In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – God’s Loving Outreach

John 4:1-42

The Lord’s encounter with the Samaritan woman is a wonderful example of His loving response to hurting individuals. Although this meeting may have appeared accidental, it was really a providential appointment with the Messiah.   

As the woman approached the well, Jesus initiated conversation by asking for a drink of water. Since Jews and Samaritans didn’t fraternize with one another, His direct approach surprised her. But it opened the door for dialogue.

Throughout the exchange, Jesus wanted to help the woman recognize her greatest need so He could meet it: salvation. It seems she’d been looking in the wrong places for love and acceptance, but now Christ was offering her the living water of the Holy Spirit—the only thing that would quench her spiritual thirst.

Like the Samaritan woman, we can at times be so intent on getting our immediate needs met that we fail to see God’s hand reaching out in love, offering true satisfaction. The world makes all kinds of promises about love, acceptance, and self-worth, but they never last. Only Jesus can fill our empty souls for eternity. So when your well runs dry, look for Christ and let Him quench your thirst with His Spirit.

Bible in One Year: Lamentations 1-2

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — A Good Reason

Bible in a Year:

Put [your] religion into practice by caring for [your] own family.

1 Timothy 5:4

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

1 Timothy 5:1–8

The two women occupied the aisle seats across from each other. The flight was two hours, so I couldn’t help but see some of their interactions. It was clear they knew each other, might even be related. The younger of the two (probably in her sixties) kept reaching in her bag to hand the older (I’d guess in her nineties) fresh apple slices, then homemade finger sandwiches, then a towelette for clean up, and finally a crisp copy of the New York Times. Each hand-off was done with such tenderness, such dignity. As we stood to exit the plane, I told the younger woman, “I noticed the way you cared for her. It was beautiful.” She replied, “She’s my best friend. She’s my mother.”

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all say something like that? Some parents are like best friends. Some parents are nothing like that. The truth is those relationships are always complicated at best. While Paul’s letter to Timothy doesn’t ignore that complexity, it still calls us to put our “religion into practice” by taking care of parents and grandparents—our “relatives,” our “own household” (1 Timothy 5:48).

We all too often practice such care only if family members were or are good to us. In other words, if they deserve it. But Paul offers up a more beautiful reason to repay them. Take care of them because “this is pleasing to God” (v. 4).

By:  John Blase

Reflect & Pray

If your parents are still living, how would you describe your relationship with them? Regardless of what kind of job they did as parents, what are some ways you can take care of them right now?

Father, give me grace and mercy as I seek to care for those who cared for me. And help me to remember the reason I’m doing it.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Expecting the Best

“[Love] believes all things” (1 Cor. 13:7).

Love always expects the best of others.

In Luke 15 Jesus tells a parable about a father who had two sons. The younger son asked for his share of the family inheritance, then left home and squandered it on sinful pursuits. When he realized his folly, he decided to return home and ask his father’s forgiveness. So “he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him, and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and be merry'” (vv. 20-23).

That’s a beautiful illustration of love’s eagerness to forgive, but it also implies another characteristic of love. While the son was still far away, the father saw him coming. How could that be? Because he was watching for his son— anticipating and longing for his return. Love forgives when wrongs are committed against it, but it also expects the best of others. That’s what it means to believe all things (1 Cor. 13:7). That son had hurt his father deeply, but his father never lost hope that his son would return.

I know a Christian woman who has been married to an unbelieving husband for thirty years. Yet she continues to say, “He will come to Christ someday.” She isn’t blind to the situation, but her love for her husband has transformed her earnest desire into an expectation. She believes he will turn to Christ because love always expects the best.

Perhaps you have a spouse or child who is an unbeliever or has drifted away from the Lord. Don’t lose heart! Expect the best and let that expectation motivate you to pray more fervently and set a godly example for your loved ones to follow.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to guard your heart from cynical and suspicious attitudes toward others.

For Further Study

Read Matthew 9:1-13, noting the attitudes of the Jewish scribes and Pharisees toward Jesus.

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Be Who You Are

Let us not become vainglorious and self-conceited, competitive and challenging and provoking and irritating to one another, envying and being jealous of one another.

— Galatians 5:26 (AMPC)

In Galatians 6:4 the apostle Paul exhorts you to grow in the Lord until you come to the point you can have the personal satisfaction and joy of doing something commendable in itself alone without resorting to boastful comparison with other people.

Thank God, once you know who you are in Christ, you are set free from the stress of comparison and competition. You know you have worth and value apart from your works and accomplishments. Therefore, you can do your best to glorify God, rather than just trying to be better than someone else. What a glorious, wonderful freedom to be secure in Christ and not have to be controlled by strife, envy or jealousy.

You can be who God created you to be and enjoy the freedom of seeing yourself the way Christ sees you! He loves you that much and He doesn’t make mistakes!

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for loving me just the way I am. Help me to see myself the way you see me – made right through Your Blood! In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Faith in Every Sense

His fruit was sweet to my taste.

Song of Songs 2:3

Faith is described in a variety of ways in the Bible. It is sight: “Turn to me and be saved.”1 It is hearing: “Hear, that your soul shall live.”2 Faith is smelling: “Your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia”;3 “your name is oil poured out.”4 Faith is spiritual touch. By this faith the woman came behind and touched the hem of Christ’s garment, and by this we handle the things of the good word of life. Faith is equally the spirit’s taste. “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.”5 “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.”6

One of the first performances of faith is hearing. We hear the voice of God not only with the physical ear, but with the spiritual ear; we hear it as God’s Word, and we believe it as such; that is the hearing of faith. Then our mind looks upon the truth as it is presented to us; that is to say, we understand it, we perceive its meaning; that is the seeing of faith. Next we discover its preciousness; we begin to admire it and find how fragrant it is; that is faith in its smell. Then we appropriate the mercies that are prepared for us in Christ; that is faith in its touch. Then follow the enjoyments, peace, delight, communion, which are faith in its taste. Any one of these acts of faith is saving. To hear Christ’s voice as the sure voice of God in the soul will save us; but that which gives true enjoyment is the aspect of faith whereby we taste and see that the Lord is good. In this way we receive Christ, and He becomes, by inward and spiritual apprehension, to be the precious food for our souls. Here we learn to sit under His shadow “with great delight”7 and find His fruit sweet to our taste.

1) Isaiah 45:22
2) Isaiah 55:3
3) Psalm 45:8
4) Song of Songs 1:3
5) Psalm 119:103
6) John 6:54
7) Song of Songs 2:3

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – All Our Righteousness Is of God

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ….God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them….Be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)

Have you ever heard of Onesimus (oh-NESS-ih-muss)? The apostle Paul wrote a letter for the sake of Onesimus, and that letter was inspired by God to be a part of the New Testament. If you find the book of “Philemon” in your Bible, you can read the whole story, but here it is in a nutshell:

Onesimus was not a powerful king or a famous preacher. In fact, Onesimus’s only claim to fame was that he was an unprofitable servant. He had left his master, Philemon (fai-LEE-munn). Bible scholars think Onesimus had run away or had been sent to prison by Philemon for doing wrong.

But God saved Onesimus during his time away from his master. Onesimus met Paul, and through Paul, Onesimus met Jesus Christ. In his letter to Philemon, Paul describes Onesimus as his own spiritual son, and he asks Philemon to take Onesimus back into his household as a servant again – and not only as a servant, but as a profitable, useful servant. And not only as a profitable, useful servant, but as a much-loved brother and a fellow-laborer in the faith.

Imagine yourself in Onesimus’s situation. The only thing you are known for is being an UN-profitable servant. You have wronged your master, and you haven’t done what you were supposed to do. You have been an unrighteous servant, and no one owes you anything – especially not your master.

Now imagine you read what Paul has written your master: “If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself. If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account. I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it.”

The apostle Paul wrote that letter in behalf of Onesimus. He offered to shoulder the blame for anything Onesimus had done wrong. He told Philemon to put Onesimus’s wrongdoings on his account. Paul told Philemon to take Onesimus in as though Philemon were taking in a respected friend and brother like Paul.

How do you think that Paul’s letter made Onesimus feel? He probably felt very special, but it was not because of anything he deserved or earned for himself. If his master let him come home and treated him like a brother, Onesimus would have to realize that it was Paul who patched things up. He would know that Paul was the one helping him to fix that relationship, helping him to get things right with his master.

In the verses at the beginning of the devotional, the word “reconcile” carries that idea of “patching things up” between two people. “While we were yet sinners,” the Bible says, Jesus Christ, Who is God the Son, came to die for us and save us. God Himself came to Earth to reconcile us to Himself. The word “imputed” means that God put our sins on Christ’s account and put Christ’s righteousness on our accounts. Since He was God on Earth, living a perfect human life, Jesus Christ was able to shoulder the blame for all our sins. Through Jesus Christ’s character and sacrifice, God is able to forgive us and adopt us into His family.

If Jesus Christ has reconciled you to God, how should that make you feel? He was able to take the responsibility for you, even though you do not deserve any grace or mercy. All of us, if left to ourselves, are unrighteous servants. We are runaways and rebels, just like Onesimus was. To have Jesus Christ on our side, with His perfect righteousness, going to God on our behalf – that should make us feel special. We ought to be glad that He has made it possible for us to be right with God, for things to be “patched up” between us.

Onesimus is not the star of his reconciliation story, and neither are we the stars of our stories. God is the righteous One Who made it all possible.

Our righteousness and spiritual reconciliation comes from God Himself.

My Response:
» On my own, can I be a profitable servant?
» How is God’s righteousness “imputed” to me?
» How should I respond when I think about things being “patched up” between me and God?

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Denison Forum – Will your taxes soon fund abortions?

Sometimes a news article catches your eye immediately, such as the New York Post headline, “Aussie news network broadcasts Satanic ritual accidentally.” As a news anchor reported on a new law protecting police animals, a clip was accidentally shown of a cloaked figure who “enthusiastically says ‘Hail Satan’ in front of an inverted cross and behind a red-clothed altar.” The anchor explained later that this was “a system error and rather unfortunate timing!”

Other stories are less likely to catch your attention. For instance, I’m not sure that you have been following with rapt attention the minutiae of congressional action regarding infrastructure legislation. As a result, you may not know (or care) that House Democrats narrowly passed a measure yesterday approving a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint while locking in a late September vote on a roughly $1 trillion Senate-approved infrastructure bill.

Meanwhile, another legislative debate is going even further under most people’s radar.

Five ways taxpayers could be funding abortions

The 2022 appropriations bill put forward by Democrats in the House of Representatives removes the following provisions:

  • The 1976 Hyde Amendment prohibiting the Department of Health and Human Services from spending taxpayer dollars for most abortions
  • The 1973 Helms Amendment restricting foreign aid funds from being expended on abortion
  • The 1983 Smith Amendment that prohibits the Federal Employee Health Benefits program from funding elective abortions
  • The 1989 Dornan Amendment that prohibits funding elective abortions within Washington, DC
  • The 2004 Weldon Amendment that protects health care providers from discrimination on the basis of their refusal to pay for and provide abortions or refer women to have them

The Daily Signal adds that “a slim majority of Senators still support pro-life policy and may not follow the House’s approach.” That is good news, but if the House approach becomes law, my tax dollars will pay for elective abortions, despite my vociferous objection to this sin.

I’m not alone in my concern: nearly six in ten Americans (including one in three pro-choice advocates) oppose using tax dollars to pay for abortion. But abortion advocates in the House seem intent on ignoring the wishes of the majority of Americans by adopting unprecedented taxpayer abortion funding.

Benjamin Watson’s brilliant defense of life

Here’s a related story that has likewise received little media attention: the FDA determined last April that abortion-causing drugs could be mailed to patients during the coronavirus pandemic without requiring a visit to a doctor or clinic. Now abortion advocates are fighting to make so-called “abortion by mail” permanently legal in the US.

Benjamin Watson, a former Super Bowl champion and NFL tight end, recently wrote a brilliant article in USA Today in which he stated that “preborn babies don’t have to prove their worth” to us. Unlike football players who are judged constantly by their performance, he states, “Our dignity as humans—our fundamental worthiness to exist—doesn’t have to be proven; it is an endowment we receive at the moment of conception and keep forever until our natural death.”

He adds: “Nobody should have to pass a test to deserve to exist.”

However, Watson reports, thirty-nine states in the US let you abort a baby “for reason of sex selection,” killing the unborn child specifically because of his or her gender. In addition, forty-six states let you abort a child specifically because of his or her race.

What does God think about children? His word calls them “a heritage from the Lᴏʀᴅ” (Psalm 127:3). Jesus said of them, “To such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14).

In Jeremiah 32, the Lord grieves that his people “built the high places of Baal in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech” (v. 35), a reference to child sacrifice. God calls this horrific practice an “abomination,” from  the Hebrew word toebah describing something that is “detestable,” “loathsome,” or “horrifying.”

If abortion advocates in the Congress have their way, taxpayer funds will soon be paying for such a toebah in America.

Relativism is infecting the church

How could this happen in a nation founded on the principle that “all men are created equal” and “endowed by their Creator” with the “unalienable” right to “life”?

Americans were united in World War II against the threat of Nazi Germany, as when our soldiers liberated Paris from Nazi occupation on this day in 1944. Humans must deal every day with objective realities such as the laws of physics; for example, the world’s fastest roller coaster in Japan suspended operations after four reports of people breaking their backs or necks on the ride. Mortality is a fact for us all, as illustrated by the death of the tallest man in the US, who was seven foot, eight inches and died of heart disease at the age of thirty-eight.

But recent generations have been taught that truth itself is a subjective construct, resulting from the subjective way our minds interpret our senses. With regard to abortion, your body is yours to do with as you wish, or so we’re told. The same moral relativism is applied to sexual orientation and gender identity, euthanasia, and a host of other ethical issues.

Such relativism is infecting the church as well. For example, according to a new study, more than 60 percent of self-described born-again Christians between the ages of eighteen and thirty-nine now say Jesus is not the only way to salvation, claiming that Buddha and Muhammad are also valid paths to salvation.

Let’s test ourselves personally. I recently saw this quote by Ella Fitzgerald: “Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” Fitzgerald was one of the greatest singers in history; as the first African American woman to win a Grammy Award, her story of overcoming racial discrimination is truly inspiring.

But are “love and inspiration” all we need to not “go wrong” in life? Are right and wrong this subjective?

Paul Simon on “the way we’re ignorant”

This week, we’ve been exploring the role of the Holy Spirit in catalyzing the moral and spiritual transformation our culture so desperately needs. On Monday, we focused on steps you and I must take each day to be “filled” and empowered by him. (Have you taken these steps yet today?) On Tuesday, we discussed the urgency of being empowered by the Spirit before we face the crises endemic to this fallen world.

Today, let’s consider what is perhaps Satan’s most pernicious strategy in keeping God’s people from experiencing God’s power through God’s Spirit.

Remember that the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit. Sin blocks his work in and through our lives. This is why we are commanded, “Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). We are likewise commanded, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God” (Ephesians 4:30).

However, if we believe the lies of postmodern relativism, we will not consider our sins to be sins. As a result, we won’t feel the need to avoid them when they tempt us or to confess them when we commit them.

This is a vicious cycle: if we ignore the reality of sin, we grieve and quench the Spirit in our lives, which further weakens us and makes the allure of temptation and the effects of sin even worse. Not only do we lose the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22) and thus the joy of the Lord, we also decimate our witness and demean our Lord.

In “So Beautiful or So What?” Paul Simon sings:

Ain’t it strange the way we’re ignorant
How we seek out bad advice
How we jigger it and figure it
Mistaking value for the price

The formula for spiritual victory

The answer is to begin each day by surrendering that day to the power and leading of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), then turning every temptation we face immediately over to him for his strength, perspective, and help.

I have learned this fact over the years: Satan is better at tempting than I am at resisting. He knows me better than I know myself. As a result, he knows those temptations I can easily resist and seldom wastes his efforts with them. He also knows those temptations I cannot resist without the Spirit’s help and uses them to entice me into sin.

However, he obviously doesn’t want me to turn to the Spirit for help, so along with the temptation, he tempts me to resist it in my strength. He wants me to believe that I can say no to this sin, that I can stop that behavior before it gets worse, that I don’t need God’s power.

He likes to turn the lights down gradually so that my eyes adjust to the dark before I realize my danger. Or, to change metaphors, he wants to drag me into deadly quicksand an inch at a time until I am trapped before I know it.

As a consequence, I must turn to the Spirit immediately whenever I face temptation. I must remember that if I could defeat this temptation myself, I wouldn’t be facing it. The same is true for you.

Here’s the formula: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Submit, then you will be empowered to resist, and then you will have the victory. But only in that order.

Dark tunnels and wind catchers

Corrie ten Boom was the only member of her family to survive the Nazi concentration camps. She experienced human depravity and suffering at their worst. She therefore had the moral authority to say, “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”

Is your train going through a spiritual tunnel today? If not, it likely will tomorrow. When it does, trust the Engineer.

“Wind catchers” are structures first perfected by the ancient Persians that funnel passing winds from the tops of buildings to the rooms below. They have been making a comeback recently. As Ryan Denison explains in his latest website article, “the fact that conventional air conditioning currently accounts for roughly a fifth of all electricity consumption worldwide means that we’re likely to see more wind catchers dotting the skies in the coming years.”

Ryan notes that the same Greek word (pneuma) was used by early believers both for spirit and for wind “because the latter concept so aptly describes the former.” He adds: “Just as the ancient cultures relied upon working with the wind to harness its power and improve their lives thousands of years ago, we too must learn to work with the Spirit” to experience the power of God.

Is the wind of the Spirit free to work in and through your life today?

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –Known by Jesus

KNOWN BY JESUS – August 25, 2021

According to Philippians 2:7, Jesus took “the very nature of a servant.” He became like us so he could serve us. He entered the world not to demand our allegiance but to display his affection.

He knew you’d be sleepy, he knew you’d be grief stricken, and hungry. He knew you’d face pain. If not the pain of the body, the pain of the soul. He knew you’d face thirst. If not a thirst for water, at least a thirst for truth. And the truth we glean from the image of a thirsty Christ on the cross is: Jesus understands.

When we feel lonely, knowing someone understands can make all the difference. You can be surrounded by people but still feel lonely if you don’t feel known. And you can be alone but not feel lonely if you are known. God became flesh, so we would always feel known by him.