Tag Archives: current events

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Gratitude in the Storms of Life

1 Thessalonians 5:14-18

Jesus told us that we would have hardships (John 16:33), and He was right, wasn’t He? As unpleasant as trials are, there’s still reason for giving thanks. Yesterday, we looked at three provisions believers can count on during adversity: God’s presence, a pathway through the trouble, and potential to grow. Today, let’s explore two more.

1. Protection. God doesn’t keep believers from suffering or disappointment, but He does offer protection by staying with us in the struggle. Once we trust in Jesus, God’s Spirit indwells us and will never leave. What’s more, we have assurance that nothing can separate us from His love (Rom. 8:38-39). So our ever-present God walks with us through the hardships, providing guidance and speaking truth into the situation.

2. Peace. While difficulties cause many people anxiety, God’s peace is available to His followers. This inner serenity doesn’t depend on whether circumstances improve; it’s a result of our relationship with Him. For this reason, we should be more concerned about relying on God than about fixing the problem.

As we recognize the Lord’s provision, we can genuinely express gratitude, which will fix our eyes on Him rather than on our circumstances. We may not know what the purpose is for each trial, but we do know that our God is good and trustworthy.

Bible in One Year: Hosea 1-5

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Move Your Fence

Bible in a Year:

See, I am doing a new thing!

Isaiah 43:19

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Isaiah 43:18–21

The village vicar couldn’t sleep. As World War II raged, he’d told a small group of American soldiers they couldn’t bury their fallen comrade inside the fenced cemetery next to his church. Only burials for church members were allowed. So the men buried their beloved friend just outside the fence.

The next morning, however, the soldiers couldn’t find the grave. “What happened? The grave is gone,” one soldier told the reverend. “Oh, it’s still there,” he told him. The soldier was confused, but the churchman explained. “I regretted telling you no. So, last night, I got up—and I moved the fence.”

God may give fresh perspective for our life challenges too—if we look for it. That was the prophet Isaiah’s message to the downtrodden people of Israel. Instead of looking back with longing at their Red Sea rescue, they needed to shift their sight, seeing God doing new miracles, blazing new paths. “Do not dwell on the past,” He urged them. “See, I am doing a new thing!” (Isaiah 43:18–19). He’s our source of hope during doubts and battles. “I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, [providing] drink to my people, my chosen [people]” (v. 20). 

Refreshed with new vision, we too can see God’s fresh direction in our lives. May we look with new eyes to see His new paths. Then, with courage, may we step onto new ground, bravely following Him.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

What new thing would God like to accomplish in your life? What new ground has God led you to and what will you do with it?

Merciful God, thank You for providing fresh perspective for my life in You. Refresh my sight to see new ground to walk with You.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Selecting the Proper Shoes

“Stand firm . . . having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:14-15).

Standing firm while in the conflict requires the right kind of spiritual footwear.

I’ll never forget a game that took place at the Rose Bowl during my college football days. Being winter time and late in the football season, the field was in bad shape from several days of rain and an entire season of wear and tear. However, the grounds crew painted the field green, so it looked much better than it actually was. I had two pairs of football shoes: one with long spikes for bad turf and one with short spikes for good turf. Thinking the field looked pretty good, I opted to wear the short spikes.

On the opening kick-off I caught the ball on the four- yard line, took two steps, and immediately landed on my backside. That’s not unusual after a tackle, but in this case there wasn’t an opponent in sight! I slipped in the mud—my shoes betrayed me.

Since proper shoes are important in athletics, how much more so are they when fighting for your life. Roman soldiers took great care in selecting just the right shoe. Typically they wore a thick-soled semi-boot with straps securing it to the leg. On the bottom of the soles were hobnails that protruded like the cleats of a track or baseball shoe. The thick soles protected the feet from injury; the hobnails provided traction when maneuvering on the soil.

The Christian’s spiritual footwear is the “gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15). Romans 5:1 says, “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” God has reconciled you to Himself through the death of His Son (v. 10). Once you were His enemy; now you are His child. Once He opposed you; now He is on your side.

No matter how difficult your circumstances may be or how many opponents come against you, realize that the invincible God of the universe is on your side. He makes war against His enemies (Rev. 2:16), and against Him no one can stand. So stand firm in that confidence. Focus on your Great Ally rather than your feeble enemies.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for His peace, presence, and protection in your life.

For Further Study

Read Judges 7. How did Gideon demonstrate his confidence that God was on his side?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Honor God’s Voice Above All Others

[Most] blessed is the man who believes in, trusts in, and relies on the Lord, and whose hope and confidence the Lord is.

— Jeremiah 17:7 (AMPC)

One attitude that welcomes the presence of God into our lives is the attitude that honors Him above everyone and everything else. Our attitudes need to say, “God, no matter what anyone else tells me, no matter what I think myself, no matter what my own plan is, if I clearly hear you say something and I know it’s you, I will honor you—and honor what you say—above everything else.” Sometimes we give more consideration to what people tell us than to what God says. If we pray diligently and hear from God, and then start asking people around us what they think, we honor their human opinions above God’s. Such an attitude will prevent our being able to consistently hear God’s voice. If we are ever going to develop an ability to hear from God and be led by His Spirit as a way of life, we have to stop listening to so many opinions from so many people and begin trusting the wisdom God deposits in our hearts. 

There is a time to receive good counsel but needing the approval of people will keep us out of the will of God. The devil wants us to think we are not capable of hearing from God, but God’s Word says that is not true. The Holy Spirit dwells inside of us because God wants us to be led by the Spirit in a personal way and to hear His voice for ourselves as He leads and guides us. In the verse for today, God says we will be blessed when we look to Him. According to Jeremiah 17:6, severe consequences come to those who trust in the frailty of mere men and women but blessed are those who trust in and honor the Lord. 

Good things happen if we listen to God. He wants to be our strength and we must honor His Word above all else.

Prayer Starter: Father, help me have the right attitude and one that honors You. Help me to not need the approval of people – only You.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Bring Your Children Today

‘Bring him to me.’

Mark 9:19

Despairingly the poor disappointed father turned away from the disciples to their Master. His son was in the worst possible condition, and all means had failed, but the miserable child was soon delivered from the evil one when the parent in faith obeyed the Lord Jesus’ word, “Bring him to me.”

Children are a precious gift from God, but much anxiety comes along with them. They may be a great joy or a great bitterness to their parents; they may be filled with the Spirit of God or possessed with the spirit of evil. In all cases, the Word of God gives us one prescription for the cure of all their ills: “Bring him to me.”

We need to engage in agonizing prayer on their behalf while they are still babies! Sin is there; so let our prayers begin to attack it. Our cries for our offspring should precede those cries that herald their arrival into a world of sin. In the days of their youth we will see sad evidences of that dumb and deaf spirit that will neither pray properly, nor hear the voice of God in the soul, but Jesus still commands, “Bring him to me.” When they are grown up, they may wallow in sin and foam with enmity against God; then when our hearts are breaking we should remember the Great Physician’s words, “Bring him to me.” We must never cease to pray until they cease to breathe. No case is hopeless while Jesus lives.

The Lord sometimes allows His people to be driven into a corner that they may learn how necessary He is to them. Ungodly children, when they show us our own powerlessness against the depravity of their hearts, drive us to the strong for strength, and this is a great blessing to us. Whatever our morning’s need may be, may it like a strong current carry us to the ocean of divine love. Jesus can soon remove our sorrow; He delights to comfort us. Let us hurry to Him while He waits to meet us.

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 Glorified When His Disciples Bear Fruit

 “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” (John 15:8)

Jody brushed the clods of dirt off her hands and tapped her trowel on the edge of the garden path. That does it! she thought. I’ve done my part. Now it’s up to this garden to hold up its end of the bargain! As she walked toward the house, Jody wondered at how she kept seeing rows and rows of weeds in her mind every time she closed her eyes. It felt like she had been weeding and planting for a thousand days! But it would be worth it, she knew – like when the squash and tomatoes were ripe and ready to eat! She could almost taste them now!

How do you think Jody would feel if she came to her garden at harvest-time, after all that work she put into it, only to see that none of her crops came in? What if none of her tomato plants decided to yield one tomato? What if her squash vines decided to bear a pumpkin or a carrot, but no squash? What if the ears of corn never grew kernels? That would be weird, for one thing! Who ever heard of a squash vine that gave a pumpkin, or of corn-ears that never grew kernels? A harvest like that would be very weird indeed.

That would be a strange harvest, yes, but worse – a harvest like that would also be so disappointing! Think of all the work Jody poured into her garden! How do you think it would feel to not get any fruit, not even after so much hard work?

Discipleship is hard work, too. The whole growing process for a Christian is a hard thing. But did you know that God is glorified when His people bear fruit? The Bible teaches about the kinds of things we should see growing in our hearts – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, kindness – all sorts of amazing characteristics. They should be a part of every believer’s life, and every believer should be growing in this kind of “fruit” every day.

Do you know why God is so glorified when we bear fruit? Because ultimately, He is the One Who deserves the credit for our growth. God expects us to become more and more like His Son, but He also works in our hearts to change us so that we can! He gives us the desire to grow. He enables and strengthens and gives grace to help us. And His power is greater than any human power. Only God can bring spiritually-dead people to life and grow them into spiritual fruit-bearers.

God gets all the glory when His disciples bear spiritual fruit.

My Response:
» What kind of “fruit” is my life bearing right now?
» Do I desire to glorify God?
» How can I glorify God?


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Denison Forum – Washington Football Team hosts Pride Night Out

The Washington Football Team defeated the New York Giants last night in stunning fashion: they missed a field goal that would have won the game, but a Giants player drew an offsides penalty. Given a second chance, Dustin Hopkins made the kick as time expired that won the game 30–29.

However, the game’s unusual outcome is not why I’m starting today’s Daily Article with it. Headline news was made beforehand when the Washington, DC, franchise held its first “Pride Night Out.”

It hosted a pregame party for guests and reserved blocks of tickets for attendees to watch the game together. The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington and the LGBTQ marching band DC’s Different Drummers performed as well.

LGBTQ activists are continuing their decades-old strategy to normalize and legalize LGBTQ relations and to stigmatize those who disagree. The so-called Equality Act is a recent example of the second and third tactics; last night’s game in Washington was another example of the first.

We can expect many more. For example, NPR is celebrating Wednesday’s marriage between Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and his partner, Marlon Reis. The article notes that this marks the first same-sex marriage of a sitting United States governor. The US averages 3,473 weddings per day (based on 2020’s total number of weddings), but NPR made sure we didn’t miss this one.

“You’ll never find a rainbow if you’re looking down”

My purpose this morning is not to defend biblical marriage, a subject I have discussed often over the years (herehere, and here, for example). Rather, it is to commiserate with evangelical Christians who are ready to give up on the “culture wars” this ongoing issue represents.

It is one thing to face a crisis with a plausible end such as an economic recession or even a military conflict. But when a problem has no end in sight, such as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, fatigue sets in. Despite the biblical warning, “Let us not grow weary of doing good” (Galatians 6:9), that’s exactly what can easily happen to us.

When a pandemic turns endemic, we need resources beyond ourselves. As Tish Harrison Warren notes in a brilliant New York Times article, this is just what we find in our faith. “We have been given the gift of knowing how the story ends,” she writes. She explains that through Jesus’ resurrection, “we were rescued from the oppression of sin and the power of death. The end of the story is that Jesus makes, as the Book of Revelation says, ‘all things new.’”

As a result, she testifies: “The church proclaims that in the resurrection, we have glimpsed the Promised Land. We cannot know the path ahead for any of our individual lives, but we can read the big story of redemption back into our particular life and our particular moment.”

But there’s a catch.

This week we have been exploring ways to experience empowering intimacy with Jesus. Yesterday, we noted that pride is “the devil’s most destructive tool” and a powerful weapon against spiritual intimacy. When we are deluded into self-reliance, we won’t choose Spirit-dependence or pay the price to know Jesus better than we already do. Rather than embracing “the big story of redemption,” we seek to redeem ourselves.

However, you and I were made to need intimacy with our Maker. In our anti-Christian culture, we need the power of God to embrace and defend the truth of God. As Charlie Chaplin wisely observed, “You’ll never find a rainbow if you’re looking down.”

“With the humble is wisdom”

How do we find the “rainbow” waiting for those who turn from pride to humility and self to the Spirit?

Wise king Solomon observed, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2). He also offered us “wisdom” that leads to such humility. Let’s take three steps with him today.

1: Learn from the past.

Solomon noted: “Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor” (Proverbs 18:12). Where have you failed in the past to be the person you wish to be? Would you let these painful memories humble you before the God who forgives and heals?

2: Seek God in the present.

Perhaps Solomon’s most famous words are these: “Trust in the Lᴏʀᴅ with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6). What problems in the present seem too great for you to handle alone? Would you let these challenges humble you before the God who guides and empowers?

3: Trust God for the future.

Solomon observed: “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lᴏʀᴅ establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). What about the future worries you this morning? The very fact that you are troubled by tomorrow shows that you cannot solve its problems today. But God can: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lᴏʀᴅ that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21). Will you let your fears of the future humble you before the God of eternity?

How a 9/11 widow discovered the “most beautiful blessings” of God

If we allow past pain, present problems, and future fears to humble us before the Lord, how will he respond?

Shelley Genovese Calhoun lost her husband and the father of her little girl on 9/11. In the decades since, she has made this discovery: “There is nothing that can compare to [God’s] word and his promises. Only he can make the painful things of the past the most beautiful blessings of our future.”

She testifies, “I have seen God’s glory show up in the midst of my pain and his inexplainable peace cover me in the midst of my suffering.” She adds: “In my darkest days, as I drew near to Christ, he drew near to me. I have never felt a closeness to the living God like I felt when my pain was so heavy that I could not bear to carry it on my own.”

However, Shelley admits that there have been times when “I didn’t have the strength to pray or even words to say.” In those moments, “The presence of God met me right where I was, comforting me in a way I’ve never been comforted before.”

She also learned through her heartbreak that “nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.” And she found that she can comfort others with the comfort she has received, which is why she wrote her book, Twice Blessed: A Journey of Hope Through 9/11.

God loves you just as much as he loves Shelley. The intimacy with Jesus she experienced is available to you today.

Will you admit that you need what only your Father can supply?

If so, what steps into intimacy with him will you take today?

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –In Step with the Spirit

IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT – September 17, 2021

Is there anything in your life that needs to be removed? Any impediment to the impression of God’s Spirit? We can grieve the Spirit with our angry words and resist the Spirit in our disobedience. We can test or conspire against the Spirit in our plottings. We can even quench the Spirit by having no regard for God’s teachings.

But here’s something that helps us stay in step with the Spirit. It’s in Galatians 5:22: “We know that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” These are indicators on our spiritual dashboards. So whenever we sense them, we know we are walking in the Spirit. Whenever we lack them, we know we are out of step with the Spirit. Keep in step with the Spirit.

MaxLucado.com

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – God’s Provision

Matthew 14:22-33

We all face trials. Realistically, if you’re not currently in a storm, you’re either just getting out of one or about to enter one. Thankfully, we serve a good God who always provides—including during the dark periods of life. Today’s passage tells of a stormy night on the Sea of Galilee. Let’s look at three ways Jesus provides for us today just as He did for the disciples then.

1. Presence. God is with every believer through His indwelling Holy Spirit, and He promises never to leave (John 14:16-17Heb. 13:5). This is a great gift because it gives a sense of comfort, courage, and confidence.

2. Pathway. He blesses Christians with guidance through trouble. Jesus is in total control of our storm and will use it for His purposes. We may not understand, but we can trust Him to lead us and accomplish good.

3. Potential. He offers believers the ability to grow. Hardships are exercises in trust and times to learn more fully who God is and how great His power and love are.

No one enjoys trials, but we can be grateful for God’s hand in our life and the ways He will use us. Hardships are opportunities to trust the Creator and know Him better.

Bible in One Year: Daniel 10-12

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — From Mess to Message

Bible in a Year:

Tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.

Mark 5:19

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Mark 5:1–20

Darryl was a baseball legend who nearly destroyed his life with drugs. But Jesus set him free, and he’s been clean for years. Today he helps others struggling with addiction and points them to faith. Looking back, he affirms that God turned his mess into a message.

Nothing is too hard for God. When Jesus came ashore near a cemetery after a stormy night on the Sea of Galilee with His disciples, a man possessed by darkness immediately approached Him. Jesus spoke to the demons inside him, drove them away, and set him free.

When Jesus left, the man begged to go along. But Jesus didn’t allow it, because He had work for him to do: “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you” (Mark 5:19).

We never see the man again, but Scripture shows us something intriguing. The people of that region had fearfully pleaded with Jesus “to leave” (v. 17), but the next time He returned there, a large crowd gathered (8:1). Could the crowd have resulted from Jesus sending the man home? Could it be that he, once dominated by darkness, became one of the first missionaries, effectively communicating Jesus’ power to save?

We’ll never know this side of heaven, but this much is clear. When God sets us free to serve Him, He can turn even a messy past into a message of hope and love.

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

What has Jesus set you free from? How can you share with others what He’s done for you?

Beautiful Savior, I praise You for Your amazing power! No darkness can stand against You! Help me to walk in Your light today.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Being Filled with the Holy Spirit

 “Be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

God wants every aspect of the believer’s being to be under the complete control of the Holy Spirit.

Pleroo, the basic Greek word for “be filled,” offers three shades of meaning that illustrate what Paul’s command to be Spirit-filled means. First, the word describes the pressure of wind filling a ship’s sails and moving the vessel across the water. That parallels the Holy Spirit’s leading us down the pathway of spiritual obedience. We aren’t primarily motivated by our own plans and desires, but we allow the Spirit’s gracious pressure to move us in the right direction.

The well-known pain reliever Alka-Seltzer effectively illustrates the second meaning, permeation. If you drop two Alka-Seltzers into a glass of water, they immediately fizzle and soon transform themselves into clear bubbles throughout the water and permeate it with a distinct flavor. That’s how God wants the Holy Spirit to fill our lives, so that there will be no doubt in others’ minds that we possess the distinct and pervasive savor of the Spirit.

Pleroo’s third and primary shade of meaning is that of domination or total control. In Luke 6:11 the scribes and Pharisees “were filled with rage” when Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. Jesus said, “Sorrow has filled your heart” (John 16:6) when He described the disciples’ reaction to the news that He was soon departing. In those two examples, pleroo denotes an emotion that thoroughly dominated the people’s thoughts and excluded everything else.

In regard to earthly concerns, such overwhelming feelings can be wasteful, foolish, and even harmful. But it is beneficial and completely in agreement with the Lord’s will when we yield every thought, feeling, and action to the absolute domination of the Holy Spirit. This yielding will occur in our Christian lives only when we obey another of Paul’s commands, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you” (Col. 3:16). In practice, the Spirit-filled walk is a matter of knowing God’s Word and obeying it.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to forgive you for the times when you have not allowed His Spirit to completely fill and control your life.

For Further Study

Read and compare Isaiah 6 and Revelation 1:9-18.

  • What reactions did the prophet Isaiah and the apostle John both have to the notion of God’s overwhelming power and control?
  • What other general similarities are present in their visions?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Speak the Truth

Rather, let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, [even] Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

— Ephesians 4:15 (AMPC)

People-pleasing behavior often leads people to tell lies because they fear people won’t accept the truth. They say “yes” with their mouth while their heart is screaming “no.” They may not want to do something, but they act as if they do for fear of displeasing someone. If they ever do say no, they usually make an excuse rather than tell the truth that they just don’t want to do what they are being asked to do. They may not feel it is the right thing for them to do. 

We don’t want to be rude, but neither do we want to be liars. Most people pleasers are not honest about their desires, feelings, and thoughts. They tell people what they want to hear, not what they need to hear. A healthy relationship demands honesty. We should be able to say to people, “I don’t have peace about making that commitment right now,” and they should graciously receive that answer, but it rarely happens. Some people may not want to hear the truth, but that does not relieve us of the responsibility to speak the truth.

Prayer Starter: Lord Jesus, help me to speak and live the truth in all that I do. I don’t want to be rude, but I refuse to be dishonest or to resort to half-truths to avoid the real truth, amen. 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –What Does Partake Mean?

Partakers of the divine nature.

2 Peter 1:4

To be a partaker of the divine nature is not, of course, to become God. That cannot be. The essence of Deity is not to be participated in by the creature. Between the creature and the Creator there will always be a fixed gulf in terms of essence; but as the first man Adam was made in the image of God, so we, by the renewal of the Holy Spirit, are in a diviner sense made in the image of the Most High and are “partakers of the divine nature.”

We are, by grace, made like God. “God is love”;1 we become love—“whoever loves has been born of God.”2 God is truth; we become true, and we love what is true. God is good, and He makes us good by His grace, so that we become the pure in heart who will see God.

Moreover, we become partakers of the divine nature in an even higher sense than this—in fact, in as lofty a sense as can be conceived, short of our being absolutely divine. Do we not become members of the body of the divine person of Christ? Yes, the same blood that flows in the head flows in the hand: And the same life that quickens Christ quickens His people, for “You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”3 As if this were not enough, we are married to Christ. He has betrothed us to Himself in righteousness and in faithfulness, and he who is joined to the Lord is one with Him.

Marvelous mystery! We look into it, but who will understand it? One with Jesus—so much so that the branch is not more one with the vine than we are a part of the Lord, our Savior and our Redeemer! While we rejoice in this, let us remember that those who are made “partakers of the divine nature” will display this high and holy relationship in their relationships with others and will make it evident in their daily walk and conversation that they have escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. O for more divine holiness of life!

1) 1 John 4:8
2) 1 John 4:7
3) Colossians 3:3

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 – Christ Suffered To Bring Us to God

 “For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” (1 Peter 3:17-18)

Have you ever “suffered”? Some children have. You, or someone you know, may be fighting a battle against a painful disease. Some children have suffered under physical or emotional abuse. Maybe that has happened to you. Or maybe you have lost a friend or a loved one to death. You may have heard of families who have been persecuted for worshipping the God of the Bible.

But most children have not seen heavy, hard suffering – at least, not yet. Suffering is intense pain that we feel, either on the inside or outside. You might look and feel fine externally (on the outside), but you might be suffering on the inside, in your heart.

Very few people like suffering! Think about it. Let’s say you are sitting in a lawn chair, sipping pink lemonade under the hot sun, when – all of the sudden – you hear a strange, yet familiar buzzing sound near your right arm. What!? It’s a bee! A very large bee with a very sharp-looking stinger on his backside! What is your first reaction? Do you calmly say, “Mr. Big Scary Bee, sir, please do not poke me today with that painful stinger of yours! I’m right in the middle of my lemonade!”? No! You would probably jump out of your lawn chair really fast, screaming and swatting and running around in circles until you were sure Mr. Big Scary Bee, sir, had gone bye-bye!

Why is that your response? Because you hate pain. You dread it. You would never seek after it. You would be crazy if you did. Humanly speaking, suffering is always a bad thing! We never enjoy pain, and we always try to get out of it if we can!

But the Bible teaches in 1 Peter and in Hebrews and in several other places that Jesus Christ did choose to suffer. He had a choice, and He chose suffering! Why? Well, He was God, but He was also human, so pain and suffering were probably not enjoyable for Jesus Christ, either. Just because He was totally God does not mean that suffering did not hurt Him! He was also totally human, so He experienced fear and pain and probably never enjoyed either one. But the Bible shows us that Christ took on suffering, anyway, that He did it in order to bridge the gap between us and God.

Jesus Christ endured (kept on fighting through) the suffering because He really wanted what was waiting on the other side of suffering. The Bible says in Hebrews that Christ chose suffering “for the joy that was set before Him.” In other words, our being able to be right with God meant more to Jesus Christ than His own comfort and safety meant to Him. His sacrificial suffering was what made it possible for us to be right with God. What a courageous and selfless and loving Savior we have!

Jesus Christ endured suffering in order to provide sinners a way of salvation.

My Response:
» Do I ever spend time thinking about what Christ went through so that I could be right with God?
» When I go through suffering, can I find comfort and strength through Christ?
» Do I have good reasons to trust and obey this suffering Savior?


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Denison Forum – “Freak accident” kills man at McDonald’s

I have traveled through Vancouver, Canada, occasionally over the years and always enjoyed my time in this beautiful city. However, what people are calling a “freak accident” occurred there recently; as you’ll see, what happened in Vancouver could happen where you and I live as well.

A man was driving through a McDonald’s restaurant takeout lane when he opened his door to get something he dropped from his window while paying. As he leaned out, the car rolled forward. The door hit part of the restaurant, pinning him between the door and the frame. A police official said, “Efforts were made by first responders to revive the man, but tragically, he died on scene.”

Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker cites compelling research to show that by almost every metric of human wellbeing, the world is getting better—from war, violence, and poverty (all declining) to health, wealth, happiness, and equality (all improving). But it doesn’t take long for the news to remind us of our mortality as well.

Some more examples: CNN reported yesterday that “1 in every 500 US residents have died of Covid-19.” An American intelligence official estimated Tuesday that al Qaeda could begin to threaten the US within one to two years. I noted earlier this week that the next terrorist assault on our country is likely to be a cyberattack. I also noted that a solar storm could cause an “internet apocalypse,” affecting much of society for weeks or months at a time.

Now we’re seeing the gravity of such threats in real time: Apple issued emergency software updates this week after finding a flaw that allows highly invasive spyware to infect anyone’s iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or Mac computer without so much as a click.

“The devil’s most destructive tool”

We are focusing this week on ways to experience transforming intimacy with Jesus. Yesterday we discussed the temptation of so-called private sin and its danger to our spiritual health. Today, let’s focus on a second enemy of spiritual intimacy.

I often state that God redeems all he allows. One way I believe he would redeem the demonstrations of human finitude and fallenness we encounter each day is to show us our constant need for resources only he can supply.

Here’s the reason we need such reminders: as C. S. Lewis noted, “It is pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began.” Thomas A. Tarrants of the C. S. Lewis Institute adds: “Lewis is not simply giving us his private opinion but summarizing the thinking of great saints through the ages. Augustine and Aquinas both taught that pride was the root of sin. Likewise, Calvin, Luther, and many others.

“Make no mistake about it: pride is the great sin. It is the devil’s most effective and destructive tool.”

Consider three ways pride manifests itself in our lives today.

1: Time

In Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life, Tish Harrison Warren quotes Dorothy Bass, who warns us of “a false theology: we come to believe that we, not God, are the masters of time. We come to believe that our worth must be proved by the way we spend our hours and that our ultimate safety depends on our own good management.”

Warren confesses that Bass described her “with stinging accuracy.” I must make the same confession today. That’s why we should proclaim, “This is the day the Lᴏʀᴅ has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24, my emphasis).

2: Prosperity

In 2013, Margaret Loughrey won $37 million in Ireland’s EuroMillions lottery. However, she said in 2019, “Money has brought me nothing but grief. It has destroyed my life. I have had six years of this. I don’t believe in religion, but if there is a hell, I have been in it. It has been that bad.” She was recently found dead in her home.

The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche claimed that the “will to power” is the basic drive in human nature. He was especially right with regard to prosperity. The more we have, the more we want. If money is a means to power, we can never have enough. That’s why “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” (1 Timothy 6:10).

3: Adversity

Conversely, adversity can promote pride. We think we can solve our problems, so we double down on ourselves by trying harder to do better.

Artist Winslow Homer spoke for many in our self-reliant culture when he stated, “There’s no such thing as talent. What they call talent is nothing but the capacity for doing continuous work in the right way.” Psychologist Carl Rogers added: “What I am is good enough if I would only be it openly.”

To the contrary, when Paul faced a “thorn in the flesh” he could not remove in his strength, he heard God say, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

“I have calmed and quieted my soul”

Tomorrow I plan to close our week with practical ways to defeat pride and to experience transforming intimacy with Jesus each day. For today, let’s make David’s prayer ours:

“O Lᴏʀᴅ, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lᴏʀᴅ
From this time forth and forevermore” (Psalm 131).

Is your heart “lifted up” in self-reliant pride, or would God say you are as dependent on him as a child on its mother?

There is not a third option.

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –Plug in to God’s Power

PLUG IN TO GOD’S POWER – September 16, 2021

I believe we make the mistake the Welsh woman made. She lived many years ago in a remote valley and felt it worth the cost and trouble to have electricity installed in her home. Several weeks after installation, the power company noticed she’d barely used electricity. A meter reader went to see her. “Is there a problem?” he asked. “Oh no, we’re quite satisfied. Every night we turn on the electric lights to see how to light our lamps.”

We’re prone to do likewise. Depend on God’s Spirit to save us but not sustain us. We turn to him to get us started and then continue in our own strength. Scripture urges us “keep in step with the Spirit.” He directs and leads, we obey and follow. Plug in to his power, and leave the switch turned on.

MaxLucado.com

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Caring for Your Conscience

1 Timothy 1:3-7

Yesterday we looked at how powerful our conscience can be, but even this divinely bestowed moral compass can be swayed by our thoughts, experiences, and background. What matters most is the amount of truth that informs it.

Since Jesus is the truth (John 14:6), trusting Him is the first step toward developing a good conscience. When He comes into our life, He gives us a new heart and mind, which can understand and apply truth. Things we once considered acceptable, we now recognize as sinful.

We also have the truth of God’s Word. As we let Scripture fill our mind, our “monitoring system” is sharpened. Then we filter thoughts and actions through the grid of God’s standard for right and wrong.

In addition, we have been given the Holy Spirit, who works with our conscience to assist us in discriminating between righteousness and sin. He also interprets Scripture for us and prompts us to apply it accurately to our life.

Thankfully, the Lord has given us everything we need to develop a good conscience, which is essential for living a godly life.

Bible in One Year: Daniel 7-9

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — God’s Molded Instruments

Bible in a Year:

We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Isaiah 64:8

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Isaiah 64:5–9

Considered one of the greatest video games ever made, Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has sold more than seven million copies worldwide. It’s also popularized the ocarina, a tiny, ancient, potato-shaped musical instrument made of clay.

The ocarina doesn’t look like much of a musical instrument. However, when it’s played—by blowing into its mouthpiece and covering various holes around its misshapen body—it produces a strikingly serene and hauntingly hopeful sound. 

The ocarina’s maker took a lump of clay, applied pressure and heat to it, and transformed it into an amazing musical instrument. I see a picture of God and us here. Isaiah 64:68–9 tells us: “All of us have become like one who is unclean. . . . Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter. . . . Do not be angry beyond measure.” The prophet was saying: God, You’re in charge. We’re all sinful. Shape us into beautiful instruments for You.

That’s exactly what God does! In His mercy, He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for our sin, and now He’s shaping and transforming us as we walk in step with His Spirit every day. Just as the ocarina maker’s breath flows through the instrument to produce beautiful music, God works through us—His molded instruments—to accomplish His beautiful will: to be more and more like Jesus (Romans 8:29).

By:  Ruth Wan

Reflect & Pray

How can knowing that you’re a recipient of God’s mercy affect what you think, say, and do today? How can you submit yourself to His transformation?

Father, thank You for saving me and transforming me so that I’ll become more like Your Son, Jesus. Teach me to submit to Your Spirit’s work of transforming me.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Bearing Burdens

 “Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

Those who walk by the Spirit will lovingly bear one another’s burdens.

The Lord Jesus presents love for God and love for our neighbor as the great summary of the entire Law (Matt. 22:37-40).

It only makes sense, then, that love will characterize the life of any Christian who is walking by the Spirit. Love will also be an integral part of any Spirit-assisted ministry to others. Paul tells us in today’s verse that when we help other believers hold up their particular burdens, we are obeying “the law of Christ” or the law of love, which James calls “the royal law” (James 2:8).

But what exactly does Galatians 6:2 mean when it commands us to “bear one another’s burdens”? Commentator William Hendriksen gives us this general but helpful observation: “This does not merely mean ‘Tolerate each other,’ or ‘Put up with each other.’ It means: ‘Jointly shoulder each member’s burdens.’”

The actual word burden calls to mind a variety of possible sins, difficulties, and responsibilities; but Paul was using the Greek term that refers to an extremely heavy and unbearable load. It’s a load that one person alone can’t carry, which underscores again that Christians need each other. The Holy Spirit wants each member of the church involved in a ministry of mutual support.

The essence of burden-bearing is spiritual accountability and responsibility. One of the most practical ways we can bear someone else’s burden is to talk and pray regularly with him or her about spiritual issues and measure that person’s progress in overcoming a certain sin or temptation.

Bearing the burdens of another believer is a wonderful, reciprocal learning process in which both individuals can benefit from God’s truth and understand more about His will for their lives (see Gal. 6:6). As we become more sensitive and obedient to Him, the Holy Spirit orchestrates this ministry and gives us the privilege of instructing and upholding others as we continue to walk in Him day by day.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God that His Spirit is powerful enough to help us bear the heaviest burdens of fellow believers.

For Further Study

Read the Epistle to Philemon.

  • What things did Paul probably do to bear Onesimus’s burdens?
  • How was the entire letter a form of burden-bearing by Paul for Philemon?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Setting Boundaries

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.

— Proverbs 29:25 (ESV)

It is wrong for anyone to try to control us, but it is equally wrong for us to allow it. We must stand up for ourselves and be determined to please God rather than other people. My mother allowed my father to control her out of fear, and everyone in the family paid the price for her refusal to stand up for herself and us. Fear is a real thing, but it has no power over us except what we give it. Author and psychologist Dr. Henry Cloud says that we get what we tolerate.

The best thing is never to start a relationship by letting yourself be controlled and manipulated. But if you are already in that situation, it is not too late to stand up for yourself. It will be more difficult to do than it would have been had you established boundaries from the beginning of the relationship, but it can still be done. Let the person who is controlling you know that you realize you have been allowing them to control you and that you will no longer let it continue. They may react in an angry and even a violent manner, but in the end, they will respect you for it.

It is God’s will for us to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and in order to do that, we will find that we must often say no to the demands of people. People who will only stay in relationship with you if they are allowed to control you don’t really love you. They are simply using you to help them get what they want. You deserve better than that and are far too valuable to let anyone abuse or misuse you.

If you have a history of not speaking up or just “going along to get along,” taking the first step toward freedom will be the most difficult. Satan is delighted to rob you of your God-ordained destiny, and he can easily do it through the fear of other people. The apostle Paul said that had he been trying to be popular with people, he would not have become an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ (see Gal. 1:10). Think seriously about that for a moment, and then take a look at your own life and make sure you are not missing God’s will by being overly concerned about keeping people happy.

We should want to please and make people happy, but not if the price of doing so is disobeying God. The Word of God tells us to follow peace and I want to strongly recommend that you begin doing that. Anyone who truly cares about you will want you to follow God even if it means you can’t give them what they want. God is always with you to help you do what you need to do.

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me live to please You, rather than the people in my life, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org