In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Faith Is Action

Hebrews 11:7-16

Faith is often thought of as a thing we have—a belief in something or someone. But in the Scriptures, faith is more than a passive possession—it’s a firm confidence that results in action. In today’s passage, an action follows every mention of faith. Noah prepared an ark, Abraham obeyed without knowing where he was going, and Sarah confidently anticipated the son God promised.

Instead of sitting back, believers should count on God’s promises and act accordingly, as did the men and women listed in Hebrews 11. The Lord accomplished amazing feats through their lives when they believed Him and moved out in obedience. Like a muscle, faith grows the more we put it into action. In this way, believers strengthen their trust in God and His promises, even when they don’t live long enough to see the fulfillment in their lifetime.

Are you acting on your faith in God and His Word? When you see a command or warning in Scripture, do you obey it? Are you letting biblical truths about God’s character and power shape your thinking and responses? If so, your faith is growing strong.

Bible in One Year: 1 Chronicles 10-12


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Our Daily Bread — Fueled by Fire

Bible in a Year:

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us . . . . But even if he does not . . . we will not serve your gods.

Daniel 3:17–18

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Daniel 3:13–18, 25–27

When two firefighters, weary and sooty, stopped at a restaurant for breakfast, the waitress recognized the men from the news and realized they’d spent the night battling a warehouse fire. To show her appreciation, she wrote a note on their bill, “Your breakfast is on me today. Thank you . . . for serving others and for running into the places everyone else runs away from. . . . Fueled by fire and driven by courage, what an example you are.” 

In the Old Testament, we see an example of courage in the actions of three young men: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3). Instead of obeying the mandate to bow down to a statue of the Babylonian king, these young men courageously showed their love for God through their refusal. Their penalty was to be thrown into a blazing furnace. Yet the men didn’t back down: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not . . . we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold” (vv. 17–18). 

God did rescue them and even walked with them in the fire (vv. 25–27). In our fiery trials and troubles today, we too have the assurance that God is with us. He is able.

By:  Alyson Kieda

Reflect & Pray

When have you felt God’s presence during a difficult trial? What gives you confidence to press on when challenges come?

Almighty God, thank You for being with me in the fire and for comforting me with Your presence.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Trials’ Lessons: Faith

“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son” (Hebrews 11:17).

The main reason God allows trials in the lives of Christians is to test the strength of their faith.

The memorable example in Genesis 22 of Abraham’s testing is perhaps the severest trial any human being has ever faced. When God told Abraham to offer his only son Isaac as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of Moriah (Gen. 22:1-2), Abraham no doubt was stunned. In terms of God’s nature, His plan of redemption, His promise to Abraham, and His love for Isaac, the entire concept was utterly inconceivable and unprecedented.

But in the face of all that, Abraham showed remarkable faith in dealing with this trial (Gen. 22:3-8). He did not second-guess God, as many of us would, but rather obeyed immediately (v. 3) and displayed the confidence that he and Isaac would return (v. 5) and that God would supply a lamb for the offering (v. 8). Then Abraham showed he was ready to obey completely. Genesis 22 tells us he “bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand, and took the knife to slay his son” (vv. 9-10). What unbelievable faith, and what a dramatic moment when God spared Abraham from the full cost of obedience (vv. 11-12)! The story clearly shows us the nature of true faith (Gen. 15:6) and why Abraham was later called the father of the faithful (Rom. 4:11-12; Gal. 3:6-7).

As heirs to Abraham and his extraordinary trust in God, we can also endure the most difficult trials and pass tests of faith that seem unimaginably severe at the time. God might want us to offer our own loved ones to Him and let them go His way rather than tightly holding on to them for our own purposes. However, if we look to God as Abraham did (Heb. 11:17-19), we can be confident in any trial and know with certainty that our faith has passed the test.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that God would strengthen your faith even in the smallest of daily trials.

For Further Study

Read 2 Kings 20:1-11 and 2 Chronicles 32:24-31.

  • What was at the heart of Hezekiah’s difficulties (2 Chron. 32:25)?
  • Why did God test him (v. 31)?

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Joyce Meyer – Don’t Assume; Ask God

When I kept silence [before I confessed], my bones wasted away through my groaning all the day long.

— Psalm 32:3 (AMPC)

We all have days when we feel more emotional than usual, and there may be many reasons for that. Perhaps you didn’t sleep well the night before, or you ate something that lowered your blood sugar or that you were allergic to. The occasional emotional day is something we don’t have to be too concerned about. If my husband has a day like that, he never tries to figure it out. He simply says, “This too shall pass.”

There are also times we have emotional issues that need to be resolved and dealt with. WE are often guilty of stuffing things down inside us rather than dealing with them. If you are a person who avoids confrontation, you can have a soul full of unresolved issues that need closure before emotional wholeness will come. I remember a night when I was unable to sleep, which is unusual for me. Immediately I recalled a situation from the day before. I had been rude to someone and instead of apologizing to them and asking God to forgive me, I rushed through the situation and went on to the next thing I needed to do. Obviously, my wrong conduct was irritating my spirit, even though my conscious mind had buried it. As soon as I asked God to forgive me and made the decision to apologize to the person, I was able to go to sleep.

If you feel unusually sad or as if you are carrying a heavy burden you don’t understand, ask God what is wrong before you start assuming things. It is amazing what we and learn by simply asking God for an answer and being willing to face any truth He might reveal about us or our behavior. Sometimes we feel emotional because of something someone has done to us or an unpleasant circumstance in our life. But at other times we feel that way because of something we did wrong and ignored.

Prayer Starter: Father, help me to see and know what is causing me to feel emotional and help me to be willing to face any truth You reveal to me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Tempted by Idols?

Can man make for himself gods?
Such are not gods!

Jeremiah 16:20

One great besetting sin of ancient Israel was idolatry, and the church is vexed with a tendency to the same folly. The ancient gods of man’s invention have mostly disappeared, but the shrines of pride are not forsaken, and the golden calf still stands. Self makes an empty display, and the flesh sets up its altars wherever it can find space for them. Favorite children are often the cause of much sin in believers; the Lord is grieved when He sees us doting upon them beyond measure; they will live to be as great a curse to us as Absalom was to David, or they will be taken from us to leave our homes desolate. If Christians desire to grow thorns with which to stuff their sleepless pillows, let them dote on their children.

It is accurate to say that “such are not gods,” for the objects of our foolish love are very doubtful blessings, the solace that they yield us now is dangerous, and the help that they can give us in the hour of trouble is small indeed. Why, then, are we so bewitched with vanities? We pity the poor heathen who worships a god of stone, and yet we worship a god of gold. Where is the vast superiority between a god of flesh and one of wood? The principle, the sin, the folly is the same in either case; the only difference is that our crime is more aggravated because we have more light, and sin in the face of it. The heathen bows to a false deity, but the true God he has never known; we commit two evils, inasmuch as we forsake the living God and turn to idols. May the Lord purge us all from this grievous iniquity!

The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be;
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
And worship only Thee
.

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Loyal to His People

“O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.” (Psalm 136:26)

Do you know what it means to be loyal? Stella’s grandpa kept a white pony named Ginger on his farm. Whenever Stella visited Grandpa, she loved to ride Ginger around the pasture. Sometimes Stella would sit on the fence for an hour at a time talking to Ginger. When she would have to leave Ginger and go back home to the city, the pony stayed in her thoughts. Stella often drew pictures of Ginger or wrote about her in stories.

Now the truth is, Ginger was a very stubborn pony, and she was even a little bit mean at times. But if anyone ever said anything bad about her, Stella always stood up for her. She thought of Ginger as her horse. When Grandpa finally had to sell Ginger away to another farm, Stella went out to the empty pasture and found some long white hairs from her tail stuck in the fence. For years afterward, she kept that horsehair in a special little box. Her love for Ginger was loyal.

Did Ginger deserve to be loved like that? No, probably not. And neither do we. But God’s love for His people is just as loyal as that–in fact, it is even more loyal than any human love could be, because God is God. When you read the Old Testament, you can see God showing loyal love to His people, the Israelites, over and over again. He faithfully led them. He defended them against their enemies. He shared the deep thoughts and plans of His heart with them. He revealed Himself to them with wonderful miracles. He did not overlook their sin. When they broke their covenants with Him and went after idols, He always punished them. But even the punishments were signs of His loyalty. He never gave up on His people. He never “let them go.” He always drew them back. When they humbled themselves and sought Him, He mercifully restored them again to a right relationship with Him. And best of all, He sent them a Redeemer–His own dear Son, Jesus Christ.

The Hebrew word for God’s loyal love is hesed. You will often see this word in our English translations as lovingkindness or mercy. God acts the same toward His redeemed people today as He did toward His people Israel in the Old Testament days. He will never give up on His people, nor will He ever give up a good work that He has begun. He loves us with a loyal, steadfast love.

God’s love for His people is loyal and steadfast.

My Response:
» Am I loyal in my love for God?
» How can I demonstrate (show) loyalty like God’s in my relationships with my friends and family members?


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Denison Forum – Pastor’s wife advocates for vaccines and receives death threats: A call to courage that glorifies Jesus

Emily Smith is an epidemiologist at Baylor University, the wife of a Baptist pastor, and a mother. She has been working hard to help her fellow evangelicals understand the urgency of getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

Though she has received vociferous criticism and even death threats, she is committed to her calling: “I just feel such a sense of obligation, especially from a Christian perspective, to be the Good Samaritan, and hopefully get people to band together and still wear their mask and get a vaccine.”

Jamie Aten is executive director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College. In his work, he has helped his fellow evangelicals deal with hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and other disasters. His ministry has been widely received with gratitude.

When he began urging his fellow evangelicals to get vaccinated against COVID-19, however, some of the responses he received were ugly. He even had to file a report with the sheriff’s office where he lives after getting an email claiming his work on vaccines was “punishable by death.”

Biblical citation labeled “hate speech”

C. S. Lewis observed that “courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”

new policy in China went into effect last Saturday. It requires all clergy and religious leaders in China to “support the leadership of the Communist Party of China, support the socialist system,” and “practice the core values of socialism” while adhering to the “autonomous management of religion.” As a result of this policy, Chinese Communist officials removed Bible apps and public Christian WeChat accounts. Bibles in hard copy are no longer available for sale online.

Communist authorities recently closed Catholic Church-run children’s homes and orphanages and have ordered Christians to fly the Chinese flag and sing patriotic songs in their services. A recent publication includes China among sixty-two countries, comprising two-thirds of the world’s population, that violate religious freedom.

Finland is not on the list, but a member of its parliament is facing six years imprisonment for allegedly committing three crimes, including “hate speech.” A medical doctor and the mother of five, she has publicly voiced her opinion defending biblical sexual morality. One of her “crimes” was quoting Romans 1:24–27, a tweet for which she was accused of hate speech and interrogated by the police.

“I will not back down from my views,” she said. “I will not be intimidated into hiding my faith. The more Christians keep silent on controversial themes, the narrower the space for freedom of speech gets.”

“God’s story, my story, and their story”

Jacob Bland is the new president and CEO of Youth for Christ, a ministry that began in 1944 when Billy Graham served as its first full-time staff member. Today, it operates in over one hundred nations and has more than 160 chapters across the US. Bland explained his organization’s strategy in a way I found compelling: “The way we look at it, there are three stories that are overlapping: God’s story, my story, and their story.”

To advance God’s kingdom, we learn the stories of those who need Jesus, then we share his story by showing how he has changed our story and can change their story.

In yesterday’s Daily Article, I described the urgency of defending biblical morality in an increasingly antagonistic culture. I also noted the importance of living the truth we proclaim, knowing that our lives must be the first sermon we preach.

How can we be the change we wish to see? Paul’s letter to a church in an antagonistic culture offers us clear and compelling guidance.

When Paul came to the Greek city of Thessalonica, a mob responded to the gospel by attacking followers of Jesus (Acts 17:1–10). Nonetheless, the apostle encouraged Thessalonian Christians to “stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us” (2 Thessalonians 2:15). He reminded them that their salvation came “through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (v. 13), that divine-human partnership by which we accept God’s word as true and the Spirit uses that truth to transform our lives.

The basis for our salvation is “our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace” (v. 16). Paul could therefore pray for the Lord to “comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word” (v. 17).

Four empowering imperatives

This passage calls us to four simple commitments that are transforming for us and our influence:

One: Remember that God is love (1 John 4:8). Because he “loved us” in the past, he has given us “good hope through grace” for the present and “eternal comfort” for the future. No matter who you are or where you are, God loves you.

Two: Believe God’s word is truth (John 17:17). What the Bible says about sexuality or any other issue we face is the unchanging, life-giving truth of God.

Three: Submit to the sanctification of the Spirit (Ephesians 5:181 Peter 1:2). He alone can make us like Jesus (Romans 8:29), transforming us into the kind of people whose lives will draw the world to our Lord.

Four: Stand firm for your Lord (1 Corinthians 15:5816:13). The greater the opposition to Jesus, the greater the opportunity for courage that glorifies our Lord.

A song on the radio

As we choose to follow Jesus with courage, it is vital to remember that we need God’s grace just as much as anyone who rejects God’s grace. The other day, I was driving home from the office and heard a powerful song by Sidewalk Prophets on the radio. Titled “You Love Me Anyway,” it includes these lyrics:

I am the thorn in your crown
But you love me anyway
I am the sweat from your brow
But you love me anyway
I am the nail in your wrist
But you love me anyway
I am Judas’ kiss
But you love me anyway

Will you celebrate and share this love today?

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Upwords; Max Lucado –Change Doors

CHANGE DOORS – May 4, 2021

As one Harvard professor said, “We think money will bring lots of happiness for a long time; actually it brings a little happiness for a short time.” We’ve all seen happy peasants and miserable millionaires, right? There is another option. It requires no credit card, monthly mortgage, or stroke of fortune. It demands no airline tickets or hotel reservations. Age and ethnicity and gender are not factors. You don’t have to change jobs, change cities, change looks, or change neighborhoods.

But you might need to change doors. The motto on the front door says “Happiness happens when you get.” The sign on the lesser-used back door counters “Happiness happens when you give.” Doing good does good for the doer. This is how happiness happens.

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Faith Is Assurance

Hebrews 11:1-6

I’ve had the privilege of flying in several single-engine airplanes, but never once have I asked the pilot about his qualifications or the trustworthiness of the plane. I simply expected him and his aircraft to carry me safely to my destination. We usually don’t have trouble relying on planes or automobiles without question, yet we sometimes fail to trust the Lord.

Our faith in God is like spiritual glasses through which we view the world around us. Our physical eyesight may not detect His almighty hand working in the events and situations of life, but faith looks beyond the externals to the truth and promises of Scripture.

Our foundation of assurance is built upon God’s Word and our experiences of His trustworthiness. We have no cause for worry or uncertainty because the Lord of the universe is sovereign over every event under heaven, and that includes the details of our lives. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us not to be anxious; instead, we’re to bring our concerns and requests to God with thanksgiving, trusting Him to work it all out according to His will. Then His peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Bible in One Year: 1 Chronicles 7-9

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