In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Christian Duties

Church community isn’t just for Sundays—it should continually edify our life in Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-15

It may be startling to realize the commands in verse 14 of today’s passage aren’t addressed to church leaders but to “brothers and sisters”—terms used to refer to fellow Christians. How adequate do you feel to “admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, [and] be patient with everyone”? 

Our life in the community of faith isn’t a matter of merely sitting through a worship service each Sunday. Let’s not think of the church as a place but as a group of believers who are “all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13). That means being there to comfort the grieving, guide the straying, and encourage those who are weary from their trials. 

To accomplish this, we must be willing to listen. It’s easy to give a quick answer before truly understanding someone’s situation. But since the outward problem may be but a symptom of an internal spiritual struggle, it’s wise to be patient. When others are given a chance to share, we can better discern how God wants us to respond. 

We should always seek what’s best for one another. In some cases, practical or material help is called for; at other times, it could mean prayer or a willingness to help a person grow spiritually. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what your role is.

Bible in One Year: 1 Chronicles 7-9

Our Daily Bread — Longing for a Home

Bible in a Year:

Pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

Psalm 62:8

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 62:1–8

Anne, the lead character in the Anne of Green Gables stories, longed for a family. Orphaned, she had lost hope of ever finding a place to call home. But then she learned that an older man named Matthew and his sister Marilla would take her in. On the buggy ride to their home, Anne apologized for chattering on and on, but Matthew, a quiet man, said, “You can talk as much as you like. I don’t mind.” This was music to Anne’s ears. She felt no one had ever wanted her around, much less wanted to hear her chatter. After arriving, her hopes were dashed when she learned the siblings had thought they were getting a boy to help as a farmhand. She feared being returned, but Anne’s longing for a loving home was met when they made her a part of their family.

We’ve all had times when we felt unwanted or alone. But when we become a part of God’s family through salvation in Jesus, He becomes for us a secure home (Psalm 62:2). He delights in us and invites us to talk with Him about everything: our worries, temptations, sorrows, and hopes. The psalmist tells us we can “find rest in God” and “pour out [our] hearts to him” (vv. 5, 8).

Don’t hesitate. Talk to God as much as you like. He won’t mind. He delights in our hearts. In Him you’ll find a home.

By:  Anne Cetas

Reflect & Pray

What circumstances have caused you to make God your home? What do you want to talk to Him about?

Help me, God, not to hold back in talking with You when I’ve got something on my heart. Thank You for Your listening ear.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Love of the Truth Brings Hatred

“‘All these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me’” (John 15:21).

The world, in its general hatred of the truth and ignorance of God, will also hate believers.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ time hated Him intensely. If we are committed to following Him wholeheartedly today, we can’t expect to avoid persecution and hardship any more than He did. In John 15:20 our Lord tells us what to expect: “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”

If our perspective is right, however, this expectation should actually make us happy and even provide a certain sense of security. Receiving persecution from the world because we are Christ’s representatives means we have an opportunity to experience what Paul called “the fellowship of His sufferings” (Phil. 3:10). As one commentator has said, Christian suffering “is the very means God uses to transform us into the image of His Son.” Troubles and pains can be great reassurances that we have been united with Christ.

As we saw yesterday, it’s no surprise that the world hates us. It despises our general opposition to its system, but aside from that, the world hates believers simply because it doesn’t know God.

This basic ignorance of God usually appears in one of two ways. Either it shows up as apathy and religious superstition (Acts 17:22-23) or as more glaring actions and attitudes of moral and spiritual deviation (Romans 1:18—2:2). Whatever the case, people in the world are just doing what is natural for them because of their sin and depravity.

As a Christian, what should your response be? You should not be indifferent or accommodate the serious challenges you’ll face from the world. Instead, you ought to, by faith, realistically accept the truth of John 15:21, comfortably rest in the teaching of Philippians 3:10, and confidently seek to minister to the world “because the foolishness of God [the gospel] is wiser than men, and the weakness of God [the cross] is stronger than men” (1 Cor. 1:25).

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Lord to help you begin grasping what it means to partake in “the fellowship of His sufferings.”

For Further Study

Read Acts 5:17-42.

  • How is the world’s attitude toward the gospel displayed in this passage?
  • What did the apostles appeal to when faced with severe opposition?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – You Don’t Have to Be Perfect

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

— Romans 5:8 (NKJV)

Yesterday, in a moment of hot temper, I said something I should not have said, and of course, once I calmed down, I felt bad that I had behaved foolishly. I immediately asked God for forgiveness and apologized to Him. Today, I am rejoicing in the fact that God does not demand perfection from us in order to receive His love.

A person who pressures him or herself to be perfect is properly referred to as a “perfectionist,” and they usually live under a great deal of pressure and disappointment simply because reaching perfection while here on earth is an unattainable goal. Our loving Father knows this, so He sent Christ to die for our sins (imperfections). The truth is that our sins are paid for before we ever commit them!

I urge you to believe that God loves you unconditionally at all times and your fellowship with Him does not need to be interrupted by your imperfections (sins). When you make mistakes, admit them, talk openly with the Lord about them, be willing to turn from them, and remember that it was for people just like you and me that Jesus died!

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You that I don’t need to live under the pressure to be perfect. I want to do everything right, but when I fail, help me remember that Your love for me does not diminish.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Go to Jesus

A very present help.

Psalm 46:1

Covenant blessings are not meant only to be observed but to be appropriated. Even our Lord Jesus is given to us for our present use. Believer, you do not make use of Christ as you ought to do. When you are in trouble, why do you not tell Him all your grief? Does He not have a sympathizing heart, and can He not comfort and relieve you? No, you are going to all your friends, except your best Friend, and telling your story everywhere, except into the heart of your Lord.

Are you burdened with this day’s sins? Here is a fountain filled with blood: Use it, saint, use it. Has a sense of guilt returned upon you? The pardoning grace of Jesus may be proved again and again. Come to Him at once for cleansing. Do you deplore your weakness? He is your strength: Why not lean upon Him? Do you feel naked? Come here, soul; put on the robe of Jesus’ righteousness. Do not stand looking at it, but wear it. Strip off your own righteousness, and your own fears too: Put on the fair white linen, for it was meant to be worn.

Do you feel yourself sick? Call upon the Beloved Physician, and He will give the medicine that will revive you. You are poor, but remember you have a kinsman, who is incredibly wealthy. What! Will you not go to Him and ask Him to give you from His abundance when He has promised that you will be joint heir with Him and has credited all that He is and all that He has to your account? There is nothing Christ dislikes more than for His people to make a show of coming to Him and yet not to use Him. He loves to be employed by us. The more burdens we put on His shoulders, the more precious He will be to us.

Let us be simple with Him, then,
Not backward, stiff, or cold,
As though our Bethlehem could be
What Sinai was of old.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Comforts Those Who Mourn

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)

God used Mandy’s friend Crystal to teach her the meaning of this verse. Mandy was talking to Crystal on the phone one day, and she told Crystal a lie. Mandy lied because she cared more about pleasing Crystal than about pleasing God, and because she wanted to make herself look better than she was. As soon as the lie was out of her mouth, Mandy was shocked and sorry. But she did not tell Crystal she had lied. “What would she think of me if she knew?” Mandy thought. “She might not want to be my friend anymore. I’ll just confess my sin to God. That will be enough.”

But for a few days after that, Mandy was still miserable. She could not stop thinking about the lie. Finally, she wrote Crystal a note. She told Crystal about the lie and asked her to forgive her.

When Crystal got Mandy’s note, she went out of her way to come and find her. Mandy was so ashamed to face her that she began to cry. She felt that she did not deserve to have Crystal’s friendship anymore.

Mandy will never forget what Crystal did next. She put her arm around Mandy and told her she had forgiven her. Then she reached out and wiped away one of Mandy’s tears as it fell.

Have you sinned against God? Are you ashamed and sorry? Maybe it is a sin that you have committed many times before. Maybe you feel like you just cannot face God and ask His forgiveness yet again. What must He think of you?

When we come to God with a mournful, brokenhearted spirit about our sin, God’s response to us is just like Crystal’s to Mandy–and even more wonderful, because He is God. The Bible tells us that He will never turn away a broken and a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17). He will forgive us–every time we come. The blood of Jesus keeps on cleansing us from every sin (1 John 1:9). And someday, when we see God face to face, He will wipe away our tears forevermore (Revelation 21:4). That is how gracious He is.

God comforts and forgives those who are truly sorry for their sin.

My Response:
» When I sin against God, do I feel sorry and ashamed?
» Has my own attitude toward Jesus ever been rebellious?
» What do I do about my sin?

Denison Forum – Leaked draft reveals that the Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade

The Supreme Court has voted to strike down Roe v. Wade, according to what POLITICO calls “an initial draft majority opinion.”

I intended today to continue Monday’s discussion of mental health issues and biblical encouragement. However, since the POLITICO report is such an obviously significant story, I will shift to summarizing it, then we’ll consider three biblical responses.

Roe and Casey must be overturned”

The draft making global headlines today was written by Justice Samuel Alito and circulated inside the court. It was obtained by POLITICO last night, which describes it as “a full-throated, unflinching repudiation” of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing federal abortion rights and the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision that largely maintained them.

Alito writes, “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

POLITICO further reports that, according to “a person familiar with the court’s deliberations,” justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett voted with Alito in a conference after hearing oral arguments on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization last December. The line-up reportedly remains unchanged as of this week.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan are working on one or more dissents, according to the source. It is reportedly unclear how Chief Justice John Roberts will ultimately vote and whether he will join an already written opinion or draft his own.

An “unprecedented revelation”

The draft opinion runs ninety-eight pages and includes a thirty-one-page appendix of historical state abortion laws. According to POLITICO, it is “replete with citations to previous court decisions, books and other authorities, and includes 118 footnotes.” It is labeled as a first draft of the majority opinion and includes a notation that it was circulated among the justices on February 10.

However, as POLITICO notes, justices sometimes change their votes as draft opinions circulate. Major decisions can be subject to multiple drafts and vote changing, sometimes until just days before a decision is unveiled. The court’s decision will not be final until it is published, probably in the next two months.

POLITICO adds that “no draft decision in the modern history of the court has been disclosed publicly while a case was still pending” and observes, “The unprecedented revelation is bound to intensify the debate over what was already the most controversial case on the docket this term.”

What about legal precedents?

Justice Alito notes, “Until the latter part of the twentieth century, there was no support in American law for a constitutional right to obtain an abortion. Zero. None. No state constitutional provision had recognized such a right.”

Justice Alito lists about two pages’ worth of decisions in which Supreme Court justices overruled prior precedents. He also writes, “We emphasize that our decision concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other right. Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.”

The justices held their last arguments of the current term last Wednesday. A series of sessions are now set over the next two months to release rulings in still-unresolved cases, including the Mississippi abortion case that led to Alito’s draft.

If the court does rule as the draft document would indicate, a federal constitutional protection of abortion rights would end and each state would be allowed to decide whether to restrict or ban abortion.

Would this end abortion?

According to this morning’s New York Times, if the court overturns Roe, “abortion would probably become illegal in about half of states.” One group lists twenty-four states that are likely to ban abortion; another group lists twenty-six such states.

However, women seeking abortions could travel to a state where abortion is legal or order pills online from outside the country. Texas is an example: after a law went into effect in September banning abortion at around six weeks, abortions at Texas clinics fell by half. But many women were able to obtain abortions in other states or by ordering pills. As a result, the total number of abortions among Texas women fell only by around 10 percent.

So, what does today’s news mean?

If the Supreme Court rules as the draft opinion would indicate, the fight for unborn children will be waged in the states. Since abortion will still be available in many states and through pills, we will need to focus on what has always been the heart of the issue: ministering to women who are considering abortion. Let’s close with three simple but urgent ways to do this.

One: Go to them.

Jesus went to Samaria (John 4:4), where he initiated a relationship with a Samaritan woman (v. 7), violating the conventions of his Jewish culture (v. 27). Following his example, let’s seek ways to help women who are considering abortion. If you do not know any, ask the Lord to lead you. Consider volunteering at a crisis pregnancy ministry in your community. Earn the right to be heard by building relationships based on compassion and humility.

Two: Offer hope in Christ.

The Samaritan woman came to Jacob’s well for water, but Jesus offered her “living water” (v. 10) that would become “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (v. 14). Jesus will forgive every sin we confess (1 John 1:9) and make us a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17) with “abundant” and joyful life (John 10:10).

Our highest purpose with every person we meet is to offer them the hope we have found in Christ. To do this, we must often meet felt needs to meet spiritual needs (cf. John 6:2). Women choose abortion for a variety of reasons, including financial pressures, educational or job plans, and not being emotionally or mentally prepared to become a mother. Christians and churches can help to meet these practical needs, offering hope that leads to our ultimate hope in Christ.

Three: Pray for them.

Please join me in praying daily for women and their families to choose life for their unborn children. Pray for those who minister directly with such women and consider joining them. Support their ministries as you can.

Joni Eareckson Tada was right: “Though gradually, though no one remembers exactly how it happened, the unthinkable becomes tolerable. And then acceptable. And then legal. And then applaudable.”

Let’s make abortion unthinkable through our intercession and compassion. Millions of lives are in the balance.

Denison Forum