Our Daily Bread — Live to Serve

Bible in a Year:

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

1 Peter 4:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

1 Peter 4:8–11

After ten-year-old Chelsea received an elaborate art set, she discovered that God used art to help her feel better when she was sad. When she found out that some kids didn’t have art supplies readily available, she wanted to help them. So when it was time for her birthday party, she asked her friends not to bring her gifts. Instead, she invited them to donate art supplies and help fill boxes for children in need.

Later, with her family’s help, she started Chelsea’s Charity. She began asking more people to help her fill boxes so she could help more kids. She has even taught art tips to groups who have received her boxes. After a local newscaster interviewed Chelsea, people started donating supplies from all over the country. As Chelsea’s Charity continues sending art supplies internationally, this young girl is demonstrating how God can use us when we’re willing to live to serve others.

Chelsea’s compassion and willingness to share reflects the heart of a faithful steward. The apostle Peter encourages all believers in Jesus to be faithful stewards as they “love each other deeply” by sharing the resources and talents God has given them (1 Peter 4:8–11).

Our small acts of love can inspire others to join us in giving. God can even rally supporters to serve alongside us. As we rely on Him, we can live to serve and give Him the glory He deserves.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

How can you rely on God to help you serve others today? In what way has God been nudging you to serve Him that seems too big for you to handle alone?

Faithful Father, please give me all I need to serve You by loving others with my words and actions today.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Fearing God

“The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever” (Ps. 19:9).

Fearing God leads to reverential attitudes and actions.

In the Old Testament, to fear God was to view Him with reverential awe and bow to His sovereign authority. In Psalm 34 David wrote, “Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Who is the man who desires life, and loves length of days that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it” (vv. 11- 14). His son Solomon added, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. . . . Fear the Lord and turn away from evil” (Prov. 1:73:7).

The concept of fearing God isn’t limited to the Old Testament. Paul said, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12), “Let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1) and, “Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Eph. 5:21).

Our fear of God compels us to worship Him and conform our lives to His will. If you fear Him, pleasing Him will be your greatest delight and displeasing Him, your greatest disappointment.

In Psalm 19:9 David uses “fear” as a synonym for God’s Word, implying that Scripture is God’s manual on how to worship Him. “Clean” (v. 9) is a comprehensive term that speaks of the absence of sin, corruption, filthiness, defilement, imperfection, and error. The message Scripture conveys is always “flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times” (Ps. 12:6, NIV).

Because it is so perfect, Scripture endures forever (Ps. 19:9). That’s why Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Mark 13:31). It never needs to be updated to accommodate contemporary thinking. It stands forever as authoritative and unyielding. Those who judge it, slander it, or ignore it are in grave peril. Far better to fear God and bow to His revealed will.

Suggestions for Prayer

Read Psalm 33 as a prayer of praise to the Lord.

For Further Study

Memorize Proverbs 3:5-7 as a reminder always to seek God’s will and approval.

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – You Are Not Alone

Have not I commanded you? Be strong, vigorous, and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

— Joshua 1:9 (AMPC)

The Lord wants to remind you today that you are never alone. At times you may feel lonely, or as if no one cares about you, but that is not true. God is never more than one thought away. You can be instantly in His presence by simply remembering and believing His promise to be with you everywhere you go.

Take the time to develop the habit of simply reminding yourself that God is with you in all that you do. The more you think about this, the more of a reality it will become to you. God is omnipresent. He is everywhere all the time, and surely, He is with each of us. You are not alone—not now, not ever. God is not only with you, but He loves you unconditionally, and He will guide you throughout your life.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for being with me. Help me recognize Your presence as a reality in my life. Thank You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –The Body of Divinity in Miniature

I will love them freely.

Hosea 14:4

This sentence is a body of divinity in miniature. Whoever grasps its meaning is a theologian, and whoever is able to dive into its fullness is a learned professor! It is a summary of the glorious message of salvation that was delivered to us in Christ Jesus our Redeemer.

The sense hinges upon the word “freely.” This is the glorious, the suitable, the divine way by which love streams from heaven to earth, a spontaneous love flowing out to those who neither deserved it, purchased it, nor sought after it. It is, indeed, the only way in which God can love such as we are.

The text is a death-blow to all sorts of fitness: “I will love them freely.”

Now, if there were any fitness necessary in us, then He would not love us freely; at least, this would be a hindrance and a drawback to the freeness of it. But it stands: “I will love them freely.”

We complain, “Lord, my heart is so hard.”

“I will love them freely.”

“But I do not feel my need of Christ as I ought to.”

“I will not love you because you feel your need; I will love you freely.”

“But I do not feel that softening of spirit that I should desire.”

Remember, the softening of spirit is not a condition, for there are no conditions; the covenant of grace has no conditionality whatever. So we without any fitness may rest upon the promise of God that was made to us in Christ Jesus when He said, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned.”1 It is blessed to know that the grace of God is free to us at all times, without preparation, without fitness, without money, and without price!

“I will love them freely.” These words invite apostates to return: Indeed, the text was specially written for such—“I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely.”

Apostate, surely the generosity of the promise will immediately break your heart, and you will return and seek your injured Father’s face.

1) John 3:18

Devotional material is taken from Morning and Evening, written by C. H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – Jesus Christ Is Our Advocate

“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1)

Johanna was not happy. She and her sister Donna had gotten in an argument, and Dad had walked into the living room to find them standing on either end of the couch, yelling at one another. Both Johanna and Donna had been sent to their rooms to think about what they had been fighting over, and why they thought it was “so worth fighting for.”

But Johanna already knew it wasn’t worth the kind of meanness she had let loose on Donna. It had just started out as a tiny disagreement – about whose doll would get to wear a favorite outfit for that day. But this was not the first time Donna’s attitude had gotten on Johanna’s nerves, so Johanna had decided to tell Donna what she really thought of her – and her doll. She never intended to end up on one side of the couch, throwing pillows at Donna and yelling mean things at her. But that’s what had happened.

She already regretted it, even before Dad finally came in to punish her. If only it could be easier to remember that she loved Donna – right during that very moment when Donna was getting on her nerves! But those annoying moments seemed like the hardest times to remember love. Johanna could only think about herself when she started to get angry like that.

She picked up her Bible and looked at the verse she had just studied that morning. “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.” Well, I already blew that today, thought Johanna.

But she kept on reading. “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Wow! she thought, shaking her head. She had looked “advocate” up in the dictionary just that morning, and she had learned that an advocate is someone who stands up in court to explain someone’s case and defend that person. An advocate is a spokesperson, someone who speaks in behalf of someone else. It is someone who is strong and guiltless who represents someone who is weak and guilty.

Johanna thought about that idea long and hard. It was amazing to think that Someone strong and perfect like Jesus was representing someone weak and sinful like her. Now she understood why the first part of the verse came before the second part. The thought of Jesus “fighting for” her was something to be thankful for – and something worth fighting for! Slowly it dawned on Johanna: Because of what Jesus Christ had done and was still doing for her, she needed to fight against sin. Her real battles should not be with Donna or anyone else, but with her own sinful nature. Johanna knew that to please her Advocate, she needed to fight harder against the temptation to sin in the first place.

Jesus Christ stands before God as our righteous Defender.

My Response:
» Am I constantly sinning and just relying on Jesus’ righteousness to cover for me?
» Do I think my own selfish desires are worth fighting for?
» Am I willing to focus my time and energy on fighting against my own sin?

Denison Forum – Facebook’s name change and Donald Trump’s new social media platform

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).

Facebook is changing its company name next week to focus on building the “metaverse.” What is the metaverse, you ask?

The term was coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash, where it referred to a 3D world inhabited by avatars of real people. BBC reports that the metaverse “could be to [virtual reality] what the modern smartphone is to the first clunky mobile phones of the 1980s.” The article explains, “Instead of being on a computer, in the metaverse you might use a headset to enter a virtual world connecting all sorts of digital environments. . . . this virtual world could be used for practically anything—work, play, concerts, cinema trips—or just hanging out.”

Facebook is making a huge investment in the metaverse, announcing its plan to hire ten thousand people in Europe to build it. You can already use technology to stage “watch” and “listen” parties with nearly every streaming and gaming company. This is apparently the next step.

Donald Trump is launching “TRUTH Social”

In other digital news, former President Trump has announced plans to launch his own social media platform early next year. He’s calling it TRUTH Social and considers it part of his efforts to fight back against “the Big Tech companies of Silicon Valley, which have used their unilateral power to silence opposing voices in America.”

Meanwhile, PayPal is reportedly in late stage talks to acquire Pinterest at a cost of $45 billion. And the Wall Street Journal reports that a ransomware gang masqueraded as a real company to recruit tech talent.

Digital news makes the news daily. There is much you can do online, with more coming. But a cell phone cannot hug a grieving spouse. A laptop cannot open Christmas presents from your grandparents. A tablet cannot substitute for a parent at a recital or baseball game.

In a new poll, nearly two-thirds of Americans who use social media platforms believe life was better without them. While Pascal was right to observe that there is a “God-shaped emptiness” in our souls, there is a “people-shaped emptiness” in us as well. The first time God ever said something was “not good,” he made this declaration: “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18).

Real people need real people. And that’s the good news we’ll discuss today.

“The key to a fulfilled life”

Oscar Thompson’s Concentric Circles of Concern: From Self to Others Through Life-Style Evangelism is a classic in the field. Dr. Thompson, a longtime pastor and evangelism professor, identifies seven relational “circles” in our lives: self, family, relatives, friends, neighbors-associates, acquaintances, and “Person X” whom we’ve not yet met.

He notes: “The key to a fulfilled life is relationships. Things do not satisfy; relationships do.” His book encourages us to first “get right with God, self, and others,” since we cannot give what we do not have or lead people where we are unwilling to go. When “you do get things right in your own life with God,” he writes, “he will begin to engineer humanly impossible circumstances to bring more people into your concentric circles to have their needs met.” As a result, “You become fulfilled as you see the fruit of God’s Spirit impacting the lives of those around you.”

Dr. Thompson adds: “When you make Christ Lord of your life, you forever surrender the right to choose whom you will love.” It is that love for others that fuels all we do to serve our Lord (cf. Matthew 22:37–40).

Next, we are to survey our relationships, work with God through prayer, build relationship bridges to them, show God’s love by meeting needs, make disciples and help them grow, and then help new Christians make disciples.

Dr. Thompson is right: the people in your spheres of influence “are there for you to love—to meet their needs—so the Father can draw them to his Son Jesus.” He notes that we need to start where we are, since “you will not have a ministry in the future if you do not have it now. . . . So, remember that your ministry is not out there somewhere in the future; it is now!”

Why Luka Doncic is already an MVP

As the NBA season begins this week, Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic is the clear favorite to be named Most Valuable Player (MVP) when the season ends. But he is already the MVP for patients at Children’s Health in Dallas and Plano, arranging for a bag of surprises to be delivered to eighty patients Tuesday. They included a pair of Jordan sneakers; a Jordan drawstring, bag, hoodie, and socks; as well as a letter from Luka and a signed photo.

You will probably never compete in the NBA and may never attain the celebrity of a basketball superstar. But God has entrusted someone’s needs to your care today. He has prepared someone for you to share your compassion and faith with them. He has prepared you for that relationship as well.

So, ask him to put that person on your mind and heart right now with Samuel’s prayer, “Speak, Lᴏʀᴅ, your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9 NLT). Then say to God with Isaiah, “Here I am! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

Yesterday morning, I was walking in our neighborhood before dawn under a beautiful harvest moon. The moon reflected the sun’s rays so powerfully, they cast my shadow ahead of me as I walked. However, before long I came under a streetlight; its brilliance far outshone the moon.

Obviously, a streetlight cannot compare with the moon for luminosity. But it was so much closer to me than the moon that its light illuminated the entire block where I was walking. 

You and I are “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14) as we reflect Jesus, the “light of the world” (John 8:12). We are like the moon reflecting the rays from our Source. We therefore need to be aligned with Jesus and we need to be close to those who need his light in their darkness.

Who will walk under your “streetlight” today?

NOTE: The Ten Commandments are the ancient “rules of the game” from God that tell us how to live if we want to live well. I unpack each of these rules in my tenth volume of Biblical Insight to Tough Questions, where I seek to answer questions about how to handle our ambitions, religion, stress, parents, enemies, sex, possessions, lies, and lusts. Please request your copy of this new resource* today.

*You can also pre-order the entire 10-volume set of Biblical Insight to Tough Questions, where I unapologetically answer dozens of our culture’s toughest questions with Scripture.

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Our Daily Bread — Studying the Scriptures

Bible in a Year:

[Jesus said], “These are the very Scriptures that testify about me.”

John 5:39

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

John 5:39–47

J. I. Packer (1926–2020), in his classic work Knowing God, spoke of four well-known believers in Christ whom he called “beavers for the Bible.” Not all were trained scholars, but each one exercised great care to know God by gnawing into the Scripture, like a beaver digs in and gnaws away at a tree. Packer further noted that knowing God through Bible study is not just for scholars. “A simple Bible reader and sermon hearer who is full of the Holy Spirit will develop a far deeper acquaintance with his God and Savior than a more learned scholar who is content with being theologically correct.”

Unfortunately, not all who study the Bible do so with humble hearts with the goal of getting to know the Savior better and becoming more like Him. In Jesus’ day there were those who read the Old Testament Scriptures, yet they missed the very One they spoke of. “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39–40).

Do you sometimes find yourself stumped as you read the Bible? Or have you given up studying the Scriptures altogether? Bible “beavers” are more than Bible readers. They prayerfully and carefully gnaw away at Scripture in ways that open their eyes and hearts to see and love Jesus—the One revealed in it. 

By:  Arthur Jackson

Reflect & Pray

What are some Old Testament Scripture passages that you recognize as “testifying” about Jesus? What better habits do you need to develop to become a better student of the Scriptures?Father, open my eyes to see Jesus in all of Scripture so that I might love, obey, and serve Him more.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Obeying God’s Commands

“The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Ps. 19:8).

Obedience to the Word is the hallmark of a true believer.

It isn’t popular these days to speak of God’s Word as a book of commandments. Commands imply law and we’re accustomed to grace. But the fact is, both the Old and New Testaments contain many commandments that all God’s people are to obey.

The apostle John said, “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected” (1 John 2:3-5). John equated the commandments of God with the Word of God.

Jesus Himself said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15) and “He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father” (v. 21). If you truly love Christ, your life will be characterized by a pattern of obedience to His Word.

Every commandment of God is “pure”, the psalmist said (Ps. 19:8). Its effect is “enlightening the eyes.” God’s Word brings spiritual truth into clear focus. Not every passage of Scripture is easy to understand, but taken as a whole, the message of the Bible is clear to the regenerate mind.

But as clear as the Bible is to believers, unredeemed people can’t understand it. To them it’s foolishness because their minds are unenlightened (1 Cor. 2:14). In their spiritual blindness they choose humanistic philosophical speculations over God’s Word. But as a believer, you are continually being enlightened by the truths of God’s Word as the Holy Spirit enables you to understand and apply them to your life.

Your ability to understand the Word is a priceless gift. Take advantage of it daily by expanding your Bible knowledge and increasing your obedience.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank the Lord for opening your mind to the truths of His Word.
  • Commit yourself to discovering at least one additional truth from Scripture each day.

For Further Study

Read 1 Corinthians 2:14-16. What comparison did Paul make between the natural (unregenerate) man and the spiritual (regenerate) man?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Stop Running

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters.

— Psalm 23:2 (NIV)

Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 23. This is a familiar Bible passage to many people and one that offers much hope and strength.

Simply reading about green pastures and quiet waters can give us a great sense of peace. I don’t know anyone who is not longing for more peace right now. Everywhere we look, we see news stories about unrest. We hear about friends or coworkers who have disagreements. We may even find ourselves in a conflict with someone or in some other situation that threatens to steal our peace. Or as is the case with many people, we may simply lead such a busy, stress-filled life that peace seems out of reach.

To have the peace God longs to give us and to experience His rest we must take time to be still. No one can lie down while they are constantly running—running to work, running to take children somewhere, running to the grocery store, running to care for elderly parents, running to meet a friend for coffee, running to get the house clean. We all have things we must and should take care of, so ask God to show you how to slow down and take time to be still and enjoy peace.

Prayer Starter: Father, help me to stop running, to be still, and to enjoy the peace You long to give me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –How Much Do You Owe?

For the love of Christ controls us.

2 Corinthians 5:14

How much do you owe to my Lord? Has He ever done anything for you? Has He forgiven your sins? Has He covered you with a robe of righteousness? Has He set your feet upon a rock? Has He established your goings? Has He prepared heaven for you? Has He prepared you for heaven? Has He written your name in His Book of Life? Has He given you countless blessings? Has He laid up for you a store of mercies, which eye has not seen nor ear heard?

Then do something for Jesus that is worthy of His love. Do not give a mere wordy offering to a dying Redeemer. How will you feel when your Master comes if you have to confess that you did nothing for Him but kept your love shut up, like a stagnant pool, neither flowing out to the poor nor to His work? Be done with that kind of love! What do men think of a love that never shows itself in action? Why, they say, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love.”1 Who will accept a love so weak that it does not stir you to a single act of self-denial, generosity, heroism, or zeal?

Consider how He has loved you and given Himself for you! Do you know the power of that love? Then let it be like a rushing, mighty wind to your soul to sweep out the clouds of your worldliness and clear away the mists of sin. For Christ’s sake let this be the tongue of fire that sits upon you: For Christ’s sake let this be the divine excitement, the heavenly empowerment to bear you up from earth, the divine spirit that will make you bold as lions and swift as eagles in your Lord’s service. Love should give wings to the feet of service and strength to the arms of industry. Fixed on God with a constancy that is not to be shaken, determined to honor Him with a zeal that is not to be turned aside, and pressing on with a passion that doesn’t waver, let us display the constraints of love for Jesus. May the divine magnet draw us toward heaven itself.

1) Proverbs 27:5

Devotional material is taken from Morning and Evening, written by C. H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – The Lord Is Not Slack Concerning His Promises

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward.” (2 Peter 3:9a)

Have you ever heard the phrase “You have my word”? or “You have my word on it”? That means that the person speaking is making a promise based on his or her own track record. If a very honest person tells you he will take care of something for you, saying, “you have my word on it,” then that means you can trust him. He is telling the truth. If a very careful person tells you she will be on time for a meeting, saying, “You have my word, I’ll be there,” then she wants you to know you can trust her to be at the meeting on time.

The kind of people whose word you can trust – they are the ones you can count on. They are faithful. They are dependable. Usually, they will not let you down.

Why do we add usually to that sentence? Well, even the most faithful human beings are still only human. They make mistakes. They forget. They get stopped by circumstances that are out of their control. And they sin. If you leave your backpack with an honest person, he still might not be able to stop a robber from stealing it. If you are counting on a reliable friend to be exactly on time for a Saturday morning meeting, she may not be able to come at all. What if her alarm doesn’t go off and she accidentally oversleeps? Or what if her family decides at the last minute to go out of town for the weekend? Even the most faithful people might let you down sometimes. Humans can only be trustworthy to a certain point.

But the Lord is not like us. If He promises something in His Word, we definitely have His Word on it! And nothing can stop God from doing what He plans to do. No traffic jam or robber or change of human plans can mess up God’s plans. God never forgets. He never sins. He never changes His mind about whether He cares about His people enough to keep His Word to them.

Is there a promise that you think God has made you but not kept? He may not keep that promise exactly the way you want Him to, and He may not carry that promise out exactly when you wanted Him to. But He is not slack (lazy) concerning His promises. He may be taking a long time, but He will always finish what He says He will do. Often, He waits because He wants to show us mercy. (Some of God’s promises are about punishing stubborn sinners, and He is giving them a longer time to repent and turn to Him.)

When the Lord gives His Word, we can always count on Him. He will never let us down.

The Lord is always faithful to keep His Word.

My Response:
» Am I the kind of person who people think of as “faithful” and “trustworthy”?
» Do I think rightly about the Lord’s faithfulness and trust Him to keep His Word?
» How can I show others that I am trusting and obeying a faithful God?

Our Daily Bread — Crumbled from Within

Bible in a Year:

I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Psalm 32:5

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 32:1–5; Matthew 7:1–5

When I was a teenager, my mom painted a mural on our living room wall, which stayed there for several years. It showed an ancient Greek scene of a ruined temple with white columns lying on their sides, a crumbling fountain, and a broken statue. As I looked at the Hellenistic architecture that had once held great beauty, I tried to imagine what had destroyed it. I was curious, especially when I began studying about the tragedy of once great and thriving civilizations that had decayed and crumbled from within.

The sinful depravity and wanton destruction we see around us today can be troubling. It’s natural for us to try to explain it by pointing to people and nations that have rejected God. But shouldn’t we be casting our gaze inwardly as well? Scripture warns us about being hypocrites when we call out others to turn from their sinful ways without also taking a deeper look inside our own hearts (Matthew 7:1–5).

Psalm 32 challenges us to see and confess our own sin. It’s only when we recognize and confess our personal sin that we can experience freedom from guilt and the joy of true repentance (vv. 1–5). And as we rejoice in knowing that God offers us complete forgiveness, we can share that hope with others who are also struggling with sin.

By:  Cindy Hess Kasper

Reflect & Pray

What’s the first step in identifying sin in your life? Why is it vital that you confess your sin to God?

Father God, I thank You for the gift of Your forgiveness that eliminates the guilt of my sin. Help me to first examine my own heart before I concern myself with the sins of others.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Living a Joyous Life

“The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart” (Ps. 19:8).

Knowing your life is on the right track is a source of great joy.

What brings you joy? Your answer will reveal much about your priorities and the direction your life is heading spiritually.

The psalmist wrote, “How blessed [happy] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers” (Ps. 1:1-3).

That psalmist knew that true joy and happiness come from knowing God and abiding in His Word. That was David’s confidence when he wrote, “The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart” (Ps. 19:8).

“Precepts” in that verse speaks of divine principles and guidelines for character and conduct. God created you and knows how you must live to give glory to Him. And He revealed in His Word every precept you must know to do so.

Every divine precept is “right.” It shows you the path that is right and true. What a wonderful confidence that is! While many around you may be discouraged or despondent because of their lack of direction and purpose, God’s Word is a lamp to your feet and a light to your path (Ps. 119:105). It guides you through the difficult mazes of life and gives your life eternal significance. Don’t live simply for your own pleasures. Your life has a high and holy purpose, and each day can be filled with joy as you see that purpose unfold.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Ask God to help you be mindful of your eternal purpose today and every day.
  • Ask Him to direct you to someone who needs Christ and is sensing a lack of purpose in his or her life.

For Further Study

Read Colossians 3:1-4.

  • How did Paul describe Christ?
  • What should be the focus of your thinking?
  • Are you heeding Paul’s exhortation?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – The Most Powerful Name

Then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.

— Acts 4:10 (NIV)

The best way I know to explain the precious and holy name of Jesus is to say that it represents everything about Him, all that He is. His name is the most powerful name in heaven and on earth. When we believe in Him and when He lives in our hearts as Lord and Savior, we call on the power of His name when we pray.

You may have noticed that many of our prayers end with these words: “In Jesus’ name. Amen.” This is not a religious way to conclude a prayer; it is a privilege, and it demonstrates your faith in His power to answer your prayer according to God’s will. Anytime you pray in Jesus’ name, you present to God all that Jesus is.

We can pray for miracles such as healing and freedom from oppression in Jesus’ name. In fact, we can pray any type of prayer in His name. I believe that when we pray in faith, using Jesus’ name, the entire spiritual realm pays attention.

Philippians 2:9–10 says that Jesus’ name is “above every name,” and that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”

Prayer Starter: Father, I thank You for the power of the name of Your Son, Jesus, because it represents all that He is. In His name, I pray, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Are You Growing?

We are to grow up in every way into him.

Ephesians 4:15

Many Christians remain stunted and limited in spiritual things and never seem to make progress from year to year. No surge of growth and spiritual interest is seen in them. They exist but do not “grow up in every way into him.”

Should we be content with being in the green blade when we might advance to the ear and eventually ripen into the full corn in the ear? Should we be satisfied to believe in Christ and to say, “I am safe” without wishing to know in our own experience more of the fullness that is to be found in Him?

It ought not to be so; we should long as good traders in heaven’s market to be enriched in the knowledge of Jesus. It is all very well to keep other men’s vineyards, but we must not neglect our own spiritual growth and ripening. Why should it always be wintertime in our hearts? We must have our seedtime, it is true, but oh, for a springtime—yes, a summer season that will give promise of an early harvest.

If we would ripen in grace, we must live near to Jesus—in His presence—ripened by the sunshine of His smiles. We must hold sweet communion with Him. We must leave the distant view of His face and come near, as John did, and rest our head upon His shoulder; then we will find ourselves advancing in holiness, in love, in faith, in hope—in every precious gift. As the sun rises first on mountaintops and gilds them with its light and presents one of the most charming sights to the traveler’s eye, so is it one of the most delightful contemplations in the world to observe a spiritual glow on the head of some saint who has risen in stature, like Saul, above his fellows until, like a mighty snow-capped Alp, he reflects among the chosen the beams of the Sun of Righteousness and bears the glow of His radiance high for all to see, and seeing it, to glorify his Father who is in heaven.

Devotional material is taken from Morning and Evening, written by C. H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg. 

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Against the Flesh

“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:7-8)

Does your family have a family recipe for salad dressing? Henry’s mom had an amazing salad dressing recipe that she made every Sunday afternoon. Henry loved that salad dressing! He did not even like salad if it didn’t have his mom’s homemade salad dressing on it. He could eat almost anything if that salad dressing was on top!

There was a trick to this salad dressing, though. You had to shake it up before you could pour it out onto your salad! The oil and vinegar in the salad dressing would separate (come apart) if you left the bottle sitting too long on the tabletop. Unless you shook the bottle to mix the oil and vinegar together again, they would stay in two separate parts. If you were to pour the dressing out without mixing it up first, it would come out tasting really gross.

The way that oil and vinegar naturally separate is kind of a picture of the way spiritual things and fleshly things are separate from one another. What is the “flesh”? Is it your skin or your organs? No. When we talk about the “flesh” like it is talked about in the Bible, we are describing sinful human nature. The flesh is what makes us want to give in to sinful temptations. It is a part of every human being, because we are all born with a sinful nature. As we keep turning away from our sins and keep turning toward God, we are walking more and more in the Spirit, and that means we will not do what the flesh tempts us to do.

To be at “enmity” with God means to be at odds with Him, to be against Him, to be His enemy. God and the flesh are enemies! They are opposites, like light and dark. Sinful nature is not something that can be nearby God. God is holy, so He cannot stand sin.

Because we are sinners, and because God is holy, we are born as natural enemies of God. He loves us but cannot stand sin. So Jesus Christ came, took on the likeness of  fleshly nature, and yet He never sinned! That is why Jesus is so wonderful: He is our Bridge back to God! Because Jesus was 100% God AND 100% human, He is the only One Who can change us so that we do not have to be the enemies of God.

Because God is holy, He is the natural Enemy of our sinful nature.

My Response:
» Do I walk in the temptations of the flesh, or do I turn away from them to follow God?
» Am I trusting in Jesus to be the Bridge between me and God?
» Am I choosing to walk in the Spirit like Jesus did when He faced temptations as a human being?

Denison Forum – Haitian gang demands $17 million for missionaries

“Precious in the sight of the Lᴏʀᴅ is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15).

The Haitian gang that kidnapped seventeen missionaries on Saturday is demanding a ransom of $1 million for each person they are holding, for a total of $17 million. A top Haitian official reported the demand and disclosed that among the missionaries are five children—one an eight-month-old baby, and the others three, six, fourteen, and fifteen years old.

He added that negotiations could take weeks, explaining, “We are trying to get them released without paying any ransom. This is the first course of action. Let’s be honest: when we give them that money, that money is going to be used for more guns and more munitions.”

In other news, a plane carrying twenty-one people crashed near Houston yesterday. However, the New York Post reports that “miraculously, only one person was reported injured.” Looking at pictures of the plane’s wreckage, it indeed seems a miracle that any of the passengers survived.

So, here’s the question: If God “miraculously” protected these passengers in Houston, why did he not protect his missionaries in Haiti?

Hypersonic weapons and submarine missiles

Examples of our need for such protection abound, from record homicides in Portland, Oregon, to North Korea’s submarine ballistic missile test described as “possibly the most significant demonstration of the North’s military might since US President Joe Biden took office,” to China’s testing of a nuclear-capable hypersonic weapon that “surprised and alarmed US officials,” to an asteroid that “just zipped past Earth closer than the moon’s orbit.”

We know that God is “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15). He “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11) and “does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115:3). This is because “the Lᴏʀᴅ has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all” (Psalm 103:19).

Why, then, does he not intervene when danger threatens his people?

In Acts 12, we read that “Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also” (vv. 1–3). If God did not spare James, it would seem that Peter’s life would soon be over as well.

But not so. God sent “an angel of the Lord” to free Peter from his prison cell and thus rescue him “from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting” (vv. 7–11).

If Peter, why not James?

How Peter died

The question becomes more complex when we learn how Peter eventually died. Jesus had warned his lead apostle: “When you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go. (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God)” (John 21:18–19).

The First Epistle of Clement, written from Rome to Christians in Corinth around AD 96, stated: “Peter, who because of unrighteous jealousy suffered not one or two but many trials, and having thus given his testimony went to the glorious place which was his due” (1 Clement 5:4). His execution most likely occurred after the fire of Rome, when Nero sought to transfer blame to Christians and persecuted them mercilessly (Tacitus, Annals 15:44).

According to the early church historian Eusebius, Peter was made to watch his wife’s execution first: “When the blessed Peter saw his own wife led out to die, he rejoiced because of her summons and her return home, and called to her very encouragingly and comfortingly, addressing her by name, and saying, ‘O thou, remember the Lord’” (Ecclesiastical History 3:30:2).

The apostle’s own execution followed: “He was crucified head-downwards; for he had requested that he might suffer in this way” (Ecclesiastical History 3:1:2). An early source describes his death this way: “Peter, having come to the cross, said: ‘Since my Lord Jesus Christ, who came down from the heaven upon the earth, was raised upon the cross upright, and he has deigned to call to heaven me, who am of the earth, my cross ought to be fixed downmost, so as to direct my feet towards heaven; for I am not worthy to be crucified like my Lord.’ Then, having reversed the cross, they nailed his feet up” (Acts of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, Ante-Nicene Fathers 8:484).

Not a wall but a door

Why did God allow Peter to die in this way? Why does he allow missionaries to risk their lives and their children by serving him in dangerous places such as Haiti? Why does he allow you and me to face the suffering and pain of life on this broken planet?

This is obviously a very large conversation, but here’s one fact we often overlook: For Christians, death is not a wall but a door. It is not the end of life but the beginning of life we cannot imagine on this fallen planet (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Peter knew this to be true: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3–4).

When we die, we simply step out of the car and go into the house. There we find God’s “inheritance” waiting for us in reward for our faithfulness. And there we will understand what we do not understand today (1 Corinthians 13:12).

I am not suggesting that we should not grieve for those who are in heaven today. If Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus, we can weep at their graves (John 11:35). But I am suggesting that we do not “grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). We have not lost them—we know precisely where they are and we know that we will join them. In fact, we are one day closer to that great reunion than ever before.

A lesson from a podcast host

I recorded a podcast last week with a host who made this profound statement: This world is the closest to hell a Christian will ever be. However, it is also the closest to heaven a lost person will ever be.

It is our job to help every person we know choose heaven now, knowing that the time is coming when it is too late to choose. C. S. Lewis noted, “When the author walks on the stage the play is over.” I cannot promise you that the Lord will return tomorrow, but I cannot promise that he will not.

In the meantime, believers can experience in this life something of what we will experience in the next. St. Augustine observed, “To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.”

What romance, adventure, and achievement will you seek today?

http://www.denisonforum.org/

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Trusting God’s Plan in Trouble

Genesis 12:10-20

Does your faith shrivel when you encounter trouble? Perhaps you prayed about a situation and expected God to act according to your desires, but He didn’t. Though you were hoping for a smooth path, He gave you one with bumps, twists, and turns, which left you wondering where He was. He promised to care for you, but instead you felt deserted.

These are situations that test our faith, and they are common to all believers. Abraham, a man with great faith followed God’s instructions to leave home and travel to Canaan. You’d expect the Lord to honor such bold obedience with blessings, but it wasn’t long before Abraham faced another faith challenge—a famine. This time, his trust faltered. Instead of believing God would provide, he fled to Egypt and made more foolish and costly decisions.

The next time you’re tempted to think that God has let you down, remember that trouble is one of the means He uses to strengthen your belief in Him. When circumstances seem to indicate He doesn’t care, stand firmly on the truths of Scripture and fix your eyes on the Lord, who is always faithful.

Bible in One Year: Mark 15-16

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — When to Sacrifice

Bible in a Year:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Galatians 5:22–23

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Galatians 5:22–26

In February 2020, as the COVID-19 crisis was just beginning, a newspaper columnist’s concerns struck me. Would we willingly self-isolate, she wondered, changing our work, travel, and shopping habits so others wouldn’t get sick? “This isn’t just a test of clinical resources,” she wrote, “but of our willingness to put ourselves out for others.” Suddenly, the need for virtue was front-page news.

It can be hard to consider others’ needs while we’re anxious about our own. Thankfully, we’re not left with willpower alone to meet the need. We can ask the Holy Spirit to give us love to replace our indifference, joy to counter sadness, peace to replace our anxiety, forbearance (patience) to push out our impulsiveness, kindness to care about others, goodness to see to their needs, faithfulness to keep our promises, gentleness instead of harshness, and self-control to lift us beyond self-centeredness (Galatians 5:22–23). While we won’t be perfect at all of this, we’re called to seek the Spirit’s gifts of virtue regularly (Ephesians 5:18).

Author Richard Foster once described holiness as the ability to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done. And such holiness is needed every day, not just in a pandemic. Do we have the capacity to make sacrifices for the sake of others? Holy Spirit, fill us with the power to do what needs to be done.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

When have you made a sacrifice for the sake of others? What needs around you call for the Holy Spirit’s fruit today?

Holy Spirit, fill me afresh today and make me a person of virtue.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Gaining True Wisdom

“The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Ps. 19:7).

God’s Word imparts wisdom and knowledge beyond the realm of mere human understanding.

David’s characterization of God’s Word as “the testimony of the Lord” (Ps. 19:7) speaks of its role as God’s witness to who He is and what He requires of us. In addition, it’s a “sure” witness. That means it’s unwavering, immovable, unmistakable, reliable, and trustworthy.

Peter made the same point when, after recounting his incredible experience with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration (2 Pet. 1:16-18), he said, “but we have a testimony more sure than that—the prophetic word” (v. 19, literal translation). The testimony of God’s written Word is a surer and more convincing confirmation of God’s truth than even apostolic experiences with Christ Himself!

Perhaps that’s why our Lord prevented the two disciples on the Emmaus Road from recognizing Him as He gave them a biblical basis for the things they had seen and heard (Luke 24:27). Their faith and preaching were to be based on Scripture, not merely on their own personal experiences—no matter how profound or moving those experiences may have been.

The benefit of God’s sure Word is that it makes the simple wise (Ps. 19:7). It takes undiscerning, ignorant, and gullible people and teaches them profound truth from God that they can apply to their lives. As they do, they become skilled in the art of godly living.

That was the psalmist’s joy when he wrote, “Thy commandments make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever mine. I have more insight than all my teachers, for Thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, because I have observed Thy precepts” (Ps. 119:98-100).

Applying that principle to New Testament believers, Paul prayed that we would be “filled with the knowledge of [God’s] will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9). As that occurs, we’re enabled to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord and please Him in every respect (v. 10). That’s the outworking of godly wisdom, and the key to holy living.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that God’s wisdom will increase and abound in your life today and every day.

For Further Study

Read Luke 24:13-35, noting how Jesus ministered the Word to the disciples on the Emmaus Road.

http://www.gty.org/

Scriptures, Lessons, News and Links to help you survive.