In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Need for Conviction

God uses discipline to convict our heart so we’ll be guided toward obedience and His will.

Hebrews 12:4-11

All children need discipline, but the method a parent employs varies from child to child. The reason is because each child is unique.

The same is true in God’s family—we all need His discipline. If we’ve wandered from Him, His hand of correction will feel heavy as He directs us back to the path of righteousness. This is called conviction. Its purpose is to awaken our awareness of sin so we will resume an attitude of obedience to our heavenly Father. 

Discipline is painful while it’s happening, particularly if we’ve resisted the pressure of conviction. But any wise parent knows that living with the consequences of foolish behavior teaches children valuable lessons about the importance of obedience. 

Left to our own devices, we’ll waste our life chasing after fleeting pleasures and self-centered desires. But when we’ve been trained by God’s discipline, we’ll reap the fruit of peace and righteousness. So let’s yield to the Father’s guiding hand as He draws us away from danger and back into the shelter of His protection.  

Bible in One Year: Acts 5-7

Our Daily Bread — Good News

Bible in a Year:

We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors he has fulfilled for us.

Acts 13:32–33

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Acts 13:32–39

In 1941, as Hitler’s reign was expanding across Europe, novelist John Steinbeck was asked to help with the war effort. He wasn’t asked to fight or visit troops on the frontline, but to instead write a story. The result was The Moon Is Down, a novel about a peaceful land that gets invaded by an evil regime. Printed on underground presses and secretly distributed throughout occupied countries, the novel sent a message: The Allies were coming, and by imitating the novel’s characters, readers could help secure their freedom. Through The Moon Is Down, Steinbeck brought good news to people under Nazi rule—their liberation was near.

Like the characters in Steinbeck’s story, Jews in the first century were an occupied people under brutal Roman rule. But centuries before, God had promised to send an Ally to liberate them and bring peace to the world (Isaiah 11). Joy erupted when that Ally arrived! “We tell you the good news,” Paul said. “What God promised our ancestors he has fulfilled for us . . . by raising up Jesus” (Acts 13:32–33). Through Jesus’ resurrection and offer of forgiveness, the world’s restoration had begun (vv. 38–39; Romans 8:21).

Since then, this story has spread throughout the globe, bringing peace and freedom wherever it’s embraced. Jesus has been raised from the dead. Our liberation from sin and evil has begun. In Him we’re free!

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

Compared to other rulers, how does Jesus bring peace to the world? How can you join Him in this work?

Jesus, my ultimate Ally, I surrender to Your rightful rule.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Believing in God

“Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is” (Hebrews 11:6).

Nothing you do can please God apart from faith.

Throughout history, people have tried everything imaginable to gain favor with God. Most turn to religion, but religion apart from Christ is merely a satanic counterfeit of the truth.

Many trust in their own good works, not realizing that even their best efforts are offensive to God (Isa. 64:6Phil. 3:8). And the more we try to justify ourselves, the more we offend God, because “by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight” (Rom. 3:20).

Some trust in their family heritage or nationality. The Jewish people thought they were pleasing to God simply because they were descendants of Abraham. But John the Baptist warned them, saying, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham” (Matt. 3:7-9).

Apart from faith, man cannot please God. And the first step of faith is simply believing God exists. That isn’t enough to save a person—even the demons have that level of faith (James 2:19)—but it’s a start, and by God’s grace can blossom into full saving faith.

God has given ample evidence of His existence. Romans 1:20 says, “Since the creation of the world [God’s] invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made.” David said, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands” (Ps. 19:1).

Creation itself proclaims the existence, power, and glory of God, yet most people “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18) by rejecting the Creator and denying their accountability to Him. Rather than bowing to the true God, they pay homage to “Mother Nature” or evolution. How foolish!

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God for the beauty of His creation.
  • Worship Him as the giver of every good gift (James 1:17).

For Further Study

Read Romans 1:18-32. Is there a connection between denying God, practicing idolatry, and committing gross immoralities? Explain.

Joyce Meyer – Power to Overcome

But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you….

— Acts 1:8 (AMPC)

No one’s life is everything he or she wants it to be. We all have disappointments, chal­lenges and struggles, sometimes even heartbreaks and tragedies. I have never met a person who could honestly say, “My life has always been every bit as wonderful as I always dreamed it would be.” 

God’s job is not to make us happy or to give us the lives we’ve always hoped for. Often, we so desperately want unsaved people to become Christians that we tell them their lives will be better if they will just receive Jesus. In many ways, this is true, but sometimes we paint such a rosy picture that we lead people to believe they will never have another problem again if they will simply ask Jesus to be their Lord and Savior. This is not true. Jesus did not come to give anyone a life of leisure; Jesus came to give us abundant life, but not a trouble-free life. Part of the abundance He offers is the power of His Spirit to overcome what others cannot.

As believers, we have the power of the Holy Spirit to help us deal with circumstances differently than nonbelievers do. When we are in Christ, we are supernaturally anointed to live our natural, ordinary lives in supernatural ways.

We can be at peace in the midst of a crisis, and we can be positive when everything around is gloomy and depress­ing. Why? Because we can choose joy, peace, positive attitudes, and stability. We can overcome the negative situations that are part of life, but we must choose—through the power of the Holy Spirit—to do so.

Prayer Starter: Lord, thank You for the power of the Holy Spirit to help me deal with any circumstance that comes my way. Amen!

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Everlasting Arms

Underneath are the everlasting arms.

Deuteronomy 33:27

God—the eternal God—is Himself our support at all times, and especially when we are sinking in deep trouble. There are seasons when the Christian sinks very low in humiliation. Under a deep sense of his great sinfulness, he is humbled before God until he hardly knows how to pray, because he appears, in his own sight, so worthless.

Well, child of God, remember that when you are at your worst and lowest, even then “underneath” you “are the everlasting arms.” Sin may drag you ever so low, but Christ’s great atonement is still under all. You may have descended into the depths, but you cannot have fallen so low as the uttermost; and He saves “to the uttermost.”1

Again, the Christian sometimes sinks very deeply in sore trial from without. Every earthly prop is cut away. What then? Still underneath him are “the everlasting arms.”

He cannot fall so deep in distress and affliction but what the covenant grace of an ever-faithful God will still encircle him. The Christian may be sinking under trouble from within through fierce conflict; but even then he cannot be brought so low as to be beyond the reach of the “everlasting arms”—they are underneath him; and, while he is sustained, all Satan’s efforts to harm him achieve nothing.

This assurance of support is a comfort to any weary but sincere worker in the service of God. It implies a promise of strength for each day, grace for each need, and power for each duty.

And, finally, when death comes, the promise will still hold good. When we stand in the middle of the Jordan, we will be able to say with David, “I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”2

We will descend into the grave, but we shall go no lower, for the eternal arms prevent our further fall. All through life, and at its close, we shall be upheld by the “everlasting arms”—arms that neither flag nor lose their strength, for “the everlasting God . . . does not faint or grow weary.”3

1) Hebrews 7:25
2) Psalm 23:4
3) Isaiah 40:28

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Loves Those Who Are Hard To Love

 “Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.” (Jonah 1:1-2)

Tony was a boy who lived in Kevin’s neighborhood. In fact, Tony lived just a few houses away, but Kevin did not like spending time with him. The thing is, Tony was hard to like. It wasn’t that he was always mean – he could even be nice sometimes. It’s just that most of the time, Tony bullied everyone else. He always had to be the quarterback when they played football. He said mean things to everyone and did not care if he hurt anyone. Tony expected to have his own way about everything. These were just a few of the many reasons Tony was hard to like.

That’s how Jonah felt about the people of Nineveh when God told him to take a message to them. Actually, Jonah’s emotions were even stronger than Kevin’s were. There were a lot of people in Nineveh, and the people were awful to their enemies. They had treated other people with unspeakable cruelty. They were known for being ruthless in battle, never showing mercy to people who were weaker or fewer in number than they were. But God told Jonah to go to this “great city” and preach repentance and mercy to them. Jonah knew something was up when God called Nineveh a “great city.” He knew God cared about them and wanted to show mercy to them. And Jonah wanted no part of that. So he decided to make other plans.

Instead of obeying and traveling directly to Nineveh, Jonah headed in the exact opposite direction, boarded a ship, ran into a storm, and was thrown overboard. But God’s love was more powerful than Jonah’s disobedience. God cared so much about the people of Nineveh that He prepared a great fish to keep Jonah from drowning and to carry him back to land. Jonah shared God’s message with the people of Nineveh. They were sorry for their sin, and God did forgive them.

Some people are hard to like, but we have to remember that God loves them, too. Jesus tells us what our response to these kinds of people should be: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (See Matthew 5, especially verse 44.) Are we loving those who are hard to love?

God loves us, and He commands and enables us to love others – no matter who they are are how difficult they may be to love.

My Response:
» How often do I think about the truth that God loves me even though I am hard to love?
» Do I know anyone who seems too hard to love?
» What will it take to change my heart toward them and share God’s message with them?

Denison Forum – How Warrior Hockey equips veterans to help other veterans find peace off the battlefield

Colin Morrison grew up playing hockey. His love for the sport defined a large part of his childhood, and he played every season until joining the Marines after high school. But after spending 9/11 at boot camp and two tours in Iraq, he was honorably discharged in 2005. 

He picked the sport back up three years ago, though, and found the Warrior Hockey program shortly thereafter. He now leads their team in Arizona. 

As Amalie Benjamin writes, Warrior Hockey works alongside USA Hockey to provide injured and disabled US military veterans with “a way for them to find the camaraderie and support they experienced in their military units and a therapeutic tool for their mental health.”

Considering the rampant cases of PTSD and the high rate of suicide among veterans when compared to the larger population, such tools can be invaluable to helping those who sacrificed for our country find peace within its borders. 

As Mike Vaccaro, a participant in Warrior Hockey and one of its representatives to USA Hockey, described, most of the people who play have “invisible wounds” and are disabled as a result of their service. He also notes that the program is about “veterans helping veterans get through their emotions. . . . hopefully when those guys feel bad, they go on the ice and they can get through to their next day or their next week, whatever it takes.”

Colin Morrison added that, when they’re on the ice, “everybody’s out there, smiles ear to ear, laughing and having a good time. So regardless of what’s going on in our lives, that hour that we’re on the ice, that’s all gone. We all have our stresses or what life is, and most of these veterans have the additional stresses of dealing with their disabilities.”

The program has proved so effective that the Navy Federal Credit Union recently announced that they were donating $30,000 to the group on behalf of NHL Veterans Appreciation Night. That money will ensure the team can afford to continue meeting every week for the better part of two more years while providing a level of consistency and reliability that is especially needed given the challenges so many of the veterans face.

Helping those with hidden wounds

One of the most difficult parts of knowing how to consistently show appreciation for the men and women that have served and sacrificed on behalf of our country is that many of them return with wounds we can’t see. Their scars can fade from our memory long before they actually heal. 

That’s why some of the most effective ministries to veterans come from other veterans. 

There’s something about a shared trauma or similar experience that enables people to help in ways they otherwise could not. It’s a key part of God’s redemptive work and one of the reasons he places so much emphasis throughout Scripture on seeing our past trials as opportunities for ministry. 

As Paul writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3–4).

Colin Morrison and the others at Warrior Hockey exemplify this truth well. 

But all of us have some experience or trauma in our past that God can use to help others who are still struggling with something similar today. So ask God to help you recognize those scars in others, and be open to his guidance on how to bring some good from that pain by helping someone else.  

If you’re in the midst of that suffering now, ask God to bring someone into your life who can provide that kind of help to you. And be vulnerable enough to accept it when he or she comes. 

Pain and suffering are inescapable elements of this fallen life. But that doesn’t mean we have to endure them alone. In fact, we aren’t meant to. 

How might God use that truth in your life today?