In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – When We Say Yes to God

Luke 5:1-7

Teaching people to swim begins with a simple lesson—they must put their face in the water. That first little step helps a person get comfortable in the water and is critical for all swimming skills. In the same way, following God begins with a small act of obedience. It may seem insignificant or unrelated to the task at hand, but that’s where God wants us to start.

When Jesus asked to borrow a fishing boat, it must have seemed like just an ordinary request. Peter had no idea it would open the door to ministry and a remarkable adventure with the Lord. Saying yes to God in the small things is essential to discovering His purpose for us, and what’s more, our obedience will also often cause others to benefit. Peter’s compliance with Jesus’ next small request—to let down his nets one more time—resulted in two boatloads of fish, which was more than enough for all those with him.

Obedience to God may appear unreasonable at times—like a carpenter asking a professional fisherman to try once more, even though he had been fishing without success all night. But obeying the Lord can lead to divinely ordained opportunities and blessings for us and others. How do you respond to God’s requests? Does the word “yes” come quickly?

Bible in One Year: Psalm 60-66

Our Daily Bread — God Is There

Bible in a Year:

If God will be with me and watch over me . . . then the Lord will be my God.

Genesis 28:20–21

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Genesis 28:10–15, 20–22

Aubrey bought a fleece-lined coat for her aging father, but he died before he could wear it. So she tucked a note of encouragement with a $20 bill into the pocket and donated the jacket to charity.

Ninety miles away, unable to endure his family’s dysfunction any longer, nineteen-year-old Kelly left his house without grabbing a coat. He knew of only one place to turn—the home of his grandmother who prayed for him. Hours later he stepped off a bus and into his grandma’s arms. Shielding him from the winter wind, she said, “We’ve got to get you a coat!” At the mission store, Kelly tried on a coat he liked. Slipping his hands into the pockets he found an envelope—with a $20 bill and Aubrey’s note.

Jacob fled his dysfunctional family in fear for his life (Genesis 27:41–45). When he stopped for the night, God revealed Himself to Jacob in a dream. “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go,” God told him (28:15). Jacob vowed, “If God will . . . give me food to eat and clothes to wear . . . , then the Lord will be my God” (vv. 20–21).

Jacob made a rudimentary altar and named the spot “God’s house” (v. 22). Kelly takes Aubrey’s note and that $20 wherever he goes. Each serves as a reminder that no matter where we run, God is there.

By:  Tim Gustafson

Reflect & Pray

When you’ve had to “run,” whether literally or metaphorically, where did you go and to whom did you turn? How can you remind yourself of God’s presence in your life?

Father, You’re the One I can always run to. Help me turn to You first.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Siding with God’s Enemies

“Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?” (James 2:6-7).

You can’t accomplish God’s purposes by siding with His enemies.

Favoritism has a way of blinding its victims to reality. James wrote of Christians who were trying to impress a rich man so they could benefit from his wealth and social status (vv. 2-3). The rich man represented the enemies of Christ, yet they gave him preferential treatment anyway. The poor man represented those whom God chose to be rich in faith and heirs of His kingdom, yet they treated him badly and dishonored him (v. 6). That’s not only inconsistent, it’s foolish! You can’t accomplish God’s purposes by siding with His enemies.

Some ungodly rich people tyrannized Christians by withholding their wages and even putting some to death (James 5:4-6). They forcibly dragged Christians to court to exploit them by some injustice or inequity. They blasphemed the fair name of Christ. The phrase “by which you have been called” (v. 7) speaks of a personal relationship. Typically new converts made a public proclamation of their faith in Christ at their baptism. From then on they were called “Christians,” meaning, “Christ’s own,” “Christ’s ones,” or “belonging to Christ.” So when people slandered Christians, they were slandering Christ Himself!

That anyone could overlook those evils and show favoritism to the enemies of Christ shows the subtle and devastating power of partiality. Today, the circumstances may be different, but the principles are the same. So for the sake of Christ and His people, remember the three reasons James gives for not showing partiality: You and your brothers and sisters in Christ are one with the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the glory of God revealed (v. 1); God has chosen the poor to eternal riches (v. 5); and God has called you by His name (v. 7). If you desire to be like Christ, you cannot be partial. Be fair and impartial in all your interactions with others.

Suggestions for Prayer

Is there a personal or business relationship in which you are showing favoritism to gain some advantage for yourself? If so, confess it to the Lord and correct it right away.

For Further Study

Read Romans 15:5-7.

  • How should Christians treat one another?
  • What impact will we have if we obey Paul’s admonition?

Joyce Meyer – Meditating on Good Things

 …my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. When I remember You upon my bed and meditate on You in the night watches.

— Psalm 63:5-6 (AMPC)

Transcendental Meditation. Yoga. New Age. We hear these terms all the time, and they cause many Christians to avoid any reference to meditation. They’re afraid of the occult or pagan worship. What they don’t realize is how often the Bible urges us to meditate.

We can explain biblical meditation in a number of ways, but the one I find most helpful is to think of it as expressed in the Bible. If we read the verses above (and there are many others), we see three significant things about meditation in the Word.

First, the Scriptures refer to more than a quick reading or pausing for a few brief, reflecting thoughts. The Bible presents meditation as serious pondering. Whenever the Bible refers to meditation, it speaks to serious, committed followers. It’s not referring to quick, pick-me-up Bible verses. I’m not opposed to those, but this is a call to deeper, more serious concentration.

Second, the biblical contexts show meditation as ongoing and habitual. “It is my meditation all the day,” says the verse above. In Joshua 1:8, God told Joshua to meditate on the law day and night. We get the impression that the people who spoke of meditating did so seriously and threw their minds fully into the action. Psalm 1:2 says that the godly person meditates on God’s law day and night.

Third, meditation has a reward. It’s not just to meditate or go through a religious ritual. In most of the biblical passages where the term occurs, the writer goes on to point out the results. Again in Joshua 1:8: “… For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good success” (AMPC).

Psalm chapter 1 describes the godly person who meditates day and night on God’s law (or Word) and says, “… and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity]” (v. 3) (AMPC).

Despite what I’ve pointed out, we don’t talk or teach much about meditation today. It’s hard work! It demands time. Meditation also demands undivided attention.

If you want to win the battle for the mind, meditation is a powerful weapon for you to use. You must focus on portions of God’s Word. You must read them, perhaps repeat them aloud, and keep them before you. Some people repeat a verse again and again until the meaning fills their mind and becomes part of their thinking. The idea is that you won’t put the Word of God in practice physically until you first practice it mentally.

Meditation is a life principle because it ministers life to you, and your behavior ministers life to others through you.

I could go on and on about the subject of meditating on God’s Word, because it seems there is no end to what God can show me out of one verse of Scripture. The Word of God is a treasure chest of powerful, life-giving secrets that God wants to reveal to us. I believe these truths are manifested to those who meditate on, ponder, study, think about, practice mentally, and mutter the Word of God. The Lord reveals Himself to us when we diligently meditate on His Word. Throughout the day, as you go about your daily affairs, ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of certain scriptures on which you can meditate.

You’ll be amazed at how much power will be released into your life from this practice. The more you meditate on God’s Word, the more you will be able to draw readily upon its strength in times of trouble.

This is how we can stay filled with the Holy Spirit—stay with the Lord through meditation and through singing and praising. As we spend time in His presence and ponder His Word, we grow, we encourage others, and we win the battles against the enemy of our minds.

Prayer Starter: Holy Spirit of God, help me to spend time every day meditating on the treasures of Your Word. I thank You for showing me that as I fill my mind with pure and holy thoughts, I will become a stronger and better disciple.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Christ the Builder

It is he who shall build the temple of the Lord and shall bear royal honor.

Zechariah 6:13

Christ Himself is the builder of His spiritual temple, and He has built it on the mountains of His unchangeable affection, His omnipotent grace, and His infallible truthfulness. But as it was in Solomon’s temple, so in this: The materials need to be prepared. There are the cedars of Lebanon, but they are not framed for the building; they are not cut down and shaped and made into those planks of cedar whose fragrant beauty will make glad the courts of the Lord’s house in paradise. There are also the rough stones still in the quarry, which must be hewn out and squared.

All this is Christ’s own work. Each individual believer is being prepared and polished and made ready for his place in the temple; but Christ’s own hand performs the preparation-work. Afflictions cannot sanctify, except when they are used by Him to fulfill His purpose. Our prayers and efforts cannot make us ready for heaven, apart from the hand of Jesus, who fashions our hearts correctly.

As in the building of Solomon’s temple, where “neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron was heard”1 because it all arrived perfectly ready for the exact spot it was to occupy, so is it with the temple that Jesus builds; the preparation is all done on earth. When we reach heaven, there will be no sanctifying us there, no squaring us with affliction, no maturing us with suffering.

No, we must be made ready here—and all that Christ will do He will do now; and when He has done it, we will be ferried by a loving hand across the stream of death and brought to the heavenly Jerusalem, to live as eternal pillars in the temple of our Lord.

Beneath His eye and care,
The edifice shall rise,
Majestic, strong, and fair,
And shine above the skies.

1) 1 Kings 6:7

C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – The Pure in Heart Will See God

 “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)

When I was in fourth grade, my family took a trip to Washington, D.C. Before we left, some of my friends at school said, “Maybe you’ll get to see the President!” I wasn’t too sure we would see President Reagan, but I was very excited about the possibility.

One day while we were sightseeing near the White House, we noticed a crowd gathering by the White House fence. Some people had cameras. “What’s going on?” we asked someone in the crowd.

“The President’s helicopter will be landing here soon. We’re all hoping to see him!”

My family joined the waiting crowd. My dad was able to get me right up by the fence where I could see. Sure enough, we soon heard the helicopter coming. It landed right on the White House lawn, and President Reagan got out—on the opposite side from where we were standing. A groan went up from the crowd. We could not see very much of him at all. In fact, from our side of the helicopter, we could see only his feet. Although I was a little disappointed, it was fun to go home and tell my friends that we had seen the President’s feet in Washington, D.C.!

It’s exciting to see a famous person. People will form lines and wait for hours just to get one glimpse of a person they admire. But have you ever thought that someday, all those who have had their hearts cleansed by Jesus Christ will see God? What could possibly compare with the wonder of that? What would it be like to see Him? 1 Timothy 6:16 tells us that God dwells in light so bright that no one can even come near it. People who saw Jesus on this earth saw God in human form, but not in all of the glorious splendor that surrounds Him in heaven. Moses saw a brief glimpse of God’s glory, and even that was enough to make his face shine for days and days.

Jesus gave one condition for seeing God: being pure in heart. Only those who are pure in heart will see Him. And there is only one way to have a pure heart. Jesus Himself must purify it for you with His blood that cleanses from all sin (I John 1:7).

The pure in heart will one day see God in all of His glory.

My Response:
» Has my heart been purified by Jesus Christ?
» Is He daily keeping my heart pure as I confess my sins to Him?

Denison Forum – Supreme Court sides with athletes over the NCAA: What might this ruling tell us about future religious liberty cases?

On Monday morning, the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed a ruling that challenged the NCAA’s approach to student athletes, stating that the existing rules violate antitrust laws by placing limits on the education-related benefits that schools can provide.

Yesterday’s decision does not mean that schools can begin outright paying players, giving them luxury cars, or doling out many of the other frivolities and benefits that have gotten universities in trouble in the past. 

In writing the concurring opinion, Justice Kavanaugh was clear that “the NCAA’s remaining compensation rules also raise serious questions under the antitrust laws.” Kavanaugh went on to add that “the NCAA’s business model would be flatly illegal in almost any other industry in America.”

Despite the legalities and logic behind the court’s ruling, however, there are still many who lament their decision as the first step down a path that will fundamentally alter the sports and entertainment they hold so dear. 

But the presence of such concerns, in conjunction with the court’s unanimous decision, offers a helpful insight into how the Supreme Court is supposed to work that could prove important as we look to issues of religious liberty in the years ahead. 

How much does the culture influence the Supreme Court?

When it does its job well, the Supreme Court is supposed to decide cases on the basis of law rather than public opinion. And while religious liberty is clearly a more nebulous concept to many on the court than blatant violations of antitrust laws, it is still encouraging to be reminded that cultural whims do not have the final word on these issues.

At the same time, it’s worth noting that these shifts in NCAA rulings did not occur until they gained momentum with the populace at large. While the law of the land is meant to be above public opinion, the justices are still human. Moreover, because the cases they see have to work their way up through the less-insulated lower courts first, which cases arrive before the Supreme Court is often dictated to some degree by which issues are most important to the masses. 

Twenty years ago, it’s unlikely that challenges to the NCAA’s compensation of student athletes could have gotten the necessary momentum to make it all the way before the country’s most powerful court. But here we stand. 

Recent challenges to religious liberty have often followed a similar course. 

How will the Supreme Court decide religious liberty cases?

Many of the recent cases pertaining to LGBTQ rights, for example, are based on new interpretations of laws that date back much farther than the current outrage. It was only when they began to generate greater public support that they worked their way up through the legal system.

As such, while there is some room for encouragement in remembering that the justices who will ultimately pass judgment on these issues can, and should, be willing to do so in the face of powerful opposition, we should not take for granted that they always will. Moreover, they can only pass judgment on the laws brought before them, meaning what happens further upstream will always dictate, to some extent, the areas of the culture over which they will yield the most influence. 

That’s why the primary lesson we should take from this story is that it is, and always will be, foolish to place our hopes in the hands of other fallen people or the institutions they create. 

And that’s fine. 

In the roughly two thousand years since the time of Christ, God’s people have worked with varying degrees of help or opposition from their government. And while help is usually preferable, it’s not necessary. 

The advancement of his kingdom is not dependent upon friendly courts or laws that align with Scripture. It’s dependent on the faithfulness and obedience of his people. 

That should be good news. 

Is it for you?

Upwords; Max Lucado –As Christ Forgave You


The Scripture says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

It was the eve of the Crucifixion and Jesus’ final meal with his followers. He stood up, he hung his cloak on a hook, and he wrapped a towel around his waist, and he poured water into a basin. He washed feet. Jesus used some of his precious final moments in this silent sacrament of humility.

The disciples pledged to stay with their Master. But later that night, when the soldiers marched in, the disciples ran out. And when they looked at their feet in shame, they realized Jesus forgave his betrayers before they betrayed him. Hasn’t he done the same for us? We each have a basin. We’ve each been wounded. But before we knew we needed grace, we were offered it. This is how happiness happens.