In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – From Emptiness to Fulfillment

We can turn to many things for fulfillment and purpose in life, but only Jesus will satisfy our soul.

John 4:3-18

What gives you a sense of fulfillment and purpose? Is it your family, job, hobbies, or relationships? None of these are wrong, but they can easily disappoint if you haven’t made the Lord your chief pursuit in life. 

While Jesus was sitting by a well in the region of Samaria, He met a woman who was vainly seeking fulfillment. She’d been married five times, and most likely each broken relationship left her feeling more unloved than before.

As they talked, Jesus pinpointed her sin by revealing that she was now living with a man who was not her husband. He wasn’t being cruel but instead was helping her recognize that she needed a Savior. Every prior attempt to fill up her life had been futile, and now Jesus offered the only solution that truly fulfills: Himself. He offered to give her “living water,” which satisfies so completely that whoever drinks of it will never thirst again (John 4:10-14).

Do you ever feel like the Samaritan woman—dissatisfied with life and thirsty for love, purpose, or fulfillment? Surrender to Jesus Christ and allow His life and love to flow through you. Only then will you experience the fullness He promises.  

Bible in One Year: Leviticus 17-20

Our Daily Bread — The Wonder of Creation

Bible in a Year:

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it.”

Genesis 1:11

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Genesis 1:9–13

While Tim was hiking on Root Glacier in Alaska, he came across something he’d not seen before. Though Tim studies glaciers professionally, the vast number of small balls of moss were completely unfamiliar to him. After tracking the bright green balls for many years, Tim and his colleagues discovered that, unlike moss on trees, the “glacier mice” are unattached and—even more surprisingly—move in unison, like a herd or flock. At first, Tim and his colleagues suspected they were blown by the wind or were rolling downhill, but their research ruled out those guesses.

They haven’t yet discovered exactly how the moss balls move. Such mysteries highlight God’s creativity. In His work of creation, God appointed the land to “produce vegetation” in the form of plants and trees (Genesis 1:11). His design included glacier mice too, though most of us won’t see them firsthand unless we visit a glacier that provides a suitable environment for them.

Glacier mice have been charming scientists with their fuzzy green presence since their discovery in the 1950s. When God observed the vegetation He’d created, He declared “that it was good” (v. 12). We’re surrounded by God’s botanical designs, each demonstrating His creative powers and inviting us to worship Him. We can delight in each of the trees and plants He’s made—for they are good!

By:  Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

When has something in God’s creation brought you joy? What aspect of His creative work most prompts you to worship?

Thank You, God, for the wonder of Your creation and the privilege to learn about You through it.

Joyce Meyer – An Unselfish Attitude

Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others.

— Philippians 2:4 (AMPC)

My abusive childhood made me afraid that no one would ever take care of me, so I made a vow in my mind that I would never need anyone and that I would take care of myself. I was selfish, but Jesus died so we could be free from living selfish, self-centered lives (see 2 Corinthians 5:15).

Many people have great lives, yet they are unhappy. The reason they are not happy is that they are selfish. We cannot be selfish and happy at the same time.

In Philippians 4:5, Paul tells the Philippians that since Jesus is coming soon, they should be careful not to be selfish:Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is coming soon] (AMPC). This verse helps us understand how vitally important it is not to allow ourselves to become selfish.

Experience has taught me that I can fight selfishness with generosity, but I have to be generous on purpose. Our natural inclination is to do what is best for us at all times, but with God’s help, we can resist that temptation and be concerned for others as well as for ourselves.

Prayer Starter: Father, I know I cannot be selfish and happy at the same time. I want to be happy, so help me to be as unselfish as I possibly can, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –The City of Refuge

… A refuge from the avenger of blood.

Joshua 20:3

It is said that in the land of Canaan, cities of refuge were so arranged that any man might reach one of them within half a day at the most. In the same way the word of our salvation is near to us; Jesus is a present Savior, and the way to Him is short. It is but a simple renunciation of our own merit and a laying hold of Jesus to be our all in all. With regard to the roads to the city of refuge, we are told that they were strictly preserved, every river was bridged, and every obstruction removed, so that the man who fled might find an easy passage to the city.

Once a year the elders went along the roads to check on their condition, so that nothing might impede the flight of anyone and cause them, through delay, to be overtaken and slain. How graciously do the promises of the Gospel remove stumbling blocks from the way! Wherever there were junctions and turnings, there were signposts clearly stating, “To the city of refuge!”

This is a picture of the road to Christ Jesus. It is no roundabout road of the law; it is no obeying this, that, and the other; it is a straight road: “Believe, and live.” It is a road so hard that no self-righteous man can ever tread it, but so easy that every sinner who knows himself to be a sinner may by it find his way to heaven. As soon as the man seeking refuge reached the outskirts of the city, he was safe; it was not necessary for him to be beyond the walls—the suburbs themselves were sufficient protection.

Learn from this that if you merely touch the hem of Christ’s garment, you shall be made whole; if you can only lay hold upon him with “faith as a grain of mustard seed,” you are safe.

A little genuine grace ensures
The death of all our sins

So waste no time; do not dillydally, for the avenger of blood moves quickly; and it could be that he is at your heels even this evening.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Allows Evil for His Reasons

“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” (Genesis 50:20)

Thrown into a pit.

Bound with rope and sold into slavery in a far-off land.

Sentenced to life in prison for something you didn’t do.

Forgotten for two years by the man who promised to help you.

You would probably have a hard time rejoicing if these things happened to you. In fact, you would probably wonder why God allowed all these horrible things to take place in your life.

All these things happened to Joseph – his brothers sold him into slavery, Potiphar threw him into prison for something he didn’t do, and for two years the cupbearer forgot to mention Joseph’s unfair treatment. But throughout all these events Joseph never said anything against God. He didn’t get mad! He didn’t get bitter! He didn’t even try to seek revenge on his brothers or the other people who harmed him! Joseph understood that God’s way of working everything for the good. God even used the evil acts of Joseph’s sinful brothers to bring about great good for the entire world.

Wow! Isn’t God incredible? He can take the sins of those around you and turn them into something good. We really do have a great God! We should thank God for the painful things that are happening to us and tell Him that we are looking forward to seeing how He is going to use them for His good!

God uses everything – even evil – for His glory.

My Response:
» What hard things are happening in my life?
» Can I trust God to use them to accomplish His good?

Denison Forum – Homeowner uses flamethrower to melt snow, sets house ablaze

Greetings from the Arctic tundra known as Dallas, Texas.

major winter storm brought rain, freezing rain, ice, and snow to the middle section of the US yesterday. More than one hundred million people in twenty-five states have been under winter weather alerts. Thousands of flights have been canceled, schools and businesses are closed, and officials are urging us to stay off roads. I am writing this article inside a house covered in snow surrounded by roads covered in ice.

In my current circumstances, I found this story interesting: a homeowner in Connecticut accidentally set their house ablaze while trying to thaw their property with a flamethrower. The owner was attempting to melt ice and snow and “accidentally ignited” the side of the home, according to fire officials. Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames and save the house.

Let’s consider this story as a cultural metaphor.

Why trust God when trusting God doesn’t seem to help?

The social scientist Julian Rappaport defined “empowerment” as “the mechanism by which people, organizations, and communities gain mastery over their lives.” It is empowering to take proactive steps in dealing with a threat.

For example, the leader of the Islamic State was killed yesterday in Syria. He blew himself up along with members of his family as US special operations forces targeted his location. This news comes as evidence of a resurgence of ISIS in Syria and Iraq grows by the day. (For more, see “Should we fear radical Islam?”)

By contrast, when we face challenges for which we can find no solutions or take no apparent action, we feel impotent and frustrated. Like the Connecticut flamethrowing homeowner, we might take steps to solve the problem that only make it worse. Or we might retreat from the “storms” we face and abandon the struggle.

We are all facing such storms, from the ongoing pandemic to geopolitical threats to chasmic political divisions to ever more aggressive immorality. When you’re “stuck inside” as I am today, how is biblical hope relevant? If you’ve prayed for God to change your circumstances but your circumstances do not seem to change, what difference did praying make? If you feel trapped by your world, why should you keep trusting the God who made your world?

If my car broke down constantly, I wouldn’t keep buying cars from that manufacturer. If a restaurant’s food repeatedly gave me food poisoning, I wouldn’t keep eating in that restaurant. If my doctor’s advice and prescriptions were not helping my condition, I wouldn’t keep going back to that doctor.

It’s not surprising when skeptics ask, “Why trust God when trusting God doesn’t seem to help?” It’s only human for Christians to ask the same question.

Let’s consider two biblical responses.

One: Ask and keep on asking

For the first several years of my Christian life, I thought doubts were sins. I believed that if I had enough faith, I wouldn’t have faith questions. Then I found Jesus’ cry from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). I realized that if the sinless Son of God could ask hard questions, so could I.

I was also encouraged by God’s invitation in Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lᴏʀᴅ.” I learned that the Hebrew can be translated literally, “Come now, let us argue it out.” Asking hard faith questions is not just not sinful—it is encouraged by God.

So, let’s begin by defining our problem and asking our questions as specifically as possible. Name your suffering, disappointment, fear, guilt, or discouragement. Ask God to heal your pain, respond to your problem, or encourage your mind and heart.

Then take Jesus at his word: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and [the door] will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7–8, my emphasis).

But know this: Jesus’ invitation in the original Greek should be translated, “Ask and keep on asking . . . seek and keep on seeking . . . knock and keep on knocking.” Persist in prayer, not because your prayers change God but because they position you to be changed by his Spirit. They connect you to his presence and power. And they submit your spirit to his Spirit as he works in your life and circumstances according to his perfect will (Romans 12:2).

I believe many “unanswered” prayers were actually prayers we stopped praying before they could be answered. It is always too soon to give up on God.

Two: Be willing to do whatever God says in response

The New York Times reports that nasal vaccines may be the best way to prevent coronavirus infections long term because “they provide protection exactly where it is needed to fend off the virus: the mucosal linings of the airways, where the coronavirus first lands.” However, such vaccines will obviously need to be used to be effective.

We are often the answer to our prayers. If we are praying for spiritual awakening in our immoral culture, we should ask for that awakening to begin with us (2 Chronicles 7:13–14). If we are praying for God’s protection for the homeless in winter, we should ask him how we can help meet their needs (Matthew 25:35–36). If we are praying for reconciliation in a relationship, we should ask how we can take the first step (Matthew 18:15).

A skeptic once asked God, “Why don’t you do more about the suffering in your world?” 

God replied, “I was just about to ask you the same question.”

I believe many “unanswered” prayers were answered by God in ways that required our obedience in response. However, God cannot give what we will not receive or lead where we will not follow.

My decades of “wrestling with God”

I do not mean to suggest that these two factors explain all our apparently unanswered prayers or answer all our faith questions. I still do not understand my father’s early death or have complete explanations for much of the suffering of our fallen world.

But after decades of “wrestling with God” (cf. Genesis 32:22–32), I have learned that if I will “ask and keep on asking” from a heart that is willing to do whatever my Father asks and go wherever he leads, I often experience his presence, power, and peace in ways that respond to and even transcend my questions and struggles.

Biblical scholar William Barclay observed, “If a man fights his way through his doubts to the conviction that Jesus Christ is Lord, he has attained to a certainty that the man who unthinkingly accepts things can never reach.”

Why do you need such certainty today?