Tag Archives: human rights

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – God Is Good

At times when we’re struggling to trust God, we should remember all the ways He is good to us.

Psalm 100

One of the first things a child learns in Sunday school is that God is good. But the simplicity of this statement can be a bit misleading. That’s because God’s goodness is multifaceted, and it encompasses many of His characteristics.

First, the Lord is absolutely perfect and holy, which means that He alone is the standard of all righteousness. God is also unchanging, and therefore His dealings with us are determined by His character; even when we rebel, He is still good to us. As a loving heavenly Father, He responds with discipline—not to crush out spirit but to restore the broken relationship. 

We can see the Lord’s goodness in His gifts to us, including every breath we breathe. As our loving Shepherd, He provides for all our needs. But the greatest expression of God’s goodness is the cross of Christ. What appeared cruel and unfair from man’s perspective was the only way to rescue us from a hopeless eternity without God. 

God’s goodness is intertwined with each of His attributes, and that’s why it is a pillar of our faith. It grounds us with confidence during difficulties, so when we don’t understand what the Lord is doing, we can still trust that He is good. 

Bible in One Year: Romans 7-9

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — The Will of God

Bible in a Year:

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.

Psalm 62:5

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 62

God’s will is sometimes hard to follow. He asks us to do the right things. He calls us to endure hardship without complaining; to love awkward people; to heed the voice inside us that says, You mustn’t; to take steps we’d rather not take. So, we must tell our souls all day long: “Hey soul, listen up. Be silent: Do what Jesus is asking you to do.”

“My soul waits in silence for God alone” (Psalm 62:1 nasb). “My soul, wait in silence for God alone” (62:5 nasb). The verses are similar, but different. David says something about his soul; then says something to his soul. “Waits in silence” addresses a decision, a settled state of mind. “Wait in silence” is David stirring his soul to remember that decision.

David determines to live in silence—quiet submission to God’s will. This is our calling as well, the thing for which we were created. We’ll be at peace when we’ve agreed: “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). This is our first and highest calling when we make Him Lord and the source of our deepest pleasure. “I desire to do your will,” the psalmist said (Psalm 40:8).

We must always ask for God’s help, of course, for our “hope comes from him” (62:5). When we ask for His help, He delivers it. God never asks us to do anything He won’t or can’t do.

By:  David H. Roper

Reflect & Pray

When have you thought God’s will for you was difficult? How can you live in quiet submission?

I may not always understand Your will, Father, but I ask for help to submit to it. Teach me to trust Your good and faithful character. Please give me a submissive heart.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Disciplining Yourself for a Purpose

“Bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8).

Godliness should be the believer’s priority in life.

I’m amazed at how devoted people can be to what they believe is important. There are many people outside Christianity who live in rigid conformity to a lot of meaningless rules. People in totalitarian countries, for example, live in rigid conformity to rules predicated on a denial of biblical truth. They walk circumspectly and toe the mark.
 
Some cultists are so rigid and walk so circumspectly according to the principles dictated to them that if they’re told they can’t get married or can’t be with their spouses, they conform. They’re made to live in abstinence from physical relationships, follow strict diets, fast, and so on. Some attempt to attain spirituality through such self-disciplined acts as lying on a bed of nails or walking through hot coals.

Others, such as athletes, go through tremendous self-discipline through dieting, running, weight training, and other means that involve great sacrifice.

People disciplined in things that are ultimately meaningless may be lax in things that count. I know people who run three miles every day but will not bother to read the Bible regularly. I know other people who cannot discipline themselves to feed on the Word of God but stick rigorously to a diet. Many Christians worship physical fitness and health and are so conformed to the world’s system that they’re careless and lazy about conforming to Christ.

If you are a wise Christian, you’ll be sure to discipline yourself for godliness. You’ll know what pleases God, watch for Satan’s traps, resist the Devil, defeat temptation, and be selective about your behavior. In other words, you’ll not walk as a fool; you’ll walk in wisdom—living by God’s standards.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for His Son, the perfect example of spiritual discipline and godliness. Ask God to help you be like Him.

For Further Study

  • According to 1 Timothy 4:7, what is the purpose of spiritual discipline?
  • According to 2 Peter 1:3, what has God’s divine power granted us?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Keep Asking, Keep Seeking, Keep Knocking

For everyone who asks and keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking, the door shall be opened.

— Luke 11:10 (AMPC)

Jesus encourages us to keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking. We need to do these things, day in and day out, 365 days a year, so we can keep receiving what we need from God.

How many times do we stay awake all night wrestling with our problems and losing sleep over them instead of simply casting our cares upon the Lord and asking Him to meet our needs—then trusting Him to do so? How many hours and days have we wasted trying to reason or decide what is best in certain situations instead of simply asking God for wisdom?

Our mistake is failing to ask and seek and knock, failing to trust God, our living heavenly Father to give us the good things that we ask of Him. We should humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand know¬ing that in due time He will bring to pass what is right for us (see 1 Pet. 5:5, 6). One sincere prayer will produce more good fruit than years of our trying to solve our own problems.

In Matthew 7:11 (AMPC), Jesus says, if you then, evil as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father Who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give good and advantageous things to those who keep on asking Him. I promise you; God has good and advantageous things for you. Just keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking. We serve a God Who is so marvelous that He can work out things for our good that Satan intends for harm.

Prayer Starter: Lord, I commit to continually asking, seeking, and knocking. I know You have a great plan and will work everything out for my good. In Jesus’ name!

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Abundance in God

But there the Lord in majesty will be for us a place of broad rivers and streams.

Isaiah 33:21

“Broad rivers and streams” produce fertility and abundance in the land. Places near broad rivers are remarkable for the variety of their plants and their plentiful harvests. God is all this to His Church. Having God she has abundance. What can she ask for that He will not give her? What need can she mention that He will not supply?

“On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food.”1

Do you want the bread of life? It drops like manna from the sky. Do you want refreshing streams? The rock follows you, and that Rock is Christ.

If you still have any need, it is your own fault; if you are deprived, you are not deprived in Him, but in yourself. “Broad rivers and streams” also point to business.

Our glorious Lord is to us a place of heavenly merchandise. Through our Redeemer we have business with the past; the wealth of Calvary, the treasures of the covenant, the riches of the ancient days of election, the stores of eternity—all come to us down the broad stream of our gracious Lord.

We have business, too, with the future. What ships, laden to the water’s edge, come to us from heaven! What visions we have of a new heaven and a new earth!

Through our glorious Lord we have business with angels—communion with the bright spirits washed in blood, who sing before the throne. Better still, we have fellowship with the Infinite One. “Broad rivers and streams” are specially intended to set forth the idea of security.

Rivers were often a defense. Beloved, what a defense God is to His Church! The devil cannot cross this broad river of God. How he wishes he could turn the current, but do not fear, for God abides unchangeably the same.

Satan may annoy, but he cannot destroy us; no galley with oars shall invade our river, neither will a majestic ship pass through.

1) Isaiah 25:6

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 Light

“God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)

    “Please, try not to look at all the clutter around here!”

    “Sorry – I didn’t have time to clean off my desk.”

    “I can’t let you come in my room right now – it’s just such a mess!”

We all have been in situations where our living place was in such a mess that it would not have been polite to invite guests in. It is hard to have to say, “I can’t let you come in right now.” It is not fun to have to admit, “I’m just not ready for company today!” – how embarrassing!

Now, imagine how it would be to live in a room or stay in a whole house that did not have any light. If we cannot keep things neat and clean in the daylight or by the lamplight, then surely we could not keep things neat and clean in the dark! The place would soon become unlivable because of the mess that would start piling up. You might try to clean your bedroom in the dark, but you would not be able to see anything or do anything without breaking or bumping into something. You would probably hurt yourself just trying to get your room cleaned up!

If we want to be able to walk around and live properly in a bedroom, we need to have light enough to see where everything is and light enough to use what is in the room properly. If we want to clean up a mess, we have to have enough light to see the mess!

Have you ever compared your life to a messy house or bedroom? Sometimes our lives get busy and we stop paying attention to the sin problems that are piling up. These sins that we let go can come between us and God. We cannot enjoy fellowship with God if we have unconfessed unrighteousness in our hearts. We let our lives get cluttered and clogged with stuff that blocks our fellowship with God. Sometimes we do not even realize how “dirty” we have let our lives become. We cannot see how messy things are in our hearts!

How can we get a clear view of the mess our sins cause? The Bible teaches us that in order to walk (live) properly and be in close fellowship with God, we have to “walk in the light, as He is in the light.” What does that mean – to “walk in the light”? The Bible teaches in 1 John and other places that God is light. Do you walk with God? Do you acknowledge Him (honor and remember His presence) in everything you do? Do you remember that your sin is before Him and against Him, and do you ask His forgiveness when you sin? If you do these things, you are walking in righteousness and light. Everything is clean and clear.

On the other hand, those who reject Christ are without light. They hate light because it reveals all their evil doings. This is how it is for every person who does not have God in his life. He lives in spiritual darkness, and his life is just a mess! He cannot see how much sin has been piled high in his heart. He cannot see what a mess his life is becoming. He does not know what great fellowship with God that he is missing.

If we waited until our hearts were “ready for company,” we would never be ready for God to “visit” us. We cannot clean up our own mess before letting God in to see it. On our own, we could never get our lives cleaned up “enough” for God to be pleased with the results. To pass His inspection and to enjoy His company, we have to “receive” Him, let the “light” shine in, and let Him do a cleansing work in our hearts first. Through Christ’s righteousness, we can have light to keep on seeing our sin for what it is. We can keep on enjoying fellowship with Him as long as we walk in His light.

God gives the light we need to “see” the mess in our lives. Only through Him can we ever be “cleaned up” enough to fellowship with Him.

My Response:
» Have I received God into my heart and life?
» By God’s “light,” am I able to “see” the messiness that sin causes in my life?
» How can I keep on walking “in the light”?

Denison Forum – Ariana Grande, “manifesting,” and the path to a transformational Thanksgiving

Ariana Grande made her Broadway debut at the age of fifteen, starred on Nickelodeon’s Victorious two years later, and has released six studio albums, five of which peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. She is also the newest judge on NBC’s hit show, The Voice.

Now she is in the news for a different reason. During a recent appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallonshe revealed that she has had a “weird” manifestation gift her entire life.

In case “manifestation” is an unfamiliar concept for you, I’ll let Oprah Winfrey explain: “You control a lot by your thoughts, and we control a lot by our joined thoughts . . . by what I [and we] believe. When I started to figure that out for myself, I became careful of what I think and what I ask for. I was like what else can I do? What else can I manifest, because I have seen it work. I have seen it happen over and over again.”

Four victims were Milwaukee Dancing Grannies

On this Thanksgiving eve, it can be hard to be grateful in a fallen world filled with tragedy and suffering.

For example, we now know that four of the five people killed in the Waukesha Christmas parade attack on Sunday were part of a group of older women called the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies. The attack is just one example of a growing trend of vehicles used as weapons for mass killing.

In other news, Washington, DC, has recorded its two-hundredth homicide of the year, a mark not seen since 2003. Dozens of San Francisco area stores and pharmacies have been hit by mobs of smash-and-grab looters. And a bus carrying North Macedonian tourists crashed in flames in Bulgaria before daybreak yesterday, killing at least forty-five people, including twelve children.

In a world that feels more chaotic than ever, strategies to gain personal control will always be popular, “manifesting” among them.

“You have God potential and power”

This concept was the focus of the 2006 bestselling book, The SecretIt claims: “You are the master of your life, and the Universe is answering your every command.” This is because “you are God in a physical body. You are Spirit in the flesh. You are Eternal Life expressing itself as You.

“You are a cosmic being. You are all power. You are all wisdom. You are all intelligence. You are perfection. You are magnificence. You are the creator, and you are creating the creation of You on this planet. . . . You have God potential and power to create your world.”

The author adds: “We are the creators not only of our own destiny but also of the Universe. . . . Your life will be what you create it as, and no one will stand in judgment of it, now or ever. You are the master of the Universe. You are the heir to the kingdom. You are the perfection of Life.”

As a result, “You can have, be, or do anything you want.” Here’s how: “Decide what you want to be, do, and have, think the thoughts of it, emit the frequency, and your vision will become your life.” This is because “all good things are your birthright! You are the creator of you.”

Is this biblical? The author claims: “Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Jesus were not only prosperity teachers, but also millionaires themselves, with more affluent lifestyles than many present-day millionaires could conceive of.” You can join them, or so the book says.

“Shut up I’m manifesting”

Now this promise has been made into a process that is exploding in popularity.

Vox reports that “a new generation is discovering its central thesis” on social media: “On TikTok, teenagers share stories about how ‘scripting,’ or repeatedly writing down a wish,” is working for them. Vloggers on YouTube are leading tutorials on “how to properly manifest your dream future.” Instagram and Twitter are being used to “manifest” as well.

During one five-month period last year, Google searches for “manifesting” skyrocketed 669 percent; “shut up I’m manifesting” was one of the defining memes of the year. The article explains that “manifesting” was especially attractive during the pandemic quarantine, giving people “a way to accomplish something we have control over in a time when we’re mostly powerless to effect any real change.”

It adds, “There is also a lower barrier to entry than almost any other activity: All you need are your dreams and to think about how nice it would be if they all came true.”

Why “manifesting” doesn’t work

According to German academic and NYU psychology professor Gabriele Oettingen, the advice espoused in books like The Secret is demonstrably false. She states: “The more positively people dream about the future, the better they feel at the moment. People relax and their blood pressure goes down. But you need the energy to implement your wishes, and over time, they actually get more depressed, partly because they’re putting in less effort and have less success.”

Substantiating her concern, the Vox article points to “decades of scientific research and dozens of studies proving that, often, positive thinking actually makes us more complacent and therefore less likely to muster the effort to achieve our goals.”

Of course, the larger issue with The Secret and the “manifesting” phenomenon it has sparked is theological. Satan’s central lie from Eden to today is the same: “You will be like God” (Genesis 3:5). But there can be only one God in your life. There is room for only one occupant on the throne of your mind and heart. If you choose yourself, you substitute your fallen mind for divine omniscience, your finite capacities for divine omnipotence, and your sinful attitudes and actions for the sanctifying and empowering Holy Spirit.

If you resign from your throne today and enthrone Jesus as your authoritative King (Matthew 28:18), surrendering your life and day to his Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) and asking him to guide and use your life for his glory and our good (Proverbs 3:5–6), you will have great cause for thanksgiving this day and every day.

You can attempt to “manifest” your desires for your purposes, or you can ask Jesus to manifest himself and his perfect will in your life and influence (Romans 12:1–2). But you cannot do both.

“Only one sermon to preach”

Vance Havner testified, “If I had only one sermon to preach, it would be on the Lordship of Christ. When we get right on that point, we are right all down the line. God honors the exaltation of his Son.”

Keith Green was right: “Making Jesus Lord of our life is not something passive. It’s not a state of being, it’s a state of doing.” Watchman Nee added: “A day must come in our lives, as definite as the day of our conversion, when we give up all right to ourselves and submit to the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ.”

Has that day come for you yet?

http://www.denisonforum.org/

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Quieting Your Soul

When we make time to be alone with the Father and quiet in His presence, we experience His peace.

Psalm 131

Do you hurry through your prayer time so you can get to other things? If so, consider the values Jesus modeled when He spent time with His Father. 

Solitude. Though Jesus was constantly surrounded by people as He tended to their needs, His own need for seclusion was important. Often, after an intense period of ministry, He’d retreat from the crowds—and even His disciples—to pray in private. 

Safeguarded time. Jesus protected His time so He could rest in the Spirit, be with the Father, and build up physical and emotional strength. Even when people were clamoring for His attention, Jesus safeguarded this time, knowing that His ministry would flow from it. 

Stillness. Psalm 46:10 calls us to quietness with these words: “Stop striving and know that I am God.” To develop this inner peace, stop everything you’re doing, and let your soul become aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence. In Psalm 46:2 of today’s reading, David described stillness as being like a “weaned child” who’s at perfect rest and happy in his mother’s arms. 

These values may seem challenging in our fast-paced, multitasking world. But when you quiet your heart before the Lord, you’ll discover how much you need the peace of His presence. 

Bible in One Year: Romans 4-6

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Sharing Hope

Bible in a Year:

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:11

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

2 Timothy 3:10–17

As Emma shared how God helped her embrace her identity as His beloved child, she weaved Scripture into our conversation. I could barely figure out where the high school student stopped speaking her words and began quoting the words of God. When I commended her for being like a walking Bible, her brow furrowed. She hadn’t been intentionally reciting Scripture verses. Through daily reading of the Bible, the wisdom found in it had become a part of Emma’s everyday vocabulary. She rejoiced in God’s constant presence and enjoyed every opportunity He provided to share His truth with others. But Emma isn’t the first young person God has used to inspire others to prayerfully read, memorize, and apply Scripture.

When the apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to step into leadership, he demonstrated confidence in this young man (1 Timothy 4:11–16). Paul acknowledged that Timothy was rooted in Scripture from infancy (2 Timothy 3:15). Like Paul, Timothy faced doubters. Still, both men lived as if they believed all Scripture was “God-breathed.” They recognized Scripture was “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (vv. 16–17).

When we hide God’s wisdom in our hearts, His truth and love can pour into our conversations naturally. We can be like walking Bibles sharing God’s eternal hope wherever we go.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

How do you hide Scripture in your heart and mind? How has God’s wisdom helped you share His truth with others?

Father, saturate my heart with Your wisdom so I can share You with others naturally and courageously.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – From Jacob to Israel

“By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped” (Heb. 11:21).

Jacob’s life typifies the spiritual pilgrimage from selfishness to submission.

Jacob’s life can be outlined in three phases: A stolen blessing, a conditional commitment, and a sincere supplication.

From the very beginning it was God’s intention to bless Jacob in a special way. But Jacob, whose name means “trickster,” “supplanter,” or “usurper,” tricked his father into blessing him instead of his older brother, Esau (Gen. 27:1-29). As a result, Jacob had to flee from Esau and spend fourteen years herding flocks for his Uncle Laban.

As Jacob traveled toward Laban’s house, God appeared to him in a dream (Gen. 28:10-22) and made him the recipient of the covenant promises first made to his grandfather, Abraham, then to his father, Isaac.

Jacob’s response is revealing, for he “made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, and I return to my father’s house in safety, then the Lord will be my God'” (vv. 20-21, emphasis added). Jacob’s conditional vow said in effect, “God, if you’ll give me what I want, I’ll be your man.”

Despite Jacob’s selfish motives, God did bless him, but He humbled him too. By the time he left Laban’s house, Jacob was ready to yield to God’s will unreservedly. Note his change of heart in Genesis 32:10: “I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which Thou hast shown to [me].”

Then the Lord appeared in the form of a man and wrestled with Jacob all night (v. 24). Jacob refused to let Him go until he received a blessing. That wasn’t a selfish request, but one that came from a heart devoted to being all God wanted him to be. That’s when the Lord changed Jacob’s name to “Israel,” which means “he fights or persists with God.”

Like Abraham and Isaac before him, Jacob never saw the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises. Yet on his spiritual journey from Jacob to Israel, from selfishness to submission, he learned to trust God and await His perfect timing.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for grace to consistently pursue God’s will, and patience to wait on His perfect timing.

For Further Study

Read Jacob’s story in Genesis 27-35.

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Resist Fear, Embrace Faith

Without faith it is impossible to please Him.

— Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)

Satan works overtime attempting to fill our lives with fear. Since we hear from God by faith, we must resist fear aggressively. The Bible says that Word reveals a righteousness that leads us from faith to faith (see Romans 1:17). If we learn who we are in Christ Jesus and understand how much He loves us, we can approach everything and anything in an attitude of faith. God has said repeatedly that we do not need to fear because He is with us.

The prayer that is of faith will help us and others in amazing ways; therefore, I encourage you to keep your faith strong. We receive God’s will through prayers of faith, but we can also receive Satan’s will through fear. Job said that the thing he feared came upon him (see Job 3:25), so be sure to live from faith to faith. Approach everything you do believing that God is good and expecting to receive His best.

Prayer is one of the most important things we must approach with a heart full on faith. This opens the windows of heaven and releases the power of God in our lives and circumstances. Be very watchful that fear doesn’t sneak into your prayers and hinder you from receiving what God wants for you. If you are having a serious problem with fear, I recommend that you begin your prayers by saying, “I approach God in faith today and I resist all fear.” Now pray boldly, expecting to hear from God and remember that God answers your prayers because He is good, not because you are perfect.

Prayer Starter: Lord, thank You that in and through You, I be strong, resist fear and receive everything You have for me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Complete Fellowship

Fellowship with him.

1 John 1:6

When we were united by faith to Christ, we were brought into such complete fellowship with Him that we were made one with Him, and His interests and ours became mutual and identical.

We have fellowship with Christ in His love. What He loves we love. He loves the saints—so do we. He loves sinners—so do we. He loves the poor perishing race of man and longs to see earth‘s deserts transformed into the garden of the Lord—so do we.

We have fellowship with Him in His desires. He desires the glory of God—we also work for the same. He desires that the believers may be with Him where He is—we desire to be with Him there too. He desires to drive out sin—behold, we fight under His banner. He desires that His Father’s name may be loved and adored by all His creatures—we pray daily, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

We have fellowship with Christ in His sufferings. We are not nailed to the cross, nor do we die a cruel death, but when He is reproached, we are reproached; and it is a very sweet thing to be blamed for His sake, to be despised for following the Master, to have the world against us.

The disciple should not be above His Lord. In our measure we fellowship with Him in His labors, ministering to men by the word of truth and by deeds of love.

Our meat and our drink, like His, is to do the will of Him who has sent us and to finish His work.

We also have fellowship with Christ in His joys. We are happy in His happiness; we rejoice in His exaltation. Have you ever tasted that joy, believer? There is no purer or more thrilling delight to be known this side of heaven than that of having Christ’s joy fulfilled in us, that our joy may be full. His glory awaits us to complete our fellowship, for His Church will sit with Him upon His throne as His well-beloved bride and queen.

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 Worthy of Our Gratitude

“O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” (Psalm 107:1)

Thanksgiving might be your favorite holiday. Many American children love everything to do with Thanksgiving. Maybe when you think of Thanksgiving, you think of a banquet – turkey, sweet potatoes with marshmallows and brown sugar on top, mashed potatoes and gravy, fresh-baked dinner rolls and various vegetables. Of course, there are the pies, ice cream, and other desserts. Maybe you love the tradition of getting together with family and friends. Perhaps your loved ones come from a long way away to spend the holiday with you. Many families think of Thanksgiving as a time to play games, remember the past, play out-side and just enjoy being together again. For you, Thanksgiving might bring back many memories – good memories.

More than anything else, the observation of the Thanksgiving holiday ought to remind us of the God the pilgrims came to America to worship. These people left everything they knew and moved their families thousands of miles so that they could worship God the way they believed the Bible teaches. They were treated badly in their homelands because they would not give in to the way everyone else had decided religion should be done. They wanted to teach their children according to the doctrines of the Bible. They wanted to trust and obey God and His Word over the opinions of men and women. So they risked their lives to cross the ocean and come to America. God was that important to them.

Not everything went well once they reached America, either. There were difficulties they could never have imagined. Some of the natives were hostile and fought against them. The winters were very harsh, and sickness took some of their lives. But God, in His great kindness, provided for them. He provided relationships with some kind natives who helped them. They helped the pilgrims understand how to farm and taught them how to get along in this world that was so new to them. Surely, in many other ways God provided for them. The pilgrims were thankful for all these things.

All of us have many things for which we can be thankful. But it is God Himself Who ought to cause us to feel most grateful. He is the Giver of so many of our gifts. But we ought to love and praise the Giver more than we love and praise the gifts He has given us. God chose to be good to us and provide good things for us. He did so because He Himself is good. Even when we are not as good as we should be, God is still good. And all that is good comes from God. That’s what we are told in God’s Word, the Bible that the pilgrims held in such high honor. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

This Thanksgiving – and every day! – remember all the good things God has given you and your family. And remember what the psalmist did: “give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good!”

God is worthy of our thanks because He Himself is perfectly good and gives such good gifts.

My Response:
» Do I have a thankful heart every day?
» What am I most grateful to God for in my life?
» How can I show every day that God’s goodness and greatness are worth my praise?

Denison Forum – Our Black Friday consumerism is a battleground for America’s soul

You’ve probably heard Black Friday horror stories, like when Wal-Mart employee Jdimytai Damour was trampled and killed in 2008 by crazed shoppers, or when, more commonly, shoppers break out into fights.  

While these horrific stories are fairly rare—and with the rise in online shopping such accidents will hopefully decrease—such Black Friday dashes show an ugly underbelly to American consumerism. 

You may think that “battleground” is hyperbolic or overdramatic. Before you judge the title too harshly, listen to the apostle Paul’s statement on spiritual warfare: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Satan, who is the “accuser,” the “slanderer,” actively strategizes against us. It seems that Satan would leverage subtle methods to undermine our walk with Christ whenever he can.

That poses the question, what battlegrounds exist in America? 

While some are obvious, and we write on them at Denison Forum frequently, some are perhaps a bit more subtle. 

The subversive element of Jesus’ teaching is that we don’t wrestle with “flesh and blood” (i.e., people themselves) as Paul says. We are called to love and not to fight them, to turn the other cheek. But that doesn’t mean we don’t battle against the powers of spiritual darkness. 

Interestingly, the Greek word for “authorities” or “powers” in Ephesians 6:12 has the root word ousia, which means wealth. 

Consumerism presents a battleground where it appears that Satan continues to gain ground on Christians. Perhaps consumerism gains ground because it is so widespread. Let’s unfold some of Satan’s schemes and common temptations that plague our consumerist culture. 

Consumerism as a battlefield 

Consumerism is “a social and economic order that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts.”

The attitude of consumerism refers more to the idea that consumer goods and material possessions lead to happiness. Our culture of consumerism seems particularly driven by instant gratification. The lockdown during the pandemic meant a rise in e-shopping and online sales. While online sales were already overtaking malls and brick-and-mortar stores, COVID quickened America’s spending habits to rely on online shopping. Though convenient, and something I use frequently, online shopping helps feed consumerism. 

I recently heard a phrase that was incredibly helpful: “Lifestyle creep.” The more money we make, the more we tend to spend to match what we picture our lifestyle “should be” given that salary. Many never grow out of the adolescent desire to pose with more expensive name brands that don’t accurately reflect one’s level of wealth. 

All of this deepens an itch for more wealth or more things. When we catch the itch and try to scratch it, we find that the itch persists.

Both natural social pressures and advertisements push us artificially into needs that don’t truly exist or into wants that lead us astray. That social pressure comes from our friends. And that’s a great question to ask in self-reflection: Are your friends influencing you toward lifestyle creep?

Is money your master? 

The sin comes not in buying things, nor in wealth. Rather, it bursts through the door when material possessions or money become the chief thing we glorify, or the chief thing that we long for—when it becomes our master. 

This is why, although getting money is never deemed a sin in the Bible, Jesus teaches, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24 emphasis mine). 

This is one of the hardest sayings from Jesus. We can make masters out of family, friends, children, politics, social status, sex, alcohol, food, clothing, intellectual pursuits, fame, money, or anything else that isn’t the one true Lord. Whatever we make our master becomes an idol, and our worship of it becomes sin. 

If the supply chain problems persist, inflation continues to rise, and some planned purchases are out of reach, what will your response be? 

Even though most (though not all) Americans can live comfortable and secure lives, it seems that the worry around money is only increasing. Even as our wealth increases, Americans are incredibly anxious about money. 

Money was the number one cause of stress for Americans in 2021, higher than personal relationships or work. According to Gallup, America is in the top ten most stressed countries, yet America’s GDP per capita is thirteenth in the world. 

Wealth cannot satisfy us. 

I say all of that to say that each of us tends to put some things over the other. Satan exploits those as best he can, but Jesus redeems them with his ultimate power. 

When I look across our culture, one of the weak spots Satan uses is in that pursuit of more. That dangerous desire looks not to reasonable goals, wise stewardship, or healthy money management, but always to more

In that way, consumerism consumes us

How Black Friday works

Though everyone knows these facts mentally, it’s still easy to be fooled.

Companies make money from Black Friday deals—they’re not doing it for charity. Ask yourself: When shopping for a particular Black Friday deal, did you stop to buy extra things? At the end of the day, are you actually saving money? 

The truth is that Black Friday sales will come around next year, and often better deals for the same products will roll around soon after Christmas. Here are a few psychological tricks Black Friday uses according to CNBC

  • Buying things at a deal is satisfying. 
  • We have a fear of missing out on “limited time offers” (though they’re usually not limited).
  • Shopping momentum makes us buy multiple unrelated items.
  • Shopping can be an escape from the stress of Thanksgiving.

I was recently at a conference where the speaker referred to both financial “savers” and “spenders” for couples. Most couples are a mix of saver and spender. The ones who are both spenders the speaker jokingly called “broke,” and the couples who were both “savers” he called “boring.” 

I’m not advocating for being boring. I’m advocating for sober-mindedness and holding money lightly. Have fun with your purchases, but don’t let consumerism play your heartstrings.

Just remember that a sober-minded perspective will rarely come easily. That mindset is constantly opposed by social pressure and targeted advertising. Consumerism falls under Paul’s idea about the human tradition of empty deceit and philosophy. (Colossians 2:8). 

Like many struggles in life, the solution to overcoming consumerism will vary from person to person. The best general answer to these questions are “good judgment,” or “wisdom.” 

That being said, there are a few pointers from God’s word, as well as a freebie from my experience. 

How to stand firm 

First, become more content in Christ. 

David writes in the psalms, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1–2). 

Second, actively stay aware and awake to the temptation.

While we “cast all our anxieties” on Jesus, we also must “be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:7–8). 

Third, buy what you’d already intended to buy.

I’ll share a practical tip that helps me. Only use Black Friday deals if you were planning on buying the thing in the first place. For instance, in researching for this, I ran across the fact that Apple Watches will go on sale. In the past, I’ve personally decided against buying one. (I’ll stick to my hardy ten-dollar CASIO watch.) 

Yet I have to admit, seeing the deal almost sucked me in.

Interestingly, it seems that both penny-pinching and egregious spending are cut from the same cloth: the worship of money. 

Act with an open hand around money, be generous, and be sober-minded around a season that can hijack our hearts to consume. Stand firm against worldly powers and philosophies, living in peace with the circumstances Christ has given us. 

And of course, remember to be thankful. 

http://www.denisonforum.org/

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Flee Youthful Lusts

The more we develop a taste for godly living, the less we’re enticed by sinful pleasures.

2 Timothy 2:20-23

It might be tempting to think that today’s passage applies only to the young. But no matter our age, every one of us should flee youthful lusts because they prevent us from pursuing what God desires: righteousness, faith, love, and peace with fellow believers. 

What exactly did Paul have in mind when he wrote about “youthful lusts” in 2 Timothy 2:22? He was referring to strong uncontrolled desires that are characteristic of the young and immature but may continue throughout life without the Holy Spirit’s guidance. In his first epistle, John wrote, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world” (1 John 2:16). These relate to the selfishness, greed, ambition, and pleasure through which Satan has influenced unbelievers everywhere.

All these longings war against God’s will for us because they are not from Him. Uncontrolled longings for pleasure, entertainment, beauty, prominence, possessions, wealth, or popularity are all self-focused and aimed at getting what we want. The way to overcome is to flee from them and begin pursuing God’s desires for our life, as revealed in His Word. 

Bible in One Year: Romans 1-3

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — True Worshipers

Bible in a Year:

True worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth.

John 4:23

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

John 4:19–26

She finally had the chance to visit the church. Inside, in the deepest part of the basement, she reached the small cave or grotto. Candles filled the narrow space and hanging lamps illuminated a corner of the floor. There it was—a fourteen-pointed silver star, covering a raised bit of the marble floor. She was in Bethlehem’s Grotto of the Nativity—the place marking the spot where according to tradition Christ was born. Yet the writer, Annie Dillard, felt less than impressed, realizing God was much bigger than that spot.

Still, such places have always held great significance in our faith stories. Another such place is mentioned in the conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well—the mountain where her “ancestors worshiped” (John 4:20), referring to Mount Gerizim (see Deuteronomy 11:29). It was sacred to the Samaritans, who contrasted it to the Jewish insistence that Jerusalem was where true worship occurred (v. 20). However, Jesus declared the time had arrived when worship was no longer specific to a place, but a Person: “the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth” (v. 23). The woman declared her faith in the Messiah, but she didn’t realize she was talking to Him. “Then Jesus declared, ‘I, the one speaking to you—I am he’ ” (v. 26).

God isn’t limited to any mountain or physical space. He’s present with us everywhere. The true pilgrimage we make each day is to approach His throne as we boldly say, “Our Father,” and He is there.

By:  John Blase

Reflect & Pray

What difference does it make to you knowing that God is spirit, always and ever present? What will you praise Him for in this moment?

Father, thank You for Your constant presence no matter where I am.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Watch Your Step

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15).

Walking wisely is a step in the right direction.

Sometimes a soldier has the thankless task of clearing mine fields from enemy territory. If you’re aware of the procedure, you know the work is both dangerous and tedious. To proceed in an orderly fashion, a soldier marks areas that are considered dangerous and areas that have been cleared. Above all, he makes sure he is careful where he’s walking!
 
In the spiritual realm, Paul is telling believers in Ephesians 5:15 to walk carefully. The Greek term translated “careful” speaks of looking carefully from side to side and being alert to what is going on. We need to be extremely alert because the world we’re walking through is a mine field of sin and temptation. Therefore, we must walk carefully, exactly, and accurately. The wise Christian carefully charts his course according to life principles designed by God. He doesn’t trip over the obstacles that Satan puts in his path or fall into the entanglement of the world’s system. He is “careful.”
 
The Greek word translated “walk” means “daily conduct,” “daily pattern,” or “daily life.” The daily pattern of our lives must reflect wisdom. The Greeks saw wisdom primarily as head knowledge. They tended to spin off theories that had no practical implications. To them, the wise people were the intellectuals and the philosophers. The Hebrew mind, however, defined wisdom only in terms of behavior. When a person becomes a Christian, it’s more than a change in theory—it’s a change in how he lives.

Paul is saying in verse 15, “If you used to be a fool, but you’ve been made wise in Christ, then walk wisely.” In other words, we’re to practice our position, to live in accordance with who we are. When we became Christians, we came out of foolishness into wisdom. Therefore, we need to act like it!

Be careful not to act foolishly and step on Satan’s mines. Your spiritual transformation demands that you live your life with care.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord for helping you obey His Word and avoid Satan’s destructive mines.

For Further Study

Read Titus 3:1-8. What are you to be careful to do (v. 8)? Why?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Enjoy Life

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

— 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV)

I think the greatest tragedy in life is to live and not enjoy life. If you are at war with yourself all the time, you are not enjoying your life. God changes us from one degree of glory to another, but don’t forget to take time to enjoy the glory you are in right now while you are headed for the next one. Don’t compare the glory you are in with the glory of some friend or family member who appears to be in a greater degree of glory. Each of us is an individual, and God deals with us differently, according to what He knows we need and can handle.

You may not notice changes on a daily basis, but as you look back over time you will see very definite changes in yourself. Believe that God is working, just as He said He would. Remember, we see after we believe, not before. We wrestle and struggle with ourselves because of all that we are not when we should be praising and worshipping God for all that we are. As we worship Him for Who He is, God’s character is released into our lives and begins to manifest.

Prayer Starter: Lord, I will be glad today because You are changing me from glory to glory. Thank You for working in my life, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –He Tends His Flock

Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he guarded sheep.

Hosea 12:12

In conversation with Laban, Jacob described what he had done: “These twenty years I have been with you. . . . What was torn by wild beasts I did not bring to you. I bore the loss of it myself. From my hand you required it, whether stolen by day or stolen by night. There I was: by day the heat consumed me, and the cold by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes.”1

Even more arduous than this was the life of our Savior here below. He watched over us until He was able to say, “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.”2 His hair was wet with dew, and His locks with the drops of the night. Sleep departed from His eyes, for all night He was in prayer wrestling for His people.

One night Peter must be pleaded for; suddenly another claims His tearful intercession. No shepherd sitting beneath the cold skies, looking up to the stars, could ever utter such complaints because of the hardness of his toil as Jesus Christ might have brought, if He had chosen to do so, because of the sternness of His service in order to procure His bride.

Cold mountains and the midnight air,
Witnessed the fervor of His prayer;
The desert His temptations knew,
His conflict and His victory too.

It is helpful to meditate upon the spiritual parallel of Laban having required all the sheep at Jacob’s hand. If they were torn by beasts, Jacob must make it good; if any of them died, he must guarantee their replacement.

Was not the toil of Jesus for His Church the toil of One who was under obligation to bring every believing one safe to the hand of Him who had committed them to His charge? Look upon toiling Jacob, and you see a representation of Him of whom we read, “He will tend His flock like a shepherd.”3

1) Genesis 31:38-40
2) John 18:9
3) Isaiah 40:11

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 Helps Us for His Name’s Sake

“Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me. For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.” (Psalm 31:2-3)

Have you ever met someone who was “in charge”? Sure, you have! We all know someone who is in charge of something, or in charge of someone else. To be “in charge” means to be responsible to take care of something.

If your parents put you “in charge” of the new pet puppy dog in your home, that means you have to feed the puppy, give him water, wash him, teach him to obey commands, and take him outside for walks. If the puppy has a clean, shiny coat, and if he is friendly and well-behaved, then people will tell you that you are doing a great job training him and taking care of him. On the other hand, if the puppy damages something very valuable, makes a mess, or bites someone’s hand – you might find yourself in a little trouble! Anything bad that the puppy does could be blamed on you! Your hard work and special care is reflected by your puppy’s behavior and appearance. But if you neglect (forget or ignore) your responsibilities with your puppy, his behavior and appearance will show that, too!

God is in charge of us – did you realize that? If you are God’s child, He has adopted you and brought you into His household. You bear His name now. Your appearance and your behavior ought to reflect Him – they ought to show to other people the good character your Heavenly Father has and the great works that He has done. If you act like an unbeliever, someone who doesn’t know or love God, then your life cannot reflect God’s character and works very well to other people.

Did you know that God is the perfect refuge (place to hide, place to find safety and comfort), and that He will lead you along and point you in he right direction when you are not sure what to do or where to go? That’s what King David believed in the Old Testament, and he was worshipping the same Heavenly Father that we know and love. Read Psalm 31:1-5. What can you learn about God from that part of Scripture?

God takes His responsibility for us seriously. He never messes up. He never does anything accidentally, and He is never surprised. He has a reputation to uphold. Unlike us, God is right to be concerned about His own reputation (His name, or His glory). Being the only perfect God, He has every right to care about His glory. God’s character is always holy and perfect, and He will be faithful for eternity. Because He is all these things (and more!), God cares a great deal about His glory – His good name – and those who bear His name are in His charge.

If you are trusting Him, God is in charge of you. He will lead you and He will guide you. He does that not just for your sake, but for His own name’s sake. He loves to give us the wisdom and guidance we need. He loves to help us and protect us. His care for us is one way He shows publicly what a great and good God He is.

God takes care of His own people, for His glory and for their good.

My Response:
» Is it easy for me to forget Whose name I bear and Who is in charge of my life?
» What do I do or say that reflects upon the glory (the good name) of my Heavenly Father?
» What must I change so that my thinking and behavior line up with the Bible’s true teachings about God’s goodness and greatness?