Our Daily Bread — Beating as One

Bible in a Year:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Genesis 1:1, 27–31

Stories have captivated humans since the dawn of creation—functioning as a way to pass down knowledge long before written language existed. We’ve all known the delight of hearing or reading a story and being immediately engaged by such opening lines as “Once upon a time.” The power of a story appears to extend beyond merely enjoyment: when we listen to a story together, our heartbeats seem to synchronize! Though our individual heartbeats vary over the course of a day, and might only match another’s coincidentally, new research indicates our hearts may all fall into the same rhythm when we hear the same story at the same time.

God begins telling us His story with the words, “In the beginning” (Genesis 1:1). From the moment Adam and Eve first drew breath (v. 27), God has used that unfolding story to shape not just our individual lives but also—and perhaps more importantly—our collective lives as His children. Through the Bible—the most magnificent nonfiction story ever recorded—our hearts as believers in Jesus are joined together as people set apart for His purposes (1 Peter 2:9).

In response, may our hearts beat in shared rhythm, delighted by the Author’s creative works. And may we share His story with others, declaring “his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples” (Psalm 96:3), inviting them to become part of it too.

By:  Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

What part of the story of the Bible most captivates you? With whom can you share it?

Thank You, Father, for showing me who You are through the Bible and making me one of Your own.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – God Becomes Visible

“[Christ] is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15).

In Christ, the invisible God became visible.

Sometimes I listen to different preachers on the radio or watch them on television, and I get tremendously frustrated. That’s because so many of them present a confusing picture of who Christ really is. Since there are so many who distort the Christian faith, there should be in every believer a desire to defend it. The apostle Paul certainly had that desire. Since the heretics at Colosse viewed Jesus as a lesser spirit who emanated from God, Paul refutes that with a powerful description of who Jesus really is.

Paul describes Him as “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). The Greek word translated “image” (eikon) means “likeness.” Although man is also the eikon of God (1 Cor. 11:7), he is not a perfect image of God. Humans are made in God’s image in that they have rational personality. Like God, they possess intellect, emotion, and will, by which they are able to think, feel, and choose. We humans are not, however, in God’s image morally: He is holy, and we are sinful. We are also not created in His image essentially, since we do not possess His divine attributes.

Unlike man, Jesus Christ is the perfect, absolutely accurate image of God. He did not become the image of God at the Incarnation but has been that from all eternity. Hebrews 1:3 says Christ “is the radiance of [God’s] glory and the exact representation of His nature.” Christ reflects God’s attributes and is the exact likeness of God. That is why Christ could say, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

By using the term eikon, Paul emphasizes that Jesus is both the representation and manifestation of God. He is the full, final, and complete revelation of God. He is God in human flesh. That was His claim (John 8:58), and it is the unanimous testimony of Scripture (cf. Col. 2:9Titus 2:13). To think anything less of Him is blasphemy and gives evidence of a mind blinded by Satan (2 Cor. 4:4).

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord for removing your spiritual blindness so that you could “see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4).

For Further Study

According to Romans 8:29, what has God predestined for all believers?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – A Divine Attitude Adjustment

And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude].

— Ephesians 4:23 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Closer to God Each Day – by Joyce Meyer1 MIN READ

God wants us to always maintain a good attitude for two reasons. First, it glorifies Him and encourages other people to remain positive when they have problems; and second, it allows Him to work in our lives, bringing help and deliverance from our struggles.

Always having a good attitude is difficult unless we receive God’s grace to do so. Jesus said that apart from Him, we could do nothing (see John 15:5), but through Him we can do all things (see Philippians 4:13).

Don’t wait until you are tempted to have a bad attitude but pray daily that no matter what comes your way, you can endure it with a good attitude. We will always be tempted, but we can pray not to give in to the temptation.

A good attitude is one of our greatest assets. It keeps us hopeful no matter what is happening in our lives.

Prayer of the Day: Father, I trust You to grant me strength to face every difficulty I encounter. Help me keep a good attitude, filled with Your Holy Spirit, and always be thankful in every situation, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – The Frailty of Life

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

James 4:13-15

The Bible does not condemn business acumen or future planning. What the Bible does condemn, however, is a prideful, self-centered way of thinking that, whether intentionally or unintentionally, leaves God out of our decisions and future plans—a mindset that assumes certainties that are never promised to us.

James confronts us in no uncertain terms with the reality of our finite knowledge and understanding. Indeed, he reminds us that we need to accept what we do not know. Do we want to be able to plan weeks and months in advance? Of course we do! But James points out that we don’t even know what will happen tomorrow. It is pride that leads us to assume that our next breath is a given.

He then goes on to remind us of our frailty. The fact is that our lives are each “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” Like an early-morning fog that hovers over the grass and is gone at the first touch of the sun’s rays, our lives are transient; eventually, they seemingly vanish, without even a trace left to be seen by future generations.

In light of our frailty and limitations, how are we then to think about the future? James not only calls out our presumptuous thinking and planning, he also supplies the antidote. Very simply, we need to learn to make plans in humility, recognizing our complete dependence on God’s providential care. Nothing in the entire universe—including us—would continue to exist for one fraction of a second apart from God. As Alec Motyer writes, “We receive another day not as a result of natural necessity, nor by mechanical law, nor by right, nor by the courtesy of nature, but by the covenanted mercies of God.”[1]

Tomorrow is not promised. We may plan for it, but we may not assume we can control it. God’s mercy alone enables us to awaken to each new day. The sin of presumption is exposed as folly when we realize that our very life is grounded in God’s sustaining gifts. We cannot ignore our limitations and life’s brevity, but we can allow these realities to shape and transform our thinking and our decisions for the sake of His glory. So consider your plans for today, for tomorrow, for next year, and for further on in your life. Did you pray about them? Have you acknowledged that His plans are sovereign and that all of yours are contingent on His? Lift your plans up to Him now and place them in His hands. You cannot control the future. But you do not need to, for you know the one who does.

GOING DEEPER

Matthew 6:25-34

Topics: Christian Life Pride

FOOTNOTES

1 The Message of James, The Bible Speaks Today (IVP Academic, 1985), p 162.

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Called “Father”

“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” (Matthew 6:9)

One of the best ways to get to know God is to learn the different names that describe Him. Each of His names describes something about Who He is and what He does. One of the most often-used names of God in the Bible is the name Father. What is a father? What is a father like? Why might it be important that God is called a father? How should I think about a fatherly God?

To be a father, you have to have children. Usually a father lives with the children he helped bring into the world. Some fathers are fathers because they have adopted a child. If a husband and wife adopt a child, it means they go and get a child who does not have parents for some reason, and they take him into their home. An adoptive father treats his adopted child the same way he would treat a biological child.

A father is responsible to take care of his children. He provides them with food, clothes, a place to live, things they need, and maybe even some things they just want. He does that because he loves his children and wants to see them healthy and happy. No human father could ever be a perfect father, but most human fathers try at least to be good fathers. A good father teaches his children right from wrong, and he helps them to do what is right. Sometimes he has to discipline his children for doing wrong. Have you ever been disciplined by your father for doing wrong? If so, it was because he loves you and wants the best for you. A father also helps his children make the right choices. He hugs his children and tells them he loves them. He is there to comfort his children when they are hurt or are sad, or when they have a bad day.

God is a father, too. He has many, many children. His children are those who have turned away from their sin and are trusting in Him. He is everybody’s God and everybody’s Creator, because He created everyone, and it is because of Him that everyone has breath and life. But He is known as “Father” only to those who trust in Him, His adopted children. If we are God’s adopted children, it means God brought us into His family just like a human father adopts a child and brings him into his family. If we have trusted Jesus Christ as our Savior, Jesus is like an “older brother” to us. He has gone before us and made it possible for us to have father-child relationships with God.

God adopts children into His family because He loves them and wants the best for them. Because He loves us, He provides food and houses and air and every good thing in our lives. He teaches us right from wrong by giving us His Word. He helps us to under-stand His Word by His Holy Spirit and the parents and teachers He gives us. He also disciplines us when we do wrong because He knows doing wrong will hurt us. In these ways – through His Word and through the things He gives us – He reminds us that He loves us. And He is always there to comfort us when we get hurt or have a bad day.

What is so much more special about a father-child relationship than other kinds of relationships? If you have turned from your sins and trusted in Christ, then you are not just God’s “pet.” He doesn’t just feed you and teach you new tricks. You are not God’s “invention” or “robot.” You don’t exist just because God wants to boss you around or boast about all the neat talents He’s built into you. If you really have turned away from your sins and entered into God’s family by adoption, then you are (and always will be!) His child. God’s children can expect Him to act like a father.

Is God truly your father? Have you turned away from your sins? Are you trusting in Christ as your Savior and “older Brother”? If so, how do you feel about being a child of God? It should make you happy because you can trust He is always there for you, no matter what happens. He loves you very, very much – not just as any father, not just as any good father, but as the only perfect Father.

God is the heavenly Father of any who trust in Christ as Savior.

My Response:
» Do I know God as my Father?
» Am I happy and thankful for all He does for me?
» Do I really love Him as a child loves a father?

Denison Forum – Have you heard of “Chatbox cheating”?

An artificial intelligence (AI) tool called ChatGPT can respond to a question or topic with an essay that looks deceptively like it was written by a human. One college professor expects a “flood” rather than a “trickle” of plagiarism problems in the near future as a result. Such technology is being called “a turning point with artificial intelligence,” one that prompts the question, “How can we use these tools ethically and safely?”

Now consider this: half of the ten most-read stories in the New York Times this year dealt with shootings, abortion, or insults. Four others dealt with death, disasters, or aging. (“Wordle is a love story” was the lone exception.)

Given our fallen nature, how confident are you that we will master AI before it masters us? What about the other problems that plagued us last year and are likely to do so in the year to come?

Clearly, we need a Savior to save us from our sins. But, paradoxically, one of the sins from which we need to be saved is the sin of rejecting our need for a Savior.

Legend, liar, lunatic, or Lord?

Yesterday we noted that 52 percent of American adults believe that Jesus was a great teacher and nothing more. Such a supposition is not new. In 1942, C. S. Lewis responded to this assertion in what later became the most famous paragraph in his classic, Mere Christianity:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon, or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

From this paragraph derives what is known as the “trilemma”: Jesus must be either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord.

There’s a fourth option, however. We also noted yesterday that 53 percent of Americans believe the Bible “is not literally true.” If they are right, perhaps Jesus did not really claim to be Lord. Perhaps this idea is a legend that grew up over the centuries (a claim Dan Brown made famous in his bestseller, The Da Vinci Code).

If this is the case, we are not forced to choose among Lewis’s three options, since all of them arise from the supposedly faulty presumption that Jesus claimed divinity for himself.

“A hymn to Christ as to a god”

I have taught seminary classes and written extensively on this subject (see my Wrestling With God, for example). To summarize the remarkable extrabiblical evidence for Jesus:

  • Thallus the Samaritan (AD 52) referred to the darkness of the crucifixion of Jesus.
  • Mara bar Serapion (writing after AD 70) noted that Jesus’ followers considered him to be their king.
  • Tacitus (AD 55–120) described early Christian belief as a “most mischievous superstition,” referring to faith in the supernatural or miraculous rather than simply following a human teacher.
  • In AD 112, a Roman administrator named Pliny the Younger wrote that Christians “were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ as to a god.”
  • And the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (AD 37/38–97) reported that early Christians called Jesus the “Christ,” the Messiah, and believed him to have been raised from the dead.

So, since Jesus’ claim to divinity was not a legend that grew up centuries afterward but a first-century assertion accepted by his followers, we are back to Lewis’s three options: liar, lunatic, or Lord.

However, a postmodern relativist will likely shrug his shoulders and say, “That’s just your truth. I have my own truth.” What do we do then?

“Lord, do not hold this sin against them”

2 Chronicles 24:20 reports that “the Spirit of God clothed Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest” (this was not the biblical prophet by the same name), and he called the people to repent of their idolatry and immorality. However, “they conspired against him, and by command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the Lᴏʀᴅ” (v. 21). Here was his response: “And when he was dying, he said, ‘May the Lᴏʀᴅ see and avenge!’” (v. 22).

Fast-forward eight centuries to the Book of Acts, where we find a similar story. This time the person who was empowered by God’s Spirit was named Stephen (Acts 6:5). Like Zechariah, he exposed the idolatry and immorality of the people (Acts 7:2–53). And like Zechariah, he was stoned to death as a result (vv. 58–59). But unlike Zechariah, “he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them’” (v. 60).

What explains the difference?

Stephen knew the example of Jesus’ vicarious atonement and his prayer from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). And while Zechariah was “clothed” by God’s Spirit, Stephen as a Christian was indwelt by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16).

As a result, he could manifest the “fruit of the Spirit,” the first of which is “love” (Galatians 5:22). His forgiving grace was witnessed by “a young man named Saul” (Acts 7:58), who soon came to encounter Stephen’s Lord and make him his personal Lord as well (Acts 9:1–18).

Here’s the point: the best way to show skeptics that Jesus is Lord is to show them that he is our Lord. And the best way to show them that he is our Lord is to love them as he loves us.

How will you imitate Stephen today?

Denison Forum