Tag Archives: Joy

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – A Strong Foundation

Circumstances cannot shake a strong foundation of faith.

Psalm 62:1-12

In a tumultuous world, where can stability be found? We can’t count on political leaders, financial institutions, healthcare providers, or any other human institution to keep us safe and secure. There is only one sure foundation, and that is the Lord our God. 

David, who wrote today’s psalm, lived with many dangers and trials. But he knew that with God as his stronghold, he would not be deeply shaken by earthly events. And that is true for anyone who knows Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He’s characterized by love, justice, and faithfulness in His interactions with us. We can have great confidence because our God is self-existent and unchangeable. He knows all things, has all power, and is present everywhere. 

Is your faith grounded on these truths about your Rock? Do you believe God is completely dependable in His dealings with you? Can you trust that He loves you during hard times when you’re still waiting for prayers to be answered? Do you accept that His guidance is based on His unlimited knowledge and love for you, even when you don’t understand or like His choices for your life? This is what constitutes a strong foundation of faith.

Bible in One Year: 2 Chronicles 21-23

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Uncommon Courage

Bible in a Year:

Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him.

Daniel 2:24

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Daniel 2:24–30

In 1478, Lorenzo de Medici, the ruler of Florence, Italy, escaped an attack on his life. His countrymen sparked a war when they tried to retaliate against the attack on their leader. As the situation worsened, the cruel King Ferrante I of Naples became Lorenzo’s enemy, but a courageous act by Lorenzo changed everything. He visited the king unarmed and alone. This bravery, paired with his charm and brilliance, won Ferrante’s admiration and ended the war. 

Daniel also helped a king experience a change of heart. No one in Babylon could describe or interpret King Nebuchadnezzar’s troubling dream. This made him so angry that he decided to execute all his advisors—including Daniel and his friends. But Daniel asked to visit the king who wanted him dead (Daniel 2:24).

Standing before Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel gave God all the credit for revealing the mystery of the dream (v. 28). When the prophet described and deciphered it, Nebuchadnezzar honored the “God of gods and the Lord of kings” (v. 47). Daniel’s uncommon courage, which was born of his faith in God, helped him, his friends, and the other advisors avoid death that day.

In our lives, there are times when bravery and boldness are needed to communicate important messages. May God guide our words and give us the wisdom to know what to say and the ability to say it well.

By:  Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Reflect & Pray

How has someone’s bravery made a difference in your life? How can you rest in God’s power to act courageously for Him?

Dear Jesus, thank You for the courage You showed during Your life on earth. Fill me with Your wisdom and power when I face tense situations.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Overcoming Pessimism (Philip)

The twelve apostles included “Philip” (Matt. 10:3).

Pessimism will blind you to the sufficiency of God’s resources.

It’s been said that an optimist sees a glass half full; a pessimist sees it half empty. An optimist sees opportunities; a pessimist sees obstacles. In one sense Philip was an optimist. He recognized Jesus as the Messiah and immediately saw an opportunity to share his discovery with Nathanael. In another sense, Philip was a pessimist because on occasions he failed to see what Christ could accomplish despite the apparent obstacles.

On one such occasion Jesus had just finished teaching and healing a crowd of thousands of people. Night was falling and the people were beginning to get hungry. Apparently Philip was responsible for the food, so Jesus asked him, “Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?” (John 6:5). Philip said, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little” (v. 7). In other words, “We don’t have enough resources in our whole savings account to buy enough food for a group this size!” Philip’s calculating, pragmatic, pessimistic mind could reach only one conclusion: this is an utter impossibility.

Jesus knew all along how He was going to solve the problem, but He wanted to test Philip’s faith (v. 6). Philip should have passed the test because he had already seen Jesus create wine from water at the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11). Despite Philip’s failure, Jesus didn’t give up on him. Instead, from five barley loaves and two fish He created enough food to feed the entire crowd, thus replacing Philip’s pessimism with a reaffirmation of divine sufficiency.

There’s a little of Philip in each of us. We’ve experienced God’s saving power and have seen Him answer prayer, yet there are times when we let pessimism rob us of the joy of seeing Him work through obstacles in our lives. Don’t let that happen to you. Keep your eyes on Christ and trust in His sufficiency. He will never fail you!

Suggestions for Prayer

Memorize Ephesians 3:20-21. Recite it often as a hymn of praise and an affirmation of your faith in God.

For Further Study

Read Numbers 13 and 14.

  • What kind of report did the pessimistic spies bring back from the Promised Land?
  • How did the people react to their report?
  • How did God react to their report?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Believing God

And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.

— James 2:23 (NIV)

Believing God is very important. I am not talking about simply believing that God exists but believing everything He says and being obedient to what He asks you to do. Abraham was even obedient when God asked him to sacrifice his son (see Genesis 22:2). Later, the Bible refers to him as God’s friend. In addition, the writer of Hebrews understood that believing is the key to entering the type of rest God offers us (see Hebrews 4:2–3, 9).

Jesus went to visit Mary and Martha because their brother, Lazarus, had died (see John 11:1–44). He had already been dead and in his tomb for four days, but Jesus commanded them to roll away the stone anyway. Martha expressed her unbelief by saying it was too late to do anything, and Jesus told her if she would only believe she would see the glory of God (see John 11:40).

God asks us to believe, and as we do, we will see His glory, enter His rest, and be called His friend. Abraham’s belief was credited to him as righteousness, and our belief in Jesus makes us the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV).

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for calling me Your friend. Help me to move beyond simply believing in You, to believing everything You say and do. In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – God’s Chosen Servants

You are my servant, I have chosen you.

Isaiah 41:9

If we have received the grace of God in our hearts, its practical effect has been to make us God’s servants. We may be unfaithful servants, we certainly are unprofitable ones, but yet, blessed be His name, we are His servants, wearing His uniform, eating at His table, and obeying His commands. We were once the servants of sin, but He who made us free has now taken us into His family and taught us obedience to His will. We do not serve our Master perfectly, but we would if we could. As we hear God’s voice saying unto us, “You are My servant,” we can answer with David, “I am your servant. . . . You have loosed my bonds.”1

But the Lord calls us not only His servants, but His chosen ones—“I have chosen you.” We have not chosen Him first, but He has chosen us. If we are now God’s servants, it wasn’t always so; the change must be ascribed to sovereign grace. The eye of sovereignty singled us out, and the voice of unchanging grace declared, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”2 Long before time began or space was created, God had written upon His heart the names of His elect people, had predestinated them to be conformed unto the image of His Son, and ordained them heirs of all the fullness of His love, His grace, and His glory.

What comfort is here! Having loved us for so long, will the Lord then reject us? He knew how stiff-necked we would be, He understood that our hearts were evil, and yet He made the choice. Our Savior is no fickle lover. He does not feel enchanted for a while with some gleams of beauty from His church’s eye and then afterwards reject her because of her unfaithfulness. No, He married her in old eternity; and He hates divorce! The eternal choice is a bond upon our gratitude and upon His faithfulness, which neither can disown.

1) Psalm 116:16
2) Jeremiah 31:3

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 – My God Knows Me

“O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. . . For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.” (Psalm 139:1, 4)

How many words do you speak in a day? Have you ever counted? Probably not! But did you know that God knows how many words you spoke today? Not only that, but He knows what words you spoke and exactly what you were thinking when you said them! He knows if your words were kind or unkind, loving or unloving, respectful or disrespectful. He knows if you just talked about yourself all day or if you thought to ask about someone else’s life.

Psalm 139 says that God knows everything about you! It even says that He knows every time you sit down and every time you get back up. He knows everything you say, everything you do, and even everything you think…both good and bad. No one else knows that much about you, not even your Mom or Dad or your best friend.

This psalm also says that God is always with you. You cannot run away or hide from God like you can from other people.

So, if God knows everything about you, and He is always with you, what does that mean? It means that you must remember to obey Him. Ask God to help you remember to speak only good and kind words, and ask Him to help you do and think right things.

If you are a Christian, it should comfort you to know that God is always with you and that He knows all about you. You should be glad when His voice talks to your heart when you do wrong. Always listen to His voice and obey right away. There is nothing that will make you ultimately happier than pleasing Him.

God knows you better and loves you more than anyone else in the whole world.

My Response:
» Do I remember throughout the day that God is listening to my words and knowing my thoughts? https://equipu.kids4truth.com

Denison Forum – Congress to hold UFO hearing today: What God may have intended with the question of alien life

A US House of Representatives subcommittee will meet today for the first open congressional hearing on UFOs since 1970. The hearing is in response to a report delivered to Congress last June by the intelligence community and the Pentagon’s Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force.

That Task Force has since been reconstituted as the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group, which exists to “detect, identify and attribute objects of interest in Special Use Airspace and to assess and mitigate any associated threats to safety of flight and national security.”

If you read all that and came away thinking that there are probably better ways our government could be spending their time and resources, well, you’re not alone.

Even the chairman of the House subcommittee holding the hearing, André Carson, confessed “I’ve gotten some chuckles” from others about the meeting. He went on to add, though, that “it’s something I’m passionate about and I think I can take the heat. This may be the very thing that brings Democrats and Republicans together, at least for an hour or two.”

He also argued, on a more serious note, that the hearing was important because “this is an area of high public interest” and “any undue secrecy can serve as an obstacle to solving the mystery, or it could prevent us from finding solutions to potential vulnerabilities.”

Regardless of what you may believe personally about aliens and UFOs, Rep. Carson is right that it’s an area of high public interest.

But if it’s not an area of personal interest to you, why should you still care?

What does the Bible say about alien life?

Let’s start with a basic, but necessary, point of clarification.

If your faith in God feels threatened or shaken by the prospect of life existing outside of our planet, then you should first consider wrestling with why that’s the case.

Nothing in the Bible expressly denies the existence of extraterrestrial life. Neither does anything in the Bible require us to believe it’s out there. Why? Because the Bible is far more concerned with your life and my life here on Earth—and, more specifically, how to live that life in relationship with God—than it is that speculative question.

Satan would love it if we became divided over or obsessed with an issue that, most likely, just doesn’t matter instead of focusing on the things that do.

That said, I do think it’s telling that so many in our culture are fascinated by this subject.

A poll taken last year around the time that the initial report was released found that roughly two-thirds of Americans believe that it’s more likely than not for intelligent life to exist on other planets. One of the most commonly cited reasons is that the universe is just so big that the odds of us being alone seem improbably low.

And that conclusion makes sense, from a certain point of view.

After all, the part of the universe we can see is an estimated 93 billion light-years across and still expanding. Beyond its sheer size, the universe is also filled with countless stars, planets, galaxies, and other cosmological phenomena.

When you couple that information with the fact that there are really only two accepted theories for how life started on Earth—either it evolved naturally or was created—it becomes easy to see why people on either side of that divide would believe there’s simply too much out there for us to be alone.

But what if, rather than starting with what we can observe, we instead start with what God has revealed in the Bible?

Why did God create such an expansive universe?

If, as Genesis 1 describes, God created everything that exists by merely speaking it into existence, then the size of that existence really shouldn’t matter. Whether it was one planet or a million, one sun or a million, it’s not like it was a struggle for him. Nothing in Scripture indicates that he would feel compelled to create life on other planets simply because he created other planets. It’s not like they’re going to waste by just orbiting around in the universe unoccupied.

The argument that intelligent life exists on other planets because the universe is too big for us to be alone is predicated on a mindset that—if the Bible is correct—simply is not necessary to hold.

Rather, what if the reason God created an ever-expanding universe filled with stars, planets, and mysteries we still haven’t even begun to grasp is to point us back to him?

What if that sense we get of feeling like an infinitesimal speck when we look up at the night sky was meant to remind us of our need for the one who holds all that we can see and more in the palm of his hand (Isaiah 40:12)?

And what if our universe was a gift that God intended to remind us of just how much he loves us and how special we are to him?

People have looked to the stars and have been drawn to the divine in most every culture across human history. That is not a coincidence.

So, as our national attention once again shifts to the expanse of space, ask God to help you use that focus to point people back to him and to remind them of his love.

After all, that’s why it’s there.

Denison Forum

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – An Awesome Privilege

In Jesus, we have access to the Father’s presence and confidence that He hears our prayers.

Hebrews 7:11-28

Prayer is a truly remarkable privilege, and we must be careful to treat it as such. Have you ever paused to consider why a holy God would condescend to even listen to our petitions, let alone answer them? The Lord is so perfect that the smallest hint of sin is incompatible with His presence. Human beings, on the other hand, are inherently sinful. Yet God wants to commune with us, so He made a way for that to be possible. 

Before Jesus’ death and resurrection, priests repeatedly offered sacrifices to cover the people’s transgressions. Animal blood, however, never permanently did away with sin. So God sent His Son to be the perfect “once for all time” atoning sacrifice for everyone who trusts in the Savior (Heb. 7:27). Because Jesus Christ paid our entire sin debt with His precious blood, we can now enter into God’s holy presence. 

Let’s not underestimate the significance of being able to speak with the Lord. As those who have been forgiven of all sin, we are now welcome to draw close to the Father in prayer because His Son is our permanent high priest, eternally covering us in a veil of His righteousness. 

Bible in One Year: 1 Chronicles 25-27

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — The Sunflower Battle

Bible in a Year:

In Christ you have been brought to fullness.

Colossians 2:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Colossians 2:6–14

The deer in our neighborhood and I have two different opinions about sunflowers. When I plant sunflowers each spring, I’m looking forward to the beauty of their blooms. My deer friends, however, don’t care about the finished product. They simply want to chew the stems and leaves until there’s nothing left. It’s an annual summertime battle as I try to see the sunflowers to maturity before my four-hoofed neighbors devour them. Sometimes I win; sometimes they win.

When we think about our lives as believers in Jesus, it’s easy to see a similar battle being waged between us and our enemy—Satan. Our goal is continual growth leading to spiritual maturity that helps our lives stand out for God’s honor. The devil wants to devour our faith and keep us from growing. But Jesus has dominion over “every power” and can bring us “to fullness” (Colossians 2:10), which means He makes us “complete.” Christ’s victory on the cross allows us to stand out in the world like those beautiful sunflowers.

When Jesus nailed the “record of the charges against us” (the penalty for our sins) to the cross (v. 14 nlt), He destroyed the powers that controlled us. We became “rooted and built up” (v. 7) and made “alive with Christ” (v. 13). In Him we have the power (v. 10) to resist the enemy’s spiritual attacks and to flourish in Jesus—displaying a life of true beauty.

By:  Dave Branon

Reflect & Pray

In what areas does the enemy try to nibble away at your growing spiritual maturity? Why is it vital for you to call out to God when you experience spiritual attacks?

Loving God, make my life beautiful for You. Help me to resist the enemy through Your power because I can’t do it on my own. Thank You for Jesus’ death and resurrection—my source of hope, power, and courage.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Building a Leader: The Right Lessons (Peter)

The twelve apostles included “Simon, who is called Peter” (Matt. 10:2).

Peter learned five lessons that every believer must also learn.

We have seen that God uses our experiences to mold us into more effective Christians and leaders. Using Peter as our example, let’s briefly look at five lessons we can learn from our experiences: submission, restraint, humility, sacrifice, and love.

Leaders tend to be confident and aggressive, so they must learn to submit to authority. Jesus illustrated that by telling Peter to go fishing and look for a coin in the mouth of the first fish he caught (Matt. 17:24-27). He was to use that coin to pay their taxes. Peter was a citizen of God’s Kingdom, but he needed an object lesson in submitting to governmental authorities.

When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Peter grabbed a sword and would have fought the entire group if Jesus hadn’t restrained him. Peter needed to learn to entrust His life to the Father, just as Christ was doing.

Peter bragged that he would never leave or forsake Christ—but he did. Perhaps humility was the most painful lesson he had to learn.

Jesus told Peter that he would die as a martyr (John 21:18-19). From that day forward Peter knew his life was on the line, yet he was willing to make the necessary sacrifice and minister anyway.

Leaders tend to be task oriented and often are insensitive to people. Peter was that way, so Jesus demonstrated love by washing his feet and instructing him to do loving deeds for others (John 13:6-934).

Submission, restraint, humility, sacrifice, and love should be characteristic of every believer—no matter what role he or she has within the Body of Christ. I pray they are characteristic of your life, and that you will constantly seek to grow in those graces as God continues His work in you.

Suggestions for Prayer

Spiritual lessons are sometimes painful to learn, but God is patient and gracious. Thank Him for His patience and thank Him also for Christ, who is the perfect example of what we should be.

For Further Study

Peter learned his lesson well. Read 1 Peter 2:13-1821-234:816; and 5:5. What can you learn from Peter’s instructions on submission, restraint, love, sacrifice, and humility?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – The Happiest People on Earth

…I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).

— John 10:10 (AMPC)

I think some people have a perception of Christianity as a stern, severe, and joyless lifestyle. That’s because many who call themselves Christians have sour attitudes and sad faces. They can be critical of others and quick to judge. Those of us who love and serve God and His Son, Jesus Christ, should be the happiest people on Earth. We should be able to enjoy everything we do, simply because we know God is present. God sent Jesus to ensure we would enjoy life. Our joy makes God happy!

Happiness is an emotion that fosters well-being, and it is contagious. One of the best ways to witness to others about Jesus is to be happy and enjoy all you do. Since everyone simply wants to be happy, if they see truly happy Christians, they will be open to learning about and receiving Jesus themselves.

Power Thought: I enjoy every moment of my life.

Prayer Starter: Lord, I want to be happy and to show others the joy only found in You. Thank You for helping me find my joy, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – With Jesus at Our Side

Come, my beloved, let us go out into the fields … Let us … See whether the vines have budded.

Song of Songs 7:11-12

The bride was about to engage in hard work and desired her beloved’s company in it. She does not say, “I will go,” but “let us go.” In like fashion, it is a blessing to work when Jesus is at our side! It is the business of God’s people to be trimmers of God’s vines. Like our first parents, we are put into the garden of the Lord for usefulness; let us then go out into the fields.

When God’s people are thinking properly, they desire to enjoy communion with Christ. Some may imagine that they cannot serve Christ actively and still have fellowship with Him; they are mistaken. There is no doubt that we may easily neglect our inward life in outward exercises and be forced to say, “They made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard have I not kept!”1 There is no reason why this should be the case except for our own foolishness and neglect. It is certain that a professing Christian may do nothing and end up just as lifeless in spiritual things as those who are most busy.

Mary was not praised for sitting still, but for her sitting at Jesus’ feet. Even so, Christians are not to be praised for neglecting duties under the pretense of having secret fellowship with Jesus: It is not sitting, but sitting at Jesus’ feet that is commendable. Do not think that activity is in itself an evil: It is a great blessing and a means of grace to us. Paul called it a grace given to him to be allowed to preach; and every form of Christian service may become a personal blessing to those engaged in it. Those who have most fellowship with Christ are not recluses or hermits, who have time on their hands, but tireless workers who are toiling for Jesus and who, in their endeavor, have Him side by side with them, so that they are workers together with God.

Let us remember then, in anything we have to do for Jesus, we can do it and should do it in close communion with Him.

1) Song of Solomon 1:6

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 Always Provides

“And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.” (I Kings 17:4)

During the days of Elijah the prophet, God sent a drought–a long period of time without rain–to the land of Israel. God was punishing Israel because the wicked rulers, King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, were causing the people to stop serving the Lord and to worship idols. Even though Elijah had warned King Ahab that God would punish them, Ahab did not listen. So God did not send any rain to Israel for a long time, and food could not grow. The people of Israel, including Elijah, soon became hungry and thirsty. Even though Elijah trusted in the Lord, he must have wondered where he would find food and water.

But God still took care of Elijah. Even though there was no rain and little food or water, God provided for the needs of His faithful servant. God knew where to find water, and He told Elijah to go to a little brook that still had water to drink. God also knew where to find food, and He commanded the ravens to bring bread and meat to Elijah. What a surprising way to meet the prophet’s needs! Twice a day, the black birds delivered food to him. Even though the people who worshipped idols were hungry and thirsty, Elijah always had enough to eat and drink. God always provided for the needs of His servant.

God will always take care of you, as well. If you truly know the Lord, He will always provide for your needs, just like He did for Elijah’s. Sometimes, like Elijah in the drought, you may find yourself in the middle of a hard situation. Maybe one of your parents has lost a job, and your family needs money. Or maybe you have moved to a new school, and you need to find good friends. Whatever your need, God will never forget about you. Like in Elijah’s time, God knows where to find the things you need (Matthew 6:8). He will always be faithful to provide for you–sometimes in surprising ways!

God will always meet your needs.

My Response:
» What are some needs I have?
» Am I trusting the Lord to provide for my needs?

Denison Forum – Pro-choice protests at churches: How should Christians fight the culture wars?

When my wife and I sat down to watch the “Greatest Two Minutes in Sports” Saturday afternoon, we had no idea we would witness history. Rich Strike did not enter this year’s Kentucky Derby until thirty seconds before the deadline Friday after another horse was scratched. The colt had exactly one previous victory in his career. He went on to win in the second-biggest upset in the Derby’s 148-year history.

In another weekend surprise, First Lady Jill Biden made an unannounced visit to Ukraine on Mother’s Day to meet with Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska. The next day, Russia held its annual Victory Day parade to pay tribute to those who fought and died in World War II.

The New York Times is reporting this morning that Vladimir Putin used his speech to “try to channel Russian pride in defeating Nazi Germany into support for this year’s invasion of Ukraine. But contrary to some expectations, he did not make any new announcements signaling a mass mobilization for the war effort or an escalation of the onslaught.”

Closer to home, a pro-life organization in Wisconsin was set on fire yesterday in an apparent arson attack. A pro-life pregnancy center in Denton, Texas, was defaced with graffiti. A Sunday Mass at a Los Angeles church was disrupted by protesters in red hooded gowns. Abortion supporters blocked the door of a church in Manhattan Saturday; one protester chanted, “God killed his kid, why can’t I kill mine?”

Saturday evening, pro-choice activists protested outside the homes of Supreme Court justices John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh. More demonstrations outside the justices’ homes are planned for this Wednesday. The organizer of the Saturday night protests said, “The time for civility is over, man. Being polite doesn’t get you anywhere.”

Is this true?

Are civility and decency “secondary values”?

Sporting events are obviously competitive and typically “zero-sum” affairs: if one competitor wins, the others lose. Ukraine must obviously defend its country against Putin’s immoral invasion or fall to Russia. But how should Christians respond to “culture wars” such as the conflict over abortion? Is it true that “the time for civility is over”?

This is the argument of a First Things article by New York Post editor Sohrab Ahmari: “Progressives understand that culture war means discrediting their opponents and weakening or destroying their institutions. Conservatives should approach the culture war with a similar realism. Civility and decency are secondary values.” Ahmari wrote his article to oppose what he calls “David French-ism,” which he criticizes as being too “polite” and not nearly adversarial enough.

French is a Harvard Law School graduate, Iraq veteran, noted religious rights advocate, prolific author, and committed evangelical Christian. Denison Forum Executive Director Dr. Mark Turman and I were honored last week to record a podcast with him. During our conversation, David made the argument that we must not choose between “Sermon on the Mount” character and a “Romans 13” ruler—followers of Jesus should seek both.

In response to a growing sentiment that “desperate times call for desperate measures,” he similarly noted in yesterday’s French Press article that “the spirit of fear that grips so much of the modern American church might be a reason why so many Christians have scorned civility and decency in the public square, but it’s not a justification.”

How, then, should we respond to the “culture wars”? In his latest book, Divided We Fall: America’s Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation, David eloquently calls for Christians to engage in political conflict in ways that honor our Lord and exemplify the “fruit” of his Spirit.

He observes, “Those who care the most often hate the most, and one of their chief methods of discrediting ideological allies with whom they compete is by portraying them as too tolerant of the hated political enemy. Kindness is perceived as weakness. Decency is treated as if it’s cowardice. Acts of grace are an unthinkable concession to evil.”

So, who is right?

“You also must forgive”

Paul writes in Colossians 3: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (vv. 12–13, my emphasis). Let’s focus on the italicized half of this remarkable sentence.

“If” could be translated “whenever,” recognizing the reality of what follows. “One has a complaint” refers to a plaintiff’s legal allegation against another person.

“Forgiving” could be translated as “pardoning,” the gracious decision not to punish. As ethicist Lewis Smedes shows in his classic book Forgive and Forget, biblical forgiveness does not mean that we excuse the hurtful behavior, tolerate it, or pretend it did not occur. When a governor pardons a criminal, she does none of these things. Instead, she chooses not to punish the criminal.

This is how “the Lord has forgiven you”—he has “forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13–14). In light of such forgiveness, Paul tells us, “You also must forgive” (Colossians 3:13; cf. Ephesians 4:32).

If not, why not?

I plan to say more about forgiveness and our “culture wars” tomorrow. For today, let’s make this conversation personal.

Do you have a “complaint” against someone? Will you pardon them as your Father has pardoned you?

If not, why not?

Does someone have a “complaint” against you? Will you seek their pardon?

If not, why not?

NOTE: I hope you’ll listen to our entire podcast with David French. During our wide-ranging conversation, he reflects on the Supreme Court leak and our larger cultural moment with a depth of wisdom I commend to you with gratitude.

Denison Forum

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Fear in Adversity

When we’re struggling and afraid, the best thing we can do is put our trust in the One whose sovereignty rules over all.

Psalm 56:1-13

It’s impossible to live in this world without ever facing doubt, confusion, or apprehension. The Word of God doesn’t dismiss these concerns. Instead, it tells us what to do when we’re afraid. The best response is to admit your fears to the Lord and trust Him to work out the situation according to His will and timing.  

Many people want to hold anyone but God responsible for their adversity—that’s because they can’t reconcile why a good God would allow their situation. What they fail to realize is that the Lord is sovereign over everything, including the events of each believer’s life. And even hardships have a purpose in His plan. They can be tools for strengthening our faith and maturing us spiritually. When we choose to trust the Lord with our fears and uncertainties, we’re promised a better outcome than anything we could have fashioned ourselves (Proverbs 3:5-6).

If you’re going through difficulty, remember that God has “taken account of [your] miseries,” and even in these circumstances, He is for you (Ps. 56:8-9). Yield to Him, and let Him accomplish His purposes through your trials. When you trust in God, you have no reason to be afraid.  

Bible in One Year: 1 Chronicles 16-18 

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Our Daily Bread — He Knows

Bible in a Year:

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.

Psalm 139:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 139:1–5

Lea was about to start a job as a nurse in Taiwan. She’d be able to better provide for her family, more than she could in Manila, where job opportunities were limited. On the night before her departure, she gave instructions to her sister, who’d be taking care of her five-year-old daughter. “She’ll take her vitamins if you also give her a spoonful of peanut butter,” Lea explained, “And, remember, she’s shy. She’ll play with her cousins eventually. And she’s afraid of the dark . . .”

While looking out the plane window the next day, Lea prayed: Lord, no one knows my daughter like I do. I can’t be with her, but You can.

We know the people we love, and we notice all the details about them because they’re precious to us. When we can’t be with them due to various circumstances, we’re often anxious that since no one knows them as well as we do they’ll be more vulnerable to harm.

In Psalm 139, David reminds us that God knows us more than anyone does. In the same way, He knows our loved ones intimately (vv. 1–4). He’s their Creator (vv. 13–15), so He understands their needs. He knows what will happen each day of their lives (v. 16), and He’s with them and will never leave them (vv. 5, 7–10).

When you’re anxious for others, entrust them to God for He knows them best and loves them the most.

By:  Karen Huang

Reflect & Pray

Who can you entrust to God’s care? How can you show your trust in Him in this area?

Father in heaven, though I can’t always be with those I love, I entrust them to Your loving care, remembering that You know them the best and love them the most.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Gaining Spiritual Stability (Peter)

The twelve apostles included “Simon, who is called Peter” (Matt. 10:2).

Jesus can make an impulsive and vacillating Christian as stable as a rock.

The first disciple Matthew’s gospel names is “Simon, who is called Peter” (Matt. 10:2). He was a fisherman by trade but Jesus called him to be a fisher of men. John 1:40-42 records their first encounter: “One of the two who heard John [the Baptist] speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He found first his own brother Simon, and . . . brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, ‘You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas’ (which translated means Peter).”

“Peter” means “stone.” “Cephas” is its Aramaic equivalent. By nature Simon tended to be impulsive and vacillating. Apparently Jesus named him Peter as a reminder of his future role in the church, which would require spiritual strength and stability. Whenever Peter acted like a man of strength, Jesus called him by his new name. When he sinned, Jesus called him by his old name (e.g., John 21:15-17). In the gospel of John, Peter is called “Simon Peter” seventeen times. Perhaps John knew Peter so well he realized he was always drifting somewhere between sinful Simon and spiritual Peter.

For the next few days we will see how Jesus worked with Peter to transform him into a true spiritual rock. It was an amazing transformation, but not unlike what He desires to do in every believer’s life.

You might not have the same personality as Peter, but the Lord wants you to be a spiritual rock just the same. Peter himself wrote, “You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5). That occurs as you “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). Make that your continual aim.

Suggestions for Prayer

List the areas of your Christian walk that are inconsistent or vacillating. Make them a matter of earnest prayer, asking God for wisdom and grace as you begin to strengthen them.

For Further Study

First Peter was written to Christians in danger of severe persecution. Read that epistle, noting the keys to spiritual stability that Peter gives.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Trusting God

For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my trust from my youth and the source of my confidence.

— Psalm 71:5 (AMPC)

Trusting God allows us to enter His rest, and rest is a place of peace where we are able to enjoy our lives while being confident God is fighting our battles.

God cares for us; He will solve our problems and meet our needs, and thankfully, we can stop thinking and worrying about them. I realize this is easier said than done, but there is no time like the present to begin learning a new way to live—a way of living that is without worry, anxiety, and fear.

This is the time to begin believing and saying, “I trust God completely; there is no need to worry! I will not give in to fear or anxiety. God is the source of my confidence.” The more you think about this truth, the more you will find yourself choosing trust over worry.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You that I don’t have to worry! I trust You to take care of me and to always be with me, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Tested and Battered

All the days of my service I would wait.

Job 14:14

Ashort stay on earth will make heaven more heavenly. Nothing makes rest so enjoyable as work; nothing renders security so pleasant as exposure to danger. The bitter cups of earth will give a relish to the new wine that sparkles in the golden bowls of heaven. Our battered armor and scarred countenances will render more glorious our victory above, when we are welcomed to the seats of those who have overcome the world.

We would not have full fellowship with Christ if we did not sojourn for a while below, for He was baptized with a baptism of suffering among men, and we must be baptized with the same if we would share His kingdom. Fellowship with Christ is so honorable that the sorest sorrow is a light price by which to procure it.

Another reason for our lingering here is for the good of others. We would not wish to enter heaven till our work is done, and it may be that we still have a part to play shining as light in the dark wilderness of sin.

Our prolonged stay here is doubtless for God’s glory. A tested saint, like a well-cut diamond, glitters much in the King’s crown. Nothing reflects so much honor on a workman as a protracted and severe trial of his work and his triumphant endurance of the ordeal without giving in or giving up. We are God’s workmanship, and He will be glorified by our afflictions. It is for the honor of Jesus that we endure the trial of our faith with sacred joy. Let each man surrender his own longings to the glory of Jesus and declare: “If my lying in the dust would elevate my Lord by so much as an inch, let me still lie among the pots of earth. If to live on earth forever would make my Lord more glorious, it should be my heaven to be shut out of heaven.”

Our time is fixed and settled by eternal decree. Let us not be anxious about it, but wait with patience until the gates of pearl shall open.

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 Most High

“Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him?” (Job 40:9)

In the Bible, God is sometimes called “the most high God.” What does this mean? Does it mean that God is high up in the sky, or that He lives above and beyond all of us down here on Earth? Well, we know from the Bible that God is everywhere. But the words “most high” refer to God’s preeminence, which means He is the greatest of all, the highest of all. God is everywhere, so He is “high” above us in that sense. But in a spiritual sense, He is higher and far above anyone or anything else. God is preeminent. He is the most high God.

But where is God in our thoughts? How do we think about Him? How important is He is our lives? Is He preeminent over all other loves and interests? Does the way we spend our time and money and energy show whether we believe God really is the most high God?

Remember the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego? Nebuchadnezzar was the king ruling over these three young men. King Nebuchadnezzar thought so highly of himself (he had so much pride) that he had an image/idol of himself set up for his people to worship in his honor. Nebuchadnezzar considered himself a god, and he expected everyone to worship him. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, however, served only the most high God. In fact, because they were true to God by not refusing to worship anyone or anything else, a whole kingdom learned about the most high God.

When their king grew angry with the three men, God saved them from dying in the fiery furnace that was their punishment. When God delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Nebuchadnezzar finally realized that God is the most high. Nebuchadnezzar figured it out that he himself was not most high. When he called the three men to come out of the furnace, the king even used a phrase that shows he understood finally. He called, “Ye servants of the most high God, come forth” (Daniel 5:18).

Maybe you do not have an idol you worship like Nebuchadnezzar did, but do you ever have a problem thinking too highly of yourself? How about the pride you take in a collection or hobby that you have? Do you start to treat something else or someone else as more important than God?

God is and always will be “the most high God.” No matter where we put God in our priorities or how often we think of Him, it does not change that He is the most high God. We can trust Him. We can serve Him and obey Him and never be ashamed. Psalms 57:2 says, “I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.”

Thank the most high God today that He is all you need to be completely satisfied. You need no other gods. Lift Him up high!

God is and always will be the most high God.

My Response:
» Do I acknowledge (think of, live before) God as “the most high”?
» How can my life be a testimony to the most high God in front of the leaders and people of my community?