In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Fruitful Giver


2 Corinthians 9:6-15

Have you ever had the chance to visit Israel? There is a stark contrast between the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. The banks of the Jordan are surrounded by trees and greenery, but very little grows in the vicinity of the Dead Sea because there’s no outlet—water can only evaporate. This process leaves salt minerals behind and makes the water so salty that it’s unfit to nourish the land, which is dry and barren.

Christians are to be like rivers, not stagnant lakes. The blessings God gives us are to be shared instead of hoarded. This applies to every area of life, including our financial resources. As God’s provision flows in to bless us, He wants us to extend the blessing to those who are in need. The result is a fruitful life centered on glorifying the Lord and building His kingdom.

We never have to fear that we will run out of resources, because the Lord promises to take care of us (Matt. 6:31-33). Believers can trust Him to provide both the means to live and enough extra so we can be generous with others. Best of all, God will increase our righteousness and use us to supply the needs of fellow believers, who will thank and glorify God because of our obedience (2 Corinthians 9:10-13).

Bible in One Year: Numbers 23-25

Our Daily Bread — Thinking Differently


Bible in a Year:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world.

Romans 12:2


Today’s Scripture & Insight: Romans 12:1–3

During college, I spent a good chunk of a summer in Venezuela. The food was astounding, the people delightful, the weather and hospitality beautiful. Within the first day or two, however, I recognized that my views on time management weren’t shared by my new friends. If we planned to have lunch at noon, this meant anywhere between 12:00 and 1:00 p.m. The same for meetings or travel: timeframes were approximations without rigid punctuality. I learned that my idea of “being on time” was far more culturally formed than I’d realized.

All of us are shaped by the cultural values that surround us, usually without us ever noticing. Paul calls this cultural force the “world” (Romans 12:2). Here, “world” doesn’t mean the physical universe, but rather refers to the ways of thinking pervading our existence. It refers to the unquestioned assumptions and guiding ideals handed to us simply because we live in a particular place and time.

Paul warns us to be vigilant to “not conform to the pattern of this world.” Instead, we must be “transformed by the renewing of [our] mind” (v. 2). Rather than passively taking on the ways of thinking and believing that engulf us, we’re called to actively pursue God’s way of thinking and to learn how to understand His “good, pleasing and perfect will” (v. 2). May we learn to follow God rather than every other voice.

By:  Winn Collier

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Reflect & Pray

How would you describe the values and assumptions that surround you? What would it look like for you to not conform to the world’s ways and to instead follow Jesus’ ways?

God, I don’t even recognize my assumptions and values most of the time. Help me to live out Your truth and Your mind in it all.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Joy of Pleasing God


“The blameless in their walk are [God’s] delight” (Prov. 11:20).

Your love for God brings Him joy.

Our focus so far this month has been on the joy we experience in knowing and serving Christ. Before we turn our attention to the theme of godliness, I want you to consider two additional aspects of joy: the joy of pleasing God, and how to lose your joy. Pleasing God is our topic for today.

Perhaps you haven’t given much thought to how you can bring joy to God, but Scripture mentions several ways. Luke 15:7, for example, says, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Verse 10 adds, “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Repentance brings joy to God.

Faith is another source of joy for God. Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.” That’s the negative side of a positive principle: when you trust God, He is pleased.

In addition to repentance and faith, prayer also brings God joy. Proverbs 15:8 says, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is His delight.”

Righteous living is another source of joy to God, as David acknowledges in 1 Chronicles 29:17: “I know, O my God, that Thou triest the heart and delightest in uprightness.” Solomon added that those who walk blamelessly are God’s delight (Prov. 11:20).

Repentance, faith, prayer, and righteous living all please God because they are expressions of love. That’s the over-arching principle. Whenever you express your love to Him—whether by words of praise or acts of obedience—you bring Him joy.

Doesn’t it thrill you to know that the God of the universe delights in you? It should! Let that realization motivate you to find as many ways as possible to bring Him joy today.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the privilege of bringing Him joy.
  • Thank Him for His grace, which enables you to love Him and to express your love in repentance, faith, prayer, and righteous living (cf. 1 John 4:19).

For Further Study

Read 1 Kings 3:3-15.

  • What did Solomon request of God?
  • What was God’s response?

Additional Resources

Joyce Meyer – Doing the Word


But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth].

— James 1:22 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Battlefield of the Mind – by Joyce Meyer

As a Christian, for a long time I didn’t understand that believers could know what God wanted them to do and then deliberately say no. Now, I’m not talking about those who completely turn their backs on Jesus and want nothing to do with salvation. I’m talking about those who disobey God in the seemingly little things and don’t seem to be concerned about it at all.

In verses 23 and 24, James goes on to say that if we only listen to the Word but don’t obey it, it’s like looking at our reflection in a mirror and then going away and forgetting what we saw. But a doer of the Word, he says, is like one who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, and is faithful to it and perseveres in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience) (See James 1:25 AMPC).

Whenever Christians are faced with God’s Word, and it calls them to action but they refuse to obey, their own human reasoning is often the cause. They’ve deceived themselves into believing something other than the truth. It’s as if they think they are smarter than God.

I’ve met people who seem to think that God always wants them to feel good, and if something happens that makes them feel bad, they don’t believe it’s God’s will for them. Or they dismiss what they read in the Bible by saying, “That doesn’t make sense.”

One woman, referring to Paul’s instruction to “be unceasing in prayer” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), said that verse kept coming to her every time she prayed.

“What do you think that means?” I asked her.

“Oh, I think it means that day in and day out, we are to pray when we feel a need or when we want something.”

Her words shocked me. “What about fellowship with the Lord?” I asked. “Isn’t that a good reason? Or maybe God just wants you to spend time reading His Word and praying about what you read.”

“I have too many things to do,” she said. “That’s fine for people who like to sit and read and pray for hours every day, but that’s not the way for me.”

In our brief conversation, I learned that her decisions about obeying God’s Word depended on whether or not it was convenient for her lifestyle. When she read things in the Bible that didn’t fit with the way she lived, she explained it to herself in such a way that she convinced herself God didn’t expect her to do that.

In contrast, I remember a very dignified woman who had been a member of a traditional church most of her life. She often spoke of the noise and confusion in charismatic churches (although she’d never been to one). Then she visited one of the services where I spoke, and her heart was changed. “I couldn’t believe that God would ask me to do something like clap my hands or sing loudly or even shout. But when I saw the joy on the faces of those in the congregation and heard you quote the Bible verse that commands us to clap our hands and shout, what else could I do? That was God speaking to me.”

She had exactly the right attitude. She didn’t try to reason it out, or wonder why God had told her to take that kind of action. She believed His Word and simply obeyed, and as a result, she had a new kind of joy that she would never have experienced otherwise.

When the Bible speaks about obeying the Lord, it’s not a suggestion. His Word doesn’t ask, “Would you like to obey?” God commands us to take action by being a doer of His Word, and when we are obedient, He’s promised that we’ll be blessed.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for the instructions in Your Word. I may not always like what I read, and sometimes it’s difficult to follow You without hesitating, so please help me to trust You with what I don’t understand, and to stay obedient no matter what. Thank You for the wisdom to know how to apply Your Word to my life, for the strength to carry it out, and for the ability to honor You in every moment. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – The College of Contentment


For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.

 Philippians 4:11

These words show us that contentment is not a natural propensity of man. Weeds grow easily. Covetousness, discontent, and murmuring are as natural to man as thorns are to the soil. We do not need to sow thistles and brambles; they come up naturally enough, because they are indigenous to earth. And so we do not need to teach men to complain; they complain fast enough without any education.

But the precious things of the earth must be cultivated. In order to have wheat, we must plow and sow; if we want flowers, there must be the garden, and all the gardener’s care.

Now, contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated; it will not grow in us by nature. It is the new nature alone that can produce it, and even then we must be specially careful and watchful that we maintain and cultivate the grace that God has sown in us. Paul says, “I have learned . . . to be content,” as much as to say he did not know how at one time. It cost him some pains to discover that great truth. No doubt he sometimes thought he had learned, and then broke down. And when at last he had attained to it and could say, “I have learned in whatsoever situation I am to be content,” he was an old, gray-headed man, upon the borders of the grave–a poor prisoner shut up in Nero’s dungeon at Rome.

We might well be willing to endure Paul’s infirmities and share the cold dungeon with him, if we also might by some means attain to his good stature. Do not indulge the notion that you can be contented with learning or learn without discipline. It is not a power that may be exercised naturally but a science to be acquired gradually. We know this from experience. Christian, hush that murmur, even though it is natural, and continue as a diligent pupil in the College of Contentment.


One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Heals Broken Hearts


“He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)

What is a “broken heart”? Have you ever had one? We use the expression when we talk about the deepest kind of grief a heart can feel. Broken hearts are often caused by a hurtful change in a relationship with another person. If someone you love dies, or if you have to say good-bye to a friend, or if someone close to you does something to hurt you deeply, you might say that you have a broken heart. But those are just the surface causes for a broken heart. Do you know what really causes broken hearts? All of the grief, death, and sadness we experience came into our world as the result of human sin.

Jesus’ heart was broken once too. Psalm 69:20 looks ahead to the time when Jesus died on the cross for our sins. “Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness.” Jesus’ heart was not broken because of His own sin; He never sinned. It was broken because of ours. All the sins of the whole world were laid on Him when He suffered and died. During those hours on the cross, He endured the awful wrath of God the Father in our place. The precious relationship Jesus had with His Father, closer and more satisfying than anything we could know, was broken while He bore our sin.

Does your God understand what your broken heart feels like? He not only understands, but He also knows how to heal it. Through Jesus Christ’s suffering and death on the cross, He made a way for you to come directly to Him with your broken heart. Your grief may be the result of your own sin or someone else’s. Or it may be the result of sin’s effects on our fallen world. Whatever the cause, God promises to gently care for your hurting heart.

The God whose heart was broken for sin will heal your broken heart.

My Response:
» Have I brought my broken heart to God for healing?

The post God Heals Broken Hearts appeared first on EquipU Online Library.

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Denison Forum – Tim Keller’s cancer update: Hopeful lessons in hard places


Bestselling author and pastor Tim Keller recently shared an update on his battle with pancreatic cancer. As a result of the prayers of many and his chemotherapy treatments, he has seen a “significant decrease in [the] size and number of tumors.” He stated, “I still have cancer, but this is excellent news,” and added, “What the future holds I do not know, but we will continue to trust his plan and allow him to shepherd us along his chosen path.”

Keller especially learned to trust God in hard places when he was battling thyroid cancer a few years ago. He explained, “It was both an intellectual and emotional experience: You’re facing death, you’re not sure you’re going to get over the cancer. And the rigorous intellectual process of going through all the alternative explanations for how the Christian Church started. Except the resurrection, none of them are even tenable. It was quite an experience.”

That experience inspired his bestseller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, enabling millions of people to profit from his pain and make his hope their own.

Beware “contempt for misfortune” 

We can learn from the pain of others, or we can ignore it to our loss.

Following former President Trump’s impeachment by the House and acquittal by the Senate, 58 percent of Americans say he should have been convicted. This number reflects the sharp partisan divide in our nation: 88 percent of Democrats agreed, as did only 14 percent of Republicans.

People in other countries probably watched news of the proceedings with the same detachment Americans watch the political travails of other countries. Brexit, for instance, was of passing interest to me but compellingly urgent to the British. By contrast, the below-zero temperatures we are battling in Texas are undoubtedly more urgent for me than for those in the UK.

It is human nature to care less about problems that don’t affect us than those that do. In reading through the book of Job, I recently found this remarkable observation: “In the thought of one who is at ease there is contempt for misfortune” (Job 12:5a). This is true of us all.


A lesson for every church and ministry 

However, if we fail to learn from the challenges of others, we are far more likely to fail when we meet similar challenges ourselves. The verse we just cited continues to warn us that misfortune “is ready for those whose feet slip” (v. 5b). No exceptions or qualifications are noted.

This fact is especially relevant in light of the unfolding scandal involving Ravi Zacharias and the ministry he founded. Yesterday, we identified three ways we should respond personally to disclosures that the world-famous apologist engaged in horrific acts of sexual abuse.

Today, let’s focus on a key lesson we need to learn for the sake of our churches, ministries, and cultural influence: we must respond immediately and objectively to claims of impropriety. 

David French’s article on Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) and its response to allegations against their founder is heartbreaking. It describes a pattern of denial on the part of the board and other ministry leaders. At times, those who sought to investigate charges against Zacharias were reportedly ostracized and marginalized.

Tragically, such a response is unsurprising. Zacharias had built an international reputation for brilliance and integrity. Those who felt they knew him best deceived themselves into believing that they knew him better than those who brought allegations against him. We have seen the same pattern repeated in churches and ministries across denominational lines and around the world.

How Jesus taught us to handle conflict 

This is why Jesus’ four-stage prescription for resolving conflict is so vital.

First, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone” (Matthew 18:15). We are not permitted to speak about people before we speak to them. When we become aware of an issue, we are to go directly to the person. (In instances of abuse, a person may not feel safe confronting their abuser. If you have suffered abuse, please report it to a counselor or other trusted professional.)

Second, “If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses” (v. 16). This step requires investigation by objective parties and must be thorough.

Third, “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church” (v. 17a). This step requires public exposure of the issue and a call for repentance and resolution.

Fourth, “If he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” (v. 17b). This step requires excluding the person from the church or ministry.


Practical questions we must answer now 

Let’s apply Jesus’ prescription by asking some practical questions:

  • Does your church or ministry have a system whereby employees and others can safely report allegations of abuse or other improprieties?
  • Are the electronic devices of your leaders and employees open to screening at any time? (This was a major problem with RZIM.) I recommend Covenant Eyesfor technology accountability; it is important that your church or ministry utilizes a system for transparency.
  • What commitments to personal integrity do you require of your leaders? For example, are they permitted to be alone with a person who is not their spouse or family? Are their calendars accountable to others?
  • Is someone in your church or ministry holding leaders accountable for personal integrity? As the great Howard Hendricks warned, sin thrives in isolation. Mark Turman, our senior fellow for leadership, recommends giving the leaders of your church permission to interview the pastor’s spouse two to three times a year regarding the pastor’s health. These and other regular steps are vital for leaders and those they lead.
  • Are your leaders accountable and transparent with regard to their use of ministry funds? Travel? Personal finances?
  • Are your church or ministry members praying regularly for the spiritual health of their leaders?

I often note that God redeems all he allows. One way he wants to redeem the Ravi Zacharias scandal is by using it to lead churches and ministries around the world to greater accountability and integrity.

But the time to act is now. Once a scandal erupts, it will be too late to prevent it.

Let’s close with this declaration by the psalmist to the king of his day: “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions” (Psalm 45:7).

May Christians everywhere be able to say the same of their leaders, to the glory of God.

Upwords; Max Lucado –The Seal of the Spirit


Listen to Today’s Devotion

God never promises the absence of distress on your new-beginning journey, but he does promise the assuring presence of his Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit invisibly, yet indispensably, serves as a rudder for the ship of your soul, keeping you afloat and on track. This is no solo journey that you’re on. The Spirit seals you. To protect a letter, you seal the envelope. Sealing declares ownership and secures contents.


When you accepted Christ, God sealed you with the Spirit. Ephesians 1:13 says, “When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” When hell’s interlopers come seeking you to snatch you from God, the seal turns them away. He bought you, he owns you, he protects you. God paid too high a price to leave you unguarded. You have the promise and presence of the Holy Spirit.