Our Daily Bread — Heart Problem

Bible in a Year:

The Sovereign Lord says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!

Ezekiel 14:6

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Ezekiel 14:1–8

“Do you see it, brother Tim?” My friend, a Ghanaian pastor, flashed his torchlight on a carved object leaning against a mud hut. Quietly he said, “That is the village idol.” Each Tuesday evening, Pastor Sam traveled into the bush to share the Bible in this remote village.

In the book of Ezekiel, we see how idolatry plagued the people of Judah. When Jerusalem’s leaders came to see the prophet Ezekiel, God told him, “These men have set up idols in their hearts” (14:3). God wasn’t merely warning them against idols carved of wood and stone. He was showing them that idolatry is a problem of the heart. We all struggle with it.

Bible teacher Alistair Begg describes an idol as “anything other than God that we regard as essential to our peace, our self-image, our contentment, or our acceptability.” Even things that have the appearance of being noble can become idols to us. When we seek comfort or self-worth from anything other than the living God, we commit idolatry.

“Repent!” God said. “Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!” (v. 6). Israel proved incapable of doing this. Thankfully, God had the solution. Looking forward to the coming of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit, He promised, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you” (36:26). We can’t do this alone.

By:  Tim Gustafson

Reflect & Pray

When stress hits you, where do you turn for comfort? What might you need to turn away from today?  

Father, show me the idols in my heart. Then help me destroy them and live in Your love.


Grace to You; John MacArthur – Righteous Anger

 “Walk . . . with all . . . gentleness” (Ephesians 4:1-2).

Our anger must be under control and should occur only for the right reason.

After the previous lesson, you might think that Christians must always be quiet and passive, never getting upset or angry about anything. Actually, believers do have the right to get angry, but only under certain conditions. Ephesians 4:26 says, “Be angry and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” So there is a certain kind of anger that isn’t sinful. It must be under control, and it must be resolved expeditiously.

Proverbs 25:28 says, “Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit.” Someone who is out of control is vulnerable. He falls into every temptation, failure, and weakness. On the other hand, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city” (16:32). One who rules his spirit has power and energy, but it’s under control. That same power and energy out of control creates nothing but chaos and sinfulness. Those who are easily angered are not gentle.

Gentle people, on the other hand, control their energies and strengths, but they do have a tough side. They don’t back away from sin or cease to condemn evil. Since the gentle person submits himself to God, he becomes angry over things that offend God, not himself. If someone offends him personally, he doesn’t seek revenge. But when God is maligned, the lion in him roars. Such anger is called righteous indignation. Under God’s control, anger reacts when it ought to react, for the right reason, and for the right amount of time.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask forgiveness if you are apt to get angry for the wrong reasons. Commit yourself to being gentle when you ordinarily would flare up in anger. If you don’t get angry when you see evil, ask God to make you sensitive to what He hates.

For Further Study

  • At the very time Moses was receiving God’s Law on Mount Sinai, the Israelites were involved in idolatry and debauchery. Read Exodus 32. What was Moses’ reaction to their sin?
  • Did he hold a grudge against them (vv. 31-32)?
  • How can Moses’ example be a pattern for your life?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur 


Joyce Meyer – The Danger of Greed

He who is of a greedy spirit stirs up strife, but he who puts his trust in the Lord shall be enriched and blessed.

— Proverbs 28:25 (AMPC)

Greed is a terrible thing. No matter how much people have, if they allow greed to rule them, they will always want more and more. In addition, they will never be content with—or thankful for—what they have. We always overcome evil with good (see Romans 12:21), so I have found that the best way to prevent greed from ruling in my life is to be aggressively generous. I want to encourage you to ask God daily to show you something you can do for someone else.

Focusing our thoughts on others keeps us from being selfish and self-centered. When we ask God to help us do this, He may show us something as simple as sending someone a text message of appreciation or encouragement. He could show us something that will require a donation of time or money. When we give, we never lose anything because our generous deeds always return to bless us (see Luke 6:37–38).

God’s Word teaches us to be on our guard against greed because life does not consist of our possessions (see Luke 12:15). The more generous we are, the more joy we will have.

Prayer of the Day: Father, help me not to be a greedy person who always wants more and more, but instead help me be generous to everyone I can, in every way. Thank You. In Jesus’ name, amen.


Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Who Does What?

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge.

2 Peter 1:3-5

A question often arises in the mind of Christians as we grow in Christ: Who’s doing what? What is God’s role, and what is ours? The question gets at the paradox we see in Scripture, where in various places we are told two messages that seem to be in conflict: first, that we are to work hard in our Christian lives, and second, that God is the one providing resources for such labor.

This verse is one example of this apparent paradox. One one hand, Peter writes that God’s “divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” In other words, He has given us everything we need to follow Jesus. But then, a few lines later, Peter directs his readers to “make every effort.” God has supplied what we need, and yet we are still to put in the effort.

In Colossians 1:29, Paul similarly describes his ministry labors as “toil” and “struggling.” There is little doubt that Paul worked hard for the cause of Christ. But how did he do this? He tells us that his toil and struggle was done “with all [God’s] energy that he powerfully works within me.” Paul’s toil was genuine, and it was fueled by Christ Himself.

Similarly, in Philippians 2:12, Paul tells us to “work out your … salvation.” This is a call to real effort to stay on the narrow way. Yet Paul continues by saying, “It is God who works in you.”

If we are going to honor and heed the call to labor that these passages describe, we must remember that God has accomplished our salvation for us; and now, rather than leaving us to our own devices, He continues to be constantly at work within us so that we have the will and the power to do what pleases Him.

We should avoid the erroneous thinking that responds to passages like these by concluding either that we contribute something to our salvation or that we have no need to work hard as we journey toward our heavenly home. Instead, we need first to acknowledge that we contribute nothing to salvation other than the sin from which we need to be saved, and then at the same time embrace the truth that our walk with Christ must be the single most significant aspect of our lives.

What, then, is a faithful response to biblical calls such as this? It is to strive for holiness and pray for growth. It is to follow Christ, and when we stumble and sin, to confess and repent and keep going. You must toil if you are to find yourself a citizen in the new creation; but toil you will because His divine power gives you everything you need in order to do so. When you stand with Jesus, you will not say, “What a good person I was!” You will declare, “What a great and mighty God I serve!”


Colossians 1:24-29, Colossians 2:1-3

Topics: Christian Living Holiness Sanctification

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


Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is a Tenderhearted Father

“Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.” (Psalm 103:13)

One day Laurie and her sister Caroline came home from school, and both of their parents met them at the door. Their dad never came home from work in the middle of the day. They knew something must be wrong.

“Girls,” said their dad without his usual smile, “I have some sad news. Your grandpa died this morning.”

They sat down on the couch, their daddy in the middle with an arm around each of them. And Laurie and Caroline cried. Caroline looked up finally and noticed a tear rolling down her daddy’s cheek. She could hardly believe her eyes! She had never seen her daddy cry before. “He must really miss Grandpa too,” she thought. Later she realized that her dad was crying, not just because he missed Grandpa. He was crying for his daughters because they were sad.

Did you know that God is just as tenderhearted as a loving father? He feels every painful thing that you feel. He wants you to draw near to Him and let Him comfort you.

Maybe you do not have an earthly father in your home protecting, providing, and tenderly caring for you. God wants you to enjoy that special father-child relationship with Him alone. He promises in His Word to be a Father to the fatherless child (Psalm 68:5).

God is a tenderhearted Father who shares His children’s griefs and longs to comfort them.

My Response:
» Have I become God’s child by faith in His Son, Jesus Christ?
» Do I go to my heavenly Father when I need comfort?

Denison Forum – Lawsuit against Christian schools dismissed: A reflection on religious freedom in America

In 2021, LGBTQ students filed a class-action lawsuit that would force religious schools to choose between abandoning their biblical beliefs or losing students who would be denied federal financial assistance.

The so-called Religious Exemption Accountability Project (REAP) claims to represent LGBTQ students at “more than two hundred taxpayer-funded religious schools that actively discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.” In their view, a school that upholds biblical sexuality illegally discriminates against those who disagree.

Since the schools in question receive federal funds, REAP claims that such funding should stop. As I noted in The Coming Tsunami, the schools in question received $4.2 billion in federal student aid in 2018.

Now, in excellent news for religious freedom in America, a federal judge in Oregon has dismissed REAP’s lawsuit.

David Cortman with the Alliance Defending Freedom, the group that represented the Christian schools, applauded the ruling: “A federal district court today rightly rejected an unfounded assault on the religious freedom of faith-based educational institutions. Title IX, which applies to schools receiving federal financial assistance, explicitly protects the freedom of religious schools to live out their deeply and sincerely held convictions.”

Professor dismissed after Muslim student’s objection

In other religious liberty news, the US Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal by an evangelical Christian former mail carrier in Pennsylvania.

Gerald Groff accused the US Postal Service (USPS) of religious bias after he was reprimanded for refusing to deliver packages on Sundays. He claimed that the USPS violated federal anti-discrimination law by refusing to exempt him from working on Sundays, when he observes the Sabbath.

The case relates to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Under the law, employers must reasonably accommodate a worker’s religious observance or practice unless doing so would cause the business “undue hardship,” which is what the USPS claimed in response to Groff’s lawsuit.

Let’s consider one more news item on our theme: Hamline University in Minnesota recently dismissed a professor for including depictions of the Prophet Muhammad in a world art course.

The course syllabus warned students that they would view images of religious figures, including the Prophet Muhammad, and included an offer to work with students uncomfortable with viewing those images. The teacher also warned the class immediately before showing the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad.

Nonetheless, a Muslim student complained to the university that the image violated her faith. The professor’s contract was not renewed following the fall semester. Now the university is under fire from those critical of its decision.

Protecting the “right to be wrong”

These cases illustrate the fact that freedom of religion includes freedom from religion.

I am deeply grateful for the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of religion and freedom of speech. But I also recognize that our culture is becoming ever more secularized. As a result, religious beliefs and speech that contradict social norms will become increasingly the minority view and will become increasingly objectionable to the post-Christian majority. And the right of a growing irreligious demographic to be free from such beliefs and speech will gain in popularity.

This is the view of LGBTQ students who claim to be the victims of discrimination at Christian schools. It is the position of the USPS in claiming to protect its workers from the imposition of a single employee’s religious beliefs on his fellow workers. And it is the stance of those who are protesting Hamline University’s decision to dismiss a professor over the religious objections of a single student.

When Christian morality was the majority view, the First Amendment protected our “right to be right.” Now that the opposite is true, the First Amendment is viewed as protecting our “right to be wrong.” But as our society increasingly views us as discriminatory and even dangerous, we can expect our “right to be wrong” to come under increasing attack.

My resolution for this year

Today’s conversation highlights this biblical fact: Christians must not depend on the government to do our work for us.

Whether the courts defend our religious freedoms or not, you and I are instructed to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15 NKJV). When the Apostles were called before the Supreme Court of their day and forbidden legally from preaching the gospel, they responded: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19–20).

Christians in Cuba face some of the most intense persecution of any nation in the world. However, I have experienced personally the amazing vitality of their churches and the sacrificial depth of their faith. I often say that visiting Cuban churches is like “walking around in the Book of Acts.”

Of the top ten countries where Christians face the most persecution, nine are Muslim. And yet a spiritual awakening in the Muslim world is bringing more Muslims to Jesus than ever before.

It is vital that Christians in America do what we can to protect and promote our constitutional freedoms. But it is also vital that Christians utilize these freedoms while we have them to lead those we influence to the One who promised, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

My resolution for this new year is simple: to know Christ and make him known.

Will you join me?

Denison Forum

Hagee Ministries; John Hagee – Daily Devotion

Joshua 1:8

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

For Joshua to become great, the first ingredient God told him he needed is courage. The second ingredient is to stay connected to His Word. In order for Joshua to be successful and prosper, he couldn’t just think about the Word, he had to live in the Word. God was saying “Keep this Word before your eyes in the morning and evening, in your mind during the day, and out of your mouth when you speak. Do whatever it says. If you’ll do this, no matter where you go or what you do, no matter the problems you face or the needs you have, no matter the giants that come against you or the cities that need to be defeated, no matter the land that needs to be conquered or the hour in which you’re living, you will be a success!”

God said it. Observe the Word, speak it, keep it, don’t turn from it, and you’ll be successful wherever you go.

Today’s Blessing: 

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you; giving you His peace. May God restore your confidence so that you can walk with a supernatural strength and courage you have never known before. May God remove the barriers that are before you. May God open the doors that have been closed and let a door be open that no man can close. May God send His angels before you to prepare your way so that when you get there, everything is in divine order for your success. May God give to you, to your business, to your family a successor so that there can be success sustained for generations from the fruit of your labor. May the God of heaven anoint you now with an anointing to be successful in what you do because the Lord delights in the prosperity of the righteous. In Jesus’ name, we receive this blessed promise, Amen.

Today’s Bible Reading: 

Old Testament

Genesis 37:1-38:30

New Testament 

Matthew 12:22-45

Psalms & Proverbs

Psalm 16:1-11

Proverbs 3:27-32


Turning Point; David Jeremiah – Take It to Heart

My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves.
Hebrews 12:5-6, NIV

 Recommended Reading: Hebrews 12:3-11

God provides the discipline we need to become mature members of His family. This isn’t an easy teaching to understand. Sometimes we wonder if God is disciplining us whenever we get sick. If we suffer a misfortune, is it because we’ve committed a certain sin? Not necessarily. It’s often hard to know when a particular hardship constitutes divine chastening.

Often God whispers in our heart to tell us He is correcting us. Our conscience whispers, “The Lord is teaching you a lesson.” If so, take it to heart. He’s doing it out of love.

In a broader way, all the hardships of life are the means by which we develop the discipline of discipleship. There are lessons in every circumstance, and maturity can be gained in every hardship. Just like earthly fathers, our Heavenly Father demonstrates His love for us through discipline. Though we don’t like discipline, let’s learn to be thankful for this demonstration of God’s love in our life.

If God didn’t discipline His children He would be a negligent father. He would be displaying cruel disinterest if He were indifferent to whether His children obeyed or not.
Erwin Lutzer


Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – Prepared to Pay the Price

 Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, ‘Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.’ 

—Luke 9:57


Luke 9:57 

Some people start their new life in Christ with great promise but then suddenly fall away. Others start off with no apparent promise whatsoever, but they seem to gain strength as time goes by.

The Bible tells us, “The end of a thing is better than its beginning; the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit” (Ecclesiastes 7:8 NKJV).

Nonbelievers can get excited in the emotion of a moment. Maybe they admire a Christian’s commitment, joy, and dedication, so they say, “I like this. I’m going to become a Christian.”

But are they prepared to really be a Christian? Do they understand what it means?

The Bible tells us about a man who approached Jesus and said, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go” (Luke 9:57 NKJV). Matthew’s Gospel tells us that he was a scribe (see 8:19).

That detail may not mean a lot to us today, but it is significant. The scribes were authorities in Jewish law. They were the scholarly class of Jewish society. And typically they were teachers themselves, not followers of other teachers.

So, it was notable for a man of this social position to go to Jesus and say what he said. This is what we might call a celebrity convert. If you looked at Jesus’ ragtag little group at this point, you would have expected Him to say, “Buddy, come on board! I would like you to stand at the front of the line.”

Instead, Jesus said something that almost seemed to repel the man: “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Luke 9:58 NKJV). In a sense, Jesus was checking his motives.

We want the glory, but are we prepared to make the sacrifice? Are we ready to take up our cross and follow Jesus Christ? Are we prepared to obey God?