In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Quieting Your Soul

When we make time to be alone with the Father and quiet in His presence, we experience His peace.

Psalm 131

Do you hurry through your prayer time so you can get to other things? If so, consider the values Jesus modeled when He spent time with His Father. 

Solitude. Though Jesus was constantly surrounded by people as He tended to their needs, His own need for seclusion was important. Often, after an intense period of ministry, He’d retreat from the crowds—and even His disciples—to pray in private. 

Safeguarded time. Jesus protected His time so He could rest in the Spirit, be with the Father, and build up physical and emotional strength. Even when people were clamoring for His attention, Jesus safeguarded this time, knowing that His ministry would flow from it. 

Stillness. Psalm 46:10 calls us to quietness with these words: “Stop striving and know that I am God.” To develop this inner peace, stop everything you’re doing, and let your soul become aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence. In Psalm 46:2 of today’s reading, David described stillness as being like a “weaned child” who’s at perfect rest and happy in his mother’s arms. 

These values may seem challenging in our fast-paced, multitasking world. But when you quiet your heart before the Lord, you’ll discover how much you need the peace of His presence. 

Bible in One Year: Romans 4-6

Our Daily Bread — Sharing Hope

Bible in a Year:

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:11

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

2 Timothy 3:10–17

As Emma shared how God helped her embrace her identity as His beloved child, she weaved Scripture into our conversation. I could barely figure out where the high school student stopped speaking her words and began quoting the words of God. When I commended her for being like a walking Bible, her brow furrowed. She hadn’t been intentionally reciting Scripture verses. Through daily reading of the Bible, the wisdom found in it had become a part of Emma’s everyday vocabulary. She rejoiced in God’s constant presence and enjoyed every opportunity He provided to share His truth with others. But Emma isn’t the first young person God has used to inspire others to prayerfully read, memorize, and apply Scripture.

When the apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to step into leadership, he demonstrated confidence in this young man (1 Timothy 4:11–16). Paul acknowledged that Timothy was rooted in Scripture from infancy (2 Timothy 3:15). Like Paul, Timothy faced doubters. Still, both men lived as if they believed all Scripture was “God-breathed.” They recognized Scripture was “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (vv. 16–17).

When we hide God’s wisdom in our hearts, His truth and love can pour into our conversations naturally. We can be like walking Bibles sharing God’s eternal hope wherever we go.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

How do you hide Scripture in your heart and mind? How has God’s wisdom helped you share His truth with others?

Father, saturate my heart with Your wisdom so I can share You with others naturally and courageously.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – From Jacob to Israel

“By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped” (Heb. 11:21).

Jacob’s life typifies the spiritual pilgrimage from selfishness to submission.

Jacob’s life can be outlined in three phases: A stolen blessing, a conditional commitment, and a sincere supplication.

From the very beginning it was God’s intention to bless Jacob in a special way. But Jacob, whose name means “trickster,” “supplanter,” or “usurper,” tricked his father into blessing him instead of his older brother, Esau (Gen. 27:1-29). As a result, Jacob had to flee from Esau and spend fourteen years herding flocks for his Uncle Laban.

As Jacob traveled toward Laban’s house, God appeared to him in a dream (Gen. 28:10-22) and made him the recipient of the covenant promises first made to his grandfather, Abraham, then to his father, Isaac.

Jacob’s response is revealing, for he “made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, and I return to my father’s house in safety, then the Lord will be my God'” (vv. 20-21, emphasis added). Jacob’s conditional vow said in effect, “God, if you’ll give me what I want, I’ll be your man.”

Despite Jacob’s selfish motives, God did bless him, but He humbled him too. By the time he left Laban’s house, Jacob was ready to yield to God’s will unreservedly. Note his change of heart in Genesis 32:10: “I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which Thou hast shown to [me].”

Then the Lord appeared in the form of a man and wrestled with Jacob all night (v. 24). Jacob refused to let Him go until he received a blessing. That wasn’t a selfish request, but one that came from a heart devoted to being all God wanted him to be. That’s when the Lord changed Jacob’s name to “Israel,” which means “he fights or persists with God.”

Like Abraham and Isaac before him, Jacob never saw the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises. Yet on his spiritual journey from Jacob to Israel, from selfishness to submission, he learned to trust God and await His perfect timing.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for grace to consistently pursue God’s will, and patience to wait on His perfect timing.

For Further Study

Read Jacob’s story in Genesis 27-35.

Joyce Meyer – Resist Fear, Embrace Faith

Without faith it is impossible to please Him.

— Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)

Satan works overtime attempting to fill our lives with fear. Since we hear from God by faith, we must resist fear aggressively. The Bible says that Word reveals a righteousness that leads us from faith to faith (see Romans 1:17). If we learn who we are in Christ Jesus and understand how much He loves us, we can approach everything and anything in an attitude of faith. God has said repeatedly that we do not need to fear because He is with us.

The prayer that is of faith will help us and others in amazing ways; therefore, I encourage you to keep your faith strong. We receive God’s will through prayers of faith, but we can also receive Satan’s will through fear. Job said that the thing he feared came upon him (see Job 3:25), so be sure to live from faith to faith. Approach everything you do believing that God is good and expecting to receive His best.

Prayer is one of the most important things we must approach with a heart full on faith. This opens the windows of heaven and releases the power of God in our lives and circumstances. Be very watchful that fear doesn’t sneak into your prayers and hinder you from receiving what God wants for you. If you are having a serious problem with fear, I recommend that you begin your prayers by saying, “I approach God in faith today and I resist all fear.” Now pray boldly, expecting to hear from God and remember that God answers your prayers because He is good, not because you are perfect.

Prayer Starter: Lord, thank You that in and through You, I be strong, resist fear and receive everything You have for me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Complete Fellowship

Fellowship with him.

1 John 1:6

When we were united by faith to Christ, we were brought into such complete fellowship with Him that we were made one with Him, and His interests and ours became mutual and identical.

We have fellowship with Christ in His love. What He loves we love. He loves the saints—so do we. He loves sinners—so do we. He loves the poor perishing race of man and longs to see earth‘s deserts transformed into the garden of the Lord—so do we.

We have fellowship with Him in His desires. He desires the glory of God—we also work for the same. He desires that the believers may be with Him where He is—we desire to be with Him there too. He desires to drive out sin—behold, we fight under His banner. He desires that His Father’s name may be loved and adored by all His creatures—we pray daily, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

We have fellowship with Christ in His sufferings. We are not nailed to the cross, nor do we die a cruel death, but when He is reproached, we are reproached; and it is a very sweet thing to be blamed for His sake, to be despised for following the Master, to have the world against us.

The disciple should not be above His Lord. In our measure we fellowship with Him in His labors, ministering to men by the word of truth and by deeds of love.

Our meat and our drink, like His, is to do the will of Him who has sent us and to finish His work.

We also have fellowship with Christ in His joys. We are happy in His happiness; we rejoice in His exaltation. Have you ever tasted that joy, believer? There is no purer or more thrilling delight to be known this side of heaven than that of having Christ’s joy fulfilled in us, that our joy may be full. His glory awaits us to complete our fellowship, for His Church will sit with Him upon His throne as His well-beloved bride and queen.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Worthy of Our Gratitude

“O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” (Psalm 107:1)

Thanksgiving might be your favorite holiday. Many American children love everything to do with Thanksgiving. Maybe when you think of Thanksgiving, you think of a banquet – turkey, sweet potatoes with marshmallows and brown sugar on top, mashed potatoes and gravy, fresh-baked dinner rolls and various vegetables. Of course, there are the pies, ice cream, and other desserts. Maybe you love the tradition of getting together with family and friends. Perhaps your loved ones come from a long way away to spend the holiday with you. Many families think of Thanksgiving as a time to play games, remember the past, play out-side and just enjoy being together again. For you, Thanksgiving might bring back many memories – good memories.

More than anything else, the observation of the Thanksgiving holiday ought to remind us of the God the pilgrims came to America to worship. These people left everything they knew and moved their families thousands of miles so that they could worship God the way they believed the Bible teaches. They were treated badly in their homelands because they would not give in to the way everyone else had decided religion should be done. They wanted to teach their children according to the doctrines of the Bible. They wanted to trust and obey God and His Word over the opinions of men and women. So they risked their lives to cross the ocean and come to America. God was that important to them.

Not everything went well once they reached America, either. There were difficulties they could never have imagined. Some of the natives were hostile and fought against them. The winters were very harsh, and sickness took some of their lives. But God, in His great kindness, provided for them. He provided relationships with some kind natives who helped them. They helped the pilgrims understand how to farm and taught them how to get along in this world that was so new to them. Surely, in many other ways God provided for them. The pilgrims were thankful for all these things.

All of us have many things for which we can be thankful. But it is God Himself Who ought to cause us to feel most grateful. He is the Giver of so many of our gifts. But we ought to love and praise the Giver more than we love and praise the gifts He has given us. God chose to be good to us and provide good things for us. He did so because He Himself is good. Even when we are not as good as we should be, God is still good. And all that is good comes from God. That’s what we are told in God’s Word, the Bible that the pilgrims held in such high honor. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

This Thanksgiving – and every day! – remember all the good things God has given you and your family. And remember what the psalmist did: “give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good!”

God is worthy of our thanks because He Himself is perfectly good and gives such good gifts.

My Response:
» Do I have a thankful heart every day?
» What am I most grateful to God for in my life?
» How can I show every day that God’s goodness and greatness are worth my praise?

Denison Forum – Our Black Friday consumerism is a battleground for America’s soul

You’ve probably heard Black Friday horror stories, like when Wal-Mart employee Jdimytai Damour was trampled and killed in 2008 by crazed shoppers, or when, more commonly, shoppers break out into fights.  

While these horrific stories are fairly rare—and with the rise in online shopping such accidents will hopefully decrease—such Black Friday dashes show an ugly underbelly to American consumerism. 

You may think that “battleground” is hyperbolic or overdramatic. Before you judge the title too harshly, listen to the apostle Paul’s statement on spiritual warfare: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Satan, who is the “accuser,” the “slanderer,” actively strategizes against us. It seems that Satan would leverage subtle methods to undermine our walk with Christ whenever he can.

That poses the question, what battlegrounds exist in America? 

While some are obvious, and we write on them at Denison Forum frequently, some are perhaps a bit more subtle. 

The subversive element of Jesus’ teaching is that we don’t wrestle with “flesh and blood” (i.e., people themselves) as Paul says. We are called to love and not to fight them, to turn the other cheek. But that doesn’t mean we don’t battle against the powers of spiritual darkness. 

Interestingly, the Greek word for “authorities” or “powers” in Ephesians 6:12 has the root word ousia, which means wealth. 

Consumerism presents a battleground where it appears that Satan continues to gain ground on Christians. Perhaps consumerism gains ground because it is so widespread. Let’s unfold some of Satan’s schemes and common temptations that plague our consumerist culture. 

Consumerism as a battlefield 

Consumerism is “a social and economic order that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts.”

The attitude of consumerism refers more to the idea that consumer goods and material possessions lead to happiness. Our culture of consumerism seems particularly driven by instant gratification. The lockdown during the pandemic meant a rise in e-shopping and online sales. While online sales were already overtaking malls and brick-and-mortar stores, COVID quickened America’s spending habits to rely on online shopping. Though convenient, and something I use frequently, online shopping helps feed consumerism. 

I recently heard a phrase that was incredibly helpful: “Lifestyle creep.” The more money we make, the more we tend to spend to match what we picture our lifestyle “should be” given that salary. Many never grow out of the adolescent desire to pose with more expensive name brands that don’t accurately reflect one’s level of wealth. 

All of this deepens an itch for more wealth or more things. When we catch the itch and try to scratch it, we find that the itch persists.

Both natural social pressures and advertisements push us artificially into needs that don’t truly exist or into wants that lead us astray. That social pressure comes from our friends. And that’s a great question to ask in self-reflection: Are your friends influencing you toward lifestyle creep?

Is money your master? 

The sin comes not in buying things, nor in wealth. Rather, it bursts through the door when material possessions or money become the chief thing we glorify, or the chief thing that we long for—when it becomes our master. 

This is why, although getting money is never deemed a sin in the Bible, Jesus teaches, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24 emphasis mine). 

This is one of the hardest sayings from Jesus. We can make masters out of family, friends, children, politics, social status, sex, alcohol, food, clothing, intellectual pursuits, fame, money, or anything else that isn’t the one true Lord. Whatever we make our master becomes an idol, and our worship of it becomes sin. 

If the supply chain problems persist, inflation continues to rise, and some planned purchases are out of reach, what will your response be? 

Even though most (though not all) Americans can live comfortable and secure lives, it seems that the worry around money is only increasing. Even as our wealth increases, Americans are incredibly anxious about money. 

Money was the number one cause of stress for Americans in 2021, higher than personal relationships or work. According to Gallup, America is in the top ten most stressed countries, yet America’s GDP per capita is thirteenth in the world. 

Wealth cannot satisfy us. 

I say all of that to say that each of us tends to put some things over the other. Satan exploits those as best he can, but Jesus redeems them with his ultimate power. 

When I look across our culture, one of the weak spots Satan uses is in that pursuit of more. That dangerous desire looks not to reasonable goals, wise stewardship, or healthy money management, but always to more

In that way, consumerism consumes us

How Black Friday works

Though everyone knows these facts mentally, it’s still easy to be fooled.

Companies make money from Black Friday deals—they’re not doing it for charity. Ask yourself: When shopping for a particular Black Friday deal, did you stop to buy extra things? At the end of the day, are you actually saving money? 

The truth is that Black Friday sales will come around next year, and often better deals for the same products will roll around soon after Christmas. Here are a few psychological tricks Black Friday uses according to CNBC

  • Buying things at a deal is satisfying. 
  • We have a fear of missing out on “limited time offers” (though they’re usually not limited).
  • Shopping momentum makes us buy multiple unrelated items.
  • Shopping can be an escape from the stress of Thanksgiving.

I was recently at a conference where the speaker referred to both financial “savers” and “spenders” for couples. Most couples are a mix of saver and spender. The ones who are both spenders the speaker jokingly called “broke,” and the couples who were both “savers” he called “boring.” 

I’m not advocating for being boring. I’m advocating for sober-mindedness and holding money lightly. Have fun with your purchases, but don’t let consumerism play your heartstrings.

Just remember that a sober-minded perspective will rarely come easily. That mindset is constantly opposed by social pressure and targeted advertising. Consumerism falls under Paul’s idea about the human tradition of empty deceit and philosophy. (Colossians 2:8). 

Like many struggles in life, the solution to overcoming consumerism will vary from person to person. The best general answer to these questions are “good judgment,” or “wisdom.” 

That being said, there are a few pointers from God’s word, as well as a freebie from my experience. 

How to stand firm 

First, become more content in Christ. 

David writes in the psalms, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1–2). 

Second, actively stay aware and awake to the temptation.

While we “cast all our anxieties” on Jesus, we also must “be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:7–8). 

Third, buy what you’d already intended to buy.

I’ll share a practical tip that helps me. Only use Black Friday deals if you were planning on buying the thing in the first place. For instance, in researching for this, I ran across the fact that Apple Watches will go on sale. In the past, I’ve personally decided against buying one. (I’ll stick to my hardy ten-dollar CASIO watch.) 

Yet I have to admit, seeing the deal almost sucked me in.

Interestingly, it seems that both penny-pinching and egregious spending are cut from the same cloth: the worship of money. 

Act with an open hand around money, be generous, and be sober-minded around a season that can hijack our hearts to consume. Stand firm against worldly powers and philosophies, living in peace with the circumstances Christ has given us. 

And of course, remember to be thankful.