In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Spiritual Shortsightedness

When we seek the Lord’s counsel in our decision-making, we’ll prioritize eternal concerns over temporal ones.

Genesis 25:19-34

The problem with being nearsighted is the inability to see what’s far away. Though we usually think of this as strictly a physical problem, it’s also possible to be spiritually short-sighted (2 Pet. 1:8-9). That is exactly what happened with Esau in today’s passage. He traded his birthright and all its long-term blessings for the immediate physical gratification of a bowl of soup. 

That sounds very foolish to us, yet we too can give up something excellent for temporary satisfaction. This happens when we give higher priority to our desires, appetites, or emotions than to the Lord. If our focus is on the temporal rather than the eternal, we’ll make decisions based on today’s needs and desires without considering tomorrow’s consequences.  In doing so, we sacrifice lasting treasure for fleeting satisfaction.  

To guard against what happened to Esau, avoid making important decisions in times of physical, emotional, or spiritual weakness. Take time to ask the Lord for guidance, and let biblical principles guide your thinking. Remember, self-control is a virtue God highly values (Gal. 5:22-232 Pet. 1:5-8). So view every temptation to satisfy desires quickly as an opportunity to practice self-restraint and trust God. 

Bible in One Year: Numbers 1-2

Our Daily Bread – Success and Sacrifice

Bible in a Year:

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.

1 John 3:16

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

1 John 3:11–18

During a summer study program, my son read a book about a boy who wanted to climb an Alpine mountain in Switzerland. Practicing for this goal occupied most of his time. When he finally set off for the summit, things didn’t go as planned. Partway up the slope, a teammate became sick and the boy decided to stay behind to help instead of achieving his goal.

In the classroom, my son’s teacher asked, “Was the main character a failure because he didn’t climb the mountain?” One student said, “Yes, because it was in his DNA to fail.” But another child disagreed. He reasoned that the boy was not a failure, because he gave up something important to help someone else.

When we set aside our plans and care for others instead, we’re acting like Jesus. Jesus sacrificed having a home, reliable income, and social acceptance to travel and share God’s truth. Ultimately, He gave up His life to free us from sin and show us God’s love (1 John 3:16).

Earthly success is much different from success in God’s eyes. He values the compassion that moves us to rescue disadvantaged and hurting people (v. 17). He approves of decisions that protect people. With God’s help, we can align our values with His and devote ourselves to loving Him and others, which is the most significant achievement there is.

By:  Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Reflect & Pray

How has the quest for success affected your life? Why is it sometimes difficult to align our values with what matters to God?

Heavenly Father, I want to be successful in Your eyes. Teach me how to love others the way You love me.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Becoming Holy

“But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:15-16).

God requires holiness and in Christ provides us the means to attain it.

As we have learned, God is holy, and absolute holiness is the standard for anyone who wishes to be in His presence. “God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment” (2 Peter 2:4). In the same way, men who reject God are sent “into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).

How then can anyone become holy? There’s only one way: through faith in Jesus Christ. It is through Christ’s sacrifice for us that God can credit holiness to our account (2 Cor. 5:21). First Corinthians 6:11 says, “But you were washed, but you were sanctified [made holy], but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.” We are now called saints, and the Greek word for this in Scripture actually means “holy ones.”

So, by God’s grace we are positionally holy. By contrast, however, we are too often unholy in practice. But the Bible says, “Be holy yourselves also in all your behavior” (1 Peter 1:15) and “Let every one who names the name of the Lord abstain from wickedness” (2 Tim. 2:19). We need to be separate from the way the world lives. We need to let others know there is a difference in how Christians live.

When we live holy lives, we will have peace. “There is no peace . . . for the wicked” (Isa. 57:21), but God “disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness” (Heb. 12:10). And that discipline “yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (v. 11). If you lack peace, you may well have let sin come between you and God. If so, follow David’s example in Psalm 51:9-10 and pray for a clean heart. You should also spend time with those who lead holy lives (Prov. 13:20; compare 1 Cor. 15:33).

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God again that He has made you positionally holy in Christ.
  • Confess any sins you are aware of, and pray that you would live righteously today.

For Further Study

Answer the following questions, based on 2 Corinthians 5:14-21:

  • What did Christ do for us on the cross?
  • What happened to us when we were saved?
  • How should we live as a result?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – God Will Lead You into His Wisdom

Wisdom cries aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the markets…

— Proverbs 1:20 (AMPC)

God wants us to use wisdom to make right choices, and the Holy Spirit will lead us into wisdom if we will simply ask Him to do so.

Have you ever needed to make a decision and had your head (your intellectual abilities) try to lead you one way while your heart was leading you in another direction? Have you ever had a situation in which your flesh (your natural thoughts and feelings) seemed to be guiding you down one path, but something inside you kept nagging you to go another way? For example, have there been times when you stayed up late at night watching television, even though you knew you needed a good night’s sleep to be strong and alert for an important meeting the next day—and you kept resisting the knowledge in your heart that you really should go to bed? Have you purchased something you were excited about on an emotional level, but knew in your heart you could not really afford and didn’t even need it?

What is happening in the kinds of circumstances I have just described? Chances are that wisdom is crying out to you. Many times, it cries out in the form of the things you find yourself thinking you should or should not do—you should eat healthily; you should be kind to other people; you should not spend money you do not have. These are all practical examples of using wisdom in everyday life. When you sense such leadings, the Holy Spirit, Who speaks to your heart, is trying to help you make a wise decision, even though it may not be the choice you want to make or it may not seem to make much sense in your present circumstances.

When we know the wise choice to make and don’t make it, the rea- son is often because we are allowing our flesh to lead us and to see if we can get away with unwise decisions—which is also known as “foolishness.” The flesh leads us to foolishness, but God wants us to walk in wisdom and make choices now that we will be happy with later.

What decision are you wrestling with? Trust the Holy Spirit to lead you to the wise choice. It may take some time to learn to hear the Holy Spirit over your flesh, but God is patient and will continue to provide you with opportunities to listen for His leading.

Prayer Starter: Lord Jesus, You know the decisions that lie before me. I put my trust in You to lead me and guide me toward the right choice. Help me listen for Your voice over everything else, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Is Sin Subdued in You?

He will save His people from their sins.

Matthew 1:21

Many people, if they are asked what they understand by salvation, will reply, “Being saved from hell and taken to heaven.” This is one result of salvation, but it is not one tenth of what is contained in that blessing. It is true our Lord Jesus Christ does redeem all His people from the wrath to come; He saves them from the fearful condemnation that their sins had brought upon them; but His triumph is far more complete than this. He saves His people “from their sins”—a complete deliverance from our worst foes.

Where Christ works a saving work, He casts Satan from his throne and will not let him be master any longer. No man is a true Christian if sin reigns in his mortal body. Sin will be in us—it will never be utterly expelled till the spirit enters glory; but it will never have dominion.

There will be a striving for dominion—a lusting against the new law and the new spirit that God has implanted—but sin will never get the upper hand so as to be absolute monarch of our nature. Christ will be Master of the heart, and sin must be mortified. The Lion of the tribe of Judah shall prevail, and the dragon shall be cast out.

Professing Christian, is sin subdued in you? If your life is unholy, your heart is unchanged; and if your heart is unchanged, you are an unsaved person. If the Savior has not sanctified you, renewed you, given you a hatred of sin and a love of holiness, He has done nothing in you of a saving character. The grace that does not make a man better than others is a worthless counterfeit. Christ saves His people not in their sins but from them “… for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”1 “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”2 If not saved from sin, how shall we hope to be counted among His people? Lord, save me now from all evil, and enable me to honor my Savior.

1) Hebrews 12:14
2) 2 Timothy 2:19

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Hears

“I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.” (Psalm 116:1-2)

Have you ever tried to talk to someone who isn’t paying attention to you? You probably feel frustrated or discouraged if you think you aren’t being heard. It is encouraging, though, for God’s children to remember that God always hears them when they pray to Him. He is never too busy to listen to His children. And He is never uninterested in what they have to say. No matter what time of day it is or where you are, God always hears you.

Sometimes, though, God is the last person Christians go to when they’re having troubles. Instead of going to God, they sulk. Or they go to their unsaved friends. Their friends may be good listeners, but they have no power to give true answers. Maybe God’s children do go to a godly friend or parent with their problems. But the whole time, they may be resisting God, using Him as a “last resort” only.

Who is the person you go to when you are feeling sad, or when you have a need, or when you don’t know how to handle a problem? Do you go to God first? Once you truly understand that the sovereign God is always available, always ready to hear your supplications (your strong requests), you will agree with the psalmist who wrote, “I will call upon Him as long as I live”!

God always hears His children when they call to Him.

My Response:
» Do I go to God first with my problems, or do I use Him as a “last resort”?

Denison Forum – Yale football star dies during Navy SEAL “Hell Week”

Kyle Mullen was a football star at his New Jersey high school and for Yale (where he was a second-team All-Ivy League selection) and Monmouth University. He was also an honor society student described by a former coach as a “great athlete but a better person.” The coach added that Mullen was “probably one of the best kids I ever had. Great, great kid on the field but even better off the field.”

Mullen, age twenty-four, died last Friday during Navy SEAL “Hell Week” training. The commander of Naval Special Warfare Command said, “We are extending every form of support we can to the Mullen family.”

That same day, five-year-old Rayan Oram died after being extricated from a Moroccan well. He fell one hundred feet into the well the previous Tuesday; the rescue attempt captured global attention. Moroccan King Mohammed VI called his parents after he died; French President Emmanuel Macron added on a Facebook post, “Tonight, I want to tell the family of little Rayan and the Moroccan people that we share their pain.”

Leaders are right to extend every possible support to these families. Society’s attention will soon shift from these two tragedies, but their parents and families will be marked by them forever. This is how it is with families and how it should be.

As Queen Elizabeth II noted in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, “Grief is the price we pay for love.”

A story I will not forget

Yesterday, we began a week-long focus on the transformational implications of the biblical declaration that Christians are the “children of God.” I wrote that “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.”

Here’s the story behind this metaphor’s recent impact on my life.

Last week, Dr. Mark Turman and I were honored to speak to a group of ministers in the Houston area about my new book, The Coming Tsunami, and the larger topic of cultural apologetics. At one point, several of the men described ways they are engaging their culture with redemptive truth. One of them told a story I will not forget.

I would guess that this man is in his fifties or sixties. He is a minister and a professional building inspector who shares Christ wherever he can with whomever he can. He told us that his starting point is usually to tell people that he was adopted by his parents.

He makes this point: “They knew nothing about me when they chose me. Unlike biological children who inherited their genetics from their parents, my parents did not know my parents or anything about my story. They chose me as I was, where I was.” He notes that such unconditional love obviously changed his life, then explains how God’s unconditional love has been even more transformative for him.

He had tears in his eyes when he finished his story. I had tears in mine as I heard it.

Why being adopted by God is so empowering

Upon reflection, I realized that there is another way to tell his story. Unlike his adoptive parents, his heavenly Father knew everything about him. He knew everything about his parents, his genetics, and his background. He knew everything about what he had done before coming to Christ and who he was when he became a Christian. He knew everything that this man would do for the rest of his life, including every sin he would commit.

And yet, the God of the universe chose him and adopted him as his child.

Paul described this miraculous reality: “You did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Romans 8:15). There was no Jewish process of adoption: if a man died, his brother immediately became the head of his family and the father of his children. In Roman context and thus for Paul’s readers, however, the concept of adoption took on a powerful meaning.

Patria potestas (“the power of the father”) extended to a father’s children from their birth to his death. He could disown them, sell them as slaves, and even have them killed if he saw fit. However, if he adopted a child, that child could never be disowned, sold, or executed. They would be a permanent part of the family.

When the Spirit inspired Paul to use adoption in describing our status with our heavenly Father, he meant us to understand that nothing can cause God to disown us. To the contrary, as Paul declared later in Romans 8, “Neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (vv. 38–39).

The biblical answer to the “human condition”

In a culture that measures us by our appearance, possessions, performance, and popularity, it is terrifying to be known as we truly are. In Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am?, psychologist John Powell writes of “the imprisoning fears and self-doubt which cripple most of us and keep us from forward movement on the road to maturity, happiness, and true love.”

He adds: “None of us wants to be a fraud or to live a lie; none of us wants to be a sham, a phony. But the fears that we experience and the risks that honest self-communication would involve seem so intense to us that seeking refuge in our roles, masks, and games becomes an almost natural reflex action.

“After a while, it may even be quite difficult for us to distinguish between what we really are, at any given moment in our development as persons, and what we pose as being. It is such a universally human problem that we might justifiably call it ‘the human condition.’”

Here’s the biblical answer to this “condition”: the God who is love (1 John 4:8) loves you more deeply, passionately, and unconditionally than an earthly father can love his children. He grieves your struggles and suffering even more than parents grieving the death of a child. He stands ready to guide your path with omniscient wisdom no human father can match. He will empower your obedience with omnipotence the strongest father cannot begin to offer.

What hidden pain, shame, or grief do you need to entrust to his loving grace today?

What temptation, challenge, or decision do you need to entrust to his omnipotent providence?