In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Importance of a Good Testimony

Jesus wants to satisfy the yearnings of your heart.

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

A testimony is an account of what a person has seen or experienced. For us as Christians, it’s a declaration of who Jesus Christ is and what He’s done in our life. The authenticity of our testimony is displayed in three ways.   

  1. Character. Starting at salvation, the Spirit begins the process of conforming us to Christ’s image. Then our thinking should align more and more with Scripture. As that happens, sinful attitudes will be replaced by godly ones, and our heart will desire to obey the Lord. If the internal change is genuine, it will be manifested externally.  
  2. Conduct. The way we act should confirm who we are in Christ. If we follow God’s instructions only occasionally but ignore Him the rest of the time, our testimony will be hypocritical. But a truly transformed life will be marked by obedience. 
  3. Conversation. We speak out of whatever fills our heart (Matthew 12:34). A transformed heart should overflow with gracious words and be quick to tell others about the Savior, who rescues us from sin and condemnation.   

When our character, conduct, and conversation match who we are in Christ, we’ll have a testimony that encourages fellow Christians and draws unbelievers to the Savior.  

Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 40-42

Our Daily Bread — A Heavenly Reunion

Bible in a Year:

We will be with the Lord forever.

1 Thessalonians 4:17

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

1 Thessalonians 4:13–18

When writing my mom’s obituary, I felt that the word died seemed too final for the hope I had in our promised reunion in heaven. So, I wrote: “She was welcomed into the arms of Jesus.” Still, some days I grieve when looking at the more current family photos that don’t include my mom. Recently, though, I discovered a painter who creates family portraits to include those we’ve lost. The artist uses the photos of loved ones who have gone before us to paint them into the picture of the family. With strokes of a paintbrush, this artist represents God’s promise of a heavenly reunion. I shed grateful tears at the thought of seeing my mom smiling by my side again.

The apostle Paul affirms that believers in Jesus don’t have to grieve “like the rest of mankind” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). “We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him” (v. 14). Paul acknowledges Jesus’ second coming and proclaims that all believers will be reunited with Jesus (v. 17).

God’s promise of a heavenly reunion can comfort us when we’re grieving the loss of a loved one who has trusted Jesus. Our promised future with our risen King also provides enduring hope when we face our own immortality, until the day Jesus comes or calls us home.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

How has God used the promise of a heavenly reunion to comfort you in your grief? Why does the promise of a heavenly reunion give you great hope?

Loving Savior, thank You for giving me an enduring hope to share with others until the day You call me home or come again.

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

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

Satan wants to catch you off-guard.

Yesterday we saw how Satan attacks God’s Word. Today we will see how he attacks God’s people. Persecution, peer pressure, and preoccupation are three weapons he employs with great effectiveness.

Persecution should never take Christians by surprise because Scripture repeatedly warns us that it will come. For example, 2 Timothy 3:12 says, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Yet such warnings are often overlooked in the health, wealth, and prosperity climate of contemporary Christianity.

As the greed perpetuated by such a movement continues its assault on Christian virtue, many professing believers have come to expect a pain-free, trouble-free life. When trials come, they’re caught off guard and often disillusioned with the church or with God Himself. Some prove to be phony believers, whom Jesus described in His parable of the four soils: people who initially respond to the gospel with joy, yet fall away when affliction or persecution arises because of the Word (Matt. 13:21).

Satan also uses peer pressure as an effective weapon. Many people never come to Christ for fear of losing their friends or being thought of as different. For them the cost of discipleship is too great. Even Christians sometimes struggle with peer pressure, compromising God’s standards to avoid offending others.

Another weapon is preoccupation with the world. Often the hardest place to live the Christian life is in the easiest place. For example, becoming a Christian in America isn’t the life-threatening choice it is in some parts of the world. Some who stand boldly against persecution or peer pressure might falter in a climate of acceptance. Often that’s when the danger of spiritual complacency and preoccupation with the world is greatest.

To guard against those attacks, remember that God uses persecution to mature you and bring glory to Himself. Also, make a conscious choice each day to please God rather than people. Finally, evaluate your priorities and activities carefully. Fight the tendency to become preoccupied with things unrelated to God’s kingdom.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to keep you spiritually alert throughout this day so the enemy doesn’t catch you off guard.

For Further Study

Read Matthew 26:31-56. What might the disciples have done to avoid being caught off guard?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Pray and Say God’s Word

Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God….

— Isaiah 41:10 (AMPC)

We must accept the fact that fear is a human emotion—we all experience it to some degree, but we also know we can live boldly and courageously because God has told us He is always with us. And because of that, we can choose to not live according to the fear we feel.

God taught me to use what I call the “power twins” to help me defeat the spirit of fear. They are “I pray” and “I say.” When I feel fear, I begin to pray and ask for God’s help, then I say, “I will not fear!” Use these power twins as soon as you feel fearful about anything, and you will be able to keep fear from controlling you. We can learn to manage the emotion of fear and not let it manage us.

Prayer of the Day: Lord, I don’t want to live in any form of fear. In Your name, Jesus, I will pray, ask for Your help, and I will not fear, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Near the Throne

Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments.

Revelation 4:4

These representatives of the saints in heaven are said to be “around the throne.” In the passage in Solomon’s Song where he sings of the King sitting at his table, some render it “a round table.” From this, some expositors—I think, without straining the text—have said, “There is an equality among the saints.” That idea is conveyed by the equal nearness of the twenty-four elders.

The condition of glorified spirits in heaven is that of nearness to Christ, clear vision of His glory, constant access to His court, and familiar fellowship with His person. There is no difference in this respect between one saint and another, but all the people of God—apostles, martyrs, ministers, or private and obscure Christians—will all be seated near the throne, where they shall have a perfect view of their exalted Lord and be satisfied with His love. They will all be near Christ, all satisfied with His love, all eating and drinking at the same table with Him, all equally loved as His favorites and friends even if not all equally rewarded as His servants.

Believers on earth should imitate the saints in heaven in their nearness to Christ. We should be like the elders in heaven, sitting around the throne. Christ should be the object of our thoughts and the center of our lives. How can we endure to live at such a distance from Him? Lord Jesus, draw us nearer to Yourself. Say to us, “Abide in Me, and I in you”; and let us sing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”

O lift me higher, nearer Thee,
And as I rise more pure and fit,
O let my soul’s humility
Make me lie lower at Thy feet;
Less trusting self, the more I prove
The blessed comfort of Thy love.

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Wants Us to Live for Heaven

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. . . . They desire a better country, that is, an heavenly [country]” (Hebrews 11:13, 16a).

A Puritan preacher named John Bunyan wrote the book Pilgrim’s Progress. It tells the story of a man named Christian and his journey to the Celestial City. Along the way to this heavenly city, Christian meets with terrible dangers, and he meets many people who try to lure him away from the right road. Christian has to avoid these side trips, say no to many temptations, and even leave certain people behind. The point of the story is that a true Christian must stay on the road to Heaven, not get sidetracked by the junk on the side of the road. Christians must not get caught up in the distractions of this world. Sometimes even things that seem fun and harmless can become traps that pull our hearts away from God and cause us to love this world.

What do you think of when you hear the word “pilgrim”? Some people think of a pilgrim as someone who is sour faced and out of touch and who doesn’t believe in having any fun. But the Bible says in Hebrews 11 that true believers are to be pilgrims. People who live by faith are pilgrims on this earth. This world is not their home; Heaven is! Like Christian in the story of Pilgrim’s Progress, true believers must stay on the road to Heaven, where they will be with Jesus Christ forever. They might have to give up certain activities that draw their hearts away from God. They might have to say no to certain people who try to distract them from obedience to God. They might even have to avoid places where they know they will be tempted to sin. The most important thing to a pilgrim is not this world, but the world to come. God wants us to live for Heaven.

God wants us to live for Heaven rather than loving this world.

My response:

» Are any of my friends or activities turning my heart away from God and the road to Heaven?

» What does God want me to do about friends or activities that turn my heart away from Him?

Denison Forum – The death of Queen Elizabeth II: Ironic tributes and a remarkable sign in the sky

After yesterday’s announcement that Queen Elizabeth II’s doctors were “concerned for Her Majesty’s health,” crowds gathered near Buckingham Palace. Then, shortly before her death was announced, a remarkable scene unfolded: a double rainbow broke through the clouds over the palace.

It was as though the Lord of heaven and earth wanted us to know that the queen had made her way from earth to heaven.

Following the queen’s death, America’s leaders have been especially expansive in their praise. President Joe Biden called her “a stateswoman of unmatched dignity and constancy.” Bill Clinton wrote, “In sunshine or storm, she was a source of stability, serenity, and strength.”

Kevin McCarthy, minority leader of the House of Representatives, added that the queen “represented what it means to lead with conviction, selflessness, and faith in God and in her people. She led her people with grace, showing what servant leadership means in principle and in practice.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell noted, “Despite spending nearly three quarters of a century as one of the most famous and admired individuals on the planet, the Queen made sure her reign was never really about herself—not her fame, not her feelings, not her personal wants or needs. She guided venerable institutions through modern times using timeless virtues like duty, dignity, and sacrifice.”

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary”

Such praise is somewhat ironic coming from a nation that rebelled against the queen’s third great-grandfather, King George III.

Our Declaration of Independence from England boldly stated in 1776, “All men are created equal.” Our nation exists in rejection of the “divine right of kings” doctrine so prevalent in much of the world, the belief that God rules humans through a single human. We also reject the theological assumption that, because humans are finite and fallen, we cannot govern ourselves.

To the contrary, because humans are finite and fallen, we believe that no one of us can be trusted with unbridled authority over the rest of us. Our Founders therefore created a system of checks and balances on unbridled power and insisted that we need a consensual morality by which to navigate our lives and our nation. But they did not believe that a single monarch was needed or could be trusted, hence our rebellion against Britain and the constitutional republic that followed.

The Federalist Papers No. 51 observed: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

The queen and Billy Graham

This “great difficulty” is true even—and I would add, especially—for kings and queens. The more power one exercises, the greater the temptation to use that power for one’s personal agendas.

This fact makes Queen Elizabeth II’s humility and servant-heartedness all the more unique and illuminating.

I have visited her royal residences at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle in England and Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Each has a chapel where the queen worshiped each Sunday she was in residence. She prayed daily, every day of the week. She received religious instruction as a child from the Archbishop of Canterbury and possessed a spiritual depth that impressed many who met her.

For example, Billy Graham’s relationship with the queen began in 1955 when he conducted a Crusade in Glasgow and the BBC broadcast his message across the nation. The queen and Prince Philip listened to his sermon, then invited him to preach at Windsor Castle and to have lunch with the queen.

They met together twelve more times over the decades. She reached out to him often for spiritual guidance. He wrote in his autobiography, Just As I Am, “I always found her very interested in the Bible and its message.” (Please see our website for more on the queen’s faith and legacy.)

“The source of all fruitfulness”

The twenty-first anniversary of 9/11 is this Sunday. In the days after the horrific attack, the queen’s compassion was on full display when she assured those attending a prayer service in New York City, “My thoughts and my prayers are with you all now and in the difficult days ahead. But nothing that can be said can begin to take away the anguish and the pain of these moments. Grief is the price we pay for love.”

Such kindness is just one example of the “fruit of the Spirit” in her life (Galatians 5:22–23). Because we saw such fruit, we can know its source. This fact illustrates a simple but important life principle: we can measure the intimacy of our relationship with Jesus by the degree to which others see Jesus in us.

The healthier the fruit, the stronger the roots.

Jesus taught us, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Charles Spurgeon commented on Jesus’ metaphor: “Every bunch of grapes have been first in the root, it has passed through the stem, and flowed through the sap vessels, and fashioned itself externally into fruit, but it was first in the stem; so also every good work was first in Christ, and then is brought forth in us.

“O Christian, prize this precious union to Christ; for it must be the source of all the fruitfulness which thou canst hope to know.”

“Much longer lives her legacy”

Many will continue to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II in the days to come. But not everyone will understand the source of her godly character and servant heart.

Amanda Gorman, the US’s youngest inaugural poet, tweeted, “Long lived the Queen—but much longer lives her legacy.”

It’s now up to Queen Elizabeth II’s fellow Christians to explain the origin of her legacy and to extend it in our lives and service, to the glory of God.

Denison Forum