In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Sunday Reflection: Expanding Your Family

When we encounter someone from a broken family, we should respond with compassion, not judgment.

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.

Family can be complicated—we can’t choose the one we’re born into or control how it evolves. So though we hope for the best, not everyone can depend on family for support, and those without it are left vulnerable.

Some believers might be tempted to shame or judge broken families, but our job is not to determine whether a person deserves our compassion—only God is judge (James 4:12). Instead, we are simply to be compassionate and remain humble about our own circumstances. If God’s love is truly in our heart, we can—like the Good Samaritan—move beyond judgments and draw near to fully understand someone’s story (Luke 10:33). Then the love will follow (1 John 4:7).

God’s Word is full of commands to care for widows and orphans because He believes everyone belongs. Let’s watch for people going through life alone—and offer them the love and support of a family.

Think about it

  •  Do you know someone who’s without loved ones or who suffers from loneliness? Consider offering an invitation to join you in a family activity this week—dinner at home, movie night, a walk through the park, or even a trip to the store. 

Bible in One Year: John 1-3

Our Daily Bread — A New Calling

Bible in a Year:

He has saved us and called us to a holy life.

2 Timothy 1:9

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

2 Timothy 1:6–14

Teenage gang leader Casey and his followers broke into homes and cars, robbed convenience stores, and fought other gangs. Eventually, Casey was arrested and sentenced. In prison, he became a “shot caller,” someone who handed out homemade knives during riots.

Sometime later, he was placed in solitary confinement. While daydreaming in his cell, Casey experienced a “movie” of sorts replaying key events of his life—and of Jesus being led to and nailed to the cross and telling him, “I’m doing this for you.” Casey fell to the floor weeping and confessed his sins. Later, he shared his experience with a chaplain, who explained more about Jesus and gave him a Bible. “That was the start of my journey of faith,” Casey said. Eventually, he was released into the mainline prison population, where he was mistreated for his faith. But he felt at peace, because “[he] had found a new calling: telling other inmates about Jesus.”

In his letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul talks about the power of Christ to change lives: God calls us from lives of wrongdoing to follow and serve Jesus (2 Timothy 1:9). When we receive Him by faith, we desire to be a living witness of Christ’s love. The Holy Spirit enables us to do so, even when suffering, in our quest to share the good news (v. 8). Like Casey, let’s live out our new calling. 

By:  Alyson Kieda

Reflect & Pray

When have you shared the gospel with someone, and what was the result? Did it ever lead to suffering? What happened?

Dear God, thank You for offering me a new calling through Your Son. And thank You for giving me the Spirit to live inside me to guide and empower me to serve You.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Increasing Your Spiritual Strength

“All Scripture is . . . profitable for . . . correction” (2 Tim. 3:16).

God’s Word strengthens the repentant sinner.

If you’re a gardening buff, you know that skillful pruning promotes the overall growth and productivity of a plant. Jesus assumed His audience knew as much when He said, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you” (John 15:1-3).

Jesus was comparing believers to branches, which the Father prunes for maximum productivity. The Word is His pruning shear, which He applies with skill and precision to remove our imperfections and promote godliness. He wants to eliminate anything from our lives that may restrict our spiritual growth.

The word translated “correction” in 2 Timothy 3:16 speaks of the strengthening work of God’s Word. Scripture not only exposes your sin, but it also strengthens you and restores you to a proper spiritual posture. It convicts you and then gives you instruction to build you up again.

Job 17:9 says, “The righteous shall hold to his way, and he who has clean hands shall grow stronger and stronger.” Paul added, “I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).

As the Spirit uses Scripture to expose sin in your life, forsake that sin and follow what Scripture says to do instead. You will be strengthened in your spiritual walk as a result. To aid in that process be “constantly nourished on the words of the faith and . . . sound doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:6).

I firmly believe that any weaknesses you have can become areas of great strength as you allow God’s Word to do its sanctifying work within you.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the strengthening and restoring power of His Word.
  • If there’s an area of your life that is weak and vulnerable to temptation, confess it to the Lord and begin today to strengthen it according to the Word.

For Further Study

Read Ephesians 1:18-23 and 3:14-21.

  • What did Paul pray for?
  • How did God demonstrate His power toward believers?
  • Is God’s power sufficient for all your spiritual needs? Explain.

Joyce Meyer – There Is Power in Hope

Return to the stronghold [of security and prosperity], you prisoners of hope; even today do I declare that I will restore double your former prosperity to you.

— Zechariah 9:12 (AMPC)

Hope is a powerful force that will bring you through any storm. Our hope is in God; therefore, we can hope without any natural reason to do so. Hope is a positive expectation of good. Practice saying, “Something good is going to happen to me today, and something good is going to happen through me today.” God is good and He wants to shower His goodness on you.

There are times of difficulty, loss, illness, and disappointment in life, but if we will endure with hope in our hearts, we will be rewarded with a double blessing for our former trouble. Let me strongly encourage you to refuse to be hopeless. Put your hope in God and things will always come around to being right in due time. I can’t guarantee how long it will take, and it may not be quick, but hope will strengthen you to face life with joy even in the midst of trouble.

Live daily thinking, Today may be the day of my breakthrough. It could happen suddenly . . . at any moment. Hope is the anchor of our souls. It keeps us from giving in to wild emotions that attempt to lead us to do things we will regret later on. The wise man puts His hope in God. He listens for God’s voice and follows it, knowing that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. God is that Light and He is urging you to be a prisoner of hope.

Prayer Starter: Father, anytime I feel discouraged or weary, help me remember that there is always hope. Help me be filled with hope in You and positive expectation. You are good, and I believe You want to be good to me.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –The Importance of Thanksgiving

I will give thanks to the Lord.

Psalm 9:1

Thanksgiving should always follow answered prayer, just as the mist of earth’s gratitude rises when the sun of heaven’s love warms the ground.

Has the Lord been gracious to you and inclined His ear to the voice of your prayer? Then thank Him as long as you live. Let the ripe fruit fall upon the fertile soil from which it drew its life. Do not fail to sing in praise of Him who has answered your prayer and has given you the desire of your heart. To be silent about God’s mercies is to incur the guilt of ingratitude; it is to act as poorly as the nine lepers who after they had been cured of their leprosy did not return to give thanks to the healing Lord. To forget to praise God is to refuse to benefit ourselves; for praise, like prayer, is one great means of promoting the growth of our spiritual lives. It helps to remove our burdens, to excite our hope, to increase our faith. It is a healthy and invigorating exercise that quickens the pulse of the believer and prepares him for new enterprises in his Master’s service.

To bless God for mercies received is also the way to benefit our fellowmen; “let the humble hear and be glad.”1 Others who have been in similar circumstances will take comfort if we can say, “Magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together. . . . This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him.”2 Weak hearts will be strengthened, and sagging spirits will be revived as the saints listen to our “shouts of deliverance.”3 Their doubts and fears will be rebuked as we teach and admonish one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. They will also “sing of the ways of the LORD”4 when they hear us magnify His holy name.

Praise is the most heavenly of Christian duties. The angels do not pray, but they do not cease to praise both day and night; and the redeemed, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, are never tired of singing the new song, “Worthy is the Lamb.”5

1) Psalm 34:2
2) Psalm 34:3,6
3) Psalm 32:7
4) Psalm 138:5
5) Revelation 5:12

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional -God Has Done Wonders

“And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for to morrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” (Joshua 3:5)

Did you know that there are said to have been “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World”? They were: The Great Pyramid of Giza (in Egypt), the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (in Iraq), the Temple of Artemis (in Turkey), the Statue of Zeus at Olympia (in Greece), the Mausoleum of Maussollos (in Turkey), Colossus of Rhodes (in Greece), and the Lighthouse of Alexandria (in Egypt). The only one of these wonders that has not yet been destroyed (by earthquakes or fires) is the Great Pyramid in Egypt. If you wanted to see one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, you would have to go all the way to the continent of Africa!

There are also Seven Wonders of the Natural World, and Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Human beings like to make lists of unique, amazing things around them. All of these “wonders” are called “wonders” because they are unusual and hard to believe. It is difficult for us to imagine the amount of work and planning that must have gone into making a monument as large and long-standing as the Great Pyramid of Giza. To stand in front of it, or to reach out and touch it with our hands – this structure that was built over 2000 years before Christ was born! That would be something very special. We would probably look up in wonder and awe at the Great Pyramid.

When the LORD explained to Joshua how He was planning to bring the children of Israel over the Jordan River and how He planned to help them conquer the wicked people living on the land there, Joshua understood that the LORD was going to fight for them and do great miracles for them. He was right. God was preparing to do great wonders on behalf of this group of people. They were not a large nation (in comparison to the nations they were fighting, their armies were small). They were not trained soldiers. And there were many things they could not do on their own – like crossing rushing rivers without drowning or losing all their belongings.

God told Joshua to lead the people across the Jordan River, and He told him how to do it. The evening before the crossing, Joshua got up in front of all the people. He told them they needed to sanctify themselves (consecrate, purify, prepare themselves spiritually), because the LORD was going to do great wonders for them!

How would you have felt if you were an Israelite the next day? What if you waited in a crowd and watched the priests set their feet in the river’s current? What if you were able to see the waters start to pile up into a giant heap? What would it have felt like to walk across the riverbed on dry ground while God Himself – the same God Who created the universe and you yourself – held back the entire river? Surely you would agree with your leader Joshua: The LORD was doing wonders for you.

One reason the Old Testament tells us stories like this one is to remind us that the God Who created the world, and the God of the Israelites, and the God of all the prophets and poets and kings – He is the same God we have today. The God of the Bible is a wonder-working God. His wonders are more numerous and more marvelous than anything ever thought of or created by mankind. What a good and great Creator-Redeemer we have!

The God of the Bible is a wonder-working God.

My Response:
» Do I believe the stories I read in the Bible about God’s greatness and goodness?
» Do I prepare myself spiritually when I am praying for the LORD to do great works?
» How can I magnify the goodness and greatness of my God in front of other people?

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – A Yielded Life

True freedom requires giving God control of our life.

James 4:7-10

One of the hardest things for us to bear is not having control over our own circumstances. But as Christians, this is exactly how we are called to live. Jesus made this very clear when He said we must deny ourselves and lose our life for His sake (Luke 9:23-24). He is now our Lord and Master, and we no longer have the right to rule over ourselves. 

However, we have no cause for fear because God is an infinitely good, wise, and loving ruler. Furthermore, left to ourselves, we will make foolish mistakes and unwise decisions. That’s why we should delight in submitting to the Lord, trusting Him to control every aspect of our life. 

Yielding ourselves to the Lord is a two-part process. Submission to Him necessitates resisting the devil. And drawing near to God requires turning from sin, purifying our hearts, and cleansing our behavior. If any of these factors are lacking, then we haven’t truly submitted to the Lord as He desires but are trying to control certain aspects of our life. 

Instead of seeing submission as a loss, we must recognize it as eternal gain. If we humble ourselves before God, He promises to exalt us. 

Bible in One Year: Luke 20-22

Our Daily Bread — God Sings Over You

Bible in a Year:

[God] will rejoice over you with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Zephaniah 3:14–17

Seventeen months after our first child—a boy—was born, along came a little girl. I was overjoyed at the thought of having a daughter, but I was also a bit uneasy because while I knew a few things about little boys, this was uncharted territory. We named her Sarah, and one of my privileges was rocking her to sleep so my wife could rest. I’m not sure why, but I started trying to sing her to sleep, and the song of choice was “You Are My Sunshine.” Whether holding her in my arms or standing above her in her crib, I quite literally sang over her, and loved every minute of it. She’s in her twenties now, and I still call her Sunshine.

We usually think about angels singing. But when was the last time you thought about God singing? That’s right—God singing. And furthermore, when was the last time you thought about Him singing over you? Zephaniah is clear in his message to Jerusalem: “The Lord your God” takes great delight in you, so much so that He “rejoice[s] over you with singing” (3:17). Although this message speaks directly to Jerusalem, it’s likely God sings over us—those who have received Jesus as Savior—too! What song does He sing? Well, Scripture’s not clear on that. But the song is born out of His love, so we can trust it’s true and noble and right and pure and lovely and admirable (Philippians 4:8).

By:  John Blase

Reflect & Pray

What feelings are stirred when you consider God singing over you? Is that something unbelievable or something comforting? Why?

Good Father, the thought that You would sing over me in joy is such an assurance and comfort. Thank You.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Reproving Sinful Conduct

“All Scripture is . . . profitable for . . . reproof” (2 Tim. 3:16).

People who aren’t interested in holy living will avoid being exposed to sound doctrine.

Paul instructed Timothy to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2). He knew a time was coming when many people would reject sound doctrine, and “wanting to have their ears tickled, [would] accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and . . . turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths” (vv. 3-4).

That’s certainly true of our day. Many who profess to love Christ seem intolerant of His Word. Often they fall into spiritual complacency and surround themselves with teachers who tell them exactly what they want to hear. If they can’t find a comfortable message, they drift from church to church or simply abandon it altogether.

Such people have exchanged conviction for comfort, and need to examine themselves to see if they are genuine believers (2 Cor. 13:5). Their attitude toward the Word is in stark contrast to those who truly love Christ and come to the Word with an earnest desire to learn its truths and live accordingly.

But even true believers can fall into the trap of negligence and compromise. Perhaps you’ve noticed how sinning Christians often try to avoid exposure to God’s Word. Sometimes they’ll temporarily stop attending church or Bible studies. They also try to avoid other believers—especially those who will hold them accountable to what they know to be true.

But like any loving parent, God won’t allow His children to remain in sin for long without disciplining them (Heb. 12:5-11). Sooner or later they must repent and be reconciled to Him.

An important element in reconciling sinning Christians to God is the faithful prayers of other believers. God may choose to use you in that way, so always be ready to pray, and eager to restore others in a spirit of gentleness (Gal. 6:1).

Suggestions for Prayer

Do you know a Christian who is being disobedient to God’s Word? If so, ask God to bring him or her to repentance. Assure the person of your prayers and concern, and be available to be further used in the restoration process if the Lord wills.

For Further Study

What does Matthew 18:15-20 say about how to confront a sinning Christian?

Joyce Meyer – See It, Believe It

Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish; but he who keeps the law [of God, which includes that of man]—blessed (happy, fortunate, and enviable) is he.

— Proverbs 29:18 (AMPC)

God has satisfaction, fullness, and completeness in mind for us. I never felt satisfied or complete in my life until I was doing what God had ordained for me to do. Fullness only comes through being in the center of God’s will.

We all need and want to believe that the future will be better than the past for us. If we can’t believe that, we will be miserable; in fact, in a sense we will perish if we are without hope and not feeling blessed. Today’s Scripture encourages us to have vision.

A vision is something we see in our minds, “a mental sight.” It may be something God plants in us supernaturally or something we see on purpose. It involves the hopes and dreams we have for the future. And one of the best things about it is that we simply have to believe in it. Some people are afraid to believe. They think believing will set them up for disappointment. They need to realize that they will be perpetually disappointed if they don’t believe. I feel that if I believe for a lot and even get half of it, I am better off than I would be to believe for nothing and get all of it.

I challenge you today to start believing for good things in your life. Believe you can do whatever you need to do through Christ. Dream big dreams and believe they can come true—because nothing is impossible with God!

Prayer Starter: Father, plant in my heart all Your dreams and visions for my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – How Do We Pray?

Pray then like this:
‘Our Father in heaven. . .’

Matthew 6:9

This prayer begins where all true prayer must start, with the spirit of adoption: “Our Father.” There is no acceptable prayer until we can say, “I will arise and go to my Father.”1 This childlike spirit soon perceives the grandeur of the Father “in heaven” and ascends to devout adoration, “hallowed be your name.” The child lisping, “Abba, Father” grows into the cherub crying, “Holy, holy, holy.” There is but a step from rapturous worship to the glowing missionary spirit, which is a sure expression of filial love and reverent adoration—“your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Next follows the heartfelt expression of dependence upon God—“Give us this day our daily bread.”

Being further illuminated by the Spirit, the one praying discovers that he is not only dependent but sinful; so he cries for mercy, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”; and being pardoned, having the righteousness of Christ imputed, and knowing his acceptance with God, he humbly prays for holy perseverance, “Lead us not into temptation.” The man who is really forgiven is anxious not to offend again; the possession of justification leads to an anxious desire for sanctification. “Forgive us our debts”—that is justification; “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”—that is sanctification in its negative and positive forms.

As the result of all this, there follows a triumphant ascription of praise, “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.” We rejoice that our King reigns in providence and shall reign in grace, from the river even to the ends of the earth, and of His dominion there shall be no end. So from a sense of adoption, up to fellowship with our reigning Lord, this short model of prayer conducts the soul. Lord, teach us then to pray.

1) Luke 15:18

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Forgives Because of Christ’s Shed Blood

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:7-9)

Is it strange to think that blood can cleanse us from sin? If you fall down and cut your knee, you will probably have to put something on it to keep the blood from dripping down into your sock or onto the carpet in your home. Blood stains. And when we think about blood, we usually like to try to “change the subject” and talk about something else. How could something that stains physical things be what washes us spiritually?

But the Bible says that without the shedding of blood, there can be no remission (forgiveness) of sin. Jesus Christ’s blood is the only blood that could ever pay for our sins, because He is 100% God and 100% Man. His sinlessness was the only way to make up for our sinfulness.

Did you know it is only because of Christ’s sinlessness, His death on the cross, His shed blood, and His resurrection that He is able to take away our sin? God looks at Jesus Christ’s blood and sees it as something that washes away the spiritual stains that our sins leave on our hearts. Are you confessing your sins to God? If so, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us because of the blood Christ shed.

God can cleanse away our sins because of Christ’s blood.

My Response:
» Is it hard for me to believe that Christ’s blood is key to God’s being able to forgive my sins?
» Am I trusting in Christ (Who He is and what He has done) for my salvation today?
» How can I show that I believe that God is faithful and just to forgive me when I confess sins?

Denison Forum – Why do so many Americans believe in ghosts?

 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).

As Halloween approaches this Sunday, I found these facts about Americans to be relevant:

  • 70 percent of us will celebrate the upcoming holiday; the figure rises to 91 percent for parents with children in their home.
  • 88 percent of parents say they eat their children’s candy.
  • 32 percent say there is no age limit for trick-or-treating.
  • 46 percent believe ghosts are real.

As to why so many Americans believe in ghosts, the New York Times cites the rise of Americans claiming no religious preference and quotes sociologist Thomas Mowen in response: “People are looking to other things or nontraditional things to answer life’s big questions that don’t necessarily include religion.” Interestingly, Mowen says he is finding that “atheists tend to report higher belief in the paranormal than religious folk.”

In other words, many do not believe in the supernatural when it refers to God, but they do when it does not.

For example, the Washington Post is carrying a feature-length portrait of a “teenage witch” who lives in Austin, Texas. The article reports that the hashtag #witchtok on TikTok has 19.4 billion views. The teenager profiled by the Post says, “I’ve never felt more peace than when I’m with my gods. Reading a prayer or doing a ritual. It’s like the earth is alive, a way of stepping into my power as a person.”

An illusion that illustrates a cultural fact

The “Delboeuf Illusion” is an optical illusion of relative size perception. The best-known version of the illusion is below. The two dark-circled discs are the same size, though the one on the left seems smaller than the one on the right.

The Delboeuf Illusion (Image credit: Public Domain)

This illusion illustrates a cultural fact: the more chaos we see in the world around us, the smaller our individual challenges can seem.

There was a day, for instance, when concerns about witchcraft and the occult in the Harry Potter series were front-page stories. Now the enormous escalation of interest in witchcraft raises few eyebrows. So many people are fascinated with astrology and occult practices that the phenomenon is being called an “occult revival.” In a day dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, political divisions, and natural disasters, this “revival” can seem innocuous. But this is far from true.

My purpose is not to disparage all Halloween activities. We took our boys trick-or-treating in the neighborhood, and they will do the same with their children this Sunday. Halloween can be a fun holiday and even a way of building relational bridges for the gospel with our neighbors and community.

It is estimated that Americans will spend $10.1 billion on Halloween this year, including $3.3 billion on costumes and $3 billion on candy. Such a popular event can be a great opportunity to reach out to those around us with Christian truth and love (Ephesians 4:15).

“Do not turn to mediums or necromancers”

Rather, I’d like to use what the teenage witch said in the Washington Post article to contrast Halloween and the day it precedes. She claimed that communing with her occult “gods” is “a way of a way of stepping into my power as a person.” By contrast, God’s word consistently forbids engagement with the occult:

  • “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them” (Leviticus 19:31).
  • Scripture says of King Manasseh that he “used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with necromancers.” As a result, “He did much evil in the sight of the Lᴏʀᴅ, provoking him to anger” (2 Chronicles 33:6).
  • “The household gods utter nonsense, and the diviners see lies; they tell false dreams and give empty consolation. Therefore the people wander like sheep; they are afflicted for lack of a shepherd” (Zechariah 10:2).

Satan’s first strategy is always to claim that we will “step into our power as a person” by being our own god (Genesis 3:5). This is because the “will to power,” as Nietzsche described it, is basic to our fallen human nature.

As a result, we don’t have to engage in witchcraft and other occult practices to be tempted by the self-sufficiency our secular culture applauds and reinforces. I can refuse the occult but still write this article in my own ability for my own glory. You can read it in the same way.

If we do, neither of us will experience the omnipotent power available to everyone who refuses self-reliance for Spirit-dependence by yielding our minds and lives to the Holy Spirit.

Why we should “keep in step with the Spirit”

In contrast to Halloween, the following day is All Saints Day. (Halloween is a contraction of “All Hallows’ Eve,” referring to the day it precedes.) The day celebrates all the saints from Christian history.

But know this: all Christians qualify. We are all God’s “saints” (cf. Acts 9:139:32Romans 1:78:271 Corinthians 1:2Ephesians 4:12Philippians 4:21). However, to live out our identity requires power beyond ourselves.

By his Spirit who dwells in every Christian (1 Corinthians 3:16), God will enable us to defeat temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13), guide us into “all the truth” (John 16:13), and empower our global witness and ministry (Acts 1:8). But if we turn to any other source—be it occult, secular, or self-reliant—we forfeit what our omnipotent Father wants to do with and through us.

I’ll close with an illustration: I walked early yesterday morning in our neighborhood in the midst of a windstorm blowing twenty miles per hour, with gusts twice that strong. When I walked against the wind, I had no help from its strength. To the contrary, I had to work much harder than if there were no wind.

But when I went with the wind, its force at my back enabled me to walk with power beyond myself. (For more, see my blog on my personal website, where you’ll find other blogs, videos, and a way to ask me questions about faith and life.)

Jesus likened the Holy Spirit to the “wind [that] blows where it wishes” (John 3:8). Scripture calls us to submit to this “wind” every day (Ephesians 5:18), refusing to quench (1 Thessalonians 5:19) or grieve (Ephesians 4:30) his power through sin.

If we will “keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25), we will have his omniscient wisdom to guide us and his omnipotent power to strengthen us.

Would the Spirit say you are “in step” with him today?

If not, why not?

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Our Growth as Christians

Christians should reflect Jesus to the world so that all can share in the joy of salvation.

Galatians 2:20

What is the goal of the Christian life? Romans 8:29 expresses it this way: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (emphasis added). This is called sanctification, and it has several stages.

First comes salvation—our redemption from sinfulness through Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. What results is forgiveness of sin, which lets us have a relationship with God. 

Next, God gives us opportunity to serve. We were created to do good works in Jesus’ name (Eph. 2:10). 

Then comes frustrated inadequacy. This is a necessary part of the journey and can last varying amounts of time. Though difficult, this phase is beautiful because it leads us into total dependence on Jesus, which is the best part of our spiritual life. And it is what brings us closer to our ultimate goal: becoming a reflection of Christ. 

Sadly, many Christians don’t reach a point of complete reliance on the Lord. The apostle Paul reminds us to fix our eyes on the goal of maturity in Christ (Phil. 3:14). Learning to die to self is painful, but ironically, it’s the only true way to life. 

Bible in One Year: Luke 17-19

Our Daily Bread — Is God Listening?

Bible in a Year:

If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

1 John 5:14

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

1 John 5:13–15

When I served on my church’s congregational care team, one of my duties was to pray over the requests penciled on pew cards during the services. For an aunt’s health. For a couple’s finances. For a grandson’s discovery of God. Rarely did I hear the results of these prayers. Most were anonymous, and I had no way of knowing how God had responded. I confess that at times I wondered, Was He really listening? Was anything happening as a result of my prayers?

Over our lifetimes, most of us question, “Does God hear me?” I remember my own Hannah-like pleas for a child that went unanswered for years. And there were my pleas that my father find faith, yet he died without any apparent confession.

Etched across the millennia are myriad instances of God’s ear bending to listen: to Israel’s groans under slavery (Exodus 2:24); to Moses on Mount Sinai (Deuteronomy 9:19); to Joshua at Gilgal (Joshua 10:14); to Hannah’s prayers for a child (1 Samuel 1:10–17); to David crying out for deliverance from Saul (2 Samuel 22:7).

First John 5:14 crescendos, “If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” The word for “hears” means to pay attention and to respond on the basis of having heard.

As we go to God today, may we have the confidence of His listening ear spanning the history of His people. He hears our pleas.

By:  Elisa Morgan

Reflect & Pray

Pause to consider what you’ve most recently asked of God. What motivated you to ask? How can you know that God hears you?

Father, I come asking and trusting You to hear me because You say that You do.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Avoiding Spiritual Deception

“All Scripture is . . . profitable for . . . reproof” (2 Tim. 3:16).

Scripture is the standard by which you must measure all teaching.

In November of 1978, United States Representative Leo Ryan of California visited the People’s Temple (a California- based cult) in Guyana. He went to investigate reports that some of the people were being held there against their will. The world was shocked to learn that the congressman and his party had been ambushed and killed.

Even more shocking was the grim discovery that followed a few days later. Authorities who entered the compound at Jonestown, Guyana were horrified to find the bodies of 780 cult members who had been shot or had committed suicide by drinking cyanide-laced punch. Their leader, the Reverend Jim Jones, was found lying near the altar—dead from a single bullet wound to the head.

For many, it was the first time they had witnessed the deadly effect of satanic teaching. Editorials and articles for months attempted to explain how such appalling deception and genocide could occur in this day and age. But as tragic as the Jonestown deaths were, most observers missed the greatest tragedy of all: the spiritual damnation that Jim Jones and all other false teachers lead their followers into.

Spiritual deception is a very serious issue to God. That’s why in Scripture He lays down the truth and reproves anything contrary to it. The Greek word translated “reproof” in 2 Timothy 3:16 means to rebuke or confront someone regarding misconduct or false teaching.

If you have a thorough grasp of Scripture, you have a standard by which to measure all teaching. Then you can easily recognize false doctrine and avoid spiritual deception. That’s what John had in mind when he said, “I have written to you, [spiritual] young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one” (1 John 2:14).

False religions will always attempt to distort Scripture because they must eliminate God’s truth before they can justify their own lies. Beware of their subtleties, and be strong in God’s Word.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank the Lord for protecting you from spiritual deception.
  • Pray for anyone you may know who has fallen victim to false teaching. Take every opportunity to impart God’s truth to them.

For Further Study

Read 2 Corinthians 11:1-413-15. How did Paul describe false teachers?

Joyce Meyer – God Knows You Intimately

For there is not a word in my tongue [still unuttered], but, behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.

— Psalm 139:4 (AMPC)

Because we relate to God as individuals—and that’s the way He wants it—we pray as individuals. Even when we pray corporately with others, we are still individuals; we simply join our hearts with others as one voice. During these corporate prayer times, I believe God wants our hearts to be in unity much more than He wants our methods to be the same.

When we say, “Lord, teach me to pray,” we are asking Him to teach us to pray in a distinctly personal way and to enable our prayers to be easy, natural expressions of who we are. We are not supposed to check our individuality at the door of the prayer closet. We need to go to God just the way we are and give Him the pleasure of enjoying the company of the “original” He has made each of us to be. We need to approach God with our strengths, weaknesses, uniqueness, and everything else that so wonderfully distinguishes us from all the other people in the world. God enjoys meeting us where we are, developing a personal relationship with us, and helping us grow to become everything He wants us to be. It is refreshing to realize that we can come to God just as we are and be relaxed in His presence.

Prayer Starter: Lord Jesus, thank You for making me an individual and an original, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –A Lofty Doctrine

I chose you out of the world.

John 15:19

Here is distinguishing grace and discriminating regard, for some are made the special objects of divine affection. Do not be afraid to dwell upon this lofty doctrine of election. When your mind is heavy and depressed, you will find it to be a spiritual tonic. Those who doubt the doctrines of grace or who throw them into the shadows miss the richest clusters of grapes; they lose the best wines, the choice food.

There is no balm in Gilead comparable to it. If the honey in Jonathan’s wood when simply touched illumined the eyes, this is honey that will illumine your heart as you love and learn the mysteries of the kingdom of God. You must feed on this; live upon this choice provision, and do not be afraid that it will prove too delicate a diet. Meat from the King’s table will hurt none of His servants. Desire to have your mind enlarged, that you may comprehend more and more of the eternal, everlasting, discriminating love of God.

When you have soared as high as election, linger on its twin peak, the covenant of grace. Covenant engagements are the mighty fortresses behind which we lie entrenched; covenant engagements with our Savior, Christ Jesus, are the quiet resting-places of trembling spirits.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the raging flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
This still is all my strength and stay.

If Jesus undertook to bring me to glory, and if the Father promised that He would give me to the Son to be a part of the infinite reward of the travail of His soul, then, my soul, until God Himself shall be unfaithful, until Jesus shall cease to be the truth, you are safe. When David danced before the ark, he told Michal that election made him do so. Come, my soul, dance before the God of grace, and let your heart leap for joy!

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is a Peacemaker

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)

If you have ever seen two kids arguing on a playground or at a park, maybe you had a desire to go up to them and try to calm them down. Did you wonder what you could say? “Excuse me, Sally and Polly. Don’t you think this is a silly and petty argument to have? Wouldn’t you rather be playing quietly with your dolls and making lemonade for one another?” Or, maybe you have thought about saying something like, “Jimmy and Johnny, would you kindly consider the comfort and well-being of the many other people on this playground? We would all like to play in peace, and all your yelling is disturbing to the rest of us.”

If you tried saying one of those two things, you would probably end up getting slapped or knocked down yourself! When we are upset or angry, usually almost anything someone might say to us will only make us even more upset and angry. It takes a very thoughtful, wise, and meek person to know how to calm people down and help them make peace with one another. It is very difficult to help two “enemies” become “friends.”

Did you know that God is a peacemaker? It says in the Bible that God’s whole plan of redemption is all about glorifying Himself by reconciling us to Himself through Jesus Christ. The verb “reconcile” means to bring together, to put right, to make peace with. Since God is holy, He is against sin. There is absolutely no way for Him to be at peace with sinners – at least, not without Jesus Christ. That’s why Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father, except by coming through the Son.

Because He lived a sinless life, died for sinners’ sins, and rose from the grave, Jesus is qualified (able and allowed) to be our bridge, connecting us to God. Instead of seeing their sin, God can “see” believers as having Christ’s own righteousness, not their own sin. Through Jesus Christ, we can be right with God. Instead of being God’s “enemies,” we can be His “friends” (like Abraham, who was called the friend of God because of His faith in the coming Messiah). Jesus Christ is the reason we can be reconciled with God.

2 Corinthians 5 teaches that we who are now reconciled to God ought to be about the business of peacemaking. We ought to be trying to reconcile other people to God. We are Christ’s ambassadors (representatives, spokespeople), and we are to continue what He started in His time of ministry on Earth. He has promised to help and bless us. Matthew 5:9 shows this promise: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” God is interested in being reconciled to people, and we ought to be serving in the ministry of reconciliation, too.

Through Christ, God reconciles believers to Himself and passes on to them the ministry of reconciliation.

My Response:
» Do I really believe that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life?
» Am I trusting in Jesus Christ to reconcile me to God in spite of my sinfulness?
» If Christ has reconciled me to God, how can I be involved in “the ministry of reconciliation,” too?

Denison Forum – Lauren Daigle urges Christians to pray for courage

“He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Lauren Daigle is one of the most famous musicians in America. Two of her songs have won Grammys; the multiplatinum artist was one of the headlining performers at this year’s Gospel Music Association Dove Awards.

Reflecting on the challenges Christians face in the music industry, she often reflects on Matthew 5:10, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.” She told Christian Post that when she was in high school, she prayed that God would give her a “backbone” to stand up for those who were being bullied. As a result, she testified, “If you ask God for that courage, he will give it to you. He will give you boldness; he will give you courage.”

She encouraged young Christians to ask for courage as well: “Just know you’re not the only one doing it. It will feel like, in the moment, that you’re the only one making a stand. But you’re not the only one making a stand. There are others around you. And we’ve got your back.”

High school stages “drag ball” for homecoming

Lauren Daigle is right: it can feel lonely to stand for biblical morality in our radically secular culture.

My wife and I returned recently from a trip to Vermont, where we found beautiful nature and many gracious people. But we were surprised by the irreligious nature of the culture. For example, I went into seven bookstores during our trip; not one had a Bible for sale.

It is therefore unsurprising that a Vermont high school would stage a “drag ball” for its homecoming halftime show. About thirty students and faculty members dressed as drag queens and kings walked onto the stage and the crowd started to chant, “Drag Ball!” They paraded and danced to show support for LGBTQ persons and lip-synced to the song “Rainbow Reign.”

In other news, the US State Department has issued its first gender-neutral passport. The Wall Street Journal reports that fashion designers are striving to “upgrade gender-neutral clothing.” There will be more to come as polygamy continues to advance, LGBTQ activism focuses on children’s toys and programmingcalls to legalize prostitution escalate, and “zoophilia” (sexual relationships between people and animals) gains acceptance.

The late Paul Powell noticed this statement on a bumper sticker: “With God, all things are possible. Without God, all things are permissible.”

“The mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire”

In such days, Lauren Daigle’s observation is truly relevant: “You’re not the only one making a stand.” The Bible is filled with stories of otherwise unknown people whose courageous faith changed the world.

The Book of Acts offers some examples. God sent a disciple named Ananias to minister to Paul after his Damascus Road encounter with Jesus (Acts 9:10–19). Everyone knows of Paul, though few remember Ananias. But without the latter, I wonder if we would know of the former.

Then, when Paul’s enemies in Damascus sought to kill him, “his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket” (v. 25). We have these unnamed disciples to thank for the rest of Paul’s ministry, from his missionary journeys to letters that comprise one-third of the New Testament’s twenty-seven books.

Still later, Barnabas championed Paul before skeptical Christians in Jerusalem (v. 27) and partnered with him in his first two missionary journeys. An unnamed “tribune of the cohort” saved Paul from being executed by a mob in Jerusalem (Acts 21:31–22:29). Paul’s unnamed nephew prevented a plot to kill the apostle (Acts 23:16–22). A Roman centurion named Julius kept sailors from killing Paul after their shipwreck at Malta (Acts 27:43).

One of my favorite biblical stories tells of a Syrian army that surrounded the prophet Elisha and his servant (2 Kings 6:15). The servant was terrified, but Elisha reassured him: “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (v. 16). He then asked God to open the young man’s eyes, and “he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (v. 17).

Angels are with you right now (cf. Hebrews 1:14). The God you cannot see can see you (Genesis 16:13). Jesus’ best friend assures us: “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Prisoners serving other prisoners

Let’s consider some examples of God’s people doing things today you may not know they are doing.

In Acts 4, the persecuted early Christians prayed that God would “grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness” (v. 29). With this result: “When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness” (v. 31, my emphasis).

If we will ask God for the courage to stand for biblical truth and serve with biblical compassion, he will answer our prayer. Then, whether the world knows our name or not, God will use us for his eternal purposes.

Jane Marczewski on “a story worth writing”

Jane Marczewski, the singer who made headlines when she competed on America’s Got Talent but had to withdraw to continue her battle with terminal cancer, is back in the news. In a recent Instagram post, she wrote:

“A journalism professor in a long gray sweater taught me the difference between a story worth writing and a public relations stunt. A real story has meaning even if no one ever hears it; a PR stunt matters only if people are watching.

“And that became a new item on the list of promises to myself: That I would never let my life become a public relations stunt. My life would have meaning, even if no one ever knew it. I wanted to write a story I was proud of, even if nobody read it.”

If we will pray for the courage to share God’s story through ours, he will answer us. And when he does, because his word never fails (Isaiah 55:10–11), our world can never be the same.

Why do you need the courage of Christ today?