In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Kingdom’s Open Door

Matthew 24:1-14

John the Baptist and Jesus Both preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2Matt. 4:17). And though the nation of Israel rejected Christ as their king, His kingdom was not thwarted.

When an idea recurs in Scripture, we are wise to study it well—and the Bible contains more than 30 references to the “kingdom of heaven.” The term refers to the realm where God reigns in absolute sovereignty. We understand this in a spiritual sense today, but it will become a physical reality in the future when Christ returns to establish His rule on earth. At that point, Satan will be defeated, God’s enemies will be destroyed, and only the righteous will enter the kingdom He sets up here (Matt. 25:31-46).

For those of us who have trusted Christ as our personal Savior, a place in the kingdom is already secured, but what about unbelievers? Today the invitation remains open to all who will repent and receive Christ as Lord.

The kingdom of heaven is still at hand. Nobody knows how long the window of opportunity will stay open. So under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, make the most of every chance to deliver God’s invitation.

Bible in One Year: Proverbs 16-18

Our Daily Bread — Jesus Restores Us

Bible in a Year:

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

Genesis 3:21

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Genesis 3:17–24

Although Sam had done nothing wrong, he lost his job on the assembly line. Carelessness in another division led to problems in cars they built. After several crashes made the news, wary customers stopped buying their brand. The company had to downsize, leaving Sam out of work. He’s collateral damage, and it isn’t fair. It never is.

History’s first collateral damage occurred immediately after the first sin. Adam and Eve were ashamed of their nakedness, so God graciously clothed them with “garments of skin” (Genesis 3:21). It’s painful to imagine, but one or more animals that had always been safe in the garden were now slaughtered and skinned.

There was more to come. God told Israel, “Every day you are to provide a year-old lamb without defect for a burnt offering to the Lord; morning by morning you shall provide it” (Ezekiel 46:13). Every. Single. Day. How many thousands of animals have been sacrificed because of human sin?

Their death was necessary to cover our sin until Jesus, the Lamb of God, came to remove it (John 1:29). Call this “collateral repair.” As Adam’s sin kills us, so the Last Adam’s (Christ’s) obedience restores all who believe in Him (Romans 5:17–19). Collateral repair isn’t fair—it cost Jesus’ life—but it’s free. Reach out to Jesus in belief and receive the salvation He offers, and His righteous life will count for you.

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

When have you suffered for someone else’s mistake? When have you benefited from someone’s success, and how should you think about both situations?

Jesus, I believe in You, and I know Your life counts for me.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Obedience to God’s Word

“By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3).

True believers obey God’s commandments.

Before Jesus ascended to Heaven after His resurrection, He gave the following Great Commission to His disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20). Notice that a true disciple was to observe, or obey, all of Christ’s commands.

The apostle John understood well the Lord’s instruction. He knew that obedience to the commands of God produces assurance—the confidence of knowing for sure “that we have come to know Him” (1 John 2:3). The Greek word for “keep” in that verse refers to watchful, careful, thoughtful obedience. It is not an obedience that is only the result of external pressure; it is the eager obedience of one who “keeps” the divine commandments as if they were something precious to guard. Such obedience is motivated by love, as John indicates in verse 5: “Whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him.” That’s supported by the word translated “commandments,” which refers specifically to the precepts of Christ rather than laws in general. Legal obedience demands perfection or penalty, while 1 John 2:3 is a call to gracious obedience because of the penalty Christ has already paid.

However, those who claim to know God and yet despise His commandments John calls liars: “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (v. 4). “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed” (Titus 1:16).

How can you determine if you are a true Christian? Not by sentiment, but by obedience. If you desire to obey God out of gratitude for all Christ has done for you, and if you see that desire producing an overall pattern of obedience, you have passed an important test indicating the presence of saving faith.

Suggestions for Prayer

If you have found your obedience is predicated more on the act of obedience than on gratitude for God, confess that now and seek to change your attitude.

For Further Study

Memorize 1 Samuel 15:22 as motivation for the right spirit of obedience.

Joyce Meyer – Trust in the Power of Hope

 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life.

— Proverbs 13:12 (AMPC)

I define hope as “the happy anticipation of good things.” You can hope for something good to happen to you by learning how to celebrate and enjoy life.

Everything in life is a process in motion. Without movement and progression there is no life. As long as you live you are always heading somewhere, and you should enjoy yourself on the way. God created you to be a goal-oriented visionary. Without a vision you become bored and hopeless.

But there’s something about hope that makes people lighthearted and happy. Hope is a powerful spiritual force that is activated through your positive attitude. God is positive and He wants positive things to happen to you, but that probably won’t happen unless you have hope and faith.

God to bring good out of every circumstance in your life. Whatever happens, trust in the Lord . . . and trust in the power of hope!

Prayer Starter: Lord, thank You for hope. Thank you for Your presence in my life. I know I can put all my trust in You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –The Persons of the Trinity

Beloved in God the Father. . . . Sanctified in Christ Jesus. . . . In the sanctification of the Spirit.

Jude 1:1

Consider the union of the three Divine Persons in all their gracious acts. How unwisely do those believers talk who make preferences in the Persons of the Trinity, who think of Jesus as if He were the embodiment of everything lovely and gracious, while the Father they regard as severely just but destitute of kindness. Equally wrong are those who magnify the decree of the Father and the atonement of the Son so as to depreciate the work of the Spirit.

In works of grace none of the Persons of the Trinity act separately from the rest. They are as united in their works as in Their essence. In Their love toward the chosen They are one, and in the actions that flow from that great central source They are still undivided.

Notice this especially in the matter of sanctification. While it is right to speak of sanctification as the work of the Spirit, yet we must make sure that we do not view it as if the Father and the Son were not involved. It is correct to speak of sanctification as the work of the Father, of the Son, and of the Spirit. Still God says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,”1 and so we are “his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”2

See the value that God sets upon real holiness, since the three Persons in the Trinity are represented as co-working to produce a Church without “spot or wrinkle or any such thing.”3 And you, believer, as the follower of Christ, must also set a high value on holiness—upon purity of life and godliness of conversation. Value the blood of Christ as the foundation of your hope, and never speak disparagingly of the work of the Spirit. This day let us live in such a way as to manifest the work of the Triune God in us.

1) Genesis 1:26
2) Ephesians 2:10
3) Ephesians 5:27

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Controls Water

“The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.” (Psalm 93:4)

Imagine how you might be spending your days off of school this winter. What might you be doing, like the day after Christmas? You would not be in school, so you would probably sleep in a little longer than usual. The dozens of cookies and holiday treats you devoured in the last week have made you sick of sweets. Well, almost. Maybe you decide to spend some time organizing your bedroom (finding a place for all those new Christmas presents!) or reading a good book.

Let’s pretend you are halfway through your new favorite book, when your thoughts are suddenly interrupted by the sound of a loud train coming near your house.

But wait! That’s no train! You don’t even live near any railroad tracks! With a huge CRASH, the ceiling overhead is crushed in, and the walls of your home collapse! What you thought was a train was really a giant wave more than three stories high. In a matter of seconds, this huge wave destroys your whole house, and you are being pulled around by more water than you’ve ever seen. Suddenly, you are no longer worried about your book or your Christmas presents. Everything in you is focused on getting out of this alive and finding your family.

That situation is hard enough to try to imagine, but it would be much harder to believe if it ever came true for you. Do you remember that this really happened? It happened on December 26, 2004, to thousands of children in Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, and at least five other countries. An earthquake caused a giant wave called a tsunami (soo-NOMM-ee) to smash into their coastlines, killing over 200,000 people. They had no warning. They were going about their normal day-after-Christmas business, and that tsunami came on them as a complete surprise.

But was God surprised that this happened? Absolutely not! God created water on the second day of the Creation week. Every single droplet of every wave belongs to God, and He knows where every droplet is, every second of the day. One drop of water may seem insignificant to us, but joined with trillions of other drops, and given some force, water can do great damage.

But because God made the water, it could never be stronger than He is. He controls every path it takes and receives glory from it. We do not know why God sent the tsunami in 2004, but we can trust Him that He had reasons for His glory and for our good, ultimately. We can trust the One Who made everything we see that He is powerful enough to do what is best.

God is more powerful than water and weather, and we can trust Him.

My Response:
» In what area of my life do I need to be reminded of God’s great power?
» Am I trusting this powerful God to work in me and my circumstances?

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Denison Forum – Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams forgave driver who killed his wife: Trusting “the only correct map of the human heart”

Monty Williams is the head coach of the Phoenix Suns. His team won the first two games of this year’s NBA Finals, though the Milwaukee Bucks won Game 3 last night. If the Suns win two more games, they will achieve their first championship in franchise history.

When Williams received the Michael H. Goldberg Coach of the Year Award from the National Basketball Coaches Association this season, he said, “God knocks the ball out of the park and I get to run the bases. It is a blessing and a privilege to be able to coach this team, alongside this staff, for this organization—it is a ‘get to,’ not a ‘got to.’”

But it is one thing to praise God when we succeed—it is another to trust him when we suffer.

Williams learned about saving faith in Christ from Ingrid, the woman who became his wife. Through her example and prayers, he came to trust in Christ personally. As he entered the NBA, the two married and started a family.

In 2016, Ingrid was killed when a driver under the influence of methamphetamines hit her car. At her funeral, Williams testified, “In my house, we have a sign that says, ‘As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’ (Joshua 24:15). We cannot serve the Lord if we don’t have a heart of forgiveness.”

He added, “Everybody is praying for me and my family, which is right. But let us not forget that there were two people in this situation. And that family needs prayer as well. And we have no ill will toward that family.”

Sir Richard Branson flies into space

Sir Richard Branson made headlines yesterday when his Virgin Galactic space plane flew to an altitude of more than fifty miles before returning to earth.

However, our planet’s atmosphere extends 6,214 miles into space. Our moon is 238,900 miles from us; our sun is 94,499,000 miles away. The next nearest star is 24,984,092,897,479 miles from our planet. The edge of our Milky Way galaxy is estimated to be 25,000 light-years away. The edge of our universe is thought to be 46,500,000,000 light-years away.

Jesus made all of that (Colossians 1:16), and his Father measures it with the palm of his hand (Isaiah 40:12).

I don’t mean to depreciate Sir Richard’s achievement, just to put it in context: the God whom Coach Monty Williams trusts and serves is worthy of our trust and service.

When we face the inevitable crises of life, we can turn to ourselves, our capacities, and our achievements, or we can turn to the One who created us, endowed us with our capacities, and enabled our achievements. We can trust creatures or their Creator. We can trust our wisdom or his word.

“The only correct map of the human heart”

I make this point because truth and biblical truth are under assault in our culture as never before. A recent study reported that only 42 percent of Americans (and only 31 percent of adults under the age of thirty) believe God is the basis of truth. According to Gallup, only 24 percent of Americans consider the Bible to be the literal word of God. This is the lowest percentage in Gallup’s forty-year trend on this issue.

By contrast, in Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers, historian Daniel L. Driesbach demonstrates that many of America’s leaders across our history had a profound belief in objective biblical truth. For example, Abraham Lincoln said of the Bible, “It is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Savior gave the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be portrayed in it.”

John Adams stated, “The Bible contains the most profound philosophy, the most perfect morality, and the most refined policy, that ever was conceived upon earth.” Benjamin Rush, another of the founding fathers, called the Bible “the only correct map of the human heart that ever has been published.”

Then he added, “All systems of religion, morals, and government not founded upon it must perish, and how consoling the thought—it will not only survive the wreck of these systems but the world itself.”

“The aim of the spiritual saint”

Christians in every generation have faced their battles. For followers of Jesus today, our conflict begins with the existence of objective truth and the trustworthiness of biblical truth. I plan to say more about this battle tomorrow, but for today, let’s close with this fact: the foundational way we can persuade skeptics that the Bible is truth is to experience and manifest that truth in our lives.

If we meet Jesus today in his word and worship, others will see Jesus in our words and lives. If we truly experience him this morning, we will manifest him this day. If we seek to know Jesus in everything we do, we will make him known in everything we do.

Paul, after listing his astounding personal achievements (Philippians 3:4–6), said of Jesus, “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ” (vv. 8–9).

Oswald Chambers observed, “Self-realization leads to the enthronement of work; whereas the saint enthrones Jesus Christ in his work. Whether it be eating or drinking or washing disciples’ feet, whatever it is, we have to take the initiative of realizing Jesus Christ is in it. Every phase of our actual life has its counterpart in the life of Jesus. Our Lord realized his relationship to the Father even in the most menial work.”

Chambers added, “The aim of the spiritual saint is ‘that I may know him.’ Do I know him where I am today? If not, I am failing him. I am here not to realize myself, but to know Jesus. In Christian work the initiative is too often the realization that something has to be done and I must do it. That is never the attitude of the spiritual saint, his aim is to secure the realization of Jesus Christ in every set of circumstances he is in” (my emphasis).

What is your “aim” today?

Upwords; Max Lucado –Don’t Get Lost in Your Troubles


Our minds cannot be full of God and, at the same time, full of fear. Don’t get lost in your troubles. Lift up your eyes! “He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord!” (Isaiah 26:3 TLB)

Are you troubled, restless, sleepless? Then rejoice in the Lord’s sovereignty. I dare you—I double-dog dare you—to expose your worries to an hour of worship. Your concerns will melt like ice on an August sidewalk!

Jeremiah draws a direct connection between faith and peace. He says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought” (Jeremiah 17:7-8 NKJV).