Our Daily Bread — Grace Amid the Chaos

Bible in a Year:

They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.

Psalm 107:30

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 107:23–32

I was drifting off into an impromptu nap when it hit me. From the basement, my son ripped a chord on his electric guitar. The walls reverberated. No peace. No quiet. No nap. Moments later, competing music greeted my ears: my daughter playing “Amazing Grace” on the piano.

Normally, I love my son’s guitar playing. But in that moment, it jarred and unsettled me. Just as quickly, the familiar notes of John Newton’s hymn reminded me that grace thrives amid the chaos. No matter how loud, unwanted, or disorienting the storms of life might be, God’s notes of grace ring clear and true, reminding us of His watchful care over us.  

We see that reality in Scripture. In Psalm 107:23–32, sailors struggle mightily against a maelstrom that could easily devour them. “In their peril, their courage melted away” (v. 26). Still, they didn’t despair but “cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress” (v. 28). Finally, we read: “They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven” (v. 30).

In chaotic moments, whether they’re life-threatening or merely sleep-threatening, the barrage of noise and fear can storm our souls. But as we trust God and pray to Him, we experience the grace of His presence and provision—the haven of His steadfast love.

By:  Adam Holz

Reflect & Pray

When have you experienced God’s haven of peace in other people? To whom might you offer similar encouragement?  

Father, help me to remember to call out to You when the waters of life are rising, and help me to offer hope to others.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Satan’s Conqueror

“Since . . . the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Heb. 2:14-15).

Christ came to break the power of Satan which He did by conquering death.

To be free to live with God and share in all His blessings, someone had to shatter Satan’s death grip on us. Sin is what gives Satan his powerful hold on us, but the power itself is death.

Satan knew that God required death for us because of sin. He knew that all died in Adam—that death became a certain fact of life. And he knew that men, if they remained as they were, would die and go out of God’s presence into hell forever. So he wants to hang onto men until they die because once they are dead, the opportunity for salvation is gone forever.

To wrest the power of death from Satan’s hand, God sent Christ into the world. If you have a greater weapon than your enemy, then his weapon is useless. You can’t fight a machine gun with a bow and arrow. Satan’s weapon is death, but eternal life is God’s weapon, and with it Jesus destroyed death.

How was He able to do it? He rose again, proving He had conquered death. That’s why He said, “Because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19). His resurrection provides the believer with eternal life.

Nothing terrifies people more than the fear of death. But when we receive Christ, death in reality holds no more fear for us since it simply releases us into the presence of our Lord. We can say with Paul, “To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). Rejoice that you have placed your hand into the hand of the conqueror of death, who will lead you through death and out the other side.

Suggestion for Prayer

Ask God to give you a greater realization that He has conquered death to help you live life more fully to His glory.

For Further Study

Read 1 Corinthians 15:50-58. How are we to live our lives based on what we know about death?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Help for the Weary

I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God. Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head; many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me….

— Psalm 69:3-4

Clearly, David the psalmist was weary when he penned the words of today’s scripture. He actually says, “I am worn out.” All kinds of situations can drain our physical and emotional resources, and too much stress over a long period of time definitely causes weariness.

When we are weary, we need our strength restored, and the Bible says that God will help us: But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31 NIV).

I believe we can make ourselves weary through the way we think and talk about the situations we face in life. No doubt, some of them are draining because of all they demand from us, but we can make them better or worse with our thoughts and words.

The Holy Spirit is available to help, strengthen, and restore us. He will not help us complain or be negative about the pressures we face, but He will help us think and speak about them according to God’s Word. He will give us wisdom to deal with our problems effectively. He will give us grace and make things easier than they would otherwise be. He will strengthen us in faith, and He will help us hope in the Lord, which, according to Isaiah 40:31, is where we will renew our strength.

Prayer of the Day: Lord, when I am weary, give me the grace to hope in You, trusting You to renew my strength, amen

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – All Things Made New

God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

Revelation 21:3-4

The whole idea of a new heaven and a new earth is hard to comprehend. But we can say with absolute certainty that God is going to take what is present and transform it, and He’s determined that no one and nothing will be capable of destroying His perfected kingdom. We can say this with such certainty because He is the God who is powerful to keep His promises, seen most gloriously of all at a wooden cross and an empty tomb. Right now, behind the scenes of what we call history, God is preparing to bring His kingdom in all its fullness—and it is, in fact, something He has been preparing from all of eternity. When Christ returns, He will usher in this new kingdom, a new heaven and earth in which righteousness dwells.

When God’s perfected kingdom is finally established, sin will have been punished, justice will have been satisfied, and evil will have been destroyed. There will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain. Those will all be merely “the former things” that will have “passed away.” When God brings His kingdom to fruition, when His perfect plan unfolds, no one and nothing will be able to spoil it.

The word “new” as it is used to describe the new heaven and new earth in Revelation is not describing time or origin; it’s describing kind and quality. In other words, God is going to transform creation so that it reflects all the glory and magnificence that He originally intended for it. Satan will not get the satisfaction of watching God destroy His creation. Rather, God is going to use fire to purify it, just as He once used water in the days of Noah (2 Peter 3:5-7).

So the new earth will still be earth. It will be a physical place inhabited by physical people, but now it “shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). No wonder, then, that the whole of creation stands on tiptoe, longing to be liberated from its bondage to sin and decay (Romans 8:19-22)!

This new creation is worth waiting for. It is worth living for and even dying for. God is going to renew all things—our souls, our minds, our bodies, and even the environment in which we live. None of the things which currently spoil life on earth will be present, and all that is hoped for, all that is anticipated, will find its fulfillment.

So “we wait eagerly” (Romans 8:23). There is never a need to despair, no matter how dark life may become—for the day God wipes your tears away lies ahead. And “we wait for it with patience” (v 25). There is never a need to seek to seize all you think you need now, no matter how tempting that may be—for the day when God brings all the joy and satisfaction you could imagine lies ahead. Let eagerness and patience be your watchwords today.

GOING DEEPER

Romans 8:18-25

Topics: Heaven Hope Kingdom of God

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – When the Wicked Are Planning, God Is Laughing

“The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth. The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming.” (Psalm 37:12-13)

Does it ever seem like the disobedient kids you know get all the attention? Everyone knows who they are, and it can seem as though they get chosen to receive special attention. At least, the teacher spends extra time with them. If you’ve ever noticed this before, you probably agree with the psalmist in Psalm 73:3 when he says, “For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” The psalmist had begun to feel a little bit jealous, because he had been trying so hard to keep doing what was right – yet it seemed to him that those who were habitually sinning were getting rewarded for wrongdoing!

But the psalmist’s jealous heart changed when he began to think about the real situation that wicked people are in. His psalm goes on to say that he stopped being jealous of the way the wicked seemed to be prospering. He talked to God about how he had been feeling, and God made it clear that the wicked were soon going to be destroyed – destroyed quickly and completely (Psalm 73:19).

God’s Word reveals clearly that He is laughing at the wicked. He is a merciful God, and He is a kind God. In one sense, God is open to the wicked and invites them to change their ways: If wicked people were to repent of their sins and trust Christ as Savior, God would gladly and graciously welcome them into His family. But there is another sense in which God delights to see justice brought upon unjust people. If there are wicked people who seem to be “winning” here on Earth while people who love and obey God seem to be “losing,” you can trust that God is aware (He knows) and that God will see that justice is done.

That’s why the Bible says God laughs when the wicked plot (plan evil things to do) against His people. God laughs because He knows what the wicked people cannot know. From His view in heaven, God can see everything happening – past, present, and future – and He knows the future of wicked people. For a little while, it may appear that wicked people are blessed while obedient people suffer. But that is not how it will always be. One day, God Himself will destroy those wicked people who do not repent of their wrongdoing. He knows about the destruction of the wicked. He also knows how He will one day bless those who are being faithful to Him.

God laughs at the wicked because He knows that their destruction is coming soon.

My Response:
» Am I one of the wicked ones who God is laughing at? If yes, should I confess that to Him and ask Him to help me change?
» Am I jealous of the wicked? If yes, should I confess that to God and ask Him to give me faith in His faithfulness?

Denison Forum – Pelé, perhaps the greatest soccer player in history, dies at 82

Pelé, called the “global face of soccer” by the New York Times, has died after a battle with cancer. After canceling more than 2,300 of its flights yesterday, Southwest Airlines plans to return to normal operations today “with minimal disruptions.” As Ukrainians face freezing winter temperatures, Russia has launched what appears to be one of its largest strikes to date on their energy infrastructure.

Police in Buffalo, New York, arrested ten people for looting amid the deadly winter storm that buried much of western New York. And 85 percent of rural land in California is now at a “high” or “very high” risk for wildfires, according to a new analysis.

Why did I begin today’s Daily Article with these stories? I never watched Pelé play soccer. I have no current plans to fly on Southwest Airlines. Nor do I live in Ukraine, western New York, or rural California. But you and I were made by God as empathetic, communal beings: “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). The happiness or pain of some is experienced as happiness or pain by the rest of us.

The same is true of experiences long past. Millions will sing “Auld Lang Syne” tomorrow evening with its question, “Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?”

And we seek happiness not just in the present and from the past but for the future. We will wish each other a “Happy New Year,” all the while wishing we could do more than wish for such happiness.

It turns out, we can. But only if we look in the right place.

Our souls need “seven rests”

According to an American Psychological Association survey, more than a quarter of Americans say they are so stressed most days that they cannot function. And more than one in five Americans report feeling serious anxiety or depression.

How should we respond?

Counselors tell us that some of our anxieties are avoidable and are due to hunger, sleep deprivation, being over-caffeinated, and medical issues. We can take practical steps such as addressing burnout and enhancing our well-being through a workout. We can free ourselves from “task paralysis” by breaking tasks down into small, tangible steps and rewarding ourselves when we complete them, and we can identify our wellness nonnegotiables such as coffee in the morning.

We are encouraged to face our crises with people we can trust who are navigating the same issues. And psychologists advise us to seek “seven rests”: physical, mental, sensory, emotional, social, creative, and spiritual.

The last “means connecting on a deeper level with something greater than ourselves,” which “can mean adding prayer, meditation, or purpose to our lives” through “a church, a volunteer program, community outreach, or even nature retreats.”

Life as a chest of drawers

In my survey of news sources regarding happiness, I was struck by their secularity. Even the paragraph on spirituality in the article on “seven rests” points us to “something greater than ourselves” with no suggestion that this “something” could be a Someone.

In Jesus the Great Philosopher: Rediscovering the Wisdom Needed for the Good Life, Jonathan T. Pennington notes that “our modern lives are often built like a chest of drawers, with distinct compartments for each area. Even as we keep our socks, underwear, exercise clothes, and jeans in different drawers . . . so too our lives have distinct compartments—health, relationships, money, education, leisure, religion.”

He adds: “Christian people have a specific drawer for Jesus. For some it is a low-placed half drawer that is only opened once a week or maybe twice a month on Sundays. For others—especially pastors and missionaries—the Jesus drawer is big and probably at the top of the cabinet with well-oiled rollers. Most Christians’ ‘Jesus drawers’ are somewhere in between.”

Pennington cites theologian Peter Leithart, who observed that many Christians are dualists, mistakenly living our lives like a layered cake with supernatural truths on the top layer of an otherwise natural cake. In this worldview, according to Leithart, the “church adds a spiritual dimension to my life but leaves my natural world more or less intact.”

While we have a “Jesus drawer” others do not, it is only one drawer among many.

How to “experience meaningful happiness”

Our culture has been compartmentalizing us into body, soul, and spirit since the ancient Greeks. Why is this bad for us?

According to Pennington, “Humans are organic beings who thrive only when the many parts of our lives are connected together. . . . We cannot treat our lives as if the various parts are unrelated and expect to experience meaningful happiness and the flourishing life that Jesus talks about.”

So, if we want happiness for ourselves and others in the coming year, we will need to travel the ancient pathway: “Delight yourself in the Lᴏʀᴅ, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). How do we do this? The psalmist explains: “Commit your way to the Lᴏʀᴅ; trust in him, and he will act” (v. 5).

Your “way” in the Hebrew refers to your “journey” today. When you “commit” or surrender it to God, you can “trust in him” to “act” in ways that “give you the desires of your heart.” C. S. Lewis was therefore right to claim, “God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”

James Clear advised us: “You just need to have the courage to eliminate everything that doesn’t directly feed what you really want.”

What do you “really want” in the coming year?

Denison Forum

Our Daily Bread — Just As I Am

Bible in a Year:

Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority.

Matthew 10:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Matthew 10:1, 5–10, 16–20

The young woman couldn’t sleep. Having suffered with a physical disability for many years, she’d be center stage at a church bazaar the next day to raise funds for higher education.  But I’m not worthy, Charlotte Elliott reasoned. Tossing and turning, she doubted her credentials, questioning every aspect of her spiritual life. Still restless the next day, she finally moved to a desk to pick up pen and paper to write down the words of the now classic hymn, “Just As I Am”:

“Just as I am, without one plea, / But that Thy blood was shed for me, / And that Thou bidst me come to Thee, / O Lamb of God, I come, I come.”

Her words, written in 1835, express how Jesus called His disciples to come and serve Him. Not because they were ready. They weren’t. But because He authorized them—just as they were. A ragtag group, his team of twelve included a tax collector, a zealot, two overly ambitious brothers (see Mark 10:35–37), and Judas Iscariot “who betrayed him” (Matthew 10:4). Still, He gave them authority to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons” (v. 8)—all without taking any money, luggage, extra shirt or sandals, or even a walking stick with them (vv. 9–10).

“I am sending you,” He said (v. 16), and He was enough. For each of us who say yes to Him, He still is.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

What’s your current situation or status in life? What doubts have you expressed about your readiness to be used by God?

Jesus, bid me to come to You, fully dependent on Your grace and power to make a difference.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Christ Is the Creator

“In [Christ] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16).

Christ created everyone and everything.

The sheer size of the universe is staggering. The sun, for example, could hold 1.3 million planets the size of Earth inside it. The galaxy to which our sun belongs, the Milky Way, contains hundreds of billions of stars. And astronomers estimate there are millions, or even billions, of galaxies.

Who created this awesome universe? According to the false teachers at Colosse, it was not Christ. They viewed Him as the first and most important of the emanations from God; they were convinced it had to be a lesser being who eventually created the material universe. Believing matter to be evil, they argued that neither the good God nor a good emanation would have created the universe.

But the apostle Paul rejected that blasphemy, insisting that Christ made all things, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible. When he mentions thrones, dominions, rulers, and authorities (v. 16), he is referring to the various ranks of angels. Far from being an angel, as the false teachers taught, Christ created the angels (cf. Eph. 1:21). Jesus’ relation to the unseen world, like His relation to the visible world, proves He is God, the Creator of the universe.

Man is certainly interested in knowing about the universe that Christ created. That is evident, for example, by his exploration of space. Manned space capsules photographing the earth rising over the lunar horizon and satellites beaming pictures to us of planets at the outer edges of our solar system leave us in awe and wonder. Even more amazing is, not that man has gone into space, but that God came to Earth. In Christ, the invisible God who created everything and everyone became visible to man. How sad that while man looks into space, He refuses to look at the One who came to Earth.

Suggestions for Prayer

Worship Christ for His awesome work of creation.

For Further Study

Read Psalm 19:1-6. What testimony does this passage give of the Creator?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Time for Renewal

And He said to them, [As for you] come away by yourselves to a deserted place, and rest a while—for many were [continually] coming and going, and they had not even leisure enough to eat.

— Mark 6:31 (AMPC)

Frequently we complain and live silently angry lives while at the same time we continue to do the very things that make us angry. We cannot blame others for what is ultimately our own responsibility. A normal Christian life should be lived within the boundaries of balanced living. Once a person has a serious case of burnout, it is not easy to fix. None of us, not even those of us “called by God,” can break His natural laws without paying the penalty. Even though we may work for God, we cannot live without limits. Jesus rested. He walked away from the demands of the crowds and took time for renewal.

Many of God’s most precious and well-known saints have suffered from weariness and burnout with a tendency toward depression. We must learn that not all of our problems are spiritual; some of them are physical. We often blame the devil for things that are our own fault. We must learn to say no and not fear the loss of relationships. I have come to the conclusion that if I lose a relationship because I tell someone no, I really never had a true relationship at all.

Prayer of the Day: Lord, give me wisdom to know when I must rest and be renewed. Help me to adjust my schedule when I need to be refueled, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Seasons of Waiting

 [God] brought [Abraham] outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

Genesis 15:5-6

If our faith is to remain steadfast in seasons of prolonged waiting, then we must be confident of these truths: first, that God has the power to do what He promised to do; and second, that God Himself is sufficient to meet all of our needs, in every season.

Abraham’s faith was tested in the waiting room of life. For years he lived in a foreign land, waiting for his “very own son” to come into the world as God had promised (Genesis 15:4). And it was his trust in God’s promises while he waited that God “counted … to him as righteousness.”

Paul, when he writes of Abraham’s faith during this time, says, “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised” (Romans 4:20-21). In other words, Abraham believed that nothing and no one could stand in the way of God fulfilling His spoken word—even when he could not begin to see how God would keep His promises. His faith wasn’t a blind leap in the dark. Rather, it was a belief based on God’s character.

Fast-forward to today, and one of the great promises to which we cling is that the Lord Jesus has promised to prepare a place for us and that He will come to take us to Himself (John 14:3). Therefore, when we take Him at His word, we are filled with the hope of heaven. We can be certain beyond any shadow of a doubt that Jesus is coming back personally, He is coming back visibly, and He is coming back for His own. These promises to us are as sure as the promise God made to Abraham, for which he waited 25 years before it was fulfilled.

Furthermore, through Abraham’s experience we see that it is God alone who is sufficient to bring us through seasons of waiting. In Genesis 17, God appears once more to Abraham in order to strengthen his faith. How? By revealing who He is: “When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty [El-Shaddai]; walk before me’” (17:1). This Hebrew term, El-Shaddai, can mean “God who is sufficient.” God, in other words, affirmed His promises to Abraham on the strength of His character.

The Christian life is a life of waiting. And all of God’s “hold ons” and “not yets” are part and parcel of His purpose. Every season of waiting is an opportunity for you to take God at His word. And while you wait, you can surely trust Him to meet your every need. Rest in this: the God in whom you believe is able to do all that He has promised.

GOING DEEPER

Genesis 17:1-8

Topics: Faithfulness of God Patience Promises of God

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is the Most High God

“I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, ‘What doest thou?’” (Daniel 4:34-35)

Hunter and Cammie were playing on the dirt pile in the back yard. “I’m the king of the mountain!” yelled Hunter from the top of the pile, his arms raised high in the air.

“Not so fast, there!” yelled Cammie as she charged up toward him and attempted to take his place. As she pushed him out of the way, she exclaimed, “Now I’m the queen of the mountain!”

Laughing and out of breath, Hunter gasped, “So what does the queen of the mountain actually rule over?”

“Whatever she wants, of course!” replied Cammie, grinning.

Maybe, like Hunter and Cammie, you might like to be a ruler of some kind, in control of something – if only over something as small as a dirt pile. But do you remember Who is really in charge of everything? In Scripture, God is called “the Most High God.” Do you know why He is called that? He is called “the Most High God” because He is the most high! He has more authority and power than anyone else. He created the universe, and He controls the universe He created! He does whatever He sees fit to do. No one is in a position to question Him!

The truth that God is the Most High God should be encouraging, if you belong to Him. He has all things under perfect control. But at the same time, this truth should be a reminder that you are not the one in charge; God is. He has the right to “call the shots” when it comes to your life, and He carries out His own plans in His own way and in His own good time – because He is the Most High God.

God rules over everything and does everything He knows to be best for His glory and for our good.

My Response:
» Do I thank the Most High God that He rules over everything – even situations that are hard for me to understand?
» Do I submit in spirit when the Most High God controls things in my life, or am I trying to “call the shots” myself?

Denison Forum – Representative-elect George Santos addresses his “embellishments”: Why integrity still matters

New York Representative-elect George Santos recently made his first televised appearance since the New York Times revealed that he lied about several elements of his résumé. It did not go as well as he’d hoped.

As a brief overview of the controversy surrounding Santos, he defeated Democrat Robert Zimmerman in November’s election, running on a campaign built largely around his story of rising from poverty to prominence. Yet, as he admitted to the New York Post, several elements of that story were false.

Among the most problematic lies relate to his Jewish heritage—he clarified that he is “Jew-ish” rather than Jewish because his grandmother was Jewish before converting to Catholicism. This despite claiming to be a “proud American Jew” in campaign materials sent to Jewish constituents. The Republican Jewish Coalition has since stated that he “misrepresented his heritage” and “will not be welcome at any future RJC events.”

In addition, he claimed that he graduated from Baruch College when he never even attended and holds no college degree. He also said that he worked for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup when he was never employed by either.

He has since referred to these errors as “embellishing my résumé” and apologized.

The nature and sincerity of that apology were at the forefront of questions he faced from former representative Tulsi Gabbard, who filled in for Fox’s Tucker Carlson in the interview.

“What does the word integrity mean to you?”

In her first question, Gabbard asked Santos, “What does the word integrity mean to you?”

After being pressed further for a definition rather than a rote response, he replied that “it means to carry yourself in an honorable way. And I made a mistake, and I think humans are flawed and we all make mistakes.”

He’s right, but it’s what we do after our mistakes that matters most, and when asked by Gabbard why people should trust him moving forward, Santos’ response left much to be desired: “Tulsi, I can say the same about the Democrats and the party. Look at Joe Biden. Joe Biden’s been lying to the American people for forty years and he’s the president of the United States. Democrats resoundingly support him.”

As Gabbard then pointed out, “This is not about the Democratic party, though. This is about your relationship with the people who’ve entrusted you to go and fight for them.”

The interview included other notable points as well, but I’d like for our focus to remain on this part for today.

The government we deserve

George Bernard Shaw once remarked that “democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”

Prior to bringing Santos on, Gabbard made the point that he is hardly the first politician to lie about their résumé or heritage. She pointed to Richard Blumenthal’s false claims of military service in Vietnam and Elizabeth Warren’s remarks about her Native American ancestors as examples.

Her point in doing so, however, was not to excuse Blumenthal, Warren, or Santos. Rather, it was to explain why “no one should be surprised that the American people don’t trust these politicians” and have “no faith that those in Washington are actually working for the people when they’re so clearly working for themselves.”

I suspect many agree with her—myself included, if I’m being honest.

Unfortunately, our anger and disappointment at their moral failures often stop with them when the real problem hits much closer to home.

Holding ourselves to a higher standard

If our response to our own mistakes is to minimize the gravity of the sin and point out the hypocrisy of others, then we’re not really very penitent. After all, “I’m sorry, but . . . ” is not a real apology, and that’s just as true for you and me as it is for elected members of Congress.

Santos is right that politicians frequently lie in service to their ambitions. That he could say so knowing that there are large swaths of the populace who are willing to tolerate such behavior if it means getting another vote on their side of the aisle is why our government is the way that it is.

But if we want the government to change, then we need to change.

Politicians never have been and never will be the moral compass for the nation, and our situation will not improve until the people voting for them—that would be all of us—hold ourselves to a higher standard.

Fortunately, God longs to help us do just that.

There may be times when we have reasonable explanations for the sins we commit and could point to countless others who have made the same mistakes. But they are not our standard. God is (Matthew 5:48).

If we are truly meant to be the light of the world and a city on a hill that guides the lost around us back to the Lord, then we need to genuinely repent of our sins rather than try to justify or minimize them.

So the next time you sin, ask the Lord to help you practice real repentance and own your mistake.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll inspire someone else to do the same.

Denison Forum

Our Daily Bread — In All Our Dealings

Bible in a Year:

Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves . . . with integrity and godly sincerity.

2 Corinthians 1:12

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

2 Corinthians 1:12–16

In 1524, Martin Luther observed: “Among themselves the merchants have a common rule which is their chief maxim. . . . I care nothing about my neighbor; so long as I have my profit and satisfy my greed.” More than two hundred years later, John Woolman, from Mount Holly, New Jersey, let his commitment to Jesus influence his tailor shop dealings. Out of support for the freeing of slaves, he refused to purchase any cotton or dye supplies from companies that used forced labor. With a clear conscience, he loved his neighbor and lived according to integrity and sincerity in all his dealings.  

The apostle Paul strived to live out “integrity and godly sincerity” (2 Corinthians 1:12). When some in Corinth tried to undermine his authority as an apostle for Jesus, he defended his conduct among them. He wrote that his words and actions could withstand the closest scrutiny (v. 13). He also showed that he was dependent on God’s power and grace for effectiveness, not his own (v. 12). In short, Paul’s faith in Christ permeated all his dealings.

As we live as ambassadors for Jesus, may we be careful to let the good news ring out in all our dealings—family, business, and more. When by God’s power and grace we reveal His love to others, we honor Him and love our neighbors well.

By:  Marvin Williams

Reflect & Pray

How are your words and actions a representation of your faith in Jesus? As a believer in Him, why are integrity and sincerity vital in your dealings with others?

Dear God, help me to serve others with such a clear conscience that my love for them is evident.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Author of Our Salvation

“It was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10).

Through His death, Christ became the perfect leader for His people.

As we look at what Christ has done, we must never forget that He was fulfilling the sovereign plan of God. The writer of Hebrews tells us it was fitting in God’s sight for Christ to bring many sons to glory. That means everything God did through Christ was consistent with His character.

The cross was a masterpiece of God’s wisdom. It displayed His holiness in His hatred of sin. It was consistent with His power: Christ endured in a few hours what it would take an eternity to expend on sinners. The cross displayed His love for mankind. And Christ’s death on the cross agreed with God’s grace because it was substitutionary.

To bring “many sons to glory,” God had “to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.” The Greek word translated “author” (archēgos) means “pioneer” or “leader.” It was commonly used of a pioneer who blazed a trail for others to follow. The archēgos never stood at the rear giving orders; he was always out front blazing the trail. As the supreme Archēgos, Christ has gone before us—He is our trailblazer.

Life seems most anxious and dreadful when death is near. That’s a trail we cannot travel by ourselves. But the Author of our salvation says, “Because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19). Only the perfect Pioneer could lead us out of the domain of death into the presence of the Father. All you have to do is put your hand in His nail- scarred hand and He will lead you from one side of death to the other. Then you can say with the apostle Paul, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55).

Suggestion for Prayer

Praise God for all His attributes, specifically for each one displayed in Christ’s death for you.

For Further Study

Read Hebrews 5:8-9 and 1 Peter 2:19-25. How do those verses expand on Hebrews 2:10?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Good Things Are on the Way

The Lord is good to those who wait [confidently] for Him, to those who seek Him [on the authority of God’s word].

— Lamentations 3:25 (AMP)

Sometimes when you’ve had a long series of painful or disappointing things happen, you can get to a point where you are just expecting more of what you’ve already had. But if you are expecting something bad to happen, those expectations will steal your joy and make it almost impossible to live a victorious life.

Instead of expecting the worst, choose to expect the best. Decide in your quiet time with God that you are going to hope for and expect good things. When you do, this opens the door to God’s plan in your life (see Lamentations 3:25).

The next time you are having a bad day, examine your expectations, and if you find they are not what they should be, you can quickly make an adjustment that will bring God’s reassuring peace and uncontainable joy back into your life.

Prayer of the Day: Father, anytime I feel discouraged or weary, help me remember that there is always hope. Help me be filled with hope in You and positive expectation. You are good, and I believe You want to be good to me, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – The Antidote to Pride

Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.

Mark 8:15

It is sobering to consider how many people saw the Lord Jesus, heard His teaching, and witnessed His miracles—and yet refused to believe.

The same day that they saw Him feed 4,000 with a few loaves and fishes—revealing Himself to be the God who provides for His people in the wilderness (Mark 8:1-10; see Exodus 16)—the Pharisees asked Him for a “sign from heaven” (Mark 8:11). In response, Jesus cautioned His followers, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”

The Pharisees were marked by hypocrisy: Herod by hostility. The Pharisees wished to hold on to their self-righteous assumptions that they merited blessing from God, and so they had no place for a Savior. Herod wished to hold on to the power he wielded over the people, so he had no place for the King. Therefore, they were committed to a blindness to truth. Their approach refused to believe or understand who Jesus was. They were essentially saying, I really don’t want to find out what Jesus means, and I certainly will not accept that He is my Savior or my King. Jesus warned against taking on that same attitude, because even a trace amount of leaven—of unbelief—can make a significant difference.

When pride rears its ugly head, it can lead us to judge the Scriptures rather than learning from them. When we stand in judgment over God’s word, though, what we might regard as trivial and insignificant tweaking of truth will actually be the leaven—the yeast—which spreads throughout the entire bread of our convictions.

Jesus’ challenge to us is to humbly accept Him as who He is—to allow Him to save us of our sins and to rule over our whole life. He patiently reminds us again and again of who He is. His challenge is prophetic and parental, direct and loving.

We need the work of Christ to overcome the effects of the leaven of pride. It takes divine intervention to understand Christ’s work in our lives. That’s why people can read the Bible and see nothing—can listen to the gospel story and hear nothing. Until the eyes of understanding are opened and our ears are unplugged, we will remain unaffected. But every day that God’s Spirit shows us the beauty of Jesus, and reminds us of our desperate need for Him, our hearts and minds can sing:

I know not how the Spirit moves, convincing men of sin,
Revealing Jesus through the word, creating faith in Him.
But I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able.[1]

The antidote to the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod is the work of the Spirit. Do not be so proud as to assume you do not need Him. Pray that He would show you Jesus afresh in His word today, so that you might worship your Savior and King with every part of your life.

GOING DEEPER

Luke 18:9-14

Topics: God’s Word Humility Hypocrisy Pride

FOOTNOTES

1 Daniel Webster Whittle, “I Know Whom I Have Believed” (1883).

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Gives Perfect Gifts

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:11)

Have you ever spent a long time trying to find just the right gift for someone? It may have been for Christmas, for a birthday, or for another special occasion. Sometimes you buy gifts, and sometimes you make them; but you still put time and thought into what you decide to give. Your dad has to get just the right tie, and your mom needs the best-written poem. Your sister can’t get just any game. It’s so exciting to watch your loved one’s face as he or she opens up that good gift after you have put so much into choosing or making it.

Have you ever asked for something for months – and then finally received just what you’d been wanting? What a great feeling! You definitely feel loved when you get that specific thing you’ve been wanting for so long. Imagine that for months – like starting in the summer – whenever your family members ask what you want for Christmas, you say you would really like a new electronic game system. Over and over they hear you say it: A new game system. Now imagine that Christmas morning finally arrives, and there under the tree is a new game system! Wow! For you, that would be a good gift!

You love to give and to get good gifts. But the Bible talks about a big difference between just good gifts and perfect gifts. The apostle Matthew wrote that if a son were to ask his father for some bread to eat, no good father would give him a stone to eat instead. Similarly, no good mother would give her daughter a snake to eat if her daughter were to ask for some fish. Parents often seem to know how to give pretty good gifts. They know you well and try to get things for you that you need or will like. They also know what you don’t need to get – sometimes they know that better than you do! You’ve probably experienced that kind of parental goodness before, too – some time when you didn’t get something you’d asked for because your parents knew that it was not the best thing for you to have.

As good as your earthly parents might be at giving good gifts, the heavenly Father is the only One Who can give perfect gifts. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.” Now that’s exciting! Even better than your earthly loved ones, your heavenly Father knows exactly what you need and don’t need. He can make sure you receive the right things. You can trust His perfect goodness and His perfect gifts.

We may know how to give good gifts, but God knows how to give perfect gifts.

My Response:
» Am I looking to earthly good gifts to make me happy, or to God’s perfect gifts?
» How can I help others hope in God Himself?

Denison Forum – Amy Grant receives Kennedy Center Honors, will host same-sex wedding

In a televised special tonight, Amy Grant will become the first contemporary Christian music star to be recognized at the Kennedy Center Honors. This distinction is well deserved: her total career album sales have exceeded thirty million with over one billion global streams. She has received six Grammy Awards and twenty-six Dove Awards, including four Artist of the Year Awards.

I have followed her career since it began and have been grateful for the way she brought contemporary Christian music to the attention of the larger culture. However, she is also in the news today for a less positive reason: she told the Washington Post that she and her husband, Vince Gill, are planning to host her niece’s same-sex wedding at their farm, which will be her family’s “first bride and bride” nuptials.

She explained, “Honestly, from a faith perspective, I do always say, ‘Jesus, you just narrowed it down to two things: love God and love each other.’ I mean, hey—that’s pretty simple.”

In other news, thousands of flights have been canceled this week as a major storm has stranded travelers around the country. A doctor who has practiced for three decades in China says he has never seen anything like the crisis confronting the nation as the COVID-19 pandemic is overwhelming their hospitals.

And the United Nations is warning that nuclear war is “back within the realm of possibility.” Russian state television announced that the Pentagon, Camp David, Jim Creek Naval Radio Station in Washington, Fort Ritchie in Maryland, and McClellan Air Force Base in California would be their first targets.

“The interrelated structure of reality”

These disparate stories illustrate a common theme, one I will explain by illustration.

According to Amy Grant, we are to “love each other,” a biblical command that, in her view, includes same-sex marriage. Her position is more or less relevant to you depending on whether, like her, you care for someone engaged in same-sex sexual relationships.

The story about mass flight cancelations interests you more or less personally depending on whether one of these flights was yours. The escalating crisis in China matters more or less to you depending on whether you live in China and/or care personally for someone who does. The UN warning about nuclear war becomes even more threatening if you live near one of the Russians’ first targets.

But Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was right: “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” He called this “the interrelated structure of reality.” John Donne famously observed, “No man is an island entire of itself . . . Therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

I wonder, would Amy Grant extend her defense of her niece’s same-sex wedding to include polygamy? Popular support for this practice has increased fourfold in the last decade and a half. What about “genetic sexual attraction,” otherwise known as incest? A Virginia university professor was placed on administrative leave just last year for insisting that it isn’t necessarily immoral for adults to be sexually attracted to children.

If “love is love,” as we so often hear these days, where do we draw the line? How many innocent people will this unbiblical ethic continue to harm? And what will happen to the religious freedom of those who uphold biblical sexuality?

How many families’ holidays were disrupted when family members were unable to travel to be with them? China’s escalating pandemic crisis will result in economic damage for the world because China is a major producer of goods. It will also mean that there will be fewer medical supplies available because China is their major producer but now needs the supply.

And of course, a nuclear attack on any city in America is an unthinkable crisis for all Americans.

How to “easily judge the character of a man”

We noted yesterday the urgency and privilege of sacrificial compassion as our primary medium of witnessing to a post-Christian, skeptical culture. This opportunity is only enhanced by an existentialist society that measures all news through the prism of the personal. In a day when people care primarily about what affects them directly, you and I will stand out when we extend God’s grace to those who cannot repay us or otherwise affect us.

Malcolm S. Forbes observed, “You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” By this standard, Jesus Christ had the highest character of any person in all of human history.

We could “do nothing for him,” but he chose to do everything for us. C. S. Lewis explained his incarnation: “The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but (before that) a baby, and before that a fetus inside a woman’s body. If you want to get the hang of it, think how you would like to become a slug or a crab.”

Jesus’ compassion for tax collectors, Samaritans, and lepers earned him only the opprobrium of Jewish society. His crucifixion was the most horrific form of execution ever devised.

“What greater grace could God have made”

St. Augustine reminded us of the significance of such grace: “You would have suffered eternal death, had he not been born in time. Never would you have been freed from sinful flesh, had he not taken on himself the likeness of sinful flesh. You would have suffered everlasting unhappiness, had it not been for this mercy. You would never have returned to life, had he not shared your death. You would have been lost if he had not hastened to your aid. You would have perished, had he not come.”

He then asked, “What greater grace could God have made to dawn on us than to make his only Son become the son of man, so that a son of man might in his turn become son of God?”

Will you share such grace with “those who can do nothing” for you today? And will you respond to your Father’s love with the worship of your heart?

Our joyful praises sing
To Christ, that set us free;
Like tribute to the Father bring,
And, Holy Ghost, to thee.

Denison Forum