In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Danger of an Unbelieving Heart

Actively choosing to trust God every day allows us to enjoy His rest.

Hebrews 3:12-19

The Bible warns about the peril of an unbelieving heart. Israel plunged into unbelief with frightful regularity. It’s amazing how quickly they forgot the miraculous marvels by which God delivered them from slavery. An evil heart of unbelief will readily overlook the promises of milk and honey in favor of the leeks and onions of Egypt (Numbers 11:5). 

We need to realize that unbelief is a poisonous root of all kinds of evil. It’s a blasphemy that strikes at the very character of God, accusing Him of being untrue, unfaithful, and unreliable. This hideous cancer gnaws at the spiritual health of churches, and God warns us that those with unbelieving hearts are in danger of falling away. 

That’s why we’re told to encourage one another day by day. We need each other to come alongside in times of doubt to persuade us to stay in the Word, keep our focus on Christ, and hold fast to our faith throughout life.  A growing, intimate relationship with the Lord will keep our hearts tender and receptive to Him. Then we’ll have assurance that our salvation is genuine so we can enter the rest He’s prepared for His followers.  

Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 37-39

Our Daily Bread — Building the House

Bible in a Year:

On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

Matthew 16:18

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Matthew 16:13–20

In 1889, the most ambitious private home construction project in the United States began. On-site manufacturing produced some 32,000 bricks a day. The work continued until the completion of George Vanderbilt II’s “summer house”—six years later. The result was the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. To this day, it remains the largest private residence in America, with 250 rooms (including 35 bedrooms and 43 bathrooms) consuming a staggering 178,926 square feet (16,226 square meters) of floor space.

This project, ambitious as it was, was nothing compared to the “building” intentions Jesus proclaimed to His disciples in Matthew 16. After Peter had confirmed that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (v. 16), Jesus declared, “I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (v. 18). While theologians debate the identity of the “rock,” there’s no debate about Jesus’ intentions. He would build His church to stretch to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:19–20), including people from every nation and ethnic group from around the globe (Revelation 5:9).

The cost of this building project? The sacrifice of Jesus’ own blood on the cross (Acts 20:28). As members of His “building” (Ephesians 2:21), purchased at so great a price, may we celebrate His loving sacrifice and join Him in this great mission.

By:  Bill Crowder

Reflect & Pray

How is the church to reflect Christ? What are some things that can hinder you from accurately reflecting Jesus?

Lamb of God, thank You for Your sacrifice. Enable me to celebrate You in my heart as well as with others in the family of faith.

For further study, read The Church We Need.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Attacks on God’s Character

“Stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Eph. 6:11).

One of Satan’s most effective tactics is to challenge God’s credibility.

Paul’s exhortation to “stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Eph. 6:11) refers to the various tactics Satan employs in spiritual warfare. One of his tactics is to call God’s character and motives into question by raising doubts about His Word.

He used that approach in the Garden of Eden, when he said to Eve, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” (Gen. 3:1). In one brief statement Satan disputed and distorted God’s Word. God didn’t forbid them to eat from any tree. They could eat freely from every tree except one: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (2:16-17).

Satan followed his distortion with an outright denial of God’s Word: “You surely shall not die!” (3:4). He implied that God lied when He said that sin will result in death. Satan then went on to tell Eve that if she ate the fruit, she would in fact become like God Himself (v. 5). The implication is that God was withholding something good from Eve, and to keep her from seeking it, He intimidated her with empty threats of death and judgment.

Do you see the insidious nature of Satan’s approach? Tragically, Eve didn’t. Rather than trusting and obeying God, she believed Satan’s lies and concluded that the tree was good for food, a delight to the eyes, and desirable to make one wise. Then “she took from its fruit and ate” (v. 6).

Satan deceives and spreads his lies from generation to generation (2 Cor. 11:14). Although he is subtle, his attempts to discredit God by disputing, distorting, and denying His Word should be obvious to discerning Christians.

Don’t be victimized by Satan’s attacks. Become strong in the Word through systematic Bible study. Yield to the Spirit’s control through prayer and obedience to biblical principles.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Ask God for the discernment to recognize Satanic deceptions, and the wisdom to pursue truth.
  • Pray for God’s enabling as you discipline yourself for diligent Bible study.

For Further Study

Read 1 John 2:12-14. How did John describe those who are strong in the Word?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Resist the Enemy from the Get-Go

So be subject to God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you.

— James 4:7 (AMPC)

Satan wants our joy because it is our strength (see Nehemiah 8:10). He attacks with fear in order to steal the joy that Jesus has provided for us. He also uses the same tactic to try to steal our peace.

God’s Word instructs us to “watch and pray” (see Matthew 26:41), and it is good advice. Watch your thoughts, pay attention to what your emotions are doing, how you’re feeling, and what decisions you are making. If you are sensing the beginning of anything that seems the least bit ungodly or that will diminish you in any way, pray immediately and resist the temptation in the power of God.

Satan looks for weaknesses that he can take advantage of, and we should be watching for his attacks, so we can resist at the onset of them and defeat him every time.

Prayer of the Day: Lord, with Your help, I will resist the enemy as soon as anything seems the least bit unlike You or will bring me down, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – What Is This Power?

… And what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead.

Ephesians 1:19-20

The resurrection of Christ, and our salvation, was brought about by nothing less than divine power. What will we say of those who think that conversion is accomplished by the free will of man and is due to his own kindly disposition? When we begin to see the dead rise from the grave by their own power, then may we expect to see ungodly sinners turning to Christ by their own endeavors. It is not the word preached, nor the word read in itself; all quickening power proceeds from the Holy Spirit.

This power was irresistible. All the soldiers and the high priests could not keep the body of Christ in the tomb; death itself could not hold Jesus in its grip: Just as irresistible is the power displayed in the believer when he is raised to newness of life. No sin, no corruption, no devils in hell nor sinners on earth can resist the hand of God’s grace when it intends to convert a man. If God omnipotently says, “You shall,” man will not say, “I shall not.” Notice that the power that raised Christ from the dead was glorious. It reflected honor upon God and caused dismay in the hosts of evil. So there is great glory to God in the conversion of every sinner.

It was everlasting power. “Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.”1 So we, being raised from the dead, do not go back to our dead works or to our old corruptions, but we live to God. “Because I live, you also will live.”2 “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”3 “Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”4 Finally, in the text note the union of the new life to Jesus. The same power that raised the Head works life in the members. What a blessing to be quickened together with Christ!

1) Romans 6:9
2) John 14:19
3) Colossians 3:3
4) Romans 6:4

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Cares

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29–31).

There is a large parking lot close to my house. I don’t know if it looks like a pond or what the attraction is, but large Canadian geese land there every spring and fall as they migrate. They spend their time eating bugs off the grass and being a bit of a nuisance. When I look up from the geese, I see little sparrows sitting on wires. They travel together, sit on wires together, then fly away as one.

In Matthew 10:29–31, Jesus is speaking to the crowd about not being afraid. He tells them to not be afraid of what others can do. They were experiencing difficult times because they believed in Jesus. Jesus needed them to understand that God cared for each one of them. God cares for you as well. Sparrows are small birds that seems unimportant. But God takes care of them. God sent Jesus to give us salvation. He cares for us even more than He cares for the sparrows. God cares when you are afraid, angry, lonely, hungry, happy, sad. God cares about you and every part of your life.

Talk to God about your fears, your thoughts, and even your joys. Then leave it up to Him to work in your life. Look for how God cares for you in the little and the big things. If you are having a hard time, try writing down the ways God has shown you that He cares.

My response:

» What good things are happening to me?

» What are the ways I am changing?

» Do I thank God for His care for me in all the areas of my life?

Denison Forum – The danger of “quiet quitting” and a surprising solution

Have you heard of “quiet quitting”?

According to Gallup, at least 50 percent of the American workforce is made up of people who are “not going above and beyond at work and just meeting their job description.” Only 32 percent say they are “actively engaged” at work.

Harvard Business Review believes that the problem is “bad bosses, not bad employees.” Managers rated most highly saw 62 percent of their direct reports willing to give extra effort, while only 3 percent were quietly quitting. By contrast, the least effective managers saw 14 percent of their direct reports quietly quitting, while only 20 percent were willing to give extra effort.

In other words, the more we work for someone we value, the more we value our work.

This fact reveals something deeply significant about our culture and our faith.

Working harder to have more

For generations, Americans have been taught that we are what we do and what comes from what we do. Achievement and prosperity, measured by financial and material means, is our secular society’s definition of success.

But in recent years, this pathway to purpose has hit a dead end. Consumer sentiment fell to a record low earlier this year even though unemployment is historically low. Surprisingly, consumers were more optimistic early in the pandemic than they are today. Rates of substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation continue to rise.

Clearly, the so-called American Dream—working harder to have more—is not enough for many.

Others are giving up on the “dream” itself. Four in five millennial employees say their generation will be “much worse off” in retirement than their parents’ generation, a fear that is already becoming reality for many.

It’s therefore not surprising that many workers, especially younger employees, would choose to do enough to get by but no more. And that is bad news for all of us.

Encouraging victories for religious freedom

Apple unveiled its latest technology yesterday, with new iPhones, a new Apple Watch, and new AirPods. It’s remarkable to think that I can connect with more than five billion people through the playing card-size device in my pocket. Technology engineers driven by excellence have literally transformed our world. I’m grateful they did not do just enough to get by at work.

I recently underwent spinal surgery; four of my lumbar vertebrae are now screwed and fused together. I cannot begin to understand the medical brilliance necessary to achieve this outcome. I assure you that I’m grateful my surgeon and his team did not do just enough to get by at work.

Brilliant Christian attorneys have been busy defending our religious freedoms, with remarkable recent results:

  • A judge ruled that a Michigan university cannot punish a Christian club for requiring that its leaders be Christian. (Yes, this was actually happening at Wayne State University in Detroit.)
  • A federal district court held that a photographer cannot be forced to shoot same-sex weddings.
  • A federal appeals court ruled that the US government cannot require several Christian medical groups and providers to perform abortions or gender transition surgeries under the Affordable Care Act.
  • A US appeals court has ruled on behalf of licensed counselors who provide voluntary talk therapy to minors seeking help with unwanted sexual identity confusion.

I’m grateful that attorneys who defend religious liberty for all Americans are not doing just enough to get by at work.

“I fell at his feet as though dead”

God’s word clearly calls God’s people to lives and service of excellence: “If there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8); “approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:10); “whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

However, there’s another dimension to our discussion that occurred to me as I was reading Ezekiel 1. When the prophet encountered “the likeness of the glory of the Lᴏʀᴅ,” he reported, “I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking” (Ezekiel 1:28). The visions and prophecies that resulted created the book of Ezekiel.

John had a similar experience with the risen Christ on Patmos: “I fell at his feet as though dead” (Revelation 1:17). The visions he received in response created the book of Revelation.

Isaiah “saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up” (Isaiah 6:1) and responded, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips” (v. 5). His “lips” were then “cleansed” (v. 7) and he was sent to the world with the word of God (v. 8). The result was the book of Isaiah.

The pattern is clear: when we are awed by God, we are empowered by his Spirit to serve him and others with the excellence and passion he deserves.

“Whatever you do, work heartily”

John Piper was right: “Seeking the worship of the nations is fueled by the joy of our own worship. You can’t commend what you don’t cherish. You can’t proclaim what you don’t prize. Worship is the fuel and the goal of missions.”

Said differently, Christians can measure the depth of our worship by the dedication of our work.

The more we love our Lord, the more we will love our neighbor (Matthew 22:37–39). The more we are awed by God, the more we are empowered to fulfill his mandate: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23, my emphasis).

The priest and poet Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy captured our best response to our awe-inspiring Creator:

To give and give, and give again,
What God hath given thee;
To spend thyself nor count the cost;
To serve right gloriously
The God Who gave all worlds that are,
And all that are to be.

When last were you awed by God?