Tag Archives: human rights

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Rekindling the Flame

2 Timothy 1:1-14

Burnout is a term heard frequently today—it describes a lack of motivation that results when something produces frustration or exhaustion instead of inspiration. This often happens in high-stress jobs, long-term relationships like marriage, and even in the church. Every year there are pastors who walk away from their work because the joys of ministry are overshadowed by the difficulties. This type of weariness is something most Christians struggle with at some point in life.

Timothy was experiencing burnout—as the pastor of the church in Ephesus, he was being worn down by the constant battle for the truth that was under attack by false teachers. For this reason, Paul wrote to him with encouragement to “kindle afresh” his spiritual gift (2 Timothy 1:6).

In the same way, sometimes the pressures of daily life, hardships, physical ailments, or relational conflicts can make us feel spiritually dry and empty of zeal. Although an ebb and flow of emotions is normal, a persistently dry spiritual life is a reason for concern. To rekindle the fire, we need the fuel of God’s Word and His Spirit. Pray with the psalmist, “Revive me according to Your word” (Psalm 119:25).

Bible in One Year: 1 Kings 6-7


Our Daily Bread — The Baggage Activity

Bible in a Year:

Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.

Leviticus 19:34

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Leviticus 19:32–34

Karen, a middle school teacher, created an activity to teach her students how to better understand one another. In “The Baggage Activity” students wrote down some of the emotional weights they were carrying. The notes were shared anonymously, giving the students insight into each other’s hardships, often with a tearful response from their peers. The classroom has since been filled with a deeper sense of mutual respect among the young teens, who now have a greater sense of empathy for one another.

Throughout the Bible, God has nudged His people to treat one another with dignity and show empathy in their interaction with others (Romans 12:15). As early in the history of Israel as the book of Leviticus, God pointed the Israelites toward empathy—especially in their dealings with foreigners. He said to “love them as [themselves]” because they too had been foreigners in Egypt and knew that hardship intimately (Leviticus 19:34). 

Sometimes the burdens we carry make us feel like foreigners—alone and misunderstood—even among our peers. We don’t always have a similar experience to draw on as the Israelites did with the foreigners among them. Yet we can always treat those God puts in our paths with the respect and understanding that we, ourselves, desire. Whether a modern-day middle schooler, an Israelite, or anything in between, we honor God when we do.

By:  Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

Who around you might need your empathy for the burdens they carry? How can you “love them as yourself”?

God, You know the weight in my heart and You graciously unburden me as I put my trust in You. Help me to offer care and compassion toward those in my life.


Grace to You; John MacArthur – Reaching Out to Others

“‘Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise’” (Luke 23:43).

The circumstances are never too adverse, nor the hour too late, to offer the gospel of Christ to someone.

Jesus was crucified between two criminals (thieves)—one on each side of His cross. At first the two men both joined the onlookers in hurling unbelieving rhetoric at the Lord (Mark 15:32). But one of the thieves obviously had a change of heart as the hours elapsed. He rebuked the other thief by pointing out Jesus’ sinlessness (Luke 23:40-41) and then expressed his need of salvation: “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” (v. 42). And Jesus graciously answered the thief’s request.

The dying thief’s conversion is an extraordinary story. At Calvary there was nothing convincing or favorable about Jesus. From man’s vantage point He was dying because He had been completely rejected; even the disciples had deserted Him. Jesus appeared weak, disgraced, and ashamed. When the thief uttered his plea for help, no one was pointing to Jesus and saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

Given the circumstances, it is difficult to comprehend how Christ could be concerned with the immediate salvation of a wretched thief who was justly being executed for his crimes. But our Lord cared very much about the destiny of that man’s soul. Jesus’ desire to see sinners saved was constant, because He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). His concern for the unsaved is the supreme example and motivation to us in reaching out to others.

The thief’s salvation is also a clear illustration of the sovereignty of God in redemption. So often the church wants to attribute someone’s salvation to human cleverness in presenting a well-crafted message at just the right time and in the most appropriate place. But salvation is always the direct result of God’s intervening grace. The sovereign work of God’s Spirit, not circumstances, gave the thief a saving understanding about who Jesus was and what His death was accomplishing.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God for the courage to reach out with the good news of salvation no matter what the circumstances.

For Further Study

Read John 4:1-42.

  • What excuses could Jesus have used for not talking to the woman?
  • How did He keep His focus during His conversation with her?


Joyce Meyer – God Lives in You

Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.]…

— John 15:4 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Hearing from God Each Morning – by Joyce Meyer

Why would God want to live in us? And how can He do so? After all, He is holy, and we are weak, human flesh with frailties, faults, and failures.

The answer is simple: He loves us and chooses to make His home in us. He does that because He is God; He has the ability to do what He wants, and He elects or chooses to make His home in our hearts. This choice is not based on any good deed we have done or ever could do; it based solely on God’s grace, power, and mercy. We become God’s home by believing in Jesus Christ (as God instructs us in the Bible). The verse for today emphasizes the fact that we must believe in Jesus Christ as the one God sent in order to experience intimacy with Him. Believing in Him enables us to hear His voice, receive His Word in our hearts, and feel His presence.

In addition to believing in Jesus as God’s heaven-sent gift to mankind, we are to simply believe that Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins was enough to allow us into the presence of God. We become the home of God when we receive Jesus as our Savior and Lord. From that position, by the power of the Holy Spirit, He begins a wonderful work in us.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for living in my heart. I am so grateful for the incredible sacrifice You made for me. Help me to always feel Your presence. In Jesus’ name, amen.


Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Has He Forsaken You?

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

 Psalm 22:1

Here we view the Savior in the depth of His sorrows. No other place displays the griefs of Christ like this, and no other moment at Calvary is so full of agony as when His cry rends the air—“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” At this moment physical weakness was united with acute mental torture from the shame and ignominy through which He had to pass; His grief culminated in suffering the spiritual agony beyond all telling that resulted from the departure of His Father’s presence. This was the black midnight of His horror—when He descended the abyss of suffering.

No man can enter into the full meaning of these words. Some of us think at times that we could cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” There are seasons when the brightness of our Father’s smile is eclipsed by clouds and darkness; but let us remember that God never really does forsake us. It is only a seeming forsaking with us, but in Christ’s case it was a real forsaking. We grieve at a little withdrawal of our Father’s love; but the real turning away of God’s face from His Son—who can calculate how deep the agony that caused Him?

In our case, our cry is often dictated by unbelief: In His case, it was the utterance of a dreadful fact, for God had really turned away from Him for a season. Poor, distressed soul who once lived in the sunshine of God’s face but now in darkness, remember that He has not really forsaken you. God in the clouds is as much our God as when He shines forth in all the beauty of His grace; but since even the thought that He has forsaken us gives us agony, what must the suffering of the Savior have been when He exclaimed, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

One-Year Bible Reading Plan


Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Shelters His Children

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1)

The weather was not what they had hoped for, but the Herbergers were determined not to let a little rain spoil their camping trip. They needed to put up their tent before the storm broke.

Hurriedly, they spread the canvas, hammered stakes into the ground, and raised the poles. Thunder rumbled. The children made one last dash to the van for snacks and flashlights. Just as they returned, the downpour began. Mr. Herberger zipped up the door of the tent and closed the vents.

For the next couple of hours, the family sang, played games, and ate popcorn and cookies together in the close quarters. Rain pounded on the tent roof and turned the dirt campsite into mud, but the tent kept the Herbergers dry and comfortable.

Like a comforting shelter, God wants to be our place of safety from the storms of life. He wants us to trust in His care. If we make God our “dwelling place,” He will not allow evil to happen to us (Psalm 91:10).

God has the power and the will to protect His loved ones: He can do it, and He wants to do it. Nothing can happen to us except what He allows. Sometimes He permits hard times to come our way. Even then, His grace covers us completely and gives us peace and strength as we live in Him.

God wants to be our hiding place.

My Response:
» Am I trusting God to be my shelter?

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Denison Forum – Pro-life activist was nearly aborted: The power of changed lives and encouragement from one of the greatest sermons of the twentieth century

Christianity Today is profiling a woman who was nearly aborted in 1989. Claire Culwell’s mother had an abortion at twenty weeks that killed Claire’s sibling. Soon thereafter, she discovered that she was still pregnant (she had not known she was carrying twins). She returned for a second abortion, but it never took place due to complications from the first.

Claire is now a wife, the mother of four children, and an activist for the cause of life.

In 1989, there were reportedly 1,396,658 abortions in the US. When you read Claire’s story, do you resonate with gratitude that she was not one of them? That sentiment is a God-given belief that every life is intrinsically valuable, a fact Christians call the “sanctity of life” doctrine.

We see this doctrine on display every day. For example, nationwide grief over the deaths of George Floyd and Daunte Wright continues to make headlines. We have seen tributes to Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball’s color barrier on this day in 1947.

We have seen the good news that a federal court has upheld an Ohio law banning abortions on babies with Down syndrome. And we have seen the tragic news that a father drowned last Saturday while rescuing two sons from a riptide on the Texas coast.

Each story is another reminder that, as St. Augustine noted, “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”

Remarkable good news about faith 

I have been making a case for Christian optimism in recent days based on these facts:

  • It is always too soon to give up on God’s grace.
  • Jesus is as active in our world today as when he first rose from the dead.
  • God’s capacity to change our fallen world depends not on our finitude but on his omnipotence.
  • Secularism fails to keep its promises, demonstrating our need for faith in a transcendent God.

Today, let’s consider a fifth factor: our lives are lived best in relationship with our Maker, a fact that demonstrates the abiding relevance of our Lord to our broken world.

As you may know, Gallup recently announced that church membership in America has fallen below 50 percent for the first time. The Boston Globe is responding with two paradoxical reports. One is that “the unwavering faith and passion of true belief is increasingly being channeled not into religious observance but into identity politics and the culture wars.” This can be problematic on a variety of levels.

The other part of the article is far more positive. It states (with links to substantiating research) that “regular worshipers tend to live longer, to suffer lower levels of stress, to have fewer symptoms of depression, and to have better cardiovascular and immune function. Similarly, the data suggests that religious worshipers tend to be happier, to drink less, to have lower rates of drug abuse, and to give to charity and donate blood at above-average rates.”

The article adds: “Amid the uniquely difficult circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, a survey of self-reported health conditions found that Americans who attended religious services regularly were the only demographic group that appeared to avoid a decline in their mental health in 2020.”

It then offers this sobering response: “To the extent that religious practice across America is weakening, it seems only too likely that those benefits will fade too.”

They “recognized that they had been with Jesus” 

It stands to reason that those who experience the “abundant life” of Jesus will demonstrate the results of that life to the world (John 10:10). For example, I was drawn to the Christian faith by the faith of Christians. I did not ask my tenth-grade Sunday school teacher how I could be saved, regenerated, or justified—I asked her how I could have what she had. She sat down with me and led me to Jesus.

When the Spirit fell at Pentecost, Peter declared the word of God just as his Savior had earlier (Acts 2Matthew 5–7). When he and John met a “man lame from birth,” they cared for him just as Jesus had earlier cared for a lame man (Acts 3:1–10John 5:8–9). When Peter and John refused to stop preaching the gospel, the religious authorities saw their “boldness” and “recognized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

If others don’t see the difference Jesus makes in our lives, they have the right to question whether Jesus will make a difference in their lives. Conversely, if we are controlled by the Spirit who empowered our Lord (Ephesians 5:18Acts 10:38), Jesus will fulfill his promise that “whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do” (John 14:12).

Here’s the bottom line: if God’s people will seek the power of God’s Spirit to speak God’s word and share God’s love, our lives must inevitably impact our secular culture in ways we can see and ways we cannot.

“Death couldn’t handle him, and the grave couldn’t hold him” 

I was honored to bring the keynote address at the 57th Annual Louisiana Governor’s Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday. It was deeply moving to hear Gov. John Bel Edwards describe his faith so personally and to join legislators and Christian leaders as they prayed for their state and our nation. 

The purpose of my address was to invite those present to a deeper commitment to the kingship of Jesus than they had ever known so God can use their influence to shape their culture in transformative ways. I closed with quotations from one of the greatest sermons of the twentieth century, a message delivered by Dr. S. M. Lockridge on the kingship of Jesus. The brilliant preacher said this of our risen Lord:

“He’s the centerpiece of civilization. He’s unparalleled. He’s unprecedented. He’s preeminent. He’s the loftiest idea in literature. He’s the fundamental doctrine of true theology. He’s the key of knowledge. He’s the wellspring of wisdom. He’s the doorway of deliverance. He’s the gateway of glory. He’s the pathway of peace. He’s the roadway of righteousness. He’s the highway of holiness. 

“The Pharisees couldn’t stand him, but they found out they couldn’t stop him. Pilate couldn’t find any fault in him. Herod couldn’t kill him. Death couldn’t handle him, and the grave couldn’t hold him!”

The pastor closed with this declaration: 

“He’s the master of the mighty. He’s the captain of the conquerors. He’s the head of the heroes. He’s the leader of the legislatures. He’s the overseer of the overcomers. He’s the governor of governors. He’s the prince of princes. He’s the King of kings, and he’s the Lord of lords. That’s my king!”

Is he your king?


Upwords; Max Lucado –The Message from the Cross

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Why did Jesus live on the earth as long as he did? To take on our sins is one thing. To experience death, yes. But to put up with the long roads, the long days? Why did he do it? Because he wants you to trust him. Even his final act on earth was intended to win your trust. Mark 15:22 says, “They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha where they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him.”

Why? Why did he endure all this suffering, all these feelings? Well because he knew you’d be weary, disturbed, and angry. He knew you’d be grief-stricken, and hungry, that you’d face pain. A pauper knows better than to beg from another pauper. He needs someone who’s stronger than he is. Jesus’ message from the cross is this: I am that person. Trust me.


In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Reach of God’s Love

Acts 9:1-31

Do you know someone with a hostile attitude toward God? It can be hard to imagine such a person accepting the Lord’s salvation, but no one is beyond the reach of our loving heavenly Father.

Saul of Tarsus is a perfect example. This self-righteous Pharisee was so confident of his obedience to God’s Law that he couldn’t see his need for a Savior. His goal was to get rid of Christians, but God had other plans for his life. Jesus appeared to him in a blinding light and confronted him about his persecution of the church. Saul repented, placed his trust in the Savior, and spent the rest of his life spreading the good news that salvation comes through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Conviction of sin is an uncomfortable but important step for a life of faith. Before we can understand our need for a Savior, we must recognize the hopelessness of our sinful condition. Then we can repent and receive the forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus Christ. 

Like Paul, we are saved only because God reached down to rescue us. And He will never leave or forsake us (Heb. 13:5) but is always present to mold us into Christlikeness.

Bible in One Year: 1 Kings 3-5


Our Daily Bread — Live Like It’s Morning

Bible in a Year:

The fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth.

Ephesians 5:9

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ephesians 5:1–9

When I have to travel across time zones by air, I try various remedies to avoid jet lag. I think I’ve tried them all! On one occasion, I decided to adjust my in-flight eating to the time zone where I was heading. Instead of eating dinner with the rest of the passengers, I kept watching a movie and tried to fall asleep. The hours of elective fasting were difficult, and the breakfast that came right before we landed left much to be desired. But living “out of sorts” with those around me worked. It jolted my body clock into a new time zone.

Paul knew that if believers in Jesus were to truly reflect Him in their lives, they would need to live out of step with the world around them. They “were once darkness” but now they were to live as “children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). And what might that look like? Paul goes on to fill out the picture: “The fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth” (v. 9).

Sleeping through dinner may have seemed foolish to the people on my flight, but even as it’s midnight in the world, as believers, we’re called to live like it’s morning. This may provoke scorn and opposition, but in Jesus we can “walk in the way of love,” following the example of the One who “love[s] us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (v. 2).

By:  Glenn Packiam

Reflect & Pray

Where have your actions and choices lined up too closely with the world around you? What would the fruit of goodness, righteousness, and truth look like in your life?

Jesus, wake me up to the new day that has come in You. Fill me with Your power to live in a “different time zone.” Open my eyes to choose goodness, righteousness, and beauty.


Grace to You; John MacArthur – Following Christ’s Example

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matt. 5:7).

Mercy is compassion in action.

Mercy is not a human attribute. It is God’s gift to those who seek Him. Psalm 103:11 says, “As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him” (KJV).

The verb form of “merciful” appears many times in Scripture and means “to have mercy on,” “aid the afflicted,” “give help to the wretched,” or “rescue the miserable.” In general it refers to anything you do to benefit someone in need. The noun form is used only twice: here in Matthew 5:7 and in Hebrews 2:17, which reads, “[Christ] had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest.” Christ Himself is both the source and illustration of mercy.

Christ modeled mercy throughout His earthly ministry. He healed the sick and enabled the crippled to walk. He gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and speech to the mute. His redeeming love embraced sinners of all kinds. He wept with those in sorrow and comforted the lonely. He embraced little children and the elderly alike. His mercy was compassion in action!

Despite His abundant mercy, Jesus received no mercy from His enemies. They hated Him without cause, accused Him falsely, beat Him, nailed Him to a cross, spat upon Him, and cursed Him. Even then He sought mercy for them, praying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Some have paraphrased Matthew 5:7 to say that if you show mercy to others, they will show mercy to you. Now that might happen in some isolated incidences, but in this jaded world that’s not often the case—as Jesus’ life clearly demonstrates. Many Christians have incurred slander, rebuke, lawsuits, and even death for their noble efforts. Jesus didn’t guarantee merciful treatment from others. His emphasis was that God shows mercy toward those who show mercy to others.

Don’t ever be reluctant to show mercy to others—even when they misunderstand or mistreat you. God will use your kindness for His glory and reward you accordingly.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise Jesus for being willing to suffer death that you might receive mercy.
  • Is there someone you might show mercy to today in some tangible way?

For Further Study

Read John 5:1-18.

  • How did Christ demonstrate mercy to the sick man?
  • How did the Jewish religious leaders react?


Joyce Meyer – Be Kind

 She opens her mouth in skillful and godly wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness [giving counsel and instruction]. — Proverbs 31:26 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource The Confident Woman – by Joyce Meyer

Our woman in Proverbs 31 knows the importance of words. She opens her mouth in skillful and godly wisdom. The law of kindness is in her tongue. Speaking kindly to other people is a tremendous attribute and one that certainly enhances a godly woman. She knows that anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but an encouraging word makes it glad (see Proverbs 12:25). We all need kindness, and I believe we will reap what we sow. Proverbs 18:20–21 says that we will have to be satisfied with the consequences of our words and that the power of life and death are in the tongue. It goes on to say that we will eat the fruit of our words for life or death.

Not only do we have the capability of speaking life or death to other people, we have the same ability in our own lives. We can speak words that build confidence in ourselves and others or we can speak words that destroy confidence. Be especially careful about self-talk. This is the conversation that you have with yourself inside yourself. Be sure what you are saying is something you want to live with.

Prayer Starter: Lord, make my heart to be kind and compassionate, so that it overflows in kind words to others. May my words have the power of life in them, to build up others and encourage them. Amen.


Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Even in the Face of Mockery

All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads.

 Psalm 22:7

Mockery was a large factor in our Lord’s suffering. Judas mocked Him in the garden; the chief priests and scribes laughed Him to scorn; Herod set Him at nothing; the servants and the soldiers jeered at Him and brutally insulted Him; Pilate and his guards ridiculed His royalty; and on the tree all sorts of horrible jibes and hideous taunts were hurled at Him.

Ridicule is always hard to bear, but when we are in intense pain it is so heartless, so cruel, that it cuts us to the quick. Consider the Savior crucified, racked with anguish far beyond anything we can imagine, and then picture that motley multitude, all wagging their heads or making mouths in bitter contempt of the poor suffering victim! Surely there must have been something more in the Crucified One than they could see, or else such a great and mingled crowd would not have unanimously “honored” Him with such contempt. Was it not evil confessing, in the very moment of its greatest apparent triumph, that after all it could do no more than mock at that victorious goodness that was then reigning on the cross?

O Jesus, “despised and rejected by men,”1 how could You die for men who treated You so badly? Here is amazing love, love divine, love beyond degree. We despised You in our pre-converted days, and even since our new birth we have given the world a place in our hearts, and yet You bled to heal our wounds and died to give us life. O that we could set You on a glorious high throne in all men’s hearts! We would ring out Your praises over land and sea until men would universally adore you just as they once unanimously rejected You.

Your creatures wrong Thee, O sovereign Good!
You are not loved, because not understood:
This grieves me most, that vain pursuits beguile
Ungrateful men, regardless of Thy smile.

1) Isaiah 53:3

One-Year Bible Reading Plan


Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Magnified When We Use Our Mouths for Him

“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:11)

What does it mean to speak “as the oracles of God”? Some Bible translations use the word “utterances.” Basically this verse is talking about what ought to be true of our speech whenever something comes out of our mouths. You may not be a preacher standing in a pulpit. You may not be a teacher standing at a chalkboard. But did you know that every believer has, in a sense, a duty to be a “mouthpiece” of God?

These days, God does not give us new revelation outside of the Bible. He has already spoken to us through His written Word, and through His Son, the Living Word. So, if we are true believers, our words ought to be affected by His already-given Word. Our words should reflect the impact that God’s Word has had on our lives. Our words should be in keeping with what God would want us to say. And our words should not go against His Word.

When you talk to a cashier or a bagger at the grocery store, did you know that what you say ought to reflect God’s Word? When you speak to your family members, your speech ought to be honoring to God. Whenever you use the brain that God gave you to think of things to say, and whenever you use the mouth that God gave you to say those things, remember that your speech should line up with the will of God. God makes speaking possible, and He gives you opportunities to speak. Your words should line up with God’s Word. Your words should not contradict (go against) His Word.

Think about the last time you spoke with anyone. Were you a “mouthpiece” for God’s words to come through you and encourage or help that person? Or did you use your mouth to talk however you wanted to about whatever you wanted to? The best way to use your tongue is as a tool to do God’s will. When someone hears you speak, do they hear “a word in season”? Do they hear speech that is “full of grace and truth”? When people think about having a conversation with you, do they think, “Oh, no–do I really have to listen to Kim complain all about her classes again?” Or do they think things like “I can’t wait to see Jared again and hear how things went this summer at that Christian camp he always goes to.”

An old preacher used to say, “A Christian is the only ‘Bible’ some people will ever read.” What kind of things are others “reading” about your God and His people when you open up your mouth? When you have a chance to speak to someone, honor God with your speech: Talk to that person as God Himself would have you talk to that person.

God has given us our tongues to be used as tools for His glory.

My Response:
» How might others describe my usual talking habits?
» Am I using my brain and my tongue to honor God with my speech?
» How can I change the way I talk so that I am less of a “mouthpiece” for myself and more like a “mouthpiece” for God?

Read in browser »

Denison Forum – Woman refuses to return $1.2 million after clerical error: A fascinating article by a religious skeptic and the empowering privilege of intercession

By Dr. Jim Denison

Imagine receiving $1.2 million in your brokerage account as the result of a clerical error. What would you do?

Here’s what Kelyn Spadoni of suburban New Orleans allegedly did: she refused to return the funds, moving them instead into a different account so the bank could not reclaim them, then used some of the money to buy a new car and a house. She has been taken into custody and was fired from her job as a dispatcher for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. So far, about 75 percent of the money has been recovered.

Her story is a parable for a secular society that is spending the cultural “funds” we received from our Judeo-Christian heritage but refuses to acknowledge our debt. This refusal is growing more serious and damaging by the day.

For example, the Supreme Court ruled last Friday that California cannot bar meetings of more than three families from worshipping in a private home. According to the Wall Street Journal, “the decision is the fifth time the Court has overruled the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on pandemic orders against worship, as an exasperated majority points out.” The Journal editorial adds: “The willfulness of the lower courts in defying the High Court underscores how much religious liberty needs protecting against the militant secular values that now dominate American public life.”

Many secularists think religious liberty is about the right to be wrong, an appeal to an outdated constitutional mandate that protected what educated people now know to be superstition at best and dangerous prejudice at worse. As New York Times columnist Ross Douthat notes, many cultural elites are “committed to a moral vision that regards emancipated, self-directed choice as essential to human freedom and the good life.” 

But we should ask: Does this “moral vision” work? Does it deliver what it promises? A fascinating article by a religious skeptic offers a perceptive answer.

“Life without fellowship and shared meaning” 

John Harris is a columnist with the Guardian, a British publication, and a nonbeliever. He is also brutally honest about the results of his skepticism during the pandemic: “Like millions of other faithless people, I have not even the flimsiest of narratives to project on to what has happened, nor any real vocabulary with which to talk about the profundities of life and death.” 

As an irreligious person, he believes that the value of religious community lies in community rather than religion, focusing on the way religious people sing, pray, and eat together. He asserts that “rediscovering things need not be a matter of finding God,” claiming that secular society can provide similar structures for dealing with society’s problems.

This is an understandable position for someone who does not know God, but it’s completely wrong. Harris doesn’t understand that Christians gather and serve in community because we know God and thus find unity in him and fellowship with each other. Our Savior empowers us to forgive each other, love each other, and serve with each other.

Imagine people standing along the walls of a room with a chair in the center. The closer they draw to the chair, the closer they draw to each other. 

Harris concludes honestly: “For many of us, life without God has turned out to be life without fellowship and shared meaning—and in the midst of the most disorienting, debilitating crisis most of us have ever known, that social tragedy now cries out for action.” 

“Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool” 

In recent days, I have been outlining a case for Christian optimism: (1) it is too soon to give up on God’s grace; (2) the risen Christ can do anything he has done before, including the transforming of our lives and culture; and (3) God’s ability to change our fallen world depends not on our capacities but on his. 

Today, let’s add a fourth component: secularism inevitably fails to keep its promises, demonstrating our need for faith in a transcendent God. 

A Gallup poll recently reported that socialism is as popular as capitalism among young adults in the US. Baby boomers, by contrast, prefer capitalism to socialism by 68 percent to 32 percent. That’s because we remember the decadence and corruption of the Soviet Union and other socialist states. Those who have lived in socialism are among its most ardent critics

Having been to Cuba ten times, I can testify that socialism simply does not work. A system that excludes biblical truth and morality is a house built on sand (Matthew 7:26–27). Solomon issued a warning that is especially relevant to our culture today: “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered” (Proverbs 28:26). 

An amazing fact for Ramadan 

The inevitable decline and decay of secularism does not justify inaction on the part of Christians, since this slippery slope will claim many victims along the way. To the contrary, you and I need to intercede for our lost culture boldly and compassionately, knowing that every soul for whom we pray is someone for whom Jesus chose to die. 

In fact, the greater the spiritual need, the more passionate our intercession should be. When Jesus saw that the people “were like sheep without a shepherd,” he “had compassion on them” and “began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:34). John asked, “If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 John 3:17). 

Here’s the good news: when we pray for people to come to Christ, God works. 

In light of the start of Ramadan yesterday, theologian Ed Stetzer reports that 84 percent of all Muslim movements to Christ in history have occurred during the last thirty years. He notes that this should not be surprising since the Muslim World Prayer Guide began thirty years ago. My friends at GFM Ministries have served more than two million Muslims and have led more than 348,000 into Christian discipleship. Their ministry begins with intercession for Muslims, then God shows them how to answer their prayers with their service. 

Will you pray today for our secular culture to experience the spiritual renewal we need so desperately? 

Will you pray for a secular person you know in the same way? 

Will you ask God to use you to answer your prayer?


Upwords; Max Lucado –God Invites You In

Listen to Today’s Devotion

If you were told you were free to enter the Oval Office at the White House you’d shake your head and chuckle, “You’re one brick short of a load, buddy.” Multiply your disbelief by a thousand, and you’ll have an idea how a Jew would feel if someone told him he could enter the Holy of Holies—a part of the Temple no one could enter except the high priest, and then only one day a year. Why? Because the glory of God was present there.

God is holy, and we’re sinners, and there’s a distance between us. Like Job, we say, “If only there were a mediator who could bring us together.” 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man, Jesus Christ.” God welcomes you. He’s not avoiding you. The door is open. God invites you in.


In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Consequences of Ignoring God

2 Chronicles 33:1-20

People all around us are disregarding God’s offer of salvation through faith in His Son. If we look at their lives, it may not seem that they’re facing any divine judgment, but we must remember that repercussions don’t always follow immediately. Ignoring the Lord is rebellion and idolatry in His eyes, and unless the offender turns to Him in humble repentance and faith, consequences will come.

King Manasseh of Judah stands as an example of what can happen when someone ignores God. Despite the example of his godly father Hezekiah, Manasseh abandoned the Lord and led his people into idolatry. He was deaf to God’s voice and carried on with this evil for quite a while. But in time God finally got his attention through a painful situation involving the Assyrian military. Humbled, Manasseh repented and began obeying the Lord instead of ignoring Him.  

Are you sensitive to God’s voice, or does He have to bring hardship and suffering into your life to get your attention? Disregarding Him is a serious matter, but God is merciful and responds to the cries of a truly repentant heart.

Bible in One Year: 1 Kings 1-2


Our Daily Bread — The Frosting of Faith

Bible in a Year:

I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

2 Timothy 1:5

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Timothy 1:1–5

Hand in hand, my grandson and I skipped across the parking lot to find a special back-to-school outfit. A preschooler now, he was excited about everything, and I was determined to ignite his happiness into joy. I’d just seen a coffee mug with the inscription, “Grandmas are moms with lots of frosting.” Frosting equals fun, glitter, joy! That’s my job description as his grandma, right? That . . . and more.

In his second letter to his spiritual son Timothy, Paul calls out his sincere faith—and then credits its lineage both to Timothy’s grandmother, Lois, and his mother, Eunice (2 Timothy 1:5). These women lived out their faith in such a way that Timothy also came to believe in Jesus. Surely, Lois and Eunice loved Timothy and provided for his needs. But clearly, they did more. Paul points to the faith living in them as the source of the faith later living in Timothy.

My job as a grandmother includes the “frosting” moment of a back-to-school outfit. But even more, I’m called to the frosting moments when I share my faith: Bowing our heads over chicken nuggets. Noticing angelic cloud formations in the sky as God’s works of art. Chirping along with a song about Jesus on the radio. Let’s be wooed by the example of moms and grandmas like Eunice and Lois to let our faith become the frosting in life so others will want what we have.

By:  Elisa Morgan

Reflect & Pray

How have you been influenced by the faith of others? How are you living out your faith so that others might be influenced?

Dear God, help me to invest my time in living out my faith before others.


Grace to You; John MacArthur – Being Filled with Mercy

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matt. 5:7).

Mercy is a characteristic of true believers.

Like the other beatitudes, Matthew 5:7 contains a twofold message: to enter the kingdom you must seek mercy. Once there, you must show mercy to others.

The thought of showing mercy probably surprised Christ’s audience because both the Jews and the Romans tended to be merciless. The Romans exalted justice, courage, discipline, and power. To them mercy was a sign of weakness. For example, if a Roman father wanted his newborn child to live, he simply held his thumb up; if he wanted it to die, he held his thumb down.

Jesus repeatedly rebuked the Jewish religious leaders for their egotistical, self-righteous, and condemning attitudes. They were intolerant of anyone who failed to live by their traditions. They even withheld financial support from their own needy parents (Matt. 15:3-9).

Like the people of Jesus’ time, many people today also lack mercy. Some are outright cruel and unkind, but most are so consumed with their quest for self-gratification that they simply neglect others.

Christians, on the other hand, should be characterized by mercy. In fact, James used mercy to illustrate true faith: “What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself” (James 2:14- 17). He also said mercy is characteristic of godly wisdom: “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy” (3:17).

As one who has received mercy from God, let mercy be the hallmark of your life.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for His great mercy.
  • Ask Him to give you opportunities to show mercy to others today.

For Further Study

Read Luke 10:25-37.

  • Who questioned Jesus and what was his motive?
  • What characteristics of mercy were demonstrated by the Samaritan traveler?
  • What challenge did Jesus give His hearer? Are you willing to meet that challenge?


Joyce Meyer – Never and Always

 “…Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

— Matthew 28:20 (NIV)

Adapted from the resource Healing the Soul of a Woman – by Joyce Meyer

When people teach classes on effective communication, they often advise students to avoid the words never and always. That’s because accusing someone of never doing something or of always being a certain way is rarely accurate.

A person may exhibit behaviors or have bad habits most of the time, even 99 percent of the time, but not always or never. For example, have you ever heard people arguing and one person accuses another one of never doing their fair share of the work on something? The one accused usually comes back and says, “That is not true . . .”

The words always and never do not leave room for any exceptions and using them causes us to exaggerate or misrepresent the truth. That’s why communication experts say these words have no place in healthy conversation.

God is the only one who can accurately say “never” and “always.” His Word is absolute truth, and if He says these words, we can count on them. For example, the Bible says, The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged (Deut. 31:8 NIV). God’s Word also includes Jesus’ promise to remain with us always in Matthew 28:20, our verse for today.

The devil often plants thoughts in our minds based on never and always, because he knows they can entrap us. He tells us the negative aspects of our lives will never change and will always be the way they are right now.

Perhaps he has told you lies such as: “All the women in your family are overweight. You will never be slim and trim,” or “You don’t have the personality to advance at work. You will always be stuck in the job you have today,” or “You will always have to deal with the impact of the abuse in your life. You just can’t get over that.” These types of thoughts can paralyze you by putting fear in your heart. They can cause you to give up on your dreams and not to even try to pursue God’s plans for your life. That’s exactly why the enemy gives them to you. The devil is a liar. Sooner or later, most things change. Negative situations rarely last forever, so our job is to push through them with prayer, patience, and God’s help. As we continue to walk in faith, believe God, and trust Him to lead us, we can come out of any negative circumstance in which we find ourselves.

Don’t let the enemy ensnare you with thoughts of never and always. Believe God to change what may seem or feel like it will never change for you, because the only never and always that mean anything are the ones in His Word. Declare this: I am thankful that God never leaves me, and that I always have hope in Him.

Prayer Starter: Father, I know that you know what’s going on in my life, and I know you always know the truth. Help me to know and recognize the difference between Your truth and the devil’s lies. In Jesus’ name, amen.