In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – From Alienation to Reconciliation

2 Corinthians 5:14-21

One of the hardest truths for many nonbelievers to accept is that they’re enemies of God. Even though they aren’t close to the Lord, they still consider themselves good people. Surely, they think, I haven’t done anything bad enough to make myself His enemy. But the truth is, everyone begins life alienated from God because all mankind is born into sin (Psalm 51:5Rom. 5:12). 

To be saved, a person must first understand that the gap between perfect God and sinful man is vast. Human beings like comparing themselves with others to illustrate how good they are, but the standard for goodness isn’t other people; it’s a holy, perfect God. The only way to reach Him is through faith in His Son for forgiveness and reconciliation (John 14:6).  Whoever rejects Christ’s offer of salvation simply cannot spend eternity with God.

Only the cross of Christ spans the gulf between alienation and reconciliation. Jesus took our sins upon Himself and underwent the punishment we deserved. Now any person who trusts in the Savior’s substitutionary atonement can enter into a new life of communion with God.

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 12-14

Our Daily Bread — Listening Matters

Bible in a Year:

I will listen to what God the Lord says.

Psalm 85:8

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 85

“Come at once. We have struck a berg.” Those were the first words Harold Cottam, the wireless operator on the RMS Carpathia, received from the sinking RMS Titanic at 12:25 a.m. on April 15, 1912. The Carpathia would be the first ship to the disaster scene, saving 706 lives.

In the US Senate hearings days later, the Carpathia’s captain Arthur Rostron testified, “The whole thing was absolutely providential. . . . The wireless operator was in his cabin at the time, not on official business at all, but just simply listening as he was undressing. . . . In ten minutes maybe he would have been in bed, and we would not have heard the message.” 

Listening matters—especially listening to God. The writers of Psalm 85, the sons of Korah, urged attentive obedience when they wrote, “I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—but let them not turn to folly. Surely his salvation is near those who fear him” (vv. 8–9). Their admonition is especially poignant because their ancestor Korah had rebelled against God and had perished in the wilderness (Numbers 16:1–35).

The night the Titanic sank, another ship was much closer, but its wireless operator had gone to bed. Had he heard the distress signal, perhaps more lives would have been saved. When we listen to God by obeying His teaching, He’ll help us navigate even life’s most troubled waters.

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

In what ways will you stay attentive to God and the Scriptures today? How can doing so help you to help others?

Father, help me to stay close to You in my thoughts, words, and actions. Please use me as Your servant to bring Your hope to others.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Love in Action

“Love is patient . . . kind . . . not jealous . . . does not brag . . . is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly . . . does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:4-7).

Love is difficult to define, but it can be described by the behavior it produces.

Paul painted a portrait of the kind of love Jesus wants to produce in every believer. It is, in fact, a portrait of Christ Himself, who is love’s highest expression. Unlike most English translations, which include several adjectives, the Greek forms of all those properties are verbs. They do not focus on what love is so much as on what love does and does not do.

Set against the backdrop of the Corinthians’ self- promoting behavior, Paul’s words are a strong rebuke. He says in effect, “Love is patient, but you are impatient. Love is kind, but you are unkind toward those who disagree with you. Love is not jealous, but you envy those with certain spiritual gifts. Love does not brag, but you are proud of your theology. Love is not arrogant and does not act unbecomingly, but often you are rude and ill-mannered toward one another.

“Love does not seek its own, but you are self-centered. Love is not provoked, but you quarrel among yourselves. Love does not take into account a wrong suffered, but you hold grudges against each other. Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but you delight in one another’s failures. Love rejoices with the truth, but you distort and disobey God’s Word.

“Love bears all things, but you are defensive and resentful. Love is eager to believe the best about someone, but you are quick to assume the worst. Love never gives up and can tolerate incredible opposition, but you are weak and intolerant.”

Paul wanted the Corinthians to see the deficiencies in their love in light of the truth and make the needed corrections. You and I must do the same. So as we explore each of love’s characteristics, ask the Holy Spirit to purify your heart so others will clearly see Paul’s portrait of love on display in you.

Suggestions for Prayer

Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, substituting “Jesus” for “love.” Then praise Him for all His excellencies.

For Further Study

What does 1 John 3:13-18 teach about love?

Joyce Meyer – Exercise Self-Control

 And in [exercising] knowledge [develop] self-control, and in [exercising] self-control [develop] steadfastness (patience, endurance), and in [exercising] steadfastness [develop] godliness [piety].

— 2 Peter 1:6 (AMPC)

Jesus not only commanded you to not allow your heart to be troubled and afraid, He also said, Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled] (John 14:27 AMPC).

You can choose not to get upset. If you are around someone whose good opinion you value, it’s amazing how much easier it can be to control yourself. It’s much harder to stay calm when you’re around people you don’t have a need to impress.

When you start to get upset, remember only one thing will put an end to it. You have to stop it. You have to get hold of yourself and say, “No, I’m not getting upset.” You need to remember that everywhere you go, you are a witness for the One you serve and love.

Prayer Starter: Lord, thank You for loving me and setting me free from fear. Because of You, I no longer need to get upset. Help me to stay calm. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – No Cause for Anxiety

The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice.

Psalm 97:1

There are no real causes for anxiety as long as this blessed sentence is true. On earth the Lord’s power controls the rage of the wicked as readily as the rage of the sea; His love refreshes the poor with mercy as easily as the earth with showers. Majesty gleams in flashes of lightning amid the tempest’s horrors, and the glory of the Lord is seen in its grandeur in the fall of empires and the crash of thrones. In all our conflicts and tribulations, we may behold the hand of the divine King.

God is God; He sees and hears
All our troubles, all our tears.
Soul, forget not, in your pains,
God o’er all forever reigns.

In hell, evil spirits acknowledge, with misery, His undoubted supremacy. When permitted to roam about, it is with a chain at their heel; the bit is in the mouth of the beast, and the hook in the jaws of the monster. Death’s darts are under the Lord’s jurisdiction, and the grave’s prisons have divine power as their jailer. The terrible vengeance of the Judge of all the earth causes fiends to cower and tremble.

Fear not death, nor Satan’s thrusts,
God defends who in Him trusts;
Soul, remember, in your pains,
God o’er all forever reigns.

In heaven there are none who doubt the sovereignty of the King Eternal, but all fall on their faces to do Him homage. Angels are His courtiers, the redeemed His favorites, and all delight to serve Him day and night. May we soon reach the city of the great King!

For this life’s long night of sadness
He will give us peace and gladness.
Soul, remember, in your pains,
God o’er all forever reigns.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God’s Law Teaches Us That We Need Christ

“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:24)

Are you looking forward to the day when you receive your driver’s license? If so, you will need a driving teacher to show you how to get it.

When Suzanne was fifteen, she enrolled in a driver’s training school. There were two parts to the school. One was the in-class work; the other was the in-car training. Suzanne did very well at the in-class work. She passed all her quizzes and tests because she studied hard and knew the rules of the road.

But the driving part was a little different. Suzanne did not feel very confident when it came to driving in a busy city. Thankfully, the teacher sat right next to her – right in the passenger’s seat – and the teacher had a special tool to help ensure nobody would get hurt. On the teacher’s side, near his feet, he had his own brake pedal.

One day Suzanne and her teacher were in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a fairly large city. One of the things Suzanne was learning to do that day was to merge into traffic. “Merging” is when your car comes off a ramp onto a highway and joins the fast-moving traffic. One key to successfully merging is to speed up and match the speed of the other cars.

Suzanne did not do well at merging. She sped all the way up to about 35 miles per hour, but she should have sped up to about 60 miles per hour! If she had merged onto the highway, the cars coming up behind her would have had to slam on their brakes. It was a good thing that the instructor slammed on his brake and prevented Suzanne from putting the car in a very bad position. After the instructor yelled at Suzanne for a bit, they changed drivers, and another student took the wheel. Suzanne got into the back seat and considered her mistake.

What was the instructor doing? He was teaching students how to drive. Without him and his instruction, Suzanne would never be able to receive her license.

The Bible teaches us that God’s Law is the schoolmaster (or tutor) that brings us to Christ. Just like Suzanne’s driving instructor was bringing her to the point of receiving her own license, so God’s Law is an instructor that shows us how badly we need Jesus Christ. When we see how we have failed to live up to God’s Law, it points us to the only One Who has perfectly fulfilled that Law. And Who is that? It is Jesus Christ! God’s Law guides us to forgiveness in Christ.

Paul helps us understand this truth in Romans 7:7; he says that he would not have known that he was coveting unless the Law had said “do not covet!” God’s Law showed Paul that he was a sinner. When we realize how badly we have broken God’s holy laws and how we have failed to live up to His perfect standards, we are humbled before Him and left with no other option but to cry out in faith for His mercy and forgiveness.

The demands that God makes of us show that our only hope of salvation is through faith in Christ.

My Response:
» Have I considered my behavior in light of God’s holy laws?
» Have God’s laws brought me to a point of seeing my need for forgiveness in Jesus Christ?

Read in browser »

Denison Forum – The modern minimalist movement is “sparking joy,” but true joy is more than a spark

A blue canvas with a single stripe down the middle sold for $43.8 million in 2013. A banana duct-taped to a wall was bought for a whopping $120,000 two years ago.

These art pieces and others like them receive more eyerolls and laughs than appreciation by most (the banana “sculpture” is titled “The Comedian”). Maybe “art” like this is what comes to mind when you think of “minimalism.” Technically, minimalism did start as an art movement in the ’60s, and, though the “art” mentioned above is not considered part of the minimalist modern art movement, their simplicity gets the point across.

Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer pointed out that art diffuses philosophical ideas into popular culture. In the past decade, a new wave of popular minimalism has trickled down from avant garde art, captivating Millennials and Generation Z.

The cultural invasion of minimalism

Brands have picked up on this trend using a “minimalist aesthetic” in their marketing to reach the younger generation. There are minimally designed stylesgroceriesshoeswall art, and even baby clothes. As an old Gen Z-er, I feel the appeal of these brands. I proudly own a pair of Allbirds shoes. They’re comfortable and clean. (Today’s Daily Article is not sponsored, by the way).

The lifestyle movement of minimalism has been picked up in a Netflix documentary called Minimalism: A Documentary about Important Things. The popular minimalist and productivity YouTuber Matt D’Avella has accumulated over 220 million views.

Some spouses may recall when they came home to an unexpected mountain of clothes on the bedroom floor, which may have required mountaineering equipment to get up and down the other side. Marie Kondo was probably the person responsible for that fateful clothing apocalypse.

The Japanese lifestyle guru became wildly popular for her decluttering method a few years ago. She was named one of TIME’s top 100 most influential people in 2015 and has sold over 4 million copies of her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up in the US.

“Does it spark joy?”

Why are people hopping onto this train of decluttering their walk-in closets (Marie Kondo), wearing only one pair of pants (hardcore minimalist), or buying from simplistic brands (Millennials)?

Sometimes, it’s to save money. For others, buying from these simplistic brands is about the environment and sustainability. Many simply want to reduce stress and not be tied down to material possessions. And of course, most are probably just following the trends.

Marie Kondo stands out in her success. According to her, the “method” isn’t minimalism because she focuses on “cherishing” what you want to keep. One fascinating aspect of Marie Kondo is her famous mantra about whether an object “sparks joy.” Her method may have been trendy, but it hasn’t yet lost steam. Her reality TV show, Sparking Joy, airs on Netflix at the end of this month.

So, after all this, should believers “simplify, simplify?”

And more specifically, is Marie Kondo’s philosophy biblical?

God’s view of material possessions

Instead of focusing on the objects themselves or how they bring us happiness, a biblical understanding of our possessions is about following a kingdom economy and submitting everything to Christ. Here are some principles and topics taught in the Bible:

What does the Bible say about wealth?

The Bible does not disparage the wealthy themselves. However, when the rich young ruler approached Jesus and wanted to follow him, Jesus saw his heart was captivated by money. This prompted Jesus to say, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24) Wealth can give us a false sense of security and easily becomes a perilous idol (Luke 12:13–21).

Consider that the worldwide individual median income is about $3,000. Most people living in a first-world country should consider themselves wealthy. At the end of the day, whether wealthy or poor, Jesus cares most about our hearts (Luke 21:1–4).

What does the Bible say about generosity?

I’ve received a great deal of generosity in my life. My grandparents, who worked hard and saved frugally, helped pay for my college education. I am immensely grateful for that, and it’s encouraged me to live open-handedly (2 Corinthians 9:6–7).

What does the Bible say about anxiety?

Jesus teaches us not to be anxious about tomorrow because we can rest, knowing he will take care of our needs (Matthew 6:25–34Philippians 4:6James 4:13–15).

What does the Bible say about stewardship?

As believers, everything we own is God’s creation. Therefore we are stewards of it. We’re not only stewards of material possessions, but of our time, skills, and spiritual gifts (1 Peter 4:10Luke 16:11).

What does the Bible say about thankfulness?

If we want to follow minimalist living, use Marie Kondo’s method, or buy from millennial brands, remember to thank God. To be in a place to choose minimal living instead of being forced into it because of poverty is a blessing (1 Timothy 4:41 Thessalonians 5:18).

True joy is like a fire, not a spark

Getting rid of enough clothes so that we can walk in our “walk-in closets” probably sparks joy. Receiving Amazon packages of new clothes may spark joy. Remembering a memory attached to a sentimental item likely sparks joy. Marie Kondo’s method may spark joy. There’s nothing wrong with any of these sparks of joy, but they’re just that: sparks.

None of these will lead us to everlasting joy or true fulfillment. In contrast to the temporary “spark” that these fleeting moments lend, true joy is an everlasting fire because it rests in God, who does not change.

Philippians 4:4 says to rejoice in the Lord always.

James 1:2 says to count trials as joy.

Romans 12:12 says to rejoice in hope.

Psalm 16:11 says that in God’s presence is fullness of joy, and at his right hand are pleasures forevermore.

When we become weighed down by things of this world, let us pray Psalm 94:19: “When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.”

Enjoy the spark of joy, but let it lead you to the true joy only God offers.

NOTE: Today’s Daily Article is by Mark Legg, staff writer for Denison Forum. He is a recent graduate of Dallas Baptist University and holds a degree in philosophy and biblical studies.

Upwords; Max Lucado –Look Over Your Shoulder


“‘Don’t be afraid,’ Jesus said. ‘Take courage. I am here!’” (Matthew 14:27).

Power inhabits these words. To awaken in an ICU and hear your husband say, “I am here.” To lose your retirement yet feel the support of your family in the words “We are here.” When a Little Leaguer spots Mom and Dad in the bleachers watching the game, “I am here” changes everything.

Perhaps that’s why God repeats the “I am here” pledge so often. “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28). We cannot go where God is not. Look over your shoulder; that’s God following you. Look into the storm; that’s Christ coming toward you.