In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Purpose of Trials

God uses trials to condition our heart for holiness and to increase our spiritual maturity.

James 1:2-12

When difficulties come into your life, do you grumble, complain, and resist? Or do you respond the way God desires—with a joyful attitude, a humble and submissive heart, and an understanding of what He wants to accomplish in your life? 

Sometimes people mistakenly think that after their salvation, God is going to make life comfortable and stress-free, but that’s not what Scripture promises. Jesus said we would have trouble in this world (John 16:33). Peter told us not to be surprised at the fiery ordeals that come upon us for our testing (1 Pet. 4:12). And the writer of Hebrews wrote that our heavenly Father disciplines and trains us as His beloved children so we may share in His holiness (Heb. 12:4-11).

James’ command to consider trials as “all joy” (James 1:2) makes no sense unless we see them as opportunities for spiritual growth. Trials are designed by the Lord to test our faith, humility, submission, and values. We can either waste our difficulties by defiantly resisting God or benefit by trusting in and depending on Him. The first way leads only to suffering, but the second option results in spiritual maturity and eternal rewards. 

Bible in One Year: Acts 1-2

Our Daily Bread — A True Disciple of Jesus

Bible in a Year:

I am the vine; you are the branches.

John 15:5

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

John 15:1–8

When Christian Mustad showed his Van Gogh landscape to art collector Auguste Pellerin, Pellerin took one look and said it wasn’t authentic. Mustad hid the painting in his attic, where it remained for fifty years. Mustad died, and the painting was evaluated off and on over the next four decades. Each time it was determined to be a fake—until 2012, when an expert used a computer to count the thread separations in the painting’s canvas. He discovered it had been cut from the same canvas as another work of Van Gogh. Mustad had owned a real Van Gogh all along.

Do you feel like a fake? Do you fear that if people examined you, they’d see how little you pray, give, and serve? Are you tempted to hide in the attic, away from prying eyes?

Look deeper, beneath the colors and contours of your life. If you’ve turned from your own ways and put your faith in Jesus, then you and He belong to the same canvas. To use Jesus’ picture, “I am the vine; you are the branches” (John 15:5). Christ and you form a seamless whole.

Resting in Jesus makes you a true disciple of His. It’s also the only way to improve your picture. He said, “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (v. 5).

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

What things cause you to wonder if you’re a true disciple of Jesus? How might this fear drive you to Him?

Jesus, I rest in You like a branch clings to its vine.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Walking by Faith

“By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God” (Heb 11:5).

When you walk by faith, you enjoy intimacy with God.

Our second hero of faith is Enoch. Genesis 5:21-24 records that “Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah. Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”

What a wonderful epitaph: “Enoch walked with God.” His life exemplifies the walk of faith. Adam and Eve had walked with God in the Garden of Eden, but their sin separated them from such intimacy. Enoch experienced the fellowship with God they had forfeited.

Enoch’s faithful walk pleased God greatly. And after more than three hundred years on earth, Enoch was translated to heaven without ever experiencing death. It’s as if God simply said, “Enoch, I enjoy your company so much, I want you to join me up here right now.”

Like Enoch, there is coming a generation of Christians who will never see death. Someday—perhaps soon—Jesus will return for His church, “then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up . . . in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17). Enoch is a beautiful picture of that great future event, which we call the rapture of the church.

As you walk with God, He delights in you. You’re His child and your praises and fellowship bring Him joy. Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones.” Even death itself simply ushers you into His presence for all eternity.

Let the joy of intimacy with God, and the anticipation of seeing Christ face to face—either by rapture or by death— motivate you to please Him more and more each day of your life.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for the promise of Christ’s return.

For Further Study

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

  • What events surround the rapture of the church?
  • How were the Thessalonians to respond to Paul’s teaching about the rapture?
  • How should you respond?

Joyce Meyer – Anointed to Live Supernaturally

Jesse sent and brought him. David had a healthy reddish complexion and beautiful eyes, and was fine-looking. The Lord said [to Samuel], Arise, anoint him; this is he. Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed David in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward.

— 1 Samuel 16:12–13 (AMPC)

When I think of the word anointed, I think of something being rubbed all over. We are anointed (rubbed all over) with God’s power. He has anointed us with the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to help us live life in a supernatural way.

Even as spiritual people, we must deal with ordinary natural things all the time. Think about how messy your closet, garage, or basement is—it didn’t get that way overnight, and it probably won’t get cleaned up without some time and effort. Does a messy area of your home aggravate you every time you see it, yet you put off cleaning it up because you dread it? If so, it is time for change. I want you to attack those messes boldly and have the confidence that you can have order in your life and home. You have the power of God in your life. You are able to clean up anything in your life and do it with joy!

Prayer Starter: Lord, I receive Your Spirit afresh today and ask for Your anointing in my life. Help me to bring everything in my life into order confidently confront the messes surrounding me, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –The Practice of Walking

So walk in him.

Colossians 2:6

If we have received Christ Himself in our inmost hearts, our new life will display its intimate acquaintance with Him by a walk of faith in Him. Walking implies action. Our Christian life is not to be confined to our closet; our belief must be revealed in our practice. If a man walks in Christ, then he must act as Christ would act; since Christ is in him—his hope, his love, his joy, his life—he is the reflection of the image of Jesus; and men will say of that man, “He is like his Master; he lives like Jesus Christ.”

Walking signifies progress. “So walk in him.” Proceed from grace to grace; run forward until you reach the ultimate degree of knowledge that a man can attain concerning Christ. Walking implies continuance. There must be a continual abiding in Christ.

Many Christians think that in the morning and evening they ought to come into the company of Jesus, but regard the rest of the day as their own: But this is poor living; we should always be with Him, treading in His steps and doing His will.

Walking also implies habit. When we speak of a man’s walk and conversation, we mean his habits, the constant theme of his life.

Now, if we sometimes enjoy Christ and then forget Him, sometimes call Him ours and then lose our hold, that is not a habit; we do not walk in Him. We must keep to Him, cling to Him, never let Him go, but live and have our being in Him.

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him”; persevere in the same way in which you began, and, just as at the beginning Christ Jesus was the trust of your faith, the source of your life, the principle of your action, and the joy of your spirit, so let Him be the same until life’s end, the same when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death and enter into the joy and the rest that remain for the people of God. O Holy Spirit, enable us to obey this heavenly precept.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – In Jesus Are Treasures

“[Christ,] in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3)

Grace was looking for a special place to keep her treasures. She had laid them all on the floor of her room in a little pile. There was a pure white clam shell she had found at the beach. There were three quarters from the state of Georgia, where she lived. There was a little ceramic dog she had begged Mom to buy for her at a yard sale. There was a ticket stub from the zoo with a picture of a tiger on it. And there was a glittery, gold silk ribbon that had come on a birthday present last year.

Grace spotted an old shoebox at the back of her closet. She found some pretty flowered wrapping paper, and she carefully covered the box and the lid separately as if she were wrapping a present. She put all her treasures inside and wrote with a gold glitter pen on the lid, My Treasure Box. Then she hid the box in a dresser drawer beneath a pile of sweatshirts. No one would ever find it there!

Many people have a special place where they keep their treasures. But God’s Word tells us in Colossians 2:3 that we can find treasure in a Person. That Person is Jesus Christ. Hidden in Jesus are “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Have you ever wished that you knew exactly what to do in a certain situation? Maybe there has been some trouble with your friends at school and you’re not sure how to respond. Maybe you’re not sure how to tell your neighbor about Jesus. Or maybe you’re not sure what you ought to be when you grow up. There are many problems in our lives for which we need wisdom. When you really, really need wisdom, it is like a treasure to you. And Jesus Himself is the special place where all the treasures of wisdom are stored up. As you seek Him by reading His Word and praying, He will give you guidance for any decision or problem – great or small. To know Him is to find a treasure store of wisdom.

In Jesus we can find all the treasures of wisdom.

My Response:
» Do I try to figure out how to deal with problems on my own?
» Or do I go to Jesus for wisdom when I have a problem?

Denison Forum – Relief will come: An excerpt from Max Lucado’s “You Were Made for This Moment”

When I was twelve years of age, I took on a summer responsibility of managing the houses of vacationing neighbors. It was their idea, not mine. Three families that lived side by side were planning to be out of town for a month. They each needed someone to cut their lawn, feed their pets, water their gardens; in sum, make sure their properties were cared for. They invited me to take the job. More accurately, they asked my dad to ask me to take the job. He didn’t ask me. He told me. I didn’t want to do so. After all, I had Little League games to play, a bike to ride and, uh, uh, uh…those were the only two reasons I could muster. They got me no traction.

You Were Made for This Moment: Courage for Today and Hope for Tomorrow by Max Lucado

Before I knew it, I was sitting down with each of the families, making a list of the tasks I needed to manage on their behalf. I recall walking home from their houses feeling something I’d never felt before. I felt overwhelmed. Forgive me if my weight seems nothing compared to yours. Keep in mind, I was only twelve years old. To cut grass, feed pets, and make sure doors were locked in three households for a month? I mean, one family had a goldfish. I’d never fed a goldfish. I envisioned finding the little fellow floating on his side, dead from being under or over fed.

But there was no getting out now.

On the first day of my unsolicited career, I hurried home from baseball practice, jumped on my bike, and pedaled like crazy to the residences. Three lawns needed mowing. Three houses needed attending. Three sets of locks needed checking. Three families whose pets needed feeding. Three gardens needed watering. This was too much for any human being to handle.

Just when I was about to learn the meaning of the phrase “panic attack”, I saw it. Parked in front of the middle house. White, wide, and fresh off a day in the oil field. My dad’s pickup. He was there. The garage door was open, and the lawn mower was on the driveway.

“You start cutting the grass,” he said. “I’ll water the plants.”

With those words, everything changed. The clouds lifted. I could face the task because my father was facing it with me.

Your Father wants to do the same with you.

Seasons of struggle can be a treacherous time for the human heart. We are sitting ducks for despair and defeat. We turn away from others, turn our backs on God, and turn into fearful, cynical souls. Despair can be a dangerous season. But it can also be a developing time, a time in which we learn to trust God, to lean into his Word and rely on his ways.

The choice is ours. To help us choose the wise path, God gave the wonderfully wild story of Esther. The setting is Persia, 5th Century BC. King Xerxes declared a holocaust. He plans to destroy all the Jews of his vast empire. Unbeknownst to him, his Queen Esther and one of the members of his court, Mordecai, are Jewish. Both have disguised their ancestry. Upon learning of the decree, Mordecai stripped himself of his Persian disguise. He cried out to Esther to intervene.

She resisted. Dare she risk her life and make an appeal to the fickle Xerxes? Mordecai’s reply was surprisingly sober.

“If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14)

Relief will come! How did Mordecai know relief would come? I can only assume that he stood on God’s Word. He remembered God’s promised deliverance of the Jewish people.

God would:

He recalled the covenants and the covenant-keeping character of God.

Relief will come! This was Mordecai’s message for Esther. And this is God’s message for you. Feeling undone by the struggle? Then let God unleash the power within you to face it. Shift your focus away from the challenges at hand and ponder the power of your almighty God.

Don’t measure the height of the mountain. Ponder the power of the one who made it. Don’t tell God how big your storm is. Tell the storm how big your God is. Your problem is not that your problem is so big, but that your view of God is too small.

The next time you feel the weight of the world, talk to the One who made the world. As your perception of God grows greater, the size of your challenge grows smaller. If God can sway the heart of a Persian monarch and reverse certain death into victorious life, do you not think he can take care of you?

Relief will come. Your Father will give you strength to meet the day. By the time you reach your assignment, he will be there to help you.