In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Walking With God

1 John 1

Walking with someone when you cannot agree on the direction or goal is frustrating, yet that’s exactly what we sometimes try to do with God. In the Scriptures, He gives us guidance for life. But then, when we don’t follow it, we’re surprised to see that He’s walking in a different direction than we are.

Scripture uses the term “walk” to describe the course of a person’s life. For instance, Noah walked with God by having a relationship with Him through faith (Gen. 6:9). And John’s gospel uses the phrase “walk in the Light” (1 John 1:7) to explain what is required of those who want to follow Jesus.

To walk with the Lord in His Light, we must confess and forsake sin, pursue righteousness, and obey His commands. We can’t claim to walk in the Light if our life is characterized by the darkness of a sinful lifestyle or we’re holding onto anger, bitterness, or resentment toward others.

Are you trying to carry old baggage into your walk with the Lord? The attitudes, habits, and conduct that were yours before Christ must be abandoned in order for you to walk with God.

Bible in One Year: 2 Samuel 4-6


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Our Daily Bread — Anchored in Truth

Bible in a Year:

I will drive him like a peg into a firm place.

Isaiah 22:23

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Isaiah 22:15–20, 22–25

My family lives in a nearly century-old house with a lot of character, including wonderfully textured plaster walls. A builder cautioned me that with these walls, to hang a picture I’d have to either drill the nail into a wood support or use a plaster anchor for support. Otherwise, I’d risk the picture crashing to the ground, leaving an ugly hole behind.

The prophet Isaiah used the imagery of a nail driven firmly into a wall to describe a minor biblical character named Eliakim. Unlike the corrupt official Shebna (Isaiah 22:15–19), as well as the people of Israel—who looked to themselves for strength (vv. 8–11)—Eliakim trusted in God. Prophesying Eliakim’s promotion to palace administrator for King Hezekiah, Isaiah wrote that Eliakim would be driven like a “peg into a firm place” (v. 23). Being securely anchored in God’s truth and grace would also allow Eliakim to be a support for his family and his people (vv. 22–24).

Yet Isaiah concluded this prophecy with a sobering reminder that no person can be the ultimate security for friends or family—we all fail (v. 25). The only completely trustworthy anchor for our lives is Jesus (Psalm 62:5–6Matthew 7:24). As we care for others and share their burdens, may we also point them to Him, the anchor who will never fail.

By:  Lisa M. Samra

Reflect & Pray

How can you stay firmly anchored in God’s truth and grace? In what ways can you support those feeling weighed down by life’s burdens?

Dear Jesus, thank You for being my anchor. As Your child, I know that I’m firmly planted in You.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Dealing with Sorrow

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4).

Human sorrow is a natural and healthy emotion, but beware of mourning over unfulfilled sinful desires.

Most people in our society have an amusement-park mentality. They spend much of their time and money on entertainment, wanting to enjoy life and avoid problems whenever possible. To them, Matthew 5:4 is a paradox. How can someone who mourns be happy? The answer lies in the difference between godly sorrow and human sorrow. Godly sorrow is sorrow over sin; human sorrow is sorrow over some tragic or disappointing turn of events (2 Cor. 7:8-11).

In Matthew 5:4 Jesus is referring to godly sorrow, which is our topic for tomorrow. But we all face human sorrow, so I want to discuss it briefly today.

Human sorrow is a natural emotion. Our Lord Himself was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3). Many things can cause it: we might mourn out of love, disappointment, loneliness, or physical illness. There is nothing wrong with that kind of mourning. It is a God- given relief valve for the pain and sorrow in this fallen world, and promotes the healing process.

Scripture gives many examples of human sorrow. Abraham wept when his wife, Sarah, died (Gen. 23:2). Through tears Jeremiah preached God’s message of judgment (Jer. 9:1). Paul expressed his concern for the church with his tears (Acts 20:31). Those are natural, healthy expressions of human sorrow.

However, sorrow can also be caused by evil desires or a lack of trust in God. King Ahab mourned to the point of sulking and not eating when he couldn’t have another man’s property (1 Kings 21:4). Some Christians mourn excessively when they lose a loved one. Forsaking the comfort of the Spirit, they focus only on their own grief. Extreme or prolonged manifestations of sorrow are sinful and must be confessed rather than comforted.

God is gracious to His children amid times of human sorrow. Ultimately He will do away with mourning and pain forever (Rev. 21:4). Rejoice in that promise and be comforted by His wonderful grace!

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for the ministry of the Spirit, who is the great Comforter or Helper (John 14:16-17). When sorrow occurs, lean on the Spirit, feed your soul on God’s Word, and commune with Him in prayer.

For Further Study

Read Psalm 55. How did David express his desire to escape his difficult situation? What was his final resolve?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – What’s the Problem?

All the Israelites grumbled and deplored their situation, accusing Moses and Aaron, to whom the whole congregation said, would that we had died in Egypt! Or that we had died in this wilderness! Why does the Lord bring us to this land to fall by the sword? Our wives and little ones will be a prey. Is it not better for us to return to Egypt?

— Numbers 14:2–3 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Battlefield of the Mind – by Joyce Meyer

A stronghold is an area in which we are held in bondage—any part of our lives in which Satan imprisons us. He does this by causing us to think a certain way—a way that is based on lies we have been told. As long as we believe things that are not true, we will remain imprisoned by those strongholds. To enjoy freedom, we must learn to use God’s mighty weapons.

“What is your problem?” That’s the question I would have liked to ask the Israelites! Their chief occupation seemed to be to grumble. As the verses above tell us, they not only lamented and groaned about their situation, but they also accused Moses of bringing them into the wilderness so they could die. In other scripture passages, we read that they complained about the food. God provided manna for them, and all they had to do was pick it up fresh every morning—but they didn’t like the heavenly diet.

In short, it wouldn’t have mattered what God did for them or what Moses and Aaron told them. They were committed to complaining. They had formed the grumbling habit. And much of it is a habit! If you grumble about one thing, it’s not long before there is something else to complain about.

When two complainers come together, the situation only gets worse. What about the million or more people who came out of Egypt? Once the disease of disgruntlement struck, it became like a virus and infected them all. They were negative about everything. When the slightest problem arose, they were ready to return to Egypt. They preferred bondage as slaves rather than pressing on into the Promised Land.

One time Moses sent 12 spies into the land, and they came back and reported what wonderful, fertile land they had seen. (Read the story in Numbers 13 and 14.) The complainers joined with 10 of the spies (again, all but Joshua and Caleb). “Yes, it’s a great place,” they agreed. But grumblers never stop with positive statements. They added, “But the people who dwell there are strong . . . and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers” (13:28, 33 AMPC).

Had they forgotten all the miracles God had done for them? Yes, they had. That’s where Satan trips up many people. They whine—and often it’s about a small thing. They find fault with something. If they don’t realize what they’re doing by allowing such thinking to continue, they don’t need to ask, “What is the problem?” What they need to learn to say is, “I don’t have a problem; I am the problem.”

That was exactly the situation in Moses’ day. The enemy in Canaan wasn’t any worse, bigger, or more powerful than what the people constantly faced. But what if their problems really were more serious? If God could destroy the Egyptians at the Red Sea, why wouldn’t He give them another miracle? They were His people, and He loved them.

They themselves were the problem, and they never accepted that fact. Forty years of wandering, and they never got the message. How dense could they be? I’ve wondered many times. Of course, it’s easy to say that—because I wasn’t there, and I can see the situation with hindsight. It’s harder to examine our own lives and see why we gripe and moan.

“But my situation is different,” people often say to me. That’s true, but the spirit in which you operate is the same as those in ancient Israel. You’re so caught up in grumbling, complaining, and seeing what’s wrong that you have no energy or time to appreciate what’s good.

Prayer Starter: Father God, please forgive me for seeing others or my surroundings or the situation I’m in as the problem. Forgive me and set me free. In the name of Jesus, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Your Cross

. . . Laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.

 Luke 23:26

We see in Simon’s carrying the cross a picture of the work of the church throughout all generations; she is the cross-bearer after Jesus. Notice, Christian, that Jesus does not suffer so as to prevent your suffering. He bears a cross, not that you may escape it, but that you may endure it. Christ exempts you from sin, but not from sorrow. Remember that, and expect to suffer. But let us comfort ourselves with this thought, that in our case, as in Simon’s, it is not our cross but Christ’s cross that we carry. When you are persecuted for your piety, when your faith is the occasion of cruel jokes, then remember it is not your cross, it is Christ’s cross; and what a privilege it is to carry the cross of our Lord Jesus!

You carry the cross after Him. You have blessed company; your path is marked with the footprints of your Lord. The mark of His blood-red shoulder is upon that heavy burden. It is His cross, and He goes before you as a shepherd goes before his sheep. Take up your cross daily, and follow Him.

Do not forget, also, that you bear this cross in partnership. It is the opinion of some that Simon only carried one end of the cross, and not the whole of it. That is very possible. Christ may have carried the heavier part, against the transverse beam, and Simon may have borne the lighter end. Certainly that is the case with you; you only carry the light end of the cross Christ bore the heavier end.

And remember, though Simon had to bear the cross for only a short while, it gave him lasting honor. Even so, the cross we carry is only for a little while at most, and then we shall receive the crown, the glory. Surely we should love the cross and, instead of shrinking from it, count it very dear, for it works out for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Will Use Anything To Glorify Himself

“And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” (John 9:2-3; *read John 9:1-12*)

Have you ever seen a beautiful diamond? Diamonds come in all shapes and sizes. Every little girl dreams about that day when her “Prince Charming” will ride up on a white horse and presents her with a huge, sparkling diamond ring. And no little boy ever dreams he might end up being that Prince Charming!

Diamonds are beautiful. When sunlight comes through a diamond and makes a rainbow of colors, it is something to see! But do you know what diamonds are made from? The beautiful diamond that you see on your mom’s ring comes from carbon. Ok, so what is “carbon”? Carbon is the same thing that coal is made of. Coal!?! That’s right! Genuine, solid, black, ugly coal.

So, what makes the difference whether coal or diamonds come out of carbon? The answer is pressure and heat. Basically, the more the pressure and heat that get put into the carbon, it will produce a better and better quality diamond. Less pressure and less heat on carbon causes it to produce coal, which is far less valuable than diamonds.

The way diamonds are made can be a reminder to us of how God often chooses to work when He refines believers. In John 9, we read about a man who was born blind. The disciples asked Jesus if this was a result of this man’s own sin, or perhaps the sins of his parents, or what? Jesus’ response is very interest. He said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.”

Jesus teaches us a valuable lesson in the passage: God will use anything to glorify Himself. What does that mean? It means that God will use all situations and circumstances to bring honor to His name. This man was born blind, not because of anything he did, but so that one day Jesus would pass by, spit on the ground, make clay, put it on the blind man’s eyes and give him sight. The man was born blind so that he could be a part of an exhibit of Jesus’ supernatural, miraculous, powerful, and gracious glory.

Just think about it! God used the “pressure” and “heat” of a very hard situation (this man’s lifetime of blindness) to turn this man into a dazzling testimony of God’s ultimate strength and lovingkindness!

The next time something happens to you that you do not like or that you feel you cannot bear, stop and ask yourself how God could be honored in your situation. Your response to hard things could be one way God gets glorified. If you trust Him to take care of you through a hard time, your faith and submission to Him is an honor to Him. And if you wait to see what He is trying to do in the lives of other people through your hard situation, or how He might change your heart to make you better through this trial, then you are honoring Him. He will glorify Himself through showing Himself as a powerful and gracious God. Trust Him that He knows what He is doing and that He will do whatever it takes, for the sake of His own glory and His people’s best good.

God will do what it takes to accomplish what will glorify Himself and bless His people.

My Response:
» Am I in a situation right now that is confusing and hard for me to bear?
» How might my response to God’s control bring Him glory in this situation?
» What might God be showing me and others about Himself through a painful thing that He has brought into my life?


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Denison Forum – Kanakuk Kamps and the urgency of accountability: Salvation in three tenses and the peril of Christless Christianity

The United Nations has condemned a bombing at an Indonesian church on Palm Sunday, an attack that wounded twenty people. Turkey is expelling Christian pastors as its leaders continue their move from democracy to Islamic nationalism. 

Closer to home, a group of college students is suing the US Department of Education, seeking to eliminate the religious exemption that enables Christian colleges to align their practices with historic Christian doctrine. Baylor University is among more than two dozen faith-based schools named in the class-action lawsuit. 

However, the greatest threats to the church are not from without but from within.

“There is no statute of limitations on truth” 

Kanakuk Kamps is one of the largest Christian camps in the world. Since its founding in 1926, it claims to have served more than 450,000 campers. Each summer, approximately twenty thousand kids pass through its gates outside of Branson, Missouri, and in other locations. Numerous families in the churches I pastored have had wonderful experiences with Kanakuk. 

Now, tragically, Kanakuk is back in the news for all the wrong reasons. 

Former Kanakuk director Pete Newman went to prison in 2010 for abusing boys. Nineteen victims were identified in the initial investigation against him. However, Christian journalists David and Nancy French recently published an extensive article noting that the damage could be far worse. 

They describe Newman as enormously charismatic: “Girls wanted to date him, guys wanted to be him, and children wanted to follow him.” However, as they note in deeply disturbing detail, he abused boys in camp cabins, in the gym, in the pool, in the showers, on father-son retreats, and on a mission trip to China. They report that camp leaders were extremely slow to respond to rising allegations against him. 

A site called “Facts About Kanakuk” lists other former Kanakuk staff and associates who have been convicted of sexual abuse of minors. Christianity Today reports that one of Newman’s victims died by suicide in 2019. 

It also notes that Kananuk has since put on child protection training seminars for leaders from more than four hundred and fifty fellow Christian camps and ministry organizations. Kanakuk now lists detailed guidelines regarding contact, interaction, and conversations which staff members can have with campers. 

However, David and Nancy French note that the number of Kanakuk victims who have come forward remains unknown since many cases were settled with nondisclosure agreements. They explain the reason for their report: “There is no statute of limitations on truth.”

A catastrophic weakness in our theology 

Any biblical response should begin with the fact that God loves children and condemns anyone who victimizes them. Jesus stated bluntly that for such a predator, “it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). The abuse of a single child anywhere in the world grieves the heart of our Father and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. 

Why, then, would a camp run by evangelical Christians be susceptible to such horrific sin? It seems to me that evangelicals suffer from a catastrophic weakness in our theology.

We know that salvation is in three tenses: 

  1. We have been saved from condemnation as sinners and granted salvation as the children of God. 
  2. We are being saved through the process of daily sanctification. 
  3. And we will be saved from physical death to eternal life in heaven. 

We know that we must depend on God for the first and third tenses of salvation. We cannot save ourselves from our sins (Ephesians 2:8–9). We obviously cannot save ourselves from physical death once we die and are dependent on God to raise us to eternal life with him (John 11:25–26). 

However, we all too easily ignore the fact that we are just as dependent on God for the second tense of salvation. We fall prey to the lies of our fallen culture that promote self-sufficiency and reward external success. This is true of charismatic figures like Pete Newman, brilliant communicators like Ravi Zacharias, and trendsetting innovators like Bill Hybels. Too many leaders forget that “we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1) and that “each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). 

The body of Christ is complicit here. The more famous a Christian leader becomes, the less we seem to hold them accountable for the sins to which all people are tempted. We want heroes to value and emulate and resist our biblical responsibility to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1). 

So long as this cycle of accountability avoidance continues, more tragedies will make more headlines, dishonoring our Lord and grieving his heart.

“Encourage one another and build one another up” 

This is where Easter becomes especially relevant. 

On the day after billions of Christians celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the fact is that he is just as alive and active as he was when he first rose from the grave. He is just as committed to interceding for us (Romans 8:34), walking with us (Matthew 28:20), forgiving us (1 John 1:9), and empowering us (Acts 1:8) as when he first walked our broken world. 

But we, like his first followers, must choose to follow him. We must admit Jesus was right when he told us, “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). We must submit to his Spirit each day and all through the day (Ephesians 5:18). We must ask him to make us like himself (Romans 8:29) “through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13). 

We must hold each other accountable to God’s best for us (Proverbs 27:17) as we “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). We must start every day by admitting how much we need Jesus to empower us by his omnipotent grace.

Christless Christianity is no Christianity at all. 

Alexander Maclaren was right: “The risen life of Jesus is the nourishment and strengthening and blessing and life of a Christian.” 

Will you invite the risen Lord to be glorified in your life today? 

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –The Sin Problem

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Can you live without sin for one day? No. How about one hour, can you do it? No. Nor can I. And if we can’t live without sin we have a problem. Proverbs 10:16 says we’re evil and “evil people are paid with punishment.” What can we do?

Observe what Jesus does with our filth—he carries it to the cross. God speaks to Isaiah in chapter 50, verse 6: “I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.” You see, mingled with his blood and sweat was the essence of our sin. Angels were a prayer away. Couldn’t they have taken the spittle away? They could have, but Jesus never commanded them to. The One whose chose the nails also chose the saliva. Why? The sinless One took on the face of a sinner so that we sinners could take on the face of a saint.

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