In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – A Yielded Life

True freedom requires giving God control of our life.

James 4:7-10

One of the hardest things for us to bear is not having control over our own circumstances. But as Christians, this is exactly how we are called to live. Jesus made this very clear when He said we must deny ourselves and lose our life for His sake (Luke 9:23-24). He is now our Lord and Master, and we no longer have the right to rule over ourselves. 

However, we have no cause for fear because God is an infinitely good, wise, and loving ruler. Furthermore, left to ourselves, we will make foolish mistakes and unwise decisions. That’s why we should delight in submitting to the Lord, trusting Him to control every aspect of our life. 

Yielding ourselves to the Lord is a two-part process. Submission to Him necessitates resisting the devil. And drawing near to God requires turning from sin, purifying our hearts, and cleansing our behavior. If any of these factors are lacking, then we haven’t truly submitted to the Lord as He desires but are trying to control certain aspects of our life. 

Instead of seeing submission as a loss, we must recognize it as eternal gain. If we humble ourselves before God, He promises to exalt us. 

Bible in One Year: Luke 20-22

Our Daily Bread — God Sings Over You

Bible in a Year:

[God] will rejoice over you with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Zephaniah 3:14–17

Seventeen months after our first child—a boy—was born, along came a little girl. I was overjoyed at the thought of having a daughter, but I was also a bit uneasy because while I knew a few things about little boys, this was uncharted territory. We named her Sarah, and one of my privileges was rocking her to sleep so my wife could rest. I’m not sure why, but I started trying to sing her to sleep, and the song of choice was “You Are My Sunshine.” Whether holding her in my arms or standing above her in her crib, I quite literally sang over her, and loved every minute of it. She’s in her twenties now, and I still call her Sunshine.

We usually think about angels singing. But when was the last time you thought about God singing? That’s right—God singing. And furthermore, when was the last time you thought about Him singing over you? Zephaniah is clear in his message to Jerusalem: “The Lord your God” takes great delight in you, so much so that He “rejoice[s] over you with singing” (3:17). Although this message speaks directly to Jerusalem, it’s likely God sings over us—those who have received Jesus as Savior—too! What song does He sing? Well, Scripture’s not clear on that. But the song is born out of His love, so we can trust it’s true and noble and right and pure and lovely and admirable (Philippians 4:8).

By:  John Blase

Reflect & Pray

What feelings are stirred when you consider God singing over you? Is that something unbelievable or something comforting? Why?

Good Father, the thought that You would sing over me in joy is such an assurance and comfort. Thank You.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Reproving Sinful Conduct

“All Scripture is . . . profitable for . . . reproof” (2 Tim. 3:16).

People who aren’t interested in holy living will avoid being exposed to sound doctrine.

Paul instructed Timothy to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2). He knew a time was coming when many people would reject sound doctrine, and “wanting to have their ears tickled, [would] accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and . . . turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths” (vv. 3-4).

That’s certainly true of our day. Many who profess to love Christ seem intolerant of His Word. Often they fall into spiritual complacency and surround themselves with teachers who tell them exactly what they want to hear. If they can’t find a comfortable message, they drift from church to church or simply abandon it altogether.

Such people have exchanged conviction for comfort, and need to examine themselves to see if they are genuine believers (2 Cor. 13:5). Their attitude toward the Word is in stark contrast to those who truly love Christ and come to the Word with an earnest desire to learn its truths and live accordingly.

But even true believers can fall into the trap of negligence and compromise. Perhaps you’ve noticed how sinning Christians often try to avoid exposure to God’s Word. Sometimes they’ll temporarily stop attending church or Bible studies. They also try to avoid other believers—especially those who will hold them accountable to what they know to be true.

But like any loving parent, God won’t allow His children to remain in sin for long without disciplining them (Heb. 12:5-11). Sooner or later they must repent and be reconciled to Him.

An important element in reconciling sinning Christians to God is the faithful prayers of other believers. God may choose to use you in that way, so always be ready to pray, and eager to restore others in a spirit of gentleness (Gal. 6:1).

Suggestions for Prayer

Do you know a Christian who is being disobedient to God’s Word? If so, ask God to bring him or her to repentance. Assure the person of your prayers and concern, and be available to be further used in the restoration process if the Lord wills.

For Further Study

What does Matthew 18:15-20 say about how to confront a sinning Christian?

Joyce Meyer – See It, Believe It

Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish; but he who keeps the law [of God, which includes that of man]—blessed (happy, fortunate, and enviable) is he.

— Proverbs 29:18 (AMPC)

God has satisfaction, fullness, and completeness in mind for us. I never felt satisfied or complete in my life until I was doing what God had ordained for me to do. Fullness only comes through being in the center of God’s will.

We all need and want to believe that the future will be better than the past for us. If we can’t believe that, we will be miserable; in fact, in a sense we will perish if we are without hope and not feeling blessed. Today’s Scripture encourages us to have vision.

A vision is something we see in our minds, “a mental sight.” It may be something God plants in us supernaturally or something we see on purpose. It involves the hopes and dreams we have for the future. And one of the best things about it is that we simply have to believe in it. Some people are afraid to believe. They think believing will set them up for disappointment. They need to realize that they will be perpetually disappointed if they don’t believe. I feel that if I believe for a lot and even get half of it, I am better off than I would be to believe for nothing and get all of it.

I challenge you today to start believing for good things in your life. Believe you can do whatever you need to do through Christ. Dream big dreams and believe they can come true—because nothing is impossible with God!

Prayer Starter: Father, plant in my heart all Your dreams and visions for my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – How Do We Pray?

Pray then like this:
‘Our Father in heaven. . .’

Matthew 6:9

This prayer begins where all true prayer must start, with the spirit of adoption: “Our Father.” There is no acceptable prayer until we can say, “I will arise and go to my Father.”1 This childlike spirit soon perceives the grandeur of the Father “in heaven” and ascends to devout adoration, “hallowed be your name.” The child lisping, “Abba, Father” grows into the cherub crying, “Holy, holy, holy.” There is but a step from rapturous worship to the glowing missionary spirit, which is a sure expression of filial love and reverent adoration—“your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Next follows the heartfelt expression of dependence upon God—“Give us this day our daily bread.”

Being further illuminated by the Spirit, the one praying discovers that he is not only dependent but sinful; so he cries for mercy, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”; and being pardoned, having the righteousness of Christ imputed, and knowing his acceptance with God, he humbly prays for holy perseverance, “Lead us not into temptation.” The man who is really forgiven is anxious not to offend again; the possession of justification leads to an anxious desire for sanctification. “Forgive us our debts”—that is justification; “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”—that is sanctification in its negative and positive forms.

As the result of all this, there follows a triumphant ascription of praise, “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.” We rejoice that our King reigns in providence and shall reign in grace, from the river even to the ends of the earth, and of His dominion there shall be no end. So from a sense of adoption, up to fellowship with our reigning Lord, this short model of prayer conducts the soul. Lord, teach us then to pray.

1) Luke 15:18

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Forgives Because of Christ’s Shed Blood

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:7-9)

Is it strange to think that blood can cleanse us from sin? If you fall down and cut your knee, you will probably have to put something on it to keep the blood from dripping down into your sock or onto the carpet in your home. Blood stains. And when we think about blood, we usually like to try to “change the subject” and talk about something else. How could something that stains physical things be what washes us spiritually?

But the Bible says that without the shedding of blood, there can be no remission (forgiveness) of sin. Jesus Christ’s blood is the only blood that could ever pay for our sins, because He is 100% God and 100% Man. His sinlessness was the only way to make up for our sinfulness.

Did you know it is only because of Christ’s sinlessness, His death on the cross, His shed blood, and His resurrection that He is able to take away our sin? God looks at Jesus Christ’s blood and sees it as something that washes away the spiritual stains that our sins leave on our hearts. Are you confessing your sins to God? If so, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us because of the blood Christ shed.

God can cleanse away our sins because of Christ’s blood.

My Response:
» Is it hard for me to believe that Christ’s blood is key to God’s being able to forgive my sins?
» Am I trusting in Christ (Who He is and what He has done) for my salvation today?
» How can I show that I believe that God is faithful and just to forgive me when I confess sins?

Denison Forum – Why do so many Americans believe in ghosts?

 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).

As Halloween approaches this Sunday, I found these facts about Americans to be relevant:

  • 70 percent of us will celebrate the upcoming holiday; the figure rises to 91 percent for parents with children in their home.
  • 88 percent of parents say they eat their children’s candy.
  • 32 percent say there is no age limit for trick-or-treating.
  • 46 percent believe ghosts are real.

As to why so many Americans believe in ghosts, the New York Times cites the rise of Americans claiming no religious preference and quotes sociologist Thomas Mowen in response: “People are looking to other things or nontraditional things to answer life’s big questions that don’t necessarily include religion.” Interestingly, Mowen says he is finding that “atheists tend to report higher belief in the paranormal than religious folk.”

In other words, many do not believe in the supernatural when it refers to God, but they do when it does not.

For example, the Washington Post is carrying a feature-length portrait of a “teenage witch” who lives in Austin, Texas. The article reports that the hashtag #witchtok on TikTok has 19.4 billion views. The teenager profiled by the Post says, “I’ve never felt more peace than when I’m with my gods. Reading a prayer or doing a ritual. It’s like the earth is alive, a way of stepping into my power as a person.”

An illusion that illustrates a cultural fact

The “Delboeuf Illusion” is an optical illusion of relative size perception. The best-known version of the illusion is below. The two dark-circled discs are the same size, though the one on the left seems smaller than the one on the right.

The Delboeuf Illusion (Image credit: Public Domain)

This illusion illustrates a cultural fact: the more chaos we see in the world around us, the smaller our individual challenges can seem.

There was a day, for instance, when concerns about witchcraft and the occult in the Harry Potter series were front-page stories. Now the enormous escalation of interest in witchcraft raises few eyebrows. So many people are fascinated with astrology and occult practices that the phenomenon is being called an “occult revival.” In a day dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, political divisions, and natural disasters, this “revival” can seem innocuous. But this is far from true.

My purpose is not to disparage all Halloween activities. We took our boys trick-or-treating in the neighborhood, and they will do the same with their children this Sunday. Halloween can be a fun holiday and even a way of building relational bridges for the gospel with our neighbors and community.

It is estimated that Americans will spend $10.1 billion on Halloween this year, including $3.3 billion on costumes and $3 billion on candy. Such a popular event can be a great opportunity to reach out to those around us with Christian truth and love (Ephesians 4:15).

“Do not turn to mediums or necromancers”

Rather, I’d like to use what the teenage witch said in the Washington Post article to contrast Halloween and the day it precedes. She claimed that communing with her occult “gods” is “a way of a way of stepping into my power as a person.” By contrast, God’s word consistently forbids engagement with the occult:

  • “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them” (Leviticus 19:31).
  • Scripture says of King Manasseh that he “used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with necromancers.” As a result, “He did much evil in the sight of the Lᴏʀᴅ, provoking him to anger” (2 Chronicles 33:6).
  • “The household gods utter nonsense, and the diviners see lies; they tell false dreams and give empty consolation. Therefore the people wander like sheep; they are afflicted for lack of a shepherd” (Zechariah 10:2).

Satan’s first strategy is always to claim that we will “step into our power as a person” by being our own god (Genesis 3:5). This is because the “will to power,” as Nietzsche described it, is basic to our fallen human nature.

As a result, we don’t have to engage in witchcraft and other occult practices to be tempted by the self-sufficiency our secular culture applauds and reinforces. I can refuse the occult but still write this article in my own ability for my own glory. You can read it in the same way.

If we do, neither of us will experience the omnipotent power available to everyone who refuses self-reliance for Spirit-dependence by yielding our minds and lives to the Holy Spirit.

Why we should “keep in step with the Spirit”

In contrast to Halloween, the following day is All Saints Day. (Halloween is a contraction of “All Hallows’ Eve,” referring to the day it precedes.) The day celebrates all the saints from Christian history.

But know this: all Christians qualify. We are all God’s “saints” (cf. Acts 9:139:32Romans 1:78:271 Corinthians 1:2Ephesians 4:12Philippians 4:21). However, to live out our identity requires power beyond ourselves.

By his Spirit who dwells in every Christian (1 Corinthians 3:16), God will enable us to defeat temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13), guide us into “all the truth” (John 16:13), and empower our global witness and ministry (Acts 1:8). But if we turn to any other source—be it occult, secular, or self-reliant—we forfeit what our omnipotent Father wants to do with and through us.

I’ll close with an illustration: I walked early yesterday morning in our neighborhood in the midst of a windstorm blowing twenty miles per hour, with gusts twice that strong. When I walked against the wind, I had no help from its strength. To the contrary, I had to work much harder than if there were no wind.

But when I went with the wind, its force at my back enabled me to walk with power beyond myself. (For more, see my blog on my personal website, where you’ll find other blogs, videos, and a way to ask me questions about faith and life.)

Jesus likened the Holy Spirit to the “wind [that] blows where it wishes” (John 3:8). Scripture calls us to submit to this “wind” every day (Ephesians 5:18), refusing to quench (1 Thessalonians 5:19) or grieve (Ephesians 4:30) his power through sin.

If we will “keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25), we will have his omniscient wisdom to guide us and his omnipotent power to strengthen us.

Would the Spirit say you are “in step” with him today?

If not, why not?