In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Dead Men Walking

Ephesians 2:1-5

Zombie movies are science fiction, but did you know that, spiritually speaking, there actually are dead men and women walking around on earth? They look like everyone else, but deep down inside, their spirit is dead. Truth be known, everyone begins life as a spiritual “zombie.”

Human beings are composed of a body by which they interact with the world around them, a soul with which they relate to themselves and others, and a spirit through which they can commune with God. If the spirit is dead in “trespasses and sins,” the person may still lead a successful earthly life, but he won’t be able to connect with God or make himself acceptable in the Lord’s sight. In that way, the dead can do nothing.

It’s easy to imagine how this is true of someone who has given himself fully to debasing sin. But sadly, there are many moral church-going folks who are spiritually dead even though they are externally religious. However, the good news is that no one has to stay dead. Whenever anyone turns from sin and trusts in Jesus Christ for forgiveness and salvation, God in His mercy makes that person alive with Christ.

And the change is permanent. In John 5:24, Jesus Himself says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the one who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”

Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 10-12

Our Daily Bread — Mercy and Grace

Bible in a Year:

[Josiah] began to seek the God of his father David.

2 Chronicles 34:3

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

2 Chronicles 34:1–8

A stately sunflower stood on its own in the center of a lonely stretch of national highway, just a few feet from the fast lane. As I drove past, I wondered how it had grown there with no other sunflowers visible for miles. Only God could create a plant so hardy it could thrive so close to the roadway in the gray gravel lining the median. There it was, thriving, swaying gently in the breeze and cheerfully greeting travelers as they hurried by.

The Old Testament tells the story of a faithful king of Judah who also showed up unexpectedly. His father and grandfather had enthusiastically served other gods; but after Josiah had been in power for eight years, “while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David” (2 Chronicles 34:3). He sent workmen to “repair the temple of the Lord” (v. 8), and as they did they discovered the Book of the Law (the first five books of the Old Testament; v. 14). God then inspired Josiah to lead the entire nation of Judah to return to the faith of their ancestors, and they served the Lord “as long as [Josiah] lived” (v. 33).

Our God is the master of unanticipated mercies. He’s able to cause great good to spring up unexpectedly out of the hard gravel of life’s most unfavorable circumstances. Watch Him closely. He may do it again today.

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

What mercies have you seen from God that you never anticipated? How does the thought that He’s able to bring about unexpected good give you hope today?

Heavenly Father, I praise You for never changing. Your mercies are “new every morning!” (Lamentations 3:23). Help me to look forward to what You have for me today.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Living One Day at a Time

“‘Do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own’” (Matthew 6:34).

The believer is not to worry about his future.

British pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “Although it is very right to think about the future, it is very wrong to be controlled by it.” He was right, because worry is a tremendous force that will endeavor to defeat you. It will try to destroy you today by making you upset and anxious. But if it loses today, it will take you into the future until it finds something to make you worry about. In Matthew 6:34 Jesus says that you have enough to deal with today. Take the resources of today for the needs of today, or you will lose the joy of today.

Lack of joy is a sin too. Many people lose their joy because of worry about tomorrow, and they miss the victory God gives them today. That is not fair to Him. God gives you a glorious and blissful day today; live in the light and fullness of the joy of that day, and use the resources God supplies. Don’t push yourself into the future and forfeit the joy of today over some tomorrow that may never happen. Learn this one little statement: fear is a liar. It will cause you to lose the joy of today. What’s more, God gives strength for only one day at a time. He doesn’t give you grace for tomorrow until tomorrow.

When the Bible says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever” (Heb. 13:8), it means He will be doing the same thing tomorrow that He was doing yesterday. If you have any questions about the future, look at the past. Did He sustain you then? He will sustain you in the future. Since there is no past, present, or future with Him, there is no need for you to worry.

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise God for being the same yesterday, today, and forever.

For Further Study

Read Lamentations 3:21-24.

  • What never ceases and never fails (v. 22)?
  • What does that say about God (v. 23)?
  • What does that give you (v. 21)?

Joyce Meyer – Facing Unexpected Storms

And a furious storm of wind [of hurricane proportions] arose, and the waves kept beating into the boat, so that it was already becoming filled.

— Mark 4:37 (AMPC)

Not all storms are in the forecast. I once started a four-session teaching seminar, and after the first session, I noticed I had a sore throat. Each session it got worse, and by the final one I sounded like a squeaky mouse! Having very little voice power and facing a few thousand people who have come to hear you speak is not fun.

Things don’t always work out the way we would like them to, but it is during those times that we need to continue trusting God and believe that He will work good out of our difficulty. I was teaching on the topic “Running Our Race and Finishing Strong,” which is rather humorous if you think about it! I decided to squeak through the final message, and it turned out better than it would have if I had been completely well.

Don’t get distracted by the storms of life. Stay focused and do what you need to do whether it is easy or difficult. The more we use our faith, the stronger it will become!

Prayer Starter: Father, I thank You for Your strength in my weakness. When stormy circumstances come, help me stay focused on You and Your will for me.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Patience in Affliction

Wait for the Lord.

Psalm 27:14

It may seem an easy thing to wait, but it is one of the postures that a Christian soldier cannot learn without years of teaching. Marching and quick-marching are much easier for God’s warriors than standing still. There are hours of perplexity when the most willing spirit, anxiously desiring to serve the Lord, does not know what role to play. Then what shall it do? Vex itself by despair? Retreat back in cowardice, turn to the right hand in fear, or rush forward in presumption? No, simply wait. Wait in prayer, however. Call upon God, and spread the matter before Him; tell Him your difficulty, and plead His promise of help.

In dilemmas between one duty and another, it is best to be humble as a child and wait with simplicity of soul upon the Lord. It is sure to be well with us when we feel and know our own folly and are genuinely willing to be guided by the will of God. But wait in faith. Express your unstaggering confidence in Him; for unfaithful, untrusting waiting is just an insult to the Lord. Believe that if He keeps you waiting even until midnight, He will still come at the right time; the vision will come and not delay. Wait in quiet patience, not rebelling because things are difficult, but blessing your God for the privilege of affliction.

Never grumble against the second cause, as the children of Israel did against Moses; never wish you could go back to the world again, but accept the circumstance as it is, and put it as it stands, simply and with your whole heart, without any selfish agenda, into the hand of your covenant God, saying, “Now, Lord, not my will, but Yours be done. I do not know what to do. I am at an end of myself, but I will wait until You part the floods or drive back my enemies. I will wait, even if You test me for a while, for my heart is fixed upon You alone, O God, and my spirit waits for You in the deep conviction that You will still be my joy and my salvation, my refuge and my strong tower.”

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is the Giver of All Life

“But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; that thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Timothy 6:11-14)

Jesse looked at his brand new little sister through the hospital’s nursery window. He could not believe that he was a big brother now. A nurse had taken a picture of him with the baby and Mom and Dad. Jesse thought Zoey was a great name, and easy to spell. She had not cried when they put her in his arms, and he held very still so she would not get upset. She was very quiet, light, and fragile – like a China doll. And she was so tiny. Her little foot could fit into the palm of his hand!

Jesse’s mom and dad had told him their reasons for choosing the name “Zoey.” They told him that God is the One Who gives life, and “Zoey” is like the Greek word for “life.” They had prayed a long time for a daughter (Jesse had been praying for a sister, too); and, since God had given her life, they wanted to name her “Zoey.”

The word “quicken” means “to give life,” or “to bring to life.” God was the One Who created Adam and Eve in the beginning, and He still gives life today. The Bible teaches that our “times” are in His hands, and that He can give or take away life. What a great God we must have! Humans do not have that kind of power. Jesse could not have snapped his fingers and gotten a little sister – he had to pray for her and wait for God to give life. God is the One Who gives all physical life.

God is the Giver of all eternal life, too. No normal human being has ever been able to raise himself from the dead like Jesus Christ did. Jesus could do that because Jesus is God. No normal human being has the power to take people to heaven, but Jesus Christ did. He even described Himself as “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” He said that nobody could come to God the Father except through Jesus Himself, God the Son.

In I Timothy 6:11-14, the apostle Paul is writing to Timothy about what kind of Christian man he should be. He tells Timothy to run away from wickedness and temptation. He tells Timothy to try to be righteous, godly, faithful, loving, patient, and meek. In other words, Paul is encouraging Timothy to “lay hold on eternal life” and to live this earthly life in a right way. He gives Timothy a “charge” (command) to do these things in God’s sight, and reminds him that God is the One Who brings all things to life.

Maybe Timothy wondered how it could be possible for any human being to live such a holy life as Paul was charging him to live. But he knew that God is the Giver of all life, not just his physical life, but his eternal life. God is a great God, and we can ask Him to help us when we need physical or spiritual help. Are you having trouble believing that you can live rightly? Are you having trouble waiting for God to take care of something you need? Keep praying, like Jesse and his family prayed for Zoey. Keep trusting in the God of the Bible. He is the same God Who gives life to a little baby. And He is the same God Who cared enough to give a way for human sinners to live with Him forever. If He is able to give all life and take care of all living things, then He is worthy of your trust and obedience.

God is the Giver of all life, so it makes sense to trust and obey Him.

My Response:
» How has God shown me in my life that He is the Giver of all life?
» What should I do when I am tempted to be doubtful of God, or to be unloving or impatient with people?

Read in browser »

Denison Forum – The latest on Hurricane Ida: Five ways to join God in redeeming disaster

Dawn broke yesterday over the Hurricane Katrina memorial on the Louisiana Gulf Coast. The granite cross was erected in 2006 beside a plaque engraved with the names of 163 people who lost their lives to the storm in this area. Each year on August 29, a remembrance ceremony is held here.

I wonder if those who built the memorial and those who made a pilgrimage to it every year thereafter imagined that another monster storm would come ashore in the same place on the same day.

Hurricane Ida swept ashore near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, yesterday afternoon as a devastating Category 4 hurricane. With winds of 150 mph, it tied as the state’s most powerful storm with Laura from last year and the Last Island Hurricane of 1856.

All of New Orleans is without power this morning as the storm continues marching northward through Louisiana. It has weakened to a tropical storm, but life-threatening flash flooding is continuing.

This devastation feels personal to me. I was honored earlier this year to deliver the keynote address for the second time at the Louisiana Governor’s Prayer Breakfast. I have been privileged to pray personally with Gov. John Bel Edwards and know the governor and his wife to be people of deep personal faith. Many of the religious leaders in the state have become personal friends.

Undoubtedly you know the frustrating impotence of wanting to help friends and loved ones face suffering beyond our capacity to remedy. The loss of a spouse, parent, or child; a diagnosis of terminal disease; the collapse of a marriage—there are storms we cannot calm and broken hearts we cannot mend.

When the two collide, what are we to do? What are some biblical ways we can help friends in a hurricane?

One: Be prepared.

Because of the Fall, “the whole creation has been groaning in the pains of childbirth until now” (Romans 8:22). You and I inhabit broken bodies on a broken planet.

As a result, the first step to helping people in storms is to expect and prepare for storms.

My wife’s parents retired from Houston, Texas, to a farm they built in northern Arkansas. When they built their house, they also built a tornado shelter. When they stocked their kitchen, they stocked their shelter. They knew that the only time to prepare for a storm is before it arrives.

If you doubt the urgency of preparing for disaster, just read today’s news.

For example, the remains of thirteen fallen American heroes were brought home from Afghanistan yesterday. Marine Corp Sgt. Nicole L. Gee was one of them. The bombing killed her six days after the Pentagon tweeted a picture of her cradling an Afghan infant in her arms in Kabul. Gee reposted that photo on Instagram with the caption, “I love my job.”

President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden met with a number of family members present at Dover Air Force Base for the transfer. If you were the president, what would you say to them?

The US is projected to see nearly one hundred thousand more COVID-19 deaths between now and December 1. Seventeen-year-old Jo’Keria Graham was one victim, dying of COVID-19 just a few days before she was to start her senior year of high school. Louisiana hospitals anticipating victims of Hurricane Ida are already packed with patients from the latest coronavirus surge.

Physician Mona Amin told a reporter, “Children are getting hospitalized at higher rates than we’ve ever seen.” She added: “As this Delta variant surges, we are also seeing children of vaccinated parents get admitted for hospitalization for COVID.”

What would you say to their parents?

Two: Be empowered.

Christ the Redeemer will soon have a rival: Christ the Protector. The former is an iconic 125-foot statue of Jesus overlooking Rio de Janeiro; the latter is a 140-foot statue under construction seven hundred miles to the south.

The Wall Street Journal describes Christ the Protector as “one of about three dozen giant statues of Jesus that have been constructed around the world during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.” The tallest is a 253-foot statue of Jesus planned in Tamaulipas, Mexico, though so far the project has stalled.

The article explains their popularity: “Even the nonreligious can find solace in a benevolent figure who expresses protection and welcoming.”

Here’s the good news: you can experience such “protection and welcoming” from the real Jesus right now. And you can pray for his compassion for hurting souls to empower your own.

Unlike other religious figures venerated through statues and idols around the world, our Savior has experienced the pain he now redeems. He walked through the same terrifying storm from which he spared Peter (Matthew 14:22–31). He suffered the same hunger, thirst, weariness, and pain he now helps us endure. He faced the temptations he empowers us to defeat (Hebrews 4:15–16).

In God Will Help You, Max Lucado writes: “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 lonely if you are known. God became flesh so we would always feel known by him” (his emphasis).

Now we can seek his heart for the hurting people we know.

Our Savior is praying right now for the victims of Hurricane Ida, the crisis in Afghanistan, the coronavirus pandemic, and untold other calamities (Romans 8:34). Join your Savior by asking him for his heart for hurting hearts today.

Three: Be present.

My father suffered a near-fatal heart attack when I was two years old. He was then a heart patient for all the years I knew him before dying ten days before Christmas during my senior year of college.

The events surrounding his death were and are a blur to me. I remember virtually nothing about Dad’s memorial service, burial, and the days before and after.

But I will always remember a friend from college who drove across Houston the day after Dad’s death to spend the day with me. He did not speak a word that I recall. But his unconditional presence felt to me like the presence of Jesus.

That’s because it was. It’s nearly unbelievable but steadfastly true: Christians are the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). We are the visible manifestation of Jesus’ continuing ministry in our world. When we are present with people in their suffering, Jesus is present with them in their suffering.

After we pray in the spirit of Christ, we can answer our prayers by being the presence of Christ.

If you’re in crisis, my first inclination as a trained theologian is to theologize with you. If you’ll sit quietly for a while, I’ll explain to you how the Augustinian free-will theodicy relates to the fall of creation and the hurricanes and other disasters that result. I’ll tell you how Irenaeus’ soul-building model is relevant to your pain, then I’ll outline the eschatological and existential approaches favored by some scholars.

My college friend would sit at your side. When you’re in the storm, which approach would you prefer?

Some doctors treat diseases; other doctors treat patients. When your friend is in the storm, be the latter.

Four: Be prayerful.

What about those with whom you cannot be present?

Though I have been to Louisiana many times over the years, I cannot safely go to its devastated cities and towns this morning. But my prayers can.

I have never been to Afghanistan. I am not invited to the military funerals of our heroes killed there last week. I cannot stand alongside those who are risking their lives for us and those who are grieving for the fallen. But my prayers can.

I cannot be with the family and friends of veteran actor Ed Asner after his death yesterday at the age of ninety-one. I cannot safely visit a COVID-19 ward or fight wildfires in the West.

But my prayers can.

What about those whose suffering is largely their fault? Oswald Chambers was right: “Discernment is God’s call to intercession, never to fault finding.”

God’s word counsels us: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6, my emphases). As you read the news, pray the news. And pray for the mind and heart of Christ in the power of the Spirit to guide you as you pray.

Five: Be practical.

Texas Baptist Men is the third-largest voluntary disaster relief organization in the US, after the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Their courageous initiative models the best of Christian benevolence.

When others run from disaster, they run to it.

Today is an example. Volunteers are headed to Louisiana this morning in multiple teams, bringing a large kitchen team and a chainsaw team as part of their relief efforts. My wife and I have already donated to their efforts; you can join us here. You can also support the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, and other organizations as they mobilize to help.

God’s word is clear: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10, my emphasis).

What “gift” have you received?

Whom will you serve with it today?

“Sore must be the storm”

Are you prepared for the storms you will face today? Empowered by Jesus’ compassion? Present? Prayerful? Practical?

Emily Dickinson wrote:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—

I’ve heard it in the chilliest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet—never—in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of me.

But it does. Hope asks more than a “crumb” of us—it asks us to give it to everyone in “the Gale” today.

Will someone be glad tomorrow that you read this article today?

Upwords; Max Lucado – Take Your Needs to Jesus

TAKE YOUR NEEDS TO JESUS – August 30, 2021

Jesus was attending a wedding with the disciples and his mother, Mary, when she approached him with a seemingly irrelevant problem. “‘They have no more wine,’ she told him” (John 2:3). Mary presented the problem, Jesus commanded a solution, and the wineless wedding was suddenly wine flush. And we are left with this message: our diminishing supplies, no matter how insignificant, matter to heaven.

Listen, if Jesus was willing to use divine clout to solve a social faux pas, how much more would he be willing to intervene on the weightier matters of life? He wants you to know that you can take your needs—all your needs—to him. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).