Our Daily Bread — No Loss

Bible in a Year:

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure.

Matthew 13:44

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Matthew 13:44–46

My friend Ruel attended a high school reunion held in a former classmate’s home. The waterfront mansion near Manila Bay could accommodate two hundred attendees, and it made Ruel feel small. 

“I’ve had many happy years of pastoring remote rural churches,” Ruel told me, “and even though I know I shouldn’t, I couldn’t help but feel envious of my classmate’s material wealth. My thoughts strayed to how different life might be if I’d used my degree to become a businessman instead.”

“But I later reminded myself there’s nothing to feel envious about,” Ruel continued with a smile. “I invested my life in serving God, and the results will last for eternity.” I’ll always remember the peaceful look on his face as he said those words.

Ruel drew peace from Jesus’ parables in Matthew 13:44−46. He knew that God’s kingdom is the ultimate treasure. Seeking and living for His kingdom might take various forms. For some, it might mean full-time ministry, while for others, it may be living out the gospel in a secular workplace. Regardless of how God chooses to use us, we can continue to trust and obey His leading, knowing, like the men in Jesus’ parables, the value of the imperishable treasure we’ve been given. Everything in this world has infinitely less worth than all we gain by following God (1 Peter 1:4−5).

Our life, when placed in His hands, can bear eternal fruit.

By:  Karen Huang

Reflect & Pray

What have you had to live without for the sake of following God? How does Matthew 13:44–46 encourage you? 

Father, let each day of my life be a celebration of the treasure I’ve found in You.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Receiving Spiritual Enlightenment

 “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened” (Eph. 1:18).

Spiritual enlightenment doesn’t come through self-effort or introspective meditation but through God’s Holy Spirit.

Our society has been enamored with the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment, especially since the influx of Eastern thought into the West during the 1960s. Now we are drowning in a sea of false religions and New Age philosophies.

True enlightenment continues to elude many because they have denied its source and have turned to gurus and teachers who have no light to give. They propagate self-effort and introspective meditation, but spiritual enlightenment doesn’t come through such means. It comes only through the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14-16). That’s why Paul prayed that God Himself would enlighten the hearts of the Ephesian believers (Eph. 1:18).

We might expect Paul to pray for enlightened minds rather than hearts, but that’s because we associate the word heart with emotions rather than with thought. But in Hebrew and Greek thinking, the heart was considered the seat of knowledge, thinking, and understanding. For example, Jesus said that evil thoughts come out of the heart (Matt. 15:19). Emotions are important, but they must be guided and controlled by an enlightened mind.

How does the Spirit enlighten you? As you pray and study God’s Word, He transforms and renews your mind (Rom. 12:2) by filling you with “the knowledge of [God’s] will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9). He teaches you to recognize and uphold what is excellent so that you will be “sincere and blameless” before God (Phil. 1:10). He implants biblical truth into your thinking so that your responses become more and more like Christ’s.

How wonderful to know that each moment of the day God is working within you in such a way. Be diligent to pray and spend time in the Word so that your spiritual progress will be evident to all (1 Tim. 4:15).

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the Spirit’s transforming work within you.
  • Reaffirm your love for Him, and express your willingness to be changed by His Spirit in any way He sees fit.
  • Be alert for attitudes or actions that need to be changed. Rely on His grace and strength in doing so.

For Further Study

Read Genesis 27–33, noting how God used the events of Jacob’s life to transform his weak spiritual commitment to one that was strong and unconditional (see especially Gen. 28:20-2232:9-12).

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Simple, Confident Prayer

And when you pray, do not heap up phrases (multiply words, repeating the same ones over and over) as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their much speaking.

— Matthew 6:7 (AMPC)

It is important to develop confidence in simple, believing prayer. We need the confidence that even if we just say, “God, help me,” He hears and will answer. We can depend on God to be faithful to do what we have asked Him to do, as long as our request is in accordance with His will. The Holy Spirit is called our Helper, and He delights in helping us.

Too often we get caught up in our own works concerning prayer. Sometimes we try to pray so long, loud, and eloquently that we lose sight of the fact that prayer is simply conversation with God. The length or loudness or eloquence of our prayer is not the issue; what is important is the sincerity of our heart and the confidence we have that God hears and will answer us.

Prayer of the Day: I thank You today, Father, that prayer doesn’t have to be long and complicated. You hear even my short, heartfelt prayers. I am grateful that I can have a continuous conversation with You all through the day, and that You hear and answer me.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Hidden With Christ

You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Colossians 3:3

One of Satan’s main schemes for attacking believers is accusation (Revelation 12:10). As the father of lies (John 8:44), he will use anything within his arsenal of demonic devices to cause Christians to feel condemnation—though the truth, of course, is that “there is … now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

So how are we to stand firm in Christ when the Accuser tempts us to despair? When he whispers, “Would a Christian really think that?” or “How could a Christian ever do that?” what will we say? Should we point out that last week was a very good week or that this Bible reading or that prayer time ought to offset our guilt?

Surely, any good thing in our life is an evidence of God’s grace at work. But no list of good works will ever assuage the Accuser. Our best response is to confront the Evil One head-on and tell him that Jesus bore our sins in His death, He rose to victory, and we are now united to Him and all His benefits by grace and through faith. We certainly want to live in a way that demonstrates real, active, vibrant faith; however, the most important thing about us isn’t what we do but who we are in Christ. “You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God,” says Paul. It is “Christ in you” who is “the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

In the fight for faith, the issue is always the gospel. We must ask ourselves, “Have I come to entrust myself to Christ? Have I admitted who He is, who I am, and why I need Him? Is my hope in Jesus and what He has done for me, and not in any way in what I do for Him?” If we can answer yes, then we can confront the devil’s lies and insinuations with the gospel. So, when the Accuser comes to you and suggests that you are not really a Christian, not really saved, not really forgiven—and he will!—take refuge in the finished work of your Lord on your behalf. Jesus has already won the victory. Therefore, hidden in Him, His triumph is now yours, and not one of Satan’s schemes can change that glorious truth.

GOING DEEPER

Colossians 3:1-4

Topics: Grace Guilt Satan

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Sovereign

“But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever He hath pleased.” (Psalm 115:3)

Imagine being surrounded by a large invisible net. Imagine that everywhere you go – school, your house, your friend’s house – you are surrounded by this net. The net is there to stop everything from touching you. If someone throws a volleyball at you during P.E. class, it would just bounce off of nothing. If someone throws their carrots at you in the lunch room, the carrots won’t touch you. Nothing can get past the net!

One of God’s gifts to us is His sovereignty. God’s sovereignty is much like an invisible net. Situations in life – both good and bad – cannot touch you without getting God’s permission.

The word sovereignty is a big word with a simple meaning. Sovereign means “chief” or “highest in power.” To say that God is sovereign means that God is the One in charge of everything – it means nothing can get past God’s control. A car accident can’t harm you without God’s permission. Surprises and blessings can’t touch you without God’s permission. God is in control of everything!

God’s sovereignty is like a net that surrounds and protects you.

My Response:
» How does knowing that God is sovereign change my life?

DDNI Featured News Article – You must bow at the LGBT altar or else

Do you remember when the main goal of LGBT activism was creating an atmosphere of “tolerance and acceptance”? Those days are long gone, and the goal posts have been moved dramatically. Today, if you do not partake in the public, mandatory celebration of LGBT pride, you will be marked and you will be ostracized. If you don’t believe me, just ask NHL hockey player Ivan Provorov.

Provorov, who is from Russia and plays on the Philadelphia Flyers, declined to participate in pregame warmups for the Flyer’s LGBT pride night, since he would have been required to wear a pride-themed jersey.

He explained to reporters, “I respect everybody and I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion [which is Russian Orthodox]. That’s all I’m going to say.”

In other words, if someone identifies as LGBT, that’s their business, and he respects that. He has his own religious beliefs which dictate how he lives, and he would ask others to respect that. Live and let live.

Flyers coach John Tortorella was supportive of Provorov’s choice, explaining that the team made clear where it stood on LGBT pride. As for Provorov himself, Tortorella said that “he is being true to himself and to his religion. This has to do with his beliefs and his religion. That is one thing I respect about Provy, he is always true to himself, so that’s where we’re at with that.”

But not everyone was as tolerant (remember that word?).

According to hockey journalist Pierre LeBrun, if Provorov really respected the LGBT community, he would have participated in the event and worn the jersey. To paraphrase, “Who gives a hoot about his religious convictions? To respect someone means to celebrate who they are and what they do, even if it is in fundamental contradiction to one’s own beliefs and convictions.”

Hockey commentator Gord Miller seconded LeBrun’s sentiments, adding that Provorov should have been banned from playing in the game. After all, he tweeted, “Freedom of expression doesn’t give you freedom from the consequences of your words or actions.”

To paraphrase again, “Failure to celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride has serious professional consequences!”

Sports and comedy writer Rachael Millanta was even more blunt, calling Provorov “ignorant, obnoxious, and homophobic,” also referring to people like him as “bigots” who “hide behind their cherry-picked religion.”

Oh, the beauty of open-minded, liberal tolerance!

So, by Provorov following the consistent Christian teachings of the last 2,000 years (or, more broadly, the consistent biblical teachings of the last 3,000+ years), he is an ignorant, obnoxious and homophobic bigot who is cherry-picking his beliefs.

The same can be said for the tens of millions of Russian Orthodox Christians who share these beliefs, along with many hundreds of millions of other Christians of like heart and like mind.

In short, you cannot graciously disagree. You cannot respectfully opt out. Instead, you must deny your convictions, rewrite the Bible, run roughshod over your faith and publicly celebrate something you believe to be wrong. Otherwise, you are a crass human being and a small-minded bigot. Those are your only choices!

Already in 2011 in my book A Queer Thing Happened to America, I could point to the Riddle Homophobia Scale, used in schools to evaluate whether the students were “homophobic.” According to the scale, both tolerance and acceptance were considered homophobic, since homosexuality was not something to “tolerate” or “accept.”

Instead, the only way not to be homophobic was to embrace a “positive” attitude which called for “support, admiration, appreciation, and nurturance.”

Yes, if you don’t want to be a homophobe, you must admire your lesbian friend. You must nurture your transgender colleague’s new identity. Otherwise, you will be marked.

Are you surprised?

Well, consider this: “The Riddle homophobia scale was developed by Dorothy Riddle in 1973–74 while she was overseeing research for the American Psychological Association Task Force on Gays and Lesbians.”

That’s how far back it goes, although it wasn’t widely released until 1994. That’s why I started my article with this question: “Do you remember when the main goal of LGBT activism was creating an atmosphere of ‘tolerance and acceptance?’”

Most young people, including young adults, do not remember this time because they never experienced it. Instead, they have grown up with the choice to celebrate LGBT pride or be branded, to comply publicly or be ousted.

That’s why one of the chapters in my forthcoming book Why Have So Many Christians Left the Faith is titled, “If Gay Is Good, Christianity Is Bad.” That’s how much the tables have turned, even though the testimony of Scripture remains as clear today as it has ever been.

One of my colleagues, who is now a pastor, worked for years as a computer programmer with Bank of America. He told me that little by little, he was getting pushed out of his job through LGBT activism. By the time he quit, every employee, let alone higher-level manager or executive, could see on your bio whether you identified as an LGBT ally. If not, you could virtually kiss your career advancements goodbye.

Provorov is just the latest example of this reverse bigoted, small-minded, judgmentalism which leaves us with only one ethical choice: We will continue to love our LGBT neighbor as ourselves and we will refuse to back down on our convictions regardless of cost or consequence. That’s what Jesus would have us do.

By Michael Brown, CP Op-Ed Contributor| Monday, January 23, 2023

Update: Since writing this article, it was reported that, “Jerseys for Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov have sold out online days after the 26-year-old refused to wear a gay pride-themed jersey for religious reasons.”

Dr. Michael Brown(www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Revival Or We Die: A Great Awakening Is Our Only Hope. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or YouTube.

Hagee Ministries; John Hagee –  Daily Devotion

Psalm 25:2

O my God, I trust in You; let me not be ashamed; let not my enemies triumph over me.

Today, I’m asking you to turn loose of the things that have held you back. Stop drowning in desperation and despair. Rise up! This year is going to be God’s year in your life. It is the year where doors will be opened in your favor while others will be closed that would cause you harm. Trust Him to handle things without trying to micromanage the details of your life. Turn loose of the reins and allow God to have His way in you!

This year, with the help of Almighty God, you can get over your heartaches, the rejection you’ve faced, and any controlling relationships! Get over what Satan has done to you, too! Turn loose of the resentment and bitterness…those who have abused you and lied about you. Turn it all over to the Lord and watch as your life becomes filled with joy once again.

Let the misery melt away and let the Son shine in!

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, giving you His peace. May you be committed to doing the will of God, living in the perfect providential graciousness of God your Father. He will send His angels before you to prepare your way and behind you to be your rear guard. Know that you will live within His divine favor because you are obedient to Him. May the Lord bless you now in all things.

Today’s Bible Reading: 

Old Testament

Genesis 48:1-49:33

New Testament 

Matthew 15:29-16:12

Psalms & Proverbs

Psalm 20:1-9

Proverbs 4:20-27

https://www.jhm.org

Turning Point; David Jeremiah – Heavenly Love

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.
Revelation 21:4

 Recommended Reading: John 14:1-3

A toddler is playing in the yard while his mother watches from the nearby porch when the toddler stumbles and falls hard on the ground. A split second later comes the predictable wail, the anguish of pain. That signals two things—the mother running toward the toddler and the child running toward the mother. There is the iconic scene: The mother’s love poured out like balm on her child’s fear and confusion as they meet.

In a way, our whole life is destined for the same eternal joining—where our lifetime of anguish meets the permanent and loving presence of God. King Solomon wrote that God has put eternity in our heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Whether we know it or not, the longing of our heart is to find love, comfort, and security in the presence of God. And in heaven we shall; the result of our faithful union with Christ is no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain.

The final consummation of God’s love for us is heaven, the eternal dwelling place He has prepared for us (Revelation 21:1-4). Thank Him today for the joy that awaits us in heaven.

I want to know one thing: the way to heaven.
John Wesley

https://www.davidjeremiah.org

Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – Take the Next Step

As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby. 

—1 Peter 2:2

Scripture:

1 Peter 2:2 

It’s always amazing to watch a baby grow. Babies start with milk for nourishment, then move to baby food, and then are fed digestible adult food. And eventually they graduate to feeding themselves.

Growing up is a process, and we must nurture babies to maturity.

In the same way, when we come to Christ, we’re spiritual babies. The apostle Peter wrote, “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2 NKJV). At first, we need spiritual milk. Then we move to baby food, and then we consume food served in bite-sized pieces, which is called a sermon.

But the goal is to learn how to feed ourselves and prepare our own spiritual food, which means that we learn to study the Bible for ourselves.

However, some Christians have never taken the next step. They haven’t grown up spiritually. Although they’ve been Christians for quite some time, they never have really matured.

The writer of Hebrews said, “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God” (6:1 NKJV).

It’s called growing up spiritually.

Paul wrote that God gave us leaders in the church to help us mature and to equip us for the work of ministry. But he also said, “We should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ” (Ephesians 4:14–15 NKJV).

There is more to living the Christian life than receiving forgiveness for our sins and the assurance of Heaven. Are you growing up spiritually?