In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Message the World Needs to Hear

The gospel is the good news the world needs, and God want believers to share it.

Mark 16:15-20

Suppose I asked what the mission of the church is—how would you answer? Although the church accomplishes many tasks, the most important is to share the gospel of Christ. Everything else is merely an extension of that. Never outdated or in need of correction, the good news of Jesus Christ is sufficient to meet humanity’s greatest need: salvation from bondage to sin, through reconciliation with the Father. 

The message has remained the same throughout the centuries, but there are many methods of making it known, including the spoken word, music, written material, and the media. But all these avenues of communication require the individual involvement of God’s people. 

Some Christians think the role of sharing the message and making disciples, known as the Great Commission, belongs only to pastors or missionaries. But every one of us has the responsibility to be involved—we all can give, pray, and tell friends and family what the Lord has done for us. 

When you’re truly committed to getting the gospel out, God will reveal what work He is calling you to do. He has a place for every one of His children—nobody is insignificant or without purpose. The limiting factor is not the Lord’s ability to use us but our availability to His call. 

Bible in One Year: Leviticus 5-7

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Unapologetic Tears

Bible in a Year:

As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears.

Luke 7:38

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Luke 7:36–44

“I’m sorry,” Karen said, apologizing for her flowing tears. After the death of her husband, she stretched herself to care for her teenage kids. When men from church provided a weekend camping excursion to entertain them and give her a break, Karen wept with gratitude, apologizing over and over for her tears.

Why do so many of us apologize for our tears? Simon, a Pharisee, invited Jesus to dinner. In the middle of the meal, as Jesus reclined at the table, a woman who had lived a sinful life brought an alabaster jar of perfume. “As she stood behind [Jesus] at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them” (Luke 7:38). Unapologetically, this woman freely expressed her love and then unwound her hair to dry Jesus’ feet. Overflowing with gratitude and love for Jesus, she topped off her tears with perfumed kisses—actions that contrasted with those of the proper but cold-hearted host.

Jesus’ response? He praised her exuberant expression of love and proclaimed her “forgiven” (vv. 44–48).

We may be tempted to squelch tears of gratitude when they threaten to overflow. But God made us emotional beings, and we can use our feelings to honor Him. Like the woman in Luke’s gospel, let’s unapologetically express our love for our good God who provides for our needs and freely receives our thankful response.

By:  Elisa Morgan

Reflect & Pray

How can you freely express your gratitude to God through your emotions today? How might you make others feel comfortable about sharing their tears?

Loving God, thank You for Your grace in providing for my needs! I pour out my gratitude to You today.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – What Matters Most

 “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1).

Compared to walking worthy of Christ, nothing else is really important.

Let’s review what Paul has taught us from Ephesians 4:1-6. God has chosen and called us to be part of His family, and He expects us to act like His children. He wants us to walk worthy of Christ and be unified.

To follow God’s will in this, we must, with His help, deal with our sin and develop godly virtues. Our lives must first be marked by “all humility” (v. 2). We become humble when we see ourselves as unworthy sinners and see the greatness of God and Christ. Pride will always be a temptation, but we can resist it if we remember that we have nothing to be proud about; every good thing we have is from God. He alone deserves the glory; we can take no credit.

Humility produces “gentleness,” which is power under control. Gentle people willingly submit to God and others. They may become angry over what dishonors God, but they are forgiving to those who hurt them.

“Patience” flows from gentleness. A patient person endures negative circumstances, copes with difficult people, and accepts God’s plan for everything.

We must “love” others with a forbearing love. Christian love is selfless, and forbearance keeps us from gossiping about the failures of others and causes us to love our enemies.

“Unity” (v. 3) is the goal of the worthy walk, and only diligent believers who pursue these virtues of the worthy walk will contribute to such unity. Because we have one Body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one Father, we should behave as a unified people. Then we will have the effective testimony God wants for us.

Only one thing really matters from the moment you become a Christian until the day you see Jesus—that you walk worthy of Him. What you own, what you know, and what you do for a living are not all that important.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to give you the resolve to walk worthy every day.

For Further Study

Read Hebrews 11 and perhaps some related Old Testament passages, and note what was representative of the main characters’ walks with the Lord.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Emotions Are Here to Stay

Be self-controlled and alert . . . standing firm in the faith.

— 1 Peter 5:8 –9 (NIV)

We all have emotions, and we always will; they are part of being human. Since that is true, I believe emotional stability should be one of the main goals of every believer. We should seek God to learn how to manage our emotions and stop them from managing us.

I urge you to make emotional maturity a priority in your life. If you do not believe you are doing a good job of managing your emotions, begin to pray and seek God for emotional maturity. I also encourage you to learn what upsets you the most or prompts you to behave emotionally and be watchful during those situations.

Power Thought: I have control over my emotions.

Prayer Starter: Father, I need Your help in learning to manage my emotions, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –The Pace of Your Spiritual Journey

Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and outran the Cushite.

2 Samuel 18:23

Running is not everything. There is much in the way that we select: A swift foot over hill and down dale will not keep pace with a slower traveler upon level ground. How is it with my spiritual journey? Am I laboring up the hill of my own works and down into the ravines of my own humiliations and resolutions, or do I run by the plain way of “Believe and live”?

How blessed is it to wait upon the Lord by faith! The soul runs without weariness and walks without fainting in the way of believing. Christ Jesus is the way of life, and He is a plain way, a pleasant way, a way suitable for the tottering feet and feeble knees of trembling sinners. Am I found in this way, or am I hunting after another track such as priestcraft or metaphysics may promise me?

I read of the way of holiness, that the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein. Have I been delivered from proud reason and been brought as a little child to rest in Jesus‘ love and blood? If so, by God’s grace I shall outrun the strongest runner who chooses any other path.

This truth I may remember to my profit in my daily cares and needs. It will be my wisest course to go at once to my God, and not to wander in a roundabout manner to this friend and that. He knows my wants and can relieve them. To whom should I repair but to Himself by the direct appeal of prayer and the plain argument of the promise? “Straightforward makes the best runner.” I will not parley with the servants but hasten to their master.

In reading this passage, it strikes me that if men vie with each other in common matters, and one outruns the other, I ought to be in solemn earnestness so to run that I may obtain. Lord, help me to gird up the loins of my mind, and may I press forward toward the mark for the prize of my high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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 Will Not Forget You

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15)

Ellen rang the doorbell. She was shivering inside her raincoat, but she wasn’t sure whether she was cold or just excited. She was standing on the front porch of the music teacher’s house, ready for her first lesson. Today a dream she’d had for many years was just beginning to come true. She rang the doorbell again. No answer.

Ellen tried knocking. Nothing. She even went around to the side door and rang that doorbell a few times. But no one came to let her in. When she finally turned away from the house, the gray dampness of the day seemed to seep right into her heart. Ellen’s teacher had forgotten about her lesson.

Have you ever been forgotten? Sometimes adults forget the promises they make to kids. Maybe someone promised you a trip to the ice cream store. Maybe someone promised to take you fishing, teach you how to play basketball, or pick you up at a certain time – and he forgot. The Bible tells us that even our parents can sometimes forget about us!

But there is Someone who will never forget you. In Isaiah 49, God comforts His people by saying that He has graven them on the palms of His hands. He promises that He will never forget them. If you are His child, you will never be out of His loving care. All of the promises He makes to you in His Word are true. He will never forget one of them. And He will never forget you – ever.

God will never forget His children.

My Response:
» Have I forgotten about God, or have I thanked Him for His love?

Denison Forum -Tom Brady’s retirement and God’s call to true greatness

With his victory yesterday at the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal has now won more Grand Slam titles than any man in tennis history. By any measure, he is one of the “Greatest Of All Time” and thus by acronym a “GOAT.”

Of course, when sports fans speak of GOATs these days, they’re most likely referring to Tom Brady. By virtue of his seven Super Bowl rings, he is widely considered the GOAT of his sport.

As a result, the internet was abuzz over the weekend with reports that Brady is going to retire, counterclaims that he has not made up his mind, and assertions that he is “expected” to retire but has not made his decision known, perhaps for financial reasons.

While scores of recent headlines have been devoted to Brady and his future, my wife and I have been especially following a story that deserves more attention than it has received. New York City police officer Jason Rivera was gunned down with his partner last week when they responded to a family dispute. Rivera, age twenty-two, was memorialized in St. Patrick’s Cathedral last Friday.

As ABC News reports, police filled the pews and “a sea of blue uniforms stretched for blocks as snow drifted outside the city’s iconic church.” Mayor Eric Adams, a retired NYPD captain, told the assembled crowds, “He did it for the right reasons—he wanted to make a difference.”

What makes someone great?

Greatness in our culture is typically measured by personal achievement and public acclaim.

An athlete who wins Grand Slams or Super Bowls is “great.” CEOs and politicians are measured by the “Three P’s”: performance, popularity, and possessions. For pastors, the standards are similarly alliterated: buildings, budgets, and baptisms.

Sacrificial service is seldom considered. I know pastors who are serving in smaller congregations and towns but whose ministries are remarkably effective. Police officers risk their lives for us every day, but we seem not to recognize their service unless one of them makes the sacrifice all are willing to make.

In our confused and broken culture, it is as if we must decide between public excellence and personal service. This is a choice Jesus did not need to make.

“No man ever spoke like this man”

Our Lord achieved astounding popularity during his public ministry. The gospels report that “great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan” (Matthew 4:25). They were “astonished at his teaching” (Matthew 7:28) and said of his ministry, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel” (Matthew 9:33).

When the authorities sent soldiers to arrest him, they reported, “No one ever spoke like this man!” (John 7:46). His private character was as exemplary as his public ministry (cf. Hebrews 4:15).

Near the end of his life, Napoleon Bonaparte stated, “There is between Christianity and other religions the distance of infinity.” He then explained: “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and myself founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon sheer force. Jesus Christ alone founded his empire upon love, and at this hour millions of men will die for him.”

Now Jesus is ready to inspire and empower us to achieve the kind of public excellence and personal character that empowers our witness and transforms our culture. But there is a simple yet transforming decision we must make first.

A binary choice that changes everything

Galatians 5 exhorts us: “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (v. 16–17).

This is a binary choice. As fallen human beings, if we are not submitted to the Spirit, we are by default submitted to the “flesh.” If we are not empowered by the Spirit, we are empowered by the “flesh.” How can we tell the difference?

“The works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” (vv. 19–21). Do you see any of these in your life? Does the world see any of these in your life?

By contrast, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (vv. 22–23). Do you see any of these in your life? Does the world see any of these in your life?

Four steps to true greatness

How do we “walk by the Spirit”? The same way we walk with anyone else.

  1. Decide that we want to walk with him. I urge you to make this choice right now.
  2. Begin to walk with him. You can do so at this moment. Stop reading this article and turn to God in prayer. Ask the Spirit to take control of your mind and life (Ephesians 5:18). Pray through your day, submitting it to his authority. Trust that he is answering your prayer and will lead if you follow and bless as you trust.
  3. Stay close to him, listening to him and speaking with him. Oswald Chambers offers some simple but profound advice: “Get into the habit of saying, ‘Speak, Lord,’ and life will become a romance. Every time circumstances press, say, ‘Speak, Lord’; make time to listen.” He assures us, “As we listen, our ear gets acute, and, like Jesus, we shall hear God all the time.”
  4. Refuse all temptations to stray from him even if Christian leaders and churches do so. This is such an important point that we will devote tomorrow’s article to it.

“Be sure to taste the moment to the full”

If we “walk by the Spirit,” Jesus will make our lives great in every way that truly matters. He will mold our character to be more like his every day (Romans 8:29). He will lead us to places and people where we can serve eternity most fully and effectively. He will use us in ways the world may or may not recognize but that his Father will reward forever (Matthew 25:21).

Let’s begin or renew our journey to true excellence today. Henri Nouwen wrote: “Be sure to taste the moment to the full. The Lord always reveals himself to you where you are most fully present. In your prayer, try to present your anxieties, struggles, and fears to him, and let him show you the way to follow him.

“More important than anything else is to follow the Lord. The rest is secondary. If you follow him, you can follow him as a priest, a lay minister, as a single person, or as a married person, but what really counts is that he is the center.”

Who or what is your “center” today?

http://www.denisonforum.org/