In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Worship God Only

James 4:4-8

When reading in the Old Testament, we might not understand why people would bow down before idols they had made. But we make a similar mistake, placing too high a value on things like money, relationships, appearance, and power. Though not bad in themselves, these can become objects of worship if we prioritize them above God. That’s why He is jealous for our heart.

There are two reasons the Lord doesn’t let His children’s devotion stay out of balance. First, He deserves the glory, and second, He loves us and wants the best for us. Praising God above all else is actually in our own best interest, so when our heart does not belong solely to Christ, He disciplines us. This might mean He allows challenges to remind us who is the one and only God. Hardships are not pleasant, but we can be encouraged that God is making us complete in Him.

This week, notice where you spend your time and money and what dominates your thoughts. Even if your pursuits seem good on the surface, ask the Lord to reveal whatever has become an idol in your life. Confess any misplaced affection, and ask for help in making God the object of your devotion.

Bible in One Year: Amos 5-9

Our Daily Bread — No Misunderstanding

Bible in a Year:

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.

Romans 8:28

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Romans 8:26–30

Alexa, Siri, and other voice assistants embedded in smart devices in our homes occasionally misunderstand what we’re saying. A six-year-old talked to her family’s new device about cookies and a dollhouse. Later her mom received an email saying that an order of seven pounds of cookies and a $170 dollhouse were on their way to her home. Even a talking parrot in London, whose owner had never bought anything online, somehow ordered a package of golden gift boxes without her knowledge. One person asked their device to “turn on the living room lights,” and it replied, “There is no pudding room.”

There’s no such misunderstanding on God’s part when we talk with Him. He’s never confused, because He knows our hearts better than we do. The Spirit both searches our hearts and understands God’s will. The apostle Paul told the churches in Rome that God promises He’ll accomplish His good purpose of maturing us and making us more like His Son (Romans 8:28–29). Even when because of “our weakness” we don’t know what we need in order to grow, the Spirit prays according to God’s will for us (vv. 26–27).

Troubled about how to express yourself to God? Not understanding what or how to pray? Say what you can from the heart. The Spirit will understand and accomplish God’s purpose.

By:  Anne Cetas

Reflect & Pray

What’s on your mind right now that you should share with God? How are you encouraged by the truth that He knows and understands what you’re facing?

Thank You, God, that You know my heart. I love You for that and many other reasons. Help me to express my thoughts to You and to trust You to understand.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Dealing with Despair

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

Your helmet of salvation protects you from discouragement and despair.

We’ve seen how Satan attacks believers with his two-edged sword of doubt and discouragement. But he doesn’t stop there. He tries to take you beyond discouragement to despair by robbing you of hope. Unless you’re careful, his attacks will be successful when you’re battle-weary.

The prophet Elijah is an illustration of that truth. The highlight of his ministry came atop Mount Carmel, where he slew 450 prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:40). Yet immediately after that great victory, he fled for his life because Queen Jezebel threatened to kill him (1 Kings 19:1- 3).

He ran from Mount Carmel into the wilderness of Beersheba, where he “sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, ‘It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers'” (v. 4). He went on to moan, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, torn down Thine altars and killed Thy prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away” (v. 10).

Elijah lost hope because he failed to see his circumstances through the eyes of faith; he was attempting to fight the battle on his own. He allowed himself to become emotionally, physically, and spiritually spent, and became overwhelmed with self-pity. He felt utterly alone.

But God hadn’t abandoned Elijah. He was still in control and His people were numerous (v. 18). But Elijah had, in effect, removed his helmet of salvation and received a near-fatal blow to his confidence in God’s blessing on his life.

There may be times when, like Elijah, you lose your confidence and doubt God’s faithfulness. At such times, putting on the helmet of salvation means taking your eyes off your circumstances and trusting in God’s promises. You may not always sense His presence or understand what He’s doing, but be assured He will never leave you or forsake you (Heb. 13:5) and His purposes will always be accomplished (Rom. 8:28).

Suggestions for Prayer                    

Praise God for His unchanging character and irrevocable promises.

For Further Study

Read Isaiah 40:29-31 and Galatians 6:9.

  • What promises are given in those passages?
  • In what specific ways do they apply to your life?

Joyce Meyer – Getting the Most Out of Your Marriage

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

— Luke 6:31 (NIV)

I wonder how many millions of people think, I just don’t feel the way I once did about my spouse. I wish I still felt excited about our marriage—that the romantic feelings would come back. This is when we need to remember: wishing does not do any good; only action changes things.

If you don’t feel you are getting anything out of your marriage, perhaps you are not putting enough into it. We usually give our spouses the unfair and unrealistic responsibility of making us happy rather than being grateful for them and choosing to make them happy. In the process, selfishness causes both of you to be unhappy. But you can change that! If you want your marriage or any other relationship to improve, just start being grateful for that person and try to bless them every chance you get.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for my spouse and for their unique gifts and abilities. Help me to appreciate them and focus on their strengths. Today, I choose to be a blessing and let You take care of everything else, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Rejoice in God’s Attributes

Let Israel be glad in his Maker.

Psalm 149:2

Rejoice, believer, but take care that your gladness has its spring in the Lord. You have much cause for gladness in God, for you can sing with David, “God my exceeding joy.”1 Be glad that the Lord reigns, that Jehovah is King! Rejoice that He sits on the throne and rules all things!

Every attribute of God should become a fresh ray in the sunlight of our gladness. The fact that He is wise should make us glad, knowing as we do our own foolishness. That He is mighty should cause us who tremble in our weakness to rejoice. That He is everlasting should always be a theme of joy when we know that we wither like grass. That He is unchanging should provide a perpetual song, for we change every hour. That He is full of grace, that He is overflowing with it, and that this grace in covenant He has given to us, that it is ours to cleanse us, ours to keep us, ours to sanctify us, ours to perfect us, ours to bring us to glory—all this should serve to make us glad in Him.

This gladness in God is like a deep river. So far we have only touched its edge; we know a little of its clear sweet, heavenly streams, but further on the depth is greater, and the current more powerful in its joy.

The Christian feels that he may delight himself not only in what God is, but also in all that God has done in the past. The Psalms show us that God’s people in olden times were keen to make much of God’s actions and to have a song concerning each of them. So let God’s people now rehearse the deeds of the Lord! Let them tell of His mighty acts and “sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously.”2 Let them never cease to sing, for as new mercies flow to them day by day, so their gladness in the Lord’s loving acts of providence and grace should display itself in continued thanksgiving.

Be glad, children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God.

1) Psalm 43:4
2) Exodus 15:1

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God’s “Suitcase” for the Journey of Life

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (II Timothy 3:16-17)

“You put your suitcase in the car. Right, honey?” TJ’s mom asked as she pulled out of the driveway.

TJ was going to camp for the first time, and he was excited. “Yes!” he called from the back seat.

“Okay, just checking.” She smiled as she said it. For about a week, she had been packing TJ’s suitcase for camp. She kept it open in his room so that she could add necessary items as she thought of them. TJ did not really know what all was in there, but he did know she had been to Wal-Mart four times just to buy things for his trip!

TJ enjoyed his week at camp. But when he got home, he admitted to his mom that parts of his week had not been the best. “I got really hungry in the afternoons, Mom. I wanted to buy some snacks and souvenirs but didn’t have any cash!”

“Oh, TJ,” his mom replied. “I put your wallet in your suitcase. It had $30 in it for you to spend. Did you eat all the snacks I sent you?”

“What snacks?” TJ asked.

“Oh, honey. It was all in your suitcase. Did you even open it up?”

“Not really, Mom,” replied TJ. “I didn’t want to take the time. Were there clean clothes in there too?”

You might be thinking, TJ wasn’t very smart to keep his suitcase shut all week long!

But believe it or not, you make a similarly foolish choice when you choose not to open your Bible! Here’s why: You have probably heard people compare the Christian life to a journey. Throughout this “trip” you need encouragement, food and supplies for each day, wisdom in dealing with various situations, and correction when you are going the wrong way. God has packed everything you need into His Word, according to 2 Timothy 3:16-17. It is your “suitcase” for the “journey” of life. Just as it would be foolish to keep your suitcase shut during a trip to camp, it is also unwise to neglect (not pay attention to) God’s Word from day to day. And God promises that His Word can make you “perfect,” which means “complete.” All you need is all there for you in God’s Word; you just have to open it.

God has packed into His Word everything you really need for life.

My Response:
» Am I spending time in God’s Word every day to get what I need for my “journey” through life?
» When I am reading God’s Word, am I looking for truths about Him?

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Denison Forum – How the church can bless the culture into spiritual awakening

A recent report out of England found that the country’s forty-two Anglican cathedrals contributed £235 million (roughly $321 million) to their local economies in 2019. Among that value included more than six thousand jobs and volunteer posts, accruing more than nine hundred thousand hours of service through food banks, support groups, and various outreach ministries to help their respective communities.

And such contributions are not unique to Great Britain.

In America, faith-based groups contribute more than $316 billion in savings to the US economy every year. In addition, congregations, religious institutions, and faith-based businesses contribute roughly $1.2 trillion of socio-economic value to the country, which is the equivalent of the world’s fifteenth largest national economy.

I bring these statistics up, however, not as an opportunity to congratulate ourselves for a job well done but rather to show just a small taste of the potential we have to bless our country and our community by serving others in the name of Jesus.

Why the global awakening is missing America

There is a Great Awakening going on in our world, and hundreds of thousands are being adopted into the family of God every day as a result. Muslims are coming to Christ in numbers never before seen in history. Similar stories are found in South Korea and China, where within the next ten years, their combined Christian populations are projected to pass America’s.

But we’re not seeing it here, and there is little to indicate that will change on its own.

Matthew 8 could give us a hint as to why that is.

The chapter starts with Jesus coming down the hillside after delivering the Sermon on the Mount to encounter a leper and then a centurion. Both were in desperate need of his help and, because of the faith they demonstrated, both received the healing for which they asked (8:1–13). He then proceeded to do the same for the mass of people that followed him to Peter’s house (8:14–17).

Later on in the chapter, he and the disciples leave that area and encounter two demon-possessed men. Jesus heals them both, granting the demons’ request to instead inhabit a herd of pigs who are then driven off a cliff and die. The herdsmen fled and came back with a town’s worth of people who “begged him to leave their region” (8:28–34).

In both instances, people experienced the miraculous power of God. But while the first group responded with gratitude and faith, the townspeople at the end of the chapter asked Jesus to leave and wanted nothing to do with him. The difference is that those he healed were aware of how much they needed him. Those who sent him away were not.

That same pattern is at the heart of why some parts of the world are encountering Christ in powerful and transformative ways while, for most of the West, that’s simply not the case. Our culture just doesn’t understand why we need what Jesus has to offer.

So what can we do to help them take that step?

A different path to revival

In previous centuries, the Great Awakenings that helped shape so much of western culture—especially in America—began because a large segment of the population became increasingly aware of their need for God.

At times, as with the ministry of Jonathan Edwards, that happened through preaching and emphasizing the depravity of humanity. Far more often, though, it happened because people who thought God just didn’t care about them or that Christianity was just for the wealthy—one of the primary fallacies the First Great Awakening tried to correct—encountered the good news of Jesus from people who cared about them enough to share it.

Given the state of our culture today—where morality is largely subjective and the church is often seen as a barrier to progress—we are not going to convince many people that they need Jesus by just praying that God would change their hearts while criticizing all the ways in which their lives run counter to his teachings.

To be sure, prayer still has a very large role to play in helping our culture come to Christ, but if it essentially amounts to “God, please let them know how awful they are,” then we’re not going to see things improve very much.

I’d like to propose a different approach.

Revival starts with you

Instead of looking at the world around us and lamenting at how lost they seem to be, what if we shifted our focus instead to asking God how we can best bless the lives of those around us?

What if our prayers were less about what’s wrong with the world and more about what we can do to make it better?

In Genesis 12, God blesses Abraham so that, through Abraham, he might bless the world (Genesis 12:2). As Christians, we are heirs of that purpose.

What would it look like if we devoted a substantial amount of our time in prayer to asking the Lord how he wants to use us to bless the people we meet?

What kind of an impact could we make on our community if, instead of trying to figure out ways to get them into our churches, we chose instead to figure out ways to meet their needs where they are?

As mentioned at the start, the numbers don’t lie. A lot of Christians are already doing that, and it’s awesome. But if we want to see the Great Awakening that’s creating new believers across the globe come to our borders, then it’s going to take a level of intentionality and Spirit-driven focus that is often lacking in our communities of faith.

We may not change the narrative about our faith on a national level, but every person we meet is a chance to change it on a personal one. If we want to see revival, then it has to start there.

God has a plan to use each and every one of us to be a blessing in his name to the lost around us.

We just have to ask and then obey.

Will you?

Upwords; Max Lucado –The Spirit Led Life

THE SPIRIT LED LIFE – September 22, 2021

You don’t have to hurry or scurry. The Spirit-led life does not panic; it trusts. In Ephesians 1:19 and 20 the apostle Paul reminds us that, “God’s power is very great for us who believe. That power is the same as the great strength God used to raise Christ from the dead and put him at his right side in the heavenly world.”

The same hand that pushed the rock from the tomb can shove away your doubt. The same power that stirred the still heart of Christ can stir your flagging faith. The same strength that put Satan on his heels can, and will, defeat Satan in your life. Just keep the power supply open. Who knows, you may soon hear people asking, “What’s gotten into you?” You see, as God’s story becomes our story, his power becomes our power.