In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Impossible Love Made Possible

Only the Holy Spirit can enable us to fulfill God’s two greatest commandments.

Galatians 5:13-23

Jesus said the two greatest commandments are these: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). What an overwhelming assignment! 

In our own strength, we will find success out of reach, but the Lord has provided a way for Christians to accomplish the impossible. The indwelling Holy Spirit works to produce His fruit in us (Gal. 5:22-23). The first quality listed is love, and the remaining eight are actually descriptions of how it is conveyed.  

Love isn’t produced by trying harder to muster good will toward someone who is irritating or hard to get along with. Instead, think of the process more like sap running through a branch on a grapevine. In a similar way, the Spirit flows through us, producing God’s love so we can express it to Him and to others. 

Whenever we demonstrate kindness, patience, or gentleness, it’s God’s doing, not ours. Even the adoration we offer Him isn’t something we produce in our own heart apart from His assistance. Though the command to love is enormous, God’s grace makes it possible. 

Bible in One Year: 1 Chronicles 13-15

Our Daily Bread — Our Father

Bible in a Year:

This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father . . .”

Matthew 6:9

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Matthew 6:5–13

Most mornings I recite the Lord’s Prayer. I’m not worth much for the new day until I’ve grounded myself in those words. Recently I’d said only the first two words—“Our Father”—when my phone rang. It startled me as it was 5:43 a.m. Guess who? The phone display read “Dad.” Before I had a chance to answer, the call quickly ended. I guessed my dad had called by mistake. Sure enough, he had. Random coincidence? Maybe, but I believe we live in a world awash in the mercy of God. That particular day I needed that reassurance of our Father’s presence.

Think about that for a minute. Of all the ways Jesus could have taught His disciples to begin their prayers, He chose those two words—“Our Father” (Matthew 6:9) as the starting point. Random? No, Jesus was never less than intentional with His words. We all have different relationships with our earthly fathers—some good, some far less than that. However, praying in the way we should is not addressing “my” father or “your” father, but “our” Father, the One who sees us and hears us, and who knows what we need before we even ask Him (v. 8).

What an amazing reassurance, especially on those days when we might feel forgotten, alone, abandoned, or simply just not worth much. Remember, regardless of where we are and what time of day or night it might be, our Father in heaven is always near.

By:  John Blase

Reflect & Pray

How can you make the Lord’s Prayer a part of your prayer life? What feelings do those two words—“Our Father”—stir in you?

Father, thank You for Your promise to hear me when I pray, regardless of where I may be.

Learn more about prayer.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Priority of Spiritual Unity

“The names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-gatherer; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him” (Matt. 10:2-4).

Unity in the Spirit is the key to a church’s overall effectiveness.

Unity is a crucial element in the life of the church—especially among its leadership. A unified church can accomplish great things for Christ, but disunity can cripple or destroy it. Even the most orthodox churches aren’t immune to disunity’s subtle attack because it often arises from personality clashes or pride rather than doctrinal issues.

God often brings together in congregations and ministry teams people of vastly different backgrounds and temperaments. That mix produces a variety of skills and ministries but it also produces the potential for disunity and strife. That was certainly true of the disciples, which included an impetuous fisherman like Peter; two passionate and ambitious “sons of thunder” like James and John; an analytical, pragmatic, and pessimistic man like Philip; a racially prejudiced man like Bartholomew; a despised tax collector like Matthew; a political Zealot like Simon; and a traitor like Judas, who was in it only for the money and eventually sold out for thirty pieces of silver.

Imagine the potential for disaster in a group like that! Yet their common purpose transcended their individual differences, and by His grace the Lord accomplished through them what they never could have accomplished on their own. That’s the power of spiritual unity!

As a Christian, you’re part of a select team that is accomplishing the world’s greatest task: finishing the work Jesus began. That requires unity of purpose and effort. Satan will try to sow seeds of discord, but you must do everything possible to heed Paul’s admonition to be “of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, and intent on one purpose” (Phil. 2:2).

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray daily for unity among the leaders and congregation of your church.

For Further Study

Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-9, noting how Paul addressed the issue of disunity in the Corinthian church.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Prepare to Love Others

The night is far gone and the day is almost here. Let us then drop (fling away) the works and deeds of darkness and put on the [full] armor of light.

— Romans 13:12 (AMPC)

Before your feet touch the floor in the morning, put on the full armor of God with which you can quench all the fiery darts of the enemy (See Ephesians 6:13–17). Put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and the readiness of the gospel of peace.

Don’t let the devil steal your peace in the morning. Start talking to God before you even get out of bed. Tell Him, “I love You, Lord, and I need Your help today. Please strengthen me to walk in the fruit of the Spirit. Help me walk in love all day long. Help me to keep my thoughts on You, Lord.”

Prayer Starter: Thank You, Father, for loving me and for helping me love others. Thank You for the way You guide and direct me as I go through my day and for the wonderful plan You have for my life.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Find Wisdom

Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.

Proverbs 16:20

Wisdom is man’s true strength; and under its guidance he is best able to find and fulfill his reason for living. Wisely handling the matter of life gives to man the richest enjoyment and presents the noblest occupation for his powers; and in this way he finds good in the fullest sense.

Without wisdom, man is like a wild donkey running here and there, wasting strength that might have been profitably employed. Wisdom is the compass by which man is to steer across the trackless waste of life; without it he is a derelict vessel, the victim of winds and waves. A man must be prudent in such a world as this or he will find no good, but will be betrayed into unnumbered ills. The pilgrim will sorely wound his feet among the briers of the wood of life if he does not pick his steps with the utmost caution. He who is in a wilderness infested with thieves must handle matters wisely if he would journey safely.

If, trained by the Great Teacher, we will follow where He leads, we will find good even in the darkness, and celestial fruits to be tasted, and songs of paradise to be sung amid the groves of earth. But where shall this wisdom be found? Many have dreamed of it without possessing it. Where will we learn it? Let us listen to the voice of the Lord, for He has declared the secret. He has revealed to the sons of men where true wisdom lies, and we have it in the text, “blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.” The true way to handle a matter wisely is to trust in the Lord. This is the sure clue to the most intricate labyrinths of life; follow it and find eternal bliss. He who trusts in the Lord has a diploma for wisdom granted by inspiration: Happy is he now, and happier he shall be above.

Lord, in this sweet evening walk with me in the garden, and teach me the wisdom of faith.

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 Direction

“And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat. And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare? And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.” (Luke 22:8-13)

If you look at verse 8 above, you see that Jesus asked Peter and John to go prepare a place where they could celebrate the Passover feast. This was the last meal Jesus would share with his twelve disciples, and it needed to be very special. He did not want a crowded place, but somewhere perfect for the occasion. On top of that, it was the day of the feast itself! Have you ever gone out to eat on an Easter Sunday or on Thanksgiving Day, only to find all the restaurant lobbies filled with people waiting to be seated?

Peter and John were entrusted with the task of finding a very special place on very short notice. If you had been in their shoes (their sandals?) you might have left immediately, all worried about having to find this special place. Instead of panicking or leaning on their own wisdom, these men actually took the time to ask Jesus what He desired. In the end, their choice was probably a great blessing to them! If they had hurried away without asking for some direction, they may have wandered the city for a long time and still not found that perfect place that had already been prepared ahead of time.

In the same way, when we have a task to accomplish, no matter how small it seems or how able we feel, we always need to seek the Lord and ask Him for directions. He does not visibly stand before us these days, like He did with Peter and John, but he is with you and will guide you if your heart’s desire is to do what He would have you do. As we see in verses 9-13, Jesus knows what He is doing. He knows all things, and He is the most wise and most able. He has plans that include you, too. Take the time to ask Him for specific directions. Do not lean on your own wisdom and strength; lean on the One Who is most wise and able to help you. Like that room God provided for the disciples’ Passover feast, you will find that God’s guidance always leads to the best thing.

God is the best Guide when we need direction.

My Response:
» When I need direction, is my first response to go to God, or do I rely on other people and things for guidance?
» How can I show that I trust God’s wisdom and strength more than my own?

Denison Forum – The Supreme Court news you may have missed

This week, a Supreme Court ruling made headlines. I’m not referring to the draft by Justice Samuel Alito of a majority opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade. The day before the “leak heard ’round the world,” the court ruled that Boston violated the free speech rights of a person when it refused to fly a Christian flag on a flagpole outside City Hall.

The court determined that the city discriminated against Harold Shurtleff because of his “religious viewpoint.” Boston had approved 284 consecutive applications to fly flags before rejecting Shurtleff’s because he wanted to fly a Christian flag.

Here’s the amazing part: the Supreme Court not only overturned lower courts that had sided against Shurtleff, but it did so by a unanimous 9–0 decision. And that decision was written by Justice Stephen Breyer, who was nominated by President Bill Clinton and is considered the second-most liberal member of the court.

On this annual National Day of Prayer, let’s give thanks for the freedom to have a National Day of Prayer, a right that would be unthinkable for Christians in many countries around the world.

And let’s use this right as God intends, which is more counterintuitive than you might think.

The Supreme Court flip that led to 22 million abortions

I am grateful that the Continental Congress issued a national call to prayer in 1775. I am also grateful that Billy Graham’s call for America’s leaders to unite in prayer during the Korean War led to the National Day of Prayer tradition that began in 1952.

However, I am confident that American leaders who believe in prayer also believe that we need to pray for our nation not just once a year but every day of the year.

The Supreme Court leak has once again exposed the danger of self-governance without personal morality. Presumably, a single person made the decision to leak this document, a decision to betray their trust and the confidentiality of the court that has precipitated a crisis now dominating the news.

Consider another example of the power of one person in a democracy. Justice Anthony Kennedy’s flip on abortion when the Supreme Court considered Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey in 1992 caused the court to affirm rather than overturn Roe v. Wade. Had he remained consistent with his long-held position on abortion, more than twenty-two million babies aborted since that time could have been saved. This is the population of Kansas, New Mexico, Nebraska, Idaho, West Virginia, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Maine, Montana, Rhode Island, Delaware, South Dakota, North Dakota, Alaska, the District of Columbia, Vermont, and Wyoming—combined.

We could spend the rest of the day discussing the other moral crises of our day. My point is simple: America needs America’s Christians to pray for America fervently and daily.

But there’s a catch.

“Can man make for himself gods?”

Paul declared, “We ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man” (Acts 17:29). This seems to be a self-evident assertion: If a human makes an object, how can that object be divine?

The prophet Jeremiah similarly asked, “Can man make for himself gods?” Then he answered his question: “Such are not gods” (Jeremiah 16:20). You and I would obviously agree.

However, the great British pastor Charles Spurgeon would caution us that our response might be too hasty. He wrote: “We pity the poor heathen who adore a god of stone and yet worship a god of gold. Where is the vast superiority between a god of flesh and one of wood? The principle, the sin, the folly is the same in either case.”

Then he added this convicting note: “In ours the crime is more aggravated because we have more light and sin in the face of it. The heathen bows to a false deity, but the true God he has never known; we commit two evils, inasmuch as we forsake the living God and turn unto idols.” He then prayed, “May the Lord purge us all from this grievous iniquity!”

I fear that one such “grievous iniquity” is the way some of us pray. When we make prayer merely a day or an event, we violate the biblical command to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). When our prayers are merely transactional—praying for our nation so God will bless our nation—our prayers make God a means to our ends.

I fear that God would consider such prayer to be akin to idolatry. We are not praying to the wrong God, but we are praying for the wrong reasons.

“Prayer is the life of the saint”

A. W. Tozer observed, “The Scripture does not say of Abraham that he believed the text and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Abraham believed God. It was not what Abraham believed, but who Abraham believed that truly counted” (my emphasis).

The purpose of prayer is first that we know God. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism teaches, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” The psalmist spoke for us all when he prayed, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1–2).

The Scottish minister John Baillie was thus right to pray: “You have breathed your Spirit into my spirit; you have formed my mind to seek you; you have turned my heart to love you; you have made me restless for the rest that can be found in you.”

Oswald Chambers would have agreed. One of the great spiritual geniuses of all time, he observed: “The correct concept is to think of prayer as the breath in our lungs and the blood from our hearts. Our blood flows and our breathing continues ‘without ceasing’; we are not even conscious of it, but it never stops. . . . Prayer is not an exercise, it is the life of the saint.” As a result, he taught us to “maintain the childlike habit of offering up prayer in your heart to God all the time.”

Our larger prayer

Without question, we should pray for God to bless America. In fact, we are commanded to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1–2) and for our needs (Matthew 7:7). We should pray for our nation as the Jews prayed for theirs (Psalm 122:6).

But our larger prayer should be that Americans would know God. That we would receive not just his gracious favor but his living presence. That we would seek not just what he can do for us but the salvation he alone can give us. That we would experience the spiritual and moral awakening that is our true hope for the future.

Would you make this your prayer for America today?

Would you make it your prayer for your soul?

Denison Forum

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Supreme Love

All our works for the Lord mean nothing if they’re not done in love.

1 Corinthians 13:1-7

Today’s Scripture is commonly known as the love chapter. Interestingly, Paul didn’t spell out a definition of love but instead described its importance and expression.

This type of love isn’t human in origin; it comes from our heavenly Father and is part of His very nature (1 John 4:16). What the apostle’s describing is an unselfish, sacrificial love that acts on behalf of someone else. God’s desire is to transform all believers into the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29). And we are most like Christ when we display such selfless care for one another.

The first three verses of 1 Corinthians 13 issue a warning. Without the motivation of love, all our good deeds—including service for the Lord—will profit us nothing. In God’s eyes, a loving spirit is more important than impressive words, knowledge, faith, generosity, and self-sacrifice. When we stand before Christ to be judged for our good works, any deeds done for selfish reasons will not be found worthy of reward.

We’re all blind to some degree regarding our motives, so discerning why we serve God or do good deeds can be difficult. Pray to know your heart’s hidden intentions, and ask the Lord to replace any self-centered motivations with His more excellent way of love.

Bible in One Year: 1 Chronicles 10-12