In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Reach of God’s Love

Acts 9:1-31

Do you know someone with a hostile attitude toward God? It can be hard to imagine such a person accepting the Lord’s salvation, but no one is beyond the reach of our loving heavenly Father.

Saul of Tarsus is a perfect example. This self-righteous Pharisee was so confident of his obedience to God’s Law that he couldn’t see his need for a Savior. His goal was to get rid of Christians, but God had other plans for his life. Jesus appeared to him in a blinding light and confronted him about his persecution of the church. Saul repented, placed his trust in the Savior, and spent the rest of his life spreading the good news that salvation comes through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Conviction of sin is an uncomfortable but important step for a life of faith. Before we can understand our need for a Savior, we must recognize the hopelessness of our sinful condition. Then we can repent and receive the forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus Christ. 

Like Paul, we are saved only because God reached down to rescue us. And He will never leave or forsake us (Heb. 13:5) but is always present to mold us into Christlikeness.

Bible in One Year: 1 Kings 3-5

Our Daily Bread — Live Like It’s Morning

Bible in a Year:

The fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth.

Ephesians 5:9

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ephesians 5:1–9

When I have to travel across time zones by air, I try various remedies to avoid jet lag. I think I’ve tried them all! On one occasion, I decided to adjust my in-flight eating to the time zone where I was heading. Instead of eating dinner with the rest of the passengers, I kept watching a movie and tried to fall asleep. The hours of elective fasting were difficult, and the breakfast that came right before we landed left much to be desired. But living “out of sorts” with those around me worked. It jolted my body clock into a new time zone.

Paul knew that if believers in Jesus were to truly reflect Him in their lives, they would need to live out of step with the world around them. They “were once darkness” but now they were to live as “children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). And what might that look like? Paul goes on to fill out the picture: “The fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth” (v. 9).

Sleeping through dinner may have seemed foolish to the people on my flight, but even as it’s midnight in the world, as believers, we’re called to live like it’s morning. This may provoke scorn and opposition, but in Jesus we can “walk in the way of love,” following the example of the One who “love[s] us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (v. 2).

By:  Glenn Packiam

Reflect & Pray

Where have your actions and choices lined up too closely with the world around you? What would the fruit of goodness, righteousness, and truth look like in your life?

Jesus, wake me up to the new day that has come in You. Fill me with Your power to live in a “different time zone.” Open my eyes to choose goodness, righteousness, and beauty.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Following Christ’s Example

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

Mercy is compassion in action.

Mercy is not a human attribute. It is God’s gift to those who seek Him. Psalm 103:11 says, “As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him” (KJV).

The verb form of “merciful” appears many times in Scripture and means “to have mercy on,” “aid the afflicted,” “give help to the wretched,” or “rescue the miserable.” In general it refers to anything you do to benefit someone in need. The noun form is used only twice: here in Matthew 5:7 and in Hebrews 2:17, which reads, “[Christ] had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest.” Christ Himself is both the source and illustration of mercy.

Christ modeled mercy throughout His earthly ministry. He healed the sick and enabled the crippled to walk. He gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and speech to the mute. His redeeming love embraced sinners of all kinds. He wept with those in sorrow and comforted the lonely. He embraced little children and the elderly alike. His mercy was compassion in action!

Despite His abundant mercy, Jesus received no mercy from His enemies. They hated Him without cause, accused Him falsely, beat Him, nailed Him to a cross, spat upon Him, and cursed Him. Even then He sought mercy for them, praying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Some have paraphrased Matthew 5:7 to say that if you show mercy to others, they will show mercy to you. Now that might happen in some isolated incidences, but in this jaded world that’s not often the case—as Jesus’ life clearly demonstrates. Many Christians have incurred slander, rebuke, lawsuits, and even death for their noble efforts. Jesus didn’t guarantee merciful treatment from others. His emphasis was that God shows mercy toward those who show mercy to others.

Don’t ever be reluctant to show mercy to others—even when they misunderstand or mistreat you. God will use your kindness for His glory and reward you accordingly.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise Jesus for being willing to suffer death that you might receive mercy.
  • Is there someone you might show mercy to today in some tangible way?

For Further Study

Read John 5:1-18.

  • How did Christ demonstrate mercy to the sick man?
  • How did the Jewish religious leaders react?

Joyce Meyer – Be Kind

 She opens her mouth in skillful and godly wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness [giving counsel and instruction]. — Proverbs 31:26 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource The Confident Woman – by Joyce Meyer

Our woman in Proverbs 31 knows the importance of words. She opens her mouth in skillful and godly wisdom. The law of kindness is in her tongue. Speaking kindly to other people is a tremendous attribute and one that certainly enhances a godly woman. She knows that anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but an encouraging word makes it glad (see Proverbs 12:25). We all need kindness, and I believe we will reap what we sow. Proverbs 18:20–21 says that we will have to be satisfied with the consequences of our words and that the power of life and death are in the tongue. It goes on to say that we will eat the fruit of our words for life or death.

Not only do we have the capability of speaking life or death to other people, we have the same ability in our own lives. We can speak words that build confidence in ourselves and others or we can speak words that destroy confidence. Be especially careful about self-talk. This is the conversation that you have with yourself inside yourself. Be sure what you are saying is something you want to live with.

Prayer Starter: Lord, make my heart to be kind and compassionate, so that it overflows in kind words to others. May my words have the power of life in them, to build up others and encourage them. Amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Even in the Face of Mockery

All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads.

 Psalm 22:7

Mockery was a large factor in our Lord’s suffering. Judas mocked Him in the garden; the chief priests and scribes laughed Him to scorn; Herod set Him at nothing; the servants and the soldiers jeered at Him and brutally insulted Him; Pilate and his guards ridiculed His royalty; and on the tree all sorts of horrible jibes and hideous taunts were hurled at Him.

Ridicule is always hard to bear, but when we are in intense pain it is so heartless, so cruel, that it cuts us to the quick. Consider the Savior crucified, racked with anguish far beyond anything we can imagine, and then picture that motley multitude, all wagging their heads or making mouths in bitter contempt of the poor suffering victim! Surely there must have been something more in the Crucified One than they could see, or else such a great and mingled crowd would not have unanimously “honored” Him with such contempt. Was it not evil confessing, in the very moment of its greatest apparent triumph, that after all it could do no more than mock at that victorious goodness that was then reigning on the cross?

O Jesus, “despised and rejected by men,”1 how could You die for men who treated You so badly? Here is amazing love, love divine, love beyond degree. We despised You in our pre-converted days, and even since our new birth we have given the world a place in our hearts, and yet You bled to heal our wounds and died to give us life. O that we could set You on a glorious high throne in all men’s hearts! We would ring out Your praises over land and sea until men would universally adore you just as they once unanimously rejected You.

Your creatures wrong Thee, O sovereign Good!
You are not loved, because not understood:
This grieves me most, that vain pursuits beguile
Ungrateful men, regardless of Thy smile.

1) Isaiah 53:3

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Magnified When We Use Our Mouths for Him

“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 speak “as the oracles of God”? Some Bible translations use the word “utterances.” Basically this verse is talking about what ought to be true of our speech whenever something comes out of our mouths. You may not be a preacher standing in a pulpit. You may not be a teacher standing at a chalkboard. But did you know that every believer has, in a sense, a duty to be a “mouthpiece” of God?

These days, God does not give us new revelation outside of the Bible. He has already spoken to us through His written Word, and through His Son, the Living Word. So, if we are true believers, our words ought to be affected by His already-given Word. Our words should reflect the impact that God’s Word has had on our lives. Our words should be in keeping with what God would want us to say. And our words should not go against His Word.

When you talk to a cashier or a bagger at the grocery store, did you know that what you say ought to reflect God’s Word? When you speak to your family members, your speech ought to be honoring to God. Whenever you use the brain that God gave you to think of things to say, and whenever you use the mouth that God gave you to say those things, remember that your speech should line up with the will of God. God makes speaking possible, and He gives you opportunities to speak. Your words should line up with God’s Word. Your words should not contradict (go against) His Word.

Think about the last time you spoke with anyone. Were you a “mouthpiece” for God’s words to come through you and encourage or help that person? Or did you use your mouth to talk however you wanted to about whatever you wanted to? The best way to use your tongue is as a tool to do God’s will. When someone hears you speak, do they hear “a word in season”? Do they hear speech that is “full of grace and truth”? When people think about having a conversation with you, do they think, “Oh, no–do I really have to listen to Kim complain all about her classes again?” Or do they think things like “I can’t wait to see Jared again and hear how things went this summer at that Christian camp he always goes to.”

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 open up your mouth? When you have a chance to speak to someone, honor God with your speech: Talk to that person as God Himself would have you talk to that person.

God has given us our tongues to be used as tools for His glory.

My Response:
» How might others describe my usual talking habits?
» Am I using my brain and my tongue to honor God with my speech?
» How can I change the way I talk so that I am less of a “mouthpiece” for myself and more like a “mouthpiece” for God?

Read in browser »

Denison Forum – Woman refuses to return $1.2 million after clerical error: A fascinating article by a religious skeptic and the empowering privilege of intercession

By Dr. Jim Denison

Imagine receiving $1.2 million in your brokerage account as the result of a clerical error. What would you do?

Here’s what Kelyn Spadoni of suburban New Orleans allegedly did: she refused to return the funds, moving them instead into a different account so the bank could not reclaim them, then used some of the money to buy a new car and a house. She has been taken into custody and was fired from her job as a dispatcher for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. So far, about 75 percent of the money has been recovered.

Her story is a parable for a secular society that is spending the cultural “funds” we received from our Judeo-Christian heritage but refuses to acknowledge our debt. This refusal is growing more serious and damaging by the day.

For example, the Supreme Court ruled last Friday that California cannot bar meetings of more than three families from worshipping in a private home. According to the Wall Street Journal, “the decision is the fifth time the Court has overruled the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on pandemic orders against worship, as an exasperated majority points out.” The Journal editorial adds: “The willfulness of the lower courts in defying the High Court underscores how much religious liberty needs protecting against the militant secular values that now dominate American public life.”

Many secularists think religious liberty is about the right to be wrong, an appeal to an outdated constitutional mandate that protected what educated people now know to be superstition at best and dangerous prejudice at worse. As New York Times columnist Ross Douthat notes, many cultural elites are “committed to a moral vision that regards emancipated, self-directed choice as essential to human freedom and the good life.” 

But we should ask: Does this “moral vision” work? Does it deliver what it promises? A fascinating article by a religious skeptic offers a perceptive answer.

“Life without fellowship and shared meaning” 

John Harris is a columnist with the Guardian, a British publication, and a nonbeliever. He is also brutally honest about the results of his skepticism during the pandemic: “Like millions of other faithless people, I have not even the flimsiest of narratives to project on to what has happened, nor any real vocabulary with which to talk about the profundities of life and death.” 

As an irreligious person, he believes that the value of religious community lies in community rather than religion, focusing on the way religious people sing, pray, and eat together. He asserts that “rediscovering things need not be a matter of finding God,” claiming that secular society can provide similar structures for dealing with society’s problems.

This is an understandable position for someone who does not know God, but it’s completely wrong. Harris doesn’t understand that Christians gather and serve in community because we know God and thus find unity in him and fellowship with each other. Our Savior empowers us to forgive each other, love each other, and serve with each other.

Imagine people standing along the walls of a room with a chair in the center. The closer they draw to the chair, the closer they draw to each other. 

Harris concludes honestly: “For many of us, life without God has turned out to be life without fellowship and shared meaning—and in the midst of the most disorienting, debilitating crisis most of us have ever known, that social tragedy now cries out for action.” 

“Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool” 

In recent days, I have been outlining a case for Christian optimism: (1) it is too soon to give up on God’s grace; (2) the risen Christ can do anything he has done before, including the transforming of our lives and culture; and (3) God’s ability to change our fallen world depends not on our capacities but on his. 

Today, let’s add a fourth component: secularism inevitably fails to keep its promises, demonstrating our need for faith in a transcendent God. 

A Gallup poll recently reported that socialism is as popular as capitalism among young adults in the US. Baby boomers, by contrast, prefer capitalism to socialism by 68 percent to 32 percent. That’s because we remember the decadence and corruption of the Soviet Union and other socialist states. Those who have lived in socialism are among its most ardent critics

Having been to Cuba ten times, I can testify that socialism simply does not work. A system that excludes biblical truth and morality is a house built on sand (Matthew 7:26–27). Solomon issued a warning that is especially relevant to our culture today: “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered” (Proverbs 28:26). 

An amazing fact for Ramadan 

The inevitable decline and decay of secularism does not justify inaction on the part of Christians, since this slippery slope will claim many victims along the way. To the contrary, you and I need to intercede for our lost culture boldly and compassionately, knowing that every soul for whom we pray is someone for whom Jesus chose to die. 

In fact, the greater the spiritual need, the more passionate our intercession should be. When Jesus saw that the people “were like sheep without a shepherd,” he “had compassion on them” and “began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:34). John asked, “If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 John 3:17). 

Here’s the good news: when we pray for people to come to Christ, God works. 

In light of the start of Ramadan yesterday, theologian Ed Stetzer reports that 84 percent of all Muslim movements to Christ in history have occurred during the last thirty years. He notes that this should not be surprising since the Muslim World Prayer Guide began thirty years ago. My friends at GFM Ministries have served more than two million Muslims and have led more than 348,000 into Christian discipleship. Their ministry begins with intercession for Muslims, then God shows them how to answer their prayers with their service. 

Will you pray today for our secular culture to experience the spiritual renewal we need so desperately? 

Will you pray for a secular person you know in the same way? 

Will you ask God to use you to answer your prayer?

Upwords; Max Lucado –God Invites You In

Listen to Today’s Devotion

If you were told you were free to enter the Oval Office at the White House you’d shake your head and chuckle, “You’re one brick short of a load, buddy.” Multiply your disbelief by a thousand, and you’ll have an idea how a Jew would feel if someone told him he could enter the Holy of Holies—a part of the Temple no one could enter except the high priest, and then only one day a year. Why? Because the glory of God was present there.

God is holy, and we’re sinners, and there’s a distance between us. Like Job, we say, “If only there were a mediator who could bring us together.” 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man, Jesus Christ.” God welcomes you. He’s not avoiding you. The door is open. God invites you in.