Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Expect Trouble

In the world you will have tribulation.

John 16:33

Are you asking why this should be, believer? Look upward to your heavenly Father, and behold Him pure and holy. Do you know that you are one day to be like Him? Will you easily be conformed to His image? Will you not require much refining in the furnace of affliction to purify you? Will it be an easy thing to get rid of your corruptions and make you perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect?

Next, Christian, turn your eye downward. Do you know what foes you have beneath your feet? You were once a servant of Satan, and no king will willingly lose his subjects. Do you think that Satan will leave you alone? No, he will always be at you, for he “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”1 Expect trouble, then, Christian, when you look beneath you.

Then look around you. Where are you? You are in enemy country, a stranger and an alien. The world is not your friend. If it is, then you are not God’s friend, for whoever is the friend of the world is the enemy of God. Be certain that you will find enemies everywhere. When you sleep, remember that you are resting on the battlefield; when you travel, suspect an ambush in every hedge. As mosquitoes are said to bite strangers more than natives, so the trials of earth will be sharpest to you.

Lastly, look within you, into your own heart, and observe what is there. Sin and self are still within. If you had no devil to tempt you, no enemies to fight you, and no world to ensnare you, you would still find in yourself enough evil to be a sore trial to you, for “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick.”2 Expect trouble then, but do not despair on account of it, for God is with you to help and to strengthen you. He has said, “call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”3

1) 1 Peter 5:8
2) Jeremiah 17:9
3) Psalm 50:15

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Comforts Those Who Mourn

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)

God used Mandy’s friend Crystal to teach her the meaning of this verse. Mandy was talking to Crystal on the phone one day, and she told Crystal a lie. Mandy lied because she cared more about pleasing Crystal than about pleasing God, and because she wanted to make herself look better than she was. As soon as the lie was out of her mouth, Mandy was shocked and sorry. But she did not tell Crystal she had lied. “What would she think of me if she knew?” Mandy thought. “She might not want to be my friend anymore. I’ll just confess my sin to God. That will be enough.”

But for a few days after that, Mandy was still miserable. She could not stop thinking about the lie. Finally, she wrote Crystal a note. She told Crystal about the lie and asked her to forgive her.

When Crystal got Mandy’s note, she went out of her way to come and find her. Mandy was so ashamed to face her that she began to cry. She felt that she did not deserve to have Crystal’s friendship anymore.

Mandy will never forget what Crystal did next. She put her arm around Mandy and told her she had forgiven her. Then she reached out and wiped away one of Mandy’s tears as it fell.

Have you sinned against God? Are you ashamed and sorry? Maybe it is a sin that you have committed many times before. Maybe you feel like you just cannot face God and ask His forgiveness yet again. What must He think of you?

When we come to God with a mournful, brokenhearted spirit about our sin, God’s response to us is just like Crystal’s to Mandy–and even more wonderful, because He is God. The Bible tells us that He will never turn away a broken and a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17). He will forgive us–every time we come. The blood of Jesus keeps on cleansing us from every sin (1 John 1:9). And someday, when we see God face to face, He will wipe away our tears forevermore (Revelation 21:4). That is how gracious He is.

God comforts and forgives those who are truly sorry for their sin.

My Response:
» When I sin against God, do I feel sorry and ashamed?
» Has my own attitude toward Jesus ever been rebellious?
» What do I do about my sin?


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Denison Forum – Church confirms drag queen for ordination: The urgency and power of personal morality

A gay man who is also a drag queen was recently confirmed by a Methodist church in Illinois as a candidate for ordained ministry. He wore wigs and full makeup while participating in his church’s “Drag Sunday” in April.

Another Hillsong pastor resigned last week after sharing explicit photos on social media. A Southern Baptist pastor in North Carolina resigned after being arrested and charged with child pornography.

And Josh Duggar, a former star of the television series 19 Kids and Counting and a very public Christian, appeared in court last Friday after he was arrested and charged with receiving and possessing child pornography. Though he pleaded not guilty, he has confessed to adultery and viewing pornography in the past.

My father served in World War II and never attended church again. As a result, I grew up without a church and with all my father’s faith questions. If I had read these stories before I became a Christian as a teenager, I would have seen them as excellent reasons to not become a Christian.

Should President Biden be able to take communion?

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone released a letter last Saturday calling for public figures who support abortion to be barred from taking communion. He serves in San Francisco and is thus archbishop for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who is an ardent abortion supporter. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops is likewise considering a document that would advise Catholic politicians who support abortion to not receive communion.

Here’s why this is such an urgent issue for them: Catholic theology teaches that the communion wafer and wine (also known as the Eucharist), when presented by the priest at the altar during Mass, become the body and blood of Christ (a doctrine known as “transubstantiation”). The Church states that this “sacrament” is “the source and summit of the Christian life” and that “in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church.” The Church also teaches that abortion is a “moral evil” and “gravely contrary to the moral law.”

As a result, we would expect the vast majority of American Catholics to agree that public officials who support abortion should not take communion. But we would be wrong.

According to a new poll, 87 percent of Catholic Democrats believe President Biden should be allowed to receive communion, despite his passionate support for the “moral evil” of abortion. Only 44 percent of Catholic Republicans agree.

Why “we are losing a generation”

In my Daily Article last Friday, I discussed our society’s belief that sexual freedom and “authenticity” are essential to personal and social flourishing. In this view, the biblical worldview is dangerous to society and must be replaced with a secular vision for the future.

As Christians respond to this unprecedented threat to public biblical morality, it is absolutely vital that we demonstrate personal biblical morality.

Ethicist Russell Moore is right: “The problem now is not that people think the church’s way of life is too demanding, too morally rigorous, but that they have come to think the church doesn’t believe its own moral teachings.” He adds: “We are losing a generation—not because they are secularists, but because they believe we are.”

This is why you and I need a transforming, intimate, daily relationship with our risen Lord. And why our enemy will do all he can to keep us from one.

“Satan demanded to have you”

On Maundy Thursday, Jesus warned Simon Peter: “Behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat” (Luke 22:31). “You” is plural in the Greek, referring to all the disciples. Satan wanted to “sift” them, meaning to shake them so violently that they would fall and fail.

Jesus continued: “But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail” (v. 32a). The “I” is emphatic; “you” is singular, referring to Peter alone. Jesus prayed that his faith (“faithfulness” in the Greek) would not “fail” in the sense of a complete and final denial of his Lord.

Jesus knew that Peter would experience a temporary failure but that God would redeem it: “And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (v. 32b). Following Peter’s denial of his Lord (Matthew 26:69–74), he would repent and would “strengthen” the other disciples after their similar failures (John 21:15–19).

Peter responded, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death” (Luke 22:33). However, the opposite occurred: “Jesus said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me’” (v. 34). And so it was (Matthew 26:75).

The key to being like Jesus

How can this event help us experience the holiness in our lives we wish to see in the world?

First, expect temptation to find you. If Satan would attack your Lord (Matthew 4:1–11) and his lead disciple, he will attack you (1 Peter 5:8).

Second, pray for help to the One who is praying for you (Romans 8:34). If Peter had been more humble, he would have been more holy (cf. Micah 6:8).

Third, offer others the grace you have received (Matthew 28:19). Peter’s post-Easter ministry encourages each of us to be “beggars helping beggars find bread.”

The key to being like Jesus is staying close to Jesus. Oswald Chambers is right: “A great many Christian workers worship their work. The one concern of a worker should be concentration on God.” He added: “The only responsibility you have is to keep in living, constant touch with God and to see that you allow nothing to hinder your cooperation with him.”

Would Jesus say you are in “living, constant touch” with him today? If not, why not?

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –A Simple Philosophy

A SIMPLE PHILOSOPHY – May 3, 2021

Ninety-two-year-old Johnny Barnes stands on the edge of a roundabout in Hamilton, Bermuda, and he waves at people as they drive past. He’s not asking for money or begging for food. He’s making people happy. “I love you!” he shouts. “I’ll love you forever!” And they love him. Bermudans call him Mr. Happy Man. They route their morning commute to see him. If Johnny’s not standing in his spot, people call the radio station to check on him.

Johnny’s philosophy is simple: “We human beings gotta learn how to love one another,” he says. “One of the greatest joys that can come to an individual is when you’re doing something and helping others.” Wouldn’t you love to meet a person like him? Or better still, wouldn’t you love to be like him? This is how happiness happens.

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Basing Expectations on Truth

Mark 9:30-32

We all jump to conclusions and make assumptions—even the disciples missed important truth in this way. Jesus told them repeatedly that He was going to be crucified and raised to life after three days. Their ears heard His words, but their minds and hearts didn’t.

The disciples knew Jesus was the Messiah, but their assumptions about how and when His kingdom would come kept them from hearing how the Lord actually said it would happen. They were looking for a Savior who would overthrow Rome and then rule with the disciples by His side. However, Jesus’ words of death and resurrection were the exact opposite of that. They hadn’t understood the promise of the resurrection, so when Jesus died, their dreams died too, which left them feeling hopeless (Luke 23:46Luke 23:48).

We might wonder, How could they be so dense? But before we judge them too harshly, let’s remember that we, too, often have ideas about how the Lord should work in our life and in the world.

God’s ways won’t always match ours, because He works from an eternal perspective and we don’t. So we must remember that His ways are best. Let’s drop our expectations and trust Him.

Bible in One Year: 2 Kings 24-25

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Milk Comes First

Bible in a Year:

Solid food is for the mature.

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Hebrews 5:11–6:2

In the seventh century, what is now called the United Kingdom was many kingdoms often at war. When one king, Oswald of Northumbria, became a believer in Jesus, he called for a missionary to bring the gospel to his region. A man named Corman was sent, but things didn’t go well. Finding the English “stubborn,” “barbarous,” and uninterested in his preaching, he returned home frustrated.

“I am of the opinion,” a monk named Aidan told Corman, “that you were more severe to your unlearned hearers than you ought to have been.” Instead of giving the Northumbrians “the milk of more easy doctrine,” Corman had given them teaching they couldn’t yet grasp. Aidan went to Northumbria, adapted his preaching to the people’s understanding, and thousands became believers in Jesus.

Aidan got this sensitive approach to mission from Scripture. “I gave you milk, not solid food,” Paul told the Corinthians, “for you were not yet ready for it” (1 Corinthians 3:2). Before right living can be expected from people, Hebrews says, basic teaching about Jesus, repentance, and baptism must be grasped (Hebrews 5:13–6:2). While maturity should follow (5:14), let’s not miss the order. Milk comes before meat. People can’t obey teaching they don’t understand.

The faith of the Northumbrians ultimately spread to the rest of the country and beyond. Like Aidan, when sharing the gospel with others, we meet people where they are.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

In simple terms, how would you explain the gospel? How can you avoid expecting people who aren’t believers in Jesus to think or behave as you do?

Jesus, thank You for reaching me in ways I could understand.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Victory of the Resurrection

“‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ . . . but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55, 57).

The Resurrection seals what we could not: victory over death.

Death is the great enemy of mankind. It comes to everyone without exception. It violates our dominion of God’s creation, breaks apart relationships, disrupts families, and causes us to grieve the loss of loved ones. However, Christ’s resurrection has broken the power of death for Christians because “death no longer is master over Him” (Rom. 6:9).

In today’s passage the apostle Paul reminds us of the final victory over death that results once we have been transformed into our resurrection bodies. To make his point, Paul quotes from the Old Testament prophets Isaiah and Hosea. In using Hosea’s sting of death metaphor, Paul implies that death left its sting in Christ, as a bee leaves its stinger in its victim. On the cross Jesus bore all of death’s sting (sin), so we wouldn’t have to bear any of it. When sin’s penalty has been removed, death merely interrupts our earthly life and ushers us into the heavenly realm, where we will worship and praise God forever.

Paul concludes (v. 57) by thanking God, who provided us the triumph over sin and death. We also should be thankful to God who, through Christ’s redeeming work, gave us what we could never have obtained by ourselves. God promises to all believers the heavenly in exchange for the earthly, and the immortal in exchange for the mortal.

With Jesus Christ’s triumph over death, we have no reason to fear what death can do to us. Instead, we should rejoice concerning the Lord’s promise to us about the next life: “Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire . . . and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain” (Rev. 20:14; 21:4).

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God that in His sovereign wisdom and power He has defeated death and removed all reasons for the believer to be afraid of it.

For Further Study

Read 2 Kings 2:9-14 and 4:18-37.

  • What do these passages preview about Jesus’ control over death, His own and ours?
  • Do they remind you of any particular New Testament stories?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – The Importance of Believing

 …Did I not tell you and promise you that if you would believe and rely on Me, you would see the glory of God?

— John 11:40 (NIV)

What we believe is our choice. God desires that we not only believe that He exists, but that we believe His Word. Trusting God to fulfill His promises will bring you into a state of rest. Those who have believed do enter the rest of God, according to Hebrews 4:3.

When I am frustrated, worried, fearful, or upset in any way, I can always trace the problem back to wrong believing. I keep a sign in my office that simply says “Believe.” It reminds me to examine my heart and mind and be sure that I am placing my trust in God at all times. Joy and peace are found in believing (see Romans 15:13).

Jesus said that if we would just believe, we would see His glory, which is the manifestation of His excellence in our lives. I am sure that you want to see the best that God has for you manifested in your life, as I do in mine.

If God instructs you to do (or not to do) something, believe and obey! When God states in His Word that He will take care of you and meet all your needs, believe it! Believe before you see.

In God’s kingdom economy, we always believe first and then we see the result of our believing. Right believing leads to right living! Right believing leads to a life of peace, joy and fulfillment!

My message to you today is very simple: Believe!

Prayer Starter: Father, I know that all of Your ways are right and just. I believe Your Word is true, and I ask You to help me believe it at all times. Remind me to believe when I am starting to doubt and help me walk in faith always! In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Are You a Grumbler?

And all the people of Israel grumbled.

 Numbers 14:2

There are grumblers among Christians now, just as there were in the camp of Israel of old. There are those who, when punished, cry out against the affliction. They ask, “Why am I afflicted? What have I done to be chastened in this manner?”

A word with you, grumbler! Why should you grumble against the dealings of your heavenly Father? Can He treat you more severely than you deserve? Consider what a rebel you once were, but He has pardoned you! Surely, if He in His wisdom considers it necessary to chasten you, you should not complain. After all, are you punished as severely as your sins deserve? Consider the corruption that is in your heart, and then will you wonder that so much of the rod is necessary to root it out? Weigh yourself, and discern how much dross is mingled with your gold; and do you think the fire is too hot to purge away the amount of dross you have? Doesn’t your proud rebellious spirit prove that your heart is not thoroughly sanctified? Aren’t those grumbling words contrary to the holy, submissive nature of God’s children? Isn’t the correction necessary?

But if you will grumble against the chastening, pay attention, for it will go hard with grumblers. God always chastises His children twice if they do not respond properly the first time. But know this—“He does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.”1 All His corrections are sent in love, to purify you and to draw you nearer to Himself. Surely it must help you to bear the chastening with submission if you are able to recognize your Father’s hand. “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”2 “. . . nor grumble the way some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.”3

1) Lamentations 3:33
2) Hebrews 12:6
3) 1 Corinthians 10:10

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God’s Gifts Cannot Be Bought

“Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.” (Acts 8:17-23)

At a glance, it may seem as though Peter is being a bit harsh on Simon–someone who claimed to be a brand new believer. While it is good to be gentle in spirit toward anyone who is wrong spiritually, it is also most important to point out the seriousness of a sin against the Holy Spirit’s testimony.

There was nothing wrong with Simon’s desire to be a part of sharing the Holy Spirit, but Simon believed he could purchase God’s gift with money. One may think that could be a simple mistake of a new believer, but it goes deeper than that. Simon was showing that he really did not yet have a good understanding of God. Peter even says “May your money perish with you” so that leads us to believe that Simon was not truly saved from his sin, even though he claimed to believe in Jesus. To truly understand and accept the gift of salvation, you need to realize there is absolutely nothing you can do to get it!

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” This verse says you cannot do any good deed or work in order to “earn” your salvation from God. It is only through God’s gifts of grace and faith that you are able to receive anything good from God!

Paying money, donating time, helping the poor — all those things are good, but you cannot expect to receive God’s blessings and gifts because you do those things. Doing good things to get good things is the absolute opposite of what God desires! You should do good things, but you should do them because of your understanding about who He is and what He did for you — and our Lord Jesus Christ did not live a sinless life, die, and rise again so that you could try to “earn your own way” to heaven by good works.

Because Simon believed he could buy God’s gift from Peter, he revealed a dangerous view of God. Trying to work for good things will have you constantly wondering if you’ve done enough to earn God’s approval. God wants us to know He paid it all for us to have our sins forgiven and have a right relationship with Him. He wants us to be sure that there is nothing we can do to work our way to salvation. He wants the glory He deserves for being so gracious to give us salvation as a free gift!

Recieve God’s gift and serve Him in humility because of what He’s already freely given.

We cannot “earn” God’s gracious gifts.

My Response:
» Do I ever try to work my way into pleasing God?
» Am I ever tempted to forget Who gets the credit for changes in my life?
» How can I help others learn the lesson Simon learned about God’s free gifts?

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Denison Forum – A political leader whose faith is deeply encouraging: Preparing for a threat that seeks to replace Christianity

The American media continues to cover President Biden’s Wednesday night address to Congress and the reactions to it. Meanwhile, another politician is making news in ways that are deeply encouraging.

Scott Morrison is the prime minister of Australia and a very public Christian. He spoke recently to the Australian Christian Churches’ national conference, where he shared his personal faith and sense of call to his position.

The Guardian reports that “Morrison is far from alone among Australian prime ministers either in holding religious beliefs or in talking publicly about them. But he is unusual in modern times in expressing such a direct sense of divine calling to the office of prime minister.”

The article takes a decidedly skeptical view of this “divine calling.” This is unsurprising, since the prime minister’s holistic faith conflicts directly with the narrative that now dominates our culture.

A threat “the church has not encountered before”

One of the transformative consequences of stepping away from our daily lives is an enlarged perspective when we return. Like a helicopter sightseeing tour that shows us a beautiful location from a higher view, retreating from the routine can help us see ourselves more clearly from God’s perspective.

One of the clear messages I sensed from God in recent days is that his people must prepare more urgently than ever for the challenges that are coming. We are in the early stages of a movement the church has never faced before, one which threatens us in ways that are now becoming clearer.

Sociologist Philip Rieff describes the era when the Christian movement began as the “first culture.” It was dominated by a pantheon of gods whose followers were content with their religion and not missionary toward the larger world. According to Rieff, the Christian movement sparked a monotheistic and evangelistic “second culture” which swept away the “first culture.”

Now we are in what Rieff calls the “third culture,” which Australian pastor Stephen McAlpine describes as “hermetically sealed off from anything transcendent.” It “recognizes only horizontal identity constructions, not vertical ones. Here is where meaning is determined, and here is where authority lies. It is ours to construct—and deconstruct.”

McAlpine adds: “This third culture is highly evangelistic and actively hostile to second-culture values.” For example, it considers sexual “freedom” and “authenticity” to be vital to personal and social flourishing. Biblical morality is therefore seen as dangerous to society and potentially deadly to LGBTQ individuals. The same vitriolic stance is taken with regard to abortion, euthanasia, or any other personal “freedoms” that are “threatened” by biblical faith.

According to McAlpine, this is a “new religion” and rival gospel “the church has not encountered before.” It seeks nothing less than to replace Christianity with its secular vision for a better future.

“My soul pants for you, O God”

What seems to be very bad news is actually the shadowside of very good news.

Every human being is made in God’s image for personal relationship with our Maker (cf. Genesis 1:27). Nothing in secular culture can fill this “God-shaped emptiness” that Pascal described. The further our society moves from biblical truth, the more people will hunger for biblical truth.

Therein lies our opportunity and our challenge.

Frederick Buechner noted, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” “The world’s deep hunger” is to hear from God. Not just about him—from him. The storms our culture faces are so grave, we cannot navigate them without divine leadership, provision, and protection.

You and I are conduits through whom our Lord speaks to our world. But we cannot give what we do not have. We cannot speak a word from God unless we hear a word from God. To meet “the world’s deep hunger,” we must first meet with God.

Our “deep gladness” comes from such intimacy as well: “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God” (Psalm 42:1). David testified: “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).

More than at any time in my lifetime, evangelical Christians need to follow David’s example today. As we face the cultural challenges that lie ahead, we desperately need a transformative, empowering connection with our Lord. I plan to say more about this connection next week; for today, let’s close by choosing to make it our first priority as the people of God.

“I don’t have time to sharpen my ax”

Ecclesiastes 10 offers this remarkable insight: “If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength, but wisdom helps one to succeed” (v. 10).

The story is told of a newly hired lumberjack who felled more trees on his first day than anyone else. By the fourth day, however, his output had fallen so far that his supervisor asked him what was wrong.

The man said, “I don’t understand. I’m working even harder than before but cutting less timber.” The supervisor asked the lumberjack how often he sharpened his ax. He replied, “I have too many trees to cut—I don’t have time to sharpen my ax.”

When last did you sharpen your “ax” with God? When next will you?

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –Best Days Are Ahead

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Perhaps you can relate to the deflated little fellow I saw in an airport terminal. Everything about the dad’s expression said, “Hurry up! We have to run if we’re going to make the connection.” Can the little fellow keep up? Mom could. The big brothers could. But the little guy? He tried to match his parents’ pace, but he just couldn’t.

Can you relate? Sometimes the challenge is just too much. It’s not that you don’t try, you just run out of fight. The story of Joshua in the Bible dares us to believe our best days are ahead of us. A life in which the Bible says we are “anxious for nothing,” in which we’re “praying always.” A life in which Paul says we’re “giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” We may stumble but we don’t collapse. God has a Promised Land for us to take.

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Why Does God Still Speak?

Isaiah 30:18-21

The Bible is God’s Word, so does He still want to speak to us personally? The answer is yes, and there are several reasons why.

First, His guidance is a necessity for our lives. In Scripture, we see the Lord giving specific directions to His servants, and we often forget that we, too, need His instructions.

Second, we rely on the Lord’s power just as much as the Israelites. We all have “Red Sea” experiences, when we don’t know where to turn. But just as the Lord parted the waters for Israel, He will act in our lives, too.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, He wants us to have an intimate relationship with Him. The heavenly Father loves us just as much as He loved His children in biblical times. And He desires fellowship and honest conversation with today’s believers, just as He did with Abraham, Moses, and the prophets. So our priority should be to know Him and, once we do, to continually know Him better and better.

Our connection with God cannot be a one-way street. There must be a continual flow of back-and-forth communication—and that means we don’t do all the talking. We will get to know our Father more intimately when we learn to listen.

Bible in One Year: 2 Kings 21-23

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Working Together

Bible in a Year:

If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.

Exodus 18:23

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Exodus 18:13–23

Joe worked more than twelve hours a day, often without taking breaks. Starting a charitable business demanded so much time and energy that he had little left to offer his wife and children when he got home. After the toll of chronic stress landed Joe in the hospital, a friend offered to organize a team to help him. Though he dreaded giving up control, Joe knew he couldn’t keep up his current pace. He agreed to trust his friend—and God—as he delegated responsibilities to the group of people they chose together. A year later, Joe admitted that the charity and his family could never have prospered if he’d refused the help God had sent him.

God didn’t design people to thrive without the support of a loving community. In Exodus 18, Moses led the Israelites through the wilderness. He tried serving God’s people as a teacher, a counselor, and a judge all on his own. When his father-in-law visited, he offered Moses advice: “You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out,” said Jethro. “The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone” (Exodus 18:18). He encouraged Moses to share the workload with faithful people. Moses accepted help and the whole community benefited.

When we trust that God works in and through all His people as we work together, we can find true rest.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

How can you trust God by asking for help or offering help to someone in leadership this week? How has He provided you the support of trustworthy people?

Father God, thank You for never asking me to handle life without Your help or the support of others.

http://www.odb.org

Joyce Meyer – Spice Things Up!

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste (its strength, its quality), how can its saltness be restored? It is not good for anything any longer but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men.

— Matthew 5:13 (AMPC)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like bland food. My husband once had a stomach problem, and the doctor put him on a totally bland diet for a few days. At every meal, I heard him say over and over, “This stuff has no taste at all.” His food needed a bit of salt, a little spice—and that is exactly what the world needs.

Each day as you leave your home to go into a dark, tasteless world, you can be the light and flavor it needs. You can bring joy to your workplace by being determined to consistently have a godly attitude. You can be “salt” through simple things like being thankful rather than complaining like most people do, being patient, merciful, quick to for¬give offenses, kind, and encouraging. Even simply smiling and being friendly is a way to bring flavor into a tasteless society.

Without love and all of its magnificent qualities, life is tasteless and not worth living. I want you to try an experiment. Just think—I am going to go out into the world today and spice things up. Then get your mind set before you ever walk out your door that you are going out as God’s ambassador and that your goal is to be a giver, to love people, and add good flavor to their lives. You can begin by smiling at the people you encounter throughout the day. Deposit yourself with God and trust Him to take care of you while you sow good seed everywhere you go.

Prayer Starter: Father, show me ways I can spice of the lives of those around me. I want to be Your ambassador. In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –An Explanation of Trials

You are my refuge in the day of disaster.

 Jeremiah 17:17

The path of the Christian is not always bright with sunshine; he has his seasons of darkness and of storm. It is true that God’s Word says, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace”;1 and it is a great truth that faith is calculated to give a man happiness below as well as bliss above. But life confirms that if the experience of the righteous is “like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day,”2 sometimes that light is eclipsed. At certain periods clouds cover the believer’s sun, and he walks in darkness and sees no light.

There are many who have rejoiced in the presence of God for a season; they have basked in the sunshine in the early stages of their Christian life; they have walked along the “green pastures” by the side of the “still waters.” But suddenly they find that the glorious sky is clouded; instead of the promised land they have to endure the wilderness; in place of sweet waters, they find troubled streams, bitter to their taste, and they say, “Surely, if I were a child of God, this would not happen.” Do not say that if you are walking in darkness. The best of God’s saints must drink the bitter potion; the dearest of His children must bear the cross. No Christian has enjoyed perpetual prosperity; no believer can always keep his heart in constant tune.

Perhaps the Lord gave you in the beginning a smooth and unclouded path because you were weak and timid. He moderated the wind on account of your weakness, but now that you are stronger in the spiritual life, you must enter upon the riper and rougher experience of God’s full-grown children. We need winds and tempests to exercise our faith, to tear off the rotten branches of self-reliance, and to root us more firmly in Christ. The day of evil reveals to us the value of our glorious hope.

1) Proverbs 3:17
2) Proverbs 4:18

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

http://www.truthforlife.org

Denison Forum – President Biden delivers first joint address to Congress: Two lessons on God’s calling to serve others

The Constitution requires the president to “from time to time give to the Congress Information on the State of the Union.” Though technically not a State of the Union address, President Biden fulfilled this obligation last night in front of a joint session of Congress. While most recent presidents have delivered such an address earlier in the year, the Coronavirus and other factors combined to delay last night’s report.

Biden began his speech with an update on where the country stands with vaccines before moving on to a general overview of his legislative priorities going forward. Among the most discussed were jobs, healthcare, immigration reform, climate change, foreign policy, and education.

He spoke for just over an hour and took a generally optimistic and conciliatory tone, with the phrase “the country supports it” used several times to portray a general agreement among Americans on several of the issues he discussed.

But while Americans may agree on the problems that need to be addressed, there remains a general lack of consensus on how to best address them. Tim Scott, in his response to the president on behalf of the Republican party, emphasized that reality on several occasions.

Scott spent much of his speech lamenting the partisan divides that still exist and outlining how the disparate views on how to move forward have often been at the heart of such conflict. He argued for a greater emphasis on taking a bipartisan approach to crafting legislation rather than just in support of legislation as a key component of the solution.

That emphasis is one of two I would like to highlight from last night’s affairs that can help us better understand how God is calling us to serve others and advance his kingdom today.

Focus on the issues

President Biden began his speech by stating, “Tonight, I come to talk about crisis and opportunity.” And while segments of his speech sought to depict a unifying path forward, he could not seem to consistently avoid relying on unnecessarily extreme rhetoric and examples to help elucidate how he views our current situation as a country.

In his depiction of the January 6th assault on the Capitol, for example, he stated it was “the worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.” While what occurred that day was both embarrassing for our country and frightening for what could have happened, placing it above events like the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the September 11th attacks is needlessly reckless and inaccurate.

Senator Ted Cruz’s description of what Americans could expect from the speech, published in an opinion piece yesterday morning, was not much better. The tone and content of the article, in which he began by stating “Let me save you an hour of your time this evening and sum up President Biden’s speech in three words: boring, but radical,” included little intended to bring Americans together unless they were coming together in opposition to the president.

In both cases, we see either the inability or the disinterest of political leaders to disagree in a way that does not give the other side cause to disengage from the conversation. And while that hardly makes either man unique in recent times, it does reinforce that we should probably look elsewhere for our examples of how to engage with others.

Fortunately, the Bible gives us a much better option.

As Christians—literally, “little Christs”—our example is Jesus. And while he was hardly above engaging in spirited debate with others, he never did so in a way that deviated from the truth or inaccurately maligned the other person. He kept his focus on the most important issues and spoke in such a way as to foster understanding and growth for everyone involved.

If we can learn to model that in our conversations with others, even if they choose not to return the favor, then we are far more likely to give God room to use that discussion to advance his kingdom.

Find real solutions

Our second point for today is closely related to the first.

Conducting our conversations in a way that avoids extreme examples and demeaning characterizations, while important in its own right, will make the greatest impact if those discussions are intended to find real solutions.

One of Senator Scott’s critiques in his response to President Biden’s speech was that, in regard to the problem of racism, “My friends across the aisle seemed to want the issue more than they want a solution.”

While that may be true for some, it is an approach that is hardly unique to the Democrats. Abortion and immigration, for example, are issues that Republicans rely heavily upon to generate support in their campaigns, but often seem less concerned about when it comes time to craft policy.

And it’s understandable why this approach would be tempting: it tends to work.

Unfortunately, it also makes it difficult to trust that either side really wants the changes they so eloquently describe.

Are we any different, though, when we spend more time complaining about a problem or lamenting its existence than we do trying to fix it?

If you hear of a need at your church or a hurting family in your neighborhood, is your first instinct to talk with other people about how tragic the situation is, or do you take steps to help make a real difference? It could be that such conversations are an important first step, but if that’s where our commitment level ends, then it’s quite possible that we have stopped short of God’s will.

Model what you wish to see

George Bernard Shaw once noted that “Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”

Regardless of what you think about President Biden, Senator Scott, or the speeches they gave, last night served as an important reminder that our political climate is largely a reflection of our culture. Perhaps it’s because the issues in Washington are often easier to see than the ones in our own communities, but we must learn not to focus so much on the speck in our politicians’ eyes that we ignore the plank in our own (Matthew 7:3–5).

Far too often, we make a habit of the very same behavior that we lament in others. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

So take some time today and ask the Lord to help you reflect on your recent interactions to see how closely they align with the example of Christ. Then commit to making whatever changes are necessary to model the conduct you wish you could see in others.

After all, chances are good that it won’t be long before God gives you the chance to do just that.

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –God’s Plan in God’s Land

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Joshua 21:45 says, “Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.” Joshua and his men went from dry land to the Promised Land. From manna to feasts. From arid deserts to fertile fields. They inherited their inheritance: the glory days of Israel.

This is God’s vision for your life. You at full throttle. You as victor over the Jerichos and giants. Paul describes it as a life in which “Christ’s love has the first and last word in everything we do.” A life in which Paul says, “We do not lose heart.” A life defined by grace, refined by challenge, and aligned with a heavenly call. In God’s plan in God’s land, God’s promises outweigh personal problems, and victory becomes a way of life. Your glory days await you!

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – What Does It Mean to Be Born Again?

John 3:5-8

There is a great deal of misinformation regarding the meaning of the term “born again.” Such ignorance and confusion could have disastrous ramifications if those who think they are born again really aren’t.

In a conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus used this term to explain how one enters the kingdom of heaven. Nicodemus thought the Lord was referring to a subsequent physical birth and couldn’t fathom how this was possible, but Jesus was speaking in spiritual terms.

The original Greek phrase literally means “born from above,” signifying that this new birth originates with God, not with man. It also involves being born of water and the Spirit. To enter the kingdom of heaven, we must be cleansed from our sins and regenerated by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).

When you are born again through faith in Jesus Christ, there is a radical change within you. Your spirit, which was once dead to God, is made alive by the Holy Spirit, who now indwells you. He enables you to understand His spiritual truths and live in obedience to His Word. What begins as an invisible renewal will soon become increasingly visible in a righteous lifestyle.  

Bible in One Year: 2 Kings 16-17


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Our Daily Bread — Learning from Foolishness

Bible in a Year:

The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left. Even as fools walk along the road, they lack sense.

Ecclesiastes 10:2–3

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ecclesiastes 10:1–14

A man walked into a convenience store in Wollongong, Australia, put a $20 bill on the counter and asked for change. When the clerk opened the cash drawer, the man pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the register, which the clerk promptly provided. The man took the cash from the clerk and fled, leaving the $20 bill on the counter. The total amount of cash he got from the drawer? Fifteen dollars.

We all act foolishly at times—even if, unlike this thief, we’re trying to do the right thing. The key is how we learn from our foolish behavior. Without correction, our poor choices can become habits, which will negatively shape our character. We’ll become “fools . . . [who] lack sense” (Ecclesiastes 10:3). 

Sometimes it’s hard to admit our foolishness because of the extra work it requires. Perhaps we need to reflect on a particular character flaw, and that’s painful. Or maybe we need to admit that a decision was made hastily and next time we should take more care. Whatever the reason, it never pays to ignore our foolish ways.

Thankfully, God can use our foolishness to discipline and shape us. Discipline isn’t “pleasant at the time,” but its training yields good fruit in the long run (Hebrews 12:11). Let’s accept our Father’s discipline for our foolish behavior and ask Him to make us more like the sons and daughters He intends us to be.

By:  Con Campbell

Reflect & Pray

What’s a recent foolish choice you’ve made? What do you think God wants you to learn from it?

Thank You, Father, for using my foolishness to train me. May I accept Your discipline graciously as You continue to work in me.

http://www.odb.org

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