In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Who Is Jesus?

On Earth, Jesus Christ was fully man and also the Son of God, our Savior, and God Himself—so He is worthy of praise.

John 1:1-18

While most people are familiar with the name “Jesus,” few truly know who He is. Yet knowing Jesus’ identity and mission are important because the ramifications are eternal. And the best source of information about Him is the Bible.  

Scripture tells us Jesus is God. This means that He’s eternal: He existed before His physical birth and even before time began. Jesus, the Creator of everything that exists (Col. 1:15-17), is the perfect reflection of the invisible God. Our Savior had the power to forgive sins and was worshipped by His followers—both of which are appropriate only for divinity (Matt. 9:2-8Matt. 14:33). 

Think about the omnipotent, eternal Son of God coming to Earth as an infant. Imagine Him lying in a manger made from trees He created and under the stars He Himself had strewn across the sky! Scripture makes it clear that this was no ordinary baby. The Word also says there is only one way to eternal life, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ as Savior (Acts 4:12). God has provided ample validation of His Son’s identity. Weigh the evidence, and then turn to Christ for salvation.

Bible in One Year: John 20-21

Our Daily Bread — Sing Praise to God

Bible in a Year:

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.

1 Chronicles 16:8

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

1 Chronicles 15:29–16:11

The heat and humidity of the Midwestern summer closed in on us all week at the discipleship conference, but on the last day we welcomed a front of cooler air. Giving thanks for the break in weather and the amazing work God had done, hundreds joined voices to worship God. Many felt liberated to sing wholeheartedly before God, offering hearts, souls, bodies, and minds to Him. As I think back to that day decades later, I’m reminded of the pure wonder and joy of praising God.

King David knew how to wholeheartedly worship God. He rejoiced when the ark of the covenant, which signified God’s presence, was placed in Jerusalem—by dancing, leaping, and celebrating (1 Chronicles 15:29). Even though his wife Michal observed his abandon and “despised him in her heart” (v. 29), David didn’t let her criticism stop him from worshiping the one true God. Even if he appeared undignified, he wanted to give thanks to God for choosing him to lead the nation (see 2 Samuel 6:21–22).

David “appointed Asaph and his associates to give praise to the Lord in this manner: Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts” (1 Chronicles 16:7–9). May we too give ourselves fully to worshiping God by pouring out our praise and adoration.

By:  Amy Boucher Pye

Reflect & Pray

When have you felt free to worship God wholeheartedly? What led you to that sense of freedom and release?

Creator God, we proclaim Your name above all others. You’re worthy to be praised! We worship You!

Watch “A Song That Never Ends”.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The First Disciple

“Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. And Abel . . . brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard” (Gen. 4:3-5).

True discipleship is characterized by obedience to God’s Word.

In John 8:31 Jesus issued an important statement to a group of people who were showing an interest in Him: “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.” Sadly, they rejected His words, proving themselves to be less than true disciples. Jesus went on to explain why: “He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God” (v. 47). They listened but didn’t really hear. They were interested but not truly committed. They were hearers of the Word but not doers (James 1:22).

In contrast, Abel did what God told him to do. He was, in effect, the first disciple. He was probably a better person than Cain—more friendly, moral, and dependable—but that’s not why God accepted his sacrifice and rejected Cain’s. Abel trusted God, and his faith was counted as righteousness. Like Abraham, whose faith was evidenced by his willingness to obey God and sacrifice his son Isaac (James 2:21-22), Abel’s faith was evidenced in his obedient offering. He didn’t rely on his own goodness but acknowledged his sin and made the prescribed sacrifice.

Perhaps God indicated His acceptance of Abel’s sacrifice by consuming it with fire, as He did on other occasions in Scripture (Judg. 6:211 Kings 18:38). But whatever means He used, God made his pleasure known to Abel.

Abel’s brief life conveys a simple three-point message: we must come to God by faith; we must receive and obey God’s Word; and sin brings serious consequences. If you hear and heed that message, you’ll walk the path of true discipleship and be assured of God’s pleasure.

Suggestions for Prayer

Make it your goal to please the Lord in everything you do today. Seek His wisdom and grace to do so faithfully.

For Further Study

Read these verses, noting what they say about pleasing God: 2 Corinthians 5:9Ephesians 5:6-10Philippians 2:12-13Hebrews 11:6; and Hebrews 13:15-1620-21.

Joyce Meyer – A Tender Heart

I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.

— Ezekiel 11:19 (AMPC)

According to John 10:10, God’s desire is for us to enjoy an abundant life—a life of peace, joy, purpose, and above all, love. When we have endured great pain in our soul, our hearts can become hard and unwilling or even unable to love. As Ezekiel 11:19 teaches, it is not God’s will for us to be hard-hearted, so we need the Holy Spirit to make our hearts soft and tender again.

People can develop hard hearts for many reasons. I had a hard heart because I had been abused as a child and because people who told me they loved me abandoned me. I can remember a time when I felt that people had used me for their own selfish purposes and taken advantage of me for my whole life. In an effort to try to keep from being hurt any more than I already was, I became hard-hearted.

Once a person’s heart becomes hard, making it soft again is almost impossible to do in human strength. That type of change requires a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. He is the only One who can reach inside our souls and heal and restore every place of woundedness there. He teaches us about God’s love and reminds us that God will never leave us nor turn His back on us (See Heb. 13:5).

According to John 16:8, the Holy Spirit also convicts us when we do wrong or mistreat others. When we have hard hearts, we can treat others badly and not care about it. Sometimes we do not even notice it. As the Holy Spirit tenderizes our hearts, we become aware of other people’s feelings and begin to care about them. When people’s hearts are hard, they can sin against God without feeling bad about it. Sin separates us from God, and part of the way the Holy Spirit draws us back to God is by making us sensitive to our sin so we can repent and return to right relationship with Him.

I understand how people can become hard-hearted, and I also know that it is a difficult, lonely, miserable way to live. If you have come to recognize hard-heartedness in yourself such as—a general lack of sensitivity toward God and others or a determination not to let anyone, get too close to you or not to feel emotion—I encourage you to ask the Holt Spirit to help you. Do not allow yourself to remain in that condition. Ask and allow the Holy Spirit to remove the places in your heart that feel like stone and to give you a heart of flesh that is open, sensitive, and responsive to God and others.

We can learn so much from that. When somebody offends or rejects us, we need to see it as a bite from Satan, and just shake it off.

In another instance in the Bible, Jesus told the disciples that if they entered towns that didn’t receive them, they should just go to the next town. He told them to shake the dust off their feet and move on. He didn’t want the disciples to dwell on the rejection they had experienced; He wanted them to stay focused on sharing their testimony of His works in their lives. Likewise, as we follow the Spirit, we can shake off offenses and hold on to our peace. When others see that we can remain calm even when “the serpent” bites us, they will want to know where that peace is coming from in our lives.

When we are in a state of upset, we cannot hear from God clearly. The Bible promises us that God will lead us and walk us out of our troubles, but we cannot be led by the Spirit if we are offended and in turmoil. We can’t get away from the storms of life, or the temptation to be irritated by someone; but we can respond to offenses by saying, “God, You are merciful, and You are good. And I am going to put my confidence in You until this storm passes over.”

Prayer Starter: Lord God, I am open to the work of the Holy Spirit in my heart, making any hard place tender again. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –What We Receive

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord . . .

Colossians 2:6

The life of faith is represented as receiving—an act that implies the very opposite of anything like merit. It is simply the acceptance of a gift.

As the earth drinks in the rain, as the sea receives the streams, as night accepts light from the stars, so we, giving nothing, partake freely of the grace of God. The believers are not by nature wells or streams; they are just cisterns into which the living water flows; they are empty vessels into which God pours His salvation.

The idea of receiving implies a sense of realization, making the matter a reality. One cannot very well receive a shadow; we receive that which is substantial: So is it in the life of faith—Christ becomes real to us.

Until we come to faith, Jesus is just a name to us—a person who lived a long time ago, so long ago that His life is only a history to us now! By an act of faith Jesus becomes a real person in the consciousness of our heart. But receiving also means grasping or getting possession of. The thing that I receive becomes my own: I appropriate to myself that which is given.

When I receive Jesus, He becomes my Savior, so much so that neither life nor death will be able to rob me of Him. All this is to receive Christ—to take Him as God’s free gift, to realize Him in my heart, and to appropriate Him as mine.

Salvation may be described as the blind receiving sight, the deaf receiving hearing, the dead receiving life; but we have not only received these blessings—we have received Christ Jesus Himself. It is true that He gave us life from the dead.

He gave us pardon from sin; He gave us imputed righteousness. These are all precious things, but we are not content with them; we have received Christ Himself. The Son of God has been poured into us, and we have received Him and appropriated Him. What a heart-full Jesus must be, for heaven itself cannot contain Him!

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 the Redeemer

“Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” (Isaiah 43:1b)

Christopher wanted a toy sailboat. He went to his father and asked for some money. His dad told him that yes, he could buy a sailboat, but that he would have to earn the money and buy it himself. So Christopher worked hard and bought the boat.

Christopher loved his boat. He would take it to a small river nearby his house and spend hours playing with it.

One day Christopher was playing with his boat on the water. The wind was strong, and soon – the boat drifted away. He tried to go after it, but it was too late. He watched it go downstream.

Christopher was, of course, very sad about this. He had worked very hard, and now his boat was gone.

Weeks passed, and then one morning, Christopher went to town with his father. There in the window of the toy store was his boat! Someone had found it and put it up for sale. Christopher went right in to the store to get his boat back. The store owner told him he could have it, but for a price. He would first need to work and buy it back. So that’s exactly what Christopher did. He worked and bought the boat again. He redeemed (bought again) the boat!

And that’s exactly what God did for you. God made you, which means He “owns” you, fair and square. You are His because He created you. You don’t belong to anyone – not even to yourself! – like you belong to God. But if you are a believer, God owns you “times two.” After you sinned and lost fellowship with Him, He “bought you back again.” Jesus Christ is the One about Whom Paul is writing in Ephesians 1:7. Paul is talking about Jesus Christ when he says, “In whom we have redemption through his blood.” Redemption is what it is to be bought back, to be bought a second time.

God paid for you with the life of His only Son, Jesus Christ. Christians belong to God – two times over! So how should you live, if you are God’s “property”? You are loved and you belong to Him forever. If you are redeemed, you can be sure God has gone to great lengths to make sure He can keep you.

God is completely good and completely great, so His purposes and plans for your life have got to be good and great. They are better plans for your life than any of the things you might have in mind. There is nothing better than living a life that glorifies the God Who loved you enough to keep you for His own. “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20).

If God has redeemed your soul from sin and hell, He owns you “times two.”

My Response:
» Am I tempted sometimes to think that I am the one in control of my life?
» How can I show that I believe my plans and desires for my life aren’t as good and great as God’s are?

Denison Forum – “Why Princess Diana Is Having a Moment”

 “I’ve been imagining how they’ll write about me in a thousand years. If I do ever become Queen, what will I be? Insane?” In the new movie Spencer, this is how Kristen Stewart’s Princess Diana muses about her legacy.

Released on Friday, the film takes place over Christmas 1991 at the Sandringham Estate, one of Queen Elizabeth II’s country homes. As the Wall Street Journal notes, the movie is just one of several new projects over the last year focusing on the late princess. Diana: The Musical opens on Broadway this month. The actress who played Diana in the fourth season of The Crown was nominated for an Emmy for her role. And a six-part documentary series currently airing on CNN seeks to reframe the story of Diana’s life for a contemporary audience.

I remember vividly the news of Diana’s death in a car crash after paparazzi chased her down a Paris tunnel nearly twenty-five years ago. The tragedy reminds us again of two facts: we could die today, but our legacy will outlive us. Remembering each fact helps us prepare for the other.

Why the Astroworld tragedy is personal for me

I’ve been especially contemplating death and legacy after hearing about the Houston Astroworld tragedy Friday evening. At least eight people were killed and dozens more were injured after a large crowd began pushing toward the stage during a performance by hometown rapper Travis Scott. I grew up in Houston and have visited Astroworld numerous times across many years. But what happened in my hometown could happen in yours as well.

It seems that reminders of our mortality have dominated the news lately:

Yesterday’s New York City Marathon was dominated by Kenyan runners Peres Jepchirchir, who won the women’s race, and Albert Korir, who won the men’s race. Some thirty thousand competitors made the 26.2-mile journey across five boroughs. Unlike their race, which ended Sunday, your race and mine are not done until we are done.

And, unlike a marathon, none of us know where the finish line is for us.

“The land of Omri”

However, it is human nature to presume that we know more about the future than we do. Has it occurred to you yet today that you could die today? As I remind you of that fact, is your response one of urgency or one of indifference?

In My Daily Pursuit, A. W. Tozer writes: “I was scheduled to preach at a certain camp meeting one time, and when I arrived, they announced a night of miracles. The only thing that happened that night was that a man drowned in the lake. People tried to revive him and keep him alive, but he never did come to. There was no miracle around that place, at least that night.”

You and I cannot calculate today either the length of our lives or the significance of our legacies.

1 Kings 16 reports that a king of Israel named Omri “bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer for two talents of silver, and he fortified the hill and called the name of the city that he built Samaria, after the name of Shemer, the owner of the hill” (v. 24). That’s the only accomplishment of Omri recorded in the text.

However, the English Standard Version Study Bible notes that “Omri’s house held the throne for over one hundred years, and the northern kingdom in due course became so identified with this dynasty that even after the Omride period it could be referred to in Assyrian records as ‘the land of Omri.’ This suggests that Omri was more a substantial international figure than could be deduced simply from 1 Kings.”

Why the difference? The author of 1 Kings records this as his true legacy: “Omri did what was evil in the sight of the Lᴏʀᴅ, and did more evil than all who were before him” (v. 25).

“All journeys have secret destinations”

The key to dealing with mortality and writing our legacy is the same: live this day fully for the Lord and trust tomorrow to his providential purpose and care.

Martin Buber was right: “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” Warren Buffett added: “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” His observation is akin to Alfred North Whitehead’s assertion that great people plant trees they’ll never sit under.

If we surrender each day to Christ as our Lord, our days will become our lives and our lives will write our legacy.

Pastor Greg Laurie tells the story of this pivotal decision in the life of Billy Graham. In May 1938, Graham was heartbroken after the girl he thought he would marry broke off their relationship. He began taking nightly walks to pray. 

On one of these walks, he got down on his knees and cried, “Oh God, if you want me to serve you, I will.” 

Laurie writes: “After this decision, he experienced a newfound love and peace he’d never known before. A burden had been lifted and it gave him greater joy to serve. He saw in himself a new desire to witness and [to] share Christ, a new song in his heart and an unspeakable joy.” 

His days became his life, and his life became his legacy. 

Will you experience a “new song in your heart” today?