In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Danger of Spiritual Erosion

1 Samuel 10:17-25

When the Israelites demanded a royal leader just like all the other nations, God gave them King Saul. He was exactly what the nation wanted—an impressive man who stood head and shoulders above the rest. Saul probably started out with good intentions, but before long he veered off course, and his character began to erode because of his disobedience to God. 

Saul’s downhill slide began with rationalizing and excusing his rebellious actions (1 Sam. 13:6-14). Then he picked which parts of God’s commands to obey and which to neglect (1 Sam. 15:10-23). He claimed he’d obeyed fully, but after being confronted, he shifted the blame to his army. Eventually he became consumed with jealousy, rage, and fear, which led to many foolish decisions. Saul’s life stands as an example of what happens when sin creeps in and begins the destructive process of corruption.

Spiritual erosion is dangerous because it occurs so slowly that we’re often unaware anything is happening inside us. Don’t wait until nearing the end of your earthly existence before looking for evidence of erosion. Check your heart regularly to be sure your soul is clean from the nagging, destructive presence of sin.

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 50-53

Our Daily Bread — Not Forgotten

Bible in a Year:

I will not forget you!

Isaiah 49:15

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Isaiah 49:14–18

“Uncle Arthur, do you remember the day you took me to the barbershop and the supermarket? I was wearing tan khakis, a blue-plaid oxford shirt, a navy-blue cardigan, brown socks, and brown Rockport shoes. The date was Thursday, October 20, 2016.” My nephew Jared’s autism-related challenges are offset by his phenomenal memory that can recall details like days and dates and the clothes he was wearing years after an event took place.

Because of the way he’s wired, Jared possesses the kind of memory that reminds me of the all-knowing, loving God—the Keeper of time and eternity. He knows the facts and won’t forget His promises or His people. Have you had moments when you’ve questioned whether or not you’ve been forgotten by God? When others appear to be healthier or happier or more successful or otherwise better off? 

Ancient Israel’s less-than-ideal situation caused her to say, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me” (Isaiah 49:14). But that wasn’t the case. God’s compassion and care exceeded the natural bonds of affection that mothers have for their children (v. 15). Before embracing labels like “forsaken” or “forgotten,” think again of what God has done in and through His Son, Jesus. In the gospel that brings forgiveness, God has clearly said, “I will not forget you!” (v. 15).

By:  Arthur Jackson

Reflect & Pray

When have you felt alone, forsaken, and forgotten by God? How does processing the love of God expressed by sending Jesus to die for your sins help to counter feelings of being forgotten by Him?

Father, when I’m tempted to feel neglected, forgotten, and abandoned, help me to ponder again the love You demonstrated by sending Jesus to die for me.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Source of True Love

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God. . . . We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:7, 19).

True love cannot be generated on the human level. It’s a gift from God.

Scripture often makes seemingly impossible demands of us. For example, Jesus said, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). That’s easy to say, but how is it possible? Our natural tendency is to love our friends and hate our enemies. But Jesus said, “If you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” (vv. 46-47).

Israel viewed tax-gatherers as traitors, and Gentiles as spiritual outcasts. Yet even traitors and outcasts show love and kindness to those who reciprocate. Jesus calls us to a much higher standard of love—one that is impartial, like God demonstrates when He “causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (v. 45). As we see from God Himself, it extends even to those who aren’t worthy: “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

Despite generations of rebellion and slander against His holy will and name, God sacrificed His beloved Son, thereby providing the means by which sinners can be saved. Out of love, Jesus willingly endured the pain and shame of the cross and paid the price of our redemption. Now that’s divine love in action!

God commands you to love as He loves: impartially and sacrificially. That may sound impossible on the human level but remember that God never requires you to do anything He hasn’t already enabled you to do. At the moment of your salvation, the Holy Spirit took up residence within you and began producing the fruit of love (Gal. 5:22). You don’t have to muster it up on your own. All you have to do is invite the Spirit to take control, allowing Him to govern your thoughts and actions. As you do, His precious fruit will be multiplied in your life.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the love of the Spirit He has placed within you.
  • Ask Him for opportunities today to learn how to love more perfectly.

For Further Study

Memorize Galatians 5:22-23.

Joyce Meyer – A Transformed Mind

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of Your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].

— Romans 12:2 (AMPC)

Paul used two interesting words in Romans 12:2. I asked a friend who is a Greek scholar to help me understand the difference between conform and transform. 

He told me the word, conform, referred to the outward form. For example, my outward form at age twenty was quite different from what I’ll look like at age seventy: The body changes, but it was more than that. He said the Greek word carried the idea of the changes we make according to the fashion that was in vogue at the time much like the way our culture goes today. One year, skirt hems are just above the ankle; another year, above the knee. Those things are constantly changing. 

The word Paul used for being transformed from the world refers to the essential part of ourselves, the part that doesn’t change. He was saying that if we want to worship and serve God, we must undergo a change but not only of our outward form. The change must be inward, and it involves our personality, our mind, and our essential being. 

Outward fashions may change, but inner purity is always in style. Romans 12:1, the verse that starts this chapter, exhorts us to present ourselves to God as a living sacrifice. Only Christians can do that. His words are not about becoming believers, but they are about living as believers. This scripture challenges us to present all our members to God for His use. That means our minds, mouths, wills, emotions, eyes, ears, hands, feet, et cetera. 

I must admit that for many years, I was active in the church, and I had accepted Jesus as my Savior. I knew I’d go to heaven, but I am not sure my daily witness would have encouraged anyone else to make a commitment to Jesus Christ. I had no victory, and I wasn’t even aware for a long time that I needed victory. I guess I thought life was being miserable all week and going to church on Sunday, hoping God would forgive me for not being a good person. 

God changed that for me. He helped me understand through His Word that He not only sent Jesus to die for us so we could go to heaven, but also so we could live victoriously right here on earth. We are more than conquerors (see Romans 8:37), and our life should include righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (see Romans 14:17).

If we want to see God’s perfect will proven in our lives, we have to have our minds transformed. We have to think different thoughts and look at life differently. We must have disciplined minds. We must begin to think in agreement with God’s Word and not the devil’s lies. 

Although God has a different plan for each one of us, one thing is the same: We are to have minds that are inwardly transformed. If our minds are transformed by the Holy Spirit, we will act differently. I know I did. Church became a place for me to celebrate and to learn with my brothers and sisters in the Christ. I began to understand worship, and I became a participant rather than someone who simply went through the motions. 

Does your life need to be transformed? Start by being willing to think right thoughts, and then you’ll see the change in yourself… and so will others around you.

Prayer Starter: Holy Spirit of God, please help me live a life that’s transformed by the renewing of my mind. Help me live a life that shows Your perfect will, not only to me but also to the world. I ask this through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Highest and Best Knowledge

The people who know their God shall stand firm.

Daniel 11:32

Every believer understands that to know God is the highest and best form of knowledge; and this spiritual knowledge is a source of strength to the Christian. It strengthens his faith. Believers are constantly referred to in the Bible as people who are enlightened and taught by the Lord; they are said to “have been anointed by the Holy One,”1 and it is the Spirit’s peculiar office to lead them into all truth, so that they might grow in their faith.

Knowledge strengthens love as well as faith. Knowledge opens the door, and then through that door we see our Savior. Or to put it another way, knowledge paints the portrait of Jesus, and when we see that portrait, then we love Him. We cannot love a Christ whom we do not know at least in some degree. If we know only a little of the excellencies of Jesus, what He has done for us and what He is doing now, we cannot love Him much; but the more we know Him, the more we will love Him.

Knowledge also strengthens hope. How can we hope for something if we do not know of its existence? Hope may be the telescope, but until we receive instruction, our ignorance blocks our view, and we can see nothing. Knowledge removes the blockage, and when we look through the bright optic glass we discover the glory to be revealed and anticipate it with joyful confidence.

Knowledge supplies us with reason for patience. How will we have patience unless we know something of the sympathy of Christ and understand the good that comes out of the correction that our heavenly Father sends us? There is not a single Christian who, under God, will not be fostered and brought to perfection by holy knowledge. It is then very important that we should grow not only in grace, but in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

1) 1 John 2:20

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is All-Powerful and in Control

“And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And [Jesus] was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4:37-39)

The wind wails and the rains pour down. Trees are crashing down everywhere. Windows are breaking and walls are falling. As trees fall, their roots are pulled up from the ground, leaving gaping holes as big as a truck!

How can anything survive such a storm? Will any house, animal, or person come out of a storm like that unharmed, or without losing anything in the storm?

A storm like that shows God’s mighty power. God’s power is shown in the strength of the wind and rain. A wind that can blow over a tree, break windows, or destroy a wall is very powerful. Rain and water that can uproot trees, fill a house, or make streets look like rivers and lakes – such a storm is great and powerful!

But did you know that not only can God create great storms, but He can also STOP a storm with just a word or command? Jesus said, “Peace, be still,” and the winds and rains obeyed His command.

A storm like the one in the Bible or the one described above can be so destructive, but God is still in control.

You have probably read or seen things on the news about hurricanes and mudslides and flooding and tidal waves and blizzards. There are all kinds of storms and storm results that can mean “bad news” for human beings. But why? Because we are not all-powerful. We are not in control. We who are Christians can be thankful that we know the God Who is. He does protect and provide, even through bad weather and scary storms like that. We can be glad for weather’s reminder of just how powerful and sovereignly in control God really is.

God is all-powerful, and He has complete control over everything that His power produces.

My Response:
» What are some ways that I can see God’s power?
» What are some ways I can see God’s control?
» Do I trust God’s power and control in my life?

The post God Is All-Powerful and in Control appeared first on EquipU Online Library.

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Denison Forum – This woman has the largest mouth in the world: Practical ways to use your “superpower” for God

Guinness World Records has confirmed that Samantha Ramsdell is the record holder for the world’s largest mouth gape for a female. Hers measures two and a half inches; when measured across, it reaches more than four inches.

Ramsdell has 1.7 million TikTok followers and has used her mouth frequently in videos. She has stuffed three donuts in her mouth and fit in a large order of fries, for instance. She says her mouth used to be “something that really I was so insecure about, something that I wanted to keep so small.” Now she says that it’s “one of the biggest, best things about me.” 

Samantha adds: “It’s your superpower. It’s the thing that makes you unique and special. Everyone should be celebrating what makes them different.” 

Three ways we know everything we know 

Samantha is right: we each have a “superpower.” We are each uniquely made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) with gifts, abilities, experiences, and opportunities that are uniquely ours. 

If we are to be Jesus’ witnesses (Acts 1:8) by making disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19), it stands to reason that we should discover the way we can best fulfill his commission. 

For example, philosophers tell us that we learn all we know in one of three ways: the intuitive, the pragmatic, and the rational. We do math rationally; we start our cars pragmatically (unless we are automotive engineers, in which case we probably start them rationally); we like people intuitively. 

We all do all three, but one tends to dominate our personality. For example, I am “wired” by God to be rational to such an extent that I have very limited intuitive capacities and sometimes do not consider the practical consequences of my rational ideas. 

Three consequences follow. 

One: We should know our weaknesses and trust those who are gifted in ways we are not. 

My wife is highly intuitive, with discernment as one of her spiritual gifts. Rev. Jeff Byrd, my ministry partner for more than three decades, is a former engineer and business consultant and is highly pragmatic. On my good days, I consult them before making any major decisions, knowing that they will see things I will not and can predict consequences that I likely will not see. 

Whom do you know who is gifted and created in ways you are not? With whom are you partnering as you partner with the Lord? 

Two: We should focus our energies on strategies that play to our strengths. 

Paul was a former Pharisee and student of Gamaliel. As a result, he typically began his missionary work in a town or city by engaging with the local synagogue where his personal history lent credibility to his work. William Wilberforce, a man whose family was well known to British aristocracy and governing authorities, was called by God to serve as a member of the government and use that position to help eradicate slavery. 

God’s call usually aligns with our capacities. Knowing where your gifts, abilities, and experiences align is often a good way to identify your kingdom assignment. 

C. S. Lewis told a congregation of Oxford University students and scholars, “A man’s upbringing, his talents, his circumstances, are usually a tolerable index of his vocation. If our parents have sent us to Oxford, if our country allows us to remain there, this is prima facie evidence that the life which we, at any rate, can best lead to the glory of God at present is the learned life.” 

What is your “Oxford”? 

Three: We must always trust God more than ourselves. 

Even C. S. Lewis, for all his brilliance, did not possess the capacity to convict a single person of a single sin or save a single soul. Humans cannot do the work of the Spirit. Only the Father can recreate us as his children through faith in his Son (John 1:12). 

While he chooses to call, equip, and use us in his kingdom enterprises, we must always remember that our work is a means to his end. We must begin every day by submitting that day to his Spirit’s leading and empowering (Ephesians 5:18). We must “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) that he would work in us and through us to make fallen people into his “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). 

As we work, God works. As we do our best in his strength for his glory, he uses us in ways we will not fully understand on this side of eternity. 

“I am a walking testimony” 

American hurdler Kendra “Keni” Harrison won a silver medal for Team USA in the 100-meter hurdles Monday. Her achievement was the result of years of training, hard work, and sacrifice. 

Nonetheless, in an interview following the event, Harrison proclaimed that “all the glory goes to God just to have this opportunity.” When she broke the world record in 2016, she stated, “I am a walking testimony of how incredible God truly is.” Her Twitter biography features the phrase, “I love Jesus.” 

As we work, God works. 

How will you partner with him today?

Upwords; Max Lucado – C.A.L.M

C.A.L.M – August 4, 2021

The Scripture Hall of Fame that contains the twenty-third Psalm, the Lord’s Prayer, and John 3:16 should also display Philippians 4:4-8.

Celebrate God’s goodness. “Rejoice in the Lord always” (v. 4). Celebrate who he is, what he has done in your life, and celebrate his goodness, faithfulness, and forgiveness.

Ask God for help. Verse five says, “The Lord is at hand.” Because of the Lord’s nearness, we can ask him for what we need.

Leave your concerns with God. Verse six says, “With thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” State your concerns, then leave them in the hands of the father.

Verse 8: Meditate on good things. “Think about the things that are good and worthy of praise” (v. 8). We can transform our minds with conscious meditation on the good.

C.A.L.M. Calm.