In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Carry the Light

The good news of salvation can bring light into the darkness of a person’s life.

2 Corinthians 4:1-6

Think about light and darkness and the way they affect your ability to see. In the dark, we have no sense of direction or courage to move forward, but in the light, everything is clear. In a very real sense, this perspective holds true in the spiritual realm as well. Those who dwell in spiritual darkness cannot perceive realities about God. 

Thankfully, the Lord has the power to help us discern truth. Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world; the one who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12). That’s why the phrase “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” is the perfect description of the message of salvation (2 Cor. 4:4). It’s the good news that can transfer someone from spiritual darkness to light (Colossians 1:13). 

Those who have trusted Jesus as Savior are now “children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). God calls each of us to carry the gospel to an unbelieving world that cannot see in the dark. It’s important for our lifestyle to be distinct from the darkness around us. In your daily interactions, are you a light bearer who points the way to Christ?  

Bible in One Year: Joshua 10-12

Our Daily Bread — Our True Identity

Bible in a Year:

Jesus said . . . , “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.”

Luke 5:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Luke 5:1–11

First, the man selected a tackle box. Standing in his town’s small bait shop, he then filled a shopping cart with hooks, lures, bobbers, line, and weights. Finally, he added live bait and selected a new rod and reel. “Ever fished before?” the shop owner asked. The man said no. “Better add this,” said the owner. It was a first-aid kit. The man agreed and paid, then headed off to a day of not catching a thing—except snags on his fingers from his hooks and gear.

That wasn’t Simon Peter’s problem. An experienced fisherman, he was surprised one dawn when Jesus told him to push his boat into deep water and “let down the nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4). Despite a long night of catching nothing, Simon and his crew let down their nets and “caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.” In fact, his two boats started to sink from the haul (v. 6).

Seeing this, Simon Peter “fell at Jesus’ knees,” urging Him to “go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (v. 8). Jesus, however, knew Simon’s true identity. He told His disciple, “From now on you will fish for people.” Hearing that, Simon “left everything and followed” Christ (vv. 10–11). When we follow Him, He helps us learn who we are and what we’re called to do as His own.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

Outside of Jesus, what’s your identity or role in life? When you follow Him, how does your identity change?

Father, when I struggle to know my true identity, remind me to follow You to discover in You my true self.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Realizing the Need for Seriousness

“Let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy to gloom” (James 4:9b).

The humble individual will come to see that sin is not a laughing matter.

Humor has always had a place in popular culture. But in recent decades a more worldly side to humor has emerged. Situation comedies dominate the list of top-rated TV shows, but many are far from what’s really best for people to view. The shows’ contents so often pander to the immoral and tend to put down scriptural values. Meanwhile, the world also runs headlong after activities that stress fun and self-indulgence. Most people just want to enjoy life and not take anything too seriously.

God’s Word acknowledges that there is a proper time and place for joy and laughter: “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Eccles. 3:4). The psalmist tells of one appropriate time for laughter and happiness: “When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with joyful shouting” (Ps. 126:1-2).

But the Lord requires that anyone who would have a relationship with Him must begin on a sober, serious, humble note. In today’s Scripture, James urges sinners to exchange worldly laughter and frivolity for godly mourning and gloom over their sin. The laughter spoken of here is the kind that indicates a leisurely indulging in human desires and pleasures. It pictures people who give no serious thought to God, to life, death, sin, judgment, or God’s demands for holiness. Without mincing words, it is the laughter of fools who reject God, not that of the humble who pursue Him.

James’s message is that saving faith and proper humility consist of a serious, heartfelt separation from the folly of worldliness as well as a genuine sorrow over sin. If these characteristics are present in your life, it is fairly safe evidence that you are one of the humble (see 1 John 2:15-17).

Suggestions for Prayer

Seek forgiveness for any thoughts and actions that have kept you from a serious attitude in your walk with God.

For Further Study

Read 1 John 2:15-17.

  • Think of several examples under each of the categories of worldliness in verse 16. Which of these are problems for you?
  • What steps can you take, with God’s help, to overcome them?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Our Responsibility, God’s Responsibility

So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.

— Matthew 6:34 (AMPC)

Every believer has the responsibility to live right, to be a doer of the Word, and not just a hearer. Motivated by the reverential fear of the Lord, we can learn to live carefully and begin to make a difference in the world we live in. You and I need to be careful about what we allow into our spirits and how we live our lives. Proverbs 4:23 says to guard our heart with all diligence because out of it flows the springs of life. I believe we should have a careful attitude about how we live not a casual or a careless one. We need to be careful about what we watch, what we listen to, what we think about, and who our friends are.

I’m not saying we need to live according to the strict and demanding dictates of man. I had a very legalistic relationship with God for years and was miserable, so the last thing I want to do is teach legalism. What I am saying is that we shouldn’t compromise. We should recognize our responsibility as Christians to live our lives in such a way that unbelievers will be attracted to God by our behavior.

James 4:17 (AMPC) says, …any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin. In other words, if we are convicted that something is wrong, then we must not do it—even if we see a hundred other people doing it and getting by with it. They may seem to be getting by with it, but sooner or later, we will all reap what we sow.

We know that worry and anxiety are not characteristics of a godly Christian. Yet so many Christians worry. You can choose to worry, or you can reject worry and choose to live with joy and peace. Most people don’t want to hear that message, and they seem to find an odd comfort in thinking that worrying is beyond their control. It is not. Worry is a really is a choice and it is a sin against God.

As long as I’ve been in the church, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone make that statement. But it is sin. It is calling God a liar. It is saying that God is not sufficiently able to take care of you and provide for your needs. Faith says, “God can do it.” Worry says, “God isn’t able to help me.”

When you worry, you not only call God a liar, but you have also allowed the devil to fill your mind with anxious thoughts. The more you focus on the problems, the larger they become. You start to fret and may even end up in despair.

Think of the words of the great apostle: I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency] (Philippians 4:13 AMPC) Or think of the words from the psalmist: Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass (Psalm 37:5 AMPC).

Jesus told His disciples not to be anxious and, as quoted above, not to worry about tomorrow. But He did more than teach those words; He lived them out: And Jesus replied to him, Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have lodging places, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head (Matthew 8:20 AMPC). That wasn’t a complaint but a simple fact of life. Jesus trusted His Father’s provision for Him even when He didn’t know where He would sleep or what He would eat.

Jesus taught that we are not to worry about anything in life. He wasn’t speaking about planning and thinking ahead. He was saying that some people never act because fear holds them back. They can always tell you ten things that can go wrong with every plan. Jesus wants us to live a stress-free life. If you are worrying about what might happen, you’re hindering God from working in your life.

I heard about a couple whose daughter was diagnosed with a serious illness that wasn’t covered by insurance. The parents were struggling to pay all the medical bills. Not knowing what else to do, they both went into their bedroom for a lengthy time of prayer. Afterward the husband said, “It was really quite simple. I am God’s servant. My responsibility is to serve my Master. His responsibility is to take care of me.”

The next day, the doctors told them that their daughter was eligible to be part of an experimental surgery and all expenses would be paid. The wife smiled and said, “God is responsible, isn’t He?” What a testimony to their faith and trust in God who remains faithful and responsible at all times and in all things. God is no respecter of persons. What He does for one, He will do for another (see Romans 2:11). I encourage you to stop worrying and start trusting in Him.

Prayer Starter: Lord God, I know that worry is a sin against You. In the name of Jesus, help me overcome all anxieties and worry, and enable me to trust You to provide for every need I have.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Faith in Times of Sorrow

She called his name Ben-oni [son of sorrow]; but his father called him Benjamin [son of my right hand].

Genesis 35:18

To every matter there is a bright as well as a dark side. Rachel was overwhelmed with the sorrow of her own travail and death; Jacob, while mourning the loss of his wife, could see the mercy of the child’s birth. It is good for us if, while the flesh mourns over trials, our faith triumphs in divine faithfulness. Samson’s lion yielded honey, and so will our adversities, if rightly considered. The stormy sea feeds multitudes with its fish; the wild wood blooms with beautiful flowers; the stormy wind sweeps away disease, and the biting frost loosens the soil. Dark clouds distill bright drops, and black earth grows lovely flowers. A vein of good is to be found in every mine of evil. Sad hearts have peculiar skill in discovering the most disadvantageous point of view from which to gaze upon a trial; if there were only one swamp in the world, they would soon be up to their necks in it, and if there were only one lion in the desert they would hear it roar.

About us all there is a tinge of this wretched folly, and we are apt, at times, like Jacob, to cry, “All these things are against me.” Faith’s way of walking is to cast all care upon the Lord, and then to anticipate good results from the worst calamities. Like Gideon’s men, she does not fret over the broken pitcher but rejoices that the lamp shines with even more brilliance. Out of the rough oyster-shell of difficulty she extracts the rare pearl of honor, and from the deep ocean-caves of distress she discovers the priceless coral of experience. When her flood of prosperity ebbs, she finds treasures hidden in the sands; and when her sun of delight goes down, she turns her telescope of hope to the starry promises of heaven. When death itself appears, faith points to the light of resurrection beyond the grave, thus making our dying Ben-oni to be our living Benjamin.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Our Guide

“For this God is our God forever and forever: he will be our guide even unto death.” (Psalm 48:14)

For her twelfth birthday, Julie wanted to go on a real adventure. Her dad decided to take her whitewater rafting. Dad and Julie got onto a bus with rafts piled on top of it. Everyone on the bus was excited as they rode to the river. Julie could see that some parts of the river were calm, but there were some really strong rapids. When she and her dad got off the bus and they walked down to the bank of the river, she could see there were huge boulders in the middle of it. Suddenly, Julie started wondering what she had been thinking when she said she wanted an adventurous birthday. Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea, after all! She was shaking a little as Dad helped her get her lifejacket on and handed her a paddle.

But she felt better when a man with a Starbucks ball cap gathered some of them together and started explaining what they were going to do. He told the group that his name was Rob, and that he was going to be their guide for the day. He said that there are different categories of whitewater rapids. In the rating system they used, “1” meant “barely moving,” and “6” meant “Niagara Falls.” Julie blinked and swallowed hard. She had not planned to go rafting on anything like Niagara Falls! She was a little comforted to hear Rob say that the river they were going on was only a “3” or “4.”

Rob showed Julie and her group where and how they should sit in the raft, and then he jumped in the back. They traveled down the river, bouncing through rapids and dodging boulders. Rob would shout simple instructions as they moved along; they paddled when he said “Paddle” and rested when he said “Rest.” Julie could tell that they were sticking to the most exciting part of the river–where the action was. She also noticed that Rob was not only paddling with his oar, but he was also using his oar as a rudder. He used it to steer their raft around the boulders, through the peaceful waters, and over the rough rapids. Julie decided she trusted Rob. She smiled when she saw that he had somehow managed to keep his Starbucks cap on the whole time! Rob had guided people down this same river for years, and he knew how to get them down the river safely. And not only was he going to get them safely back on shore, but he was also going to take them right through the most exciting rapids and give them the best possible journey.

Life is a little like that river. Have you ever stopped to think that God is an expert Guide? Sometimes things go along smoothly. Things are good with your family and friends. God is guiding you through the smooth times. But the life of a Christian will not always be easy. A full life, with lots of the best kind of adventure, is going to have really rough times.

No matter what is happening right now, God is the most trustworthy Guide you could ever have. He is all-knowing. He sees everything and knows how to handle everything. He is all-powerful. He is absolute control of any circumstance that you face in your life, and He can protect you during anything you have to go through. He is faithful. He will not leave you to take care of yourself if you count on Him for His help. You can ask Him to guide you and give you wisdom through both the smooth and the rough places in your life. Depend on God to be your Guide. He is more than worthy of your trust.

God is a faithful and dependable Guide Who deserves our trust.

My Response:
» Do I lean on myself instead of asking God for wisdom and help?
» When I am in trouble, do I look to God as the only perfect Guide?

Denison Forum – Why the “new Cold War” affects every American Christian

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi announced this morning that two million people have now fled Ukraine as conditions worsen by the day. How did you react to this news?

I fear that you and I are becoming accustomed to this unfolding tragedy and thus inured to the suffering we see in our daily headlines. This is understandable, as humans can withstand only so much bad news.

In this sense, Ukraine may be turning into another version of the coronavirus pandemic. We learned yesterday that the global COVID-19 death toll has passed six million. If one of the six million was someone close to you, I suspect you feel very differently about this report than those who have been spared such tragedy (so far).

Humans naturally filter the news through the lens of personal self-interest. For example, when I saw a headline about a “giant spider” infestation spreading across the southern US, I scanned the article to learn whether these insects are poisonous or not. (They are, but their bite is so tiny that they are reportedly not much of a threat to humans.) I did the same with news about a COVID-19 roadmap for the future, new DNA tests to detect diseases, and a report that women who visit a crisis pregnancy center are less likely to get an abortion.

Since, like you, I engage the culture through the prism of personal relevance, an article explaining why Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the beginning of a “new Cold War” that will affect every American caught my immediate attention.

This challenge “will test our nation to its core”

Ukraine and Russia have been engaged in conflict for many centuries. (For the history of their often-fraught relationship, I recommend Mark Legg’s excellent article on our website, “Why does Russia want Ukraine?“).

However, as geopolitical analyst Elliott Abrams explains in an article titled “The New Cold War,” this time is different: “A fully rearmed, aggressive Russia and a rich, aggressive, and technologically advanced China [are telling] us that the international order that has lasted since 1945 must end, and American predominance with it.”

Abrams points to the Vladimir Putin–Xi Jinping joint statement on February 4: “The new inter-State relations between Russia and China are superior to political and military alliances of the Cold War era. Friendship between the two States has no limits, there are no ‘forbidden’ areas of cooperation.” He then comments: “This is a clear announcement of a new alliance meant to go beyond the Cold War—in part by creating a partnership that will lead to a very different outcome this time.”

In Abrams’ opinion, responding to this “new Cold War” is a challenge that “will test our nation to its core.” He believes the US should support Ukrainian resistance against the Russian invaders with money and weapons, then redeploy our European forces east to protect the nations that have borders with Russia and (now) Ukraine.

Next, he believes we should rally our allies across the globe, match China in advanced military technology, modernize and expand our nuclear arsenal, and enhance our energy production to support Europe as it weans itself from Russian energy sources.

According to Abrams, this “new Cold War” is fundamentally a battle between dictatorial autocracy and freedom. For context, he notes that Ronald Reagan “always understood that the Cold War was more than a conflict among states; it was even more fundamentally an ideological conflict between the forces of liberty and the powers that would snuff it out nation by nation until our own was in jeopardy.”

Abrams concludes: “This new struggle has been thrust upon us by Russia and China; there is no escaping it. Strength will be rewarded, and weakness will be punished. The days of easy American preponderance have come to an end; for the next few decades we will have to work hard to keep the global balance of forces from turning against us.”

Why liberty needs God

In such a global conflict between totalitarianism and freedom, you and I have a foundational role to play.

George Washington famously observed in his 1796 Farewell Address: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.” Our first president added that “reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

Consensual democracy depends upon consensual morality, but as Gen. Washington noted, morality requires religion. C. S. Lewis explained why in Mere Christianity: “You cannot make men good by law; and without good men you cannot have a good society.”

The good news is that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Any of us who turns to Christ as our Savior and surrenders daily to his Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) can manifest his character (Romans 8:29Galatians 5:22–23) in ways that empower our democracy and enrich the common good.

The bad news is that this new “Cold War” over freedom is coming at the worst time in American history for such holistic faith.

The fastest-growing religious demographic in America is that segment of our population that professes no religion. Gallup announced last year that the percentage of Americans who claim membership in a church, synagogue, or mosque has fallen below 50 percent for the first time in our nation’s history. As I document in my latest book, The Coming Tsunami, our culture brands Christians as outdated, intolerant, oppressive, and dangerous on a level unprecedented in our nation’s history.

As a result, it is imperative that you and I become the change we wish to see. We cannot give what we do not possess or lead others where we will not go. As I noted yesterday, our example as Spirit-empowered Christ-followers can attract our secular culture to the One who is transforming us by his love and grace. But if we are “conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2), why would the world want what we have?

We will continue this vital conversation tomorrow. For today, I invite you to join me in asking God to empower a great movement of believers who say to Jesus every day, “Whatever you ask, whatever it takes, whatever the cost.” Then let’s answer our prayer with our daily, holistic submission to our King.

In The Normal Christian Life, Watchman Nee observed: “Not until the Lordship of Jesus Christ is a settled thing in our hearts can the Spirit really operate effectively in us. He cannot direct our lives effectually until all control of them is committed to him. If we do not give him absolute authority in our lives, he can be present, but he cannot be powerful. The power of the Spirit is stayed.”

Is the Lordship of Jesus Christ a “settled thing” in your heart today?

If not, why not?

Denison Forum