In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Pathway of Faith

Genesis 12:1-9

Scripture says that we are to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). That means we’re unable to know what’s ahead but can trust the God who does. Abraham is a prime example, and we should follow in his steps. When called to leave his country and family to go to a land God would show him, Abraham obeyed. Hebrews 11:8 adds, “He left, not knowing where he was going.” 

That’s basically a summation of the Christian life. Each day we face the unknown, but we trust the Lord to guide us. Since we don’t know the particulars, our walk with God can seem perplexing. That’s when we’re tempted to rely on our own feelings, perceptions, and reasoning. But sometimes He places us in situations to teach us to trust Him even when we don’t know where we’re going and cannot see the outcome.

The Lord wants us to lay down our own ways of figuring things out and instead to walk by faith. That may sound risky, but here’s why it’s absolutely reasonable: The One leading us has complete knowledge of the future and the power to orchestrate all events to achieve His good purposes in our life.

Bible in One Year: Mark 13-14

Our Daily Bread — A Time to Speak

Bible in a Year:

There is a time for everything . . . a time to be silent and a time to speak.

Ecclesiastes 3:17

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Ecclesiastes 3:1–7

For thirty long years, the African American woman worked faithfully for a large global ministry. Yet when she sought to talk with co-workers about racial injustice, she was met with silence. Finally, however, in the spring of 2020—as open discussions about racism expanded around the world—her ministry friends “started having some open dialogue.” With mixed feelings and pain, she was grateful discussions began.

Silence can be a virtue in some situations. As King Solomon wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: . . . a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:17).

Silence in the face of bigotry and injustice, however, only enables harm and hurt. Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoeller (jailed in Nazi Germany for speaking out) confessed that in a poem he penned after the war. “First they came for the Communists,” he wrote, “but I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.” He added, “Then they came for” the Jews, the Catholics, and others, “but I didn’t speak up.” Finally, “they came for me—and by that time there was no one left to speak up.”

It takes courage—and love—to speak up against injustice. Seeking God’s help, however, we recognize the time to speak is now.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

Why is it important not to be silent during discussions about injustice? What hinders your willingness to engage in such dialogue?

Dear God, release my tongue and heart from the enemy’s grip. Equip me to see and feel the harm of injustice so that I may speak up for those hurt by this sin.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Liberty or License?

“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?” (Romans 6:15-16).

Freedom from sin does not mean freedom to sin.

From Paul’s day until now, the gospel of grace has been accused of providing license to sin. If salvation is the gift of God’s grace, legalists argue, wholly apart from human works, what will motivate people to lead holy lives? In the face of such opposition, Paul never gave an inch on the vital issue of salvation by grace—and neither can we. The Bible teaches a salvation that is entirely by God’s free grace through faith and in which human works play no part.

But there is a second way in which the doctrine of salvation by grace may be perverted. Fulfilling the legalists’ fears, some believe that since God’s grace covers all their sins, they can live as they choose. In today’s passage Paul addresses that error.

The very thought of a Christian living in persistent, habitual sin horrified Paul. To the hypothetical question “Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?” Paul responded emphatically, “May it never be!” As in verse 2, the apostle used the strongest form of negation in the Greek language. In our English vernacular, Paul was saying “Ridiculous! Impossible! No way!” He went on to point out the self-evident truth that no one can serve two masters. Everyone is either a servant of sin or a servant of God; there is no third option. And the one to whom people habitually yield their obedience is their real master, no matter what they may claim.

Don’t be deceived by those who claim that since Christians are forgiven, they can therefore sin at will. Such people know nothing of God’s grace, which, far from giving us license to sin, “instruct[s] us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12).

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise God for His grace, which is always greater than your sin (Rom. 5:20).

For Further Study

Read Joshua 24:14-27Matthew 4:8-11; and 1 Thessalonians 1:8-9. Spend some time in prayer, asking God to help you renew your commitment to serve Him.

Joyce Meyer – Go Ahead and Do It

If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit.

— Leviticus 26:3–4 (NIV)

Do you put off doing things you do not enjoy? Perhaps it’s a maintenance appointment for the car, an unpleasant conversation, a mound of paperwork, paying bills, or a housekeeping chore you find especially laborious. When these things must be done, I encourage you to go ahead and do them. Get them over with. Do them early in the day when your energy level is highest, so you can focus on them and finish them.

Life comes with certain responsibilities. I think the best approach to life is to endeavor to enjoy absolutely everything we do, but when we need to do something we don’t enjoy, procrastinating accomplishes nothing. The longer you put off doing what needs to be done, the longer you will be tempted to dread doing it, and dread will drain your strength and your enjoyment of the present moment.

What have you delayed doing recently? Do your best to accomplish it today so that next time you think about it, you will not have to say, “I dread that.” Instead, you can say, “I did that!”

Prayer Starter: Father, help me to do today just one or two things I have been putting off. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Overflowing with Abundance

Your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.

Psalm 65:11

Many of the Lord’s tracks overflow with abundance, but a special one is the track of prayer. A believer, who is often in private prayer, will not need to cry, “My leanness has risen up against me.”1 Starving souls live at a distance from the mercy-seat and become like the parched fields in times of drought. Consistent wrestling in prayer with God is sure to make the believer strong—if not happy. The nearest place to the gate of heaven is the throne of heavenly grace. Often alone, you will have plenty of assurance; seldom alone with Jesus, your faith will be shallow, polluted with many doubts and fears and not sparkling with the joy of the Lord. Since the soul-enriching path of prayer is open to the very weakest saint, since no high achievements are required, since you are not invited to come because you are an advanced saint but freely invited if you are a saint at all, see to it, dear reader, that you are often in the place of private devotion. Be regularly on your knees, for in this way Elijah drew the rain upon Israel’s famished fields.

There is another special track overflowing with abundance to those who walk in it. It is the secret walk of communion that affords the delights of fellowship with Jesus! Earth has no words that can convey the holy calm of a soul leaning on Jesus. Few Christians understand it; they live in the lowlands and seldom climb to the top of the mountain; they live in the outer court and fail to enter the holy place; they do not take up the privilege of priesthood. They see the sacrifice from a distance, but they do not sit down with the priest to eat the meal and enjoy the overflowing abundance.

But, reader, learn to sit under the shadow of Jesus; come up to that palm tree, and take hold of its branches. Let your Beloved be to you as the apple tree among the timber, and you shall be satisfied with goodness and abundance. Come, Lord Jesus, and visit us with Your salvation!

1) Job 16:8

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – Even the Demons Recognized Christ

“He laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them. And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, ‘Thou art Christ the Son of God.’ And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: For they knew that he was Christ.” (Luke 4:40b-41)

Some people think Jesus behaved very mysteriously when He lived on Earth. They think He could have been more clear about Who He was and why exactly He came to Earth. But often, people see only what they want to see. This was true in Bible times, and it is still true today.

Before Jesus died on the cross, He did many supernatural miracles and preached many amazing sermons. People were surprised by Him all the time! The Bible says over and over that the people “marveled” or that they were “astonished” or that they were even speechless! These are all ways of saying that Jesus amazed and surprised crowds of people with His words and His actions.

The Bible also says that many people understood Who Jesus was and believed in Him. But many people did not. They could not seem to understand, or else they did not want to understand. They wanted a glorious king to rescue them from the Roman empire. They wanted a wonderful leader to rule over them and restore them as a nation. They wanted someone around to heal all their diseases and fix all their earthly problems.

Jesus was not here to fix all their earthly problems. If He had come for that reason, He would have fixed all of the sick people and broken situations. Jesus did what He came to do. That is why He told demons not to possess (take hold of) people. If a demon (devil) was bothering someone, and that someone was brought to Jesus, Jesus would tell the demon to get out and go away. Demons are angels who have rebelled against God. So Who created angels? Jesus did. Jesus knew every one of these demons, and they knew exactly Who He was. They were afraid of Him. They wanted Him to leave them alone. And they knew right away that He was GOD.

Even the demons believe Jesus is Who He says He is. They are not going to heaven; they are rebelling against God. Jesus did not come to Earth just to get rid of all the demons and diseases and hunger and political problems. He did help people, especially in ways they needed to be helped. But those miracles were supposed to help people understand Who He was and what His bigger purpose in coming was: “To seek and to save that which was lost.”

During His time here on Earth, Jesus gave many clues and open messages about Who He was and why He came. He came to die on the cross for sinners, to take away their sins and to give them His righteousness instead. Do you believe Jesus is Who He says He is? “The devils also believe, and tremble.” It is important to take what you know in your head about Jesus and make it count for something in your heart. Do you really believe He is both the Son of God and the only Savior of sinners? Are you trusting in Jesus Christ as your God and Savior?

For those who were listening, Jesus made it clear Who He was and Why He came to Earth.

My Response:
» Am I trusting in Jesus as both my God and my Savior?
» Am I too busy looking for Jesus to help me that I am missing what He wants to teach me?
» How can I explain to my friends and family Who Jesus is and why He came?

Denison Forum – What I learned from Colin Powell

I was shocked to learn of Colin Powell’s passing this morning. Television news is preempting regular programming to discuss his remarkable life and historic legacy, as they should. 

He served as America’s first African American national security adviser, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and secretary of state. Born in Harlem of Jamaican parents, he grew up in the South Bronx and graduated from City College of New York, where he joined the Army through ROTC. He served two decorated combat tours in Vietnam and rose to the rank of four-star general. 

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan selected him to be national security advisor. Two years later, President George H. W. Bush promoted him to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, making him America’s top soldier. He later served as secretary of state under President George W. Bush, a position for which he was unanimously confirmed by the US Senate. 

I will always remember a speech I heard him give years ago as part of a leadership conference. He focused on the importance of humility for a leader, a priority he modeled in ways I’d like to reflect upon today. 

Treat well those you don’t have to treat well 

One of Gen. Powell’s observations was that great leaders treat people well whom they don’t have to treat well. This is an old but true maxim, one that is especially urgent in a materialistic secular culture. 

I watched him model this attribute in ways he may not even have fully recognized. When he took the stage, he thanked by name the staff member who introduced him. He was the only speaker on the program who did this. He also thanked by name other staff members who had helped him with transportation and logistics. He took questions from the audience, asking each person their name and then responding to them by name. Again, he was the only speaker in the daylong session to do these things. 

A CEO once disclosed his unusual hiring practice: whenever a prospective employee came for an interview, he arranged for this person to wait in his outer office for ten to fifteen minutes past their appointment time. Then, after their interview, he asked his administrative assistant how the person treated her. He felt he could learn far more about the applicant this way than from what he or she said during the interview. 

The philosopher Martin Buber distinguished between “I-Thou” and “I-It” relationships. The former should characterize the way we relate to people; the latter should describe our relationship with inanimate things. Unfortunately, we often confuse the two, using people as objects in our quest to accumulate things. 

The night Jesus was betrayed by one of his disciples and abandoned by the others, he first washed their feet (John 13). This was an act of such abject servitude that no Jew could be made to perform it. Imagine Jesus kneeling before Judas, Peter, and the rest, washing their dirty feet and drying them with his servant’s towel. 

Now hear his command: “You also should do just as I have done to you” (John 13:15). If the Son of God could wash their feet, whose feet can we not wash? 

How will you treat the people who serve you at a restaurant or other business today? How will you treat employees or strangers? Will you say about people what you would not say to them (cf. Matthew 18:15)? Will you say anonymously through social media what you would not say in person? 

How we treat those in need is how we are actually treating Jesus (Matthew 25:40). 

Learn from those with whom you disagree 

In his speech, Gen. Powell repeatedly emphasized the urgency of being a lifelong learner, of constantly acquiring wisdom and applying it in life. Our ability to learn from circumstances, challenges, and other people would set us apart as leaders, he stated. 

He was an example of his message, adapting the military principles he learned in his first career to the diplomacy and political service essential to his second. Not everyone can adapt knowledge and wisdom to new circumstances and challenges, but those who can are typically more successful in every season of their lives. 

The philosopher John Locke believed that we are born as a “blank slate,” a tabula rasa on which life writes its lessons. We are therefore the product of what we learn and what we do with what we learn. The key is to be intentional with what we write on our “slate” and what we then do to use this information wisely. 

We find this strategy modeled in the life of the young Jesus, who “increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). We find it modeled in the life of the elderly Paul, who even near the end of his life asked Timothy to bring him “the books, and above all the parchments” (2 Timothy 4:13). 

I learned this principle from Gen. Powell not only in the positive sense but also in the negative.  

For example, I disagree vehemently with his “pro-choice” position on abortion. We should note that he was not “pro-abortion,” claiming that “a child is a valuable creation,” but he also asserted that “the law of the land says a woman has the right to make that choice.” 

In his political endorsements he frustrated nearly everyone at one time or another, supporting both Bushes and the Republican Party before endorsing the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama and strongly opposing the candidacy of Donald Trump. He made a speech in the 2020 Democratic National Convention supporting Joe Biden’s candidacy and declared himself an independent after the January 6 storming of the US Capitol. 

My point is not that I agreed with all he said and did. It is actually the opposite: we can and must learn from those with whom we agree and those with whom we disagree. 

If we can learn only from sinless people, we can learn only from the Lord Jesus (cf. Hebrews 4:15). But if we will ask the Lord to show us what we are to learn from every person and circumstance we encounter, life will become a constant classroom in which we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). 

Be ready every day for the last day 

The news is reporting that Gen. Powell died of complications from COVID-19, even though he was fully vaccinated. He was battling multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells that suppresses the body’s immune response. This condition put him at greater risk from the virus. 

His death from coronavirus while fully vaccinated does not indicate that the vaccines are not effective or that we should not be vaccinated. Rather, his death shows us the danger of the disease and the urgency of preparing for it as best we can. If someone dies in a car crash while wearing a seat belt, we don’t stop wearing seat belts. The opposite is true: we are reminded of how dangerous car crashes can be and of how much we need to wear seat belts and take other safety measures. 

Even with all his power and status, Gen. Powell was mortal. So are you. So am I. Death humbles us all and thus prepares us for the life to come. 

In our secularized and yet prosperous culture, we need this reminder. We need to remember that all we have is not enough to guarantee another day of life and that this world is but a means to the next. This is the dot before the line, the classroom from which we graduate into the “real world.” 

Our motto every day should be, “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). 

“A good soldier of Jesus Christ” 

In a 2007 interview, Gen. Powell said, “Let others judge me. All I want to do is judge myself as a successful soldier who served his best.” 

In his final letter, Paul exhorted his disciple Timothy, “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him” (2 Timothy 2:3–4). 

If we humble ourselves before the One who enlisted us in his service and make it our aim to please him each day, one day we will hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23). 

There is no higher calling.