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/

Upwords; Max Lucado –A Promised Land Life

Listen to Today’s Devotion

God spoke, Joshua listened, and Israel’s glory days began. The Jordan River opened up and Jericho’s walls fell down and evil was booted and hope rebooted. Joshua 21:43-44 says, “So the Lord gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give their fathers, and they took possession of it…The Lord gave them rest all around. Not a man of all their enemies stood against them.”

Perhaps you need a new season. You don’t need to cross the Jordan River, but you need to get through the week. And you aren’t facing Jericho, but you’re facing rejection or heartache. The story of Joshua dares us to believe God has a Promised Land for us to take. It’s not real estate, but a real state of the heart and mind: a Promised Land. A Promised Land life.