Stanley – The Freedom of Relinquishment

In Touch Ministries; Charles

Matthew 19:16-26

We may think we have no attachments that come between us and the Lord, but He knows our heart better than we ourselves do. One Sunday as I was about to preach a sermon along those lines, God showed me something I had prioritized too highly. Then He let me know I needed to reconsider the place it held in my thinking. So I was glad when the choir’s song took a while, because I had time to come to the place of being able to say, “Lord, if that’s what You desire, I want to commit it to You. It’s Yours right now.”

It’s difficult to be obedient if we’re holding onto something too tightly. The Lord wants our attachment to be exclusively to Him so we can shine His light in the world. You may have multitudes of things that God has blessed you with, but the moment any of it controls you, His work is stunted. When you open your hands, however, you allow the Holy Spirit’s power to flow freely through you.

Think about what captivates you, and honestly consider whether it also enslaves you. Is there anything you feel you could never give up? I challenge you to release the relationship or situation to the Lord right now so He can have your full devotion.

Bible in One Year: Joel 1-3

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — An Unexpected Guest

Bible in a Year:

[Jesus said], “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”

Luke 19:5

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Luke 19:1–10

Zach was a lonely guy. When he walked down the city streets, he could feel the hostile glares. But then his life took a turn. Clement of Alexandria, one of the church fathers, says that Zach became a very prominent Christian leader and a pastor of the church in Caesarea. Yes, we’re talking about Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector who climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus (Luke 19:1–10).

What prompted him to climb the tree? Tax collectors were perceived as traitors because they heavily taxed their own people to serve the Roman Empire. Yet Jesus had a reputation for accepting them. Zacchaeus might have wondered if Jesus would accept him too. Being short in stature, however, he couldn’t see over the crowd (v. 3). Perhaps he climbed a tree to seek Him out.

And Jesus was seeking Zacchaeus too. When Christ reached the tree where he was perched, He looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” (v. 5). Jesus considered it absolutely necessary that He be a guest in this outcast’s home. Imagine that! The Savior of the world wanting to spend time with a social reject.

Whether it’s our hearts, relationships, or lives that need mending, like Zacchaeus we can have hope. Jesus will never reject us when we turn to Him. He can restore what’s been lost and broken and give our lives new meaning and purpose.

By:  Poh Fang Chia

Reflect & Pray

What relationships in your life can Jesus help restore? What will it mean for you to be restored by Him?

Jesus, thank You for seeking me when I was lost in sin and for redeeming my messed-up life.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Fulfilling God’s Law

 “In order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:4).

If the Holy Spirit resides within us, we will be able to fulfill the demands of God’s law.

Augustine once said, “Grace was given, in order that the law might be fulfilled.” When God saves us He, by His Spirit, creates within us the ability to obey His perfect law. Because we now live “according to the Spirit”—walking by the Spirit and being filled with the Spirit—we are able to do the righteous things God’s law requires.

Isn’t it wonderful that the Lord no longer expects His law to be lived out only by means of an external code of ethics? Now holiness, righteousness, and obedience to the law are internal, the products of the indwelling Holy Spirit (see Ezek. 11:19-20).

God’s salvation is more than a spiritual transaction by which He imputed Christ’s righteousness to us. It is more than a forensic action by which He judicially declared us righteous. As great and vital as those doctrines are, they were not applied to us apart from God’s planting His Spirit within our hearts and enabling our lives to manifest the Spirit’s fruit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23).

We need to remind ourselves regularly that God’s purpose for us after He redeemed us was that we might live a holy life filled with good works (Eph. 2:10; Titus 2:14). Whenever you are disobedient to God’s will and purpose, you are quenching the Holy Spirit and fighting against yourself and what you know is right. Such disobedience makes about as much sense as the person who holds his breath for no reason and therefore makes his lungs resist their natural function. The believer who disobeys, especially one who persists in a sin, prevents the Spirit from naturally leading him along the path of holiness.

We are not perfect after our salvation—that won’t happen until glorification (1 John 3:2-3)—but the Holy Spirit will empower us to live in ways pleasing to God, which is the kind of righteousness that fulfills His law.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord that you don’t have to meet the demands of the law solely by your own strength.

For Further Study

Read Romans 6.

  • What happened to your old self at the time of your conversion?
  • How must that affect the way you live?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – The Invitation

…What I have forgiven…has been for your sakes…to keep Satan from getting the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his wiles and intentions.

— 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 (AMPC)

Suppose we receive a package from an overnight carrier. After we open it, we stare at a beautiful, oversized envelope, with our name written on it in exquisite calligraphy. Inside, the invitation starts with these words: You are invited to enjoy a life filled with misery, worry and, confusion. 

Which one of us would say yes to such an outrageous invitation? Don’t we seek the kind of life that keeps us free from such pain and distractions? Yet many of us choose such a life. Not that we blatantly make that choice, but we sometimes surrender even temporarily to Satan’s invitation. His attack is ongoing and relentless—the devil is persistent! Our enemy bombards our minds with every weapon at his disposal every day of our lives. 

We are engaged in a warfare that rages and never stops. We can put on the whole armor of God, halt the evil one’s advances, and stand fast on the Word of God, but we won’t put a complete end to the war. As long as we are alive, our minds remain Satan’s battlefield. Most of our problems are rooted in thinking patterns that produce the problems we experience. This is where Satan triumphs—he offers wrong thinking to all of us. This isn’t a new trick devised for our generation; he began his deceptive ways in the Garden of Eden. The serpent asked the woman, Can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from every tree of the garden? (Genesis 3:la). That was the first attack on the human mind. Eve could have rebuked the tempter; instead, she told him God would let them eat from the trees, but not from one particular tree. They couldn’t even touch that tree, because if they did, they would die.

But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die, For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity (vs. 4-5). This was the first attack, and it resulted in Satan’s first victory What we often miss about temptation and the battle our enemy levels against us is that it comes to us deceptively. Suppose he had said to the woman, “Eat of the fruit. You’ll bring misery, anger, hatred, bloodshed, poverty, and injustice into the world.”

Eve would have recoiled and run away He tricked her because he lied and told her what would appeal to her. 

Satan promised, You will be like God. You’ll know good and evil. What a marvelous appeal to the woman. He wasn’t tempting Eve to do something bad—or at least he phrased it in such a way that what she heard sounded good.

That’s always the appeal of sin or satanic enticement. The temptation is not to do evil or to cause harm or bring injustice. The lure is that we will gain something.

Satan’s temptation worked on Eve. And when the woman saw that the tree was good (suitable, pleasant) for food and that it was delightful to look at, and a tree to be desired in order to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave some also to her husband, and he ate (3:6). 

Eve lost the first battle for the mind, and we have continued to fight for it since that time. But because we have the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we can win our battle for the mind—and our battles in life—and we can keep on winning. 

Prayer Starter: Victorious God, help me resist the onslaughts of Satan, who attacks my mind and makes evil seem good. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –What We Must Do

‘A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!’

Judges 7:20

Gideon ordered his men to do two things: Covering up a torch in an earthen pitcher, he had them, at an appointed signal, break the pitcher and let the light shine. Then he had them blow the trumpet, crying, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!”

This is precisely what all Christians must do. First, you must shine: Break the pitcher that conceals your light, throw aside the container that has been hiding your candle, and shine. Let your light shine before men; let your good works be such that when men look at you, they will know that you have been with Jesus.

Then there must be the sound, the blowing of the trumpet. There must be active exertions for the gathering of sinners by proclaiming Christ crucified. Take the Gospel to them. Carry it to their door; put it in their path; do not allow them to escape it; blow the trumpet right against their ears. Remember that the true battle-cry of the church is Gideon’s watchword, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” God must do it; it is His own work.

But we are not to be idle; He uses instruments—“A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” If we only cry, “A sword for the LORD!” we will be guilty of idle presumption; and if we shout, “A sword for Gideon!” alone, we shall display an idolatrous reliance on man: We must blend the two in practical harmony: “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” We can do nothing in ourselves, but we can do everything by the help of our God; let us, therefore, in His name determine to go out personally and serve Him with our flaming torch of holy example and with our trumpet blasts of sincere declaration and testimony, and God will be with us, and the enemy will be put to confusion, and the Lord of hosts will reign forever and ever.

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 – The LORD Is Full of Compassion

 “They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness. The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” (Psalm 145:7-9)

Have you ever found yourself in the belly of a great fish? Or maybe in the middle of a lion’s den or a fiery furnace? How about clinging to the deck of a ship that’s being tossed around in a storm or breaking up against a rocky reef? Have you ever gone into the blazing desert with your mother and crawled under a bush to cry and wait until you starved or thirsted to death?

Have you ever gotten stuck in a cave with a half-crazy king who has been trying to kill you for no good reason? Or have you ever watched a loved one die an early death, knowing Someone might have healed him? Have you ever gotten caught and tried for a horrible crime you did not really commit? Have you ever been disabled in an accident or been forced to beg for food and shelter? Have you ever found yourself left all alone with no one who will claim you as a friend or stand by you or rescue you?

Hopefully, none of those things have ever happened. Hopefully, you will never find yourself in a situation like any of the above. But if you ever do, remember the God of the Bible. Because the Bible tells us stories of people who did find themselves in those situations. And one reason the Bible shares these stories is that God wants to show us what He is like.

God is the kind of God Who shows compassion. He is the kind of God Who listens to repentant sinners and saves them out of their own trouble, because salvation belongs to Him. Using almost the same language as Psalm 145:7-9, the prophet Jonah tells the reason why he prayed to God from where he was trapped in the belly of the great fish: “For I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness” (Jonah 4:2a). Jonah was being punished for his sinfulness and rebellion, but he called upon God anyway, because he had reason to believe that God would show him compassion and mercy.

Are you in a difficult situation? Do you think nobody cares? If there are people who care, do you wonder whether there is even anything they could do to help? In times like that, it is important to “preach to yourself” what the Bible reveals about the character and works of God: He is compassionate. He takes pity on us in our weakness, in our fear, in our sorrows, in our hardships, in our starving, in our persecution, in our grief, in our loss, in our confusion. In fact, no one else could show you the kind of compassion and lovingkindness that the LORD can – because He is the LORD. If it is true compassion that you need, then it is the LORD that you need.

God cares for our needs, and He shows perfect compassion.

My Response:
» Have I ever been in a situation that was too hard for me to bear?
» Does God care, or is He even aware, about the times when I need Him most?
» How can I be compassionate toward others like the LORD is compassionate with me?


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Denison Forum – 95,000 Afghan refugees may come to the US: How will Christians help?

NOTE: Thank you to Shane Bennett for penning today’s Daily Article. He has previously written for Denison Forum, and we appreciate his knowledge and insight on reaching Muslims with the gospel.

According to the New York Times, “As of September 14, about 64,000 evacuees from Afghanistan had arrived in the United States. . . . Nearly 49,000 are living on eight domestic military bases, waiting to be resettled in the United States.”

By this time next year, a total of ninety-five thousand is expected.

We haven’t seen anything like this since the end of the Vietnam War. While government agencies work around the clock and refugee care organizations rapidly retool, many American Christians may be asking “What in the world?!” and “How can we help?”

My friend Ginny related, “I was heartbroken as I watched what was happening to Afghans, but I didn’t want to just sit in a place of brokenness. I asked myself, ‘What can I do as a mom, a normal person, to provide a warm welcome for some of those who’ve suffered so much?’ So I googled ‘helping Afghan refugees,’ picked an organization that popped up, and arranged a visit. My whole family went. We were told several ways to help, then we went out and let the kids spend their ‘giving’ money to buy the basic set-up stuff for one Afghan refugee apartment.”

I expect stories like Ginny’s to multiply across the country in the coming weeks, in part because Americans tend toward generosity and a willingness to help. We’ll also see stories grow as Christians like us obey the clear teaching of Scripture for situations like this.

What does the Bible say about refugees?

Leviticus 19:34 says, “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lᴏʀᴅ your God” (NIV).

This is not lightweight instruction.

“Love them like yourself, remembering where you came from.” Few of us have experienced what Afghan refugees are going through, but core to our theology is the truth that we were lost and have been found. We were outsiders who experienced the amazing kindness of God.

So, we share God’s kindness.

In case we’re tempted to say, “Well, that is the Old Testament,” Jesus gets all up in our grill in his debate with the lawyer in Luke 10. The principle is this: love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus’s response to “Who is my neighbor” came in the form of the story of the Good Samaritan. It ends with Jesus effectively telling the lawyer (and you and me): “Go act like the Samaritan. Show mercy to the one in need. Do this regardless of ethnicity and cultural suspicion.”

This Afghan migration to our shores may be the greatest opportunity in years for us to obey Jesus’ instruction to act like the good Samaritan.

How can I help Afghan refugees?

If you feel a little angst about so many people coming to the US from somewhere like Afghanistan, you’re not alone.

With respect, may I remind you what Jesus told us about worrying in Matthew 6:33? “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (NIV).

Some of the Afghans coming to the US right now will commit crimes. I pray none will give themselves to terrorism, but some bad things will happen both through them and to them. Nonetheless, we’re called to the kingdom work of Jesus, and that means loving Afghans as they arrive in our country.

So what can normal Christians do?

1. Pray

Believe God knows this situation way better than we do and has the power to open doors, comfort hearts, and bring people to himself. Let’s ask him to do so!

Download this simple, half-page prayer guide and see if you can get it in your church bulletin this week. Also, the amazing talent at PrayerCast.com produces stunning videos that will help you pray for Afghans.

2. Give

Imagine you only had the clothes you’re wearing and the cash (not cards!) currently in your pocket. Your wife is gripping your hand in a way that communicates her fear. And your kids are asking, “When will we get there?”, but this time you don’t even know where you’re going! Such is the reality for many Afghans as they make their way to the US.

If you have more than the clothes on your back and the cash in your pocket, you can probably help them. Check out Welcome.US, a growing clearinghouse of opportunities, or be like Ginny and google something local.

If you feel like swinging for the fence, do what I just did and sign up through AirBnB.org to open your guest room (or RV!) to Afghan refugees. It only took about five minutes.

3. Befriend

This current crisis will fade from the news as they all do, but upwards of one hundred thousand possible new Americans will still need help. Long-term friendships cost more than money. They take time, attention, and energy. But, as people of Jesus, we have received grace and the mandate to connect. This isn’t for all of us, but it may be for you.

If you’re down to take action that’s a little bigger than a baby step, figure out a way to invite an Afghan family to their very first American Thanksgiving dinner! If you’re a guy, here are some manly ways to build friendships with Muslims.

4. Advocate

Lobby your church to make strategic contributions of attention, prayer, money, and friendship.

Mike Bell, a pastor and the director of Healing Nations, says, “You don’t have to wait for your church to figure this out. Look for a great opportunity, then you can potentially bring your church along.”

I just recently got a thumbs-up from my pastor for our church to provide the start-up needs for one Afghan apartment in Denver.

5. Connect

If the incoming Afghans don’t land near you, how about extending kindness to whatever Muslims are nearby?

There are several million in the US—at work, down the street, in the next town over. Some have been here for generations. Many are successful, with children and communities they’re proud of. Most would be willing to chat with us. We’d likely learn something, and they would too.

May the God who opened doors for this blessed influx of Afghans open up opportunities for each of us, as he sees fit, to extend the love, grace, present peace, and hope of Jesus to both newly arriving Afghans and Muslims all over.

A note from Shane Bennett: If I can help you in your or your church’s efforts to connect with Muslims, please let me know. If you’d like a fun, weekly reminder of how much God loves Muslims, sign up for Muslim Connect, my 300-word weekly email.

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –Respond to God’s Promptings

RESPOND TO GOD’S PROMPTINGS – September 20, 2021

To walk in the Spirit, respond to the promptings God gives you. Don’t sense any nudging? Just be patient and wait.

Jesus told the disciples, “Wait for the gift my Father promised—the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5). Abraham waited for the promised son. Moses waited forty years in the wilderness. Jesus waited thirty years before he began his ministry. God instills seasons of silence in his plan. Winter is needed for the soil to bear fruit. Time is needed for the development of a crop. And disciples wait for the move of God.

Wait for him to move, nudge, and direct you. This beautiful promise in Isaiah 30, verse 21 where God says, “This is the way; walk in it.” It’s nice to be led by a master. Won’t you let your Master lead you?

MaxLucado.com