Tag Archives: Peace

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Wisdom for the Trials of Life

James taught that trials are inevitable, but through Christ, we can be ready to handle them with rejoicing.

October 26, 2021


James 1:2-8

Have you ever looked at someone and thought, He’s so lucky or Her life is so easy? In reality, no one has a problem-free existence. Scripture describes life’s trials as universal—we all face times of trouble. 

James 1:2 is a small verse, but it contains tremendous insight about our trials. First, it is significant that James uses the word “when.” Undergoing trials is a matter of when rather than if

Second, James says we’ll “encounter” misfortune, implying that difficulties will arise unexpectedly. There may be no time to prepare for these dilemmas. 

Third, he uses the adjective “various” to denote the ever-changing, often surprising ways adversities appear. James has a specific message he wants to convey: “Get ready. Trouble is coming, so you must be prepared to handle it effectively.” 

“Effective” may not be a word you’d use to describe your response to trials. Too often, we hope for hardship to pass us by quickly. However, that would rob us of the opportunity for growth that each trial contains. 

Read today’s passage again slowly. Pray as you read, asking God to show you how to endure—and how to actually rejoice in your trials. He has a plan for your moment of hardship. Ask Him today what it may be and then trust He will accomplish His purpose in it. 

Bible in One Year: Luke 12-13

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Set Apart

Bible in a Year:

Paul was . . . set apart for the gospel of God.

Romans 1:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Romans 1:1–6

The three-wheeled taxis of Sri Lanka, known as “tuk tuks,” are a convenient and delightful mode of transport for many. Lorraine, a resident of the capital of Colombo, also realized that they’re a mission field. Hopping onto a tuk tuk one day, she found the friendly driver more than happy to engage in conversation about religion. The next time, she told herself, she would talk to the driver about the good news.

The book of Romans starts with Paul declaring himself as “set apart for the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1). The Greek word for “gospel” is evangelion, which means “good news.” Paul was essentially saying that his main purpose was to tell God’s good news.

What is this good news? Romans 1:3 says that the gospel of God is “regarding his Son.” The good news is Jesus! It’s God who wants to tell the world that Jesus came to save us from sin and death, and He’s chosen us to be His mode of communication. What a humbling fact!

Sharing the good news is a privilege all believers in Jesus have been given. We’ve “received grace” to call others to this faith (vv. 5–6). God has set us apart to carry the exciting news of the gospel to those around us, whether on tuk tuks or wherever we are. May we, like Lorraine, look for opportunities in our daily life to tell others the good news that is Jesus.

By:  Asiri Fernando ( ゲスト寄稿者 )

Reflect & Pray

What barriers do you experience in sharing your faith? What talents or interests can you use to present the good news?

Jesus, thank You for making me Your mouthpiece for Your good news. May Your Spirit give me the courage and love to share about You today. 

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Passing on a Godly Heritage

“From childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15).

Planting and nurturing the seed of God’s Word in a child’s mind can produce an abundant spiritual harvest.

Not long ago I met with a group of Christian leaders to consider several candidates for a significant ministry position. During our meeting it dawned on me that each candidate’s father was a prominent pastor. Each candidate had grown up in a family that daily taught and exemplified biblical truth.

That illustrates the enormous impact a Christian heritage can have on a person—whether he pursues the pastorate or not. And by no means is it fathers only who influence their children toward righteousness. Quite the contrary: A godly mother usually has far more opportunity to do so.

Dr. G. Campbell Morgan had four sons—all of whom followed his example by becoming ministers. It’s reported that at a family reunion a friend asked one of the sons, “Which Morgan is the greatest preacher?” “That’s easy,” the son replied, “Mother!”

Timothy knew the benefits of a spiritual heritage like that. His mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois (2 Tim. 1:5) taught him the sacred writings, which give the wisdom that leads to salvation (2 Tim. 3:15). Even as a child, Timothy was being equipped for the ministry God would later call him to. The spiritual training he received as a child—and the reservoir of biblical knowledge he accumulated in those early years—were crucial elements in his adult ministry.

If you are a parent, the most precious gift you can give your child is a godly upbringing that will serve as the foundation for his or her future ministries.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God for those who have instructed you in the Word and encouraged you in righteousness.
  • If you are a parent, pray that your children will exceed you in the faith.
  • Be faithful to pray for the young people around you and set a godly example for them to follow.

For Further Study

Read 1 Samuel 1:1—2:10. What characteristics of a godly mother did Hannah display?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – The Exchange of Righteousness

He made Christ who knew no sin to [judicially] be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we would become the righteousness of God [that is, we would be made acceptable to Him and placed in a right relationship with Him by His gracious lovingkindness].

— 2 Corinthians 5:21 (AMP)

Part of being a Christian is being able to exchange all you have for all Jesus has. You can exchange sin for forgiveness, fear for faith, uncertainty for confidence, lack for abundance, anxiety for peace, sadness for joy, despair for hope, failures for a fresh start, weakness for strength, and you can make all kinds of other wonderful exchanges because you belong to God. According to Romans 8:17, believers are “co-heirs with Christ” of all that God gives to Him (NIV). We can have everything He offers us, under one condition: that we give up everything old in order to have the new things He has for us.

I like to say that Jesus invites us to an exchanged life. On any given day with Him, we can make the exchanges I have mentioned in this devotion. But we don’t get the new until we release the old.

One of the great exchanges of the Christian life is exchanging our inability to do everything right for the righteousness of God. Isaiah writes that our old righteousness is like filthy rags or a polluted garment (Isaiah 64:6), but Jesus’ righteousness is perfect. Because of His sacrifice, 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that we can exchange our imperfect righteousness for His perfect righteousness.

Have you ever gone through life with a vague sense that something just isn’t right about you? You may not be able to articulate it, but you feel it. If you feel that way, I can relate. Because of the abuse that happened during my childhood, I felt for many years that something was wrong with me, but I could never say with certainty what it was. I just knew that for my father to abuse me the way he did, something had to be wrong with me. Imagine how thrilled I was when I learned that Jesus makes everything about me right before God through my faith in Him!

The impression that something is wrong about you is a lie from the enemy. The truth is that because of God’s lovingkindness, He sees you as right with Him. He accepts you just as you are, holds nothing against you, and helps you become what He wants you to be. You no longer have to carry the burdens of guilt, shame, condemnation, or the feeling that something just isn’t right about you. This doesn’t mean that every old sense of something being wrong will instantly go away. But it does mean that as you study and meditate on this truth, and as it becomes more and more established in your heart, you will become more and more confident in the fact that your relationship with Jesus has made you completely right with God.

Prayer Starter: Thank you, Lord, for exchanging all my junk for Your righteousness and truth In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Giving Generously

You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.

Haggai 1:9

Grudging souls limit their contributions to the ministry and missionary operations and call such saving good economy; little do they dream that in doing so they are impoverishing themselves. Their excuse is that they must care for their own families, and they forget that to neglect the house of God is a sure way to bring ruin upon their own houses. Our God has a method in providence by which He can cause our endeavors to succeed beyond our expectation, or He can defeat our plans to our confusion and dismay; by a turn of His hand He can steer our vessel in a profitable channel or run it aground in poverty and bankruptcy. It is the teaching of Scripture that the Lord enriches the generous and leaves the miserly to discover that withholding leads to poverty.

In a very wide sphere of observation, I have noticed that the most generous Christians of my acquaintance have always been the happiest, and almost invariably the most prosperous. I have seen the generous giver rise to financial levels of which he never dreamed; and I have as often seen the mean, ungenerous soul descend to poverty by the very stinginess by which he thought to rise. Men trust good stewards with larger and larger sums, and so it frequently is with the Lord; He gives by cartloads to those who give by bushels. Where wealth is not bestowed, the Lord makes a little much by the contentment that the sanctified heart feels in his portion from which a tithe has been dedicated to the Lord.

Selfishness looks first at home, but godliness seeks first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; yet in the long run selfishness is loss, and godliness is great gain. It requires faith to act toward our God with an open hand, but surely He deserves it from us; and all that we can do is a very poor acknowledgment of our amazing indebtedness to His goodness.

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – The LORD’s Word Is Tried and True

 “As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God. The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted.” (Psalm 18:30-31,46)

Have you ever gone to the store with your parents and seen little tables where the store workers are giving away free samples? If a store is just beginning to sell a special new dipping sauce, for example, they might have a big bowl of chips out, and they might invite anyone to grab a chip and dip it in the sauce. Or maybe a bakery has a new cookie recipe, so they want everyone to know how good their new cookie is going to taste! Everyone is welcome to stop by the table and try a cookie (or at least a bite). If you go to an ice cream shop, and you cannot decide what flavor of ice cream you want, a worker might dip a little spoon into a flavor you aren’t sure about, pull out the spoon with a bite of ice cream on it, and hand it to you. Then you can see (taste!) for yourself whether you really like that flavor enough to get a whole scoop of it.

What did the psalmist mean when he wrote that God’s Word is “tried”? Does that mean some people have tried it out and decided they liked it? Well, in a way that’s true. The Word has been tried, or tested, and proven to be true. It truly is the Word of God. God Himself says so, the Word itself says so, and many people have come to believe by faith that God’s Word is what He says it is.

But God’s Word does not need the approval of human beings. Even if everyone read the whole Bible through – and even if every human being alive were to decide that the Bible was just another storybook – the Bible would not be any less true, and it would not stop being God’s Word. Truth is always true, no matter what people think of it.

“All those that trust in” God do find that He is a buckler (a strong shield) for them. They do “taste and see that the LORD is good.” They do come to realize that the Word of the LORD is tried, and that it stands up to any tests. The Word of the LORD is faithful, and that cannot change. Human beings are not always faithful and not always good judges. But God’s way is perfect, and His Word is tried and true. Why? Because God Himself is faithful and true. He never changes, and His Word is the same.

God’s Word is as faithful as He is.

My Response:
» Do I study the Bible so that I can know truths He wants me to know about Himself?
» Do I take the LORD’s Word over what others say?
» How can I show in my daily actions that I believe in the power and trustworthiness of God’s Word?

Denison Forum – Alec Baldwin taunted after deadly accident

 “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Alec Baldwin was reportedly “inconsolable for hours” after allegedly discharging a prop gun in the accidental shooting that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza. “Everyone knows this was an accident, but he’s absolutely devastated,” a source told People magazine.

Nonetheless, some have responded to this tragedy in ways that personally disparage Baldwin. I will not repeat these taunts and jibes here.

I understand that Baldwin has offended many with his political satire and attacks on leaders with whom he disagreed. Nonetheless, it is discouraging to see the level to which our public discourse has sunk—and especially discouraging when Christians participate in such vitriol.

“The nation is coming apart”

Anglican priest Tish Harrison Warren writes in her latest New York Times op-ed: “The nation is coming apart. The world is in turmoil.” She explains: “A recent poll by the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics showed that 75 percent of Biden voters and 78 percent of Trump voters believe that their political opponents ‘have become a clear and present danger to the American way of life.’ A majority of Trump voters (52 percent) and a large minority of Biden voters (41 percent) support splitting the country into two along blue/red lines.”

Digital media executive Brett Meiselas tweeted, “If you’re attacking Alec Baldwin for this horrible tragedy, you are a bad person. Full stop. This is profoundly traumatic for everyone involved. I cannot even begin to imagine the guilt, sadness, and devastation everyone involved is currently feeling.”

A better response to tragedy is being modeled by Christians praying around the clock for the Haitian missionary hostages, a story I reported yesterday. (For updates on the missionaries from the organization sponsoring them, click here.)

As I was praying for these missionaries, Alec Baldwin, the families affected by the shooting on his movie set, and others suffering in the news, I was reminded of a single verse in Scripture with profound implications. I consider it a Spirit-inspired template we should each follow today.

A verse that changes everything

Acts 12 finds Peter imprisoned by King Herod, the grandson of Herod the Great. The apostle has been turned over to four squads of four guards each (v. 4), likely in the fortress Antonia (cf. Acts 21:31–23:32).

In response, “Earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church” (v. 5). In his classic work, The Power of Prayer and the Prayer of Power, R. A. Torrey identifies their four-fold strategy.

One: Pray together.

The “church” was praying for the apostle, at least five thousand families (Acts 4:4) scattered across the region (Acts 8:1). They were claiming Jesus’ promise that God answers collective prayer (Matthew 18:19–20). Not because we should not pray in solitude, a discipline Jesus often modeled (cf. Mark 1:35Matthew 14:23). Nor because praying together talks God into what he would not have done otherwise. Rather, collective prayer encourages us, holds us accountable to each other, and magnifies our passion and faith.

Two: Pray passionately.

Luke records that “earnest prayer” was “made” by the church for Peter. The Greek is in the continuous tense; they were still praying in the morning when Peter escaped and came to them (Acts 12:12). Jesus set the example in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:44). Such passion does not earn God’s favor. Rather, it positions us to be molded by his Spirit into the character of Christ (Romans 8:29) and empowers us often to become the answer we seek (cf. Matthew 9:3810:1).

Three: Pray specifically.

Luke notes that they prayed “for him.” By contrast, we sometimes pray so generically that even if God could answer us, we wouldn’t know he did. I often hear people ask God to “be with us” when he already promised he would be (Matthew 28:20). We ask him to “bless” someone without stating their specific needs and asking for his specific answers. Good golfers don’t aim at the fairway—they aim at a tree on the fairway. Effective intercessors are specific and focused in how they pray and how they ask God to answer them.

Four: Pray to God.

It seems redundant that Luke was inspired to write, “earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church” (my emphasis). But we are all tempted to pray more to impress others than to intercede before the Lord. We can pray about God more than to him. Or we can enter his presence intentionally and consciously, kneeling before the throne of the God of the universe. Our true power is not in our prayer but in the One to whom we pray.

How to “turn the world upside down”

The results in Acts 12 were miraculous: an angel freed Peter from his chains, led him past sleeping guards, and opened the iron gate of the prison (vv. 6–10). However, I need to add: even when we pray collectively, passionately, and specifically to God, he does not always answer in ways we wish. According to very early tradition, Peter was eventually crucified upside down in fulfillment of Jesus’ warning that he would die as a martyr (John 21:18–19). The other disciples died as martyrs or suffered imprisonment.

But praying as the first Christians prayed positions us to be transformed and empowered by the One to whom we pray (cf. Acts 4:31). It positions us to receive God’s best, whatever that may be (cf. Romans 12:2Isaiah 55:8–9). And it serves as a powerful testimony to our skeptical secular culture that the One to whom we pray is real and relevant.

The first Christians “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6) and sparked the mightiest spiritual movement the world has ever seen. God’s nature does not change. Anything he has ever done he can still do today.

I am therefore convinced that the key to fulfilling our “salt” and “light” calling in our culture (Matthew 5:13–16) is doing what these early Christians did. If we were praying as they prayed, we would experience what they experienced. If we do not, we will not (James 4:2).

Twenty-seven soldiers

Some years ago, a group of missionaries were camping at night on a hillside. Robber bands were common in the area. The missionaries were carrying money and feared attack. After praying together, they finally went to sleep.

Months later, the leader of one of the robber bands was brought to the mission hospital for treatment. While there, he asked the missionaries if they still had the soldiers who guarded them that night. “We intended to rob you,” he admitted, “but were afraid of the twenty-seven soldiers.”

When the story got back to the church supporting these missionaries, someone remembered, “We had a prayer meeting that night, and there were twenty-seven of us present.”

Why do you need to pray collectively, passionately, and specifically to God today?

http://www.denisonforum.org/

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Living Triumphantly

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


Matthew 4:18-20

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

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

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

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

Bible in One Year: Luke 10-11

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — The Testing

Bible in a Year:

Some time later God tested Abraham.

Genesis 22:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Genesis 22:1–3, 6–12

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

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

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

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

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

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

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

http://www.odb.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suggestions for Prayer

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

For Further Study

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

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Chosen and Adopted

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

— Ephesians 1:4-5 (AMPC)

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

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

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

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

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –The Truth of God

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

2 John 1:2

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

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

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

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – The LORD Mercifully Gives Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spiritual life is a merciful gift only God can give.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A term that explains our times

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

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

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

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

“The great essential of fitness”

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

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

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

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

God’s vision for our world

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

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

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

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

he defining moment of Desmond Tutu’s life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.denisonforum.org/

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

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

October 24, 2021


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

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

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

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

Think about it

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

Bible in One Year: Luke 8-9

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Talk, Trust, Feel

Bible in a Year:

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

Romans 8:15

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Romans 8:14–21

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

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

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

By:  Monica La Rose

Reflect & Pray

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

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

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Fearsome Foursome

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

Four key terms characterize those who are not in Christ.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suggestions for Prayer

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

For Further Study

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Prayer Produces Patience and Hope

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

— 2 TIMOTHY 1:7 (AMPC)

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Water Reflections

The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly.

Psalm 104:16

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – The LORD Gives Joy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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