In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Confronting Conflict

Because God is in control, we don’t have to react to conflict with fear and anger.

Galatians 2:11-16

When people argue, they can say harsh words, create turmoil, and cause emotional pain. But there’s hope—our beliefs can positively influence how we respond in conflict. Consider God’s sovereignty, for example. If you believe the scriptures proclaiming God’s rule over nature (Psalm 135:6), government (Job 12:23), and mankind (Acts 17:25), then you know that nothing in heaven or on earth is hidden from Him or outside of His control. 

This means our heavenly Father, who has promised to protect His children, knows when people verbally attack us. Nothing can touch us apart from His permissive will. His sovereign control also gives Him the power to work pain into something beneficial (Romans 8:28). We have hope because His will cannot be thwarted, even in bad circumstances. When we believe in the Lord’s sovereign rule, our perspective on conflict changes. Instead of responding with fear, anger, or resentment, we turn to Him for guidance. 

Fighting is inevitable in our fallen world. When it’s our fault, we are to apologize; when others are responsible, we may have to confront them. But regardless of the circumstances, we’re called to forgive without exception—and we can because God is in control. As Christ’s ambassadors, the way we respond matters.

Bible in One Year: Obadiah 1:1-21 ; Jonah 1-4

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread –The Story Isn’t Over

Bible in a Year:

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew 6:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Matthew 6:9–13

When British drama Line of Duty concluded, record numbers watched to see how its fight against organized crime would end. But many viewers were left disappointed when the finale implied that evil would ultimately win. “I wanted the bad guys brought to justice,” one fan said. “We needed that moral ending.”

Sociologist Peter Berger once noted that we hunger for hope and justice—hope that evil will one day be overcome and that those who caused it will be made to face their crimes. A world where the bad guys win goes against how we know the world should work. Without probably realizing it, those disappointed fans were expressing humanity’s deep longing for the world to be made right again.

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus is realistic about evil. It exists not only between us, requiring forgiveness (Matthew 6:12), but on a grand scale, requiring deliverance (v. 13). This realism, however, is matched with hope. There’s a place where evil doesn’t exist—heaven—and that heavenly kingdom is coming to earth (v. 10). One day God’s justice will be complete, His “moral ending” will come, and evil will be banished for good (Revelation 21:4).

So when the real-life bad guys win and disappointment sets in, let’s remember this: until God’s will is done “on earth as it is in heaven,” there is always hope—because the story isn’t over.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

Why do you think we hunger for hope and justice? How can praying the Lord’s Prayer help you face evil and disappointment?

Heavenly Father, may Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Taking the Offensive

“Take . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17).

God’s Word is your primary offensive spiritual weapon.

All the armor Paul lists in Ephesians 6 is defensive, with one exception: the sword of the Spirit. That’s your offensive weapon for defeating Satan.

We’ve seen that Roman soldiers carried two swords: the large broadsword and the small dagger. The Greek word translated “sword” in verse 17 refers to the dagger, which was anywhere from six to eighteen inches in length and was carried in a sheath or scabbard at the soldier’s side.

The dagger was a common weapon. The Roman soldiers who arrested Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane were each armed with one (Matt. 26:47). Peter used one to cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant (Matt. 26:51). A dagger was used to kill James, the brother of John (Acts. 12:2). Hebrews 11:37 tells us that such a weapon was used against the heroes of the faith.

“The sword of the Spirit” isn’t a direct reference to the Holy Spirit as such. The implications is that since our enemy is spiritual, our weapons also must be spiritual (2 Cor. 10:4). Our sword is spiritual because it is the Word given by the Holy Spirit. He inspired its writing and through it convicts and redeems sinners (John 16:8Heb. 4:12-13). The Word abides in you and transforms you. It supplies everything you need for a godly, victorious life. It builds you up and produces holiness (Acts 20:32). And it equips you for good works by teaching, reproving, correcting, and training you in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).

The Bible is a powerful and effective weapon. The question is, Do you know how to use it? Do you diligently study it and apply its principles to your life? Do you have a storehouse of biblical truth to draw from in the heat of battle?

The Roman dagger was a precision weapon aimed at a specific spot to produce a specific result. Similarly, the sword of the Spirit is most effective when you apply specific biblical principles to specific situations in your life. Do you do that?

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Ask God to increase your desire to know His Word.
  • Ask for wisdom in applying what you already know to the decisions and situations you’ll face today.

For Further Study

Read 1 Peter 1:22—2:3. How are believers to approach the Word?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Live Love

We know that we have passed over out of death into Life by the fact that we love the brethren (our fellow Christians). He who does not love abides (remains, is held and kept continually) in [spiritual] death.

— 1 John 3:14 (AMPC)

From start to finish, in all kinds of ways, God’s Word encourages and challenges us to love other people; it is the example Jesus set for us throughout His life and ministry on Earth.

If you truly desire to love others the way God loves you, you must first purpose to fill your mind with kind, loving, unselfish, and generous thoughts. Take a few minutes each morning and ask God to show you what you can do for somebody else that day. You can even choose a specific person. Focus on loving others, and you’ll have a life full of love and happiness and be a great encourager to others.

Prayer of the Day: Lord, I understand that my purpose needs to be to love other people, but I’m going to need Your help. Please fill my mind with loving, unselfish, and generous thoughts, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Imitating the Father’s Mercy

Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

Luke 6:35-36

“Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” is a summary statement of Jesus’ famous teaching in the Beatitudes (Luke 6:20-23) and indeed would be a good motto for every believer’s life. These words underscore all that Jesus has previously said concerning how we are to treat others—especially those who hate us on account of our faithfulness to Him (v 22).

This should, however, prompt us to ask: what does being merciful actually look like? As our wise and tender Shepherd, Jesus does not leave us to figure out this principle for ourselves. Rather, He gives us specific instructions on what it means to imitate our merciful heavenly Father.

God “is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” As His children, we must realize that we are called to demonstrate this same kindness by loving our enemies, returning good for evil, and giving to others without expecting anything in return. Notice Jesus lists no exemptions or get-out clauses here.

Having called us to be vessels of God’s kindness, Jesus then immediately says that we are not to judge others (Luke 6:37). He is not asking us to suspend our critical faculties in our relationships; we have to use our minds to discern between truth and error or good and evil. Likewise Jesus is not teaching that we are to turn a blind eye to sin or refuse to point out errors. Rather, when Jesus commands us not to judge, He is condemning a spirit of self-righteous, self-exalting, hypocritical, harsh judgmentalism—an approach which seeks to highlight the faults of others and always brings with it the flavor of bitterness.

An unkind spirit completely violates Jesus’ exhortation to overflow with mercy towards both friend and enemy. Each of us needs to identify any spirit of judgment we may be harboring, to root it out, and to replace cruelty with kindness and harshness with understanding.

This is how we show to others the kind of mercy that God has shown to us. A (possibly apocryphal) story is told of how, when Queen Elizabeth II was a girl, she and her sister, Margaret, would be told by their mother before they went to a party, “Remember: royal children, royal manners.” Their behavior would not make them members of the royal family, but it would demonstrate their membership in that family.

Christian, you and I are members of the royal family of the universe, with the King of creation as our Father. Be sure that your manners reflect who you are and whose you are. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

GOING DEEPER

Ephesians 4:25-32, Ephesians 5:1-2

Topics: Loving Others Mercy

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – Jesus Will Never Change

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8).

Have you ever gotten ready for school in the morning and decided you did not like your outfit? Unless you are short on time, it is usually okay to change your clothes. People do it all the time.

Have you ever realized that a food you used to hate is starting to become a favorite food now? Maybe you used to hate spinach. After all those years of hating spinach, you are starting to love it. People are like that. As we grow older, our tastes change.

Did you ever lose track of someone who used to be a good friend of yours? Some friends will always be a part of our lives. But some of our friendships will change over the years. We make new friends. We may never forget the old friends, but we might spend less time with them or go a long time without seeing them.

Change is a part of every human being’s life. We have to deal with that change. Sometimes it takes a very long time for us to change, just as it takes a long time to grow taller or wiser. On other things, we might change overnight.

Every human being has to change. But one encouraging thing about Jesus Christ is that He is always the same. He is God, so He will always have the great character that only God has.

Because Jesus never changes, we do not have to wonder about Him. We can trust that Jesus will always be exactly Who He always has been. He will never lose His love for us. He will never forget us or let us down or change His mind about us. He will never make mistakes. He will never do wrong. Because He is faithful and never changing, Jesus deserves our trust and worship. What a great God He is!

The Lord Jesus Christ is always going to be exactly Who He always has been.

My response:

» Do I ever doubt whether Jesus is still the same person He was in Bible times?

» Do I ever wonder how Jesus could keep on showing grace to me every day?

» How should I respond as I learn more about the unchanging goodness and greatness of Jesus Christ?

Denison Forum – The courage of an Amazon driver and the faith of NFL quarterback Trey Lance

An Amazon driver named Kevin Rivera was finishing his route in Long Island, New York, when he saw a house on fire. Through the front door, he could see several people inside the home, including a woman and a baby. They were apparently unaware of the fire, so he courageously rushed in to help.

He got the family of seven to leave through the back door and away from the flames, then he rescued their two dogs. When they got outside and saw their burning house, they realized how dire their situation was. “They just started crying,” Rivera said later. “They just got emotional.”

To those thanking him for his bravery, Rivera replied, “To be honest, I just feel great that I did something.”

Report recommends all adults be checked for depression

This story points to two relevant facts today. Here’s the first: Our cultural house is on fire, but most of the people living in it don’t know it.

The United States Air Force Academy is instructing cadets to refrain from calling their parents “mom” or “dad” and to use words that “include all genders.” A former Mississippi official pled guilty yesterday to misusing millions of dollars in federal aid meant for poor families. The Boston Celtics’ head coach was suspended for the season for an inappropriate relationship with a female team employee. Boeing agreed to pay $200 million for misleading the public about the 737 Max following two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019.

A US government panel recommended this week that all adults under the age of sixty-five be screened for anxiety disorders and all adults be checked for depression. The report is both relevant and urgent as anxiety and depression continue to escalate in American society.

And yet, we are turning from Christ and Christianity in record numbers: the percentage of self-professed Christians in America is predicted to fall from 64 percent in 2020 to as low as 35 percent by 2070. “Nones,” those who have no religious affiliation, are expected to rise from the current 30 percent to as high as 52 percent by that time.

If Christians suggest that the problem is sin, we are dismissed as outdated, irrelevant, or even judgmental and dangerous to others. As a result, our secularized society is convinced that the cure is worse than the cause.

“You will not surely die”

This fact leads to a second observation: One of the hardest things to do in life is to help people who don’t believe they need help. If people don’t think their house is on fire, they’ll likely refuse our attempts to rescue them. The same is true with their souls.

Here we meet one of Satan’s most effective strategies: deluding humans into believing that we do not need what Scripture teaches, that we can dismiss the word and will of God and make our own decisions for our own advancement.

In the garden of Eden, he convinced our first parents that God’s warning was wrong: “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). Instead, by violating God’s clear instruction, they could “be like God” (v. 5). And we know personally the results.

We have been falling for the same deception ever since: “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

“We are to be saved by our good works”

In his fascinating spiritual biography of Thomas Jefferson, Baylor historian Thomas Kidd notes that our third president was certain that when he died he would, in his own words, “ascend in essence to an ecstatic meeting with the friends we have loved & lost and whom we shall still love and never lose again.” Upon what did he base such confidence?

Jefferson absolutely rejected the divinity of Jesus, convinced that “Jesus did not mean to impose himself on mankind as the son of god physically speaking.” He believed that “we are to be saved by our good works which are within our power, and not by our faith which is not within our power.”

Late in his life, Jefferson summed up his faith: “Adore God. Reverence and cherish your parents. Love your neighbor as yourself; and your country more than life. Be just. Be true. Murmur not at the ways of Providence. And the life into which you have entered will be the passage to one of eternal and ineffable bliss.”

In short, he was convinced that we are to “adore God” but trust our good works for salvation.

“God put that in my plan to use it as my platform”

Despite Thomas Jefferson’s skepticism, the evidence for Jesus’ uniqueness and divinity based on history, archaeology, ancient manuscripts, and logic is remarkably compelling. (For examples, see my website article, “Why Jesus?”) But many in our postmodern culture are likely to dismiss our arguments as “our truth.”

They measure truth by relevance, which is actually good news for the gospel.

When people see the transforming difference the risen Christ makes in us, they will want what we have and be drawn to the Lord we serve. Charles Spurgeon was right: “A Christian man should so shine in his life that a person could not live with him a week without knowing the gospel.”

NFL quarterback Trey Lance is a case in point. The San Francisco 49ers traded three first-round picks to Miami for the right to select him in the 2021 NFL Draft. They designated him their starting quarterback before this season began. Then, in the second game of the season, he fractured his right ankle and had to have season-ending surgery.

Lance posted an update on Instagram Tuesday, sharing an image of himself from his hospital bed and quoting Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” On his Twitter profile, he calls himself a “child of God” before he describes himself as the “San Francisco 49ers Quarterback.”

He told Yahoo! Sports in 2020, “Football is not who I am, it’s what I do. I’m obviously going to put everything possible into it because that’s what I love to do. But at the end of the day, I think God put that in my plan to use it as my platform.”

What is your platform?

Denison Forum

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Equipped to Fulfill God’s Calling

The Lord is all we need for the challenges before us.

Exodus 3:1-14

When Moses learned he was to lead the Hebrew slaves out of Egyptian bondage, his initial reaction was, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh?” (Ex. 3:11). But God assured him, “I will be with you” (Ex. 3:12 NLT). The Lord’s divine presence was a key part of Moses’ equipping as a leader. And God’s response to believers today is the same. We can confidently accept the responsibility He gives us—no matter the role—because He has promised to be with us always (Matthew 28:20). 

But Moses wondered whether the Hebrew people would listen to him. He had been away from Egypt for a long time, and his last interaction with the Israelites had been a negative one (Exodus 2:11-14). What kind of influence could he have? God responded that the only credential Moses needed to give them was that he was sent by God—the I AM (Ex. 3:14). In addition, the Lord gave Moses a helper: his brother Aaron.

When the Lord gives us a task, He will bestow the spiritual authority we need to carry it out, and He will provide us with people to help. God has promised to equip us for His work. What is your response when asked to serve?

Bible in One Year: Amos 5-9

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — People Who Need People

Bible in a Year:

Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings.

Romans 16:16

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Romans 16:3–16

In his hall-of-fame career as a sportswriter, Dave Kindred covered hundreds of major sporting events and championships and wrote a biography of Muhammad Ali. Growing bored in retirement, he started attending girls’ basketball games at a local school. Soon he began writing stories about each game and posting them online. And when Dave’s mother and grandson died and his wife suffered a debilitating stroke, he realized the team he’d been covering provided him with a sense of community and purpose. He needed them as much as they needed him. Kindred said, “This team saved me. My life had turned dark . . . [and] they were light.”

How does a legendary journalist come to depend on a community of teenagers? The same way a legendary apostle leaned on the fellowship of those he met on his missionary journeys. Did you notice all the people Paul greeted as he closed his letter? (Romans 16:3–15). “Greet Andronicus and Junia,” he wrote, “my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me” (v. 7). “Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord” (v. 8). He mentions more than twenty-five people in all, most of whom are not mentioned in Scripture again. But Paul needed them.

Who’s in your community? The best place to begin is with your local church. Anyone there whose life has turned dark? As God leads, you can be a light that points them to Jesus. Someday they may return the favor.

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

Who are the people you know you can count on? Ask God to give you that kind of friend. How can you be a friend like that?

Father, what a friend I have in Jesus! May I be that kind of friend to others.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Spirit and Adoption

“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:14-16).

The Holy Spirit confirms in our hearts the reality of adoption into God’s family.

In first-century Rome, people did not practice adoption exactly the same as they do today. A father sometimes adopted a young man outside the family to be the primary heir of the father’s name and estate. If the father considered his natural sons unworthy, he would find someone else with the qualities he wanted in a son. The adopted son would then take precedence over any of the real sons in the inheritance process. Thus the new son received many rights and privileges he would not have had otherwise; he was not merely a second-class citizen rescued from homelessness.

Likewise, it requires more than a natural birth process for us to become members of God’s family. We become God’s children because He sovereignly chose to grant us spiritual rebirth (John 1:12-13). That’s the substance of biblical adoption.

Therefore, adoption and regeneration are both terms that describe how God brought us to Himself (see 2 Cor. 5:17). Regeneration makes us sons and daughters and prepares us for our eternal inheritance. Adoption names us “sons of God” and actually gives us the title to our inheritance. Once this occurs, all our former debts (sins) are canceled, and we have a right to be in God’s presence without condemnation.

The entire process of adoption is superintended by the Holy Spirit, who repeatedly confirms its reality in our hearts. He transfers us from an alien family into God’s family and thus “bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:16). If you are a Christian, you can, by the indwelling Spirit, know that you are legally and eternally God’s child.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Lord to give you a renewed sense of joy and thanksgiving throughout this day as you remember the blessings of being his adopted child.

For Further Study

Read Genesis 12:1-8.

  • What commands and promises did God make?
  • Had Abraham known God in the same way prior to this passage?
  • Does God’s promise in any sense parallel the concept of adoption? Explain.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Be “God Loves Me” Minded

…God is love, and he who dwells and continues in love dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in him.

— 1 John 4:16 (AMP)

I remember when I began my ministry. When I was preparing for my first meeting, I asked the Lord what He wanted me to teach, and what came to my heart was, “Tell My people I love them.”

“They know that” I said. “I want to teach them something really powerful, not a Sunday school lesson out of John 3:16.”

The Lord reminded me that if people really knew how much He loved them, they would act differently than they do.

As I began to study the subject of receiving God’s love, I realized I was in desperate need of that message myself. I had a subconscious, vague sort of understanding that God loved me, but I needed deeper revelation. The love of God is meant to be a powerful force in our lives, one that will take us through even the most difficult trials without us ever doubting God’s love.

Prayer of the Day: Thank You, Father, for Your never-ending love for me, and I receive that love right now, in Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – The Law of Love

I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.

Luke 6:27

When you read the Bible and it describes Christianity, and then you look at yourself, do you ever wonder whether you’re a Christian at all? I know I do.

Neither our assurance as believers nor God’s love for us hinges on our ability to live out certain Christian principles; rather, both depend on what Christ has achieved for us on the cross. Even so, the Bible teaches us to look for evidences of our salvation in the present. If we truly are the Father’s children, we are bound to display a love for others that resembles Jesus’ love for us.

Jesus calls for us to love people in a way that is not related to their attractiveness, merit, or lovability. We know that this is exactly how God loves us—His love is not based on us cleaning up our act, deserving His attention, or demonstrating that we’re predisposed towards or useful to Him. None of these things contribute to God’s love for us. No—“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, emphasis added).

The greatest measure of our faith, then, is love—love that reflects the love that we have received in such abundance. We engage in agape love—unconditional, sacrificial love—because it is an expression of the character of God and all He’s done for us. We don’t exercise this kind of love for our enemies because we are blind to who they really are but because we have gazed at God’s love for us. Jesus says that when we see others as they are—in all of their ugliness and spitefulness, all of their cursing, all of their hatred, and all of their unwillingness to pay us what they owe us—we are to be realistic about all of it, and then love them. Seeing all of that enmity, says Jesus, I want you to love your enemies.

By nature, we are incapable of displaying such love. But consider the kind of difference we would make to our culture if we were prepared to live out, in both everyday and extraordinary ways, a Christlike love which seeks to do what’s best for those who have acted in enmity towards us. That would be revolutionary—without any question at all.

GOING DEEPER

Acts 9:10-28

Topics: Forgiveness Loving Others

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Wants Us to be Poor in Spirit

“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

It was Billy’s turn to read his verse in the morning devotions. The Phillips family was reading in the book of Matthew, chapter 5. Billy read verse 3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

“Dad,” he asked, “what does ‘blessed’ mean?”

His father answered, “It means ‘happy.’”

“How can a poor person be happy? He doesn’t have anything to be happy about?” Billy wasn’t sure how this verse could be true.

His father answered wisely. “It doesn’t just say a poor person is happy. It says those who are ‘poor in spirit’ are happy because they will live in the kingdom of Heaven.”

Billy wasn’t sure what all that meant. “What does it mean to be ‘poor in spirit’?”

“It means a person is not proud. There is a saying about proud people that goes something like this, ‘He’s full of his wee self.’ That means a person who is proud is filled up with himself. He doesn’t have room for others, let alone for the Lord. All he thinks about is himself. All he cares about is himself. You know what it means to be poor, don’t you, Billy?”

“Sure. It means someone doesn’t have much of anything.”

“That’s right. In this case the person doesn’t have much of himself. His life isn’t full of himself. He has room for the Lord and others. This is true of those who are going to Heaven. They have realized they are nothing great in themselves and they need Jesus to forgive their sins. They also know they need His help to do what is right and to make the right decisions. The proud person doesn’t think that way. He thinks he is good enough by himself and doesn’t need God or anyone else. He has all he wants as long as he has his pride.”

Billy started to understand what his father was saying. “So the person who doesn’t think he is good enough by himself is the one who will come to Jesus and get saved from his sins, and then he will know he is going to Heaven. And that’s why he’s happy. But the person who doesn’t want the Lord is a proud person and will never come to Jesus because he doesn’t think he needs God. And he will not go to Heaven. He has nothing good to look forward to. And when he dies, he will never be happy again. It that what it means, Dad?”

His father answered, “That’s pretty much it, Billy.”

“Wow!” exclaimed Billy. “Last year I understood I was a sinner and not good enough to go to Heaven, and I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and save me. And I still know I’m not very good all by myself. I still need the Lord to help me not to sin and help me do what is right. That means I’m poor in spirit, and I can be happy because I know I will be in Heaven with Jesus forever. Sometimes it really is good to be poor, isn’t it Dad?”

“It sure is, Billy. It sure is.”

My response:

» Am I poor in spirit?

» Do I know I need Jesus to save me?

» Do I know I need Jesus to help me live? https://equipu.kids4truth.com

Denison Forum – Family takes world tour before children lose their vision

This story is heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time: a Canadian family is on a world tour so their three children with retinitis pigmentosa can build their “visual memories” before they lose their eyesight. So far, they have seen elephants, zebras, and giraffes in Namibia before moving on to Zambia, Tanzania, Turkey, Mongolia, and Indonesia.

“There are beautiful places everywhere in the world, so it doesn’t really matter where we go,” their mother explains.

When good things happen to good people, we tend to credit the good people with little thought for the God from whom “every good gift and every perfect gift” comes (James 1:17). However, when bad things happen to good people, we tend to blame God even though he “cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one” (James 1:13).

If Christians must account for evil in a world we claim was made by a loving Creator, skeptics must account for good in a world they claim was produced by chaotic chance.

I cannot help them with their problem, but I can offer three thoughts for ours.

One: Some suffering is the cost of living in a fallen world

God allows some suffering as a result of living in a fallen world (Romans 8:22). The law of gravity affects sinners and saints, atheists and missionaries alike.

If a chess master allows a novice to take back a move, the game can continue; if she allows a novice to take back every move, there can be no game. If God intervened every time the law of gravity was about to harm someone, there could be no law of gravity. He would likewise be forced to suspend all speech lest some words harm some people and even all brain activity lest some thoughts turn to sin.

In addition, God sometimes allows natural disasters and diseases to show us our finitude and need for his providence and provision. Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” led him to transforming reliance on his Lord (2 Corinthians 12:9–10). God wants to redeem our “thorns” in the same way.

Two: God permits the consequences of misused freedom

A health care expert says the sharp rise in sexually transmitted diseases in the US is “out of control.” The CDC warns that people who smoke cigarettes are fifteen to thirty times more likely to die from lung cancer than people who do not smoke. These are examples of the passive judgment of God whereby he responds to our sins by allowing us to experience their results.

A parent would never allow her three-year-old to experience the consequences of choosing to walk into a busy street, but she might allow her twelve-year-old to experience the consequences of refusing to do his homework.

In the same way, God sometimes judges sin by allowing its consequences. He said of his sinful people, “I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, declares the Lord Gᴏᴅ” (Ezekiel 11:21). Paul reported that the Lord responded similarly to “all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Romans 1:18) when he “gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity” (v. 24), to “dishonorable passions” (v. 26), and to a “debased mind to do what ought not to be done” (v. 28). He does this to bring sinners to repentance, confession, and reconciliation with himself (1 John 1:9Proverbs 28:13).

However, such consequences often affect the innocent as well as the guilty. With congenital syphilis, infected moms pass the disease on to their babies, potentially leading to deafness, blindness, or even death for the child. Second-hand smoke causes nearly thirty-four thousand premature deaths from heart disease each year in the US among adults who do not smoke.

Three: God brings judgment against unrepentant sinners

If the consequences of our misused freedom do not bring us to repentance, God sometimes turns from passive to active judgment.

His warning to Judah is his warning for us as well: “I will make the land desolate, because they have acted faithlessly, declares the Lord Gᴏᴅ” (Ezekiel 15:8). His character does not change (Malachi 3:6). What he has judged in the past, he must judge in the present.

However, as with his passive judgment, God’s active judgment affects “the land,” including the faithful left in it. When God punished Judah with exile to Babylon, Daniel was exiled as well. Jesus warned that when Jerusalem fell, “women who are pregnant” and “those who are nursing infants” would suffer along with everyone else (Luke 21:23).

The spiritual life is a mountain

Here’s my point: faithful Christ followers must work with urgency for moral and spiritual awakening not only for the sake of unrepentant sinners facing judgment but for our sake as well.

Transformational encounters with God empower our faith in the face of disease and disaster. And they lead sinners to repentance before natural consequences or divine punishments for their sins affect us, our children, and our grandchildren.

Jesus called us to “walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you” (John 12:35). Either we walk in the light of Christ or we are overtaken by the dark. You and I are moving forward with Jesus or we are moving away from him. The spiritual life is not a level road but a mountain: we are either climbing up or we are sliding down.

And as we go, so goes the nation we are called to serve as “the” salt and light (Matthew 5:13–16).

We founded Denison Forum in 2009 to be a catalyst for moral and spiritual awakening. I am more convinced today than ever that the need for such a transforming movement of God’s Spirit is urgent and that the time is short.

For the sake of our culture as it slides further and further into immorality, and for the sake of our own families and communities, you and I must humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from our wicked ways (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Then, and only then, will he “heal our land.”

Denison Forum

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Peter: Sifted for Service

Our trials are the preparation for God’s future purpose for our life.

Luke 22:31-32

Have you ever experienced a situation that seemed impossible to endure? Years later, did you realize how that trial prepared you for things to come? The Scriptures tell us that the Lord sometimes allows us to be “sifted” for greater service. In other words, He may give Satan permission to affect an area of our life and thereby transform us into stronger witnesses for Him. 

In today’s passage, Jesus explains this process to Peter: “Satan has demanded to sift you men like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith will not fail; and you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Jesus knew what was coming—His death, resurrection, and ascension—and He expected Peter to lead the disciples and accomplish great things for the kingdom. But Peter wasn’t ready. 

So the Lord allowed Satan to “sift” Peter. In so doing, God separated the “wheat” from the “chaff”—the righteous areas of Peter’s life from the ungodly areas. Ultimately, the disciple grew from the experience and played a key role in spreading the gospel. Had God not allowed this sifting, Peter wouldn’t have been prepared for the events to come. Ask God to bring into focus similar ways that He’s used difficulties for your ultimate good.

Bible in One Year: Amos 1-4

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Living Water

Bible in a Year:

Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.

John 7:37

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

John 7:37–39

The cut flowers came from Ecuador. By the time they arrived at my house, they were droopy and road-weary. Instructions said revive them with a cool drink of refreshing water. Before that, however, the flower stems had to be trimmed so they could drink the water more easily. But would they survive?

The next morning, I discovered my answer. The Ecuadorian bouquet was a glorious sight, featuring flowers I’d never seen before. Fresh water made all the difference—a reminder of what Jesus said about water and what it means to believers.

When Jesus asked a Samaritan woman for a drink of water—implying He’d drink from what she fetched from the well—He changed her life. She was surprised by His request. Jews looked down on Samaritans. But Jesus said, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10). Later, in the temple, He cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink” (7:37). Among those who believed in Him, “rivers of living water will flow from within them. By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive” (vv. 38–39).

God’s refreshing Spirit revives us today when we’re life-weary. He’s the Living Water, dwelling in our souls with holy refreshment. May we drink deeply today.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

What areas of your life feel parched and dry? What may be preventing you from asking Jesus to give you this living water?

Loving God, when life leaves me road-weary and thirsty, thank You for the gift of Your Spirit, the living water, who dwells in every believer.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Conquering Doubt

“Take the helmet of salvation” (Eph. 6:17).

The key to conquering doubt is to focus on the preserving power of God.

Doubt comes to Christians in many ways. After you’ve sinned, your conscience might hiss at you, saying, “Surely you’re not a Christian. Why would God save you anyway? You don’t deserve His mercy. You’re not good enough. How presumptuous to think God could ever use you!” Such doubts are common among Christians who focus on their performance rather than God’s power.

All too often we’re quick to acknowledge God’s power to save us but slow to understand His power to keep us. To complicate matters, many Christians believe they can lose their salvation, so they live in constant fear of falling away from the faith. Still others have never learned what Scripture teaches about their security in Christ. They’re so intent on pleasing God through their own efforts that they lose sight of grace and drift into a subtle works- righteousness mentality.

Your performance doesn’t determine your standing in Christ; your standing in Christ determines your performance. Good works are the necessary result of salvation (Eph. 2:10) but they don’t save you or keep you saved. That’s God’s work.

Jude said, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (v. 24). “Able” in that verse translates a Greek word that speaks of power. “Keep” literally means “to secure in the midst of an attack.” “Stumbling” refers to falling into sin. Together they say that God is powerful enough to prevent you from stumbling into sin and falling away from Him—no matter how intense Satan’s attacks might be. He will continue to protect and cleanse you until the day you enter His glorious heaven perfected.

Sin is a serious issue and you should never take it lightly. But when you do sin, remember that as a believer you’re immediately cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ (1 John 1:7). So always confess your sins and turn from them, but never doubt God’s power or willingness to keep you saved. Trust in His grace, not in your ability to perform.

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise the Lord for continually cleansing your sin.

For Further Study

Memorize Jude 24-25 and recite it often as a reminder of God’s power and majesty.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Don’t Just Be Open…Ask!

…You do not have, because you do not ask.

— James 4:2 (AMPC)

God loves you very much and wants to help you, but you need to ask Him to. A man told me recently that when he feels overwhelmed, he lifts up one hand toward heaven and says, “Come get me, Jesus.” God hears the faintest cry of your heart, so stop trying to do everything on your own, and ask Him for help.

For example, the next time you are tempted to eat because you’re upset or sad, say “no” out loud. Then go sit quietly for a moment and ask God to help you in your situation. You’ll be amazed at how much of a difference asking makes. More often than not, you’ll find that you suddenly have the strength to resist the temptation. But you have to really ask; you can’t just tell yourself that you’re open to God’s help.

You may not think that God cares about something as simple as your eating habits, but He does. He cares about everything that concerns you—the big as well as the small. He wants you healthy, and He is willing to help, if you’ll just let Him. Don’t pray to Him to simply break your addiction; instead, pray to Him to help you find the spiritual strength to make the lifestyle changes that will set you free from the problem. As we choose to do what is right and lean on Him to give us strength, His power enables us to follow through and experience victory.

Prayer and meditation on God’s Word are excellent practices to nourish your spirit. It is spiritual food. Studying God’s Word and prayer are traditional methods of making contact with God, but other activities can also make you receptive to His nourishing love. Read something that encourages you and gives you hope. Keep a gratitude journal where you list the good things that happened to you that day (and there are good things in every day). Feed your spirit regularly, and you will be healthy and strong inside and out.

Prayer of the Day: Father, thank you for hearing my prayers, no matter how big or how small they are. In Jesus’ name, I ask for Your help today, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Holy Anxiety

Do not sweep my soul away with sinners.

Psalm 26:9

Fear made David pray like this, for something whispered, “Perhaps, after all, you may be swept away with sinners.” That fear springs mainly from holy anxiety, arising from the recollection of past sin. Even the pardoned man will inquire, “What if at the end my sins should be remembered, and I should be left out of the company of the saved?” He thinks about his present condition—so little grace, so little love, so little holiness; and looking forward to the future, he considers his weakness and the many temptations that surround him, and he fears that he may fall and become a prey to the enemy. A sense of sin and present evil and his prevailing corruptions compel him to pray, in fear and trembling, “Do not sweep my soul away with sinners.”

Reader, if you have prayed this prayer, and if your character is correctly described in the Psalm from which it is taken, you need not be afraid that you will be swept away with sinners. Do you have the two virtues that David had—the outward walking in integrity and the inward trusting in the Lord? Are you resting upon Christ’s sacrifice, and can you approach the altar of God with humble hope? If so, rest assured, you will never be swept away with sinners, for that calamity is impossible. At the judgment the command will be given, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”1

If, then, you are like God’s people, you will be with God’s people. You cannot be swept away with sinners, for you have been purchased at too high a price. Redeemed by the blood of Christ, you are His forever, and where He is, there His people must be. You are loved too much to be swept away with reprobates. Will one who is dear to Christ perish? Impossible! Hell cannot hold you! Heaven claims you! Trust in Christ, and do not fear!

1) Matthew 13:30

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 – Serving God for the Right Reasons

“As the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men” (Ephesians 6:6–7).

Kara walked quickly down the church hallway. She was late for orchestra practice. When she reached the auditorium, she searched the chairs for her usual empty spot. To her surprise, it was filled by her friend Melanie. Kara stalked up the stairs and stood in front of her chair. Melanie stopped practicing and looked up.

“Oh hi, Kara. Pastor Fox just moved me up here this morning,” she explained.

“Okay. Did he say why? This has always been my spot.”

“Not really, but it’s not a big deal. I mean, if you need to sit here, I can just move back,” Melanie offered.

Kara gave a plastic smile. “It’s fine. I’ll just move somewhere else.” She found an empty stand at the back of the first violins and flopped down.

After a couple of minutes, Pastor Fox came in. As he passed Kara’s chair, he stopped and said, “By the way, Kara, I moved you because I thought it’d be nice to give Melanie a chance to sit in the front. You don’t mind, do you?”

“No—it’s fine,” she said sourly. They began practicing the Sunday offertory, but Kara’s heart wasn’t in the music. All she could think about was the injustice of her new seat. It’s not fair. I’m so much better than Melanie, she thought.

After practice, she made a beeline for the door but was stopped by Pastor Fox. “Kara, can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Uh, sure,” she swallowed.

“I noticed you didn’t seem very happy about your new seat. Maybe Melanie isn’t as good a musician as you, but this is a leadership opportunity for her. I want you to really think about why you play in the orchestra. Are you doing it for God, or for yourself?”

Kara thought a minute, then said, “I guess, myself.”

God wants us to serve Him because we love Him. When we do something to be recognized by other people or to make ourselves feel good, we are being selfish in our ministry.

We glorify God when our motivation is to honor Him.

My response:

» What is my attitude when others get attention that I don’t get? What does this show about me?

» What’s my reason for ministry—do I do it for God or for myself?

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