In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Hunger and Thirst for God

Only a believer of God can experience full satisfaction and a yearning love for Him.

Psalm 63:1-11

David’s love for the Lord inspires us to want that same kind of relationship ourselves. But where does such passion for God come from? It’s not manufactured or created by effort or willpower, nor can we work ourselves into a genuine emotional state of yearning. Love for God comes only from Him, as a gift to those who belong to Christ (1 John 4:19).

This means the only ones who can truly hunger and thirst for God are believers. The rest of the people yearn for other things—like wealth, security, control, or prominence—which they mistakenly think will satisfy their soul. Many go through life trying to create whatever kind of personal connections they can, in hopes of fulfilling desires they don’t even understand. All too often, the result is empty relationships, excessive work, and immoral behavior. 

David knew God was the only solution to the constant yearning in his heart. As St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in [Him].” Are you feeling empty from trying to satisfy your soul with something other than the Lord? Come to Him with all your heart, and discover the fullness He offers. 

Bible in One Year: 2 Timothy 1-4

Our Daily Bread — I Am His Hands

Bible in a Year:

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!”

1 Corinthians 12:21

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

1 Corinthians 12:12–21

Jia Haixia lost his sight in the year 2000. His friend Jia Wenqi lost his arms as a child. But they’ve found a way around their disabilities. “I am his hands and he is my eyes,” Haixia says. Together, they’re transforming their village in China.

Since 2002 the friends have been on a mission to regenerate a wasteland near their home. Each day Haixia climbs on Wenqi’s back to cross a river to the site. Wenqi then “hands” Haixia a shovel with his foot, before Haixia places a pail on a pole between Wenqi’s cheek and shoulder. And as one digs and the other waters, the two plant trees—more than 10,000 so far. “Working together, we don’t feel disabled at all,” Haixia says. “We’re a team.”

The apostle Paul likens the church to a body, each part needing the other to function. If the church were all eyes, there’d be no hearing; if all ears, there’d be no sense of smell (1 Corinthians 12:14–17). “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ ” Paul says (v. 21). Each of us plays a role in the church based on our spiritual gifts (vv. 7–11, 18). Like Jia Haixia and Jia Wenqi, when we combine our strengths, we can bring change to the world.

Two men combining their abilities to regenerate a wasteland. What a picture of the church in action!

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

Based on your spiritual gifts, what part do you play in the body of Christ? How are you joining with others to fulfill His mission?

Holy Spirit, thank You for giving me spiritual gifts and arranging me in a body where I’m needed.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Lover of Righteousness

“‘Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy companions'” (Heb. 1:8-9).

As the eternal God and King, Christ loves righteousness and hates lawlessness.

In these days it’s difficult for us as Christians to be totally supportive of our governmental leaders when we see so much of what God calls righteous compromised or ridiculed. But the King of kings—Christ Himself—is the only leader who has a perfectly right attitude toward righteousness.

Christ rules from an eternal throne, and He rules eternity as God and King. The scepter He holds is symbolic of His rule, particularly as a rule of righteousness.

But there’s more to it than that: He just doesn’t act righteously; He loves righteousness itself. How often have we obeyed without joy, expressing an attitude of willing condescension? But Jesus gives us a different model.

James 1:17 says, “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.” True righteousness never varies from what is true, just, and good. And 1 John 1:5 says, “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” God is total light and total righteousness. Everything Jesus did resulted from His love of righteousness.

Because Christ loves righteousness, He hates lawlessness. Since He loves what is right, He must hate what is wrong. The two are inseparable—one cannot exist without the other. You cannot truly love righteousness and also like sin. When there is true love for God, there will also be true love for righteousness and total hatred of sin.

The more you and I become conformed to Jesus Christ, the more we will love righteousness. Our attitudes toward righteousness and sin will ultimately reveal how closely we are conformed to Christ. Check out your attitudes and actions. How are you doing?

Suggestion for Prayer

Like the psalmist, ask God to show you any hurtful way in you (Ps. 139:24).

For Further Study

Read Psalm 119 and note how many times the psalmist makes reference to either his love for God’s law or righteousness.

Joyce Meyer – Living at Peace

Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

— John14:27 (AMPC)

Peace is one of the most important elements to enjoying your life.

A life of frustration and struggle, a life without peace, is the result of focusing on things you can’t do anything about. When you worry about things beyond your control, stress and anxiety begin to creep into your life.

The apostle Paul said, Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6–7 NKJV).

Once we realize we are struggling with something and feel upset, we need to start praying and immediately turn the situation over to God, thankful He will provide according to His will and offer us peace. You and I are not called to a life of frustration and struggle. Jesus came so we could have righteousness, joy, and peace!

Prayer Starter: Father, I am grateful for peace. It is a wonderful gift that You have given me, and I ask for Your help to always be peaceful in every situation.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Hearts Fixed on Jesus

Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

Ruth 1:14

Both of them had an affection for Naomi and therefore set out with her upon her return to the land of Judah. But the test came: Naomi unselfishly set before both of them the trials that awaited them and encouraged them if they cared for ease and comfort to return to their friends in Moab.

At first both of them declared that they would take their stand with the Lord’s people; but upon further consideration Orpah with much grief and a respectful kiss left her mother-in-law, and her people and her God, and went back to her idolatrous friends, while Ruth with all her heart gave herself up to the God of her mother-in-law.

It is one thing to love the ways of the Lord when all is fair, and quite another to hold to them in the face of discouragements and difficulties. The kiss of outward profession is very cheap and easy, but the practical clinging to the Lord, which must show itself in holy devotion to truth and holiness, is no small matter.

How do things stands with us? Is our heart fixed on Jesus, our body a living sacrifice? Have we counted the cost, and are we solemnly ready to suffer the loss of all things for the Master’s sake? The ultimate gain will be an abundant provision, for the treasures of Egypt do not compare with the glory to be revealed.

Orpah fades from view; in glorious ease and idolatrous pleasure her life melts into the gloom of death. But Ruth lives on in history and in heaven, for grace has placed her in the noble line that produced the King of kings.

Blessed among women will be those who for Christ’s sake renounce all; but forgotten, and worse than forgotten, will be those who in the hour of temptation violate their conscience and turn back to the world. This morning let us not be content with the form of devotion, which may be no better than Orpah’s kiss, but may the Holy Spirit work in us a clinging of our whole heart to the Lord Jesus.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – Jesus Is the Light of the World

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

Who is the light of the world? In the Bible, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). But Jesus also tells His disciples, “Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14).

How can both Jesus and His followers be the light of the world?

Think of a mirror. Have you ever held up a mirror and seen sunlight reflecting off of it? It seems as though a beam of light is coming straight out of the mirror. But the light does not really come from the mirror! It comes directly from the sun, and indirectly from the mirror. Sunlight merely bounces off of a mirror. On its own, the mirror would not be able to generate light, would it? The sun itself is the source of the light.

It is similar with Christians. Jesus is the ultimate Source of their “light.” On their own, Jesus’ followers could never produce that kind of light; but, as Christians become more like Jesus Christ, they shine their light by reflecting (showing) what Jesus is like. It is not a Christian’s goodness that shines, but the goodness of Jesus. The “light” comes directly from the Son, and only indirectly from the Son’s reflection in His people.

When others see the good things Christians do – like being kind, loving, or patient – they should think of Jesus and praise God the Father. God should always get the glory for the good things we do, because all we do because of Christ reflects back to God and His glorious plans.

The goodness of Jesus should shine through Christians.

My Response:
» Do I “shine my light” by doing good things that show others what Jesus is like?
» Do I point to God and give Him glory by the good things I do?

Denison Forum – Denzel Washington explains why we need a “spiritual anchor” today

Denzel Washington stars in The Tragedy of Macbeth, which opens widely on Christmas Day. In an interview with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, this son of a Pentecostal minister said he asks himself this question: “What I do, what I make, what I made—all of that—is that going to help me on the last day of my life? It’s about, Who have you lifted up? Who have you made better?”

He explained: “This is spiritual warfare. So, I’m not looking at it from an earthly perspective. If you don’t have a spiritual anchor, you’ll be easily blown by the wind and you’ll be led to depression.”

He’s right on both counts.

9-year-old girl photographed before storm killed her

Last Friday night, nine-year-old Annistyn Rackley was sheltering in the bathtub with her two sisters as storms raged near their southeast Missouri home. She was photographed clutching her favorite doll just minutes before a tornado ripped her home to shreds and killed her.

Victims in Kentucky ranged from two months to eighty-six years old and came from at least eight counties. Among them were eight night-shift workers at a candle factory in Mayfield, a city of about ten thousand in western Kentucky. There were 110 employees inside the facility when a tornado closed in late Friday night. One of the survivors said, “I definitely had the fear that I wasn’t gonna make it. It’s a miracle any of us got out of there.”

In other news, omicron has now been reported in seventy-seven countries and is spreading at a faster rate than previous coronavirus variants. According to Washington Post figures, the US has surpassed fifty million coronavirus infections and is nearing eight hundred thousand fatalities at this writing.

As omicron spreads, the New York Times headlines: “Across the world, covid anxiety and depression take hold.” The article quotes a French epidemiologist who said, “We no longer know when we will get back to normal.”

Meanwhile, Oxford Economics reports that the “misery index,” an economic indicator used to measure the average person’s economic well-being, has grown to recession-like levels.

The anniversary of my father’s death

Are we being “blown by the wind” and “led to depression” today? If so, what does this say about our “spiritual anchor” or lack thereof?

One reason many struggle to make God their anchor in the storm is that they blame him for the storm. If he is all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful, why are tornadoes allowed to kill little girls clutching their dolls? Why are pandemics allowed to ravage the planet?

I have struggled with this question personally.

My father died on this day in 1979 at the age of fifty-five. He did nothing to cause the heart disease that took his life. Over the years since, I have known many people to experience what the factory survivor in Kentucky called a “miracle.”

Why did God not perform a miracle for my dad?

If he spared anyone in the storms last Friday night, why not Annistyn Rackley?

“The uncompromised mastery of YHWH”

In Creation and the Persistence of Evil, Jewish theologian Jon D. Levenson writes: “We can capture the essence of the idea of creation in the Hebrew Bible with the word ‘mastery.’ The creation narratives, whatever their length, form, or context, are best seen as dramatic visualizations of the uncompromised mastery of YHWH, God of Israel, over all else.”

And yet, as the psalmist complains, this God permits unspeakable tragedy to afflict his people: “You have cast off and rejected; you are full of wrath against your anointed. You have renounced the covenant with your servant; you have defiled his crown in the dust” (Psalm 89:38–39).

The biblical response is two-fold. With regard to the future, Levenson notes that the Hebrew Scriptures look forward to a day when “the Lord Gᴏᴅ will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from the earth” (Isaiah 25:8).

In the meantime, with regard to the present, we are to join God in the stewardship of his creation as we “work it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Levinson writes: “The creative ordering of the world has become something that humanity can not only witness and celebrate, but something in which it can take part.”

Jail officer led inmates to safety before dying in tornado

I do not know all the reasons why God allows innocent suffering. But I do know one way he redeems tragedy: by calling us to join him in responding to it with courageous compassion. As Adam partnered with God to cultivate the garden before the Fall, so we are to work with him in repairing it after the Fall.

John asked, “If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 John 3:17).

This Christmas season, may I ask you how you plan to serve your “brother in need”?

In my community, Unite DFW is inviting Christians and churches to help every school, staff member, student, and family in our area receive the support they need. (For more, I urge you to read Rebecca Walls’ informative and moving article on our website.) In your community, there are undoubtedly ways you and your congregation can make a practical difference in the lives of hurting children and families. If you do not know of such partnerships, why not do what you can to create one?

Robert Daniel, a veteran corrections officer at the county jail in Mayfield, Kentucky, led seven inmates to safety when warning sirens went off Friday night. He then went back to look for others who might need help. After the storm passed, his body was found under the shattered building. The workers he had ushered to safety survived.

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

What price will you pay to offer someone the “spiritual anchor” they need today?