In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Confession and Forgiveness

Confessing sin is important—not to keep our salvation but to maintain intimacy with our heavenly Father.

1 John 1:5-10

Many Christians find it troubling that they repeatedly deal with certain sins. And they rightly turn to 1 John 1:9 for assurance: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” They’re relieved to know God forgives our sins, and they promise to do better. But some people have misunderstood this verse—they believe our salvation is tied to continual confession. 

There’s a big difference between relationship (the unbreakable Father-child bond) and fellowship (our line of communication). Certainly confession plays a vital role in maintaining intimate communication with the Father, but the believer’s standing as His child cannot change. Fellowship with God is interrupted by sin (Psalm 66:18) but restored when we confess and repent. Then we are freed from the emotional bondage of guilt and shame. 

As we mature in our faith, the inclination to sin will decrease. But as long as our earthly life continues, we won’t be fully free of fleshly tendencies. Romans 8:1 offers this additional reassurance: “Therefore there is now no condemnation at all for those who are in Christ Jesus.” So, while our sin may have temporal consequences, we can be certain God has fully pardoned us. 

Bible in One Year: Ruth 3-4

Our Daily Bread — Keep It Simple

Bible in a Year:

Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

Acts 8:35

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Acts 8:26–35

The email was short but urgent. “Request salvation. I would like to know Jesus.” What an astonishing request. Unlike reluctant friends and family who hadn’t yet received Christ, this person didn’t need convincing. My task was to quiet my self-doubt about evangelizing and simply share key concepts, Scriptures, and trusted resources that addressed this man’s plea. From there, by faith, God would lead his journey.

Philip demonstrated such simple evangelism when on a desert road he met the treasurer of Ethiopia who was reading aloud from the book of Isaiah. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked (Acts 8:30). “How can I,” the man answered, “unless someone explains it to me” (v. 31). Invited to clarify, “Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus” (v. 35).  

Starting where people are and keeping evangelism simple, as Philip showed, can be an effective way to share Christ. In fact, as the two traveled along, the man said, “Look, here is water” and asked to be baptized (v. 36). Philip complied, and the man “went on his way rejoicing” (v. 39). I rejoiced when the email writer replied that he had repented of sin, confessed Christ, found a church, and believed he was born again. What a beautiful start! Now, may God take him higher!

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

How do you respond to opportunities to share your faith? What simple answers could you have on hand for someone who wants to know Jesus?

I’m not an expert at evangelizing, heavenly Father, so show me simple, effective ways to share the good news about Christ.

Learn more about leading others to Christ.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Praying with Commitment

“Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).

Your prayers make a difference!

Matthew 6:10 literally says, “Whatever you wish to have happen, let it happen immediately. As your will is done in heaven, so let it be done on earth.” That’s a prayer of active commitment to God’s will.

Many people don’t pray like that because they don’t understand God’s character. They think their prayers don’t matter and that God will impose His will on them no matter what they do. They tend to pray with passive resignation, indifference, or resentment.

I remember praying such a prayer. After my freshman year in college, I was in a serious auto accident. The driver lost control of the car at about seventy-five miles per hour and it rolled several times before coming to a stop. I was thrown clear of the vehicle and ended up sliding down the highway on my backside for about 100 yards. I lost a lot of skin and had some third-degree burns and other injuries, but fortunately I didn’t break any bones.

I was conscious during the entire ordeal and vividly remember thinking, All right God. If you’re going to fight this way, I give up! I can’t handle this! I knew God was calling me into the ministry, but I was focusing my life in another direction.

I think God used that experience to get my attention, and my prayer of passive resignation soon turned to active commitment as He refined my heart and drew me to Himself.

Perhaps God has dealt severely with you, too. If so, it’s only because He loves you and wants to produce the fruit of righteousness in you (Heb. 12:11). Don’t despise His chastening, and don’t be fatalistic or resentful in your prayers. Godly prayers make a difference (James 5:16), so commit yourself to praying expectantly, knowing that God is gracious and wise and always responds for His glory and your highest good (Rom. 8:28).

Suggestions for Prayer

If you tend to pray with indifference, passive resignation, or resentment, ask God’s forgiveness. Study His character and cultivate deep communion with Him through disciplined, trusting prayer.

For Further Study

Read Luke 18:1-8.

  • Why did Jesus tell this parable?
  • What principles do you see that apply to your life?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – The Spirit of a Conqueror

Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us.

— Romans 8:37 (AMPC)

Are you living a victorious life in Christ? If you aren’t, maybe today is the day for you to begin seeing yourself differently than you have in the past, to see yourself as one who overcomes adversities, not as someone who shrinks back in fear or feels overwhelmed every time a trial comes along.

You see, adversities are not optional, they are part of life, and it takes a conqueror to overcome them. Jesus Himself said that we would face trouble in this world (see John 16:33). Paul understood that obstacles were unavoidable and wrote in Romans 8:37 (AMPC) that we are more than conquerors and that we would gain a surpassing victory.

To be more than a conqueror means that before you ever face adversity, before the battle against you even begins, you already know you will win as long as you trust God and don’t give up. That’s a promise to be glad about.

Prayer Starter: Father, when I am in a situation that threatens to overwhelm or intimidate me, I will stand on Your Word that says I am more than a conqueror in You. Thank You that I will not be defeated because You are with me, and You are protecting me.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Competing Prayers

Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am.

John 17:24

Odeath! Why do you touch the tree beneath whose spreading branches weariness finds rest? Why do you snatch away the excellent of the earth, in whom is all our delight? If you must use your axe, use it upon the trees that yield no fruit; then you may be thanked. But why will you chop down the best trees? Hold your axe, and spare the righteous.

But no, it must not be; death strikes the best of our friends: the most generous, the most prayerful, the most holy, the most devoted must die. And why? It is through Jesus’ prevailing prayer—“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am.”

It is that which bears them on eagle’s wings to heaven. Every time a believer moves from this earth to paradise, it is an answer to Christ’s prayer. A good old divine remarks, “Many times Jesus and His people pull against one another in prayer. You bend your knee in prayer and say ‘Father, I desire that Your saints be with me where I am’; Christ says, ‘Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am.’”

In this way the disciple is at cross-purposes with his Lord. The soul cannot be in both places: The beloved one cannot be with Christ and with you too. Now, which of the two who plead shall win the day? If you had your choice, if the King should step from His throne and say, “Here are two supplicants praying in opposition to one another,” which shall be answered? Oh, I am sure, though it were agony, you would jump to your feet and say, “Jesus, not my will, but Yours be done.” You would give up your prayer for your loved one’s life, if you could realize the thoughts that Christ is praying in the opposite direction—“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am.”

Lord, You shall have them. By faith we let them go.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Wants Your Whole Heart

“With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.” (Psalm 119:10)

If you were participating in a Bible trivia game and were asked to name the first three kings of Israel, you would probably have no trouble jumping up and shouting out “Saul, David, and Solomon!” You have heard the stories of how Saul became king while looking for his father’s donkeys (1 Samuel 9), how David killed Goliath with his slingshot (1 Samuel 17), and how Solomon asked God for wisdom instead of riches (2 Chronicles 1). But have you ever thought about what kind of heart each of these three kings had for their God? Did they follow God with their whole hearts, just parts of their hearts, or none of their hearts?

King David had a whole heart for God. The Bible describes him as a man “who followed [God] with all his heart,” (1 Kings 14:8). You can open your Bible to the book of Psalms and read many of King David’s prayers to the Lord. David had a desire to follow God with everything that he had.

King Solomon had half a heart for God. He started out wanting to serve God with all his heart, but as he grew older, he became distracted by the world. When comparing King Solomon with his father, King David, 1 Kings 11:4 says, “For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.” King Solomon got sidetracked from following God. He lost his focus on God and wandered away from God’s commandments.

King Saul had no heart for God. God chose Saul to be the first king of Israel. But King Saul rejected the Lord, and the Lord rejected him. 1 Samuel 15:26, “And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.”

God wants you to seek Him and follow after Him with your whole heart! You must choose what kind of heart you are going to have for God. Will you be like King David, with a whole heart for God? Or will you be like King Saul and King Solomon, who both failed to follow God with their whole hearts?

The God of the Bible wants you to seek Him and follow after Him with your whole heart!

My Response:
» Does God want just part of my attention, or just some of my obedience?
» What kind of heart do I have for God?
» How can I change to have a whole heart for God?

Denison Forum – Pastor to church after building destroyed by fire: “We are always more than the tragedies we face”

Wade Berry is pastor of Second Baptist Church in Ranger, 120 miles west of Dallas. He held an outdoor worship service last Sunday in front of their 103-year-old building, which was destroyed by fire last Thursday evening.

In his sermon, he spoke of residents who lost everything as their homes were turned to rubble and firefighters from thirteen state agencies and forty-eight local fire departments who dropped everything to help. Among them was Eastland County Sheriff Deputy Sgt. Barbara Fenley, who was killed while going door to door trying to help people escape. 

In other news, four US soldiers were killed in a plane crash during a NATO exercise. The White House warned yesterday that the Russian government “is exploring options for potential cyberattacks.” Public health experts warn that a more transmissible version of the omicron variant may fuel a surge of COVID-19 infections in the US. In the continuing strategy to normalize LGBTQ activity, the movie Lightyear will feature Pixar’s first same-sex kiss. 

And amid the escalating tragedy in Ukraine, this report was especially grievous: Boris Romanchenko survived the Holocaust perpetrated by Adolf Hitler, but he did not survive the carnage being perpetrated by Vladimir Putin. The ninety-six-year-old was recently killed in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, another victim of Russia’s atrocities. 

However, while we seem to be surrounded by evil, suffering, and deception on every side, there’s always more to the story. Pastor Berry testified in his sermon: “We are always more than the tragedies we face. There is beauty in ashes, hope in despair, and hope is evident, even in mourning.” 

How can we find such hope where we need it most today? 

Why Denzel Washington is grateful for the “grace of God” 

Yesterday, we discussed God’s invitation to see pain and suffering as opportunities for the gospel when we exercise the power of courageous compassion. Today, let’s focus on the power we need to demonstrate that power to others. 

Like a group of investors who purchased a Caribbean island, we can withdraw from the world and its problems. But for Christians, this keeps our salt in the saltshaker, our light under a basket (Matthew 5:13–16). 

Or, like actor Denzel Washington, we can view our abilities and resources as gifts given by the “grace of God” and use what we have “to help others.” 

The difference Jesus makes in those who follow him is documented regularly by research. For example, a new study shows that teenage Christian boys from working-class families who regularly participate in their church and demonstrate faith in God are twice as likely to earn bachelor’s degrees as their nonreligious or moderately religious peers. And research by the Barna Group reports that 61 percent of practicing Christians said they are flourishing in romantic relationships and friendships, compared to only 28 percent of all US adults who said the same. 

“This is the way, walk in it.” 

I was privileged to speak last Sunday and Monday at the First Baptist Church in Midland, Texas, where Janet and I served as pastor from 1988–94. They are one of the finest New Testament congregations I have ever known. Their vision statement, displayed where everyone who walks the halls of the church can see it, explains why: “To know Christ and make him known.” 

Their outstanding pastor, Dr. Darin Wood, and the congregation understand that each side of the statement is essential to the other. We must know Christ before we can make him known, and we must make him known to know him better. 

We must breathe in to breathe out and breathe out to breathe in. 

You and I obviously cannot give others what we do not possess ourselves. To teach you to speak French, I would first have to learn how to speak French. But the harder I work to teach you French, the more French I am likely to learn. 

Craig Denison is right: “It’s in seeking relationship with God that we become familiar with his voice and are able to follow him as sheep with their Shepherd.” Craig cites these promises: 

  • “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known” (Jeremiah 33:3). When last did you hear “things that you have not known” from God?
  • “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:21). When last did you hear such a word from your Father?
  • “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13). When last did you hear the Spirit’s voice in your mind and heart?

“Let not the rich man boast in his riches” 

Our hurting world desperately needs the gift of authentic Christianity. Lives being transformed every day by the living Lord Jesus are proof that God’s word is true and his grace is amazing. 

Unfortunately, many of us settle for a religion about Jesus when we could have an intimate relationship with him. To experience such a relationship daily, as Oswald Chambers reminds us, I must give up “my claim to my right to myself.” When I do, “The free committal of myself to God gives the Holy Spirit the chance to impart to me the holiness of Jesus Christ.” 

When last did you make such a “free committal” of yourself to Jesus? 

The Lord spoke through his prophet: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lᴏʀᴅ who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth” (Jeremiah 9:23–24). 

In what will you boast today?

Denison Forum