In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Saved by Grace

Romans 5:1-11

Scripture can paint a grim picture of mankind. We’re spiritually dead in our sins, alienated from God, and objects of His wrath. Can you imagine a scarier situation to be in? But there’s hope for us through faith in Jesus. God opens our eyes to our hopeless condition so we can turn to His Son in repentance and receive the riches of His salvation.

By God’s grace, we’ve been reconciled to Him. On the cross, Jesus bore the Father’s wrath for our sins so we could be forgiven and declared righteous. Now instead of being His enemies, we’re His beloved children. He made us spiritually alive by giving us a new nature created in righteousness and holiness. And now His love has been poured out in our hearts, and we have the sure hope of the glory of heaven.

Knowing how amazing God’s grace is, we should respond with gratitude, praise, and wholehearted devotion. In addition, today’s passage tells us to rejoice not only in God and our hope of glory but also in our troubles. That’s because He graciously uses difficulties to make us like Christ and increase our confidence in His love.

Bible in One Year: Zechariah 11-14

Our Daily Bread — What’s Your Name?

Bible in a Year:

I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it.

Revelation 2:17

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Revelation 2:12–17

Someone said we go through life with three names: the name our parents gave us, the name others give us (our reputation), and the name we give ourselves (our character). The name others give us matters, as “a good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold” (Proverbs 22:1). But while reputation is important, character matters more.

There’s yet another name that’s even more important. Jesus told the Christians in Pergamum that though their reputation had suffered some well-deserved hits, He had a new name reserved in heaven for those who fight back and conquer temptation. “To the one who is victorious, I will give . . . a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it” (Revelation 2:17).

We aren’t sure why Jesus promised a white stone. Is it an award for winning? A token for admission to the messianic banquet? Perhaps it’s similar to what jurors once used to vote for acquittal. We simply don’t know. Whatever it is, God promises our new name will wipe away our shame (see Isaiah 62:1–5).

Our reputation may be tattered, and our character may be seemingly beyond repair. But neither name ultimately defines us. It’s not what others call you nor even what you call yourself that matters. You are who Jesus says you are. Live into your new name.

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

How does your reputation match up against your character? How well is your character reflecting who you are in Jesus?

Father, I believe I am who You say I am. Help me to live as Your child.

To better understand the book of Revelation.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Man’s Biggest Problems

 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Sin is pervasive and deadly.

When the early church father Chrysostom remarked, “I fear nothing but sin,” he correctly identified sin as the greatest threat any person faces. Sin mars all the relationships people are involved in: with other people, with themselves, and, most significantly, with God. Sin causes suffering, disease, and death in the physical realm and also causes spiritual death—eternal separation from God in Hell.

Because sin is so deadly, we need to carefully define it, so we can understand and avoid it. First John 3:4 sums up the essence of sin when it says, “Sin is lawlessness.” Sin is refusing to obey God’s law; it is rejecting God’s standards; it is, in fact, living as if God did not exist.

In 1 John 5:17, the apostle John adds to his definition of sin, describing it as “unrighteousness.” James defines sin as failing to do what is good (James 4:17). Paul defines it as lack of faith (Rom. 14:23). Sin is the ultimate act of ingratitude toward the God “who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17).

Sin pollutes the sinner, prompting Paul to refer to it as that “defilement of flesh and spirit” (2 Cor. 7:1) from which sinners are in desperate need of cleansing. No amount of human effort, however, can cleanse a person of sin. Such self-effort is as futile as attempting to change the color of one’s skin (Jer. 13:23). Only through the death of Jesus Christ, the perfect sacrifice for sin (Heb. 10:12), is forgiveness and cleansing available (1 John 1:7).

Sin is the only thing that God hates (cf. Jer. 44:4), and so must believers (Ps. 97:10; Amos 5:15). The great Puritan writer Thomas Watson noted that a prerequisite for sanctification is such hatred for sin. Renew your commitment today to grow in your relationship with the Lord by hating evil (Prov. 8:13).

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for yourself and others that you would not be deceived by the subtleness of sin (Heb. 3:13).

For Further Study

  • Identify the sins you struggle with the most.
  • Using a concordance and other study tools, find out what the Bible says about those sins.
  • Form a biblical plan of attack to combat them.

Joyce Meyer – Be Yourself

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

— 1 Corinthians 15:10 (NKJV)

A person without confidence is like an airplane sitting on a runway with empty fuel tanks. The plane has the ability to fly, but without some fuel, it’s not getting off the ground. Confidence is our fuel. Our confidence, our belief that we can succeed, gets us started and helps us finish every challenge we tackle in life. Without confidence, we will simply live in fear and never feel fulfilled.

Confidence allows us to face life with boldness, openness, and honesty. It enables us to live without worry and to feel safe. It enables us to live authentically. We don’t have to pretend to be somebody we’re not, because we are secure in who we are—even if we’re different from those around us. I firmly believe that confidence gives us permission to be different, to be unique. God has created every person in a unique way, yet most people spend their lives trying to be like someone else— and feeling miserable as a result. Trust me on this: God will never help you be some other person. He wants you to be you!

Prayer Starter: Lord, I want to be able to say confidently that by Your grace I am what am. I confess that Your grace has never been in vain in my life, and I ask you to bring more confidence to my life to be who I am – the person You created me to be, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Choice Fruits

Choice fruits,
new as well as old,
which I have laid up for you, O my beloved.

Song of Songs 7:13

The spouse desires to give to Jesus all that she produces. Our heart has all kinds of “choice fruits, new as well as old,” and they are reserved for our Beloved. In this rich autumn season of fruitfulness, let us survey our supplies.

We have new fruits. We desire to feel new life, new joy, new gratitude; we wish to make new resolves and carry them out by new endeavors; our heart blossoms with new prayers, and our soul is committing herself to new efforts.

But we also have some old fruits. There is the choice fruit of our first love, and Jesus delights in it. There is our first faith—that simple faith by which, having nothing, we became possessors of everything. There is our joy when we first met the Lord: Let us revive it. We have our old memories of the promises. How faithful has God been! In sickness, how kindly He made our bed! In deep waters, how gently He picked us up! In the flaming furnace, how graciously He delivered us. Old fruits indeed! We have many of them, for His mercies have been more than the hairs of our head. Old sins we must regret, but then we have had repentances that He has given us, by which we have wept our way to the cross and learned the merit of His blood.

We have fruits, this morning, both new and old; but here is the point—they are all laid up for Jesus. Without question the best and most acceptable services are those in which Jesus is the solitary aim of the soul, and His glory is the focus of all our endeavors. Let our many fruits be laid up only for Him; let us display them when He is with us, and not use them to draw attention to ourselves. Jesus, we will turn the key in our garden door, and no one will enter to rob You of one good fruit from the soil that You have watered with Your grace. All that we are and have shall be Yours, Yours alone, O Jesus, our Beloved!

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – Jesus Is the Author and Finisher of the Faith

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)

“You built all this, Dad?” It was her first time visiting the site of her dad’s latest contracting job, and Elise couldn’t help but be impressed.

“You bet,” said Dad. “The docks, the shed, the cabinets, the rails. Our company designed and built the whole marina, from start to finish!”

Elise tried to think of something that she had been a part of from start to finish. Well, she washed a whole sinkful of dishes all by herself last week! – but, then again, the sink was almost full of dirty dishes again by the next day! Had she ever invented something, or designed something brand new? Had she ever finished something once and for all? Hmmm. She wondered.

As her dad walked her around the marina, pointing out little details about the structural choices and telling stories about the construction process, the question kept coming up to Elise’s mind: Had she ever thought up a new idea and carried it out to the end? She couldn’t think of one thing.

Have you? Human beings are very talented and gifted in amazing ways, because God made us in His own image, with imagination and affections and intelligence and creativity. But even the most amazing individuals could never do what Jesus Christ did, both physically and spiritually. Jesus was and still is 100% God and 100% human. He is the only One Who could have “designed” and “built” and accomplished the greatest plan in the universe – the Gospel.

When Bible translators used the words “the author and finisher of our faith” to describe Jesus, they were expressing the idea that Jesus was there when the idea of salvation was invented (He is God, so He thought up the plan!). He is the One Who has carried it through till now. And He will see it continue on through eternity. When it comes to redeeming us and glorifying God by our redemption, Jesus Christ is the Author and Finisher, the only One there “from start to finish”!

Elise admired her dad for his skills and his contracting company’s accomplishments in finishing the marina. How much more should we meditate on the greatness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the great truth that He authored (began) it and will keep on finishing it (bringing it to completion) with every passing day! What a great Creator and Savior we have in the Lord Jesus Christ!

The whole plan of redemption begins and ends with Jesus Christ!

My Response:
» Do I spend much time thinking about what Jesus is able to do?
» What does Jesus’ “authoring” and “finishing” of the faith mean to me?
» Does Jesus Christ finish the good things He begins? Has He begun a good thing in my heart?

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Denison Forum – Man awoke to a bat on his neck, declined vaccine, died of rabies

Yesterday, lawmakers approved a last-minute stopgap funding bill to avert a shutdown set to take effect today. Here’s why this is good news: if a partial government shutdown had occurred, airline passengers could see major delays if unpaid air traffic controllers chose not to work; national parks and other sites could have closed; processing of Social Security claims and benefits verification would have stopped; and any company doing business with the US government could have been impacted.

In other words, what happened behind closed doors in Washington affected millions across the nation.

Some other stories in the news illustrating this theme:

In each case, what was once private soon became very public. Nobel Prize winning author Gabriel García Márquez observed, “All human beings have three lives: public, private, and secret.” But the second and third seldom stay that way for long.

The unseen danger of “corroded” pots

This week we have explored ways to help people seek God who do not believe they need to seek God: demonstrate life transformationchoose compassionembrace excellence, and exhibit compelling joy in the Lord.

We’ll close with one more factor: private sin corrupts our public witness in ways we seldom foresee at the time.

In Ezekiel 24, the Lord warned the people of Jerusalem that the king of Babylon would lay siege to their city. God explained why they were facing such peril by employing a powerful parable: “Set on the pot, set it on; pour in water also; [then] put in the pieces of meat, all the good pieces” and “the choicest one of the flock” (vv. 3–5). However, the pot had “corrosion” in it that ruined the food it cooked (v. 6). What others could not see soon corrupted what they could taste.

“Corroded pots” always have this effect on what they touch.

For example, the ongoing clergy abuse scandal has obviously devastated thousands of innocent victims. But it has also given secular people abundant reason to reject the faith these clergy represent. Many ask, “If religious leaders can commit such horrendous sins, why would we consider their religion for ourselves?”

In a fallen world filled with constant temptations, how do we keep our “pots” from becoming “corroded”?

Learning from Benjamin Franklin’s failures

In his thoughtful and practical new book, Don’t Give the Enemy a Seat at Your Table: It’s Time to Win the Battle of Your Mind, pastor and author Louie Giglio warns us that entertaining private sinful thoughts allows Satan to influence our lives in ways that wreak far greater damage than we imagine when we are being tempted. Louie writes: “If [the devil] can claim victory over your mind, he can eventually claim victory over your life.”

The answer, however, is not trying harder to do better. As Louie notes, “The solution is surrender.” It is claiming the victory Jesus has already won over Satan and sin at the cross, then seeking his power through Scripture and the Holy Spirit to defeat what is tempting us. (I plan to say more about the role of God’s word in our minds and lives in Monday’s Daily Article.)

This solution is as countercultural as the transformation it offers. Even when we recognize the power of “corroded pots” to ruin our lives and witness to the secular world, our enemy tempts us to fight temptation in our strength. That’s because he knows we will eventually lose the battle.

Benjamin Franklin is Exhibit A of this fact. In a brilliant article for our website, my good friend Dr. David Dykes discusses Franklin’s personal religion. David is an acclaimed author and recently retired pastor of one of America’s greatest churches. He insightfully describes Franklin’s thirteen “moral habitudes” (crosses between habits and attitudes) to which he was passionately committed.

However, David notes that Franklin later admitted in his autobiography, “I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it.”

So will we.

“God is not a miser with his grace”

We cannot give what we do not have or lead others where we will not go. In a postmodern culture, a compellingly persuasive apologetic for the relevance of Christianity is demonstrating its relevance in our lives. This means that Christians must live like Christ. But it also means that Christians must seek the help of God’s Spirit to emulate God’s Son (cf. Romans 8:29).

Are you giving the enemy a seat at your table today? Remember that public devastation always results from “private” sin, then name your temptation and take it immediately to God. Ask his Spirit for the strength to resist the enemy and the resolve to be like Jesus.

Have you already allowed private sin to “corrode” your “pot”? Then name your sin now, acting before this cancer metastasizes further and destroys your life and witness. And claim the promise of Romans 5:20: “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”

In Grace for the Moment, Max Lucado expands on this promise: “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.”

You can have a “corroded pot” or an overflowing cup. Choose wisely.

Upwords; Max Lucado –Wrapped in Winter

WRAPPED IN WINTER – October 1, 2021

Winters are a part of life—some personal, some global—but all are powerful. Try as we might to bundle up and lean into the wind, the heartiest among us can fall. Nights are too long, and the question is all too common: Will this winter ever pass?

God has a six-letter word of encouragement: E-S-T-H-E-R. The book of Esther was written to be read in wintertime for the person who feels outnumbered by foes, outmaneuvered by fate, and outdone by fear. It’s as if God, in his kind providence, heard all the prayers of all the souls who have ever been stuck in an arctic February. And to every person who has longed to see a green sprig on a barren branch, he says, “Follow me. I want you to see what I can do.”