In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Truth That Sets You Free

1 John 4:13-19

Did you know painful situations never mean that God doesn’t love you? To believe otherwise is to heed the voice of the Deceiver. Think about it: Did Jesus’ suffering indicate that the Father didn’t love the Son? Of course not.

There are hardships in life we can’t always explain, but they can never cancel out or diminish God’s love. Realizing divine love is unconditional brings us …

Joy. How wonderful to know that, whether you’re awake or asleep—no matter what you do or don’t do—the Lord’s love for you never changes.

Freedom. You don’t have to measure up to some standard in order to be accepted. Since God’s love isn’t based on your performance, you’re freed from trying to earn it—which isn’t possible anyway.

Security and assurance. You can always depend on the Father’s unfailing care, even when you have failed. He will never leave you, and His Spirit within each believer is evidence of His constant presence.

If you’ve ever watched the ocean, you know that its waves keep rolling onto the shore. Sometimes they crash with unbelievable force, and other times they’re gentle. Either way, they can’t be stopped! Likewise, there’s nothing you can do to stop almighty God from loving you.

Bible in One Year: 1 Samuel 7-9

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Know His Voice

Bible in a Year:

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.

John 10:14

Today’s Scripture & Insight:John 10:1–10

One year for vacation Bible school, Ken’s church decided to bring in live animals to illustrate the Scripture. When he arrived to help, Ken was asked to bring a sheep inside. He had to practically drag the wooly animal by a rope into the church gymnasium. But as the week went on, it became less reluctant to follow him. By the end of the week, Ken didn’t have to hold the rope anymore; he just called the sheep and it followed, knowing it could trust him.

In the New Testament, Jesus compares Himself to a shepherd, stating that His people, the sheep, will follow Him because they know His voice (John 10:4). But those same sheep will run from a stranger or thief (v. 5). Like sheep, we (God’s children) get to know the voice of our Shepherd through our relationship with Him. And as we do, we see His character and learn to trust Him.

As we grow to know and love God, we’ll be discerning of His voice and better able to run from the “the thief [who] comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (v. 10)—from those who try to deceive and draw us away from Him. Unlike those false teachers, we can trust the voice of our Shepherd to lead us to safety.

By:  Julie Schwab

Reflect & Pray

What’s one thing you’ve learned about God’s character through reading Scripture? How did that impact you? What will help you to discern God’s voice?

Heavenly Father, thank You for being my loving Shepherd. Help me to recognize and follow Your voice only.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Practical Humility

“Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men” (Philippians 4:5).

Real humility will have a forbearance that is gracious toward others and content with its own circumstances.

Some Greek words have various meanings that are hard to translate into just one English word. This is true of “forbearing” in today’s verse. It can refer to contentment, gentleness, generosity, or goodwill toward others. Some commentators say it means having leniency toward the faults and failures of others. Other scholars say it denotes someone who is patient and submissive toward injustice and mistreatment—one who doesn’t lash back in angry bitterness. It reminds us very much of what we have been considering for the past week—humility.

The humble believer trusts God and does not hold a grudge even though others have unfairly treated him, harmed him, or ruined his reputation. Such a person does not demand his rights. Instead, he will pattern his behavior after his Lord Jesus, who in supreme humility manifested God’s grace to us (Rom. 5:10).

If you are conscientiously following Christ, your behavior will go against the existentialism of modern society. Existentialism claims the right to do or say anything that makes one feel good. Today’s existentialist unbeliever has a twisted logic that says, “If something makes you feel good but hurts me, you can’t do it. But if something makes me feel good but hurts you, I can do it.”

Unhappily, many believers have been caught up in that kind of thinking. They don’t call it existentialism—self-esteem or positive thinking are the preferred terms—but the results are much the same. Such Christians do what satisfies their desires, often at the expense of other people. At its core, this kind of attitude is simply sinful self-love.

In contrast to such self-love, Philippians 4:5 exhorts us to exhibit humble forbearance and graciousness to others. Other Scriptures command us to love our enemies and show mercy to those who sin (Matt. 5:44; 1 Peter 4:8). Such qualities allowed the apostle Paul to say, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Phil. 4:11). God wants us to be just as humble and content with our circumstances.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Lord to help you remain content in the midst of all that happens to you today.

For Further Study

Read Jesus’ parable about mercy and compassion in Matthew 18:21-35.

  • What parallels do you find between the parable and our study of forbearance?
  • What kind of priority does Jesus give these issues?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – The Exchange of Righteousness

He made Christ who knew no sin to [judicially] be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we would become the righteousness of God [that is, we would be made acceptable to Him and placed in a right relationship with Him by His gracious lovingkindness].

— 2 Corinthians 5:21 (AMP)

Adapted from the resource Healing the Soul of a Woman – by Joyce Meyer

Part of the joy of being a Christian is the ability to exchange all you have for all Jesus has. You can exchange sin for forgiveness, fear for faith, uncertainty for confidence, lack for abundance, anxiety for peace, sadness for joy, despair for hope, failures for a fresh start, weakness for strength, and you can make all kinds of other wonderful exchanges because you belong to God. According to Romans 8:17, believers are “co‑heirs with Christ” of all that God gives to Him (NIV). We can have everything He offers us, under one condition: we need to let go of everything old in order to pick up the new blessings He has for us.

I like to say that Jesus invites us to an exchanged life. On any given day with Him, we can make the exchanges I mentioned earlier, but we don’t get the new until we release the old. One of the great exchanges of the Christian life is exchanging our inability to do everything right for the righteousness of God. Isaiah writes that our old righteousness—or ability to produce right behavior—is like filthy rags or a polluted garment (see Isaiah 64:6), but Jesus’ righteousness is perfect. Because of His sacrifice, 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that we can exchange our imperfect righteousness for His perfect righteousness.

Have you ever gone through life with a vague sense that something just isn’t right about you? You may not be able to articulate it, but you feel it. If you’ve been there, I can relate. Because of the abuse that happened during my childhood, I felt for many years that something was wrong with me, but I could never say with certainty what it was. I just knew that for my father to abuse me the way he did, something had to be wrong with me. Imagine how thrilled I was when I learned that Jesus makes everything about me right before God through my faith in Him!

The impression that something is wrong about you is a lie from the enemy. The truth is that because of God’s lovingkindness, He sees you as right with Him. He accepts you just as you are, holds nothing against you, and is always there to help you become what He wants you to be. You no longer have to carry the burdens of guilt, shame, condemnation, or that vague feeling that something just isn’t right about you. This doesn’t mean that every old sense of something being wrong will instantly go away. But as you study and meditate on this truth, and as it becomes more and more established in your heart, you’ll become more and more confident in the fact that your relationship with Jesus has made you completely right with God.

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me let go of any sense of there being something wrong about me, and to receive Your perfect righteousness and forgiveness, even when I feel guilty. Thank You so much for paying such a high price to make me right with You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Have I Betrayed Him?

Would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?

 Luke 22:48

The kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Let me be on my guard when the world puts on a loving face, for it will, if possible, betray me as it did my Master, with a kiss. Whenever a man is about to stab religion, he usually professes very great reverence for it. Let me beware of sleek-faced hypocrisy, which is assistant to heresy and infidelity.

Knowing how easily the unrighteous are deceived, let me be wise as a serpent to detect and avoid the designs of the enemy. The young man, devoid of understanding, was led astray by the kiss of the strange woman: May my soul be so graciously instructed today that the seductive tones of the world may have no effect upon me. Holy Spirit, let me not, a poor frail son of man, be betrayed with a kiss!

But what if I should be guilty of the same dreadful sin as Judas, that son of perdition? I have been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus; I am a member of His visible church; I sit at the Communion table: All these are so many kisses of my lips. Am I sincere in them? If not, I am a base traitor. Do I live in the world as carelessly as others do, and yet make a profession of being a follower of Jesus? Then I am exposing my faith to ridicule and leading men to speak evil of the very name Christian. Surely if I act inconsistently, I am a Judas, and it were better for me if I had never been born. Dare I hope that I am innocent in this matter? Then, O Lord, keep me so. O Lord, make me sincere and true. Preserve me from every false way. Never let me betray my Savior. I do love You, Lord Jesus, and though I often grieve You, I still desire to remain faithful even unto death.

O God, forbid that I should be a high-sounding professor and then fall at last into the lake of fire because I betrayed my Master with a kiss.

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Gives New Strength

 “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

The phrase “renew their strength” in Isaiah 40:31 means that God will exchange (swap, or trade) their strength. Just like you might change the old tires on a car, or change into clean clothes after playing in the mud, God will change the strength of those that trust in Him through His Word. What kind of strength does God give? God’s Word says it is the kind that causes us to “mount up with wings as eagles.”

Did you know that eagles molt (lose or shed) their feathers as the old feathers get worn out? New feathers replace the old ones, increasing the eagle’s ability to do what it was created to do! When those new feathers grow in, the eagle has more power for flight, because its feathers are new. If the eagle did not molt its worn-out feathers and get new feathers, eventually it would not be able to fly at all.

We need God’s strength for everything! We cannot obey, we cannot love, and we cannot do truly good works without God’s strength. But the strength we had yesterday might already be used up on yesterday’s activities. So what should we do? We must go again to God and His Word today and believe what He says. We will gain (get) new strength as we believe God through His Word.

What is simply outstanding is that when the new strength you get for today has run out, there will be more to replace it. Why? Because the strength’s source is God. God never runs out, gets tired, or grows old. God is the Source of all strength, and He enjoys giving His children what they need as they trust in Him.

God always has more strength to give because He is all-powerful.

My Response:
» Am I trusting God provide everything I need so that I can do what I was created to do?
» What are some Bible promises I can think about to remind me that only God can be my Source of new strength?


Read in browser »

Denison Forum – Bible study is #1 show on Apple Podcasts: The transforming hope of a daily encounter with the risen Christ

Forty-eight hours after its launch, The Bible in a Year (with Fr. Mike Schmitz) became the #1 show on Apple Podcasts. The show now boasts over 1.3 million downloads. The producer explains the podcast’s popularity: “People are hungry for God, and we’re honored to help them encounter God’s word through a daily podcast, especially as so many of us continue to be cut off from our parishes, communities, and loved ones during these difficult days.”

“People are hungry for God” because, as the Westminster Shorter Catechism states, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” However, the catechism adds that “all mankind by their fall lost communion with God.” 

The news demonstrates every day that we still live in a fallen world. For instance: 

  • A ship that would be taller than the Empire State Building if turned upright became stuck in the Suez Canal, blocking all traffic on one of the busiest shipping arteries in the world.
  • A black hole three million times heavier than our sun is racing across the universe and scientists don’t know why. (Fortunately, it’s about 230 million light-years away from us.)
  • A man in Los Angeles says he found shrimp tails in his breakfast cereal, along with a length of string and something that looks like dental floss. The company says it is investigating.

Other stories are more troubling, such as the death by suicide of Kent Taylor, the founder and CEO of the Texas Roadhouse restaurant chain. His family said that he had been dealing with symptoms related to COVID-19 and that “the suffering that greatly intensified in recent days became unbearable.” And of course, the shootings in Georgia and Colorado continue to make headlines as we grieve for those who died and those who knew and loved them. 

A brilliant article explains our cultural moment 

Desmond Tutu noted, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” The question, of course, is where to find such light. In this context, a fascinating article by John Doherty of The Witherspoon Institute caught my eye recently. 

He notes that ancient Gnosticism (from the Greek gnosis, meaning “knowledge”) claimed that living by right reason is the path to salvation. Doherty believes that many contemporary secularists follow a “new variant” of this approach by seeking to ground human reality entirely upon knowledge found only in human intelligence. Machiavelli, the “founder of modern political thought,” built on this approach by positing a public life built on justice. 

The problem, however, is that humans are incapable of attaining true knowledge or justice apart from divine grace. 

Doherty notes that when recent generations of secular society began to abandon the Judeo-Christian worldview upon which Western culture was built, “the results were disastrous.” Society expected from public institutions those services that Christians and churches had provided, such as schools, hospitals, and businesses. To replace them, “nations set up lumbering social-service bureaucracies and socialist states, animated not by the wisdom of mercy, but by paid labor, law, and an increasingly inhuman secularism.” 

However, “when these failed to meet expectations, citizens demanded still more government interventions. Their logical outcomes were the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century and today’s state-sponsored promotion of [secularist] ideologies.” 

Doherty concludes: “We need to live better—to put ourselves in order, cooperating freely with our Creator. No one else can do it for us. The state can help, but only in a secondary role. The more honest and humane we are in business, family relations, and civic life, the less we need the state to police us, the more freedom we gain to develop our potential, and the wiser we become to craft laws and institutions that serve human dignity and the common good. The external order of society begins in the internal order of each individual person.” 

More committed to Christianity than to Christ? 

How, then, are we to develop this “internal order”? This question brings me to the point of today’s Daily Article

As we proceed toward Good Friday and Easter Sunday, it has become clear to me that many of us are living in the former more than the latter. After nearly forty years as a pastor and nearly fifty years as a Christian, I must confess that I and many Christians I know can be more committed to Christianity than to Christ. We confuse time with Christians with time with Christ. 

We asked Jesus to forgive our sins and give us eternal life; now we are doing what our religion requires in response: going to church (mainly online during the pandemic), reading the Bible, praying, giving money and time, and trying to live moral lives. But we all too often do all of this in our strength rather than that of the risen Lord Jesus. We separate Sunday from Monday and religion from the “real world.” It is as though Jesus were still in the tomb rather than alive in our lives and our world. 

Part of the explanation lies in our Greco-Roman cultural heritage and its transactional religions (place a sacrifice on the altar so the god will bless your crops). But part of the issue is our fallen nature and desire to be our own God (Genesis 3:5). If we meet the risen Jesus every day, he may change us into something we don’t want to become. He may send us somewhere we don’t want to go. He asked Abraham to follow his call “not knowing where he was going” and may ask the same of us (Hebrews 11:8). 

However, as Pastor Greg Laurie noted, “God’s plans for you are better than any plans you have for yourself.” Corrie ten Boom testified: “The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will.” 

“A living Christ does everything for me” 

If you are seeking wisdom today, I encourage you to go to the risen Christ, for his wisdom is even “greater than Solomon,” the wisest human who ever lived (Matthew 12:421 Kings 4:31). 

If you are seeking forgiveness, I encourage you to go to the risen Christ, for he alone can give us “redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7). 

If you are seeking strength today, I encourage you to go to the risen Christ, for he alone can empower you to “do all things” (Philippians 4:13). 

If you are seeking peace, I encourage you to go to the risen Christ, for then “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). 

Andrew Murray was right: “A dead Christ I must do everything for; a living Christ does everything for me.” 

Which is true for you today?

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –White Flag of the Heart

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Maybe your past isn’t much to brag about. So do you rise above the past and make a difference? Or do you remain controlled by the past and make excuses? Many choose the latter. Lean closely and you will hear them say, “If only…” If only I’d been born somewhere else… If only I’d been treated fairly…  If only: the white flag of the heart.

 

Maybe you have every right to use those words. For you to find an ancestor worth imitating you’d have to flip way back in your family album. If that’s the case, let me show you were to turn. Put down the scrapbook and pick up your Bible. Go to John’s gospel and read Jesus’ words: Human life comes from human parents, but spiritual life comes from the Spirit” (John 3:6). God is willing to give you what your family did not.

 

Home