In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Way to Avoid an Empty Life

Only God can fulfill the yearning we have inside.

Ecclesiastes 2:1-11

Many people appear happy and confident in public, but beneath the surface, they feel empty. Despite their attempts to fill life with pleasures, work, and impressive accomplishments, it’s all vanity. They have chased after fulfillment and purpose, but ultimately it’s been as futile as trying to catch the wind. 

There’s a good reason why life can feel empty. God created mankind with an internal yearning—one that He alone is able to satisfy. We cannot be fulfilled until we draw near to the Lord in repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. As we come to know and comprehend the love of God’s Son, we’ll be filled up to all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:14-19). 

Yet if that’s true, why do believers sometimes feel empty? It could result from disobedience, a refusal to surrender to God’s will, or misplaced priorities as we seek fulfillment in the world rather than in God Himself. When our hearts are set on having circumstances work out a certain way in life, we miss out on the fulfillment that God promises to those who seek Him above all else. It is in His presence that we find fullness of joy and pleasures forever (Ps. 16:11).

Bible in One Year: Leviticus 14-16

Our Daily Bread — A Fresh Start

Bible in a Year:

If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

2 Corinthians 5:17

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

2 Corinthians 5:16–20

Chinese New Year celebrations are observed by Chinese families everywhere. These festivities are tied to the lunar calendar, usually falling somewhere in late January to mid-February. These times for family reunions come with many traditions—some of great significance. Buying and donning new clothes, giving our homes a good cleaning, and paying off outstanding debts remind us we’re putting the past behind and starting the year with a clean slate.

These traditions also remind me of our new life in Christ. No matter who we used to be or what we’ve done, we can put it all behind us. We can stop beating ourselves up over our past and let go of the guilt, knowing we’re completely forgiven because of Jesus’ death on the cross. And we can start afresh, knowing we can rely on the Holy Spirit to daily transform us to be more like Jesus.

That’s why Paul reminds believers “the old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We too can say this because of the simple but powerful truth: God has reconciled us to Himself through Christ and no longer counts our sins against us (v. 19).

Others around us may not be willing to forget our past wrongdoing, but we can take heart that in God’s eyes we’re no longer condemned (Romans 8:1). As Paul points out, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (v. 31). Let’s enjoy the fresh start He’s given us through Jesus.

By:  Leslie Koh

Reflect & Pray

How can you remind yourself that you’re fully forgiven because of Jesus’ death on the cross? How can you encourage new believers to start life afresh?

Thank You, Jesus, for Your saving work on the cross that reconciles me to God and gives me a new life in You.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – God Is Spirit

“‘God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth’” (John 4:24).

God is a person, but He has no physical characteristics.

As we begin our study of God, we must understand first of all that He is a person, not some unknowable cosmic force. In His Word, God is called Father, Shepherd, Friend, Counselor, and many other personal names. God is always referred to as “He,” not “it.” He also has personal characteristics: He thinks, acts, feels, and speaks.

We will learn three aspects of God’s person in the next several days: God is spirit, God is one, and God is three. First, God has no physical body as we have: “God is spirit” (John 4:24), and “a spirit does not have flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39). Paul says He is “invisible” (1 Tim. 1:17). God represented Himself as light, fire, and cloud in the Old Testament and in the human form of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. But such visible revelations did not reveal the totality or fullness of God’s nature.

You may wonder about verses like Psalm 98:1, “His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him,” and Proverbs 15:3, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place.” These descriptions are called anthropomorphisms, from the Greek words for “man” and “form.” They picture God as though He were a man because God has chosen to describe Himself in a way we can comprehend. If He did not accommodate His revelation to our finite level, we would have no hope of understanding Him. You should not take anthropomorphisms literally, however. Otherwise you will have a false view of God that robs Him of His real nature and His true power. Look at Psalm 91:4: “Under His wings you may seek refuge.” God is certainly not a bird, and “God is not a man” (Num. 23:19). He is spirit.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God that He has enabled physical creatures like us to know Him.

For Further Study

Even though God is invisible, “since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made” (Rom. 1:20). Read the response of a godly man to God’s natural revelation in Psalm 104.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Choosing Not to Complain

Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining…

— Philippians 2:14 (AMPC)

A while back as I was lying in bed, I suddenly felt an overwhelming need to repent for any complaining I had ever done in my life. I was watching a movie in which the main character had experienced a great tragedy and endured tremendous difficulty and yet he was maintaining a good attitude. We often complain and murmur about minor inconveniences and difficulties that, in reality, are nothing compared to what some people endure.

At that time, I was about to leave for a mission trip to Africa, and I knew I would see unimaginable suffering and deprivation. Those trips were wonderful for many reasons, especially to help renew my commitment to help and live for others.

Do you complain about things that are not that important in the larger scope of life? Are you extremely blessed but have fallen into a trap of focusing on what you don’t have instead of what you do have? I know I do at times, and I am grateful for the reminder from the Lord to be thankful in all things (see 1 Thessalonians 5:18) and realize that complaining is evil in His ears.

Let us be committed to thank God throughout each day of our lives and voice that thankfulness to Him.

Prayer Starter: Lord Jesus, please forgive me for any complaining I have ever done in my life and help me realize how good You are to me. I want to be extremely thankful for all the blessings You give me.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Our Desire for Christ’s Fellowship

Tell me … Where you pasture your flock, where you make it lie down at noon.

Song of Songs 1:7

These words may be taken as expressions of the believer’s desire for Christ’s fellowship and his longing for present communion with Him. Where do You feed Your flock? In Your house? I will go, if I may find You there. In private prayer? Then I will pray without ceasing. In the Word? Then I will read it diligently. In Your ordinances? Then I will pursue them with all my heart.

Tell me where this happens, for wherever You stand as the Shepherd, there will I lie down as a sheep; for no one but Yourself can supply my need. I cannot be satisfied to be apart from You. My soul hungers and thirsts for the refreshment of Your presence. “Where you make it lie down at noon.” Whether at dawn or at noon, my only rest must be where You are and Your beloved flock. My soul’s rest must be a grace-given rest and can only be found in You.

Where is the shadow of that rock? Why should I not rest beneath it? “Why should I be as one that turns aside by the flocks of your companions?” (see v. 7). You have companions—why should I not be one? Satan tells me I am unworthy; but I always was unworthy, and yet You have long loved me; and therefore my unworthiness cannot be a barrier to having fellowship with You now.

It is true I am weak in faith and prone to fall, but my very feebleness is the reason why I should always be where You feed Your flock, that I may be strengthened and preserved in safety beside the still waters. Why should I turn aside? There is no reason why I should, but there are a thousand reasons why I should not, for Jesus beckons me to come. If He withdrew Himself a little, it is but to make me value His presence more. Now that I am grieved and distressed at being away from Him, He will lead me again to that sheltered nook where the lambs of His fold are sheltered from the burning sun.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Knows Each of His Children

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)

Annie has two best friends, and she does everything with them. She has sleepovers at their houses, roller-skates with them during recess, swims with their families in the summertime, and does just about every single thing that she can with them. Annie knows what classes her best friends like in school; she knows what their favorite games are to play; she even knows what kinds of food they like. Annie loves spending time with her friends, and the more she knows about them, the more she enjoys being with them.

God knows each one of us completely. 2 Timothy 2:19 says that God knows all His children. Not only does He know the things our family and our friends know, but He also knows things that no one else knows. When there are things that you don’t want anyone else to know, God already knows and is willing to listen to you talk about them. When you are excited or sad about something, God already knows and wants to hear about it. Just like you enjoy spending time with your best friends, you should enjoy spending time with God. God loves you more than anyone else ever could.

God knows everything about you!

My Response:
» Do you talk to God about things that matter to you? Do you rely on His help and comfort more than anyone else’s?
» Is there anything you don’t want God to know?

Denison Forum – What we’re reading: “Divine Disruption: Holding on to Faith When Life Breaks Your Heart” by Dr. Tony Evans

Dr. Tony Evans, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, and his family went through a terrible ordeal. Over a period of two years, they experienced one tragedy after another.

His thirty-eight-year-old niece died unexpectedly. He also lost his brother, sister, brother-in-law, father, and wife. Finally, one of his daughters had part of a lung removed because of cancer, and the world went into lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But out of that dark time emerged a book full of spiritual lessons and practical advice Divine Disruption: Holding on to Faith When Life Breaks Your Heart.

Evans, who has written more than one hundred books, booklets, and Bible studies, collaborated with his children on Divine Disruption. All four of them—Chrystal Evans HurstPriscilla ShirerAnthony Evans, and Jonathan Evans—work in ministry, and they took turns with their father in narrating the book.

“We have all been through hard seasons, times in life when it seems like the hits keep coming and you can barely catch your breath,” Priscilla wrote. “Sometimes we look at Christians in the spotlight of public ministry and think they have some secret measure of faith, like they’ve figured out how to stay above the struggles of life. But no one is above them.”

The death of her cousin Wynter Pitts, a wife and mother of four girls, because of a heart-related ailment in July 2018 came as a shock. (Note: Wynter’s husband, Jonathan Pitts, shares more in his podcast, The Journey with Jonathan Pitts).

The Evans family shared their grief with their church at its Wednesday night service.

Jonathan Evans asked, “Dad, how do you keep going?”

“Because I believe what I preach,” he responded. “Where would I be in a situation like this without an anchor? I believe Wynter is in a better place. I believe in the sovereignty and goodness of God. And because I believe, I keep going.”

“The Bible is full of questions, people asking why,” he explained in Divine Disruption. “Why do the righteous suffer? That’s the theme of the entire book of Job. How do I make sense of this? How could this happen? Why?

“I cannot answer that. Deuteronomy 29:29 says God has secret things, that He does not have to answer our every question. That is His prerogative. But I would tell Wynter’s children this: Your mother loved the Lord. And the Lord loved your mother. So, in some way beyond our understanding, He determined it was her time. I don’t like it, and you don’t like it. We pray, Let this cup pass from me. But we have to believe that God knows what He is doing when He’s not doing what we want Him to do.”

Dr. Evans also believes that it is OK to be angry.

“We can be angry but still respectful,” he wrote. “It’s okay to feel the pain of God disappointing us. God already knows how we feel. Hiding it doesn’t help. We can take our anger to Him.”

But an even greater test awaited. In March 2019, he had to tell his children that his wife, Lois, had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

“We are still believing God for healing,” he said. “But medically, there’s nothing they can do.”

Everyone in the room was crying—except Lois. She asked everyone to gather around her.

“You do know what this is, don’t you?” she asked. “It’s called spiritual warfare. So much death and sickness has attacked our family lately.”

She urged her family to continue to serve God during her illness. “If you’re called to preach, you will preach,” she said. “If you’re called to write, you will write. If you’re called to sing, you will sing. Now, I have every expectation that you will love and care and pray for me and be there when I need you. But God has an expectation too.”

Jonathan asked her, “Mom, how can you be talking about ministry at a time like this?”

“Because that’s why you’re here, son,” she said. “It’s the reason you exist.”

She died in late December 2019. Her husband of forty-nine years, now a widower, preached the next day.

“Anyone who has answered God’s call knows that ministry does not stop when life gets hard,” he wrote. “People still need hope and help, and honestly, that calling kept me moving forward. In fact, it helped me stay afloat. I firmly believe that serving others is a key to enduring in difficult times. When we minister to the hurting and lost, God ministers to us. By blessing, we are blessed.”

A week after her mother’s memorial service, Priscilla underwent successful lung surgery. And then came other trials, including the pandemic.

Looking back on this difficult time, Dr. Evans acknowledged that God can be hard to understand. But he also wrote, “My passion is to see God in the things that I am able to understand. That’s where my comfort comes from in the midst of loss.”

That sort of wisdom makes Divine Disruption a blessing to any Christian dealing with grief.