In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Friendship: A Help to Holiness

Strong friendships allow us to have tough conversations and also challenge us in our walk with God.

John 15:12-15

Of all that God created, one thing did not meet with His approval. With regard to Adam, He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). The Creator designed people for emotional, mental, and physical intimacy—to share their innermost selves with one another.

Jesus taught His disciples that they should love each other as He had loved them. (John 15:12). In a God-honoring friendship, two people build each other up and spur one another toward Christlikeness. Many people, however, don’t have relationships that sharpen their faith (Proverbs 27:17). They instead settle for the trivial talk of casual acquaintances, about things like the weather or world news.

But the best relationships don’t shy away from vulnerable conversations. Fruitful friendships can begin when men and women risk their pride and comfort to discuss accountability, biblical living, or anything meant to motivate one another in holiness. When there’s trust and submission, two people can confess sin, offer gentle reproof, and share burdens.

The walls we build to keep people at a distance are often defenses against God as well—to keep Him out of our dearest personal business. But if we share openly with a brother or sister in Christ, we will learn to be more honest with God too.

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 4-7

Our Daily Bread — Live Like You’re Healed

Bible in a Year:

Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.

Acts 3:8

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Acts 3:1–10

Two sisters from India were born blind. Their father was a hard-working provider, but he could never afford the surgery that would give them sight. Then a team of doctors came to their region on a short-term medical mission. The morning after their surgery, the girls smiled wide as the nurse unwrapped their bandages. One exclaimed, “Mother, I can see! I can see!”

A man who had been lame since birth sat in his usual spot at a temple gate, begging for money. Peter told the man he didn’t have coins, but he had something better. “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6), he said. The man “jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went . . . jumping, and praising God” (v. 8).

The sisters and the man appreciated their eyes and legs more than those who were never blind or lame. The girls couldn’t stop blinking in amazement and celebration, and the man “jumped to his feet.”

Consider your own natural abilities. How might you enjoy these abilities more, and how might you use them differently, if you had been miraculously healed? Now consider this. If you believe in Jesus, He’s healed you spiritually. He’s rescued you from your sins.

Let’s thank the One who made and saved us and dedicate all that He gave us to Him.

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

How might you use your natural abilities for Jesus? How might you enjoy serving with whatever abilities you have? Thank Him for the pleasure they bring.

Father, thank You for ears to hear You, mouths to praise You, and hands and feet to serve You.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Diligence and Excellence

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence” (2 Peter 1:5).

God’s provision does not preclude our responsibility.

There are some who believe that since God has provided everything needed for the Christian life, believers should expect Him to do everything for them. Their motto is, “Let go and let God!” If Peter had a motto for the Christian life, it would have been more along the lines of the popular World War II song, “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition!” Peter knew the Christian life is a struggle in which believers need to expend the maximum effort to equip themselves with godly virtues—the virtues that, when present in our lives, produce assurance of salvation. He therefore prefaces the list of those virtues in verse 5 by saying, “Now for this very reason also,” thus pointing us back to God’s provision of salvation in verses 1-4. That provision is not meant to eliminate our efforts in living the Christian life but to enable and encourage them. We must, says Peter, live our Christian lives by “applying all diligence” to develop godly virtues.

Heading the list of virtues that should characterize our lives is “moral excellence.” The Greek term arete can also be translated “virtue.” In classical Greek literature, it often referred to the ability to perform heroic deeds. It refers to the quality that makes someone or something stand out as excellent. An arete knife was one that was sharp and cut well; an arete horse was one with speed and endurance; an arete singer was one who sang well.

“Moral excellence,” it should be noted, is not an attitude but an action. In fact, some suggest the meaning “moral energy” for it—the moral energy that gives us the power to do excellent deeds. Our model for that kind of active excellence is Jesus Christ, who “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38).

Never waver in your pursuit of excellence. In the words of Paul to the Thessalonians, “Excel still more” (1 Thess. 4:1).

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for supplying everything you need to live the Christian life.
  • Ask Him to help you to be diligent to develop godly virtues in your life.

For Further Study

Read Proverbs 4:238:1712:2713:421:5. What do those passages teach about the importance of diligence?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Renew Your Mind

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].

— Romans 12:2 (AMPC)

Renewing your mind is not like renewing your driver’s license or library card, which can be done quickly and doesn’t have to be repeated for months or years. Renewing your mind is more like undertaking the job of renewing and refurbishing an old house. It doesn’t happen quickly; it takes time, energy, and effort, and there is always something that needs attention.

Don’t fall into the trap of believing you can renew your mind by thinking right thoughts one time. To get the mind renewed, you will have to think right thoughts over and over again, until they become rooted in your thinking—until right thoughts come to you more easily and naturally than wrong thoughts.

You will have to discipline yourself to think properly, and you will have to guard against falling into old thought patterns, which can happen very easily. When it does, don’t feel bad—just start thinking rightly again. You will eventually come to the place where wrong thoughts make you uncomfortable and they just don’t fit right into your thinking processes any longer.

Let me be quick to say that you should not feel condemned if you are struggling with your thought life right now or if you face struggles in the days to come. Condemnation only weakens you; it never helps you make progress. Anytime we recognize that we are allowing wrong thoughts into our minds, we should ask God to forgive us and continue pressing on toward our goal.

Celebrate every victory because it helps you to not feel overwhelmed by what still remains to be conquered and remember that God is very patient and long-suffering. He is understanding and will never give up on you.

Prayer Starter: Father, I want to renew and transform my mind. I trust that You will be patient with me and guide me as you practice right thinking, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Behold

 ‘Behold the man!’

John 19:5

If there be one place where our Lord Jesus most fully becomes the joy and comfort of His people, it is where He plunged deepest into the depths of woe. Come, gracious souls, and behold the Man in the garden of Gethsemane; behold His heart so brimming with love that He cannot hold it in—so full of sorrow that it must find expression. Behold the bloody sweat as it distills from every pore of His body and falls upon the ground. Behold the Man as they drive the nails into His hands and feet. Look up, repenting sinners, and see the sorrowful image of your suffering Lord. Consider Him as the ruby drops stand on the thorn-crown and adorn with priceless gems the diadem of the King of Misery. Behold the Man when all His bones are out of joint, and He is poured out like water and brought into the dust of death; God has forsaken Him, and hell surrounds Him.

Look and see, was there ever sorrow like His sorrow that is done unto Him? All passersby pause and look upon this spectacle of grief, a wonder to men and angels, an unparalleled phenomenon. Behold the Emperor of Woe who had no equal or rival in His agonies! Gaze upon Him, you mourners, for if there is no consolation in a crucified Christ there is no joy in earth or heaven. If in the ransom price of His blood there is no hope, there is no joy in the harps of heaven, and the right hand of God shall know no pleasures forevermore.

We need only sit more continually at the cross to be less troubled with our doubts and woes. We need only see His sorrows, and our sorrows we shall be ashamed to mention; we need only to gaze into His wounds and heal our own. If we would live properly, it must be by the contemplation of His death; if we would rise to dignity, it must be by considering His humiliation and His sorrow.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Works Everything Together for Good

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

“Kevin, grab the butter and eggs from the refrigerator, please. And Cara Ann, see if there’s more sugar in the pantry,” instructed Mom as she checked over the recipe. Kevin and Cara Ann were helping their mom make a special treat: a chocolate cake with chocolate icing for Dad’s birthday.

As they finished gathering the necessary ingredients, Mom got out the baking chocolate. “Yummmm!” said Kevin as he watched her set the large, thick bar on the counter.

“Can we have a little bit of that?” asked Cara Ann, her mouth already watering.

“That’s not such a good idea,” Mom replied. “This kind of chocolate doesn’t taste good at all. It’s called bittersweet chocolate. I don’t think you’ll like it.”

But Kevin and Cara Ann pleaded, “Pleeeeeease! Just a teeny bit!” Mom consented and gave them each a sliver of the chocolate bar. “Yuck! Disgusting!” they both said as they started spitting the chocolate into the trash can.

“You were right, Mom,” said Kevin. “That’s awful.”

“But it’s so good in the birthday cake,” pointed out Cara Ann. “Why does it taste so bad by itself?”

Both Cara Ann and Kevin listened as Mom explained that the bittersweet baking chocolate needed the other ingredients in the cake, like the sugar and butter, to make it tasty. Until it was all mixed together, the chocolate would taste nasty.

“That reminds me of our memory verse from Sunday School last week,” said Cara Ann excitedly. “It was Romans 8:28. ‘All things work together for good—’” she began.

“Oh, yeah!” Kevin interrupted. “Our teacher told us that God will take both bad and good things in our lives and combine them to produce something good. That’s just like the gross baking chocolate being mixed with other ingredients to make a delicious chocolate cake.”

“You’re exactly right,” said Mom, nodding her head. “God has a purpose in everything He brings our way—whether it’s enjoyable for us at the time or not. In the end, though, we’ll see that His plan was the best. He’ll bring everything together for good. We just need to trust Him and leave the results in His hands.”

If you belong to God, He is working everything in your life together for your good.

My response:
» Are there some things going on in my life that I don’t really like?
» Have I given those things over to God?
» Am I completely trusting Him to make “all things work together for good” in my life?

Denison Forum – CIA director says Vladimir Putin is “entirely too healthy”

President Joe Biden tested positive yesterday morning for COVID-19. According to a White House statement, “He is fully vaccinated and twice boosted and experiencing very mild symptoms.”

In other political news, US Rep. Lee Zeldin, the Republican candidate for New York governor, was assaulted at an event last night, though he escaped serious injury. Italy’s president dissolved parliament yesterday following the resignation of the country’s prime minister. And CIA Director William Burns responded to rumors about Vladimir Putin’s health by stating, “As far as we can tell, he’s entirely too healthy.”

Geopolitics are not the only place to find illustrations of our uncertain times. Over one hundred million Americans are under heat warnings and advisories (for more on the heat crisis, see Dr. Ryan Denison’s insightful new article.) Ghana has confirmed its first outbreak of the highly infectious Marburg virus, which has a fatality rate of up to 88 percent.

And experts who gathered in Rome this week for a conference organized by the University of Notre Dame warned that religious freedom is under attack all over the world.

“Self-sufficiency is the greatest of all wealth”

This week we’ve explored reasons to trust God’s will in uncertain times. Let’s close with this fact: the more uncertain the times, the more we need to trust God’s will. The more difficult the surgery, the more we need a skillful surgeon. The heavier the burden, the more we need a strong friend.

However, it can be hard to trust God when it’s hard to trust God. That sounds like something Yogi Berra would say, but it’s true. The more difficult the times, the more we are tempted to blame God for them. And the more we are tempted to double down on ourselves.

From Socrates to today, Western society has taught us that to “know thyself” is the key to wisdom. Self-reliance is the path to personal success and significance, or so we’re told.

Epicurus (341–270 BC) claimed, “Self-sufficiency is the greatest of all wealth.” Ralph Waldo Emerson agreed: “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” So did Ayn Rand: “Man—every man—is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others; he must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself.”

Joseph Campbell assured us, “You become mature when you become the authority of your own life.” And Steve Jobs famously advised, “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become.” (For more on our cultural self-reliance and our need for what only God can do, please see my new article, “‘Nap boxes’ and the providence of God.”

However, as you consider the news I’ve reported today and the daily drumbeat of crises in the headlines, let me ask: How is self-reliance working for us?

Why Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane

In challenging times, I recommend a look back that empowers a look up.

The Garden of Gethsemane is my wife’s favorite place in Israel. It was here that Jesus chose to die for us. As he watched the soldiers marching through the eastern walls of Jerusalem, into the Kidron valley, and up the Mount of Olives, he had abundant opportunity to flee what he knew was coming.

If he had retreated back to Galilee, the authorities in Jerusalem would have been pleased—this would have ended the threat of a revolt by his followers without risking the wrath of these same followers over his arrest and execution. And yet he stayed where he was, sealing his death.

However, there’s even more to the decision our Savior made that night.

Judas had already conspired with the authorities to betray Jesus, but arresting this popular figure needed to happen under the cover of darkness and outside the city lest the crowds hear of this plot and rise up against it. How could this be arranged?

Jesus solved their problem. He waited for them late at night and outside the city walls at a place Judas could find him: “Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples” (John 18:2).

It was there that Jesus chose what would come the next day: he would suffer the most grievous form of torture ever devised, bear the sins of all of humanity on his sinless soul, and be separated from his Father for the only time in all of eternity. It was there that he chose to die on a cross so you could live eternally.

He would do it all over again, just for you.

“I choose to trust God in everything I do”

When we remember the love that drove Jesus to the cross and we consider that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), we realize that he loves us today as much as on the day he died for us. As a result, we can trust his word and will to be best for us because he only wants what is best for us.

Now we can name our challenges, entrust them to his compassion, claim his ongoing intercession for us (Romans 8:34), and ask that his Spirit empower us to love our Lord and our neighbor as we are loved. In this way, we will become catalysts for the spiritual renewal our culture needs so desperately.

Let’s close the week with a remarkable illustration of my thesis: Alena Wicker has been accepted to the University of Alabama Heersink School of Medicine. What makes this news so remarkable? Alena is thirteen years old. She graduated from high school at the age of twelve and is now a junior in college.

After her acceptance to medical school, she posted a note on Instagram thanking her mother: “A little black girl adopted from Fontana, California. I’ve worked so hard to reach my goals and live my dreams. Mama I made it. I couldn’t have done it without you.”

Alena also testified to the ultimate source of her opportunities: “Thanking God for every open door and for allowing my gifts to make room for me.” She added on Facebook: “No matter what happens in life I choose to trust God in everything I do.”

Will you follow her example today?

Denison Forum