Tag Archives: religion

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Persevering in Prayer

Romans 8:26-28

A common hindrance to our prayer life is a lack of perseverance. Many Christians feel that once they’ve prayed for something, the answer should immediately be forthcoming. But God is not a bellhop, waiting to give us what we want the moment we petition Him. Imagine if the Lord instantly provided whatever we request—we might not develop virtues like patience, trust, and dependence upon Him.

The Lord is faithful to answer our prayers, but not always in the way we expect. Yet even when the answer is no, we can be sure that what He gives is better than what we requested. Consider the apostle Paul—though he repeatedly asked for relief from his “thorn in the flesh,” he was given something more spiritually beneficial. God not only protected Paul from pride but also used the apostle’s weakness to display divine power (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

Since Paul’s prayer wasn’t answered the way he’d originally hoped, you might wonder about the requests you bring to the Lord. The truth is, we don’t always know how to pray as we should, but thankfully, we have a Helper in the Holy Spirit, who intercedes for us according to God’s will. If we don’t receive what we hoped, we can be sure that the Spirit knew exactly what to ask on our behalf—and that what we received as a result was best. 

Bible in One Year: Ecclesiastes 9-12


http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Firm Refusal

Bible in a Year:

Daniel . . . still pray[ed] three times a day.

Daniel 6:13

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Daniel 6:10–23

When the Nazis drafted Franz Jägerstätter during World War II, he completed military basic training but refused to take the required pledge of personal loyalty to Adolf Hitler. Authorities allowed Franz to return to his farm, but they later summoned him to active duty. After seeing Nazi ideology up close and learning of the Jewish genocide, however, Jägerstätter decided his loyalty to God meant he could never fight for the Nazis. He was arrested and sentenced to execution, leaving behind his wife and three daughters.

Over the years, many believers in Jesus—under peril of death—have offered a firm refusal when commanded to disobey God. The story of Daniel is one such story. When a royal edict threatened that anyone “who pray[ed] to any god or human being except [the king]” (Daniel 6:12) would be thrown into the lions’ den, Daniel discarded safety and remained faithful. “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (v. 10). The prophet would bend his knee to God—and only God—no matter the cost.

Sometimes, our choice is clear. Though everyone around us implores us to go along with prevailing opinion—though our own reputation or well-being may be at risk—may we never turn from our obedience to God. Sometimes, even at great cost, all we can offer is a firm refusal.

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

Where are you sensing that obedience to God will require your firm refusal? What might this refusal cost you? What will you gain?

God, I know my loyalty to You will at times mean saying no to others’ expectations or demands. It may cost me dearly. Give me courage.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Discernment Between Truth and Error

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world” (1 John 4:1-3).

God’s children are able to discern false doctrine.

A sure mark of every false religious system is doctrinal error, particularly about the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Those systems deny that He is Savior and Lord, God in human flesh, the only way to the Father (John 14:6) because salvation comes only through Him (Acts 4:12).

A sure mark, then, of all true children of God is that they believe the truth about Jesus Christ and do not deviate into doctrinal error. Although they may be temporarily duped by false teaching, they will not be permanently deceived by it. The apostle John wrote, “[False teachers] are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:5-6).

When you were saved, you were clear about who Christ was. “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ,” writes John, “is born of God” (1 John 5:1). Had you not passed that doctrinal test, you wouldn’t have been saved. God’s children distinguish spiritual truth from doctrinal error because the Spirit of truth (John 14:16) indwells them.

“O Timothy,” Paul exhorted his beloved son in the faith, “guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’” (1 Tim. 6:20). I pray that you will guard the precious treasure of truth entrusted to you in the Scriptures and so assure your heart that you belong to the God of truth.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for revealing His truth to us in the Bible.

For Further Study

Read John 1:1; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 2:9. What do they teach about the Person of Christ?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Resisting the Temptation to Worry

For You make him to be blessed and a blessing forever; You make him exceedingly glad with the joy of Your presence.

— Psalm 21:6 (AMPC)

It is a learning process to keep the devil from stealing your joy, because he constantly tempts you in new ways to lose your peace. If Satan gets your peace, then he will get your joy. Be strong and resist his temptation to make you worry.

God never intended for you to worry! In fact, when the circumstances of life begin to overwhelm you or when feelings of dread attack your mind, the Lord wants you to pray and release your burdens to Him.

Spend time studying the Word. It’s literally full of ways to help you fight the temptation to worry.

Prayer Starter: God, thank You for your Word and for all the ways that You give me peace and help me fight the devil. Amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –The Glory of God

The Lord our God has shown us his glory.

Deuteronomy 5:24

God’s great design in all His works is the manifestation of His own glory. Any aim less than this would be unworthy of Himself.

But how shall the glory of God be manifested to such fallen creatures as we are? Man’s eye is not single in its focus; he always has a side glance toward his own honor, has too high an estimate of his own powers, and so is not qualified to behold the glory of the Lord. It is clear, then, that self must stand out of the way, that there may be room for God to be exalted. And this is the reason why He often brings His people into straits and difficulties, that, being made conscious of their own folly and weakness, they may be fitted to behold the majesty of God when He comes to work their deliverance. He whose life is one even and smooth path will see but little of the glory of the Lord, for he has few occasions of self-emptying and hence but little fitness for being filled with the revelation of God. They who navigate little streams and shallow creeks know but little of the God of tempests; but they who are “doing business on the great waters”1 see “his wondrous works in the deep.”2 Among the huge waves of bereavement, poverty, temptation, and reproach, we learn the power of Jehovah, because we feel the littleness of man.

Thank God, then, if you have been led by a rough road: It is this that has given you your experience of God’s greatness and loving-kindness. Your troubles have enriched you with a wealth of knowledge to be gained by no other means: Your trials have been the crevice of the rock in which Jehovah has set you, as He did His servant Moses, that you might behold His glory as it passed by. Praise God that you have not been left to the darkness and ignorance that continued prosperity might have involved, but that in the great fight of affliction you have been qualified for the outshinings of His glory in His wonderful dealings with you.

1) Psalm 107:23
2) Psalm 107:24

C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Faithful and Just To Forgive

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

The puppy looked up at them with big sad eyes and let out something between a yelp and a yawn. When he opened his mouth, a well-chewed science book fell out and thudded on the floor.

“Aw, who couldn’t forgive a face like that!” Lizzy leaned down and rubbed his ears.

Jacob bent over and grabbed his puppy’s collar.

“That’s it, Charlie. You’re sleeping outside tonight!”

Lizzy used a sock to wipe the puppy-slobber off Jacob’s science book, while he wrestled Charlie out the back door and into his doghouse.

“Don’t be so hard on him, Jacob,” she said when he came stomping back into the kitchen. “Charlie’s just doing what puppies do. They chew things and make messes. You’ve heard people joke about telling the teacher ‘the dog ate my homework.’ It’s just his nature.”

Jacob got a glass down from the cabinet. “My teacher isn’t going to believe me when I say that my dog ‘ate my science book’!” He slammed the cabinet door shut and threw open the refrigerator. “I’m sure she will just nod and smile and say, ‘Oh, that’s just fine, Jacob. You know that’s just what puppies do.’”

As it turned out, Miss Albert was surprisingly understanding when he told her what had happened to his science book. She did not say “that’s just what puppies do,” but she did nod and smile knowingly. Jacob wondered if Miss Albert might have had a puppy sometime in her life.

Animals do crazy things sometimes. Well, they do things that might seem crazy to us humans. You might get angry when a cat scratches your arm or when a dog makes a mess or when a parakeet will not be quiet. If you want to keep a pet, though, eventually you get over annoying animal habits, because, after all, they are just being what they are!

We humans have a lot of habits, too – things that we are and do because we are human. We like to eat several times a day. We like to sleep, usually at night. We tend to hate pain. We like to have friends and family who care about us. We like to think about things, and we like to have fun hobbies. There is a famous saying that “to err is human.” That means all humans make mistakes.

Not only do we make mistakes, but all of us are born with a sinful nature that we inherited from Adam. To sin is to do something much worse than just an accidental mistake. To sin is to do anything that falls short of God’s glory. We are all born sinners, which means that our natural tendency is to disobey God, to sin against Him. Those of us who trust Christ as Savior get a new nature, and they have a growing desire to live without sinning, like Christ lived. But since we are all still human, none of us are able to be that perfect yet. Even Christians who love God fail Him. When we sin against God, we need to repent and ask Him for forgiveness.

God has certain characteristics about His nature, too. Because He is God, He is perfect in His holiness – He never breaks His own laws! Because He is God, He is powerful and wise – He never messes up! Because He is God, He is good and gracious enough to help us sinning humans – He forgives us when we ask Him!

You may have heard this verse many times before, but have you really thought about what it means that God is faithful and just to forgive us? That means that, no matter what we do to make Him mad, God has promised to forgive us of that and of all our sinfulness – so long as we confess our sins to Him.

Charlie did a puppyish thing when he chewed up Jacob’s science book. He was doing what puppies do, but one thing puppies do not do is ask forgiveness. Jacob lost his temper when he saw what Charlie had done. To lose your temper when something bad happens is a natural human reaction, but it is also actually a sin against God. Jacob is a sinner because he is human. That is how humans are. If Jacob is a Christian, he should try not to sin, and if he does sin, he ought to confess it and ask God’s forgiveness.

If Jacob does confess his sin and ask God to forgive him, God will. That is what this verse teaches – that forgiving people who ask is part of God’s nature. He does it because His nature is to be faithful to His promises. He does it because His nature is to be just and righteous. That is the kind of God we have.

Because of Who He is, God is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse sinners who trust Him.

My Response:
» Am I trying not to sin against God?
» When I do sin, am I making it a habit to go to Him and confess and ask Him to forgive me and to cleanse me from all my unrighteousness?
» Do I have faith that He will do what He has promised?

The post God Is Faithful and Just To Forgive appeared first on EquipU Online Library.


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Denison Forum – Australian officials seek to rebrand shark attacks: Three satanic deceptions and the privilege of sharing life’s greatest gift

Australian officials would like us to rebrand shark attacks as “negative encounters.” The swimmer who was bitten by a great white shark at a beach near San Francisco last month may not agree.

Officials in Texas are assuring the public that the Dallas resident who has the first-ever case of monkeybox in our state is “not a reason for alarm.” The infected patient in isolation at a Dallas hospital may not agree.

It is human nature to downplay threats we cannot control. For example, we say of those who die that they “departed” or “passed on.” But euphemisms cannot change the reality they describe.

As of this morning, 188 people have died in massive flooding in Europe. The death toll in the Surfside, Florida, condominium collapse stands at ninety-seven. At least sixty-five people underwent decontamination on Saturday following a chemical leak at a Six Flags water park near Houston.

Three people were wounded in a shooting outside the Washington Nationals baseball stadium that caused the game to be suspended. At least two people were killed and several others were wounded by shootings at three locations in Tucson, Arizona, yesterday afternoon. And the global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic stands at 4,089,175 at this writing.

American Christians are under unprecedented pressure by our secularized culture to compromise biblical truth and morality. But the inescapable realities of death and eternity beyond the grave demonstrate conclusively that every person we know needs to know what we know about death.

Martin Luther said, “Every man must do two things alone: he must do his own believing and his own dying.” Let’s see how the first helps us with the second.

Why nonbelievers fear death

It’s human nature to fear the unknown. The dread we feel that keeps us from venturing into a cave where a predator is waiting is a God-given response that may save our lives.

Even when our lives are not at risk, we understandably fear what we cannot predict. From going to a new school to beginning a new job or moving to a new city, we are naturally apprehensive of the future.

Death, of course, is the greatest unknown. Nonbelievers do not believe anyone has ever come back from the other side, so they have no empirical way to know what happens when we die. Do we simply cease to exist? Are we reincarnated? Do we spend eternity in heaven? In hell?

However, our post-Christian society has devised a solution. Postmodernism has taught us that our reality is the reality. Truth is “our truth.” Therefore, if we don’t believe there is an afterlife, we don’t need to be concerned with an afterlife. The man who declared to me “I don’t believe in hell” was convinced that his opinion settled the matter.

“I consider eternity as another possibility”

This is illogical in the extreme, of course. Denying that cancer exists doesn’t keep me from getting cancer.

Even more, this is a satanic deception. Our enemy wants nothing more than to delude us into thinking we don’t need what Jesus came to give. We are unlikely to repent of our sins and seek forgiveness if we don’t think we need to repent of our sins or seek forgiveness. We would not turn to Christ as our Lord if we do not need a Lord. If we can be our own god (Genesis 3:5), we’ll try to be our own god.

The poet Mary Oliver wrote: “When death comes / like an iceberg between the shoulder blades, / I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering: / what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?” As a result, she continues, “I look upon time as no more than an idea, / and I consider eternity as another possibility.”

She concludes: “When it’s over, I want to say all my life / I was a bride married to amazement. / I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms. / When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder / if I have made of my life something particular and real. / I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened / or full of argument. / I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”

Nor do I. Nor do you, I suspect. But her plan for being “married to amazement” and “taking the world into my arms” is to “consider eternity as another possibility.” If we see eternity as only a “possibility,” we will assuredly not be ready when we experience it as a reality.

Are you a practical universalist?

I hope you do not share nonbelievers’ agnosticism or atheism with regard to death and eternity. If you are not certain that you have made Jesus your Savior and Lord, please turn to him today. (For answers to frequent questions about Jesus and a way to trust him for salvation, please see my website article, “Why Jesus?”)

As we have seen, one of Satan’s great deceptions is convincing lost people that they are not lost. A second deception is convincing Christians that lost people are not truly lost.

Based on the clear teaching of Scripture (cf. John 14:6Acts 4:12John 3:18Revelation 20:15), we may agree theologically that lost people need Jesus. But if we are not taking the risk to share Christ with them, our actions betray our supposed convictions.

In this case, we are practical universalists. We are not so certain that our lost neighbors, friends, and family members need Jesus to avoid hell and go to heaven that we are willing to share God’s love with them.

Here we face one more satanic deception: that sharing the gospel is “imposing” our beliefs on others. Postmodern secularists have convinced many Christians that tolerance is the highest value, that telling people they risk eternity separated from God in hell is intolerant and bigoted.

In fact, it is just the opposite. Sharing God’s love in Christ offers others the greatest gift they could ever receive. It is giving people the only key that opens the door to heaven. It is sharing the cure for spiritual cancer with people who are dying of the disease whether they know it or not.

We will say more tomorrow about what happens to Christians when we die. For now, would you ask God to help you help someone you know be ready to die today?

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado – Let Jesus Take Your Sins

LET JESUS TAKE YOUR SINS – July 19, 2021

Denalyn and I had enjoyed a nice dinner at a local restaurant. As we received our bill, a church member spotted us and came over. After we chatted a few moments, he took our bill. “I’ll take this,” he said. Guess what? I let him do what he wanted to do. I let him take it away.

Someday we will stand before God. All of us will be present. All of us will have to give an account for our lives. Every thought, every deed, every action. Were it not for the grace of Christ, I would find this to be a very terrifying thought. Yet, according to Scripture, Jesus came to “take away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). On that day, I will point to Christ. When my list of sins is produced, I will gesture toward him and say, “He took it.” Let him take yours.

http://www.MaxLucado.com

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – The Kingdom’s Open Door

Matthew 24:1-14

John the Baptist and Jesus Both preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2Matt. 4:17). And though the nation of Israel rejected Christ as their king, His kingdom was not thwarted.

When an idea recurs in Scripture, we are wise to study it well—and the Bible contains more than 30 references to the “kingdom of heaven.” The term refers to the realm where God reigns in absolute sovereignty. We understand this in a spiritual sense today, but it will become a physical reality in the future when Christ returns to establish His rule on earth. At that point, Satan will be defeated, God’s enemies will be destroyed, and only the righteous will enter the kingdom He sets up here (Matt. 25:31-46).

For those of us who have trusted Christ as our personal Savior, a place in the kingdom is already secured, but what about unbelievers? Today the invitation remains open to all who will repent and receive Christ as Lord.

The kingdom of heaven is still at hand. Nobody knows how long the window of opportunity will stay open. So under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, make the most of every chance to deliver God’s invitation.

Bible in One Year: Proverbs 16-18

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Jesus Restores Us

Bible in a Year:

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

Genesis 3:21

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Genesis 3:17–24

Although Sam had done nothing wrong, he lost his job on the assembly line. Carelessness in another division led to problems in cars they built. After several crashes made the news, wary customers stopped buying their brand. The company had to downsize, leaving Sam out of work. He’s collateral damage, and it isn’t fair. It never is.

History’s first collateral damage occurred immediately after the first sin. Adam and Eve were ashamed of their nakedness, so God graciously clothed them with “garments of skin” (Genesis 3:21). It’s painful to imagine, but one or more animals that had always been safe in the garden were now slaughtered and skinned.

There was more to come. God told Israel, “Every day you are to provide a year-old lamb without defect for a burnt offering to the Lord; morning by morning you shall provide it” (Ezekiel 46:13). Every. Single. Day. How many thousands of animals have been sacrificed because of human sin?

Their death was necessary to cover our sin until Jesus, the Lamb of God, came to remove it (John 1:29). Call this “collateral repair.” As Adam’s sin kills us, so the Last Adam’s (Christ’s) obedience restores all who believe in Him (Romans 5:17–19). Collateral repair isn’t fair—it cost Jesus’ life—but it’s free. Reach out to Jesus in belief and receive the salvation He offers, and His righteous life will count for you.

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

When have you suffered for someone else’s mistake? When have you benefited from someone’s success, and how should you think about both situations?

Jesus, I believe in You, and I know Your life counts for me.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Obedience to God’s Word

“By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3).

True believers obey God’s commandments.

Before Jesus ascended to Heaven after His resurrection, He gave the following Great Commission to His disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20). Notice that a true disciple was to observe, or obey, all of Christ’s commands.

The apostle John understood well the Lord’s instruction. He knew that obedience to the commands of God produces assurance—the confidence of knowing for sure “that we have come to know Him” (1 John 2:3). The Greek word for “keep” in that verse refers to watchful, careful, thoughtful obedience. It is not an obedience that is only the result of external pressure; it is the eager obedience of one who “keeps” the divine commandments as if they were something precious to guard. Such obedience is motivated by love, as John indicates in verse 5: “Whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him.” That’s supported by the word translated “commandments,” which refers specifically to the precepts of Christ rather than laws in general. Legal obedience demands perfection or penalty, while 1 John 2:3 is a call to gracious obedience because of the penalty Christ has already paid.

However, those who claim to know God and yet despise His commandments John calls liars: “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (v. 4). “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed” (Titus 1:16).

How can you determine if you are a true Christian? Not by sentiment, but by obedience. If you desire to obey God out of gratitude for all Christ has done for you, and if you see that desire producing an overall pattern of obedience, you have passed an important test indicating the presence of saving faith.

Suggestions for Prayer

If you have found your obedience is predicated more on the act of obedience than on gratitude for God, confess that now and seek to change your attitude.

For Further Study

Memorize 1 Samuel 15:22 as motivation for the right spirit of obedience.

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Trust in the Power of Hope

 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life.

— Proverbs 13:12 (AMPC)

I define hope as “the happy anticipation of good things.” You can hope for something good to happen to you by learning how to celebrate and enjoy life.

Everything in life is a process in motion. Without movement and progression there is no life. As long as you live you are always heading somewhere, and you should enjoy yourself on the way. God created you to be a goal-oriented visionary. Without a vision you become bored and hopeless.

But there’s something about hope that makes people lighthearted and happy. Hope is a powerful spiritual force that is activated through your positive attitude. God is positive and He wants positive things to happen to you, but that probably won’t happen unless you have hope and faith.

God to bring good out of every circumstance in your life. Whatever happens, trust in the Lord . . . and trust in the power of hope!

Prayer Starter: Lord, thank You for hope. Thank you for Your presence in my life. I know I can put all my trust in You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –The Persons of the Trinity

Beloved in God the Father. . . . Sanctified in Christ Jesus. . . . In the sanctification of the Spirit.

Jude 1:1

Consider the union of the three Divine Persons in all their gracious acts. How unwisely do those believers talk who make preferences in the Persons of the Trinity, who think of Jesus as if He were the embodiment of everything lovely and gracious, while the Father they regard as severely just but destitute of kindness. Equally wrong are those who magnify the decree of the Father and the atonement of the Son so as to depreciate the work of the Spirit.

In works of grace none of the Persons of the Trinity act separately from the rest. They are as united in their works as in Their essence. In Their love toward the chosen They are one, and in the actions that flow from that great central source They are still undivided.

Notice this especially in the matter of sanctification. While it is right to speak of sanctification as the work of the Spirit, yet we must make sure that we do not view it as if the Father and the Son were not involved. It is correct to speak of sanctification as the work of the Father, of the Son, and of the Spirit. Still God says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,”1 and so we are “his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”2

See the value that God sets upon real holiness, since the three Persons in the Trinity are represented as co-working to produce a Church without “spot or wrinkle or any such thing.”3 And you, believer, as the follower of Christ, must also set a high value on holiness—upon purity of life and godliness of conversation. Value the blood of Christ as the foundation of your hope, and never speak disparagingly of the work of the Spirit. This day let us live in such a way as to manifest the work of the Triune God in us.

1) Genesis 1:26
2) Ephesians 2:10
3) Ephesians 5:27

C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Controls Water

“The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.” (Psalm 93:4)

Imagine how you might be spending your days off of school this winter. What might you be doing, like the day after Christmas? You would not be in school, so you would probably sleep in a little longer than usual. The dozens of cookies and holiday treats you devoured in the last week have made you sick of sweets. Well, almost. Maybe you decide to spend some time organizing your bedroom (finding a place for all those new Christmas presents!) or reading a good book.

Let’s pretend you are halfway through your new favorite book, when your thoughts are suddenly interrupted by the sound of a loud train coming near your house.

But wait! That’s no train! You don’t even live near any railroad tracks! With a huge CRASH, the ceiling overhead is crushed in, and the walls of your home collapse! What you thought was a train was really a giant wave more than three stories high. In a matter of seconds, this huge wave destroys your whole house, and you are being pulled around by more water than you’ve ever seen. Suddenly, you are no longer worried about your book or your Christmas presents. Everything in you is focused on getting out of this alive and finding your family.

That situation is hard enough to try to imagine, but it would be much harder to believe if it ever came true for you. Do you remember that this really happened? It happened on December 26, 2004, to thousands of children in Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, and at least five other countries. An earthquake caused a giant wave called a tsunami (soo-NOMM-ee) to smash into their coastlines, killing over 200,000 people. They had no warning. They were going about their normal day-after-Christmas business, and that tsunami came on them as a complete surprise.

But was God surprised that this happened? Absolutely not! God created water on the second day of the Creation week. Every single droplet of every wave belongs to God, and He knows where every droplet is, every second of the day. One drop of water may seem insignificant to us, but joined with trillions of other drops, and given some force, water can do great damage.

But because God made the water, it could never be stronger than He is. He controls every path it takes and receives glory from it. We do not know why God sent the tsunami in 2004, but we can trust Him that He had reasons for His glory and for our good, ultimately. We can trust the One Who made everything we see that He is powerful enough to do what is best.

God is more powerful than water and weather, and we can trust Him.

My Response:
» In what area of my life do I need to be reminded of God’s great power?
» Am I trusting this powerful God to work in me and my circumstances?


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Denison Forum – Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams forgave driver who killed his wife: Trusting “the only correct map of the human heart”

Monty Williams is the head coach of the Phoenix Suns. His team won the first two games of this year’s NBA Finals, though the Milwaukee Bucks won Game 3 last night. If the Suns win two more games, they will achieve their first championship in franchise history.

When Williams received the Michael H. Goldberg Coach of the Year Award from the National Basketball Coaches Association this season, he said, “God knocks the ball out of the park and I get to run the bases. It is a blessing and a privilege to be able to coach this team, alongside this staff, for this organization—it is a ‘get to,’ not a ‘got to.’”

But it is one thing to praise God when we succeed—it is another to trust him when we suffer.

Williams learned about saving faith in Christ from Ingrid, the woman who became his wife. Through her example and prayers, he came to trust in Christ personally. As he entered the NBA, the two married and started a family.

In 2016, Ingrid was killed when a driver under the influence of methamphetamines hit her car. At her funeral, Williams testified, “In my house, we have a sign that says, ‘As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’ (Joshua 24:15). We cannot serve the Lord if we don’t have a heart of forgiveness.”

He added, “Everybody is praying for me and my family, which is right. But let us not forget that there were two people in this situation. And that family needs prayer as well. And we have no ill will toward that family.”

Sir Richard Branson flies into space

Sir Richard Branson made headlines yesterday when his Virgin Galactic space plane flew to an altitude of more than fifty miles before returning to earth.

However, our planet’s atmosphere extends 6,214 miles into space. Our moon is 238,900 miles from us; our sun is 94,499,000 miles away. The next nearest star is 24,984,092,897,479 miles from our planet. The edge of our Milky Way galaxy is estimated to be 25,000 light-years away. The edge of our universe is thought to be 46,500,000,000 light-years away.

Jesus made all of that (Colossians 1:16), and his Father measures it with the palm of his hand (Isaiah 40:12).

I don’t mean to depreciate Sir Richard’s achievement, just to put it in context: the God whom Coach Monty Williams trusts and serves is worthy of our trust and service.

When we face the inevitable crises of life, we can turn to ourselves, our capacities, and our achievements, or we can turn to the One who created us, endowed us with our capacities, and enabled our achievements. We can trust creatures or their Creator. We can trust our wisdom or his word.

“The only correct map of the human heart”

I make this point because truth and biblical truth are under assault in our culture as never before. A recent study reported that only 42 percent of Americans (and only 31 percent of adults under the age of thirty) believe God is the basis of truth. According to Gallup, only 24 percent of Americans consider the Bible to be the literal word of God. This is the lowest percentage in Gallup’s forty-year trend on this issue.

By contrast, in Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers, historian Daniel L. Driesbach demonstrates that many of America’s leaders across our history had a profound belief in objective biblical truth. For example, Abraham Lincoln said of the Bible, “It is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Savior gave the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be portrayed in it.”

John Adams stated, “The Bible contains the most profound philosophy, the most perfect morality, and the most refined policy, that ever was conceived upon earth.” Benjamin Rush, another of the founding fathers, called the Bible “the only correct map of the human heart that ever has been published.”

Then he added, “All systems of religion, morals, and government not founded upon it must perish, and how consoling the thought—it will not only survive the wreck of these systems but the world itself.”

“The aim of the spiritual saint”

Christians in every generation have faced their battles. For followers of Jesus today, our conflict begins with the existence of objective truth and the trustworthiness of biblical truth. I plan to say more about this battle tomorrow, but for today, let’s close with this fact: the foundational way we can persuade skeptics that the Bible is truth is to experience and manifest that truth in our lives.

If we meet Jesus today in his word and worship, others will see Jesus in our words and lives. If we truly experience him this morning, we will manifest him this day. If we seek to know Jesus in everything we do, we will make him known in everything we do.

Paul, after listing his astounding personal achievements (Philippians 3:4–6), said of Jesus, “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ” (vv. 8–9).

Oswald Chambers observed, “Self-realization leads to the enthronement of work; whereas the saint enthrones Jesus Christ in his work. Whether it be eating or drinking or washing disciples’ feet, whatever it is, we have to take the initiative of realizing Jesus Christ is in it. Every phase of our actual life has its counterpart in the life of Jesus. Our Lord realized his relationship to the Father even in the most menial work.”

Chambers added, “The aim of the spiritual saint is ‘that I may know him.’ Do I know him where I am today? If not, I am failing him. I am here not to realize myself, but to know Jesus. In Christian work the initiative is too often the realization that something has to be done and I must do it. That is never the attitude of the spiritual saint, his aim is to secure the realization of Jesus Christ in every set of circumstances he is in” (my emphasis).

What is your “aim” today?

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Upwords; Max Lucado –Don’t Get Lost in Your Troubles

DON’T GET LOST IN YOUR TROUBLES – July 12, 2021

Our minds cannot be full of God and, at the same time, full of fear. Don’t get lost in your troubles. Lift up your eyes! “He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord!” (Isaiah 26:3 TLB)

Are you troubled, restless, sleepless? Then rejoice in the Lord’s sovereignty. I dare you—I double-dog dare you—to expose your worries to an hour of worship. Your concerns will melt like ice on an August sidewalk!

Jeremiah draws a direct connection between faith and peace. He says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought” (Jeremiah 17:7-8 NKJV).

http://www.MaxLucado.com

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Lessons From a Man on the Run

Jonah 1

Have you ever tried to run from God? Most of us won’t try to escape physically by fleeing to another place, the way Jonah did. But we’re experts at ignoring God’s commands, distracting ourselves with busyness, and offering an alternative plan in place of full obedience. No matter how we rationalize and excuse ourselves, rebellion leads only to pain and suffering. 

While running from the Lord, Jonah overlooked some essentials that we should all keep in mind. He incorrectly assumed that fleeing would be a way to avoid obeying God, but the Lord is not deterred by our attempts at manipulation. As David once wrote, He’ll pursue us even to the “remotest part of the sea” (Psalm 139:9).

Jonah also overlooked the fact that disobedience will, figuratively speaking, bring a person down. But notice that the reluctant prophet actually experienced this in a more literal way as well: After initially going down to Joppa, he proceeded down into a ship, and ultimately found himself plunging into the depths of the sea (Jonah 1:15).

Running from God is futile—there’s no hiding place because we are always visible to the Lord. So instead of trying to flee His presence, we should welcome it.

Bible in One Year: Proverbs 5-8

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Our Daily Bread — Growing in God’s Grace

Bible in a Year:

Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge.

2 Peter 1:5

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

2 Peter 1:3–11

The English preacher Charles H. Spurgeon (1834–1892) lived life “full throttle.” He became a pastor at age nineteen—and soon was preaching to large crowds. He personally edited all of his sermons, which eventually filled sixty-three volumes, and wrote many commentaries, books on prayer, and other works. And he typically read six books a week! In one of his sermons, Spurgeon said, “The sin of doing nothing is about the biggest of all sins, for it involves most of the others. . . . Horrible idleness! God save us from it!”

Charles Spurgeon lived with diligence, which meant he “[made] every effort” (2 Peter 1:5) to grow in God’s grace and to live for Him. If we’re Christ’s followers, God can instill in us that same desire and capacity to grow more like Jesus, to “make every effort to add to [our] faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge . . . self-control, perseverance . . . godliness” (vv. 5–7).

We each have different motivations, abilities, and energy levels—not all of us can, or should, live at Charles Spurgeon’s pace! But when we understand all Jesus has done for us, we have the greatest motivation for diligent, faithful living. And we find our strength through the resources God has given us to live for and serve Him. God through His Spirit can empower us in our efforts—big and small—to do so.

By:  Alyson Kieda

Reflect & Pray

How are you making every effort to grow more like Christ? What will help you in this endeavor?

Loving God, help me to be diligent to live for You in all I do and say. Thank You for enabling me to do so through Your Spirit inside me.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – A Living Sacrifice

“Offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5).

Every faculty you have is to be used for God’s glory.

In Romans 12:1 Paul pleads with believers to present their bodies to God as a living and holy sacrifice, which is an appropriate and acceptable act of worship. But as someone has rightly said, the problem with living sacrifices is they tend to crawl off the altar. That’s because sacrificial living demands spiritual discipline and constant dependence on the Holy Spirit. We as Christians aren’t always willing to do that.

According to Paul, the motivation and ability for self-sacrifice are found in the mercies we’ve already experienced in Christ. In Romans 1-11 he mentions several, including love, grace, peace, faith, comfort, power, hope, patience, kindness, glory, honor, righteousness, forgiveness, reconciliation, justification, security, eternal life, freedom, resurrection, sonship, intercession, and the Holy Spirit. Because you’ve received all that, you should gladly surrender every faculty you have for holy purposes.

“Body” in Romans 12:1 also includes your mind. Verse 2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” A transformed mind is the key to transformed behavior.

Prior to your salvation, you had neither the desire nor the ability to make such a sacrifice. But because you are a new creation in Christ, you are not to “go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but . . . as instruments of righteousness to God” (Rom. 6:13). One practical implication? Abstain from sexual immorality. Know how to possess your own body in sanctification and honor (1 Thess. 4:3-4).

You are a holy priest, and your priestly work begins with presenting yourself as a living and holy sacrifice. Is that your desire? Are you a faithful priest?

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for His bountiful mercies toward you.
  • Commit this day to Him, asking for the grace to live a holy life.

For Further Study

Read Romans 6.

  • What choices do you have as a believer that you didn’t have as an unbeliever?
  • What is the benefit of being God’s slave?

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – The New Life in Christ

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

— 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

It’s so amazing to realize that when we give our lives to Christ, He takes us just as we are and in exchange, gives us His nature, making us a new creation. It’s just the beginning of a lifelong journey we take with Him to become everything God created us to be.

In this process, God doesn’t give us a list of rules to follow and then stand on the sidelines watching us fail, but He gives us a new heart and then helps us do all that He has given us a desire to do.

We can learn to depend entirely on Jesus to give us right standing with God and to help us do what is right in His sight. We can form the habit of leaning on God in all things.

The cardinal guideline for the Christian who wants to be what God wants him to be is, Apart from Me… you can do nothing (John 15:5 AMP). Abide in Christ as the branch abides in the vine, continually receiving new life that produces new growth.

Prayer Starter: Lord, help me see myself the way You see me, as a new creature in You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org