In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – God’s Provision

Matthew 14:22-33

We all face trials. Realistically, if you’re not currently in a storm, you’re either just getting out of one or about to enter one. Thankfully, we serve a good God who always provides—including during the dark periods of life. Today’s passage tells of a stormy night on the Sea of Galilee. Let’s look at three ways Jesus provides for us today just as He did for the disciples then.

1. Presence. God is with every believer through His indwelling Holy Spirit, and He promises never to leave (John 14:16-17Heb. 13:5). This is a great gift because it gives a sense of comfort, courage, and confidence.

2. Pathway. He blesses Christians with guidance through trouble. Jesus is in total control of our storm and will use it for His purposes. We may not understand, but we can trust Him to lead us and accomplish good.

3. Potential. He offers believers the ability to grow. Hardships are exercises in trust and times to learn more fully who God is and how great His power and love are.

No one enjoys trials, but we can be grateful for God’s hand in our life and the ways He will use us. Hardships are opportunities to trust the Creator and know Him better.

Bible in One Year: Daniel 10-12

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — From Mess to Message

Bible in a Year:

Tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.

Mark 5:19

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Mark 5:1–20

Darryl was a baseball legend who nearly destroyed his life with drugs. But Jesus set him free, and he’s been clean for years. Today he helps others struggling with addiction and points them to faith. Looking back, he affirms that God turned his mess into a message.

Nothing is too hard for God. When Jesus came ashore near a cemetery after a stormy night on the Sea of Galilee with His disciples, a man possessed by darkness immediately approached Him. Jesus spoke to the demons inside him, drove them away, and set him free.

When Jesus left, the man begged to go along. But Jesus didn’t allow it, because He had work for him to do: “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you” (Mark 5:19).

We never see the man again, but Scripture shows us something intriguing. The people of that region had fearfully pleaded with Jesus “to leave” (v. 17), but the next time He returned there, a large crowd gathered (8:1). Could the crowd have resulted from Jesus sending the man home? Could it be that he, once dominated by darkness, became one of the first missionaries, effectively communicating Jesus’ power to save?

We’ll never know this side of heaven, but this much is clear. When God sets us free to serve Him, He can turn even a messy past into a message of hope and love.

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

What has Jesus set you free from? How can you share with others what He’s done for you?

Beautiful Savior, I praise You for Your amazing power! No darkness can stand against You! Help me to walk in Your light today.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Being Filled with the Holy Spirit

 “Be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

God wants every aspect of the believer’s being to be under the complete control of the Holy Spirit.

Pleroo, the basic Greek word for “be filled,” offers three shades of meaning that illustrate what Paul’s command to be Spirit-filled means. First, the word describes the pressure of wind filling a ship’s sails and moving the vessel across the water. That parallels the Holy Spirit’s leading us down the pathway of spiritual obedience. We aren’t primarily motivated by our own plans and desires, but we allow the Spirit’s gracious pressure to move us in the right direction.

The well-known pain reliever Alka-Seltzer effectively illustrates the second meaning, permeation. If you drop two Alka-Seltzers into a glass of water, they immediately fizzle and soon transform themselves into clear bubbles throughout the water and permeate it with a distinct flavor. That’s how God wants the Holy Spirit to fill our lives, so that there will be no doubt in others’ minds that we possess the distinct and pervasive savor of the Spirit.

Pleroo’s third and primary shade of meaning is that of domination or total control. In Luke 6:11 the scribes and Pharisees “were filled with rage” when Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. Jesus said, “Sorrow has filled your heart” (John 16:6) when He described the disciples’ reaction to the news that He was soon departing. In those two examples, pleroo denotes an emotion that thoroughly dominated the people’s thoughts and excluded everything else.

In regard to earthly concerns, such overwhelming feelings can be wasteful, foolish, and even harmful. But it is beneficial and completely in agreement with the Lord’s will when we yield every thought, feeling, and action to the absolute domination of the Holy Spirit. This yielding will occur in our Christian lives only when we obey another of Paul’s commands, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you” (Col. 3:16). In practice, the Spirit-filled walk is a matter of knowing God’s Word and obeying it.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to forgive you for the times when you have not allowed His Spirit to completely fill and control your life.

For Further Study

Read and compare Isaiah 6 and Revelation 1:9-18.

  • What reactions did the prophet Isaiah and the apostle John both have to the notion of God’s overwhelming power and control?
  • What other general similarities are present in their visions?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Speak the Truth

Rather, let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, [even] Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

— Ephesians 4:15 (AMPC)

People-pleasing behavior often leads people to tell lies because they fear people won’t accept the truth. They say “yes” with their mouth while their heart is screaming “no.” They may not want to do something, but they act as if they do for fear of displeasing someone. If they ever do say no, they usually make an excuse rather than tell the truth that they just don’t want to do what they are being asked to do. They may not feel it is the right thing for them to do. 

We don’t want to be rude, but neither do we want to be liars. Most people pleasers are not honest about their desires, feelings, and thoughts. They tell people what they want to hear, not what they need to hear. A healthy relationship demands honesty. We should be able to say to people, “I don’t have peace about making that commitment right now,” and they should graciously receive that answer, but it rarely happens. Some people may not want to hear the truth, but that does not relieve us of the responsibility to speak the truth.

Prayer Starter: Lord Jesus, help me to speak and live the truth in all that I do. I don’t want to be rude, but I refuse to be dishonest or to resort to half-truths to avoid the real truth, amen. 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –What Does Partake Mean?

Partakers of the divine nature.

2 Peter 1:4

To be a partaker of the divine nature is not, of course, to become God. That cannot be. The essence of Deity is not to be participated in by the creature. Between the creature and the Creator there will always be a fixed gulf in terms of essence; but as the first man Adam was made in the image of God, so we, by the renewal of the Holy Spirit, are in a diviner sense made in the image of the Most High and are “partakers of the divine nature.”

We are, by grace, made like God. “God is love”;1 we become love—“whoever loves has been born of God.”2 God is truth; we become true, and we love what is true. God is good, and He makes us good by His grace, so that we become the pure in heart who will see God.

Moreover, we become partakers of the divine nature in an even higher sense than this—in fact, in as lofty a sense as can be conceived, short of our being absolutely divine. Do we not become members of the body of the divine person of Christ? Yes, the same blood that flows in the head flows in the hand: And the same life that quickens Christ quickens His people, for “You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”3 As if this were not enough, we are married to Christ. He has betrothed us to Himself in righteousness and in faithfulness, and he who is joined to the Lord is one with Him.

Marvelous mystery! We look into it, but who will understand it? One with Jesus—so much so that the branch is not more one with the vine than we are a part of the Lord, our Savior and our Redeemer! While we rejoice in this, let us remember that those who are made “partakers of the divine nature” will display this high and holy relationship in their relationships with others and will make it evident in their daily walk and conversation that they have escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. O for more divine holiness of life!

1) 1 John 4:8
2) 1 John 4:7
3) Colossians 3:3

Devotional material is taken from Morning and Evening, written by C. H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – Christ Suffered To Bring Us to God

 “For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” (1 Peter 3:17-18)

Have you ever “suffered”? Some children have. You, or someone you know, may be fighting a battle against a painful disease. Some children have suffered under physical or emotional abuse. Maybe that has happened to you. Or maybe you have lost a friend or a loved one to death. You may have heard of families who have been persecuted for worshipping the God of the Bible.

But most children have not seen heavy, hard suffering – at least, not yet. Suffering is intense pain that we feel, either on the inside or outside. You might look and feel fine externally (on the outside), but you might be suffering on the inside, in your heart.

Very few people like suffering! Think about it. Let’s say you are sitting in a lawn chair, sipping pink lemonade under the hot sun, when – all of the sudden – you hear a strange, yet familiar buzzing sound near your right arm. What!? It’s a bee! A very large bee with a very sharp-looking stinger on his backside! What is your first reaction? Do you calmly say, “Mr. Big Scary Bee, sir, please do not poke me today with that painful stinger of yours! I’m right in the middle of my lemonade!”? No! You would probably jump out of your lawn chair really fast, screaming and swatting and running around in circles until you were sure Mr. Big Scary Bee, sir, had gone bye-bye!

Why is that your response? Because you hate pain. You dread it. You would never seek after it. You would be crazy if you did. Humanly speaking, suffering is always a bad thing! We never enjoy pain, and we always try to get out of it if we can!

But the Bible teaches in 1 Peter and in Hebrews and in several other places that Jesus Christ did choose to suffer. He had a choice, and He chose suffering! Why? Well, He was God, but He was also human, so pain and suffering were probably not enjoyable for Jesus Christ, either. Just because He was totally God does not mean that suffering did not hurt Him! He was also totally human, so He experienced fear and pain and probably never enjoyed either one. But the Bible shows us that Christ took on suffering, anyway, that He did it in order to bridge the gap between us and God.

Jesus Christ endured (kept on fighting through) the suffering because He really wanted what was waiting on the other side of suffering. The Bible says in Hebrews that Christ chose suffering “for the joy that was set before Him.” In other words, our being able to be right with God meant more to Jesus Christ than His own comfort and safety meant to Him. His sacrificial suffering was what made it possible for us to be right with God. What a courageous and selfless and loving Savior we have!

Jesus Christ endured suffering in order to provide sinners a way of salvation.

My Response:
» Do I ever spend time thinking about what Christ went through so that I could be right with God?
» When I go through suffering, can I find comfort and strength through Christ?
» Do I have good reasons to trust and obey this suffering Savior?


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Denison Forum – “Freak accident” kills man at McDonald’s

I have traveled through Vancouver, Canada, occasionally over the years and always enjoyed my time in this beautiful city. However, what people are calling a “freak accident” occurred there recently; as you’ll see, what happened in Vancouver could happen where you and I live as well.

A man was driving through a McDonald’s restaurant takeout lane when he opened his door to get something he dropped from his window while paying. As he leaned out, the car rolled forward. The door hit part of the restaurant, pinning him between the door and the frame. A police official said, “Efforts were made by first responders to revive the man, but tragically, he died on scene.”

Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker cites compelling research to show that by almost every metric of human wellbeing, the world is getting better—from war, violence, and poverty (all declining) to health, wealth, happiness, and equality (all improving). But it doesn’t take long for the news to remind us of our mortality as well.

Some more examples: CNN reported yesterday that “1 in every 500 US residents have died of Covid-19.” An American intelligence official estimated Tuesday that al Qaeda could begin to threaten the US within one to two years. I noted earlier this week that the next terrorist assault on our country is likely to be a cyberattack. I also noted that a solar storm could cause an “internet apocalypse,” affecting much of society for weeks or months at a time.

Now we’re seeing the gravity of such threats in real time: Apple issued emergency software updates this week after finding a flaw that allows highly invasive spyware to infect anyone’s iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or Mac computer without so much as a click.

“The devil’s most destructive tool”

We are focusing this week on ways to experience transforming intimacy with Jesus. Yesterday we discussed the temptation of so-called private sin and its danger to our spiritual health. Today, let’s focus on a second enemy of spiritual intimacy.

I often state that God redeems all he allows. One way I believe he would redeem the demonstrations of human finitude and fallenness we encounter each day is to show us our constant need for resources only he can supply.

Here’s the reason we need such reminders: as C. S. Lewis noted, “It is pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began.” Thomas A. Tarrants of the C. S. Lewis Institute adds: “Lewis is not simply giving us his private opinion but summarizing the thinking of great saints through the ages. Augustine and Aquinas both taught that pride was the root of sin. Likewise, Calvin, Luther, and many others.

“Make no mistake about it: pride is the great sin. It is the devil’s most effective and destructive tool.”

Consider three ways pride manifests itself in our lives today.

1: Time

In Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life, Tish Harrison Warren quotes Dorothy Bass, who warns us of “a false theology: we come to believe that we, not God, are the masters of time. We come to believe that our worth must be proved by the way we spend our hours and that our ultimate safety depends on our own good management.”

Warren confesses that Bass described her “with stinging accuracy.” I must make the same confession today. That’s why we should proclaim, “This is the day the Lᴏʀᴅ has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24, my emphasis).

2: Prosperity

In 2013, Margaret Loughrey won $37 million in Ireland’s EuroMillions lottery. However, she said in 2019, “Money has brought me nothing but grief. It has destroyed my life. I have had six years of this. I don’t believe in religion, but if there is a hell, I have been in it. It has been that bad.” She was recently found dead in her home.

The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche claimed that the “will to power” is the basic drive in human nature. He was especially right with regard to prosperity. The more we have, the more we want. If money is a means to power, we can never have enough. That’s why “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” (1 Timothy 6:10).

3: Adversity

Conversely, adversity can promote pride. We think we can solve our problems, so we double down on ourselves by trying harder to do better.

Artist Winslow Homer spoke for many in our self-reliant culture when he stated, “There’s no such thing as talent. What they call talent is nothing but the capacity for doing continuous work in the right way.” Psychologist Carl Rogers added: “What I am is good enough if I would only be it openly.”

To the contrary, when Paul faced a “thorn in the flesh” he could not remove in his strength, he heard God say, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

“I have calmed and quieted my soul”

Tomorrow I plan to close our week with practical ways to defeat pride and to experience transforming intimacy with Jesus each day. For today, let’s make David’s prayer ours:

“O Lᴏʀᴅ, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lᴏʀᴅ
From this time forth and forevermore” (Psalm 131).

Is your heart “lifted up” in self-reliant pride, or would God say you are as dependent on him as a child on its mother?

There is not a third option.

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –Plug in to God’s Power

PLUG IN TO GOD’S POWER – September 16, 2021

I believe we make the mistake the Welsh woman made. She lived many years ago in a remote valley and felt it worth the cost and trouble to have electricity installed in her home. Several weeks after installation, the power company noticed she’d barely used electricity. A meter reader went to see her. “Is there a problem?” he asked. “Oh no, we’re quite satisfied. Every night we turn on the electric lights to see how to light our lamps.”

We’re prone to do likewise. Depend on God’s Spirit to save us but not sustain us. We turn to him to get us started and then continue in our own strength. Scripture urges us “keep in step with the Spirit.” He directs and leads, we obey and follow. Plug in to his power, and leave the switch turned on.

MaxLucado.com