonder of Naomi’s story and the wonder of all of history—that God’s extraordinary glory is at work in the ordinary. That truth can change the way you feel about and go about your day.


Ruth 4:13-21

Topics: Biblical Figures Glory of God Redemptive History

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is There

“Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in [the grave], behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7-10 )

God is there, wherever you are. There is nowhere you could go where God would not be with you. Whether you are in a foreign country, on a boat in the middle of the sea, or in an empty old house all alone – God is there.

Maybe you feel lonely or upset and need comfort. God is there. No matter where you are, God is always with you – to guide you, to comfort you, to befriend you. He cares for you. He will lead you and hold you and carry you through difficult situations.

Maybe you are trying to hide from God. Are you committing secret sins that you think no one knows about? God is there. He sees everything you do. He even understands your thoughts. You could never get yourself out of God’s presence, even if you wanted to. God’s eyes are always upon you.

You cannot see God with your eyes, but He is there – guiding, protecting, keeping you, and watching everything you do. What a comfort to think that, even if you were to flee (run away) to the farthest part of the world, God is there.

God is always there, no matter where I go.

My Response:
» Am I forgetting that God is with me today?
» Are there ways I can show that I believe God is there, wherever I might be?

Denison Forum – Billy Graham state-of-the-art archive opens Monday

 “Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” —Philippians 1:18

A new research facility has gathered the full documentary record of Billy Graham’s life and work in one place. According to Christianity Today (which was founded in 1956 by Dr. Graham), archives that had been loaned to Wheaton College will be combined with “hundreds and hundreds of boxes that remained at Graham’s home office in Montreat, North Carolina, and additional material from his ministry’s former offices in Minneapolis and in storage in Charlotte.”

This state-of-the-art archive is located across the road from the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina. It comprises thirty thousand square feet at a cost of $12 million and opens on Monday, Dr. Graham’s birthday.

David Bruce, who served as executive assistant to the famous evangelist, has overseen the project. He notes that its purpose is not nostalgia or history for history’s sake. “Mr. Graham wouldn’t have approved of any of this unless it could be used to further the gospel,” he said. “I hope that people see the work of God in his life, and then all the history he touched, and it can encourage people to reflect on the living, breathing Word of God.”

“We have all of Jesus we want”

Years ago, a wise mentor in one of the churches I pastored said, “Our problem is that we have all of Jesus we want. Not all of Jesus we need, but all of Jesus we want.” He was speaking for more people than our congregation.

Billy Graham knew how much he needed Jesus. He told a 1993 crusade in Portland, Oregon, “I can’t live the Christian life alone. I’m a failure. Billy Graham cannot live the Christian life. I’ve tried. I can’t do it. But with the help of the word of God and the help of the Holy Spirit, I can live the Christian life. But he lives it through me.”

He knew that we need Jesus as much as he did. In 1955, he said on “The Hour of Decision,” “The regeneration of the individual is much more needed than the revolution of society.” He stated that same year, “If I didn’t believe that the Bible and the gospel of Jesus Christ held the answer to this world’s baffling problems, I would go back to the farm and the rural life that I love and spend my days in peaceful solitude.”

He declared, “When our minds are on Christ, Satan has little room to maneuver.” And he knew that when we are changed by Jesus, everything about us is changed: “The transformed man loves when others hate. He is just when others are prejudiced. He is understanding when others misunderstand and he is poised when others are frantic.”

Dr. Graham was convinced: “If Christianity is important at all, it is all important. If it is anything at all, it is everything. It is either the most vital thing in your life, or it isn’t worth bothering with.”

“In order that I may gain Christ”

Paul would have agreed. All through his letter to the Philippians, often considered his favorite church, the apostle repeated the same theme. He told them that even though some “proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment,” nonetheless “Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice” (Philippians 1:17–18).

He testified, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (v. 21) and added, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (v. 23). He wanted their “manner of life [to] be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (v. 27) and informed them that their sufferings were “for the sake of Christ” (v. 29).

Paul then offered them “encouragement in Christ” (Philippians 2:1) and encouraged them to have “this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (v. 5). One day, he predicted, “every tongue [will] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (v. 11).

The apostle set the example for all to follow: “Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7–8).

Paul’s ultimate purpose and passion were clear: “That I may know him” (v. 10).

“My one purpose in life”

Knowing Christ is the purpose of the Christian life. Everything else about our faith is secondary and derivative. We were created for an intimate, daily, personal relationship with our living Savior.

So, let me ask you: How well do you know Jesus today?

You can know him just as you can know any other living person. Better, in fact, since his Spirit lives in you (1 Corinthians 3:16), he is always interceding for you (Romans 8:34), and he is as close as your next prayer.

You get to know Jesus just like you get to know anyone else: by spending time with him. Read his word to hear his voice. Listen for his Spirit as he speaks to your spirit. See his hand in his creation (Colossians 1:16). Speak to him through the day. Practice his presence by imagining yourself in his presence, and it will be so.

Then do all you can to help those you know to know him. Billy Graham was clear: “My one purpose in life is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which, I believe, comes through knowing Christ.”

What is your “one purpose in life”?

Denison Forum