In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Peter: Sifted for Service

Our trials are the preparation for God’s future purpose for our life.

Luke 22:31-32

Have you ever experienced a situation that seemed impossible to endure? Years later, did you realize how that trial prepared you for things to come? The Scriptures tell us that the Lord sometimes allows us to be “sifted” for greater service. In other words, He may give Satan permission to affect an area of our life and thereby transform us into stronger witnesses for Him. 

In today’s passage, Jesus explains this process to Peter: “Satan has demanded to sift you men like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith will not fail; and you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Jesus knew what was coming—His death, resurrection, and ascension—and He expected Peter to lead the disciples and accomplish great things for the kingdom. But Peter wasn’t ready. 

So the Lord allowed Satan to “sift” Peter. In so doing, God separated the “wheat” from the “chaff”—the righteous areas of Peter’s life from the ungodly areas. Ultimately, the disciple grew from the experience and played a key role in spreading the gospel. Had God not allowed this sifting, Peter wouldn’t have been prepared for the events to come. Ask God to bring into focus similar ways that He’s used difficulties for your ultimate good.

Bible in One Year: Amos 1-4

Our Daily Bread — Living Water

Bible in a Year:

Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.

John 7:37

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

John 7:37–39

The cut flowers came from Ecuador. By the time they arrived at my house, they were droopy and road-weary. Instructions said revive them with a cool drink of refreshing water. Before that, however, the flower stems had to be trimmed so they could drink the water more easily. But would they survive?

The next morning, I discovered my answer. The Ecuadorian bouquet was a glorious sight, featuring flowers I’d never seen before. Fresh water made all the difference—a reminder of what Jesus said about water and what it means to believers.

When Jesus asked a Samaritan woman for a drink of water—implying He’d drink from what she fetched from the well—He changed her life. She was surprised by His request. Jews looked down on Samaritans. But Jesus said, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10). Later, in the temple, He cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink” (7:37). Among those who believed in Him, “rivers of living water will flow from within them. By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive” (vv. 38–39).

God’s refreshing Spirit revives us today when we’re life-weary. He’s the Living Water, dwelling in our souls with holy refreshment. May we drink deeply today.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

What areas of your life feel parched and dry? What may be preventing you from asking Jesus to give you this living water?

Loving God, when life leaves me road-weary and thirsty, thank You for the gift of Your Spirit, the living water, who dwells in every believer.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Conquering Doubt

“Take the helmet of salvation” (Eph. 6:17).

The key to conquering doubt is to focus on the preserving power of God.

Doubt comes to Christians in many ways. After you’ve sinned, your conscience might hiss at you, saying, “Surely you’re not a Christian. Why would God save you anyway? You don’t deserve His mercy. You’re not good enough. How presumptuous to think God could ever use you!” Such doubts are common among Christians who focus on their performance rather than God’s power.

All too often we’re quick to acknowledge God’s power to save us but slow to understand His power to keep us. To complicate matters, many Christians believe they can lose their salvation, so they live in constant fear of falling away from the faith. Still others have never learned what Scripture teaches about their security in Christ. They’re so intent on pleasing God through their own efforts that they lose sight of grace and drift into a subtle works- righteousness mentality.

Your performance doesn’t determine your standing in Christ; your standing in Christ determines your performance. Good works are the necessary result of salvation (Eph. 2:10) but they don’t save you or keep you saved. That’s God’s work.

Jude said, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (v. 24). “Able” in that verse translates a Greek word that speaks of power. “Keep” literally means “to secure in the midst of an attack.” “Stumbling” refers to falling into sin. Together they say that God is powerful enough to prevent you from stumbling into sin and falling away from Him—no matter how intense Satan’s attacks might be. He will continue to protect and cleanse you until the day you enter His glorious heaven perfected.

Sin is a serious issue and you should never take it lightly. But when you do sin, remember that as a believer you’re immediately cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ (1 John 1:7). So always confess your sins and turn from them, but never doubt God’s power or willingness to keep you saved. Trust in His grace, not in your ability to perform.

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise the Lord for continually cleansing your sin.

For Further Study

Memorize Jude 24-25 and recite it often as a reminder of God’s power and majesty.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Don’t Just Be Open…Ask!

…You do not have, because you do not ask.

— James 4:2 (AMPC)

God loves you very much and wants to help you, but you need to ask Him to. A man told me recently that when he feels overwhelmed, he lifts up one hand toward heaven and says, “Come get me, Jesus.” God hears the faintest cry of your heart, so stop trying to do everything on your own, and ask Him for help.

For example, the next time you are tempted to eat because you’re upset or sad, say “no” out loud. Then go sit quietly for a moment and ask God to help you in your situation. You’ll be amazed at how much of a difference asking makes. More often than not, you’ll find that you suddenly have the strength to resist the temptation. But you have to really ask; you can’t just tell yourself that you’re open to God’s help.

You may not think that God cares about something as simple as your eating habits, but He does. He cares about everything that concerns you—the big as well as the small. He wants you healthy, and He is willing to help, if you’ll just let Him. Don’t pray to Him to simply break your addiction; instead, pray to Him to help you find the spiritual strength to make the lifestyle changes that will set you free from the problem. As we choose to do what is right and lean on Him to give us strength, His power enables us to follow through and experience victory.

Prayer and meditation on God’s Word are excellent practices to nourish your spirit. It is spiritual food. Studying God’s Word and prayer are traditional methods of making contact with God, but other activities can also make you receptive to His nourishing love. Read something that encourages you and gives you hope. Keep a gratitude journal where you list the good things that happened to you that day (and there are good things in every day). Feed your spirit regularly, and you will be healthy and strong inside and out.

Prayer of the Day: Father, thank you for hearing my prayers, no matter how big or how small they are. In Jesus’ name, I ask for Your help today, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Holy Anxiety

Do not sweep my soul away with sinners.

Psalm 26:9

Fear made David pray like this, for something whispered, “Perhaps, after all, you may be swept away with sinners.” That fear springs mainly from holy anxiety, arising from the recollection of past sin. Even the pardoned man will inquire, “What if at the end my sins should be remembered, and I should be left out of the company of the saved?” He thinks about his present condition—so little grace, so little love, so little holiness; and looking forward to the future, he considers his weakness and the many temptations that surround him, and he fears that he may fall and become a prey to the enemy. A sense of sin and present evil and his prevailing corruptions compel him to pray, in fear and trembling, “Do not sweep my soul away with sinners.”

Reader, if you have prayed this prayer, and if your character is correctly described in the Psalm from which it is taken, you need not be afraid that you will be swept away with sinners. Do you have the two virtues that David had—the outward walking in integrity and the inward trusting in the Lord? Are you resting upon Christ’s sacrifice, and can you approach the altar of God with humble hope? If so, rest assured, you will never be swept away with sinners, for that calamity is impossible. At the judgment the command will be given, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”1

If, then, you are like God’s people, you will be with God’s people. You cannot be swept away with sinners, for you have been purchased at too high a price. Redeemed by the blood of Christ, you are His forever, and where He is, there His people must be. You are loved too much to be swept away with reprobates. Will one who is dear to Christ perish? Impossible! Hell cannot hold you! Heaven claims you! Trust in Christ, and do not fear!

1) Matthew 13:30

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – Serving God for the Right Reasons

“As the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men” (Ephesians 6:6–7).

Kara walked quickly down the church hallway. She was late for orchestra practice. When she reached the auditorium, she searched the chairs for her usual empty spot. To her surprise, it was filled by her friend Melanie. Kara stalked up the stairs and stood in front of her chair. Melanie stopped practicing and looked up.

“Oh hi, Kara. Pastor Fox just moved me up here this morning,” she explained.

“Okay. Did he say why? This has always been my spot.”

“Not really, but it’s not a big deal. I mean, if you need to sit here, I can just move back,” Melanie offered.

Kara gave a plastic smile. “It’s fine. I’ll just move somewhere else.” She found an empty stand at the back of the first violins and flopped down.

After a couple of minutes, Pastor Fox came in. As he passed Kara’s chair, he stopped and said, “By the way, Kara, I moved you because I thought it’d be nice to give Melanie a chance to sit in the front. You don’t mind, do you?”

“No—it’s fine,” she said sourly. They began practicing the Sunday offertory, but Kara’s heart wasn’t in the music. All she could think about was the injustice of her new seat. It’s not fair. I’m so much better than Melanie, she thought.

After practice, she made a beeline for the door but was stopped by Pastor Fox. “Kara, can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Uh, sure,” she swallowed.

“I noticed you didn’t seem very happy about your new seat. Maybe Melanie isn’t as good a musician as you, but this is a leadership opportunity for her. I want you to really think about why you play in the orchestra. Are you doing it for God, or for yourself?”

Kara thought a minute, then said, “I guess, myself.”

God wants us to serve Him because we love Him. When we do something to be recognized by other people or to make ourselves feel good, we are being selfish in our ministry.

We glorify God when our motivation is to honor Him.

My response:

» What is my attitude when others get attention that I don’t get? What does this show about me?

» What’s my reason for ministry—do I do it for God or for myself?

Denison Forum – Dallas ranks #1 in the nation for infidelity

Some crises are beyond our ability to control.

Hurricane Fiona intensified into a Category 4 storm today as it headed toward Bermuda after slamming the Turks and Caicos Islands yesterday and devastating Puerto Rico on Monday. Alaskan officials are rushing to provide aid to remote villages flooded by recent storms; a major earthquake struck Mexico on Monday; Uganda has declared an Ebola virus outbreak.

Other crises are entirely of our making.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the partial mobilization of his country’s military today, calling up reservists as he escalates his war in Ukraine. A cheating scandal is rocking the chess world. And California Gov. Gavin Newsom is promoting billboards in conservative states telling women seeking an abortion that “California is ready to help” and (ironically) quoting Mark 12:31, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Doesn’t he realize that a mother’s closest “neighbor” is her unborn child?

However, lest Texans like me jump to the conclusion that his state is ungodly and ours in the “Bible Belt” is more godly, we should consider this news: a new index reports that Dallas, Texas, ranks No. 1 in the nation for infidelity. Using Census Bureau data, the “most unfaithful cities in America” were identified. Fort Worth, Texas, came in second; Houston ranked third.

By contrast, the “most faithful cities” were, in order: Pasadena, Torrance, Roseville, and Visalia, each of which is in California.

A mirror in the world’s largest castle

Whether religion is morally transformative depends on its object, not just its subject. We can go to church, but if we do not encounter the risen and living Christ, not much will change as a result.

As British Prime Minister Liz Truss read at Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral Monday, Jesus alone is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). His Spirit alone can change human hearts (John 16:8). He alone can make us a “new creation” as the children of God (2 Corinthians 5:17John 1:14).

The uniqueness and necessity of Jesus was illustrated for me years ago when I first visited Windsor Castle, the site of the queen’s burial. The castle was originally completed by William the Conqueror around 1086; it has been enlarged and renovated many times since, most notably by George IV, who died in 1830. It is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world.

The ceiling of St. George’s Chapel, where the queen was buried, is so ornate that I wanted to stare at it for hours. However, it is so tall that doing so is difficult and renders an observer dizzy from the effort. As a result, a large mirror has been placed on the floor, angled at the ceiling. When we look at the reflection below, we see the reality above.

In the same way, Jesus assured his disciples, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). This is true of no other person in all of human history.

Does God accept the worship of all religions?

I make this point in response to a very disturbing report on “The State of Theology” in America just released by Ligonier Ministries and Lifeway Research.

It notes that 43 percent of evangelicals agree that “Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God.” This percentage has risen thirteen points in just two years. Correspondingly and tragically, 56 percent of American evangelicals also agree that “God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.” This percentage has risen fourteen points in two years.

Another study, this one by George Barna and the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University, is even more disturbing: it reports that at least a third of senior pastors in the United States believe a person can earn a place in heaven simply by being a good person.

No wonder our culture is continuing its slide into unbiblical immorality. The retired congressman and my personal friend Frank Wolf is right: politics are downstream from culture, and culture is downstream from the church.

If those who preach sermons and those who hear them do not believe they urgently need a transforming relationship with Jesus Christ, we should not be surprised when their beliefs and their actions mirror those of our fallen society. The longer we avoid the light, the more our eyes adjust to the dark.

The prayer of a genius

So, let’s be clear: Jesus is who the historic Christian faith claims him to be: the sinless Son of God who walked our planet, died for our sins, rose from our grave, is praying right now for us, and will return one day as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). (For evidence demonstrating the truthfulness of each of these claims, see my website article, “Why Jesus?” and my book, Wrestling with God.)

If you build your life on his unique lordship, when the hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, diseases, and the temptations of life find you, your house will stand (Matthew 7:24–25). If you do not, it will not (vv. 26–27).

A brilliant scholar at the University of Edinburgh was known affectionately to his students as Rabbi Duncan. The professor was a world-famous expert in Hebrew and Aramaic. One day some students began joking among themselves wondering what language this renowned genius used in his prayers.

Knowing his meticulous daily schedule, they made their way to his room in the nearby college and knelt quietly outside his door. To their surprise they could barely hear him whisper the words of Charles Wesley’s hymn:

Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,
Look upon a little child,
Pity my simplicity,
Suffer me to come to thee.

When last did you go to him?

Denison Forum