In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Love of God

We didn’t earn the love God has for us, and that’s why we can never lose it.

1 John 4:7-21

Christians often hear that God loves them. This truth is repeated in church, and believers often recite Bible verses on the topic. Yet do we really grasp what it means to be cared for in this way by the Creator of the universe? Let’s explore two aspects of His love.

First, God’s love isn’t influenced by anything within or around us, because it is one of God’s unchanging attributes. We know that even while we were still living in sin, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). We didn’t do anything to earn His love, and we can’t do anything to hinder it.  

Second, divine love is eternal. Believers will never be separated from it. In fact, Ephesians 1:4 tells us that the Father chose us before the foundation of the world. We know, therefore, that His care for us has always been a fact—and always will be. 

We can trust the One who loves us completely. Jesus proved His love by dying in our place to rescue us from sin and its consequences. He promises to stay with us always and redirects us when we stray. Whether or not we feel His presence, His love surrounds and protects us forever. 

Bible in One Year: Acts 21-22

Our Daily Bread — God Heals Our Brokenness

Bible in a Year:

By grace you have been saved, through faith.

Ephesians 2:8

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Ephesians 2:1–10

Collin and his wife, Jordan, wandered through the craft store, looking for a picture to hang in their home. Collin thought he’d found just the right piece and called Jordan over to see it. On the right side of the ceramic artwork was the word grace. But the left side held two long cracks. “Well, it’s broken!” Jordan said as she started looking for an unbroken one on the shelf. But then Collin said, “No. That’s the point. We’re broken and then grace comes in—period.” They decided to purchase the one with the cracks. When they got to the checkout, the clerk exclaimed, “Oh, no, it’s broken!” “Yes, so are we,” Jordan whispered.

What does it mean to be a “broken” person? Someone defined it this way: A growing awareness that no matter how hard we try, our ability to make life work gets worse instead of better. It’s a recognition of our need for God and His intervention in our lives.

The apostle Paul talked about our brokenness in terms of being “dead in [our] transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). The answer to our need to be forgiven and changed comes in verses 4 and 5: “Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive . . . . [It] is by grace [we] have been saved.”

God is willing to heal our brokenness with His grace when we admit, “I’m broken.”

By:  Anne Cetas

Reflect & Pray

What brought you to your need to ask God to heal your brokenness? How do you need Him today?

God, thank You for being rich in mercy toward me! May I boast in You and Your gift of salvation through grace by faith.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Looking to the Future

“By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised; therefore, also, there was born of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore” (Heb. 11:11-12).

Your faith in Christ will influence future generations.

I’ve been blessed with a wonderful Christian heritage. In fact, I’m the fifth generation of preachers in our family. The faith of my predecessors has had an enormous impact on my life—either directly or indirectly. I have the same responsibility they did to influence others for good—as do you.

Hebrews 11:11-12 gives a very personal example of how one man’s faith influenced an entire nation. Verse 11 is better rendered: “By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise” (NIV).

God had promised Abraham that he would become the father of a great nation (Gen. 12:2). But Sarah, Abraham’s wife, had always been barren, and both of them were advanced in years. At one point Sarah became impatient and decided to take things into her own hands. She persuaded Abraham to have a son by her maid, Hagar (16:1-4). That act of disobedience proved to be costly because Ishmael, the child of that union, became the progenitor of the Arab people, who have been constant antagonists of the Jewish nation.

Despite his times of disobedience, Abraham believed that God would keep His promise. God honored Abraham’s faith by giving him not only Isaac, the child of promise, but descendants too numerous to count. One man’s faith literally changed the world.

Similarly, the faith you exercise today will influence others tomorrow. So be faithful and remember: despite your failures, God “is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (Eph. 3:20).

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for those who have had a righteous influence on you.
  • Pray for greater opportunities to influence others for Christ.

For Further Study

Read the account of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 18-21 and 23.

Joyce Meyer – Earthly Blessings

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in every way and [that your body] may keep well, even as [I know] your soul keeps well and prospers.

— 3 John 2 (AMPC)

In plain, everyday language, this Scripture could read, “My dearly beloved children, I want you to have every earthly blessing you could possibly imagine, but only to the degree that you have spiritual maturity and Christlike character.” When you look at the Scripture this way, you get the message, “I need to grow up!”

You don’t need to talk God into blessing you. He wants to bless you. In fact, He wants to bless you more than you can imagine being blessed (see Ephesians 3:20). But even more than He wants you to have something, He wants you to be something. He wants you to be Christlike. Once you are spiritually mature, you will be able to handle having the earthly blessings He desires for you and use them for His glory.

Prayer Starter: Father, it’s time for me to grow up, but I’m going to need Your help. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Heart of a Believer

A spring locked, a fountain sealed.

Song of Songs 4:12

In this metaphor, which has reference to the inner life of a believer, we have very plainly the idea of secrecy. It is “a spring locked.” Just as there were springs in the East over which an edifice was built, so that no one could reach them except those who knew the secret entrance, so is the heart of a believer when it is renewed by grace: There is a mysterious life within that no human skill can touch.

It is a secret that no one else knows, which the individual who is the possessor of it cannot tell his neighbor. The text includes not only secrecy but separation. It is not the common spring, of which every passer-by may drink; it is one kept and preserved from all others; it is a fountain bearing a particular mark—a king’s royal seal, so that all can perceive that it is not a common fountain, but a fountain owned by a proprietor and placed specially by itself alone.

So is it with the spiritual life. The chosen of God were separated in the eternal decree; they were separated by God in the day of redemption; and they are separated by the possession of a life that others do not have.

And it is impossible for them to feel at home with the world or to delight in its pleasures. There is also the idea of sacredness.

The locked spring is preserved for the use of some special person: And such is the Christian’s heart. It is a spring kept for Jesus.

Every Christian should feel that he has God’s seal upon him—and he should be able to say with Paul, “From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.”1

Another idea is prominent—it is that of security. How sure and safe is the inner life of the believer! If all the powers of earth and hell could combine against it, that immortal principle must still exist, for He who gave it pledged His life for its preservation. And who or what can harm you when God is your protector?

1) Galatians 6:17

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – Don’t Get Lost!

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Have you ever been lost? Danny was only eight years old when he and his brother Steve got lost one day during their walk home from school. Instead of walking down the streets they knew well, they decided they wanted to follow a creek for a while, thinking it would take them toward home. But it didn’t. Instead, the creek went another direction. When Danny and Steve realized they were lost, they got a little scared. Finally, a man came by, and they asked him if he knew where their home’s street was, and he told them. When they followed his guidance, they were able to find their way back to familiar territory, and back home!

What Danny and Steve did is exactly what Proverbs 3:5 tells us not to do. They leaned on their own understanding. They thought they knew what they were doing, but they didn’t. This is how many people behave for most of their lives. They think they know what they are doing on their own. Instead of getting their guidance from the Lord, they go their own directions, doing things their own ways. And something always goes wrong – every time!

Why is that we always get confused or “lost” when we lean on our own understanding? It is because no one has the ability in himself to go the right direction, to do the right thing, on his own. The prophet Jeremiah admitted this fact to God when he said, “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” (See Jeremiah 10:23.)

So, how can we ever be sure we are going in the right direction? How can we ever be sure we are doing the right things? If it is really true that we don’t have the ability in ourselves to go the right way or to do the right thing – then how can we get it? We must trust, honor, and obey the Lord. If we do, He will make sure we go the right direction and do the right thing. That is the promise of Proverbs 3:6. The Lord tells us all we need to know. He is the Giver of all the guidance and counsel we could ever need.

We do not have to plan our own paths – all we have to do is trust the Lord’s plans and obey what He commands. If we will honor Him in our decisions, rather than thinking we can make it without Him, then we will find He is worthy of our trust. Leaning on God, we can never get lost. The Lord’s guidance will always take us the right direction. It will always take us closer to “home” – always closer to Him.

God is the perfect Guide and Counselor, worthy of our wholehearted trust, honor, and obedience.

My Response:
» Am I acknowledging (honoring) God in all my ways, or am I mostly concerned about my own opinions and wishes?
» Does God know what He’s doing and what He’s going to do in my life better than I could ever know?
» How can I change my thinking and actions to show that I am trusting in, honoring, and obeying a perfect Guide and Counselor?

Denison Forum – Pastoral burnout and my interview with Dr. Ben Carson

ten-point buck sought shelter inside a southern Michigan church on Monday, the opening day of the state’s firearm deer hunting season. A video shows the animal wandering around the church auditorium, at one point climbing stairs to a balcony. It eventually leapt through a window and back out into the wild.

Unfortunately, not everyone is finding the same sanctuary inside churches these days. 

A Barna Group survey released Tuesday reports that 38 percent of US pastors have considered quitting full-time ministry in the past year. This percentage is up nine points since Barna asked church leaders the same question at the beginning of 2021. 

Barna official explains: “All the chaos, all the pressure, the magnifying glass of social media, the pandemic, the politics, the hyperdigital context, it makes sense that you have a lot of pastors saying, ‘Is this really what I signed up for? Is this what I was called into?’” 

Pastors are not alone in needing help these days. Federal researchers reported yesterday that more than one hundred thousand Americans died of drug overdoses in the twelve-month period ending in April, up almost 30 percent from the prior year. Overdose deaths have doubled since 2015 and now surpass the toll of car crashes and guns combined. 

We live in the most advanced technological age in history. We have more wealth and means than previous generations could have imagined. What, then, explains the anxiety epidemic of our age? 

Why Ben Carson is an advocate for life 

Dr. Ben Carson was the keynote speaker for the Twentieth Annual Celebrating Life Luncheon in Dallas yesterday. The event was sponsored by the Council for Life, one of the most effective organizations supporting life I have ever known. I am honored to serve on their Advisory Board and to encourage their mission and ministry. 

The previous evening, the Council held a dinner for board members and invited guests. Matthew West provided worship music for the evening and for yesterday’s luncheon. I was privileged to interview them both as part of the program. 

As you may know, Dr. Carson was an award-winning pediatric neurosurgeon, named by CNN and Time magazine as one of America’s twenty foremost physicians and scientists and selected by the Library of Congress as one of eighty-nine “Living Legends” on its two-hundredth anniversary. He then became a candidate for president of the United States before serving as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. He founded and leads the American Cornerstone Institute in promoting and preserving individual and religious liberty and serving all our citizens. 

During our conversation, I asked Dr. Carson how he had come to be such an advocate for life. He explained that he grew up in a very liberal worldview, one that was furthered by his education at Yale, the University of Michigan, and Johns Hopkins. While he told us that he did not agree with abortion personally, he also believed that he had no right to force his belief on women. (This is the most common pro-choice explanation I have heard over the years.) 

However, he came to understand that abortion, which treats an unborn child as less than fully human, is very similar to slavery, which treats a person of a different race as less than fully human. Then he asked himself: “What if abolitionists had taken the same position on slavery that I am taking on abortion? What if they had said, ‘I don’t believe in slavery personally, but I don’t want to force my beliefs on slaveholders?’ Where would I be today?” 

Dr. Carson told our group that this reasoning led him to advocate passionately for all life, beginning at conception.  

Our perennial temptation 

Reflecting on his remarkable observation, I realized that the temptation to make others a means to our ends is endemic to fallen human nature and, therefore, every dimension of human experience. Like our first parents in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:5), you and I face this temptation every moment of every day. 

For example, God intends sexual relations to be the celebration of covenant love between a husband and a wife, while the so-called sexual revolution objectifies others as a means to our sexual pleasure. Our Creator makes each human in his image as a person of sacred worth, while pornography, prostitution, and sex trafficking make them objects of lust and greed. 

If murderers valued their victims as God does, what would be the impact on our homicide epidemic? If liars, thieves, and other criminals did the same, what would be the result? 

Slave traders and owners justified their horrific sin by viewing Africans as inferior to white people. White supremacists similarly denigrate Jews and ethnic minorities today. Over decades of pastoral experience, I have often met church members who objectify their pastor and staff ministers as their employees, measuring their value by their utility rather than their intrinsic worth as God’s children and servants. 

Three prayers that would change the world 

The way forward is found in Jesus’ Great Commandments (Mark 12:29–31), where we are taught to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. On this basis, you and I should pray three prayers every day: 

One: “God, help me to love you fully in response to your unconditional love for me.” 

The more we remember our Father’s sacrificial, passionate, absolute love for us, the more we will want to love him in the same way. 

Two: “God, help me love myself as you love me.” 

The more we remember what Jesus did to restore our relationship with our Father, the more we will find our self-worth, not in our possessions, popularity, or performance but in his never-ending, never-changing love for us. 

Three: “God, help me love my neighbor as you love me.” 

The more we experience God’s transforming love, the more we will be empowered and motivated to share it with every person we can. And the more we will love them as we are loved. 

Imagine the difference it would make in the world if Christians were known for loving others as God loves us. 

Now imagine the difference for the next person you meet.