In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Body of Christ

The body of Christ—also known as the church—is made up of all who believe in Jesus.

Ephesians 4:11-16

As we saw yesterday, the body of Christ is made up of all people who worship Him, no matter where they are. The head of this body of believers is Jesus Christ, whom Paul described as “the beginning, the first-born from the dead” (Col. 1:18). 

At salvation, you become a part of the body—regardless of what the membership rules may be at your local church. Therefore, if you’re a believer, you are a breathing and active part of Christ, who is at work on earth through His followers. The church acts as Jesus’ feet to carry the gospel message, His hands to care for those in need of love, and His arms to uphold the weak. 

But being Jesus to the world isn’t easy—it means making sacrifices, accepting ridicule, and loving our enemies (Heb. 13:16Matt. 5:44). God may have called us to spread the gospel, but that doesn’t mean people will necessarily like what we have to say. Regardless, we’re to carry out the work of God, even when doing so is uncomfortable. 

The gospel is spread through the strength and wisdom of Jesus Christ. And for this task, He has also chosen to use the body of believers united by His Spirit’s indwelling presence. What an honor to be used to reach the world for our Savior. 

Bible in One Year: Genesis 12-15 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Resilient Faith

Bible in a Year:

Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.

Matthew 7:26

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Matthew 7:24–27

Towering dunes along the north shore of Silver Lake put nearby homes at risk of sinking into shifting sands. Though residents tried moving mounds of sand in efforts to protect their homes, they watched helplessly as well-built houses were buried right before their eyes. As a local sheriff oversaw the cleanup of a recently destroyed cottage, he affirmed the process couldn’t be prevented. No matter how hard homeowners tried to avoid the dangers of these unsteady embankments, the dunes simply couldn’t provide a strong foundational support.

Jesus knew the futility of building a house on sand. After warning the disciples to be wary of false prophets, He assured them that loving obedience demonstrates wisdom (Matthew 7:15–23). He said that everyone who hears His words and “puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (v. 24). The one who hears God’s words and chooses not to put them into practice, however, is “like a foolish man who built his house on sand” (v. 26).

When circumstances feel like shifting sands burying us under the weight of affliction or worries, we can place our hope in Christ, our Rock. He will help us develop resilient faith built on the unshakable foundation of His unchanging character.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

How does obedience demonstrate your trust in God? In what areas of your life are you standing on the shifting sands of disobedience to Him?

Jesus, please help me develop resilient faith. Empower me to demonstrate my trust through loving obedience to You.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Understand Your Spiritual Resources

“God…has blessed us with every spiritual blessing” (Eph. 1:3, emphasis added).

As a Christian, you possess every spiritual resource you need to fulfill God’s will for your life.

The story is told of a wealthy London businessman who searched many years for his runaway son. One afternoon he was preparing to board a train to London when he spotted a man in ragged, dirty clothing begging money from passengers along the station platform. His first impulse was to avoid the beggar but there was something strangely familiar about him.

When the beggar approached and asked if he could spare a few shillings, the businessman realized he had found his long-lost son. With tears in his eyes and joy in his voice he embraced his son, crying, “A few shillings? You are my son—everything I have is yours!”

That pictures many Christians who are ignorant or negligent of their spiritual resources. They are children of the King, yet live like spiritual paupers.

Paul repeatedly emphasized our sufficiency as believers. In Colossians 2:10 he declares that in Christ “you have been made complete.” In Philippians 4:13 and 19 he says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” and “my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Peter added that God’s “divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3).

The word translated “spiritual” in Ephesians 1:3 speaks of the work of the Holy Spirit. Every blessing you receive, whether material or immaterial, has God as its source.

As a Christian, you possess every spiritual resource you need to fulfill God’s will for your life. You needn’t pray for more love, for example, because His love is already poured out in your heart through the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5). The same is true of joy (John 15:11), peace (John 14:27), strength (Phil. 4:13)—and every other resource you need. The key to spiritual progress and victory is learning to apply what you already have, not seeking more.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God for His abundant spiritual resources.
  • Ask Him to help you apply them with wisdom and consistency.

For Further Study

Read Matthew 6:25-34 and Philippians 4:6-8.

  • What specific promises does God make in those passages?
  • What does He require of you?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Growing from Trouble

Let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance.

— Romans 5:3 (AMPC)

We all face obstacles from time to time. God doesn’t remove every obstacle that stands in our way because we are often made stronger as we learn to overcome obstacles.

When we deal with the difficulties of life, we are strengthened. But if we run from all of them, we will never grow and become stronger in our faith and abilities.

If God allowed us to go through all of life without any obstacles, it would harm us. We would not be as strong as we could have been. Many times, our obstacles are what God uses to give us the strength to succeed, as long as we refuse to quit when there seems to be no way to go on.

You can face your fears and overcome them, and when you do, you’ll often find they gave you the strength you needed for the next situation that comes.

Prayer Starter: Dear Lord, help me to look to You when I feel fearful and afraid, and You will turn my fear into faith. Help me to step out and do Your will today and every day, in Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Contented in Christ

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.

Philippians 4:11-12

We live in a society permeated by discontent. Commercials condition us to be envious. The real issue, though, is not so much the society we live in but the state of our own hearts and minds. We’re drawn away from contentment by so much which clamors for our attention: titles, possessions, influence, or fame. Yet all of these and more seek to rob us of any sense of joy in what God has given us, persuading us that it will never be enough. The chase is never-ending.

Paul, though, could say not only that he was content but that he could be content “in whatever situation I am.” This is what everyone is searching for! What was the secret, then? It was to ground his sense of self and his outlook on life in the sufficiency of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul didn’t champion a stiff upper lip in the face of hardship or offer a false gospel of self-sufficiency. No, his contentment was the result of bowing his heart and mind to God’s will, no matter what conditions he faced.

Not everyone has lived on both sides of the street. Not everyone knows how the other half lives. But Paul did. He knew what it was to be warm and fed, and he knew what it was to be cold and naked. If he had derived contentment from his circumstances, his life would have been a constant roller-coaster ride, leaving him intoxicated by wonderful luxuries one minute and overwhelmed by their absence the next. Such a fickle spirit would have neutralized Paul, making him unable to serve Christ.

Paul was a normal man with normal needs. In a letter to Timothy from a dungeon in Rome, Paul wrote, “Do your best to come to me soon … Bring the cloak … the books, and above all the parchments” (2 Timothy 4:9, 13). He had been deserted by others and lacked certain possessions. Yes, Paul wanted things like clothing, books, and company—but he knew he would be fine without them, for his peace rested in something greater.

Like Paul, your contentment can and should ultimately be grounded in your union with Jesus. Refuse any ambition other than belonging to Him and remaining entirely at His disposal. When you know Christ and how wonderful He is—that He is your all in all, more precious than silver, more costly than gold, more beautiful than diamonds, and that nothing you have compares to Him[1]—the way you view your circumstances and the measure of your contentment will be completely transformed.

GOING DEEPER

Psalm 73

Topics: Contentment Materialism Peace Union with Christ

FOOTNOTES

1 Lynn DeShazo, “More Precious Than Silver” (1982).

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Comforts the Fearful

“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” (Psalm 56:3)

Like many people, Maggie was afraid of the dark. She was afraid of the scary things she couldn’t see in the dark. Maggie shared a bedroom with her sister Kathi, and she made Kathi promise not to go to sleep until after she had fallen asleep so that Kathi could protect her from all of the “scary things” in the room.

For the times that Maggie’s fears were very strong, her mother told her to quote Bible verses and pray. Maggie’s mom said that the Lord promised in His Word that He would calm all of Maggie’s fears. Psalms 56:3 says, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” Maggie’s mom explained that God did not want her to be afraid; instead He wanted her to trust Him with all her fears. Maggie followed her mom’s advice and began to see how the Lord was more powerful than anything real or imagined. As she quoted verses, she was reminded of God’s control over everything. As a result, she started being less and less afraid of the dark.

The Lord promises us in His Word that He will comfort us when we are afraid. Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear thou not, for I am with thee: be not dismayed for I am thy God.” Whether it is something small, like being afraid of the dark, or something large, the Lord asks us to trust Him to comfort us in the midst of our fears.

God’s Word is able to comfort His children when they are afraid.

My Response:
» Do I ask for God’s comfort when I am afraid? Do I trust Him to be with me even during painful or scary times?

Denison Forum – Fish falling from the sky and the end of BlackBerry: The key to time management and an empowering mantra for the new year

You know the year has gotten off to a strange start when you read the headline: “Residents of East Texas town report fish falling from sky.” It seems this happened during a storm last Wednesday in Texarkana, a city on the northeast border of Texas and Arkansas. 

Experts say fish can rain from the sky when waterspouts pick them up from lakes and ponds and then drop them back to the ground. However, meteorologists can find no evidence of waterspouts in the area last Wednesday or of fish landing near bodies of water. One meteorologist said, “We’re kind of confused as to how it happened as well, to be honest.” The good news is that no injuries due to falling fish have been reported. 

The same cannot be said of another natural phenomenon: the “biggest Mid-Atlantic snowstorm in years” placed twenty-nine million people under winter alerts yesterday. Thousands of flights have been canceled or delayed as a result. 

Omicron continues to escalate as well. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has tested positiveCNN reports that “the omicron wave is ravaging local communities” with overwhelmed hospitals, staffing shortages, and business closings. Even progress comes at a cost: BlackBerry software will be switched off today, ending an era in mobile technology. 

People of faith are obviously not immune to the challenges of our day: a stray bullet killed a pastor’s wife as she attended a Bible study in an Alabama church. A suspect has been arrested and charged in her death. 

Annie Dillard was right: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Given the unpredictability of the future and the fragility of life, what is the best way to manage our days this year? 

“There’s no such thing as time management” 

Let’s begin with an answer that reframes the question. Writing for Christianity Today, award-winning author Jen Pollock Michel notes that “there’s no such thing as time management.” She explains: “The minutes are not ours to multiply. We receive them as a gift. What we can do, however, is cultivate the ability to inhabit those minutes with attention, or undiluted unfragmented presence.” 

David would agree, as his prayer demonstrates: “My times are in your hand” (Psalm 31:15). Times translates the Hebrew for “occasion, opportunity, season.” He states that they are in God’s hand, his provision and providence. Not they were or they will be, but they are, right now. 

Of course, our secular culture disagrees. As David noted, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses” (Psalm 20:7a). What are our “chariots” and “horses” today? 

Many put their trust in medical science, or technological advances, or political leaders and parties, or our capitalistic economy, or our superpower military status, or their own abilities and resources. But if 2021 taught us anything, it should have been that these “chariots” and “horses” are not enough. 

I am deeply grateful for medical science, but the mortality rate is still 100 percent. I am thankful for technological advances, but they can be used for pornography, sex trafficking, and a myriad of other sins. I am grateful for those who serve in political office, but even the greatest leaders cannot solve the innate problem of sin that plagues the human condition. 

I’m glad to live in the American economic system, but its inequities continue to widen and worsen. I’m deeply thankful for our military and their service, but they cannot protect us from ourselves. I’m grateful to God for my abilities and resources such as they are, but “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), myself included. 

What to do when you lack wisdom 

David knew his chariots and horses were not enough. That’s why he continued, “But we trust in the name of the Lᴏʀᴅ our God” (Psalm 20:7b). Today, I’m encouraging you to do the same. 

We should begin every day and repeat all through the day the prayer, My times are in your hands. Then we should partner with God in redeeming our times for his greatest glory and our greatest good. “My utmost for his highest,” as Oswald Chambers famously noted, should be our motto and our mantra. 

Scripture consistently calls us to pray throughout every day for the needs of every day: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5). We are encouraged: “Do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7). 

Then, as we work, God works. As we do our utmost for his highest, we experience his power, peace, and purpose in our lives and days. And each day leads us to that day when we hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23). 

Courage I will never forget 

The best way to prepare for the hard times sure to come is to place our lives in God’s hand today and each day as each day comes. We’ll close with proof of this fact in an experience I will never forget. 

Dr. Gary Cook is the longtime president and now chancellor of Dallas Baptist University and one of my best friends in the world. For many years, I admired his steadfast faith and faithfulness as he led the university from near bankruptcy to a place of great success, significance, and flourishing. But I saw Gary’s faith on display several years ago in a way that would mark me for the rest of my life. 

He had not been feeling well, so he went to the doctor. They ran tests and became alarmed. Gary called me, I called my wife, and we met him and his wife at the hospital. We were sitting together when the doctors came in with the results: he had acute myelogenous leukemia, the disease that took Dallas Cowboys Coach Tom Landry’s life some years earlier. 

Gary would not be going home—he would be checking into the hospital that day to begin chemotherapy that night in a fight to save his life. 

After the doctor left the room, Gary turned to us and said, “Well, my times are in his hand.” As long as I live, I will not forget the courage, peace, and serenity I saw on his face and in his soul. He had made this decision a long time before. Now, in the moment of crisis, it sustained him and continued to do so through his weeks of treatment. It still does today. 

Our culture thinks our times are in our hands. Wise people place their times in God’s hands. 

How wise will you be today?

http://www.denisonforum.org/