Tag Archives: nature

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Delight Yourself in the Lord

Are you enjoying your relationship with the Lord?

Isaiah 61:10-11

The word delight means “to gain great pleasure, satisfaction, and happiness.” Isn’t that the kind of relationship you want with the Lord—one in which both you and He enjoy each other’s presence? Well, God also wants that kind of connection, and our part in helping it develop is through commitment, trust, and patience. 

First, a believer must commit his or her ways to God. This means we invite Him to examine our desires and plans and alter whatever does not fit His purpose or plan for our life. 

Second, a believer must trust God. Who is more worthy of our faith than the Father, who gave Jesus Christ to save undeserving sinners? The One who would not spare His only Son will certainly provide all that His children need (Romans 8:32). 

Third, a believer must rest in God. When we fret, we’re neither committing ourselves to the Lord nor trusting in Him. Waiting on God is rarely easy, but He alone knows when circumstances and timing are aligned with His will. 

Enjoying our relationship with the Lord requires effort, but it is a labor of love—because we were made to find joy in God’s presence. The greatest pleasure we can experience is to walk hand in hand with our Father.

Bible in One Year: Nahum 1-3

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — The Miracle of Salvation

Bible in a Year:

Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?

John 11:40

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

John 11:38–44

Blogger Kevin Lynn’s life seemed to be falling apart. In a recent article he recounted, “I actually put a gun to my head . . . . It took for God to supernaturally step into my room and my life. And at that moment, I really found what I know is God now.” God intervened and prevented Lynn from taking his life. He filled him with conviction and gave him an overwhelming reminder of His loving presence. Instead of hiding this powerful encounter, Lynn shared his experience with the world, creating a YouTube ministry where he shares his own transformation story as well as the stories of others.

When Jesus’ follower and friend Lazarus died, many assumed that Jesus was too late (John 11:32). Lazarus had been in his tomb for four days before Christ arrived, but He turned this moment of anguish into a miracle when He raised him from the dead (v. 38). “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (v. 40).

Just as Jesus raised Lazarus from death to life, He offers us new life through Him. By sacrificing His life on the cross, Christ paid the penalty for our sins and offers us forgiveness when we accept His gift of grace. We’re freed from the bondage of our sins, renewed by His everlasting love, and given the opportunity to change the course of our lives.

By:  Kimya Loder

Reflect & Pray

What are some of the miraculous ways that God has turned your life around? How might you use your testimony to bring others closer to Him?

Heavenly Father, sometimes I take for granted how You’ve transformed my life. Thank You for never giving up on me.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Satan Opposes God’s Word

“Take . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17).

Despite Satanic opposition, God’s Word will accomplish its work in His people.

In Matthew 13 Jesus tells the parable of the sower and the seed: “Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. And others fell upon the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up. . . . But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil, and yielded a crop” (vv. 3-8).

Jesus went on to explain that the seed is the truth of God’s Word. Satan and his demonic forces can snatch it away from those who hear it yet don’t understand what it means. They can bring affliction and persecution against those who have an emotional commitment only, thereby causing them to lose heart and fall away. In some cases they choke out the Word with worry and the deceitfulness of riches (vv. 19-22).

But truly repentant sinners receive and nurture the gospel truth, just as prepared soil receives and nurtures seed. They hear it, understand it, receive it, and produce spiritual fruit (v. 23).

Proclaiming the gospel is an important aspect of taking the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17). As you do, others are saved and join God’s army. But be warned: Satan never gives up territory without a fight. Some of the people you witness to will forget what you tell them. Others will refuse to turn from worldly influences. Still others may respond emotionally, but without a genuine commitment to serving Christ and forsaking sin.

Those spiritual battles should compel you to bathe your evangelism in prayer and undergird it with a clear gospel presentation. If people understand precisely what it means to receive Christ, and if their hearts are prepared by the Holy Spirit, they’ll not be so easily victimized by satanic opposition.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Lord to give you an opportunity to share Christ with someone today, or to encourage a struggling believer.

For Further Study

Read 1 Thessalonians 3:1-8.

  • What was Paul’s concern for the Thessalonian believers?
  • What did he do to eliminate his concern?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Jesus Is the Best Kind of Helper

Although He was a Son, He learned [active, special] obedience through what He suffered and, [His completed experience] making Him perfectly [equipped], He became the Author and Source of eternal salvation to all those who give heed and obey Him.

— Hebrews 5:8-9 (AMPC)

Have you ever tried to figure out how to make a gadget or an electronic device work properly? That kind of thing comes easily to people who know a lot about technology. But it can be very frustrating to people like me, who aren’t technologically savvy and who just want the device to work! I have learned that if I accidentally hit the wrong button on my phone and start having trouble with it, all I need to do is look for a young person to help me. Though I am older, and I have much more life experience than a sixth grader who can fix my phone, that child has something I do not have: specific experience with today’s technology. I may know a lot in some areas, but I can’t fix my phone; I need help, and the best kind of helper is one with experience.

Jesus has all the experience required to help us along our healing journey. Hebrews 5:8–9 speaks volumes to me not only about Him but also about my life and yours. Jesus needed certain experience in order to truly understand our pain and become our High Priest who can help us heal. My experience with Jesus’ healing power makes me a good person to boldly tell others He will heal their wounded souls just as He has healed mine, and your experience will do the same for you.

Jesus suffered greatly and gained experience as a result. His experience equipped Him to fulfill what God wanted Him to do. Hebrews 4:15 says He is able to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses (AMPC) because He has already gone through the things we suffer. I hope you will think about this verse often and allow it to give you hope and confidence that what you are going through will enable you to help others.

I encourage you today, even at this moment, to offer your experience to God for His use if you have never done that. No matter how confusing, painful, or difficult it may be, He can use it to provide the experience you need to help someone else. I vividly remember praying one day, “God, I am a broken mess, but I’m Yours if You can use me.” He did. He chose to use me in specific ways to help others, and I believe there is a specific way He wants to use you, too. Nothing we give to God is ever wasted, so give Him your pain today and see how He will use your experience.

Prayer of the Day: Thank You for using the painful experiences in my life to help me grow. Heal my heart, help me flourish in you with renewed hope and confidence, that I might help others, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – The Speck and the Log

How can you say to your brother, “Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,” when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

Luke 6:42

Irecall a time when, sitting at a desk in an exam, I turned the paper over and immediately began to look around to see if everybody else felt as bad about the first question as I did. Then I was startled by the teacher’s exhortation: “Never mind looking at others. Just concentrate on yourself!”

Jesus makes a similar point in these verses, using a striking metaphor to instruct His listeners to deal with their own sin before they attempt to point out the sins of others. The word Jesus uses for “speck” often describes very small bits and pieces of straw or wood. In contrast, the word for “log” refers to a load-bearing beam in a house or structure. If I have a log in my eye, it clearly requires my attention more than a speck in someone else’s does.

As fallen creatures, we’re prone to think it’s our responsibility to deal with everybody else’s spiritual condition before dealing with our own. Yet Christ hasn’t called us to be preoccupied primarily and initially with the specks of others. No, He says we must be diligent in examining ourselves in light of Scripture and the standard that He has set.

Jesus’ instruction poses a great challenge. Sometimes we may point out the faults of others under the guise of caring about their spiritual condition. But if we have not first been honest about and ruthless with our own sins, that is hypocrisy! We often fall prey to the mistaken notion that if I can find your flaw and deal with you, then I won’t have to deal with my own issues. It’s far more pleasant to tell someone else about their dreadful condition than it is to face our own.

If we truly want to help others, then we must first be prepared to face the dreadfulness of our own hearts—to acknowledge with Robert Murray M’Cheyne that “the seeds of all sins are in my heart.”[1] When we understand and believe that, then when we go to approach others we will stand on the low ground of genuine love and humility rather than the high ground of presumption. Between those two perspectives there’s all the difference in the world.

GOING DEEPER

Jude 1:20-25

Topics: Christian Life Hypocrisy Judgmentalism

FOOTNOTES

1 Quoted in Andrew Bonar, Memoir and Remains of Robert Murray M’Cheyne (Banner of Truth, 1995), p 153.

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Opens Hearts

And a certain woman named Lydia . . . heard us: whose heart the Lord opened” (Acts 16:14).

When Paul received a call from God to go to Macedonia and preach the gospel, he and his missionary companions immediately set sail. One of the first major cities they came to was Philippi. They found a group of women meeting beside a river, so they sat down with them to tell them the good news about the true God.

One of these women was Lydia. She lived in the city of Thyatira and made her living by selling purple cloth. The Bible tells us that Lydia “worshiped God.” She was interested in the Jewish God and tried to worship Him in her own way, but she had not yet become a believer in Christ. Acts 16:14 says that Lydia heard Paul’s preaching because the Lord had opened her heart. Lydia’s heart was not hard and cold, nor was it doubtful and questioning. She had a heart that was open and ready to receive God’s Word because of a work that He had done inside of her. After hearing Paul’s preaching, she and her entire household were willing to show the world publicly, through baptism, that they were believers in Christ.

Is there someone you would like to share the gospel with? Pray for that person, asking God to open his heart. Maybe you have a neighbor that you have tried several times to witness to, but she has never been willing to listen. Ask God to open her heart. Perhaps you have a family member that is not saved, but you feel a little fearful to talk to him about the Lord. God can open his heart too!

God wants us to share the gospel with the unsaved people around us, but salvation is His work, not ours. The story of Lydia reminds us that God is the one who makes people ready and willing to receive the good news of Jesus Christ. Each time you hand someone a gospel tract, write a letter to someone explaining how to be saved, or talk to an unsaved person about Jesus, remember to ask for help from the God, Who opens hearts.

In salvation, God does a special work of opening hearts and making people ready to accept Jesus Christ.

My response:

» Am I making an effort to tell unsaved people the good news of Jesus Christ?

» When I do that, am I depending on the power of God to open their hearts?

Denison Forum – The latest on Ukraine: Putin’s threat of nuclear escalation “could be a reality”

Tropical Storm Ian is expected to become Hurricane Ian today and is moving toward Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency for the entire state. After the devastation left by Hurricane Fiona in the Caribbean and Atlantic Canada, it is wise to be prepared today for the crisis that may come tomorrow.

Case in point: as Russian President Vladimir Putin presses forward on annexing occupied regions of Ukraine, experts are warning that the threat of nuclear weapons is rising if Putin feels “cornered.” Putin confirmed this threat himself when he stated in a national address that he would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons to protect what he claims to be Russian territory, which in his view will soon include areas that are part of the conflict.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned in an interview yesterday that this threat “could be a reality.” White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday that the US will “respond decisively” if Putin moves to use such weapons.

Putin is likely to be feeling more “cornered” today than ever before. Russian police have arrested hundreds of people protesting Putin’s “partial mobilization” order conscripting three hundred thousand reservists into active duty. Many are fleeing the country, suspecting that this is just the first wave of call-ups. In addition, the Associated Press reports that “the tide of international opinion appears to be decisively shifting against Russia.”

Why, in the face of such opposition at home and abroad, is Putin continuing on this path? Is his threat of nuclear weapons real or is it a bluff? The answer is relevant not just for world peace but for our culture and for our souls.

Two illuminating articles

Dr. Marlene Laruelle is an international affairs professor at George Washington University and author of the book Russian Nationalism: Imaginaries, Doctrines, and Political Battlefields. In a recent New York Times guest essay, she explains the crisis in Russia in terms I’ve not seen elsewhere.

We have been hearing about Russians protesting the war from the beginning. But Dr. Laruelle says there is a “party of war” made up of the security agencies, the Defense Ministry, and outspoken media and political figures that has been “mounting a sustained critique of the Kremlin’s handling of the war” for a very different reason. In short, “they want a much more aggressive war effort.” Recent military reversals have played into their hands.

In her view, their loud and growing insistence that Putin increase the war effort is behind his announced mobilization, forced annexation, and threat of nuclear escalation. If he loses their support, his regime, which is founded on his tsarist metanarrative of rebuilding “Mother Russia,” may founder as well.

With regard to this metanarrative, we should consider a warning from Dr. Stephen Kotkin, a history scholar at Princeton and Stanford and author of a recent Foreign Affairs article, “The Cold War Never Ended.” Dr. Kotkin writes: “Many Russians view their country as a providential power, with a distinct civilization and a special mission in the world, but Russia’s capabilities do not match its aspirations, and so its rulers resort, time and again, to a hyperconcentration of power in the state in a coercive effort to close the yawning gap with the West.

“But the drive for a strong state does not work, invariably devolving into personalist rule. The combination of weakness and grandeur, in turn, drives the autocrat to exacerbate the very problem that facilitated his appearance.”

In Dr. Kotkin’s view, this “Cold War” metanarrative will persist “until Russian rulers make the strategic choice to abandon the impossible quest to become a great-power equal of the West and choose instead to live alongside it and focus on Russia’s internal development.” However, if Dr. Laruelle is right, abandoning such a quest could cost Putin his position and even more.

The importance of perspective

I had seen Putin’s previous references to nuclear weapons as a bluff intended to remind the world that Russia is in fact a nuclear power. In light of these articles, however, such confidence may be misplaced. If Putin truly believes that his regime and his future are at stake, it’s hard to be sure he would not do whatever he believes it takes to protect them.

Laruelle and Kotkin illustrate the crucial importance of perspective: seeking to understand not just actions but motives and working to discern the worldview we do not see that forges the world we do.

This quest for discernment is vital not just for geopolitics but for Christian engagement with our lost culture. If we don’t understand why lost people do what lost people do, we will not effectively persuade them to follow Christ. They will dismiss us as judgmental and even dangerous to their secularized society.

Two transforming words

The good news is that Jesus knows our hearts (John 2:25) and thoughts (Matthew 9:4). His Spirit is working right now to “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). He will “guide you into all the truth” (v. 13) to the glory of Jesus (v. 14).

So, know this: God will lead you to change hearts and history if you are willing to be led.

No one is beyond the reach of Christian intercession, witness, and compassion. You can engage others with confidence, knowing that the Spirit is preparing today the people he wants you to influence tomorrow. And you can pray with confidence, knowing that Jesus is interceding for you (Romans 8:34) as the Spirit intercedes within you (Romans 8:26) right now.

Let’s join them. Ask the Spirit to lead you as you pray for:

  • Vladimir Putin to repent of his nuclear threat and murderous aggression in Ukraine.
  • Christian leaders in Russia to be salt and light with their leaders and in their culture.
  • God’s wisdom for world leaders as they confront the threat of nuclear escalation.
  • Protection for Ukraine’s leaders, soldiers, and people.
  • God to redeem this crisis by bringing spiritual awakening to Russia and Ukraine.

Samuel’s prayer was the key to his transformative life: “Speak, Lᴏʀᴅ. I am your servant and I am listening” (1 Samuel 3:10 NCV). From his example, I am learning to pray two transforming words in every circumstance, opportunity, and challenge: Speak, Lord. And I am learning that God does in fact speak to our minds, our hearts, and our circumstances if we are willing to listen.

Would you say these two words to God from your heart right now?

Denison Forum

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Confronting Conflict

Because God is in control, we don’t have to react to conflict with fear and anger.

Galatians 2:11-16

When people argue, they can say harsh words, create turmoil, and cause emotional pain. But there’s hope—our beliefs can positively influence how we respond in conflict. Consider God’s sovereignty, for example. If you believe the scriptures proclaiming God’s rule over nature (Psalm 135:6), government (Job 12:23), and mankind (Acts 17:25), then you know that nothing in heaven or on earth is hidden from Him or outside of His control. 

This means our heavenly Father, who has promised to protect His children, knows when people verbally attack us. Nothing can touch us apart from His permissive will. His sovereign control also gives Him the power to work pain into something beneficial (Romans 8:28). We have hope because His will cannot be thwarted, even in bad circumstances. When we believe in the Lord’s sovereign rule, our perspective on conflict changes. Instead of responding with fear, anger, or resentment, we turn to Him for guidance. 

Fighting is inevitable in our fallen world. When it’s our fault, we are to apologize; when others are responsible, we may have to confront them. But regardless of the circumstances, we’re called to forgive without exception—and we can because God is in control. As Christ’s ambassadors, the way we respond matters.

Bible in One Year: Obadiah 1:1-21 ; Jonah 1-4

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread –The Story Isn’t Over

Bible in a Year:

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew 6:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Matthew 6:9–13

When British drama Line of Duty concluded, record numbers watched to see how its fight against organized crime would end. But many viewers were left disappointed when the finale implied that evil would ultimately win. “I wanted the bad guys brought to justice,” one fan said. “We needed that moral ending.”

Sociologist Peter Berger once noted that we hunger for hope and justice—hope that evil will one day be overcome and that those who caused it will be made to face their crimes. A world where the bad guys win goes against how we know the world should work. Without probably realizing it, those disappointed fans were expressing humanity’s deep longing for the world to be made right again.

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus is realistic about evil. It exists not only between us, requiring forgiveness (Matthew 6:12), but on a grand scale, requiring deliverance (v. 13). This realism, however, is matched with hope. There’s a place where evil doesn’t exist—heaven—and that heavenly kingdom is coming to earth (v. 10). One day God’s justice will be complete, His “moral ending” will come, and evil will be banished for good (Revelation 21:4).

So when the real-life bad guys win and disappointment sets in, let’s remember this: until God’s will is done “on earth as it is in heaven,” there is always hope—because the story isn’t over.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

Why do you think we hunger for hope and justice? How can praying the Lord’s Prayer help you face evil and disappointment?

Heavenly Father, may Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Taking the Offensive

“Take . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17).

God’s Word is your primary offensive spiritual weapon.

All the armor Paul lists in Ephesians 6 is defensive, with one exception: the sword of the Spirit. That’s your offensive weapon for defeating Satan.

We’ve seen that Roman soldiers carried two swords: the large broadsword and the small dagger. The Greek word translated “sword” in verse 17 refers to the dagger, which was anywhere from six to eighteen inches in length and was carried in a sheath or scabbard at the soldier’s side.

The dagger was a common weapon. The Roman soldiers who arrested Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane were each armed with one (Matt. 26:47). Peter used one to cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant (Matt. 26:51). A dagger was used to kill James, the brother of John (Acts. 12:2). Hebrews 11:37 tells us that such a weapon was used against the heroes of the faith.

“The sword of the Spirit” isn’t a direct reference to the Holy Spirit as such. The implications is that since our enemy is spiritual, our weapons also must be spiritual (2 Cor. 10:4). Our sword is spiritual because it is the Word given by the Holy Spirit. He inspired its writing and through it convicts and redeems sinners (John 16:8Heb. 4:12-13). The Word abides in you and transforms you. It supplies everything you need for a godly, victorious life. It builds you up and produces holiness (Acts 20:32). And it equips you for good works by teaching, reproving, correcting, and training you in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).

The Bible is a powerful and effective weapon. The question is, Do you know how to use it? Do you diligently study it and apply its principles to your life? Do you have a storehouse of biblical truth to draw from in the heat of battle?

The Roman dagger was a precision weapon aimed at a specific spot to produce a specific result. Similarly, the sword of the Spirit is most effective when you apply specific biblical principles to specific situations in your life. Do you do that?

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Ask God to increase your desire to know His Word.
  • Ask for wisdom in applying what you already know to the decisions and situations you’ll face today.

For Further Study

Read 1 Peter 1:22—2:3. How are believers to approach the Word?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Live Love

We know that we have passed over out of death into Life by the fact that we love the brethren (our fellow Christians). He who does not love abides (remains, is held and kept continually) in [spiritual] death.

— 1 John 3:14 (AMPC)

From start to finish, in all kinds of ways, God’s Word encourages and challenges us to love other people; it is the example Jesus set for us throughout His life and ministry on Earth.

If you truly desire to love others the way God loves you, you must first purpose to fill your mind with kind, loving, unselfish, and generous thoughts. Take a few minutes each morning and ask God to show you what you can do for somebody else that day. You can even choose a specific person. Focus on loving others, and you’ll have a life full of love and happiness and be a great encourager to others.

Prayer of the Day: Lord, I understand that my purpose needs to be to love other people, but I’m going to need Your help. Please fill my mind with loving, unselfish, and generous thoughts, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Imitating the Father’s Mercy

Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

Luke 6:35-36

“Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” is a summary statement of Jesus’ famous teaching in the Beatitudes (Luke 6:20-23) and indeed would be a good motto for every believer’s life. These words underscore all that Jesus has previously said concerning how we are to treat others—especially those who hate us on account of our faithfulness to Him (v 22).

This should, however, prompt us to ask: what does being merciful actually look like? As our wise and tender Shepherd, Jesus does not leave us to figure out this principle for ourselves. Rather, He gives us specific instructions on what it means to imitate our merciful heavenly Father.

God “is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” As His children, we must realize that we are called to demonstrate this same kindness by loving our enemies, returning good for evil, and giving to others without expecting anything in return. Notice Jesus lists no exemptions or get-out clauses here.

Having called us to be vessels of God’s kindness, Jesus then immediately says that we are not to judge others (Luke 6:37). He is not asking us to suspend our critical faculties in our relationships; we have to use our minds to discern between truth and error or good and evil. Likewise Jesus is not teaching that we are to turn a blind eye to sin or refuse to point out errors. Rather, when Jesus commands us not to judge, He is condemning a spirit of self-righteous, self-exalting, hypocritical, harsh judgmentalism—an approach which seeks to highlight the faults of others and always brings with it the flavor of bitterness.

An unkind spirit completely violates Jesus’ exhortation to overflow with mercy towards both friend and enemy. Each of us needs to identify any spirit of judgment we may be harboring, to root it out, and to replace cruelty with kindness and harshness with understanding.

This is how we show to others the kind of mercy that God has shown to us. A (possibly apocryphal) story is told of how, when Queen Elizabeth II was a girl, she and her sister, Margaret, would be told by their mother before they went to a party, “Remember: royal children, royal manners.” Their behavior would not make them members of the royal family, but it would demonstrate their membership in that family.

Christian, you and I are members of the royal family of the universe, with the King of creation as our Father. Be sure that your manners reflect who you are and whose you are. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

GOING DEEPER

Ephesians 4:25-32, Ephesians 5:1-2

Topics: Loving Others Mercy

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – Jesus Will Never Change

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8).

Have you ever gotten ready for school in the morning and decided you did not like your outfit? Unless you are short on time, it is usually okay to change your clothes. People do it all the time.

Have you ever realized that a food you used to hate is starting to become a favorite food now? Maybe you used to hate spinach. After all those years of hating spinach, you are starting to love it. People are like that. As we grow older, our tastes change.

Did you ever lose track of someone who used to be a good friend of yours? Some friends will always be a part of our lives. But some of our friendships will change over the years. We make new friends. We may never forget the old friends, but we might spend less time with them or go a long time without seeing them.

Change is a part of every human being’s life. We have to deal with that change. Sometimes it takes a very long time for us to change, just as it takes a long time to grow taller or wiser. On other things, we might change overnight.

Every human being has to change. But one encouraging thing about Jesus Christ is that He is always the same. He is God, so He will always have the great character that only God has.

Because Jesus never changes, we do not have to wonder about Him. We can trust that Jesus will always be exactly Who He always has been. He will never lose His love for us. He will never forget us or let us down or change His mind about us. He will never make mistakes. He will never do wrong. Because He is faithful and never changing, Jesus deserves our trust and worship. What a great God He is!

The Lord Jesus Christ is always going to be exactly Who He always has been.

My response:

» Do I ever doubt whether Jesus is still the same person He was in Bible times?

» Do I ever wonder how Jesus could keep on showing grace to me every day?

» How should I respond as I learn more about the unchanging goodness and greatness of Jesus Christ?

Denison Forum – The courage of an Amazon driver and the faith of NFL quarterback Trey Lance

An Amazon driver named Kevin Rivera was finishing his route in Long Island, New York, when he saw a house on fire. Through the front door, he could see several people inside the home, including a woman and a baby. They were apparently unaware of the fire, so he courageously rushed in to help.

He got the family of seven to leave through the back door and away from the flames, then he rescued their two dogs. When they got outside and saw their burning house, they realized how dire their situation was. “They just started crying,” Rivera said later. “They just got emotional.”

To those thanking him for his bravery, Rivera replied, “To be honest, I just feel great that I did something.”

Report recommends all adults be checked for depression

This story points to two relevant facts today. Here’s the first: Our cultural house is on fire, but most of the people living in it don’t know it.

The United States Air Force Academy is instructing cadets to refrain from calling their parents “mom” or “dad” and to use words that “include all genders.” A former Mississippi official pled guilty yesterday to misusing millions of dollars in federal aid meant for poor families. The Boston Celtics’ head coach was suspended for the season for an inappropriate relationship with a female team employee. Boeing agreed to pay $200 million for misleading the public about the 737 Max following two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019.

A US government panel recommended this week that all adults under the age of sixty-five be screened for anxiety disorders and all adults be checked for depression. The report is both relevant and urgent as anxiety and depression continue to escalate in American society.

And yet, we are turning from Christ and Christianity in record numbers: the percentage of self-professed Christians in America is predicted to fall from 64 percent in 2020 to as low as 35 percent by 2070. “Nones,” those who have no religious affiliation, are expected to rise from the current 30 percent to as high as 52 percent by that time.

If Christians suggest that the problem is sin, we are dismissed as outdated, irrelevant, or even judgmental and dangerous to others. As a result, our secularized society is convinced that the cure is worse than the cause.

“You will not surely die”

This fact leads to a second observation: One of the hardest things to do in life is to help people who don’t believe they need help. If people don’t think their house is on fire, they’ll likely refuse our attempts to rescue them. The same is true with their souls.

Here we meet one of Satan’s most effective strategies: deluding humans into believing that we do not need what Scripture teaches, that we can dismiss the word and will of God and make our own decisions for our own advancement.

In the garden of Eden, he convinced our first parents that God’s warning was wrong: “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). Instead, by violating God’s clear instruction, they could “be like God” (v. 5). And we know personally the results.

We have been falling for the same deception ever since: “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

“We are to be saved by our good works”

In his fascinating spiritual biography of Thomas Jefferson, Baylor historian Thomas Kidd notes that our third president was certain that when he died he would, in his own words, “ascend in essence to an ecstatic meeting with the friends we have loved & lost and whom we shall still love and never lose again.” Upon what did he base such confidence?

Jefferson absolutely rejected the divinity of Jesus, convinced that “Jesus did not mean to impose himself on mankind as the son of god physically speaking.” He believed that “we are to be saved by our good works which are within our power, and not by our faith which is not within our power.”

Late in his life, Jefferson summed up his faith: “Adore God. Reverence and cherish your parents. Love your neighbor as yourself; and your country more than life. Be just. Be true. Murmur not at the ways of Providence. And the life into which you have entered will be the passage to one of eternal and ineffable bliss.”

In short, he was convinced that we are to “adore God” but trust our good works for salvation.

“God put that in my plan to use it as my platform”

Despite Thomas Jefferson’s skepticism, the evidence for Jesus’ uniqueness and divinity based on history, archaeology, ancient manuscripts, and logic is remarkably compelling. (For examples, see my website article, “Why Jesus?”) But many in our postmodern culture are likely to dismiss our arguments as “our truth.”

They measure truth by relevance, which is actually good news for the gospel.

When people see the transforming difference the risen Christ makes in us, they will want what we have and be drawn to the Lord we serve. Charles Spurgeon was right: “A Christian man should so shine in his life that a person could not live with him a week without knowing the gospel.”

NFL quarterback Trey Lance is a case in point. The San Francisco 49ers traded three first-round picks to Miami for the right to select him in the 2021 NFL Draft. They designated him their starting quarterback before this season began. Then, in the second game of the season, he fractured his right ankle and had to have season-ending surgery.

Lance posted an update on Instagram Tuesday, sharing an image of himself from his hospital bed and quoting Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” On his Twitter profile, he calls himself a “child of God” before he describes himself as the “San Francisco 49ers Quarterback.”

He told Yahoo! Sports in 2020, “Football is not who I am, it’s what I do. I’m obviously going to put everything possible into it because that’s what I love to do. But at the end of the day, I think God put that in my plan to use it as my platform.”

What is your platform?

Denison Forum

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Equipped to Fulfill God’s Calling

The Lord is all we need for the challenges before us.

Exodus 3:1-14

When Moses learned he was to lead the Hebrew slaves out of Egyptian bondage, his initial reaction was, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh?” (Ex. 3:11). But God assured him, “I will be with you” (Ex. 3:12 NLT). The Lord’s divine presence was a key part of Moses’ equipping as a leader. And God’s response to believers today is the same. We can confidently accept the responsibility He gives us—no matter the role—because He has promised to be with us always (Matthew 28:20). 

But Moses wondered whether the Hebrew people would listen to him. He had been away from Egypt for a long time, and his last interaction with the Israelites had been a negative one (Exodus 2:11-14). What kind of influence could he have? God responded that the only credential Moses needed to give them was that he was sent by God—the I AM (Ex. 3:14). In addition, the Lord gave Moses a helper: his brother Aaron.

When the Lord gives us a task, He will bestow the spiritual authority we need to carry it out, and He will provide us with people to help. God has promised to equip us for His work. What is your response when asked to serve?

Bible in One Year: Amos 5-9

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — People Who Need People

Bible in a Year:

Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings.

Romans 16:16

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Romans 16:3–16

In his hall-of-fame career as a sportswriter, Dave Kindred covered hundreds of major sporting events and championships and wrote a biography of Muhammad Ali. Growing bored in retirement, he started attending girls’ basketball games at a local school. Soon he began writing stories about each game and posting them online. And when Dave’s mother and grandson died and his wife suffered a debilitating stroke, he realized the team he’d been covering provided him with a sense of community and purpose. He needed them as much as they needed him. Kindred said, “This team saved me. My life had turned dark . . . [and] they were light.”

How does a legendary journalist come to depend on a community of teenagers? The same way a legendary apostle leaned on the fellowship of those he met on his missionary journeys. Did you notice all the people Paul greeted as he closed his letter? (Romans 16:3–15). “Greet Andronicus and Junia,” he wrote, “my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me” (v. 7). “Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord” (v. 8). He mentions more than twenty-five people in all, most of whom are not mentioned in Scripture again. But Paul needed them.

Who’s in your community? The best place to begin is with your local church. Anyone there whose life has turned dark? As God leads, you can be a light that points them to Jesus. Someday they may return the favor.

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

Who are the people you know you can count on? Ask God to give you that kind of friend. How can you be a friend like that?

Father, what a friend I have in Jesus! May I be that kind of friend to others.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Spirit and Adoption

“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:14-16).

The Holy Spirit confirms in our hearts the reality of adoption into God’s family.

In first-century Rome, people did not practice adoption exactly the same as they do today. A father sometimes adopted a young man outside the family to be the primary heir of the father’s name and estate. If the father considered his natural sons unworthy, he would find someone else with the qualities he wanted in a son. The adopted son would then take precedence over any of the real sons in the inheritance process. Thus the new son received many rights and privileges he would not have had otherwise; he was not merely a second-class citizen rescued from homelessness.

Likewise, it requires more than a natural birth process for us to become members of God’s family. We become God’s children because He sovereignly chose to grant us spiritual rebirth (John 1:12-13). That’s the substance of biblical adoption.

Therefore, adoption and regeneration are both terms that describe how God brought us to Himself (see 2 Cor. 5:17). Regeneration makes us sons and daughters and prepares us for our eternal inheritance. Adoption names us “sons of God” and actually gives us the title to our inheritance. Once this occurs, all our former debts (sins) are canceled, and we have a right to be in God’s presence without condemnation.

The entire process of adoption is superintended by the Holy Spirit, who repeatedly confirms its reality in our hearts. He transfers us from an alien family into God’s family and thus “bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:16). If you are a Christian, you can, by the indwelling Spirit, know that you are legally and eternally God’s child.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Lord to give you a renewed sense of joy and thanksgiving throughout this day as you remember the blessings of being his adopted child.

For Further Study

Read Genesis 12:1-8.

  • What commands and promises did God make?
  • Had Abraham known God in the same way prior to this passage?
  • Does God’s promise in any sense parallel the concept of adoption? Explain.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Be “God Loves Me” Minded

…God is love, and he who dwells and continues in love dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in him.

— 1 John 4:16 (AMP)

I remember when I began my ministry. When I was preparing for my first meeting, I asked the Lord what He wanted me to teach, and what came to my heart was, “Tell My people I love them.”

“They know that” I said. “I want to teach them something really powerful, not a Sunday school lesson out of John 3:16.”

The Lord reminded me that if people really knew how much He loved them, they would act differently than they do.

As I began to study the subject of receiving God’s love, I realized I was in desperate need of that message myself. I had a subconscious, vague sort of understanding that God loved me, but I needed deeper revelation. The love of God is meant to be a powerful force in our lives, one that will take us through even the most difficult trials without us ever doubting God’s love.

Prayer of the Day: Thank You, Father, for Your never-ending love for me, and I receive that love right now, in Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – The Law of Love

I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.

Luke 6:27

When you read the Bible and it describes Christianity, and then you look at yourself, do you ever wonder whether you’re a Christian at all? I know I do.

Neither our assurance as believers nor God’s love for us hinges on our ability to live out certain Christian principles; rather, both depend on what Christ has achieved for us on the cross. Even so, the Bible teaches us to look for evidences of our salvation in the present. If we truly are the Father’s children, we are bound to display a love for others that resembles Jesus’ love for us.

Jesus calls for us to love people in a way that is not related to their attractiveness, merit, or lovability. We know that this is exactly how God loves us—His love is not based on us cleaning up our act, deserving His attention, or demonstrating that we’re predisposed towards or useful to Him. None of these things contribute to God’s love for us. No—“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, emphasis added).

The greatest measure of our faith, then, is love—love that reflects the love that we have received in such abundance. We engage in agape love—unconditional, sacrificial love—because it is an expression of the character of God and all He’s done for us. We don’t exercise this kind of love for our enemies because we are blind to who they really are but because we have gazed at God’s love for us. Jesus says that when we see others as they are—in all of their ugliness and spitefulness, all of their cursing, all of their hatred, and all of their unwillingness to pay us what they owe us—we are to be realistic about all of it, and then love them. Seeing all of that enmity, says Jesus, I want you to love your enemies.

By nature, we are incapable of displaying such love. But consider the kind of difference we would make to our culture if we were prepared to live out, in both everyday and extraordinary ways, a Christlike love which seeks to do what’s best for those who have acted in enmity towards us. That would be revolutionary—without any question at all.

GOING DEEPER

Acts 9:10-28

Topics: Forgiveness Loving Others

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Wants Us to be Poor in Spirit

“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

It was Billy’s turn to read his verse in the morning devotions. The Phillips family was reading in the book of Matthew, chapter 5. Billy read verse 3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

“Dad,” he asked, “what does ‘blessed’ mean?”

His father answered, “It means ‘happy.’”

“How can a poor person be happy? He doesn’t have anything to be happy about?” Billy wasn’t sure how this verse could be true.

His father answered wisely. “It doesn’t just say a poor person is happy. It says those who are ‘poor in spirit’ are happy because they will live in the kingdom of Heaven.”

Billy wasn’t sure what all that meant. “What does it mean to be ‘poor in spirit’?”

“It means a person is not proud. There is a saying about proud people that goes something like this, ‘He’s full of his wee self.’ That means a person who is proud is filled up with himself. He doesn’t have room for others, let alone for the Lord. All he thinks about is himself. All he cares about is himself. You know what it means to be poor, don’t you, Billy?”

“Sure. It means someone doesn’t have much of anything.”

“That’s right. In this case the person doesn’t have much of himself. His life isn’t full of himself. He has room for the Lord and others. This is true of those who are going to Heaven. They have realized they are nothing great in themselves and they need Jesus to forgive their sins. They also know they need His help to do what is right and to make the right decisions. The proud person doesn’t think that way. He thinks he is good enough by himself and doesn’t need God or anyone else. He has all he wants as long as he has his pride.”

Billy started to understand what his father was saying. “So the person who doesn’t think he is good enough by himself is the one who will come to Jesus and get saved from his sins, and then he will know he is going to Heaven. And that’s why he’s happy. But the person who doesn’t want the Lord is a proud person and will never come to Jesus because he doesn’t think he needs God. And he will not go to Heaven. He has nothing good to look forward to. And when he dies, he will never be happy again. It that what it means, Dad?”

His father answered, “That’s pretty much it, Billy.”

“Wow!” exclaimed Billy. “Last year I understood I was a sinner and not good enough to go to Heaven, and I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and save me. And I still know I’m not very good all by myself. I still need the Lord to help me not to sin and help me do what is right. That means I’m poor in spirit, and I can be happy because I know I will be in Heaven with Jesus forever. Sometimes it really is good to be poor, isn’t it Dad?”

“It sure is, Billy. It sure is.”

My response:

» Am I poor in spirit?

» Do I know I need Jesus to save me?

» Do I know I need Jesus to help me live? https://equipu.kids4truth.com