All posts by broboinhawaii

Bible believing christian worshiping God in Hawaii

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Book of Books

The Bible is an infallible source of truth.

Isaiah 55:9-11

Step into almost any bookstore, and you can find a volume on pretty much any topic you have in mind. Want new direction for your life? Are your children disobeying? Are you hoping to live in a healthier way? There are books that were written to help, but do the authors have trustworthy credentials? 

There is a place to find accurate information and true guidance: The Bible will bless and benefit everyone who reads and applies its wisdom. Here’s what Scripture’s Author—“the God of truth” (Isaiah 65:16)—says about His own Word: 

  1. The Bible gives direction for life (Psalm 119:105). God uses His Word to lead us, no matter what our circumstances may be. 
  2. Scripture strengthens us in grief or difficulty (Psalm 119:28Psalm 119:116). By spending time processing what God says, we’re reminded that He loves us, cares about our situation, and can handle whatever we’re facing. 
  3. God’s Word helps us understand our inner motivations (Hebrews 4:12). Scripture acts like a mirror that lets us see ourselves as we truly are. 

The Bible is the very mind of God put into words so that we can know Him more fully. To what extent do you depend upon this amazing Book as your foundation for life?

Bible in One Year: Zechariah 1-5

Our Daily Bread — The Coffee-Bean Bowl

Bible in a Year:

We are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ.

2 Corinthians 2:15

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

John 12:1–7

I’m not a coffee drinker, but one sniff of coffee beans brings me a moment of both solace and wistfulness. When our teenage daughter Melissa was making her bedroom uniquely hers, she filled a bowl with coffee beans to permeate her room with a warm, pleasant scent.

It’s been nearly two decades since Melissa’s earthly life ended in a car accident at age seventeen, but we still have that coffee-bean bowl. It gives us a continual, aromatic remembrance of Mell’s life with us.

Scripture also uses fragrances as a reminder. Song of Songs refers to fragrances as a symbol of love between a man and a woman (see 1:3; 4:11, 16). In Hosea, God’s forgiveness of Israel is said to be “fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon” (Hosea 14:6). And Mary’s anointing of Jesus’ feet, which caused the house of Mary and her siblings to be “filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3), pointed ahead to Jesus’ death (see v. 7).

The idea of fragrance can also help us be mindful of our testimony of faith to those around us. Paul explained it this way: “We are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15).

Just as the scent of coffee beans reminds me of Melissa, may our lives produce a scent of Jesus and His love that reminds others of their need of Him.

By:  Dave Branon

Reflect & Pray

How can you be “the fragrance of Christ” to someone today? How has your life caused others to sense the presence of the Savior?

Dear heavenly Father, help me to pass along an aroma of life that makes others know I represent You.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Praying for Others

“With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18).

God wants you to look beyond your own problems and pray for the needs of others.

The great preacher D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote, “Before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, in Barcelona, Madrid and other places, there were psychological clinics with large numbers of neurotics undergoing drug treatments and others attending regularly for psychoanalysis and such like. They had their personal problems, their worries, their anxieties, their temptations, having to go back week after week, month after month, to the clinics in order to be kept going.

“Then came the Civil War; and one of the first and most striking effects of that War was that it virtually emptied the psychological and psychiatric clinics. These neurotic people were suddenly cured by a greater anxiety, the anxiety about their whole position, whether their homes would still be there, whether their husbands would still be alive, whether their children would be killed.

“Their greater anxieties got rid of the lesser ones. In having to give attention to the bigger problem they forgot their own personal and somewhat petty problems” (The Christian Soldier: An Exposition of Ephesians 6:10 to 20 [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978], p. 357).

That’s a negative illustration of a positive principle: your own problems pale as you pray in the Spirit on behalf of others. Praying “in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:18) is praying in concert with the Holy Spirit—in harmony with His Person and will. It’s synonymous with praying according to God’s will (1 John 5:14).

As the Holy Spirit intercedes for you (Rom. 8:26-27), you are to intercede for others. That’s not always easy in our contemporary religious environment where self- centeredness is praised rather than shunned, and more and more professing Christians are embracing the health, wealth, and prosperity heresy. But God’s mandate is for us to love one another, pray for one another, and look out for one another’s interests (Phil. 2:3-4). Let that mandate govern all your relationships.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Make a list of people you want to intercede for.
  • Spend time praying for each person, asking God to show you specific ways to minister to his or her needs.

For Further Study

Read Philippians 2:1-11.

  • What should be your attitude toward other believers?
  • How did Christ set an example of proper attitudes?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Be Spiritually Alive

No man has at any time [yet] seen God. But if we love one another, God abides (lives and remains) in us and His love (that love which is essentially His) is brought to completion (to its full maturity, runs its full course, is perfected) in us!

— 1 John 4:12 (AMPC)

We cannot give away what we don’t have. Trying to love others is useless if we have never received God’s love for ourselves. We should love ourselves in a balanced way, not a selfish, self-centered way. I teach that we should love ourselves, not be in love with ourselves.

To love yourself, you simply need to believe in the love God has for you; know that it is everlasting, unchangeable, and unconditional. Let His love affirm you and make you feel secure, but don’t begin to think of yourself more highly than you should (see Romans 12:3). Loving ourselves does not mean we love all our behavior; it means that we love and accept the unique person God has created us to be.

I believe loving ourselves in a balanced way is what prepares us to let love flow through us to others. Without receiving God’s love for us in a healthy, appropriate way, we may have feelings of affection or respect for others, a humanistic type of love; but we certainly cannot love people unconditionally unless God Himself inspires and provokes that love.

The Holy Spirit purifies our hearts so we can allow the sincere love of God to flow through us (see 1 Peter 1:22) to others. This is part of being filled with the Spirit.

God wants us to express love to others. When we think of others and how we can bless them, we keep ourselves filled with the Holy Spirit, Who is the Spirit of Love.

Prayer of the Day: Lord, please help me to express love to others and share Your love that is in me, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Our Compassionate Shepherd

When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”   Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.”

Luke 7:13-14

The coming of the kingdom of God was not heralded by spectacular and dramatic victories over the powers and authorities of the world but through something much more transformative: the great compassion of its King.

Throughout their accounts of Jesus, the Gospel writers present us with encounter after encounter demonstrating Christ’s unparalleled compassion. In these incidents, Christ’s power is revealed as His compassion is extended. In chapter 7 of his Gospel, for instance, Luke highlights Jesus’ compassionate response to a sorrowful widow—a response which clears any doubts about His greatness.

The woman in this part of Luke’s narrative was in true need. Her husband was already gone, and now her son had just died. In an ancient Middle-Eastern society, this meant that she had no means of protection or provision. She faced a life of sadness, loneliness, and precariousness—and then the end of the family line.

But then Jesus entered into the extremity of this woman’s life, and “when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’”

All it took to arouse the compassion of our tender Shepherd was seeing this grieving woman. Literally, that word “compassion” means “His bowels moved”—our equivalent would be “His stomach churned.” When Jesus, through whom and for whom all things were created, sees sadness and grief in this broken world, He feels it. Here is a King who cares deeply.

Even more beautiful is that Jesus had the power to meet this widow’s need, and so He chose to do something only He could do: to bring the dead back to life. He didn’t just restore a deceased son alive again to a mourning mother and thereby meet her need and obliterate her grief, though. More importantly, Jesus revealed Himself to the crowd (and to us!) in all of His power, kindness, and authority—even authority over death.

Scenes such as this show us that Jesus doesn’t simply comment on or cry over sickness and death, those great enemies of mankind. He overcomes them. He hears the cries of the sorrowful, and He comforts them, not only in an earthly, temporal sense but also in a final, perfect, and eternal way, by offering Himself as the means of salvation to all who believe.

Your King is not merely infinitely powerful; He is infinitely compassionate. And the combination of those two qualities in Him is sufficient to bring you through every sadness and grief of this world, until you stand in His presence and He wipes every tear from your eye.


Luke 7:1-17

Topics: Grace of God Jesus Christ Mercy Suffering

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Kind to Sinners

“For we ourselves were sometimes foolish, disobedient, . . . but after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared” (Titus 3:3a–4).

Have you disobeyed your parents recently? How did they treat you the day after you disobeyed? They probably gave you food to eat, provided you with clothing to wear, and allowed you to keep living under their roof—at the very least. They may even have done something especially nice for you. Your parents’ love for you does not change after you disobey them. They continue to show love and kindness to you, day after day, even when you disappoint or disobey them. That’s because loving you is natural for them. You are in their family. Loving you is part of who they are as your parents.

God loved us even when we were not in His family. Romans 5:8 says He showed His love for us while we were outside His family, still lost in our sins. Titus 3:3–4 tell us that He loved us even after we had been foolish, disobedient, and hateful. If you are saved today, God loved you and showed mercy to you after you had sinned against Him thousands of times. He brought you into His family and gave you eternal life (Titus 3:7). He saved you just because of His mercy. He showed kindness and love to you—because that is His nature. It is part of Who He is. God is kind to sinners.

Are you ever tempted to think God is not kind? Have you ever thought that because He has not given you some of the things you want, He does not love you? God has already proven His love and kindness toward you. He has already shown you much greater love and kindness than you could ever deserve. He will not keep back His kindness from you now. Sometimes God waits to give us good things, and sometimes He refuses to give us things we want because He knows they would harm us. When you are tempted to doubt God’s kindness and love, just look back to the day He saved you. He loved you when you were still a sinner—and He will always love you. It is part of Who He is.

God is kind and loving toward sinners.

My response:

» Have I remembered God’s gift of salvation today?

» Have I thanked Him for His love and kindness?

Denison Forum – A hurricane we’ll talk about “for many years to come”: A reflection on doubt and hope

As it neared the Florida coast, Hurricane Ian was so gigantic that the International Space Station could see it on the distant horizon. Hurricane Charley, a horrific 2004 storm that killed fifteen people and left more than one million people without power, could fit entirely inside Hurricane Ian’s eye. The storm stretched five hundred miles east to west, twice the width of the Florida peninsula.

After wiping out power on the entire island of Cuba, Hurricane Ian made landfall yesterday afternoon near Cayo Costa, Florida, as a Category 4 storm. Wind gusts of 140 mph were recorded in Cape Coral. Storm surges up to eighteen feet have been seen. Homes were moved, obliterated, and submerged. Streets in Naples looked like rivers; there are reports of vehicles floating out into the ocean. More than 2.2 million people are without power in Florida today.

The storm is tracking across eastern Florida this morning. It is expected to move off the Florida coast later today and approach the coast of South Carolina tomorrow. Orlando set a daily record with 7.72 inches of rain reported yesterday at the international airport; the previous high for the same date was 2.68 inches of rain. Central and Northeast Florida are expected to receive isolated totals of thirty inches of rain today.

This is a storm we’ll talk about “for many years to come,” according to National Weather Service Director Ken Graham.

“The conclusion I dread”

I cannot imagine how people who have lost everything are feeling this morning. But I can say as a cultural apologist and a pastor that, in the face of great suffering, asking “why” is normal and appropriate.

  • If our God were not all powerful, we could not blame him for what he could not prevent. No one faults me for the existence of cancer.
  • If our God were not all loving, we would not be surprised when he does not intervene at times like this. No one who knew of Hitler’s vehement hatred for the Jews could be surprised by his role in the Holocaust.
  • If our God were not all-knowing, we could understand why he doesn’t stop what he doesn’t see. You cannot know what you cannot know.

But Christians claim that God is all three. We believe that his character and capacities do not change; if he could part the Red Sea and calm the stormy Sea of Galilee, he could prevent tragedies like Hurricane Ian. But he did not.

For most of us, our fear at times like this is not that God does not exist. Rather, we agree with C. S. Lewis, who wrote after his wife’s death: “The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God’s really like. Deceive yourself no longer.’”

“The gift we most desire”

At the same time, I think we should ask ourselves why we are asking such questions. Perhaps the very fact that this disaster provokes such angst for us shows that we believe, perhaps subconsciously and intuitively, that this is not the way the world should be.

Why? Nothing in our experience as fallen humans on a fallen planet guarantees a life without tragedy.

To quote C. S. Lewis again, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

In Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular WorldHenri Nouwen expressed this explanation profoundly:

“I know that the fact that I am always searching for God, always struggling to discover the fullness of Love, always yearning for the complete truth, tells me that I have already been given a taste of God, of Love, and of Truth. I can only look for something that I have, to some degree, already found. How can I search for beauty and truth unless that beauty and truth are already known to me in the depth of my heart?

“It seems that all of us human beings have deep inner memories of the paradise that we have lost. Maybe the word innocence is better than the word paradise. We were innocent before we started feeling guilty; we were in the light before we entered into the darkness; we were at home before we started to search for a home. Deep in the recesses of our minds and hearts there lies hidden the treasure we seek. We know its preciousness, and we know that it holds the gift we most desire: a life stronger than death.”

“The universal way of the soul’s deliverance”

Today is a day for grief and mourning, for solidarity with millions of people who are suffering through one of the worst natural disasters in US history. It is a day to ask hard questions and, perhaps, to recognize that even in despair there is hope and in mystery there is Mystery.

My purpose this morning is not to offer the victims of Hurricane Ian a logical explanation for their suffering but rather to point them—and us—to the One who heals broken hearts and calms stormy souls.

As Jesus wept for Lazarus, he weeps for Florida. And he asks us to trust him with our suffering and confusion, our doubts and grief. Those times of our greatest pain, when we understand him the least, are the very times when we need him the most and therefore need to trust him the most.

Such trust positions us to experience all that his redeeming love and healing grace stand ready to give.

In his classic The City of God, St. Augustine observes that “the universal way of the soul’s deliverance” comes from One whose “design . . . is impenetrable by human capacity.” For example, he notes that when Abraham was promised, “In your seed shall all nations be blessed” (Genesis 12:3), he had to leave his homeland and father’s house and, by obedience, worship the one true God “whose promises he faithfully trusted.”

Abraham could have such confident faith in the midst of his many tribulations because he was “looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10).

So can we.

Denison Forum

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Abiding Life

Our service for the Lord becomes joy-filled and effective when we depend on Him to guide our steps.

John 15:1-5

Yesterday I shared with you about a time when the Lord reminded me that I am not the vine—He is. For years I had tried to accomplish by myself what Jesus wanted to achieve through me. My desire was to impress God and earn His approval. His goal, on the other hand, was for me simply to abide

The Holy Spirit’s job is to live the life of Christ through us. This is known by a variety of names, including the exchanged life, the Spirit-filled life, and the abiding life. All of these describe the joyful existence Paul spoke of in Galatians 2:20: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God.” 

Seen from the outside, a branch does not appear to be doing anything. But that doesn’t mean that the abiding life is passive. Jesus was the perfect example of a Spirit-filled life, and He certainly didn’t sit around! He worked hard out of a reservoir of divine energy (John 8:28). All of Christ’s wisdom, knowledge, and courage was drawn from God through the Holy Spirit. 

Christians bear fruit through surrender. We “take root” in the Lord by meditating on His Word, praying, and serving. We reserve nothing for ourselves to control but fully rely upon Him. That’s not passive living; it’s an abiding life.

Bible in One Year: Zephaniah 1-3Haggai 1:1-15Haggai 2:1-23

Our Daily Bread — Out of the Heart

Bible in a Year:

Out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

Matthew 15:19

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Matthew 15:12–20

A rescue mission nicknamed “Operation Noah’s Ark” might sound fun for animal lovers, but it was a nightmare for the Nassau Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. After receiving complaints about the noise and the horrid stench coming from a certain house, workers entered the Long Island home and found (and later removed) more than four hundred animals from their neglected conditions.

We may not be holding hundreds of animals in filthy conditions, but Jesus said we might be harboring evil and sinful thoughts and actions in our hearts that need to be exposed and removed. 

In teaching His disciples about what makes a person clean and unclean, Jesus said it isn’t dirty hands or “whatever enters the mouth” that defiles a person, but an evil heart (Matthew 15:17–19). The stench from our hearts will eventually leak out from our lives. Then Jesus gave examples of evil thoughts and actions that come “out of the heart” (v. 19). No amount of external religious activities and rituals can make them clean. We need God to transform our hearts.

We can practice Jesus’ inside-out ethic by giving Him access to the squalor of our hearts and letting Him remove what’s causing the stench. As Christ uncovers what’s coming from our hearts, He’ll help our words and actions be aligned with His desires, and the aroma from our lives will please Him.

By:  Marvin Williams

Reflect & Pray

Why is it important to take frequent inventory of your heart? How can you seek God’s help?

Loving God, my heart is desperately wicked. Only You can fully know it and remove the evil that’s in it.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Knowing God

“With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18).

Your desire to know God should motivate you toward fervent prayer.

Man’s highest purpose is to know God. Jesus prayed to the Father, saying, “This is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3). Of us He said, “I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know Me” (John 10:14). John added that “we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 5:20).

Every Christian knows God through salvation, but beyond that lies an intimate knowledge of God. That should be the quest of every believer. Moses prayed, “Let me know Thy ways, that I may know Thee, so that I may find favor in Thy sight” (Ex. 33:13). David entreated his son Solomon to “know the God of [his] father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind” (1 Chron. 28:9). Even the apostle Paul, who perhaps knew Christ more intimately than any human being thus far, never lost his passion for an even deeper knowledge (Phil. 3:10).

Such passion is the driving force behind powerful prayer. Those who know God best pray most often and most fervently. Their love for Him compels them to know and serve Him better.

How about you? Is your knowledge of God intimate? Does the character of your prayers reveal that you’re in the process of knowing God?

Paul’s admonitions to “pray at all times in the Spirit” and “be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18) presuppose that you know God and desire to see His will fulfilled in His people. If not, you’ll never appreciate the importance of interceding on behalf of others.

Suggestions for Prayer

The martyred missionary Jim Elliot once prayed, “Lord, make my life a testimony to the value of knowing you.” Let that be your prayer each day.

For Further Study

Read 1 Chronicles 28.

  • What did God forbid David to do?
  • What would happen to Solomon if he failed to know and serve God?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – God Knows Everything About You…and He Loves You

O Lord, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me.

— Psalm 139:1 (AMP)

In order to be in a close relationship with God, it is important to know that He is pleased with you, in spite of your perceived flaws and imperfections.

Many people suffer terribly with secret worries that they are not pleasing to God. They are afraid that God is angry with them because of the mistakes they have made. But the truth is that you are righteous through the work of Jesus, not through your own works. You are imperfect, you will make mistakes, and God is not surprised when you do. He knew every mistake you would ever make when He called you into relationship with Himself.

Psalm 139 tells us plainly that God knows what we are going to do before we ever do it, so try to keep in mind that God knows all about you, and He loves you anyway.

Prayer of the Day: Lord, I need You and I thank You for making me right with You, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Evidence of Genuine Faith

Why do you call me “Lord, Lord,” and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock.

Luke 6:46-48

Jesus wants to see our lips and our lives align. Hence he ends His Sermon on the Plain with this most searching of rhetorical questions: “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” He saw a contrast between what people were saying and how they were behaving, and He wanted to call them to perform a serious spiritual self-examination. He wanted them, just as He wants us, to see that a verbal profession of faith in Him must be accompanied by moral obedience to Him.

Jesus did not teach that entry into the kingdom of heaven is through the good works of obedience. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, plus nothing (see Ephesians 2:8). All that we bring to Christ is the sin from which we need to be forgiven. What, then, is He teaching? Simply this: that only those who obey Him—those who express their faith by their works—have truly heard and have been transformed by the gospel. As the Reformers observed, it is faith alone that saves, but the faith that saves is not alone. The apostle John, picking up on Jesus’ words, says in his first letter, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:6). Scripture makes it clear that the manner in which we hear and obey Jesus’ words has significance for all of eternity because it reveals the true state and reality of our faith.

No accumulation of visible religious works and no number of religious words will be able to disguise our private behavior from God. The real test of those who name the name of the Lord, says Paul—and let’s not evade for one instant the chilling demand of this—is that they “depart from iniquity” (2 Timothy 2:19). Therein lies the evidence of genuine faith.

While none of us will live a perfect life, we are all called to live changed lives. We live under the lordship of Christ; His Spirit is now within us. Will we have complete success? No. But we will be different, and our lives will increasingly demonstrate that we have “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). So consider your own life. Do you call Jesus Lord? Good! But, crucially, can you point to evidence in your life—in what you do not do and in what you do, in the temptations you fight and the virtues you strive for and the forgiveness your repentantly ask for—that He is truly your Lord?


James 2:14-26

Topics: Faith Morality Obedience

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Wants Us to Trust Him

“Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you” (Exodus 16:4a).

“And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey” (Exodus 16:31).

Every evening at dusk, I fill my bird feeders with bird seed. In the morning—to the birds’ amazement, I’m sure—there is more seed for them to eat. If they could talk, I wonder if they might say, “Where did this come from? It was almost gone when we went to bed. Does the seed grow overnight? This is a mystery we don’t understand. But we sure are happy when we see the food again!” I give my birds food because I care about them.

When Moses was leading the Israelites through the wilderness to the Promised Land, the people were hungry and needed food for their health and strength. Moses couldn’t go to the grocery store to buy food. Instead, He depended on God to supply what the people needed. But the Israelites were unhappy with Moses. They accused him of taking them into the wilderness to kill them (Exodus 16:4b).

God heard the complaint from His people and told Moses that He would “rain bread” from Heaven. God also gave strict instructions, telling the Israelites how much food they could have each day, but some did not obey Him. They did not believe there would be enough food for them the next day, so they gathered more than God had instructed, and they kept some overnight. During the night worms infested it, and the next day it stank and had to be thrown away. God provided manna during the morning, but as soon as the sun came out, the manna melted. In the evening God provided meat. He wanted the Israelites to know “that I am Lord your God” (Exodus 16:12b). The Israelites did not have to worry about food again. They knew exactly where it had come from.

God wants us to trust Him and believe that He will provide all that we need. Today, thank God for all the provisions that He gives you daily. Can you name some of His blessings?

My response:

» Do I tell God my needs and trust Him to provide them?

» Do I thank God for the blessings He has already given me?

» When God meets one of my needs, do I remember to thank Him?

Denison Forum – “It’s going to be historic”: The latest on Hurricane Ian and two practical responses

Hurricane Ian is headed for the southwest coast of Florida and is likely to make landfall this afternoon or evening as a major Category 4 storm. Hurricane conditions are already impacting Florida’s Gulf Coast this morning, with major flooding reported in Key West. The National Hurricane Center is warning of storm surges with “life-threatening inundation.” More than 2.5 million people have been advised to flee as the storm advances on the state.

The hurricane is currently predicted to come ashore south of Tampa Bay and cut across the state directly for Orlando. Central Florida could expect fifteen to twenty inches of rainfall, with localized rainfall of up to twenty-four inches. For comparison: the most rainfall Orlando has ever experienced over a three-day period has been 13.75 inches.

“It’s going to be historic,” according to one National Weather Service meteorologist.

Three questions I’m asking myself

As I respond this morning, I’m not sure what I can say that you don’t already know.

As a cultural apologist, I could ask why God allows natural disasters. However, as I have written in the past, sin led to a fallen world and the disasters and diseases we face as a consequence (Romans 8:22). There were no hurricanes in the garden of Eden.

I could ask why God sometimes intervenes with such disasters, as when Jesus calmed the stormy Sea of Galilee, but not at other times. However, this is a question we need to answer practically rather than speculatively. When Peter asked about John’s future after the resurrection, Jesus responded, “What is that to you? As for you, follow me” (John 21:22 HCSB). We’ll say more about practical responses to the hurricane in a moment.

So, here are three questions I am asking myself today.

First, why have I focused in this article on Hurricane Ian more than on Hurricane Fiona? The latter devastated Puerto Rico and swept away homes in eastern Canada, but I have not made it my primary subject today.

Second, why have I written about Florida but not Cuba, where Ian brought terrible devastation yesterday as a Category 3 hurricane? The storm caused floods, knocked down trees, ripped off roofs, and damaged hospitals. I’m sure we’ll learn more in the coming days about the hurricane’s horrific effects on the island.

Third, why am I writing an article that is more theoretical than personal? I have focused on theological principles and reported facts, not on personal stories or reflections.

The answer to all three questions is obvious: I live in the United States, but I don’t live in Florida. The same is true for most of you.

If faith is a “crutch for cripples”

However, here’s what you may not know: I have family members and good friends who live in Florida. And I love the people of Cuba—I’ve traveled ten times to the island and pray every day for the pastors and churches with whom our ministry partners there.

As a result, while Fiona was disastrous for people I don’t know personally, Ian is devastating for many I do. Consequently, I am much more engaged in the disaster currently unfolding.

Here’s my point: God cares about those devastated by Fiona even more personally than I care about those affected by Ian. There are no speculative issues in our world with him.

Despite what the Deists thought, God is not a clockmaker who made the world and now watches dispassionately as it runs down. Despite what Freud thought, God is not a speculative projection of our “father” image but a real Father who loves each of us so much he sent his Son to die so we could live eternally.

As a result, those who follow Christ as Lord are his “body” continuing his earthly ministry in our day (1 Corinthians 12:27). Christianity is not the “opiate of the people,” as Marx claimed, but the only hope of a broken and chaotic world. If faith is a “crutch for cripples,” we are all cripples.

Act into feeling

If the devastation caused by Hurricanes Fiona and Ian is not personally grievous for us, it should be.

We are called to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). According to Jesus, a neighbor is someone in need whom you can help (Luke 10:37). And you can help every person affected by these tragedies through your intercession and support for ministries serving them.

Such compassion begins by praying for compassion. It begins by asking God to break our hearts for what breaks his heart. It begins by asking his Spirit for his first “fruit”—agape, unconditional servant love in action (Galatians 5:22).

Then we act in the belief that God is answering our prayer. We do not wait until we feel compassion—we act in compassion. We take practical steps to demonstrate God’s love in our service. As counselors say, we act into feelings, and often the feelings follow.

Whether we feel compassion for those we serve or not, they will feel our compassion in our service. And our service to those in need will serve our Savior and Lord (Matthew 25:40). St. Vincent de Paul (1581–1660) reminded us that those in need “are taking the place of the Son of God who chose to be poor” and who “went so far as to say that he would consider every deed which either helps or harms the poor as done for or against himself.”

Booker T. Washington on happiness

To serve hurricane victims in Canada, you can support the Salvation Army and Samaritan’s Purse as they serve those in crisis. To help those in Puerto Rico, you can partner with evangelical ministries at work on the island.

To help those in Cuba, I highly recommend our ministry partner there, Proclaim Cuba, and encourage you to support their work here. To serve those in Florida, I recommend (as always) the ministry of Texas Baptist Men as well as Convoy of Hope and the American Red Cross.

As you pray for these hurricane victims and those who are serving them, also ask the Lord to open your eyes and heart to those in need you can serve closer to your home.

Booker T. Washington observed, “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”

How happy will you be today?

Denison Forum

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Spirit-Filled Life

Our self-driven efforts will produce frustration and disappointment.

1 John 2:3-6

There was a time when I was so disheartened that I wondered whether to remain in the ministry. How could I tell people that Jesus would give them peace and joy when I didn’t feel it myself? 

God let me stew in my anxiety until I was fully committed to finding out if His Word was true or not. I found my answer in a biography of missionary Hudson Taylor. For a long time he, too, felt that his efforts fell short of the Lord’s expectations. But Taylor realized God wanted believers to trust Him fully and rest on His promises. 

As a child, I was taught that a person got saved and then went to work for God. You did the best you could to think, speak, and act in a wise, godly manner. When your best wasn’t good enough, well, you tried harder. Such an impossible expectation was wearing me out. This idea of letting Jesus Christ work through me sounded both biblical and liberating. 

A grape branch doesn’t bear fruit because of its determined efforts to get sunshine; rather, it simply abides in the vine, and fruit appears. The vine does all the work. In the same way, believers are to be in union with their Savior so that spiritual fruit can grow in their life.

Bible in One Year: Habakkuk 1-3

Our Daily Bread — God’s Help for Our Future

Bible in a Year:

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Psalm 90:14

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 90:12–17

According to psychologist Meg Jay, our minds tend to think about our future selves similarly to how we think about complete strangers. Why? It’s probably due to what’s sometimes called the “empathy gap.” It can be hard to empathize and care for people we don’t know personally—even future versions of ourselves. So in her work, Jay tries to help young people imagine their future selves and take steps to care for them. This includes working out actionable plans for who they will one day be—paving the way for them to pursue their dreams and to continue to thrive.

In Psalm 90, we’re invited to see our lives not just in the present, but as a whole—to ask God to help us “number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (v. 12). Remembering that our time on earth is limited can remind us of our desperate need to rely on God. We need His help to learn how to find satisfaction and joy—not just now, but “all our days” (v. 14). We need His help to learn to think not just of ourselves, but of future generations (v. 16). And we need His help to serve Him with the time we’ve been given—as He establishes the work of our hands and hearts (v. 17).

By:  Monica La Rose

Reflect & Pray

How might you grow in taking care of your future self? How does keeping the bigger picture of your life in view help you to better serve others?

Dear God, thank You for the gift of life. Help me to cherish it with the time I’ve been given. Thank You that when my walk with You on earth is over, I can look forward to an eternity of fellowship with You.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Always Praying

“With all prayer and petition pray at all times” (Eph. 6:18).

Make prayer an ongoing part of your day.

As important as prayer is to your Christian life, you might expect Paul to list it as another piece of spiritual armor, but he doesn’t. Instead, he makes it all-pervasive by instructing us to pray at all times. That’s our spiritual lifeline—the air our spirits breathe. The effectiveness of each piece of armor is directly related to the quality of our prayers.

We see the importance of prayer throughout the New Testament. Jesus instructed His disciples to be on the alert at all times, praying so that they would have strength to face the trials and temptations that lie ahead (Luke 21:36). The apostles devoted themselves to prayer (Acts 6:4), as did godly people like Cornelius (Acts 10:2). Every Christian is to be continually devoted to prayer (Rom. 12:12).

In Philippians 4:6 Paul says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” He told the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) and instructed men everywhere to “pray, lifting up holy hands” (1 Tim. 2:8).

Jesus and Paul not only exhorted believers to pray, but also modeled diligent prayer in their own lives. Jesus often went for extended periods of time alone to pray. Paul wrote often of his own fervent prayers on behalf of others (cf. Col. 1:9Philem. 4).

As a child, you may have been taught that prayer is reserved for mealtimes, bedtime, or church services. That’s a common misconception many children carry into their adult years. But believers are to be in constant communication with God, which is simply the overflow of seeing all of life from His perspective. Just as you would discuss your everyday experiences and feelings with a close friend, so you’re to discuss them with God.

God loves you and wants to share your every joy, sorrow, victory, and defeat. Be conscious of His presence today and take advantage of the sweet communion He offers.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God that He’s always available to hear your prayers.
  • Ask Him to give you a desire to commune with Him more faithfully.

For Further Study

What do these verses say about the most appropriate times for prayer: Psalm 55:16-17Daniel 6:10Luke 6:12, and 1 Timothy 5:5?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Hanging Tough

The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!

— Habakkuk 3:19 (AMPC)

The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk spoke of hard times, calling them “high places,” and stating that God had given him “hinds’ feet” to scale those high places.

A “hind” refers to a certain kind of deer that is an agile mountain climber. It can scale up what looks like a sheer cliff, leaping from ledge to ledge with great ease. This is God’s will for us, that when hardship comes our way, we are not intimidated or frightened.

To be truly victorious, we can grow to the place where we are not afraid of hard times but are actually challenged by them. In Habakkuk 3:19, these “high places” are referred to as “trouble, suffering, or responsibility.” This is because it is during these times that we grow.

If you look back over your life, you will see that most of your spiritual growth didn’t occur during the easy times in life; you grow during difficulty. Then during the easy times that come, you are able to enjoy what you have gained during the hard times. Life is filled with a mixture of abasing and abounding (see Philippians 4:12), and both are valuable and necessary.

Prayer of the Day: Lord Jesus, please help me to recognize the devil’s accusations and lies from the onset and teach me to talk back to him and shut them down, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Known by Their Fruit

No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit.

Luke 6:43-44

Students will always reflect the instruction of their teachers. No matter how far a student may excel beyond his or her teacher’s abilities, they will always be indebted to the guidance that was given.

When Jesus spoke of trees and their fruit, it was with an eye to the spiritual leaders of His day. In making His point, He gave us a warning: namely, not to choose the wrong teacher. And how are we to discern between good and bad teachers? Jesus says it’s by their fruit—the results that follow their teachings and actions.

We must think of fruit in relation to the teacher’s character—and character can’t be tested by measuring eloquence or giftedness. Rather, when Jesus gave instruction concerning the vine and the branches, He implied that fruitfulness equals Christlikeness (John 15:1-8). Each tree is recognized by its own fruit; therefore, the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)—will be evident in a good teacher’s life.

We must also examine the content of the teacher’s instruction. Paul addressed this issue when he wrote to his pastoral protégé Timothy, telling him to “keep a close watch on yourself”—that is, his character—“and on the teaching” (1 Timothy 4:16). Not everybody who shows up with a Bible has the listener’s best interests at heart. Not everybody who names the name of Christ is a true teacher of God’s word. False prophets abound. It is imperative, then, that as believers, we learn from the Bible not only to grow in holiness but also to be able to recognize sound doctrine, which is a mark of a godly teacher. Furthermore, we can take comfort from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who teaches us about everything and enables us to distinguish between truth and falsehood (see 1 John 2:27).

There is a direct correlation between the character of a teacher and the content of his teaching, and the impact he makes upon those who are taught. So choose your spiritual teachers and mentors wisely. Look not at their speaking gifts or their cultural connectedness or their confidence or their humor but at character and content. Without question, you will show the world the fruit of the teaching you receive. When people come around you, what will they discover? Will they see judgmentalism or bitterness or haughtiness or self-righteousness? Will they sense passivity and a lack of conviction? Or will they taste the sweet fruit of joy, peace, love, and righteousness?


2 Timothy 2:15-26

Topics: False Teachers Fruit of the Spirit

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – The Lord Is Good

“They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness. The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works” (Psalm 145:7–9).

Psalm 145 was a well-known song among the Israelites in Old Testament times. What do you think the people in the neighboring nations thought when they heard the words to this psalm? The neighbors were godless people: they didn’t believe in the God of the Bible. Some of them were idolaters who worshiped many gods. Some of them would not bow the knee to any kind of god at all.

Do you think these godless people were happy? Were their idols hearing or answering their prayers? Were these people able to get themselves through hard times on their own, without God? In our time, we can only imagine what people might have been thinking back then. But you can look around at people today. You can watch how godless people respond in a crisis and see how hopeless they are. You can read about them and see what they do and say. You can watch how it is for them to live life apart from belief in the God of the Bible. And you can see for yourself whether they really are happy or at peace.

Many people do not know God and do not really want to know Him. But if they could believe what Psalm 145 teaches about God’s character, maybe they would be able to trust Him and obey Him. If Israel’s neighbors had understood that their homemade idols could never be “good to all” like the Lord is, maybe they would have listened more carefully to the Israelite psalms.

Do your neighbors believe in the God of the Bible? Do they have any clue how great He is in His goodness and how that goodness extends to everybody? If they did, do you think we could watch their lives and see them happy and peaceful? Could we think of ways to show them the truth of God’s goodness, even in the way we live in front of them? The Israelites’ neighbors had heard of them and knew the stories about the Israelites’ God. Maybe we should be singing the goodness of our God a little louder here in the twenty-first century.

The Lord is good to all.

My response:

» Do I really believe that the Lord is good?

» If so, how does that change the way that I live?

» Can people around me tell what I believe about the Lord’s goodness?