In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – A Small Matter of Obedience

If we obey God’s commands, we never know what may come of it, so we shouldn’t treat some sins as lesser than others.

Luke 5:1-11

Do you consider some of God’s commands more important than others? For instance, most people would never commit murder, but many think it’s okay to harbor anger towards someone. Yet Jesus said that both actions are wrong because they flow from the same sinful attitude (Matt. 5:21-22). Nothing the Lord tells us to do is insignificant—though we may not always recognize the importance of obedience in what we consider small matters. 

Consider today’s passage about Jesus asking to use Peter’s boat as a speaking platform. After a long night of unproductive fishing, the future apostle could have seen the request as inconsequential and hardly worth the inconvenience. But he obeyed in this small matter, not realizing the impact that simple act of obedience would have on his life—it was the first step to becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. 

As God’s children, we should seek His direction in daily situations. That’s why it is so important for us fill to our mind with His Word—then we can more easily discern what He desires for us. As we stay attuned to Scripture and heed the Holy Spirit’s promptings, we’ll be able to faithfully obey Him throughout each day. 

Bible in One Year: 2 Corinthians 1-4

Our Daily Bread — Celebrating Diversity

Bible in a Year:

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!

Psalm 133:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 133

At the 2019 graduation ceremony at a local high school, 608 students prepared to receive their diplomas. The principal began by asking students to stand when he read the name of the country where they were born: Afghanistan, Bolivia, Bosnia . . . . The principal kept going until he’d named sixty countries and every student was standing and cheering together. Sixty countries; one high school.

The beauty of unity amid diversity was a powerful image that celebrated something near to God’s heart—people living together in unity.

We read an encouragement for unity among God’s people in Psalm 133, a psalm of ascent—a song sung as people entered Jerusalem for annual celebrations. The psalm reminded the people of the benefits of living harmoniously (v. 1) despite differences that could cause division. In vivid imagery, unity is described as refreshing dew (v. 3) and oil—used to anoint priests (Exodus 29:7)—“running down” the head, beard, and clothing of a priest (v. 2). Together, these images point to the reality that in unity God’s blessings flow so lavishly they can’t be contained.

For believers in Jesus, despite differences such as ethnicity, nationality, or age, there’s a deeper unity in the Spirit (Ephesians 4:3). When we stand together and celebrate that common bond as Jesus leads us, we can embrace our God-given differences and celebrate the source of true unity.

By:  Lisa M. Samra

Reflect & Pray

When have you experienced the goodness of unity in Christ? How has it brought blessing?

Heavenly Father, help me do my part to live in unity with all of God’s people.

Learn more about loving those who are different from you.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Deity of Christ

“[Christ] existed in the form of God” (Philippians 2:6).

Christ possesses the very nature of God.

In the second part of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Christiana and her children travel toward the Celestial Country. During their pilgrimage, Interpreter introduces them to one of his male servants, whose name is Great-heart. When Christiana asks Great-heart to explain the nature of Christ’s forgiveness, part of his answer is: “He [Christ] has two natures in one Person, easy to distinguish but impossible to divide. There is a righteousness that belongs to both of these natures, and each righteousness is essential to that nature, so that one might as easily kill that nature as to separate its righteousness from it.” Bunyan was affirming through his character Great-heart what Scripture says of Christ: He is God.

The apostle Paul stated the same truth, saying that Christ “existed in the form of God” (Phil. 2:6). The Greek word translated “existed” (huparcho) is not the common verb for “being” (eimi). Huparcho stresses the essence of a person’s nature—his continuous state or condition. It expresses what one is, unalterably and inalienably, by nature. Paul’s point was that Jesus Christ is unalterably and continuously existing in the form of God.

Clarifying the meaning of the Greek word translated “form” (morphe) is crucial to a proper understanding of this verse. According to respected Greek scholars Moulton and Milligan, morphe “always signifies a form which truly and fully expresses the being which underlies it.” The word describes essential being or nature—in this case the essential being of God.

In using the word morphe in Philippians 2, Paul was saying Jesus possessed the unchangeable, essential nature of God. That interpretation of the first phrase of verse 6 is strengthened by the second phrase, which says Jesus was equal with God. Being in the form of God speaks of Christ’s equality with God.

Perhaps, like Great-heart, you know someone who needs to be grounded in the fundamental doctrines of God’s Word. Just as Great-heart helped Christiana, so also you can help someone learn about the deity of Christ and other great truths of God’s Word.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for an opportunity to teach someone the basic doctrine of Christ’s nature.

For Further Study

Memorize Colossians 2:9, a verse that proves the deity of Christ.

Joyce Meyer – Trusting God

For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my trust from my youth and the source of my confidence.

— Psalm 71:5 (AMPC)

Trusting God allows us to enter His rest, and rest is a place of peace where we are able to enjoy our lives while being confident God is fighting our battles.

God cares for us; He will solve our problems and meet our needs, and thankfully, we can stop thinking and worrying about them. I realize this is easier said than done, but there is no time like the present to begin learning a new way to live—a way of living that is without worry, anxiety, and fear.

This is the time to begin believing and saying, “I trust God completely; there is no need to worry! I will not give in to fear or anxiety. God is the source of my confidence.” The more you think about this truth, the more you will find yourself choosing trust over worry.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You that I don’t have to worry! I trust You to take care of me and to always be with me.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –A Beautiful Bride

You are altogether beautiful, my love.

Song of Songs 4:7

The Lord’s admiration for His Church is very wonderful, and His description of her beauty is very glowing. She is not merely beautiful, but “altogether beautiful.” He views her in Himself, washed in His sin-atoning blood and clothed in His meritorious righteousness, and He considers her to be full of attraction and beauty. No wonder that this is the case, since it is simply His own perfect excellency that He admires; for the holiness, glory, and perfection of His Church are His own glorious garments worn by His well-beloved spouse.

She is not simply pure or well-proportioned; she is positively lovely and fair! She has actual merit! Her deformities of sin are removed; but more, she has through her Lord obtained a meritorious righteousness by which an actual beauty is conferred upon her.

Believers have a positive righteousness given to them when “he chose us in him” (Eph. 1:4). Nor is the church barely lovely—she is superlatively so. Her Lord styles her “most beautiful among women.”1 She has a real worth and excellence that cannot be rivaled by all the nobility and royalty of the world.

If Jesus could exchange His elect bride for all the queens and empresses of earth, or even for the angels in heaven, He would not, for He puts her first and foremost! Like the moon she far outshines the stars. Nor is this an opinion that He is ashamed of, for He invites all men to hear it. He sets a “behold” before it, a special note of exclamation, inviting and arresting attention. “Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold, you are beautiful!” (Song of Sol. 4:1). He publishes His opinion widely even now, and one day from the throne of His glory He will declare the truth of it before the assembled universe. “Come, you who are blessed by my Father” (Matt. 25:34) will be His solemn affirmation of the loveliness of His elect.

1) Song of Solomon 1:8

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 Laws Are Good

 “And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.” (Deuteronomy 6:24)

Eileen’s class was getting ready to put on a play, and they had been working on the scenery for several days. The play was about the Pilgrims, and yesterday the students had painted a long strip of paper bright blue to represent the ocean. They had carefully carried the paper to the gym and laid it on the floor to dry. This morning, their teacher, Mrs. Grimes, told them they were all going to walk to the gym and check to see if the paint on their “ocean” had dried. If it had, they would carry it back to the classroom and practice for the play.

“Remember,” said Mrs. Grimes, “when we get to the gym – we’re going to walk.”

Eileen could hardly contain her excitement enough to stay quietly in line as they walked down the hall. She couldn’t wait to see how the “ocean” had turned out. As soon as her feet hit the gym floor, she gave up trying to walk. It wasn’t that she had forgotten Mrs. Grimes’s rule exactly, but it would be so much fun to run, and weren’t gym floors made for running anyway?

But Eileen had forgotten one thing – she didn’t have her gym shoes on. Splat! Her feet slipped out from under her, and she fell hard. She hit her chin on the floor, and blood started running from the cut.

Mrs. Grimes hurried over to help Eileen up. “See?” she said. “This is why I told you not to run. Let’s go get your cut cleaned up.”

Mrs. Grimes had made the rule about walking on the gym floor to keep her students safe. Eileen disobeyed because she didn’t like the rule. She thought the rule was meant to keep her from having fun. But as soon as she fell, she realized that the rule was good after all.

God tells us in His Word that His law is for our good. Think about the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. Did God tell us to stay away from idols to keep us from having fun? Did he command us not to lie, steal, or murder to cause trouble for us? No, just the opposite is true. Obeying brings us good. Trouble and pain come to us when we break God’s laws. Keeping God’s commandments does not save us – only Jesus can do that. But after we are saved, obeying God’s commandments is the only way to ensure our happiness (Psalm 1:1-3). God’s laws are good, and they are given for our good.

God has given us commandments to follow for our own good.

My Response:
» Do I believe that God’s commandments are loving?
» Do I believe that He has given His commands for my good?
» Am I trying hard to obey them with God’s help?

Denison Forum – A baby born on an airplane and the miracle of life

Around 385,000 babies are born each day worldwide. On November 14, Analia Acevedo Castañeda was one of them. She was, however, the only one I know of to be born on an airplane.

Her mother went into premature labor an hour into their flight heading home to North Carolina from Mexico. A nurse on board helped her for more than three hours until the plane landed at the Atlanta International Airport. First responders then found the mother lying on the floor in the back of the plane and decided to deliver the baby there. When she was born, one of the flight attendants took the microphone to announce, “We have a baby girl.”

If the mother had chosen abortion, her “baby girl” would have become a “fetus” and her life would have ended in a legally protected act. If, however, her mother had been murdered and the unborn child had died, that child would have been recognized as a legal victim as well.

Whether the “baby girl” was murdered with her mother, her mother aborted her, or her mother gave birth to her, nothing whatsoever about Analia herself would have changed.

Herein lies the tragic contradiction inherent in Roe v. Wade and the abortion license it grants.

What happened at the Supreme Court

As you know, the US Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday regarding a Mississippi law that bans abortion after fifteen weeks. According to CNN, the court “seemed poised” to uphold the law, “but it is less clear if there is a clear majority to end the right to abortion nationwide.”

After the hearing, Fox News’ Bill Mears suggested the court would support Mississippi’s ban and remove the “viability” standard from Roe (see more on this below) as the constitutional standard. This would mean “Roe would neither be struck down in its entirety or upheld in its entirety.”

The New York Times reports that the justices will cast tentative votes at a private conference in the coming days. If there is a majority, the senior justice in that majority will write the majority opinion or assign it to a colleague. Draft opinions will be prepared and exchanged. A final decision is not expected until late June or early July, when major rulings tend to arrive.

Pro-life supporters should be praying for the justices in these crucial days of personal and private deliberations (1 Timothy 2:1–2), asking God to guide their minds and, where necessary, change their views and hearts (cf. Proverbs 16:9).

In the meantime, how can we persuade others that preborn life is sacred and should be safeguarded?

Six secular arguments

My position on abortion can be stated in two phrases: Abortion takes a human life and therefore abortion should be illegal. Yesterday, we discussed biblical and scientific evidence for the first phrase. Today, we’ll consider other relevant secular arguments; tomorrow, we’ll focus on the logical imperative of the second phrase.

1: The stare decisis (“to stand by things decided”) argument is that Roe is settled law and thus should be allowed to stand. This was the reasoning of three conservative justices who voted to uphold Roe in 1992. However, the Supreme Court has overturned previous decisions 230 times over its history, including the horrific Dred Scott decision that protected slavery.

2: The viability argument is that the unborn child should be protected by law once it could survive outside the womb but can be aborted prior to this point. This was the reasoning in the court’s 1992 Planned Parenthood vs. Casey ruling that kept the core of Roe but changed its trimesters approach to a “viability” standard. However, as Russell Moore and Ross Douthat convincingly demonstrate, this standard also applies to small children, those with significant developmental challenges, the elderly infirm, those battling severe disease, and so on. It is a slippery slope to devaluing all life based on its utility to those who do the valuing.

3: The imposing morality argument claims that the state should not legislate ethical standards on this issue, leaving the decision to the mother. But every law is an imposition of morality, from speed limits to seatbelt laws to prohibitions against murder. If a mother is to be free of all such “impositions,” should said freedom extend to infanticide? Where are such lines to be drawn?

4: The “no unwanted children” argument claims that a woman who does not want to bear a child will be an inappropriate or ineffective mother if the child is born. The mother is more closely involved with the fetus than any other individual and is the best person to determine whether or not this child is wanted and will receive proper care. However, it is hard to argue seriously that an unwanted child would rather be aborted than given life. This approach would also apply to infanticide and all forms of euthanasia. And it overlooks the positive and life-giving alternative of adoption.

5: The rape and incest argument claims that pregnancies resulting from these despicable crimes should be subject to legal abortion for the sake of the mother. However, just 1 percent of women obtain an abortion because they became pregnant through rape; less than 0.5 percent do so because of incest. Seventy-four percent of abortions are chosen because “having a baby would dramatically change my life”; 73 percent are chosen because the mother “can’t afford a baby now.”

6: The health of the mother argument claims that since the mother is clearly a person under the Constitution, her physical life, emotional health, and quality of life should take precedence. However, the medical risks posted by abortion should be considered as well as the guilt and long-term mental anguish reported by many who abort their children. Legalized abortion also subjects women to pressure from others to end their pregnancies. While pro-life advocates uniformly agree that pregnancy can be morally terminated to save the life of the mother, only 4 percent of abortions relate to her physical health problems.

“Our mouths wide open at his love”

Legalized abortion is a tragic symptom of the foundational spiritual disease of our culture. The fact that we are even having this debate and that I needed to outline the arguments above shows how far our culture has moved from biblical truth.

According to the word of God, every human is created in our Creator’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:27). Each of us can say with the prophet, “The Lᴏʀᴅ called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name” (Isaiah 49:1). Our Lord loved us “while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8) and rejoices over us “with gladness” today (Zephaniah 3:17). He has a unique and providential purpose for each of us from the moment of our conception (cf. Jeremiah 1:5).

If we viewed life as he does, rather than debating the status of preborn children, we would be celebrating the miracle of their lives and ours with them.

Brennan Manning was right: “We should be astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that he should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open at his love, bewildered that at this very moment we are standing on holy ground.”

When last were you “bewildered” by your Father’s love for you?

How will you share that love with someone today?