In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Discovering Life’s Purpose

Sanctification, stewardship, and service are three aspects of God’s purpose for each believer’s life.

Ephesians 2:8-10

What is my purpose in life? Many people today are asking that question, but only those who have trusted Christ as Savior and Lord can ever discover the true answer. Today’s passage tells us that our salvation is an act of God, and now we’re His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to accomplish what He has prepared for us to do. That is our purpose in life, and it has three components. 

1. Sanctification is simply ongoing growth in holiness. As we cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s work in our life, He transforms our character to be more like the Lord’s and renews our mind with scriptural truth.

2. Stewardship is faithful management of the time, talents, spiritual gifts, and treasures God has given us. They are to be used according to His priorities and direction, not for our own self-advancement. 

3. Service includes things like stimulating spiritual growth, meeting physical needs, and encouraging one another through Scripture. We serve the Lord by ministering to others.

All this is your purpose in life. But remember, this is not about self-effort; it’s God at work in you. Your part is to avail yourself of all the means He uses to accomplish His goals—His Word, His Spirit, and His church. 

Bible in One Year: Genesis 42-45

Our Daily Bread — A Ludicrous Investment

Bible in a Year:

I knew that this was the word of the Lord; so I bought the field.

Jeremiah 32:8–9

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Jeremiah 32:6–15

In 1929, as the US economy crashed, millions of people lost everything. But not Floyd Odlum. As everyone else panicked and sold their stocks at cut-rate prices, Odlum appeared to foolishly jump in and purchase stocks just as the nation’s future disintegrated. But Odlum’s “foolish” perspective paid off, yielding robust investments that endured for decades.

God told Jeremiah to make what seemed like an absolutely ludicrous investment: “Buy [the] field at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin” (Jeremiah 32:8). This was no time to be buying fields, however. The entire country was on the verge of being ransacked. “The army of the king of Babylon was . . . besieging Jerusalem” (v. 2), and whatever field Jeremiah purchased would soon be Babylon’s. What fool makes an investment when everything would soon be lost?

Well, the person who’s listening to God—the One who intended a future no one else could envision. “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land” (v. 15). God saw more than the ruin. God promised to bring redemption, healing, and restoration. A ludicrous investment in a relationship or service for God isn’t foolish—it’s the wisest possible move when God leads us to make it (and it’s essential that we prayerfully seek to know He’s behind the instruction). A “foolish” investment in others as God leads makes all the sense in the world.

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

Where do you sense God asking you to make a ludicrous investment in someone or something? How will this step require you to trust God in ways that appear foolish?

God, it’s a good thing You see the future because sometimes all I see is ruin and disaster. Show me where to go, where to give my life.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Showing Love Through Hospitality

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).

Hospitality should be a trait of all Christians, because whenever we display it, we minister to the Lord.

If you are a Christian, your responsibility to love others does not stop with fellow believers. The apostle Paul is very explicit and direct about this: “See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men” (1 Thess. 5:15). “All men” includes even your enemies. The “strangers” mentioned in today’s verse can refer to unbelievers as well as believers. The writer of Hebrews is saying we often won’t know the full impact hospitality will have; therefore, we should always be alert and diligent because our actions may even influence someone toward salvation.

The last part of Hebrews 13:2, “some have entertained angels without knowing it,” further underscores the point that we can never know how significant or helpful an act of hospitality might be. Abraham had no idea that two of the three men passing by his tent were angels and that the third was the Lord Himself, but he still went out of his way to demonstrate hospitality (Gen. 18:1-5). The primary motivation is still love, for the sake of those we help and for the glory of God.

The Lord Jesus says, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me” (Matt. 25:40). As Christians, when we feed the hungry, take in the stranger, clothe the naked, and visit someone in prison, we serve Christ. If we turn our backs on people, believers or unbelievers, who have real needs, it is the same as turning our backs on Him (v. 45). Loving hospitality is therefore more than an option—it is a command.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that God would give you a greater desire to show hospitality and that you could minister it to a specific person.

For Further Study

Read Genesis 18:1-15.

  • Write down the positive ways in which Abraham handled his opportunity to show love to strangers.
  • How well did Sarah handle this situation?
  • How does the example of her attitude relate to Hebrews 13:2?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Rest Your Mind

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.

— Proverbs 3:5 (AMPC)

Do you know that you can feel tired and worn-out from thinking too much? Mental tiredness is just as real as physical fatigue. Our minds need to rest, just as our bodies do. God’s Word encourages us not to be excessive in reasoning. Thinking about things is good and valuable, but moving into worry, anxiety, or merely relying on our own reasoning will exhaust us.

When I return from a conference where I have been studying and teaching for two or three days, I am tired not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well. I have learned to let my mind rest after working hard and not to try to make important decisions or engage in discussions that require deep thought.

The things that you need to think about will still be around tomorrow, so don’t hesitate to take a mental rest when you need one. Instead of trying to solve a problem today, why not have some fun and find something humorous that will give you a good laugh? Giving your mind a break may refresh you more than you think.

Prayer Starter: Father, help me get the rest I need in all areas of my life, especially in my mind. I love and appreciate You, Lord. Thank You for all that You do for me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –God Makes Impossible Things Possible

. . . Made the iron float.

2 Kings 6:6

The axe head seemed hopelessly lost, and as it was borrowed, the honor of the prophetic band was likely to be imperiled, and so the name of their God to be compromised. Contrary to all expectation, the iron was made to mount from the depth of the stream and to swim; for things impossible with man are possible with God.

I knew a man in Christ but a few years ago who was called to undertake a work far exceeding his strength. It appeared so difficult as to involve absurdity in the bare idea of attempting it. Yet he was called to it, and his faith rose with the occasion.

God honored his faith, unlooked-for aid was sent, and the iron did swim. Another of the Lord’s family was in dreadful financial straits. He would have been able to meet all claims and much more if he could have realized a certain portion of his estate, but he was overtaken with a sudden pressure.

He sought for friends in vain, but faith led him to the unfailing Helper, and lo, the trouble was averted, his footsteps were enlarged, and the iron did swim.

A third had a sorrowful case of depravity to deal with. He had taught, reproved, warned, invited, and interceded, but all in vain.

Old Adam was too strong for young Melanchthon; the stubborn spirit would not relent. Then came an agony of prayer, and before long a blessed answer was sent from heaven. The hard heart was broken; the iron did swim.

Beloved reader, what is your desperate case? What heavy matter have you to deal with this evening? Bring it here. The God of the prophets lives, and lives to help His saints. He will not suffer you to lack any good thing. Believe in the Lord of hosts! Approach Him pleading the name of Jesus, and the iron shall swim; you too shall see the finger of God working marvels for His people. According to your faith be it unto you, and yet again the iron shall swim.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Our Shepherd

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” (Psalm 23:1-2)

One spring afternoon, a tourist named Peter was riding a bus through the countryside in Scotland. Up and down the steep green hills, woolly sheep and their little lambs grazed. Many of the lambs were playing. Peter smiled as he watched them leaping and kicking the air with their tiny hooves.

Another passenger on the bus pointed out a circle of large, weathered stones on the side of a hill. “Look, a sheepfold!” he said. A kind shepherd had built that sheepfold long ago. He wanted his lambs to have a safe place to sleep at night, a place where he could watch over them.

God’s Word tells us that He is our Shepherd. Every person who places his trust in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, is one of His sheep. Our good Shepherd cares for us always. He watches over us day and night. He promises to give us everything that we really need to be happy and content. What more could a sheep want?

God is our Shepherd Who cares for us and gives us everything that we need.

My Response:
» Am I discontent, or am I trusting God to take good care of me?

Denison Forum – “Toddler Goes Viral Shredding Slopes” and other stories that caught my eye

I’d like to do something different today. Rather than focus on the “big issues” of the day, I’ll begin with some news that appealed to me personally:

Here’s what these stories have in common: they all promise something that will potentially benefit me personally. I am in no sense unique in this regard: research shows that appealing to an audience’s emotions or otherwise offering more of what they already want is the key to getting “clicks.”

How is this fact related to knowing Jesus and then making him known?

Why “the Christian truth is attractive and persuasive”

Psychologist Abraham Maslow made famous the “hierarchy of needs” model:

Public domain image via Wikipedia

As you can see, our highest needs are for “self-actualization” and then “transcendence.” Maslow understood the former as our desire to realize our full potential. As he said, “What a man can be, he must be.” He defined the latter as our desire to give ourselves to something beyond ourselves, as in altruism or spirituality. He equated this “need” with the quest to reach the infinite.

In the entire universe, Jesus is the best source of both.

Because he made us (Colossians 1:16), he knows us better than we know ourselves. Because he loves us unconditionally and passionately (Galatians 2:20), he only and always wants our best for us.

Because he dwells in us by his Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16), he can empower us to fulfill our potential in a way no one else can (Romans 12:2). Because he is God, he can lead us to oneness with the infinite (John 10:28–30).

Pope Francis is right: “The Christian truth is attractive and persuasive because it responds to humanity’s deepest needs.” Human nature does not change. The word of God is perennially relevant because the needs it addressed millennia ago are the same needs we feel today. The promises it made are promises God still keeps.

Why, then, do many Christians not experience in Christ the meeting of our deepest needs?

Breathing out, breathing in

The fault is not his but ours, of course.

When we compartmentalize our spiritual and “secular” lives, we insulate and partition him from the latter and miss the fullness of the former. When we “cherish iniquity in our heart,” we block the Holy Spirit’s ability to work powerfully in our lives (cf. Psalm 66:18). When we refuse to love our neighbor, we show that we have not fully experienced the love of our Father (cf. Matthew 22:37–391 John 4:19).

But when we spend time in the presence of Jesus, listening to his voice in his word and world, worshiping him with gratitude for his grace, confessing all he brings to our thoughts and cherishing his love for us, we must be different as a result. We cannot meet deeply and intentionally with the King of kings and leave the encounter as the same person. We cannot hear “God preaching” in the Bible (to use J. I. Packer’s description) and remain unchanged.

And when we share Christ with others, we experience more of Christ. When we breathe out, we can breathe in more deeply. When we empty our hands to others, we can be filled with the gifts of God.

Jesus told his first followers, “Freely you received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8 NASB). The converse is true as well: the more we give, the more we receive.

“For God alone my soul waits in silence”

To this end, I will close by recommending a neglected spiritual practice for the new year that I believe positions us to experience God in self-actualizing and transcendent ways. 

A Presbyterian minister in Waco, Texas, named Chris Palmer wrote an article recently for Christian Century that I found deeply impactful. Titled “A worship practice Zoom can’t replicate,” it is a call for intentional and contemplative silence as a regular part of the Christian life.

Palmer believes that we need regular, extended times of personal silence to listen to God’s voice through his Spirit, word, and creation. But he also believes that we need times of corporate silence in our worship services so we can hear his voice together.

He cites David’s testimony: “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation” (Psalm 62:1). Because David made this time for silence with his Lord, he could then write the next verse: “He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken” (v. 2).

If we listen to God, he will speak. If we hear the voice of the omnipotent God of the universe, we cannot be the same. We will be empowered to give what we receive. And “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it” (John 1:5 NLT).

When last did meeting with God change your life?

NOTE: On January 25, I’m hosting a virtual book launch Q&A to celebrate the launch of my most pivotal work to date, my book The Coming Tsunami — and I’d love for you to attend. During the Q&A, I’ll go in depth about Critical Race Theory, one of the four major “earthquakes” I talk about in The Coming Tsunami that are seismically shifting our world. To gain access to the live Q&A, please pre-order a copy of The Coming Tsunami today. Thank you.