In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Assurance of Our Salvation

 

1 John 5:1-13

Many Christians struggle with doubts about their salvation. As they look at their failures, they question whether they’re truly saved. The apostle John wrote his first epistle to assure believers of their eternal security. Throughout the book, he gives three tests by which professing believers can evaluate themselves to see if they are truly in the faith.

  1. The Word Test. Genuine Christians believe what Scripture says about Christ—that He is God’s Son, who came in the flesh to die for mankind’s sins.
  2. The Witness Test. The Holy Spirit indwells true believers. They experience His transforming work, and He gives them a deep, abiding conviction that they belong to Christ.
  3. The Walk Test. Christ’s life flows through His followers and will be evident in their words, attitudes, and actions. The sins they once loved are now repulsive to them, and obedience to Christ is the new direction of their life.

While we can’t be 100 percent certain about the authenticity of anyone else’s faith (Matt. 7:21), God doesn’t want His true children wavering in uncertainty about their own. That’s why John’s first epistle says, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13, emphasis added).

Bible in One Year: Joshua 13-15

 

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Snow Muse

 

Bible in a Year:

He says to the snow, “Fall on the earth,” and to the rain shower, “Be a mighty downpour.”

Job 37:6

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Job 36:26–29; 37:5–7

Named for a tough blue-collar neighborhood in Cincinnati, Ohio, the grassroots musical group Over the Rhine sings about a transformation that took place each year in the city. “Whenever we’d get our first real snowfall of the year, it felt like something sacred was happening,” explains band co-founder Linford Detweiler. “Like a little bit of a fresh start. The city would slow down and grow quiet.”

If you’ve experienced a heavy snowfall, you understand how it can inspire a song. A magical quietness drapes the world as snow conceals grime and grayness. For a few moments, winter’s bleakness brightens, inviting our reflection and delight.

Elihu, the one friend of Job who may have had a helpful view of God, noted how creation commands our attention. “God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways,” he said (Job 37:5). “He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’ ” Such splendor can interrupt our lives, demanding a sacred pause. “So that everyone he has made may know his work, he stops all people from their labor,” Elihu observed (vv. 6–7).

Nature sometimes seizes our attention in ways we don’t like. Regardless of what happens to us or what we observe around us, each moment—magnificent, menacing, or mundane—can inspire our worship. The poet’s heart within us craves the holy hush.

By:  Tim Gustafson

Reflect & Pray

What events or things motivate you to ponder God’s greatness and creativity? How can you experience His wonder in your ordinary moments today?

Father, help me to see Your hand in everything today. Give me a heart to appreciate Your amazing works.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Praying for Others

 

“We have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly, and rebelled, even turning aside from Thy commandments and ordinances. . . . We have not listened to Thy servants the prophets. . . . Open shame belongs to us, O Lord . . . because we have sinned against Thee. . . . Indeed all Israel has transgressed Thy law and turned aside, not obeying Thy voice. . . . Thy people have become a reproach to all those around us” (Dan. 9:5-16).

Others should be the primary focus of your prayers.

In verses 5-16 Daniel identifies with his people and intercedes on their behalf. That’s a common practice in Scripture. For example, Moses interceded for the Israelites after they sinned by worshiping the golden calf (Ex. 32:11- 13).

All Paul’s recorded prayers are intercessions. In Ephesians 6:18 he instructs us to “be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” In 1 Timothy 2:1-4 he says, “I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Similarly, the Lord’s prayers are replete with intercessions. Even when hanging in agony on the cross, He prayed for His persecutors: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

When God placed us into the Body of Christ, He made us dependent on one another. When one member suffers, all suffer with it. When one is honored, all rejoice with it (1 Cor. 12:26). That’s why Jesus instructed us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts. . . . And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:11-13, emphasis added).

Let your prayers reflect a corporate and selfless mentality that embraces the needs of others.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the people who have prayed for you over the years. Be aware of those for whom you should be praying.
  • Sometimes the demands of prayer can seem overwhelming because there’s so much to pray for, but be faithful, knowing that your prayers are a delight to the Lord (Prov. 15:8).

For Further Study

Read John 17, noting how Jesus interceded for His disciples.

 

 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Refuse to Be Confused

 

God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…

— 1 Corinthians 14:33 (KJV)

 

Adapted from the resource Ending Your Day Right – by Joyce Meyer

Are you confused? Is there something happening in your life right now that you don’t understand? Maybe you’re baffled about the way things happened in your past, or you’re worried about how things will play out in your future.

Many of us today suffer tremendously with confusion, but that was never God’s plan. He doesn’t cause confusion—He always wants to give us the clarity and peace we need. He doesn’t want you to stress out trying to figure out the answers for everything in your life—He knows what is going on and why, and He’s in control. He doesn’t want you to feel overwhelmed…He wants to help.

That means you don’t have to worry or live in confusion. It almost sounds too easy, but you can have total freedom from the torment of confusion by refusing the temptation to figure everything out. As you bring God your questions and trust Him to bring the answers and provision you need, you’ll be able to enjoy a peaceful, happy life.

Prayer Starter: Father, I want to trust You more, but I need Your help. Please show me the answers I need to see, and give me the grace to trust You with the things I won’t understand until later. Thank You for always being there to reassure me and make a way for me where I need it. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –The Complete Perfection of His Glory

 

He is altogether desirable.

 Song of Songs 5:16

The superlative beauty of Jesus is all-attracting; it is not so much to be admired as to be loved. He is more than pleasant and fair—He is lovely. Surely the people of God can fully justify the use of this golden word, for He is the object of their warmest love, a love founded on the intrinsic excellence of His person, the complete perfection of His glory.

Look, the disciples of Jesus know the sweetness of his voice and are able to say, “Do not His words cause our hearts to burn within us as He talks with us on the road?” You worshipers of Immanuel, look up to His head of much fine gold, and tell me, are not His thoughts precious unto you? Is not your adoration sweetened with affection as you humbly bow before that face that is as excellent as the cedars of Lebanon? Is there not a beauty in His every feature, and is not His whole person fragrant with such a savor of His goodness that we love Him? Is there one aspect of His being that is not attractive—one facet of His person that is not a blessing to our souls and a strong cord to bind our hearts?

Our love is not as a seal set upon His heart of love alone; it is also fastened upon His arm of power, nor is there a single part of Him upon which it does not fix itself. We worship His whole person with the sweet fragrance of our fervent love. We would imitate His whole life and character. All other beings are incomplete; in Him there is all perfection. Even the best of His favored saints have had blots upon their garments and wrinkles upon their brows; He is nothing but loveliness. All earthly suns have their spots: This fair world has its wilderness; we cannot love the whole of the most lovely thing. But Christ Jesus is gold without alloy, light without darkness, glory without cloud.

Yes, “he is altogether desirable.”

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

 

 

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Big

 

“It is he [God] that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers.” (Isaiah 40:22a

When was the last time you were outside playing and you spotted a grasshopper or a cricket? Grasshoppers are a little bigger than crickets, but they are still so small that we can actually pick them up and hold them right in the palms of our hands.

Did you know that the Bible compares us to grasshoppers?

Isaiah 40:22 describes the inhabitants of the world (those who live in the world) “as grasshoppers” because they are so small compared to God.

This verse is using a metaphor (a word picture) to help us imagine the really big differences between us and God. Sometimes we get caught up with the things that happen in our lives, and our problems or things that make us happy seem really big. We start to forget that God is bigger than our problems and that God is better than anything or anyone else.

But this verse helps to remind us of what is real in the “big picture.” If we could back up from our lives and zoom out, out, out, like we were in a jet plane, or even a space station, and looking back down at Earth, we would be reminded that God’s universe is very big, and that we are very tiny compared to it. There are over six billion other people on Earth, each with his own set of talents and wishes and temptations and trials.

God can see the “big picture.” When He looks down on us, it is almost like we are a bunch of little grasshoppers hopping and buzzing around, doing our own business, thinking of our own small little lives. He knows each of us individually. He sees us and thinks about us, even when we let other things crowd Him out of our minds and we forget to think of Him.

Isaiah 40:22 reminds us that God is greater than we are! Just imagine yourself as a jumpy little grasshopper that God could cup in the palm of His hand.

Jesus said in John 10:29, “My Father, which gave them to me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”

“Them” in that verse is the people who have trusted Jesus as their Savior. No one is able to take them out of God’s hand! What a wonderful, protective, loving, and mighty God is the God of the Bible! He is greater than any trial or temptation that comes into our lives. He is stronger than wars or hurricanes or death. He is better than any other god we might be tempted to worship. He is mightier than any enemy who might try to scare us.

The next time you see a grasshopper or cricket, let it remind you of the “big picture”: If you have asked Jesus to be your Saviour, God holds you in His hand like that. He is a whole lot bigger than you are! God will hold you gently in His hand, and He will never let you go. He loves you too much.

God is truly greater than all of us.

My Response:
» Do I forget the “big picture” sometimes and imagine that God is only a small part of my life?
» How can I show that I believe God is bigger than my problems?

» How can I show that I believe God is better than the things that steal my attention away from Him?

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Denison Forum – Three gay men win the legal right to parent two children: Critical Race Theory and the call to love our neighbor

 

Ian Jenkins and his partners, Alan and Jeremy, were recently named the legal parents of two children. The babies were conceived through an egg donor and two surrogate mothers.

The CNN article that tells their story calls them “one extraordinary household” and could not be more upbeat and affirming. It clearly advocates for a culture in which polyamory is normal and any kind of “family” should create and raise children in any way they wish.

If someone claims in response that God made us “male and female” and that “a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife,” that person would face charges of being hateful, bigoted, and dangerous to society. Even if that person is Jesus (Matthew 19:4–5). Or someone who follows him as Lord.

How Critical Race Theory views the world 

Yesterday, we discussed censorship in the context of Dr. Seuss’ books and focused on one book being criticized for advocating equality without acknowledging “structural power imbalances” or “encouraging young readers to recognize and take action against injustice.” I then stated my plan to discuss the worldview behind this movement in today’s article. We’ll do so as succinctly as possible, then offer biblical and practical responses.

Postmodernism has taught our secular society that truth claims are personal and subjective. Since, in this view, no one can claim objective or absolute authority for their beliefs, tolerance is now our highest cultural value. To suggest that lost people need Jesus or that the Bible is God’s authoritative word is seen as intolerant and oppressive.

In this context, a worldview called Critical Race Theory (CRT) has gained enormous ascendency in our culture. CRT was influenced by a Marxist ideology that views the world in terms of power dynamics. Social evils such as crime, poverty, and oppression result not from human failures and sin but from Euro-Americans seeking to secure and increase their economic and social power.

CRT is complex and multifaceted, but many of its adherents claim that people experience society either as an oppressed minority or as an oppressing majority. Social structures perpetuate and exacerbate these realities. Some Black evangelicals are using this approach effectively in exposing systemic racism in our culture.

In addition, seeing oppressed people as equals or offering equality of opportunity is not enough, since social structures enacted by oppressors continue to oppress them. As a result, some CRT advocates believe that those who benefit from systems enacted by oppressors should make reparations to victims of these systems, offering not just equality but equity to them. And we should all work proactively to remove systemic injustices that continue to oppress minorities.

 

The future for evangelicals 

It is beyond the scope of this Daily Article to respond to CRT in depth, but I will offer three biblical observations.

One: Systemic racism exists. 

(For multiple examples, see my paper, “What does the Bible say about racism?“)

It is not enough to seek a color-blind society that does not recognize ongoing inequalities or work for a just society for all. God’s word is still his will: “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24). We should work to end systemic racism wherever we find it and to care for those oppressed by society (cf. Acts 6:1–6James 1:27).

Two: The gospel is the ultimate solution to our social challenges. 

As I have noted, many Black evangelicals are using CRT to expose systemic racism in our culture. However, because CRT views humans through the prism of race and gender rather than as individuals, some of its other adherents can minimize the biblical responsibility of persons and their sacred value as God’s creation. The fact is, we are all sinners (Romans 3:23) in need of salvation by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9). The ultimate solution to all our social problems lies in transformation by God’s Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Three: We must prepare for a growing threat to religious freedom. 

God cares deeply for the poor and the marginalized (cf. Proverbs 17:5). At the same time, a worldview that views minorities as oppressed and majorities as oppressors can be used to claim that evangelicals who defend biblical morality are oppressing those with whom they disagree. This is not an assertion of CRT per se, but it can be an application of its worldview to “moral minorities.”

As we have noted in recent articles, many claim today that evangelical appeals to religious freedom should be disallowed if they are viewed as harmful to others. The so-called Equality Act is an example with regard to LGBTQ persons. This denial of religious freedom can be extended to abortion, “death with dignity,” and a host of other civil “rights.” In this future world, Christians would not be able to appeal to their faith in refusing to perform an abortion, sex-change surgery, same-sex wedding, or a variety of other services.

 

Three reminders and a fascinating interview 

We should continue to monitor and engage the cultural trajectory we have discussed today with biblical clarity. To that end, I’ll close today with three biblical reminders.

First, we should live with such integrity, consistency, and compassion that others see the difference Jesus makes in our personal lives (Philippians 4:81 Peter 3:16). Our opponents are not our enemies but people who need the same grace we have experienced and are called to share.

Second, we should show our culture the compelling logic and positive outcomes of the biblical worldview apart from personal religious beliefs (1 Peter 3:15). We seek not the “right to be wrong” but the “right to be right.” I’ll say more about this in the days ahead.

Third, we should pray and work for the spiritual awakening that will change hearts and minds before it is too late (2 Corinthians 3:18). In this context, a recent interview in Christianity Today greatly impressed me.

Michel Abs was selected last fall as the new leader of the Middle East Council of Churches. He discussed the persecution of believers in his part of the world and his vision for the future. He stated, “We are the salt of the earth; we should be everywhere and spread good things. When salt is kept in its jar, it hardens and becomes like a stone, unusable.”

He also noted: “The Muslim is not our enemy. Maybe at times he could be our rival. But he is my neighbor, and Christ told us to love our neighbor.”

How usable is your salt?

Asked differently: How well will you love your neighbors today?

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/

 

Upwords; Max Lucado –God’s Grace Is Sufficient

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

You wonder why God doesn’t remove temptation from your life? You know, if he did, you might lean on your strength instead of his grace. A few stumbles might be what you need to convince you his grace is sufficient for your sin. You wonder why God doesn’t remove the enemies in your life? Perhaps because he wants you to love like he loves. Anyone can love a friend, but only a few can love an enemy. You wonder why God doesn’t heal you? Oh, he has healed you. If you are in Christ, you have a perfected soul and will have a perfected body. His grace is sufficient for gratitude.

 

We can be sure of this: God would prefer we have an occasional limp than a perpetual strut. God has every right to say no to us. We have every reason to say thanks to him. His grace is sufficient.

 

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