Joyce Meyer – How to Avoid Trouble

To make it your ambition and definitely endeavor to live quietly and peacefully, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we charged you.

— 1 Thessalonians 4:11 (AMPC)

We can save ourselves a great deal of mental anguish and trouble by learning to stay out of the affairs of other people. Most of us are too free with our advice and we often give it when the truth is that nobody really wants it.

God’s will for us is peace, and if we read the scripture quoted above, we find that peace and minding our own affairs are linked together. I am sure you are like me in that you have enough of your own affairs to tend to without getting involved in other people’s. Of course, if people ask for and truly want our advice or help, we should be ready to help them, but we should do so with an attitude of humility.

Most of us are quick to judge others who are not like us or who don’t make the decisions that we would, but it would help each of us to remember that God instructs us not to judge at a glance or superficially (see John 7:24). Only God truly knows people’s hearts and motives, and only He is qualified to judge righteously. When the Holy Spirit makes me aware that I am allowing judgmental thoughts to linger in my mind, I often say to myself, “Joyce, this is none of your business,” and I let it go. Ask God to help you mind your own business!

Prayer of the Day: Lord, I am sorry for all the times I have judged people and gotten into their affairs without being invited. Forgive me and help me mind my own business, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Living by Faith

Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

Exodus 14:13-14

When we live by faith, we discover this great truth: God’s promises are enough.

On their way out of Egypt, Moses and the Israelites were confronted by an insurmountable hurdle: the Red Sea. After striding out of Egypt “defiantly” (Exodus 14:8), God’s people found themselves pursued and soon to be overtaken at the edge of the waters—and as “Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel … feared greatly.” In their terror, they “cried out to the LORD” and began to berate and criticize Moses (v 10-11).

What would faith do in this situation? Exodus 14:13 presents us with Moses’s response to the people: “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD.”

What a dramatic expression of faith on the part of Moses! He has little going for him at this point: the Egyptian chariots are at his back, the sea stretches out ahead, and he is surrounded by complaints and criticisms—and all he has is his staff and the command and promise of God.

But that was enough for Moses. All of his trust and confidence rested in his belief in God’s promises. If God had said it, Moses believed it—and God had said that He would bring the people out of Egypt, to Mount Sinai on the opposite side of the sea, and on into the promised land (Exodus 3:7-12). It was not Moses’ job to be concerned over the particulars. It was his job to trust and obey.

And the waters parted.

When the Egyptians tried to pursue the Israelites along the path through the sea, they were engulfed, never to be seen again (Exodus 14:27-28). Why? Because faith and presumption are two different things. The Egyptians were not living by faith in or in obedience to God. They had simply assumed that they could experience what the people of God experienced. They were wrong.

If God had said it, Moses believed it. And so can we, and so must we. We don’t have to worry about whether or not God will part the sea, but we do have to take God at His word and act accordingly. Some of us have never known the joy of standing, as it were, on the edge of dangerous waters and seeing God’s deliverance, because we’re so worried about how God is going to handle every little detail. We retreat in anxiety and hold back in doubt rather than standing firm. God has promised to take you to the promised land of eternity with Him. What is insurmountable to you and me is nothing to Him. And so He says, Don’t worry about the route by which you get home. I’ll take care of it. Just do what I told you, and trust in Me. His promises are enough. It is your job today simply to trust and obey.

GOING DEEPER

Exodus 14:1-31

Topics: Faith Promises of God Trust

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Wants You To Love Him with All Your Mind

“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy…mind.” (Mark 12:30)

Have you ever had someone ask, “What are you thinking about right now?” Sometimes when you’re asked, you may be thinking about something totally unimportant or something that would sound silly to share out loud. At those times, it may be embarrassing to answer the question.

Sometimes the Holy Spirit might speak to our hearts and ask, “What are you thinking about right now?” Not because He doesn’t know, but because He wants us to notice our own thoughts. And sometimes we are embarrassed to answer Him. Why? Because we’re thinking selfish thoughts, vain thoughts, worried thoughts, proud thoughts – thoughts that have nothing to do with Him.

God wants us to love Him with our minds. How do we do this? We love God with our minds by thinking about Him and His things. Have you ever really thought about the meaning of a Bible verse that you’re memorizing? Have you ever tried to think of all the ways that you could obey that verse? Have you ever thought about the character traits of God and what they mean to your life? Have you ever thought about the words to a Christian song or a hymn?

Ask God to show you when you are thinking about the wrong things. Ask Him to help you turn your thoughts to Him and love Him with all of your mind.

God wants His people to love Him with all their minds.

My Response:
» When God reads my mind, do my thoughts say to Him, “I love you”?

Denison Forum – Three reasons Tom Brady’s second retirement is so unusual

NFL quarterback Tom Brady announced his retirement from the sport yesterday. (For an excellent analysis of his decision and its life lessons for us, see Dr. Ryan Denison’s article, “Tom Brady retires again: The cost of holding on to success for too long.”)

Brady’s decision is unusual on three levels.

First, it comes a year to the day after he retired last year only to change his mind and return for his twenty-third season. Not many people retire twice from the same job.

Second, most players retire because they can no longer play the game well enough to compete as they once did. Not so with Brady: Even though he was the oldest active player in the NFL this season, he threw for 4,694 yards, the third most in the league, while completing 66.8 percent of his passes.

Third, it would seem that Brady was no longer satisfied with the direction of his life and career. This makes him an outlier in our society.

According to Gallup, 85 percent of Americans are satisfied with their personal lives. This contrasts with only 17 percent who are satisfied with the direction of their country (the number has recently risen to 23 percent).

What explains this wide disparity between the way we view our country and the way we view our personal lives?

The “big thing” a society must get right

David Brooks responds to our question in The Atlantic: “My basic take is that life in America today is objectively better than it was before but subjectively worse. We have much higher standards of living and many conveniences, but when it comes to how we relate to one another—whether in the realm of politics, across social divides, or in the intimacies of family and community life—distrust is rife, bonds are fraying, and judgments are harsh.”

However, Brooks believes that, despite all the gloom about our nation at present, “a society can get a lot wrong as long as it gets the big thing right. And that big thing is this: If a society is good at unlocking creativity, at nurturing the abilities of its people, then its ills can be surmounted.”

Next he surveys the ways America has been “unlocking creativity” in her people, from raising productivity and living standards to investing in education, helping people live healthier, longer, and more energetic lives, and creating an excellent innovation infrastructure.

Brooks notes: “If there is one lesson from the events of the past year, it is that open societies such as ours have an ability to adapt in a way that closed societies simply do not. Russia has turned violent and malevolent. China has grown more authoritarian and inept. Meanwhile, free democratic societies have united around the Ukrainians as they battle to preserve the liberal world order.”

“Pushed from the public square”

Brooks’ claim that humans are satisfied with our lives if we have an opportunity to unlock our creativity is both reasoned and biblical. You and I were created in the image and likeness of our Creator (Genesis 1:27) and called to “work” and “keep” his creation (Genesis 2:15). While work became more difficult as a result of the fall (Genesis 3:17–19), partnering with our Creator by advancing his creation was always part of his plan for us.

The problem comes when we decouple this partnership. Satan tempts us every day to “be like God” (Genesis 3:5) by taking over God’s creation as if it were our own and doing with it what we wish, all the while refusing to acknowledge the One who owns all that exists.

As one example, the London School of Economics will remove Christian words from its calendar next year. Christmas break will be “winter break,” Lent term will be “winter term,” and Easter break will be “spring break.”

Simon Calvert, deputy director at The Christian Institute, responded: “We have been warning for years that Christians are being pushed from the public square, yet the problem is getting worse.” He added, “Christians and those with traditional views often find themselves silenced or bullied. It’s particularly ironic when this happens at institutions that were originally founded on Christian principles and with endowments from Christian benefactors.”

“When he appears we shall be like him”

How can you and I resist this Satanic and secular pressure to fulfill our creative desires apart from our Creator? One key is to recognize that we are still being created.

If you have trusted in Christ as your Lord, his Spirit dwells in you as God’s temple (1 Corinthians 3:16) so that “Christ is in you” (Romans 8:10). Now your Father wants Christ to be “formed in you” (Galatians 4:19, my emphasis) so that you are “conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29, my emphasis).

We are not complete until we are completely like Christ. This will not happen until Jesus comes for us: “When he appears we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2). On that day, “just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:49).

In the meantime, “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). If you want to be more like Christ today than you were yesterday, spend time worshiping Christ today. Then ask the Holy Spirit to make you like Jesus. He will reveal sins to be confessed, steps to be taken, and service to be rendered. And he will empower you to do all he leads you to do.

A binary choice

Every day, you and I face a binary choice with eternal consequences: we can seek to be like God’s Son, or we can seek to be our own God. As fallen human beings, if we are not intentionally seeking the former, we are by default choosing the latter.

Max Lucado noted, “Our highest pursuit is the pursuit of our Maker.”

How passionately will you pursue your Maker today?

Denison Forum

Hagee Ministries; John Hagee –  Daily Devotion

Philippians 4:19

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Today’s Scripture doesn’t say, “My God shall give me what I want.” It says that He’ll supply all my needs. I need a Savior. I need someone to wash sin out of my life. I need a scapegoat who can bear the guilt of my transgressions and iniquity and die in substitution of what I deserve. I don’t get what I want. But thank God, He loves me so much that He gives me the supplies I need.

I don’t know what you want in your life today, but I know that if you need something, Jesus Christ is all-sufficient. Jesus Christ is El Shaddai. He is a way maker. He is a yoke and bondage breaker. He is the Prince of Peace who can soothe your tormented mind. He is the Provider who can open up the windows of heaven and shower you with blessings that you cannot contain. He is the Healer who can touch a sick body and make it strong again. He is the Banner in battle who will give you victory when defeat looks imminent. Stop begging God for what you want and start praising God that He has supplied your every need according to His riches in glory!

Today’s Blessing: 

Father, I thank You that You’re in this place, and that with our hands lifted and our hearts extended, we can, in faith, reach out and touch You. I thank You, Father, that in reaching for You, You have already reached toward us and given us blessings which are limitless and know no measure. Bless us, Father, with physical strength and divine healing. Bless us, Father, with goodness and mercy that follows us all the days of our lives. Let Your loving kindness and provision be upon us that we would have sufficiency for every good work, and the world would recognize that our Father in heaven is a loving King who provides for His own. We bless You, Lord Jesus; we thank You for Your Word. We stand upon it as the living promise of God that sickness is defeated, sin is destroyed, and we the children of God, live life without limit because You are our King. In Jesus’ name, we receive the blessing. In faith believing, we receive Your answer.

Today’s Bible Reading: 

Old Testament

Exodus 15:20-17:7

New Testament 

Matthew 22:1-32

Psalms & Proverbs

Psalm 27:1-7

Proverbs 6:20-26

https://www.jhm.org

Turning Point; David Jeremiah – Race With Grace

I will run the course of Your commandments, for You shall enlarge my heart.
Psalm 119:32

 Recommended Reading: Acts 20:22-24

Jaime Chien of New York City began running for exercise in 2013 after watching a friend in a marathon. Now she’s a force to be reckoned with in the world of running. “What keeps me going is being able to motivate other people,” she told Runner’s World. “There are times I don’t feel like running…. But I lead a Monday night running group, so people are relying on me.”[1]

The Bible compares our Christian life to a running course. We’re to “run in such a way” that we’ll obtain the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24), to “run with endurance” (Hebrews 12:1), to run without stumbling (Proverbs 4:12), to “run and not be weary” (Isaiah 40:31), and to finish our course (2 Timothy 4:7).

One thing that keeps us going is the ability to motivate and encourage the other Christian runners around us; God uses the act of encouraging others to bring us encouragement too. Next time you are discouraged, reach out and encourage a fellow believer in Christ; you will both end up being encouraged!

Discouraged people don’t need critics. They hurt enough already…. They need encouragement.
Charles Swindoll

https://www.davidjeremiah.org

Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – Getting Back to God’s Original Design

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. 

—Psalm 51:12

Scripture:

Psalm 51:12 

At my house we have electronic gadgets, like most people do, and each one has an alarm. The microwave signals when my food is ready. An alarm on the dryer lets me know that it’s time to take the clothes out. The printer signals when it’s out of paper.

And all these gadgets also have error codes. When an error code appears, I have to consult the user’s manual to find out what’s wrong. Then I’ll try to correct the problem.

I think there are multiple error codes flashing across the United States today. We’re standing at a crossroads. We have never been in worse shape morally. Crime continues to explode. Families continue to splinter. And the fabric of society continues to unravel.

Meanwhile, God has given us His user’s manual for life: the Word of God, the Bible. It tells us what to do when a society unravels. And what we need today in America—and around the globe—is a far-reaching, Heaven-sent revival.

The word revive means “to restore to original condition.” A lot of people today like to restore old cars, and they’re sticklers about original paint and original parts. They want the original equipment.

In the same way, to be spiritually revived means to get back to God’s original design. Charles Finney, who was part of a great revival, described it this way: “Revival is nothing more or less than a new beginning of obedience to God.”

A real revival isn’t something that we start or stop; it’s something that God supernaturally does. There are times in history when God has intervened. Each of these divine interventions has come during a very dark time when there was a moral breakdown. Then God, in His grace, stepped in and brought about a spiritual awakening.

We need a real revival today. We need to see God work because our nation needs it as never before.

Our Daily Bread — Blessing in the Tears

Bible in a Year:

Blessed are those who mourn.

Matthew 5:4

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Matthew 5:1–12

I received an email from a young man in England, a son who explained that his father (only sixty-three) was in the hospital in critical condition, hanging on to life. Though we’d never met, his dad’s work and mine shared many intersections. The son, trying to cheer his father, asked me to send a video message of encouragement and prayer. Deeply moved, I recorded a short message and a prayer for healing. I was told that his dad watched the video and gave a hearty thumbs-up. Sadly, a couple days later, I received another email telling me that he had died. He held his wife’s hand as he took his final breath.

My heart broke. Such love, such devastation. The family lost a husband and father far too soon. Yet it’s surprising to hear Jesus insist that it’s precisely these grieving ones who are blessed: “Blessed are those who mourn,” Jesus says (Matthew 5:4). Jesus isn’t saying suffering and sorrow are good, but rather that God’s mercy and kindness pour over those who need it most. Those overcome by grief due to death or even their own sinfulness are most in need of God’s attention and consolation—and Jesus promises us “they will be comforted” (v. 4).

God steps toward us, His loved children (v. 9). He blesses us in our tears.

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

What places do you encounter sorrow in your story and in others’ stories? How does Jesus’ promise of blessing alter how you view this grief?

Dear God, when I’m awash in grief and sorrow, please help me to experience Your blessing even in the tears.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Pursuing the Knowledge of God

 “More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

God’s greatest desire for us is that we seek diligently to know Him.

To know God and all that He has revealed about Himself is the highest pursuit of life. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Prov. 9:10). Such a realization should really be the starting point for all of life’s other pursuits.

As David gave his throne to his son Solomon, his primary counsel was that Solomon know God: “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever” (1 Chron. 28:9).

Knowing God not only determines the quality of one’s present life, but also the destiny of one’s life in eternity. Jesus says, “And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3). Eternal life is simply knowing God in an intimate way for the rest of eternity. It begins here on earth when we believe in Christ and partake of His very nature and life.

How can we know God? The Lord says, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13). Solomon teaches us, “For if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the Lord, and discover the knowledge of God” (Prov. 2:3-5). This pursuit of God must be our top priority in life. Otherwise, it is so easy to be distracted by the pursuit of money, career success, personal power and prestige, or any earthly endeavor that demands our time and energy.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord that you know Him personally.

For Further Study

Read 2 Peter 1:1-11.

  • What are the benefits to those who know God?
  • What qualities should be evident in your life?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – All Access

Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God’s favor) in which we safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult in our hope experiencing and enjoying the glory of God.

— Romans 5:2 (AMPC)

Did you know that as a believer in Christ, you have 24-7 access to Him?

Everything in our spiritual lives depends on our personal faith in God and our personal relationship with Him, which certainly includes being able to hear His voice. We can enjoy that relationship because Jesus’ death on the cross gives us free, unhindered access to our heavenly Father and our faith makes it possible for us to have an intimate, dynamic relationship with Him.

I love Ephesians 3:12 (AMPC) and have recently been studying it. It says: In Whom, because of our faith in Him, we dare to have the boldness (courage and confidence) of free access (an unreserved approach to God with freedom and without fear). As I meditated on this scripture, I became quite excited to realize that as ordinary human beings we have free access to God at any time through prayer; we can hear His voice any time we want or need to. We can approach Him boldly without reservations, without fear, and with complete freedom. How awesome is that! Personal faith in God opens the door to unlimited help from Him and to unhindered communication with Him. Come to God with confidence that He loves you, desires your fellowship, and wants not only to hear from you, but He desires to talk to you.

Prayer of the Day: Father, thank You for being there for me all the time, whenever I need You. Thank You for allowing me open access, unhindered communication, and fellowship with You. I love You!

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – God Finishes What He Starts

I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:6

When God begins a work, He always completes it.

In Acts 16, we meet Lydia, a successful woman with her own business and a nice house in Philippi. She had an interest in religion—and then she was changed (Acts
16:14-15). What happened? God began a work. Later in the same chapter, we see a Philippian jailer come off his night shift also radically changed (v 30-34). What happened? Again, God began a work. We can imagine, then, that when Lydia or the jailer were tempted to give up, the word of God through Paul’s letter to Philippi was there to remind them: “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” In other words, You didn’t start the work within you, and you aren’t going to finish it. If you feel that you can’t keep going, you’re right. You can’t. But God did, and He can, and He will.

God has a long-term plan for His people: that each of us will see and share in the glory of His Son. That is the end to which He is working (Romans 8:28-30). So we, like Lydia and the jailer, have both the need and ability to stay in the race of faith for the long haul.

While it always remains true that God gives all of us many gifts, our lives nonetheless can seem to be filled with disappointments. We continue to give in to sin. We struggle with doubts, and life’s circumstances make it hard to keep going in faith. But we can and will continue on the journey, because Scripture promises us that our God “began a good work” and that He will finish it. As we stumble along the way and face difficulties, we’re tempted to go back down to the bottom of the mountain, trade our hiking boots for slippers, and head back home. But there’s a view at the top that’s worth every ache and pain along the way! And so the word of God comes to us again and again, saying, Come on, just a little farther. Don’t be concerned about all of your tomorrows. God Himself is helping you. Keep walking the way today.

God finishes what He starts. And if you are trusting Christ, then He has started something eternal in you. When you feel overwhelmed at the journey ahead of you, or when the route today looks too steep, find encouragement in these words:

My name from the palms of His hands
Eternity will not erase;
Impressed on His heart it remains,
In marks of indelible grace.
Yes, I to the end shall endure,
As sure as the earnest is giv’n;
More happy, but not more secure,
The glorified spirits in heav’n.[1]

GOING DEEPER

Psalm 121

Topics: Faithfulness of God Glorification Sanctification

FOOTNOTES

1 Augustus Toplady, “A Debtor to Mercy Alone” (1771).

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – Before There Was Anything Else, There Was God

“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” (Psalm 90:2)

One of Martin’s favorite school activities was Show and Tell Day. One time, he took his most valued treasure: a very old Indian stone. His dad had told him that Indians who lived in Florida long before the colonists settled in America had used the stone as a hammer. Every time Martin held the stone, he thought about how old the stone was.

What is the oldest thing that you have ever held or seen? Maybe you have an old baseball card, an ancient coin, or an antique piece of furniture. Can you think of anything or anyone even older than these things? The Bible verse that you read today tells you that before the mountains were formed and the earth was created, God existed.

In fact, the verse says that God is everlasting: He has always existed, and He will last forever. That is hard to imagine, isn’t it? God has always been and always will be. When you try to imagine how long eternity will be in the future, it almost hurts your brain. God will not only live eternally in the future, but He has lived eternally in the past. None of us can do that!

This eternal God knows all about you, and He has given you His Word (the Bible) in order for you to learn more about Him. Today, thank your God for being the Eternal God and continue to get to know Him by reading His Word!

God has always existed, and He will never die.

My Response:
» Have I thanked God that even though He is the great Creator of everything, He loves me?

Denison Forum – Policeman resigns after suspension for post on gay marriage

A Georgia police officer named Jacob Kersey made this post to his personal Facebook account earlier this month: “God designed marriage. Marriage refers to Christ and the church. That’s why there is no such thing as homosexual marriage.” The next day, his supervisor informed him that someone had complained about the post and instructed him to take it down.

When Kersey refused, the supervisor warned him that failure to delete the Facebook post could result in his termination. He was placed on paid administrative leave for a week, then told he could not share personal opinions on social media that someone might find offensive.

Next, Kersey received a letter explaining that “if any post on any of your social media platforms, or any other statement or action, renders you unable to perform, and to be seen as [unable] to perform, your job in a fair and equitable manner, you could be terminated.” By this logic, any statement made by any person on any subject that another person deems not to be “fair and equitable” is grounds for dismissal.

Realizing that he could continue his career with the department only if “I compromise my values, morals, and deeply held religious beliefs,” Kersey resigned his position.

“The core of who I am”

You and I cannot control what secular authorities do about our biblical beliefs. But we can control how we respond to what they do.

One option is to pay any price to serve Christ as our Lord. After he chose this approach, Jacob Kersey explained his response: “I am grateful for the opportunity that I was given to be a police officer. I do not take that honor and responsibility lightly. However, my integrity and Christian beliefs are at the core of who I am, and I will not abandon them.”

The other option is to succumb to cultural pressure to privatize our faith, treating Jesus less as our Lord and more as a means to our ends.

This temptation is more subtle and attractive than we may think.

“Honest but reluctant taxpayers”

C. S. Lewis likened Christians who engage in religious activities to “honest but reluctant taxpayers. We approve of an income tax in principle. We make our returns truthfully. But we dread a rise in the tax. We are very careful to pay no more than is necessary. And we hope—we very ardently hope—that after we have paid it there will still be enough left to live on.”

His analogy seems especially appropriate these days as tax preparation companies inundate the airwaves with ads seeking our business. However, I think an even better analogy for religious engagement in our culture is paying for insurance.

We buy a policy to obtain the benefits we wish to receive. We make our payments each month to keep these benefits available to us. We then draw on them as needed—medical bills, house expenses, etc.

But few people have a personal relationship with their insurance providers. I have no idea the names of those who insure our family, for example. We pay what is required (and hopefully no more) to receive the benefits we seek.

“Only pay for what you need”

I have written often over the years about this transactional religion so common to our culture. From the ancient Greeks and Romans to today, our society thinks we can give God (or the gods) what they want (going to church on Sunday, praying, reading the Bible, donating money, and so on) so that God (or the gods) will give us in turn what we want.

But I think there’s something even more foundational behind our impulse to treat God like an insurer whose benefits we procure by our religious “payments.”

You may have seen the insurance commercials on television these days with the pitch, “Only pay for what you need.” This is a tempting way to relate to God in that it limits his activity in our lives to what we want him to do in our lives. When we need forgiveness for our sins or direction for our decisions, he’s waiting on the other side of our prayers, or so we think. But if he wants to point out sins we don’t want to stop committing or lead us in directions we don’t want to go, that’s another matter.

Here’s the problem: God knows our needs far better than we do. Limiting his benevolence to our ignorance is unwise for us and grieves our Father.

“The deepest desires of your heart will be fulfilled”

To return to our insurance analogy, imagine that your insurers know the future better than you know the present. Consequently, they know about the storms that will damage your roof next spring, the leaking water heater that will flood your garage next fall, and the broken water pipes that will ruin your carpet the following winter. They therefore offer you insurance you don’t know you need.

Now, to extend the analogy further, suppose that they are willing to pay the premiums themselves. All you need to do is to ask for their best and trust their answers.

Would you make that decision?

If so, I invite you to make Henri Nouwen’s prayer your own:

I so much want to be in control.
I want to be the master of my own destiny.
Still I know that you are saying:
“Let me take you by the hand and lead you.
Accept my love
and trust that where I will bring you,
the deepest desires of your heart will be fulfilled.”
Lord, open my hands to receive your gift of love.

Amen?

Denison Forum

Hagee Ministries; John Hagee –  Daily Devotion

Psalm 100:4

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

An invitation to be with someone is a wonderful thing. When we receive an invitation, we suddenly recognize that someone has requested our presence; therefore, they must value us as important to them. Amazingly, our God has cordially invited us to enter into His presence to worship Him. Indeed, Jesus tells us that “the Father is seeking such to worship Him” (John 4:23), meaning those who worship Him “in spirit and truth.” And because Jesus has conquered and is now our High Priest before the throne of God, we have the opportunity to enter into the King’s presence and worship anytime and anywhere!

But we must remember that this is our privilege. We have become such a self-serving society that we sometimes forget that it is our privilege to enter into the presence of the King. Whenever we come into His presence, our purpose should be to magnify Him, not gratify us. When it comes to worship, it doesn’t matter if you’ve had a bad week, a bad month, or even a terrible decade—you’re not coming for you; you’re coming for Him. Remember, you have been cordially invited to enter His courts. Don’t ever take worship for granted.

Today’s Blessing: 

Father, bless us and keep us, and make Your face to shine upon us. Be gracious unto us and give us peace that passes all understanding. Let our homes be saturated with the presence of the living God and let us each seek to serve one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, as husbands and as wives, that our children may recognize that God’s plan is perfect and His truth endures forever. It’s in Your name that we pray and ask.

Today’s Bible Reading: 

Old Testament

Exodus 13:17-15:19

New Testament 

Matthew 21:23-46

Psalms & Proverbs

Psalm 26:1-12

Proverbs 6:16-19

https://www.jhm.org

Turning Point; David Jeremiah – Fighting Giant Despair

The Lord God of your fathers has spoken to you; do not fear or be discouraged.
Deuteronomy 1:21

 Recommended Reading: 2 Peter 1:1-4

It’s natural to become discouraged, but it’s unhealthy to stay that way. Satan loves to utilize the giant of discouragement to cast down our faith and progress. John Bunyan called it Giant Despair in his timeless classic The Pilgrim’s Progress, and it imprisoned Christian until he found the Key of Promise in his clothing.

If Giant Despair has you in his dungeon today, remember you have the key to escape. It’s inside your Bible, found in one of the hundreds of promises God has given you. For example, you can claim Joshua 1:9, which says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (NIV).

Discouragement is the temptation to evaluate your momentary circumstances apart from the overarching plan of God for your life. God is a God of encouragement. As soon as you become discouraged, cry out to Him in prayer and ask for His help. God wants to hear your prayers, even when discouraged. He will answer and bring encouragement to your heart.

Discouragement can be defeated only when the full truth of everything that is for us confronts and conquers the half-truth of fear and despair.
Jason Meyer

https://www.davidjeremiah.org

Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – God’s Recipe for Revival

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. 

—Psalm 139:23–24

Scripture:

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln said, “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. . . . But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.”

One person in the Oval Office, in Congress, or on the Supreme Court cannot get to the deepest part of America’s problems. That is because our deepest problems are spiritual. And the only hope for America is a spiritual awakening.

God gave us His recipe for revival when He said, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV).

There’s an interesting nuance regarding the word “pray.” Of the twelve Hebrew words employed to address this verb, the one in this verse means “to judge self habitually.”

God didn’t say, “If My people who are called by My name will love themselves . . .” We already do that. Rather, God was saying that we need to judge ourselves.

That means we are to come into God’s presence and say, “Lord, if there is anything in my life that is displeasing to You, show it to me.” Like the psalmist, we should pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23–24 NKJV).

We are to set aside our own aims, goals, ambitions, and desires in life, giving up our own wills. That is what it is to follow Jesus.

Our Daily Bread — Sustainer of Blessings

Bible in a Year:

Remember the Lord your God.

Deuteronomy 8:18

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Deuteronomy 8:10–18

On January 15, 1919, a huge molasses tank burst in Boston. A fifteen-foot wave of more than two million gallons of molasses careened through the street at over 30 mph, sweeping away railcars, buildings, people, and animals. Molasses might seem harmless enough, but that day it was deadly: 21 people lost their lives with more than 150 injured.

Sometimes even good things—like molasses—can overwhelm us unexpectedly. Before the Israelites entered the land God promised them, Moses  warned the people to be careful not to take credit for the good things they’d receive: “When you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase . . . , then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God.” They weren’t to attribute this wealth to their own strength or capabilities. Instead, Moses said, “Remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:12–1417–18).  

All good things—including physical health and the skills needed to earn a living—are blessings from the hand of our loving God. Even when we’ve worked hard, it’s He who sustains us. Oh, to hold our blessings with open hands, that we may gratefully praise God for His kindness to us!

By:  James Banks

 Reflect & Pray

What kindnesses from God are you thankful for today? Who can you help with a blessing you’ve received?

Thank You, Father, for sustaining me every moment. Please help me to recognize Your kindness, so I may share it with others.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – What Matters Most

 “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1).

Compared to walking worthy of Christ, nothing else is really important.

Let’s review what Paul has taught us from Ephesians 4:1-6. God has chosen and called us to be part of His family, and He expects us to act like His children. He wants us to walk worthy of Christ and be unified.

To follow God’s will in this, we must, with His help, deal with our sin and develop godly virtues. Our lives must first be marked by “all humility” (v. 2). We become humble when we see ourselves as unworthy sinners and see the greatness of God and Christ. Pride will always be a temptation, but we can resist it if we remember that we have nothing to be proud about; every good thing we have is from God. He alone deserves the glory; we can take no credit.

Humility produces “gentleness,” which is power under control. Gentle people willingly submit to God and others. They may become angry over what dishonors God, but they are forgiving to those who hurt them.

“Patience” flows from gentleness. A patient person endures negative circumstances, copes with difficult people, and accepts God’s plan for everything.

We must “love” others with a forbearing love. Christian love is selfless, and forbearance keeps us from gossiping about the failures of others and causes us to love our enemies.

“Unity” (v. 3) is the goal of the worthy walk, and only diligent believers who pursue these virtues of the worthy walk will contribute to such unity. Because we have one Body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one Father, we should behave as a unified people. Then we will have the effective testimony God wants for us.

Only one thing really matters from the moment you become a Christian until the day you see Jesus—that you walk worthy of Him. What you own, what you know, and what you do for a living are not all that important.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to give you the resolve to walk worthy every day.

For Further Study

Read Hebrews 11 and perhaps some related Old Testament passages, and note what was representative of the main characters’ walks with the Lord.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – God Will Deal with Our Enemies

I will clothe his enemies with shame, but his head will be adorned with a radiant crown.

— Psalm 132:18 (NIV)

We all have enemies, and our natural instinct is to seek revenge against them. But God promises to deal with our enemies and bless us if we will wait on Him and not try to take matters into our own hands. In today’s scripture, God is speaking about David’s enemies and says He will clothe them with shame.

God tells us to forgive our enemies, to bless them, and to pray for them—and this is exactly what we should do. Just this week, someone hurt me and falsely accused me, and I have been praying for that person every day and sometimes twice a day. I would much rather have God’s justice than my own.

I encourage you to follow Jesus’ commands in this area. Love your enemies and do good to them (see Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27). Don’t stoop to their level by trying to get them back. God will be your Vindicator. He will defend you, bless you, and exalt you.

Prayer of the Day: Father, I want to live my life according to Your will. At times, it is hard for me to wait on You, especially in dealing with my enemies. Help me to obey You. Help me to forgive, bless, and pray for those who hurt me. Thank You.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Nothing Thwarts God

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

Psalm 2:1-6

As far back as 1939, the Dutch theologian Johan Herman Bavinck observed, “It looks more and more likely that our culture, based as it is on self-satisfaction, will at a certain moment collapse and then we as humanity will face a worldwide calamity that will occur without warning. It may yet take a while, but there’s no doubt it will come.”[1]

If Bavinck were here today, perhaps he would find our present circumstances to be something of a fulfillment of that prophetic word. For materialism, instant gratification, and individualistic autonomy were all sold to us as the path to satisfy ourselves—and, these things having failed, where do our societies turn?

We shouldn’t misunderstand all the troubles of our world as being explicable in worldly terms alone. Mankind, the Bible tells us, is opposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we consider our circumstances in light of the Scriptures, we recognize that this is what the psalmist meant when he wrote, “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed.”

If we do not want to be buffeted and bowled over by opposition and persecution, we must remember that God is sovereign and that He cannot be defeated. The unfolding of His purposes from all of eternity is at the very heart of biblical Christianity. He is the Maker. He speaks, and He decides. Even the calamities of our world are all part of the plan God has predestined to take place. He has set His King to reign, and nothing can thwart His purpose. As His people, the church should therefore sound not retreat but reveille! We must remind ourselves and others of who the enemy is: our battle is primarily a spiritual one, waged not “against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness” (Ephesians 6:12). And we must remind ourselves and others of who the victor is and always shall be: the King God has appointed—His Son and our Savior.

As we consider the amazing juxtaposition between our sovereign God and this world full of rebellion, we ought to turn to Him in prayer. Indeed, Paul reminded his readers to pray “at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:18), encouraging them with the truth that “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4). We can pray boldly and live bravely because God stands sovereign. He is advancing His purpose—and nothing and no one can ultimately stand against His desire to glorify His King and bless His people.

GOING DEEPER

Ephesians 6:10-20

Topics: Redemptive History Sovereignty of God Victory

FOOTNOTES

1 The Riddle of Life, trans. Bert Hielema (Eerdmans, 2016), p 85.

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Scriptures, Lessons, News and Links to help you survive.