Tag Archives: Joy

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Living Triumphantly

Peter’s life was a triumphant example of devoted service to the Lord.


Matthew 4:18-20

When studying Peter’s life, believers often focus on his mistakes—the doubt that nearly drowned him when he walked on water, and his rebuke and denial of Jesus. But Peter is also an example of triumphant living. 

An uneducated fisherman who likely had few other skills, Peter put down his nets and followed Jesus the instant he was asked. He was the first to acknowledge Christ as the Son of God (Matt. 16:16). And after the Lord’s resurrection, Peter leapt into the water and swam to shore when he noticed his Savior waiting there (John 21:7). The disciple’s devotion cannot be questioned. 

Peter is both an inspiration and a comfort for believers today. God does not choose servants who are solid rocks with no cracks or crevices. He looks for believers who are teachable, willing to repent, and prepared to surrender to God’s greater will—in spite of their weaknesses and failures. He looks for folks who are a lot like Peter. 

Too many Christians have already decided how much the Lord can do with them, based on their education, personality, or talent. But God isn’t interested in qualifications. He seeks willing followers who echo Isaiah’s call: “Here am I. Send me!” (Isa. 6:8). That’s triumphant living. 

Bible in One Year: Luke 10-11

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — The Testing

Bible in a Year:

Some time later God tested Abraham.

Genesis 22:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Genesis 22:1–3, 6–12

The first time I took my sons to hike a Colorado Fourteener—a mountain with an elevation of a least 14,000 feet—they were nervous. Could they make it? Were they up to the challenge? My youngest stopped on the trail for extended breaks. “Dad, I can’t go any more,” he said repeatedly. But I believed this test would be good for them, and I wanted them to trust me. A mile from the peak, my son who’d insisted he could go no further caught his second wind and beat us to the summit. He was so glad he trusted me, even amid his fears.

I marvel at the trust Isaac had in his father as they climbed their mountain. Far more, I’m undone by the trust Abraham had in God as he raised his knife over his son (Genesis 22:10). Even with his confused and wrenching heart, Abraham obeyed. Mercifully, an angel stopped him. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” God’s messenger declared (v. 12). God never intended for Isaac to die.

As we draw parallels from this unique story to our own with caution, it’s crucial to note the opening line: “God tested Abraham” (v. 1). Through his test, Abraham learned how much he trusted God. He discovered His loving heart and profound provision.

In our confusion, darkness, and testing, we learn truths about ourselves and about God. And we may even find that our testing leads to a deeper trust in Him.

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

How do you believe you’ve been tested by God? What was that experience like, and what did you take away from it?

God, I don’t know if what I’m experiencing is Your testing or not, but either way, I want to trust You. I give my future to You.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Heeding God’s Warnings

“By [Thy judgments] Thy servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward” (Ps. 19:11).

Heeding God’s warnings brings spiritual protection and great joy.

Psalm 19:11 concludes David’s hymn on the sufficiency of Scripture. How appropriate that it ends noting the value of God’s warning, because guarding His people against temptation, sin, error, foolishness, false teachers, and every other threat to their spiritual well-being is a major concern to God.

For example, God said to the prophet Ezekiel, “Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth, and give them warning from Me” (Ezek. 33:7). The great tragedy of the Old Testament is that Israel rejected God’s “statutes and His covenants which He made with their fathers, and His warnings with which He warned them” (2 Kings 17:15).

The apostle Paul defined his ministry as that of proclaiming Christ and warning “every man and teaching every man with all wisdom” (Col. 1:28). After exhorting the Thessalonian church to maintain sexual purity, Paul added, “The Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you” (1 Thess. 4:6).

He also warned the Ephesian church, saying, “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish [warn] each one with tears” (Acts 20:29-32). He did that by declaring to them the whole counsel of God (v. 27).

The warnings of Scripture aren’t intended to frustrate or stifle you. On the contrary, when you heed them they shelter you from spiritual harm and bring the joy of knowing you’re in God’s will. That’s the “great reward” David speaks of in Psalm 19:11. May you earn it as he eventually did through heeding God’s Word in every aspect of life.

Suggestions for Prayer

Overwhelmed with the sufficiency of God’s Word, David prayed, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer” (Ps. 19:14). Make that your prayer as well.

For Further Study

Reread Psalm 19:7-11, reviewing each characteristic and benefit of Scripture. Think carefully about how they apply to your life.

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Chosen and Adopted

Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love. For He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed) as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will [because it pleased Him and was His kind intent].

— Ephesians 1:4-5 (AMPC)

You understand adoption in the natural sense. You know some children without parents are adopted by people who purposely choose them and raise them as their own.

In the same way you have been chosen and brought into the family of God even though you were previously an outsider, unrelated to God in any way. You were a sinner serving Satan, but God in His great mercy redeemed you and purchased you with the blood of His own Son.

God loves you so much, that He adopted you into His family. Just take that in. You belong to God!

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for loving so much that you chose me and adopted me into Your family. Thank You for calling me Your own. In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –The Truth of God

Because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever.

2 John 1:2

Once the truth of God has obtained an entrance into the human heart and subdued the whole man to itself, no power, human or infernal, can dislodge it. We entertain it not as a guest but as the master of the house. This is a Christian necessity, and whoever does not believe this is not a Christian.

Those who feel the vital power of the Gospel and know the strength of the Holy Spirit as He opens, applies, and seals the Lord’s Word would rather be torn to pieces than be torn away from the Gospel of their salvation. A thousand mercies are wrapped up in the assurance that the truth will be with us forever, will be our living support, our dying comfort, our rising song, our eternal glory. This is Christian privilege, and without it our faith is worth little. Some truths we outgrow and leave behind, for they are but rudiments and lessons for beginners, but this is not so with divine truth, for though it is sweet food for babies, it is in the highest sense strong meat for men. The painful truth that we are sinners is with us to humble us and make us watchful; the more blessed truth that whoever believes on the Lord Jesus will be saved remains with us as our hope and joy. Experience, far from loosening our hold on the doctrines of grace, has tied us to them more and more firmly; our grounds and motives for believing are now stronger and more numerous than ever, and we have reason to expect that it will remain this way until in death we clasp the Savior in our arms.

Wherever this abiding love of truth can be discovered, we are bound to share in fellowship and to exercise our love. No narrow circle can contain our gracious sympathies; our communion of heart must be as wide as the ocean of grace. Error may be found mingled with truth received; let us go to war with the error but still love the brother for the measure of truth that we see in him. Above all let us love and spread the truth ourselves.

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 Mercifully Gives Life

“Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness. Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word…. Thou art my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep thy words.” (Psalm 119:40-41, 57)

Graveyards can be interesting places. Usually they are quiet places, and you can walk around and read the names and see the birthdays and the death dates of the people whose bodies are buried underground there. Most graveyards have stone markers that show the places where people’s bodies have been buried. Why do we say that their bodies are buried? Well, for Christians who have died, the body is the only part that is placed in a casket and buried underground or in a mausoleum (a tomb). The Bible teaches that when a Christian’s body dies, his or her soul keeps on living and goes immediately to be with the Lord – not to a graveyard or tomb.

One reason graveyards are interesting is that they are a good place to go if you need to think. The Bible says we can learn much from visiting the “house of mourning.” It is good for us to be reminded that we are on Earth only for one lifetime. Some of the birthdays and death dates of those people do not have very many years between them. Some of those markers are memorials for children, teen-agers, and middle-aged people. You might see a family member who has come to visit a grave of a loved one. Some people come and talk to the graves. Can their loved ones still hear them? Can they talk back?

A dead person’s ears do not work anymore. They cannot hear. They cannot speak. They cannot come back to life and have a conversation with living people who come to visit the graveyard. Even if a dead person could hear, and even if a dead person could speak, he would not be able to choose between silence and speaking. He would not be able to choose between not breathing and breathing. Part of being dead is being unable to do what living people can do.

The Bible uses the imagery of being dead or being alive to show what God does in our hearts when He saves us from our sin. Until Jesus Christ saves us, we are “spiritually dead.” We were born that way! Our physical bodies are alive, but we are not “alive” spiritually. Like a grave, we are stuck in our sin. We are trapped. We are unable to get out of our sinfulness on our own. We are unable to choose righteousness, because true righteousness is something that spiritually dead people cannot have. Only the spiritually alive people can be truly righteous and truly right with God.

Psalm 119:40-41 tells us about One Who is truly righteous, and He is the only One Who can make us spiritually alive. When it says “quicken,” it means “make alive.” The psalmist is praying that the LORD would bring him to life by His righteousness and because of His righteousness. He prays that the LORD’s mercies will come to him. Only the LORD can give spiritual life. He is a merciful God, and He saves people out of their sinfulness and spiritual death because of His righteousness, His mercy, and His faithful Word. Are you trusting the LORD to do what you cannot do on your own? Are you trusting Him to “quicken” you (to bring you to life) in His righteousness?

Spiritual life is a merciful gift only God can give.

My Response:
» Am I able to “quicken” myself from spiritual deadness to spiritual life?
» Is my heart trapped and weighed down by sinfulness?
» Is my sin too much to be covered by God’s mercy?

Denison Forum – Intercession for Haiti hostages is a story in the New York Times

“They themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9).

As of this morning, there is no reported progress on freeing the missionaries being held hostage in Haiti. But behind the scenes, Christians are praying in thirty-minute blocks around the clock for their release. Their fervent and sacrificial passion even made the pages of the New York Times.

I wanted to begin with this story, even though last week’s accidental shooting involving actor Alec Baldwin is leading today’s news. Baldwin reportedly discharged a prop gun during rehearsal for his Western film Rust, killing forty-two-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Her sister is now speaking out for the first time, sharing the “great grief” she and her family are feeling. We are also seeing claims that the assistant director has a history of unsafe practices.

In other news, Axios reports that 2020 saw a historic rise in homicides in the US—the vast majority committed with a gun—and the upward trend is continuing this year. A Harvard study shows that “loneliness appears to have increased substantially since the outbreak of the global pandemic.”

And according to a new national poll, 81 percent of Americans say life won’t return to normal anytime soon. Participants were asked to select the word or words that best described how they are feeling:

  • 62 percent chose “disappointed.”
  • 50 percent chose “hopeful.”
  • 46 percent chose “exhausted.”
  • 43 percent chose “worried.”
  • 41 percent chose “angry.”
  • 24 percent chose “indifferent.”

Clearly, the deep and rampant secularization of our culture is not improving our culture. But the good news is that Christians can respond to the bad news with the best news of all. We can do what Christians interceding for Haitian hostages can do. We can still be salt and light in ways that transform our world.

But there is an often-overlooked step we need to take first.

A term that explains our times

In his Sunday article, cultural commentator David French points us to “a new term, one I learned from John Strahan, a New Testament professor at my alma mater, Lipscomb University. That term is orthocardia. Essentially it means ‘having a right heart.’” French adds, “When I learned that term, it started to transform the way I understood our times.”

French cites Methodist pastor Jason Valendy, who explains that orthocardia is distinct from and essentially precedes orthodoxy (right belief) and orthopraxy (right practice). As French notes, “knowledge about God is distinct from faith in God. For example, one of the most famous passages in the Bible declares, ‘You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (his emphases).

French then reminds us of Paul’s statement that I can “speak in the tongues of men and of angels,” “have prophetic powers,” and “have all faith,” but if I “have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1–2).

French concludes: “I can know the right things and even do many great things, and yet there is something missing. The beliefs and practices must flow from a heart that is oriented toward God” (his emphases).

“The great essential of fitness”

I read French’s article after discovering a profoundly urgent insight in an unusual place. In my personal Bible study yesterday morning, I read the description in 1 Kings 6 of Solomon’s construction of the first temple. After he completed the structure itself, he then finished the “Most Holy Place” (v. 16) where only the high priest could enter, and that only on the Day of Atonement.

Even though only one person would see this room, Solomon “overlaid it with pure gold. He also overlaid an altar of cedar. And Solomon overlaid the inside of the house with pure gold” (vv. 20–21). He “made two cherubim of olivewood” for the inner sanctuary (v. 23) and overlaid them with gold (v. 28), then “carved engraved figures of cherubim and palm trees and open flowers, in the inner and outer rooms” (v. 29). He even “overlaid with gold” the “floor of the house” (v. 30).

The king spared no expense or detail in building a private room for worship and sacrifice that only God and the high priest would see. From this fact, I noted this life principle: we must give our Lord our best in private worship to experience his best in public service.

Oswald Chambers exhorted his ministerial students, “The private relationship of worshiping God is the great essential of fitness. . . . Worship aright in your private relationships, then when God sets you free you will be ready, because in the unseen life which no one saw but God you have become perfectly fit, and when the strain comes you can be relied upon by God.”

God’s vision for our world

When Christians are not influencing the culture in publicly transforming ways, we should ask if we are being transformed privately by God.

Salt must change what it touches. Light must defeat darkness. If you put salt on your food but taste no difference, you will assume that the salt has “lost its taste” (Matthew 5:13). If there is a lamp in a room but the room is still dark, you will assume that the light is “under a basket” (v. 15).

Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16). Like Solomon’s temple, you have outer courts the world can see and an inner court only you can enter. Is that inner court covered with the pure gold of biblical integrity in thoughts and attitudes? Or is it overlaid with sporadic Bible study, insincere worship, and partial obedience?

Here is God’s vision for our world: “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). Our Father deeply longs to change our culture with his word and longs to use us in powerful ways to this end. If he is not doing so, the blame is not with him or with our fallen culture. But if we dedicate our private lives to his worship and glory, he will use us publicly in ways that transform other lives forever.

he defining moment of Desmond Tutu’s life

Desmond Tutu, the Nobel laureate and Anglican minister who helped lead the quest to end apartheid in South Africa, was once asked by the BBC to identify the defining moment of his life. Tutu described a day he and his mother were walking down the street. He was nine years old at the time.

A tall white man dressed in a black suit came toward them. In the days of apartheid, when a black person and a white person met on a footpath, the black person was expected to step into the gutter to allow the white person to pass while nodding their head as a gesture of respect.

On this day, however, before the young Tutu and his mother could step off the sidewalk, the white man stepped aside. As they passed, he tipped his hat in a gesture of respect to her.

The white man was Trevor Huddleston, an Anglican priest who was bitterly opposed to apartheid. When Tutu’s mother told him that Huddleston had stepped off the sidewalk because he was a “man of God,” the young man found his calling: “When she told me that he was an Anglican priest, I decided then and there that I wanted to be an Anglican priest too. And what is more, I wanted to be a man of God.”

Will the people who meet you today want to be people of God because of you?

NOTE: The Ten Commandments are God’s rules for every day, but most people don’t know the rules, at least not very well. Do you? Are you living by them, and thus living well? Find out when you request the tenth volume of my Biblical Insight to Tough Questions, where I unpack each of the Ten Commandments — God’s “rules of the game” for a life well-lived. Please request your copy* today.

*You can also pre-order the entire 10-volume set of Biblical Insight to Tough Questions. In it you’ll find dozens of our culture’s toughest questions — all answered, without apology, with Scripture.

http://www.denisonforum.org/

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Sunday Reflection: The Truth About Family

Our families may be damaged this side of heaven, but brokenness in this life is an opportunity for redemption and healing.

October 24, 2021


To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.

The fact that humans are born into sin (Rom. 5:12) means families are plagued by sin as well. Sometimes this is evident in something as mundane as fighting between siblings, but for many people, brokenness manifests itself in abandonment, abuse, estrangement, death, divorce, and more.

Yet whatever the case may be, your family isn’t doomed. Instead, brokenness—in your life and in the lives of people you love—is a ripe field that’s ready for redemption and healing. When our family relationships fall short, we get to depend on the Lord’s power and see His love at work. (See 2 Cor. 12:9-10.)

It’s inevitable that we’ll be disappointed by family—we’re descendants of Adam and Eve, after all. When that happens, let’s remember trials are part of a believer’s life (John 16:33) and difficulty with family members can be expected on this side of heaven. Psalm 34:19-20 says, “The afflictions of the righteous are many, but the Lord rescues him from them all.” 

Think about it

  •  When have loved ones disappointed you? When has God strengthened your family? It’s important to acknowledge not only feelings of hurt but also moments when we’ve seen God’s faithfulness. 

Bible in One Year: Luke 8-9

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Talk, Trust, Feel

Bible in a Year:

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear.

Romans 8:15

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Romans 8:14–21

“Don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t feel was the law we lived by,” says Frederick Buechner in his powerful memoir Telling Secrets, “and woe to the one who broke it.” Buechner is describing his experience of what he calls the “unwritten law of families who for one reason or another have gone out of whack.” In his own family, that “law” meant Buechner was not allowed to talk about or grieve his father’s suicide, leaving him with no one he could trust with his pain.

Can you relate? Many of us in one way or another have learned to live with a warped version of love, one that demands dishonesty or silence about what’s harmed us. That kind of “love” relies on fear for control—and is a kind of slavery.

We can’t afford to forget just how different Jesus’ invitation to love is from the kind of conditional love we often experience—a kind of love we’re always afraid we could lose. As Paul explains, through Christ’s love we can finally understand what it means to not live in fear (Romans 8:15) and start to understand the kind of glorious freedom (v. 21) that’s possible when we know we’re deeply, truly, and unconditionally loved. We’re free to talk, to trust, and to feel once more—to learn what it means to live unafraid.

By:  Monica La Rose

Reflect & Pray

Are there any unspoken “rules” you’ve learned as conditions for acceptance and love? How might you live differently if you believed you didn’t have to follow those rules to be loved?

Loving God, at times I’m afraid to live honestly with myself and with others—thinking that by doing so I’ll no longer be loved. Heal my heart, and help me believe in and live for the glory, freedom, and joy Your love makes possible.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Fearsome Foursome

“For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death” (Romans 7:5).

Four key terms characterize those who are not in Christ.

In our fallen, cursed world, disasters are commonplace. Fires, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters happen somewhere every day. Added to those natural disasters are the man-made ones, such as war, acts of terrorism, plane crashes, train wrecks, etc.

But far greater than any of those disasters, and the one from which they all stem, was the entrance of sin into the human race. Sin renders fallen men spiritually dead, cuts them off from fellowship with God, and consigns them to eternal punishment in Hell.

In today’s verse Paul introduces four words that describe man’s unregenerate state: fleshsinlaw, and death. Those four words are interconnected: the flesh produces sin, which is stimulated by the law, resulting in death. Let’s consider each one individually.

The term flesh is used two ways in Scripture. It is sometimes used in a physical sense to speak of human existence. John used it to describe Christ’s incarnation in John 1:14 and 1 John 4:2. But in its moral sense, “flesh” represents the believer’s unredeemed body (Gal. 5:13Eph. 2:3). While believers are no longer “in the flesh” (Rom. 8:9) as are unbelievers, the flesh is still in us. It is the seat of temptation, the beachhead from which Satan launches his attacks.

Sin (or “sinful passions”) energizes the flesh, which in turn produces further sin. Those “sinful passions,” Paul says, “were aroused by the Law”; they are exposed by the law because fallen man’s rebellious nature makes him desire to do what is forbidden. The end result of this downward spiral is “death”—both physical and spiritual.

What a merciful God we serve, who “even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:5).

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for the unbelievers in your life, that God would open their hearts to respond to the gospel (Acts 16:14).

For Further Study

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Prayer Produces Patience and Hope

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.

— 2 TIMOTHY 1:7 (AMPC)

It is easy to say, “Don’t worry.” But to actually do that requires experience with the faithfulness of God. When we trust God and then see and experience His faithfulness in our lives, it gives us great confidence to live without worry, fear, and anxiety.

That’s why it is so important to continue to have faith and trust in God in the very midst of trials and tribulations. With God’s help, we can steadfastly resist the temptation to give up and quit when the going gets rough. God uses those hard, trying times to build in us patience, endurance, and character that will eventually produce the habit of joyful and confident hope.

Always remember that when you are in a battle, you are gaining valuable experience that will benefit you in the future. You will more easily trust God when difficulty comes, and you will be able to testify to others regarding the goodness and faithfulness of God. If you are in a battle right now, you can let it defeat you or make you stronger! Make the right decision and let it help bring you into a deeper level of spiritual maturity.

We serve a God Who is so marvelous that He can work out things for our good that Satan intends for harm.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for working things out for my good that Satan intends for my harm. Thank You for the Hope that only comes through You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Water Reflections

The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly.

Psalm 104:16

Without water the tree cannot flourish or even exist. Vitality is essential to a Christian. There must be life—a vital principle infused in us by God the Holy Spirit—or we cannot be trees of the Lord. Being a Christian merely in name is a dead thing; we must be filled with the spirit of divine life.

This life is mysterious. We do not understand the circulation of the water, by what force it rises, and by what power it descends again. So the life within us is a sacred mystery. Regeneration is performed by the Holy Spirit entering into man and becoming man’s life; and this divine life in a believer afterwards feeds upon Christ and is in this way sustained by divine food, but how it comes and where it goes who will explain to us?

What a secret thing the water is! The roots go searching through the soil, but we cannot see them suck out the various gases or transmute the mineral into the vegetable; this work is done down in the dark. Our root is Christ Jesus, and our life is hidden in Him; this is the secret of the Lord. The source of the Christian life is as secret as the life itself.

How permanently active is the water in the cedar! In the Christian the divine life is always full of energy—not always in fruit—bearing, but in inward operations. The believer’s graces are not always constant motion, but his life never ceases to palpitate within. He is not always working for God, but his heart is always living in Him. As the water reveals itself in producing the foliage and fruit of the tree, so with a truly healthy Christian, his grace is externally displayed in his walk and conversation. If you talk with him, he cannot help speaking about Jesus. If you notice his actions, you will see that he has been with Jesus. He is so full of Christ that He must fill his conduct and conversation.

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 Gives Joy

“The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” (Exodus 15:2)

Angela pressed her face between the white boards of her grandma’s backyard fence. She waited there for a minute, listening, and then she ran across to the other side of the yard and pressed her face up against those white boards. After a little while, she ran back to the other side, and then back again.

Grandma had been watching her from the screen door and finally opened it. “Angela, honey, what in the world are you doing?”

Angela put her finger up to her lips and ran up to her grandma. “This is what,” she whispered, pointing with both hands to both sides of the back yard. “I am listening to your neighbors!”

Grandma’s face looked shocked. “Listening to my neighbors?” she whispered back. “Whatever for?”

“I’m seeing if they are Christians, Grandma.” Angela pointed to the neighbor’s yard on the right. “That’s Mr. Cherian over there – I think he is a Christian!”

Grandma nodded. “Sam Cherian and I have talked about the Lord many times. He is a wonderful brother in Christ.”

Then Angela pointed over to the lefthand neighbor’s yard. “But I’m just not so sure about Miss Wyler. She just never sings!”

Grandma looked over toward Miss Wyler’s yard and said in a very quiet voice, “Angela, why would you say that? There is nothing in the Bible that says we have to sing in order to be genuine believers in Jesus.”

“Oh, Grandma – I know that! But sometimes you can really tell the Christians from the non-Christians because they DO sing! Mr. Cherian only has one real leg, and he isn’t grouchy at all. When I watch him working in his garden, he is always humming a hymn or singing something! And he usually has a smile on his face, too. He doesn’t even sing that great and he has that funny high voice, but he is always singing. There is something different about him, and I think it’s something joyful in his heart that makes him sing.”

Grandma nodded. “And what have you been noticing as you’ve watched Miss Wyler working in her garden?”

“Well, she is nice enough to me when I say ‘hello’ to her. But she just does not seem like a very happy person, inside or out. She hangs around with her cats and mutters under her breath about all the things that keep going wrong in her yard or with the weather. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her smile or heard her sing a single note.”

“I see what you mean, honey,” said Grandma. She put her arm around Angela’s shoulder and led her inside the house. “Wilma Wyler does seem to have a hard time remembering that there’s more to life than her cats and good gardening weather. I don’t know if she’s a true Christian or not. One thing I do know is that all of us struggle sometimes to remember God – don’t we? We get caught up in our worries and our work, and we forget that His goodness and greatness are bigger and better and longer-lasting than any of our problems.”

“I guess that’s true for me, too,” said Angela. “And I am a Christian! But I guess sometimes I don’t act like somebody who knows Jesus. If I’m really believing God is as good and great as His Word says He is, I have a lot of reason to be happy, even when things don’t go like I want. Kind of like Mr. Cherian singing in his garden even though his garden gets the exact same weather Miss Wyler’s garden gets. And Mr. Cherian has no cats and only one leg!”

“That’s right, honey. As long as we are right with God, we have every reason to rejoice in all that He has done and all that He is. Singing is one way Christians can show that our happiness is in God instead of in our circumstances.” She poured Angela a glass of lemonade and leaned over the table to hand it to her, smiling widely. “Maybe the next time we’re out back, we should sing a little song, just in case Mr. Cherian or Miss Wyler decide to ‘listen’ to their neighbors?”

God’s goodness and greatness are reasons enough for a Christian to “rejoice evermore.”

My Response:
» What do I think I need in order to be “happy”?
» Do I think of salvation as something worth singing about?
» Who is my Source for real and lasting joy?

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Greatness of God

Scripture reveals that God is a person—but one who is unchanging, infinite, and good.

Isaiah 40:12-31

Some people think God is a force somewhere in the cosmos, while others picture a benevolent grandfather type who overlooks “little” sins. But these characteristics do not fully capture who Jehovah is. The real God might surprise you. 

As the Father reveals Himself in His Word, it’s clear He is a person. Throughout Scripture, He is named (Yahweh, Elohim, Lord) or spoken of using masculine pronouns (He, Him); “it” is never used to describe Him. He fits all of the attributes of personhood—intelligence to reason, emotions to feel, and the will to make decisions. 

At the same time, Scripture also shows God’s immutability, which means His nature and character never shift—He is always Spirit, and His love remains constant. Believers can expect that God’s principles and laws will hold true and He’ll act exactly as He has promised. While He responds differently to various situations, those responses (like delight, anger, and mercy) are nuances of His being, not new traits. 

God has no beginning or end, and He is always the same (Psalm 102:27). No one created Him; God simply is. That’s hard for humans to understand, but if the Lord were completely explainable, He would be unworthy of worship. 

Bible in One Year: Luke 6-7

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Wise Christians

Bible in a Year:

The people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.

Luke 16:8

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Luke 16:1–9

The coronavirus pandemic resulted in canceled schools around the world. In China, teachers responded with DingTalk, a digital app that enabled class to be held online. Then their students figured out that if DingTalk’s rating fell too low, it might be removed from the App Store. Overnight, thousands of one-star reviews dropped DingTalk’s score.

Jesus wouldn’t be impressed with the students shirking their responsibilities, but He might admire their ingenuity. He told an unusual story about a fired manager who on his final day slashed the bills of his master’s debtors. Jesus didn’t praise the manager’s dishonesty. Rather He commended his cleverness and wished His followers would be equally shrewd: “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:9).

When it comes to money, most people look at how much they might lose. Wise people look for what they can use. Jesus said giving to others “gain[s] friends,” which provides safety and influence. Who is the leader in any group? The one who pays. Giving also gains “eternal dwellings,” for our willingness to part with our cash shows our trust is in Jesus.

Even if we don’t have money, we do have time, skills, or a listening ear. Let’s ask God to show us how to creatively serve others for Jesus.

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

Who does Jesus want you to serve today? How might you creatively use your skills, money, or time to bless this person?

Jesus, I want to give to others for You.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Source of Righteousness

“The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether” (Ps. 19:9).

God’s Word is true and produces righteousness in the believer’s life.

The inability of human wisdom to produce right living was reaffirmed in my thinking as I read a contemporary psychiatrist’s book on how to overcome depression. The doctor’s first suggestion was to shout “Cancel!” every time you have a negative thought. She also recommended playing a tape recording of positive messages while you sleep at night, and listening to positive music during the day.

Cultivating a meaningful spiritual philosophy was another of her suggestions. She said any will do—as long as it works for you—but cautioned against those that speak of sin and guilt. Her final point was to find the spiritual light within yourself.

That kind of advice is foolish because it has no basis in truth. The best it can do is mask a few symptoms. It cannot cure the illness.

Jesus illustrated the hopelessness of searching for truth through such means when He said to a group of unbelievers, “Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil . . . [who] does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. . . . He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God” (John 8:43-47).

Unbelievers don’t see the truth of God’s Word for what it is. But believers hear the truth and receive it. Like David, they acknowledge that “the judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether” (Ps. 19:9).

“Judgments” in that context speaks of ordinances or divine verdicts from the Supreme Judge. “Righteous altogether” implies that Scripture produces comprehensive righteousness in all who receive it. Together they emphasize that true righteousness originates from God’s Word and flows through His people.

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise God for giving you the truth that produces righteousness.

For Further Study

What do the following verses say about God’s righteous Word: Psalm 119:89128137-38, and 142?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – The Lord Is My Rock

The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer; my God, my keen and firm Strength in Whom I will trust and take refuge, my Shield, and the Horn of my salvation, my High Tower.

— Psalm 18:2 (AMPC)

Why do you think Jesus is referred to as “the Rock”? Because He is stable and never-changing, just like a rock. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever—and we’re supposed to imitate Him.

Waiting to see how you feel each day is never a good idea. Has anyone ever invited you to do something, and you responded, “Let me wait and see how I feel”? That just gives the devil room to make sure you don’t feel like doing what you need to do or what can benefit you. We will sometimes have unpleasant times, but we don’t have to live by our feelings; we can choose to stand firm and be stable when we find our strength in the One Who never changes.

Prayer Starter: Lord, thank You that in and through You, I can be strong and stable. In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Past, Present, Future

 ‘Do you want to go away as well?’

John 6:67

Many have forsaken Christ and have walked no more with Him; but what reason do you have to make a change? Has there been any reason for it in the past? Has Jesus not proved Himself all-sufficient? He asks you this morning, “Have I been a wilderness to you?” When your soul has simply trusted Jesus, have you ever been defeated? Have you not until now found your Lord to be a compassionate and generous friend to you, and has simple faith in Him not given you all the peace your spirit could desire? Can you even dream of a better friend than He has been to you? Then do not change the old and tried for the new and false.

As for the present, can that compel you to leave Christ? When we are hard-pressed with this world or with the severer trials within the church, we find it a most blessed thing to rest our head upon the shoulder of our Savior. This is the joy we have today—that we are saved in Him; and if this joy is satisfying, why would we think of changing? Who trades gold for dross? We will not renounce the sun until we find a better light, nor leave our Lord until a brighter lover shall appear; and since this can never be, we will hold Him with an immortal grasp and bind His name as a seal upon our arm.

As for the future, can you suggest anything that can arise that will render it necessary for you to mutiny or desert the old flag to serve under another captain? We think not. If life be long, He doesn’t change. If we are poor, what better than to have Christ who can make us rich? When we are sick, what more do we want than Jesus to comfort and to heal? When we die, is it not written that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come . . . will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”1 And so we say with Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go?”2

1) Romans 8:38-39
2) John 6:68

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 Unchanging

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed…. 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.” (James 1:5-6, 17)

With a heavy heart, Hillary stared out the window. Here it was already late October, and the leaves on the trees had not even changed color yet. But the grey sky outside matched her mood. She watched the swaying of the branches (still so full of green leaves) as a damp, cold wind blew through them. Hillary wished the leaves would just fall off. She also wished her tears would fall down, too. If only she could have a good cry, she thought maybe she would feel better.

But there wasn’t time for crying. Caroline – Hillary’s best friend and closest cousin – was all ready to move to China this week. Uncle Dave’s company was sending him and Aunt Britt and Caroline to Shanghai for two years, and Hillary was going to be left behind in plain, boring old Iowa – with only the teen-aged neighbors and the baby cousins to play with. Caroline had promised to write, but Hillary knew things would never be the same after they were gone.

“We know this is going to be especially tough for the two of you girls,” Uncle Dave had said to them. He gave Caroline and Hillary each a pretty jade ring that he and Aunt Britt had bought for them the last time they were visiting in China. “I want both of you to wear your rings every day,” he said. “When you look at them, I want you to remember that you have someone you love on the other side of the world thinking about you. Let your rings remind you to pray for each other every day.”

“These rings are made out of jade,” added Aunt Britt. “Right now you see this bright, greenish color. But when you wear jade up against your skin, it will change color a little bit, and you never know exactly how it will change for any one person. But the rings are always going to stay jade, no matter what colors they turn. I want these rings to remind you of more than each other. I want them to remind you that sometimes God brings change into our lives, partly so that He can change us, because we need to be changed. But God Himself never changes. He’s on both sides of the world. He is all-wise, and He is always there. God will never move away; He has never been afraid or lonely. Like these rings will always stay jade, God will always be the same good and great God He has always been. Even when you cannot see what changes are coming, God can, and you can put your trust in Him.”

Hillary turned away from the window and turned her jade ring around and around on her finger. She could not tell if it was starting to change colors yet or not, but she thought about what Aunt Britt had said: God will always be the same good and great God He always has been. He would be in Shanghai with Caroline, and He would stay here in Iowa with Hillary, too. She looked outside again at the still-green leaves and thanked God that even though seasons and circumstances change, she could always count on Him to be the good and great God that He has always been.

God will always be the same good and great God He always has been.

My Response:
» Am I frustrated with the changes (or the lack of change) in my life right now?
» Why does God bring change into my life?
» How can I put into practice what I know from the Bible about God’s unchanging goodness and greatness?

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Patience in the Wait

Though we, like Job, may go through hardships, God never ceases being merciful and good.

James 5:10-11

We may think our theology and attitude about the Lord are revealed by what we claim to believe. But when our prayers go unanswered and circumstances remain unchanged, the way we wait speaks volumes about our true beliefs.

Job was a God-fearing man who endured the loss of his children, health, and possessions. Yet he remained faithful to the Lord throughout his ordeal, despite a desperate need to know why he was so afflicted. In the midst of his suffering, Job cried out, “Oh, that my request might come to pass, and that God would grant my hope!” (Job 6:8). Every day was filled with unrelenting pain, but his consolation and joy were that he had “not denied the words of the Holy One” (Job 6:10). 

The world around us judges God as unfair, indifferent, or malicious, but this should never be the case with us. When the Lord remains silent during our times of adversity or confusion, we should go to His Word to discover what it says about His character and ways. Even when our feelings seem overwhelming and our faith starts to falter, we can stand firm on the facts of Scripture. 

Bible in One Year: Luke 4-5

http://www.intouch.org/