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

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — “So Helpful”

Bible in a Year:

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Romans 12:13

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 Peter 4:7–11

The caller to the Christian radio station said that his wife was coming home from the hospital following surgery. Then he shared something that spoke deeply to my heart: “Everyone in our church family has been so helpful in taking care of us during this time.”

When I heard this simple statement, it reminded me of the value and necessity of Christian hospitality and care. I began to think that the love and support of fellow believers for one another is one of the greatest ways to demonstrate the life-changing power of the gospel.

In First Peter, the apostle was writing a letter to be circulated among the first-century churches in what’s now the country of Turkey. In that letter, he compelled his readers to do something that his friend Paul wrote about in Romans 12:13: “Practice hospitality.” Peter said, “Love each other deeply . . . offer hospitality,” and he told them to use the gifts God gave them to “serve others” (1 Peter 4:8–10). These are clear directions to all believers in Jesus for how we’re to treat fellow believers.

All of us know people like that caller’s wife—those who need someone to come alongside and show concern and Christlike love. In God’s strength, may we be among the ones who are noted for being “so helpful.”

By:  Dave Branon

Reflect & Pray

What has God equipped you to do for those in need? How has God revealed His own hospitable nature?

Loving God, help me to look around for people who need an encouraging word or action from me. Then help me offer hospitality to them.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Cultivating Beatitude Attitudes

“When [Jesus] saw the multitudes, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.  And opening His mouth He began to teach them” (Matt. 5:1-2).

Only Christians know true happiness because they know Christ, who is its source.

Jesus’ earthly ministry included teaching, preaching, and healing. Wherever He went He generated great excitement and controversy. Usually great multitudes of people followed Him as He moved throughout the regions of Judea and Galilee. Thousands came for healing, many came to mock and scorn, and some came in search of truth.

On one such occasion Jesus delivered His first recorded message: the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7). In it He proclaimed a standard of living diametrically opposed to the standards of His day—and ours. Boldly denouncing the ritualistic, hypocritical practices of the Jewish religious leaders, He taught that true religion is a matter of the heart or mind. People will behave as their hearts dictate (Luke 6:45), so the key to transformed behavior is transformed thinking.

At the beginning of His sermon Jesus presented the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12): a list of the godly attitudes that mark a true believer and insure true happiness. The Greek word translated “blessed” in those verses speaks of happiness and contentment. The rest of the sermon discusses the lifestyle that produces it.

Jesus taught that happiness is much more than favorable circumstances and pleasant emotions. In fact, it doesn’t necessarily depend on circumstances at all. It is built on the indwelling character of God Himself. As your life manifests the virtues of humility, sorrow over sin, gentleness, righteousness, mercy, purity of heart, and peace, you will experience happiness that even severe persecution can’t destroy.

As we study the Beatitudes, I pray you will be more and more conformed to the attitudes they portray and that you will experience true happiness in Christ.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Holy Spirit to minister to you through our daily studies. Be prepared to make any attitude changes that He might prompt.

For Further Study

Read the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7).

  • What issues did Christ address?
  • How did His hearers react to His teaching? How do you?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – You’re Never Too Old to Grow in Your Thinking

 …whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].

— Philippians 4:8 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Trusting God Day by Day – by Joyce Meyer

Dr. Caroline Leaf, a leading brain scientist/learning specialist and committed Christian, notes in her teaching on the brain: “The Word and science believe that the mind and the brain are one.” The way you think is voluntary—you can control your thoughts. I want you to give your brain a new job and begin to teach your mind to work for you instead of against you. One important way to do this is to make the intentional decision that you will begin to think positively. I realize your brain won’t be able to fulfill the new role completely overnight. You may be asking it to undergo a radical transformation, and that will take time. So, give it a little grace, but determine that with your diligence and God’s help, your brain will go to work for you instead of against you and become a powerful, positive force in your life.

I like what Dr. Leaf says—that the human brain takes “18 years to grow and a lifetime to mature.” Don’t miss this point. Although every other organ in the body is fully formed when a person is born, and simply gets bigger as the body gets bigger, the brain actually takes a full eighteen years to be fully formed. After that, it continues to mature until the day a person dies. This means, no matter how old you are, your brain is still maturing. This is great news because it means you do not have to be stuck in any old or wrong thought patterns. Your brain is still maturing, so you can still mature in your thinking. Trust in Him What comes to mind immediately when I ask: in what way(s) is your mind working against you? Remember, it takes a lifetime for your brain to mature. Trust that it’s never too late to change your mind!

Prayer Starter: Father God, I want my brain to begin working for me rather than against me. Help me as I give my brain this new job to start thinking in more positive ways! In the name of Jesus, amen!

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Affection for the Savior

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.

 Song of Songs 1:2

For several days we have been dwelling upon the Savior’s passion, and for some little time to come we shall linger there. In beginning a new month, let us seek the Lord with the desire that glowed in the heart of this woman. See how she leaps at once to Him. There are no introductions; she does not even mention His name. She is in the heart of her theme at once, for she speaks of Him who was the only Him in the world to her.

How bold is her love! It was true condescension that allowed the sinful woman to anoint Jesus’ feet with spices—it was rich love that allowed the gentle Mary to sit at His feet and learn of Him; but in this picture we see strong, fervent love, aspiring to higher tokens of affection and closer signs of fellowship. Esther trembled in the presence of Ahasuerus, but the woman in joyful liberty of perfect love knows no fear.

If we have received the same free spirit, we may also ask the same. By “kisses” we suppose to be intended those varied manifestations of affection by which the believer is made to enjoy the love of Jesus. The kiss of reconciliation we enjoyed at our conversion, and it was sweet as honey dropping from the comb. The kiss of acceptance is still warm on our brow, as we know that He has accepted us through rich grace. The kiss of daily, present communion is that which we long to be repeated day after day, till it is changed into the kiss of reception, which removes the soul from earth, and the kiss of consummation that fills it with the joy of heaven. Faith is our walk, but intimate fellowship is our rest. Faith is the road, but communion with Jesus is the well from which the pilgrim drinks.

O lover of our souls, do not be distant. Let the lips of Your blessing meet the lips of our asking; let the lips of Your fullness touch the lips of our need, and immediately our joy will be full.

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Wants Us To Bear Fruit

 “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing…. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” (John 15:5,16)

“These are the best apples in the world!” exclaimed Savannah.

“You like those, eh?” asked Grandpa Gooberman.

“Yes, I do!” replied Savannah, with bits of apple flying out of her mouth.

With a twinkle in his eye, Grandpa Gooberman said, “Yup. Sure was a good harvest. I picked them right off of the pear tree this year.”

Savannah stopped chewing, mid-bite. “You did what?”

Grandpa Gooberman took out his red handkerchief and appeared to be blowing his nose. “I picked them off the pear tree!”

“How could you get apples from a pear tree?” asked Savannah.

“Why do you ask? You don’t think it’s possible?”

“No, way! That’s impossible!”

Of course, Grandpa Gooberman did not pick the apples off a pear tree. But why would he tell his granddaughter that? It was because he wanted to teach her a lesson about her relationship with God. Grandpa Gooberman asked Savannah to run and go get his Bible. As she opened the old, worn Bible, she saw that it was full of verses that were underlined and had lots of notes in the margins.

Grandpa Gooberman turned the pages to the book of John. He wanted to show her two verses. The first verse was John 15:5. In John 15, we are described as branches and Jesus is the Vine. Jesus was using this description as a way of teaching that if you really do have a relationship with Him, you will produce a certain kind of fruit. Just like an apple tree produces apples, and just like a pear tree produce pears, a Christian must and will produce fruit that is consistent with Christ.

The second verse that Grandpa Gooberman wanted Savannah to see was verse 16. He showed her in the verse that God has chosen people, and that He has special purposes in mind for them: to save them and to help them produce good works. He reminded her that the book of Ephesians teaches us that good works do not save us, but that, as the book of James teaches us, good works are always a fruit of salvation.

So, the whole point of Grandpa Gooberman’s lesson was to remind Savannah that if she was trusting in Christ as the only way of salvation, then she should be bearing the “fruit” of good works. Just as it is impossible for a pear tree to produce apples, it is impossible for a non-Christian to do good works that please God.

God wants every believer to produce the good works that are appropriate (fitting) for a child of God.

My Response:
» Am I really trusting in God for salvation?
» What “good works” does the Bible command us to do?
» Is my life marked by the fruit of Christian?


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Denison Forum – Famous April Fools’ jokes and the denial of truth: Praying on Maundy Thursday for the faith to have faith

Perhaps the most famous April Fools’ Day joke of all time is the BBC’s “spaghetti harvest” prank. On April 1, 1957, a news broadcaster told his audience that a Swiss region near the Italian border had “an exceptionally heavy spaghetti crop” that year.

The camera cut to images of people picking spaghetti off trees and bushes and then sitting down to eat their “real, home-grown spaghetti.” Some viewers got the joke, but others reportedly asked about ways they could grow their own spaghetti at home. 

Perhaps Volkswagen will make future April Fools’ Day lists. The automaker announced Tuesday that it would rebrand itself as “Voltswagen” to promote its electric car strategy. Now the company is telling us that the move was a joke. Since the Wall Street Journal and other outlets are reporting the story, the marketing ploy clearly worked. 

Here’s the moral of the story: Don’t believe everything you see in the news. In our post-truth culture, every day is April Fools’ Day. 

“Religion is the last bastion of sanity” 

Case in point: a CNN reporter wrote an article yesterday in which he stated, “It’s not possible to know a person’s gender identity at birth, and there is no consensus criteria for assigning sex at birth.” An evolutionary biologist responded: “Observing genitalia is the consensus criteria for determining one’s sex at birth. It is inaccurate only about 0.018 percent of the time.” 

Writing for National Review, Alexandra DeSanctis adds: “The concept of ‘assigning’ sex at birth, far from being based on any ‘consensus criteria,’ is a progressive invention designed to inculcate new parents into believing that a child’s biological sex and gender are sometimes, or even often, misaligned, and that it would be damaging to them to merely accept the reality of their biology at birth.” 

This “post-truth” trajectory is especially on display in the so-called Equality Act which would elevate LGBTQ rights at the expense of religious rights. Margaret Harper McCarthy notes in the Wall Street Journal: “At stake is the freedom of rational human beings to use a common vocabulary when speaking about what all can see. . . . That is why religious freedom is also at stake. Religion is the last bastion of sanity.” 

Why is this true? 

The sexual revolution is an expression of the worldview that individual freedoms are the highest freedoms. Each person must be free to experience sexuality or any other dimension of reality as they wish. Personal beliefs are personal truth. As a result, the commitment to objective truth and values that lies at the heart of the Judeo-Christian worldview is the “last bastion of sanity.” 

McCarthy makes this point persuasively: “Those who believe in the invisible order are now the last custodians of the visible one.” She closes with a powerful and sobering prediction made by G. K. Chesterton more than a century ago: 

“Everything will be denied. Everything will become a creed. It is a reasonable position to deny the stones in the street; it will be a religious dogma to assert them. Fires will be kindled to testify that two and two make four. Swords will be drawn to prove that leaves are green in summer. We shall be left defending, not only the incredible virtues and sanities of human life, but something more incredible still, this huge impossible universe which stares us in the face.” 

“Not as I will, but as you will” 

In a day when defending not just Christian truth but the concept of truth itself is controversial and dangerous, it will be tempting for Christians to retreat from the “culture wars” and thus from secular culture. This despite the fact that we are commissioned to “go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19) as Jesus’ “witnesses” (the Greek word can also be translated “martyrs”) where we live and around the world (Acts 1:8). 

When obedience to our commission comes at a cost, we find ourselves back in the Garden of Gethsemane. Few of us relish conflict and persecution; most of us would like to be free to live and let live. As a result, we find ourselves praying with Jesus on Maundy Thursday, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” (Matthew 26:39a). 

What we need is the courage and commitment to finish his prayer: “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (v. 39b). 

Here’s the good news: We can pray for the faith to have faith. We can say with the father of a demon-possessed son, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). We can do what Jesus did, telling our Father what we want but then submitting to his will. We can ask for the courage to have courage and for the power to be obedient. 

“We have every reason to say thanks to him” 

Is your Father calling you to serve him at a cost? Are you facing a temptation to refuse, a sin to confess, a person to forgive, a person from whom to seek forgiveness? Someone who needs your witness or compassion or service? 

When last did it cost you something significant to follow Jesus? Is there a better day than Maundy Thursday to pray, “Not as I will, but as you will”? 

Max Lucado asks: “You wonder why God doesn’t remove temptation from your life? You know, if he did, you might lean on your strength instead of his grace. A few stumbles might be what you need to convince you his grace is sufficient for your sin. You wonder why God doesn’t remove the enemies in your life? Perhaps because he wants you to love like he loves. Anyone can love a friend, but only a few can love an enemy. You wonder why God doesn’t heal you? Oh, he has healed you. If you are in Christ, you have a perfected soul and will have a perfected body. His grace is sufficient for gratitude. 

“We can be sure of this: God would prefer we have an occasional limp than a perpetual strut. God has every right to say no to us. We have every reason to say thanks to him. His grace is sufficient” (his emphasis). 

Why do you need such sufficient grace today?

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –The Gift of the Cross

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Oh, the things we do to give gifts to those we love! Grownups in toy stores, dads in teen stores, wives in the tool department, and husbands in the purse department. We’re at our best in giving. Have you ever wondered why God gives so much? Really, we could exist on far less. He could have left the world flat and gray – we wouldn’t have known the difference. But He didn’t. He splashed orange in the sunrise and cast the sky in blue. If we give gifts to show our love, how much more would He?

In Matthew 7:11, Jesus asked, “If you sinful men know how to give good gifts to your children, won’t your Father in heaven even more certainly give good gifts to those who ask Him?” God’s love came not wrapped in paper, but in passion. Not covered with ribbons, but sprinkled with blood. The gift of the cross.

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