In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Consequences of Ignoring God

2 Chronicles 33:1-20

People all around us are disregarding God’s offer of salvation through faith in His Son. If we look at their lives, it may not seem that they’re facing any divine judgment, but we must remember that repercussions don’t always follow immediately. Ignoring the Lord is rebellion and idolatry in His eyes, and unless the offender turns to Him in humble repentance and faith, consequences will come.

King Manasseh of Judah stands as an example of what can happen when someone ignores God. Despite the example of his godly father Hezekiah, Manasseh abandoned the Lord and led his people into idolatry. He was deaf to God’s voice and carried on with this evil for quite a while. But in time God finally got his attention through a painful situation involving the Assyrian military. Humbled, Manasseh repented and began obeying the Lord instead of ignoring Him.  

Are you sensitive to God’s voice, or does He have to bring hardship and suffering into your life to get your attention? Disregarding Him is a serious matter, but God is merciful and responds to the cries of a truly repentant heart.

Bible in One Year: 1 Kings 1-2

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — The Frosting of Faith

Bible in a Year:

I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

2 Timothy 1:5

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Timothy 1:1–5

Hand in hand, my grandson and I skipped across the parking lot to find a special back-to-school outfit. A preschooler now, he was excited about everything, and I was determined to ignite his happiness into joy. I’d just seen a coffee mug with the inscription, “Grandmas are moms with lots of frosting.” Frosting equals fun, glitter, joy! That’s my job description as his grandma, right? That . . . and more.

In his second letter to his spiritual son Timothy, Paul calls out his sincere faith—and then credits its lineage both to Timothy’s grandmother, Lois, and his mother, Eunice (2 Timothy 1:5). These women lived out their faith in such a way that Timothy also came to believe in Jesus. Surely, Lois and Eunice loved Timothy and provided for his needs. But clearly, they did more. Paul points to the faith living in them as the source of the faith later living in Timothy.

My job as a grandmother includes the “frosting” moment of a back-to-school outfit. But even more, I’m called to the frosting moments when I share my faith: Bowing our heads over chicken nuggets. Noticing angelic cloud formations in the sky as God’s works of art. Chirping along with a song about Jesus on the radio. Let’s be wooed by the example of moms and grandmas like Eunice and Lois to let our faith become the frosting in life so others will want what we have.

By:  Elisa Morgan

Reflect & Pray

How have you been influenced by the faith of others? How are you living out your faith so that others might be influenced?

Dear God, help me to invest my time in living out my faith before others.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Being Filled with Mercy

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matt. 5:7).

Mercy is a characteristic of true believers.

Like the other beatitudes, Matthew 5:7 contains a twofold message: to enter the kingdom you must seek mercy. Once there, you must show mercy to others.

The thought of showing mercy probably surprised Christ’s audience because both the Jews and the Romans tended to be merciless. The Romans exalted justice, courage, discipline, and power. To them mercy was a sign of weakness. For example, if a Roman father wanted his newborn child to live, he simply held his thumb up; if he wanted it to die, he held his thumb down.

Jesus repeatedly rebuked the Jewish religious leaders for their egotistical, self-righteous, and condemning attitudes. They were intolerant of anyone who failed to live by their traditions. They even withheld financial support from their own needy parents (Matt. 15:3-9).

Like the people of Jesus’ time, many people today also lack mercy. Some are outright cruel and unkind, but most are so consumed with their quest for self-gratification that they simply neglect others.

Christians, on the other hand, should be characterized by mercy. In fact, James used mercy to illustrate true faith: “What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself” (James 2:14- 17). He also said mercy is characteristic of godly wisdom: “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy” (3:17).

As one who has received mercy from God, let mercy be the hallmark of your life.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for His great mercy.
  • Ask Him to give you opportunities to show mercy to others today.

For Further Study

Read Luke 10:25-37.

  • Who questioned Jesus and what was his motive?
  • What characteristics of mercy were demonstrated by the Samaritan traveler?
  • What challenge did Jesus give His hearer? Are you willing to meet that challenge?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Never and Always

 “…Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

— Matthew 28:20 (NIV)

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

When people teach classes on effective communication, they often advise students to avoid the words never and always. That’s because accusing someone of never doing something or of always being a certain way is rarely accurate.

A person may exhibit behaviors or have bad habits most of the time, even 99 percent of the time, but not always or never. For example, have you ever heard people arguing and one person accuses another one of never doing their fair share of the work on something? The one accused usually comes back and says, “That is not true . . .”

The words always and never do not leave room for any exceptions and using them causes us to exaggerate or misrepresent the truth. That’s why communication experts say these words have no place in healthy conversation.

God is the only one who can accurately say “never” and “always.” His Word is absolute truth, and if He says these words, we can count on them. For example, the Bible says, The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged (Deut. 31:8 NIV). God’s Word also includes Jesus’ promise to remain with us always in Matthew 28:20, our verse for today.

The devil often plants thoughts in our minds based on never and always, because he knows they can entrap us. He tells us the negative aspects of our lives will never change and will always be the way they are right now.

Perhaps he has told you lies such as: “All the women in your family are overweight. You will never be slim and trim,” or “You don’t have the personality to advance at work. You will always be stuck in the job you have today,” or “You will always have to deal with the impact of the abuse in your life. You just can’t get over that.” These types of thoughts can paralyze you by putting fear in your heart. They can cause you to give up on your dreams and not to even try to pursue God’s plans for your life. That’s exactly why the enemy gives them to you. The devil is a liar. Sooner or later, most things change. Negative situations rarely last forever, so our job is to push through them with prayer, patience, and God’s help. As we continue to walk in faith, believe God, and trust Him to lead us, we can come out of any negative circumstance in which we find ourselves.

Don’t let the enemy ensnare you with thoughts of never and always. Believe God to change what may seem or feel like it will never change for you, because the only never and always that mean anything are the ones in His Word. Declare this: I am thankful that God never leaves me, and that I always have hope in Him.

Prayer Starter: Father, I know that you know what’s going on in my life, and I know you always know the truth. Help me to know and recognize the difference between Your truth and the devil’s lies. In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Why a ‘Sachet of Myrrh’?

My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh.

 Song of Songs 1:13

Myrrh may well be chosen to typify Jesus because of its preciousness, its perfume, its pleasantness, its healing, preserving, disinfecting qualities, and its connection with sacrifice. But why is He compared to “a sachet of myrrh”?

First, because it speaks of plenty. He is not a drop of it—He is a basketful. He is not a sprig or flower of it, but a whole bundle. There is enough in Christ for all my needs; do not let me be slow to avail myself of Him.

Our well-beloved is compared to a “sachet,” again, for variety, for there is in Christ not only the one thing needful, but “in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily”;1 everything needful is in Him. Consider the numerous aspects of Christ, and you will see a marvelous variety—Prophet, Priest, King, Husband, Friend, Shepherd. Consider Him in His life, death, resurrection, ascension, second coming; view Him in His virtue, gentleness, courage, self-denial, love, faithfulness, truth, righteousness—everywhere He is a sachet of preciousness.

He is a “sachet of myrrh” for preservation—not loose myrrh tied up, but myrrh to be stored in a container. We must value Him as our best treasure; we must prize His words and His ordinances; and we must keep our thoughts of Him and our knowledge of Him as under lock and key, in case the devil should steal anything from us.

Furthermore, Jesus is a “sachet of myrrh” for specialty. The emblem suggests the idea of distinguishing, discriminating grace. From before the foundation of the world, He was set apart for His people; and He gives His perfume only to those who understand how to enter into communion with Him, to have close dealings with Him—blessed people whom the Lord has admitted into His secrets, and for whom He sets Himself apart.

Choice and happy are those who can say, “My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh.”

1) Colossians 2:9

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Magnified When We Serve with His Strength

“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:11)

What does it mean to “minister…as of the ability which God giveth”? It means that when we do work for the Lord, we ought to do it by His power, and not in our own strength.

Our talents and abilities all come from God. Even the time that we have to serve God is given to us by God! But sometimes believers start to forget that without Christ, they can do nothing . (See John 15:5.) They start relying and depending on their own efforts and their own ideas and their own hard work–and they forget to rely and depend on God. In fact, they forget God altogether sometimes! These believers need to be humble and remember that they need God”s strength in order to do ministry work that glorifies Him.

On the other hand, some believers are afraid to get too involved with ministry work. They think, “I am not talented enough. I am uncomfortable in situations. So-and-so is a better such-and-such than I would be. I don”t really have time. I don”t really feel ”up to” this kind of a thing.” Sometimes, believers start to forget that through Christ, they can do anything that He wants them to do. (See Philippians 4:13.) These believers need to be encouraged and remember that they have God”s strength available to them, and that it honors Him when His people use that strength for His work.

When you help clean at your church”s meeting place, did you know that what you do ought to reflect your dependence on God”s strength? When you obey your parents, you should do so in dependence upon the Lord. When you offer to do yard work for an elderly couple in your neighborhood, or when you take care of your younger siblings, or when you are asked to do a ministry job that just really scares you for some reason–remember that you can do it with God”s help, and that it is a glory to God when you serve with the strength He gives you.

Think about the last time you offered to do some work as a ministry to someone. Were you doing it for the right reasons? Were you counting on your own ideas and your own efforts? Were you hoping to get some special recognition for all your hard labor and devoted sacrifices? Or were you really just taking the gifts and skills God has given you and glorifying Him by serving in His strength? Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Do your good works point others” attention just to you? Or do they point to your Father in heaven?

An old preacher used to say, “A Christian is the only ”Bible” some people will ever read.” What kind of things are others “reading” about your God and His people when you serve? When you have a chance to minister to someone, honor God with your service: Minister to that person as God Himself would have you minister to that person.

God has given us abilities, time, and energy so that we can rely on and glorify His strength.

My Response:
» How do I respond to ministry opportunities?
» Am I using my gifts and skills and time for myself, or do I use them to honor God and help others?
» How can I change the way I serve so that my ministry will point others to my almighty God?


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Denison Forum – Judge rules that Christian club can have Christian leaders: Why our faith is key to experiencing the power of God

Let’s begin with good news you wouldn’t think to be news: a Christian club in Michigan can legally require its leaders to be Christians.

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is a student ministry that provides community and Bible studies on college and university campuses. It has been part of Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, for seventy-five years. The club is open to all students, but it requires its leaders to agree with the organization’s statement of faith. 

As the Becket Fund noted, Wayne State “rightly allows fraternities to have only male leaders, female athletic clubs to have only female members, and African-American clubs to have only African-American leaders.” However, it claimed that a Christian club should not be able to have only Christian leaders, deeming InterVarsity’s leadership policies “discriminatory” and de-registering the club in 2017. 

Judge Robert H. Cleland of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan ruled last week that the university’s actions “strike at the heart” of the First Amendment and are “obviously odious to the Constitution.” He added that the school’s attempts to dictate the club’s leadership are “categorically barred by the Constitution.” 

Prince Philip’s “wonderful knowledge of the Bible” 

This is not the only good news in the news. Premier Christian News is reporting that Prince Philip encouraged Queen Elizabeth II to talk more about her Christian faith ahead of her Christmas broadcast in 2000. Those who knew him well were not surprised. 

The Rev. Prof. Ian Bradley has preached where the queen attends services when staying at Balmoral, her estate in Scotland. He told Premier that Prince Philip “would note down all the details of the sermon.” He added that Philip “had a wonderful knowledge of the Bible, and then he would sort of quiz you at lunchtime, ask you about your sermon and really put you on your mettle.”

Rev. Bradley stated: “I was amazed at his biblical knowledge. I mean, we sat up one evening, talked almost far into the night about biblical references to the environment, his great interest, of course. He was very well steeped in the Bible.” 

Many of us were unfamiliar with Prince Philip’s faith or Judge Cleland’s decision in favor of religious freedom. But our lack of knowledge makes these stories no less real. We serve a God who “sees in secret” (Matthew 6:6) and “will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness” (1 Corinthians 4:5). 

In other words, God is working to advance his kingdom in ways we may not see. We should never judge his omniscience by our fallen minds (Isaiah 55:8–9) or his omnipotence by our finitude (Matthew 19:26). 

The power of God and a personal confession 

In recent days, I have been suggesting a case for Christian optimism based in the fact that it is always too soon to give up on God and that the risen Christ can still do anything he has ever done before. Our problem is that we tend to measure God’s capacities by ours, assuming that we are experiencing all that he is doing. 

Ernst Troeltsch, a nineteenth-century liberal Protestant theologian, famously argued by his “principle of analogy” that there is “an essential similarity between our humanity and the humanity of the past period.” This approach to historiography examines reports of the past through the prism of the present. If people don’t walk on water today, Jesus and Peter did not walk on the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 14:22–33). If bodies don’t rise from the dead today, Jesus did not rise from the dead. 

This mindset affects biblical Christians more than we might think. 

In the first church I pastored, a woman came to our Wednesday night prayer meeting with the news that she had been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. We prayed fervently for her healing. She returned in three weeks with the news that the cancer was gone. I will confess to you my first thought: I was glad the doctors got it wrong. 

A young pastor complained to Charles Spurgeon that people were not responding to his sermons. Spurgeon said, “You don’t expect them to respond every time you preach, do you?” The young man assured the great preacher that he did not. Spurgeon replied, “That’s why they do not.” 

“I began to suspect that life itself has a plot” 

With God, we often get what we expect. Not because our faith limits God in any way, but because our faith limits our capacity to receive all that God intends to give. 

It is hard to pray for miracles if we don’t expect miracles. It is hard to obey the word of God if we don’t expect God to keep his word. 

Oswald Chambers was right: “Thank God it is gloriously and majestically true that the Holy Ghost can work in us the very nature of Jesus if we will obey him.” But we must obey him. 

Chambers added: “Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.” If the second phrase is true for us, the first is irrelevant. 

The Secret Service agent who saved a president 

Jerry Parr was nine years old when he saw the 1939 film, Code of the Secret Service. The actor playing agent Brass Bancroft was a young man named Ronald Reagan. At that moment, Parr dreamed of becoming a Secret Service agent. 

Parr went on to achieve his dream. Reagan went on to become president of the United States. 

On March 30, 1981, Parr was escorting Reagan to his limousine outside the Washington Hilton hotel when an assailant opened fire. After shoving the president into the car, Parr made the decision to take him to George Washington University Hospital. First Lady Nancy Reagan later credited Parr with saving her husband’s life. 

If you and I will stay faithful to the last word we heard from God and open to the next, he will use us in ways we may never anticipate. We cannot measure the eternal significance of present faithfulness. 

Will you judge God’s capacity to use you by your abilities or by his?

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado – Clothed in Righteousness

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Scripture often describes our behavior as the clothes we wear. In 1 Peter 5:5, Peter urges us to be “clothed with humility.” David speaks of evil people who clothe themselves “with cursing.” Garments can symbolize character, and like his garment, Jesus’ character was seamless.

The character of Jesus was a seamless fabric woven from heaven to earth—from God’s thoughts to Jesus’ actions. From God’s tears to Jesus’ compassion. From God’s word to Jesus’ response. All one piece, a picture of the character of Jesus.

But when Christ was nailed to the cross, he took off his robe of seamless perfection and assumed a different wardrobe: the wardrobe of indignity. He wore our sin so we could wear his righteousness.

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