In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Staying Young and Fruitful

Though our physical body ages, our soul stays young as we continually grow in the Lord.

Psalm 92:12-15

Our culture is obsessed with youth. The marketplace is flooded with products promising better health, fewer wrinkles, and stronger bodies. But these will only scratch the surface of our aging problem. Unless death intervenes, growing old is inevitable. Living as if we’re old, however, is a choice. We can be young in soul and spirit, regardless of our chronological age. 

Today’s passage tells us that when a righteous man is firmly planted in the Lord (Ps. 92:13), he’ll become fruitful in things that last into eternity. Believers are never to retire from bearing fruit; we’re to continually abide in Christ so we can do the work He’s given us to accomplish (John 15:4Ephesians 2:10).   

Even when we walk with Christ, our bodies may grow physically weaker in our latter years. But we can have the confidence and stability that come only from growing strong in faith. Each year is an opportunity to trust God more and rely wholly on His Word. 

Staying young while growing old begins with your mind. Never stop listening to the Father and learning from His Word. Allow godly thinking to shape your attitude. Be thankful, never stop laughing, and rejoice in your Lord. Above all, keep believing and loving Him with all your heart. 

Bible in One Year: 2 Samuel 7-9

Our Daily Bread — Parking Lot Quarrel

Bible in a Year:

Do not merely listen to the word . . . . Do what it says.

James 1:22

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

James 1:19–27

The scene in the parking lot might have been funny if it wasn’t so tragic. Two drivers were arguing loudly over one of their cars that was blocking the passage of the other, and harsh words were being exchanged.

What made it especially painful to watch was that this quarrel was taking place in the parking lot of a church. The two men had possibly just heard a sermon about love, patience, or forgiveness, but it was all forgotten in the heat of the moment.

Passing by, I shook my head—then quickly realized I was no better. How many times had I read the Bible, only to fall into sin moments later with an uncharitable thought? How many times had I behaved like the person who “looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like” (James 1:23–24)?

James was calling on his readers not only to read and reflect on God’s instruction, but also to do what it says (v. 22). A complete faith, he noted, means both knowing Scripture and putting it into action.

Life’s circumstances can make it hard to apply what Scripture reveals. But if we ask the Father, He’ll surely help us obey His words and please Him with our actions.

By:  Leslie Koh

Reflect & Pray

What have you read in Scripture that you can do today? What might you stop doing?

Dear God, forgive me for the times I haven’t done what You’ve instructed. Give me the strength and the willingness to obey You with words, actions, and thoughts that please You.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Jesus’ Admonition in Gethsemane

“He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, ‘So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak’” (Matthew 26:40-41).

The need for spiritual vigilance by Christians is constant, but it can’t be achieved in the power of the flesh.

Jesus must have been terribly disappointed in the Garden of Gethsemane when He found the three disciples sleeping. As He labored diligently in prayer before the Father, Peter, James, and John began their desertion of Jesus. They could not even stay awake and offer Him support during His time of greatest need.

Given all that was happening, the Lord’s question, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour?” was not a harsh rebuke. In the spirit of a mentor, Jesus exhorted the three about their need for divine help: “Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation.”

The phrase “keep watching and praying” indicates that all believers must have vigilance. Jesus wants all of us to anticipate temptation and seek God’s help to resist the adversary, just as He did during His vigilant prayer in the Garden.

Our own best efforts to overcome Satan will certainly fail. The only way to deal with the Devil is to flee immediately from him into God’s presence and prayerfully leave matters with Him.

But even when we know and seek to practice what Jesus told the disciples, it is often difficult to do what is right. Jesus saw His three dearest friends’ reaction and was in the midst of His own spiritual struggle, so He acknowledged, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” The apostle Paul also knew the spiritual battle was real and very difficult (Rom. 7:15-23). But Paul was confident, too, that the only source of victory in our most intimidating spiritual challenges is obedience to the power of Jesus Christ: “Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (vv. 24-25).

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Lord’s forgiveness for any recent times when you have failed to be alert and diligent when praying.

For Further Study

Read 1 Peter 5:6-11.

  • What is the first key to spiritual success?
  • Why must we be alert for Satan?
  • What makes faithfulness in suffering worthwhile?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Hearing, Receiving, and Obeying God’s Word

Behold, I long for Your precepts; in Your righteousness give me renewed life…I will keep your law continually, forever and ever [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying it]. And I will walk at liberty and at ease, for I have sought and inquired for [and desperately required] Your precepts.

— Psalm 119:40, 44–45 (AMPC)

Our joy is full when we gratefully receive God’s promises for our lives and obey His commands. When we believe the Word and obey whatever Jesus puts in our hearts to do, we overcome the things that try to upset or frustrate us. Believing God’s Word delivers us from struggling so that we may rest in the promises of God.

The Word says, For we who have believed (adhered to and trusted in and relied on God) do enter that rest (Hebrews 4:3 AMPC). If your thoughts have become negative and you are full of doubt, it may be because you have stopped hearing, receiving, and obeying God’s Word. As soon as you start believing God’s Word, your joy will return, and you will be “at ease” again. Thankfully, that place of rest in God is where He wants you to be every day of your life.

Prayer Starter: Father, I am so grateful for Your Word. I know that the promises and instructions You give me are for my benefit. As I hear, receive, and obey the Word of God today, help me to experience the joy-filled, overcoming life Jesus came to give me.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Cut Them Off!

In the name of the Lord I cut them off!

Psalm 118:12

Our Lord Jesus, by His death, did not purchase a right to just a part of us, but to all of us. He pondered in His passion our complete sanctification—spirit, soul, and body, that in every area He Himself might reign supreme without a rival. It is the business of the newborn nature that God has given to the regenerate to assert the rights of the Lord Jesus Christ.

My soul, insofar as you are a child of God, you must conquer all the rest of yourself that remains unblessed; you must subdue all your powers and passions, and you must never be satisfied until He who is King by purchase also becomes King by gracious coronation and reigns in you supreme. Seeing, then, that sin has no right to any part of us, we are involved in good and lawful warfare when we seek, in the name of God, to drive it out. Since my body is a member of Christ, shall I tolerate subjection to the prince of darkness?

My soul, Christ has suffered for your sins and redeemed you with His most precious blood; do not allow your memory to store up evil thoughts or your passions to be the occasion of sin. Do not allow your judgment to be perverted by error or your will to be led in chains of iniquity. No, my soul, you are Christ’s, and sin has no right to you.

Be courageous concerning this, O Christian! Be not dispirited, as though your spiritual enemies could never be destroyed. You are able to overcome them—but not in your own strength—the weakest of them would be too much for you; but you can and shall overcome them through the blood of the Lamb. If you wonder how to dispossess them since they are greater and mightier than you, go to the strong for strength, wait humbly upon God, and the mighty God of Jacob will surely come to your rescue, and you will sing of victory through His grace.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Cares When We Are Distressed

“I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.” (Psalm 18:3,6)

Have you ever heard a kitten or a rabbit that was in pain? A rabbit’s scream is a terrible sound. If a rabbit is caught in a bush or a trap, and especially if he is frightened or wounded – or both – he is probably going to scream.

What if you were to hear a call even more desperate than that of a small animal? What if you were to hear a fellow human being call out in distress (in pain or great fear of danger)? Would you answer? What if you were walking along in your neighborhood one day, and what if you were to hear a voice call out, “Help! Somebody – please help!”

Well, you might be afraid! That would be a natural reaction in an emergency. You might feel like there isn’t much you could do – whether you’re limited by your age or size or knowledge or whatever the case may be. But if you heard someone desperate and calling for help, you would probably do everything in your power to try to be of at least a little help! Maybe you could find the nearest phone and call 9-1-1 or some kind of emergency response number. Or maybe you could run to find out what was wrong and see if there is some way to contribute to fixing the problem. It may not be very much, but you would probably do all you could!

There are hundreds of verses in God’s Word that reveal (show) Him to be a God Who comes to the rescue when we call out to Him for help. The marvelous thing about having the God of the universe as our Deliverer is that – unlike well-meaning humans who might respond in an emergency – God has no limitations at all! He is always present and all-knowing – so He knows when we are in trouble, maybe even before we ourselves are aware of the trouble. He is all-powerful, so nothing could possibly keep Him from helping if He wanted to help.

God does want to help. Being our highest Source of comfort and strength and power and mercy brings glory to His name, and He loves to help His people who trust Him. These verses about calling out to God in our distress do not have to do only with physical danger or emergencies that we can see and touch. We should also look to God – first and foremost! – when we find ourselves in spiritual danger!

Are you tempted to sin? Are you losing a battle in submitting your reactions to God and responding rightly to what He is bringing into your life? Are you worried or upset or afraid or confused about what God wants you to do next? If so, good! It’s not good that you are in trouble, but it’s good if that trouble drives you to call out to the best possible Savior and Deliverer you could ever have: God.

More than anyone or anything else, God is able and willing to deliver us out of our troubles.

My Response:
» Am I in some kind of physical trouble right now?
» Am I in some kind of emotional or spiritual trouble right now?
» Am I calling on and trusting in God to help me when I need Him?

Denison Forum – Tiger Woods to play the Masters: Why this is “a story that’s just beyond belief”

One reporter called it “the stuff of sporting legend.” Another called it “borderline surreal.” A director of sports medicine called it “a story that’s just beyond belief.”

They were describing the news that Tiger Woods might play in tomorrow’s Masters Tournament less than fourteen months after a car accident that nearly led to the amputation of his right leg. Woods ended the speculation with his announcement yesterday, “As of right now I feel like I am going to play.” More than thirty-five thousand fans were on the grounds at Augusta National on Monday hoping to get a glimpse of his practice round, and his fellow professionals were more than excited to see him.

Tiger Woods has eighty-two PGA Tour wins, tied with Sam Snead for the most in history. In 2001, he became the first golfer ever to hold all four professional major championships at the same time. He was the youngest Masters champion ever and is the career money list leader.

At age forty-six, Woods is fourteen years older than the average age for a major golf champion. Only two players in the last fifty-four years were his age or older when they won a Grand Slam title. And neither was attempting to come back from a life-threatening accident.

Why would Woods even consider doing this?

The question is actually relevant not just for him but for us all.

Our “collective worship of work”

Carolyn Chen is co-director of the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion at UC Berkeley. In a recent article for the Atlantic, she discusses one of the most fascinating and troubling trends in American culture: our “collective worship of work.”

She cites a McKinsey report that 70 percent of employees said their sense of purpose is defined by their work. In her view, the “invisible religion of work” has “become an unassailable part of our culture.”

According to Chen, “At a time when religious-affiliation rates are the lowest they’ve been in the past seventy-three years, we worship work—meaning we sacrifice for and surrender to it—because it gives us identity, belonging, and meaning, not to mention that it puts food on our tables” (her emphasis).

In her view, “houses of worship” that can compete with the worship of work “would have to claim our time, energy, and devotion like work does. We would have to sacrifice and submit to their demands, as we do for work. We would have to build communities of belonging, together seeking meaning and purpose outside of our productive labor.”

Chen adds that such “houses of worship needn’t be only religious ones; they could also be our co-ops, neighborhoods, unions, reading groups, or political clubs.” The goal would be to build “civic organizations that can help us visualize human flourishing that rises above a company’s bottom line.”

“I am not who I think I am”

I do not know Tiger Woods personally (though I have watched him play at the Masters in person and am in awe of his talent). As a result, I cannot say with any certainty what is motivating his possible return to golf. But I do believe his story is a parable of a culture that defines who we are by what we do.

A man stood on a busy street corner and asked a thousand people as they went by, “Who are you?”

Without exception, every person who responded answered by describing their job: “I’m a doctor,” or “I’m a teacher,” or “I’m a pastor.”

A counselor once explained our culture’s sense of self this way: “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.”

And I think you think I am what I do.

By contrast, the Bible defines our identity not by what we do but by Whose we are. We are told that “to all who did receive [Jesus], who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). If our identity is our unchanging essence, this is our identity as Christians. Everything else about us can change, but this cannot. Once we become the children of God, we are a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We will forever be the children of our Father in heaven.

A penetrating life question

How can Christians convince secularized people to choose God’s grace over our cultural worship of work?

We will need to show our skeptical society that our Father’s way is better than their way. To do this, as Chen notes, we will need to “sacrifice and submit” to God’s claim on “our time, energy, and devotion.”

In other words, we desperately need to reject the Western cultural division between the sacred and the secular, Sunday and Monday, religion and the “real world.” We need to adopt the biblical call to holistic faith that submits our lives as a “living sacrifice” to God every day (Romans 12:1). We need to vacate the throne and enthrone the one true King (Matthew 6:33) by being “filled with the Spirit” every day (Ephesians 5:18).

Then the Spirit can empower and direct us to, in Chen’s words, “build communities of belonging, together seeking meaning and purpose.”

Author James Clear recently asked a penetrating question: “If someone took control of your life tomorrow, what’s the first thing they would change?”

Let’s amend his question: “If God took control of your life tomorrow, what’s the first thing he would change?”

Denison Forum