In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Joyful Endurance

Hebrews 10:32-39

When you think of endurance, what comes to mind? We usually associate it with persistence through hardship, like the mindset of a marathon runner pushing through the pain to finish the race. Yesterday, we saw that Hebrews 12:1 encourages us to run with this kind of determination. The implication is that we are going to face hardships and suffering in the Christian life.

Our goal should be to remain faithful and obedient to Christ through every situation. That is possible because we know our suffering is temporary and we have an inheritance waiting for us in heaven. But in the meantime, we need the right attitude. Are we to grit our teeth, mutter, and complain all the way to heaven? Certainly not!

The writer of Hebrews commended the suffering Christians for their joyful attitude. They didn’t enjoy the pain and hardship, but knew that it was all part of God’s plan for their good and ultimately they’d have a great reward in heaven.

We, too, can endure hardship with joy in the Lord, who comforts and strengthens us through it and promises to bring us safely to glory.

Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 20-22


http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — The Big Story of the Bible

Bible in a Year:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

2 Timothy 3:16

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Genesis 11:26–32

When Colin opened the box of stained-glass pieces he’d purchased, instead of finding the fragments he’d ordered for a project, he discovered intact, whole windows. He sleuthed out the windows’ origin and learned they’d been removed from a church to protect them from World War II bombings. Colin marveled at the quality of work and how the “fragments” formed a beautiful picture.

If I’m honest, there are times when I open particular passages of the Bible—such as chapters containing lists of genealogies—and I don’t immediately see how they fit within the bigger picture of Scripture. Such is the case with Genesis 11—a chapter that contains a repetitive cadence of unfamiliar names and their families, such as Shem, Shelah, Eber, Nahor, and Terah (vv. 10–32). I’m often tempted to gloss over these sections and skip to a part that contains something that feels familiar and fits more easily into my “window” of understanding of the Bible’s narrative.

Since “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful” (2 Timothy 3:16), the Holy Spirit can help us better understand how a fragment fits into the whole, opening our eyes to see, for example, how Shelah is related to Abram (Genesis 11:12–26), the ancestor of David and—more importantly—Jesus (Matthew 1:2616). He delights in surprising us with the treasure of a perfectly intact window where even the smaller parts reveal the story of God’s mission throughout the Bible.

By:  Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

Why is it important to recognize each portion of Scripture as a fragment of God’s bigger story?

Father, please help me to see You and Your work more clearly.

Grow deeper in your understanding of the Bible.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Preparing for Battle

“Be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Eph. 6:10-11).

Adequate preparation is the key to spiritual victory.

The Gulf War introduced some highly sophisticated weapons that had never been proven under live battle conditions. Most of the troops hadn’t experienced war either. Yet troops and machinery combined in a display of military conquest unparalleled in history.

Thorough preparation proved to be an indispensible element in that overwhelming victory. That included developing and testing high-tech weaponry, recruiting and training troops, and engaging in mock battles. Generals know that if they dare enter a battlefield ill-prepared, they’re destined for defeat. Consequently, they do everything possible to prepare their troops for victory.

Similarly, your success in spiritual warfare is directly proportional to your preparedness. You must “be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” (Eph. 6:10), and also put on your armor (v. 11). God is your strength and source of victory, but you must trust Him and appropriate your spiritual resources. As Oliver Cromwell said, “Trust in God and keep your powder dry.”

If you delay preparation until the battle is upon you, then it’s too late. If your armor isn’t in place, you’re vulnerable to the arrows of the enemy. If you neglect prayer, worship, Bible study, accountability, and the other disciplines of faith, you can’t expect to prevail when spiritual skirmishes arise.

No soldier who values his own life would step onto a battlefield unprepared. How much more should soldiers of Christ prepare themselves to fight against Satan’s forces? Be diligent. Christ guarantees ultimate victory, but you can lose individual battles if you’re unprepared. It’s even possible to lapse into periods of spiritual lethargy, indifference, impotency, and ineffectiveness, but that’s utterly inconsistent with your mandate to fight the good fight (1 Tim. 1:18).

Don’t be caught off guard! Keep your armor on and remain alert to the advances of the enemy.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Ask God to keep you alert to the reality of spiritual warfare and the need to be prepared at all times for battle.
  • Thank Him for the times He protected you when your armor wasn’t as secure as it needed to be.

For Further Study

Memorize 2 Timothy 2:4 as a reminder to be spiritually prepared at all times.

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Realistic Expectations

In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]

— John 16:33 (AMPC)

If you get the idea in your head that everything concerning your life should always be perfect, you are setting yourself up for a fall. This is not to suggest you should be negative. But you do need to be realistic enough to realize ahead of time that very few things in life are ever perfect.

You should not plan for failure, but you do need to remember Jesus said you will have to deal with tribulation and trials and distress and frustration. These things are part of life on this earth—for the believer as well as the unbeliever. But all the mishaps in the world cannot harm you if you will remain in the love of God.

Prayer Starter: Lord Jesus, help me to trust You to bring about the complete change I need. In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –The Great Physician

Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her.

Mark 1:30

This is a very interesting little peep into the house of the apostolic fisherman. We quickly observe that household joys and cares are no hindrance to the full exercise of ministry; rather they furnish an opportunity for personally discovering the Lord’s gracious work in one’s own family. They may provide better instruction for the teacher than any other earthly discipline. There are those who decry marriage, but true Christianity and family life live well together. Peter’s house was possibly a poor fisherman’s hut, but the Lord of Glory entered it, lodged in it, and worked a miracle in it. If these words are being read this morning in some very humble cottage, let this fact encourage the inhabitants to seek the company of King Jesus. God is more often in little huts than in rich palaces.

Jesus is looking around your room now and is waiting to be gracious to you. Into Simon’s house illness had entered; fever in a deadly form had prostrated his mother-in-law; and as soon as Jesus came, they told Him of the sad affliction, and He hurried to the patient’s bed. Do you have any illness in the house this morning? You will find Jesus the best physician by far; go to Him at once and tell Him all about the matter. Immediately lay the case before Him. It concerns one of His people, and therefore He will not regard it as trivial. Notice that immediately the Savior restored the ill woman; none can heal as He does. We dare not assume that the Lord will remove all illness from those we love, but we dare not forget that believing prayer for the sick is far more likely to be followed by restoration than anything else in the world; and where this does not happen, we must meekly bow to His will by whom life and death are determined. The tender heart of Jesus waits to hear our griefs; let us pour them into His patient ear.

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is the Only Perfect Hero

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

They call him the Man of Steel. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, Superman is the ultimate strong and powerful guy. As long as there’s none of that nasty green Kryptonite nearby to suck away his stunning strength, Superman can do whatever it takes to rescue people in any kind of danger. And not only does he fly and have incredible muscles, but he also actually seems to care about using his powers not to make himself look good, but to help people.

We love Superman because we know we need a hero: someone who knows when we need help, is powerful enough to be able to help us, and cares enough to want to help. In the movies and on TV, Superman does all of those things. But he does not do any of them perfectly. For example, he knows when people need help – but only because he hears about it from someone else. He is powerful enough to help people – but only in one place at a time. If a child were being kidnapped on one side of Metropolis at the exact same moment that a woman’s car was being stolen on the other side of the city, he would have to choose to help either the child or the woman. He could not do both, even if he wanted to.

Superman is a good hero, but he is only a man – and not even a real man, just a pretend character on TV and in movies. He is only an imitation of the one Hero we all need: a God Who knows everything, Who can do anything He wants to, and who loves His children perfectly. That God is our refuge: we can run to Him for shelter when we’re facing something scary or painful. He is our strength: we can call on Him when we are weak. He is always near when we are in trouble: He doesn’t have to fly to where we are, because He is already there. We can count on Him to be our ultimate Hero.

God, my Refuge and Strength, is better than any make-believe hero.

My Response:
» Do I turn to God for help when I am in trouble, or do I try to solve my problems by myself?


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Denison Forum – Is God “the hottest thing in fashion”?

I have been writing The Daily Article for twenty-one years, but this is a first: I am reporting on an article in the men’s fashion magazine GQ. I have not read one of their articles before today, but this title caught my eye: “Prayers Up: How God Became the Hottest Thing in Fashion.”

The article tells us about an Instagram platform called “I NEED GOD” now offering a webstore with some interesting merchandise. For example, they are selling a sweatshirt bearing the message, “God loves me and there is nothing I can do about it.” And a shirt with a direct quote from Justin Bieber’s Instagram: “God is obsessed with you!” (Other products are far more ironic or, some might say, inappropriate.)

Here’s another story you might not expect: a church in San Antonio, Texas, recently held a mass wedding. This is not a cult—it’s actually one of the largest churches in the city. Their pastor and staff became concerned about couples who were unable to marry during the pandemic. So they offered to reimburse couples for their marriage licenses ($81 in their county) and gave them $500 in cash to go toward a honeymoon.

Their commitment had a condition, however: the couples had to go through premarital counseling with the church. Fifty-two couples completed counseling and were married in a joint service last month.

Pledging allegiance to the Pride flag

This week we’re discussing ways to fight fear with faith. Each day’s news reinforces the need for such faith.

For example, a California teacher has been removed from her classroom after instructing her students to say the Pledge of Allegiance, not to an American flag, but to a Progress Pride flag.

A dermatology professor at Harvard Medical School reports a spike of patients seeking cosmetic interventions. The reason: they saw their faces on conference calls all day during the pandemic and now want to make improvements to their appearance, a phenomenon being called “Zoom dysphoria.”

Consumer confidence is downtrust in media is crateringreligion is declining in many places around the world.

In days like these, believers need to use every means at our disposal to offer our culture the life-changing good news of God’s love in Christ. The apparel we discussed earlier is correct theologically: because God is love (1 John 4:8), he does indeed love you, and there’s nothing you can do to change his character or the fact that he is “obsessed” with you.

However, there’s another side to the story.

“The sine qua non of spiritual fruitfulness”

Jesus told his followers, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser” (John 15:1). According to renowned Bible scholar D. A. Carson, our Lord employed a symbol found throughout the Old Testament describing Israel as a vine (cf. Psalm 80:9–16Isaiah 51:1–7Jeremiah 2:21Ezekiel 15:1–8).

However, Carson notes, “whenever historic Israel is referred to under this figure, it is the vine’s failure to produce good fruit that is emphasized.”

By contrast, Jesus calls himself the “true” vine, i.e., the one that produces true and good fruit. His followers are “branches” stemming from him as their source. As a result, he calls us to “abide in me, and I in you” (v. 4a).

Here’s the catch: “As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” (v. 4b). Consequently, “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (v. 5, my emphasis).

Carson asserts: “Continuous dependence on the vine, constant reliance on him, persistent spiritual imbibing of his life—this is the sine qua non of spiritual fruitfulness” (his italics; the Latin phrase means “that without which there is nothing”).

The first time I heard the gospel

So, what does it mean to “abide” in Jesus?

We could take the rest of the year to explore this vital question, but for today we’ll note that it means at least the decision to surrender every dimension of our lives to his lordship. Whatever the cost, whatever he asks, whatever it takes.

Oswald Chambers describes such total surrender as the path to joy that repays its cost and more: when we abandon ourselves to Jesus, “the Holy Spirit gives us a taste of his joy. . . . the thought of self-sacrifice never crosses our minds, because sacrifice is the Holy Spirit’s ultimate expression of love.”

Here’s the problem: there is often a gap between surrender and the joy that repays its cost. A soul-numbing, faith-discouraging, temptation-amplifying gap. A gap between our fear of surrender and God’s transforming response to our faith.

I remember clearly the first time I heard the gospel. I was in the seventh grade; a friend invited me to ride his church’s bus to a Christian event in downtown Houston. The preacher seemed to be looking right at me when he challenged us to confess our sins and give our lives to God.

That night, walking home after getting off the bus, I looked up into the starry night and told God “no.” I remember being afraid that if I gave my life to him, he would make me miserable. He would probably make me a missionary to some distant land and keep me from doing the things I wanted to do.

I was afraid to surrender my life to him that night. I still feel that fear today. I am guessing you do as well.

“I believe; help my unbelief!”

However, here is how abiding in Christ works: we must pay its price before we experience its results.

When we order products online, we are usually required to pay for them before they are delivered. It works in the same way here: we must choose holiness before we want to be made holy. We must choose to abide in Jesus before we want to give up what it takes to abide in Jesus.

This is because Satan is a brilliant tempter, customizing his offerings to what our fallen human nature desires. We should not be surprised that we want what he is tempting us to do. If we wait until we don’t want to sin before we choose not to sin, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.

If alcoholics wait until they don’t want to drink before they start sobriety, most will never get sober. If we wait until we’re not afraid to surrender our lives to Jesus, most of us will never surrender our lives to Jesus.

So, a foundational key to abiding in Jesus is asking his Spirit for the strength to choose to abide in him. It is asking for the faith to have faith, echoing the prayer of the man who prayed my favorite prayer in Scripture: “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

It is asking for the courage to trust Jesus before we see the first results of such trust. It is stepping into the river before God stops the flood, marching around the fortified city before God destroys its walls, choosing the lions’ den before God stops the lions’ mouths.

Are you afraid that if you give your life fully to Jesus, he’ll make you a missionary to some distant land or otherwise keep you from doing what you want to do? The fact is: If he sends you to be a missionary, this is because being a missionary is absolutely what is best for your life. If he keeps you from doing what you want to do, this is because he knows that what you want to do will harm you in ways you cannot yet see.

So, what fears are keeping you from surrendering your life fully to your Savior? Do you need to ask the Spirit to help you choose such surrender today?

Why Satan lets us “get away with” sin

Here’s a second barrier to abiding in Christ: we must surrender every dimension of our lives to experience the transforming power of our Lord.

Our culture so easily separates Sunday from Monday, the spiritual from the secular, religion from the “real world.” From the time we begin attending church or doing anything else spiritual, our fallen society begins urging us to keep such activities to ourselves. God can be your hobby, they assure us, so long as you don’t force your hobby on anyone else.

As a result, we are easily deceived into believing that we can tolerate private sin with the confidence that it will never become public. But, like the sons of Samuel who “took bribes and perverted justice” in their personal dealings, our private sins will inevitably be exposed (1 Samuel 8:3–5).

In fact, if you are “getting away with” unconfessed and unrepented sin today, it’s likely because your enemy is waiting until your sins will do even more damage when they are made public. The further you climb up the cultural ladder, the farther you will fall one day, and the more your fall will injure yourself and others.

The Bible makes following Jesus incessantly and insistently holistic: taking up our “cross daily” (Luke 9:23), being “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20), presenting our “bodies as a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1). Roman crucifixion killed every part of your body, not just your arm or leg; the Jewish sacrificial system required every part of the animal, not just its hoof or tail.

Are you leaving part of your “body” off your altar, separated from your cross? That’s like telling a surgeon there’s part of the cancer in your body you don’t want her to remove. God can heal only what we allow him to touch. He can lead into his perfect will only those who will follow.

Is there a part of your life you are afraid of submitting to Jesus? Once again, you are not yet in position to experience the results of such holistic surrender to your loving Lord, so ask his Spirit for the strength and courage you need.

And know this: the more we abide in Jesus, the more fruit we will bear for his eternal glory and our greatest good.

“You are the Beloved of God”

It comes to this: if we see ourselves as children beloved by our Father, we will see the price of obedience as the privilege of love. We will position ourselves to experience all he can give to those who trust fully in him. And others will see the reality and relevance of our faith and be drawn to its Object and Source.

Henri Nouwen observed:

“The world is only evil when you become its slave. The world has a lot to offer—just as Egypt did for the children of Jacob—as long as you don’t feel bound to obey it. The great struggle facing you is not to leave the world, to reject your ambitions and aspirations, or to despise money, prestige, or success, but to claim your spiritual truth and to live in the world as someone who doesn’t belong to it.”

As a result, Nouwen continues, “All the good things our world has to offer are yours to enjoy. But you can enjoy them truly only when you can acknowledge them as affirmations of the truth that you are the Beloved of God. The truth will set you free to receive the beauty of nature and culture in gratitude, as a sign of your Belovedness. That truth will allow you to receive the gifts you receive from your society and celebrate life.

“But that truth will also allow you to let go of what distracts you, confuses you, and puts in jeopardy the life of the Spirit within you.”

Will you claim your status as God’s Beloved today?

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –Your Story Indwells God’s Story

YOUR STORY INDWELLS GOD’S STORY – September 2, 2021

Everything changes when you know the rest of your story! In 2 Samuel 22:25, David says, “God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes” (The Message).

But what is the text of our lives? Self-help gurus and magazine headlines urge you to “find your narrative.” “Look inside yourself,” they say. But the promise of self-discovery falls short.

Your story indwells God’s. This is the great promise of the Bible. It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eyes on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone. In his story, you’ll find, there’s more to your story!

MaxLucado.com