In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Our Unchanging Lord

 

Hebrews 1:10-12

We live in a world that is bound by time and characterized by change. Weather fluctuates, seasons come and go, governments are established and overthrown, houses are built and eventually torn down, technology keeps advancing, and human beings are born, age, and die. We are so accustomed to these cycles that we may be tempted to think about God in this same way, but He stands apart from time and is not subject to change.

The Lord’s immutable nature is the foundation for our faith. If we believed that God’s attributes or preferences, like man’s, could fluctuate, we’d have no assurance of His love, salvation, or grace. Thinking that at any moment He might decide to cancel His promises and cast us off is contrary to everything He says in His Word. Yet many professing Christians live with this fear as they frantically try to live up to what they think the Lord desires.

A solid faith foundation is laid by studying and believing what the Bible says about God. Any time we veer from these truths by relying on what we think, feel, or hear others say, we’re on shifting sand. God’s unchanging nature is the solid rock of our confidence in Him.

Bible in One Year: Judges 16-17

 

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Our Daily Bread — Small Yet Mighty

 

Bible in a Year:

We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.

Ephesians 2:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ephesians 2:4–10

There are times late at night in North America’s harsh Sonoran Desert where one can hear a faint, high-pitched howl. But you probably wouldn’t suspect the source of the sound—the small yet mighty grasshopper mouse, howling at the moon to establish its territory.

This unique rodent (dubbed the “werewolf mouse”) is also carnivorous. In fact, it preys on creatures few would dare mess with, such as the scorpion. But the werewolf mouse is uniquely equipped for that particular battle. It not only has a resistance to scorpion venom but can even convert the toxins into a painkiller!

There’s something inspiring about the way this resilient little mouse seems custom-made to survive and even thrive in its harsh environment. As Paul explains in Ephesians 2:10, that kind of marvelous craftsmanship characterizes God’s designs for His people as well. Each of us is “God’s handiwork” in Jesus, uniquely equipped to contribute to His kingdom. No matter how God has gifted you, you have much to offer. As you embrace with confidence who He’s made you to be, you’ll be a living witness to the hope and joy of life in Him.

So as you face whatever feels most menacing in your own life, take courage. You may feel small, but through the gifting and empowerment of the Spirit, God can use you to do mighty things.

By:  Monica La Rose

Reflect & Pray

Is it easy or difficult for you to see yourself as God’s marvelous handiwork? Why? In what areas of your life might remembering this truth give you renewed confidence and courage?

God, thank You for the incredible way You’ve designed me to live with joy and purpose. Help me to believe, and find courage in, the truth of who I am in You.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Placing Others Above Yourself

 

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself” (Philippians 2:3).

One important way to prevent factionalism in the church is to regard other members as more important than yourself.

“Humility of mind” is a distinctive New Testament expression. There were similar terms in secular writings, but none that exactly fit the purposes of the New Testament writers. One form of the Greek word was used to describe the mentality of a slave. It was a term of derision, signifying anyone who was considered base, common, shabby, or low. Among pagans before Christ’s time, humility was never a trait to be sought or admired. Thus the New Testament introduced a radically new concept.

In Philippians 2:3 Paul defines “humility of mind” simply as seeing others as more important than yourself. But how often do we really consider others that way? Frequently, even within the church, we think just the opposite of what Paul commands. For example, we are sometimes prone to criticize those with whom we minister. It is naturally easier for us to speak of their faults and failures than it is to refer to our own.

But Paul’s attitude was different. He knew his own heart well enough to call himself the worst of sinners: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all” (1 Tim. 1:15). The apostle was also humble enough to realize that in his own strength he was not worthy of the ministry to which he had been called: “I am the least of the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle” (1 Cor. 15:9).

Your knowledge of others’ sins and graces is based on their outward words and actions, not on what you can read from their hearts. But you, like Paul, do know your own heart and its sinful shortcomings (cf. Rom. 7). That ought to make it much easier to respect and honor others before yourself. And when you do that, you are helping prevent factionalism in your church and contributing to the edification of fellow believers.

Suggestions for Prayer

Examine your life and ask God to help you turn from anything that would be keeping you from “humility of mind.”

For Further Study

Read Genesis 13, and notice what happened between Abraham and his nephew Lot. How did God reassure Abraham after his graciousness toward Lot?

 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Resting in God

 

And the Lord said, My Presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.

— Exodus 33:14 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource The Power of Being Thankful – by Joyce Meyer

Did you know we don’t have to worry about or figure out the answers to all our problems? Now that’s something to be thankful for! It’s actually quite refreshing to realize that I don’t need to have all the answers to my problems. We need to get comfortable saying, “I don’t know the answer to this, but I’m not going to worry about it, because God’s in control. I’ve done what I know to do, and He’s promised to do what I can’t do, so I’m trusting Him. I’m going to rest in Him!”

When we’re overloaded with the cares of life— struggling, laboring, and worrying— we need a mental and emotional vacation. Our minds need to rest from thinking about how to take care of problems, and our emotions need to rest from being upset.

Worry isn’t restful at all. In fact, it steals rest and the benefits of rest from us. So next time you feel like you’re carrying a heavy load in your mind or you find yourself worried and anxious, remember, you can put your trust in God and enjoy His rest (see Deuteronomy 31:8; Isaiah 41:10; Matthew 6:25-34).

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You that I don’t have to have all the answers all the time. Please help me let go of worry and learn to trust You to bring the answers I need at the right time. Thank You for the gift of Your rest. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –All in the Family

 

For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

 Galatians 3:26

The fatherhood of God is common to all His children. Ah, Little-faith, you have often said, “I wish that I had the courage of Great-heart, that I could wield his sword and be as valiant as he! But, alas, I stumble at every straw, and a shadow makes me afraid.” Listen, Little-faith. Great-heart is God’s child, and you are God’s child too; and Great-heart is not one bit more God’s child than you are. Peter and Paul, the highly-favored apostles, were of the family of the Most High; and so are you also. The weak Christian is as much a child of God as the strong one.

This cov’nant stands secure,
Though earth’s old pillars bow;
The strong, the feeble, and the weak,
Are one in Jesus now.

All the names are in the same family register. One may have more grace than another, but God our heavenly Father has the same tender heart toward all. One may do more mighty works and may bring more glory to his Father, but he whose name is the least in the kingdom of heaven is as much the child of God as he who stands among the King’s mighty men. Let this cheer and comfort us when we draw near to God and say, “Our Father.”

Yet, while we are comforted by knowing this, let us not rest contented with weak faith but ask, like the apostles, to have it increased. However feeble our faith may be, if it is real faith in Christ, we shall reach heaven at last, but we shall not honor our Master much on our pilgrimage, neither shall we abound in joy and peace. If then you would live to Christ’s glory and be happy in His service, seek to be filled with the spirit of adoption more and more completely, until perfect love shall cast out fear.

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

 

 

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Wants Me To Trust Him To Provide

 

“For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth. And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah.” (1 Kings 17:14-16)

1 Kings is one of the Bible’s historical books, which means that it tells us the stories of what actually happened during the time those kings and prophets lived. What good can those old stories do for us now? Some of those things that happened back then would never happen now, in the 21st century! God probably has never told your pastor to pray for a river to dry up so you could walk across it, and God probably will not tell your pastor to pray that it would not rain for three years!

Even though some of these historical stories could probably never happen nowadays, God had good reasons for including them in His Word. For one thing, we can learn a lot about God’s character and His works through reading those stories. Think about when someone at your church stands up and gives a “testimony.” What is it? It is just that person’s story of something God has done, and it gives praise to God for being the kind of God He is. We listen to testimonies of people who believe in God, and they remind us that God is powerful and cares about His people. The historical stories in the Bible are often testimonies about the greatness and goodness of God.

We can learn a lot about God from the things He commanded and promised in some of those old stories. In 1 Kings 17, God had told the prophet Elijah to pray that there would be no rain for three years. Elijah obeyed and told the wicked King Ahab what God had said. Then God told Elijah to hide near a small stream, where God would ravens (crows) bring him food. For a while, everything seemed to be going fine. The ravens brought Elijah food every single morning and evening, and he had all the water he could drink from the stream. But because there was no rain, even this stream finally began to dry up. Now what was Elijah going to do?

God spoke to Elijah again and told him to pack up and leave for a far village where God had commanded a widow woman to take care of Elijah’s needs. Elijah obeyed again, and when he arrived at the city, he saw the widow picking up some sticks so she could light a fire and cook some food. Elijah asked her if she could bring him some water. Elijah was probably very thirsty from his long journey. As the widow went to get him some water from the well, he called after her and asked if she also would bring him some food.

The widow turned around and told Elijah in all honesty that the only food she had left was barely enough to make one last meal for herself and her son. After they had eaten that, she said, she figured they would have to starve to death. Elijah listened to her, but he knew that God had promised this widow would take care of his needs. Elijah knew that if the widow was going to help him, the Lord would have to help her.

So the woman listened to Elijah’s amazing promise that the Lord was going to keep her food supplies full until the rains came again. And she cooked for him, and for her son and herself, and they never ran out of food. God did provide food–that last little bit of flour and oil stretched on for about two whole years! Elijah and the widow trusted God, and He provided for their needs by doing a miracle.

How about you? Do trust God to provide for you? He does not always work in the same way in the 21st century as He did back then, but He is the same God. That story shows us that God is strong enough and merciful enough to care for His people even when the situation is a humanly impossible thing. Maybe you have prayed for a long time for an unsaved family member to be saved. Are you trusting trust that God will save that person? Or, maybe you have a grandparent who is very sick. Do you believe that God can take care of your grandma or grandpa?

And what happens if you do trust God, and He chooses not to answer your prayer request the way you were hoping He would? Can you still trust Him that He is strong and loving? Can you still rely on Him as a great God and a good God? Yes! God’s plans are not always our plans. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” The widow could not have figured out how God would have met her need, but she trusted Him. We do not have to understand or know the future, but we can trust the God of the past, present, and future.

I can trust God to provide for me because His plan is always best.

My Response:
» Am I trusting God to provide for me?
» Even when things happen that are not what I want, do I still trust that God has a perfect reason for them?

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Denison Forum – Airline agent returns Buzz Lightyear to his owner: Four steps to relationships that transform

 

Here’s the best story I’ve seen in a while: the Washington Post is reporting that a Southwest Airlines employee returned a toy left on an airplane to its owner. How he did what he did, and why, is worth our time today.

Two-year-old Hagen Davis was flying with his family from Sacramento to Dallas to attend his great uncle’s funeral. He left his beloved Buzz Lightyear action figure on the plane. The aircraft then flew to Little Rock, Arkansas, where Beth Buchanan, a Southwest Airlines operations agent, discovered it. She noticed the name “Hagen” on the bottom of Buzz’s boot and decided to scan the passenger list.

A ramp agent named Jason William Hamm saw the toy sitting on his colleague’s desk. They confirmed that Buzz belonged to Hagen, and Hamm decided to get it back to him. He emailed the family to let them know he had located Buzz and to ask for their address so he could return the toy to them. Then he decided to convince Hagen that Buzz had been on a mission before returning home.

So Hamm, an aviation photographer, took pictures of Buzz in front of an airplane, an engine, and a cockpit. He wrote a letter from Buzz to Hagen explaining his “mission” and the photos. He decorated a cardboard box with drawings of Buzz, stars, planets, and classic Toy Story sayings, including “To infinity and beyond!” Then he mailed Buzz, the letter, and the photos to Hagen.

Why did Hamm go to such lengths? “I have an autistic son, and he gets attached to toys. If he loses a toy, I know how hard it is for him,” he explained. “It’s the dad in me, I guess you could say.” Hagen’s mother said, “For Jason to go above and beyond for someone he did not know, and to take that much time and effort, it’s just incredible.”

Polygamy is here 

From good news to bad: the New Yorker is carrying a very long and very supportive article on “how polyamorists and polygamists are challenging family norms.”

When the Supreme Court discovered a constitutional right to same-sex marriage in 2015, Chief Justice Roberts noted that the majority’s reasoning “would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage.” Many of us have been warning that polygamy and polyamory were the next stages of this devolution from marriage. Same-sex marriage activists have dismissed such fears as “scare tactics.”

Unfortunately, we were right.

How can evangelical Christians most effectively persuade those who reject biblical morality that biblical morality is best for them?

 

The key to persuasion 

In The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, author and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt notes that “people bind themselves into political teams that share moral narratives. Once they accept a particular narrative, they become blind to alternative moral worlds.” As a result, “We do moral reasoning not to reconstruct the actual reasons why we ourselves came to a judgment; we reason to find the best possible reasons why someone else ought to join us in our judgment” (his emphasis).

Consequently, persuading someone that they are wrong is especially difficult when they are convinced that they are right. I am just as adamant that polygamy is wrong for the polygamists in the New Yorker article as they are adamant that it is right for them.

The key to persuasion, according to Haidt, is relationships. We must earn the trust of the person with whom we disagree on a level that lowers the defensive barriers to genuine discussion and debate. This requires that we listen to the other person, not to point out where they are wrong but to learn why they think as they do and to find places where we can agree.

Haidt quotes Henry Ford: “If there is any one secret of success it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from their angle as well as your own.” On this basis, we can build a foundation on commonalities as a bridge to constructive dialogue and perhaps transformation.

Four transforming steps 

Jason Hamm saw Buzz Lightyear through the eyes of Hagen Davis and created a memory for his family that will last a lifetime. According to tradition, St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Trinity to the Irish.

When Jesus called fishermen to be disciples, he promised to make them “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). When he met a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, he started their conversation with water and led her to his “living water” (John 4:7–10). When Paul preached in synagogues, he quoted from the Hebrew Bible (cf. Acts 13:17ff); when he spoke to Greek philosophers, he quoted Greek philosophers (Acts 17:28).

As I noted yesterdayCNN commentator Don Lemon made headlines this week by telling the pope and the Vatican that they were wrong about God. Lemon added a suggestion, however, that we would do well to hear: “Instead of having the pew hinder you, having the church hinder you, instead of being segregated in the church or among yourselves, go out and have a barbecue and meet people and start breaking bread with people and getting to know them.”

Once we decide to build relationships with those with whom we disagree, we should take four biblical steps:

  1. Ask the Lord where and how to begin, confident that he will lead us to those he is already preparing for our initiative (cf. Acts 16:9–10).
  2. Pray for the humility to learn what we do not know and to change what we need to change (Philippians 2:3Proverbs 18:12).
  3. Ask for the words to speak and the grace with which to share them, knowing that life transformation is not our work but that of the Spirit (John 16:7–11).
  4. Trust the results to the God who knows our hearts and loves us unconditionally (1 Samuel 16:7Romans 5:8).

 

A prayer for protection Jesus always answers 

The Stoic philosopher Epictetus was right: “It is impossible for a person to begin to learn what he thinks he already knows.”

Would you join me in praying for the humility to learn from those with whom you disagree and the courage to share biblical truth with them? Would you ask the Lord to lead you today to the people he has already prepared for your engagement? Would you trust him to use you to plant trees you may never sit under and to use your faithfulness for his glory and their eternal good?

As you go, Jesus goes with you (Matthew 28:20) and you can make St. Patrick’s prayer for protection your own:

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise. 

This is a prayer Jesus always answers, to the glory of God.

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –What’s Your Price?

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Some years ago, I read a study of what most Americans would do in exchange for ten million dollars. Among the options were abandon their family, abandon their church, give up their citizenship, leave their spouse or their children. It’s not surprising to me what someone would do for ten million dollars. What’s surprising is that most would do something. What would you do? Or better, what are you doing?

 

“Get real, Max,” you’re saying, “I’ve never had a shot at ten million.” The amount may not have been the same, but the choices are. And some people are willing to give up their family, faith, or morals for far less than ten million dollars. Jesus had a word for that: greed. He called it the practice of measuring life by possessions (Luke 12:15). Jesus cautioned against “all kinds of greed.” What’s your price?

 

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