In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Lay Aside Old Ways

The reason some Christians don’t feel the Lord’s peace and joy is that they are still living in their old worldly ways.

Ephesians 4:17-24

It seems that in a world of prosperity and abundance, there would be great contentment, yet the opposite is true. Why are so many people unhappy, anxious, and unsettled?

The main reason is that most of the world doesn’t know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, so they can’t have His peace and joy. But there are also Christians who are discontent because they’re wearing old “clothes” from their past. These garments might be emotions and attitudes left over from childhood, or it may be that these believers are trying to hold on to behaviors from their life before Christ. 

The solution is to change into the new clothes that Jesus secured for us (Isa. 61:10). We are to lay aside old habits and thought patterns the way we would a filthy garment. This means we’re no longer to remind ourselves about the wrongs done to us by others. Nor are we to cherish sinful habits, continue worldly practices, or think the way we formerly did. 

As new creations in Christ, we have no business wearing the dirty clothes of the flesh. Instead, we are to exercise our renewed mind and put on the new garments given to us by God. We will be satisfied only when we let go of the old and put on the new. 

Bible in One Year: Exodus 4-6 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Brave Your Storm

Bible in a Year:

[Fix your] eyes on Jesus, . . . so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:2–3

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Hebrews 12:1–3, 12–13

It was the evening of April 3, 1968, and a fierce thunderstorm was lashing through Memphis, Tennessee. Weary and feeling ill, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. hadn’t intended to give his planned speech in support of the striking sanitation workers at a church hall. But he was surprised by an urgent phone call saying a large crowd had braved the weather to hear him. So he went to the hall and spoke for forty minutes, delivering what some say was his greatest speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.”

The next day, King was killed by an assassin’s bullet, but his speech still inspires oppressed people with the hope of “the promised land.” Likewise, early followers of Jesus were uplifted by a stirring message. The book of Hebrews, written to encourage Jewish believers facing threats for their faith in Christ, offers firm spiritual encouragement to not lose hope. As it urges, “strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees” (12:12). As Jews, they would recognize that appeal as originally coming from the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 35:3).

But now, as Christ’s disciples, we’re called to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1–2). When we do so, we “will not grow weary and lose heart” (v. 3).

Certainly, squalls and storms await us in this life. But in Jesus, we outlast life’s tempests by standing in Him.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

How do you respond to life’s spiritual storms? As you look to Jesus and His promises, how does He encourage you?

Jesus, You calm every spiritual storm. When tempests rage, speak peace to my soul as I put my hope in You.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Gentleness: Power Under Control

“Walk . . . with all . . . gentleness” (Ephesians 4:1-2).

The antidote to our vengeful, violent society is biblical gentleness.

A popular bumper sticker says, “Don’t Get Mad—Get Even.” People demand what they perceive to be their rights, no matter how the demand harms others. Some go to court to squeeze every last cent out of those who hurt them. More and more violent crimes are committed each year. We need a strong dose of biblical truth to cure these attitudes. The biblical solution is gentleness.

The world might interpret gentleness or meekness as cowardice, timidity, or lack of strength. But the Bible describes it as not being vengeful, bitter, or unforgiving. It is a quiet, willing submission to God and others without the rebellious, vengeful self-assertion that characterizes human nature.

The Greek word translated “gentleness” was used to speak of a soothing medicine. It was used of a light, cool breeze and of a colt that had been broken and tamed, whose energy could be channeled for useful purposes. It also descrbes one who is tenderhearted, pleasant, and mild.

Gentleness is not wimpiness though. It is power under control. The circus lion has the same strength as a lion running free in Africa, but it has been tamed. All its energy is under the control of its master. In the same way, the lion residing in the gentle person no longer seeks its own prey or its own ends; it is submissive to its Master. That lion has not been destroyed, just tempered. Gentleness is one facet of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23). It is also a key to wisdom. James asks, “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom” (3:13). Verse 17 says, “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.”

Even if gentleness is not valued in our society, it is crucial to our godliness. Seek it diligently and prayerfully.

Suggestions for Prayer

If you tend to be at all vengeful or unforgiving, ask God’s forgiveness and His help to forgive those who hurt you. Seek to be gentle with them instead.

For Further Study

Throughout most of 1 Samuel, King Saul repeatedly tries to capture David and kill him. Read 1 Samuel 24. How did David demonstrate his gentleness in the face of his hostile enemy?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Are Emotions Draining Your Energy?

For this I labor [unto weariness], striving with all the superhuman energy which He so mightily enkindles and works within me.

— Colossians 1:29 (AMPC)

Fear, anger, doubt, guilt—these are just a few of the many emotions we dwell on that are wasted energy. You may feel these from time to time, but you don’t have to hold on to them. Instead, you can use your energy to cast every care on God and live free from these wasted emotions. Here are a few ways to do that:

  • If someone hurts your feelings or disappoints you, choose to forgive instead of getting angry.
  • Don’t waste your energy worrying, because it doesn’t do any good anyway.
  • When you repent, receive your forgiveness, and be thankful that you don’t have to live in guilt.
  • If someone doesn’t like you, pray for that person. The real problem may be that the person doesn’t like him or herself.

Don’t waste any more time and energy on these emotions. Learn to manage your anger, your fear, your doubts and your guilt and live in the freedom of God’s love for you.

Prayer Starter: Father, help me make the necessary changes in order to find more freedom from the stress of being controlled by my emotions! In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Beware of Temptations

It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house . . .

2 Samuel 11:2

At that hour David saw Bathsheba. We are never out of the reach of temptation. Both at home and away we are liable to meet with allurements to evil. The morning opens with peril, and the shades of evening find us still in jeopardy. They are well kept whom God keeps, but woe to those who go out into the world, or even dare to walk their own house unarmed. Those who think themselves secure are more exposed to danger than any others. The armor-bearer of Sin is Self-confidence.

David should have been engaged in fighting the Lord’s battles, instead of which he rested in Jerusalem, giving himself up to luxurious repose, for he arose from his bed at eventide. Idleness and luxury are the devil’s jackals and find him abundant prey. In stagnant waters noxious creatures swarm, and neglected soil soon yields a dense tangle of weeds and briars.

Oh, for the constraining love of Jesus to keep us active and useful! When I see the King of Israel sluggishly leaving his couch at the close of the day and falling at once into temptation, let me take warning and set holy watchfulness to guard the door.

Is it possible that the king had mounted his housetop for retirement and devotion? If so, what a caution is given us to count no place, however secret, a sanctuary from sin! While our hearts are so like a tinderbox, and sparks so plentiful, we need to use all diligence in all places to prevent a blaze. Satan can climb housetops and enter closets, and even if we could shut out that foul fiend, our own corruptions are enough to work our ruin unless grace prevents it. Reader, beware of evening temptations. Be not secure. The sun is down, but sin is up. We need a watchman for the night as well as a guardian for the day. O blessed Spirit, keep us from all evil this night. Amen.

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 Is Angry with Sin

Psalm 7:11b ” …God is angry with the wicked every day”

Is God angry with my sin right now?

When you hear Bible stories, do you ever wonder why God sometimes sends terrible judgments on people who sin? He is holy, and sin displeases Him so much that He is angry with sin. Is it right for God to be angry?

When we get angry about something, our anger is usually not right. We get angry because someone hurts our feelings or keeps us from getting our way. But God’s anger is never this selfish kind of anger. His anger is righteous. God would not be perfectly holy if He were not angry with sin.

But everyone sins. Does this mean that God is angry with everyone all the time?

The anger that God has toward sin is often called wrath in the Bible. But God does not have this wrath toward everyone. Ephesians 2:1-9 tells us that people who have never put their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation are “children of wrath.” But people who have been saved by grace through faith in Christ receive mercy, grace, and kindness from God.

Which kind of person are you? Even if you are a “child of wrath,” God still loves you. He is waiting for you to accept the grace and forgiveness He offers you in Christ.

God is angry with the sin of people who have never put their faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

My Response: Is God angry with my sin right now? Or have I received His merciful forgiveness through faith in Christ?

Denison Forum – Hostages in Texas synagogue freed, attacker identified

Congregation Beth-Israel is a Jewish synagogue in Colleyville, thirty minutes west of my home in Dallas. Saturday morning, the rabbi and three others were taken hostage. Late that evening, FBI agents cleared the building and rescued the hostages. The attacker was killed during the operation.

Yesterday, the FBI identified the suspect, a forty-four-year-old British national named Malik Faisal Akram. His family stated that he was “suffering from mental health issues” but added that they “apologize wholeheartedly” and condemned his action. “There was nothing we could have said to him or done that would have convinced him to surrender,” they said in a statement.

It was surreal to watch the national news cover an event so close to my home. All day, I prayed for God to protect the hostages and bring their attacker safely to justice. If he had surrendered, the Lord would have been able to answer both of my prayers. The attacker apparently did not, so God could not.

This is the nature of free will. God created us to love him and our neighbor (Matthew 22:37–39). However, love requires freedom to choose not to love. When we misuse our freedom to harm others and ourselves, God allows us the consequences of our decisions.

One of the most important articles I have read in years demonstrates the relevance of this fact to our secularized culture today.

“America is falling apart at the seams”

David Brooks has been writing for the New York Times since 2003. Last week, he published an article titled “America Is Falling Apart at the Seams.” It profiles a culture in crisis.

Brooks reports that reckless driving is rising, the number of altercations on airplanes is exploding, the murder rate in cities is surging, drug overdoses are increasing, Americans are drinking more, and nurses say patients are becoming more abusive.

Teachers are facing a rising tide of disruptive student behavior; drug deaths have risen continuously for twenty years but shot up especially during the pandemic. The FBI states that hate crimes have surged to the highest level in twelve years. Meanwhile, giving to charity is steadily declining both to religious and secular causes.

Brooks sees “a long-term loss of solidarity, a long-term rise in estrangement and hostility” and adds, “This is what it feels like to live in a society that is dissolving from the bottom up as much as from the top down.”

“I just know the situation is dire”

Brooks asks what is going on, then answers: “I don’t know. I also don’t know what’s causing the high rates of depression, suicide, and loneliness that dogged Americans even before the pandemic and that are the sad flip side of all the hostility and recklessness I’ve just described.”

He notes that church membership has fallen below 50 percent for the first time in US history and cites a report that our nation has the world’s highest rate of children living in single-parent households. He also cites a Washington Post headline, “America Is a Nation of Narcissists, According to Two New Studies.”

Then he adds: “There must also be some spiritual or moral problem at the core of this. Over the past several years, and over a wide range of different behaviors, Americans have been acting in fewer pro-social and relational ways and in more antisocial and self-destructive ways. But why?”

Brooks concludes his article: “As a columnist, I’m supposed to have some answers. But I just don’t right now. I just know the situation is dire.”

Are we experiencing God’s permissive judgment?

My initial response was to ask: What would you expect in a culture that has been rejecting biblical truth and morality for decades?

  • 79 percent of Americans say “people can believe whatever they want, as long as those beliefs don’t affect society.” Only 35 percent believe moral truth is objective and absolute.
  • 69 percent say any kind of sexual expression between two consenting adults is acceptable.
  • In 2004, 60 percent of Americans opposed same-sex marriage. Fifteen years later, 61 percent support it.
  • The fastest-growing religious demographic in America is those who have no religious affiliation.

God cannot lead those who will not follow or give what we will not receive. Nor can a holy Father bless that which harms his children.

It is clear to me that, as was apparently true with the Colleyville hostage-taker, our culture is in the permissive phase of divine judgment where God allows us the consequences of our decisions. Romans 1 offers an example: “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves” (v. 26). Paul adds: “Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done” (v. 28).

The results read like Brooks’ article: “They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless” (vv. 29–31).

If we still refuse to repent, we will experience God’s punitive judgment whereby he initiates punishment for sin. The Exodus, as well as the Assyrian and Babylonian conquests of Israel, are biblical examples. The prophet warns us: “The nation and kingdom that will not serve [God] shall perish” (Isaiah 60:12).

“Who has God, lacks nothing”

Tomorrow we will focus on ways to respond with compassionate courage and truthful grace. For today, let’s close by asking whether we are part of the problem or part of the solution.

Would you ask the Spirit to reveal to you any areas of your life where you are experiencing the permissive judgment of God? Are you sheltering any unconfessed sin or unyielded obedience? Are you experiencing less than God’s best because you are giving him less than your best?

St. Teresa of Avila encouraged us: “Let nothing frighten you. Who has God, lacks nothing. God alone is enough.”

Every person who has trusted Jesus as Lord “has God.” 

How fully does he have you today?

http://www.denisonforum.org/