Tag Archives: current events

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Relying on Christ

Instead of focusing on our self-esteem, let’s rely on Jesus in our inadequacy.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Our world emphatically proclaims the importance of self-esteem, which is a favorable impression of oneself. It’s not unusual to hear that an individual who values himself will accomplish much. Yet Scripture warns us not to think too highly of ourselves (Rom. 12:3). We should have far greater confidence in Christ than in ourselves.

Despite his impressive credentials (Phil. 3:4-5), Paul knew he was inadequate to complete the ministry God gave him. In fact, today’s passage says that when preaching the gospel to the Corinthians, he came in fear and trembling (1 Cor. 2:3). His message wasn’t delivered with self-confidence but in complete reliance upon the Spirit. And that’s exactly how we should live as well. 

When we rely on God’s power instead of our own abilities, He produces supernatural boldness in us. Even in the midst of difficulty, we can live with confidence because the indwelling Spirit of the living God enables us to follow Him. He directs and strengthens us in every situation as we humble ourselves in dependence upon Him.

Are you facing situations that make you feel inadequate? Instead of shrinking back, consider them as opportunities to put your confidence in the Lord. You can trust the One who is your Creator, Redeemer, and Friend. 

Bible in One Year: Exodus 7-9 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Love’s Greatest Gift

Bible in a Year:

We all, like sheep, have gone astray.

Isaiah 53:6

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Isaiah 53:1–6

My son Geoff was leaving a store when he saw an abandoned walking frame (a mobility aid) on the ground. I hope there isn’t a person back there who needs help, he thought. He glanced behind the building and found a homeless man unconscious on the pavement.

Geoff roused him and asked if he was okay. “I’m trying to drink myself to death,” he responded. “My tent broke in a storm, and I lost everything. I don’t want to live.”

Geoff called a Christian rehabilitation ministry, and while they waited for help, he ran home briefly and brought the man his own camping tent. “What’s your name?” Geoff asked. “Geoffrey,” the homeless man answered, “with a G.” Geoff hadn’t mentioned his own name or its uncommon spelling. “Dad,” he told me later, “that could have been me.”

Geoff once struggled with substance abuse himself, and he helped the man because of the kindness he’d received from God. Isaiah the prophet used these words to anticipate God’s mercy to us in Jesus: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).

Christ, our Savior, didn’t leave us lost, alone, and hopeless in despair. He chose to identify with us and lift us in love, so that we may be set free to live anew in Him. There’s no greater gift.

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

Where would you be without Jesus? How can you be His hands and feet for someone in need?

Thank You, Jesus, for coming to rescue me. Help me to join in Your search-and-rescue mission and to share Your love with someone who needs You today.

Read Remade in the Image of Jesus .

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Righteous Anger

“Walk . . . with all . . . gentleness” (Ephesians 4:1-2).

Our anger must be under control and should occur only for the right reason.

After the previous lesson, you might think that Christians must always be quiet and passive, never getting upset or angry about anything. Actually, believers do have the right to get angry, but only under certain conditions. Ephesians 4:26 says, “Be angry and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” So there is a certain kind of anger that isn’t sinful. It must be under control, and it must be resolved expeditiously.

Proverbs 25:28 says, “Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit.” Someone who is out of control is vulnerable. He falls into every temptation, failure, and weakness. On the other hand, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city” (16:32). One who rules his spirit has power and energy, but it’s under control. That same power and energy out of control creates nothing but chaos and sinfulness. Those who are easily angered are not gentle.

Gentle people, on the other hand, control their energies and strengths, but they do have a tough side. They don’t back away from sin or cease to condemn evil. Since the gentle person submits himself to God, he becomes angry over things that offend God, not himself. If someone offends him personally, he doesn’t seek revenge. But when God is maligned, the lion in him roars. Such anger is called righteous indignation. Under God’s control, anger reacts when it ought to react, for the right reason, and for the right amount of time.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask forgiveness if you are apt to get angry for the wrong reasons. Commit yourself to being gentle when you ordinarily would flare up in anger. If you don’t get angry when you see evil, ask God to make you sensitive to what He hates.

For Further Study

  • At the very time Moses was receiving God’s Law on Mount Sinai, the Israelites were involved in idolatry and debauchery. Read Exodus 32. What was Moses’ reaction to their sin?
  • Did he hold a grudge against them (vv. 31-32)?
  • How can Moses’ example be a pattern for your life?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Take Control of Your Anger

He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, he who rules his [own] spirit than he who takes a city.

— Proverbs 16:32 (AMPC)

This verse illustrates the power of controlling your anger. God gave us self-control (see Galatians 5:23) to monitor our mouths, thoughts, passions, emotions, and tempers, yet many people don’t know that controlling their emotions is an option. They think the way they feel must dictate their actions. When they get mad, they let the feeling of anger decide how long they will stay angry, and all the while it is stealing their joy from them. In Scripture, we read about Absalom, who held on to his anger for two years, allowing it to build until he ended up killing his own brother (see 2 Samuel 13). 

You need to know that with God’s help, you can get over your anger. Study the Word about anger and the importance of forgiving those who hurt you and pray and ask God to give you grace and strength to forgive (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). Don’t let anger shut down the power of God in your life. 

Power Thought: I forgive quickly and never allow emotion to rule my actions.

Prayer Starter: Father, help me get control over my anger and lean on You and Your Word, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Be Wise Unto Salvation

He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Luke 24:27

The two disciples on the road to Emmaus had a most profitable journey. Their companion and teacher was the best of tutors, the interpreter one of a thousand, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. The Lord Jesus condescended to become a preacher of the Gospel, and He was not ashamed to exercise His calling before an audience of two persons. Neither does He now refuse to become the teacher of even one. Let us court the company of so excellent an Instructor, for till He is made unto us wisdom we shall never be wise unto salvation.

This unrivaled tutor used as His class-book the best of books. Although able to reveal fresh truth, He preferred to expound the old. He knew by His omniscience what was the most instructive way of teaching, and by turning at once to Moses and the prophets, He showed us that the surest road to wisdom is not speculation, reasoning, or reading human books, but meditation upon the Word of God. The readiest way to be spiritually rich in heavenly knowledge is to dig in this mine of diamonds, to gather pearls from this heavenly sea. When Jesus Himself sought to enrich others, He mined in the quarry of Holy Scripture.

The favored pair were led to consider the best of subjects, for Jesus spoke of Jesus and expounded the things concerning Himself. Here the diamond cut the diamond, and what could be more admirable? The Master of the House unlocked His own doors, conducted the guests to His table, and placed His own choice foods upon it. He who hid the treasure in the field Himself guided the searchers to it. Our Lord would naturally discourse upon the sweetest of topics, and He could find none sweeter than His own person and work. With an eye to these we should always search the Word. O for grace to study the Bible with Jesus as both our teacher and our lesson!

Devotional material is taken from Morning and Evening, written by C. H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is a Tenderhearted Father

“Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.” (Psalm 103:13)

One day Laurie and her sister Caroline came home from school, and both of their parents met them at the door. Their dad never came home from work in the middle of the day. They knew something must be wrong.

“Girls,” said their dad without his usual smile, “I have some sad news. Your grandpa died this morning.”

They sat down on the couch, their daddy in the middle with an arm around each of them. And Laurie and Caroline cried. Caroline looked up finally and noticed a tear rolling down her daddy’s cheek. She could hardly believe her eyes! She had never seen her daddy cry before. “He must really miss Grandpa too,” she thought. Later she realized that her dad was crying, not just because he missed Grandpa. He was crying for his daughters because they were sad.

Did you know that God is just as tenderhearted as a loving father? He feels every painful thing that you feel. He wants you to draw near to Him and let Him comfort you.

Maybe you do not have an earthly father in your home protecting, providing, and tenderly caring for you. God wants you to enjoy that special father-child relationship with Him alone. He promises in His Word to be a Father to the fatherless child (Psalm 68:5).

God is a tenderhearted Father who shares His children’s griefs and longs to comfort them.

My Response:
» Have I become God’s child by faith in His Son, Jesus Christ?
» Do I go to my heavenly Father when I need comfort?

Denison Forum – 28 murdered, 57 houses destroyed in Jihadist attack on South Sudanese Christians

At roughly eleven years old, South Sudan is the youngest country in the world. The Christian-majority nation gained independence from Muslim-majority Sudan in 2011 but has seen little peace in the years since. 

In recent months, jihadists have made a more concerted effort to expand their influence in the area. As Bishop Joseph Mamer Manot relayed to the Barnabus Fund earlier this month, “massive displacement has happened, and the humanitarian situation is alarming as food and other property have been burned down into ashes, leaving survivors with no shelters, no food and no safe drinking water.”

After a recent attack left twenty-eight dead and fifty-seven homes destroyed, a Christian from the area added that “Islam is now invading South Sudan. They’re saying South Sudan is a strategic place and that [it] will be the gate to Africa [so that] Islam can go to all of Africa.” Located in Central Africa, South Sudan shares borders with Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, the DRC, and the Central African Republic. 

That the jihadists’ goal is not simply to persecute Christians is an important component of what’s going on. 

Geography often has as much to do with these attacks as religion. For example, the atrocities committed by Boko Haram and the Fulani Herdsmen against Christians in Nigeria—located roughly 1,500 miles due west from South Sudan—are as much about conflicting ways of life and land as they are about their spiritual differences. At the same time, it is far less likely that those recently killed in South Sudan would be dead if they were Muslims, so the religious component should by no means be dismissed. 

I bring all of this up today, though, for two reasons. 

Praying for the persecuted

First, we can intercede for our persecuted brothers and sisters far more effectively when we understand more about the nature of what they’re facing. 

It’s one thing to pray that God would protect them and bring their attackers to justice. But our hearts and minds engage with their suffering on another level when we know enough about them to better empathize with what they’re going through. 

Taking the time to prayerfully research the events and people about whom we pray will add a level of depth to our intercession and help them remain on our hearts and minds longer than if we simply pray and then go on with our day. Those suffering from the threats of death, starvation, and homelessness deserve that from us. 

And that is true for the tragedies we see closer to home as well, which leads to the second purpose. 

As threats of persecution and discrimination increase closer to home, we must become even more intentional about modeling Christ’s care and concern to those suffering elsewhere.

The human mind has a finite capacity for worry and distress. As the causes for such emotions increase at home, we will have to be more intentional about paying attention to the needs God puts on our hearts and minds from other places as well. It’s not that our hearts won’t still break for the persecuted Christians in South Sudan, but we’re likely to move on much faster than when we had more margin. 

When we get to that point and it feels like we just don’t have the words or energy that our brothers and sisters in Christ deserve, remember that God doesn’t evaluate our prayers by how long they are or how impressive others might find them (Matthew 6:7). And his word promises that when we go to him in prayer, the Spirit will intercede on our behalf, ensuring that God doesn’t need words to understand what’s in our heart (Romans 8:26–27). 

So the next time you see or read something that prompts you to pray, take the time to learn more about the people for whom you are interceding. 

And when it feels like you just don’t have the energy or the words to do justice to their needs, remember that we never pray alone. Find peace and reassurance in the fact that the Spirit prays alongside us, and that God knows what’s in our hearts and minds even when we can’t fully express it.

http://www.denisonforum.org/

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Lay Aside Old Ways

The reason some Christians don’t feel the Lord’s peace and joy is that they are still living in their old worldly ways.

Ephesians 4:17-24

It seems that in a world of prosperity and abundance, there would be great contentment, yet the opposite is true. Why are so many people unhappy, anxious, and unsettled?

The main reason is that most of the world doesn’t know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, so they can’t have His peace and joy. But there are also Christians who are discontent because they’re wearing old “clothes” from their past. These garments might be emotions and attitudes left over from childhood, or it may be that these believers are trying to hold on to behaviors from their life before Christ. 

The solution is to change into the new clothes that Jesus secured for us (Isa. 61:10). We are to lay aside old habits and thought patterns the way we would a filthy garment. This means we’re no longer to remind ourselves about the wrongs done to us by others. Nor are we to cherish sinful habits, continue worldly practices, or think the way we formerly did. 

As new creations in Christ, we have no business wearing the dirty clothes of the flesh. Instead, we are to exercise our renewed mind and put on the new garments given to us by God. We will be satisfied only when we let go of the old and put on the new. 

Bible in One Year: Exodus 4-6 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Brave Your Storm

Bible in a Year:

[Fix your] eyes on Jesus, . . . so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:2–3

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Hebrews 12:1–3, 12–13

It was the evening of April 3, 1968, and a fierce thunderstorm was lashing through Memphis, Tennessee. Weary and feeling ill, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. hadn’t intended to give his planned speech in support of the striking sanitation workers at a church hall. But he was surprised by an urgent phone call saying a large crowd had braved the weather to hear him. So he went to the hall and spoke for forty minutes, delivering what some say was his greatest speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.”

The next day, King was killed by an assassin’s bullet, but his speech still inspires oppressed people with the hope of “the promised land.” Likewise, early followers of Jesus were uplifted by a stirring message. The book of Hebrews, written to encourage Jewish believers facing threats for their faith in Christ, offers firm spiritual encouragement to not lose hope. As it urges, “strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees” (12:12). As Jews, they would recognize that appeal as originally coming from the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 35:3).

But now, as Christ’s disciples, we’re called to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1–2). When we do so, we “will not grow weary and lose heart” (v. 3).

Certainly, squalls and storms await us in this life. But in Jesus, we outlast life’s tempests by standing in Him.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

How do you respond to life’s spiritual storms? As you look to Jesus and His promises, how does He encourage you?

Jesus, You calm every spiritual storm. When tempests rage, speak peace to my soul as I put my hope in You.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Gentleness: Power Under Control

“Walk . . . with all . . . gentleness” (Ephesians 4:1-2).

The antidote to our vengeful, violent society is biblical gentleness.

A popular bumper sticker says, “Don’t Get Mad—Get Even.” People demand what they perceive to be their rights, no matter how the demand harms others. Some go to court to squeeze every last cent out of those who hurt them. More and more violent crimes are committed each year. We need a strong dose of biblical truth to cure these attitudes. The biblical solution is gentleness.

The world might interpret gentleness or meekness as cowardice, timidity, or lack of strength. But the Bible describes it as not being vengeful, bitter, or unforgiving. It is a quiet, willing submission to God and others without the rebellious, vengeful self-assertion that characterizes human nature.

The Greek word translated “gentleness” was used to speak of a soothing medicine. It was used of a light, cool breeze and of a colt that had been broken and tamed, whose energy could be channeled for useful purposes. It also descrbes one who is tenderhearted, pleasant, and mild.

Gentleness is not wimpiness though. It is power under control. The circus lion has the same strength as a lion running free in Africa, but it has been tamed. All its energy is under the control of its master. In the same way, the lion residing in the gentle person no longer seeks its own prey or its own ends; it is submissive to its Master. That lion has not been destroyed, just tempered. Gentleness is one facet of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23). It is also a key to wisdom. James asks, “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom” (3:13). Verse 17 says, “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.”

Even if gentleness is not valued in our society, it is crucial to our godliness. Seek it diligently and prayerfully.

Suggestions for Prayer

If you tend to be at all vengeful or unforgiving, ask God’s forgiveness and His help to forgive those who hurt you. Seek to be gentle with them instead.

For Further Study

Throughout most of 1 Samuel, King Saul repeatedly tries to capture David and kill him. Read 1 Samuel 24. How did David demonstrate his gentleness in the face of his hostile enemy?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Are Emotions Draining Your Energy?

For this I labor [unto weariness], striving with all the superhuman energy which He so mightily enkindles and works within me.

— Colossians 1:29 (AMPC)

Fear, anger, doubt, guilt—these are just a few of the many emotions we dwell on that are wasted energy. You may feel these from time to time, but you don’t have to hold on to them. Instead, you can use your energy to cast every care on God and live free from these wasted emotions. Here are a few ways to do that:

  • If someone hurts your feelings or disappoints you, choose to forgive instead of getting angry.
  • Don’t waste your energy worrying, because it doesn’t do any good anyway.
  • When you repent, receive your forgiveness, and be thankful that you don’t have to live in guilt.
  • If someone doesn’t like you, pray for that person. The real problem may be that the person doesn’t like him or herself.

Don’t waste any more time and energy on these emotions. Learn to manage your anger, your fear, your doubts and your guilt and live in the freedom of God’s love for you.

Prayer Starter: Father, help me make the necessary changes in order to find more freedom from the stress of being controlled by my emotions! In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Beware of Temptations

It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house . . .

2 Samuel 11:2

At that hour David saw Bathsheba. We are never out of the reach of temptation. Both at home and away we are liable to meet with allurements to evil. The morning opens with peril, and the shades of evening find us still in jeopardy. They are well kept whom God keeps, but woe to those who go out into the world, or even dare to walk their own house unarmed. Those who think themselves secure are more exposed to danger than any others. The armor-bearer of Sin is Self-confidence.

David should have been engaged in fighting the Lord’s battles, instead of which he rested in Jerusalem, giving himself up to luxurious repose, for he arose from his bed at eventide. Idleness and luxury are the devil’s jackals and find him abundant prey. In stagnant waters noxious creatures swarm, and neglected soil soon yields a dense tangle of weeds and briars.

Oh, for the constraining love of Jesus to keep us active and useful! When I see the King of Israel sluggishly leaving his couch at the close of the day and falling at once into temptation, let me take warning and set holy watchfulness to guard the door.

Is it possible that the king had mounted his housetop for retirement and devotion? If so, what a caution is given us to count no place, however secret, a sanctuary from sin! While our hearts are so like a tinderbox, and sparks so plentiful, we need to use all diligence in all places to prevent a blaze. Satan can climb housetops and enter closets, and even if we could shut out that foul fiend, our own corruptions are enough to work our ruin unless grace prevents it. Reader, beware of evening temptations. Be not secure. The sun is down, but sin is up. We need a watchman for the night as well as a guardian for the day. O blessed Spirit, keep us from all evil this night. Amen.

Devotional material is taken from Morning and Evening, written by C. H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Angry with Sin

Psalm 7:11b ” …God is angry with the wicked every day”

Is God angry with my sin right now?

When you hear Bible stories, do you ever wonder why God sometimes sends terrible judgments on people who sin? He is holy, and sin displeases Him so much that He is angry with sin. Is it right for God to be angry?

When we get angry about something, our anger is usually not right. We get angry because someone hurts our feelings or keeps us from getting our way. But God’s anger is never this selfish kind of anger. His anger is righteous. God would not be perfectly holy if He were not angry with sin.

But everyone sins. Does this mean that God is angry with everyone all the time?

The anger that God has toward sin is often called wrath in the Bible. But God does not have this wrath toward everyone. Ephesians 2:1-9 tells us that people who have never put their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation are “children of wrath.” But people who have been saved by grace through faith in Christ receive mercy, grace, and kindness from God.

Which kind of person are you? Even if you are a “child of wrath,” God still loves you. He is waiting for you to accept the grace and forgiveness He offers you in Christ.

God is angry with the sin of people who have never put their faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

My Response: Is God angry with my sin right now? Or have I received His merciful forgiveness through faith in Christ?

Denison Forum – Hostages in Texas synagogue freed, attacker identified

Congregation Beth-Israel is a Jewish synagogue in Colleyville, thirty minutes west of my home in Dallas. Saturday morning, the rabbi and three others were taken hostage. Late that evening, FBI agents cleared the building and rescued the hostages. The attacker was killed during the operation.

Yesterday, the FBI identified the suspect, a forty-four-year-old British national named Malik Faisal Akram. His family stated that he was “suffering from mental health issues” but added that they “apologize wholeheartedly” and condemned his action. “There was nothing we could have said to him or done that would have convinced him to surrender,” they said in a statement.

It was surreal to watch the national news cover an event so close to my home. All day, I prayed for God to protect the hostages and bring their attacker safely to justice. If he had surrendered, the Lord would have been able to answer both of my prayers. The attacker apparently did not, so God could not.

This is the nature of free will. God created us to love him and our neighbor (Matthew 22:37–39). However, love requires freedom to choose not to love. When we misuse our freedom to harm others and ourselves, God allows us the consequences of our decisions.

One of the most important articles I have read in years demonstrates the relevance of this fact to our secularized culture today.

“America is falling apart at the seams”

David Brooks has been writing for the New York Times since 2003. Last week, he published an article titled “America Is Falling Apart at the Seams.” It profiles a culture in crisis.

Brooks reports that reckless driving is rising, the number of altercations on airplanes is exploding, the murder rate in cities is surging, drug overdoses are increasing, Americans are drinking more, and nurses say patients are becoming more abusive.

Teachers are facing a rising tide of disruptive student behavior; drug deaths have risen continuously for twenty years but shot up especially during the pandemic. The FBI states that hate crimes have surged to the highest level in twelve years. Meanwhile, giving to charity is steadily declining both to religious and secular causes.

Brooks sees “a long-term loss of solidarity, a long-term rise in estrangement and hostility” and adds, “This is what it feels like to live in a society that is dissolving from the bottom up as much as from the top down.”

“I just know the situation is dire”

Brooks asks what is going on, then answers: “I don’t know. I also don’t know what’s causing the high rates of depression, suicide, and loneliness that dogged Americans even before the pandemic and that are the sad flip side of all the hostility and recklessness I’ve just described.”

He notes that church membership has fallen below 50 percent for the first time in US history and cites a report that our nation has the world’s highest rate of children living in single-parent households. He also cites a Washington Post headline, “America Is a Nation of Narcissists, According to Two New Studies.”

Then he adds: “There must also be some spiritual or moral problem at the core of this. Over the past several years, and over a wide range of different behaviors, Americans have been acting in fewer pro-social and relational ways and in more antisocial and self-destructive ways. But why?”

Brooks concludes his article: “As a columnist, I’m supposed to have some answers. But I just don’t right now. I just know the situation is dire.”

Are we experiencing God’s permissive judgment?

My initial response was to ask: What would you expect in a culture that has been rejecting biblical truth and morality for decades?

  • 79 percent of Americans say “people can believe whatever they want, as long as those beliefs don’t affect society.” Only 35 percent believe moral truth is objective and absolute.
  • 69 percent say any kind of sexual expression between two consenting adults is acceptable.
  • In 2004, 60 percent of Americans opposed same-sex marriage. Fifteen years later, 61 percent support it.
  • The fastest-growing religious demographic in America is those who have no religious affiliation.

God cannot lead those who will not follow or give what we will not receive. Nor can a holy Father bless that which harms his children.

It is clear to me that, as was apparently true with the Colleyville hostage-taker, our culture is in the permissive phase of divine judgment where God allows us the consequences of our decisions. Romans 1 offers an example: “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves” (v. 26). Paul adds: “Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done” (v. 28).

The results read like Brooks’ article: “They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless” (vv. 29–31).

If we still refuse to repent, we will experience God’s punitive judgment whereby he initiates punishment for sin. The Exodus, as well as the Assyrian and Babylonian conquests of Israel, are biblical examples. The prophet warns us: “The nation and kingdom that will not serve [God] shall perish” (Isaiah 60:12).

“Who has God, lacks nothing”

Tomorrow we will focus on ways to respond with compassionate courage and truthful grace. For today, let’s close by asking whether we are part of the problem or part of the solution.

Would you ask the Spirit to reveal to you any areas of your life where you are experiencing the permissive judgment of God? Are you sheltering any unconfessed sin or unyielded obedience? Are you experiencing less than God’s best because you are giving him less than your best?

St. Teresa of Avila encouraged us: “Let nothing frighten you. Who has God, lacks nothing. God alone is enough.”

Every person who has trusted Jesus as Lord “has God.” 

How fully does he have you today?

http://www.denisonforum.org/

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Acquiring Spiritual Discernment

We must know the truth of Scripture so the Holy Spirit can help us discern how it applies to our life.

1 Corinthians 2:6-16

With so much deception in the world, every believer needs spiritual discernment. Although we have access to God’s wisdom, it’s not something we automatically possess. Rather, it must be diligently sought. And His Word is the place to start, because spiritual discernment comes only when we know the truth and can think scripturally about every situation we encounter. 

It’s foolish to think that our own wisdom is sufficient to guide us. The human mind, while rational, is incapable of seeing the true nature of many situations and events. What is good may not always be best, and what is presented as truth is sometimes a lie. Pride in our own judgment hinders access to godly wisdom. 

In contrast, regularly partaking of God’s Word develops our insight. As the Holy Spirit of truth illuminates our mind and interprets the Scriptures, we increasingly see life from God’s perspective. Through the Spirit and the Word, we have a direct link to the very mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). From Genesis to Revelation, God is revealing His thoughts, principles, and wisdom so we can live accordingly in any situation. 

Bible in One Year: Genesis 46-48 

http://www.intouch.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Identifying with Those in Need

“Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body” (Hebrews 13:2).

Because we too are human beings, God makes it possible for us to empathize with others who might be enduring hardship.

The Apostolic Confession, an ancient church confession, says, “If any Christian is condemned for Christ’s sake to the mines by the ungodly, do not overlook him, but from the proceeds of your toil and sweat, send him something to support himself, and to reward the soldier of Christ.” You can see from this quote that the early church took seriously its responsibility to help people who were suffering persecution. To obtain money to free a fellow believer, some early Christians even sold themselves into slavery.

It’s unlikely we’ll ever have to face such extreme measures. But we can definitely learn from the heart attitude that prompted such an action. The point is, we should do whatever we can to understand what others are going through. We don’t necessarily have to experience the same starvation, imprisonment, or harsh treatment that they are enduring in order to sympathize. Being human—“in the body,” as today’s verse says—and suffering our own hurts and hungers should be enough incentive for us to help others.

You can have loving empathy for someone in at least three ways. First, you can simply “be there” as a friend to encourage the other person when he is in trouble.

A second way to show empathy is by giving direct help. The Philippians shared with the apostle Paul in his affliction by financially supporting his ministry in other places (Phil. 4:14-16). In this way they also encouraged him spiritually.

Third, you can give empathy through prayer. Paul’s closing words to the Colossians, “Remember my imprisonment” (Col. 4:18), were an appeal for prayer. It was the only means remaining by which the church could effectively support him.

If we have Christ’s example, who is not “a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses” (Heb. 4:15), how can we possibly ignore the hurts of others, especially those of fellow believers? Instead, sincere empathy should be a regular part of our service for the Lord.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for a greater alertness and sensitivity to those you know who might be hurting.

For Further Study

Based on the Good Samaritan story in Luke 10:29-37, what are the essential attitudes and actions of a good neighbor?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Get Some Rest

As for me, I will continue beholding Your face in righteousness (rightness, justice, and right standing with You); I shall be fully satisfied, when I awake [to find myself] beholding Your form [and having sweet communion with You].

— Psalm 17:15 (AMPC)

Each evening the sun sets on all of our problems and on all of the mistakes we made that day. But something marvelous happens to us as we sleep—the Lord gives us rest physically, mentally, and emotionally. We are renewed and rejuvenated to face the next day.

Today we may wake up with the same problems we had when we went to bed, problems that yesterday we felt we just couldn’t take anymore. But somehow today, after proper rest and sleep, we think, I can do it; I can face it again. God promises to renew our strength when we rest in Him.

Prayer Starter: Lord, help me to turn all my troubles over to You so that I can rest physically and emotionally. I know You are working on my behalf, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Enlist God’s Aid through Prayer

Beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’

Matthew 14:30

Sinking times are praying times with the Lord’s servants. Peter neglected prayer at starting upon his venturous journey, but when he began to sink, his danger made him a suppliant, and his cry, though late, was not too late.

In our hours of bodily pain and mental anguish, we find ourselves as naturally driven to prayer as the wreck is driven upon the shore by the waves. The fox runs to its hole for protection; the bird flies to the wood for shelter; and even so the tried believer hastens to the mercy-seat for safety. Heaven’s great harbor of refuge is All-prayer; thousands of weather-beaten vessels have found a haven there, and the moment a storm comes on, it is wise for us to make for it with full sail.

Short prayers are long enough. There were but three words in the petition that Peter gasped out, but they were sufficient for his purpose. Not length but strength is desirable. A sense of need is a mighty teacher of brevity. If our prayers had less of the tail feathers of pride and more wing, they would be all the better. Verbiage is to devotion as chaff to the wheat. Precious things lie in small compass, and all that is real prayer in many a long address might have been uttered in a petition as short as that of Peter.

Our extremities are the Lord’s opportunities. Immediately a keen sense of danger forces an anxious cry from us, the ear of Jesus hears, and with Him ear and heart go together, and the hand does not long linger. At the last moment we appeal to our Master, but His swift hand makes up for our delays by instant and effectual action. Are we nearly engulfed by the boisterous waters of affliction? Let us then lift up our souls unto our Savior, and we may rest assured that He will not suffer us to perish. When we can do nothing, Jesus can do everything; let us enlist His powerful aid upon our side, and all will be well.

Devotional material is taken from Morning and Evening, written by C. H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg. 

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Immutable

“For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6)

When was the last time you used the word immutable in a sentence? It probably wasn’t recently! But can you guess what immutable means?

If you guessed not changing, you’re right. If something is immutable, it is the same all the time. Of course, human beings (including you) are not immutable. Sometimes you do right, and sometimes you do wrong. You grow and you change. Your looks and likes change.

But God doesn’t change. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Think of it:

» The same God who created the universe listens to your prayers.
» The same God who protected Noah on the ark protects you.
» The same God who gave Moses the power to part the Red Sea gives you strength.
» The same God who gave Solomon wisdom gives you wisdom.

You know that the Bible is full of wonderful stories – true stories of battles and courage and love. And God weaves all these stories together to make one magnificent story of deliverance. But did you know that the same God who wrote these stories wants you to be part of His wonderful story?

God is not a myth (a character who existed in a pretend world). God is real; He really is the same God who has always been. And He is the God who will always be. Count on it: God will always be God. He is immutable.

If God did everything He said He did in the Bible, what do you think He wants to do for you? Maybe you should ask Him about it.

God never changes.

My Response:
» Am I depending on the same powerful God that Noah depended on, the same God that Moses and Solomon depended on?
» Am I depending on God to help me as much as He helped them?

Denison Forum – What we’re reading: “The Intolerance of Tolerance” by D. A. Carson

D. A. Carson, a distinguished theologian and author, got the idea for his book The Intolerance of Tolerance on the college lecture circuit.

Whenever he spoke on the subject, the crowds were large and the discussion lively. Eventually, as he continued to mull over the topic, he realized he had to put his thoughts into book form.

“It does not take much cultural awareness to see that the difficulties surrounding this subject are eating away at both Western Christianity and the fabric of Western culture,” he wrote.

In his view, a seemingly subtle shift in the way we define tolerance, from the old meaning of “accepting the existence of different views” to the new one of “accepting different views,” has had profound cultural implications.

“To accept that a different or opposing position exists and deserves the right to exist is one thing; to accept the position itself means that one is no longer opposing it,” he wrote. “The new tolerance suggests that actually accepting another’s position means believing that position to be true, or at least as true as your own. We move from allowing the free expression of contrary opinions to the acceptance of all opinions; we move from permitting the articulation of beliefs and claims with which we do not agree to asserting that all beliefs and claims are equally valid. Thus we slide from the old tolerance to the new.”

And anyone who believes in absolute truth is considered intolerant.

Why Christians should read “The Intolerance of Tolerance”

You will gain a greater understanding of why biblical truth is under assault and be better equipped to defend it.

The big takeaway

In this era of moral relativism, when your truth is considered just as valid as mine, tolerance is regarded as the supreme virtue.

In their own words

“This older view of tolerance makes three assumptions: (1) there is objective truth out there, and it is our duty to pursue that truth; (2) the various parties in a dispute think that they know what the truth of the matter is, even though they disagree sharply, each party thinking the other is wrong; (3) nevertheless they hold that the best chance of uncovering the truth of the matter, or the best chance of persuading most people with reason and not with coercion, is by the unhindered exchange of ideas, no matter how wrongheaded some of those ideas seem.”

“The new tolerance argues that there is no one view that is exclusively true. Strong opinions are nothing more than strong preferences for a particular version of reality, each version equally true.”’’

“Christians do think that Jesus is the only way to God. But does that make them intolerant? In the former sense of ‘intolerant,’ not at all; the fact remains, however, that any sort of exclusive truth claim is widely viewed as a sign of gross intolerance. But the latter depends absolutely on the second meaning of ‘tolerance.’”

Read the first chapter

http://www.denisonforum.org/