In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Intimacy With Our Heavenly Father

Because God wants us to know what He’s like, He sent His Son—His exact representation—to live among men.

John 1:12-13

Our Creator never intended to be distant from mankind. Instead, He has always wanted an intimate, loving relationship with us. We know this because …

• He sent His Son. Christ came to earth so we could know God the Father. Jesus is His exact representation; His words and works were the same as God’s (John 5:19John 12:50). Therefore, when we look at the Son, we are seeing the character of our Father in heaven.

• He adopted us as His children. Through salvation, God invites us to join His family (John 1:12). This close relationship with our heavenly Father lasts for eternity, providing us with support, encouragement, and love. 

• He is our friend forever. By calling His disciples “friends” (John 15:15), Jesus revealed a special aspect of His relationship with His followers. Christ is a friend who will never desert or turn away from us (Hebrews 13:5). 

• His spirit indwells us. From the moment of salvation, we have the presence of the Holy Spirit within our being. He is closer to us than any earthly kin can be. 

God desires intimacy with us, and our highest calling is to live for Him all of our days (Colossians 3:23). As we do, the Spirit will transform us to resemble the Lord more and more over the course of our life.

Bible in One Year: 1 Samuel 7-9

Our Daily Bread — Where’s God?

Bible in a Year:

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Jeremiah 29:4–7, 10–14

In Martin Handford’s Where’s Waldo? books, a series of children’s puzzle books first created in 1987, the elusive character wears a red and white striped shirt and socks with a matching hat, blue jeans, brown boots, and glasses. Handford has cleverly hidden Waldo in plain sight within the busy illustrations filled with crowds of characters at various locations around the world. Waldo isn’t always easy to see, but the creator promises readers will always be able to find him. Though looking for God isn’t really like looking for Waldo in a puzzle book, our Creator promises we can find Him, too.

Through the prophet Jeremiah, God instructed His people on how to live as foreigners in exile (Jeremiah 29:4–9). He promised to protect them until He restored them according to His perfect plan (vv. 10–11). God assured the Israelites that the fulfillment of His promise would deepen their commitment to call on Him in prayer (v. 12).

Today, even though God has revealed Himself in the story and Spirit of Jesus, it can be easy to get distracted by the busyness of this world. We may even be tempted to ask, “Where’s God?” However, the Creator and Sustainer of all things declares that those who belong to Him will always find Him if they seek Him with all their hearts (vv. 13–14).

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

What distractions prevent you from spending time seeking God through Bible reading and prayer? How has God helped you focus on Him when busyness tugs you away from Him?

Loving Creator and Sustainer of all, please help me seek You daily with all my heart and trust You will keep the promises You’ve made.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Practical Humility

“Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men” (Philippians 4:5).

Real humility will have a forbearance that is gracious toward others and content with its own circumstances.

Some Greek words have various meanings that are hard to translate into just one English word. This is true of “forbearing” in today’s verse. It can refer to contentment, gentleness, generosity, or goodwill toward others. Some commentators say it means having leniency toward the faults and failures of others. Other scholars say it denotes someone who is patient and submissive toward injustice and mistreatment—one who doesn’t lash back in angry bitterness. It reminds us very much of what we have been considering for the past week—humility.

The humble believer trusts God and does not hold a grudge even though others have unfairly treated him, harmed him, or ruined his reputation. Such a person does not demand his rights. Instead, he will pattern his behavior after his Lord Jesus, who in supreme humility manifested God’s grace to us (Rom. 5:10).

If you are conscientiously following Christ, your behavior will go against the existentialism of modern society. Existentialism claims the right to do or say anything that makes one feel good. Today’s existentialist unbeliever has a twisted logic that says, “If something makes you feel good but hurts me, you can’t do it. But if something makes me feel good but hurts you, I can do it.”

Unhappily, many believers have been caught up in that kind of thinking. They don’t call it existentialism—self-esteem or positive thinking are the preferred terms—but the results are much the same. Such Christians do what satisfies their desires, often at the expense of other people. At its core, this kind of attitude is simply sinful self-love.

In contrast to such self-love, Philippians 4:5 exhorts us to exhibit humble forbearance and graciousness to others. Other Scriptures command us to love our enemies and show mercy to those who sin (Matt. 5:441 Peter 4:8). Such qualities allowed the apostle Paul to say, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Phil. 4:11). God wants us to be just as humble and content with our circumstances.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Lord to help you remain content in the midst of all that happens to you today.

For Further Study

Read Jesus’ parable about mercy and compassion in Matthew 18:21-35.

  • What parallels do you find between the parable and our study of forbearance?
  • What kind of priority does Jesus give these issues?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Get a New Attitude

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]….

— 1 Corinthians 13:7-8 (AMPC)

There may be times in our lives when God allows us to go through serious difficulties to enable us to eventually minister to and comfort others who are suffering. If this is what God permits in our lives, then we can be assured we are able to handle it because He promises never to allow us to go through more than we can bear.

It may feel as if we’re never going to overcome the challenges we’re facing, but if we look back at the lives of believers in past centuries, we see that God gave them the strength to overcome the “impossible.” Let’s remember how David faced Goliath and take joy in defeating obstacles rather than letting them defeat us.

Prayer Starter: Father, with Your help, I believe I can do whatever I need to do in life—no matter how tough—because Christ lives in me. Thank You Jesus.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – The Son of Man

The Son of Man.

John 3:13

How constantly our Master used the title, “the Son of Man!” If He had chosen, He might always have spoken of Himself as the Son of God, the Everlasting Father, the Wonderful Counselor, the Prince of Peace; but behold the lowliness of Jesus! He prefers to call Himself the Son of Man. Let us learn a lesson of humility from our Savior; let us never court great titles nor proud degrees. There is here, however, a far sweeter thought. Jesus loved mankind so much that He delighted to honor it; and since it is a high honor, and indeed the greatest dignity of mankind, that Jesus is the Son of Man, He is willing to display this name, that He may, as it were, hang royal stars upon the breast of mankind and display the love of God to Abraham’s seed. Son of Man—whenever He said this, He shed a halo around the head of Adam’s children. Yet there is perhaps a more precious thought still. Jesus Christ called Himself the Son of Man to express His oneness and sympathy with His people. In this way He reminds us that He is the one whom we may approach without fear. As a man, we may take to Him all our griefs and troubles, for He knows them by experience. In that He Himself has suffered as “the Son of Man,” He is able to rescue and comfort us. We bless You, Lord Jesus, for using such a title to remind us and assure us that You are a brother. This is for us a token of Your grace, Your humility, Your love.

Oh see how Jesus trusts Himself
Unto our childish love,
As though by His free ways with us
Our earnestness to prove!

His sacred name a common word
On earth He loves to hear;
There is no majesty in Him
Which love may not come near.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Gives New Strength

“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

The phrase “renew their strength” in Isaiah 40:31 means that God will exchange (swap, or trade) their strength. Just like you might change the old tires on a car, or change into clean clothes after playing in the mud, God will change the strength of those that trust in Him through His Word. What kind of strength does God give? God’s Word says it is the kind that causes us to “mount up with wings as eagles.”

Did you know that eagles molt (lose or shed) their feathers as the old feathers get worn out? New feathers replace the old ones, increasing the eagle’s ability to do what it was created to do! When those new feathers grow in, the eagle has more power for flight, because its feathers are new. If the eagle did not molt its worn-out feathers and get new feathers, eventually it would not be able to fly at all.

We need God’s strength for everything! We cannot obey, we cannot love, and we cannot do truly good works without God’s strength. But the strength we had yesterday might already be used up on yesterday’s activities. So what should we do? We must go again to God and His Word today and believe what He says. We will gain (get) new strength as we believe God through His Word.

What is simply outstanding is that when the new strength you get for today has run out, there will be more to replace it. Why? Because the strength’s source is God. God never runs out, gets tired, or grows old. God is the Source of all strength, and He enjoys giving His children what they need as they trust in Him.

God always has more strength to give because He is all-powerful.

My Response:
» Am I trusting God provide everything I need so that I can do what I was created to do?
» What are some Bible promises I can think about to remind me that only God can be my Source of new strength?

Denison Forum – A girl and her pet hamster: Half of Ukraine’s children have been displaced by war

Ten-year-old Zlata Moiseinko is living in a schoolhouse in Ukraine that has been converted into a field hospital operated by Israeli medical workers. Russia’s invasion has now displaced half of Ukraine’s children, Zlata among them. She became so unsettled that her father risked his life to return to their apartment to rescue her pet hamster, Lola, to comfort her.

“I want peace for all Ukraine,” the little girl told an Associated Press reporter.

The human cost of this escalating crisis is staggering. The US Department of State released a statement this week describing “war crimes by Russia’s forces in Ukraine.” The Biden Administration announced yesterday that the US will accept up to one hundred thousand Ukrainian refugees fleeing the fighting. And NATO allies agreed yesterday to provide Ukraine with equipment and training to respond to a possible Russian attack using chemical, biological, or even nuclear weapons.

In the face of such challenges, my claim across this week that Christians should reframe crises as opportunities for the gospel can seem naïve. We understand theologically that we are called to bring the “light of the world” to the darkness, that we are commissioned to make disciples of all nations, even those at war.

But it’s not enough to know we are called to be change agents in a broken culture—we must believe that we can make a transformative difference where we are, as we are. To that end, let’s close our week by focusing on the empowering ways God can change us.

What happens through us must first happen to us. Said differently, when something happens to us, it is likely to happen through us as well.

The only way to “find life and flourishing”

In Jesus the Great Philosopher: Rediscovering the Wisdom Needed for the Good Life, biblical scholar Jonathan T. Pennington identifies two characteristics of biblical ethics: imitative and agentic.

Biblical moral standards are imitative in that God’s ethical demands are rooted in his own nature. According to Pennington, “Humans will only find life and flourishing when they imitate their Creator, when they learn to inhabit the world in the ways that accord with God’s own nature, will, and coming kingdom.”

Biblical ethics are agentic in that “we as moral agents matter.” As Pennington notes, “Who we are as people is significant—our understanding, our emotions, our motives, and our desires are wrapped up in what is right and wrong.”

This imitative and agentic ethic is a kind of “virtue ethics” that “focuses not just on the external issues of right and wrong but on our interior person and our development to be a certain kind of people. In the Bible, this means becoming more like God himself.”

Here’s the problem: we need God’s help to become more like God. Humans, because we are fallen and sinful by nature, cannot transform ourselves into a holiness we do not possess. I once heard our attempts to be good enough for God likened to a group of tourists who decided to swim from California to Hawaii. The best swimmers got further than the others, but all drowned.

“The condescension of compassion”

This is why, as Irenaeus noted, Jesus became one of us that we might be one with him. St. Leo the Great said of our Lord, “He took the nature of a servant without the stain of sin, enlarging our humanity without diminishing his divinity. He emptied himself: though invisible he made himself visible, though Creator and Lord of all things he chose to be one of us mortal men. Yet this was the condescension of compassion, not the loss of omnipotence. So he who in the nature of God had created man, became in the nature of a servant, man himself.”

Because our sinless Savior died for our sins, paying our debt by dying on our cross, you and I now can “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). If you have asked Jesus to forgive your sins and become your Lord, his Holy Spirit now dwells in you, making you his temple (1 Corinthians 3:16) and manifesting in and through you “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

If we will repent of our efforts to save, sanctify, and justify ourselves, coming with humble contrition and repentance to our loving Savior, he will forgive everything we confess (1 John 1:9), separate our sins from us “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12), “cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19), and “remember [our] sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34; cf. Hebrews 8:12).

Then, when his love liberates us from our sins, through this grace “we draw near to God” (Hebrews 7:19), his Spirit demonstrates his “fruit” in our lives (Galatians 5:22–23), and we become changed people used by God to change the world.

“I am only one, but I am one”

You and I cannot stop Putin’s horrific invasion of Ukraine. We cannot stop all crimes, prevent all disasters, or heal all diseases. However, we must not let what we cannot do keep us from doing what we can do.

If our hope was in our abilities and resources, we would have no real hope at all. But our hope is not in us but in the One who indwells us, empowers us, and wants to use us as his universal body to continue the ministry he began in his physical body (1 Corinthians 12:27).

All Jesus has ever done, he can still do. What he did on earth, he can do on earth. What he did through his first followers, he can do through us.

Will we kneel before his throne as our Lord today? Will we use his blessings, not for ourselves but to advance his kingdom? Will we seek his glory over our own?

If we do, we can say with author and minister Edward Everett Hale (1822–1909), “I am only one, but I am one. I can’t do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.”

Will you?

Denison Forum