In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Basing Expectations on Truth

Mark 9:30-32

We all jump to conclusions and make assumptions—even the disciples missed important truth in this way. Jesus told them repeatedly that He was going to be crucified and raised to life after three days. Their ears heard His words, but their minds and hearts didn’t.

The disciples knew Jesus was the Messiah, but their assumptions about how and when His kingdom would come kept them from hearing how the Lord actually said it would happen. They were looking for a Savior who would overthrow Rome and then rule with the disciples by His side. However, Jesus’ words of death and resurrection were the exact opposite of that. They hadn’t understood the promise of the resurrection, so when Jesus died, their dreams died too, which left them feeling hopeless (Luke 23:46Luke 23:48).

We might wonder, How could they be so dense? But before we judge them too harshly, let’s remember that we, too, often have ideas about how the Lord should work in our life and in the world.

God’s ways won’t always match ours, because He works from an eternal perspective and we don’t. So we must remember that His ways are best. Let’s drop our expectations and trust Him.

Bible in One Year: 2 Kings 24-25

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Our Daily Bread — Milk Comes First

Bible in a Year:

Solid food is for the mature.

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Hebrews 5:11–6:2

In the seventh century, what is now called the United Kingdom was many kingdoms often at war. When one king, Oswald of Northumbria, became a believer in Jesus, he called for a missionary to bring the gospel to his region. A man named Corman was sent, but things didn’t go well. Finding the English “stubborn,” “barbarous,” and uninterested in his preaching, he returned home frustrated.

“I am of the opinion,” a monk named Aidan told Corman, “that you were more severe to your unlearned hearers than you ought to have been.” Instead of giving the Northumbrians “the milk of more easy doctrine,” Corman had given them teaching they couldn’t yet grasp. Aidan went to Northumbria, adapted his preaching to the people’s understanding, and thousands became believers in Jesus.

Aidan got this sensitive approach to mission from Scripture. “I gave you milk, not solid food,” Paul told the Corinthians, “for you were not yet ready for it” (1 Corinthians 3:2). Before right living can be expected from people, Hebrews says, basic teaching about Jesus, repentance, and baptism must be grasped (Hebrews 5:13–6:2). While maturity should follow (5:14), let’s not miss the order. Milk comes before meat. People can’t obey teaching they don’t understand.

The faith of the Northumbrians ultimately spread to the rest of the country and beyond. Like Aidan, when sharing the gospel with others, we meet people where they are.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

In simple terms, how would you explain the gospel? How can you avoid expecting people who aren’t believers in Jesus to think or behave as you do?

Jesus, thank You for reaching me in ways I could understand.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Victory of the Resurrection

“‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ . . . but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55, 57).

The Resurrection seals what we could not: victory over death.

Death is the great enemy of mankind. It comes to everyone without exception. It violates our dominion of God’s creation, breaks apart relationships, disrupts families, and causes us to grieve the loss of loved ones. However, Christ’s resurrection has broken the power of death for Christians because “death no longer is master over Him” (Rom. 6:9).

In today’s passage the apostle Paul reminds us of the final victory over death that results once we have been transformed into our resurrection bodies. To make his point, Paul quotes from the Old Testament prophets Isaiah and Hosea. In using Hosea’s sting of death metaphor, Paul implies that death left its sting in Christ, as a bee leaves its stinger in its victim. On the cross Jesus bore all of death’s sting (sin), so we wouldn’t have to bear any of it. When sin’s penalty has been removed, death merely interrupts our earthly life and ushers us into the heavenly realm, where we will worship and praise God forever.

Paul concludes (v. 57) by thanking God, who provided us the triumph over sin and death. We also should be thankful to God who, through Christ’s redeeming work, gave us what we could never have obtained by ourselves. God promises to all believers the heavenly in exchange for the earthly, and the immortal in exchange for the mortal.

With Jesus Christ’s triumph over death, we have no reason to fear what death can do to us. Instead, we should rejoice concerning the Lord’s promise to us about the next life: “Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire . . . and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain” (Rev. 20:14; 21:4).

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God that in His sovereign wisdom and power He has defeated death and removed all reasons for the believer to be afraid of it.

For Further Study

Read 2 Kings 2:9-14 and 4:18-37.

  • What do these passages preview about Jesus’ control over death, His own and ours?
  • Do they remind you of any particular New Testament stories?

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Joyce Meyer – The Importance of Believing

 …Did I not tell you and promise you that if you would believe and rely on Me, you would see the glory of God?

— John 11:40 (NIV)

What we believe is our choice. God desires that we not only believe that He exists, but that we believe His Word. Trusting God to fulfill His promises will bring you into a state of rest. Those who have believed do enter the rest of God, according to Hebrews 4:3.

When I am frustrated, worried, fearful, or upset in any way, I can always trace the problem back to wrong believing. I keep a sign in my office that simply says “Believe.” It reminds me to examine my heart and mind and be sure that I am placing my trust in God at all times. Joy and peace are found in believing (see Romans 15:13).

Jesus said that if we would just believe, we would see His glory, which is the manifestation of His excellence in our lives. I am sure that you want to see the best that God has for you manifested in your life, as I do in mine.

If God instructs you to do (or not to do) something, believe and obey! When God states in His Word that He will take care of you and meet all your needs, believe it! Believe before you see.

In God’s kingdom economy, we always believe first and then we see the result of our believing. Right believing leads to right living! Right believing leads to a life of peace, joy and fulfillment!

My message to you today is very simple: Believe!

Prayer Starter: Father, I know that all of Your ways are right and just. I believe Your Word is true, and I ask You to help me believe it at all times. Remind me to believe when I am starting to doubt and help me walk in faith always! In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Are You a Grumbler?

And all the people of Israel grumbled.

 Numbers 14:2

There are grumblers among Christians now, just as there were in the camp of Israel of old. There are those who, when punished, cry out against the affliction. They ask, “Why am I afflicted? What have I done to be chastened in this manner?”

A word with you, grumbler! Why should you grumble against the dealings of your heavenly Father? Can He treat you more severely than you deserve? Consider what a rebel you once were, but He has pardoned you! Surely, if He in His wisdom considers it necessary to chasten you, you should not complain. After all, are you punished as severely as your sins deserve? Consider the corruption that is in your heart, and then will you wonder that so much of the rod is necessary to root it out? Weigh yourself, and discern how much dross is mingled with your gold; and do you think the fire is too hot to purge away the amount of dross you have? Doesn’t your proud rebellious spirit prove that your heart is not thoroughly sanctified? Aren’t those grumbling words contrary to the holy, submissive nature of God’s children? Isn’t the correction necessary?

But if you will grumble against the chastening, pay attention, for it will go hard with grumblers. God always chastises His children twice if they do not respond properly the first time. But know this—“He does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.”1 All His corrections are sent in love, to purify you and to draw you nearer to Himself. Surely it must help you to bear the chastening with submission if you are able to recognize your Father’s hand. “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”2 “. . . nor grumble the way some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.”3

1) Lamentations 3:33
2) Hebrews 12:6
3) 1 Corinthians 10:10

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God’s Gifts Cannot Be Bought

“Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.” (Acts 8:17-23)

At a glance, it may seem as though Peter is being a bit harsh on Simon–someone who claimed to be a brand new believer. While it is good to be gentle in spirit toward anyone who is wrong spiritually, it is also most important to point out the seriousness of a sin against the Holy Spirit’s testimony.

There was nothing wrong with Simon’s desire to be a part of sharing the Holy Spirit, but Simon believed he could purchase God’s gift with money. One may think that could be a simple mistake of a new believer, but it goes deeper than that. Simon was showing that he really did not yet have a good understanding of God. Peter even says “May your money perish with you” so that leads us to believe that Simon was not truly saved from his sin, even though he claimed to believe in Jesus. To truly understand and accept the gift of salvation, you need to realize there is absolutely nothing you can do to get it!

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” This verse says you cannot do any good deed or work in order to “earn” your salvation from God. It is only through God’s gifts of grace and faith that you are able to receive anything good from God!

Paying money, donating time, helping the poor — all those things are good, but you cannot expect to receive God’s blessings and gifts because you do those things. Doing good things to get good things is the absolute opposite of what God desires! You should do good things, but you should do them because of your understanding about who He is and what He did for you — and our Lord Jesus Christ did not live a sinless life, die, and rise again so that you could try to “earn your own way” to heaven by good works.

Because Simon believed he could buy God’s gift from Peter, he revealed a dangerous view of God. Trying to work for good things will have you constantly wondering if you’ve done enough to earn God’s approval. God wants us to know He paid it all for us to have our sins forgiven and have a right relationship with Him. He wants us to be sure that there is nothing we can do to work our way to salvation. He wants the glory He deserves for being so gracious to give us salvation as a free gift!

Recieve God’s gift and serve Him in humility because of what He’s already freely given.

We cannot “earn” God’s gracious gifts.

My Response:
» Do I ever try to work my way into pleasing God?
» Am I ever tempted to forget Who gets the credit for changes in my life?
» How can I help others learn the lesson Simon learned about God’s free gifts?

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Denison Forum – A political leader whose faith is deeply encouraging: Preparing for a threat that seeks to replace Christianity

The American media continues to cover President Biden’s Wednesday night address to Congress and the reactions to it. Meanwhile, another politician is making news in ways that are deeply encouraging.

Scott Morrison is the prime minister of Australia and a very public Christian. He spoke recently to the Australian Christian Churches’ national conference, where he shared his personal faith and sense of call to his position.

The Guardian reports that “Morrison is far from alone among Australian prime ministers either in holding religious beliefs or in talking publicly about them. But he is unusual in modern times in expressing such a direct sense of divine calling to the office of prime minister.”

The article takes a decidedly skeptical view of this “divine calling.” This is unsurprising, since the prime minister’s holistic faith conflicts directly with the narrative that now dominates our culture.

A threat “the church has not encountered before”

One of the transformative consequences of stepping away from our daily lives is an enlarged perspective when we return. Like a helicopter sightseeing tour that shows us a beautiful location from a higher view, retreating from the routine can help us see ourselves more clearly from God’s perspective.

One of the clear messages I sensed from God in recent days is that his people must prepare more urgently than ever for the challenges that are coming. We are in the early stages of a movement the church has never faced before, one which threatens us in ways that are now becoming clearer.

Sociologist Philip Rieff describes the era when the Christian movement began as the “first culture.” It was dominated by a pantheon of gods whose followers were content with their religion and not missionary toward the larger world. According to Rieff, the Christian movement sparked a monotheistic and evangelistic “second culture” which swept away the “first culture.”

Now we are in what Rieff calls the “third culture,” which Australian pastor Stephen McAlpine describes as “hermetically sealed off from anything transcendent.” It “recognizes only horizontal identity constructions, not vertical ones. Here is where meaning is determined, and here is where authority lies. It is ours to construct—and deconstruct.”

McAlpine adds: “This third culture is highly evangelistic and actively hostile to second-culture values.” For example, it considers sexual “freedom” and “authenticity” to be vital to personal and social flourishing. Biblical morality is therefore seen as dangerous to society and potentially deadly to LGBTQ individuals. The same vitriolic stance is taken with regard to abortion, euthanasia, or any other personal “freedoms” that are “threatened” by biblical faith.

According to McAlpine, this is a “new religion” and rival gospel “the church has not encountered before.” It seeks nothing less than to replace Christianity with its secular vision for a better future.

“My soul pants for you, O God”

What seems to be very bad news is actually the shadowside of very good news.

Every human being is made in God’s image for personal relationship with our Maker (cf. Genesis 1:27). Nothing in secular culture can fill this “God-shaped emptiness” that Pascal described. The further our society moves from biblical truth, the more people will hunger for biblical truth.

Therein lies our opportunity and our challenge.

Frederick Buechner noted, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” “The world’s deep hunger” is to hear from God. Not just about him—from him. The storms our culture faces are so grave, we cannot navigate them without divine leadership, provision, and protection.

You and I are conduits through whom our Lord speaks to our world. But we cannot give what we do not have. We cannot speak a word from God unless we hear a word from God. To meet “the world’s deep hunger,” we must first meet with God.

Our “deep gladness” comes from such intimacy as well: “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God” (Psalm 42:1). David testified: “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).

More than at any time in my lifetime, evangelical Christians need to follow David’s example today. As we face the cultural challenges that lie ahead, we desperately need a transformative, empowering connection with our Lord. I plan to say more about this connection next week; for today, let’s close by choosing to make it our first priority as the people of God.

“I don’t have time to sharpen my ax”

Ecclesiastes 10 offers this remarkable insight: “If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength, but wisdom helps one to succeed” (v. 10).

The story is told of a newly hired lumberjack who felled more trees on his first day than anyone else. By the fourth day, however, his output had fallen so far that his supervisor asked him what was wrong.

The man said, “I don’t understand. I’m working even harder than before but cutting less timber.” The supervisor asked the lumberjack how often he sharpened his ax. He replied, “I have too many trees to cut—I don’t have time to sharpen my ax.”

When last did you sharpen your “ax” with God? When next will you?

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Upwords; Max Lucado –Best Days Are Ahead

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Perhaps you can relate to the deflated little fellow I saw in an airport terminal. Everything about the dad’s expression said, “Hurry up! We have to run if we’re going to make the connection.” Can the little fellow keep up? Mom could. The big brothers could. But the little guy? He tried to match his parents’ pace, but he just couldn’t.

Can you relate? Sometimes the challenge is just too much. It’s not that you don’t try, you just run out of fight. The story of Joshua in the Bible dares us to believe our best days are ahead of us. A life in which the Bible says we are “anxious for nothing,” in which we’re “praying always.” A life in which Paul says we’re “giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” We may stumble but we don’t collapse. God has a Promised Land for us to take.