Our Daily Bread — But I’m Telling You

Bible in a Year:

But I tell you, love your enemies.

Matthew 5:44

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Matthew 5:43–48

“I know what they’re saying. But I’m telling you . . .” As a boy, I heard my mother give that speech a thousand times. The context was always peer pressure. She was trying to teach me not to follow the herd. I’m not a boy any longer, but herd mentality’s still alive and kicking. A current example is this phrase: “Only surround yourself with positive people.” Now while that phrase may be commonly heard, the question we must ask is: “Is that Christlike?”    

“But I’m telling you . . .” Jesus uses that lead-in a number of times in Matthew 5. He knows full well what the world is constantly telling us. But His desire is that we live differently. In this case, He says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (v. 44). Later in the New Testament, the apostle Paul uses that very word to describe guess who? That’s right: us—“while we were God’s enemies” (Romans 5:10). Far from some “do as I say, not as I do,” Jesus backed up His words with actions. He loved us, and gave His life for us.

What if Christ had only made room in His life for “positive people”? Where would that leave us? Thanks be to God that His love is no respecter of persons. For God so loved the world, and in His strength we are called to do likewise. 

By:  John Blase

Reflect & Pray

When’s the last time someone extended love to you when you weren’t “positive”? What’s a tangible way today that you can show love to an enemy?

Father, it’s tempting to surround myself with only those who love me. But that’s not living, at least not the kind of living You desire for me. Help me to love even my enemies.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Embracing the Truth

“In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed” (Eph. 1:13).

The gospel is true because Jesus is true, not simply because Christians believe in Him.

After stating salvation from God’s perspective in verse 12, Paul here states it from man’s perspective. Faith in Christ is your response to God’s elective purpose in your life. Those two truths—God’s initiative and man’s response—co-exist throughout Scripture.

Paul rightly called the gospel “the message of truth” because truth is its predominant characteristic. Salvation was conceived by the God of truth (Ps. 31:5); purchased by the Son, who is the truth (John 14:6); and is applied by the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). To know it is to know the truth that sets men free (John 8:32). Believers are people of the truth (John 18:37), who worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), and who obey the Word of truth (John 17:17).

Yet as profound and powerful as God’s truth is, people have rejected, neglected, redefined, and opposed it for centuries. Some, like Pilate, cynically deny that truth even exists or that it can be known by men (John 18:38). Others foolishly think that denying truth will somehow make it go away.

Perhaps you’ve heard someone say, “Jesus may be true for you but that doesn’t mean He has to be true for me.” That view assumes that belief somehow determines truth. But just the opposite is the case. Truth determines the validity of one’s belief. Believing a lie doesn’t make it true. Conversely, failing to believe the truth doesn’t make it a lie.

The gospel is true because Jesus is true, not simply because Christians believe in Him. His resurrection proved the truth of His claims and constitutes the objective basis of our faith (Rom. 1:41 Pet. 1:3).

You enter this day armed with the message of truth and empowered by the Spirit of truth. Truth is your protection and strength (Eph. 6:14). Lost souls desperately need to hear that truth. Represent it well and proclaim it with boldness.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank the Lord that by His Spirit He has enabled you to understand His truth (1 Cor. 2:14-16).
  • Ask for wisdom and boldness to speak His truth in love (Eph. 4:15).

For Further Study

Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 and Acts 17:30-31.

  • What key elements of the gospel does Paul list?
  • What is the relationship between Christ’s resurrection and God’s judgment on sinners?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Trusting When You Cannot See

Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.

— Psalm 9:10 (NIV)

We can expect to face various tests as God trains us in spiritual maturity. One of them is the “trust test.” We must learn to trust God in all things, even—and especially—when we do not understand what is happening in our lives.

I’m sure you have at times asked God, “Why am I going through this?” or “Lord, what are You doing in my life through these circumstances?” You may have said, “God, I just don’t understand!” Growing in spiritual maturity means not allowing situations you do not understand to cause you to give up on God or to doubt His love for you. It means learning to say, “This must be a test. God is teaching me to trust Him.”

One lesson I have learned through the years is this: There is no such thing as trusting God without unanswered questions. If we had all the answers to all the questions that run through our minds, we would not need to trust God, because we would know everything. There will always be things we simply do not understand. This is why we need to learn to say, “Lord, I don’t understand this, but I trust You.”

Prayer of the Day: Father, help me to trust You always, especially when I do not understand what You are doing. I choose to believe that You are always working for my good, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Incorruptible Counsel and Comfort

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.

Psalm 16:7

Most of us receive constant counsel, seemingly from everywhere. Everyone, every book, every social-media feed is trying to tell us precisely what will make us happier and more fulfilled. Hopefully, some of the input into our lives is godly and biblical. If we’re honest, though, some of it we could probably go without.

But what if, instead of soundbites and social media, we could go straight to the fount of inexhaustible wisdom? What if we could receive counsel from the one who Himself needs no counsel?

This is exactly what David receives in Psalm 16: “I bless the LORD who gives me counsel.”

How do we access this counsel? One of the greatest gifts God gives us is the counsel of His heart through the sufficiency of His word. Did God leave anything out of His book that we need to make it from here to eternity? Is there any unwise guidance, or are there any mistakes? No, never! God is the pre-eminent counselor. His words are wisdom without end. Not only that but when you pray, you never get His voicemail. There’s never a time when you can’t speak with Him.

God offers wise counsel, and in this we find real comfort. David declares, “Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8). Elsewhere, Asaph prays, “I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel” (73:23-24). It’s as if we are children crossing a busy street, and our Father is holding our hands as we cross. Those cars zipping by sure can be intimidating—but with God at our side, what have we to fear?

God will guide us by His hand on the path of life; He will not abandon us. We can rejoice securely in Him (Psalm 16:9-11). We know this with certainty because our Lord Jesus Christ, who went before us to the grave, was raised to new, incorruptible life (Acts 2:25-32), and He is the firstfruits of all who trust in Him (1 Corinthians 15:20).

The path Christ trod is the same way God now leads you along. You, too, must take up your cross and follow your Lord (Matthew 16:24). You, too, will struggle and even endure pain. But through it all, you will never have to go without your Father’s wise counsel. Be sure to turn to it. You will never be without His real comfort. Be sure to rest in it. You are never out of reach of His strong hands. Be sure to remember it.

GOING DEEPER

Psalm 16

Topics: Authority of the Bible God’s Word Wisdom

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Brings Good out of Sadness

Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Will I trust God to bring good out of the sad time I’m going through?

One day, I brought home a bright red helium balloon. I was so proud of it! I could hardly wait to get it out of the car and begin playing with it. But no sooner had my feet touched the pavement of our driveway than it slipped out of my hand and went floating away toward the clouds. I was disappointed and angry. It wasn’t fair! I had lost my balloon before I even had a chance to play with it.

But my dad had an idea. “I’ll get my binoculars,” he said. “Let’s watch your balloon till it’s out of sight.” We stood out in the backyard, my dad and I, for a long time that evening. We passed the binoculars back and forth, tracking the red balloon’s flight into the sky. What fun we had! That evening that had begun so sadly ended up filled with laughter and joy. It was one of my favorite times spent with my father.

God, our Father, sometimes allows things to happen in our lives that seem very bad to us. Things might happen that hurt and disappoint us and make us want to scream, “It’s not fair!” But God has wonderful plans for those painful times. He may want to teach us something new about Himself. He may want us to come closer to Him. We get to know Him better as we pray and trust Him in times of suffering. He causes all things to work together for good to us if we are His children. Maybe someday you will look back on your saddest time as the best time you ever spent with your Father.

God brings good out of His children’s pain and suffering.

Denison Forum – Number of abortions in Texas dropped 99 percent

The National March for Life is tomorrow in Washington, DC., followed in two days by Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Both are timed to correspond with January 22, 1973, when the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision tragically discovered a right to abortion in the US Constitution.

Since that time, more than sixty-three million (PDF) babies have been lost to abortion.

Last June, the Court finally overturned Roe in the case of Thomas Dobbs, et. al. v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. States such as Texas enacted their own bans on abortion as a result.

Now we are learning the practical consequences of these legal decisions, at least in my home state: new data released by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission shows that three abortion procedures were performed in our state in August 2022, compared with 2,596 in June. This is a drop of more than 99 percent. The report also indicates that all three procedures were “medically necessary” abortions.

Between April and August of last year, the number of abortions nationwide declined by 6 percent. If this trend persists, there could be at least sixty thousand fewer abortions this year as a result of Dobbs.

As we can see, five decades of hard work by pro-life legal advocates and their allies is now saving thousands of lives.

Using the secular to serve the spiritual

In yesterday’s Daily Article I noted that “Christians must not depend on the government to do our work for us.” Whatever the courts and legal systems decide about biblical morality, we are still called to declare and defend biblical truth (1 Peter 3:15). The more people reject the truth, the more they need it.

Today, let’s consider the other side of this theme: Christians can—and should—use the government and other secular means to advance the cause of Christ.

Thousands of lives are being saved as a result of Dobbs that likely would not have been saved apart from this legal outcome. Advocates for religious freedom in the US Senate have prevented the draconian so-called “Equality Act” from becoming law, thwarting (so far) what has been called “the most invasive threat to religious liberty ever proposed in America.”

We see a similar theme unfolding across Scripture:

  • Joseph becomes prime minister of Egypt and saves his family and thus the Jewish nation through whom one day the Messiah would come.
  • King David establishes the Jewish capital in Jerusalem and gives the world the Psalms.
  • King Solomon builds the first temple and gives us the wisdom of Proverbs.
  • Daniel is promoted to become one of “three high officials” in Babylon (Daniel 6:2); his witness following God’s intervention in the lions’ den (v. 22) leads the king to proclaim to the nation that “the God of Daniel . . . is the living God” (v. 26).
  • Esther uses her position as queen to prevent the genocide of the Jewish people in Persia.
  • Nehemiah uses his position as the king’s “cupbearer” (a strategic position with access to the king; Nehemiah 1:11) to advocate for rebuilding Jerusalem.
  • “Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager” serves as a powerful political figure in Galilee and one of Jesus’ financial supporters (Luke 8:3).
  • Zacchaeus, the “chief tax collector” in Jericho, repents of his sin and becomes a public example of Jesus’ mission “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:1–10).

We could add a host of biblical figures who used their wealth and influence to advance God’s kingdom.

Are you a “paid Christian”?

Why are believers in positions of secular influence able to make an impact for the cause of Christ that professional ministers like me are not?

One reason is that the legal separation of church and state has been misinterpreted by our culture as the separation of faith and state. As a result, professional ministers are viewed as irrelevant to secular concerns. But when Christians in the marketplace live for Jesus, the relevance of their faith to the issues of the marketplace becomes clear.

A second factor is the horrific clergy abuse scandal that continues to undermine the credibility of professional ministers. So-called “lay” Christians are not painted with the same brush and have moral authority their pastors sometimes lack.

A third issue is that professional ministers are seen as “paid Christians.” When we advocate for biblical morality, we are only doing our job, or so skeptics say. But when Christians with secular influence stand for biblical truth, especially at a personal cost, they show an unbelieving world that their faith is real and biblical truth is transformative.

“My ministry is ________________”

So, if you are not an ordained member of the clergy, know that you are nonetheless ordained by God to a ministry that is just as vital as mine. You are part of the body of Christ, a “hand” or “foot” doing what no one else can do (1 Corinthians 12:12–27). Whether you are a legal professional advocating for life or a person engaged in other dimensions of secular influence, your work can make an eternal difference.

I encourage you to focus today on your specific calling. If you cannot complete the sentence, “My ministry is _______________,” pray and reflect until you can. Then live every day in alignment with your missional purpose, remembering that “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives” (Annie Dillard).

Wherever God has placed us, whatever our kingdom assignment, our life purpose is to know Christ and make him known.

Will you fulfill this calling more fully today than yesterday?

Denison Forum

Hagee Ministries; John Hagee –  Daily Devotion

1 John 4:4

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

If we’re going to be overcoming, triumphant believers, it’s time we rediscover our true identity. The way we triumph is not through force but with the power of God’s love through Jesus Christ. That kind of triumph comes from the God who is greater, and He placed that greatness in you. For greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world!

Our God is greater than every enemy because He took your enemies to a place called Calvary and conquered them there. He is greater than every sickness because He bore your sickness upon His back, and by His stripes you are healed. He is greater than every need because He will supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory. He is greater than every bondage and addiction for He is the Anointed One who breaks the yoke of bondage and sets captives free, and whom the Son sets free is free indeed. He is the God who is greater than every mountain that you’re climbing because He can take that mountain and cast it into the sea. He’s greater than every sorrow because in His presence is the fullness of joy.

Don’t let the world weigh you down today. Our God is greater!

Today’s Blessing: 

Father, we thank You that we are triumphant through You. Now Lord, bless us with victory in our personal lives, in our relationships, in our churches, in this community. Bless us with goodness and grace and mercy and peace and Your favor in all things that as we march in triumph, those who are walking in darkness will recognize that the Light of the world lives in us, and they’ll be drawn to You, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Let every life be blessed beyond measure this week because they live to give You the glory. In Jesus’ mighty name we pray and say and receive this blessing, Amen and Amen.

Today’s Bible Reading: 

Old Testament

Genesis 39:1-41:16

New Testament 

Matthew 12:46-13:23

Psalms & Proverbs

Psalm 17:1-15

Proverbs 3:33-35

https://www.jhm.org

Turning Point; David Jeremiah – One for the Road

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
1 Corinthians 6:19

 Recommended Reading: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Major Ian Thomas, a British expositor, described a foolish man who was trying to push his car when it was filled with gasoline and capable of running on its own. He said that’s how many people try to live the Christian life—in their own strength and by their own efforts. But only Christ can live a life of godliness. He wants to do it through us by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.[1]

As we walk in the Spirit, we become more and more like Jesus because He is controlling more and more of us.

That perspective adjusts the way we look at difficulty. The devil seeks to harm us, but God uses every peril and problem to develop a more disciplined, Christlike, Christ-filled, Christ-empowered life. What a blessing to have a Heavenly Father who desires us to be more like Him! As we walk with Him, let’s thank Him for the daily work of the Spirit in our life.

The Christian life is nothing less than the life which He lived then… lived now by Him in you!
Ian Thomas

[1] Major W. Ian Thomas, The Indwelling Life of Christ (Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2006), 53-55.

 Read-Thru-the-Bible: Exodus 11 – 13

https://www.davidjeremiah.org

Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – Four Important Questions

 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. 

—1 Corinthians 10:23

Scripture:

1 Corinthians 10:23 

There’s a common question Christians ask that may indicate a spiritual problem in their lives: “Can you be a Christian and still . . . ?” (Fill in the blank.) In other words, “Can I get away with this and still technically be saved?”

Instead, what we ought to ask is, “Because I am a Christian, how can I best serve the Lord? What can I do to grow spiritually?”

If you’ve ever wondered about what’s okay for a Christian to do, consider these questions.

Does it build me up spiritually? Does this thing that you want to do promote growth in your Christian character? Some things in life can tear you down because they tear you away from the people of God or dull your hunger for the Word of God.

Does it bring me under its power? Some Christians say they have the freedom to do a certain thing because they can handle it. They can control it. But does it bring them under its power? Can they go through a day without it? If not, then it isn’t freedom.

Do I have an uneasy conscience about it? There might be something that you feel uneasy about doing. It just doesn’t feel right. Romans 14:23 says, “For whatever is not from faith is sin” (NKJV). We’re all different. One believer may do a certain thing, but that very thing could harm you spiritually.

Could it cause someone to stumble? You may have the liberty to do something, such as go to this movie or watch that TV show. But if it bothers another believer, be sensitive to that. As Christians, we don’t live unto ourselves. We have an effect on others.

All too often people who are interested in following Jesus don’t want to let go of things that will slow them down. We need to count the cost.