Our Daily Bread — This Love Is Real

Bible in a Year:

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Romans 5:6−8

“I felt like the rug had been pulled from under me,” Jojie said. “The shock of the discovery was like a physical blow.” She’d found out that her fiancé was seeing someone else. Jojie’s previous relationship had ended similarly. So when she later heard about God’s love at a Bible study, she couldn’t help wondering: Is this another scam? Will I get hurt if I believe God when He says He loves me? 

Like Jojie, we may have experienced troubled relationships that left us feeling wary—or even afraid—of trusting someone’s promise of love. We may even feel this way about God’s love, wondering where the catch is. There is, however, no catch. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). 

“Eventually, I realized God had already proven His love,” Jojie says, “by dying for me.” My friend discovered that since our sinful state separated us from God, He reached out to us by giving Jesus to die on our behalf (Romans 5:101 John 2:2). Because of this, our sins are forgiven, and we can look forward to eternity with Him (John 3:16). 

Whenever we wonder whether we can truly trust God’s love, let’s remember what Christ did for us on the cross. We can trust His promises of love, knowing that He’s faithful.

By:  Karen Huang

Reflect & Pray

When or why have you found it difficult to trust God’s love? How can knowing Jesus died for you change your response?

Dear Jesus, thank You for the great love You showed me by dying for me. Let Your love change me, heal me, and direct my relationships.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Standing Against the Devil

 “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7b).

Anyone who possesses scriptural humility will take an uncompromising stand against Satan.

The successful diplomat or politician is quite adept at the art of compromise and finding the middle ground on various issues. But such skill is a hindrance when it comes to determining your position before God. If you humbly, by faith and repentance, submit yourself to God’s authority, you will immediately find yourself the enemy of Satan. You are either in God’s kingdom and under His lordship, or you are in Satan’s kingdom and under his lordship. It is impossible to have one foot in each kingdom and to be serving both kingdoms’ rulers.

To “resist the devil” gives us insight into what it means to be an enemy of Satan. “Resist” means “to take a stand against” the person of Satan and his entire system, which includes everything he does and represents. Such resistance is the complete opposite of the position you had before you submitted to God. Ephesians 2:1-2 reminds us of what that position was: “You were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air [Satan].” At that time, you had no power to resist the Devil and no desire to serve God, because you were slaves to Satan and his system (Heb. 2:14-15).

But all of that can and will change if you humbly switch your allegiance from Satan’s kingdom to God’s kingdom. In today’s verse the apostle James is promising you that as a part of that changed loyalty, you will automatically be in a position to take a stand against Satan. The minute you forsake Satan’s mastery he will flee from you.

Many Christians wrongly assume that Satan is much more powerful than he really is. But if you understand James’s promise you will know you have abundant spiritual resources to handle Satan’s empty threats. Being humble before God doesn’t mean being weak before Satan. God enables you to stand firm and resist.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for the wealth of spiritual resources He provides for you to stand against the Devil.

For Further Study

Read Ephesians 6:10-18.

  • Make a list of the spiritual weapons God has given us.
  • Pick one of these, and do some additional reading and study to improve your application of it.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Let Nothing Be Wasted

When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”

— John 6:12 (NIV)

Just as the disciples had broken pieces left over after feeding the five thousand, I believe we all have broken pieces of our lives left over from pain (emotional or physical) we have experienced. I also believe that if we give those pieces of pain to God, He will find a good use for them in our lives. I was sexually abused by my father for many years, but God has used the story of my recovery to help countless others find freedom.

The Lord wants to use you and all your experiences in life. You may look at your past and think, I’ve wasted so many years, but they don’t have to be wasted if you will gather them up and release them to God for His use. He promises to give you beauty for ashes (see Isaiah 61:3), but you cannot keep the ashes and also get the beauty. Release your pain and the injustices in your life; release rejection, abandonment, and anything else that has hurt you; and start watching what God will do.

God works all things together for good to those who love Him and want His will in their lives (see Romans 8:28). Broken hearts can be mended, and broken relationships can be restored and work out for your good in the future. Stop running from the pain in your past. Take God’s hand and let Him walk you into freedom.

Prayer of the Day: Father, I offer You all the broken pieces of my life. I pray that You will not let them be wasted. In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Life Is Sacred

You shall not murder.

Exodus 20:13

If you want to cut to the chase in learning how someone views the world, ask him or her why it’s wrong to murder. The question gets at the issue of human life and its value—which is the issue addressed in the sixth commandment. It also gets past political differences and reveals what people think about life’s meaning, purpose, and origin.

A vast number of people functionally think that life has no inherent value beyond someone’s usefulness. So long as an individual contributes to society, his or her value remains intact. But this means that some deaths—abortion and euthanasia, for example—are deemed less tragic and perhaps even “good” because that person is unwanted or perceived as a drain on society and therefore, in the final analysis, of inferior worth.

This is not the way the Bible speaks. Scripture could not be clearer about the fact that men and women are valuable because they are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26; Psalm 8:5-6). Such value does not move along a spectrum but is fixed and immovable. Only when we see human life in this way, as God does, do we understand all that is implied in the simple command “You shall not murder.”

Here are three ways unfortunately common ways we might violate the vision of life in the sixth commandment. First is homicide. God is the Giver of life, and He alone has the authority to take it. To wrongfully take someone’s life is to make an assault on the divine image (Genesis 9:5-6). Second is suicide, the act of willfully causing one’s own death. God says, “All souls are mine” (Ezekiel 18:4); we do not have the right to take our own life (though that is not to say that this cannot be forgiven). A third is abortion. From the moment of conception, the fetus in the womb is a human being (Psalm 139:13). The fact that for several months that child cannot survive outside the womb does not affect his or her right to the same protection given to other human beings (though again, there is forgiveness available for violating the sixth commandment in this way).

Perhaps you’ve made it this far and think you’re doing fine. Not so fast! Jesus does not let us off that easily, for He says that the judgment the murderer deserves is also deserved by the one with unchecked anger (Matthew 5:21-22). All of us, if we’re honest, have known murder in our hearts. We’ve harbored thoughts of contemptuous anger and its ugly bedfellows—animosity, malice, hostility, and gossip—whereby we kill people in our hearts all the time. Perhaps we are doing so right now. And so we stand condemned.

But here is the encouragement: if you are feeling the weight of guilt as you grasp the scope and gravity of this commandment, that is precisely the point! You will never conform perfectly to the perfect law of God—but He has still offered forgiveness that will wash away your sin and your guilt. Beyond that, He offers transformation—the kind that can take angry, murderous hearts and transform them into hearts of love and grace. Of what do you need to repent? For what do you need to be forgiven? In what way do you need the Spirit to change you?

GOING DEEPER

Matthew 5:21-26

Topics: Anger Death Murder

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God’s Word Is Our Treasure

“Thy word have I hidden in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalm 119:11)

Do you have a “treasure-keeper”? Most of us have a place where we keep those things that are special to us. Your special “treasure-keeping” place might be a shoebox on the top shelf of your closet, a locked safebox, a trophy case, a diary, a cookie tin, a dresser drawer–or maybe even under your bed! Our “treasures’ can be all sorts of things: baseball cards, jewelry, a souvenir from a favorite vacation, a photo of your grandpa and grandma on their wedding day, a letter from a friend you met at camp, or maybe a medal you won in a competition. Whatever form your “treasure-keeper” takes, it is the treasure kept inside it that really is special to you.

Think now about a different kind of treasure–the “treasure of the heart” that is mentioned in God’s Word (Matthew 12:35). In Proverbs, the writer is instructing us that our real treasure ought to be God’s Word. The writer also tells us that our hearts ought to be our treasurer-keepers when it comes to this kind of treasure-keeping: Proverbs 2:1,3,5, and 6 say, “My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hidden treasures; then thou shalt understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.”

There is no treasure on Earth as precious as the Word of God. As you study the Bible and memorize verses, you are storing away treasure that can never be stolen or destroyed. (See Matthew 6:19!) Keep hiding away the treasures of God’s Word in your heart!

No treasure we have compares to the Word of God.

My Response:
» Do I treasure anything more than I treasure God’s Word?
» How can I hold on to and use the treasure God has provided for me?

Denison Forum – Haiti in anarchy: How “the most evangelized realm in all the world” fell into chaos

Haiti is the Western Hemisphere’s second-oldest republic. At least for now.

As Andy Olsen writes for Christianity Today, massive influxes of militant gangs now control most of the country’s capital of Port-au-Prince and parts of many other cities as well. Due to this Haitian gang violence, their economy has experienced nearly 50 percent inflation and the nation’s citizens are on the brink of famine.

The acting president, Ariel Henry, took over in 2021 after the country’s previous leader was assassinated but should have passed that mantle on to someone else long ago. Replacing him would require elections, though, and what remains of the nation’s law enforcement is too preoccupied with the gangs to ensure people can vote safely.

The problem does not appear likely to improve anytime soon.

The gangs at the heart of the violence have waiting lists because so many young people want to join while the government “had to open a dedicated office just to process the thousands of police officers applying to flee the country.”

As Guenson Charlot, the president of Emmaus University in Cap-Haïtien, describes, “I have never seen people in the street so fearful and suspicious of other people. That is damaging the very fabric of our resilience.”

So it’s worth looking into when Olsen poignantly asks, “How did the most evangelized realm in all the world become a nation in dismaying anarchy?”

To that end, he details the history of Haiti through the lens of two main eras, and his entire piece is worth taking the time to read, but I’ve summarized salient points below.

A short history of Haitian missions

Olsen dates the first wave of Haitian missions back to the 1840s.

At this time, Protestant missionaries had begun to take the gospel across the world but largely skipped Haiti. As he describes, “Most of the few missionary efforts gaining traction in the young nation were initiated by Black believers escaping antebellum America or inspired by the prospect of a Black-led republic.”

By this point, Haiti had been an independent republic for roughly four decades but was still struggling to find its footing in many respects. That’s where the missionaries often stepped in.

The Methodists in particular established a strong relationship with the government, hosting schools in their churches and partnering with the Haitian leaders to help the people in their communities.

At a time when, “600 miles north in America, the Civil War came and went and Jim Crow entered adolescence,” white missionaries and Haiti’s black government worked hand in hand to help their people.

As Olsen describes, “The Haitian state saw the missionaries as allies in nation building and entrusted precious resources to their oversight. The missionaries saw the gospel as a gift for both individuals and entire societies, and they entrusted the Haitian state with the future of their programs.”

Brutal atrocities

However, that all changed when the USS Washington sailed into the waters outside Port-au-Prince on July 28, 1915, and 330 Marines disembarked to begin a brutal occupation that would last nearly two decades.

The list of atrocities committed by the Marines is heartbreaking, and the negligence of the American government in enabling it to persist should be a much larger stain on our nation’s history. Ultimately, it was the work of missionaries like L. Ton Evans and S. E. Churchstone Lord that helped draw enough attention to the occupation that the government was forced to eventually withdraw its troops.

The damage had largely been done, however, and the groundwork was laid for the rise of one of the twentieth century’s most brutal dictators.

Papa Doc’s reign of terror—with evangelical complicity

Missionaries began arriving again in earnest following World War II. During this same period, François Duvalier—an American-educated Haitian better known as “Papa Doc”—was elected president. He quickly built a “fearsome paramilitary group to punish dissent” while siphoning “government funds and foreign aid to enrich himself and his supporters.” It is believed that at one point he was “skimming as much as $15 million a year from American aid money.”

In response, the US government cut off Haiti, choosing to funnel resources into the country through missionary organizations instead. And there were plenty to choose from.

One of the first changes Papa Doc made upon coming to power was to start expelling Catholic priests, choosing instead to reach out to American evangelicals for help. Arthur Bonhomme, a Haitian senator and nominal Methodist lay preacher, was the primary means by which he curried evangelical favor.

As Olsen describes, Papa Doc fostered these relationships at the same time his regime “assassinated or executed an estimated 30,000 or more victims around the country.” Duvalier would often supervise or observe torture sessions “through peepholes cut in walls at the Port-au-Prince police headquarters.”

Papa Doc made it clear to all incoming missionaries that their help was welcome and they would be given relatively free reign within the country “so long as they do not interfere in the internal politics of Haiti.” Most abided by those restraints and by the 1970s evangelicals were opening hundreds of schools, clinics, orphanages, and other facilities across the country.

Haitian gang violence today

Charles-Poisset Romain, a Haitian sociologist and theologian, writes that “Haiti during the ’70s was the most active mission field in the Western Hemisphere.” Given that an estimated 85,000 short-term missionaries traveled there each year, “most active” still seems to underestimate the gravity of the evangelical presence in the country.

When Papa Doc died and his son “Baby Doc” took over, the violence subsided to some extent, but the greed and embezzlement continued. By the time the Duvalier family’s reign finally came to an end in 1986, the economy was in shambles and corruption was rampant throughout the government and police.

The efforts of missionaries masked much of the damage, propping up the populace but creating a level of foreign dependency from which the nation still has not recovered—a fact that became abundantly clear when Covid put a stop to the constant stream of missionaries. And while those efforts have since resumed to some extent, the vacuum left by their pause has been filled by gangs and a general unrest that has left the country in a dire condition.

How to help Haiti

I bring this story up today for two reasons.

First, the people of Haiti and those risking their lives to help them need our prayers and support.

Only God gets to say what that support should look like for you, but we need to ask and then commit to obeying the Lord in whatever he calls us to do. And whether his command is to pray, serve in Haiti yourself, or anywhere in between, we must do so under the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, which leads to the second reason.

As Olsen concludes, “Foreign evangelicals cannot end Haiti’s problems, but we can stop doing our own thing.” He goes on to call for greater care and cooperation between the Haitian people and those endeavoring to serve them in the name of Christ.

Remember, God’s call is not to recreate the American church but his church, and his church can look very different depending on where it resides.

Christians have done a remarkable job serving the people of Haiti for the better part of two centuries. Especially over the last seventy years, though, that service has too often been done for the people instead of with the people. And we should bear that distinction in mind wherever we seek to be the hands and feet of Christ to those around us.

Denison Forum

Hagee Ministries; John Hagee –  Daily Devotion

Romans 8:37

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

Warrior. Winner. Whiner. Wimp.

We all know people who fit neatly into these categories. No pointing fingers! Eyes on the page!

We celebrate warriors. We enjoy winners. We are irritated by whiners. Who has any use for a wimp? Each of these people earn the title. While they may be greatly different, they have one thing in common: they earned the title they wear based upon how they responded to struggle.

A winner is not crowned as champion until she overcomes the struggle. A warrior demonstrates valor only when he endures the adversity of battle. We recognize the whiner right away when trouble breaks out and the complaining commences. The wimp invariably puts her faith in fear, her head in the sand, and waits for someone else to solve the problem. The common denominator is struggle.

Job assured us that struggle is inevitable: “Yet man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). The headlines shout at us – global conflict, economic inequities, political stalemates, racial strife, class discrimination. No shortage of struggles exists.

On the home front, you may be wrestling with questions that seem to have no answers. You may be staring at a zero balance wondering when provision will come. You may be contending for a marriage that seems shattered beyond restoration.

In this world, we will have trouble (John 16:33). How will you respond? Will you engage like a warrior? Complain like the whiner? Or ignore it like the wimp? Rise up, and be what God created you to be – a winner!

Jesus Christ bought you with His blood, so you are able to stand and declare, “I am more than a conqueror!” You were born to win. When you came to faith in Jesus, an amazing transformation occurred: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Regardless of the circumstances or the person that you once were, the day that you received Him by faith, you were born to win.

Through Him, you are a warrior not a weakling, a vanquisher not a victim. The battle belongs to you as a chosen champion. You were born to win!

Today’s Blessing: 

Dear Heavenly Father, remind me of the power that I have through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Let me engage the enemy in the mighty name of Jesus. Give me faith for the fight and strength for the struggle. Thank You for making me MORE than a conqueror. In that mighty name, Amen.

Today’s Bible Reading: 

Old Testament

Leviticus 27:14- Numbers 1:54

New Testament 

Mark 11:1-25

Psalms & Proverbs

Psalm 46:1-11

Proverbs 10:23

https://www.jhm.org

Turning Point; David Jeremiah – Time and Wisdom

Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.
Psalm 139:16

 Recommended Reading: Acts 16:6-10

The longest and most detailed illustration of a confused soul in the Bible is the story of Job. At the beginning of his story all was well. Then everything fell apart in his life—he lost it all. Then he spent 37 chapters dialoguing with friends about what had happened. Then at the end of his story he listened to the wisdom of God, and his eyes were opened (and his life restored). Two things made a difference: time and listening to God.

Who among us does not encounter and experience things we don’t understand? It happens often—sometimes daily. Waiting (time) doesn’t mean passivity; it means active faith in God’s purposes and plans. It means walking by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). The active part of waiting is seeking God for wisdom and understanding.

God knows our future even before we take the steps that lead us there. Indeed, “the Lord directs [our] steps” (Proverbs 16:9). If you experience confusion, patiently seek the Lord and trust that He is working out His plans for you.

God’s purposes always have God’s provision.
John Blanchard

https://www.davidjeremiah.org

Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – The Only Organization That Jesus Started

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 

—Hebrews 10:24

Scripture:

Hebrews 10:24 

The church is the only organization that Jesus started. Jesus said He would build the church “and all the powers of hell will not conquer it” (Matthew 16:18 NLT). Every believer needs to be an active part of the church, because it is where we learn about God together.

It’s where we worship together, find accountability to one another, and discover and use our spiritual gifts. We simply cannot be the Christians God has called us to be without being part of the church.

Hebrews 10:24 tells us, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works” (NLT).

The J. B. Phillips translation of this verse says, “Let us think of one another and how we can encourage each other to love and do good deeds.”

My objective has never been to have a big church. My objective has always been to have a strong church and, even more to the point, a biblical church. However, if a church is not growing numerically, then something is wrong.

There should be church growth, and the best kind of growth is from new believers coming in. In fact, show me a church that doesn’t have a constant flow of new believers, and I will show you a church that is stagnating. We have a choice before us as the church, and that is to either evangelize or fossilize.

However, there are people who are disillusioned by the church today. In fact, it has become trendy to critique the church.

Now, do I think the church is perfect? No. Do I think the church has flaws? Yes. But the Bible says that Jesus loves the church. Therefore, I would never speak critically of that which Jesus loves. Jesus established the church, and we are to be part of it.