In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Living Triumphantly

Peter’s life was a triumphant example of devoted service to the Lord.

Matthew 4:18-20

When studying Peter’s life, believers often focus on his mistakes—the doubt that nearly drowned him when he walked on water, and his rebuke and denial of Jesus. But Peter is also an example of triumphant living. 

An uneducated fisherman who likely had few other skills, Peter put down his nets and followed Jesus the instant he was asked. He was the first to acknowledge Christ as the Son of God (Matt. 16:16). And after the Lord’s resurrection, Peter leapt into the water and swam to shore when he noticed his Savior waiting there (John 21:7). The disciple’s devotion cannot be questioned. 

Peter is both an inspiration and a comfort for believers today. God does not choose servants who are solid rocks with no cracks or crevices. He looks for believers who are teachable, willing to repent, and prepared to surrender to God’s greater will—in spite of their weaknesses and failures. He looks for folks who are a lot like Peter. 

Too many Christians have already decided how much the Lord can do with them, based on their education, personality, or talent. But God isn’t interested in qualifications. He seeks willing followers who echo Isaiah’s call: “Here am I. Send me!” (Isa. 6:8). That’s triumphant living. 

Bible in One Year: Luke 10-11

Our Daily Bread — The Testing

Bible in a Year:

Some time later God tested Abraham.

Genesis 22:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Genesis 22:1–3, 6–12

The first time I took my sons to hike a Colorado Fourteener—a mountain with an elevation of a least 14,000 feet—they were nervous. Could they make it? Were they up to the challenge? My youngest stopped on the trail for extended breaks. “Dad, I can’t go any more,” he said repeatedly. But I believed this test would be good for them, and I wanted them to trust me. A mile from the peak, my son who’d insisted he could go no further caught his second wind and beat us to the summit. He was so glad he trusted me, even amid his fears.

I marvel at the trust Isaac had in his father as they climbed their mountain. Far more, I’m undone by the trust Abraham had in God as he raised his knife over his son (Genesis 22:10). Even with his confused and wrenching heart, Abraham obeyed. Mercifully, an angel stopped him. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” God’s messenger declared (v. 12). God never intended for Isaac to die.

As we draw parallels from this unique story to our own with caution, it’s crucial to note the opening line: “God tested Abraham” (v. 1). Through his test, Abraham learned how much he trusted God. He discovered His loving heart and profound provision.

In our confusion, darkness, and testing, we learn truths about ourselves and about God. And we may even find that our testing leads to a deeper trust in Him.

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

How do you believe you’ve been tested by God? What was that experience like, and what did you take away from it?

God, I don’t know if what I’m experiencing is Your testing or not, but either way, I want to trust You. I give my future to You.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Heeding God’s Warnings

“By [Thy judgments] Thy servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward” (Ps. 19:11).

Heeding God’s warnings brings spiritual protection and great joy.

Psalm 19:11 concludes David’s hymn on the sufficiency of Scripture. How appropriate that it ends noting the value of God’s warning, because guarding His people against temptation, sin, error, foolishness, false teachers, and every other threat to their spiritual well-being is a major concern to God.

For example, God said to the prophet Ezekiel, “Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth, and give them warning from Me” (Ezek. 33:7). The great tragedy of the Old Testament is that Israel rejected God’s “statutes and His covenants which He made with their fathers, and His warnings with which He warned them” (2 Kings 17:15).

The apostle Paul defined his ministry as that of proclaiming Christ and warning “every man and teaching every man with all wisdom” (Col. 1:28). After exhorting the Thessalonian church to maintain sexual purity, Paul added, “The Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you” (1 Thess. 4:6).

He also warned the Ephesian church, saying, “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish [warn] each one with tears” (Acts 20:29-32). He did that by declaring to them the whole counsel of God (v. 27).

The warnings of Scripture aren’t intended to frustrate or stifle you. On the contrary, when you heed them they shelter you from spiritual harm and bring the joy of knowing you’re in God’s will. That’s the “great reward” David speaks of in Psalm 19:11. May you earn it as he eventually did through heeding God’s Word in every aspect of life.

Suggestions for Prayer

Overwhelmed with the sufficiency of God’s Word, David prayed, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer” (Ps. 19:14). Make that your prayer as well.

For Further Study

Reread Psalm 19:7-11, reviewing each characteristic and benefit of Scripture. Think carefully about how they apply to your life.

Joyce Meyer – Chosen and Adopted

Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love. For He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed) as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will [because it pleased Him and was His kind intent].

— Ephesians 1:4-5 (AMPC)

You understand adoption in the natural sense. You know some children without parents are adopted by people who purposely choose them and raise them as their own.

In the same way you have been chosen and brought into the family of God even though you were previously an outsider, unrelated to God in any way. You were a sinner serving Satan, but God in His great mercy redeemed you and purchased you with the blood of His own Son.

God loves you so much, that He adopted you into His family. Just take that in. You belong to God!

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for loving so much that you chose me and adopted me into Your family. Thank You for calling me Your own. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –The Truth of God

Because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever.

2 John 1:2

Once the truth of God has obtained an entrance into the human heart and subdued the whole man to itself, no power, human or infernal, can dislodge it. We entertain it not as a guest but as the master of the house. This is a Christian necessity, and whoever does not believe this is not a Christian.

Those who feel the vital power of the Gospel and know the strength of the Holy Spirit as He opens, applies, and seals the Lord’s Word would rather be torn to pieces than be torn away from the Gospel of their salvation. A thousand mercies are wrapped up in the assurance that the truth will be with us forever, will be our living support, our dying comfort, our rising song, our eternal glory. This is Christian privilege, and without it our faith is worth little. Some truths we outgrow and leave behind, for they are but rudiments and lessons for beginners, but this is not so with divine truth, for though it is sweet food for babies, it is in the highest sense strong meat for men. The painful truth that we are sinners is with us to humble us and make us watchful; the more blessed truth that whoever believes on the Lord Jesus will be saved remains with us as our hope and joy. Experience, far from loosening our hold on the doctrines of grace, has tied us to them more and more firmly; our grounds and motives for believing are now stronger and more numerous than ever, and we have reason to expect that it will remain this way until in death we clasp the Savior in our arms.

Wherever this abiding love of truth can be discovered, we are bound to share in fellowship and to exercise our love. No narrow circle can contain our gracious sympathies; our communion of heart must be as wide as the ocean of grace. Error may be found mingled with truth received; let us go to war with the error but still love the brother for the measure of truth that we see in him. Above all let us love and spread the truth ourselves.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – The LORD Mercifully Gives Life

“Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness. Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word…. Thou art my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep thy words.” (Psalm 119:40-41, 57)

Graveyards can be interesting places. Usually they are quiet places, and you can walk around and read the names and see the birthdays and the death dates of the people whose bodies are buried underground there. Most graveyards have stone markers that show the places where people’s bodies have been buried. Why do we say that their bodies are buried? Well, for Christians who have died, the body is the only part that is placed in a casket and buried underground or in a mausoleum (a tomb). The Bible teaches that when a Christian’s body dies, his or her soul keeps on living and goes immediately to be with the Lord – not to a graveyard or tomb.

One reason graveyards are interesting is that they are a good place to go if you need to think. The Bible says we can learn much from visiting the “house of mourning.” It is good for us to be reminded that we are on Earth only for one lifetime. Some of the birthdays and death dates of those people do not have very many years between them. Some of those markers are memorials for children, teen-agers, and middle-aged people. You might see a family member who has come to visit a grave of a loved one. Some people come and talk to the graves. Can their loved ones still hear them? Can they talk back?

A dead person’s ears do not work anymore. They cannot hear. They cannot speak. They cannot come back to life and have a conversation with living people who come to visit the graveyard. Even if a dead person could hear, and even if a dead person could speak, he would not be able to choose between silence and speaking. He would not be able to choose between not breathing and breathing. Part of being dead is being unable to do what living people can do.

The Bible uses the imagery of being dead or being alive to show what God does in our hearts when He saves us from our sin. Until Jesus Christ saves us, we are “spiritually dead.” We were born that way! Our physical bodies are alive, but we are not “alive” spiritually. Like a grave, we are stuck in our sin. We are trapped. We are unable to get out of our sinfulness on our own. We are unable to choose righteousness, because true righteousness is something that spiritually dead people cannot have. Only the spiritually alive people can be truly righteous and truly right with God.

Psalm 119:40-41 tells us about One Who is truly righteous, and He is the only One Who can make us spiritually alive. When it says “quicken,” it means “make alive.” The psalmist is praying that the LORD would bring him to life by His righteousness and because of His righteousness. He prays that the LORD’s mercies will come to him. Only the LORD can give spiritual life. He is a merciful God, and He saves people out of their sinfulness and spiritual death because of His righteousness, His mercy, and His faithful Word. Are you trusting the LORD to do what you cannot do on your own? Are you trusting Him to “quicken” you (to bring you to life) in His righteousness?

Spiritual life is a merciful gift only God can give.

My Response:
» Am I able to “quicken” myself from spiritual deadness to spiritual life?
» Is my heart trapped and weighed down by sinfulness?
» Is my sin too much to be covered by God’s mercy?

Denison Forum – Intercession for Haiti hostages is a story in the New York Times

“They themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9).

As of this morning, there is no reported progress on freeing the missionaries being held hostage in Haiti. But behind the scenes, Christians are praying in thirty-minute blocks around the clock for their release. Their fervent and sacrificial passion even made the pages of the New York Times.

I wanted to begin with this story, even though last week’s accidental shooting involving actor Alec Baldwin is leading today’s news. Baldwin reportedly discharged a prop gun during rehearsal for his Western film Rust, killing forty-two-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Her sister is now speaking out for the first time, sharing the “great grief” she and her family are feeling. We are also seeing claims that the assistant director has a history of unsafe practices.

In other news, Axios reports that 2020 saw a historic rise in homicides in the US—the vast majority committed with a gun—and the upward trend is continuing this year. A Harvard study shows that “loneliness appears to have increased substantially since the outbreak of the global pandemic.”

And according to a new national poll, 81 percent of Americans say life won’t return to normal anytime soon. Participants were asked to select the word or words that best described how they are feeling:

  • 62 percent chose “disappointed.”
  • 50 percent chose “hopeful.”
  • 46 percent chose “exhausted.”
  • 43 percent chose “worried.”
  • 41 percent chose “angry.”
  • 24 percent chose “indifferent.”

Clearly, the deep and rampant secularization of our culture is not improving our culture. But the good news is that Christians can respond to the bad news with the best news of all. We can do what Christians interceding for Haitian hostages can do. We can still be salt and light in ways that transform our world.

But there is an often-overlooked step we need to take first.

A term that explains our times

In his Sunday article, cultural commentator David French points us to “a new term, one I learned from John Strahan, a New Testament professor at my alma mater, Lipscomb University. That term is orthocardia. Essentially it means ‘having a right heart.’” French adds, “When I learned that term, it started to transform the way I understood our times.”

French cites Methodist pastor Jason Valendy, who explains that orthocardia is distinct from and essentially precedes orthodoxy (right belief) and orthopraxy (right practice). As French notes, “knowledge about God is distinct from faith in God. For example, one of the most famous passages in the Bible declares, ‘You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (his emphases).

French then reminds us of Paul’s statement that I can “speak in the tongues of men and of angels,” “have prophetic powers,” and “have all faith,” but if I “have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1–2).

French concludes: “I can know the right things and even do many great things, and yet there is something missing. The beliefs and practices must flow from a heart that is oriented toward God” (his emphases).

“The great essential of fitness”

I read French’s article after discovering a profoundly urgent insight in an unusual place. In my personal Bible study yesterday morning, I read the description in 1 Kings 6 of Solomon’s construction of the first temple. After he completed the structure itself, he then finished the “Most Holy Place” (v. 16) where only the high priest could enter, and that only on the Day of Atonement.

Even though only one person would see this room, Solomon “overlaid it with pure gold. He also overlaid an altar of cedar. And Solomon overlaid the inside of the house with pure gold” (vv. 20–21). He “made two cherubim of olivewood” for the inner sanctuary (v. 23) and overlaid them with gold (v. 28), then “carved engraved figures of cherubim and palm trees and open flowers, in the inner and outer rooms” (v. 29). He even “overlaid with gold” the “floor of the house” (v. 30).

The king spared no expense or detail in building a private room for worship and sacrifice that only God and the high priest would see. From this fact, I noted this life principle: we must give our Lord our best in private worship to experience his best in public service.

Oswald Chambers exhorted his ministerial students, “The private relationship of worshiping God is the great essential of fitness. . . . Worship aright in your private relationships, then when God sets you free you will be ready, because in the unseen life which no one saw but God you have become perfectly fit, and when the strain comes you can be relied upon by God.”

God’s vision for our world

When Christians are not influencing the culture in publicly transforming ways, we should ask if we are being transformed privately by God.

Salt must change what it touches. Light must defeat darkness. If you put salt on your food but taste no difference, you will assume that the salt has “lost its taste” (Matthew 5:13). If there is a lamp in a room but the room is still dark, you will assume that the light is “under a basket” (v. 15).

Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16). Like Solomon’s temple, you have outer courts the world can see and an inner court only you can enter. Is that inner court covered with the pure gold of biblical integrity in thoughts and attitudes? Or is it overlaid with sporadic Bible study, insincere worship, and partial obedience?

Here is God’s vision for our world: “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). Our Father deeply longs to change our culture with his word and longs to use us in powerful ways to this end. If he is not doing so, the blame is not with him or with our fallen culture. But if we dedicate our private lives to his worship and glory, he will use us publicly in ways that transform other lives forever.

he defining moment of Desmond Tutu’s life

Desmond Tutu, the Nobel laureate and Anglican minister who helped lead the quest to end apartheid in South Africa, was once asked by the BBC to identify the defining moment of his life. Tutu described a day he and his mother were walking down the street. He was nine years old at the time.

A tall white man dressed in a black suit came toward them. In the days of apartheid, when a black person and a white person met on a footpath, the black person was expected to step into the gutter to allow the white person to pass while nodding their head as a gesture of respect.

On this day, however, before the young Tutu and his mother could step off the sidewalk, the white man stepped aside. As they passed, he tipped his hat in a gesture of respect to her.

The white man was Trevor Huddleston, an Anglican priest who was bitterly opposed to apartheid. When Tutu’s mother told him that Huddleston had stepped off the sidewalk because he was a “man of God,” the young man found his calling: “When she told me that he was an Anglican priest, I decided then and there that I wanted to be an Anglican priest too. And what is more, I wanted to be a man of God.”

Will the people who meet you today want to be people of God because of you?

NOTE: The Ten Commandments are God’s rules for every day, but most people don’t know the rules, at least not very well. Do you? Are you living by them, and thus living well? Find out when you request the tenth volume of my Biblical Insight to Tough Questions, where I unpack each of the Ten Commandments — God’s “rules of the game” for a life well-lived. Please request your copy* today.

*You can also pre-order the entire 10-volume set of Biblical Insight to Tough Questions. In it you’ll find dozens of our culture’s toughest questions — all answered, without apology, with Scripture.