In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – A Living Hope

We who believe in Jesus no longer have to live as sinners; now we should live as children of God.

1 Peter 1:3-5

Did you know the city of Corinth was known for its ungodliness? The believers there had once been no different from nonbelievers—filled with sexual immorality, greed, envy, wickedness, deceit, and malice. But now they were new creations, indwelt by the Holy Spirit and adopted into God’s family. The “Corinthian lifestyle” no longer fit who they had become in Christ. 

Paul reminded the believers of that city not to be influenced by their culture or old patterns of thinking (1 Cor. 6:9-11). The apostle was not warning them that they might miss out on the kingdom. Instead, he was encouraging them to abandon old ways and bring their behavior in line with who they really were—children of God. 

We, too, should know that salvation is permanent and faith ought to have a positive effect on our conduct. Our Savior willingly paid the penalty for our sin, satisfying divine justice and the Law’s demands (Rom. 3:25-26). No one can undo what God has accomplished in saving us—namely, pardoning our sins, giving us a new nature, and adopting us into His family. Knowing what His wonderful grace has accomplished should motivate us to live in our new identity as His children, reflecting His light in the world. 

Bible in One Year: Genesis 20-23

Our Daily Bread — Dealing with Disagreement

Bible in a Year:

Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Colossians 3:13

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Colossians 3:12–14

The social media powerhouse Twitter created a platform where people all over the world express opinions in short sound bites. In recent years, however, this formula has become more complex as individuals have begun to leverage Twitter as a tool to reprimand others for attitudes and lifestyles they disagree with. Log on to the platform on any given day, and you’ll find the name of at least one person “trending.” Click on that name, and you’ll find millions of people expressing opinions about whatever controversy has emerged.

We’ve learned to publicly criticize everything from the beliefs people hold to the clothes they wear. The reality, however, is that a critical and unloving attitude doesn’t align with who God has called us to be as believers in Jesus. While there will be times when we have to deal with disagreement, the Bible reminds us that as believers we’re to always conduct ourselves with “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12). Instead of being harshly critical, even of our enemies, God urges us to “bear with each other and forgive one another if [we have] a grievance” (v. 13).

This treatment isn’t limited to the people whose lifestyles and beliefs we agree with. Even when it’s difficult, may we extend grace and love to everyone we encounter as Christ guides us, recognizing that we’ve been redeemed by His love.

By:  Kimya Loder

Reflect & Pray

Consider a time when you were quick to criticize a friend or a stranger. What was the result? What could you have done differently to honor God and the individual?

Heavenly Father, I know I fall short of Your glory every day. Thank You for Your unconditional love. Help me strive to be more like You by being patient and gentle with others.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Identifying with Christ

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

Christianity isn’t simply a belief system—it’s a whole new identity.

Many people mistakenly believe that one’s religious preference is irrelevant because all religions eventually lead to the same spiritual destination.

Such thinking is sheer folly, however, because Scripture declares that no one comes to God apart from Jesus (John 14:6). He is the only source of salvation (Acts 4:12) and the only One powerful enough to redeem us and hold us secure forever (John 10:28).

Every Christian shares a common supernatural union with Christ. Paul said, “The one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him)” (1 Cor. 6:17). We are in Him and He is in us. His life flows through us by His Spirit, who indwells us (Rom. 8:9).

As a non-Christian, you were in bondage to evil (Rom. 3:10-12), enslaved to the will of Satan (1 John 5:19), under divine wrath (Rom. 1:18), spiritually dead (Eph. 4:17-18), and without hope (Eph. 2:12). But at the moment of your salvation a dramatic change took place. You became a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), alive in Him (Eph. 2:5), enslaved to God (Rom. 6:22), and a recipient of divine grace (Eph. 2:8). You were delivered out of the domain of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son (Col. 1:13). You now possess His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21) and share in His eternal inheritance (Rom. 8:16-17).

All those blessings—and many more—are yours because you are in Christ. What a staggering reality! In a sense what He is, you are. What He has, you have. Where He is, you are.

When the Father sees you, He sees you in Christ and blesses you accordingly. When others see you, do they see Christ in you? “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for His marvelous grace in taking you from spiritual death to spiritual life in Christ.
  • Ask Him for wisdom and discernment to live this day for His good pleasure.

For Further Study

Read the book of Ephesians, noting every occurrence of the phrase “in Christ.”

  • What has God accomplished in Christ?
  • What blessings are yours in Christ?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Build Bridges—Not Walls

For even to this were you called [it is inseparable from your vocation]. For Christ also suffered for you, leaving you [His personal] example, so that you should follow in His footsteps.

— 1 Peter 2:21 (AMPC)

Instead of the walls that I used to build around my life, I have learned to build bridges. By the power of grace and God’s forgiveness, all the difficult and unfair things that happened to me in life have been turned into highways over which others can pass to find the same liberty that I found.

God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). What He has done for me, He will do for you too. As you draw closer to God on a daily basis, you can discover the same freedom that I have found, and you can become a bridge for others to pass over, instead of a wall that shuts them out.

Jesus pioneered a pathway to God for us. He became a highway for us to pass over. He sacrificed Himself for us, and now that we are benefiting from His sacrifice, He is giving us a chance to sacrifice for others so they can reap the same benefits we enjoy.

Instead of shutting people out, I suggest that you ask God to allow you to see them as He sees them. Love them, forgive them, and point them to God so He can heal their wounds and fill them with His peace and joy.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for Your perfect peace. Because of Your great love for me, Your Word promises me that I can live in peace and free from stress, anxiety, frustration, bitterness, strife, and offense! Help me be a bridge that brings more people to You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –‘Lord, Grant Me Divine Communion’

Now the hand of the Lord had been upon me the evening before …

Ezekiel 33:22

In the matter of judgment this may be the case, and if so, let me consider the reason for such a visitation and accept it as from His hand. I am not the only one who is chastened in the night season; let me cheerfully submit to the affliction and carefully endeavor to profit by it.

But the hand of the Lord may also be felt in another manner, strengthening the soul and lifting the spirit upward toward eternal things. O that I may in this sense feel the Lord dealing with me! A sense of the divine presence and indwelling bears the soul toward heaven as upon the wings of eagles.

At such times we are full to the brim with spiritual joy, and forget the cares and sorrows of earth; the invisible is near, and the visible loses its power over us. Servant-body waits at the foot of the hill, and the master-spirit worships upon the summit in the presence of the Lord. O that a hallowed season of divine communion may be granted to me this evening! The Lord knows that I need it very greatly.

My graces languish, my corruptions rage, my faith is weak, my devotion is cold; all these are reasons why His healing hand should be laid upon me. His hand can cool the heat of my burning brow and calm the turmoil of my palpitating heart. That glorious right hand that molded the world can renew my mind; the unwearied hand that bears the earth’s huge pillars can sustain my spirit; the loving hand that encloses all the saints can cherish me; and the mighty hand that breaks in pieces the enemy can subdue my sins.

Why should I not feel that hand touching me this evening? Come, my soul, address God with the potent plea that Jesus’ hands were pierced for your redemption, and you shall surely feel that same hand upon you that once touched Daniel and set him upon his knees that he might see visions of God.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Loves for You To Pray

“Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense” (Psalm 141:2a).

Are there certain smells that you like? Some people love to smell pine trees or old books. Others like to smell cookies baking or different kinds of flowers – roses, lilacs, hyacinths, gardenias. People like pleasant smells, smells that remind them of loved ones or favorite places.

Prayer can be like a sweet, pleasant smell to God. The Bible compares prayer to incense, a very pleasing fragrance. Did you know that your prayer is like the act of offering up a sweet perfume to God? God loves for you to pray. He wants you to bring all of your concerns to Him – big and small. When you pray, you are showing God that you trust Him and need Him to help you. You are showing Him that you love Him enough to spend time talking to Him.

God’s children bring glory to Him when they express their love and trust in Him. And they can express that love and trust through praying. Praying is like giving God a breath of a wonderful, sweet scent that He loves.

God loves for His children to pray, because when they pray they show Him that they love and trust Him.

My Response:
» Do I take some time each day to pray to God?

Denison Forum – The assault on the US Capitol and Satan’s spiritual strategy

The US Capitol is the focus of global attention today. Police riot shields have been placed near doorways. Metal detectors stand outside the House of Representatives chamber. Capitol police officers are out in force in larger numbers and with heavier equipment than before. Fencing is in place in some locations.

All of this is in preparation for the first anniversary of the January 6 assault on the Capitol.

A year ago I wrote a Daily Article special edition as the crisis was unfolding titled “Chaos in Washington.” Millions of us watched on television as lawmakers were evacuated from the House and Senate chambers. Fox News‘ Chad Pergram stated, “This is the most significant breach of an American government institution since the British burned the Capitol after the Battle of Bladensburg on August 24, 1814.” Former President George W. Bush called the attack “a sickening and heartbreaking sight.”

The next day, I asked our readers to join me in praying for our leaders and people to seek reconciliation and peace, for Christians to respond with truth and grace, and for more Christians to be engaged in our democracy. You and I need to continue offering such intercession as much today as we did a year ago.

And we urgently need to renew our commitment to the most transformational yet countercultural way we can answer our prayers for our nation.

If I were Satan

The ultimate answer to every problem humans face is found in a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. He alone can forgive our sins, empower us to truly forgive others, and make us the “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17) we must become to experience abundant life in this fallen world (John 10:10).

Satan knows this as well as we do.

As a result, if I were Satan, I would try to convince all Americans to be atheists. The twentieth century saw firsthand the consequences of the denial of God, with one hundred million deaths due to atheistic communism around the world. Erwin Lutzer was right: “It is said that after God died in the nineteenth century, man died in the twentieth. For when God is dead, man becomes an untamed beast.”

If I could not convince Americans to be atheists, I would try to convince them to be agnostics. This is because the practical consequence is usually the same. I have never met an agnostic—someone who is not sure God is real—who acted as if he is.

Satan is having moderate success on both fronts: according to Pew Research Center, the share of Americans who identify as atheists has risen from 2 percent in 2009 to 4 percent in 2019. The share who call themselves agnostic has increased from 3 percent a decade ago to 5 percent today.

What should be done about the remaining 91 percent who persist in some form of faith in God?

A masterful satanic strategy

If I could not convince Americans to abandon faith entirely, I would have a third strategy ready: to have faith in faith. To be “spiritual but not religious.” To believe that so long as we have faith in a “higher power,” a spiritual feeling of some sort, that is all the “religion” we need.

Our enemy is having great success here. As I reported yesterday, 63 percent of American adults believe “having faith matters more than which faith you have.” This is a quintessential postmodern approach: we can be tolerant of all faiths while requiring none. We think we can derive the benefits of believing in God or the gods without choosing any particular religion and its demands on us.

Imagine, however, applying this logic to any other dimension of our lives. So long as you have faith in medicine, it doesn’t matter which medication you take. So long as you have faith in roads, it doesn’t matter which one you travel. So long as you have faith in people, it doesn’t matter which one you marry. Where in life does “faith in faith” work?

This is a masterful strategy by Satan. It causes us to be “inoculated” by faith in a way that keeps us from getting the real thing. We get to live by moonlight in the dark without being exposed to the light of the sun.

There is only one road to heaven, but there are many roads to hell. This is one of the most popular today.

When Christianity works

Lest we shake our heads at the “faith in faith” mentality that is so popular and deceptive, let’s consider its insidious attraction for Christians as well. If Satan cannot get us to boycott worship services, Bible studies, prayer, and other spiritual activities, he’ll tempt us to make them an end instead of a means—to think we’ve checked the “God box” by going to church on Sunday and spending a few minutes in religious activities during the week.

If we are not entering his transforming presence in worship, hearing his voice in his word, and connecting intimately with him in prayer, we are placing our faith in faith. We are substituting religion for relationship. And we are missing the empowering, daily encounter with the living Christ that is our only path to being “more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

In addition, if we fall prey to the “faith in faith” delusion, we will sidestep the biblical call to evangelism (Acts 1:8) that our culture brands as “intolerant” since other people have their own “faith” as well. As I noted in my latest personal blog, this is an enticing way to appear tolerant in a post-Christian culture. But it victimizes those who need the salvation we have experienced and consigns them to an eternity separated from God.

If we want an end to the political animosity and divisiveness of our day, faith in political leaders and parties is not enough. If we want to prevent another January 6 riot, faith in law enforcement is not enough. If we want true hope in the midst of a pandemic, true peace in the midst of rising geopolitical threats, true joy in the midst of economic pain, faith in faith is not enough.

In her latest blog, my wife wrote these important words: “Christianity works when Christians allow God to work through their lives.” I would add that America works best when Christians do the same.

We can have faith in faith, or we can have faith in Jesus, but we cannot have both.

Which would he say you have chosen today?