In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Salt of the Earth

In this fallen world, believers are to be a preserving, flavoring, healing salt for those who live in darkness.

Matthew 5:13-16

When Jesus spoke to His followers, He called them “the salt of the earth” (Matt. 5:13). In those days, salt was the only way to preserve food. As Christians, we too have a preserving effect on the earth because we have the only message that can deliver people from the corruption of sin and give them eternal life. 

This means we are to be a spiritual influence in the lives of people around us. Just as salt enhances the flavor of food, so a Christlike character and godly lifestyle can be an example that draws others to the Savior. They’ll notice our joy and contentment and may desire to have those qualities, which are available only through a relationship with Jesus Christ. 

Salt also has unique healing properties, as does the gospel. If we take a moment to listen to people’s hurts, we’ll have an opportunity to offer the truth that brings spiritual healing to those trapped in the darkness and despair of sin.  

But remember that Jesus also warned us not to lose our saltiness. If we tolerate sin in our life, we’ll be just like the world. To be a positive influence for Christ, we must guard against falling prey to temptation.

Bible in One Year: Acts 14-15

Our Daily Bread — Let Me Stay!

Bible in a Year:

One thing I ask from the Lord . . . that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

Psalm 27:4

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 27:1–6

As they made their way toward their car, Zander escaped his mother’s arms and made a mad dash back toward the church doors. He didn’t want to leave! His mom ran after him and tried to lovingly wrangle her son so they could depart. When his mother finally scooped four-year-old Zander back into her embrace, he sobbed and reached longingly over her shoulder toward the church as they walked away.

Zander may merely have enjoyed playing with friends at church, but his enthusiasm is a picture of David’s desire to worship God. Though he might have asked God to thwart his enemies for his own comfort and security, David wanted peace to prevail so that he could instead “gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple” (Psalm 27:4). His heart’s desire was to be with God—wherever He was—and to enjoy His presence. Israel’s greatest king and military hero intended to use peacetime to “sing and make music to the Lord” (v. 6).

We can freely worship God anywhere, for He now dwells within us through faith in the person of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16Ephesians 3:17). May we yearn to spend our days in His presence and to gather corporately to worship Him with other believers. In God we find our safety and our greatest joy.

By:  Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

When have you experienced a passionate yearning to worship God? What keeps you from experiencing that more frequently?

Father, You’re my delight and my joy. I long to worship You without distraction or interruption.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Rebuking the World

“By faith Noah . . . condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Heb 11:7).

Your actions and words should rebuke our godless society.

Genesis 6:5 says, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Before moving in judgment against the most evil and corrupt society in history, God appointed Noah to build an ark, which became a symbol of life and salvation to all who believed God. For those who disbelieved, it represented impending death and judgment.

Concurrent with constructing the ark, Noah preached about coming judgment. Peter called him “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Pet. 2:5), and every board he cut and nail he drove in was a living illustration of the urgency of his message.

God’s warning was stern and His message horrifying, but His patience and mercy prevailed for 120 years. As Peter said, “The patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark” (1 Pet. 3:20). The people had ample warning of judgment, but they chose to disregard Noah’s message.

As sad as the account of Noah’s day is, perhaps the greatest tragedy is that man’s attitude toward God hasn’t changed since then. Jesus said, “The coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matt. 24:37-39).

Like Noah, you are to proclaim righteousness to an evil and perverse generation by your works and your life. Be faithful to do so even if people don’t want to listen. After 120 years of diligent work and faithful preaching by Noah, only eight people entered the ark. But God’s purposes were accomplished and the human race was preserved.

Suggestions for Prayer

Sometimes you’ll encounter people who scoff at God’s judgment and mock your testimony. Don’t be discouraged. Pray for them and be available to minister to them whenever possible.

For Further Study

Read 2 Peter 3. What effect should the prospect of future judgment have on your present behavior?

Joyce Meyer – Growing in Maturity

Rather, let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, [even] Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

— Ephesians 4:15 (AMPC)

God does not expect us to be perfect. In fact, it is precisely because we never could be perfect that He sent Jesus to save us and the Holy Spirit to help us in our daily lives. If we could do it by ourselves, we would not need help. Thankfully, Jesus came to forgive our imperfections and to wipe them away in God’s sight. We actually are perfect through Jesus, but we can never be perfect in our own performance.

Jesus did say, “Be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48 NLT), but study of the original language reveals that He meant that we should grow into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character. God is not disappointed that we have not arrived at manifesting perfect behavior, but He does delight in finding us growing into maturity.

Prayer Starter: Father, I am so thankful that You help me grow into spiritual completeness and maturity. I’m not perfect, but because of Your work, I thank You that I’m okay and I’m on my way!

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –By His Sovereign Choice

But the Lord’s portion is his people.

Deuteronomy 32:9

How are they His? By His own sovereign choice. He chose them and set His love upon them. He did this completely apart from any goodness in them at the time or any goodness that He foresaw in them.

He had mercy on whom He would have mercy and ordained a chosen company to eternal life; in this way, therefore, they are His by His unconstrained election.

They are not only His by choice, but by purchase. He has bought and paid for them completely, and so there can be no dispute about His title.

Not with corruptible things like silver and gold, but with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord’s portion has been fully redeemed.

There is no mortgage on His estate; no lawsuits can be raised by opposing claimants. The price was paid in open court, and the Church is the Lord’s estate forever. See the blood-mark upon all the chosen, invisible to the human eye but known to Christ, for “the Lord knows those who are his.”1

He forgets none of those whom He has redeemed from among men; He counts the sheep for whom He laid down His life and remembers carefully the Church for which He gave Himself.

They are also His by conquest. What a battle He had in us before we would be won! How long He laid siege to our hearts! How often He sent us terms of surrender, but we barred our gates and built our walls against Him.

Do we not remember that glorious hour when He carried our hearts by storm, when He placed His cross against the wall and scaled our ramparts, planting on our strongholds the blood-red flag of His omnipotent mercy? Yes, we are indeed the conquered captives of His omnipotent love. As those chosen, who have been purchased and subdued, we know that the rights of our divine possessor are inalienable: We rejoice that we can never be our own; and we desire, day by day, to do His will and to declare His glory.

1) 2 Timothy 2:19

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God’s Love Does Not Depend on Us

“The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

When God inspired Jeremiah to write these words, He meant them for the whole nation of Israel, not only Jeremiah. And when He gave the people of Israel this message, many of them were living lives that did not please Him. Some of them were even worshipping idols instead of God, but He still loved them and promised to keep on loving them forever.

Many of us seem to think that we must somehow earn God’s love by doing things that make Him happy. But that kind of thinking is wrong. Yes, God is pleased when we choose to obey His commands and follow the principles He has given in His Word. But His love for us does not change because of things we do or don’t do. If you are God’s child, He loves you now, will love you tomorrow, and the next day, and forever – because of Who He is, not because of the way you behave.

Chelsea had a hamster named Rascal, and his name was all too fitting. Rascal was always trying to escape from his cage! Often, he would bite Chelsea and anyone else who tried to hold him or pet him. One time, Chelsea worked hard to earn some money so she could buy Rascal a special ball for his cage. Because he tried to get out so much, she thought he would like to have the freedom to run around inside the ball. But after Chelsea had spent all her hard-earned money to buy him this gift, Rascal just sat still in the ball, refusing even to budge.

Chelsea’s family watched all that she did for Rascal – cleaning out his cage, buying toys for him, spending time with him, holding and petting him (when he would let her), and often getting bitten or scratched for all her efforts. They told her that Rascal was just not a good pet. In fact, Chelsea’s mother offered to take Rascal back to the pet store and see if they would give her a different hamster, one that would respond better to all that Chelsea tried to do for him. But Chelsea said, “No.” You see, Chelsea loved Rascal. Her love for Rascal did not depend on his being lovable, or upon his loving her back.

Wow! It is amazing to think that Chelsea, who is just a sinner just like the rest of us, could love Rascal (who is, after all, just a hamster) with a love like that! But if she can love a hamster with that kind of unconditional love (love that does not have to be earned) like that – how much more do you think our perfectly loving and compassionate Father God loves us? Chelsea’s love for Rascal is just a tiny little love when compared to God’s great love for us. But just as Chelsea’s love for Rascal did not depend in his being a “good pet,” so God’s love for you does not depend on your being a “good person.”

In fact, God gave us His greatest gift of love, not because we are good people deserving of His goodness, but because we could not be good people apart from Him. Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth [shows] His love toward us, in that, while we yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus died for us so that we could be made righteous (good and right in our character and actions), not because we already are righteous. And God continues to love us and do good things for us. Why? Because He is a good and loving God – not because we are good and loving people. If you are trusting in the God of the Bible as your Father and Savior, nothing you do will ever change His love for you. He loves you now and forever, no matter what.

God loves you because of Who He is – not because of who you are.

My Response:
» Do I try to earn God’s love, or do I believe that He loves me no matter what?
» Do I truly trust in God’s love, or do I worry and fret about how He feels about me?
» Do I show the same kind of unconditional love (love that does not depend on someone else’s actions or words) to others that God shows to me?

Denison Forum – Investigators identify bank teller who stole $215K and vanished 52 years ago

In July 1969, Theodore John Conrad showed up for work as a bank teller in Cleveland. According to authorities, at the end of his shift, the then twenty-year-old stole $215,000 (the equivalent of $1.7 million today), stuffed it in a paper bag, and vanished.

Friday, the FBI announced that it had identified the man considered one of the nation’s most wanted fugitives. He had been living in Boston since 1970 under the name Thomas Randele. Investigators had chased tips in California, Hawaii, Texas, and Oregon. His case was featured on America’s Most Wanted and Unsolved Mysteries.

Financial documents helped them finally identify Conrad. However, he had already died of lung cancer in May of this year at the age of seventy-one.

You may think you have nothing in common with Theodore John Conrad. You’ve likely never robbed a bank or lived under a fake identity. You’ve committed no crimes worthy of the FBI’s attention or national publicity.

But you and I are more like Mr. Conrad than we’d like to admit.

Could deer spread coronavirus to humans?

Veterinarians at Pennsylvania State University reported last week that they have found active SARS-CoV-2 infections in at least 30 percent of white-tailed deer tested across Iowa during 2020. Their study raises the urgent question: If the entire human population becomes immune to the virus, could deer then spread it back to us?

Scientists have not yet determined whether deer can actually transmit the virus to humans. However, since there are an estimated thirty million deer in the US, the answer is obviously vital.

Less obviously, the story also illustrates a vital spiritual principle.

Christians are a “new creation” in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We have been “born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). But the virus of sin in our fallen world can still infect us.

Paul spoke for believers everywhere: “When I want to do right, evil lies close at hand” (Romans 7:21).

When we yield to temptation, however, we don’t want others to know it. We want to maintain the façade of external godliness. Like Theodore John Conrad, we’re living under a false identity, projecting an image to the world that is untrue to our real selves. And like Mr. Conrad, we think we are getting away with our “private” sin.

All the while, we continue to serve God publicly. We stand for the unborn and against abortion; we stand for biblical sexuality and against LGBTQ activism; we stand for biblical purity and against pornography and prostitution.

So long as no one sees our hidden sins, no one needs to know.

But Someone does.

A fact you may not have considered

Scripture attests, “The eyes of the Lᴏʀᴅ are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). There are no exceptions: “No creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).

You know this to be true already. But here’s a biblical fact you might not have considered.

In Romans 2, Paul states: “In passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things” (v. 1). The apostle does not mean that we have heterosexual affairs or commit homosexual sins. He means that we commit our own versions of the same sins we condemn in others.

For example, “You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery?” (v. 22a). According to Jesus, lust is adultery (Matthew 5:28) just as pornography or sex outside of marriage is adultery.

Paul continues: “You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?” (v. 22b). Idolatry is putting creation in the place of the Creator. It is valuing money more than our Master, pleasure more than moral principles, and personal promotion more than glorifying God. If we steal God’s creation for ourselves, we “rob temples.”

Then, when our personal lives contradict the faith we proclaim, secular people feel justified in continuing in their sins and in rejecting our Lord: “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” (v. 24).

The vital question

In Zephaniah 1, we read of “those who bow down and swear to the Lᴏʀᴅ and yet swear by Milcom” (v. 5), the god of the pagan Ammonites. Commenting on this text, Charles Spurgeon wrote: “Duplicity is abominable with God, and hypocrisy his soul hateth.”

Then he added: “The idolater who gives himself to his false god has one sin less than he who brings his polluted and detestable sacrifice unto the temple of the Lord while his heart is with the world and the sins thereof.”

The great preacher concluded: “Christ will be all or nothing. God fills the whole universe, and hence there is no room for another god; if then he reigns in my heart, there will be no space for another reigning power. Do I rest on Jesus crucified, and live alone for him? Is it my desire to do so? Is my heart set upon so doing?”

The good news is that the Christ who reigns over the universe also lives in us by his Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16). If we ask him to show us any secret sins in our hearts, he will do so (John 16:8). If we confess them and ask him to forgive us and cleanse us, he always answers our prayer (1 John 1:9).

For every follower of Jesus, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). Now the Spirit will help us love Jesus so much that we hate sin. He will help us love our Lord so passionately that we want to please him privately and serve him publicly.

But our Lord can give only what we will receive (Revelation 3:20).

Here’s the vital question: Do you want to love Jesus so much that you love all that he loves and hate all that he hates today?