In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Develop a Long-Term Focus

Keeping an eternal perspective aligns our actions with God’s plan.

Genesis 25:19-34

Today’s Scripture reading tells the story of two brothers, one of whom was willing to sell his birthright (a double share of his father’s inheritance) for a bowl of stew. Why would Esau relinquish such a valuable asset for a temporary need? According to Hebrews, his foolish decision sprang from a godless heart (Hebrews 12:16). Esau didn’t value what God had given him but was concerned only about his immediate needs.

The problem with this mindset is that it leaves no room for things of eternal value—in other words, things of God. Of course, we all like to think we have enough common sense and intelligence to make good decisions. But as followers of Christ, we must rely upon the Lord’s wisdom instead of our own.

If you’re constantly preoccupied with immediate needs and desires, ask the Lord to help you understand what He wants for your future. Read His Word and ask for guidance to a path that brings Him everlasting glory. As was true of Esau, certain decisions you make will have long-term consequences. So trust the Lord, and carefully consider the eternal outcome before you make a commitment.

Bible in One Year: Job 1-4

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Giving Out of Love

Bible in a Year:

Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Matthew 6:4

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Matthew 6:1–4

Every day, Glen purchases his morning coffee at a nearby drive-through. And every day he also pays for the order of the person in the car behind him, asking the cashier to wish that person a good day. Glen has no connection to them. He’s not aware of their reactions; he simply believes this small gesture is “the least he can do.” On one occasion, however, he learned of the impact of his actions when he read an anonymous letter to the editor of his local newspaper. He discovered that the kindness of his gift on July 18, 2017, caused the person in the car behind him to reconsider their plans to take their own life later that day.

Glen gives daily to the people in the car behind him without receiving credit for it. Only on this single occasion did he get a glimpse of the impact of his small gift. When Jesus says we should “not let [our] left hand know what [our] right hand is doing” (Matthew 6:3), He’s urging us to give—as Glen does—without need for recognition.

When we give out of our love for God, without concern for receiving the praise of others, we can trust that our gifts—large or small—will be used by Him to help meet the needs of those receiving them.

By:  Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

How have you benefited from someone’s anonymous giving? How can you give more “in secret”?

Father, thank You for using me to meet the needs of others and for meeting my needs through them. Help me not to seek credit when I give but to do so in a way that gives You the glory. 

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Integrity Means No Compromise!

“O Lord, who may abide in Thy tent? Who may dwell on Thy holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart” (Psalm 15:1-2).

To love Christ and to be characterized by ever-increasing fidelity to biblical truth is the heart of true integrity.

Christian integrity has been defined as the absence of compromise and the presence of biblical convictions. In the words of the psalmist, it is to work righteousness and to speak truth from the heart (Ps. 15:2).

Many people in Scripture demonstrate exemplary integrity. For example, Jesus spoke of Nathanael as an Israelite “in whom is no guile” (John 1:47). To be without guile is to be truthful and unpretentious, which is another way of saying Nathanael had integrity. What a wonderful commendation!

Like Nathanael, Daniel was a man of uncompromising integrity, and in our studies this month Daniel’s example will demonstrate the power, characteristics, and blessings of biblical integrity. You will also see how God uses even the most difficult circumstances to test and refine your integrity.

This is an especially timely topic for our day because the spirit of compromise is flourishing all around us: in politics, in sports, in business, and sadly, even in the church. But Scripture calls us to an uncompromising standard that reflects the integrity of Christ Himself. As the Apostle John said, “The one who says he abides in [Christ] ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6).

This month you will see some of the challenges that await those who refuse to compromise their biblical convictions, as well as the blessings that come to them. As you do, I pray that the Lord will strengthen and encourage you, and that you will be one who truly “walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart.”

Suggestions for Prayer

Make King David’s prayer yours today: “Guard my soul and deliver me; do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in Thee. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for Thee” (Psalm 25:20-21).

For Further Study

Read Daniel 1, 3, and 6 in preparation for our studies this month. Make a list of the character traits you see in Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego that are worthy of imitation.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Love Him? Obey Him!

If you [really] love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands.

— John 14:15 (AMPC)

In the verse for today, Jesus says we demonstrate our love for Him by obedience to what He says. Whenever I think about hearing from God, I keep coming back to the fact that we won’t hear Him clearly if we are not obeying Him in what we already know to do. Without obedience we have a guilty conscience. As long as we have that guilty conscience, we cannot have faith and confidence (see 1 John 3:20–24).

The goals of a Christian should be quite different from the goals of a nonbeliever. Those who are not serving God want money, position, power, and things, but as Christians our primary goal should be to obey and glorify God. I went to church for many years without giving a great deal of thought to obeying God. I was following a religious formula hoping that would make me acceptable to God, but I had not made a full commitment to be guided daily by His principles. Open your entire life to God and invite the Holy Spirit as your Teacher in life. Do your best to obey His directions, and when you fail, ask for forgiveness, and begin again. Don’t waste time and energy feeling guilty, because in Christ we can always have a new beginning. Pray about obedience, study it, and actively pursue it every day. In this way, we demonstrate our love for God.

Prayer Starter: Lord, I love You and want to show that love through obedience to You. I cannot accomplish this goal without Your direction and guidance. Forgive me for my disobedience and I invite you to be my Teacher in life so that I can begin again, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – In the Wilderness

For the Lord . . . Makes her wilderness like Eden.

Isaiah 51:3

In my mind’s eye I see a howling wilderness, a great and terrible desert, like the Sahara. I perceive nothing in it to relieve the eye; all around I am wearied with a vision of hot and arid sand, on which are ten thousand bleaching skeletons of wretched men who have expired in anguish, having lost their way in the pitiless waste. What an appalling sight! How horrible! A sea of sand without boundary and without an oasis, a cheerless graveyard for a forlorn race.

But look and wonder! All of a sudden, springing from the scorching sand I see a well-known plant; and as it grows it buds, the bud expands—it is a rose, and at its side a lily bows its modest head—and, miracle of miracles, as the fragrance of those flowers is diffused, the wilderness is transformed into a fruitful field, and all around it blossoms abundantly like the glory of Lebanon, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon. Do not call it Sahara; call it Paradise. Do not refer to it any longer as the valley of death, for where the skeletons lay bleaching in the sun, a resurrection is proclaimed, and up spring the dead, a mighty army, full of life immortal. Jesus is that well-known plant, and His presence makes everything new.

The wonder is no less in each individual’s salvation. I can see you, dear reader, cast out, an infant, unclothed, unwashed, defiled with your own blood, and left to be food for beasts of prey.

But look, a jewel has been thrown into your bosom by a divine hand, and for its sake you have been pitied and guarded by divine providence; you are washed and cleansed from your defilement; you are adopted into heaven’s family; the fair seal of love is upon your forehead, and the ring of faithfulness is on your hand—you are now a prince to God, though once an orphan and a castaway. Cherish then the matchless power and grace that changes deserts into gardens and makes the barren heart sing for joy.

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Must Come First

“I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.” (Job 23:12b)

How do we know when someone really loves us? One way we can tell is when that person gives up something they love in order to spend time with us. Imagine that you came to your parents when they were busy with something they enjoy—maybe reading a good book or watching a basketball game on TV. What if your mom put her book down and said, “I can read this book any old time. I would rather spend time with you. Let’s go for a walk!” Or what if your dad turned off the TV and said, “You’re more important to me than a basketball game. I’d rather go shoot some hoops in the driveway with you.” If your mom or your dad were willing to give up something for you, you’d know that they really cared about spending time with you.

It’s the same way in our relationship with God. We show our love for God by showing that He comes first. One way that we can show Him how much we love Him is by spending time in His Word—even if it means giving up something else we love in order to do it. God’s Word is the primary place where He reveals Himself, the best place to get to know Him.

Job was a man who really, really loved God. He said that he would rank God’s Word even higher than the food he needed to stay alive! He would be willing to give up food if necessary, because God’s Word was more important to him.

We don’t always have to give up food or a sport or a hobby to spend time in God’s Word. Sometimes it just means pulling our thoughts away from some other fascinating topic we would rather think about. It means turning our minds to think about what God is saying, and turning our hearts to obeying.

Are you willing to love God by showing Him that time in His Word is very important to you—every day?

We show love for God by placing great importance on our time in His Word.

My Response:
» Have I spent time reading and thinking about God’s Word yet today?
» Is there anything I’ve been doing that is stealing away the time I would usually spend with God?
» What do I need to do to guard my time with God?

Denison Forum – Is America under divine judgment? A warning from Dr. Tony Evans

Dr. Tony Evans is one of the most brilliant biblical expositors in the evangelical world. Always measured and thoughtful, he is the opposite of a reactionary voice. As a result, when he says America is under judgment, you and I should listen. And when he explains why, we should listen even more personally.

In an interview with the Christian Post, Dr. Evans stated his belief that God’s judgment on our world is evidenced by conflicts which seem unending in recent years. He cited 2 Chronicles 15:3–6, which reads in part, “One nation was being crushed by another and one city by another, because God was troubling them with every kind of distress.” He also pointed to Romans 1, which speaks of God removing himself from those who remove themselves from him.

Why is God judging us?

Dr. Evans stated, “I think one of the things we’re facing now is the judgment on America because of the failure of the church to be the people of God that represents his kingdom more than we represent the nation.” This is because, as he states, “We’ve been more cultural Christians than biblical Christians.”

Is he right?

LGBTQ flash cards in a preschool class

Funerals began yesterday afternoon in Uvalde, Texas, a week after a mass shooting that killed nineteen children and two teachers. Several schools have faced copycat threats in the days since. Just days after the school shooting in Uvalde, more than thirty people lost their lives from gun violence around the country.

In other news, today marks the first day of Pride Month, an annual focus on the LGBTQ community. As evidence of the further normalization of unbiblical sexuality, a school system in North Carolina is investigating how LGBTQ-themed flash cards were used in a preschool classroom.

As another sign of our times, consider this headline: “Laverne Cox is first trans woman to have Barbie doll modeled after her.” The article came to me in an “Optimist” email from the Washington Post among other “feel good” stories.

And the ongoing pandemic is impacting our children in deeply significant ways. In a New York Times survey, 94 percent of school counselors said their students were showing more signs of anxiety and depression than before the pandemic. One said, “Anxiety is filling our kids right now. They are worried about their family and friends. They are stressed because they are behind in school.”

Parents are struggling as well. They are dealing with the rising costs of gas, groceries, and other daily expenses. Black, Latino, and Asian parents are stressed about racism, bullying, and violence their kids may encounter. And 62 percent of parents said they feared their children could be victims of a mass shooting.

One parenting expert said, “There’s almost not a word to express the stress parents are under right now. ‘Overwhelmed’ doesn’t cut it. It’s beyond anything we’ve experienced.”

Beware “the coral insects of thy little sins”

Yesterday we focused on Alan Noble’s perceptive book, You Are Not Your Own: Belonging to God in an Inhuman World, and his assertion that we belong either to ourselves or to God. Here’s why his book is relevant to Dr. Evans’ warning: when we belong to ourselves, we commit idolatry. We worship the creature rather than the creator.

God cannot bless such sin because he cannot be complicit in idolatry, and he knows how much this sin harms us. In fact, he must judge such sin as a means to our repentance and restoration to himself.

As a result, it is imperative that you and I see sin as God does. There are no “small” sins with a holy God, no “private” sins we can commit without consequences. On the contrary, “sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:15).

Charles Spurgeon noted that God “hides his face behind the wall of thy sins” and observed, “That wall may be built up of little pebbles, as easily as of great stones. The sea is made of drops; the rocks are made of grains; and the sea which divides thee from Christ may be filled with the drops of thy little sins; and the rock which has well nigh wrecked thy ship may have been made of the daily working of the coral insects of thy little sins” (his emphasis).

However, he added, “Christians can never sin cheaply; they pay a heavy price for iniquity. Transgression destroys peace of mind, obscures fellowship with Jesus, hinders prayer, brings darkness over the soul; therefore be not the serf and bondman of sin” (his emphasis).

How to be blessed

Dr. Evans is right: The further our culture turns away from God, the further we turn into idolatry and the inevitable judgment of God. What is true of our nation is also true of your soul and mine.

However, our Lord can empower us to live for Christ and not for ourselves, to choose holiness over idolatrous sinfulness.

He promised Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Sufficient in the Greek means to have all we could want or need. Made perfect could be translated as “brings its intended purpose to completion.” If we will admit our weakness over temptation and ask God for his power to fulfill his Christlike purpose in our lives (Romans 8:29), his grace becomes sufficient for us, always.

When we face temptation, therefore, our first response must be to turn to our Lord for such help and victory. Our second response must be to then do what he tells us to do. As we obey God, we are empowered by God. When we do what we are called to do, God does what only he can do.

As we work, God works. As God works, we work.

John Calvin observed, “It is a most blessed thing to be subject to the sovereignty of God.”

Will you be blessed today?

NOTE: For more on today’s conversation, please see my latest personal blog, “How I resolved one of the great mysteries of the Christian faith.”

Denison Forum