In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Freedom From False Guilt

 

1 John 3:18-24

Is there something from your past that continues to stir up feelings of guilt? Unless you rest in God’s complete forgiveness, you won’t experience the fullness of His divine grace.

If you feel ashamed but don’t know why, the problem could be a false sense of guilt. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin so we can repent and be free. But guilt that persists with no specific cause comes from the devil. Ask the Lord to cleanse of you of any false guilt today.

Another source is legalistic teaching. Many people have been taught a distorted version of the gospel and think, I’ll never measure up. For example, the religious leaders of Jesus’ time followed a code of man-made rules, and they communicated the idea that “unless you do this, God won’t accept you.” Righteous deed by righteous deed, they tried to earn the Lord’s acceptance—and sometimes so do we. But this legalistic view always becomes an enslaving vicious cycle.

Remember, Jesus came to liberate us. The Bible says that when you are set free by Christ, your freedom is complete (John 8:36). It’s time to let His grace cleanse you from any shame. Ask the Lord to help you walk in this truth—and enjoy unhindered fellowship with your Savior.

Bible in One Year: 1 Samuel 4-6

 

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Something Much Bigger

 

Bible in a Year:

We are co-workers in God’s service.

1 Corinthians 3:9

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 Corinthians 3:5–9

More than two hundred volunteers assisted October Books, a bookstore in Southampton, England, move its inventory to an address down the street. Helpers lined the sidewalk and passed books down a “human conveyor belt.” Having witnessed the volunteers in action, a store employee said, “It was . . . a really moving experience to see people [helping]. . . . They wanted to be part of something bigger.”

We can also be part of something much bigger than ourselves. God uses us to reach the world with the message of His love. Because someone shared the message with us, we can turn to another person and pass it on. Paul compared this—the building of God’s kingdom—to growing a garden. Some of us plant seeds while some of us water the seeds. We are, as Paul said, “co-workers in God’s service” (1 Corinthians 3:9).

Each job is important, yet all are done in the power of God’s Spirit. By His Spirit, God enables people to thrive spiritually when they hear that He loves them and sent His Son to die in their place so that they can be free from their sin (John 3:16).

God does much of His work on earth through “volunteers” like you and me. Although we’re part of a community that’s much bigger than any contribution we may make, we can help it grow by working together to share His love with the world.

By:  Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Reflect & Pray

Do you see yourself as a part of God’s plan or as someone who works alone in your service for Him? How does this affect the way in which you serve Him and others?

Dear God, thank You for including me in Your plan to tell everyone about Your love. Help me to represent You well with my words and actions.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Receiving God’s Provisions

 

“Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11).

God is glorified when He meets your needs.

In America, praying for our daily bread hardly seems necessary. Most people need to pray for self-control to avoid overeating! But Matthew 6:11 isn’t talking about food only. It is a statement of dependency on God and an acknowledgment that He alone provides all of life’s basic necessities.

Sad to say, however, many people today have reduced prayer to a means of self-fulfillment. Recently a woman sent me a booklet and wrote, “I don’t think you understand the true resource we have in prayer. You should read this booklet.” The booklet repeatedly emphasized our right as Christians to demand things of God. But that misses the point of prayer altogether, which is to glorify God (John 14:13). We are to give God the privilege of revealing His glory by meeting our needs in whatever way He chooses. If we demand things of Him, we are likely to become frustrated or to question Him when we don’t get what we want. That’s a serious sin!

David G. Myers, in his book The Human Puzzle (N.Y.: Harper and Row, 1978) said, “Some petitionary prayers seem not only to lack faith in the inherent goodness of God but also to elevate humankind to a position of control over God. God, the Scriptures remind us, is omniscient and omnipotent, the sovereign ruler of the universe. For Christians to pray as if God were a puppet whose strings they yank with their prayers seems not only potentially superstitious but blasphemous as well. “When prayer is sold as a device for eliciting health, success, and other favors from a celestial vending machine, we may wonder what is really being merchandised. Is this faith or is it faith’s counterfeit, a glib caricature of true Christianity?”

Guard your prayers! Always be aware of the enormous privilege you have to approach the infinite God and receive His gracious provisions. Yet always do so with His glory as your highest goal.

Suggestions for Prayer

Read Proverbs 30:8-9. What attitude toward God do those verses convey? Is that your attitude in prayer?

For Further Study

Read Matthew 6:19-34 and James 4:3. How might you respond to someone who says Christians have the right to demand favors from God?

 

 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Higher Things

 

If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth.

— Colossians 3:1-2 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource The Confident Woman – by Joyce Meyer

A confident person doesn’t live in a mindset of “if only” or “what if.” The world is filled with people who feel empty and unfulfilled because they’ve spent their lives bemoaning what they didn’t have instead of using what they do have. They often think things like, If only I’d had a better start in life…if only I hadn’t been abused…if only I were taller…if only I weren’t so tall… if only I had more education, more money, more opportunity or someone to help me… if only, if only, if only . . .

Today I want to encourage you not to live in the tyranny of “if only”, because where the mind goes, the person follows. When you pay more attention to your thoughts and choose to focus on how you can make the most of where you are, God’s power will be released to help you become the strong, confident man or woman He wants you to be. Think confident and you will be confident!

Prayer Starter: Father, please show me where I’m hanging on to old, frustrating thoughts of “if only” or “what if”, and teach me how to harness my thoughts to help me make the most of what I have and where I am. Thank You for the grace to learn and grow! In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Heard in His Trial

 

He was heard because of his reverence.

 Hebrews 5:7

How amazing is this reverence in light of the infernal suggestion that He was utterly forsaken. There may be sterner trials than this, but surely it is one of the worst to be utterly forsaken. “See,” said Satan, “you have a friend nowhere! Your Father has closed the door of His compassion against you. Not an angel in His courts will stretch out his hand to help you. All heaven is alienated from You; You are left alone. The companions from whom You have taken sweet counsel, what are they worth? Son of Mary, see there Your brother James, see there Your loved disciple John, and Your bold apostle Peter, how the cowards sleep when You are in Your sufferings! Look! You have no friend left in heaven or earth. All hell is against You. I have stirred up my infernal den. I have sent my letters throughout all regions summoning every prince of darkness to set upon You this night, and we will spare no arrows—we will use all our infernal might to overwhelm You; and what will You do, You solitary one?”

In the face of his cruel trial an angel appears to strengthen Him. “He was heard because of His reverence.” He was no more alone, but heaven was with Him. Perhaps this is the reason why He came three times to His disciples.

Backwards and forwards thrice He ran,
As if He sought some help from man.

He would see for Himself whether it were really true that all men had forsaken Him. He found them all asleep; but perhaps He gained some faint comfort from the thought that they were sleeping not from treachery, but from sorrow; the spirit indeed was willing, but the flesh was weak. In that dark valley He was heard because of His reverence. Jesus was heard in His deepest trial; my soul, you shall be heard also.

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

 

 

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Can Give You Perfect Peace

 

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.” (Isaiah 26:3-4)

Raging waves slammed up against the body of the boat, and the worn-out sailors tried to keep it from capsizing. They had spent the whole last month traveling up the east coast of the United States, visiting different harbors on their way to Cutler, Maine. As they neared their final destination, a storm broke out, sending the ship into a furious fight for its survival.

The crew members ran back and forth from the stern to the bow of the ship, trying to secure the sails. To arrive at the harbor, the ship had to get around or between two huge rock formations that were jutting dangerously out of the water. The sailors knew the danger–these rocks could smash the whole ship into smithereens! As the sailors were about to lose hope that they could get the ship around the rocks, they looked up and saw an amazing sight. There, at the wheel, was their captain. He stood calm and looked straight ahead, as though he was not even aware that a dangerous storm raging all around them.

Confused, the crew turned around to see what what their captain was staring at. The captain was watching directly ahead, right along a bright path of light that stretched out over the waves in front of the ship. The light came from a lighthouse on the shore. For years, this lighthouse had been guiding ships through the dangerous rock formations.

When they saw the light and they saw their captain trusting the light’s guidance, the sailors understood why he could act so calm, and they felt more calm, too. As long as their captain was watching for the light and following it, he knew that he could steer his ship safely through the rocks. Soon, they would be on shore. Believing that, the captain could have peace, even in the middle of the storm! As long as he kept his eyes on that path of light from the lighthouse, things were going to be fine.

The Bible gives us many examples of men and women who experienced scary trials in their lives: Esther pleaded for her people’s lives before an unbelieving king. Gideon had to go into battle against the Midianites with only 300 men. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were sent to burn in a deadly furnace because they refused to bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s idol. However, each one survived and saw God’s blessings. They were able to experience peace, because they put their trust in God.

Before you shrug your shoulders and think, “Well, of course they had peace. God took care of them!” –remember that they did not know what was going to happen to them. They trusted that God would take care of them, but the Hebrew boys did not know for sure whether God would take them to heaven by dying in a fiery furnace. Esther knew she was supposed to go before the king, but she also knew that it was at the risk of death. Gideon knew God wanted him going into battle with a tiny army, but he had no idea why God chose that. Think about how scary each of those things must have been for these people! They did not know the future. They did not know whether or not it was God’s will to protect them or to let them die. But they trusted Him, no matter what. And they had peace. How could they have that kind of peace?

They could have that kind of peace because they were not looking at their own plans or at the storm going on around them. They were looking at their Guide–their all-powerful, perfect, all-knowing God. They did not know what He was going to do with them, but they knew that He was their God and that they were in His good and great hands.

Just as that ship captain had peace while looking at the lighthouse’s light, Isaiah 26:3-4 says that you can have perfect peace when your mind is fixed on the LORD. We all go through situations in life that cause us to be afraid. Just like the captain, you might be going through a “storm.” Maybe your dad has just lost his job. Maybe your mom or another family member is battling a serious illness. Maybe you’re having trouble making friends in your new school, church, or neighborhood. You might be trying to solve your “storm” in your own way, running around like the frightened sailors doing everything they could to save their ship from capsizing–but your own efforts are not working. When you keep your mind on the LORD and remember everything that He is and does, He has promised to give you peace. He does not promise physical comfort or that we will get everything we want. He does not even promise safety. But He promises never to leave us or forsake us. He promises to be the same God yesterday, today, and forever. God wants you to be still, even in the very middle of your storms, and to know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). Trust in the LORD always, for God alone can give you perfect peace (Isaiah 26:4).

Trust God alone to give you perfect peace.

My Response:
» Am I focusing my mind on the Lord?
» Am I in the middle of a “storm” that I need to trust God with?
» How can I practice the commands to “be still and know” that God is God?

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Denison Forum – Facts you didn’t know about “Pretty Woman”: Proof that the Bible is right about sexual morality and practical steps into personal purity

 

The movie Pretty Woman came out thirty-one years ago yesterday. The film’s subtitle describes the plot: “She walked off the street, into his life, and stole his heart.”

People magazine reports some facts you may not have known about the popular film: Burt Reynolds was initially offered the lead role that Richard Gere made famous; the director’s son plays a drug-dealing skateboarder in the movie; and the film was originally titled 3000—the price of one night with Vivian, the prostitute played by Julia Roberts.

Here are some facts the article leaves out: the homicide rate among active female prostitutes is seventeen times higher than that of the age-matched general female population; the average prostitute is physically attacked once a month; one study found that 89 percent of women in prostitution want to escape but are trapped.

An article I hope you’ll read

The glorification of prostitutes in popular media is just one example of our broken sexual ethic. Yesterday, we discussed our culture’s clear rejection of biblical morality with regard to sex outside of marriage. I stated my intention to look today at “the practical consequences of the sexual revolution: broken lives, broken homes, and broken souls.”

We will do so with the help of the finest article on the subject I have found, one I encourage you to read today.

Steven R. Tracy, PhD, is professor of theology and ethics at Phoenix Seminary, where he has taught since 1995. He has also served as a church pastor for fifteen years and is the author of seven books and numerous journal articles.

His article on premarital sexual abstinence and the Bible shows clearly that God intends us to abstain from all sexual relations outside of marriage. He counters the argument that the New Testament does not actually condemn non-married adults having consensual sex and the claim that the biblical authors wrote from a pre-modern perspective which need not be accepted wholesale by Christians today.

As he demonstrates, “The overwhelming consensus of historical Christian teaching, as well as modern evangelical biblical scholarship, is that sexual relations are only appropriate in marriage.”

 

Five consequences of disobeying God’s word

Dr. Tracy’s article is especially helpful with regard to the consequences of disobeying the biblical ethic regarding premarital sexual relationships. Consider five examples.

One: “In terms of marital satisfaction, one of the most widespread modern myths is that couples need to live together before they get married to see if they are sexually and relationally compatible and thus to enhance future marital health and satisfaction. In reality, research shows that couples that live together before marriage have higher infidelity rates, lower marital satisfaction rates, and higher divorce rates than those who don’t live together before marriage.”

For instance, a study of 1,425 couples found that those who cohabited before marriage “reported poorer marital quality and greater marital instability.” A study of over four thousand Swedish women reported that women who cohabit before marriage have an 80 percent higher marital failure rate than those who did not cohabit with their future spouse. Dr. Tracy adds: “This dynamic of cohabitation having a negative impact on subsequent marriage has been replicated in so many different studies that some social scientists have labeled it ‘the cohabitation effect.’”

Two: Cohabiting couples are much more likely to physically abuse each other than are non-cohabiting dating couples or married couples. A Department of Justice report notes that unmarried women are almost five times more likely to experience violence at the hands of their sexual partner than are married women.

Three: Cohabitors have been found to be almost twice as likely to be unfaithful to their partner as those who were married.

Four: Sexual abstinence before marriage is the only 100 percent effective method of birth control, guaranteeing that women will not have to deal with an unplanned pregnancy. Since many researchers consider out-of-wedlock births to be the single most significant factor influencing long-term poverty in America, this is a very significant issue.

Five: Sexually transmitted diseases in the US are among the highest in the industrialized world. In addition to their health consequences, they create a great economic burden, with direct medical costs in the US of $15.5 billion.

 

Grace is “supernatural empowerment not to sin”

The consequences of breaking God’s word are all around us today, from the public health crisis that is our pornography epidemic, to the threat of rising sexually transmitted infections as the coronavirus pandemic lessens, to the explosion of child pornography on the internet.

Once again, God’s word is right. As I have noted in the past, human nature does not change, which means that we still face the same issues our ancestors faced in biblical times. Divine nature does not change, which means that God’s answers to our issues are the same today as when he first revealed them. Today and every day, his word is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

If you are struggling with sexual temptation or sin, I urge you to act now. Speak with your pastor or another trusted counselor. Develop an accountability relationship with someone who will help you think and live biblically. Take all necessary steps with regard to software and technology protections for you and your family.

If this is not a “besetting sin” for you, identify those that are. Take them to the cross, claiming Jesus’ atoning sacrifice as payment for your debt. Ask for his forgiveness and cleansing grace (1 John 1:9). And claim his strength in partnership with others to “be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15).

Randy Alcorn is right: “Grace doesn’t make people less holy—it makes them more holy. Grace doesn’t make people despise or neglect truth—it makes them love and follow truth. Grace isn’t a free pass to sin—it’s a supernatural empowerment not to sin. . . . Grace raises the bar—but it also enables us to joyfully jump over that bar.”

What “bar” do you need to “joyfully jump over” today?

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –Resurrection Power

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Faith is trusting what the eye cannot see! Eyes see storms; faith sees Noah’s rainbow. Your eyes see your faults; your faith sees your Savior. Your eyes see your guilt; your faith sees his cleansing blood. Your eyes look in the mirror and see a sinner, a failure. But by faith you look in the mirror and see a robed prodigal bearing the ring of grace on your finger and the kiss of your Father on your face.

 

“God’s power is very great for those who believe,” Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:19-20. “That power is the same as the great strength God used to raise Christ from the dead!” So the next time you wonder if God can forgive you, read that verse again.  The power that raised Christ from the grave is the power that resurrects hope in our hearts.

 

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