In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Protecting Our Future

Genesis 25:19-34

Many people give little thought to the long-term consequences of their choices. As a result, they can sacrifice future blessings for the sake of present pleasures. But this is nothing new; we see it in the very first book of the Old Testament.  

Swayed by his immediate needs and desires, Esau failed to value the privilege of his birthright. In those days, the eldest son received a double portion of the inheritance from his father, along with leadership of the family. But in this particular situation, there was much more at stake—the birthright contained blessings of the covenant God had made with Abraham. Esau didn’t care enough about his spiritual heritage, so he thoughtlessly sold it for a meal.

Being far removed from that particular transaction makes it easy to see the folly of Esau’s choice. But what about you? Are you sacrificing God’s spiritual blessings for short-term gain? Maybe you’re spending long hours working or playing but reserve little time to spend in God’s Word and prayer.

You can protect your future by yielding to the Spirit’s control and pursuing what Scripture considers most valuable: knowing, loving, obeying, and serving God. This investment reaps long-term blessings that continue into eternity.

Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 23-25


http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Empty Hands

Bible in a Year:

His father saw him and was filled with compassion for him.

Luke 15:20

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Luke 15:17–24

Robert was embarrassed when he showed up for a breakfast meeting and realized he’d forgotten his wallet. It bothered him to the point that he pondered whether he should eat at all or simply get something to drink. After some convincing from his friend, he relaxed his resistance. He and his friend enjoyed their entrees, and his friend gladly paid the bill.

Perhaps you can identify with this dilemma or some other situation that puts you on the receiving end. Wanting to pay our own way is normal, but there are occasions when we must humbly receive what’s graciously being given.

Some kind of payback may have been what the younger son had in mind in Luke 15:17–24 as he contemplated what he would say to his father. “I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants” (v. 19). Hired servant? His father would have no such thing! In his father’s eyes, he was a much-loved son who’d come home. As such he was met with a father’s embrace and an affectionate kiss (v. 20). What a grand gospel picture! It reminds us that by Jesus’ death He revealed a loving Father who welcomes empty-handed children with open arms. One hymn writer expressed it like this: “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.”

By:  Arthur Jackson

Reflect & Pray

How does it make you feel that because Jesus has paid your sin debt, you can receive forgiveness for all your sins? If you’ve never received this forgiveness, what’s keeping you from accepting this gift through Jesus?

God of heaven, help me to receive and enjoy the forgiveness You’ve provided through Your Son, Jesus.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Your Resources in Christ

“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).

In Christ you have every resource necessary for spiritual victory.

Satan opposes God and wants to prevent believers from glorifying Him. One way he does that is by convincing them that he is either so formidable they could never defeat him, or so weak they can fight him on their own strength.

Second Corinthians 10:4 says, “The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.” Human resources alone can never defeat a spiritual enemy, but divine resources can. That’s why it’s crucial to understand the resources you have in Christ that insure spiritual victory.

In Ephesians 1:3 Paul says you have received all the blessings of heaven through Christ. That includes being forgiven and redeemed (vv. 6-7), and receiving knowledge, understanding, and wisdom (vv. 17-18). Within you resides the Holy Spirit (v. 13), who strengthens you and accomplishes more than you can ask or think (3:16, 20).

Believers represent the awesome power of God in this world—the same power that raised Christ from the dead, seated Him at the right hand of the Father, and subjected all things under His feet (Eph. 1:19-22). He is the Sovereign Lord against whom no one can successfully stand. That’s why Paul exhorted us to “be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” (Eph. 6:10, emphasis added). We find this strength by putting on the armor He has supplied: truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the Word, and prayer. Then, no matter what direction the enemy approaches from, or how subtle his attacks may be, we’ll be able to stand firm.

Satan’s attacks are complex and subtle. His ways of working in this world are cunning and deceitful. Since it’s impossible to analyze and anticipate his every offense, focus on strengthening your defenses by understanding your spiritual resources and using them each day.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Ask God to increase your understanding of spiritual warfare.
  • Seek wisdom in applying your resources in the most effective ways.
  • When you face spiritual battles, confide in a Christian friend who will pray with you and encourage you.

For Further Study

According to Matthew 4:1-11, how did Jesus deal with Satan’s attacks?

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 –True Love for Christ

You whom my soul loves.

Song of Songs 1:7

It is good to be able, without any “if” or “but,” to say of the Lord Jesus, “You whom my soul loves.” Many can only say of Jesus that they hope they love Him; they trust they love Him; but only a poor and shallow experience will be content to stay here. No one ought to give any rest to his spirit until he feels quite sure about a matter of such vital importance. We should not be satisfied with a superficial hope that Jesus loves us and with a bare trust that we love Him. The old saints did not generally speak with “buts” and “ifs” and “hopes” and “trusts,” but they spoke positively and plainly. “I know whom I have believed,”1 said Paul. “I know that my Redeemer lives,”2 said Job. Get definite knowledge of your love for Jesus, and do not be satisfied until you can speak of your interest in Him as a reality—a reality that you have made sure of by receiving the witness of the Holy Spirit and His seal upon your soul by faith.

True love for Christ is in every case the Holy Spirit’s work and must be accomplished in the heart by Him. He is the efficient cause of it; but the logical reason why we love Jesus lies in HimselfWhy do we love Jesus? Because He first loved us. Why do we love Jesus? Because He gave Himself for us. We have life through His death; we have peace through His blood. Though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor. Why do we love Jesus? Because of the excellency of His person. We are filled with a sense of His beauty, an admiration of His graces, a consciousness of His infinite perfection. His greatness, goodness, and loveliness, in one resplendent ray, combine to enchant the soul till it is so delighted that it exclaims, yes, He is “altogether lovely.”3 This is a blessed love that binds the heart with chains softer than silk, and yet stronger than steel!

1) 2 Timothy 1:12
2) Job 19:25
3) Song of Solomon 5:16, KJV

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Good to All

“The LORD is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works.” (Psalm 145:9)

Trisha watched her friend Jillian Blair run to her mother’s car and jump inside. Through the window she could see Jillian’s mother holding up the bird mobile Jillian had made in art class, smiling and exclaiming over it. Mrs. Blair gave Jillian a hug before starting the car and pulling out of the school parking lot.

God is so good to some people, thought Trisha. Jillian has everything. She’s pretty, she has nice clothes, she has lots of friends, she’s good in art, and she has a mother who can come pick her up after school. Trisha thought of her own mother, who had worked a full-time job for as long as Trisha could remember. Trisha had to go to late-stay every day after school and wait two hours for her mom to get off work.

Trisha turned away from the window of the late-stay room and noticed another friend, Heidi, sitting at a desk with her Bible open. “What are you doing?” Trisha asked Heidi.

“Learning my Bible club verse. Can I say it to you? It’s Psalm 145:9.” Heidi handed Trisha the Bible and recited, The LORD is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works.

“That was perfect,” said Trisha. “Good job.”

Heidi smiled. “It’s true too,” she said. “God has been so good to our family, especially since my mom died. My grandma has been able to stay with us and help us out, and my Dad was able to finish paying all Mom’s medical bills. My little brother has even gotten over having nightmares!”

Trisha gave Heidi’s Bible back. She stood up slowly and walked back to the window, realizing how wrong her thoughts had been a few minutes ago. Heidi did not even have a mom anymore. Yet Heidi was not doubting God’s goodness. She was praising Him for all the ways He had been good to her family.

“Thank You, God for my mom,” Trisha prayed. “Thank You that she has a good job. Thank You for my friends. And thank You for forgiving me for my wrong thoughts. You really are good to me – better than I deserve.”

God is good to all.

My Response:
» How do I think about God?
» Am I believing Him to be less than good?
» Is my focus on the things in my life I wish I could change?
» Or am I praising God for the many ways He is good to me every day?


Read in browser »

Denison Forum – Supreme Court refuses to block Texas abortion law

Dozens of people are dead in the Northeast from floods and destruction caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida. A toddler was among the victims

In other news, search-and-rescue efforts continued yesterday for five military personnel who went missing Tuesday when a US Navy helicopter crashed off the coast of San Diego. One sailor was pulled from the ocean. And police have been searching this week for a woman who allegedly dumped a bag of suspected human remains in a Virginia store dumpster. 

In an article on a Texas law restricting abortion, why am I beginning with these stories? 

You could say that I’m “burying the lede,” which refers to “hiding the most important and relevant pieces of a story within other distracting information.” 

But I’m actually not. 

Abortion is the leading cause of death in the US 

Our media focuses intensely and understandably on the victims of storms, military tragedies, and alleged crimes. However, since Hurricane Ida swept ashore in Louisiana six days ago, 14,172 babies have been aborted in the US (multiplying the rate of 2,362 per day in the US times six). 

This works out to 862,130 abortions per year in the US, making abortion by far the leading cause of death in our country. (Heart disease ranks second, at 659,041, followed by cancer at 599,601.) 

Here’s a related fact: the CDC reports that over 21,000 infants died in the US in 2018. This works out to fifty-seven per day, which is obviously tragic. But forty-one times more babies die from abortion each day than from all other causes combined. 

If 2,362 babies were to die today from any cause other than abortion, Americans would be appropriately appalled and demand that our elected officials do something to end such a tragedy. 

In Texas, with regard to abortion, they have. 

What a preborn baby cannot say 

Senate Bill 8 was signed by Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott last May. The law bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can occur as early as six weeks after conception. 

As a result, the law would block approximately 85 percent of abortions in Texas. According to Texas Health and Human Services data, 53,000 abortions were performed in the state last year. This means Senate Bill 8 could save 45,000 preborn babies a year. 

Texas abortion providers asked the US Supreme Court to freeze the law. However, in a five-to-four vote, the Court formally denied this request late Wednesday night. 

The majority stressed that their ruling did not constitute a conclusion about the constitutionality of the law or limit other challenges to it. Rather, they cited “complex” and “novel” procedural questions that led to their decision. Chief Justice Roberts joined the three liberal justices in dissent. 

Protests have already begun. For example, President Biden announced yesterday that he had directed his Department of Health and Human Services and the Justice Department to launch a “whole-of-government effort to respond to this decision.” Speaker Nancy Pelosi also announced that the House of Representatives would vote later this month on a bill that would “enshrine into law reproductive health care for all women across America.” 

In protests against the Texas law and other pro-life legislation, I have often seen people carrying signs declaring, “My body, my choice.” 

Of course, a preborn baby cannot say the same. 

A case study for effective cultural engagement 

I believe passionately that life is sacred from conception to natural death. (For my arguments based on Scripture, reason, history, and culture, see my paper, “What does the Bible say about abortion?“) As a result, I am deeply grateful for Senate Bill 8 and those who brought it into law. 

But I want to do more than report this historic news: I’d like us to make it a case study for effective cultural engagement. 

Some conservative Christians have become convinced that since our secularized culture has degenerated so far from biblical morality, continued efforts to make a difference are fruitless. We’re wasting our time trying to change society, we’re told. Better to focus all our attention on protecting religious liberty from its enemies while protecting future generations from the rampant sexualization and secularization of our day. 

Undoubtedly, we need to do all we can on both fronts. I praise God for organizations such as First Liberty, the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and others who are defending religious freedom from its enemies. And I completely agree that we should not take for granted our children and grandchildren—many are surrounded each day by radical secularism and must be discipled strategically and effectively in biblical truth and worldview. 

But Senate Bill 8 shows that we can do more. While protecting our families and defending our rights from those seeking to discriminate against Christians, we can also engage our secular culture in ways that make a dramatic difference. 

Why this bill is different 

In the decades since Roe v. Wade tragically legalized abortion, many have abandoned hope that it would ever be overturned. Numerous legal challenges have been attempted, but few have been sustained or made a tangible difference. When abortion advocates have filed suit against pro-life supporters, they have often won the day. 

However, the Texas law we’re discussing is different from other attempts. Instead of having the government enforce the law, the bill authorizes private citizens to sue abortion providers or anyone who helps someone get an abortion after a fetal heartbeat has been detected. This person would not have to be connected to a provider or someone who had an abortion to sue. 

Consequently, there is no state official enforcing the law, which means there is no one for abortion providers to sue. This does not mean that Senate Bill 8 will not continue to face legal challenges, as we noted above. But it does show that this unique feature is important to its success thus far. 

Creativity is vital to cultural transformation. For example, a Chicago coffee shop owner who experienced healing from horrific trauma through therapy is using the proceeds from his sales to fund free therapy sessions for people in need. And the IRS caught an alleged dark web drug dealer by tricking him into sending more than $180,000 in cash to the agency in exchange for cryptocurrencies. 

Surprising examples of God’s surprising ways 

Such examples of surprising but effective strategies are found throughout Scripture. 

Joseph interprets his fellow prisoners’ dreams, the Egyptian Pharaoh hears of him, and Joseph interprets the ruler’s dreams, saves the nation from famine, provides for his family, and preserves the Jewish people through whom the Messiah would come. 

God calls Moses, a fugitive from Egyptian justice, to lead his people out of Egyptian slavery. He uses the Red Sea to destroy the Egyptian army. He destroys the fortified city of Jericho after his people march around its walls. He elevates an unknown shepherd to be king of Israel. He saves his servants in Babylon from a fiery furnace and a lions’ den. 

Jesus calls not rabbis or priests in Jerusalem but fishermen in Galilee to lead his movement. He restores a thrice-failed apostle and uses him to preach a Pentecost sermon that brings thousands to faith. He chooses a Jewish Pharisee to be his apostle to the Gentiles. He gives his Revelation to a prisoner on an island of exile. 

When you think about it, it’s hard to find biblical examples that are not surprising and even shocking. 

Here’s the point: if we will be led by the Spirit of God, we will fulfill the purposes of God in the power of God to the glory of God. He has creative plans for us we cannot imagine: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT). 

Our sovereign God will use us to engage and transform our culture for his glory and our good if we will trust him and follow his Spirit. 

An evangelist magician makes the AGT finals 

putter used by Tiger Woods in 2002 sold at auction last Sunday for $393,300. It is believed to be the most expensive golf club ever sold. I can buy a similar putter for $399.99 today, but no one will consider it to be more collectible because it was mine. The putter sold at auction was valuable not because of what it was but because of whose it was. 

If Jesus is your Lord, you are the child of God (John 1:12). This is your unchanging identity, a fact no power in this world can change. In addition, you are made by God for a purpose that is distinctively yours. Your spiritual gifts, abilities, education, experience, and opportunities combine in ways that are unique to you. 

For example, Christianity Today recently interviewed Shoaib Ebadi, the founder of SAT-7, a Christian ministry that began broadcasting in Iran in 2002 and is now one of the few ways to reach people in Afghanistan under the Taliban. Ebadi was born in Afghanistan but became a Christian in 1999 as a refugee in Pakistan. Today he heads a company producing Christian media in various languages around the world. His experiences and capacities have prepared him uniquely for this moment in history. 

A magician named Dustin Tavella has advanced to the finals of America’s Got Talent. He is a Christian who uses magic for evangelism: “We want to be a bridge between the church and the not-church—to get the people not in church into the church, and to get the people in the church, outside of the walls.” His unique skills have garnered a national platform few could have imagined a few weeks ago. 

Stefen Wisniewski, an NFL kicker who won Super Bowls with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs, is retiring to become a pastor. He explains: “The absolute best part of my life is my relationship with Jesus Christ, and I can’t imagine a better full-time job than teaching people the Bible and sharing the love of Christ with others.” His former career is giving him a platform for his next career. 

David Klingler made the cover of Sports Illustrated as a quarterback at the University of Houston and played several years in the NFL. As the new football season begins, the current edition of Texas Monthly is profiling Klingler—not for his athletic exploits, but because he is now an Old Testament professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. What he did makes what he does more appealing to the larger culture. 

What Fred Rogers said at Dartmouth 

If you and I will abide in Jesus, he assures us that we will bear “much fruit” (John 15:5). That’s because the love that changes hearts and lives will flow through us to touch those we are called to influence. Such love is a “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22), not a product of human effort. 

Frederick Buechner observed: “Love is not really one of man’s powers. Man cannot achieve love, generate love, wield love, as he does his powers of destruction and creation. When I love someone, it is not something that I have achieved, but something that is happening through me, something that is happening to me as well as to him.” 

Are you so yielded to God’s Spirit that God’s love is “happening” through you? 

David testified: “God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes” (2 Samuel 22:25 MSG). Have you “opened the book of your heart” to your Father today? Can he write the next chapter of your story in any way he chooses? 

Asked differently: Is there a place he cannot lead you? A task he cannot assign you? A person you won’t forgive? Someone from whom you won’t seek forgiveness? A person with whom you won’t share your faith? 

In his 2002 commencement address at Dartmouth, Fred Rogers concluded: “When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see, or hear, or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate. Peace that rises triumphant over war. And justice that proves more powerful than greed. 

“So, in all that you do in all of your life, I wish you the strength and the grace to make those choices which will allow you and your neighbor to become the best of whoever you are.” 

Will you ask God for such strength and grace right now?

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –A Modern-Day Christmas Story

A MODERN-DAY CHRISTMAS STORY – September 3, 2021

You have bills to pay, beds to make, and grass to cut. Your face won’t grace any magazine covers, and you aren’t expecting a call from the White House. Congratulations—you qualify for a modern-day Christmas story!

Step into the stable, cradle in your arms the infant Jesus. Listen as one who knew him well puts lyrics to the event. What no theologian conceived, what no rabbi dared to dream, God did. John 1:14 proclaims: “The Word became flesh.”

Christ in Mary. God in Christ. The Word of God entered the world with the cry of a baby. God writes his story with ordinary people like Joseph, like Mary…people like you. Like me.

MaxLucado.com