In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Message the World Needs to Hear

The gospel is the good news the world needs, and God want believers to share it.

Mark 16:15-20

Suppose I asked what the mission of the church is—how would you answer? Although the church accomplishes many tasks, the most important is to share the gospel of Christ. Everything else is merely an extension of that. Never outdated or in need of correction, the good news of Jesus Christ is sufficient to meet humanity’s greatest need: salvation from bondage to sin, through reconciliation with the Father. 

The message has remained the same throughout the centuries, but there are many methods of making it known, including the spoken word, music, written material, and the media. But all these avenues of communication require the individual involvement of God’s people. 

Some Christians think the role of sharing the message and making disciples, known as the Great Commission, belongs only to pastors or missionaries. But every one of us has the responsibility to be involved—we all can give, pray, and tell friends and family what the Lord has done for us. 

When you’re truly committed to getting the gospel out, God will reveal what work He is calling you to do. He has a place for every one of His children—nobody is insignificant or without purpose. The limiting factor is not the Lord’s ability to use us but our availability to His call. 

Bible in One Year: Leviticus 5-7

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Unapologetic Tears

Bible in a Year:

As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears.

Luke 7:38

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Luke 7:36–44

“I’m sorry,” Karen said, apologizing for her flowing tears. After the death of her husband, she stretched herself to care for her teenage kids. When men from church provided a weekend camping excursion to entertain them and give her a break, Karen wept with gratitude, apologizing over and over for her tears.

Why do so many of us apologize for our tears? Simon, a Pharisee, invited Jesus to dinner. In the middle of the meal, as Jesus reclined at the table, a woman who had lived a sinful life brought an alabaster jar of perfume. “As she stood behind [Jesus] at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them” (Luke 7:38). Unapologetically, this woman freely expressed her love and then unwound her hair to dry Jesus’ feet. Overflowing with gratitude and love for Jesus, she topped off her tears with perfumed kisses—actions that contrasted with those of the proper but cold-hearted host.

Jesus’ response? He praised her exuberant expression of love and proclaimed her “forgiven” (vv. 44–48).

We may be tempted to squelch tears of gratitude when they threaten to overflow. But God made us emotional beings, and we can use our feelings to honor Him. Like the woman in Luke’s gospel, let’s unapologetically express our love for our good God who provides for our needs and freely receives our thankful response.

By:  Elisa Morgan

Reflect & Pray

How can you freely express your gratitude to God through your emotions today? How might you make others feel comfortable about sharing their tears?

Loving God, thank You for Your grace in providing for my needs! I pour out my gratitude to You today.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – What Matters Most

 “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1).

Compared to walking worthy of Christ, nothing else is really important.

Let’s review what Paul has taught us from Ephesians 4:1-6. God has chosen and called us to be part of His family, and He expects us to act like His children. He wants us to walk worthy of Christ and be unified.

To follow God’s will in this, we must, with His help, deal with our sin and develop godly virtues. Our lives must first be marked by “all humility” (v. 2). We become humble when we see ourselves as unworthy sinners and see the greatness of God and Christ. Pride will always be a temptation, but we can resist it if we remember that we have nothing to be proud about; every good thing we have is from God. He alone deserves the glory; we can take no credit.

Humility produces “gentleness,” which is power under control. Gentle people willingly submit to God and others. They may become angry over what dishonors God, but they are forgiving to those who hurt them.

“Patience” flows from gentleness. A patient person endures negative circumstances, copes with difficult people, and accepts God’s plan for everything.

We must “love” others with a forbearing love. Christian love is selfless, and forbearance keeps us from gossiping about the failures of others and causes us to love our enemies.

“Unity” (v. 3) is the goal of the worthy walk, and only diligent believers who pursue these virtues of the worthy walk will contribute to such unity. Because we have one Body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one Father, we should behave as a unified people. Then we will have the effective testimony God wants for us.

Only one thing really matters from the moment you become a Christian until the day you see Jesus—that you walk worthy of Him. What you own, what you know, and what you do for a living are not all that important.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to give you the resolve to walk worthy every day.

For Further Study

Read Hebrews 11 and perhaps some related Old Testament passages, and note what was representative of the main characters’ walks with the Lord.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Emotions Are Here to Stay

Be self-controlled and alert . . . standing firm in the faith.

— 1 Peter 5:8 –9 (NIV)

We all have emotions, and we always will; they are part of being human. Since that is true, I believe emotional stability should be one of the main goals of every believer. We should seek God to learn how to manage our emotions and stop them from managing us.

I urge you to make emotional maturity a priority in your life. If you do not believe you are doing a good job of managing your emotions, begin to pray and seek God for emotional maturity. I also encourage you to learn what upsets you the most or prompts you to behave emotionally and be watchful during those situations.

Power Thought: I have control over my emotions.

Prayer Starter: Father, I need Your help in learning to manage my emotions, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –The Pace of Your Spiritual Journey

Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and outran the Cushite.

2 Samuel 18:23

Running is not everything. There is much in the way that we select: A swift foot over hill and down dale will not keep pace with a slower traveler upon level ground. How is it with my spiritual journey? Am I laboring up the hill of my own works and down into the ravines of my own humiliations and resolutions, or do I run by the plain way of “Believe and live”?

How blessed is it to wait upon the Lord by faith! The soul runs without weariness and walks without fainting in the way of believing. Christ Jesus is the way of life, and He is a plain way, a pleasant way, a way suitable for the tottering feet and feeble knees of trembling sinners. Am I found in this way, or am I hunting after another track such as priestcraft or metaphysics may promise me?

I read of the way of holiness, that the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein. Have I been delivered from proud reason and been brought as a little child to rest in Jesus‘ love and blood? If so, by God’s grace I shall outrun the strongest runner who chooses any other path.

This truth I may remember to my profit in my daily cares and needs. It will be my wisest course to go at once to my God, and not to wander in a roundabout manner to this friend and that. He knows my wants and can relieve them. To whom should I repair but to Himself by the direct appeal of prayer and the plain argument of the promise? “Straightforward makes the best runner.” I will not parley with the servants but hasten to their master.

In reading this passage, it strikes me that if men vie with each other in common matters, and one outruns the other, I ought to be in solemn earnestness so to run that I may obtain. Lord, help me to gird up the loins of my mind, and may I press forward toward the mark for the prize of my high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Will Not Forget You

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15)

Ellen rang the doorbell. She was shivering inside her raincoat, but she wasn’t sure whether she was cold or just excited. She was standing on the front porch of the music teacher’s house, ready for her first lesson. Today a dream she’d had for many years was just beginning to come true. She rang the doorbell again. No answer.

Ellen tried knocking. Nothing. She even went around to the side door and rang that doorbell a few times. But no one came to let her in. When she finally turned away from the house, the gray dampness of the day seemed to seep right into her heart. Ellen’s teacher had forgotten about her lesson.

Have you ever been forgotten? Sometimes adults forget the promises they make to kids. Maybe someone promised you a trip to the ice cream store. Maybe someone promised to take you fishing, teach you how to play basketball, or pick you up at a certain time – and he forgot. The Bible tells us that even our parents can sometimes forget about us!

But there is Someone who will never forget you. In Isaiah 49, God comforts His people by saying that He has graven them on the palms of His hands. He promises that He will never forget them. If you are His child, you will never be out of His loving care. All of the promises He makes to you in His Word are true. He will never forget one of them. And He will never forget you – ever.

God will never forget His children.

My Response:
» Have I forgotten about God, or have I thanked Him for His love?

Denison Forum -Tom Brady’s retirement and God’s call to true greatness

With his victory yesterday at the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal has now won more Grand Slam titles than any man in tennis history. By any measure, he is one of the “Greatest Of All Time” and thus by acronym a “GOAT.”

Of course, when sports fans speak of GOATs these days, they’re most likely referring to Tom Brady. By virtue of his seven Super Bowl rings, he is widely considered the GOAT of his sport.

As a result, the internet was abuzz over the weekend with reports that Brady is going to retire, counterclaims that he has not made up his mind, and assertions that he is “expected” to retire but has not made his decision known, perhaps for financial reasons.

While scores of recent headlines have been devoted to Brady and his future, my wife and I have been especially following a story that deserves more attention than it has received. New York City police officer Jason Rivera was gunned down with his partner last week when they responded to a family dispute. Rivera, age twenty-two, was memorialized in St. Patrick’s Cathedral last Friday.

As ABC News reports, police filled the pews and “a sea of blue uniforms stretched for blocks as snow drifted outside the city’s iconic church.” Mayor Eric Adams, a retired NYPD captain, told the assembled crowds, “He did it for the right reasons—he wanted to make a difference.”

What makes someone great?

Greatness in our culture is typically measured by personal achievement and public acclaim.

An athlete who wins Grand Slams or Super Bowls is “great.” CEOs and politicians are measured by the “Three P’s”: performance, popularity, and possessions. For pastors, the standards are similarly alliterated: buildings, budgets, and baptisms.

Sacrificial service is seldom considered. I know pastors who are serving in smaller congregations and towns but whose ministries are remarkably effective. Police officers risk their lives for us every day, but we seem not to recognize their service unless one of them makes the sacrifice all are willing to make.

In our confused and broken culture, it is as if we must decide between public excellence and personal service. This is a choice Jesus did not need to make.

“No man ever spoke like this man”

Our Lord achieved astounding popularity during his public ministry. The gospels report that “great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan” (Matthew 4:25). They were “astonished at his teaching” (Matthew 7:28) and said of his ministry, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel” (Matthew 9:33).

When the authorities sent soldiers to arrest him, they reported, “No one ever spoke like this man!” (John 7:46). His private character was as exemplary as his public ministry (cf. Hebrews 4:15).

Near the end of his life, Napoleon Bonaparte stated, “There is between Christianity and other religions the distance of infinity.” He then explained: “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and myself founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon sheer force. Jesus Christ alone founded his empire upon love, and at this hour millions of men will die for him.”

Now Jesus is ready to inspire and empower us to achieve the kind of public excellence and personal character that empowers our witness and transforms our culture. But there is a simple yet transforming decision we must make first.

A binary choice that changes everything

Galatians 5 exhorts us: “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (v. 16–17).

This is a binary choice. As fallen human beings, if we are not submitted to the Spirit, we are by default submitted to the “flesh.” If we are not empowered by the Spirit, we are empowered by the “flesh.” How can we tell the difference?

“The works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” (vv. 19–21). Do you see any of these in your life? Does the world see any of these in your life?

By contrast, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (vv. 22–23). Do you see any of these in your life? Does the world see any of these in your life?

Four steps to true greatness

How do we “walk by the Spirit”? The same way we walk with anyone else.

  1. Decide that we want to walk with him. I urge you to make this choice right now.
  2. Begin to walk with him. You can do so at this moment. Stop reading this article and turn to God in prayer. Ask the Spirit to take control of your mind and life (Ephesians 5:18). Pray through your day, submitting it to his authority. Trust that he is answering your prayer and will lead if you follow and bless as you trust.
  3. Stay close to him, listening to him and speaking with him. Oswald Chambers offers some simple but profound advice: “Get into the habit of saying, ‘Speak, Lord,’ and life will become a romance. Every time circumstances press, say, ‘Speak, Lord’; make time to listen.” He assures us, “As we listen, our ear gets acute, and, like Jesus, we shall hear God all the time.”
  4. Refuse all temptations to stray from him even if Christian leaders and churches do so. This is such an important point that we will devote tomorrow’s article to it.

“Be sure to taste the moment to the full”

If we “walk by the Spirit,” Jesus will make our lives great in every way that truly matters. He will mold our character to be more like his every day (Romans 8:29). He will lead us to places and people where we can serve eternity most fully and effectively. He will use us in ways the world may or may not recognize but that his Father will reward forever (Matthew 25:21).

Let’s begin or renew our journey to true excellence today. Henri Nouwen wrote: “Be sure to taste the moment to the full. The Lord always reveals himself to you where you are most fully present. In your prayer, try to present your anxieties, struggles, and fears to him, and let him show you the way to follow him.

“More important than anything else is to follow the Lord. The rest is secondary. If you follow him, you can follow him as a priest, a lay minister, as a single person, or as a married person, but what really counts is that he is the center.”

Who or what is your “center” today?

http://www.denisonforum.org/

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Our Final Redemption

While life after salvation still has challenges, the Holy Spirit gives believers direction, peace, and joy.

Romans 8:12-25

Have you discovered that your expectations do not match the realities of your existence? We sometimes have the mistaken idea that God is going to make life easier after salvation. In some ways, this certainly is true: As believers, we have the Holy Spirit, who transforms us into Christ’s likeness, enabling us to handle struggles with peace, contentment, and even joy. But being a Christian does not spare us from troubles and hardships. (See John 16:33.)

As Paul explains, our present sufferings cannot be compared to the glories we will one day know. So for now, we “groan within ourselves” (Rom. 8:23) while awaiting Christ’s coming kingdom and the redemption of our bodies. When Jesus died on the cross, He paid the price, redeemed us, and brought us into His kingdom. However, we are still in a fallen state—that’s why we continue to struggle with sin. Our full redemption will become reality upon Christ’s return, when our bodies will be resurrected into their glorified state.  

Do you groan within yourself for that day, knowing that the world is not your home—or have you allowed your affections and interests to be dominated by this earthly life?  

Bible in One Year: Exodus 36-38 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — In God We Put Our Trust

Bible in a Year:

Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.

Jeremiah 17:7

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Jeremiah 17:5–8

The baby wasn’t due for another six weeks, but the doctor had just diagnosed Whitney with cholestasis, a liver condition common in pregnancy. In a whirlwind of emotions, Whitney was taken to the hospital where she received treatment and was told her baby would be induced in twenty-four hours! In another part of the hospital, ventilators and other equipment needed for the onslaught of COVID-19 cases were being put into place. As a result, Whitney was sent home. She made the decision to trust God and His plans, and she delivered a healthy baby a few days later.

When Scripture takes root in us, it transforms the way we react in trying situations. Jeremiah lived in a time when most of society trusted in human alliances, and the worship of idols was prevalent. The prophet contrasts the person who “draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord” (Jeremiah 17:5) with the one who trusts in God. “Blessed is the one . . . whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that . . . does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green” (vv. 7–8).

As believers in Jesus, we’re called to live by faith as we look to Him for solutions. As He provides the strength, we can choose to fear or to trust Him. God says we’re blessed—fully satisfied—when we choose to place our trust in Him.

By:  Regie Keller

Reflect & Pray

When have you felt worried or afraid and then were reminded of God’s promise to bless those who trust Him? How has the realization that you can trust God in all circumstances brought you relief?

Dear God, thank You that I can trust You in all situations and come to You in prayer. You’re right there in the midst of my struggles, and You give me strength.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Striving According to God’s Power

“These are in accordance with the working of the strength of [God’s] might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead” (Eph. 1:19-20).

In Christ you have all the power you will ever need.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the great hope of believers. Because He lives, we will live also (John 14:19). Peter said we have been “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away” (1 Pet. 1:3-4). We and what we have are protected by God’s power (v. 5).

In Ephesians 1:19-20 Paul draws two comparisons. The first is between the power God demonstrated in the resurrection and ascension of Christ, and the power He demonstrates on behalf of every believer. That power is described as God’s “working,” “strength,” and “might.” Together those synonyms emphasize the greatness of God’s power, which not only secures our salvation, but also enables us to live godly lives.

The second comparison is between our Lord’s resurrection and ascension, and ours. The grave couldn’t hold Him, nor can it hold us (1 Cor. 15:54-57). Satan himself couldn’t prevent Christ’s exaltation, nor can he prevent us from gaining our eternal inheritance.

In Christ you have all the power you will ever need. For evangelism you have the gospel itself, which “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). For difficult times you have the assurance that the surpassing greatness of God’s power is at work in you (2 Cor. 4:7). For holy living you have God Himself at work in you “both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).

No matter how weak or ill-equipped you may at times feel, realize God “is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that [you] ask or think, according to the power that works within [you]” (Eph. 3:20). So keep striving according to that power (Col. 1:29), but do so with the confidence that ultimately God will accomplish His good in your life.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God that He can and will accomplish His purposes in your life (Phil. 1:61 Thess. 5:24).
  • Pray for wisdom in how you might best serve Him today.

For Further Study

Read Psalm 145, noting every mention of God’s power David makes. Allow those examples to fill your heart with confidence and praise.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Practice Seeing the Positive

A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.

— Proverbs 17:22 (AMPC)

I encourage you to be a thankful, positive person. If you aren’t it’s just a matter of forming a new habit.

I was so negative at one time in my life that if I even tried to think two positive thoughts in succession my brain seemed to stop functioning. But now I am very positive and actually don’t enjoy being with people who are negative.

If you have not formed the habit of being positive and thankful yet, you can begin today! Put reminders around your house or in your car, little signs that say, “Be positive,” and “thank You, Jesus!” Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you if you are slipping into negativity. Ask your friends to help also. Set aside time during the day to focus on and be thankful for the good things God has blessed you with.

Positive, thankful thoughts don’t happen by accident; you can choose to practice them. And remember, practice makes perfect.

Prayer Starter: Thank You, Father, for helping me think positive thoughts. I am grateful that I am not a prisoner to negative thinking and that I can choose to be happy and filled with joy. In Jesus name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Glorify and Praise God

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Luke 2:20

What was the subject of their praise? They praised God for what they had heard—for the good tidings of great joy that a Savior was born unto them. Let us copy them; let us also raise a song of thanksgiving that we have heard of Jesus and His salvation.

They also praised God for what they had seen. There is the sweetest music—what we have experienced, what we have felt within, what we have made our own. It is not enough to hear about Jesus: Mere hearing may tune the harp, but the fingers of living faith must create the music. If you have seen Jesus with the God-giving sight of faith, suffer no cobwebs to linger among the harp-strings, but loud with the praise of sovereign grace, awake your psaltery and harp.

One point for which they praised God was the agreement between what they had heard and what they had seen. Observe the last sentence—“as it had been told them.” Have you not found the Gospel to be in yourselves just what the Bible said it would be? Jesus said He would give you rest—have you not enjoyed the sweetest peace in Him?

He said you would have joy and comfort and life through believing in Him—have you not received all these? Are not His ways ways of pleasantness, and His paths paths of peace? Surely you can say with the queen of Sheba, “The half was not told me.”1

I have found Christ more sweet than His servants ever said He was. I looked upon His likeness as they painted it, but it was a mere daub compared with Himself; for the King in His beauty outshines all imaginable loveliness. Surely what we have “seen” keeps pace with, no, far exceeds what we have “heard.” Let us, then, glorify and praise God for a Savior so precious and so satisfying.

1) 1 Kings 10:7

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God “Picks” Workers According to His Own Wisdom and Power

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” (1 Corinthians 1:27)

If you were picking players for a basketball team, you would probably not pick Evan. Evan is short, slow, and not very smart. He misses most of the shots he takes, and he sometimes actually just drops the basketball. Evan is usually the last person to be picked for any kinds of sports team – if he even gets picked at all.

The Bible tells us that God has chosen “foolish things” and “weak things” to accomplish His work. Evan is not very smart, and he is not very strong, but God has chosen Evan to be His child. If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, God has chosen you to shame those who are smart and strong in ways the world values.

God does great things through people who love Him. When He does those great things, He doesn’t want His people to say, “Look what I did because I am smart!” He wants them to say, “Look what God did.” God chooses people who are not necessarily smart or strong so that they will know that God is great, and they are not.

You may not be the smartest or strongest kid in the world, but that makes you the kind of material God can use. When unbelievers see the great things God does through us, they will be ashamed because they will see that even though we were foolish and weak, we were on the winning team the whole time.

God chose you not because you are great, but because He is.

My Response:
» Am I trying to tell God who is or isn’t worthy to serve Him?
» Am I fearful to obey a command from God because I think of myself as unworthy or unable to be of use to Him?
» Am I trying to do things for God in my own power, or am I letting God help me and use me in spite of my shortcomings?

Denison Forum – When sharks attack and storms threaten: What good is biblical faith in perilous times?

Shark attacks increased by 50 percent last year. A new Omicron variant has been reported in at least four states and on three other continents. The stock market continues to “swing wildly” in response to inflation, the surge in Omicron cases, supply chain woes, and fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

An earthquake struck Tonga yesterday, following the tsunami that devastated the region on January 15. The northeastern US faces heavy snow and blizzard conditions this weekend, bringing back memories for those of us in Dallas of the winter storm that decimated our city last February.

The midterm elections may be especially challenging for Democrats. However, the announced retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is a setback for Republicans who hoped to take the White House in 2024 and then nominate his replacement.

Here’s what these stories have in common: they illustrate the degree to which you and I are susceptible to forces beyond our control.

How is the Christian faith relevant to such challenges? We claim that God is all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful. However, he has not stopped the pandemic, ended aggression by nations against nations, or healed our partisan divides and animosity.

What good, then, is our faith in perilous times?

When we take our last breath here

Let’s begin with three biblical answers:

One: God shares our suffering. 

He promises that “when you pass through the waters, I will be with you” (Isaiah 43:2). He is holding us in his hand right now (John 10:29), feeling everything we feel (Hebrews 4:15) and weeping as we weep (John 11:35).

Two: The worst that can happen to us leads to the best that can happen to us. 

Jesus was clear: “Everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:26). When we close our eyes here, we open them in paradise. When we take our last breath here, we take our first breath there. We are home and we are well.

Three: God redeems all that he allows (cf. Romans 8:28). 

He grows us spiritually (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:9–10), uses our witness powerfully (cf. Acts 4:13), and humbles us to become even more dependent and thus empowered by his Spirit (cf. Acts 4:29–31Ephesians 5:18).

However, there is a fourth answer to our question that we often overlook.

A claim only Christians can make

Jesus famously encouraged us, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself” (Matthew 6:34). However, this assurance is preceded by numerous instructions showing us how we are to live in collective community:

  • Do not allow our anger to damage our relationships with others (5:21–26).
  • View others with respect rather than with lust (5:27–30).
  • Honor marriage and oaths (5:31–37).
  • Love our enemies and refuse to retaliate against them (5:38–41).
  • Give to the needy (6:1–4).
  • Pray in ways that focus on God and others (6:5–14).
  • Practice fasting to focus on God rather than ourselves (6:16–18).
  • Lay up treasure in heaven by serving God and prioritizing his mission over personal gain (6:19–33).

In other words, faithful courage in the face of perilous times is empowered by living in community with the family of God.

This principle makes sense in light of the fact that every Christian is inhabited by the Spirit of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:16). This is a claim Christianity uniquely makes among all world religions. Muslims do not believe Muhammad lives in their bodies as his temple; Buddhists do not make a similar claim for Buddha or Jews for Jewish rabbis.

We are therefore the collective “body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27). As a result, we can respond collectively to the issues we face in ways no other group can. Some of us are a “foot,” while others are a “hand” (v. 15). Some are an “eye,” while others are an “ear” (v. 17). We can serve the common good together in ways no individual can alone.

And when we act in this way, our witness glorifies our Lord and advances his kingdom.

The path to peace and joy

In How to Reach the West Again, Timothy Keller perceptively diagnoses our cultural moment and challenges, then he encourages us to take practical steps to build communities that respond redemptively to our collective challenges and serve the common good.

He cites Michael Green’s estimate that “80 percent or more of evangelism in the early church was done not by ministers or evangelists, but by ordinary Christians explaining themselves to . . . their network of relatives and close associates.” As Keller notes, “People paid attention to the gospel because someone they knew well, worked with, and perhaps loved, spoke to them about it.”

He then urges us to “intentionally adopt ‘missional living’” in our daily lives and relationships. He adds the insight of Alan Noble in Disruptive Witness: people in our day are more open to considering Christianity when reading or watching stories and narratives that witness to Christian insights during times of stress, disappointment, difficulty, or suffering.

This is because no other worldview meets human needs as Christianity does. No other faith offers the hope an all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful Father can. No other movement is empowered by God living in its adherents as Christianity is.

Frederick Buechner noted: “Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else’s skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.”

How much “peace and joy” will you experience today?

http://www.denisonforum.org/

The Rise of Blockchain Republics

When Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced an end to some medical mandates and virus-related restrictions in the United Kingdom, I thought: “This is a victory for nation-states over unitary global government.”  The reason the prime minister turned a 180 on his country’s COVID-1984 tyranny seems to be intricately linked to his own personal scandals involving the breaking of various lockdown, masking, and social gathering rules that form the crux of the U.K.’s totalitarian health regime.  If Klaus Schwab, George Soros, Bill Gates, or Anthony Fauci had complete control over the queen’s realm, you can bet that the mandates would never go away.  However, Boris is facing a vote of no confidence in Parliament and seeks to rally support from an increasingly fatigued and unhappy public by putting an end to what should never have been put in place.  Once again, localized politics has cut the legs out from underneath the monster of international hegemony.  This is a good thing.

Dissecting power into the smallest possible parts and spreading that power far and wide encourages personal freedom and individual rights and discourages the tyranny of oligarchs and authoritarians.  It is why principles of federalism, when observed, have succeeded at stabilizing political systems and promoting general peace and why royal dynasties and dictatorships generally lead to bloodshed and turmoil.  The more centralized power is, the more likely that power will be exercised tyrannically, and the more imperative it becomes for the people living under that tyranny to overthrow the whole system, rather than just some small malfunctioning part contained therein.  So nation-states are a blessing not just because they allow the people of common cultures to come together in society to create beyond their own separate limitations, but also because they represent a necessary bulwark against the threats of totalitarian one-world government.  Likewise, state and local governments provide invaluable checks on the threats of unjustly executed national power, and the individual appetites for power possessed by disparate politicians provide a check against the rise of aspiring tyrants.  People in any society benefit when the ambitions of the unscrupulous are kept in a constant tug of war.

One would think the rise and eventual fall of every great empire in the history of the world would provide more than enough illumination for the Davos crowd to grasp that vast centralized power always leads to violence and destruction.  The republican virtues of limited and representative government, separation of powers, and firm constitutional rights for citizens are not the idealistic daydreams of philosophers; they have proven over and over to constitute the most effective pragmatic mechanisms for extending the longevity of political systems.  Once individual rights disappear and power amalgamates into the hands of a few, governments have an expiration date.  The milk of tyrants always turns sour.

Alas, “elites” of every generation gorge on extra helpings of hubris while turning their noses up at wisdom, and their feasts invariably end the same way: expansive empires turned to dust because of gluttony.  In the United States, the federal government has steadily stolen powers originating with the individual states or reserved for the American people since its inception.  Individual rights guaranteed by the Constitution have been watered down or abandoned.  The political parties have found they can obtain more power by pretending to oppose each other while really opposing the people.  Representative government has become anything but “representative,” as the votes of elected officials are owned by multinational corporations, foreign governments, and lobbyist groups trading backroom favors.  The “free” press has withered into a farce for spouting propaganda dictated by its corporate and political masters.  The central bankers figured out how to steal the wealth of the American people by depreciating the value of the dollars paid for their labor and transferring that wealth to the speculators on Wall Street.  And the small collection of international financial titans has deduced how to use all these tricks in its bag to control the U.S. government at will, even when in direct conflict with the wishes of American citizens.

Mass illegal immigration, gutted domestic manufacturing, a heavy-handed and politicized Department of Justice, and a national security Deep State surveillance system — heralded by Davos and despised by ordinary Americans — have been the natural results.

For all of these reasons, the rise of blockchain technology comes at just the right moment in history to change everything.  Simply stated, blockchain is a decentralized database of transactions, and the rate of its adoption around the world is occurring twice as fast as the internet’s during its genesis.  It is transforming the world of finance by introducing the existence of digital cryptocurrencies and other financial instruments that cannot be controlled or manipulated by central banks or government spendthrifts.  It will not stop there.  It represents a revolutionary redesign in the ways information, wealth, and governance function by undercutting centralized authority and empowering everyone else.  It is the ultimate tool for slicing and dicing international authoritarianism into parts too dispersed for search engine and social media censors, corporate news propagandists, central bank thieves, or one-world government oligarchs to control.

If you have wondered why totalitarianism has come back into fashion and why Western leaders have spurned freedom for talk of wobbly notions of “democracy,” it is because the decentralizing benefits of blockchain technology have the potential to flip the hierarchy of power on its head.  Imagine a future where banks become unnecessary, central banks become obsolete, trade of goods and services no longer requires third-party lawyers or brokers, and personal wealth is secure from the snooping eyes of State agents.  Imagine if Google’s search engine, Twitter’s and Facebook’s fake “free speech” platforms, and breaking news websites could not be manipulated by corporate intermediaries working to stifle certain points of view and push others.  Imagine if services once traditionally left to the government sphere could be contracted among private towns and citizens without any space for regulators or lawmakers to intervene.  Imagine a world in which free speech and free trade are truly free, private property is secure from government taxation, Election Day votes are all easily verifiable through a public ledger, and people can choose to share information and ideas without the cultural Marxism of political correctness turning rights into liabilities.  Moving away from transactions controlled and monitored by “elites,” corporations, and governments and toward blockchain transactions that are “housed” nowhere, cannot be altered, and remain secured from bad actors means a system where censorship, coercion, and government monopoly fade away.

In other words, blockchain technology is the mother of all nuclear warheads against the Davos crowd’s dreams of global empire and domination.  No wonder we’ve had to go into medical lockdown for two years while the super-secret 1% of the 1% figure out how to “Great Reset” the world before the world figures out how to great reset them.

I remain convinced that we are on the threshold of a renaissance for freedom that cannot be terminated early by the collection of corporate, banking, and government powers working so hard today to maintain total control over their populations.  Boris Johnson’s “partygate” scandal is a timely reminder of how competing political interests work to prevent the accumulation of centralized power.  What blockchain transaction technology represents is a force multiplier for creating competing political interests.  It will do for federalism and separation of powers what venal politicians could not: protect the constitutional charters and natural rights of the people from the whims and abuses of tyrannical governance.  It might even reorganize nation-states in ways that have nothing to do with political borders and everything to do with personal choice.  Free nations may come roaring back to life.  Behold the rise of blockchain republics!

 

Source: The Rise of Blockchain Republics – American Thinker

 

For more Information on this subject please follow these links;

What is Blockchain Technology? – IBM Blockchain | IBM

What is Blockchain? (codecademy.com)

Blockchain Definition: What You Need to Know (investopedia.com)

Blockchain, explained | MIT Sloan

What is Blockchain? The Complete Guide to Blockchain Technology (bitdegree.org)

What is Blockchain Technology? A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners (blockgeeks.com)

 

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Developing Convictions

Learning the Bible is essential for Christians, but so is being able to explain why we believe its doctrines.

Colossians 2:1-8

A seedling needs nutrients and time to grow into a tall, sturdy tree. In the same way, our convictions develop gradually through committed Bible study and prayer. In order to be firmly planted in biblical truth, we can’t simply hold up the Bible and claim we believe every word. We need to know why we’re convinced that the basic doctrines of the faith are true. 

Here are some questions to help you get started:

• Why do you consider the Bible to be true and trustworthy? 

• Why is Jesus Christ the only way to be saved? 

• What is the Holy Spirit’s role in the lives of believers and unbelievers? 

• What does the Bible say about stewardship of the earth?

• How should you think and act with regard to issues of justice and oppression? 

It’s my hope that these questions will cause you to contemplate how your personal philosophies have developed. Study the Bible and make it the cornerstone of your thinking. Evaluate what God says rather than looking at an issue through the lens of personal preference.  Ground yourself in Scripture. Then whenever a new philosophy comes along, you’ll be able to stand firm in the faith without wavering.  

Bible in One Year: Exodus 31-33

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Not Holding Grudges

Bible in a Year:

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

Leviticus 19:18

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Romans 12:12–21

During a promotional event in 2011, two seventy-three-year-old former Canadian Football League players got into a fistfight on stage. They had a “beef” (a grudge or feud) dating back to a controversial championship football game in 1963. After one man knocked the other off the stage, the crowd called out to him to “let it go!” They were telling him to “squash the beef.”

The Bible contains many examples of people “beefing.” Cain held a grudge against his brother Abel because God accepted Abel’s offering over his (Genesis 4:4–5). This grudge was so severe that it eventually led to murder as “Cain attacked his brother . . . and killed him” (v. 8). “Esau held a grudge against Jacob” because Jacob stole the birthright that was rightfully his (27:41). This grudge was so intense that it caused Jacob to run for his life in fear.

Not only does the Bible give us several examples of people who held grudges, but it also instructs us on how to “squash the beef”—how to seek forgiveness and reconciliation. God calls us to love others (Leviticus 19:18), pray for and forgive those who insult and injure us (Matthew 5:43–47), live peaceably with all people, leave revenge to God, and overcome evil with good (Romans 12:18–21). By His power, may we “squash the beef” today.

By:  Marvin Williams

Reflect & Pray

Why is it vital for us to not hold grudges? How will you work to restore a broken or damaged relationship this week? 

Jesus, thank You that I can forgive others because You’ve forgiven me.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Trusting in God’s Power

“I pray that … you may know … the surpassing greatness of [God’s] power toward us who believe” (Eph. 1:18-19).

The same divine power that created, sustains, and controls the universe secures your salvation.

God’s power is awesome! David wrote, “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Thine is the dominion, O Lord, and Thou dost exalt Thyself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from Thee, and Thou dost rule over all, and in Thy hand is power and might; and it lies in Thy hand to make great, and to strengthen everyone. Now therefore, our God, we thank Thee, and praise Thy glorious name” (1 Chron.29:11-13).

In Ephesians 1:19 Paul focuses on one key feature of God’s power: His ability to secure the salvation of His people. And he prays for you to understand the surpassing greatness of that truth.

The Greek word translated “power” is dunamis, from which we get dynamite and dynamo. This power is active, dynamic, and compelling—and it is mightily at work on your behalf. You might not always sense it, but it’s there nonetheless.

Peter expresses the same thought in 1 Peter 1:5, where he says you are “protected by the power of God through faith” in Christ. In that verse “protected” means “to keep or guard” and reflects Peter’s confidence that salvation is inviolable.

The same limitless power that created, sustains, and controls the universe saved you and keeps you saved. That’s why Jesus said no one can snatch you out of the Father’s hand (John 10:29). Not even Satan has the power to do that. Paul confidently added that nothing therefore can separate you from God’s love (Rom. 8:38-39). That’s the confidence you should have as you live each day.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for greater spiritual enlightenment and a clearer understanding of your security in Christ. Nothing will rob you of your assurance quicker than unconfessed sin. If that has happened to you, confess it immediately and turn from it. Then ask God to restore to you the joy of your salvation.

For Further Study

Read 1 Chronicles 29:11-13.

  • What prerogatives did David attribute to God (vv. 11-12)?
  • What was David’s response to God’s power (v. 13)?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Start with Praise

Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name.

— Hebrews 13:15 (AMPC)

Moses rose early in the morning, built an altar, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings to God. Then he prayed and read the Book of the Covenant (see Exodus 24:1–7). Thank­fully, God no longer asks us to build an altar out of rocks, slaughter a bull, drain its blood and burn it on the alter in order to honor Him with a sacrifice.

God doesn’t want a dead sacrifice anymore. He wants us, living sacrifices, full of praise, gratitude and zeal to serve Him each day. All we have to do is wake up and say, “Thank You, Lord. I give You the sacrifice of praise. I give You myself, a living sacrifice, ready to live for You today.” 

Prayer Starter: Father God, thank You for all the blessings you have heaped on my life. I offer you the sacrifice of praise. I give myself to You as a living sacrifice, ready to serve and live for You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –The Exercise of Three Powers

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.

Luke 2:19

There was an exercise, on the part of this blessed woman, of three powers of her being: her memory—she kept all these things; her affections—she kept them in her heart; her intellect—she pondered them; so memory, affection, and understanding were all exercised about the things that she had heard.

Beloved, remember what you have heard of your Lord Jesus and what He has done for you; make your heart the golden pot of manna to preserve the memorial of the heavenly bread whereon you have fed in days gone by. Let your memory treasure up everything about Christ that you have either felt or known or believed, and then let your fond affections hold Him fast forevermore.

Love the person of your Lord! Bring forth the alabaster box of your heart, even though it be broken, and let all the precious ointment of your affection come streaming onto His pierced feet. Let your intellect be exercised concerning the Lord Jesus. Meditate upon what you read. Stop not at the surface; dive into the depths. Be not as the swallow, which touches the brook with her wing, but as the fish, which penetrates the lowest wave.

Abide with your Lord: Let Him not be to you as a wayfaring man who tarries for a night, but constrain Him, saying, “Stay with us … the day is now far spent.”1 Hold Him, and do not let Him go. The word ponder means to weigh. Make ready the balances of judgment. Oh, but where are the scales that can weigh the Lord Christ? “He takes up the coastlands like fine dust”—who shall take Him up? He weighs “the mountains in scales”—in what scales shall we weigh Him?2 If your understanding cannot comprehend, let your affections apprehend; and if your spirit cannot compass the Lord Jesus in the grasp of understanding, let it embrace Him in the arms of affection.

1) Luke 24:29
2) Isaiah 40:15, 12

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

http://www.truthforlife.org