Our Daily Bread — Love like Blazing Fire

Bible in a Year:

[Love] burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.

Song of Songs 8:6

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Song of Songs 8:5–7

Poet, painter, and printmaker William Blake enjoyed a forty-five-year marriage with his wife, Catherine. From their wedding day until his death in 1827, they worked side by side. Catherine added color to William’s sketches, and their devotion endured years of poverty and other challenges. Even in his final weeks as his health failed, Blake kept at his art, and his final sketch was his wife’s face. Four years later, Catherine died clutching one of her husband’s pencils in her hand.

The Blakes’ vibrant love offers a reflection of the love discovered in the Song of Songs. And while the Song’s description of love certainly has implications for marriage, early believers in Jesus believed it also points to Jesus’ unquenchable love for all His followers. The Song describes a love “as strong as death,” which is a remarkable metaphor since death is as final and unescapable a reality as humans will ever know (8:6). This strong love “burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame” (v. 6). And unlike fires we’re familiar with, these flames can’t be doused, not even by a deluge. “Many waters cannot quench love,” the Song insists (v. 7).

Who among us doesn’t desire true love? The Song reminds us that whenever we encounter genuine love, God is the ultimate source. And in Jesus, each of us can know a profound and undying love—one that burns like a blazing fire.

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

Where have you encountered strong love? How does Jesus’ love encourage you?

Dear God, please help me to receive Your love and share it with others.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Are You Gentle?

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

To become more gentle, begin by looking closely at your attitudes.

We’ve determined that gentleness is essential for those who want to walk worthy. How can you tell if you’re gentle? I’ll give you some practical questions so you can evaluate yourself honestly.

First of all, are you self-controlled? Do you rule your own spirit (Prov. 16:32), or does your temper often flare up? When someone accuses you of something, do you immediately defend yourself, or are you more inclined to consider whether there’s any truth in what’s being said?

Second, are you infuriated only when God is dishonored? Do you get angry about sin or when God’s Word is perverted by false teachers?

Next, do you always seek to make peace? Gentle people are peacemakers. Ephesians 4:3 says they are “diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” If someone falls into sin, do you condemn or gossip about that person? Galatians 6:1 instructs us to restore sinning brothers “in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Gossip and condemnation divide believers; forgiveness and restoration unite them. Gentle people don’t start fights; they end them.

Fourth, do you accept criticism without retaliation? Whether the criticism is right or wrong, you shouldn’t strike back. In fact, you can thank your critics, because criticism can show you your weaknesses and help you grow.

Finally, do you have the right attitude toward the unsaved? Peter says, “Always [be] ready to make a defense to every one who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15). If we’re persecuted, it’s easy for us to think, They can’t treat me like that—I’m a child of God. But God wants us to approach the unsaved with gentleness, realizing that God reached out to us with gentleness before we were saved (Titus 3:3-7).

Consider carefully your answers to these questions, and commit yourself to being characterized by gentleness. Remember that “a gentle and quiet spirit . . . is precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:4).

Suggestions for Prayer

If any of these questions have pointed out deficiencies in your gentleness, ask God to strengthen those areas.

For Further Study

  • Paul was often criticized by those who wanted to usurp his authority over the church. Study Paul’s response to such people in 2 Timothy 2:24-26.
  • Think about this passage’s application to events in your life.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Don’t Let the Devil Steal It

For it is like a man who was about to take a long journey, and he called his servants together and entrusted them with his property…. He who had received one talent also came forward, saying, Master, I knew you to be a harsh and hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you had not winnowed [the grain]. So I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is your own.

— Matthew 25:14, 24-25 (AMPC)

Jesus often gave people illustrations containing life lessons that could be applied to common situations in which most anyone can find themselves at any given time. The parable of the talents is such an illustration. A talent was the type of currency used in Jesus’ day. One talent is said to have been worth more than a thousand dollars. This particular parable describes a man who gave certain amounts of money to three of his servants with the instruction to invest it.

I find two very interesting points in this story. First, the landowner distributed the money according to each person’s ability. He didn’t try to burden his workers with more than they were capable of handling. The two men to whom he gave the most money invested wisely and doubled their investments. Upon the landowner’s return, they were made full partners in the business. The second thing I realized is that the two with the most ability used it wisely and were richly rewarded. The third man—the one with the least ability—failed.

Think about this. God didn’t ask the third man to invest five talents or even three. He knew this man wasn’t capable of handling such a task. He gave the third servant the least amount of responsibility, and that man still failed. Worse, he tried to justify his failure by blaming the master! But he also said something else—and that’s the secret to understanding this story: I was afraid and hid your talent in the ground (Matthew 25:25 AMPC).

He didn’t lose the money, but he did nothing with it. And the master responded, You wicked and lazy and idle servant! (Matthew 25:26 AMPC). The spirit of fear had caused the man to do nothing.

Let’s turn that around. The owner said, Then you should have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received what was my own with interest (Matthew 25:27 AMPC). Suppose the man had gone to the bank and invested as the owner suggested. He would never have made as much profit as the other two. And that would have been all right, because all that the owner asked was for him to do what he could—what was reasonably expected of him.

That’s one way the devil snares us. He causes us to compare ourselves with others and see how much money or talents they have. Or he tells us other people are given more opportunities than we will ever have. But God doesn’t ask us to do what someone else does. He asks us to use the gifts and abilities that He has given to us.

I truly believe that God has a plan for each of our lives. A life lived in faith and obedience to God’s Word causes His plan to unfold before our eyes. Clutching what little we have in fear won’t allow us to fulfill God’s plan. In fact, this kind of mindset allows the devil to lie to us and cause us to give up on our dreams and God’s plan for our lives.

Fear only supplies the characteristics of the idle, lazy, and wicked servant. When we listen to the devil, we soon believe we can do nothing. He’ll convince us that everything we attempt will fail. If we listen to God, we will hear the words of the Lord: …Well done, you upright (honorable, admirable) and faithful servant! You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little; I will put you in charge of much. Enter into and share the joy (the delight, the blessedness) which your master enjoys (Matthew 25:21 AMPC). It is not how much we accomplish that is important, but it’s being faithful to the ability God has given us that makes the difference.

Prayer of the Day: Loving Father, I don’t know which of those three men I’m the most like in terms of my ability. But I pray that You will make me faithful to fulfill Your plan for my life. In the name of Your Son, Jesus, I thank You for helping me. Thank You, Lord, for helping me keep the enemy from stealing the little or the much You have given me, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Saved From the Fear of Death

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

Hebrews 2:14-15

Death is not an appealing subject to consider. We don’t like to think about how it might be that our bodies and minds will fail us. Driven by a fear of dying, well-meaning people spend vast sums of money in attempts to put off their end and find meaning in life. But even the best attempts can’t answer life’s essential questions: Who am I? Where am I from? Where do I go when I die?

This is nothing new. Adam and Eve did the same thing in Genesis 3 when they listened to the false hope of Satan’s seductive lie welcoming sin and death into the world: “You will not surely die … you will be like God” (Genesis 3:4-5). We continue to believe the same lie. We try to be like God, longing to construct our own meaning and aiming to live forever. But death continues to hold terror for us, enslaving us in fear. When signs of old age emerge, when illness sets in, when the funeral procession passes by, we’re reminded that our false hopes have no substance. We must find true answers.

Everybody bases their hope on something. Let us base ours on the enduring strength and authority of God’s word. When we want to run away from troubling thoughts and crippling fears, let us run to the foot of the cross, where Jesus delivered “all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” Why did Jesus come? “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). By Christ’s death and resurrection, He drowned out the seductive voices of false hope, He took all our sin and rebellion and made our record clean, and He delivered us from all fear—even the fear of death itself. In taking our sins from us, Jesus has taken away Satan’s voice. There is nothing left for him to accuse us of, and there is nothing left to stand between us and the presence of God forever.

Death should therefore hold no fear for the Christian. As Paul writes, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Saved from what? Saved from sin, from judgment, from the terrors of death and hell, from fear of the grave—and saved for all eternity. This is the eternal life that the world longs for but can never find. It is not an escape from death but an escape through death—and it is the reason that Jesus left heavenly glory and became a human like me and you, and the reason that He died a criminal’s death.

When you are tempted to base your hope in the things of this world and are blinded by tempting lies, or when you find yourself considering aging, frailty, and death with a rising fear, tell yourself, “Jesus has destroyed the one who has the power of death. Jesus has delivered me from the fear of death.” Learn to see death as it truly is and you will be able to see life as it truly is for all God’s children: eternal, free, and full of joy.

GOING DEEPER

Acts 7:54-60

Topics: Death Fear Jesus Christ

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Wants To Change You

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.” (Romans 8:29)

One October day, Brandon was on an airplane flying to Vermont. As the plane dipped its wings over Lake Champlain, Brandon looked out his window. What a sight! All around the misty water below were acres and acres of maple trees that had changed color. Brandon had never seen trees wearing any brighter shades of red, orange, and gold.

If you have become a Christian by trusting Jesus Christ to save you from your sin, God wants to make a glorious change inside of you – an even more beautiful change than the colored leaves of fall. He wants to make you just like His Son, Jesus Christ! Can you imagine what that would be like? You would love God with all of your heart. You would be full of joy. You would be confident in God even when bad things happened. You would be kind and gentle – even toward your brothers and sisters. You would never be selfish. You would never disobey. You would always hate sin.

Long ago, before you ever asked God to save you, He was planning to do this beautiful work in you. His Spirit who lives in you will show you the things that need to change. Will you cooperate with God as He works?

God wants to change you to be like His Son, Jesus Christ.

My Response:
» Is God’s Holy Spirit showing me areas that need to change in my life?
» Am I becoming more like Jesus?

Denison Forum – US hits debt ceiling: A spiritual lesson on buying time

The United States hit its debt ceiling on Thursday. The Treasury Department responded by taking measures intended to buy more time before the country risks defaulting on its debt. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen predicted that the measures would be sufficient for roughly five months, though she also cautioned that there is “considerable uncertainty” regarding that time frame.

But this is hardly the first time Congress has come to such an impasse, and few believe the government will actually fail to raise the debt ceiling when the time comes. So why all the furor over the present debate?

Given that the markets have largely shrugged off the development, it seems like those who follow the financials most closely see the Republican refusal as political grandstanding rather than seeking genuine reform. In fact, the primary reason the debt ceiling is even an issue is that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy promised to attach spending cuts to any conversation about raising the debt ceiling in order to garner the necessary support to win his position.

Productive negotiations seem unlikely, however, with the White House publicly saying that they will not negotiate over raising the debt ceiling. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated Thursday that it is Congress’ “constitutional duty” to come to a resolution that prevents the government from going into default. Democrats in Congress appear to agree.

While that stance also seems more political than practical, it speaks to an impasse that could have dire consequences were it to continue indefinitely.

So what is the debt ceiling? And why is this annual tradition of fighting over it before ultimately agreeing that it needs to be raised such a big deal?

What is the debt ceiling?

The debt ceiling is, essentially, the legal limit for how much borrowing the American government can do in order to finance the legislation it has already passed.

The last part of that definition is important for understanding the current debate. Any spending cuts negotiated into the eventual settlement will not apply to the current debt. Rather, the debt ceiling is about making sure the government has enough money to cover the legislation currently on the books.

The debt ceiling became a law in 1917 in order to allow Congress to more easily sell bonds to fund its involvement in the first World War. It has been raised seventy-eight times since 1960—forty-nine times under Republican presidents and twenty-nine under Democrats—and twenty times since 2001 alone.

In all that time, only once has America defaulted on its debt, and that was due to an administrative error rather than the failure of Congress. Still, even though the mistake was quickly rectified and pertained only to a small collection of Treasury securities, it raised US borrowing costs by the modern equivalent of $40 billion.

The threat of a similar escalation in how much it costs to borrow money is another key factor in this debate.

Why does America keep raising the debt ceiling?

Currently, our government is able to raise the debt ceiling whenever they want because “American Treasury securities have been viewed as one of the safest, most stable investments in the modern world.” And while $31 trillion in debt is a staggering number, the US still has a better debt-to-GDP ratio than countries like Britain, Germany, Australia, and Greece.

However, should America fail to make the interest payments on our debt, those privileges would quickly go away.

That reality is why neither party has, historically, been willing to risk not raising the debt ceiling. If Republicans were required to let the country default on our debt in order to garner concessions and reduce spending, the higher interest rates would, in all likelihood, wipe out any gains made by spending less or raising taxes.

And though the present debate may seem like a partisan topic, any hesitancy to raise the limits is a relatively recent development.

Many of the same Republicans working against raising the debt ceiling now, for example, showed little hesitancy in doing so during three of the four years that Donald Trump was in office. In 2006, then-senator Barack Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling because of what he termed President Bush’s “reckless fiscal policies.”

Ultimately, it is more politically expedient for both parties to pass legislation that we can’t afford and then fight over the means of paying for it at a later date than it is to fail to pass the legislation in the first place. As such, this is likely to continue to be an issue regardless of which party is in power.

And while there is relatively little we can do to curb such patterns nationally, we can and should learn from their mistakes in order to avoid repeating them in our own lives. And those lessons apply to far more than just money.

We can’t borrow time

While fiscal responsibility is important, an issue that receives far less attention in Christian circles pertains to being responsible with our time.

This side of heaven, there will always be more work we can do to serve the Lord than we have time to do it. As such, it can be tempting to say yes to more things than we should. However, eventually that debt will come due and we cannot borrow time to account for it. That’s why it is so important to allow God to be the one who determines when we say yes and when we decline.

Others may not always understand. They may see their work as the most important way a person could advance the kingdom and, for them, they may be right. But another person’s need does not define your calling. Only God gets to do that.

So the next time you’re presented with the opportunity to give your time to a particular ministry or opportunity, take a moment to pray and ask for the Lord’s guidance before responding.

After all, it’s far better to say no initially than to default on your obligations when the time comes to pay that cost.

Denison Forum

Hagee Ministries; John Hagee –  Daily Devotion

Mark 7:2

Now when [the Pharisees and Scribes] saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault.

The Pharisees were of the right people and the right lineage; they just had the wrong approach. Rather than relate to Jesus Christ and what He wanted to do in their lives, they argued and found fault with Him based on their flawed religious knowledge. Jesus had already turned water to wine, fed the five thousand, healed lepers, walked on water, and raised the dead. Now the Pharisees come and just sit and watch to see what they can find Him doing wrong. Religious people always want to point out what’s wrong before they will talk about what’s right.

What did they find wrong to disqualify Jesus? His disciples ate bread with unwashed hands! The Pharisees had taken a law stated in Leviticus 16:28 that regarded the high priest washing before going into the tabernacle, and they built it into a long list of constant hand washings. That’s what religion does. You’re going to meet some religious people like that. Don’t become like them and start making a religion out of rules and regulations, building lists of do’s and don’ts. When you have a relationship with the Son of God who died for you and set you free, never let religion get in the way of loving and obeying Him.

Today’s Blessing: 

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you and give you His peace. May you live and walk and think like sons and daughters of the Most High God for you have the robe of righteousness, the shoes of the Gospel, and the signet ring of royalty. May the blessing and the peace, the love and the joy of God the Father be your portion. This we pray, in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Today’s Bible Reading: 

Old Testament

Genesis 41:17-57

New Testament 

Matthew 13:24-34

Psalms & Proverbs

Psalm 18:1-7

Proverbs 4:1-3

https://www.jhm.org

Turning Point; David Jeremiah – Inexhaustible!

We love Him because He first loved us.
1 John 4:19

 Recommended Reading: 1 John 4:12-19

Charles Spurgeon preached on this verse—1 John 4:19—many times. He said: “I hope to preach from it a good many more times… for it is one of those inexhaustible wells into which you may let down the bucket every morning, and always pull it up full. It is a mine with a good many seams of the richest ore. You may think that you have dug all its treasures out, but you have only to sink a new shaft, to find that there is another seam just as rich as the former one; and when you have brought all that wealth to the surface—and that may take your whole lifetime—someone else may… open up a fresh vein.”[1]

We should take this verse into our heart today! Only eight words, yet the wealth of heaven is contained in the syllables! Say it aloud. Ponder it. Imagine it. Believe it. Rest on your pillow tonight with this simple sentence ushering you to sleep.

No matter what we face in life, God will always love us. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from His love!

The love of God to his people is omnipotent; there is no force in nature that can for a single moment be compared with it.
Charles Spurgeon

[1] Charles Spurgeon, “The Secret of Love to God,” Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Volume 47, August 15, 1880.

https://www.davidjeremiah.org

Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – Playing for Time

Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father. 

—Luke 9:59

Scripture:

Luke 9:59 

Listen

If you didn’t understand the culture of the day, it would seem rather heartless of the Lord to say what He said: “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:60 NKJV).

Jesus had just called someone to follow Him, but the man replied, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father” (verse 59 NKJV). It would seem to us that this man’s father just died, and he was getting ready to bury him.

But that wasn’t the case. This was a Near Eastern figure of speech referring to a son’s responsibility to help his father in the family business until the father died and the inheritance was distributed.

So, when Jesus said, “Follow Me,” it appears the man already was a believer, and this was a call to service. It seems as though the Lord was calling him to a deeper level of commitment.

But this person was making excuses. He was saying, “I have to wait until Dad is gone and the inheritance is divided. I can’t make a commitment like that right now.” He was playing for time, believing that when his father eventually did grow old and die, Jesus would be long gone and he wouldn’t have to worry about it.

Has God called you to serve Him in some capacity? Maybe He has spoken to your heart and said, “I want you to serve Me with the gifts that I have given you.”

But you’re saying, “I would love to, but I am so busy here. I have this business. I have this passion. I’m a little too busy to serve You right now. I have bills to pay, fun to experience, and family to be involved with. I just don’t have time.”

Don’t be like this person and make up excuses. Respond to His call.