In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Power of the Cross

Jesus died so that we can truly live, now and forever.

Romans 1:16-17

The scene of the cross is a paradox. It demonstrates the power of God in what appears to be the weakest moment in His Son’s life. With hands and feet nailed to rough wood, Jesus looked totally helpless. And He remained there while the crowd jeered, “If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Matthew 27:39-40).

Strength is not always revealed in a dramatic display; at times, it’s demonstrated in determined endurance. Jesus could have freed Himself with one spoken word, but love kept Him there on the cross. With mankind’s eternal destiny at stake, Christ hung on until our salvation was attained.

What’s more, the power of the cross didn’t end when Jesus died—His death opened the door of salvation to all people. Whoever trusts in Him by faith is forgiven for every sin and assured a place in heaven. And the power of the cross remains after salvation, transforming believers’ lives. Jesus sets us free and empowers us to live victoriously in His righteousness.

Have you let the cross do its work in your life? The Lord will not force it on you. Instead, He offers righteousness freely to all who believe in Him and walk in His ways.

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 51-52

Our Daily Bread — Landing Spot

Bible in a Year:

We live by faith, not by sight.

2 Corinthians 5:7

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

2 Corinthians 5:6–10

The impala, a member of the antelope family, is able to jump up to ten feet high and thirty feet in length. It’s an incredible feat, and no doubt essential to its survival in the African wild. Yet, at many impala enclosures found in zoos, you’ll find that the animals are kept in place by a wall that’s merely three feet tall. How can such a low wall contain these athletic animals? It works because impalas will never jump unless they can see where they’ll land. The wall keeps the impalas inside the enclosure because they can’t see what’s on the other side.

As humans, we’re not all that different. We want to know the outcome of a situation before we move forward. The life of faith, however, rarely works that way. Writing to the church at Corinth, Paul reminded them, “We live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Jesus taught us to pray, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). But that doesn’t mean we’ll know His outcomes beforehand. Living by faith means trusting His good purposes even when those purposes are shrouded in mystery.

In the midst of life’s uncertainties, we can trust His unfailing love. No matter what life throws at us, “we make it our goal to please him” (2 Corinthians 5:9). 

By:  Bill Crowder

Reflect & Pray

In what areas are you struggling to see the next step you should take? Ask God to help you trust Him as you move forward in His grace.

So often, Father, I’m frozen by uncertainty and fear. I pray that You’ll guide my steps as I trust You for Your good will to be done.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Sin of Worry

“‘Do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on’” (Matthew 6:25).

To worry about the future is to sin against God.

Someone has said, “You can’t change the past, but you can ruin a perfectly good present by worrying about the future.” Worry does ruin the present, but even more important for the believer is to recognize that worry is sin. Let’s look at why that is so.

Worry means you are striking out at God. Someone might say, “Worry is a small, trivial sin.” But that’s not true. More important than what worry does to you is what it does to God. When you worry, you are saying in effect, “God, I just don’t think I can trust You.” Worry strikes a blow at God’s integrity and love for you.

Worry means you are disbelieving Scripture. You can say, “I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. I believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of every word,” and then just live your life worrying. You are saying you believe the Bible, but then worry about God fulfilling what He says in it.

Worry means you are being mastered by circumstances. Let the truths of God’s Word, not your circumstances, control your thinking. By worrying, you make the circumstances and trials of life a bigger issue than your salvation. If you believe God can save you from eternal Hell, also believe He can help you in this world as He has promised.

Worry means you are distrusting God. If you worry, you’re not trusting your Heavenly Father. And if you’re not trusting Him, perhaps it’s because you don’t know Him well enough. Study God’s Word to find out who He really is and how He has been faithful to supply the needs of His people in the past. Doing so will help give you confidence for the future. Allow His Word to indwell you richly so that you aren’t making yourself vulnerable to Satan’s temptations to worry.

Suggestions for Prayer

Review the four points given above, and confess any sin to God.

For Further Study

Read Psalm 55:221 Peter 5:7. What antidote to worry do both verses give?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Live in Harmony

Fill up and complete my joy by living in harmony and being of the same mind and one in purpose, having the same love, being in full accord and of one harmonious mind and intention.

— Philippians 2:2 (AMPC)

Paul was aware of God’s wonderful plan for His children. He wanted everyone to receive the best God had for them, and he knew that would be impossible if they did not live in harmony. We are repeatedly taught in Scripture to live in peace. In the Bible, Jesus Himself is called the “Prince of Peace” (see Isaiah 9:6).

God has clearly instructed Dave and me that we must keep strife out of our lives and ministry if we want to be successful at what He has called us to do. In order to do so, we must be generous with forgiveness. We must refuse to let bitterness take root in our hearts (see Hebrews 12:15). We cannot allow ourselves to be offended or remain angry. This means we cannot follow our feelings; we must press past feelings and do what God asks us to do.

Sometimes God asks us to let something go and not even mention it; at other times He requires us to confront and communicate openly about situations. Communication often clears up confusion and brings balance to situations that cause conflict. Lack of confrontation opens the door for greater misunderstanding and strife.

Prayer Starter: Lord, help me to be generous with forgiveness and keep strife out of my life. Show me when to be quiet and when to confront, and give me strength for both, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Make Restitution

If fire breaks out and catches in thorns so that the stacked grain or the standing grain or the field is consumed, he who started the fire shall make full restitution.

Exodus 22:6

But what restitution can be made by one who throws the firebrands of error or stirs the coals of lust and sets the souls of men ablaze with the fire of hell? The guilt is beyond estimate, and the result is irretrievable. Even if such an offender is forgiven, he will still experience grief in recognizing that he cannot undo the effects of his foolish behavior! A bad example may kindle a flame that years of amended character cannot quench. To burn the harvest is bad enough, but how much worse to destroy the eternal harvest! It may be useful for us to consider how guilty we may have been in the past, and to consider whether, even in the present, there might not be evil in us that has a tendency to cause damage to the souls of our relatives, friends, or neighbors.

The fire of conflict is a terrible evil when it breaks out in a Christian church. Where there are converts, and God is glorified, you will discover jealousy and envy doing the devil’s work most effectively. Where the golden grain of blessing was being stored to reward the work of the servants, the fire of enmity comes in and leaves little else but smoke and a heap of blackness. Woe to those by whom offenses come. May they never come through us, for although we cannot make restitution, we shall certainly be the chief sufferers if we are the chief offenders.

Those who feed the fire deserve fair criticism, but the one who first kindles it is most to blame. Discord usually takes hold first among the thorns; it is nurtured among the hypocrites and empty professors in the church and leaps among the righteous, blown by the winds of hell, until no one knows where it may end. O Lord, the giver of peace, make us peacemakers, and never let us aid and abet the men of strife, or even unintentionally cause the slightest division among Your people.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God’s Love Is Kind

“Charity [love] suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up” (1 Corinthians 13:4).

Having God’s kind of love in our hearts means having the kind of love that makes us willing to miss doing something we want to do and to do something else instead—something someone needs us to do for them. For example, God’s kind of love will make us stay after school with a kid in class who is struggling and patiently help him with his homework, even if it means we will miss going to the ice cream parlor to choose from thirty flavors.

God’s kind of love is always kind to all people from all over the world. God’s sort of kindness would never make negative, mean-spirited, or mocking jokes.

Love does not envy and is not jealous of others. God’s kind of love makes us grateful and happy for all He is making us to be and for everything He provides for us.

Pride gives us a swelled head. Pride makes us arrogant. Pride thinks we are better than others and have better things. Pride makes us boast about ourselves and jeer at others. But God’s kind of love in our hearts stops us from feeling proud, boastful, and jeering.

God’s love is perfect toward us, even though we are not perfect. And He wants all of us to love others with His kind of love.

God wants you to be kind.

My response:

» Is my love sacrificial? Am I willing to give up what I want so others can have what they want or need?

» Am I kind to others, even if they are very different from me?

» If someone makes fun of me, am I kind in return because I have God’s kind of love in my heart?

Denison Forum – The surprising result if Liz Cheney runs for president

 “I will do whatever it takes to ensure Donald Trump is never again anywhere near the Oval Office, and I mean it.” So declared Rep. Liz Cheney after losing her Republican House primary last week. When asked if she plans to run for president, she said later, “That’s a decision that I’m going to make in the coming months . . . but it is something that I am thinking about.”

Now a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll shows that if she were to run for president as an independent in 2024, she could actually help to reelect Mr. Trump.

In the poll, if the 2024 election were held today and were a rematch between President Biden and former President Trump, Biden would lead by four points among registered voters. But if Cheney were on the ballot as an independent, she would draw so much Democratic support that Trump would vault to an eight-point lead over Biden, 40 percent to 32 percent, while Cheney would receive 11 percent of the vote.

In other words, her candidacy could accomplish the opposite of its intended purpose.

UN preparing to declare abortion a “human right”

One of the many reasons it is difficult to effect moral transformation through political means is that political outcomes are so unpredictable. Three days before the 2016 election, the Princeton Election Consortium gave Hillary Clinton a 99 percent chance of winning the election. The 1980 election was widely considered “too close to call” before Ronald Reagan won in a landslide.

Another is that political entities so often get moral issues so wrong. For instance, delegates at the United Nations General Assembly are finalizing negotiations on a resolution that would require all UN agencies to declare abortion a human right. And a judge ruled yesterday in support of a Maryland school district that allows children to “transition socially to a different gender identity at school” without parental notice or consent.

The most egregious example in recent decades came in the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision that discovered a right to same-sex marriage in the US Constitution. Writing for the five-to-four majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy assured those opposed to gay marriage on religious grounds: “The First Amendment ensures that religions, those who adhere to religious doctrines, and others have protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths.”

In the years that have followed, Christian bakers, florists, wedding chapel operators, photographers, and the like can testify that he was tragically wrong.

Now the so-called Equality Act would grant LGBTQ persons protected class status while allowing no appeal to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act or First Amendment protections for those who object on religious grounds. The so-called Respect for Marriage Act could be used by the IRS to strip nonprofit, faith-based organizations of their tax-exempt status if they adhere to their religious beliefs regarding marriage. And a lawsuit filed against religious colleges and universities that uphold biblical sexuality could cost them billions of dollars in student aid.

Why was Justice Kennedy so wrong? How did conservative Christians become cultural pariahs almost overnight?

How Christian truth became hate speech

In his 2017 book, Strangers in a Strange Land, Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput brilliantly analyzes this cultural moment. He lists various Christian “convictions about the dignity of life and human sexuality” such as “abortion, contraception, gender identity, marriage, and family,” noting that they are “rooted not just in biblical revelation, but in reason and natural law.”

Then he notes: “Critics of the Church reduce all these moral convictions to an expression of subjective religious beliefs. And if they’re purely religious beliefs, then—so the critics argue—they can’t be rationally defended. And because they’re rationally indefensible, they should be treated as a form of prejudice.”

Here’s the result: “Thus two thousand years of moral truth and religious principle become, by sleight of hand, a species of bias.” For example, “Opposing same-sex marriage (so the reasoning goes) amounts to religiously blessed homophobia.”

Further, “When religious belief is redefined downward to a kind of private bias, then the religious identity of institutional ministries has no public value—other than the utility of getting credulous people to do socially useful things. So exempting Catholic adoption agencies, for example, from placing children with same-sex couples becomes a concession to private prejudice. And concessions to private prejudice feed bigotry and hurt the public. Or so the reasoning goes.

“Insufficiently ‘progressive’ moral teaching and religious belief end up reclassified as hate speech.”

“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie”

How accurately does this text describe our culture? “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:24–25, my emphasis).

Our root problem is simple and tragic: people will accuse the truth of being a lie if it contradicts lies they want to believe are true. Our first parents wanted to be their own god (Genesis 3:5). They wanted what seemed “good for food,” a “delight to the eyes,” and “desired to make one wise” (v. 6). And so they ate the forbidden fruit, and the human race has never recovered.

Don’t think for a minute that you and I are less susceptible to lies we want to believe. This is why we should submit every day to the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), then partner with him by seeking to have our “powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14).

Because of our fallen condition, we should work for cultural transformation through humility that admits our shared fallenness and prayer that seeks what only God can do. And we should make time every day to experience God through transforming personal worship that empowers us to love our Lord and our neighbor (Mark 12:30–31).

The poet wrote: “My heart an altar, and Thy love the flame.”

Who—or what—is the flame on your altar today?

Denison Forum