In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Our Greatest Gift

Because God gave us the gift of faith, we can choose to spend eternity with Him.

Ephesians 2:1-10

What do you consider your most prized possession? If it’s anything material or physical, it won’t bring lasting satisfaction. Why else do so many people keep trading up and racing to have “better” and “more”? In their quest for this world’s goods, a lot of people overlook the most valuable asset of all—faith. 

And faith is a gift from the Lord, not something we can work to obtain. We’re saved only by God’s grace, through faith in the work of Christ on our behalf. On the cross, Jesus bore the punishment that we deserve, and He gives eternal life to all who trust Him.

Without faith, we would have nothing of lasting value. Then all would be lost at death, leaving us to face eternal punishment “away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). 

Have you received God’s great gift? If not, won’t you place your trust in the Savior today? When you acknowledge Jesus as Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:8-10). You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. 

Bible in One Year: 2 Samuel 13-14

Our Daily Bread Permanent Address

Bible in a Year:

One thing I ask from the Lord . . . that I may dwell in the house of the Lord.

Psalm 27:4

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 27:1–6

Not long ago we moved to a new home just a short distance from our old one. Despite the close proximity, we still needed to load all of our belongings onto a moving truck because of the timing of the financial transactions. Between the sale and purchase, our furnishings stayed on the truck and our family found temporary lodging. During that time, I was surprised to discover how “at home” I felt despite the displacement from our physical home—simply because I was with those I love most: my family.

For part of his life, David lacked a physical home. He lived life on the run from King Saul. As David was God’s appointed successor to the throne, Saul perceived him as a threat and sought to kill him. David fled his home and slept wherever he found shelter. Though he had companions with him, David’s most earnest desire was to “dwell in the house of the Lord”—to enjoy permanent fellowship with Him (Psalm 27:4).

Jesus is our constant companion, our sense of “home” no matter where we are. He’s with us in our present troubles and even prepares a place for us to live with Him forever (John 14:3). Despite the uncertainty and change we might experience as citizens of this earth, we can dwell permanently in our fellowship with Him every day and everywhere.

By:  Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

When have you felt most at home in God’s presence? How can you know that Jesus is your constant companion and that He’s always with you regardless of where you are and what you’re going through?

Loving God, I thank You for being my permanent address. Help me to recognize You as my most faithful companion who’s with me wherever I go.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Controlling Yourself

“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5).

Gentleness is power under control.

The Greek word translated “gentle” in Matthew 5:5 speaks of humility, meekness, and non-retaliation—traits that in our proud society are often equated with weakness or cowardice. But in reality they are virtues that identify kingdom citizens.

The same word was used by the Greeks to describe a gentle breeze, a soothing medicine, or a domesticated colt. Those are examples of power under control: a gentle breeze brings pleasure, but a hurricane brings destruction; a soothing medicine brings healing, but an overdose can kill; a domesticated colt is useful, but a wild horse is dangerous.

Christ Himself is the epitome of gentleness. Even when officially announcing His messiahship to Jerusalem, He humbly entered the city astride a donkey (Matt. 21:5). His behavior amid persecution was exemplary: “Christ . . . suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats” (1 Pet. 2:21-23).

Despite His humility and restraint, Jesus wasn’t weak or cowardly. He never defended Himself, but when His Father’s house was being desecrated, He made a whip and beat those who were defiling it (John 2:13-16Matt. 21:12-13). He never shirked from pronouncing judgment on unrepentant sinners, and never compromised His integrity or disobeyed His Father’s will.

The hypocritical Jewish religious leaders expected that when Israel’s Messiah came He would commend them for their wonderful spirituality. Instead, Jesus condemned them and called them children of the devil (John 8:44). In retaliation they had Him murdered. His power was always under control; theirs wasn’t.

Our society has little use for gentleness. The macho, do-your-own-thing mentality characterizes most of our heroes. But you are called to a higher standard. When you pattern your life after Jesus, you will have a significant impact on society and will know true happiness.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for the virtue of gentleness, which He is producing in you by the power of His Spirit. Follow Christ’s example today so that gentleness will mark your character.

For Further Study

Read the following passages, noting the responsibilities and blessings that accompany self-restraint: Proverbs 16:32Ephesians 4:1-2Colossians 3:12, and Titus 3:1-2.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – How to Receive from God

But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the authority (power, privilege, right) to become the children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name.

— John 1:12 (AMPC)

“To get” means to obtain by struggle and effort, but “to receive” means to simply take in what is being offered. Our relationship with God was never intended to be complicated and based upon our own works. The more we learn how to receive from God by faith, the simpler and more enjoyable our walk with Him becomes.

You can keep your relationship with God simple by receiving His unconditional love and believing His Word no matter what you think or how you feel. You can receive by faith all that He offers, even though you know full well that you don’t deserve it. And you can choose to lean on, trust in, and rely on Him to meet every need you have instead of worrying and trying to figure things out.

And with His help (grace), you can obey Him and grow in spiritual maturity by knowing His will and receiving His best for your life!

Prayer Starter: Father, I am tired of getting and am ready to receive from You. Please help me learn to receive, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Rejoicing in Trouble

I will fear no evil, for you are with me.

Psalm 23:4

Consider how the Holy Spirit can make the Christian independent of outward circumstances. What a bright light may shine within us when it is really dark outside! How firm, how happy, how calm, how peaceful we may be when the world shakes, and the foundations of the earth are removed! Even death itself, with all its terrible influences, has no power to suspend the music of a Christian’s heart, but instead makes that music sweeter, clearer, more heavenly, until the last kind act that death can do is allow the earthly song to melt into the heavenly chorus, the temporal joy into the eternal bliss!

Let us have confidence, then, in the blessed Spirit’s power to comfort us. Dear reader, are you facing poverty? Do not fear—the Holy Spirit can give you, in your need, a greater plenty than the rich have in their abundance. You never know what joys may be stored up for you in the cottage around which grace will plant the roses of contentment.

Are you conscious of your physical frailty? Do you anticipate sleepless nights and painful days? Do not be sad! Your bed may become a throne to you. You cannot tell how every pain that shoots through your body may be a refining fire to consume your dross—a beam of glory to light up the secret parts of your soul.

Is your eyesight failing? Jesus will be your light. Is your hearing deteriorating? Jesus’ name will be your soul’s best music, and His person your dear delight. Socrates used to say, “Philosophers can be happy without music,” and Christians can be happier than philosophers when all outward causes of rejoicing are removed.

In You, my God, my heart shall triumph, no matter my circumstances! By Your power, O blessed Spirit, my heart shall rejoice even though all things should fail me here below.

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 for Us

“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” (1 Peter 5:10)

Every fall, Ricky and his sister Anna got to go with their cousins to the apple orchard. The orchard was way out in the country, and Ricky and Anna could smell the sweet, spicy scent of ripe apples even before all the kids could pile out of Uncle Josh’s truck.

The orchard owners would let them do “taste tests” on all the different kinds of apples, to see if they could tell the difference (sweet, or tart, or juicy, or crisp, and so on). They learned that apple trees need about six to eight weeks of cold winter weather so they can go dormant (which is like hibernating, or sleeping for a while) so that the trees will produce juicier, more flavorful fruit. They also learned that if the owners pruned (cut, trimmed back) a tree, it would produce more–and many times better–fruit than it would have if they had left it alone. And Ricky’s jaw dropped when the owners told them that sometimes a branch from one tree is grafted onto another tree–so that it is possible to have different kinds of apples growing on the same tree!

The Bible talks about God like a husbandman, which is the name for someone whose job it is to care for an orchard or vineyard. Instead of trees or vines, God cares for people! Like the orchard owners, God puts a lot of hard work (and seemingly ugly work) into taking care of His own, and helping them bear the best “fruit.”

Did you know that God prunes (cuts and trims) His people so that they will grow spiritually? In John 15:2, Jesus says, “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” Sometimes this process that God uses can feel painful for us, but we still ought to rejoice that He is working on us–because it is going to reap good results. We read in James 1:2-3, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations, knowing that the trying of your faith worketh patience.”

What is that spiritual fruit that God is trying to help us bear? He tells us in Galatians that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffereing, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” We know that God has many good thoughts toward us. (See Psalm 40:5 and Jeremiah 29:11.) And we can be sure it is God’s will for us to bear fruit. (See John 15:8.) Knowing these things and knowing what we know about God’s character and power, we should trust the heavenly “Husbandman” when He “purges” us or when He tries our faith. It is His goal to “grow us” into people who are more and more and more like Jesus Christ. And being more like Christ is the way we bear fruit.

God is our “Husbandman,” and He wants to “grow” us spiritually for His glory and for our good.

My Response:
» Does it feel like God has been “pruning” me or putting me through some uncomfortable “rough weather” lately?
» Does God ever have a mean or evil purpose for doing what He does?
» What kind of fruit is God trying to bring forth out of my life?

Denison Forum – Why Elon Musk serving on the Twitter board matters to every American

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has been confirmed as America’s first Black female Supreme Court justice. Russia was suspended yesterday from the UN Human Rights Council. Tiger Woods’ return to the Masters is being called “his greatest achievement.” Opening Day for Major League Baseball was yesterday.

In the midst of such headline-making news, why should you care that Elon Musk is now on the board of Twitter, where he recently became the single largest shareholder? Less than one in four Americans even use Twitter. And yet, the Wall Street Journal calls Musk’s engagement on the social media site “a hopeful moment for political speech and debate at America’s increasingly censorious tech giants.”

Axios columnist Jim VandeHei explains: “Right now, Twitter decides if former President Trump can post on its platform, and whether to delete a post about vaccines if it and most scientists deem the post misinformation. In a decentralized web, you would decide if Trump appears on the web3 equivalent of your Twitter feed—and set your own thresholds on vaccine information providers” (his emphases).

In a day when Americans trust The Weather Channel more than all other media organizations (by a large margin), it is clear that media agendas are undermining trust in media. As I hope to explain today, this issue is vital not just for our news consumption but for the very future of our society.

Has FOX News “sold its soul”?

FOX News Media CEO Suzanne Scott recently announced that Caitlyn Jenner would be joining their organization as a contributor, stating, “Caitlyn’s story is an inspiration to us all.” The news prompted Christian Post contributor Michael Brown to write an article with the headline “Christian conservatives, you cannot put your trust in Fox News.” He claims that the news organization “has lost its voice and sold its soul.”

The transgender swimmer Lia Thomas has been likened to Jackie Robinson, even though the comparison is illogical and unfounded on a variety of levels.

Bills that would legalize infanticide have been introduced in Maryland and in California. Colorado’s governor signed a bill legalizing abortions up to birth with no limits. A battle over abortions induced by “abortion pills” is looming. The Atlantic has a long essay profiling abortion activists who are developing ways to provide abortions if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade this June.

What could these disparate stories have in common?

The best historical explanation of our cultural crisis

Carl R. Trueman’s new book is titled Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution. It is the best historical explanation of our current cultural crisis I have ever read. (For a summary of his argument, please see my overview of the book on our website.)

Trueman believes we are facing today “a situation without obvious historical parallel.” In brief, contemporary society has made two catastrophic decisions that are undermining our culture and endangering our future.

One: We have decided that we are whatever we feel ourselves to be. 

Trueman defines “the modern self” as “one where authenticity is achieved by acting outwardly in accordance with one’s inward feelings.” He traces this evolution from Descartes through Rousseau, the Romantics, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, and Wilhelm Reich.

Whether we have read these thinkers or not, we are now all influenced by their assertions. In fact, any attempt to express disapproval of one’s decision to act in accordance with one’s feelings is seen as a blow “against the right of that person to be whoever they wish to be.”

For example, we are told that if one feels oneself to be “a woman trapped in a man’s body,” one should be free to change one’s physical body to align with one’s inner feelings. And society should honor and even celebrate the courage of such an “authentic” person.

Two: We have jettisoned the traditional frameworks by which we have always identified ourselves: nation, religion, family, and geography. 

Trueman shows how Reich and Herbert Marcuse have been especially influential in persuading our culture that historical norms and institutions have “restrained” us and kept us from experiencing personal authenticity. Now it is conventional wisdom that such institutions must be repudiated on behalf of sexual, gender, and racial “equality” and replaced with new norms that celebrate personal freedom. Any speech that disagrees or disapproves of this movement is viewed as dangerous to society and worthy of cancelation.

Satan “has blinded the minds of the unbelievers”

It is therefore unsurprising that Twitter and other media platforms would censor speech with which they disagree (ignoring the illogic of being intolerant with the “intolerant”). Or that transgender athletes are hailed as courageous victims (ignoring the athletes against whom they compete so unfairly). Or that abortion would be hailed as a “healthcare” right (ignoring the healthcare of unborn babies).

Christians can expect this narrative to continue and even escalate. As I note in The Coming Tsunami, our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion are more imperiled than at any time in American history.

However, Trueman reminds us that early Christians faced a culture far more antagonistic than ours (so far). Many paid for their faith with their lives. And yet they engaged their antagonists with a positive argument that “Christians made the best citizens, the best parents, the best servants, the best neighbors, the best employees.” Over time, the positive difference Jesus makes in those who follow him fully became obvious, attractive, and empowering.

Paul warned that “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Here is how he responded: “What we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (v. 5).

Whom do you know who has been “blinded” by “the god of this world”?

Whom will you serve “for Jesus’ sake” today?

Denison Forum

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – A Light and Youthful Spirit

The more burdens we lay at Jesus’ feet, the lighter and freer we’ll be.

Ecclesiastes 1

As times passes, we’ll inevitably begin to experience more physical aches and pains. But disappointments can leave us feeling old in spirit at any age. In today’s passage, we find a disheartened Solomon bemoaning how meaningless his existence has become. The king who was once unsurpassed in wisdom has tragically allowed worldly ideals and pursuits to distort his priorities. And as a result, he’s become dissatisfied with life. 

What Solomon didn’t realize is that our focus determines our level of satisfaction. Those who stay young in spirit continually look for evidence of the Almighty—ways that He’s working, providing, loving, and guiding. Without this perspective, the pain and problems of life take center stage, which can then lead to discouragement and grumbling. 

These are burdens that believers are not meant to bear. Jesus Christ invites the weary and heavy-laden to come to Him and find rest (Matthew 11:28-30). Our Savior is the solution for everything that weighs us down, but we must let Him carry it for us. 

What are you hauling around that is aging your body, soul, and spirit? Whether you’re burdened by unforgiveness, regret, guilt, or something else, cast it is on God, because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). 

Bible in One Year: 2 Samuel 10-12