In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Best Friend You’ll Ever Have

John 15:12-16

Many of us are familiar with the hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” We all agree that the Savior is a great friend, but our understanding of this relationship is limited. Jesus’ friendship with us far transcends anything we experience on a human level. So let’s consider some of the elements of His relationship with us.

Jesus laid down His life for us. Our Savior gave the ultimate sacrifice for us on the cross, which proves His faithfulness. Surely, then, Jesus is a friend who’s committed to us forever, and He will give us everything else He has promised.

We are His friends if we obey Him. Those who are saved can be His friends, because they’re the ones who obey Him in love.

He reveals to us what He is doing. Everything we need to know about Christ and His actions and ways is written for us in the Scriptures.

He chose us. We didn’t earn His friendship and we can’t lose it, because it’s based not on us but on His choice to love us. 

Having Jesus as our friend means we are wanted, loved, and cared for by Him forever.  

Bible in One Year: Matthew 25-26

Our Daily Bread — At the King’s Table

Bible in a Year:

So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.

2 Samuel 9:11

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

2 Samuel 9:6–13

“He’ll live,” the vet announced, “but his leg will have to be amputated.” The stray mongrel my friend had brought in had been run over by a car. “Are you the owner?” There would be a hefty surgery bill, and the puppy would need care as it recovered. “I am now,” my friend replied. Her kindness has given that dog a future in a loving home.

Mephibosheth saw himself as a “dead dog,” unworthy of favor (2 Samuel 9:8). Being lame in both feet due to an accident, he was dependent on others to protect and provide for him (see 4:4). Furthermore, after the death of his grandfather, King Saul, he probably feared that David, the new king, would order all enemies and rivals to the throne killed, as was the common practice of the time.

Yet, out of love for his friend Jonathan, David ensured that Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth would always be safe and cared for as his own son (9:7). In the same way, we who were once God’s enemies, marked for death, have been saved by Jesus and given a place with Him in heaven forever. That’s what it means to eat at the banquet in the kingdom of God that Luke describes in his gospel (Luke 14:15). Here we are—the sons and daughters of a King! What extravagant, undeserved kindness we’ve received! Let’s draw near to God in gratitude and joy.

By:  Karen Kwek

Reflect & Pray

When are you likely to forget that God protects and cares for you? How could 2 Samuel 9:6–13 encourage you during such times?

Dear Jesus, thank You for saving me and giving me a place at Your table forever. Remind me that I’m Your dear child, and help me to always praise and trust You.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Dead to Sin

“How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:2).

In Christ, believers are dead to sin.

As a pastor, I frequently encounter people who profess to be believers, yet are living in all kinds of vile sins. The incongruity of people claiming to be believers while living in constant, unrepentant sin was not lost on the apostle Paul. In Romans 6:1 he asked the rhetorical question, “Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?” In verse 2 he answered his own question by exclaiming “May it never be!”—the strongest, most emphatic negation in the Greek language. It expressed Paul’s horror and outrage at the thought that a true Christian could remain in a constant state of sinfulness. For a person to claim to be a Christian while continuing in habitual sin is absurd and impossible.

Paul goes on in verse 2 to explain why believers cannot continue to live in sin, asking, “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” His point is that believers, at salvation, died to sin. Therefore, they cannot live in a constant state of sinfulness, because it is impossible to be both dead and alive at the same time. Those who continue in unrepentant sin thereby give evidence that they are spiritually dead, no matter what they may claim.

Unbelievers are “dead in [their] trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1), walking “according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience” (v. 2). Believers, on the other hand, have been “delivered . . . from the domain of darkness, and transferred . . . to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col. 1:13).

Christians no longer live in the realm of sin, though they still commit sins.

Having a proper understanding of the believer’s relationship to sin is foundational to progressing in holiness. Take comfort today in the reality that sin, though still dangerous, is a defeated foe.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God who, because of His mercy and love, made us alive together with Christ (Eph. 2:4-5).
  • Ask Him to help you walk worthy of that high calling (Eph. 4:1).

For Further Study

Read the following passages: John 8:312 Cor. 13:5James 2:14-26. Is every profession of faith in Jesus Christ genuine? Explain.

Joyce Meyer – The Servant Test

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

— 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)

The closer we get to God, the more opportunities He gives us to serve others. I say “opportunities” because that is the way we need to view serving others. Every time we serve others, it not only blesses them, but it also brings tremendous joy to our lives. Jesus gave us an example of being a servant by washing the feet of the disciples and then saying, …You should do [in your turn] what I have done to you (John 13:15 AMPC).

Some people fail to live as servants because they don’t know who they are in Christ. They feel they must be doing something they consider “important” to find a sense of self-worth. They fail to understand that their identity comes from who they are in Christ, not how prestigious their career or platform is. When you are secure in your place in Christ, and when you find your strength and confidence in God, you take great joy in helping others every chance you get.

The “servant test” is simply how we respond to the opportunities God gives us to be a blessing to others. It reveals whether we really and truly want to be like Jesus. God has blessed and made us a blessing! God’s blessings are never meant to be consumed solely on ourselves, but always to be shared with those around us.

Look for ways to serve others today, including those in your own home. This will be a great experience for you and for them.

Prayer Starter: Lord Jesus, thank You for giving me opportunities to serve others. Please help me to never miss one of those opportunities, amen!

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –The Praying Believer

Let us lift up our hearts and our hands
to God in heaven.

Lamentations 3:41

The act of prayer teaches us our unworthiness, which is a very salutary lesson for proud people like us. If God gave us favors without constraining us to pray for them, we would never know how poor we are, but a true prayer is an inventory of wants, a catalog of necessities, a revelation of hidden poverty.

While prayer is an application to divine wealth, it is also a confession of human emptiness. The most healthy state of a Christian is always to be empty of self and constantly depending upon the Lord for provision; to be consistently poor in self and rich in Jesus; to be weak as water personally, but mighty through God to do great exploits. This is where prayer comes in, because while it adores God, it puts the creature where it should be—in the dust.

Prayer is in itself, apart from the answer that it brings, a great benefit to the Christian. As the runner gains strength for the race by daily exercise, so for the great race of life we acquire energy by the holy exercise of prayer. Prayer thins the feathers of God’s young eaglets, so that they can learn to soar above the clouds. Prayer readies God’s warriors and sends them out to combat with their sinews braced and their muscles firm. The praying believer comes out of his closet, even as the sun rises from the chambers of the east, rejoicing like an athlete about to race. Prayer is the uplifted hand of Moses that defeats the Amalekites more than the sword of Joshua; it is the arrow shot from the prophet’s chamber announcing defeat to the Syrians. Prayer equips human weakness with divine strength, turns human folly into heavenly wisdom, and gives the peace of God to troubled souls.

We do not know what prayer cannot do! We thank You, great God, for the mercy-seat, a wonderful evidence of your marvelous loving-kindness. Help us to use it properly throughout this day!

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – What Is Right in the Eyes of the LORD

“Thou shalt hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep all his commandments which I command thee this day, to do that which is right in the eyes of the LORD thy God.” (Deuteronomy 13:18b)

Can you see any trees from where you are right now? Some trees are great for climbing. You can go up into the branches and sit for hours, reading a book or maybe just watching the people in your neighborhood. Maybe your elderly next-door neighbor is out in her garden inspecting her roses. Maybe you can spot the postal service car coming down the road, pausing every few seconds to put envelopes into each mailbox.

People are funny sometimes, when they do not know they are being watched. You are probably the same way. When you are alone, you probably behave a little differently than when lots of people are around. You just do whatever you feel like doing. Maybe on some Saturdays, you just stay in your pajamas all day and hang around inside the house. You might be embarrassed if someone outside your family were to see you, but it is just fine for you to make that choice, at least the way you see things.

The LORD is always watching us, though. We do not have to worry so much about pleasing other people, but we do need to remember that God can see everything, and He knows everything about us – including the thoughts of our hearts. If we really love God and want to please Him with our faith, we will not live our lives as though we think He is not watching us. God’s people listen to God’s voice, and they keep His commandments. They “do that which is right in the eyes of the LORD.”

Proverbs 12:15a says that “the way of a fool is right in his own eyes.” Have you ever caught yourself choosing to do something that breaks God’s commandments? Who were you pleasing when you made that choice? Was God watching you? Did you care? It is foolish to do only what we think is OK. What is right in our eyes is not always really right. Why? Because our spiritual “eyes” are limited. We have “blurry” vision, in a way. We are human, sinful, and selfish. We cannot get a clear picture of what is right (and we cannot be anything but fools) unless we choose instead to follow what is right in the eyes of the LORD.

The Israelites found that out the hard way, when they had a very dark time in their history. “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6). When a lot of self-pleasing people get together and do whatever they want to do, a lot of bad things can happen to everyone.

God forgave the Israelites over and over again for doing their own thing and disobeying Him. He will forgive you, too, if you are sorry for focusing on yourself and what you think is fine behavior. Repent (change your mind about your sin) and turn the other way – do what is right in the eyes of the LORD instead.

The LORD sees all, and we are wise if we choose to please Him instead of ourselves.

My Response:
» Whom do I want to please? Other people? Myself? Or the LORD?
» What are some ways I can remind myself that God sees everything and knows the thoughts of my heart?
» How can I show others that I choose to do what’s right in God’s eyes?

Denison Forum – What “llama therapy” and “emotional support fish” say about us

 “Llama therapy” is in today’s news. A Washington Post writer tells of a recent hiking expedition with her family in Yellowstone National Park aided by a “calm and gentle beast of burden” who carried their gear and bonded with them on a “calming immersion in nature.”

Emotional support animals are more popular than ever. From “emotional support fish” to dogs and other animals, they are one way many people are coping with the challenges of our day. For example, depression in America has reached epidemic levels, increasing by 450 percent since 1987. Five times as many people are taking antidepressants now as then.

Let me be clear: depression is a very real disease, one that must be treated by every means available. Like cancer or heart disease, it often requires the help of medical, psychiatric, and psychological professionals. Other forms of anxiety and emotional trauma are very real as well and should be taken with utmost seriousness.

However, I believe there is a causal factor behind much of the emotional and psychological pain of our day that is never discussed in secular media and is especially challenging for Christians.

High school crowns transgender homecoming queen

Repairs to stop the fifty-eight-story Millennium Tower in San Francisco from sinking have made it worse. Consider this story as a parable of our times.

A transgender teenager was recently crowned homecoming queen at her Florida high school. Evan Bialosuknia said, “I’m the first, but I hope I’m not the last, and I just hope that people will start to open up and see that it’s normal and that trans women are women.”

Netflix series called “Sex Education” is being praised by the New York Times for its “frank but sensitive depictions of teen sexuality” including “more stories about queer relationships” and “gender presentation.”

In an important article titled “The end of vice,” Bryan Walsh notes that “all the old vices—from sex to gambling to drugs—are quickly becoming legal as both society and the criminal justice system rethink their values.” For example: legal betting on NFL games is up 32 percent. Support for decriminalizing prostitution rose from 24 percent in 1978 to 52 percent last year.

Our secularized culture is busy “repairing” the supposedly intolerant legalism created by Judeo-Christian values. But how is that working for us?

In The Hungering Dark, Frederick Buechner writes:

“If darkness is meant to suggest a world where nobody can see very well—either themselves, or each other, or where they are heading, or even where they are standing at the moment; if darkness is meant to convey a sense of uncertainty, of being lost, of being afraid; if darkness suggests conflict, conflict between races, between nations, between individuals each pretty much out for himself when you come right down to it; then we live in a world that knows much about darkness.

“Darkness is what our newspapers are about. Darkness is what most of our best contemporary literature is about. Darkness fills the skies over our own cities no less than over the cities of our enemies. And in our single lives, we know much about darkness too. If we are people who pray, darkness is apt to be a lot of what our prayers are about. If we are people who do not pray, it is apt to be darkness in one form or another that has stopped our mouths.”

Satan’s backup strategy

Jesus called himself “the light of the world” (John 8:12). The definite article shows that he is the only light of the world. He also told his followers, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14) as we bring his light into the darkness. Note again the definite article.

If the room is dark and I have the only flashlight, whose fault is the darkness?

I believe that if God’s people brought the light of Christ more fully into the world, the world could not stay the same. But to bring his light, we must stay connected to his light. As the moon must remain aligned with the sun to reflect its rays at night, so we must remain aligned with the Son to reflect his love.

Jesus taught us: “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Oswald Chambers observed: “I cannot save and sanctify myself; I cannot atone for sin; I cannot redeem the world; I cannot make right what is wrong, pure what is impure, holy what is unholy. That is all the sovereign work of God.”

As a result, we must “abide” in Christ constantly to bring his light into the dark. We therefore know that we must avoid public sins that shame our Lord and ourselves.

However, while Satan would obviously like us to commit such grievous public sins, he has a subtle backup plan: he tempts us with so-called “private” sins that the world never sees and we can be deceived into believing do no real damage. Such sins are especially dangerous since we can be tempted to continue committing them without apparent consequence.

But know this: Any sin grieves and quenches the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:301 Thessalonians 5:19). Any sin breaks our alignment with the Son and eclipses our witness in the world. We may not recognize these disastrous repercussions since they do not cause positive harm so much as they prevent positive good.

Only in eternity will we see how much fruit on earth and reward in heaven we forfeit by sins we believe we can commit without consequence (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:12–15).

The path to spiritual freedom

If you want to find true peace in a world of pain, abide in Christ. If you want to shine true light in a dark culture, abide in Christ. Abide in him on Monday, not just on Sunday. Abide in him in your private thoughts, not just your public words and actions. Recognize “private” sins as the cancer they are. Malignancy starts with tiny cells that, left untreated, can eventually kill the patient.

As a result, I encourage you right now to take a moment for a spiritual inventory. Ask the Spirit to bring to your mind any “private” sins you are committing, then confess whatever comes to your thoughts, claim God’s forgiving grace (1 John 1:9), and ask for his help in refusing them in the future (1 Corinthians 10:13).

The next time you are tempted by a sin that appears to have no consequences, recognize this as a lie from the devil. Now “submit it to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7, my paraphrase). You will live in spiritual freedom, and your life will reflect the transforming light of your Lord to a world desperate for your hope in Christ.

Dwight Moody observed, “Character is what you are in the dark.”

What character will you choose today?