In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Nature of Conviction

John 16:7-15

No one enjoys sensing conviction about having done wrong, but that uncomfortable feeling is actually a demonstration of divine love. The Holy Spirit convicts people of their sin, their lack of righteousness, and the reality of coming judgment so they’ll turn to Christ and be saved. If wrongdoers never feel the guilt of their sin, they won’t see the need for a Savior. Every prick of the heart is intended to draw them to Christ.

And we should also be grateful that the Spirit’s convicting work doesn’t end once a person is saved. He continues to instruct and shape us after salvation and convicts us of disobedience to our heavenly Father. In other words, He makes us aware of specific sins and God’s attitude about such behavior. He also prompts us to confess our wrongs, repent, and turn back to the path of righteousness.

In addition to protecting and leading us in these ways, the Spirit does much more for us. He guides us into truth, discloses the meaning of Scripture, transforms our character, and empowers us to live a holy, obedient life characterized by love. So listen to His conviction and promptings. They are for your good and God’s glory.

Bible in One Year: Mark 1-2

Our Daily Bread — Words that Endure

Bible in a Year:

This word came to Jeremiah from the Lord.

Jeremiah 36:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Jeremiah 36:27–32

In the early nineteenth century, Thomas Carlyle gave a manuscript to philosopher John Stuart Mill to review. Somehow, whether accidentally or intentionally, the manuscript got tossed into a fire. It was Carlyle’s only copy. Undaunted, he set to work rewriting the lost chapters. Mere flames couldn’t stop the story, which remained intact in his mind. Out of great loss, Carlyle produced his monumental work The French Revolution.

In the waning days of ancient Judah’s decadent kingdom, God told the prophet Jeremiah, “Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you” (Jeremiah 36:2). The message revealed God’s tender heart, calling on His people to repent in order to avoid imminent invasion (v. 3).

Jeremiah did as he was told. The scroll soon found its way to Judah’s king, Jehoiakim, who methodically shredded it and threw it into the fire (vv. 23–25). The king’s act of arson only made matters worse. God told Jeremiah to write another scroll with the same message. He said, “[Jehoiakim] will have no one to sit on the throne of David; his body will be thrown out and exposed to the heat by day and the frost by night” (v. 30).

It’s possible to burn the words of God by tossing a book into a fire. Possible, but utterly futile. The Word behind the words endures forever.

By:  Tim Gustafson

Reflect & Pray

What has caused you or those you know to ignore the words of God? Why is it vital for you to submit to and obediently follow what He’s instructed?

Father, help me to take Your words to heart, even if they’re difficult to hear. Please give me a heart of repentance—not defiance.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Alive in Christ

“Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

Union with Christ means participation in His death, burial, and resurrection.

Believers are united with Christ not only in His life, but also in His death. When believers come to faith in Christ, they symbolically share in His death, dying to sin in order to live to God (Rom. 6:10-11).

That reality has profound implications. Having died to the old life of sin and been raised to share new life in Christ, believers cannot continue in the same old patterns of sin. They now live in an entirely different realm. Those who die in Christ live in Christ. In the words of the great nineteenth-century theologian Charles Hodge, “There can be no participation in Christ’s life without a participation in his death, and we cannot enjoy the benefits of his death unless we are partakers of the power of his life. We must be reconciled to God in order to be holy, and we cannot be reconciled without thereby becoming holy.”

As a result, believers cannot help but “walk in newness of life.” Walk describes daily spiritual conduct. Believers have a new direction in life; they no longer live like they did before they were saved (1 Peter 4:3-4).

In his classic hymn “And Can It Be?” Charles Wesley wrote:

No condemnation now I dread:
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, thru Christ my own.

Is that the song of your heart today?

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise God for rescuing you from sin and death and making you alive with Christ.

For Further Study

Study the following passages: Galatians 5:16Ephesians 5:2Philippians 3:17-18Colossians 1:101 John 1:7. What do they tell you about the Christian’s walk?

Joyce Meyer – Do You Need an Upgrade?

However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” the things God has prepared for those who love him—

— 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV)

We rush to get every new upgrade available for our computer and phone. We spend money, wait in lines, do whatever it takes to have the newest and best. We are very aggressive about having the best equipment available, but are we as aggressive about having the upgraded life Jesus offers us?

The Bible says that the path of the righteous gets brighter and brighter every day (Prov. 4:18). This means God is always drawing us toward better and better things. He continually offers upgrades, and we should be determined to have each one of them.

Living the best life God has for you will require some effort on your part. You will need to educate yourself on the life He offers and what it truly means to be born again. As a child of God, you have an inheritance and you have certain rights and privileges, but if you don’t know about them, you will never enjoy them. We educate ourselves through Bible study, reading good books about biblical principles, spending time with God, and being in community with other people who are seeking God as we are. We also need a lot of patience because God is usually not in a hurry. He is always working in our lives, but we are not always aware of it.

Simply going to church once a week doesn’t necessarily help you attain the upgraded life you desire. It helps, but you will have to also seek God diligently every day of your life, not just once or twice a week. God has provided countless tools for us to help us grow, but we must avail ourselves of them. I want to challenge you to set aside at least 45 minutes to an hour a day and call it your “God Time.” Make it a goal, and if you need to begin with less time, that is okay because gradually you will desire more. During that time, you can study your Bible, talk to God in prayer, listen to a Bible teaching, read a book that will help you under- stand the Bible better, or simply sit in God’s presence and receive His love.

If you do this diligently, you will find over time that you have changed and are enjoying yourself and your life much more than ever before. Any good relationship requires time, and your relationship with God is no different. God has so many wonderful things in His plan for you, and during this time you will learn what they are and how to access them. You can’t use what you don’t know you have! For example, you have a Helper, who is the Holy Spirit, and He is with you all the time. Anytime you need help with anything, all you need to do is ask. This and many other wonderful things are yours in Christ, so get busy learning about them and start enjoying the upgraded life Jesus died for you to have.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for wanting to be in fellowship with me. Bring out everything I need to learn from studying Your Word so that my upgrade would be everything You want it to be. In Jesus’ name, amen!

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Mourning for Sin

Godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation.

2 Corinthians 7:10

Genuine, spiritual mourning for sin is the work of the Spirit of God. Repentance is too rare a flower to grow in nature’s garden. Pearls grow naturally in oysters, but penitence never shows up in sinners except when divine grace produces it in them. If you have one particle of real hatred for sin, God must have given it to you, for human nature’s thorns never produced a single fig. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.”1

True repentance is tied directly to the Savior. When we repent of sin, we must have one eye upon sin and the other upon the cross; or it will be even better if we fix both our eyes on Christ and see our transgressions only in the light of His love.

True sorrow for sin is eminently practical. No man can say he hates sin if he lives in it. Repentance makes us see the evil of sin not merely as a theory but experimentally [experientially]—as a burn victim dreads fire. We will be as afraid of it as a man who has recently been robbed is afraid of the thief on the highway; and we will shun it—shun it in everything—not only in large matters, but in small things, as men avoid little vipers as well as great snakes. True mourning for sin will make us very careful with our tongue in case it should say a wrong word; we will be very watchful over our daily actions in case in anything we offend, and each night we will end the day with painful confessions of shortcomings, and each morning awaken with earnest prayers that God would today hold us up so that we may not sin against Him.

Sincere repentance is continual. Believers repent until their dying day. This is not something we do only once at the beginning of our Christian lives. Nor is it an intermittent exercise. Every other sorrow passes with time, but this dear sorrow grows as we grow, and it is such sweet bitterness that we thank God He permits us to enjoy and to suffer it until we enter our eternal rest.

1) John 3:6

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Loved First

“We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

Have your mom and dad ever told you that they “love you more” than you could ever love them, or that they have loved you longer? If so, they are probably right. You cannot even remember knowing your parents when you were first born, or – some of you – when you were first adopted, and you are probably still learning how to love them rightly. Your parents loved you first. They brought you into their home, and you belong to them. You are learning to respond to them with love in return. But they will always be the ones who loved you first, not the other way around.

Who “invented” love? Who created it? 1 John 4 reminds us that God did. God IS love. He is the Source of perfect love. And He loves people even when they are not lovable! Could a human being ever think up on his own the idea of God’s love? No. Could we ever earn God’s love? No. Could we keep loving others if it were not for God’s help and what He has done in loving us first – before we were even able to love Him?

What are your thoughts when you remember that God is the Source of all love, and that He chose to love you when you were unlovely and unloving?

It makes the tears run down one’s cheeks to think that we should have an interest in that decree and council of the Almighty Three, when every one that should be blood-bought had its name inscribed in God’s eternal book. Come, soul, I bid thee now exercise thy wings a little, and see if this does not make thee love God. He thought of thee before thou hadst a being. When as yet the sun and the moon were not, – when the sun, the moon, and the stars slept in the mind of God, like unborn forests in an acorn cup, when the old sea was not yet born, long ere this infant world lay in its swaddling bands of mist, then God had inscribed thy name upon the heart and upon the hands of Christ indelibly, to remain for ever. And does not this make thee love God?
~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Those are some difficult words from Charles Spurgeon, but they are very true. Our response to God’s kind of love should be to love Him more and more. 1 John 4:19 says in a very simple way that we love God, because He first loved us. God is loving; it is a mark of His nature, and we who are believers should be marked by His marks. In the Bible, believers are taught to love one another because of the way that we were loved first by God.

God loved us first, so we should love Him!

My Response:
» Do I really love God?
» Why do I love God?
» Is it difficult for me to treat others with the kind of love I’ve been given?

Denison Forum – Jon Gruden resigns, Matt Amodio loses, and Mark Harmon retires: How to finish the race well

Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden resigned Monday night after the New York Times detailed emails in which he made what the article called “homophobic and misogynistic remarks.” The Wall Street Journal earlier reported on a 2011 email in which Gruden used a racial trope to describe an African American.

Gruden’s resignation was applauded by columnists who wrote that he “had to go” and that his emails “painted him as a relic of what professional football can’t be anymore.”

On the opposite side of the cultural spectrum, Jeopardy! champion Matt Amodio’s epic winning streak ended Monday night at thirty-eight games and $1.5 million. In a Washington Post interview, he expressed his gratitude for the kindness of the show’s staff and the support of the fans and even wished his online hecklers well.

Not long after Amodio’s winning streak came to an end Monday evening, NCIS lead actor Mark Harmon ended his run on the show after eighteen seasons. He had reportedly wanted to retire after last season but learned that doing so would cause the show to be canceled. So, he agreed to return for a handful of episodes if the show returned for Season 19. The show warned after Monday’s episode that we should “never count [him] out,” but Harmon ended well.

What is true of athletics is also true of life: we are remembered less for how we start the race than for how we finish.

What God can’t remember

This week, we’ve discussed the relationship between private character and public service, noting that private sin keeps us from being used and rewarded by God while personal character positions us to be used publicly in ways we may not imagine at the time.

Much like the underwater oil pipeline that was likely damaged months before it ruptured and sent oil spewing onto some of California’s most famous beaches, what we do not see today can change the world tomorrow. God’s word warns: “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

This is not just because personal secrets inevitably become public stories—it is also because the Enemy who tempts us intends to use our sins against us in ways we seldom see when we’re being tempted.

Here we encounter one of the problems Christians perennially face when dealing with temptation. So long as the results of the sin we are considering do not seem to harm others, we easily conclude that we can commit it without public consequence. We can then confess this sin to God and claim his promise to forgive us (1 John 1:9), separate our sin from us “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12), cast it “into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19), and “remember [our] sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12).

John Claypool told the story of a priest who was troubled by a grievous sin he had committed while a seminary student. He had confessed his sin often but still felt the weight of its guilt and shame. A woman in his congregation came to him one day with the shocking news that God had begun speaking to her in an audible voice. Skeptical, the priest said to her, “The next time God speaks audibly to you, ask him what sin your priest committed while in seminary.” She said she would.

She returned the next week and the priest asked if she had done as he asked. She said she had. “And what did God say?” he asked her. She smiled and replied, “He said, ‘I don’t remember.’”

Erasing your spiritual “hard drive”

Here’s the problem: While God forgives all we confess and forgets all he forgives, Satan does not. You may think you erased your sins from your spiritual “hard drive,” but he keeps them until a time he can use them most effectively against us.

Jon Gruden was in his dream job with a contract worth $100 million over ten years: the richest contract in NFL coaching history. Now the remainder of that contract, $60 million, will be voided.

The higher Satan allows us to climb the ladder of success, the further we will fall and the more people we will hurt on the way down—not least ourselves.

My purpose is not to frighten us regarding our past. If you have confessed your sins to God and made restoration where appropriate (cf. Matthew 5:23–24Luke 19:8), you have done all you can do with what is done. It is now a mistake to try to have a better past. Every time guilt and shame attack, claim God’s grace and freedom.

Rather, my purpose is to equip us regarding our present and future. If Satan could not use our sins against us in ways that outweigh the “good” they seem to offer, he would not tempt us with them. Even though God will forgive and forget, the devil will not. Nor will the world.

“Open my eyes, that I may see”

It is important to understand Satan’s strategies so that “we are not ignorant of his designs” (2 Corinthians 2:11). But we need to do more. Every time the enemy tempts us, we need to turn to the Spirit for the strength, wisdom, courage, and perseverance we need (James 4:71 Peter 5:9).

The devil is stronger than I am, but Jesus is stronger than he is.

Tomorrow we will discuss practical ways to experience God’s power over the evil one. For today, let’s close with the commitment to seek such power daily in prayer. If we “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace,” God assures us that we will “receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

To that end, I invite you to make this familiar hymn by Clara H. Scott your prayer today:

Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my ears, that I may hear
Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
And while the wave notes fall on my ear,
Everything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my ears, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my mouth, and let me bear,
Gladly the warm truth everywhere;
Open my heart and let me prepare
Love with Thy children thus to share.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my heart, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

NOTE: Over the past four decades, I’ve been following cultural developments with professional and personal passion. And after nearly forty years of observation, study, and research, I’ll say I’ve never been as concerned about the trajectory of our culture as I am today. That’s why I’ve written my most pivotal work to date: my book, The Coming Tsunami. And it’s why I want to invite you to pre-order your copy—so you can be ready for the tidal waves of threat and opposition that are headed our way.