In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Church

The church may be separated into denominations, but there are three things that unify the whole body of Christ.

Ephesians 1:18-23

The church is one body, made of all believers in heaven and on earth. There are many denominations and approaches to theology, but Christians are united by a common message, mission, and motive. 

Message. There are three parts of the church’s primary belief. First, man is sinful and unable to alleviate the penalty of sin. Next, Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay our debt, was buried, rose again, and ascended to heaven. Third, everyone will someday stand before God and give an account for his or her life. At that time believers will take responsibility for what they did with the truth they knew, but unbelievers will answer for their rejection of Jesus Christ. 

Mission. The church is also united by its goal to spread the gospel around the world and teach new believers how to grow in faith (Matt. 28:19). We do this by telling others about the experiences we’ve had with God and His Word. 

Motive. The church’s motive is to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and to glorify God the Father. This should be the driving force behind everything a body of believers sets out to do.

Church is not a place where we go to hide from the world—our mission is to spread the gospel to glorify God. There will be varying levels of opposition and persecution, but we stand together as one body and persevere.

Bible in One Year: Genesis 8-11 

http://www.intouch.org/

A commercial that speaks for America

Chevy plucked the heartstrings of hundreds of millions of Americans with its holiday commercial.  In doing so, it revealed a yearning for a different America than that portrayed in the woke commercials that bombard us with an America that exists only in Hollywood.

An old man, a widower, places a sad-looking Christmas wreath on the door of his barn.  He stops inside to look at a beat up and deteriorating 1966 Chevrolet Impala.  It was his wife’s car, and sitting inside it brings back a flood of memories and a torrent of emotion.

As he closes the barn door, his daughter, even from a distance, can see the sadness that envelops him.

In her small town, she enlists the aid of local mechanics, who work with her at night to restore the body and the mechanics of the blue Impala.

On another day, the man returns to replace the wreath on the barn door and notices that it has already been replaced with a festive one.

Stepping inside, he sees the beautiful American classic restored to its former glory, reminiscent of a time when America built great cars.  As he sits in the car, he sees a picture of his wife dangling from the rearview mirror.

He is overcome with tears and memories.  He drives the car out of the barn and beckons his daughter to get in.  It is the best Christmas gift ever, he tells her, and she says it’s what her mother would have wanted as they drive off onto the rural road.

The commercial captures the bonds of people caring for one another and a time when American manufacturing was the envy of the world.

You can say that America long ago stopped being rural and small-town.  After all, the historian Frederick Jackson Turner hailed the closing of the frontier at the end of the 19th century, from which came America’s then nascent transformation to an industrial, urban society.

Nonetheless, America was built on the values of an agrarian society.  Thomas Jefferson’s yeoman farmer was the foundation for American democracy and for the bonds of free and independent people building communities and a nation.

In this brilliant commercial, Chevy captured the world in which millions of Americans still believe.

Chevy’s commercial stands in contrast to the woke world, where adverts must have a blended family, gay children, and an ethnic minority mouthing some banal attempt at an aphorism that supposedly captures the essence of the commercial and puts everyone else to shame.

There is a stirring in America for a resistance to the cancel culture, phony wokeness, anti-Americanism, and the divisions created by the haters in the Democratic squad.

There is a yearning for a new patriotism, for a rekindling of the traditional values of America.

Is this an American myth?  Perhaps, but no society can exist without its myths and heroes.

Toward the end of his life, when interviewers thought he would bask in the glory of the Soviet Union’s crumbling, Barry Goldwater dismayed them by stating he feared for a nation that had lost its heroes.

Every nation needs heroes, symbols, and integrative narratives.  The people who attack those are condemning our existence as a nation.  They are undermining our heritage.  They are rewriting our past to control our future.

Chevy, in a brief commercial, reminds us of who we were, who we are, and who we can be.

It is time to denounce the America-haters at every school board meeting, every college fundraiser, and every political campaign.

We need, now more than ever, the ascendance of a political movement that can speak for and to America in the same way the people who crafted that dazzling Chevy commercial have spoken.

Source: A commercial that speaks for America – American Thinker

Our Daily Bread — When Love Never Ends

Bible in a Year:

The Lord watches over all who love him.

Psalm 145:20

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 145:8–20

“Whenever my grandfather took me to the beach,” Sandra reminisced, “he always took off his watch and put it away. One day I asked him why.”

“He smiled and replied, ‘Because I want you to know how important my moments with you are to me. I just want to be with you and let time go by.’ ”

I heard Sandra share that recollection at her grandfather’s funeral. It was one of her favorite memories of their life together. As I reflected on how valued it makes us feel when others take time for us, it brought to mind Scripture’s words on God’s loving care.

God always makes time for us. David prayed in Psalm 145, “You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. The Lord is near” (vv. 16–18).

God’s goodness and thoughtful attention sustain our lives each moment, providing us with air to breathe and food to eat. Because He is rich in love, the Creator of all things mercifully crafts even the most intricate details of our existence.

God’s love is so deep and unending that in His kindness and mercy He’s even opened the way to eternal life and joy in His presence, as if to say, “I love you so much, I just want to be with you forever, and let time go by.”

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

How does your availability to others reflect God’s faithful love for them? In what ways can you follow His example by making time for others today?

Father, thank You for Your perfect love. Please help me to praise You for it and to share it with others today.

Read God Is Love

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Blessing the God of Blessings

 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us” (Eph. 1:3).

When we bless God, it is with words of praise; when He blesses us, it is with deeds of kindness.

Paul’s brief doxology identifies God the Father as the ultimate recipient and source of blessing—the One to whom blessing is ascribed and the One who bestows blessings on those who love Him.

“Blessed” translates the Greek word eulogeō, from which we get eulogy. To bless or eulogize God is to praise Him for His mighty works and holy character.

That should be the response of your heart just as it has been the response of believers throughout the ages. The psalmist said “Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer” (Ps. 66:20); and “blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone works wonders” (Ps. 72:18). Peter said, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3).

When the situation is reversed and God blesses us, it isn’t with praise, for apart from Him there is nothing praiseworthy about us. Instead, He gives us undeserved benefits through His many deeds of kindness. Scripture identifies Him as the source of every good thing (James 1:17), who works all things together for our good and His glory (Rom. 8:28).

That is but a sampling of the many blessings He lavishes on us in His Son, Christ Jesus. It’s a marvelous cycle: God blesses us with deeds of kindness; we bless Him with words of praise.

Beware of the sin of thanklessness. Recognize God’s blessings in your life and let them fill your heart and lips

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Identify ten specific blessings that God has granted to you in recent days and praise Him for each one.
  • Ask Him to make you more aware of and thankful for His goodness in your life.
  • Always be ready to seek forgiveness when you take His blessings for granted.

For Further Study

Read Psalm 103.

  • What blessings does David mention?
  • How do they apply to your life?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Controlling Your Emotions During Tough Times

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

— Philippians 1:27 (NIV)

I know people who have been sick for an extended period of time and have the most beautiful attitudes. They never complain, are not grouchy, don’t act as if the world owes them something, and they don’t blame God or even feel sorry for themselves. But I also know people with the same circumstances who talk only about their illnesses, medical appointments, and how hard it all is for them. They are easily offended, bitter, and resentful. Every situation in life requires making a decision about how we are going to respond, and if we respond the way God would, then our trials will be much easier to handle.

Perhaps you have never thought about how important it is to manage your emotions during the tougher times. Most of us think, I can’t help how I act right now; I am having a hard time, and that is all there is to it. That is a normal human reaction, but with God on our side helping us, we don’t have to behave the way a “normal” person would. Satan is our enemy, and his goal is to get us so emotionally rattled that we say things that will provide him with an opening into our lives. Or he hopes we will make unwise decisions during painful times and create messes that we will have to deal with for a long, long time afterward.

I have believed for years that if I can hold my tongue and remain emotionally stable during times of difficulty, then I am honoring God and letting the devil know he is not going to control me. I’m not always successful, but I’m certainly a lot better than I once was. As I often say, “I am not where I need to be, but thank God I am not where I used to be.” I am still growing, but at least I’ve learned the importance of managing my emotions. There is no doubt it is more difficult to manage your emotions when you’re sick or going through a crisis, but hopefully you are learning it is possible.

Prayer Starter: Lord Jesus, I don’t want my circumstances to defeat me. Help me to manage my emotions. Help me trust You and know that your grace is sufficient to meet all of my needs, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Every Promise Fulfilled

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Matthew 1:1

The beginning of the New Testament may not immediately strike us as inspiring. In fact, if someone were reading through the Bible for the very first time and reached the end of Malachi, which points forward with anticipation, their excitement might falter when the next book begins with… a genealogy. They (and we!) might even be tempted to skip Matthew and begin with another Gospel altogether.

Keep in mind, though, that the promises God made to His people in the Old Testament all looked forward to their fulfillment. As we read through the New Testament, we realize that in fact it couldn’t open in a more fitting manner, since the genealogy in Matthew draws the line from Abraham to David and at last to Jesus as the one who fulfills all these promises.

Similarly Mark, throughout his Gospel, reaches one hand back to the prophets who pointed forward to the one who was yet to come. Mark uses the Old Testament to set the stage for this striking reality, his second sentence beginning “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet…” (Mark 1:2). And the first words he records Jesus as saying are, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” (v 15). Jesus’ disciples had the privilege of witnessing what prophets and kings had longed to see (see Luke 10:24)—a privilege that even now continues through the illuminating work of God’s word.

The New Testament shows us that the means by which God’s promises are fulfilled can be summed up in two words: Jesus Christ. God made His promises to Israel using terminology and categories that they understood—words like nation and temple. Christ’s coming redefined Old Testament concepts in light of the gospel: Old Testament prophecies, we discover, are all fulfilled christologically—by and in the person of the Christ. Therefore, instead of looking for a new temple in the state of Israel, we meet with God through His Son, the Lord Jesus; enjoy His presence in each of us by His Spirit; and look to the reality of Christ’s reign to transform our lives both now and forevermore.

The coming of the Son of God breaks the boundaries of Old Testament categories. This is not meant to be unsettling for God’s people; it is meant to be thrilling! Christ is the perfect fulfillment of all God’s promises. He is the reality of all God’s great assurances.

Wait no more, then, to see how God will fulfill His every promise. We know now that each one was, is, and ever will be satisfied through Christ. He has promised to be with you, to work for you and through you, and to bring you to an eternal kingdom of perfection. There are times when it is hard to hold on to those promises. When those times come, we look back to a man born of Abraham and David’s line, conceived of the Spirit, who was able to announce, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” and who hung on a cross and rose from the grave so that all God’s promises would become “yes” in Him.

GOING DEEPER

Matthew 1:1-18

Topics: Kingdom of God Promises of God

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg,

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is a God of Truth

“He is the Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” (Deuteronomy 32:4)

Have you ever broken something like your mom’s good china or a special glass? Glass is fragile; it is easily broken. It’s the same way with trust. Trust in a friend can easily be broken. One of the quickest ways to lose a person’s trust is by lying. If a person lies to you, you never know when to believe him.

Lies are told in several different ways: telling a half-truth, sharing a story in a way that makes you look better than what actually happened, being one way with one person and another way with somebody else, or allowing a lie or rumor to continue when you know that it is not true. No matter what form it takes, a lie is a sin.

If God lied only once, we would never be able to trust Him or His Word. But God cannot lie. He does not have the ability to lie. We can trust God completely because He is a God of truth – everything He says is true; His words are reliable. What a comfort to know that all of God’s promises in His Word are true. If you are a child of God, one way to be like your Father is to be truthful.

You can trust God because He is a God of truth.

My Response:
» Do I trust God’s Word?
» Do I consistently speak the truth?

Denison Forum – Betty White’s “last epic joke”: The fallacy of naming years and the abiding faithfulness of God

Betty White’s television career spanned seven decades. The 2014 edition of Guinness World Records certified hers as the longest career ever for a female entertainer. The winner of multiple Emmy Awards, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1988 and was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1995. When she hosted Saturday Night Live in May 2010, the show enjoyed its highest ratings in a year and a half. 

In preparation for her one hundredth birthday on January 17, People magazine featured her on its cover last week with the headline, “Betty White Turns 100!” Then, as you know, the famed actress died Friday morning at the age of ninety-nine. Some blamed the magazine for jinxing Ms. White. One person disagreed, tweeting, “I think Betty White would enjoy having made one last epic joke.” 

Of course, Christians know that life and what comes next are no joke: “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). But there is something in us that doesn’t want to admit that it’s true for us. We understand in our conscious minds that death is real and that the mortality rate is 100 percent. We know that Jesus could return tomorrow, or we could go to him today. 

But as you read these words, do they feel real to you? Are you living in the same certainty that you could die today as that the sun will set tonight? If not, why not? And why does the question matter so powerfully as we begin this “new year” together? 

Why is today “January the third”? 

For what reason is this a “new year”? The trees and birds don’t know the difference. The sun rose on January 1 just as it did the day before. Why do we call today “January the third”? Why do we call it anything at all? 

There are practical reasons for assigning numbers and names to days, of course. Imagine planning for the future without such a practice, from making airline reservations to setting deadlines for school and work. But there’s a larger, deeper force at work here. 

Naming things began in the garden of Eden: “Out of the ground the Lᴏʀᴅ God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name” (Genesis 2:19). 

God had earlier told humans: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Part of having “dominion” over something is naming it. Thus parents name their children and children name their pets. 

Why Davy Crockett named his rifle 

There is a useful function here, of course: parents can call their children away from a busy street more easily if they use the name their child recognizes as uniquely theirs. Astronomers name stars and planets so they can study them with greater precision. Botanists do the same with plants, as do entomologists with insects. 

But there is an underlying psychological and very human force at work here as well. We want to name the stars above us whether we are astronomers or not. We want to know the names of plants and animals even if we are not botanists or veterinarians. 

Psychologists say we name people and things to infer power over them. Brand experts call this “taming,” bringing the object closer to ourselves and forming emotional bonds with it. We give names to machines to feel that they work for us, such as Davy Crockett’s naming his rifle “Old Betsy.” And we name things we cannot control in nature to nonetheless feel some power over them, such as Hurricane Katrina and the “Wolf Moon” coming on January 17. 

In this sense, we named the “year” that began Saturday “2022” to identify it for contracts, to date events, and so on, but also to “tame” it, to give ourselves a sense of control over the future it represents. 

Welcome to the year 5782 

The Jewish people do not do this. The Hebrew names for the days translate simply to “First Day,” “Second Day,” and so on. The seventh day is Shabbat, the Sabbath, which translates the Hebrew for “rest” or “cease work.” It is the only day that receives its own nonnumerical name since it is the day when God “rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done” (Genesis 2:2). As a result, their days remind them of God’s creation of each day. 

Hebrew months were originally numbered beginning with the month in which the Exodus occurred. Thus, any month reminded them of the Exodus: “six months since the month of the Exodus,” and so on. Names were added only after the people returned from the Babylonian exile and wanted to continue using names to which they had become accustomed. 

Jewish years are calculated from the creation of the world in common tradition; 2022 is 5782 in their calculation. But this did not begin until the twelfth century when the Jewish philosopher Maimonides established the timeframe for the traditional date of Creation. 

As a result, every day reminds the Jewish people of its relation to their Sabbath; every month reminds them of their Exodus from slavery into the Promised Land by divine grace; every year testifies to their creation and the providential design of God. They name the year not to control it but to honor and serve the God who makes each day and controls our future. 

A promise to learn and claim 

We’ll continue this discussion tomorrow. For today, let’s choose to be Jewish about 2022. Let’s begin a year filled with uncertainties and fears not by naming and “taming” our future but by submitting our lives and moments each day to our Creator and King. 

To this end, I invite you to claim and even memorize with me this promise as a theme for all that lies ahead: “This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lᴏʀᴅ never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:21–23). 

Why do you need the steadfast love, unending mercy, and great faithfulness of Jesus today

http://www.denisonforum.org/