In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Benefits of Choosing Wisdom

The more we seek divine wisdom, the more we develop godly discernment.

Proverbs 2

The world often evaluates decisions in terms of pros and cons, benefits and drawbacks. What happens if we apply that same thinking to spiritual matters: What are the benefits of following God’s wisdom? Or, in other words, Why should we seek to obey the instructions given in Scripture? 

First of all, in seeking God’s wisdom, we acquire a deeper understanding and knowledge of Him (Prov. 2:4-6). Our perception of life changes when we know the Lord intimately. He gives us the ability to see ourselves, others, and situations from His perspective. And as biblical principles permeate our mind, they shape our response to life’s challenges. 

Second, God promises to guide and guard us when we walk wisely (Prov. 2:7-9). Nothing outside His will can penetrate the shield of protection around those who seek to obey Him. When we let His wisdom enter our heart, discretion prevents us from engaging in foolish or sinful relationships that would draw us away from Him (Prov. 2:11-20). 

Godly understanding doesn’t become ours simply because we want it. Such benefits must be sought out. If you receive the words of Scripture and let them fill your heart and mind, the Lord will reveal Himself to you and give you His discernment. 

Bible in One Year: 1 Kings 18-19

Our Daily Bread — Love Is Worth the Risk

Bible in a Year:

If you love me, keep my commands.

John 14:15

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

John 21:15–19

After a friend ended our decade-long friendship without explanation, I began slipping back into my old habit of keeping people at arms’ length. While processing my grief, I pulled a tattered copy of The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis off my shelf. Lewis makes a powerful observation about love requiring vulnerability. He states there’s “no safe investment” when a person risks loving. He suggests that loving “anything [will lead to] your heart being wrung and possibly broken.” Reading those words changed how I read the account of the third time Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection (John 21:1–14), after Peter had betrayed Him not once but three times (18:15–27).

Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” (21:15).

After experiencing the sting of betrayal and rejection, Jesus spoke to Peter with courage not fear, strength not weakness, selflessness not desperation. He displayed mercy not wrath by confirming His willingness to love.

Scripture reveals that “Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ ” (v. 17). But when Jesus asked Peter to prove his love by loving others (vv. 15–17) and following Him (v. 19), He invited all His disciples to risk loving unconditionally. Each of us will have to answer when Jesus asks, “Do you love me?” Our answer will impact how we love others.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

Why would a loving God ask His beloved children to risk being hurt for the sake of loving others like Jesus did? How can an intimate relationship with God help you feel safe enough to risk loving?

Loving God, please break down every wall that keeps me from being vulnerable so I can love You and others with Spirit-empowered courage, compassion, and consistency.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Becoming Pure in Heart

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8).

You have a part to play in becoming pure in heart.

Purifying a heart is the gracious and miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, but there are some things we must do in response to His prompting. First, we must admit we can’t purify our own hearts. Proverbs 20:9 says, “Who can say, ‘I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin?'” The implied answer: no one!

Next, we must put our faith in Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice on the cross is the basis for our cleansing. Acts 15:9 says that God cleanses hearts on the basis of faith. Of course our faith must be placed in the right object. First John 1:7 says, “If we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

Finally, we must study the Bible and pray. The psalmist said we keep our way pure by keeping it according to God’s Word, which we must treasure in our hearts (Ps. 119:911). As we pray and submit to the Word, the Spirit purifies our lives.

That’s how you acquire and maintain a pure heart. As a result you “shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). That doesn’t mean you’ll see Him with physical eyes, but with spiritual ones. You begin to live in His presence and become increasingly aware of His working in your life. You recognize His power and handiwork in the beauty and intricacy of creation (Ps. 19). You discern His grace and purposes amid trials and learn to praise Him in all things. You sense His ministry through other Christians and see His sovereignty in every event of your life. Life takes on a profound and eternal meaning as you share Christ with unbelievers and see Him transform lives.

There’s no greater joy than knowing you are pure before God and that your life is honoring to Him. May that joy be yours today and may God use you in a powerful way for His glory!

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Lord for continued grace to live a pure life so others will see Christ in you.

For Further Study

Read Isaiah 6:1-8.

  • Describe Isaiah’s vision of God.
  • How did Isaiah respond to God’s presence?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Thank God for His Mercy

But I have trusted, leaned on, and been confident in Your mercy and loving-kindness; my heart shall rejoice and be in high spirits in Your salvation.

— Psalm 13:5 (AMPC)

God is slow to anger and plenteous in mercy (see Psalm 103:8). It is impossible to deserve mercy, and that is why it is such a waste of time to try to pay for our mistakes with good works or guilt. We don’t deserve mercy, but God gives it freely. This free gift is something to be thankful for!

Mercy overrides “the rules.” You may have grown up in a home that had lots of rules, and if you broke any of them, you got into trouble. Although God does intend for us to keep His commands, He understands our nature and is ready to extend mercy to anyone who will ask for and receive it.

When we learn to receive mercy, then we will also be able to give it to others—and mercy is something many people seriously need.

Prayer Starter: Thank You, Father, for the way You extend mercy to me each and every day. I desire to please You in everything I do, but I thank You that when I fall short, You never fail to bless me with the free gift of Your love and mercy.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – The Lord’s Battle

Fight the Lord’s battles.

1 Samuel 18:17

The Christian is involved in a continual war, with Jesus Christ as the Captain of their salvation. He has said, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”1 Listen to the battle cries! Now let the people of God stand firm in their ranks, and let no man’s heart fail him. We may feel in these days that we are losing the battle and unless the Lord Jesus shall lift His sword we do not know what may become of the church of God in our time; but let us be courageous and bold.

Seldom has there been a time like this as biblical Christianity trembles on the brink of capitulation to pluralism and empty religious routine. We are in great need of a bold voice and a strong hand to preach and publish the Gospel for which martyrs bled and confessors died. The Savior is, by His Spirit, still on earth; let this encourage us. He is always ever in the middle of the fight, and therefore the outcome of the battle is not in doubt. And as the conflict rages, what a deep satisfaction it is to know that the Lord Jesus, in His office as our great Intercessor, is prevalently pleading for His people!

Turn your anxious gaze from the battle below, where, enshrouded in smoke, the faithful fight in garments rolled in blood. And lift your eyes above where the Savior lives and pleads, for while He intercedes, the cause of God is safe. Let us fight as if it all depended upon us, but let us look up and know that it all depends upon Him.

On the basis of our Savior’s atoning sacrifice and in the strength of the Holy Spirit’s power, we charge you who love Jesus to fight bravely in this holy war, for truth and righteousness, for the kingdom and the crown. Onward! The battle is not yours but God’s, and you will yet hear Him say, “Well done, brave warrior, well done!”

1) Matthew 28:20

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 to Be Your One Desire

“Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” (Psalm 73:25)

Imagine that your grandmother has asked you to clean out her attic. You walk up to the top of the stairs and begin wading through old boxes and dusty furniture. You wonder what you should clean first.

Looking to your left, you see an antique trunk sitting in the corner. You walk over, lift the top, and peer inside. There, sitting on the bottom of the trunk, is an old brass oil lamp. You pick it up and gently rub the dust away.


All of a sudden, a genie pops out of the lamp! With a deep, booming voice, he says, “Tell me your one wish and I shall make it come true!” What would you wish for? What one thing do you desire most? If you could have anything in the world, what would you ask for?

The writer of Psalm 73 wrote that his greatest desire in life was God. The psalmist realized that God is everything that he needed–light, salvation, strength, protection, comfort, and joy. There is nothing he desires more than God. The psalmist looked around at what others have–wealth, possessions, or friends–and realized that without God, all of those things are as twigs burning in a fire.

When you want something more than God, you are worshipping an idol. Now, you probably do not have a golden statue in your house that you bow down to, but when you want or love something more than God, it is just as though you are bowing down to it and saying, “you are my god.” The first commandment says that you should put nothing in front of God (Exodus 20:3). Instead, you are to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind (Deuteronomy 6:5).

What kinds of things are you tempted to put in front of God – TV, clothes, music, XBox, Playstation3, sports, shopping? You need to think about these things and ask God to take away those idols in your life so that He is your only desire. You increase your desire for God by reading His Word to learn more about Him and become more like Him. The more you know and learn about God, the more He will be your one desire. You want to be able to say with the psalmist, “there is nothing I want more than to know and love God.”

You must desire God more than anything!

My Response:
» Do I need to ask God’s forgiveness for wanting something else more than Him?
» What do I put in front of God?
» What can I do to increase my desire for God?

Denison Forum – Russia takes first city since launching “new phase of war”

 “Set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).

Russia ratcheted up its battle for control of Ukraine’s eastern heartland yesterday.

Russian forces seized the city of Kreminna, which appears to be the first city confirmed to have fallen since Vladimir Putin’s forces launched a “new phase of war.” As Russia continues to attack the port city of Mariupol, Ukraine is planning this morning to evacuate around six thousand women, children, and elderly people. The Pentagon estimates that Russia has already sent eleven more battalion tactical groups into Ukraine and has tens of thousands more in reserve north of Ukraine who are being resupplied and readied to join the war.

In other geopolitical news, Iran’s president warned that it will target “the heart” of Israel if the Jewish state makes the “slightest move” against his country. This after Iran accused Israel of “Zionist” aggression following a clash between Palestinians and Israelis at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque last Friday. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp also promised a “new wave” of support for Palestinians rising up against Israel.

And more than forty people were arrested in Sweden following violent clashes between police and people angry at plans by a far-right group to burn copies of the Qur’an. Following Sunday’s clashes, Sweden’s national police chief said he had never seen such violent riots. More than two hundred people have been involved in the violence; twenty-six police officers and fourteen members of the public have been injured and more than twenty vehicles have been damaged or destroyed.

Vladimir Putin dreams of rebuilding the Russian Empire as a modern-day Peter the Great. Iran believes that the state of Israel is a “theft” of land from its rightful Palestinian owners and thus an attack on Islam. Swedish street violence is pitting people against each other over ideologies.

As John F. Kennedy observed, “A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.”

The threat of artificial intelligence

Yesterday we began discussing Jonathan Haidt’s illuminating Atlantic article analyzing the impact of social media on our culture. He notes the degree to which “a democracy depends on widely internalized acceptance of the legitimacy of rules, norms, and institutions” and shows how social media is undermining such acceptance as polarizing and often false content becomes increasingly pervasive and influential.

Haidt believes that as corrosive and damaging to our culture as social media is now, its future effects will be far worse. He warns that “artificial intelligence is close to enabling the limitless spread of highly believable disinformation.” He cites the AI program GPT-3, which is “already so good that you can give it a topic and a tone and it will spit out as many essays as you like, typically with perfect grammar and a surprising level of coherence.” Then he notes, “In a year or two, when the program is upgraded to GPT-4, it will become far more capable.”

Deep-fake videos, images, and text will “quickly become inconceivably easy” as a result. American factions and adversaries such as Russia’s Internet Research Agency and terrorist groups will be able to use this technology to polarize our society and spread distrust.

The consequences for our children are especially damaging. As Haidt notes, they are “less likely to arrive at a coherent story of who we are as a people, and less likely to share any such story with those who attended different schools or who were educated in a different decade.” They are growing up in a world with no objective norms, no north on the compass, and only the applause or opprobrium of their social media friends for moral guidance.

Four reasons for adolescent depression

The World Health Organization notes that depression, anxiety, and behavioral disorders are “among the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents.” Four forces are especially propelling the rising rates of depression among young people today:

  • Social media use subjecting teenagers to the judgment of friends, teachers, and the digital crowd
  • decline in sociality as today’s teens spend less time with their friends or playing youth sports
  • News about the world’s stresses such as gun violence, climate change, and the divisive political environment
  • Modern parenting strategies that accommodate children rather than helping them cope with their challenges.

Each of these forces is related in some way to Haidt’s fears regarding the pervasiveness and corrosiveness of social media in contemporary culture. (For more, see Mark Legg’s helpful article, “Why are teens sadder, lonelier, and more depressed than ever before?“)

Here’s another consequence: as social media use has risen, the religious affiliation of eighteen to thirty-five-year-olds has plummeted. In 1998, 73 percent of this demographic claimed to be Christians; today the number has fallen below 50 percent.

How can Christians respond biblically and redemptively?

Every Paul needs a Timothy

In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville noted, “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.” As faith declines, so will consensual morality and ultimately the liberty that depends upon it.

Paul’s admonition to Timothy has never been more urgent than it is today: “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). “Entrust” means to “pass along” in the sense of passing a baton. “Able” means “equipped and strengthened.” If Timothy will pass forward the truth of Scripture to those who will in turn pass it on to others, the Christian movement will continue and will multiply. Otherwise, it will die.

This is because God has no grandchildren. Christianity is always one generation from extinction. What Timothy and others of his generation did to promote and perpetuate the faith enabled the kingdom to advance across the ages to you and me.

Now it’s our turn. Every mature Christian needs to mentor someone who will continue the mission after their kingdom assignment is completed.

Every Paul needs a Timothy, and every Timothy needs a Paul.

Which is true for you today?

NOTE: When will the next Great Awakening occur? History records four notable ones from the 1730s to the early 1900s. Isn’t it time for another? In the latest book from Denison Forum, my son Ryan Denison describes these Awakenings and the role each of us may play in bringing about the next Great Awakening. I encourage you to request your copy of How to Bless God by Blessing Others today to learn more. 

Denison Forum