In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Basing Expectations on Truth

Mark 9:30-32

We all jump to conclusions and make assumptions—even the disciples missed important truth in this way. Jesus told them repeatedly that He was going to be crucified and raised to life after three days. Their ears heard His words, but their minds and hearts didn’t.

The disciples knew Jesus was the Messiah, but their assumptions about how and when His kingdom would come kept them from hearing how the Lord actually said it would happen. They were looking for a Savior who would overthrow Rome and then rule with the disciples by His side. However, Jesus’ words of death and resurrection were the exact opposite of that. They hadn’t understood the promise of the resurrection, so when Jesus died, their dreams died too, which left them feeling hopeless (Luke 23:46Luke 23:48).

We might wonder, How could they be so dense? But before we judge them too harshly, let’s remember that we, too, often have ideas about how the Lord should work in our life and in the world.

God’s ways won’t always match ours, because He works from an eternal perspective and we don’t. So we must remember that His ways are best. Let’s drop our expectations and trust Him.

Bible in One Year: 2 Kings 24-25

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Our Daily Bread — Milk Comes First

Bible in a Year:

Solid food is for the mature.

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Hebrews 5:11–6:2

In the seventh century, what is now called the United Kingdom was many kingdoms often at war. When one king, Oswald of Northumbria, became a believer in Jesus, he called for a missionary to bring the gospel to his region. A man named Corman was sent, but things didn’t go well. Finding the English “stubborn,” “barbarous,” and uninterested in his preaching, he returned home frustrated.

“I am of the opinion,” a monk named Aidan told Corman, “that you were more severe to your unlearned hearers than you ought to have been.” Instead of giving the Northumbrians “the milk of more easy doctrine,” Corman had given them teaching they couldn’t yet grasp. Aidan went to Northumbria, adapted his preaching to the people’s understanding, and thousands became believers in Jesus.

Aidan got this sensitive approach to mission from Scripture. “I gave you milk, not solid food,” Paul told the Corinthians, “for you were not yet ready for it” (1 Corinthians 3:2). Before right living can be expected from people, Hebrews says, basic teaching about Jesus, repentance, and baptism must be grasped (Hebrews 5:13–6:2). While maturity should follow (5:14), let’s not miss the order. Milk comes before meat. People can’t obey teaching they don’t understand.

The faith of the Northumbrians ultimately spread to the rest of the country and beyond. Like Aidan, when sharing the gospel with others, we meet people where they are.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

In simple terms, how would you explain the gospel? How can you avoid expecting people who aren’t believers in Jesus to think or behave as you do?

Jesus, thank You for reaching me in ways I could understand.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Victory of the Resurrection

“‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ . . . but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55, 57).

The Resurrection seals what we could not: victory over death.

Death is the great enemy of mankind. It comes to everyone without exception. It violates our dominion of God’s creation, breaks apart relationships, disrupts families, and causes us to grieve the loss of loved ones. However, Christ’s resurrection has broken the power of death for Christians because “death no longer is master over Him” (Rom. 6:9).

In today’s passage the apostle Paul reminds us of the final victory over death that results once we have been transformed into our resurrection bodies. To make his point, Paul quotes from the Old Testament prophets Isaiah and Hosea. In using Hosea’s sting of death metaphor, Paul implies that death left its sting in Christ, as a bee leaves its stinger in its victim. On the cross Jesus bore all of death’s sting (sin), so we wouldn’t have to bear any of it. When sin’s penalty has been removed, death merely interrupts our earthly life and ushers us into the heavenly realm, where we will worship and praise God forever.

Paul concludes (v. 57) by thanking God, who provided us the triumph over sin and death. We also should be thankful to God who, through Christ’s redeeming work, gave us what we could never have obtained by ourselves. God promises to all believers the heavenly in exchange for the earthly, and the immortal in exchange for the mortal.

With Jesus Christ’s triumph over death, we have no reason to fear what death can do to us. Instead, we should rejoice concerning the Lord’s promise to us about the next life: “Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire . . . and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain” (Rev. 20:14; 21:4).

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God that in His sovereign wisdom and power He has defeated death and removed all reasons for the believer to be afraid of it.

For Further Study

Read 2 Kings 2:9-14 and 4:18-37.

  • What do these passages preview about Jesus’ control over death, His own and ours?
  • Do they remind you of any particular New Testament stories?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – The Importance of Believing

 …Did I not tell you and promise you that if you would believe and rely on Me, you would see the glory of God?

— John 11:40 (NIV)

What we believe is our choice. God desires that we not only believe that He exists, but that we believe His Word. Trusting God to fulfill His promises will bring you into a state of rest. Those who have believed do enter the rest of God, according to Hebrews 4:3.

When I am frustrated, worried, fearful, or upset in any way, I can always trace the problem back to wrong believing. I keep a sign in my office that simply says “Believe.” It reminds me to examine my heart and mind and be sure that I am placing my trust in God at all times. Joy and peace are found in believing (see Romans 15:13).

Jesus said that if we would just believe, we would see His glory, which is the manifestation of His excellence in our lives. I am sure that you want to see the best that God has for you manifested in your life, as I do in mine.

If God instructs you to do (or not to do) something, believe and obey! When God states in His Word that He will take care of you and meet all your needs, believe it! Believe before you see.

In God’s kingdom economy, we always believe first and then we see the result of our believing. Right believing leads to right living! Right believing leads to a life of peace, joy and fulfillment!

My message to you today is very simple: Believe!

Prayer Starter: Father, I know that all of Your ways are right and just. I believe Your Word is true, and I ask You to help me believe it at all times. Remind me to believe when I am starting to doubt and help me walk in faith always! In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Are You a Grumbler?

And all the people of Israel grumbled.

 Numbers 14:2

There are grumblers among Christians now, just as there were in the camp of Israel of old. There are those who, when punished, cry out against the affliction. They ask, “Why am I afflicted? What have I done to be chastened in this manner?”

A word with you, grumbler! Why should you grumble against the dealings of your heavenly Father? Can He treat you more severely than you deserve? Consider what a rebel you once were, but He has pardoned you! Surely, if He in His wisdom considers it necessary to chasten you, you should not complain. After all, are you punished as severely as your sins deserve? Consider the corruption that is in your heart, and then will you wonder that so much of the rod is necessary to root it out? Weigh yourself, and discern how much dross is mingled with your gold; and do you think the fire is too hot to purge away the amount of dross you have? Doesn’t your proud rebellious spirit prove that your heart is not thoroughly sanctified? Aren’t those grumbling words contrary to the holy, submissive nature of God’s children? Isn’t the correction necessary?

But if you will grumble against the chastening, pay attention, for it will go hard with grumblers. God always chastises His children twice if they do not respond properly the first time. But know this—“He does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.”1 All His corrections are sent in love, to purify you and to draw you nearer to Himself. Surely it must help you to bear the chastening with submission if you are able to recognize your Father’s hand. “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”2 “. . . nor grumble the way some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.”3

1) Lamentations 3:33
2) Hebrews 12:6
3) 1 Corinthians 10:10

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God’s Gifts Cannot Be Bought

“Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.” (Acts 8:17-23)

At a glance, it may seem as though Peter is being a bit harsh on Simon–someone who claimed to be a brand new believer. While it is good to be gentle in spirit toward anyone who is wrong spiritually, it is also most important to point out the seriousness of a sin against the Holy Spirit’s testimony.

There was nothing wrong with Simon’s desire to be a part of sharing the Holy Spirit, but Simon believed he could purchase God’s gift with money. One may think that could be a simple mistake of a new believer, but it goes deeper than that. Simon was showing that he really did not yet have a good understanding of God. Peter even says “May your money perish with you” so that leads us to believe that Simon was not truly saved from his sin, even though he claimed to believe in Jesus. To truly understand and accept the gift of salvation, you need to realize there is absolutely nothing you can do to get it!

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” This verse says you cannot do any good deed or work in order to “earn” your salvation from God. It is only through God’s gifts of grace and faith that you are able to receive anything good from God!

Paying money, donating time, helping the poor — all those things are good, but you cannot expect to receive God’s blessings and gifts because you do those things. Doing good things to get good things is the absolute opposite of what God desires! You should do good things, but you should do them because of your understanding about who He is and what He did for you — and our Lord Jesus Christ did not live a sinless life, die, and rise again so that you could try to “earn your own way” to heaven by good works.

Because Simon believed he could buy God’s gift from Peter, he revealed a dangerous view of God. Trying to work for good things will have you constantly wondering if you’ve done enough to earn God’s approval. God wants us to know He paid it all for us to have our sins forgiven and have a right relationship with Him. He wants us to be sure that there is nothing we can do to work our way to salvation. He wants the glory He deserves for being so gracious to give us salvation as a free gift!

Recieve God’s gift and serve Him in humility because of what He’s already freely given.

We cannot “earn” God’s gracious gifts.

My Response:
» Do I ever try to work my way into pleasing God?
» Am I ever tempted to forget Who gets the credit for changes in my life?
» How can I help others learn the lesson Simon learned about God’s free gifts?

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Denison Forum – A political leader whose faith is deeply encouraging: Preparing for a threat that seeks to replace Christianity

The American media continues to cover President Biden’s Wednesday night address to Congress and the reactions to it. Meanwhile, another politician is making news in ways that are deeply encouraging.

Scott Morrison is the prime minister of Australia and a very public Christian. He spoke recently to the Australian Christian Churches’ national conference, where he shared his personal faith and sense of call to his position.

The Guardian reports that “Morrison is far from alone among Australian prime ministers either in holding religious beliefs or in talking publicly about them. But he is unusual in modern times in expressing such a direct sense of divine calling to the office of prime minister.”

The article takes a decidedly skeptical view of this “divine calling.” This is unsurprising, since the prime minister’s holistic faith conflicts directly with the narrative that now dominates our culture.

A threat “the church has not encountered before”

One of the transformative consequences of stepping away from our daily lives is an enlarged perspective when we return. Like a helicopter sightseeing tour that shows us a beautiful location from a higher view, retreating from the routine can help us see ourselves more clearly from God’s perspective.

One of the clear messages I sensed from God in recent days is that his people must prepare more urgently than ever for the challenges that are coming. We are in the early stages of a movement the church has never faced before, one which threatens us in ways that are now becoming clearer.

Sociologist Philip Rieff describes the era when the Christian movement began as the “first culture.” It was dominated by a pantheon of gods whose followers were content with their religion and not missionary toward the larger world. According to Rieff, the Christian movement sparked a monotheistic and evangelistic “second culture” which swept away the “first culture.”

Now we are in what Rieff calls the “third culture,” which Australian pastor Stephen McAlpine describes as “hermetically sealed off from anything transcendent.” It “recognizes only horizontal identity constructions, not vertical ones. Here is where meaning is determined, and here is where authority lies. It is ours to construct—and deconstruct.”

McAlpine adds: “This third culture is highly evangelistic and actively hostile to second-culture values.” For example, it considers sexual “freedom” and “authenticity” to be vital to personal and social flourishing. Biblical morality is therefore seen as dangerous to society and potentially deadly to LGBTQ individuals. The same vitriolic stance is taken with regard to abortion, euthanasia, or any other personal “freedoms” that are “threatened” by biblical faith.

According to McAlpine, this is a “new religion” and rival gospel “the church has not encountered before.” It seeks nothing less than to replace Christianity with its secular vision for a better future.

“My soul pants for you, O God”

What seems to be very bad news is actually the shadowside of very good news.

Every human being is made in God’s image for personal relationship with our Maker (cf. Genesis 1:27). Nothing in secular culture can fill this “God-shaped emptiness” that Pascal described. The further our society moves from biblical truth, the more people will hunger for biblical truth.

Therein lies our opportunity and our challenge.

Frederick Buechner noted, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” “The world’s deep hunger” is to hear from God. Not just about him—from him. The storms our culture faces are so grave, we cannot navigate them without divine leadership, provision, and protection.

You and I are conduits through whom our Lord speaks to our world. But we cannot give what we do not have. We cannot speak a word from God unless we hear a word from God. To meet “the world’s deep hunger,” we must first meet with God.

Our “deep gladness” comes from such intimacy as well: “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God” (Psalm 42:1). David testified: “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).

More than at any time in my lifetime, evangelical Christians need to follow David’s example today. As we face the cultural challenges that lie ahead, we desperately need a transformative, empowering connection with our Lord. I plan to say more about this connection next week; for today, let’s close by choosing to make it our first priority as the people of God.

“I don’t have time to sharpen my ax”

Ecclesiastes 10 offers this remarkable insight: “If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength, but wisdom helps one to succeed” (v. 10).

The story is told of a newly hired lumberjack who felled more trees on his first day than anyone else. By the fourth day, however, his output had fallen so far that his supervisor asked him what was wrong.

The man said, “I don’t understand. I’m working even harder than before but cutting less timber.” The supervisor asked the lumberjack how often he sharpened his ax. He replied, “I have too many trees to cut—I don’t have time to sharpen my ax.”

When last did you sharpen your “ax” with God? When next will you?

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Upwords; Max Lucado –Best Days Are Ahead

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Perhaps you can relate to the deflated little fellow I saw in an airport terminal. Everything about the dad’s expression said, “Hurry up! We have to run if we’re going to make the connection.” Can the little fellow keep up? Mom could. The big brothers could. But the little guy? He tried to match his parents’ pace, but he just couldn’t.

Can you relate? Sometimes the challenge is just too much. It’s not that you don’t try, you just run out of fight. The story of Joshua in the Bible dares us to believe our best days are ahead of us. A life in which the Bible says we are “anxious for nothing,” in which we’re “praying always.” A life in which Paul says we’re “giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” We may stumble but we don’t collapse. God has a Promised Land for us to take.

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Why Does God Still Speak?

Isaiah 30:18-21

The Bible is God’s Word, so does He still want to speak to us personally? The answer is yes, and there are several reasons why.

First, His guidance is a necessity for our lives. In Scripture, we see the Lord giving specific directions to His servants, and we often forget that we, too, need His instructions.

Second, we rely on the Lord’s power just as much as the Israelites. We all have “Red Sea” experiences, when we don’t know where to turn. But just as the Lord parted the waters for Israel, He will act in our lives, too.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, He wants us to have an intimate relationship with Him. The heavenly Father loves us just as much as He loved His children in biblical times. And He desires fellowship and honest conversation with today’s believers, just as He did with Abraham, Moses, and the prophets. So our priority should be to know Him and, once we do, to continually know Him better and better.

Our connection with God cannot be a one-way street. There must be a continual flow of back-and-forth communication—and that means we don’t do all the talking. We will get to know our Father more intimately when we learn to listen.

Bible in One Year: 2 Kings 21-23

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Our Daily Bread — Working Together

Bible in a Year:

If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.

Exodus 18:23

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Exodus 18:13–23

Joe worked more than twelve hours a day, often without taking breaks. Starting a charitable business demanded so much time and energy that he had little left to offer his wife and children when he got home. After the toll of chronic stress landed Joe in the hospital, a friend offered to organize a team to help him. Though he dreaded giving up control, Joe knew he couldn’t keep up his current pace. He agreed to trust his friend—and God—as he delegated responsibilities to the group of people they chose together. A year later, Joe admitted that the charity and his family could never have prospered if he’d refused the help God had sent him.

God didn’t design people to thrive without the support of a loving community. In Exodus 18, Moses led the Israelites through the wilderness. He tried serving God’s people as a teacher, a counselor, and a judge all on his own. When his father-in-law visited, he offered Moses advice: “You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out,” said Jethro. “The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone” (Exodus 18:18). He encouraged Moses to share the workload with faithful people. Moses accepted help and the whole community benefited.

When we trust that God works in and through all His people as we work together, we can find true rest.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

How can you trust God by asking for help or offering help to someone in leadership this week? How has He provided you the support of trustworthy people?

Father God, thank You for never asking me to handle life without Your help or the support of others.

http://www.odb.org

Joyce Meyer – Spice Things Up!

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste (its strength, its quality), how can its saltness be restored? It is not good for anything any longer but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men.

— Matthew 5:13 (AMPC)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like bland food. My husband once had a stomach problem, and the doctor put him on a totally bland diet for a few days. At every meal, I heard him say over and over, “This stuff has no taste at all.” His food needed a bit of salt, a little spice—and that is exactly what the world needs.

Each day as you leave your home to go into a dark, tasteless world, you can be the light and flavor it needs. You can bring joy to your workplace by being determined to consistently have a godly attitude. You can be “salt” through simple things like being thankful rather than complaining like most people do, being patient, merciful, quick to for¬give offenses, kind, and encouraging. Even simply smiling and being friendly is a way to bring flavor into a tasteless society.

Without love and all of its magnificent qualities, life is tasteless and not worth living. I want you to try an experiment. Just think—I am going to go out into the world today and spice things up. Then get your mind set before you ever walk out your door that you are going out as God’s ambassador and that your goal is to be a giver, to love people, and add good flavor to their lives. You can begin by smiling at the people you encounter throughout the day. Deposit yourself with God and trust Him to take care of you while you sow good seed everywhere you go.

Prayer Starter: Father, show me ways I can spice of the lives of those around me. I want to be Your ambassador. In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –An Explanation of Trials

You are my refuge in the day of disaster.

 Jeremiah 17:17

The path of the Christian is not always bright with sunshine; he has his seasons of darkness and of storm. It is true that God’s Word says, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace”;1 and it is a great truth that faith is calculated to give a man happiness below as well as bliss above. But life confirms that if the experience of the righteous is “like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day,”2 sometimes that light is eclipsed. At certain periods clouds cover the believer’s sun, and he walks in darkness and sees no light.

There are many who have rejoiced in the presence of God for a season; they have basked in the sunshine in the early stages of their Christian life; they have walked along the “green pastures” by the side of the “still waters.” But suddenly they find that the glorious sky is clouded; instead of the promised land they have to endure the wilderness; in place of sweet waters, they find troubled streams, bitter to their taste, and they say, “Surely, if I were a child of God, this would not happen.” Do not say that if you are walking in darkness. The best of God’s saints must drink the bitter potion; the dearest of His children must bear the cross. No Christian has enjoyed perpetual prosperity; no believer can always keep his heart in constant tune.

Perhaps the Lord gave you in the beginning a smooth and unclouded path because you were weak and timid. He moderated the wind on account of your weakness, but now that you are stronger in the spiritual life, you must enter upon the riper and rougher experience of God’s full-grown children. We need winds and tempests to exercise our faith, to tear off the rotten branches of self-reliance, and to root us more firmly in Christ. The day of evil reveals to us the value of our glorious hope.

1) Proverbs 3:17
2) Proverbs 4:18

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

http://www.truthforlife.org

Denison Forum – President Biden delivers first joint address to Congress: Two lessons on God’s calling to serve others

The Constitution requires the president to “from time to time give to the Congress Information on the State of the Union.” Though technically not a State of the Union address, President Biden fulfilled this obligation last night in front of a joint session of Congress. While most recent presidents have delivered such an address earlier in the year, the Coronavirus and other factors combined to delay last night’s report.

Biden began his speech with an update on where the country stands with vaccines before moving on to a general overview of his legislative priorities going forward. Among the most discussed were jobs, healthcare, immigration reform, climate change, foreign policy, and education.

He spoke for just over an hour and took a generally optimistic and conciliatory tone, with the phrase “the country supports it” used several times to portray a general agreement among Americans on several of the issues he discussed.

But while Americans may agree on the problems that need to be addressed, there remains a general lack of consensus on how to best address them. Tim Scott, in his response to the president on behalf of the Republican party, emphasized that reality on several occasions.

Scott spent much of his speech lamenting the partisan divides that still exist and outlining how the disparate views on how to move forward have often been at the heart of such conflict. He argued for a greater emphasis on taking a bipartisan approach to crafting legislation rather than just in support of legislation as a key component of the solution.

That emphasis is one of two I would like to highlight from last night’s affairs that can help us better understand how God is calling us to serve others and advance his kingdom today.

Focus on the issues

President Biden began his speech by stating, “Tonight, I come to talk about crisis and opportunity.” And while segments of his speech sought to depict a unifying path forward, he could not seem to consistently avoid relying on unnecessarily extreme rhetoric and examples to help elucidate how he views our current situation as a country.

In his depiction of the January 6th assault on the Capitol, for example, he stated it was “the worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.” While what occurred that day was both embarrassing for our country and frightening for what could have happened, placing it above events like the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the September 11th attacks is needlessly reckless and inaccurate.

Senator Ted Cruz’s description of what Americans could expect from the speech, published in an opinion piece yesterday morning, was not much better. The tone and content of the article, in which he began by stating “Let me save you an hour of your time this evening and sum up President Biden’s speech in three words: boring, but radical,” included little intended to bring Americans together unless they were coming together in opposition to the president.

In both cases, we see either the inability or the disinterest of political leaders to disagree in a way that does not give the other side cause to disengage from the conversation. And while that hardly makes either man unique in recent times, it does reinforce that we should probably look elsewhere for our examples of how to engage with others.

Fortunately, the Bible gives us a much better option.

As Christians—literally, “little Christs”—our example is Jesus. And while he was hardly above engaging in spirited debate with others, he never did so in a way that deviated from the truth or inaccurately maligned the other person. He kept his focus on the most important issues and spoke in such a way as to foster understanding and growth for everyone involved.

If we can learn to model that in our conversations with others, even if they choose not to return the favor, then we are far more likely to give God room to use that discussion to advance his kingdom.

Find real solutions

Our second point for today is closely related to the first.

Conducting our conversations in a way that avoids extreme examples and demeaning characterizations, while important in its own right, will make the greatest impact if those discussions are intended to find real solutions.

One of Senator Scott’s critiques in his response to President Biden’s speech was that, in regard to the problem of racism, “My friends across the aisle seemed to want the issue more than they want a solution.”

While that may be true for some, it is an approach that is hardly unique to the Democrats. Abortion and immigration, for example, are issues that Republicans rely heavily upon to generate support in their campaigns, but often seem less concerned about when it comes time to craft policy.

And it’s understandable why this approach would be tempting: it tends to work.

Unfortunately, it also makes it difficult to trust that either side really wants the changes they so eloquently describe.

Are we any different, though, when we spend more time complaining about a problem or lamenting its existence than we do trying to fix it?

If you hear of a need at your church or a hurting family in your neighborhood, is your first instinct to talk with other people about how tragic the situation is, or do you take steps to help make a real difference? It could be that such conversations are an important first step, but if that’s where our commitment level ends, then it’s quite possible that we have stopped short of God’s will.

Model what you wish to see

George Bernard Shaw once noted that “Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”

Regardless of what you think about President Biden, Senator Scott, or the speeches they gave, last night served as an important reminder that our political climate is largely a reflection of our culture. Perhaps it’s because the issues in Washington are often easier to see than the ones in our own communities, but we must learn not to focus so much on the speck in our politicians’ eyes that we ignore the plank in our own (Matthew 7:3–5).

Far too often, we make a habit of the very same behavior that we lament in others. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

So take some time today and ask the Lord to help you reflect on your recent interactions to see how closely they align with the example of Christ. Then commit to making whatever changes are necessary to model the conduct you wish you could see in others.

After all, chances are good that it won’t be long before God gives you the chance to do just that.

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –God’s Plan in God’s Land

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Joshua 21:45 says, “Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.” Joshua and his men went from dry land to the Promised Land. From manna to feasts. From arid deserts to fertile fields. They inherited their inheritance: the glory days of Israel.

This is God’s vision for your life. You at full throttle. You as victor over the Jerichos and giants. Paul describes it as a life in which “Christ’s love has the first and last word in everything we do.” A life in which Paul says, “We do not lose heart.” A life defined by grace, refined by challenge, and aligned with a heavenly call. In God’s plan in God’s land, God’s promises outweigh personal problems, and victory becomes a way of life. Your glory days await you!

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – What Does It Mean to Be Born Again?

John 3:5-8

There is a great deal of misinformation regarding the meaning of the term “born again.” Such ignorance and confusion could have disastrous ramifications if those who think they are born again really aren’t.

In a conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus used this term to explain how one enters the kingdom of heaven. Nicodemus thought the Lord was referring to a subsequent physical birth and couldn’t fathom how this was possible, but Jesus was speaking in spiritual terms.

The original Greek phrase literally means “born from above,” signifying that this new birth originates with God, not with man. It also involves being born of water and the Spirit. To enter the kingdom of heaven, we must be cleansed from our sins and regenerated by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).

When you are born again through faith in Jesus Christ, there is a radical change within you. Your spirit, which was once dead to God, is made alive by the Holy Spirit, who now indwells you. He enables you to understand His spiritual truths and live in obedience to His Word. What begins as an invisible renewal will soon become increasingly visible in a righteous lifestyle.  

Bible in One Year: 2 Kings 16-17


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Our Daily Bread — Learning from Foolishness

Bible in a Year:

The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left. Even as fools walk along the road, they lack sense.

Ecclesiastes 10:2–3

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ecclesiastes 10:1–14

A man walked into a convenience store in Wollongong, Australia, put a $20 bill on the counter and asked for change. When the clerk opened the cash drawer, the man pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the register, which the clerk promptly provided. The man took the cash from the clerk and fled, leaving the $20 bill on the counter. The total amount of cash he got from the drawer? Fifteen dollars.

We all act foolishly at times—even if, unlike this thief, we’re trying to do the right thing. The key is how we learn from our foolish behavior. Without correction, our poor choices can become habits, which will negatively shape our character. We’ll become “fools . . . [who] lack sense” (Ecclesiastes 10:3). 

Sometimes it’s hard to admit our foolishness because of the extra work it requires. Perhaps we need to reflect on a particular character flaw, and that’s painful. Or maybe we need to admit that a decision was made hastily and next time we should take more care. Whatever the reason, it never pays to ignore our foolish ways.

Thankfully, God can use our foolishness to discipline and shape us. Discipline isn’t “pleasant at the time,” but its training yields good fruit in the long run (Hebrews 12:11). Let’s accept our Father’s discipline for our foolish behavior and ask Him to make us more like the sons and daughters He intends us to be.

By:  Con Campbell

Reflect & Pray

What’s a recent foolish choice you’ve made? What do you think God wants you to learn from it?

Thank You, Father, for using my foolishness to train me. May I accept Your discipline graciously as You continue to work in me.

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Joyce Meyer – God Gives the Victory

You shall tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the serpent shall you trample underfoot. Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name…

— Psalm 91:13-14 (AMPC)

– by Joyce Meyer

God created each of us with a free will. This gives us the ability to make our own decisions apart from outside influence. Satan tries to force us to do things by placing outside pressure on us, but God attempts to lead us by His Holy Spirit. Jesus is not demanding or harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing. He is humble, gentle, meek, and lowly (see Matthew 11:29–30).

We are indeed complex creatures. Our mind can think one thing, while our emotions want something else and our will certainly seems to have a mind of its own. Once a person’s willpower is renewed by God’s Word and she knows enough to choose good over evil, she becomes very dangerous to Satan and his kingdom of darkness. The renewed person can override all the negative things Satan has planned by exercising her will power to agree with God and His Word.

I have discovered that doubt is a thought planted in my head by the devil. He uses it to keep me from enjoying my life and making progress in God’s good plan for me.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank you for Your gift of free will. Help me to stay renewed through Your Word so that I know and recognize Your leading. In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Our Fault

God, our God, shall bless us.

 Psalm 67:6

It is strange how little use we make of the spiritual blessings that God gives us, but it is even stranger that we make such little use of God Himself. Though He is “our God,” we scarcely give ourselves to Him, and we ask so little of Him.

How seldom do we seek counsel at the hands of the Lord! How often do we go about our business without seeking His guidance! In our troubles how we constantly struggle to bear our burdens ourselves instead of casting them upon the Lord, that He may sustain us! This is not because we may not, for the Lord seems to say, “I am yours, soul; come and make use of Me as you will. You may freely come to My store, and the more you come, the more welcome you will be.”

It is our own fault if we do not enjoy the riches of our God. Since you have such a friend, and He invites you, draw from Him daily. Never be wanting while you have a God to go to; never fear or faint while you have God to help you; go to your treasure and take whatever you need—there is all that you can ever want. Learn the divine skill of making God all things to you. He can supply you with everything; or better still, He can be everything to you.

Let me urge you, then, to make use of your God. Make use of Him in prayer. Go to Him often, because He is your God. Will you fail to use such a great privilege? Run to Him; tell Him all your needs. Use Him constantly by faith at all times. If some dark providence has cast a shadow on you, use God as a sun; if some strong enemy has attacked you, find in Jehovah a shield, for He is a sun and shield to His people. If you have lost your way in the mazes of life, use Him as a guide, for He will direct you. Whatever you are, and wherever you are, remember, God is just what you want and just where you want, and that He can do everything you want.

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God is the Good Shepherd

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. ” (Psalm 23:1-3)

450 Sheep Jump to their deaths in Istanbul, Turkey — “‘First, one sheep jumped to its death. Then stunned Turkish shepherds, who had left the herd to graze while they had breakfast, watched as nearly 1,500 others followed, each leaping off the same cliff,’ Turkish news media reported. In the end, 450 dead animals lay on top of one another in a billowy white pile. Those who jumped later were saved as the pile got higher and their falls more cushioned.”

Wow. What a story! It is amazing to think that these sheep would be so dumb that they would jump off a cliff to their deaths. Before you say too many mean things about the sheep, though, remember what Isaiah 53:6 says: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

What a humiliating thought it is to remember that we are spiritually what those sheep were physically. It sure makes perfect sense that we would need a good, guiding shepherd. Remember this: We are the sheep, and God is the good Shepherd.

Psalm 23 says, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” The shepherds of the cliff-jumping sheep in the news story had left their flocks in order to take a breakfast break. In other words, they were busy feeding themselves instead of watching over the sheep that were in their care. Is God that kind of shepherd? No, He laid down His life for His sheep. The Lord Who is our Shepherd never leaves or forsakes His sheep.

We may stumble and fall as we travel from pasture to pasture, but our Shepherd is always there to help us up clean us up and lead us along. Maybe you have sung the hymn that goes like this: “In shady, green pastures so rich and so sweet, God leads His dear children along.” A shepherd protects and provides for his sheep. A good shepherd leads sheep to where the grass is green and where the clear water is flowing. He makes sure they are well taken care of.

God is our Shepherd and supplies the spiritual “food” that satisfies and nourishes our souls. Are you being satisfied with the spiritual food of the God’s Word? Are you being led by the good Shepherd? Stay away from spiritual “cliffs”! Do not destroy yourself by straying and wandering from the care and guidance of the good Shepherd. Rebellion against God’s shepherding leads to spiritual death and defeat. Remember: We are the sheep. God is the good Shepherd. Cling near the Shepherd’s side. Spend time listening to His voice, and follow His leadership. If you do, you will be protected and safe. You will be provided for and satisfied. And you will enjoy the fellowship that is only possible in the presence of the Lord.

God is the good Shepherd. His sheep know His voice and follow Him.

My Response:
» Am I tempted sometimes to go do my “own thing” even if it goes against God’s leading?
» How should trusting in God’s direction and provision help me fight against temptations to sin against Him?
» What can I do to help other “sheep” who are heading off on their own self-destructive way?


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Denison Forum – Biden first US President to acknowledge deaths of Armenian Christians as genocide: Why the Armenian Genocide matters today

President Joe Biden made history this past weekend when he became the first sitting US president to recognize the massacre of as many as 1.5 million Armenian Christians by the Ottoman Empire—present-day Turkey—in the early twentieth century as a genocide.

It’s taken this long for the United States to officially describe horrific slaughter with accurate terminology because Turkey has long been seen as an important ally in the Middle East, and they are predictably hesitant to accept that classification. That the genocide is relatively unknown compared to those that occurred in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany—both of which seemed to be working from the Ottoman playbook—has helped give cover to minimizing the gravity of what actually occurred.

But, as noted conservative Ben Shapiro stated in praising Biden for the decision, rectifying the omission has been “long overdue.”

To understand why this decision is important for us today, though, we must first know a bit more about what happened and why the Ottomans systematically killed so many Armenians.

What is the Armenian Genocide?

The Armenian Genocide refers to a period starting around April 1915, when the Ottoman Empire began to arrest and deport the Armenian population within its borders to concentration camps in the desert. But many never made it that far. Instead, the Ottoman civil and military officials oversaw the systematic mass murder of somewhere between six hundred thousand to well over one million Armenian Christians across the journey.

To understand why the Armenians were targeted, however, requires going back several centuries.

The Armenians maintained a relative level of independence within the region until the Ottoman Empire conquered them during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. While their relationship with the Ottomans was seldom easy in the years that followed—experiencing varying degrees of oppression based on who was in charge and a host of other factors—some Armenians began to rise to economic and political prominence within the empire during the 1700s. As Ronald G. Suny writes, “The prominence and influence of the well-educated and cosmopolitan Armenian elite had a drawback, however, in that it became a source of resentment and suspicion among Muslims.”

When a group of Armenians from Russia began agitating for independence in the late 1800s—a call most Ottoman Armenians rejected—it gave many within the empire’s leadership the provocation they were looking for to begin cracking down on the Christian minority within their borders. Over the next decade, minor uprisings were met with a decisive and harsh response, resulting in tens of thousands of Armenian deaths.

The situation began to escalate in earnest when, in 1913, a more extreme group within the ruling Young Turks movement came to power and increased their oppression of the Armenians by spreading rumors that they were collaborating with foreign powers and blaming them for the empire’s defeat in the First Balkan War (1912–1913).

When the Ottomans joined with Germany and Austria-Hungary a year later in World War I, they attempted to coerce the Armenians among their ranks into convincing their brethren across the Russian border to fight on the Ottomans’ side. The Armenians refused, however. After suffering a resounding defeat to the Russians in 1915, the empire placed the blame squarely on the Armenians and began either killing or deporting the Christians en masse.

By the time the war ended, over 90 percent of the empire’s Armenian population had left or died, and most of the surviving remnant were forced to either convert to Islam or face a similar fate. Their homes and property were divided up amongst Muslim refugees and any remaining traces of their existence were erased from the culture.

Why President Biden’s statement is significant

To this day, Turkey refuses to accept the historically accurate depiction of what occurred between the Ottomans and the Armenians during World War I. While they admit some Christians were deported and killed, they deny that any sort of systematic execution took place. Moreover, they argue that the action was warranted because the Armenians were rebels and represented a risk to national security.

Given that modern-day Turkey—under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan—desires to recreate the Ottoman Empire and reclaim its position of international significance, their approach to this issue is notable. Moreover, their increased oppression against dissenters, restrictions on free speech, strict censorship of news and internet sources, and recent history of violence against the Kurds and others demonstrate a willingness to use manipulation and force to maintain their authority.

And while the systematic extinction of those in their way remains further down that path than where they stand today, the similarities between the nineteenth-century Ottoman government and that of modern-day Turkey are notable. All of which makes President Biden’s decision to reclassify the atrocity as genocide both significant and commendable.

That he and his administration are willing to risk the further fraying of our relationship with Turkey to bring awareness and context to the country’s history also demonstrates a tacit awareness that their current trajectory must not be allowed to continue unchecked.

Why this news should matter to us

But, as horrific as the actions of the Ottoman Empire were and as potentially dangerous as Turkey’s present course may be, why should President Biden’s decision to officially acknowledge the genocide as a genocide matter to each of us?

To start, what happens in the Middle East seldom stays in the Middle East. As America prepares to withdraw our remaining troops from Afghanistan in the coming months, present trends—in Turkey and elsewhere—make it easy to imagine a scenario in which their stay back home is relatively short lived.

Will you please join me in praying that tensions in Turkey specifically, but also the region as a whole, decrease? Will you also pray that the spiritual awakening currently bringing thousands of people in the Middle East to Christ each day continues and can be part of that stabilizing force?

Finally, the genocide that killed more than a million Christians a little over a century ago was far from the last time believers were persecuted in that region. Despite the growth of the faith—and perhaps because of that growth—the Middle East remains a very dangerous place to serve our Lord. So as we acknowledge the genocide perpetrated against believers long ago, let that memory fuel your prayers for the believers in harm’s way today as well.

What happened before can happen again.

Let’s pray right now that it doesn’t.

http://www.denisonforum.org/