In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Abiding Life

Our service for the Lord becomes joy-filled and effective when we depend on Him to guide our steps.

John 15:1-5

Yesterday I shared with you about a time when the Lord reminded me that I am not the vine—He is. For years I had tried to accomplish by myself what Jesus wanted to achieve through me. My desire was to impress God and earn His approval. His goal, on the other hand, was for me simply to abide

The Holy Spirit’s job is to live the life of Christ through us. This is known by a variety of names, including the exchanged life, the Spirit-filled life, and the abiding life. All of these describe the joyful existence Paul spoke of in Galatians 2:20: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God.” 

Seen from the outside, a branch does not appear to be doing anything. But that doesn’t mean that the abiding life is passive. Jesus was the perfect example of a Spirit-filled life, and He certainly didn’t sit around! He worked hard out of a reservoir of divine energy (John 8:28). All of Christ’s wisdom, knowledge, and courage was drawn from God through the Holy Spirit. 

Christians bear fruit through surrender. We “take root” in the Lord by meditating on His Word, praying, and serving. We reserve nothing for ourselves to control but fully rely upon Him. That’s not passive living; it’s an abiding life.

Bible in One Year: Zephaniah 1-3Haggai 1:1-15Haggai 2:1-23

Our Daily Bread — Out of the Heart

Bible in a Year:

Out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

Matthew 15:19

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Matthew 15:12–20

A rescue mission nicknamed “Operation Noah’s Ark” might sound fun for animal lovers, but it was a nightmare for the Nassau Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. After receiving complaints about the noise and the horrid stench coming from a certain house, workers entered the Long Island home and found (and later removed) more than four hundred animals from their neglected conditions.

We may not be holding hundreds of animals in filthy conditions, but Jesus said we might be harboring evil and sinful thoughts and actions in our hearts that need to be exposed and removed. 

In teaching His disciples about what makes a person clean and unclean, Jesus said it isn’t dirty hands or “whatever enters the mouth” that defiles a person, but an evil heart (Matthew 15:17–19). The stench from our hearts will eventually leak out from our lives. Then Jesus gave examples of evil thoughts and actions that come “out of the heart” (v. 19). No amount of external religious activities and rituals can make them clean. We need God to transform our hearts.

We can practice Jesus’ inside-out ethic by giving Him access to the squalor of our hearts and letting Him remove what’s causing the stench. As Christ uncovers what’s coming from our hearts, He’ll help our words and actions be aligned with His desires, and the aroma from our lives will please Him.

By:  Marvin Williams

Reflect & Pray

Why is it important to take frequent inventory of your heart? How can you seek God’s help?

Loving God, my heart is desperately wicked. Only You can fully know it and remove the evil that’s in it.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Knowing God

“With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18).

Your desire to know God should motivate you toward fervent prayer.

Man’s highest purpose is to know God. Jesus prayed to the Father, saying, “This is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3). Of us He said, “I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know Me” (John 10:14). John added that “we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 5:20).

Every Christian knows God through salvation, but beyond that lies an intimate knowledge of God. That should be the quest of every believer. Moses prayed, “Let me know Thy ways, that I may know Thee, so that I may find favor in Thy sight” (Ex. 33:13). David entreated his son Solomon to “know the God of [his] father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind” (1 Chron. 28:9). Even the apostle Paul, who perhaps knew Christ more intimately than any human being thus far, never lost his passion for an even deeper knowledge (Phil. 3:10).

Such passion is the driving force behind powerful prayer. Those who know God best pray most often and most fervently. Their love for Him compels them to know and serve Him better.

How about you? Is your knowledge of God intimate? Does the character of your prayers reveal that you’re in the process of knowing God?

Paul’s admonitions to “pray at all times in the Spirit” and “be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18) presuppose that you know God and desire to see His will fulfilled in His people. If not, you’ll never appreciate the importance of interceding on behalf of others.

Suggestions for Prayer

The martyred missionary Jim Elliot once prayed, “Lord, make my life a testimony to the value of knowing you.” Let that be your prayer each day.

For Further Study

Read 1 Chronicles 28.

  • What did God forbid David to do?
  • What would happen to Solomon if he failed to know and serve God?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – God Knows Everything About You…and He Loves You

O Lord, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me.

— Psalm 139:1 (AMP)

In order to be in a close relationship with God, it is important to know that He is pleased with you, in spite of your perceived flaws and imperfections.

Many people suffer terribly with secret worries that they are not pleasing to God. They are afraid that God is angry with them because of the mistakes they have made. But the truth is that you are righteous through the work of Jesus, not through your own works. You are imperfect, you will make mistakes, and God is not surprised when you do. He knew every mistake you would ever make when He called you into relationship with Himself.

Psalm 139 tells us plainly that God knows what we are going to do before we ever do it, so try to keep in mind that God knows all about you, and He loves you anyway.

Prayer of the Day: Lord, I need You and I thank You for making me right with You, amen.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Evidence of Genuine Faith

Why do you call me “Lord, Lord,” and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock.

Luke 6:46-48

Jesus wants to see our lips and our lives align. Hence he ends His Sermon on the Plain with this most searching of rhetorical questions: “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” He saw a contrast between what people were saying and how they were behaving, and He wanted to call them to perform a serious spiritual self-examination. He wanted them, just as He wants us, to see that a verbal profession of faith in Him must be accompanied by moral obedience to Him.

Jesus did not teach that entry into the kingdom of heaven is through the good works of obedience. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, plus nothing (see Ephesians 2:8). All that we bring to Christ is the sin from which we need to be forgiven. What, then, is He teaching? Simply this: that only those who obey Him—those who express their faith by their works—have truly heard and have been transformed by the gospel. As the Reformers observed, it is faith alone that saves, but the faith that saves is not alone. The apostle John, picking up on Jesus’ words, says in his first letter, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:6). Scripture makes it clear that the manner in which we hear and obey Jesus’ words has significance for all of eternity because it reveals the true state and reality of our faith.

No accumulation of visible religious works and no number of religious words will be able to disguise our private behavior from God. The real test of those who name the name of the Lord, says Paul—and let’s not evade for one instant the chilling demand of this—is that they “depart from iniquity” (2 Timothy 2:19). Therein lies the evidence of genuine faith.

While none of us will live a perfect life, we are all called to live changed lives. We live under the lordship of Christ; His Spirit is now within us. Will we have complete success? No. But we will be different, and our lives will increasingly demonstrate that we have “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). So consider your own life. Do you call Jesus Lord? Good! But, crucially, can you point to evidence in your life—in what you do not do and in what you do, in the temptations you fight and the virtues you strive for and the forgiveness your repentantly ask for—that He is truly your Lord?


James 2:14-26

Topics: Faith Morality Obedience

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

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Wants Us to Trust Him

“Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you” (Exodus 16:4a).

“And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey” (Exodus 16:31).

Every evening at dusk, I fill my bird feeders with bird seed. In the morning—to the birds’ amazement, I’m sure—there is more seed for them to eat. If they could talk, I wonder if they might say, “Where did this come from? It was almost gone when we went to bed. Does the seed grow overnight? This is a mystery we don’t understand. But we sure are happy when we see the food again!” I give my birds food because I care about them.

When Moses was leading the Israelites through the wilderness to the Promised Land, the people were hungry and needed food for their health and strength. Moses couldn’t go to the grocery store to buy food. Instead, He depended on God to supply what the people needed. But the Israelites were unhappy with Moses. They accused him of taking them into the wilderness to kill them (Exodus 16:4b).

God heard the complaint from His people and told Moses that He would “rain bread” from Heaven. God also gave strict instructions, telling the Israelites how much food they could have each day, but some did not obey Him. They did not believe there would be enough food for them the next day, so they gathered more than God had instructed, and they kept some overnight. During the night worms infested it, and the next day it stank and had to be thrown away. God provided manna during the morning, but as soon as the sun came out, the manna melted. In the evening God provided meat. He wanted the Israelites to know “that I am Lord your God” (Exodus 16:12b). The Israelites did not have to worry about food again. They knew exactly where it had come from.

God wants us to trust Him and believe that He will provide all that we need. Today, thank God for all the provisions that He gives you daily. Can you name some of His blessings?

My response:

» Do I tell God my needs and trust Him to provide them?

» Do I thank God for the blessings He has already given me?

» When God meets one of my needs, do I remember to thank Him?

Denison Forum – “It’s going to be historic”: The latest on Hurricane Ian and two practical responses

Hurricane Ian is headed for the southwest coast of Florida and is likely to make landfall this afternoon or evening as a major Category 4 storm. Hurricane conditions are already impacting Florida’s Gulf Coast this morning, with major flooding reported in Key West. The National Hurricane Center is warning of storm surges with “life-threatening inundation.” More than 2.5 million people have been advised to flee as the storm advances on the state.

The hurricane is currently predicted to come ashore south of Tampa Bay and cut across the state directly for Orlando. Central Florida could expect fifteen to twenty inches of rainfall, with localized rainfall of up to twenty-four inches. For comparison: the most rainfall Orlando has ever experienced over a three-day period has been 13.75 inches.

“It’s going to be historic,” according to one National Weather Service meteorologist.

Three questions I’m asking myself

As I respond this morning, I’m not sure what I can say that you don’t already know.

As a cultural apologist, I could ask why God allows natural disasters. However, as I have written in the past, sin led to a fallen world and the disasters and diseases we face as a consequence (Romans 8:22). There were no hurricanes in the garden of Eden.

I could ask why God sometimes intervenes with such disasters, as when Jesus calmed the stormy Sea of Galilee, but not at other times. However, this is a question we need to answer practically rather than speculatively. When Peter asked about John’s future after the resurrection, Jesus responded, “What is that to you? As for you, follow me” (John 21:22 HCSB). We’ll say more about practical responses to the hurricane in a moment.

So, here are three questions I am asking myself today.

First, why have I focused in this article on Hurricane Ian more than on Hurricane Fiona? The latter devastated Puerto Rico and swept away homes in eastern Canada, but I have not made it my primary subject today.

Second, why have I written about Florida but not Cuba, where Ian brought terrible devastation yesterday as a Category 3 hurricane? The storm caused floods, knocked down trees, ripped off roofs, and damaged hospitals. I’m sure we’ll learn more in the coming days about the hurricane’s horrific effects on the island.

Third, why am I writing an article that is more theoretical than personal? I have focused on theological principles and reported facts, not on personal stories or reflections.

The answer to all three questions is obvious: I live in the United States, but I don’t live in Florida. The same is true for most of you.

If faith is a “crutch for cripples”

However, here’s what you may not know: I have family members and good friends who live in Florida. And I love the people of Cuba—I’ve traveled ten times to the island and pray every day for the pastors and churches with whom our ministry partners there.

As a result, while Fiona was disastrous for people I don’t know personally, Ian is devastating for many I do. Consequently, I am much more engaged in the disaster currently unfolding.

Here’s my point: God cares about those devastated by Fiona even more personally than I care about those affected by Ian. There are no speculative issues in our world with him.

Despite what the Deists thought, God is not a clockmaker who made the world and now watches dispassionately as it runs down. Despite what Freud thought, God is not a speculative projection of our “father” image but a real Father who loves each of us so much he sent his Son to die so we could live eternally.

As a result, those who follow Christ as Lord are his “body” continuing his earthly ministry in our day (1 Corinthians 12:27). Christianity is not the “opiate of the people,” as Marx claimed, but the only hope of a broken and chaotic world. If faith is a “crutch for cripples,” we are all cripples.

Act into feeling

If the devastation caused by Hurricanes Fiona and Ian is not personally grievous for us, it should be.

We are called to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). According to Jesus, a neighbor is someone in need whom you can help (Luke 10:37). And you can help every person affected by these tragedies through your intercession and support for ministries serving them.

Such compassion begins by praying for compassion. It begins by asking God to break our hearts for what breaks his heart. It begins by asking his Spirit for his first “fruit”—agape, unconditional servant love in action (Galatians 5:22).

Then we act in the belief that God is answering our prayer. We do not wait until we feel compassion—we act in compassion. We take practical steps to demonstrate God’s love in our service. As counselors say, we act into feelings, and often the feelings follow.

Whether we feel compassion for those we serve or not, they will feel our compassion in our service. And our service to those in need will serve our Savior and Lord (Matthew 25:40). St. Vincent de Paul (1581–1660) reminded us that those in need “are taking the place of the Son of God who chose to be poor” and who “went so far as to say that he would consider every deed which either helps or harms the poor as done for or against himself.”

Booker T. Washington on happiness

To serve hurricane victims in Canada, you can support the Salvation Army and Samaritan’s Purse as they serve those in crisis. To help those in Puerto Rico, you can partner with evangelical ministries at work on the island.

To help those in Cuba, I highly recommend our ministry partner there, Proclaim Cuba, and encourage you to support their work here. To serve those in Florida, I recommend (as always) the ministry of Texas Baptist Men as well as Convoy of Hope and the American Red Cross.

As you pray for these hurricane victims and those who are serving them, also ask the Lord to open your eyes and heart to those in need you can serve closer to your home.

Booker T. Washington observed, “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”

How happy will you be today?

Denison Forum