Tag Archives: lord jesus christ

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Uncertainty in Intercession

When we don’t know how to pray for someone, the prayers recorded in the Bible are a good place to start.

Philippians 1:9-11

Sometimes we don’t know how to pray. That can happen when others ask us to pray for them but they feel uncomfortable sharing personal details. Or maybe we’ve lost touch with a person on our prayer list, so we aren’t sure about the best way to intercede on his or her behalf. We can also be confused about our own requests, especially when circumstances are complicated. 

Whenever we’re unsure, we can seek God’s guidance from the prayers recorded in Scripture. Although we often tend to focus on practical concerns involving our circumstances, the Lord’s priority is spiritual health. That’s what we see in Paul’s petition for the Christians at Philippi. He prayed that their love for each other would increasingly overflow and that they’d “keep on growing in knowledge and understanding”; his prayer was also that they would grasp what really mattered in order to “live pure and blameless lives” (Phil. 1:9-10 NLT). 

These are good guidelines for requests because they deal with emotions and judgments, both of which can lead us astray unless guided by godly discernment and wisdom. We all need the Lord’s help in these areas, so let’s not hesitate to ask Him for it. 

Bible in One Year: Romans 10-13 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Enduring Hope

Bible in a Year:

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.

Revelation 21:4

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Revelation 21:1–8

Doctors diagnosed four-year-old Solomon with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a progressive muscle-degenerating disease. A year later, doctors discussed wheelchairs with the family. But Solomon protested that he didn’t want to have to use one. Family and friends prayed for him and raised funds for a professionally trained service dog to help keep him out of that wheelchair for as long as possible. Tails for Life, the organization that trained my service dog, Callie, is currently preparing Waffles to serve Solomon.

Though Solomon accepts his treatment, often bursting out in song to praise God, some days are harder. On one of those difficult days, Solomon hugged his mom and said, “I’m happy there’s no Duchenne’s in heaven.”

The degenerating effects of sickness affect all people on this side of eternity. Like Solomon, however, we have an enduring hope that can strengthen our resolve on those inevitable tough days. God gives us the promise of “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1). Our Creator and Sustainer will “dwell” among us by making His home with us (v. 3). He will “wipe every tear” from our eyes. “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (v. 4). When the wait feels “too hard” or “too long,” we can experience peace because God’s promise will be fulfilled.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

How has acknowledging God’s promise for a new heaven and a new earth comforted you? How can you encourage a hurting friend with the enduring hope of God’s promises?

Loving God, thank You for strengthening my resolve with the surety of my enduring hope.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Accepting God’s Plan

“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict” (Heb. 11:23).

God makes His plans; you walk in them by faith. He doesn’t need your help or counsel—just your obedience and trust.

It has been wisely said that trying to improve on God’s plan is more pretentious than trying to improve the Mona Lisa with an ink pen. All you’d do is ruin the masterpiece.

The story of Amram and Jochebed, the parents of Moses, is about two people who refused to ruin the masterpiece. They trusted God implicitly and did everything possible to see His plan for their son come to fruition.

Because of the number and might of the Hebrew people in Egypt, the pharaoh enslaved them and ordered that all male Hebrew babies be put to death. In direct defiance of that wicked edict, Moses’ parents hid their baby for three months, then placed him in a waterproofed basket along the banks of the Nile River near the place where Pharaoh’s daughter bathed. One can only imagine the faith it took for them to risk their own lives, as well as the life of their baby, by placing him into that basket and introducing him into the very household of the one who wanted all male Hebrew babies slain.

By God’s providence, Pharaoh’s daughter found the baby, took pity on him, and adopted him into her family. More than that, the Lord used Moses’ quick-thinking sister, Miriam, to arrange for Jochebed to nurse and care for her own son! That gave Moses’ family the opportunity to teach him of God’s promises for Israel to inherit the Promised Land, become a mighty nation, and be a blessing to all nations. They helped instill within Moses the faith in God that would later characterize his life.

You may never be called on to make the kind of sacrifice that Moses’ parents made, but no matter what the risks, remember God always honors your obedience.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for His plan for your life. Seek wisdom and grace to live accordingly.

For Further Study

Read of Israel’s oppression and Moses’ birth in Exodus 1:1—2:10.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – An Attitude of Gratitude

Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice! Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit) . . . Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.

— Philippians 4:4-6 (AMPC)

You need to develop an “attitude of gratitude.” This doesn’t mean you should live with your heads in the clouds and pretend nothing negative exists. It simply means you make it your goal in life to be as positive as possible.

Go to bed tonight pondering everything you have to be thankful for. Do the same first thing tomorrow morning. Thank God for everything—a convenient parking place; the fact you can walk, see, or hear; your children. Don’t become discouraged with yourself when you fall short, and don’t quit. Keep at it until you have developed new habits.

Prayer of the Day: Father, I have so much to thank You for, but mostly, I thank You for saving me and for being with me all the time. I love You, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Living the Truth

If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

John 13:17

Can you recall a time when a stranger approached you out of the blue and asked what you believe about Jesus Christ and the Christian faith? I imagine that you have had very few, if any, experiences like that. We ought to be prepared for such encounters, to be sure; the apostle Peter tells us to be ready to give a reason for the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15). But opportunities to explain what we believe most often result not from random encounters with strangers but from the way we live day in and day out before those who know us well.

How we live and what we believe ought to reflect our attachment to Christ. This is one reason why Peter says Christians are “a people for [God’s] own possession” (1 Peter 2:9). Our connection to Jesus as those who are in Him and belong to Him is comprehensive. That means we are not at liberty to believe whatever we want; we are not free to form our own views of marriage, of sexuality, of finance, or of anything else. Our view is now to reflect that of our Messiah and Teacher, Jesus. But He is not content with His disciples simply knowing the truth. They also need to be living the truth: “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” Believing must lead to doing. We are not free to behave in any way we like either, then. Our conduct is to reflect that of our sacrificial Savior, Jesus.

Many contemporary religions and secular creeds require nothing of your lifestyle; they leave you free to live as you please. (In fact, many make that their guiding principle: that you do what seems right to you.) But the call to Christian discipleship is utterly different, for at its heart it is a call to follow a King who is not you. The call to the Christian life is not merely to believe the gospel but to “let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27).

We all fall short. Do you have someone helping you, and whom you can help, in identifying areas of behavior that are not yet worthy of the gospel? Lock arms with a brother or sister in Christ, shine the light of God’s word on one another, and seek to bring the truth to life!

The church is God’s primary appointed means of reaching His world. You are part of that. But do not expect those around you to ask about the gospel—still less to repent and believe the gospel—if you are not living out that gospel:

You are writing a gospel,
A chapter each day,
By deeds that you do,
By words that you say.
Men read what you write,
Whether faithless or true,
Say! What is the gospel
According to you? [1]

GOING DEEPER

John 13:31-35

Topics: Christian Life Evangelism Obedience

FOOTNOTES

1 Commonly attributed to Paul Gilbert.

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is a Loving Master

“But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” (Romans 6:22)

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a slave? Imagine being forced to stand in front of a bunch of rich people who want to buy a slave. You are waiting for someone to buy you so that you can work for them. You are probably watching their faces closely, trying to guess whether they are kind people or mean people. If they look kind, you will probably stand up straight, smile, and try to look your best, hoping to get them to choose you. If only you can look good enough, maybe you will be picked by a nice master instead of a nasty one.

But imagine that before you became a slave, you had been a thief and a liar. In fact, the reason you are now a slave is that the city guards had chased you through the villages because you had stolen something and lied about it. Imagine that, during the chase, you had tripped over a sharp rock with your bare foot and fallen right in a mud puddle. The guards had picked you up and dragged you here to the slave sale, and now you are covered in dripping mud, your hair looks like it was caught in a blender, and your bad foot has you limping. Even if you try to stand up straight and tall, you are pretty sure none of the nice people will want to buy you, looking like this. If a mean master chooses you, you will probably have a miserable life serving him. If no one buys you at all, you will be put to death as punishment for your crimes.

Can you imagine being in that situation? (We’ll find out what happens to you later.)

But, believe it or not, you are a slave too! You may not have to scrub dirt floors or serve grapes to a human master, but every person living is a “slave” to someone or something. Either you are a slave to the world, to your own flesh, and to the devil – or you are a slave to Jesus Christ.

Now some people think that if they serve themselves, they couldn’t possibly be a slave. But each of us is born into bondage (slavery). Without Jesus Christ, we are all born slaves to our own sinful flesh and to the father of lies, Satan himself. Satan is a vicious master. He hates people because God loves them, and Satan hates God. Satan will never again have a chance at freedom from his own slavery to self and sin – so he wants to wreck people by tempting them toward sin and away from God.

Let’s go back to the imaginary story of you as a slave in the market waiting to be bought. You are standing there, a thief and a liar, looking muddy and wounded, deserving death for what you have done. Suddenly, you see the kindest face ever! He looks at you, sees the terrible condition you are in, and you realize he must have heard what you did; he must know what a terrible person you really are. Your hopes fall. You understand that someone as kind as he is would never want you in his household.

You are shocked when this person calls the guards over. He tells them there is only one arrangement that could possibly pay the price for someone like you. He tells them to exchange you for his own son. The surprised guards take his son instead of you. His son is now a slave for sale, under the penalty of death, and they let you go. You go home with your new master, this kind man who traded his son for you. Wouldn’t you serve this kind master from the bottom of your heart? Wouldn’t you want to do everything you could to please him? Is there anyone or anything in the whole world that you would love more than you love your new master?

This is more of a true story than you might think! Adam sinned and brought all of us into slavery to sin. God sent His Son to pay the price of that sin, which was death and separation from God. When believers are bought with the blood of Christ, they become slaves to God instead of slaves to themselves or the world or the devil.

You must have one master or another, so which one would you rather have? God is the loving Master Who bought you even when you were vile and dirty and undeserving of anything but death. Satan wants us to get what we deserve: eternal death and separation from God. God freely offers us mercy: eternal life and His amazing love.

God loved us enough to purchase our redemption, freeing us from sin and self to serve Him.

My Response:
» Have I been choosing bondage to sin and self instead of serving a loving Master?
» How can I show my love and gratitude toward God for His gift of His Son?

Denison Forum – Former grocery store owner has fed thousands on Thanksgiving for 51 years

For more than fifty years, Bob Vogelbaugh has made sure that his Moline, Illinois, community is well fed on Thanksgiving Day.

The former grocery store owner started this tradition in 1970 to include some of his customers who were going to be alone on Thanksgiving Day. What began as a small gathering inside his grocery store has grown to fill an entire food court in an area mall. He and his volunteers served more than 3,200 people this year.

“It’s not a charity dinner,” he said. “It’s just a Thanksgiving gathering of friends and people you don’t know and some people have become friends through this over the years.”

“It will not always be like this”

A pastor was famous for beginning every Sunday service with an invocation focused on thanksgiving. He would give thanks to God for events across the week, occurrences in the life of the church, and even the good weather.

However, one Sunday morning the congregation gathered in the midst of a terrible blizzard. The roads were icy; most people could not even make it to church. As the pastor stepped to the pulpit to offer his customary invocation, the few members in attendance wondered to themselves what reasons he could possibly find to give thanks on this miserable day.

The pastor began his prayer by describing the weather in all its ferocity. Then he paused and prayed, “And, dear Lord, we thank you that it is not always like this.”

November saw thirty-three mass shootings; there have been 606 so far this year. A new report warns that the threat of a measles outbreak is growing due to a significant decline in vaccination rates among children worldwide. Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are likely to escalate after Thanksgiving holiday gatherings. And a writer for the liberal magazine The Nation published an article on Thanksgiving Day titled, “We’re Thankful for Our Abortions.”

But it will not always be like this.

“The marriage supper of the Lamb”

Bob Vogelbaugh’s wonderful Thanksgiving tradition foreshadows the thanksgiving dinner of all dinners. One day, those who know Christ as their Lord will hear these words: “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9).

This amazing invitation is best understood in its cultural context.

In Jesus’ day, what we would call an engagement began when a marriage contract was signed by the parents of the bride and the bridegroom. This was the period Joseph and Mary were in when she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18Luke 2:5).

A year later, the bridegroom, accompanied by his male friends, went to the house of the bride at midnight, forming a torchlight parade through the streets. The bride and her maidens would join the parade, arriving at the bridegroom’s home. This is the background for Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1–13).

The third phase was the marriage supper itself, which could go on for days, as we see with the wedding in Cana (John 2:1–2).

In Revelation 19, the Lamb (Jesus) and his bride (the Church) are in this third phase. The first occurs when we place our faith in Christ as our Lord. The second symbolizes the return of our Lord to take us to his home in paradise (John 14:1–4). The third symbolizes our eternal celebration and worship in heaven, where we are gathered with “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (Revelation 7:9).

John described our eternal destination this way: “I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away’” (Revelation 21:3–4).

“Standing at the throne of the spotless Lamb”

Like the pastor who began every Sunday service with gratitude, you and I can begin every day by giving thanks for all Jesus has done for us, all he is doing for us, and all he will do for us. And when we remember our future destiny, we are emboldened to trust our Lord in the midst of present challenges.

Consider this moving example.

St. Paul Le-Bao Tinh was born in 1793 in Vietnam. He became a Christian, then an ascetic monk, then a missionary. When persecution against Christians broke out in 1841, he was arrested and spent the next seven years in prison in Hanoi. While incarcerated, he wrote to a seminary student:

“The prison here is a true image of everlasting hell: to cruel tortures of every kind—shackles, iron chains, manacles—are added hatred, vengeance, calumnies, obscene speech, quarrels, evil acts, swearing, curses, as well as anguish and grief.” Then he added: “But the God who once freed the three children from the fiery furnace is with me always.”

He asked his reader, “Come to my aid with your prayers, that I may have the strength to fight according to the law and indeed to fight the good fight and to fight until the end and so finish the race.”

He concluded: “We may not see each other again in this life, but we will have the happiness of seeing each other again in the world to come, when, standing at the throne of the spotless Lamb, we will together join in singing his praises and exult forever in the joy of our triumph. Amen.”

Whatever you are facing today, remember: It will not always be like this. One day we will “exult forever in the joy of our triumph” with our Lord.

Why is this promise relevant to your soul today?

Denison Forum

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Blessing of Gratitude

The rewards are great for those who consistently demonstrate gratefulness to God.

Colossians 2:6-7

Bringing our requests to God through prayer is just one aspect of our communication with Him. Another part of prayer—which is frequently overlooked—is thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6). 

The Father wants His children’s lives to be characterized by gratefulness. His Word tells us that an appreciative attitude should be evident in our worship (Psalm 95:2-7Colossians 3:16), giving (2 Corinthians 9:12), relationships (Phil. 1:1-3), and the way we approach spiritual battles (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). In other words, thankfulness should permeate everything we do (Romans 14:6). 

In the Scriptures, the Lord actually mandates our gratitude because He knows how being grateful affects the heart. Expressing thanks to God helps us . . . 

  • Be aware of His presence. 
  • Focus on Jesus Christ and diminish our pride.
  • Look for His purpose in challenging situations. 
  • Remember His goodness. 
  • Depend on Him continually. 
  • Replace anxiety with peace and joy. 

When we maintain an attitude of thanksgiving in both happy and difficult seasons, our life will feel purposeful and fulfilling. But more importantly, God will be glorified. Ask Him to bring blessings to mind so you can say “Thank You.” 

Bible in One Year: Romans 7-9

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Hopes and Longings

Bible in a Year:

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

Proverbs 13:12

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Proverbs 13:12–19

When I moved to England, the American holiday of Thanksgiving became just another Thursday in November. Although I created a feast the weekend after, I longed to be with family and friends on the day. Yet I understood that my longings weren’t unique to me. We all yearn to be with people dear to us on special occasions and holidays. And even when we’re celebrating, we may miss someone who’s not with us or we may pray for our fractured family to be at peace.

During these times, praying and pondering the wisdom of the Bible has helped me, including one of King Solomon’s proverbs: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12). In this proverb, one of the pithy sayings through which Solomon shared his wisdom, he notes the effect that “hope deferred” can have: the delay of something much longed for can result in angst and pain. But when the desire is fulfilled, it’s like a tree of life—something that allows us to feel refreshed and renewed.

Some of our hopes and desires might not be fulfilled right away, and some might only be met through God after we die. Whatever our longing, we can trust in Him, knowing He loves us unceasingly. And, one day, we’ll be reunited with loved ones as we feast with Him and give thanks to Him (see Revelation 19:6–9).

By:  Amy Boucher Pye

Reflect & Pray

When have you felt sick because of an unfulfilled longing? How did God meet you in your time of need?

God our Creator, You fulfill my deepest longings. I give You my hopes and my desires, asking You to grant them according to Your wisdom and love.

http://www.odb.org

Joyce Meyer – With Thanksgiving

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and a thank offering and into His courts with praise! Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name!

— Psalm 100:4 (AMPC)

God’s Word teaches us not to worry, but to come to Him, in every circumstance, with thanksgiving (see Philippians 4:6). Psalm 100:4 says we cannot even come into the presence of God unless we come with thanksgiving.

If we want assurance of answered prayer, we should pray with thanksgiving, not with complaining. People who complain are showing, by their attitude and words, that they do not trust God and are not thankful or appreciative. You may be a person who genuinely loves God, but you may also have a habit of complaining and have not, until now, realized how disrespectful it is to God. If you are convicted of sin in this area, there is no condemnation, but you should ask God to forgive you and begin to fill your prayers with praise and thanksgiving.

Prayer of the Day: Lord, thank You so much for everything You do in my life. I know I take so much for granted, and for that, I ask forgiveness. I love You so much and am truly so grateful for Your place in my life, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Come, Ye Thankful People

Give thanks in all circumstances … May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

1 Thessalonians 5:18, 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Thanksgiving is not always easy, even when, as a nation, the US sets aside a holiday for the express purpose of doing so. During this holiday, many of us become keenly aware of life circumstances that don’t stir up feelings of thankfulness. Some of us may be facing our loneliest days, while others are overwhelmed by the crushing burden of a loved one wandering from the gospel. Still others enter this season greatly disappointed as a result of various failures—a lost job, a broken relationship, another missed promotion. We sometimes find ourselves absolutely stuck, unable to pull ourselves out of despondency and feeling as far from gratitude as the east is from the west.

When we’re facing such situations and we read “Give thanks in all circumstances,” we often wonder how we’re supposed to respond. Yet the Bible never offers exhortations without also offering aid.

The answer for how we can show constant gratitude lies in God’s sanctifying work in us. The word “sanctify” means “to set apart for God.” When the Lord Jesus Christ comes to rule and reign in our lives, the Holy Spirit enters us in order to produce the ongoing cleansing necessary for spiritual growth. It is the work of God that enables us to be what Jesus desires for us to be, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). When we abide in Christ, “rooted and built up in him” (Colossians 2:7)—studying our Bibles, learning to pray, fellowshipping with God’s people, telling others about Him—we are reminded of all that He is for us and all that He has done for us and in us. We learn to sing with the psalmist, “We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds” (Psalm 75:1). Whatever our own regrets and disappointments, we are able to overflow with thankfulness as we remember His wondrous deeds—His cross, His resurrection, His ascension, and His work in us by His Spirit to bring us to faith and keep us in faith.

Our trials may be tough and gloomy. We may not feel thankful in every moment. That’s ok, because that’s not the point. God enables us to be grateful regardless. He provides the strength for us to fulfill Paul’s instruction.

If you are experiencing an absence of thankfulness in your life right now, then you need to turn your attention away from your circumstances, at least for a moment, and reflect on God’s gift of love for you. As you abide in Christ and allow God’s Spirit to continue His sanctifying work, He will quicken you from within, so that even through tears, pain, and disappointment, you’ll be able to respond when He bids us, “Come, ye thankful people, come.”[1]

GOING DEEPER

Psalm 149

Topics: Sanctification Thanksgiving Trials

FOOTNOTES

1 Henry Alford, “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come” (1844).

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional 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 – Gas station chain drops prices for Thanksgiving

Know that the Lᴏʀᴅ, he is God! (Psalm 100:3).

“We hope this price reduction provides much-needed relief at the pump for our customers as they travel for the Thanksgiving holiday.” This is how Travis Sheetz, president and CEO of the Sheetz gas station chain, explained his decision to drop the price of Unleaded 88 gas at hundreds of stations to $1.99. “Sheetz is a family owned and operated company and at the heart of everything we do is giving back to our customers and the communities we reside in,” he added.

In other good news, Southwest Airlines employees found a novel way to help a traveler. They noticed that a customer left a cell phone behind in a gate area. The flight was already boarded and pushed back from the gate. So they rushed the phone out to the plane; the pilot opened his window, reached down, and took the phone from them to return to its owner.

Such stories illustrate Henry Ward Beecher’s observation, “Let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.”

“The many and signal favors of Almighty God”

On this Thanksgiving Day, let’s be sure to remember the intended focus of the day.

Theologian Cornelius Plantinga Jr. observed, “It must be an odd feeling to be thankful to nobody in particular. Christians in public institutions often see this odd thing happening on Thanksgiving Day. Everyone in the institution seems to be thankful ‘in general.’ It’s very strange. It’s a little like being married in general.”

Our first president would have agreed. On November 16, 1789, President George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the government. He called upon Americans to express gratitude to God for the conclusion of their war of independence, declaring “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.”

Psalm 100 frames such gratitude with three empowering descriptions of this God.

First, he is “Lᴏʀᴅ” (v. 3a), a title that translates the Hebrew word YHWH, often spelled “Yahweh.” This is the holiest name in all the Hebrew language. It means “the One who was, is, and is to come.” He is sovereign over all time and eternity, the Lord of your past, present, and future.

Second, he is “God” (v. 3b). This is the Hebrew word Elohim, meaning “one who is great, mighty, and dreadful.” This title points to our God’s creative and universal omnipotence.

Third, “the Lᴏʀᴅ is good” (v. 5). The word translated “good” means that God keeps his promises out of his character and nature. He is righteous, trustworthy, and holy.

Take time today to express your gratitude for who God is.

One hundred trillion cells

Next, the psalmist helps us focus on what God does.

First, he considers what God has done for us in the past: “He made us” (v. 3b). He created us, each and every one of us.

Consider that your body is made of one hundred trillion cells, three hundred million of which die every minute. Your brain possesses one hundred billion nerve cells. Each square inch of your skin contains twenty feet of blood vessels; placed end to end, your body’s blood vessels would measure sixty-two thousand miles. That’s how far your blood travels each day.

That same square inch of skin has an average of thirty-two million bacteria on it. And every year, 98 percent of the atoms in your body are replaced. Your God made all of that when he made you. David was right to pray, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

Second, the psalmist calls us to gratitude for what God does for us in the present: “We are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3c).

This means that God knows us intimately and personally, as a shepherd knows his sheep. The shepherd lives with his sheep. He sleeps in their field and walks at their side. He weathers their storms, faces their enemies, and comforts their fears. He knows his sheep intimately.

In John 10 Jesus says of himself, “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (v. 3). Jesus knows your name. He knows every detail of your life. And he loves you intimately. Nothing shall ever separate you from his love (Romans 8:35–39).

“The half was never, never told”

Let’s close this Thanksgiving Day meditation with a powerful poem of praise:

My heart is overflowing with gratitude and praise,
To him whose loving kindness has followed all my days;
To him who gently leads me by cool and quiet rills
And with their balm of comfort my thirsty spirit fills. 

Within the vale of blessing, I walk beneath the light
Reflected from his glory, that shines forever bright.
I feel his constant presence wherever I may be;
How manifold his goodness, how rich his grace to me! 

My heart is overflowing with love and joy and song,
As if it heard an echo from yonder ransomed throng.
Its every chord is vocal with music’s sweetest lay,
And to its home of sunshine it longs to fly away. 

I feign would tell the story, and yet I know full well
The half was never, never told—the half I cannot tell.

Fanny Crosby wrote these words. Her eyes were blind. But her heart saw God and gave him thanks.

Does yours?

Denison Forum

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – A Heart of Gratitude

Consider the spiritual riches that Jesus died to give you—and thank Him today for those blessings.

Psalm 100:1-5

The Bible instructs us, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). It’s interesting that this instruction was written by Paul, whose loyalty to Christ earned him severe persecution. How was he able to be grateful to God? 

While the apostle’s circumstances were difficult, he knew that his riches in Jesus far outweighed any earthly discomfort. And those same blessings are available to all believers. First, we gain a personal relationship with the one true God—the sovereign, omniscient, and omnipresent Lord of all creation. Second, our Creator loves us with an everlasting and unconditional love. Third, He sent His Son to pay our sin-debt so that we could spend eternity with Him. What’s more, when we trust in Jesus, we are freed from the fear of death. 

And the list of blessings keeps going: God adopts believers as His children (Ephesians 1:5). He has a plan for every life—and bestows special gifts to make it happen. He also promises to meet every need through His limitless resources (Philippians 4:19) and provides His Word and indwelling Spirit to guide us. 

No wonder Paul was grateful! Count his blessings as your own, and let God know how appreciative you are. 

Bible in One Year: Romans 4-6

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Trusting Our Future to God

Bible in a Year:

No one knows what is coming.

Ecclesiastes 10:14

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Ecclesiastes 10:12–14

In 2010, Laszlo Hanyecz made the first purchase with bitcoin (a digital currency then worth a fraction of a penny each), paying 10,000 bitcoins for two pizzas ($25). In 2021, at its highest value during the year, those bitcoins would have been worth well more than $500 million. Back before the value skyrocketed, he kept paying for pizzas with coins, spending 100,000 bitcoins total. If he’d kept those bitcoins, their value would’ve made him a billionaire sixty-eight times over and placed him on the Forbes’ “richest people in the world” list. If only he’d known what was coming.

Of course, Hanyecz couldn’t possibly have known. None of us could have. Despite our attempts to comprehend and control the future, Ecclesiastes rings true: “No one knows what is coming” (10:14). Some of us delude ourselves into thinking we know more than we do, or worse, that we possess some special insight about another person’s life or future. But as Ecclesiastes pointedly asks: “who can tell someone else what will happen after them?” (v. 14). No one.

Scripture contrasts a wise and a foolish person, and one of the many distinctions between the two is humility about the future (Proverbs 27:1). A wise person recognizes that only God truly knows what’s over the horizon as they make decisions. But foolish people presume knowledge that isn’t theirs. May we have wisdom, trusting our future to the only One who actually knows it.

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

Where do you see temptation to control the future? How can you better trust God with your coming days?

Dear God, help me to simply trust You today.  

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.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – The Importance of Being Thankful

Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].

— 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (AMPC)

Do you ever stop what you’re doing and just thank God for the good things in your life?

If you’ve ever wondered, What is God’s will for my life? the apostle Paul says in 1 Thessalonians that the first answer to that question is to be thankful.

One of the best ways to enjoy your life is to stop and thank God for the good things He has given you, no matter how big or small. Sometimes we are so anxious to get something new from God, we aren’t enjoying the things He has already blessed us with.

When you aren’t sure what step to take, I encourage you to take the “thanksgiving step”: Actively thank God for His kindness, His goodness, and His faithfulness in your life. You’ll be amazed at how this action will change your perspective and affect your day.

Prayer of the Day: Father, I am thankful for all You do for me daily. Without Your help, and without Your hand guiding my life, things would be a mess. But because of Your presence in my life, I can be ever so grateful and just thank You for all the little things I know I take for granted, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – The Question of Suffering

Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life.

Genesis 3:17

No one is a stranger to suffering. Whether it’s the death of a loved one, a painful diagnosis, a conflict at work, a broken relationship, or anything similar, trials are not exclusive to any one person. Throughout Scripture, we see numerous accounts of suffering. As we live life and as we read our Bibles, it becomes unarguably apparent that suffering is a part of human existence.

Once we accept this reality, one of the most critical questions we find ourselves asking is “Why?” Why do people suffer? All worldviews and religions offer their attempts at answers: “Pain is just an illusion.” “There is no God; pain is meaningless.” “Pain is out of God’s control.” “Pain is payback for past deeds in your present or previous life.” All those answers have something in common: they offer no hope. But God Himself offers us a better answer.

While He could have stopped Satan from deceiving, or stopped Adam and Eve from being deceived, or even stopped suffering altogether. God instead chose to use suffering to teach men and women the meaning of willing love and genuine obedience, and of their need for a Savior. It is our very freedom that makes learning this lesson a possibility. God did not make us to be automatons. He wanted us to serve Him freely and lovingly, not out of force or obligation. Tragically, though, in that freedom, humanity chose life apart from Him—with dreadful consequences. And whenever we sin, we show that we are no different than our first ancestors.

God knew that men and women needed to be confronted by the truth that rebellion against Him is folly. That is why He banished them from the tree of life in Eden (Genesis 3:22-24). That is why the world no longer works as it was created to—and neither do our bodies (v 16-19). Like a rebellious child realizing the folly of their choice, willingly returning home and appreciating their family all the more, we can freely return to God, longing for His love. God allowed sin to come into the world in all its horribleness so that we could feel the consequences of our choices and learn to love Him all the more as He displays the beauty of His own love in a world of evil.

C.S. Lewis famously put it this way: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”[1]

God is not the author of evil, but He is sovereign over evil. Therefore, we can have this hope: there will be a day when God will bring all evil to an end. Meanwhile, He determines to leave things as they are in order that through our trials we might cling to the Suffering Servant as our Savior. Do not let your disappointments over life in a fallen world persuade you that God is not there or He does not care. Rather, let them drive you again and again to your Savior, who promises one day to make an end of all that is wrong and stretches before you an eternity in which all is right.

GOING DEEPER

Luke 15:11-32

Topics: Affliction Sovereignty of God Suffering Trials

FOOTNOTES

1 The Problem of Pain (Harper Collins, 2001), p 91.

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

 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 – Seven dead after attack in Virginia Walmart

At least seven people are dead after a mass shooting at a Walmart supermarket in Chesapeake, Virginia, last night. The shooter, believed to be the store manager, opened fire and then turned the gun on himself and is now dead.

In other news, Virginia’s football game against Virginia Tech that was scheduled for Friday has been canceled in the aftermath of the shooting that claimed the lives of three Cavaliers football players. Police in Idaho are asking for the public’s help after receiving a tip that one of the four students murdered on November 13 had a stalker. And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is condemning Russia’s strike today on a maternity ward that killed a newborn baby.

“There’s a need and I have resources”

Scripture calls us to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18), a command that is especially difficult to obey in the midst of tragedy.

But it is in such hard times that serving others can spark gratitude in those who grieve and lift the spirits of those who are suffering.

Tom Gorzycki is an example. The eighty-seven-year-old learned to cut hair in the Navy, then worked for more than thirty-six years in a barbershop. Now he works from the basement of a Minnesota retirement home, where he offers free haircuts in exchange for donations.

The money doesn’t go to Gorzycki—it benefits a relief organization called “Arm in Arm in Africa.” In the five years he has set up shop, he has raised more than thirteen thousand dollars cutting hair. He has donated thousands more from his personal savings.

“There’s a need and I have resources. That’s what you do,” Gorzycki said. He added, “As long as my hands are steady, I’ll just keep doing it. One person can make a difference. You just roll up your sleeves and do what the heck you can.”

“Good stewards of God’s varied grace”

When I read Tom Gorzycki’s story, my spirits were lifted and my desire to serve was strengthened. I would guess you felt the same way.

Of all the people who live and love in ways that evoke such gratitude from others, followers of Jesus should be at the front of the line. Scripture is clear: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10).

Furthermore, God calls us a “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). St. Leo the Great (died AD 461) responded to this biblical assertion: “What is more king-like than to find yourself ruler over your body after having surrendered your soul to God? And what is more priestly than to promise the Lord a pure conscience and to offer him in love unblemished victims on the altar of one’s heart?”

When we serve and live in ways that honor our Lord, we direct gratitude to the Source of our lives: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

“Living and true temples of God”

The bishop, preacher, and theologian St. Caesarius of Arles was born around AD 470 and died in 542. In a sermon, he reminded us that “we are indeed living and true temples of God. God does not dwell only in things made by human hands, nor in homes of wood and stone, but rather he dwells principally in the soul made according to his own image and fashioned by his own hand.”

He continued: “When Christ came, he banished the devil from our hearts, in order to build in them a temple for himself. Let us therefore do what we can with his help, so that our evil deeds will not deface that temple. For whoever does evil, does injury to Christ.”

He then applied his exhortation: “Whenever we come to church, we must prepare our hearts to be as beautiful as we expect this church to be. Do you wish to find this basilica immaculately clean? Then do not soil your soul with the filth of sins. Do you wish this basilica to be full of light? God too wishes that your soul be not in darkness, but that the light of good works shine in us, so that he who dwells in the heavens will be glorified.

“Just as you enter this church building, so God wishes to enter into your soul, for he promised, ‘I shall live in them, I shall walk through their hearts’” (paraphrasing 2 Corinthians 6:16).

“Instead, I think of myself less”

As we prepare for Thanksgiving tomorrow, let’s resolve to be people for whom others give thanks. And let’s do so out of transforming gratitude for the One to whom we direct the thanksgiving of our tables and of our hearts.

Tim Keller observed: “The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself or less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less.”

As you think of yourself less and your Lord more, I invite you to make this hymn by Charles Wesley your prayer today:

O Thou who camest from above,
the pure celestial fire to impart
kindle a flame of sacred love
upon the mean altar of my heart. 

There let it for thy glory burn
with inextinguishable blaze,
and trembling to its source return,
in humble prayer and fervent praise. 

Jesus, confirm my heart’s desire
to work and speak and think for thee;
still let me guard the holy fire,
and still stir up thy gift in me. 

Ready for all thy perfect will,
my acts of faith and love repeat,
till death thy endless mercies seal,
and make my sacrifice complete.

Amen.

Denison Forum