In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Does God Love Me?

In moments of doubt, choose to believe the truth of God’s Word.

Psalm 145:7-9

Life can hit us with the most unexpected and undesirable circumstances. When that happens, we might wonder, Does God really care about me? Here are three truths to remember:

1. Scripture tells us, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). This means His very nature is characterized by compassion and concern. Love originated with God, and He is the greatest example of how to express it. Together with the reality that God is holy, this means our Father is perfect in His love—He’ll never make a mistake in the way He cares for us. 

2. God loves us because He calls us His children. “To those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” writes John in his gospel (John 1:12 NIV). Sadly, for some who’ve had a difficult upbringing, this may not be encouraging news. But God is the perfect parent, and He loves us perfectly.

3. God gave the supreme demonstration of His love at the cross. God’s Son came to earth as an expression of His Father’s infinite love and sacrificially did for us what no one else could do. 

After considering these three facts about God’s love, how could we not expect Him to take care of even the smallest details of our life? Look for ways He is expressing His love to you, and remember Jesus’s own words on the subject: “Greater love has no one than this, that a person will lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). 

Bible in One Year: John 1-3

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Opportunities to Shine

Bible in a Year:

Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:16

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Matthew 5:13–16

In March 2020, while walking his dog in New York City’s Central Park, Whitney, a retired financial expert, saw trucks, stacks of tarps, and white tents, each bearing a cross and the name of a charity he’d never heard of before. When he discovered the group was building a field hospital for his fellow New Yorkers with COVID-19, he asked if he could help. For weeks, despite differing faiths and politics, he and his family pitched in wherever they could. Whitney stated, “Every single person I’ve met has been a genuinely nice person.” And he applauded the fact that no one was paying them to “help my city in our hour of deep, deep need.”

In response to the tremendous needs resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, unlikely partners in service were brought together, and believers in Jesus were given new opportunities to share Christ’s light with others. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught His followers to “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds” (Matthew 5:16). We shine Christ’s light by letting the Spirit guide us in loving, kind, and good words and actions (see Galatians 5:22–23). When we allow the light we’ve received from Jesus to shine clearly in our daily lives, we also “glorify [our] Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

This day and every day may we shine for Christ, as He helps us be salt and light in a world that desperately needs Him.

By:  Alyson Kieda

Reflect & Pray

Where do you see an opportunity to share hope and light with others today? When has someone been light to you in a difficult time?

Jesus, help me to shine Your light in all I say and do.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Overcoming Temptation

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

Jesus Christ provides us with the perfect example of how to defeat temptation.

Perhaps you’ve heard the joke, “I can resist anything but temptation!” Unfortunately, that is all too often true in our lives. Learning how to successfully resist temptation is vitally important, for we sin only when we yield to temptation.

Christians throughout history have recognized the importance of resisting temptation. One early believer wrote, “Fly from all occasions of temptation, and if still tempted, fly further still. If there is no escape possible, then have done with running and show a bold face and take the two-edged sword of the Spirit.” The desire to escape temptation has led many in the history of the church to attempt heroic but ultimately futile feats of ascetic self-denial. So desperate did one monk become that he threw himself into a thicket of thorn bushes! Unfortunately, that did not bring him the relief from temptation that he so desperately sought.

The way to successfully resist temptation was modeled by our Lord Jesus Christ when He was tempted. We must first understand our enemy’s plan of attack and, secondly, make use of our spiritual resources.

Satan made a three-pronged assault on Jesus—the same three ways he tempts us. First, he tempted Jesus to doubt God’s goodness by commanding the stones to become bread (Matt. 4:3). That implies that God didn’t care enough about Jesus to provide for His physical needs. Second, he tempted Jesus to doubt God’s love, suggesting that He test that love by leaping from the pinnacle of the temple (Matt. 4:5-6). Finally, he tempted Jesus to compromise God’s truth, promising Him the kingdom without the cross if Jesus would worship him (Matt. 4:8-9).

To each of Satan’s temptations, Jesus replied, “It is written” (Matt. 4:4710). He thereby showed us the resource for defeating temptation: the Word of God (cf. Eph. 6:17). Do you find yourself overcome by temptation? Then follow our Lord’s example and take up the sword of the Spirit today!

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that God would make you alert to Satan’s attacks.

For Further Study

Make a list of specific verses you can use to combat the specific temptations you face.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – God Rewards Our Work

Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.

— Revelation 22:12 (NIV)

Sometimes, we try our best in certain situations because of our love for the Lord, but things don’t seem to work out in our favor. When this happens, we can easily become discouraged. We may need to do the right thing for a long period of time before we see the right results, but as I always say, “Payday is coming.”

God never forgets our labor for Him. The Bible says, He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV), and there is great reward for those who keep and obey His teachings (Psalm 19:11 NKJV).

Some of our rewards are realized here on earth, and some are set aside for us in heaven. We don’t know exactly what these rewards are, but we know that God is good and that everything He prepares for us is also good. I encourage you to look forward to your reward from God. Be steadfast, be strong in the Lord, and continue to do what is right. You will never regret it.

Prayer of the Day: Father, thank You for Your goodness in my life. I look forward to my reward, not because I deserve anything, but because You are faithful. Help me remain strong and never give up. In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Out of the Waiting Room

Then [Ruth] came softly and uncovered [Boaz’s] feet and lay down. At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet!

Ruth 3:7-8

The Christian life is not lived in a comfort zone.

In Ruth 3 we find Ruth taking a great risk as she approached Boaz to request that he care for her as his wife. She, a single woman, went in the middle of the night to a barn filled with men after they had finished celebrating the completed harvest. Once Boaz fell asleep, she went to him under the cover of darkness and uncovered his feet. If she had made a mistake or had been discovered, there is no telling what these men would have done to her or what people might have said regarding her motives.

These events look strange to our 21st-century eyes, but Ruth’s unusual actions demonstrate a sincere trust in God’s care and protection. God had laid down in His law that Boaz could act as a kinsman-redeemer—a protector and provider—for Ruth. God had providentially led Ruth to Boaz’s field, where he had extended favor to her. Her story shows us again and again how God providentially rules over all unforseeable circumstances for His glory and the well-being of His people.

Like Ruth, we will sometimes face occasions in life when we cannot see much beyond our next step. Many of us are tempted to remain in the waiting room until all of the details are seemingly clear and known. We want to feel safe and in control. Yet if we insist on never moving until we do feel like that, our lives will speak little of spiritual progress and witness little of God’s miraculous work. The fear of going in the wrong direction leaves us going nowhere at all.

When we cannot see beyond our next step or when times of uncertainty come in life—and they will come!—we have to trust God and act on the basis of the truth of His word and trust in His Spirit’s guidance. Ruth’s plan was not fail-safe and certain, but she proceeded because she trusted God, who had proven His faithfulness to her time and time again.

Do you need to start thinking this way? Do you need to look above and beyond the borders of your comfort zone to that to which God may be calling you? If Ruth was motivated by trust and obedience, what are you motivated by? What is there about your life right at this moment that speaks of faith? There may be a decision to make, a place to go, a venture to undertake, or a conversation to have about which you don’t know all the implications, and all you can say is “I don’t have a clue how this is going to go, but it’s what God is calling me to do.” In these situations, God’s word calls you to use wisdom and then proceed in faith, step by step, trusting in the one who died for you and who promises to be “with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Entrust your life not to the safety of your comfort zone but to the guidance of His providential hand.

GOING DEEPER

Ruth 3

Topics: Faith Faithfulness of God Providence of God

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – Our Strength Comes from God

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

“Sarah, look back quick!” Eleven-year-old Eli grabbed his sister’s arm. “Look at the water,” he whispered. Sarah peeked out from behind her mother’s robe in time to see two great water walls crash down upon the Egyptians. Helmets and wheels flew into the foam.

Eli did not know which was scarier—rushing through the strong wind on the dry seabed or watching the waves now as they leaped and whirled in the first light. Earlier, trying to keep up with his father, he’d had the urge to run over and poke the Red Sea wall but thought it might suddenly break and pour over them.

Swallowing his screams, Eli moved closer to his father as they watched. “We will be safe on the other side,” Father had told him as they rushed along. But Father’s face had been like a rock, and his eyes had looked straight ahead.

Now Father gathered them close, turning them from the sight. “We are safe, just as Moses told us. Jehovah gave us strength to escape our enemies, and He will give us a refuge in our new home.”

You may never go through what Eli did, but there will be many times when you feel weak and afraid. Run away from the danger or fear, and run to God for help and strength. Eli did not have Psalm 46:1 (it hadn’t been written yet), but he did have God’s promise of safety and protection.

My response:

» Do I ever have a fear that I cannot tell to anyone?

» Do I sometimes think only adults can get help from God?

» Was there a recent time when I asked God for help and strength?

Denison Forum – “The farther away you are from the devil”: A Halloween meditation

 “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” —Psalm 119:97

At least 154 people were killed and 149 others were injured in a crowd surge at a packed Halloween festival Saturday night in Seoul, South Korea. In other weekend news, Somalia’s president said at least one hundred people were killed Saturday in two terrorist car bombings, though the death toll could rise. An overcrowded suspension bridge collapsed yesterday in India, killing at least 134 people.

And Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul is recovering from surgery after being attacked early Friday morning by a hammer-wielding intruder at their San Francisco home. Paul Pelosi suffered a fractured skull and injuries to his hands and right arm, but he is expected to recover fully.

Oscar Wilde observed, “The real tragedies of life occur in such an inartistic manner that they hurt us by their crude violence, their absolute incoherence, their absurd want of meaning.” In a world encompassed with such daily suffering, it is not surprising that we would invent holidays like Halloween and station them throughout the year.

The typical US year has ten such holidays, beginning with New Year’s Day and ending with Christmas. The Catholic liturgical year celebrates the lives of various saints on more than 120 different days across the year.

Some of our holidays serve a diversionary purpose as they distract us from the challenges we face. Others serve a more edifying purpose as they focus on faith, country, and family. But here’s a fact you may not have considered regarding America’s holidays, both sacred and secular: not one of them is found in the Bible.

Halloween and other nonbiblical holidays

Nowhere does Scripture command us to set apart a specific day for observing Jesus’ birth or his resurrection, much less our other holidays. Thanksgiving comes closest, though the biblical command is to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18), not just one day a year.

Many of our holidays are purely secular, as with Halloween, while church tradition has created others such as tomorrow’s All-Saints’ Day (“All Hallows’ Day”), for which today is the “eve” (“All Hallows’ Eve” or “Halloween”).

If you want your holidays to come directly from Scripture, you will need to follow the Jewish religious year. It includes Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost), Sukkot (Tabernacles), and the High Holidays: Rosh Hashanah (New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). Each is required and described by the Torah. While the Jews have added others through tradition (such as Hanukkah), their calendar centers on biblical prescriptions.

Here’s my point: events and decisions in our lives fall into three categories—biblical, nonbiblical, and unbiblical.

Halloween is nonbiblical: God’s word does not command it, which would make it biblical, or forbid it, which would make it unbiblical. However, Scripture does teach us what would be biblical to do today, such as using the day for church outreach events, getting to know your neighbors so you can build relationships for the gospel, and spending fun time together as a family.

And it teaches us what would be unbiblical to do today, such as engaging in occult practices (Leviticus 19:31) or anything that would glorify Satan, “a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44) who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10).

When obedience was a pleasure

The same principle applies to much of life. For example, God’s word obviously does not directly address the digital technology by which I am creating and distributing today’s Daily Article. But it does encourage biblical uses of technology such as internet discipleship, and it warns us against unbiblical uses of technology such as pornography.

How can we be sure we are doing nonbiblical things in biblical ways and that we are avoiding unbiblical things at all costs? It would be wonderful if we could simply follow our instincts and do what comes naturally to us. But this is a privilege we left behind when we left Eden so long ago.

In The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis observed: “Paradisal man always chose to follow God’s will. In following it he also gratified his own desire, both because all the actions demanded of him were, in fact, agreeable to his blameless inclination, and also because the service of God was itself his keenest pleasure, without which as their razor edge all joys would have been insipid to him.

“The question ‘Am I doing this for God’s sake or only because I happen to like it?’ did not then arise, since doing things for God’s sake was what he chiefly ‘happened to like.’ His God-ward will rode his happiness like a well-managed horse, whereas our will, when we are happy, is carried away in the happiness as in a ship racing down a swift stream. Pleasure was then an acceptable offering to God because offering was a pleasure.”

How can we return to such a blessed condition?

Acting into feeling

The psalmist declared to God, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97). “Love” translates a Hebrew word meaning “to desire, to delight in, to breathe after.” The word translated “meditation” refers to one’s “occupation or thoughtful contemplation.” The two phrases reinforce each other: the more we are passionate about God’s word, the more time we will spend studying and applying it to our lives, and the more we study and apply God’s word, the more passion we will develop for it.

Counselors say we should “act into feeling” rather than “feeling into acting.” If you don’t feel love for your spouse, do what you would do if you did: go on a date, give them something you know they would enjoy, and so on. The more you do what love does, the more you may feel what love feels.

So, with today’s holiday and every other nonbiblical event or decision you encounter, spend time seeking scriptural truth and wisdom. Take note of what would be biblical and unbiblical to do. Pray for God’s Spirit to help you do the former and refuse the latter. Then do what you know you should do.

The more you live biblically, the more you will want to live biblically.

And you will obey Billy Graham’s admonition, wisdom that is especially appropriate on Halloween: “Stay close to Christ—because the closer you are to him, the farther away you are from the devil.”

Will you be closer to Christ today than you were yesterday?

Denison Forum