In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Flee Youthful Lusts

The more we develop a taste for godly living, the less we’re enticed by sinful pleasures.

2 Timothy 2:20-23

It might be tempting to think that today’s passage applies only to the young. But no matter our age, every one of us should flee youthful lusts because they prevent us from pursuing what God desires: righteousness, faith, love, and peace with fellow believers. 

What exactly did Paul have in mind when he wrote about “youthful lusts” in 2 Timothy 2:22? He was referring to strong uncontrolled desires that are characteristic of the young and immature but may continue throughout life without the Holy Spirit’s guidance. In his first epistle, John wrote, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world” (1 John 2:16). These relate to the selfishness, greed, ambition, and pleasure through which Satan has influenced unbelievers everywhere.

All these longings war against God’s will for us because they are not from Him. Uncontrolled longings for pleasure, entertainment, beauty, prominence, possessions, wealth, or popularity are all self-focused and aimed at getting what we want. The way to overcome is to flee from them and begin pursuing God’s desires for our life, as revealed in His Word. 

Bible in One Year: Romans 1-3

Our Daily Bread — True Worshipers

Bible in a Year:

True worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth.

John 4:23

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

John 4:19–26

She finally had the chance to visit the church. Inside, in the deepest part of the basement, she reached the small cave or grotto. Candles filled the narrow space and hanging lamps illuminated a corner of the floor. There it was—a fourteen-pointed silver star, covering a raised bit of the marble floor. She was in Bethlehem’s Grotto of the Nativity—the place marking the spot where according to tradition Christ was born. Yet the writer, Annie Dillard, felt less than impressed, realizing God was much bigger than that spot.

Still, such places have always held great significance in our faith stories. Another such place is mentioned in the conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well—the mountain where her “ancestors worshiped” (John 4:20), referring to Mount Gerizim (see Deuteronomy 11:29). It was sacred to the Samaritans, who contrasted it to the Jewish insistence that Jerusalem was where true worship occurred (v. 20). However, Jesus declared the time had arrived when worship was no longer specific to a place, but a Person: “the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth” (v. 23). The woman declared her faith in the Messiah, but she didn’t realize she was talking to Him. “Then Jesus declared, ‘I, the one speaking to you—I am he’ ” (v. 26).

God isn’t limited to any mountain or physical space. He’s present with us everywhere. The true pilgrimage we make each day is to approach His throne as we boldly say, “Our Father,” and He is there.

By:  John Blase

Reflect & Pray

What difference does it make to you knowing that God is spirit, always and ever present? What will you praise Him for in this moment?

Father, thank You for Your constant presence no matter where I am.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Watch Your Step

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15).

Walking wisely is a step in the right direction.

Sometimes a soldier has the thankless task of clearing mine fields from enemy territory. If you’re aware of the procedure, you know the work is both dangerous and tedious. To proceed in an orderly fashion, a soldier marks areas that are considered dangerous and areas that have been cleared. Above all, he makes sure he is careful where he’s walking!
In the spiritual realm, Paul is telling believers in Ephesians 5:15 to walk carefully. The Greek term translated “careful” speaks of looking carefully from side to side and being alert to what is going on. We need to be extremely alert because the world we’re walking through is a mine field of sin and temptation. Therefore, we must walk carefully, exactly, and accurately. The wise Christian carefully charts his course according to life principles designed by God. He doesn’t trip over the obstacles that Satan puts in his path or fall into the entanglement of the world’s system. He is “careful.”
The Greek word translated “walk” means “daily conduct,” “daily pattern,” or “daily life.” The daily pattern of our lives must reflect wisdom. The Greeks saw wisdom primarily as head knowledge. They tended to spin off theories that had no practical implications. To them, the wise people were the intellectuals and the philosophers. The Hebrew mind, however, defined wisdom only in terms of behavior. When a person becomes a Christian, it’s more than a change in theory—it’s a change in how he lives.

Paul is saying in verse 15, “If you used to be a fool, but you’ve been made wise in Christ, then walk wisely.” In other words, we’re to practice our position, to live in accordance with who we are. When we became Christians, we came out of foolishness into wisdom. Therefore, we need to act like it!

Be careful not to act foolishly and step on Satan’s mines. Your spiritual transformation demands that you live your life with care.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord for helping you obey His Word and avoid Satan’s destructive mines.

For Further Study

Read Titus 3:1-8. What are you to be careful to do (v. 8)? Why?

Joyce Meyer – Enjoy Life

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

— 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV)

I think the greatest tragedy in life is to live and not enjoy life. If you are at war with yourself all the time, you are not enjoying your life. God changes us from one degree of glory to another, but don’t forget to take time to enjoy the glory you are in right now while you are headed for the next one. Don’t compare the glory you are in with the glory of some friend or family member who appears to be in a greater degree of glory. Each of us is an individual, and God deals with us differently, according to what He knows we need and can handle.

You may not notice changes on a daily basis, but as you look back over time you will see very definite changes in yourself. Believe that God is working, just as He said He would. Remember, we see after we believe, not before. We wrestle and struggle with ourselves because of all that we are not when we should be praising and worshipping God for all that we are. As we worship Him for Who He is, God’s character is released into our lives and begins to manifest.

Prayer Starter: Lord, I will be glad today because You are changing me from glory to glory. Thank You for working in my life, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –He Tends His Flock

Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he guarded sheep.

Hosea 12:12

In conversation with Laban, Jacob described what he had done: “These twenty years I have been with you. . . . What was torn by wild beasts I did not bring to you. I bore the loss of it myself. From my hand you required it, whether stolen by day or stolen by night. There I was: by day the heat consumed me, and the cold by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes.”1

Even more arduous than this was the life of our Savior here below. He watched over us until He was able to say, “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.”2 His hair was wet with dew, and His locks with the drops of the night. Sleep departed from His eyes, for all night He was in prayer wrestling for His people.

One night Peter must be pleaded for; suddenly another claims His tearful intercession. No shepherd sitting beneath the cold skies, looking up to the stars, could ever utter such complaints because of the hardness of his toil as Jesus Christ might have brought, if He had chosen to do so, because of the sternness of His service in order to procure His bride.

Cold mountains and the midnight air,
Witnessed the fervor of His prayer;
The desert His temptations knew,
His conflict and His victory too.

It is helpful to meditate upon the spiritual parallel of Laban having required all the sheep at Jacob’s hand. If they were torn by beasts, Jacob must make it good; if any of them died, he must guarantee their replacement.

Was not the toil of Jesus for His Church the toil of One who was under obligation to bring every believing one safe to the hand of Him who had committed them to His charge? Look upon toiling Jacob, and you see a representation of Him of whom we read, “He will tend His flock like a shepherd.”3

1) Genesis 31:38-40
2) John 18:9
3) Isaiah 40:11

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Helps Us for His Name’s Sake

“Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me. For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.” (Psalm 31:2-3)

Have you ever met someone who was “in charge”? Sure, you have! We all know someone who is in charge of something, or in charge of someone else. To be “in charge” means to be responsible to take care of something.

If your parents put you “in charge” of the new pet puppy dog in your home, that means you have to feed the puppy, give him water, wash him, teach him to obey commands, and take him outside for walks. If the puppy has a clean, shiny coat, and if he is friendly and well-behaved, then people will tell you that you are doing a great job training him and taking care of him. On the other hand, if the puppy damages something very valuable, makes a mess, or bites someone’s hand – you might find yourself in a little trouble! Anything bad that the puppy does could be blamed on you! Your hard work and special care is reflected by your puppy’s behavior and appearance. But if you neglect (forget or ignore) your responsibilities with your puppy, his behavior and appearance will show that, too!

God is in charge of us – did you realize that? If you are God’s child, He has adopted you and brought you into His household. You bear His name now. Your appearance and your behavior ought to reflect Him – they ought to show to other people the good character your Heavenly Father has and the great works that He has done. If you act like an unbeliever, someone who doesn’t know or love God, then your life cannot reflect God’s character and works very well to other people.

Did you know that God is the perfect refuge (place to hide, place to find safety and comfort), and that He will lead you along and point you in he right direction when you are not sure what to do or where to go? That’s what King David believed in the Old Testament, and he was worshipping the same Heavenly Father that we know and love. Read Psalm 31:1-5. What can you learn about God from that part of Scripture?

God takes His responsibility for us seriously. He never messes up. He never does anything accidentally, and He is never surprised. He has a reputation to uphold. Unlike us, God is right to be concerned about His own reputation (His name, or His glory). Being the only perfect God, He has every right to care about His glory. God’s character is always holy and perfect, and He will be faithful for eternity. Because He is all these things (and more!), God cares a great deal about His glory – His good name – and those who bear His name are in His charge.

If you are trusting Him, God is in charge of you. He will lead you and He will guide you. He does that not just for your sake, but for His own name’s sake. He loves to give us the wisdom and guidance we need. He loves to help us and protect us. His care for us is one way He shows publicly what a great and good God He is.

God takes care of His own people, for His glory and for their good.

My Response:
» Is it easy for me to forget Whose name I bear and Who is in charge of my life?
» What do I do or say that reflects upon the glory (the good name) of my Heavenly Father?
» What must I change so that my thinking and behavior line up with the Bible’s true teachings about God’s goodness and greatness?

Denison Forum – Harvard professor: 3 things that will make you happier than winning the lottery

As we begin Thanksgiving week, this story seems appropriate: a Harvard Medical School professor has identified gratitude as vital to happiness.

Sanjiv Chopra has studied those who win the lottery, concluding that at the end of the year, they’re back to their “baseline” happiness and “some are less happy.” He explains that hedonic adaptation causes us to grow accustomed to what we win or otherwise possess, so it becomes familiar and loses its ability to make us happy.

What, then, makes us happiest? Finding a purpose in life that leads to flourishing, giving to others, and expressing gratitude. Chopra cites research showing that “if you express gratitude on a regular basis, you’ll be happy, you’ll be more creative, you’ll be more fulfilled—you might even live ten years longer.” In fact, research shows that you can increase your happiness 25 percent by the regular practice of expressing gratitude.

Such thanksgiving need not be religious, according to the Washington Post. The act of “saying grace” over a meal or otherwise feeling grateful brings benefits on its own, we’re told.

But there’s a flaw in this reasoning that we need to remedy in order to experience the true power of gratitude today.

A grandmother’s accidental invitation

President Biden pardoned two turkeys on Friday, continuing a long-standing presidential tradition. As the New York Times noted, Peanut Butter and Jelly will be “boosted, not basted,” living out their natural lives at Purdue University.

If these turkeys could express thanksgiving for their pardons, should they be generically grateful? Or shouldn’t they be grateful to those who spared them from someone’s dinner table?

Wanda Dench sent a text inviting her grandson for Thanksgiving dinner. However, he had changed his phone number and the text went to a student named Jamal Hinton instead. He notified her of the mistake, but she ended up inviting him anyway. Six years later, the two are continuing the tradition.

Should Jamal be generically grateful for Wanda’s generosity? Or shouldn’t he express his thanks to and for her?

As our society continues its post-Christian slide into secularism, holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas have become secularized as well. One can go the entire Christmas season without seeing a mention of Christ’s birth in secular culture; Thanksgiving has become far less about gratitude to God and far more about football and feasting.

Thus we should not be surprised when even gratitude becomes generically secularized. But we should not overlook the illogic of this trajectory nor the power of thanksgiving when it is properly directed.

The source of your next breath

“Thanksgiving” is obviously the combination of “giving” and “thanks.” A gift requires a recipient; otherwise, it remains unopened. Thus, by definition, thanksgiving should be given to someone. It is less a feeling than an action prompted by another action we have received.

The holiday we call Thanksgiving is not just intentional but vertical. We are told by Scripture to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). As a result, Thanksgiving reminds us that we are creatures of a Creator, finite and fallen beings whose very lives are not fully our own (cf. Genesis 3:16–19).

From a Baltimore woman who was murdered inside her church, to a former NFL player who died of ALS at the age of fifty-seven, to a pregnant woman and her unborn child who were gunned down after she left her baby shower, to the mounting death toll from fentanyl, to the rising death toll from COVID-19 (2021 US pandemic deaths have now passed 2020 fatalities), every day reminds us of our mortality. John F. Kennedy was assassinated on this day in 1963; on the same day, famed apologist C. S. Lewis died.

Every day we live is a day for which we should give thanks to the God of life (John 10:10).

Your next breath comes from his providential provision. Your capacities were given by his creative grace. Did I earn the right to be born in America rather than North Korea? To have loving parents who encouraged me rather than brutal parents who abused me?

Think back over the key moments that have most shaped your life. How many of them were the sole product of your autonomous achievement? How many were opportunities provided by God and others in grace?

How “life becomes rich”

True thanksgiving not only positions us appropriately as creatures rather than the Creator—it also empowers our relationship with our Creator. We “enter his gates with thanksgiving” (Psalm 100:4). Gratitude for his grace positions us in worship and prayer to experience his presence and love. The more time we spend in thanksgiving to our Father, the more his Spirit can transform us into his best for our lives and cultural impact.

So, let’s eschew the generic gratitude that pervades our secular culture during the Thanksgiving season. Let’s spend time each day giving thanks to God intentionally and sincerely for specific gifts he has given to us. Let’s see each moment as his provision, each day as his gift. And let’s enter his gates with thanksgiving that we might experience his empowering presence.

If we do, we will learn the truth of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s observation, “It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich!”

How rich will you be today?