In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Reluctant Obedience

God doesn’t just want our obedience; He wants us to obey with loving, glad hearts.

Jonah 1

Have you ever resisted obeying God because His instructions were something you didn’t want to do? That was the case with Jonah. The inhabitants of Nineveh were Assyrians, a people known for aggression and cruelty. Since they were enemies of Israel, Jonah thought he had good reason to resist the Lord’s command to preach to them. 

While the goal was to draw the Ninevites to repentance through Jonah’s preaching, the Lord was also working to change the prophet’s unloving spirit—Jonah did not want that hostile people to experience divine grace and forgiveness. Though he eventually obeyed and went to Nineveh, his heart didn’t change.  

The same thing can happen to us. It’s possible to go through the motions of obedience while harboring resentment, anger, and a rebellious spirit. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 warns us that even our greatest acts of sacrificial obedience, done without love, profit us nothing. God wants more than begrudging compliance; He wants us to do His will from the heart (Eph. 6:6). 

The next time you’re reluctant to obey the Lord, ask Him to change your heart. He wants His children not simply to obey but to delight in doing His will.

Bible in One Year: 2 Corinthians 5-8

Our Daily Bread — True Identity

Bible in a Year:

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!

1 John 3:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

1 John 2:28–3:10

As my friend reviewed the pictures I took of her, she pointed out the physical characteristics she saw as imperfections. I asked her to look closer. “I see a beautiful and beloved daughter of the Almighty King of Kings,” I said. “I see a compassionate lover of God and others, whose genuine kindness, generosity, and faithfulness have made a difference in so many lives.” When I noticed the tears brimming her eyes, I said, “I think you need a tiara!” Later that afternoon, we picked out the perfect crown for my friend so she would never forget her true identity.

When we come to know Jesus personally, He crowns us with love and calls us His children (1 John 3:1). He gives us the power to persevere in faith so that “we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming” (2:28). Though He accepts us as we are, His love purifies us and transforms us into His likeness (3:2–3). He helps us recognize our need for Him and repent as we rejoice in the power to turn away from sin (vv. 7–9). We can live in faithful obedience and love (v. 10), with His truth hidden in our hearts and His Spirit present in our lives.

My friend didn’t really need a tiara or any other trinket that day. But we both needed the reminder of our worth as God’s beloved children.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

What personal faults and past failings have you allowed to determine your identity? How can knowing you’re loved, chosen, and crowned as God’s child help you live in righteousness and love?

Loving God, thank You for reminding me that who I am is based on whose I am—Yours, simply Yours.

Learn more about your own identity.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Penetrating the Box

“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son” (Heb. 1:1-2).

Man can’t discover God on his own; God must reveal Himself to man.

Since the beginning of time, man has deceived himself by thinking he can discover God through various religions. But in reality, man lives in a box enclosed within the walls of time and space. God is outside the box, and man senses He’s there but can’t get to Him. Each new religion is but another futile attempt to penetrate the walls of the box and catch a glimpse of God.

Man’s only hope is for God to enter the box, which Hebrews 1:1-2 declares He did: first by letter (the Old Testament), then in person (in Jesus Christ). Regarding God’s Word David said, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue” (2 Sam. 23:2). Jeremiah added, “The Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me, ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth'” (Jer. 1:9). Of Christ, the apostle John said, “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:1418).

The irony of people thinking they can discover God on their own is that apart from the Holy Spirit’s leading, no one really wants to find Him. They merely want to add a cosmic good luck charm to their lives or satiate their guilty consciences. Paul said, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God” (Rom. 3:10-11, emphasis added).

God could have left us in our sin and ignorance, but He penetrated the box and revealed everything we need to know for redemption and fellowship with Him. What a privilege we have to study His Word and live by its principles! Be diligent to do so each day.

Suggestion for Prayer

Praise God for granting you the ability to appreciate His Word.

For Further Study

Read 1 Corinthians 2:6-16, noting how natural (unregenerate) people respond to divine revelation.

Joyce Meyer – Trusting God When We Don’t Understand

[ . . . though He slay me, yet will I wait for and trust Him . . .]

— Job 13:15 (AMPC)

f the great mysteries and facts about our walk with God is that we rarely understand everything He is doing in our lives. If we always understood, we would have no need to trust Him. As believers we often find ourselves in places of not knowing, and we catch ourselves questioning God: “What does my future hold?” “Will I ever get married?” “What will my children be when they grow up?” “Will I have the provision I need in my old age?”

We have to learn to trust God when we do not understand what is happening in our lives, and we need to become comfortable with unanswered questions. You and I may never have every answer we want when we want it, so we need to relax and get comfortable knowing and trusting God, the One Who does know. Without trust, it is impossible to enjoy today and be ready to face tomorrow with expectancy.

Job, who had many reasons to question God as he faced a staggering series of crises and losses, did not understand what was going on in his life, but he made the decision to trust God any way. I believe that was the only way he could find peace in the midst of his terrible circumstances. Similarly, you and I will never have peace in our lives until we learn how to stop trying to figure everything out and how to start trusting God more.

If you are the kind of person who has to have everything figured out in order to settle down, let me encourage you today to accept the fact you are not likely to receive all the answers you want in this lifetime. Choose to stop demanding explanations and to begin practicing trust. Instead of asking God why, tell Him you trust Him. There have been many times in my life when I wanted with all my heart to know why something was or was not happening, but I knew God wanted my trust, not my questions.

Trust in Him Is there something in your life you don’t understand, no matter how long and hard you think about it? Give it to God and put your trust in Him. Whether or not He ever explains it to you, you can trust Him to bless you and bring you through any crisis.

Prayer Starter: Lord Jesus, thank You for taking control of my life. Help me to trust You in all things, including my thoughts, and help me to always keep my thoughts in line with Your plan for my life.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Free from the Slightest Flaw

There is no flaw in you.

Song of Songs 4:7

Having pronounced His Church positively full of beauty, our Lord confirms His praise by a precious negative: “There is no flaw in you.” As if the thought occurred to the Bridegroom that the complaining world would insinuate that He had only highlighted her good parts and had purposely not mentioned those features that were deformed or defiled, in summary He declares her universally and entirely beautiful and utterly devoid of flaws.

A spot can easily be removed and is the very least thing that can disfigure beauty, but even from this little blemish the believer is delivered in his Lord’s sight. If He had said there is no hideous scar, no horrible deformity, no deadly ulcer, we might even then have marveled; but when He testifies that she is free from the slightest flaw, all these other forms of defilement are included, and the depth of wonder is increased.

If He had simply promised to remove all flaws later on, we would still have eternal reason for joy; but when He speaks of it as already done, it fills us with a deep sense of satisfaction and delight. My soul, here is spiritual food for you; digest it properly, and be satisfied with the royal provision.

Christ Jesus has no quarrel with His spouse. She often wanders from Him and grieves His Holy Spirit, but He does not allow her faults to affect His love.

He sometimes rebukes, but it is always in a tender manner, with the kindest of intentions: It is “my love” even then. There is no remembrance of our follies. He does not cherish ill thoughts of us, but He pardons and loves equally after the offense as before it.

If Jesus were as mindful of injuries as we are, how could He commune with us? Too often a believer will put himself out of humor with the Lord for some slight turn in providence, but our precious Husband knows our silly hearts too well to take any offense at our ill manners.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Blesses the Poor in Spirit

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)

It was Billy’s turn to read his verse during morning devotions. The Phillips family was reading in the book of Matthew, chapter 5. Billy read verse 3 – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

“Dad,” he asked, “What does ‘blessed’ mean?”

“It means ‘happy’.”

Happy are the poor in spirit? That didn’t make much sense to Billy. “What would a poor person have to be happy about?” he asked.

His father answered thoughtfully. “The verse doesn’t just say a poor person is happy. It says those who are poor in spirit are happy because they will live in the kingdom of heaven.”

“Oh. But what does it mean for a person to be poor in spirit, then?”

“It means a person is not proud,” answered Billy’s dad. “There is an old saying about proud people that goes something like this, ‘He’s full of his wee self.’ A proud person is ‘filled up’ with himself. He doesn’t have room for others, especially not room for the Lord. All he thinks about is himself. All he cares about is himself.

Then Billy’s mother chimed in: “You know what it means to be poor, don’t you, Billy?”

“Sure I do, Mom. I think it would be hard to be both poor and happy at once. Being poor means you don’t have much of anything.”

“That’s right. In this case, unlike the case of the prideful person, a person who is poor in spirit doesn’t have much of himself. Instead, he has room in his life for the Lord and others. If we realize we are nothing great in ourselves and that we need Je-sus to forgive our sins and help us do what is right and make the right decisions in life, then we are people who are poor in spirit. The proud person doesn’t think that way. He thinks he is good enough by himself and doesn’t need God or anyone else. He has all he wants as long as he has his pride.”

Billy nodded his head slowly. “So…the person who doesn’t think he is good enough by himself is the one who will come to Jesus and get saved from his sins, and then he will know he is going to heaven. And that’s why he’s happy?” “Right,” said Dad. “On the other hand, a proud-hearted person doesn’t want to admit he needs the Lord. But the Lord is the only Way to go to heaven. So a proud person doesn’t have heaven to look forward to one day. After he dies, his pride and everything that used to make him happy will die, too. But a person who is poor in spirit can be happy now and happy for-ever in heaven.”

“Wow!” exclaimed Billy. “Sometimes it really is good to be ‘poor,’ isn’t it?”

“It sure is, Billy. It sure is.”

God blesses those who know they need Him.

My Response:
» Am I poor in spirit?
» Do I know I need Jesus to save me and help me live my life?
» Am I able to be happy now, knowing I will live in heaven forever?

Denison Forum – An exploding World War II bomb and the logic of life

World War II bomb exploded at a construction site in Munich on Wednesday, injuring four people, one of them seriously. According to the Associated Press, such bombs are still found frequently in Germany seventy-six years after the end of the war.

This is just one way events in the past can still profoundly affect the present.

Another is the discovery in the US Constitution of a right to abortion by seven members of the Supreme Court in 1973. Since that time, more than sixty-two million babies have been aborted in the US. Forty-one times more babies die from abortion each day than from all other causes combined.

In response to Wednesday’s Supreme Court hearing that could determine the future of legalized abortion in the US, I have defended on biblical, scientific, and secular grounds my assertion that abortion takes a human life. Today, we’ll take up my second claim: that abortion should therefore be illegal.

I am writing today’s Daily Article for those who agree with my first assertion but question the second. If you are in their number or know someone who is, I hope what follows will persuade you to defend the cause of life with compassionate courage.

4 arguments separating life and legality

A few months ago, I was discussing the abortion issue on Equipped with Chris Brooks. Chris is a brilliant thinker and pastor and one of my favorite radio hosts. During our conversation, a listener called in to make the statement, “I disagree personally with abortion, but I also believe it should be the decision of the mother rather than the government.” Over the years, I have met many people who would agree. Let’s identify and respond to some of their arguments.

1: A woman should be free to make her own healthcare and reproductive decisions. “My body, my choice” is a mantra we often see on signs at pro-abortion rallies. However, the state does not allow women to make all their own healthcare choices—the decision to use illegal drugs is an example—since it has a compelling interest to protect them from physical harm.

In addition, those who agree that abortion takes a human life should logically agree that the government has a compelling interest to protect that life. This interest obviously extends to female babies (around 140 million women are believed to be “missing” around the world, the victims of gender-biased abortion). “My body, my choice” is a claim an aborted child is not permitted to make.

Chris responded to the caller by asking if she supported the mother’s right to end her newborn baby’s life. She assured him that she did not. He then asked what changes biologically with the baby when it moves from inside the mother’s womb to outside it. She agreed that nothing changes. Why, then, he asked, would you support her right to kill her baby before it is born but not afterward?

2: Men should not be making personal decisions for women. Some would say that as a male, I have no right to speak to this issue. I would offer three responses. First, seven male Supreme Court justices legalized abortion when they voted for Roe v. Wade. One of the current court’s strongest abortion supporters is a male (Justice Breyer). Second, abortion affects male babies who are aborted, the biological father, males in the extended family, and men in society at large. Third, to be consistent, we must then segregate all legal issues into strictly male or female categories regarding those affected, a highly implausible strategy.

3: The state should not legislate personal morality. For example, while most would agree that adultery is immoral, it is not therefore illegal. However, as I noted yesterday, all laws are in some sense a legislation of morality. And the right to life itself is “unalienable,” as our Declaration of Independence notes: a bedrock, fundamental human right. Should the state not then legislate its protection?

4: The Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade recognized abortion as a fundamental right of women. This assertion was repeated by an attorney arguing against the Mississippi abortion law before the court. As a Christian, I am commanded to “be subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1). Thus, some claim that I should not seek to make abortion illegal even though I object to the practice personally, any more than I should seek to make Muslim worship illegal even though I disagree with Islamic theology.

However, the apostles refused to obey laws that conflicted with biblical morality and their missional commission (cf. Acts 5:29). Christians such as William Wilberforce led the fight to overturn legal slavery. Ministers such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led the fight to overturn legal segregation and racial discrimination. In his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Dr. King quoted St. Augustine: “An unjust law is no law at all.”

Two fascinating Washington Post articles

My articles this week have focused on the abortion issue from biblical and secular perspectives. Let’s close with two practical imperatives for believers.

1: Continue using our influence to engage the culture.

Jesus’ call for us to be “salt” and “light” is clear and unequivocal (Matthew 5:13–16). Neither functions unless it is applied where it is needed.

Is America advancing toward biblical morality or receding from it? Does our culture desperately need courageous, compassionate Christians who speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)? Given the examples of Joseph, Mordecai, Nicodemus, William Wilberforce, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and many others, does God call his people into political leadership, legal and judicial service, and other places of enormous cultural influence?

If them, why not you?

2: Find ways to serve those in need and trust God to use your influence for good.

I was gratified to read in the Washington Post that evangelicals in Texas are creating a “maternity ranch” and finding other life-affirming ways to help pregnant women. I was also deeply impressed to read in the Washington Post about the racially inclusive congregation of Bethlehem Apostolic Temple in Wheeling, West Virginia.

Its pastor, Rev. Darrell Cummings, notes: “We’re not a Black church or a white church. We’re just a church.” The article adds that the church “floods social services into the community.” Rev. Cummings explains: “We’re just showing love.”

The Washington Post is a highly influential but highly “progressive” platform. If evangelical Christians can catch its eye by serving those in need, God can use your influence in cultural ways that might surprise you.

“The source of national purpose”

John F. Kennedy stated: “I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, human liberty as the source of national action, the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas.”

Let’s speak the truth in love to all four, to the glory of God.