In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Changing Our Focus

Like Paul in prison, we may go through very difficult times, but if our focus is on God, we will be content and even joyful.

Philippians 4:10-13 

Even though Paul’s letter to the Philippians was written during a long and unjust imprisonment, it was filled with joy. The apostle never complained, blamed others, or felt sorry for himself—instead, he rejoiced in the midst of suffering because he knew and trusted God. By keeping his eyes fixed on the Lord instead of the problems, Paul was able to look beyond his chains to see how the situation was being used to teach him contentment. 

I know it’s difficult to shift our focus in times of overwhelming difficulty and intense suffering. The pain screams for our attention, and the troubles bombard our mind and emotions with anxiety. But that’s when we most need to sit down with Scripture and pour out our heart to God. He invites us to cast all our concerns upon Him because He cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7). 

Do you believe that God cares for you? Every trial you experience is an opportunity to believe what the Bible says about God and to look beyond your circumstances to His loving wisdom and good purpose. And the more you learn to know your heavenly Father, the more content you will be. 

Bible in One Year: John 4-5

Our Daily Bread — Ring the Bell

Bible in a Year:

Shout to God with cries of joy.

Psalm 47:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 47

After an astounding thirty rounds of radiation treatments, Darla was finally pronounced cancer-free. As part of hospital tradition, she was eager to ring the “cancer-free bell” that marked the end of her treatment and celebrated her clean bill of health. Darla was so enthusiastic and vigorous in her celebratory ringing that the rope actually detached from the bell! Peals of joyous laughter ensued.

Darla’s story brings a smile to my face and gives me a sense of what the psalmist might have envisioned when he invited the Israelites to celebrate God’s work in their lives. The writer encouraged them to “clap [their] hands,” “shout to God,” and “sing praises” because God had routed their enemies and chosen the Israelites as His beloved people (Psalm 47:16).

God doesn’t always grant us victory over our struggles in this life, whether health-related or financial or relational. He’s worthy of our worship and praise in even those circumstances because we can trust that He’s still “seated on his holy throne” (v. 8). When He does bring us to a place of healing—at least in a way we recognize in this earthly life—it’s cause for great celebration. We may not have a physical bell to ring, but we can joyfully celebrate His goodness to us with the same kind of exuberance Darla showed.

By:  Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

How do you show your gratitude to God? What good work has He done in your life recently that merits celebration?

Thank You, God, for Your many gifts to me. I shout my praises to You and clap my hands in celebration of Your work in my life.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Heroes of Faith

“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval” (Heb. 11:1-2).

Christian faith produces righteous deeds.

Hebrews 11 has been called “The Heroes of Faith,” “The Faith Chapter,” “The Saints’ Hall of Fame,” “The Honor Roll of the Old Testament Saints,” and “The Westminster Abbey of Scripture.” Those are appropriate titles because this chapter highlights the virtues of faith as demonstrated in the lives of great Old Testament saints. It also reminds us that without faith, it is impossible to please God.

Such a reminder was necessary for the first-century Hebrew people because Judaism had abandoned true faith in God for a legalistic system of works righteousness. Its message is valid today since our devotion to Christ can easily degenerate into a religion of rules and regulations.

While affirming the primacy of faith, the writer of Hebrews doesn’t undermine the importance of righteous works. Quite the contrary. He exhorts us “to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (10:24) and to pursue holiness so others will see Christ in us and be drawn to Him (12:14).

Yet righteous works are the by-product of true salvation, not its means. As the apostle Paul wrote, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Apart from faith, all attempts to please God through good works alone are as useless and offensive to Him as filthy rags (Isa. 64:6). That’s why Paul gladly set all his Jewish legalistic practices aside, counting them as rubbish. He wanted only “the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith” (Phil. 3:9).

This month we’ll study the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11. As we do, remember they weren’t perfect people. But their faith was exemplary and by it they gained God’s approval. I pray that’s true of you as well.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the gift of faith.
  • Undoubtedly you know people who are trying to please God by their own efforts. Pray for them and take every opportunity to tell them of true salvation through faith in Christ

For Further Study

Select one of the individuals mentioned in Hebrews 11 and read the Old Testament account of his or her life.

Joyce Meyer – Operate in Wisdom

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unfathomable (inscrutable, unsearchable) are His judgments (His decisions)! And how untraceable (mysterious, undiscoverable) are His ways (His methods, His paths)!

— Romans 11:33 (AMPC)

Without wisdom, we can make poor decisions and later wonder why we didn’t pray first. It is wise to seek God early each day before we start making decisions to know ahead of time what we ought to do, and then to receive the grace to do it. Wisdom keeps us from a life of regret.

Jesus operated in wisdom. When others went home to rest, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives to spend time with God. And early in the morning (at dawn), He came back into the temple and taught people (see John 7:53–8:2).

Jesus always spent time with the Father before facing the crowds. If Jesus needed time with God, then we need even more time with Him. Walk in wisdom today.

Prayer Starter: Lord, help me walk in wisdom every day and I look forward to starting every day by seeking You first, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –A Question to Consider

The church in your house.

Philemon 1:2

Is there a church in this house? Are parents, children, and friends all members of it, or are some still unconverted? Let us pause here and let the question go round: Am I a member of the church in this house?

The father’s heart would leap for joy, and the mother’s eyes would fill with holy tears if from the eldest to the youngest all were saved! Let us pray for this great mercy until the Lord shall grant it to us.

Probably it had been the dearest object of Philemon’s desires to have all his household saved; but it was not at first fully granted to him. He had a wicked servant, Onesimus, who, having wronged him, ran away from his service.

His master’s prayers followed him, and at last, as God would have it, Onesimus was led to hear Paul preach; his heart was touched, and he returned to Philemon not only to be a faithful servant, but a beloved brother, adding another member to the church in Philemon’s house.

Is there an unconverted family member absent this morning? Make special supplication that they may, upon returning to their home, gladden every heart with good news of what grace has done! Is there an unconverted family member still at home? Ask God to save him also.

If there is such a church in our house, let us order it well, and let everyone conduct themselves as in the sight of God. Let us go about our daily routines with studied holiness, diligence, kindness, and integrity. More is expected of a church than of an ordinary household.

Family worship must, in such a case, be more devout and hearty; internal love must be warmer and unbroken, and external conduct must be more sanctified and Christlike. We need not fear that the smallness of our number will put us out of the list of churches, for the Holy Spirit has enrolled a family-church here in the inspired book of remembrance.

As a church let us now draw near to the great Head of the one Church universal, and let us beseech Him to give us grace to shine before men to the glory of His name.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Our Safety

“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8)

For many nights after the terrorists’ attacks on the World Trade towers, Leah used to lie awake for hours, because she was afraid. As soon as she snuggled under the covers in the darkness of her room, Leah imagined she was on one of those planes, and she could “see” the terrorists’ angry, hateful faces glaring at her. She just could not get them out of her mind.

After several sleepless nights, it finally occurred to Leah that she did not need to carry her burden of fear all by herself! She prayed to God that He would help her to trust Him with her future, and she prayed that He would take away her fears about the terrorists. It was comforting to leave her fright and worry at the feet of Jesus, knowing that He would be her Protector. Nothing in the world could happen without Him allowing it.

Sometimes we all have feelings of fear. But when we fight away our fear with God’s Word as our sword, we can be comforted, and we can rest.

God is in control of everything that happens in the world, and we can trust Him with our fears .

My Response:
» Do I have fears that I need to trust God with?

Denison Forum – How Ernie Johnson and Rosa Parks became the “father of the century” and the “mother of the civil rights movement”

Let’s begin with some inspiring stories that made headlines over the weekend.

Sports broadcaster Ernie Johnson has been called the “father of the century” for adopting a three-year-old from Romania who had been abandoned in a park at birth. The child had muscular dystrophy and could not walk or speak. Ernie and his wife Cheryl named him Michael. Friday night, he died at the age of thirty-three.

Johnson, who is a two-time cancer survivor, was motivated by his worldview to adopt Michael. During a televised conversation about the 2016 presidential election, he stated: “I never know from one election to the next who’s gonna be in the Oval Office, but I always know who’s on the throne. And I’m on this earth because God created me, and that’s who I answer to. I’m a Christian. I follow a guy named Jesus.”

In other news, some fathers began patrolling their children’s high school campus after numerous fights last month, and there has not been a single violent incident since. After a young mother collapsed during the Boston Marathon, spectators and fellow runners kept her alive until paramedics arrived. She was taken to an area hospital and is now recovering at home.

When a bus driver experienced a medical emergency, two middle school students used the radio to call for help and then set the emergency brake, flashers, and emergency stop arm. They flagged down a passing pastor, who came on the bus to pray with the panicking students. One of the two later said, “That was a moment of relief, I think, for Miss Julie and for us to know God was on our side.” The school district recognized the students’ bravery at a board meeting last month.

And on this day in 1955, Rosa Parks was jailed for refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott organized by Martin Luther King Jr. She later came to be called the “mother of the civil rights movement.”

Choosing between Halloween and All Saints Day

There is something in us that is inspired by stories of heroic service. If someone else can adopt a challenged child, care for those in need, or take a risk for the sake of humanity, we can as well.

Today is All Saints Day on the Christian calendar. In the seventh century, the Catholic church designated the day to honor the saints of Christian history. Over the centuries, it has come to be celebrated by numerous Protestant and Orthodox traditions as well. When we read and hear of godly examples from the past, we are stirred to emulate them.

This day is also known as “All Hallows’ Day” or “Hallowmas.” It follows “All Hallows’ Eve,” or “Halloween.” The juxtaposition of the two offers us an opportunity to choose between two competing worldviews, two ways of living in this culture. This choice is urgent not just today, but for every day of the year.

Halloween is a secular holiday with origins in Celtic pagan traditions. As I noted Friday, it can foster occult practices that are forbidden by the word of God. Even at its most innocent, it is an interesting parable for our secular culture: We dress in ways that project an image other than who we really are. Then, we go door-to-door seeking candy in response to our costumes and entreaties. Whatever your “costume” or “candy,” is this not a picture of self-reliant, image- and performance-centered living?

All Saints Day, by contrast, focuses on “saints.” In Catholic tradition, the term designates a person who lived a “heroically virtuous life” and is now in heaven, as attested by two miracles that have taken place through the intercession of this person. In biblical context, however, a “saint” (from the Greek hagios) is simply a Christian, someone who has made Christ their Lord and experienced salvation and new life by his grace (cf. Acts 9:13Romans 1:71 Corinthians 1:22 Corinthians 5:17).

In other words, every Christian is a saint. However, not every Christian acts like one. How can we live in ways that honor our holy God and draw others to him?

You’re either going up or down

Our first step is to aspire to be all God intends us to be.

Scripture exhorts us to “cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). Peter was adamant: “As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:15–16, my emphasis).

However, if you’re like me, you’re tempted to believe that so long as you are godlier than many, you are as godly as you need to be. It’s human nature to judge ourselves by other humans. The fact that you’re reading this Daily Article makes you part of the spiritual minority in our secular culture. If you attended church services yesterday, you’re among the 17 percent of Americans who joined you.

So long as we don’t commit any obvious or “big” sins, attend worship services, read the Bible, pray, and give something to ministries, we can think that we’re a spiritual “success.” But this is a deception of the evil one. He doesn’t want you to do anything I just listed. But if you insist, he will do all he can to ensure that you do no more.

He knows, for instance, that if we compromise with private, personal sins, we will eventually and inevitably fall in much more public and defaming ways. If we grow complacent in our current spiritual condition, we will soon fall further away from our Lord.

The spiritual life is an ascent up a mountain. You’re either going up and forward or down and backward. You cannot stay where you are for long.

“As small as your controlling desire”

I believe God wants to use the rampant secularism of our culture and its growing animosity toward biblical faith to stir Christians from complacency to holiness. As we will see tomorrow, his Spirit will make us as holy as we wish to be. But we must first wish to be holier than we are.

In As A Man Thinketh, James Allen observed: “You will fall, remain, or rise with your thoughts, your vision, your ideal. You will become as small as your controlling desire, as great as your dominant aspiration.”

What is your “dominant aspiration” today?

NOTE: On multiple occasions, I’ve seen acclaimed stage actor Max McLean perform in his solo stage plays based on C. S. Lewis’ books. His artistry has helped millions experience the life and thoughts of one of the greatest Christian minds of the last century.

So I’m glad to relay that Max is starring as the elder Lewis in a feature-length film opening in a theater near you this Wednesday night, Nov. 3.

I encourage you to see The Most Reluctant Convert: The Untold Story of C. S. Lewis on opening night. Visit for showtimes. You may also read our early review here.