In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Listening to God’s Word

What we hear from God depends on the condition of our heart.

Matthew 13:18-23

Two people sitting in the same pew and listening to the same message can respond in totally different ways. The determining factor is the state of a person’s heart, as the parable in today’s passage clearly shows.  

A Closed Heart. There are people who harden their heart against the truth. Some may even attend church. But no truth is able to penetrate because their mind is closed to any message they don’t want to follow.  

A Shallow Heart. Some people are passionate about what Christ can do for them but fall away when difficulties come. Because of their misplaced expectations, they fail to experience His provision in hardship. 

A Cluttered Heart. Those who are distracted with the world’s cares and values have no room in their heart for committed devotion to Christ. Therefore, the Word they hear produces no fruit.   

An Open Heart. This is the kind of attitude we should all desire and cultivate—one that positions us to hear, understand, and apply the truths of Scripture to our life. 

Which category are you in? If your heart is anything but open, ask the Lord for a new, fruitful one that is eager to know and obey His Word.  

Bible in One Year: Leviticus 26-27

Our Daily Bread — Getting What We Want

Bible in a Year:

Adonijah . . . put himself forward and said, “I will be king.”

1 Kings 1:5

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

1 Kings 1:5, 32–37

Aaron Burr anxiously awaited the result of the tie-breaking vote from the US House of Representatives. Deadlocked with Thomas Jefferson in the 1800 race for the presidency, Burr had reason to believe that the House would declare him the winner. However, he lost, and bitterness gnawed at his soul. Nurturing grievances against Alexander Hamilton for not supporting his candidacy, Burr killed Hamilton in a gun duel less than four years later. Outraged by the killing, his country turned its back on him, and Burr died a dour old man.

Political power plays are a tragic part of history. When King David was nearing death, his son Adonijah recruited David’s commander and a leading priest to make him king (1 Kings 1:5–8). But David had chosen Solomon as king (v. 17). With the help of the prophet Nathan, the rebellion was put down (vv. 11–53). Despite his reprieve, Adonijah plotted a second time to steal the throne, and Solomon had him executed (2:13–25).

How human of us to want what’s not rightfully ours! No matter how hard we pursue power, prestige, or possessions, it’s never quite enough. We always want something more. How unlike Jesus, who “humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross”! (Philippians 2:8).

Ironically, selfishly pursuing our own ambitions never brings us our truest, deepest longings. Leaving the outcome to God is the only path to peace and joy.

By:  Tim Gustafson

Reflect & Pray

What do your desires and goals tell you about your heart? What do you need to give to God today?

Dear God, please help me fill the role You’ve given me and not to covet more. Help me trust You in everything

Grace to You; John MacArthur – God’s Holiness Revealed

“The Lord is righteous in all His ways” (Psalm 145:17).

God’s holiness is evident in everything He does, particularly in creation, the law, judgment, and salvation.

The whole purpose of the Old Testament is to reveal the holiness and righteousness of God, who is utterly perfect and pure. In fact, the Hebrew word for “holy” is used more than 600 times in the Old Testament to indicate moral perfection.

What are some areas in which we see God’s holiness? First, we see it in the original perfection of His creation: “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). All of creation was in tune with God’s holy character.

Later God laid down His righteous, moral law for Israel. In it He gave rules about worship and society. He prescribed penalties for murder, adultery, and stealing. He condemned lying, coveting, and many other sins. There were many rules, but they revealed a God who is infinitely right and without error, flaw, or tolerance for sin. The law showed God’s character: “The Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12).

God’s holiness will ultimately be demonstrated “when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thess. 1:7-9). His judgment on sin is a reflection of His holiness; He must punish it.

Perhaps the supreme expression of God’s holiness is seen in sending His Son to die on the cross (cf. Rom. 8:3-4). God paid the highest price, but it was the only price that could satisfy His holiness. Jesus Christ is Himself “the Holy and Righteous One” (Acts 3:14); so only He could “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb. 9:26). God’s holiness is so infinite, and our unholiness is so great, that only the sacrifice of the God-man could pay for the enormity of our sin.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God that He sent His Son to die for our sins, so we could be “holy and blameless before Him” (Eph. 1:4).

For Further Study

Some of God’s laws for the Israelites are given in Exodus 21—23. Note in particular the penalties for breaking these laws. What does this passage teach you about God’s character?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Your Emotions Don’t Get a Vote

If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him.

— James 1:5 (AMPC)

Learn not to ask yourself how you feel about things, but instead ask yourself if doing or not doing something is right for you. This is wisdom, and wisdom is a gift from God to be thankful for. You can choose to live by wisdom and decide to do what you know is right.

There may be a certain thing you want to do badly. It might be a purchase you want to make that you know you cannot afford. Your feelings vote yes, but your heart says no. Tell your feelings they don’t get to vote. They are too immature to vote and will never vote for what is best for you in the long run. Don’t let emotions rule your life and you will enjoy life more.

Prayer Starter: I am grateful, Father, that You give me the wisdom I need to make healthy, life-giving choices. Instead of giving my emotions the final say, I am going to look to You and to Your Word for direction in my life. Thank You that Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –“Come Up Here!”

Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here!’

Revelation 11:12

Without considering these words in their prophetic connection, let us regard them as the invitation of our great Forerunner to His sanctified people. In due time there shall be heard “a loud voice from heaven” to every believer, saying, “Come up here.” This should be to the saints the subject of joyful anticipation.

Instead of dreading the time when we will leave this world to go to the Father, we should be longing for the hour of our emancipation. Our song should be—

My heart is with Him on His throne,
And ill can brook delay;
Each moment listening for the voice,
“Rise up and come away.”

We are not called down to the grave but up to the skies. Our heaven-born spirits should long for their native air. Yet the heavenly summons should be the object of patient waiting. Our God knows best when to bid us, “Come up here.” We must not wish to antedate the period of our departure.

I know that strong love will make us cry,
O Lord of Hosts, the waves divide,
And land us all in heaven.

But patience must have her perfect work. God ordains with accurate wisdom the most fitting time for the redeemed to live below. Surely, if there could be regrets in heaven, the saints might mourn that they did not live longer here to do more good. Oh, for more sheaves for my Lord’s harvest, more jewels for His crown! But how unless there be more work? True, there is the other side of it, that, living so briefly, our sins are the fewer; but oh, when we are fully serving God, and He is asking us to scatter precious seed and reap a hundredfold, we would even say it is well for us to stay where we are. Whether our Master shall say, “Go” or “Stay,” let us be equally well pleased as long as He indulges us with His presence.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Never Makes Mistakes

“As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.” (Psalm 18:30)

Have you ever tried to make it through a whole day without making a mistake, a wrong decision? When I was little I used to try so hard not to do anything wrong – not to sin – all day long. Of course, it didn’t take long before I did something wrong and sinned. Don’t you wish you could just decide to be perfect – and then not mess up? Well, you and I can’t do that, but there’s Someone that never messes up.

God never makes a mistake; He never sins! The verse I quoted above tells us that God’s words can be trusted. What God says has been “tried.” That means His word has been tested and proved. Isn’t it nice to know that we can trust what God says because He never makes a mistake? He has never made a mistake in the past and will never make one in the future. Even though we make mistakes, we know that God never will and that He can help us make fewer mistakes in the future.

When you mess up, just ask God to help you not make the same mistake twice. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” That includes doing the right thing. With God’s help you can make changes in your own life. Just trust the One who never makes a mistake!

God is perfect: He never sins, and He never makes mistakes.

My Response:
» Do I trust God to help me obey Him, or do I try to do right on my own?
» Do I trust that God will do what’s best, or do I sometimes think that He’s planned things badly?

Denison Forum – Queen’s surprise announcement makes global headlines

When King George VI of Great Britain died on February 6, 1952, his oldest child, Princess Elizabeth, succeeded him to the throne. Yesterday, the queen became the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee “marking seventy years of service to the people of the United Kingdom, the Realms, and the Commonwealth.”

However, this celebration has been eclipsed by remarks she made in time for yesterday morning’s front pages: she expressed a “sincere wish” that Prince Charles’ wife, Camilla, should be known as “Queen Consort” when Charles succeeds his mother to the throne.

Elizabeth is a “Queen Regnant” in that she inherited the throne following the death of the previous monarch. By contrast, a “Queen Consort” is the spouse of a ruling king, though, as the BBC explains, “Queen Camilla” would be her future title. Since the monarch is the only person who can define royal titles, this is seen as a “hugely significant intervention” by the queen.

I have long admired the queen’s personal faith and steadfast commitment to her people. Her declaration is completely in keeping with her power as a constitutional monarch.

However, it also points to a foundational temptation that lies at the heart of our fallen humanity.

$30 drawing valued at $10 million

A drawing by Albrecht Dürer purchased at a yard sale in 2017 for $30 has been valued by experts in excess of $10 million. A cube made from $11.7 million worth of gold was recently placed in Central Park for a day and protected by its own security detail. And NBCUniversal announced that it has sold out all its ad inventory for next Sunday’s Super Bowl LVI, with multiple thirty-second spots bringing a record $7 million each.

There is no logical argument for such valuations on their intrinsic merits. The Dürer drawing is merely ink (or pencil; the article did not specify) on paper. The value of the golden cube depends on the valuation of gold “set by several banks, an oversight committee, and a panel of internal and external chair members.” Super Bowl ads are worth what advertisers will pay for them.

We could go on: at current metal prices, Olympic gold medals are valued at $750, but the world assigns them a worth beyond financial estimation. Ukraine’s population is .056 percent of the world’s population, but the country’s current geopolitical significance is making global headlines.

China’s Politburo Standing Committee currently has seven members, but they function as the “epicenter” of the nation’s power and leadership. In practical terms, however, the country is led by a single man, President Xi Jinping. The same is true for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Apart from their political offices, neither man would be a threat to the world by himself, but each wields power by virtue of positional economic and military authority that can change the world overnight.

“I wanted to be president of the world!”

Here’s my point: our ultimate value is not ours to determine, though we are tempted every day to live as though it is. We each want to be our own god (Genesis 3:5), kings of our own kingdom. But we are unable by ourselves to become what we most want to become. 

In The Preaching Event, esteemed preacher John Claypool records an admission he once made to an audience at Yale University: “People used to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I was shrewd enough to fashion my answer according to what I thought they wanted to hear. For some it was a policeman, for others a fireman or a preacher. However, in my own heart of hearts, I had my own private fantasy that I never dared to share with anyone. Do you know what it was? I am telling you the gospel truth: I wanted to be president of the world!”

And yet, Claypool never achieved his childhood aspiration. Nor have I become what my egotistical heart wishes to be. Nor have you, I would guess.

But we try. We seek the admiration of those whose opinion we respect, the success valued by those we strive to impress, the authority conferred by governments on their leaders. As a counselor astutely told me, “I am not who I think I am. I am not who you think I am. I am who I think you think I am.” Many people live for such approval from those whose opinion they believe will validate their lives and ensure their significance.

This changes everything

Here’s the good news: our actual value has already been determined by One whose opinion is the only opinion that truly matters.

Camilla Parker Bowles will one day become “Queen Camilla” because the present queen deemed it so. If Christ is your Lord, you are already the “child of God” because the King of the universe deemed it so.

My high school youth minister gave me advice I have repeated often over the years: Always remember the source of your personal worth. Here it is: “To all who did receive [Jesus], who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12–13).

Why did God confer such status on us? “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1).

This changes everything. Knowing that we are now and forever the beloved children of the God of the universe gives us status and significance the world can neither bestow on us nor take from us. It fills the deep hunger of our souls for meaning and worth. It is a transformative gift we are now called and privileged to pay forward to everyone we can, however we can.

“Why do I keep leaving home?”

Our status as God’s children has so gripped me in recent days that I want to explore it with you in Daily Articles across this week. For today, we’ll close with these questions:

One: Have you become the child of God through faith in Christ? If not, why not? (For answers to frequent questions about Christ and salvation, please see my website article, “Why Jesus?“)

Two: If you know you are a child of God, how is this fact most relevant to your aspirations and needs today?

Philosopher J. P. Moreland noted: “I am the prodigal son every time I search for unconditional love where it cannot be found. Why do I keep ignoring the place of true love and persist in looking for it elsewhere? Why do I keep leaving home where I am called a child of God, the Beloved of the Father?”

Why, indeed?