In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – God Is at Work in You

Philippians 2:12-13

There are many books promising a successful Christian life, but no humanly inspired technique can ever achieve the work of God. Any commitment or rededication that is based on our own effort will not last; true transformation comes from the Holy Spirit alone. That’s why the Lord wants our humble dependence on Him for strength, growth, and perseverance.

Today’s passage reminds us of these basic truths about the Christian life:

• We participate in the working out of our salvation. This isn’t referring to our initial conversion through faith in Christ; rather, it’s the process of sanctification by which we grow into Christlikeness. An obedient, holy lifestyle is something we must choose and pursue.

• We need an attitude of fear and trembling. There should be no flippancy about how we live, because God is holy and we must one day give Him an account of our life.

• God works in us. Jesus said we can do nothing apart from Him (John 15:5). He’s the one who equips and enables us to live in the way He desires.

God has not left us to do the best we can on our own. He is always at work in believers, to fulfill His desired goals for each of us.

Bible in One Year: Zechariah 6-10

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — All That You Need

Bible in a Year:

God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:26

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 73:23–28

Seated at the dining room table, I gazed at the happy chaos around me. Aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews were enjoying the food and being together at our family reunion. I was enjoying it all, too. But one thought pierced my heart: You’re the only woman here with no children, with no family to call your own.

Many single women like me have similar experiences. In my culture, an Asian culture where marriage and children are highly valued, not having a family of one’s own can bring a sense of incompleteness. It can feel like you’re lacking something that defines who you are and makes you whole.

That’s why the truth of God being my “portion” is so comforting to me (Psalm 73:26). When the tribes of Israel were given their allotments of land, the priestly tribe of Levi was assigned none. Instead, God promised that He Himself would be their portion and inheritance (Deuteronomy 10:9). They could find complete satisfaction in Him and trust Him to supply their every need.

For some of us, the sense of lack may have nothing to do with family. Perhaps we yearn for a better job or higher academic achievement. Regardless of our circumstances, we can embrace God as our portion. He makes us whole. In Him, we have no lack.

By:  Karen Huang

Reflect & Pray

What’s one thing lacking in your life that you feel would make you whole? How can you surrender it to God and find satisfaction in Him as your portion?

Father, thank You for making me complete in Christ. Help me to say along with the psalmist, “As for me, it is good to be near God” (Psalm 73:28).

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Using Spiritual Gifts

 “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12).

To be effective, spiritual gifts must be used in the power of the Holy Spirit, not in the power of the flesh.

One of the constant battles all believers face is to avoid ministering their spiritual gifts in the power of the flesh. Even those of us who are called to be preachers (prophets) need to subject our spirits to other mature believers (1 Cor. 14:32). As a pastor, I am not spiritual just because I stand behind a pulpit and preach. Paul instructs us, “Let two or three prophets speak, and let others pass judgment” (1 Cor. 14:29). Those who teach God’s Word are not infallible; therefore, they must allow other qualified believers to verify the truth of what they proclaim.

Whenever Christians rely on their own strength, wisdom, and desire to minister, whatever they accomplish is a mockery and a waste. But whenever they minister by the Spirit’s power, the result is pleasing to God and has lasting value (“gold, silver, precious stones. . . . If any man’s work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward,” 1 Cor. 3:12, 14). Essentially, all a believer needs to pray is, “Spirit of God, use me,” and divine energy will activate and flow through his or her ministry to fellow believers and unbelievers.

You can use your spiritual gift effectively by faithfully following three basic steps: Pray—continually confess and turn from your sins (1 John 1:9) and ask God to use you in the Holy Spirit’s power. Yield yourself—always determine to live according to God’s will, not the world’s (Rom. 6:16; 12:12). Be filled with the Spirit—let the Spirit control all of your thoughts, decisions, words, and actions. Commit everything to Him, and He will minister through you.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Confess any and all times lately that you have counted on your human ability rather than on the Spirit’s power to minister to others.
  • Pray that this week God would give you a clear opportunity to exercise your spiritual gift for His glory.

For Further Study

Read 1 Samuel 15:1-23.

  • In what way did King Saul use his own insight rather than follow God’s command?
  • What can be the consequence of such disobedience (vv. 22-23; see also 1 Sam. 13:8-14)?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – You’re an Original

He fashions their hearts individually.

— Psalm 33:15 (NKJV)

Psalm 33:15 speaks about us as individuals. Because God has fashioned our hearts individually, our prayers need to flow out of our hearts and be consistent with the way He has designed us. As we develop our individual styles of communication with God, we can learn from people who may be more experienced than we are, but we need to be careful not to imitate them or allow them to set standards for us. I hope to be an example to many, but I want Jesus to be their standard. There is nothing at all wrong with incorporating something someone else is doing into your own prayer life if you truly feel God’s Spirit is leading you to do so, but it is wrong to force yourself to do what others do if you are not comfortable with it in your spirit.

I encourage you to develop your own style of talking to God and listening to His voice. Don’t try to keep up with others or copy their prayer styles—and don’t feel compelled to work every “prayer principle” you have ever learned every time you pray. Just be who you are, remembering that God has fashioned you just the way He wants you to be, that He takes pleasure in who you are, and that He wants to speak to you in unique and personal ways.

Prayer Starter: Thank You, God for making me unique and for being my standard! I love you! In Jesus’ name, amen!

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Not an Option

Sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise!

Psalm 66:2

It is not left to our own option whether or not we will praise God. Praise is God’s most righteous due, and every Christian, as the recipient of His grace, is bound to praise God from day to day.

It is true that we have no authoritative text for daily praise; we have no commandment prescribing certain hours of song and thanksgiving: But the law written upon the heart teaches us that it is right to praise God; and the unwritten mandate comes to us with as much force as if it had been recorded on the tables of stone or handed to us from the top of thundering Sinai.

Yes, it is the Christian’s duty to praise God. It is not only a pleasurable exercise, but it is the absolute obligation of his life. Those of you who are always mourning should not think that you are guiltless in this respect or imagine that you can discharge your duty to God without songs of praise. You are bound by the bonds of His love to bless His name as long as you live, and His praise should continually be in your mouth, for you are blessed in order that you may bless Him—“the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise”;1 and if you do not praise God, you are not bringing forth the fruit that He has a right to expect from you.

Do not let your harp hang on the willows, but take it down and strum with a grateful heart, bringing out its loudest music. Arise and declare His praise. With every morning’s dawn, lift up your notes of thanksgiving, and let every setting sun be followed with your song. Surround the earth with your praises; circle it with an atmosphere of melody, and God Himself will listen from heaven and accept your music.

E’en so I love Thee, and will love,
And in Thy praise will sing,
Because Thou art my loving God,
And my redeeming King
.

1) Isaiah 43:21

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 – God Chastens His Children

“And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Hebrews 12:5-7)

“Joey and Cam, let’s go! We need to head home.” Cam’s mom called, as she wiped ketchup and bits of french fries off of the baby’s fingers and face.

Cam heard her, but he and Joey really wanted to keep playing on the restaurant’s playground for a few more minutes, so they pretended not to hear her. They got “lost” deep inside the maze and climbed backwards up the slides instead of coming out on the ground near her table. Cam did not make eye contact with his mom, but he could hear his little sister starting to get fussy. He did not care. He wanted to keep on playing. So that’s what he and Joey did.

“Cam! Joey! Last call! We are leaving now!” Cam’s mom did not sound too happy.

When they finally got into the van, she turned to the boys and said, “What was that all about at the playground? I know you heard me call the first time. Were you deliberately disobeying?”

The boys looked at one another. Joey nodded slowly, and Cam said a very quiet “Yes, ma’am, we were.”

It was mostly silent in the van until after they had dropped Joey off at his house. Cam’s mom turned to him then and said, “You do realize I’ll have to punish you for deliberate disobedience, don’t you, Cameron?”

“But, Mom, I thought you were done being mad. You didn’t say anything else to Joey!”

“Cam, I don’t have to say anything else to Joey. (Although I am thinking about talking it over with his mom later on.)”

“No fair! Joey did the same thing I did! It might’ve even been his idea! – I don’t even remember exactly, but it probably was Joey’s idea!”

“I’m not responsible to punish Joey. Joey is not my son. You are. Your father and I love you, and we believe our children should not deliberately disobey us. If they do choose to disobey us, they will not go unpunished. You know that.”

It began to sink into Cam’s head, then. His mom was focused on punishing him, not Joey, because she loved him far more than she could ever love Joey. She was not going to bother to punish Joey (his own parents could deal with him), but it was important to her to deal with Cam. You know, thought Cam, that’s really something to be glad about! Not that Cam was feeling very glad about whatever he was going to get as punishment – he wasn’t feeling good about that at all! But it did make sense why his mom was going to punish him: She didn’t want someone she loved so much to grow up into the kind of person who would rather sin than do right.

On a smaller scale, the lesson Cam was learning that day is exactly the lesson God teaches in His Word in Hebrews 12:5-7. To “chasten” someone is to punish, or discipline, that person. Parents like Cam’s make the effort to discipline their children because they love them and want them to become the right kind of people. And God disciplines His children, too. He chastens the “sons” and “daughters” whom He loves. What kind of sons and daughters would they be, really, if no one cared enough about them to claim them and chasten them for wrongdoing? If they were not God’s children, He would not bother to discipline them. But they are His, and they can delight (even in the middle of painful punishment) in knowing that He loves them too much to let them get away with wrongdoing. He wants them to grow and change into “the family resemblance” – into the likeness of His glorious Son, Jesus Christ.

God lovingly disciplines His children, for His own glory and for their own good.

My Response:
» Does the Lord ever have to “chasten” me?
» How do I respond to punishment and discipline from the Lord?
» How should I respond?


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Denison Forum – Did Benjamin Franklin’s personal religion help him achieve “moral perfection”?

As a Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin was instrumental in winning America’s independence and framing our constitution. 

He was also an inventor. He didn’t invent electricity, but he invented the lightning rod. His other inventions included bifocals, the Franklin stove, and the $100 bill—not really. 

You might not realize it, but Ben Franklin even invented his own personal religion. 

Benjamin Franklin’s personal religion

Franklin was raised in a Puritan Presbyterian family and was baptized at an early age. Based upon his writings, it’s clear that he was a God-fearing man. However, in his adult years, he seldom attended church and he viewed Jesus as a great moral teacher, like Socrates. But he didn’t believe that Jesus was God in the flesh. 

When Benjamin Franklin was a young adult, he established his own religious system to be a good moral person. In his autobiography, he wrote: “It was about this time [age twenty] I conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection. I wished to live without committing any fault at any time. . . . As I knew, or thought I knew, what was right and wrong, I did not see why I might not always do the one and avoid the other. But I soon found I had undertaken a task of more difficulty than I had imagined.”

Franklin’s thirteen “moral habitudes”

Franklin enumerated thirteen moral qualities that he tried to attain. He called these his “moral habitudes” (a cross between a habit and an attitude). They included temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility. 

Franklin took his personal religion seriously. He had a little book with his thirteen moral qualities written down the left side. Then he had seven columns for the seven days of the week. He would judge himself and, if he failed or needed improvement, he would make a mark in that column. Each week he would erase the marks and start over. He soon found that there were so many marks that erasing them tore a hole in the page! He got a new book, and, when a page would fill up with marks against his plan, he would tear that page out and start over. 

Failing at perfection

Later in life when he wrote his autobiography, he reflected on the failure of his system: “I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it. . . . In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself. . . . For, even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.”

Ben Franklin was a wise, powerful individual. However, he admitted that he failed to live a life of perfect moral purity. He could have saved himself a lot of frustration and paper if he had applied Galatians 2:20 to his life. Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”  

We can never achieve moral perfection ourselves. There is only one person who ever lived a perfect life: his name is Jesus, and he lives in those who have placed their faith in him.

Instead of inventing thirteen moral habitudes, we already have God’s list. Galatians 5:22 describes nine character qualities that Jesus was to live out through us: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” 

But you don’t have to create a checklist and make a daily mark when you try to live up to those character qualities. Those nine words simply describe the personality of Jesus. 

As you surrender to Jesus living in you, he energizes those qualities in your life.

Dr. David O. Dykes served as pastor of Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas before retiring on September 1, 2021. He is the author of 21 books, including three action-packed novels, writing as David Orlo; all are available on Amazon. He is currently booking speaking engagements and can be reached at dod75701[at]gmail.com.

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –God’s Abounding Grace

GOD’S ABOUNDING GRACE – September 30, 2021

Scripture says in Romans 5:20 that “the more we see our sinfulness, the more we see God’s abounding grace.” To abound is to have a surplus, an abundance, an extravagant portion. Should the fish in the Pacific worry that it will run out of ocean? No. Why?  The ocean abounds with water. Need the lark be anxious about finding room in the sky to fly? No, the sky abounds with space.

So should the Christian worry that the cup of mercy will run empty? He may. For he may not be aware of God’s abounding grace. Are you? Are you aware that the cup God gives you overflows with mercy? Or are you afraid your cup will run dry? Or your mistakes are too great for God’s grace? God is not a miser with his grace. Your cup may be low on cash or clout, but it is overflowing with mercy.

MaxLucado.com