In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Spirit-Filled Life

Our self-driven efforts will produce frustration and disappointment.

1 John 2:3-6

There was a time when I was so disheartened that I wondered whether to remain in the ministry. How could I tell people that Jesus would give them peace and joy when I didn’t feel it myself? 

God let me stew in my anxiety until I was fully committed to finding out if His Word was true or not. I found my answer in a biography of missionary Hudson Taylor. For a long time he, too, felt that his efforts fell short of the Lord’s expectations. But Taylor realized God wanted believers to trust Him fully and rest on His promises. 

As a child, I was taught that a person got saved and then went to work for God. You did the best you could to think, speak, and act in a wise, godly manner. When your best wasn’t good enough, well, you tried harder. Such an impossible expectation was wearing me out. This idea of letting Jesus Christ work through me sounded both biblical and liberating. 

A grape branch doesn’t bear fruit because of its determined efforts to get sunshine; rather, it simply abides in the vine, and fruit appears. The vine does all the work. In the same way, believers are to be in union with their Savior so that spiritual fruit can grow in their life.

Bible in One Year: Habakkuk 1-3

Our Daily Bread — God’s Help for Our Future

Bible in a Year:

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Psalm 90:14

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 90:12–17

According to psychologist Meg Jay, our minds tend to think about our future selves similarly to how we think about complete strangers. Why? It’s probably due to what’s sometimes called the “empathy gap.” It can be hard to empathize and care for people we don’t know personally—even future versions of ourselves. So in her work, Jay tries to help young people imagine their future selves and take steps to care for them. This includes working out actionable plans for who they will one day be—paving the way for them to pursue their dreams and to continue to thrive.

In Psalm 90, we’re invited to see our lives not just in the present, but as a whole—to ask God to help us “number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (v. 12). Remembering that our time on earth is limited can remind us of our desperate need to rely on God. We need His help to learn how to find satisfaction and joy—not just now, but “all our days” (v. 14). We need His help to learn to think not just of ourselves, but of future generations (v. 16). And we need His help to serve Him with the time we’ve been given—as He establishes the work of our hands and hearts (v. 17).

By:  Monica La Rose

Reflect & Pray

How might you grow in taking care of your future self? How does keeping the bigger picture of your life in view help you to better serve others?

Dear God, thank You for the gift of life. Help me to cherish it with the time I’ve been given. Thank You that when my walk with You on earth is over, I can look forward to an eternity of fellowship with You.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Always Praying

“With all prayer and petition pray at all times” (Eph. 6:18).

Make prayer an ongoing part of your day.

As important as prayer is to your Christian life, you might expect Paul to list it as another piece of spiritual armor, but he doesn’t. Instead, he makes it all-pervasive by instructing us to pray at all times. That’s our spiritual lifeline—the air our spirits breathe. The effectiveness of each piece of armor is directly related to the quality of our prayers.

We see the importance of prayer throughout the New Testament. Jesus instructed His disciples to be on the alert at all times, praying so that they would have strength to face the trials and temptations that lie ahead (Luke 21:36). The apostles devoted themselves to prayer (Acts 6:4), as did godly people like Cornelius (Acts 10:2). Every Christian is to be continually devoted to prayer (Rom. 12:12).

In Philippians 4:6 Paul says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” He told the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) and instructed men everywhere to “pray, lifting up holy hands” (1 Tim. 2:8).

Jesus and Paul not only exhorted believers to pray, but also modeled diligent prayer in their own lives. Jesus often went for extended periods of time alone to pray. Paul wrote often of his own fervent prayers on behalf of others (cf. Col. 1:9Philem. 4).

As a child, you may have been taught that prayer is reserved for mealtimes, bedtime, or church services. That’s a common misconception many children carry into their adult years. But believers are to be in constant communication with God, which is simply the overflow of seeing all of life from His perspective. Just as you would discuss your everyday experiences and feelings with a close friend, so you’re to discuss them with God.

God loves you and wants to share your every joy, sorrow, victory, and defeat. Be conscious of His presence today and take advantage of the sweet communion He offers.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God that He’s always available to hear your prayers.
  • Ask Him to give you a desire to commune with Him more faithfully.

For Further Study

What do these verses say about the most appropriate times for prayer: Psalm 55:16-17Daniel 6:10Luke 6:12, and 1 Timothy 5:5?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Hanging Tough

The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!

— Habakkuk 3:19 (AMPC)

The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk spoke of hard times, calling them “high places,” and stating that God had given him “hinds’ feet” to scale those high places.

A “hind” refers to a certain kind of deer that is an agile mountain climber. It can scale up what looks like a sheer cliff, leaping from ledge to ledge with great ease. This is God’s will for us, that when hardship comes our way, we are not intimidated or frightened.

To be truly victorious, we can grow to the place where we are not afraid of hard times but are actually challenged by them. In Habakkuk 3:19, these “high places” are referred to as “trouble, suffering, or responsibility.” This is because it is during these times that we grow.

If you look back over your life, you will see that most of your spiritual growth didn’t occur during the easy times in life; you grow during difficulty. Then during the easy times that come, you are able to enjoy what you have gained during the hard times. Life is filled with a mixture of abasing and abounding (see Philippians 4:12), and both are valuable and necessary.

Prayer of the Day: Lord Jesus, please help me to recognize the devil’s accusations and lies from the onset and teach me to talk back to him and shut them down, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Known by Their Fruit

No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit.

Luke 6:43-44

Students will always reflect the instruction of their teachers. No matter how far a student may excel beyond his or her teacher’s abilities, they will always be indebted to the guidance that was given.

When Jesus spoke of trees and their fruit, it was with an eye to the spiritual leaders of His day. In making His point, He gave us a warning: namely, not to choose the wrong teacher. And how are we to discern between good and bad teachers? Jesus says it’s by their fruit—the results that follow their teachings and actions.

We must think of fruit in relation to the teacher’s character—and character can’t be tested by measuring eloquence or giftedness. Rather, when Jesus gave instruction concerning the vine and the branches, He implied that fruitfulness equals Christlikeness (John 15:1-8). Each tree is recognized by its own fruit; therefore, the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)—will be evident in a good teacher’s life.

We must also examine the content of the teacher’s instruction. Paul addressed this issue when he wrote to his pastoral protégé Timothy, telling him to “keep a close watch on yourself”—that is, his character—“and on the teaching” (1 Timothy 4:16). Not everybody who shows up with a Bible has the listener’s best interests at heart. Not everybody who names the name of Christ is a true teacher of God’s word. False prophets abound. It is imperative, then, that as believers, we learn from the Bible not only to grow in holiness but also to be able to recognize sound doctrine, which is a mark of a godly teacher. Furthermore, we can take comfort from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who teaches us about everything and enables us to distinguish between truth and falsehood (see 1 John 2:27).

There is a direct correlation between the character of a teacher and the content of his teaching, and the impact he makes upon those who are taught. So choose your spiritual teachers and mentors wisely. Look not at their speaking gifts or their cultural connectedness or their confidence or their humor but at character and content. Without question, you will show the world the fruit of the teaching you receive. When people come around you, what will they discover? Will they see judgmentalism or bitterness or haughtiness or self-righteousness? Will they sense passivity and a lack of conviction? Or will they taste the sweet fruit of joy, peace, love, and righteousness?


2 Timothy 2:15-26

Topics: False Teachers Fruit of the Spirit

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg,

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – The Lord Is Good

“They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness. The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works” (Psalm 145:7–9).

Psalm 145 was a well-known song among the Israelites in Old Testament times. What do you think the people in the neighboring nations thought when they heard the words to this psalm? The neighbors were godless people: they didn’t believe in the God of the Bible. Some of them were idolaters who worshiped many gods. Some of them would not bow the knee to any kind of god at all.

Do you think these godless people were happy? Were their idols hearing or answering their prayers? Were these people able to get themselves through hard times on their own, without God? In our time, we can only imagine what people might have been thinking back then. But you can look around at people today. You can watch how godless people respond in a crisis and see how hopeless they are. You can read about them and see what they do and say. You can watch how it is for them to live life apart from belief in the God of the Bible. And you can see for yourself whether they really are happy or at peace.

Many people do not know God and do not really want to know Him. But if they could believe what Psalm 145 teaches about God’s character, maybe they would be able to trust Him and obey Him. If Israel’s neighbors had understood that their homemade idols could never be “good to all” like the Lord is, maybe they would have listened more carefully to the Israelite psalms.

Do your neighbors believe in the God of the Bible? Do they have any clue how great He is in His goodness and how that goodness extends to everybody? If they did, do you think we could watch their lives and see them happy and peaceful? Could we think of ways to show them the truth of God’s goodness, even in the way we live in front of them? The Israelites’ neighbors had heard of them and knew the stories about the Israelites’ God. Maybe we should be singing the goodness of our God a little louder here in the twenty-first century.

The Lord is good to all.

My response:

» Do I really believe that the Lord is good?

» If so, how does that change the way that I live?

» Can people around me tell what I believe about the Lord’s goodness?

Denison Forum – The problem with Vanna White’s marriage advice

When Vanna White received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Wheel of Fortune creator Merv Griffin called her “America’s sweetheart.” She has been the show’s co-host for forty years and is one of the most famous and popular celebrities in America.

She told People magazine, “I was baptized a Baptist, and I’ve always had my own personal relationship with God.” However, she says, “I don’t preach, because everyone’s entitled to their own beliefs.”

According to a new article on yahoo!life, these beliefs include the marriage advice she gives her two children, now in their twenties: “Don’t get married until you’re thirty. You can live with your girlfriend or boyfriend. You can have all the fun you want. Just don’t get married until you’re thirty.” She adds: “Wait until you’re thirty, you can still do all the same stuff. Just don’t tie that knot, just in case.”

Choosing “tree” as your personal pronoun

My point is not to criticize Vanna White; her advice to her children is more the norm today than ever before. My purpose today is to ask why this is so.

In the 1970s, when only 0.2 percent of the US population lived as cohabitating romantic partners, would you have believed that the number would climb to 15 percent in the eighteen-to-thirty-four-year-old age bracket today? This despite the fact that couples who cohabit, even as common as this has become, are still at advanced risk of divorce compared to couples who do not.

If I had told you in 2005 that same-sex marriage would become the law of the land in 2015, would you have believed me? If I had told you in 2014 that a mainstream show like NCIS Hawai’i would portray a lesbian love scene on primetime television last week, would you have believed me?

If I told you last year that a Massachusetts school district would promote a book teaching children how to use gay sex apps and containing pornographic descriptions I will not reproduce, would you have believed me? Or that a Chicago curriculum would prompt first graders to choose their own gender pronouns? (One character chose “tree” as their preferred pronoun.)

“Take every thought captive”

As I noted in a recent Daily Article, “normalization” is “the process through which wisdom becomes conventional.” A New York Times article explains that “things, simply by becoming more common, become more acceptable.” By contrast, behavior that is viewed as abnormal is easily considered weird or deviant, often resulting in ostracism or bullying.

There was a time when LGBTQ behavior would have been seen as abnormal and biblical morality as normal. Now, after decades of strategic cultural normalizing of the former and condemnation of the latter, the script has flipped.

As a result, it is more urgent than ever before in American history that Christians normalize biblical values for their fellow Christians.

Dr. John Newport, my major professor in my philosophy of religion doctoral studies, often emphasized the importance of “immersing” people in the biblical worldview. He reminded us that churches see their members for a few hours a week at best; schools and society influence them for the rest of the week.

To counter the secularizing forces constantly at work, we must be deliberate and strategic about helping Christians think “Christianly.” In biblical terms, we must “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, my emphases).

“The Lord added to their number”

In other words, the best way to fight the culture wars is first to focus on Jesus.

In John 15, Jesus taught us, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser” (v. 1). As a result, he urged us, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” (v. 4). The consequences of this decision are enormous: “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (v. 5, my emphasis).

Do we truly believe this? Do we truly believe that apart from “abiding” in Christ we can do “nothing” of true significance?

If Christians do, we will “abide” in Christ every moment of every day. As a result, we will refuse sin and worldliness. We will worship and study Scripture with passion. Our lives will be marked by spiritual disciplines and intimacy with Jesus.

Consequently, we will share God’s word out of the overflow of God’s Spirit in our lives. We will do evangelism because Jesus will be making us fishers of men (Matthew 4:19). We will demonstrate the “fruit of the Spirit” in our personal character and public witness (Galatians 5:22–23). We will operate in the gifts of the Spirit (for more, see Dr. Ryan Denison’s new book, What Are My Spiritual Gifts?).

Our churches will be marked by unity and compassion (Acts 2:42–47a). We will be transforming change agents in a culture desperate for the “salt” and “light” of God’s word and love (Matthew 5:13–16).

And what was true of the early church will be true of us: “The Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47b).

The gospel in action

In the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona’s destruction in Puerto Rico, evangelical ministries Samaritan’s PurseOperation Blessing, and World Vision are partnering to deliver emergency relief supplies across the island. Shelter tarps, water filtration units, portable family water containers, tablets for purifying water, cleaning buckets, clothes, blankets, tents, and fans are among the items being supplied.

Each of these ministries embraces biblical sexual morality. Each would therefore be condemned as homophobic by secular critics.

But ask the thousands of people in Puerto Rico being served by their compassion if they are modeling a faith worth following.

How will you follow their example today?

Denison Forum