In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Building to Last Forever

1 Corinthians 3:11-15

When a high-rise building goes up in my city of Atlanta, Georgia, I think about all the construction involved. Underneath is a grid of steel and concrete giving strength to all the floors stacked overhead. In a similar way, we need a firm foundation to build a life with purpose. Jesus lays that groundwork for believers when they receive His salvation.

Christ’s saving grace gives His followers a new life. Sins are wiped away so that we have a clean “work site,” so to speak. Empowered by Jesus’ strength and wisdom, we can build on His foundation. The decision that needs to be made is whether to shape our eternal legacy with God-serving activities and habits or selfish ones.

Paul separates spiritual construction material into two categories: durable metal and dry kindling (1 Corinthians 3:12). A grass hut is easily destroyed by fire, but at the judgment, we want to greet the Lord from a sturdy structure, built with gleaming bricks of godly service and a diligent application of Scripture.

The life we create is useful to God only if it is consistent with Jesus Christ’s foundation. You might say that He is the architect and the Bible is the blueprint for successful living—and it’s in our best interest to follow those plans.

Bible in One Year: 1 Samuel 22-24

Our Daily Bread — Wisely Weeding

Bible in a Year:

Search me, God, and know my heart.

Psalm 139:23

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 139:1–6, 23–24

My grandchildren are running around my backyard. Playing games? No, pulling weeds. “Pulling them up by the roots!” the youngest says, showing me a hefty prize. Her delight as we tackled weeds that day was how much we enjoyed plucking the weedy roots—clearing away each pesky menace. Before the joy, however, came the choice to go after them.

Intentional weeding is also the first step in removing personal sin. Thus, David prayed: “Search me, God, and know my heart. . . . See if there is any offensive way in me” (Psalm 139:23–24).

What a wise approach, to go after our sin by asking God to show it to us. He above all knows everything about us. “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me,” wrote the psalmist. “You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar” (vv. 1–2).

“Such knowledge,” David added, “is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain” (v. 6). Even before a sin takes root, therefore, God can alert us to the danger. He knows our “landscape.” So when a sneaky sinful attitude tries to take root, He’s first to know and point it out.  

“Where can I go from your Spirit,” wrote David. “Where can I flee from your presence?” (v. 7). May we closely follow our Savior to higher ground!

Reflect & Pray

When you ask God to search your heart, what personal wrongs do you discover? How does intentional “weeding” help rid you of a relentless sin?

Loving God, when You show me my personal sin, point me to Your plan to pull those weeds.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Applying the Disciples’ Prayer

“Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen” (Matt. 6:13).

The Disciples’ Prayer is a pattern to follow for life.

The implications of the Disciples’ Prayer are profound and far-reaching. An unknown author put it this way:

I cannot say “our” if I live only for myself in a spiritual, watertight compartment. I cannot say “Father” if I do not endeavor each day to act like His child. I cannot say “who art in heaven” if I am laying up no treasure there.

I cannot say “hallowed be Thy name” if I am not striving for holiness. I cannot say “Thy kingdom come” if I am not doing all in my power to hasten that wonderful day. I cannot say “Thy will be done” if I am disobedient to His Word. I cannot say “in earth as it is in heaven” if I will not serve Him here and now.

I cannot say “give us . . . our daily bread” if I am dishonest or an “under the counter” shopper. I cannot say “forgive us our debts” if I harbor a grudge against anyone. I cannot say “lead us not into temptation” if I deliberately place myself in its path. I cannot say “deliver us from evil” if I do not put on the whole armor of God.

I cannot say “thine is the kingdom” if I do not give to the King the loyalty due Him as a faithful subject. I cannot attribute to Him “the power” if I fear what men may do. I cannot ascribe to Him “the glory” if I am seeking honor only for myself. I cannot say “forever” if the horizon of my life is bounded completely by the things of time.

As you learn to apply to your own life the principles in this marvelous prayer, I pray that God’s kingdom will be your focus, His glory your goal, and His power your strength. Only then will our Lord’s doxology be the continual song of your heart: “Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen” (v. 13).

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to use what you’ve learned from the Disciples’ Prayer to transform your prayers.

For Further Study

Read John 17, noting the priorities Jesus stressed in prayer.

Joyce Meyer – Grow Continually

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.

— Colossians 1:9-10 (NIV)

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

Even though we won’t fully reach it this side of eternity, God’s Word encourages us to strive for perfection by growing into complete maturity and godliness in mind and character, having integrity, like our heavenly Father (see Matthew 5:48).

Paul said that even though he hadn’t attained the ideal of perfection, he pressed on to grasp and make his own that for which Christ had laid hold of him (see Philippians 3:12). Like Paul, let’s strive for maturity and integrity today.

I want to encourage you to invite the Holy Spirit to teach you and help you grow in each area of your life. The more you grow and produce mature, godly behavior, the more you’ll shine and show others God’s love (see Matthew 5:16).

Prayer Starter: Father, please show me where and how I can grow today. Thank You for giving me the grace to shine Your light into this dark world, and to help people find You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Weep for His Pain

With his wounds we are healed.

 Isaiah 53:5

Pilate delivered our Lord to be scourged. The Roman scourge was a most dreadful instrument of torture. It was made of the sinews of oxen, and sharp bones were intertwined among the sinews, so that every time the lash came down, these pieces of bone inflicted fearful laceration and tore off the flesh from the bone. The Savior was, no doubt, bound to the column, and thus beaten. He had been beaten before; but this from the Roman soldiers was probably the most severe of His flagellations. My soul, stand here and weep over His poor, stricken body.

Believer in Jesus, can you gaze upon Him without tears as He stands before you, the mirror of agonizing love? He is at once fair as the lily for innocence and red as the rose with the crimson of His own blood. As we feel the sure and blessed healing that His stripes have wrought in us, does not our heart melt at once with love and grief? If ever we have loved our Lord Jesus, surely we must feel that affection glowing now within our hearts.

See how the patient Jesus stands,
Insulted in His lowest case!
Sinners have bound the Almighty’s hands,
And spit in their Creator’s face.

With thorns His temples gor’d and gash’d
Send streams of blood from every part;
His back’s with knotted scourges lash’d.
But sharper scourges tear His heart.

We may long to go to our bedrooms and weep; but since our business calls us away, we will first ask the Lord Jesus to print the image of His bleeding self upon the tablets of our hearts all the day, and at nightfall we will return to commune with Him and sorrow that our sin should have cost Him so dearly.

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God’s Love Is His Choice

 “The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers….” (Deuteronomy 7:7-8a)

Question: Why does God love us?
Answer: Because He loves us.

Does that sound like the correct answer to the question? Do you think your teacher would count that answer right if you wrote it on a test? The truth is, that is the right answer to the question, according to Deuteronomy 7. God told His special people, the nation of Israel, that He loved them simply because He had chosen to love them.

God has also chosen to love us, even if we are not Jews. John 3:16 tells us that God loved the world–everyone. Romans 5:8, which was written both to Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews), says that God displayed His love for us while we were still sinners. How did God display His love? He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die in our place.

Why should God love us? The answer to that question does not really have anything to do with us. God did not love us because we were attractive or because we were loveable. He did not love us because there was anything we could do for Him. He chose to love us, knowing we were helpless, lost sinners. There was nothing we could give Him in return. He chose to love us because He is God, and it is His nature to love. Out of His great love, He gave His Son’s precious blood to redeem us. Once we are His children, we can be sure that nothing will ever separate us from His love. His love is unchanging, everlasting, a love that never fails.

Where would we be today if it were not for the wonderful love of God? If God had not loved us, there would be no hope of salvation. Isn’t that a reason to thank Him every day of our lives for His gracious choice to love us?

God’s love for us was His choice because His nature is Love.

My Response:
» Have I accepted the gift of God’s love–salvation in Jesus Christ?
» Do I thank God for His wonderful love?
» Do I try to share that love with others?

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Denison Forum – Three stories of good news for the church in the culture: The best way to observe Silent Wednesday

Doramise Moreau stands next to the new car she received for her community service at Notre Dame d’Haiti Catholic Church, Monday, March 8, 2021, in Miami. Moreau is a part-time janitor at a technical school. She spends most of her time shopping for ingredients and helping to cook meals for 1,000 to 1,500 people a week that show up for food at the church. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

When Miami Beach declared a state of emergency recently due to spring break partyers who overwhelmed the city, Notre Dame d’Haiti Catholic Church was providing about fifteen hundred meals on Friday night for people in their neighborhood who might not have enough to eat. The story was so significant that it was reported in the Washington Post.

Meanwhile, Transformation Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is back in the news. Last December, they raised millions of dollars to help churches, charity groups, and individuals, including giving one needy family a car and money to buy a house. This was part of their “culture code of generosity” by which they set aside ten percent of their income to help those in need. Now they have donated more than two hundred MacBook laptops to high school seniors and staff at a school in their area. 

And a church in West Virginia has responded to the escalating drug abuse crisis of our day by opening an addiction recovery house. David Stauffer, lead pastor of Gateway Christian Church in Saint Albans, was called to serve on a grand jury a few years ago. He recalled that around forty-eight of the fifty cases presented in just a few days were drug related. “I was convicted in that courtroom,” he told the Christian Post. His church’s recovery house is one response. 

American church membership falls below 50 percent 

According to Gallup, the proportion of Americans who consider themselves members of a church, synagogue, or mosque has fallen below 50 percent for the first time since Gallup first asked the question in 1937. At that time, church membership was 73 percent. 

Here’s the other side of the story: as author Glenn T. Stanton notes, church attendance is at an all-time high, both in raw numbers and as a percentage of the population. Baylor University sociologist Rodney Stark reports that the percentage of Americans who attend a local church has grown from 17 percent in 1776 to 69 percent today. And Baylor scholar Byron Johnson adds that “theologically conservative denominations (evangelical churches, Pentecostal churches, and especially non-denominational churches) are not in decline but are alive and well.” 

Dr. Johnson’s point is especially relevant to today’s Daily Article. Many of the churches and denominations that are in decline track and prioritize membership; many that are experiencing growth measure success in other ways. Many do not keep membership rolls, and they are reaching people in nontraditional ways such as weekday services, outreach events, and community ministries. 

We can define success by numbers on membership rolls or by members engaged in spiritual growth and cultural transformation. The two are not exclusive, of course. But if we must choose, we should choose the latter. 

Why Jesus wanted a silent Wednesday 

Jesus illustrated our point powerfully on this day of Holy Week. The gospels record no activities on this Wednesday. As best we can tell, he spent the day with his disciples at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethany, a village two miles east of Jerusalem. 

Solitude with his Father was Jesus’ consistent pattern, from early in the morning (Mark 1:35) to evening (Matthew 14:23) and through the night (Luke 6:12). Writing on this subject, I noted that “Jesus knew he needed what only his Father could supply.” If he needed his Father to guide and empower him, how much more do we? 

Here’s an observation I would add today: Jesus not only needed intimacy with his Father, he wanted intimacy with his Father. 

He spent time with his Father because he wanted to speak with him, listen to him, and commune with him. His spiritual life was driven not just by what he needed from his Father but by who he knew his Father to be—a God of infinite love (1 John 4:8), power (Psalm 147:5), wisdom (Romans 11:33), mercy (Ephesians 2:4), and unconditional grace (Romans 5:8). 

We need to spend time with people for transactional reasons—we need their help, support, forgiveness, or guidance. We want to spend time with people for transformational reasons—we want to be with them and to become more like them. 

“He it is that bears much fruit” 

A transformational relationship with our Father empowers us to feed the hungry, meet the needs of students, and minister to drug addicts. It drives us to measure success by spiritual growth and cultural transformation more than by membership rolls in institutional churches. 

On this Silent Wednesday, let’s accept Jesus’ invitation to “abide” in him (John 15:4) by spending time alone with him in his word, worship, and world. Let’s claim his promise that “whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit” (v. 5a). Let’s remember his warning that “apart from me you can do nothing” (v. 5b). 

John Donne testified: “I count all that part of my life lost which I spent not in communion with God or in doing good.” As we have learned today, the first leads inevitably to the second. 

When was the last time you prayed, read God’s word, and spent time in worship because you needed something from God—his forgiveness, guidance, or help? 

When was the last time you prayed, read God’s word, and spent time in worship because you wanted simply to be with your Father? 

Why not today?

Upwords; Max Lucado –The Matter of the Heart

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Isn’t there a time or two when you went outside for a solution when you should have gone inward? Reminds me of the golfer who was about to hit his first shot on the first hole. He swung and missed the ball. Swung and whiffed again. Tried a third time, missed again. In frustration he judged, “Man, this is a tough golf course.” He may have been right, but the golf course wasn’t the problem.

You may be right, as well. Your circumstances may be challenging, but blaming them is not the solution. Nor is neglecting them. Consider the prayer of David. He said, “Create in me a new heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). Real change is an inside job. You might alter things a day or two with money and systems, but the heart of the matter is, and always will be, the matter of the heart.