In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Reward of Relinquishment

Genesis 22:1-18

When God asks us to surrender our will to His, it’s our job to trust He will show us the way (Prov. 3:5-6). I’ve learned that, while it’s a struggle to put everything on the altar, we don’t have to understand how God will accomplish His plans. Telling God “no” because we first want to understand why amounts to getting in our own way. But when we say “yes,” He can pour out His goodness and reward our obedience.

Today’s passage shows a remarkable example of relinquishment. Abraham’s deep faith in God’s trustworthiness allowed him to obey and offer up what was most precious to him: his son Isaac. As a result, the Lord provided a substitutionary sacrifice that day and also promised Abraham countless descendants, one of whom would be Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind.

God shouldn’t be mistaken for a parent who withholds a treat until the child complies. Rather, obedience positions us to receive what He is already trying to give us—and to accomplish what He has in mind for our life. So, when we fail to trust God enough to do what He says, we could be closing ourselves off from those good things.

What has the Lord told you to do? Have you only partially cooperated, or have you relinquished your need to understand and obeyed completely? If the Lord says to give, know that you too can trust Him to provide.

Bible in One Year: Amos 1-4

Our Daily Bread — Truth, Lies, and Vigilantes

Bible in a Year:

Do not spread false reports.

Exodus 23:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Exodus 23:1–9

During the 2018 baseball season, a Chicago Cubs coach wanted to give a baseball to a young boy sitting by the dugout. But when the coach tossed the ball toward him, a man scooped it up instead. Video of the event went viral. News outlets and social media skewered this “brute” of a man. Except viewers didn’t know the whole story. Earlier, the man had helped the young boy snag a foul ball, and they agreed to share any additional balls that came their way. Unfortunately, it took twenty-four hours before the true story emerged. The mob had already done its damage, demonizing an innocent man.

Too often, we think we have all the facts when we only have fragments. In our modern gotcha culture, with snippets of dramatic video and inflamed tweets, it’s easy to condemn people without hearing the full story. However, Scripture warns us not to “spread false reports” (Exodus 23:1). We must do everything possible to confirm the truth before leveling accusations, making sure not to participate in lies. We should be cautious whenever a vigilante spirit takes hold, whenever passions ignite and waves of judgment swell. We want to safeguard ourselves from “follow[ing] the crowd in doing wrong” (v. 2).

 As believers in Jesus, may God help us not to spread falsehoods. May He provide what we need to exhibit wisdom and to make certain our words are actually true.

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

Take a moment to recollect a time when someone was falsely accused. What was the damage, and how was the wrong made right?

God, with things moving so fast these days, it’s often hard to know what’s real. Help me to listen, pay attention, and speak only the truth.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Conquering Doubt

“Take the helmet of salvation” (Eph. 6:17).

The key to conquering doubt is to focus on the preserving power of God.

Doubt comes to Christians in many ways. After you’ve sinned, your conscience might hiss at you, saying, “Surely you’re not a Christian. Why would God save you anyway? You don’t deserve His mercy. You’re not good enough. How presumptuous to think God could ever use you!” Such doubts are common among Christians who focus on their performance rather than God’s power.

All too often we’re quick to acknowledge God’s power to save us but slow to understand His power to keep us. To complicate matters, many Christians believe they can lose their salvation, so they live in constant fear of falling away from the faith. Still others have never learned what Scripture teaches about their security in Christ. They’re so intent on pleasing God through their own efforts that they lose sight of grace and drift into a subtle works- righteousness mentality.

Your performance doesn’t determine your standing in Christ; your standing in Christ determines your performance. Good works are the necessary result of salvation (Eph. 2:10) but they don’t save you or keep you saved. That’s God’s work.

Jude said, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (v. 24). “Able” in that verse translates a Greek word that speaks of power. “Keep” literally means “to secure in the midst of an attack.” “Stumbling” refers to falling into sin. Together they say that God is powerful enough to prevent you from stumbling into sin and falling away from Him—no matter how intense Satan’s attacks might be. He will continue to protect and cleanse you until the day you enter His glorious heaven perfected.

Sin is a serious issue and you should never take it lightly. But when you do sin, remember that as a believer you’re immediately cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ (1 John 1:7). So always confess your sins and turn from them, but never doubt God’s power or willingness to keep you saved. Trust in His grace, not in your ability to perform.

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise the Lord for continually cleansing your sin.

For Further Study

Memorize Jude 24-25 and recite it often as a reminder of God’s power and majesty.

Joyce Meyer – The Grace of God Leads to Victory

May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts!

— Ephesians 3:17 (AMPC)

If you want victory over something, prepare yourself to work at it and for it. But it is not a matter of depending on yourself or winning at life through your own determination. God gives us grace to do good works. But grace doesn’t mean that our human flesh gets a free ride while we just lie down and go to sleep.

You are made for good works, to be a servant of righteousness. You are built to take responsibility, and God will help you accomplish all He gives you to do. He set you free from the bondage of sin so that you can conform to His divine will in thought, purpose, and action (see Romans 6:18).

Victory in life—and winning your unique battles—is achieved through God’s grace, but you have to choose to trust Him every step of the way.

Prayer Starter: Father, I choose to trust You in everything I do…but I will need Your help in this, just like everything in life. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –God’s Delight

I will rejoice in doing them good.

Jeremiah 32:41

How heartwarming to the believer is the delight that God takes in His saints! We cannot see any reason in ourselves why the Lord should take pleasure in us; we do not even take delight in ourselves, for we often have to groan, being burdened, conscious of our sinfulness and deploring our unfaithfulness. We are fearful that God’s people cannot take much encouragement from us, for they surely can see our many imperfections and our follies, and so be caused to lament our infirmities rather than admire our graces. But we love to dwell upon this transcendent truth, this glorious mystery: As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so the Lord rejoices over us.

We do not read anywhere that God delights in the cloud-capped mountains or the sparkling stars, but we do read that He delights in the habitable parts of the earth, and that His delights are with the sons of men. We do not even find it written that angels give His soul delight; nor does He say, concerning cherubim and seraphim, “Thou shalt be called Hephzibah . . . for the LORD delighted in thee.”1 But He does say all that to poor fallen creatures like ourselves—debased and depraved by sin, but saved, exalted, and glorified by His grace.

In what strong language He expresses His delight in His people! Who could have conceived of the Eternal One bursting into a song? Yet it is written, “He will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”2 As He looked upon the world He had made, He said, “It is very good”; but when He looked on those who are the purchase of Jesus’ blood, His own chosen ones, it seemed as if the great heart of the Infinite could restrain itself no longer but overflowed in divine exclamations of joy.

Should we not utter our grateful response to such a marvelous declaration of His love and sing, “I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation?”3

1) Isaiah 62:4 KJV
2) Zephaniah 3:17
3) Habakkuk 3:18

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – The LORD Is Slow to Anger

“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)

“Hey, watch it, Blaine!” Justin grabbed his forehead where Blaine had elbowed him. Ouch! he thought. Why does Blaine always have to muscle his way all over the court? What a ball hog!

“Sorry, Justin. Are you OK?” Blaine stopped dribbling the basketball and came over to where Justin was standing under the net. “It was an accident.”

“Accident, my foot! You just think this game is all about Blaine, don’t you?!” Justin kept dabbing at his forehead, half-hoping there would be blood there – maybe that would teach ol’ Blaine the Ball Hog a lesson. “Blaine, Blaine, it’s all about Blaine. You’ve got a great two-step strategy, you know – hog the ball and knock everyone else off the court!”

“Justin, really. It wasn’t on purpose – I’m just a clutz.” With a shake of his head, Blaine handed Justin the ball and walked off the court to the locker room.

Justin opened his mouth to shout something after him, but he stopped when he realized all the other boys at practice were staring at him. “Well, what?” he asked them, as the locker room door shut behind Blaine. “It’s about time someone told him off.”

Coach Mark walked over and put his hands on Justin’s shoulders. “Justin, take a step back and look at yourself and your reactions. The only one in this gym acting like the game is all about him is you, Justin, acting like it’s all about you.” Coach took the ball out of Justin’s hands and motioned for him to leave. “I think you have some business in the locker room, young man. Namely, an apology for being quick to jump to angry conclusions.”

Like Justin, have you ever struggled with a quick temper? Often, an angry reaction is wrong in several ways. Justin assumed that Blaine was wronging him, when really Blaine had elbowed him accidentally. But through his anger, Justin could not see the truth. So he got a false understanding of Blaine and ended up hurting everyone. Justin would have been wise to first check his own attitude and goals. Maybe Coach was right; maybe Justin was playing like a ball hog and Blaine just got in his way. There can be more than one side to any story.

When we do wrong or get ourselves in trouble, we really do want God and others to be patient with us. We want them to understand where we are coming from, what we really meant by that comment, or how sorry we really are. We really want other people to be “slow to anger” with us, to give us some time to explain or to try to make things right. But how are you when it comes to being “slow to anger” with other people? By his example, Coach Mark showed Justin how to confront someone who is in the wrong. He did not jump to a false conclusion about Justin. He went over and calmly talked instead of shouting out quick and thoughtless accusations. It is not wrong to respond with anger – some anger is good, righteous anger. But how do you get angry? Do you react quickly and thoughtlessly like Justin, or do you show wisdom and restraint like Coach Mark?

Coach Mark was following an example, too. God’s. The LORD is slow to anger, longsuffering in His kindness, abundant in mercies, quick to forgive. Are you?

God is longsuffering and slow to let loose His anger on us.

My Response:
» Am I quick to lose my temper with people?
» What does a quick temper reveal about my opinions of myself?
» How can I become “slow to anger”?

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Denison Forum – Facebook is hurting its users, but is it our fault?

NOTE: Thank you to Ryan Denison for writing today’s Daily Article. He is the Denison Forum Senior Fellow for Theology and has written more than four hundred articles for Denison Forum.

It should not come as a surprise that social media companies like Facebook have an outsized influence on the way their users see the world. But the degree to which that’s the case—and the extent of the issues it’s now causing—are starting to become more widely known.

Recent reports from the Guardian, the Wall Street Journal, and others warn that from amplifying body issues, eating disorders, and depression among teenage girls to driving people into extremist groups on their website, Facebook and its subsidiaries are increasingly hurting their users.

Before we launch into efforts to break them up or lay blame for all the world’s wrongs at their feet, though, we need to understand that we are the reason they have that power. We’re wired to seek out the self-destruction they offer—and that’s our fault more than theirs.

Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t steps Facebook and others could take to help mitigate some of those issues. And they do hold some responsibility for the fact that cries to do just that have largely fallen on deaf ears. After all, countless books, articles, and studies have pointed out the way that their approach to creating communities of people around the world place a higher priority on generating traffic than on responsibly moderating their services.

But a big part of the crisis—and one of the reasons why we need to be careful about asking them to fix our problem—is found in this question: Who should we really trust in this day and age to serve as that censor, determining when and where a conversation or group crosses the line?

Some restrictions should be obvious, and largely are. Instances of pornography (especially when involving children) and sex trafficking, for example, are rightly censored. That said, even then Facebook has often struggled to crack down on those using its services to perpetrate such evil.

But what about political misinformation and issues surrounding public health topics like Covid and vaccination? How about what is defined as hate speech?

And the waters get even murkier from there.

The reality is that what exactly constitutes misinformation or speech that deserves to be removed can often be difficult to know before it has already spread to the point that containment becomes a largely fruitless endeavor. And making the call too quickly, before all the information is known, can mean shutting down important conversations and censoring the truth rather than lies.

There are practical steps Facebook can, and should, take to help the problem—such as reducing the importance of comments in determining which posts are pushed by their algorithms. However, at the end of the day, they really can’t make a large enough difference to solve the problem.

So what can?

3 ways to use social media wisely

As mentioned above, the reason social media outlets like Facebook are prone to fostering the kind of destructive content for which they are often maligned is that we are wired to gravitate toward the kinds of silos that confirm rather than challenge our views. So when Facebook’s algorithms suggest content based on our previous usage, it just sends us deeper down the same lines of thinking. Their entire system is built around that strategy, and expecting them to change now is simply not going to happen (and probably wouldn’t help much if they tried).

Ultimately, we’re left with two options: cut off all social media or become more intentional about how we use it (e.g., take a social media fast). To be honest, there is some merit to both.

But let’s go forward under the assumption that you do not plan to delete your profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any of the others. What steps can you take to help mitigate some of the dangers and make greater use of the benefits they offer?

1. Admit that you are not immune to being deceived.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering there are several warnings throughout Scripture regarding how our Enemy thrives on lies and deceit (John 8:44) and that there will always be those who try to tempt us away from the truth with false teachings we might prefer to hear (2 Timothy 4:3).

Far too often, though, we can fool ourselves into thinking that because we profess to serve the God who is truth and believe in objective truth, we will always be able to tell the difference between truth and lies. However, apart from a constant reliance upon the Holy Spirit’s guidance and on a community of believers in which everything is tested against the teachings of Scripture (Acts 17:11), our pride can actually make us among the most prone to believing what isn’t true.

That, in turn, is why the second step is so important.

2. Surround yourself with people who care more about knowing the truth than about being right.

If you wonder if that’s you, then ask yourself this simple question: When was the last time you can remember being wrong about something?

If nothing comes to mind, then it’s worth at least entertaining the notion that the reason is not that you are always correct, but rather that there aren’t enough people or other influences in your life to help you see when you’re wrong.

Do you have friends or family that challenge your way of thinking? Are you open to being challenged? If the answer to either question is no, then spend some time today praying that God would help you improve in that regard and expand your circle to include people that can help you grow rather than just feel good about where you are.

It may not—and likely will not—be a pleasant change at first. But as you come to see the fruit it bears in your walk with God and his ability to use your life to expand his kingdom, you’ll come to appreciate it.

And that brings us to the final step.

3. Hold everything but your relationship with God loosely enough that if he shows you something needs to change, you’re willing to do it.

Set higher standards for the groups you follow and participate in on social media. Be willing to set boundaries around the relationships in your life. That doesn’t necessarily mean cutting off friendships or ignoring family members, but if you know that there are some people who bring out the worst in you, just be careful. Ask the Lord what a healthy version of that relationship would look like and then make whatever changes are necessary to get there.

How will you use social media going forward?

At the end of the day, we could lament everything wrong with Facebook and other forms of social media, but if we’re waiting on them to fix the toxic culture that they foster, then things are just going to keep getting worse.

So take responsibility for your own life and your own influences. Surrender them to God and give him free rein to make whatever changes he deems necessary.

Facebook can be a wonderful place where the Lord uses you to expand his kingdom in ways that, to this point in history, were simply unimaginable. But that’s not going to happen unless you take the necessary steps to ensure it can be a tool for God rather than the Enemy.

Which is more true in your life today?

Upwords; Max Lucado –Wait Expectantly

WAIT EXPECTANTLY – September 21, 2021

Wait on the Spirit. If Peter and the apostles needed his help, don’t we? They walked with Jesus for three years, heard his preaching, and saw his miracles. They saw the body of Christ buried in the grave and raised from the dead. They witnessed his upper room appearance and heard his instruction. Had they not received the best possible training? Weren’t they ready? Yet Jesus told them to wait on the Spirit. “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised…the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5).

Learn to wait, to be silent, to listen for his voice. Cherish stillness; sensitize yourself to his touch. And just think—you don’t need a thing. You’ve got it all. All God’s gifts right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene.