In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Children of God

Our Father loves us and has provided everything we need to live righteously.

1 John 3:1-10

When we trust in Christ, we become children of God. By using this language, Scripture indicates the nature of our relationship with Him: He is our Father, and we should respond as His children. This means we must learn to listen, obey, and love Him more and more. 

The Father speaks clearly to us through Scripture. Many people claim they’re interested in hearing from God yet struggle to find time to read His Word. Then there are those who say, “I don’t understand it” and give up. But living within every child of God is the Holy Spirit, who helps to overcome any hindrances and brings correct interpretation of the Word. If you keep reading the Scriptures faithfully, He’ll give you understanding. 

Once a person is born into God’s family, nothing can ever destroy that relationship—not even sin. However, disobedience grieves the Father and hinders fellowship and communication with Him. Restoration, which is essential for spiritual growth, comes through confession and repentance (1 John 1:9). 

Today’s Scripture passage gives characteristics of the children of God. Are you a member of His family? If so, your life should be characterized by obedience and righteousness. 

Bible in One Year: 2 Corinthians 1-4 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Who You Are

Bible in a Year:

Set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

1 Timothy 4:12

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

1 Timothy 4:12–16

In 2011, after a decade of childlessness, my wife and I chose to start afresh in a new country. Exciting as the move was, it required my leaving a broadcast career, which I missed. Feeling lost, I asked my friend Liam for advice.

“I don’t know what my calling is anymore,” I told Liam dejectedly.

“You’re not broadcasting here?” he asked. I said I wasn’t.

“And how is your marriage?”

Surprised at his change of topic, I told Liam that Merryn and I were doing well. We’d faced heartbreak together but emerged closer through the ordeal.

“Commitment is the core of the gospel,” he said, smiling. “Oh, how the world needs to see committed marriages like yours! You may not realize the impact you’re having already, beyond what you do, simply by being who you are.”

When a difficult work situation left Timothy dejected, the apostle Paul didn’t give him career goals. Instead, he encouraged Timothy to live a godly life, setting an example through his speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity (1 Timothy 4:12–1315). He would best impact others by living faithfully.

It’s easy to value our lives based on our career success when what matters most is our character. I had forgotten that. But a word of truth, a gracious act, even a committed marriage can bring great change—because through them something of God’s own goodness touches the world.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

Who has touched your life and what qualities did they have? How can you set an example of faithfulness today?

Dear God, help me to remember that the work I do isn’t as important as the person I become. Please make me more like You.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Deity of Christ

“[Christ] existed in the form of God” (Philippians 2:6).

Christ possesses the very nature of God.

In the second part of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Christiana and her children travel toward the Celestial Country. During their pilgrimage, Interpreter introduces them to one of his male servants, whose name is Great-heart. When Christiana asks Great-heart to explain the nature of Christ’s forgiveness, part of his answer is: “He [Christ] has two natures in one Person, easy to distinguish but impossible to divide. There is a righteousness that belongs to both of these natures, and each righteousness is essential to that nature, so that one might as easily kill that nature as to separate its righteousness from it.” Bunyan was affirming through his character Great-heart what Scripture says of Christ: He is God.

The apostle Paul stated the same truth, saying that Christ “existed in the form of God” (Phil. 2:6). The Greek word translated “existed” (huparcho) is not the common verb for “being” (eimi). Huparcho stresses the essence of a person’s nature—his continuous state or condition. It expresses what one is, unalterably and inalienably, by nature. Paul’s point was that Jesus Christ is unalterably and continuously existing in the form of God.

Clarifying the meaning of the Greek word translated “form” (morphe) is crucial to a proper understanding of this verse. According to respected Greek scholars Moulton and Milligan, morphe “always signifies a form which truly and fully expresses the being which underlies it.” The word describes essential being or nature—in this case the essential being of God.

In using the word morphe in Philippians 2, Paul was saying Jesus possessed the unchangeable, essential nature of God. That interpretation of the first phrase of verse 6 is strengthened by the second phrase, which says Jesus was equal with God. Being in the form of God speaks of Christ’s equality with God.

Perhaps, like Great-heart, you know someone who needs to be grounded in the fundamental doctrines of God’s Word. Just as Great-heart helped Christiana, so also you can help someone learn about the deity of Christ and other great truths of God’s Word.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for an opportunity to teach someone the basic doctrine of Christ’s nature.

For Further Study

Memorize Colossians 2:9, a verse that proves the deity of Christ.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – The Beauty of Faith

Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.

— Psalm 37:5 (NKJV)

I see more clearly than ever before how simple and beautiful faith is and how self-effort complicates life and steals peace and joy. Man’s mind plans his own way (see Proverbs 16:9), but God’s ways are much higher than ours and they always work better (see Isaiah 55:9). I have finally learned that whenever I feel frustrated, it almost always indicates that I have trusted myself to do what only God can do. It is my signal to return to full faith in God and once again enjoy His peace.

Apart from faith we cannot please God (see Hebrews 11:6), and apart from Him, we can do nothing (see John 15:5). If you are worried or feel burdened by anything, I urge you to let it go and return to simple faith in God without delay. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass (Psalm 37:5 NKJV). God already has a perfect plan for your situation, and as you rest in Him, He will work!

Prayer of the Day: Father, thank You that You are working in my life while I rest in You. I trust You to do the right thing at the right time. Help me walk in faith at all times.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Knowing the Creator

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.

John 1:9-10

While each of the Gospels takes a different approach to detailing Jesus’ life, their purpose is the same: that, as John puts it, “you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). Those words come near the end of his Gospel and were intended to remind even his earliest readers that God graciously took the initiative to pursue His people in order that we might know and love Him.

Although Jesus was the Creator of the world He entered into, the world did not recognize Him. He came down from heaven in the form of a man, navigating city streets and moving among us so that we could live with Him in the light rather than have to live in darkness for all of eternity. Yet today, not unlike 2,000 years ago, many don’t understand the immensity of the gift of life in this world that Christ has given us, and therefore they forfeit the gift of eternal life that Christ was born to offer us, because they don’t know Him.

In his great treatise in the book of Romans, Paul wrote that God’s “invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” In other words, as a result of God’s common grace, the creation displays enough evidence to at least bring us to the point of becoming theists. Because of this, men and women “are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).

Even with that context, however, Paul goes on to say that although men and women “knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21). They knew of God’s existence but, suppressing that knowledge, they refused to know Him as Lord and Savior.

This is a humbling warning to us. If we should neglect to give God the honor and praise He is due, we risk forgetting the glorious ways He continues to pursue us, even today.

The word, truth, and story of Jesus have been made available in the Western world for hundreds of years—but still, so often men and women go about their weeks without any recognition of who Jesus truly is. Believers are not immune from living lives that, Sunday mornings or morning devotions apart, bear no mark of a knowledge of and relationship with Jesus as Lord and Savior. Imagine the difference it would make if we lived each moment calling to mind the truths that He is the light and the new life within us, that He makes it possible to live with God for all of eternity, that He is our great Lord and gentle Savior, and that He is surely worth knowing.

GOING DEEPER

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Topics: Christ as Lord Creation Gospel

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God’s Laws Are Good

“And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.” (Deuteronomy 6:24)

Eileen’s class was getting ready to put on a play, and they had been working on the scenery for several days. The play was about the Pilgrims, and yesterday the students had painted a long strip of paper bright blue to represent the ocean. They had carefully carried the paper to the gym and laid it on the floor to dry. This morning, their teacher, Mrs. Grimes, told them they were all going to walk to the gym and check to see if the paint on their “ocean” had dried. If it had, they would carry it back to the classroom and practice for the play.

“Remember,” said Mrs. Grimes, “when we get to the gym – we’re going to walk.”

Eileen could hardly contain her excitement enough to stay quietly in line as they walked down the hall. She couldn’t wait to see how the “ocean” had turned out. As soon as her feet hit the gym floor, she gave up trying to walk. It wasn’t that she had forgotten Mrs. Grimes’s rule exactly, but it would be so much fun to run, and weren’t gym floors made for running anyway?

But Eileen had forgotten one thing – she didn’t have her gym shoes on. Splat! Her feet slipped out from under her, and she fell hard. She hit her chin on the floor, and blood started running from the cut.

Mrs. Grimes hurried over to help Eileen up. “See?” she said. “This is why I told you not to run. Let’s go get your cut cleaned up.”

Mrs. Grimes had made the rule about walking on the gym floor to keep her students safe. Eileen disobeyed because she didn’t like the rule. She thought the rule was meant to keep her from having fun. But as soon as she fell, she realized that the rule was good after all.

God tells us in His Word that His law is for our good. Think about the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. Did God tell us to stay away from idols to keep us from having fun? Did he command us not to lie, steal, or murder to cause trouble for us? No, just the opposite is true. Obeying brings us good. Trouble and pain come to us when we break God’s laws. Keeping God’s commandments does not save us – only Jesus can do that. But after we are saved, obeying God’s commandments is the only way to ensure our happiness (Psalm 1:1-3). God’s laws are good, and they are given for our good.

God has given us commandments to follow for our own good.

My Response:
» Do I believe that God’s commandments are loving?
» Do I believe that He has given His commands for my good?
» Am I trying hard to obey them with God’s help?

Denison Forum – My city is home to the most cheating spouses in America

The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Researchers have identified the US cities with the highest rates of marital infidelity, comparing two hundred of the largest metro areas with regard to relationship satisfaction, life satisfaction, infidelity intent, and affair activities. The results are in: the three most “unfaithful” cities in America, in order, are Dallas, Texas, Fort Worth, Texas, and Houston, Texas.

This news hits close to home for me: I have lived in Dallas since 1998, I worked for many years in Ft. Worth, and I was born and raised in Houston.

We in Dallas refer to ourselves as the “Buckle of the Bible Belt.” We are home to some of the largest churches in America. In fact, Christianity Today once called our city “the new capital of evangelicalism.” But as the infidelity report illustrates, we are clearly living in a cultural mission field.

No matter where you live in America, so are you.

Tax-exempt status “now up for debate”

My wife and I were discussing yesterday’s Daily Article, which focused on ways Christianity is under attack in our society. Janet noted that for years, many of us have been warning that a post-Christian and even anti-Christian day was coming to our nation. Now, she said, it’s here.

Here’s why she is right.

The Supreme Court tragically discovered a constitutional “right” to abortion in 1973 and only overturned that ruling this year, but Christian doctors have not (yet) been required to perform abortions. Euthanasia is available in various forms in ten states, but Christian physicians are not (yet) required to provide physician-assisted suicide.

However, as I noted in yesterday’s article, the so-called Respect for Marriage Act will make an unbiblical and even anti-biblical definition of marriage the law of the land by congressional action. Many fear that this legislation threatens religious liberty on an unprecedented level.

For example, Roger Severino of the Heritage Foundation warns that “the tax-exempt status of religious schools and nonprofits is now up for debate. Additionally, the Left will try to use the bill to sue faith-based adoption agencies and contractors to drive them out of business as they have done in multiple states and localities already.”

Hospital chaplain fired for pro-life beliefs

Rev. Jay McCaig had been a hospital chaplain in Orlando for ten years before he was fired for anti-abortion posts on his personal Facebook page. He says he never spoke about his pro-life views with patients or employees at the hospital.

Earlier this year, a jury in Minnesota ruled against a pharmacist who refused to dispense a morning-after pill on the basis of his pro-life beliefs. The jury decided that the pharmacist had inflicted emotional harm and said the woman who requested the pill should be entitled to $25,000 in damages.

We could go on: the so-called Equality Act that has passed the House of Representatives twice has been called “the most invasive threat to religious liberty ever proposed in America.” According to the Alliance Defending Freedom, a lawsuit filed by the Religious Exemption Accountability Project would “punish religious colleges and their students by stripping them of much-needed financial aid simply because of their beliefs.”

As I have noted often, LGBTQ advocates have been implementing a decades-long strategy to normalize LGBTQ behavior through popular media and culture, legalize it in the courts, stigmatize those who disagree as “homophobic” and “dangerous,” and then criminalize such disagreement. All four phases of this strategy are clearly at work in our society today.

“Learning how to do what he said”

One significant way you and I can respond is to model the incarnational love of God to our broken culture. As I have noted this week, Christmas is God’s gift to us not because we are worthy of his love but because God is love (1 John 4:8). Because we cannot earn his love by what we do, we cannot lose his love by what we do.

When our Savior was born in a feed trough in a Bethlehem cave, he proved that he will be born again in any heart that is open to his grace. That grace will then transform our lives into his Bethlehem and demonstrate his love to our broken world.

Now it is our responsibility to show his love to those who reject it. When we defend biblical morality boldly and courageously but “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15), we disprove the caricature that Christians are bigoted and hateful. When we remember that “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 4:4), we will offer them the compassion we received from those who led us to Christ.

Philosopher and bestselling author Dallas Willard noted: “The idea of having faith in Jesus has come to be totally isolated from being his apprentice and learning how to do what he said.” Here’s what Jesus said: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Both verbs are present-tense imperatives, unconditional commands to you and me today.

My dear friend’s wisdom

To have the servant heart of the One who “came not to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20:28), submit your life and your day to his Holy Spirit right now (Ephesians 5:18). Ask his Spirit to manifest the “fruit” of love in your life for those you encounter (Galatians 5:22). Then measure success by the degree to which others experience the love of Christ in your compassion.

My dear friend, the Dallas businessman Ray Nixon, shared this truth with me yesterday: “When the mouth is open, the heart is on display.”

What will your heart display today?

Denison Forum