In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Believer’s Highest Honor

John 12:20-26

A tremendous contrast exists between what the Word teaches and what the world promotes. Our culture values power, leadership, and ambition, but for the Christian, serving God is our highest honor.

Sometimes people mistakenly think that only those involved in official church work are God’s servants, but every believer is called to serve the Lord. He places us in situations, vocations, and neighborhoods where we can have an impact for Christ. Think about the stay-at-home mom who raises godly children or a bedridden man who prays regularly for his church family. Though neither responsibility involves worldly power or recognition, both serve the Lord, and He is pleased by such faithfulness.

There are no unimportant positions in the kingdom of God. The type of service may change with seasons of life, but we’re always on duty for Him. To accomplish His purposes, the Lord uses whatever skills and gifts we have.

What an awesome privilege it is to be part of God’s work on earth. He doesn’t need our help, but He has chosen to incorporate our contributions into His master plan. Though we can do nothing without His enablement, He is honored by our service.

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 54-57

Our Daily Bread — Greatness

Bible in a Year:

Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.

Mark 9:35

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Mark 9:33–37

Cuthbert is a much-loved figure in northern England. Responsible for evangelizing much of the area in the seventh century, Cuthbert counseled monarchs and influenced state affairs; and after his death, the city of Durham was built in his honor. But Cuthbert’s legacy is great in more ways than these.

After a plague ravaged the region, Cuthbert once toured affected towns offering solace. Readying to leave one village, he checked if there was anyone left to pray for. There was—a woman, clutching a child. She had already lost one son, and the child she held was nearing death too. Cuthbert took the fevered boy in his arms, prayed for him, and kissed his forehead. “Do not fear,” he told her, “for no one else of your household will die.” The boy reportedly lived.

Jesus once took a small boy into his arms to give a lesson on greatness, saying, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me” (Mark 9:37). To “welcome” someone in Jewish culture meant to serve them, the way a host welcomes a guest. Since children were to serve adults and not be served, the idea must’ve been shocking. Jesus’ point? True greatness resides in serving the smallest and lowliest (v. 35).

A counselor to monarchs. An influencer of history. A city built in his honor. But perhaps heaven records Cuthbert’s legacy more like this: A mother noticed. A forehead kissed. A humble life reflecting his Master.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

When you think of a “great” person in history, what image comes to mind? How can you pursue Jesus’ kind of greatness today?

Dear God, help me to humbly serve others.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Loving Money Focuses on the Temporal

“For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either” (1 Timothy 6:7).

Temporal concerns must not crowd out the believer’s focus on eternal things.

In Charles Dickens’s memorable story A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge learns through a series of dreams that life consists of far more important values than his selfish preoccupation with business and finance. In essence, Scrooge learns a lesson that reminds us of Jesus’ sobering question, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36). Dickens’s story also dovetails well with today’s verse, which reminds us how a temporal focus on greed robs us of an eternal perspective.

People who are enslaved to money-love spend all their time dealing with what is locked into time and space. They overlook and ignore that which has eternal value. Also, such people seem oblivious to the warning that “riches are not forever” (Prov. 27:24) and to the old expression that hearses do not pull trailers.

The Old Testament further instructs us of the fleeting nature of money and material possessions. Job said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there” (1:21; see also Eccles. 5:15).

Jesus taught the disciples much about how foolish it is to focus on temporal wealth (see Matt. 6:19-21). Perhaps His sternest warning is in the parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:15-21). In it God condemns the smug self-confidence the man placed in his abundant crops: “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (vv. 20-21).

A scenario like the rich man’s is much more probable in today’s materialistic societies. Perhaps that’s why Jesus’ parable is still so relevant and a potent reminder that any obsession with temporal riches, which causes us to miss God’s eternal riches, is the height of folly.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that today, in the midst of your normal responsibilities, God would keep your primary focus an eternal one.

For Further Study

Read Acts 19:18-41.

  • How did many of the new converts demonstrate their commitment to the eternal over the temporal?
  • In contrast, what did the anxiety of some of the unbelieving Ephesians lead to? Why?
  • How was the disturbance finally brought to an end?

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 –What Do We Know?

We know that for those who love God all things work together for good.

Romans 8:28

Upon some points a believer is absolutely sure. He knows, for instance, that God sits in the center of the vessel when it rocks most. He believes that an invisible hand is always on the world’s tiller, and that wherever providence may drift, God is steering it. That reassuring knowledge prepares him for everything. He looks over the raging waters and sees the spirit of Jesus walking on the water, and he hears a voice saying, “It is I—do not be afraid.” He knows too that God is always wise, and knowing this, he is confident that there can be no accidents, no mistakes and that nothing can occur that ought not to happen. He can say, “If I should lose everything, it is better that I should lose it than keep it if it is God’s will: The worst disaster is the wisest and the kindest thing that I could face if God ordains it.”

“We know that for those who love God all things work together for good.” The Christian does not merely hold this as a theory, but he knows it as a matter of fact. So far everything has worked for good; the poisonous drugs mixed in proper proportions have effected the cure; the sharp cuts of the scalpel have cleaned out the disease and facilitated the healing. Every event as yet has worked out the most divinely blessed results; and so, believing that God rules all, that He governs wisely, that He brings good out of evil, the believer’s heart is assured, and he is learning to meet each trial calmly when it comes. In the spirit of true resignation the believer can pray, “Send me what You will, my God, as long as it comes from You; there never was a poor portion that came from Your table to any of Your children.”

Do not say, my soul, “Where will God find one to relieve my care?”
Remember that Omnipotence has servants everywhere.
His method is sublime and His heart profoundly kind,
God is never too early and never behind!

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Wants Us To Fulfill His Righteous Law

“That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:4)

The road to receiving a driver’s license was not an easy one for Bob. At first, he couldn’t seem to do much right. Thankfully, the driving instructor was there every step of the way – teaching Bob, encouraging him, and occasionally slamming on the brake on the passenger side of the car in order to keep them both from disaster! The driving teacher was dedicated to helping students receive their licenses.

After a lot more practice under the careful watch of the instructor, Bob finally started getting it right. In fact, Bob passed all his written tests and road tests and was ready to receive his license. That driver’s license was the goal of all the study and practice! On the day Bob turned 16, he went down to the Department of Motor Vehicles (a very special place indeed!) and stood in line to receive his license. He soon had his license – with his very own picture on it! That license was what he had waited so long to receive; now he could drive legally.

Now that Bob had his license, did he need the driving instructor to sit in the front seat with him anymore? Would he need to call the instructor every time he wanted to go to the store? No; he had his license. His license gave him the freedom to drive the car by himself.

But did having the driver’s license give Bob the freedom to drive the car any way he wanted? Could he drive 100 miles an hour without putting himself and others in danger? Could he drive through red lights anytime he wanted? No. He was still bound to obey the rules of the road. The license didn’t give him the freedom to break the law, but it did give him the freedom to obey the law. Once he had his license, Bob drove in the way that the driving instructor taught him was good and right.

Did you know that God does not save us so that we can live any way we please? God saves us so that we can obey His laws.

Much as the license enables Bob to drive a car legally, Jesus Christ enables us to obey His law and do good. When Bob did not have the driver’s license, he was in a state of breaking the law anytime he tried to drive on his own. When we did not have faith in Christ, we were in a state of disobedience to God! Even the things we did that seemed good on the outside weren’t truly good. Why? Because were in a state or condition of sinfulness before God. All people without faith in Christ live in a state of continual disobedience to God. They cannot please God until they humble themselves and believe in Christ for forgiveness of sins.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

My Response:
» How does God want me to live today?
» Am I living in the way God saved me to live?

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Denison Forum – Despite clear weather, American Airlines cancels hundreds of flights

Nothing is more frustrating for an air traveler than facing cancelations with no obvious explanation. Such has been the case at DFW Airport this week.  

For example, American Airlines canceled more than 340 flights Tuesday even though skies were clear and there were no equipment failures. The reason: bad weather on Sunday disrupted their travel schedules, resulting in major problems with crew availability in the days following. In fact, more than three-quarters of the cancelations on Tuesday were due to crew staffing problems. 

As the Dallas Morning News reports, pilots and flight attendants have limits on how many hours they can work, even if such work is sitting on a runway waiting for the weather to clear or to get clearance for takeoff. When crew members hit their maximum hour limits, they often need to be replaced by other crew members. The more delays and cancellations there are across the system, the more difficult it can be to backfill pilots and flight attendants. 

I’ve experienced this often over the years. It can be frustrating to wait to be seated in a restaurant when open tables are visible. Usually, however, this is caused by a shortage of waitstaff and the restaurant’s desire to make sure its customers receive good service once they are seated. 

A couple of years ago, I had to take my car in for what I thought were minor repairs. When I didn’t hear back that day, I became frustrated and called for an update only to learn that the damage was far more extensive than I had thought and the mechanics were doing a complete assessment before calling with the news. 

All this to say, what we can see is often caused by what we cannot see. 

Two consequences follow. 

One: We should resist criticizing others for behavior we cannot fully understand. 

A counselor once wisely noted that there is always “one thing more” we don’t know about people with whom we are in conflict. Usually, if we learned that “one thing,” we would better understand and perhaps even appreciate their actions. 

For example, a man came home from work and told his wife he wanted to take her out for Mexican food. She insisted, however, that she wanted to go to their favorite Chinese restaurant. He became insistent that he wanted what he wanted; she insisted that she wanted what she wanted. Frustrated, he finally yielded and went with her to the Chinese restaurant, where he found a surprise birthday party waiting for him which his wife had arranged. 

Jesus warned us, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). We are told, “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers” (James 4:11). We are to be “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). 

Some behavior is obviously unbiblical and cannot be justified even by further knowledge. But often, if we would stop to pray for discernment, patience, and wisdom, the Lord will help us understand what others are experiencing and enable us to serve them with his compassion and grace. 

Oswald Chambers is right: “Discernment is God’s call to intercession, never to fault finding.” 

Two: God knows what no one else knows. 

The Bible teaches that “God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:20). Scripture states, “No creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13). 

As a result, we can know that God understands what no one else does. When we are facing issues that are not visible to the world, our Father sees them and cares for us. He feels our pain and walks with us in our struggles. We have an unseen Companion for the unseen trials of life. 

But we can also know that our unseen sins are obvious to him. We may think we’re “getting away with” sins the world does not see, but this is not true with our Lord. We will be judged one day for all we have done, whether good or evil (2 Corinthians 5:10). At risk is not eternal salvation for Christians, but eternal reward or loss of reward (1 Corinthians 3:12–15). 

I’ll close with this: a few days ago, I got into my car only to detect a strong odor. It smelled like water had caused carpet to rot or an animal had died inside the engine. I opened the windows as I drove to work, but that didn’t help. I left the windows open overnight, but the next morning, the entire garage stank. 

So I began seeking the source of the problem. Checking the carpets for moisture, I came to the passenger side front door where I found an empty carton of protein drink I had left days before. The lid was on the carton, but being dairy-based and left in a hot car for a few days, it became the source of the malodorous problem I was trying to solve. Once I removed it, the problem was resolved. 

Is there an “empty carton” in your soul today?

Upwords; Max Lucado –God Made You for More

GOD MADE YOU FOR MORE – August 5, 2021

The scripture says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).

Could you use some calm? God is ready to give it. It will require some work on your part. In fact, for some of you, God’s healing will include the help of therapy and/or medication. If that is the case, do not for a moment think that you are a second-class citizen of heaven.

This much is sure: It is not God’s will that you lead a life of perpetual anxiety. He made you for more than a life of breath-stealing angst and mind-splitting worry. He has a new chapter for your life, and he is ready to write it.