In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Letting Go of Baggage

Hebrews 12:1-3

If you’ve ever had to carry luggage while running to catch a flight or the bus, you know how difficult and exhausting it can be. Have you considered that the same could be said about carrying baggage from your past into your Christian life? 

Sometimes the burdens we carry have been with us since childhood—painful experiences during those formative years can have a profound impact, even into adulthood. And things we saw, heard, or felt could negatively affect our spiritual life today. In fact, it’s possible to be unaware of the load because after bearing it for so long, we may have become accustomed to the weight and bulk. Perhaps it even feels normal, but it’s not what the heavenly Father wants for His children.

To run with endurance the course God has set for your life, you must lay aside these encumbrances. He can break any lingering unhealthy pattern and replace it with hope and deep satisfaction in Him. As you consider your background and childhood experiences, ask God to reveal the truth clearly. When you recognize ways in which others have had a negative influence, pray the He will give you a forgiving spirit and healing for any wounds that remain.

Bible in One Year: 1 Chronicles 28-29


http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Singing Over Us

Bible in a Year:

[He] will rejoice over you with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Zephaniah 3:14–17

A young father held his baby boy in his arms, singing to him and rocking him in soothing rhythm. The baby was hearing-impaired, unable to hear the melody or the words. Yet the father sang anyway, in a beautiful, tender act of love toward his son. And his efforts were rewarded with a delightful smile from his little boy. 

The imagery of the father-son exchange bears a striking resemblance to the words of Zephaniah. The Old Testament prophet says that God will joyfully sing over His daughter, the people of Jerusalem (Zephaniah 3:17). God enjoys doing good things for His beloved people, such as taking away their punishment and turning back their enemies (v. 15). Zephaniah says they no longer have any reason for fear and instead have cause for rejoicing.

We, as God’s children redeemed by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, sometimes are hard of hearing—unable, or perhaps unwilling, to tune our ears to the exuberant love God sings over us. His adoration of us is like that of the young father, who lovingly sang to his son despite his inability to hear. He has taken away our punishment too, giving us further reason to rejoice. Perhaps we might try to listen more closely to hear the joy ringing loudly in His voice. Father, help us to hear Your loving melody and savor being held safely in Your arms.

By:  Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

What keeps you from hearing God? How can you tune your ears to hear His delight in you?

Thank You, God, for taking great delight in me. May I always listen to your voice as You joyfully sing over me.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Building a Leader: The Right Results (Peter)

The twelve apostles included “Simon, who is called Peter” (Matt. 10:2).

God knows how to get results.

God makes leaders by taking people with the right raw material, putting them through the right experiences, and teaching them the right lessons. That’s how he trained Peter, and the results were astonishing. In the first twelve chapters of Acts we see Peter initiating the move to replace Judas with Matthias, preaching powerfully on the Day of Pentecost, healing a lame man, standing up to the Jewish authorities, confronting Ananias and Sapphira, dealing with Simon the magician, healing Aeneas, raising Dorcas from the dead, and taking the gospel to the Gentiles. In addition, he wrote two epistles that pass on to us all the lessons he learned from Jesus. What a leader!

Peter was as much a model of spiritual leadership in death as he was in life. Jesus told him he would be crucified for God’s glory, and early church tradition tells us that Peter was in fact crucified. But before putting him to death, his executioners forced him to watch the crucifixion of his wife. As he stood at the foot of her cross, he encouraged her by saying over and over, “Remember the Lord, remember the Lord.” When it was time for his own crucifixion, he requested that he be crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to die as his Lord had died. His request was granted.

Just as God transformed Peter from a brash and impulsive fisherman into a powerful instrument for His glory, so He can transform everyone who is yielded to Him.

You will never be an apostle, but you can have the same depth of character and know the same joy of serving Christ that Peter knew. There’s no higher calling in the world than to be an instrument of God’s grace. Peter was faithful to that calling—you be faithful too!

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God for the assurance that He will perfect the work He has begun in you (Phil. 1:6).
  • Ask Him to use the experiences you have today as instruments that shape you more into the image of Christ.

For Further Study

Read John 21:18-23.

  • How did Jesus describe Peter’s death?
  • What was Peter’s reaction to Christ’s announcement?
  • What misunderstanding was generated by their conversation?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Be Responsible

She looks well to how things go in her household, and the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity) she will not eat.

— Proverbs 31:27 (AMPC)

Our friend in Proverbs is a responsible woman. She stays alert to how things go in her household, she refuses to be idle, and she doesn’t waste her time in things such as sitting around gossiping or wallowing in self-pity. She is not discontented. She appreciates life, and I believe she celebrates it fully each day. Idleness, waste, self-pity, gossip, and discontentment are thieves of the great life Jesus died to give you. 

The apostle Paul gave this exhortation to some members in the church in Thessalonica, Indeed, we hear that some among you are disorderly [that they are passing their lives in idleness, neglectful of duty], being busy with other people’s affairs instead of their own and doing no work (2 Thessalonians 3:11 AMPC). Don’t allow these sins to rule you. When you maintain a positive attitude, you will enjoy more confidence. 

Doing what one believes to be right will always increase confidence. You can’t go wrong when you keep God as the focus of your life. Follow the example of the Proverbs 31 woman. She gives us tremendous insight in how to be the best and most confident homemaker, wife, and mother we can be.

Prayer Starter: Father, guide me in the way You would have me go. Never let me waste my time on the foolish things of the world, but rather, help me be the best I can be, doing what You would have me do. Amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Raised from the Dead

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead.

1 Corinthians 15:20

The whole system of Christianity rests upon the fact that “Christ has been raised from the dead;” for “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (verse 14).

The divinity of Christ finds its surest proof in His resurrection, since He was “declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.”1 It would not be unreasonable to doubt His Deity if He had not risen. Furthermore, Christ’s sovereignty depends upon His resurrection: “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”2 Again, our justification, that choice blessing of the covenant, is linked with Christ’s triumphant victory over death and the grave, for He “was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”3

More than this, our very regeneration is connected with His resurrection, for we are “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”4 And most certainly our ultimate resurrection rests here, for “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”5 If Christ is not risen, then we will not rise; but if He is risen, then those who are asleep in Christ have not perished but in their flesh shall surely see God. In this way the silver thread of resurrection runs through all the believer’s blessings, from his regeneration onward to his eternal glory, and ties them all together. How important for believers is this glorious fact, and how they rejoice that beyond a doubt it is established, that “in fact Christ has been raised from the dead.”

The promise is fulfill’d,
Redemption’s work is done,
Justice with mercy’s reconciled,
For God has raised His Son.

1) Romans 1:4
2) Romans 14:9
3) Romans 4:25
4) 1 Peter 1:3
5) Romans 8:11

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Has Everlasting Arms

“The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deuteronomy 33:27)

The highlight of each fall in Andrew’s hometown is attending the Riley Days Festival downtown. Every year, their town has a parade, live entertainment, craft booths, and yummy food filling the streets surrounding the courthouse. Andrew’s family always looked forward to Riley Days, and they would usually set aside the entire weekend for attending the festival.

During one of these Riley Days evenings, Andrew was having a hard time keeping up with the rest of the family. He had sprained his neck during a dodge ball game earlier that day, and it was really starting to bother him as their family walked around the festival.

Finally, Andrew asked his dad, “Will you carry me?” His dad was glad to carry him, and Andrew was so relieved. It was wonderful to let his body go limp in his dad’s arms. Andrew did not have put out all that energy to hold his head up. He could trust in his dad’s strength to carry him in a time when he was very weak.

In the same way that Andrew’s dad was glad to carry him around the festival that night, your heavenly Father will carry you through difficult times. When you are facing troubles and feel overwhelmed by the weight of them, let God carry you through them. He commands us to cast our care upon Him. Why? Because He cares for us. When you are weakest, He is always strong. Read His Word, and take comfort in His promises to you. God’s “arms” will never get tired (His strength and comfort and grace will never wear out) as He carries you through those difficult times. The Bible says that He has “everlasting arms.”

If you are facing difficult circumstances and have been trying to work hard in your own strength–stop it! Crawl into your heavenly Daddy’s arms; trust Him; and let Him carry you.

God is a refuge, and He has everlasting arms.

My Response:
» Have you been overwhelmed by troubles, rather than resting in God’s everlasting arms?
» Can you handle all your own problems?
» How can you help others learn to trust in the God of the Bible?


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Denison Forum – “Rainbow Disney Collection” will honor LGBTQ Pride Month: How and why to be the “visible presence” of God in the world

Let’s begin with some good news: you didn’t get hit by falling rocket debris yesterday.

Remnants of a Chinese rocket landed in the Indian Ocean on Sunday. Most of its components were destroyed upon entering the atmosphere. Parts that survived reentry crashed into the ocean west of the Maldives, a small island chain south of India.

However, we don’t need threats from space to endanger life on earth.

Six people were killed yesterday morning during a birthday party in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The suspected shooter, believed to be a boyfriend of one of the victims, is dead as well. One of America’s largest pipelines was shut down late Friday after being hit by a cyberattack and is still offline this morning.

Last Saturday afternoon, three bystanders were shot in New York City’s Times Square when a man arguing with other people fired wildly into the crowd. One of the victims was a four-year-old girl who was toy shopping with her family and was hit in the left leg. 

Speaking of children: the Walt Disney Company has unveiled the Rainbow Disney Collection. Designed to honor the annual Pride Month in June that celebrates the LGBTQ community and movement, the catalog of apparel and toys features T-shirts, Mickey Mouse ears, mugs, and even baby apparel, all adorned with rainbows.

This is just one way Disney seeks to introduce children to LGBTQ ideology. The 2020 Disney-Pixar animated film Onward had a minor character who was a lesbian; Pixar’s short film Out featured a gay lead character; and the Disney Channel cartoon series The Owl House featured a bisexual main character.

In 2018, Cartoon Network featured a same-sex wedding proposal on the animated series Steven Universe. The network is working to create comic strips asserting that there are multiple gender identities. Earlier this year, the Nickelodeon series Blue’s Clues and You! unveiled a song teaching children the alphabet while promoting LGBTQ advocacy.

“The stronger the emphasis, the fewer the Christians”

If you’re like me, you read such news and feel frustrated that the church is not doing more to impact the culture. If we are “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13–14), why is our salt and light not doing more to season and enlighten our culture? Why, in fact, are churches and Christian institutions sometimes the problem more than the solution?

In an article published yesterday, David French makes a vital distinction between Christendom and Christianity. As he explains, “Christianity is the faith, Christians are believers in the faith, and Christendom is the collective culture and institutions (universities, ministries) of the faith.”

French cites the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, who saw the Christian institutions of his day as hurting rather than helping the faith. Kierkegaard issued the compelling warning that imitating Jesus “is really the point from which the human race shrinks. The main difficulty lies here; here is where it is really decided whether or not one is willing to accept Christianity.”

He then explained the problem: “If there is emphasis on this point, the stronger the emphasis, the fewer the Christians. If there is a scaling down at this point (so that Christianity becomes, intellectually, a doctrine), more people enter into Christianity. If it is abolished completely . . . Christianity spreads to such a degree that Christendom and the world are almost indistinguishable, or all become Christians; Christianity has completely conquered—that is, it is abolished!”

In other words, we can make the imitation of Jesus into doctrines about Jesus and then build institutions to proclaim these doctrines. But we should remember James’s warning: “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19).

Doctrines and institutions that do not lead people to know and imitate Jesus personally will never change the culture. That’s because the culture changes when people change. And people are changed not by our words but by God’s Spirit.

People tempted by LGBTQ attraction and ideology are liberated not by protesting against Disney (though we should clearly stand against unbiblical morality) but by the transformation Jesus brings to a life yielded fully to him (2 Corinthians 5:17). For people being tempted by other forms of immorality in our broken culture, the answer is the same: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).

The earliest image of Jesus

A two-thousand-year-old marble head of Emperor Augustus has been discovered in a town in Italy. It was originally part of a statue towering at least six feet seven inches. I have seen many such statues of Augustus in museums, each depicting the emperor in power and glory.

Now contrast these statues with the earliest image of the Savior born in Bethlehem when Augustus ruled from Rome (Luke 2:1–7). It was made in mockery of the Christian faith and depicted a donkey-headed Christ on his cross. Other early images made by Christians show Jesus as a shepherd and a healer. Not until the fourth century do we find images of him ruling in authority.

This is not because his earliest followers knew Jesus to be anything less than King of kings and Lord of lords (cf. Revelation 19:16). Rather, their depictions call us to serve our King by serving others. The more we love Jesus, the more we will love those he loves. And he loves everyone.

The Holy Spirit uses changed people to change the world. The apostles could impact the Sanhedrin by their preaching because their lives had been impacted by its truth (Acts 4:13). Paul could call multitudes to Jesus because he had been transformed by Jesus (cf. Acts 22:1–21).

Churches and institutions can call our culture to imitate Jesus to the degree that those who comprise these churches and institutions imitate Jesus.

The “visible absence” and “invisible presence” of God

If you and I will meet with our risen Lord each day in worship, submitting to his Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) and asking him to manifest the character of our Lord in our lives (Galatians 5:22–23), he will answer our prayer. If, like Jesus, we will seek to serve rather than to be served (Mark 10:45), our Lord will use us to draw others to himself.

In Telling the Truth, Frederick Buechner speaks of the “visible absence” and the “invisible presence” of God in the world. I would add a third category: the “visible presence” of God in the world through the people of God in the world.

Whom will you serve today?

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –Be an Agent of Happiness

BE AN AGENT OF HAPPINESS – May 10, 2021

Jesus wants to bring joy to the people of this generation, and he has enlisted some special agents of happiness to do the job: you and me.

Not an easy task. The people in our world can be moody, fickle, and stubborn. And that just describes my wife’s husband. Nah, if we are going to find the joy that comes through giving joy away, we need instruction. No wonder the Bible has so much to say about finding joy in the act of sharing it. The New Testament contains more than fifty “one another” statements.

You and I indwell a lonely planet. We cannot solve every problem in society, but we can bring smiles to a few faces. And who knows? If you brighten your corner of the world and I do the same in mine, a quiet revolution of joy might break out. It can be how happiness happens.