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Caution with Spiritual Gifts
11 months ago

Saturday, November 30, 2013

1 Corinthians 12:14-30

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Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians addressed a problem in the church. People valued only certain gifts and were focused on who had which ones. Believers with the “better” gifts were esteemed above others, while those with “lesser” abilities weren’t considered as important. Spiritual pride was rampant, which is a problem that can still occur in the church today. We should remember:

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Caution #1—God doesn’t give every person the same gift.Each believer receives at least one endowment according to the Spirit’s purposes and choosing. While we are all called to be merciful, some are given the gift of mercy. Their remarkable ability to minister to the hurting and outcasts of society can be explained only through the Holy Spirit.

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Caution #2—We can’t tell others, “You should have this gift.” It is God’s business to decide who has which ability. Consider, for example, the gift of faith. When we encounter believers struggling with doubt, we should not criticize them for what they lack. Rather, we should encourage them toward greater faith.

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Caution #3—We must not place undue value on certain gifts. All of them are important and necessary to the body. We are to discover which gifts the Holy Spirit has given us and should be content with His decision.

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In our zeal to follow Christ, we sometimes view giftedness as a way to assess one’s salvation, spiritual maturity, or importance in the church. We should let go of false ideas about the value of divinely given abilities and celebrate the unique gifting of each individual believer.

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Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

The Gifts of the Spirit
11 months ago

Friday, November 29, 2013

1 Corinthians 12:1-13

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God has prepared work for His children to do, and He equips us through spiritual gifts. Let’s examine three passages of Scripture that talk about these divinely bestowed abilities.

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In Ephesians 4, Paul discusses the gifts that represent the offices of the church (v. 11). The Spirit manifests these capabilities in those He has chosen. He expects them to be used “to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (v. 12 NIV).

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In 1 Corinthians 12, the spiritual gifts are considered in regard to their function for the greater good—the Spirit of God gives these capabilities in order to bless the body of Christ. If we do not identify our gift and fulfill our role in the functioning of the church, then we are of little use, much like a broken hand or a plugged-up ear. The Lord has a purpose in mind for our service, and without us, our church will lack something.

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Lastly, in Romans 12, Paul deals with how believers are to express their gifts. For example, those with the gift of giving are to give generously. If one has been bestowed with mercy, it is to be dispensed cheerfully. And leadership should be exercised with diligence (v. 8). God’s family benefits not only from the gifts but also from the way they are used.

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Living in the power of the Holy Spirit means identifying and employing our spiritual gifts as He directs. We will find both the motivation and confidence we need for service when we operate in them. Do you know yours? If not, then seek godly counsel and become a blessing to others.

Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

Overflowing with Gratitude
1 year ago

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Colossians 2:6-8

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The meaning of Thanksgiving has changed over the years. The name was given to our national holiday dedicated to thanking God for His protection and provision. More recently, though, it has become synonymous with feasting, football, and family. In most homes, God probably isn’t even mentioned. But for believers, Thanksgiving is not simply a day; it’s a lifestyle. In fact, a godly person should be characterized by gratitude.

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The apostle Paul teaches how we can become people who overflow with gratefulness in any circumstance. The first step is to appreciate our relationship with Christ. He chose each believer before the foundation of the world  Eph. 1:4  and wants us to “walk in Him”  Col. 2:6. This means acknowledging Jesus as Lord of our life and relying on Him to empower us to obey.

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Next, we are to be firmly rooted in Him. This can happen only when we tap into His Word and draw nourishment from it. Then we’ll be like a tree whose roots reach down so deep that even storms cannot topple it. With this foundation, we can be built up in Christ and increasingly display His character in our attitudes, conduct, and conversation.

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Finally, our faith needs to be firmly established. Then we won’t fall prey to worldly philosophies and deceptions.

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Do you have a grateful spirit, or do you say “thanks” only when things are going your way? Thankfulness in all situations is possible only when you focus on the truths and promises of God’s Word. As you learn to see life from His perspective and acknowledge His loving lordship, you’ll overflow with appreciation.

Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

1 year ago

Changing Circumstances

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Being in prison for something you did not do is not an ideal situation, but Paul found a way to make it a place of praise. Most people would have been questioning why they were there, wondering if living for Christ was really the right decision. Who would want this type of abuse?

However, Paul understood the power that rested within the God he served. He knew that despite the gravity of his circumstances, God could change everything in a moment. So instead of waiting until after God delivered him to sing praises, Paul took the first step. He and Silas began singing praises to God. Then the foundations of the prison shook.

Praise is powerful because it removes our focus from the circumstances and turns us toward God. Instead of seeing a desperate situation, we see an opportunity for God to reveal His glory to everyone involved. And in this instance, God did just that. He shook the prison and the jail doors swung open, freeing all the prisoners.

Yet, God wanted to use this situation to save the Philippian jailer. Paul stopped the jailer from committing suicide and led him to Christ. Eventually, the jailer’s entire family accepted Christ. As we focus on Christ, praise invites God’s presence into our circumstances.

In one of his many letters to those in the early church, Paul explains his firm faith in trusting God: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Prayer: Lord, help me to focus on You and not my circumstances each day. Deepen my faith in Your goodness and Your ability to come through in every situation. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).

Comebacks after Setbacks
1 year ago

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

1 John 1:5-9

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Whether we have recently become believers or have followed Christ for years, the Devil seeks to attack our faith and cause us to relapse into disobedient ways. We are warned to be alert because our Enemy is like a roaring lion seeking to harm us  1 Pet. 5:8.

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His intentions are to enslave us to sin. When we succumb to temptation, Satan presses in to trap us so that we will feel estranged from our heavenly Father. Then the Enemy will try to convince us we cannot return to God in our current state. Some of us become so miserable that we buy into the lie and embrace the world’s ways.

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Since our Father knows both the Devil’s tactics and our weaknesses, He has planned a way of escape for us. It is called confession. Genuine confession means telling the Lord what we have done and agreeing that it is wrong. Then we express sorrow over it, acknowledge inability to rescue ourselves, and declare the heartfelt desire to turn from our sin and live for Him again. God promises to forgive us and cleanse us so our fellowship with Him is restored  1 John 1:9.

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The Enemy is cunning, but Scripture offers a sound strategy for avoiding entrapment: “Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is”  Rom. 12:1-2.  Notice that victory begins with your thinking. The more you apply this principle, the greater your success will be. 

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Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

The Patience of God
1 year ago

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

2 Peter 3:3-9

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More than likely, you heard the gospel several times before you trusted Jesus as your Savior. Sometimes even though we know the truth, we decide to continue with our life as it is. Why does the Lord tolerate this deliberate sin?

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Patience is an attribute of God; it can be seen through His goodness in withholding punishment from those involved in long-term sin. He has a motivation and purpose for His patience. God places a high value on us as His created beings. He waits patiently because He desires to see each one of us come to a saving knowledge of His Son Jesus Christ. That is His primary purpose.

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The Father’s secondary reasons for being patient apply to us as believers. He understands our innate carnality and the sinful tendencies that result from it. He also recognizes our weakness and imma- turity in the Christian life. We have much to learn once we are saved, and God does not expect us to know everything at once.

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We can, however, abuse God’s patience by misinterpreting it Ps. 50:21.  Have you ever done something you knew was wrong? Sometimes when nothing happens as a result of a particular sin, we think God has overlooked it. We may decide to continue in that behavior, which further abuses the Lord’s patience. But God is very clear that He will not strive with us forever (103:9). That is to say, we cannot continue in our disobedience consequence-free. Has God been convicting you of a sin that you are ignoring? Confess (agree with Him that it is wrong), repent (turn away from the sin), and thank Him for His patience with you.

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Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

Developing Patience
1 year ago

Monday, November 25, 2013

Galatians 5:22-25

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We have all kinds of excuses for why we are not patient: stress, ill health, other peoples’ mistakes, running late, or simply having a bad day. But impatience can cause us to make poor decisions, hurt others, or damage relationships.

God wants something far better for us. He knows that patience helps us to stay in His will—where His favor rests upon us. We achieve strong, loving, lasting relationships when we are willing to wait for others to change. In so doing, we also become happier ourselves.

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How do we develop this attribute? First, we must view our lives as God does and recognize difficulties as disguised opportunities to learn patience. We must leave behind the mistaken assumption that success in the Christian life means an absence of problems. God’s purpose is not to provide us with ease, comfort, and pleasure but rather to grow us up into Christlikeness. Patience is one of those “grown-up” qualities we’re to have.

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Second, we have a personal responsibility to pursue the quality of patience and train ourselves in it. We must learn to resist our bad habits, wrong thinking, and negative behavior patterns from the past. Practice responding with kindness and love, even if the other person is unjustly accusing you.

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It takes time, energy, and effort to change our thinking and our responses. Fortunately, we don’t do this alone—the Holy Spirit is committed to producing this fruit in our lives with our cooperation. See difficulty as God does, and then respond patiently.

Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

1 year ago

Giving Thanks Always

“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” - Ephesians 5:20 

There are four types of people. There are those who are constantly complaining and grumbling.  Have you met any of these folks? I mean, they can brighten up a room just by leaving it. That’s the lowest level. Then there are others who live lives of ingratitude. They don’t complain, but they never thank God for His obvious blessings. That’s a little better, but not much better. Then there are people who thank God for obvious blessings. When something good happens, they’re grateful. That’s a better level. But the highest level is to be grateful for all things at all times. That is the secret of a happy and productive life.

Bow before the Lord and begin to think about difficult circumstances you’re facing. Now, thank Him for each one.

For more from Love Worth Finding and Pastor Adrian Rogers, please visitwww.lwf.org.

Expressing Patience
1 year ago

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Ephesians 4:1-3

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We’re called to demonstrate patience in times of conflict. As believers, we have an obligation to exhibit this quality because God knows there is great power in showing restraint. Our natural tendency is to shout back when we are wrongly accused, but to reflect Christ, we must choose a different path.

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We should:

• Stay quiet when verbally attacked. A person’s anger can feed our own and lead to a shouting match. Instead, we should allow him to have his say.

• Listen without responding. In our silence, it may be easy to mentally shut out the verbal assault, but we should listen to the other person’s concerns.

• Pray for whoever is attacking. We probably do not feel like praying, but feelings often get in the way of what God would have us do.

• Control our thoughts. It can be tempting to dwell on the injustice of a situation instead of focusing on God and what He thinks of us.

• Control our emotions. We’re to rely on the Holy Spirit to give right responses.

• Be ready to forgive. We are to be patient when wronged and willing to release our hurt  2 Tim. 2:24.

• Speak encouraging words. It’s good to express appreciation when someone brings a concern to our attention—and to ask forgiveness if we’ve made a mistake.

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To our human flesh, these practices may seem foolish and ineffective, but in fact, the opposite is true. There’s great power in patience because so few practice it well. Responding rightly makes an impression on non-believers, who’ll notice something in you that they also want.

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Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

1 year ago

Keeping Your Integrity Intact

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

The longer we walk down the road with Christ, the more we understand what it means to put our trust in Him. Despite our best intentions, it does not take long to realize we simply cannot determine in our hearts to live righteous lives. Our best striving and efforts fall short of God’s glory.

Fortunately, there is hope. In the magnificence of creation, we see one detail that cannot escape us: God created us for relationship. Verse after verse, chapter after chapter, we read about the relationships of people bent on following after God. We see their triumphs as well as their failures, and we learn some valuable lessons.

One such valuable lesson is that we need people who will hold us accountable. No matter how hard we determine to make the right decision in every case, we are bound to falter at some point. And when we know that we do not have to answer to anyone in person, it becomes more comfortable to ease into what is convenient for us, even if it means we are compromising our integrity.

If we truly desire to live with integrity, honoring God in everything we say and do, we must find trusted friends who are willing to walk alongside us and hold us accountable for our actions. These people will be instrumental in our growth as believers. They will help us to move to new depths in our faith with Jesus Christ and they will love us regardless of the flaws our lives contain.

Prayer: Lord, show me people in my life who can help me be accountable for my actions as I seek to honor You with all that I am. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“Righteousness guards the man of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner” (Proverbs 13:6).

When Facing Life’s Mountains
1 year ago

Friday, November 22, 2013

Zechariah 4:1-14

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In the vision God gave to Zechariah, the mountain is an illustration of a barrier or hindrance. We might wonder what the prophet’s strange dreams can teach us today. While the imagery is foreign, the principles are repeated throughout the Bible.

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Zerubbabel, leader of Judah, and a group of 50,000 captives had been released by the Babylonians to return to Jerusalem. There, they began to rebuild the temple walls but were attacked by hostile neighbors. As a result, God’s people were discouraged and on the verge of giving up.

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In verse six, God reminded Zerubbabel through Zechariah that progress is made “not by might nor by power but by My Spirit.” In other words, when God calls us to a task, He Himself assumes responsibility for removing hindrances. The Lord went on to ask, “What are you, O great mountain?” Nothing but flatland would remain once He worked through Zerubbabel.

God never intended for us to face seemingly insurmountable tasks in our own strength. Instead, we’re to rely on the Holy Spirit’s power within us. We are like the lampstand (v. 2) that was to be kept constantly burning in the temple. In Zechariah’s dream, the olive trees on each side of the lampstand were pouring oil directly into its bowl, with no help from the priests (v. 12). Like those olive trees, the Holy Spirit was God’s promise of continual help to the weary people. We, too, can trust the Lord to pour His Spirit into our lives for help when we’re facing a “mountain” of an obstacle.

Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

Relying on God’s Power, Not Our Own
1 year ago

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Philippians 4:10-13

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Humanly speaking, the apostle Paul had much to boast about—his qualifications are found in Philippians 3:4-6. However, he understood that impressive “credentials” are not what really matter. Paul rightly saw that knowing Christ and relying on Him are the source of genuine value in life.

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Writing from places that were lowly in both a physical and emotional sense, the apostle is a triumphant example of how believers should view themselves—namely, as the Father does. The best way to do that is to recognize God as the source of our power: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (4:13).

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Many of us know this verse by heart, but have we accepted its truth? To say “all things” may seem like a bold statement, but it is balanced. The emphasis is not on “I can,” but rather on the fact that I canthrough Christ—He supplies everything we need to carry out His plan for our life.

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This verse is an important confession that we cannot do God’s will in our own power. But that does not mean we should simply sit back and become spectators. As Christians, we have a responsibility to obey the Lord’s leading in small matters as well as in “big” circumstances. What’s more, it is our hands, feet, body, voice, compassion, and desires that the Father will use to accomplish His ultimate goals for our lives.

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Obeying by faith can seem frightening, but the comfort zone isn’t where godly people choose to spend their time. To do all things through Christ involves some risks, but you’ll discover that the rewards for obedience are deeply satisfying.

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Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

1 year ago

The Pattern for Revival

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

In the heart of every believer, a hunger should exist—a hunger to see God use us to advance His Kingdom in ways we never imagined. Christianity morphs into little more than a stale religion if we quit pursuing God. The moment we get content with where we are is the moment we stop moving toward God. He has more for us than we can ever imagine.

While God desires to turn our lives upside down and use us in His amazing plan of redemption for the world, He never forces His will on us. If our desire is not there, He will not make us do it. He will accomplish His will through other willing vessels. But who wants to miss out on the opportunity to be an integral part of God’s plan?

However, before any such life-changing events can occur in our own hearts, we must surrender unconditionally to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. On the road to Damascus and in the days following, we do not read of a defiant Paul, trying to resist every directive. Instead, we find a Paul who is stunned momentarily and quickly submits to the Holy Spirit’s voice in his life.

Surrendering to the Holy Spirit’s leadership in our lives opens the door for God to begin shaking our world to the point we may not recognize it once He is finished. Yet, it is a shaking that takes us from awed bystanders to active participants in His plan of grace and redemption.

Taking the first step is never easy. However, relinquishing our freedom to the One who brings ultimate freedom will pave the way for a personal revival to occur in our hearts.

Prayer: Lord, empower me daily to surrender to the leadership of the Holy Spirit in my life. Where there is resistance to You, soften my heart, that I may joyfully follow You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).

 

The Character of Gossip
1 year ago

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

James 3:5-8

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Gossip isn’t a popular subject, but it certainly is a popular activity. Many people spend a great deal of time participating in idle talk about someone else, usually with the intention of injuring the individual in some way. Unfortunately, believers are oftentimes just as guilty of gossiping as unbelievers. But our Father wants us to see the practice for what it truly is.

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The Bible includes gossip in a couple of odious categories. Paul lists it amidst interrelated sins like deceit, malice, slander, and arrogance  Rom. 1:29-30.  Gossip is deceptive and defamatory, and it is accompanied by both cruelty and pride. These are all characteristics of “haters of God,” according to the apostle. In another passage describing ungodly practices, Paul places gossip in the middle.  And of course, everyone recognizes the Ten Commandments, whose last decree is, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” Ex. 20:16.

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Gossip does not fit who we are as God’s children. Just as you can’t have poison and pure water pouring from the same stream, you cannot have both God-honoring talk and gossip coming from a believer. When evil words pass our lips, they are indicative of what we harbor in our heart. However, God is in the heart-cleaning business. If we falter—allowing gossip and its cohorts, malice and deceit, into our lives—we should pray as David did: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer”  Ps. 19:14.

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Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

The Promised Holy Spirit
1 year ago

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

John 14:23-26

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Jesus assured His followers that it would be to their benefit if He left the earth. He could then send His Spirit, who plays an essential role in the life of each believer  John 16:7.

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The indwelling Holy Spirit serves as our:

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• Security. At salvation, we are placed in Christ and sealed in Him by the third person of the Trinity. The presence of God’s Spirit marks us as the Father’s children and is a pledge that we will belong to Him forever  Eph. 1:13-14.

• Helper. God the Holy Spirit provides wisdom, knowledge, and understanding  1 Cor. 2:12.  Because He is divine, He knows ways to help us that no mere human could figure out. He strengthens us when we are weak and prays for us when we do not know how  Rom. 8:26.

• Guide. The Holy Spirit can direct us appropriately because He knows the truth of every situation, the hearts of people around us, and our own attitudes and motives. His guidance will always be right because He knows the Lord’s will for us 1 Cor. 2:9-11.  We can trust what He says—He doesn’t speak on His own initiative but communicates only what He hears from God John 16:13-14.

• Spiritual Power Source. The Spirit releases His power into our lives for the purpose of fruitful service and godly living  Eph. 3:16.  This divine energy and authority is always available to us, as long as we are yielded to His control.

The Holy Spirit is a VIP—a very important person. Fully God, He lives within us to carry out our triune God’s divine purposes. Are you following His lead?

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Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

The Promise of the Father
1 year ago

Monday, November 18, 2013

Acts 1:1-8

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The Bible is a book of promises, each of which is guaranteed by the Lord’s unchanging nature  2 Cor. 1:20.  One precious assurance is that those who trust Jesus as Savior will never be alone. Our Father has promised to send His Holy Spirit to take up residence within each believer. Scripture teaches that the Spirit is a member of the Trinity, along with God the Father and God the Son.

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The triune nature of God is clear in a number of Bible passages.  Genesis 1:1-2, for instance, identifies both the Father and the Spirit as active participants in creation. The New Testament later reveals that Jesus Christ was likewise present when the world was being made  Col. 1:16.

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We find another example in John’s gospel. The night before His crucifixion, Jesus told the disciples that He was going away but would ask the Father to send “another Comforter” (14:16). The resurrected Christ later commissioned His followers to make disciples and baptize them in the name of all three members of the Trinity  Matt. 28:19.

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On the basis of biblical truth, we can know for sure that the Spirit is fully God, just like the Father and the Son. Scripture teaches that we can intimately know the Father and Jesus, and the same holds true for the third person of the Trinity. Because of the Spirit’s importance, Jesus spent much time talking about Him with the disciples.

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Do you know the Holy Spirit as well as you do the Father and Son?  If not, spend time studying Scripture to gain understanding of His place in your life.

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Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

1 year ago

http://www.lwf.org/site/R?i=UMzJPKw1PBbDkKruoemjQw
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Running Together

BIBLE MEDITATION:
"Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain." 1 Corinthians 9:24

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
I have a race to run. God has given you a race to run as well. Every man runs his own race. We're not racing against each other to win the victor's crown. We are in a pilgrimage together. I'm not trying to outrun you. And you're not trying to outrun me. That is good news!

God has a plan for your life with particular speed bumps, detours, and hurdles to cross. And you are to stay in the race until it is over. But you are not running alone!

ACTION POINT:
Though we are not in the same race, we are in the journey together, so we encourage one another to win. And I want you to win the victor's crown today! Run, my friend, run!

Guilty No More
1 year ago

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Romans 5:8-9

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How can we say that the Lord has declared us “not guilty” of our sin? The first thing we have to understand is that this act was completely God’s doing. We can do absolutely nothing to remove the stain of our own sin. It is for this reason that the Father sent His Son into the world.

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The one satisfactory payment for sin is death  Rom. 6:23, and because God wanted to spare us that punishment, He provided the only way out. He gave the perfect sacrifice: His son, Jesus Christ  Rom. 5:8.

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What did this loving act accomplish? It enabled us to approach almighty God as clean, pure, and holy men and women. Our purity is not related to anything we ourselves have done; it is due exclusively to the fact that we have been purified in Jesus’ blood. That’s why we can say we have been “washed in the blood,” which is the only way the stain of sin can be removed.

When we come into a saving relationship with Jesus, the first thing to happen is that we are justified—in other words, God declares us “not guilty.” This means that as believers, we can stand in the presence of a perfect, holy God, because He now sees us as His own children.

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Am I saying we’ll never sin? No. However, when we place our faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, the penalty for all of our sin&mdashast, present, and future—has been paid, and we will never face God’s condemnation  Rom. 8:1.  Thank your heavenly Father today, not only for forgiving your sin, but also for freeing you from the burden of guilt.

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Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

1 year ago

Saved from Drowning

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

A group of young men was meeting by a river. During their usual horseplay, one of the men fell into the water. Immediately, this fellow began to thrash around, and it became obvious that he could not swim.

Another member of the group, a strong swimmer, stood by and watched as his friend fought to stay afloat and alive. Those on shore began to shout at the one who was a good swimmer and demanded that he jump into the water and save his friend.

However, he waited a few more seconds. Once the drowning man stopped his wild struggle, his friend dove in and pulled him to safety.

When the rescue was over, the rescuer explained why he had waited to save the drowning man: “If I had jumped in earlier, he would have been too strong for me and possibly both of us would have drowned. Only by waiting until he was too exhausted to try to save himself could I save him.”

There are times when our self-effort can prevent us from being saved. This is especially true concerning our spiritual salvation.

There is only one way to be saved and rescued from a sure death, and that is by stopping all human efforts and crying out to the Lord Jesus Christ for His forgiveness and mercy.

The more a person seeks to devise ways of saving himself, the deeper he will sink into fear and disillusionment. Salvation is a gift, not the result of our good works. It is a gift that is given graciously by God, who loves us with an eternal love. Truly, there is no greater gift we can receive!

Do you feel as though you are drowning and want to give up?

Call out to Jesus and He will save you. Praise to the Lord Jesus Christ who died so that we may experience eternal life.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for the free gift of eternal life with You. I acknowledge that You are the only One who can save me and change my heart. Teach me to follow You, that You may be glorified in me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life” (John 6:47).

Understanding Guilty Feelings
1 year ago

Friday, November 15, 2013

James 2:10

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Think about how you feel when doing something you know you shouldn’t. Most likely a stinging conscience makes you realize that you feel guilty.

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What is guilt? Perhaps you think of it as a nagging sense that the Lord is out to get you. Or you might feel isolated from God or others because of some dark cloud of regret. Obviously, there are different ways to interpret guilt; identifying exactly what it is will allow us to move ahead on the road to spiritual maturity.

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When our behavior is in conflict with guidance from the Spirit of God residing in us, we will experience an emotional response. That’s all guilt is: emotional pain caused by something we have done. Put another way, guilt describes our taking responsibility for doing wrong, whether it be a thought, action, careless word, or something else.

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While it is good to have this inner alarm, we have to guard against the inclination to wallow in shame. At times we behave so badly that we’re completely overcome with remorse, and we refuse to let the waves of regret pass by. We might punish ourselves by wading in those troubled waters for a while.

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When these times come, we must remember that Jesus Christ has paid the debt for all our sin. This means that He has already paid the price of our wrongdoing, and we have been found “not guilty.” As our sin lies dead at the cross, so does our guilt. While we must always take responsibility for our actions, we have the freedom in Christ to do so without the burden of unhealthy regret.

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Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

1 year ago

God's Work of Art

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Have you ever had a confidant—someone you knew you could count on when life turned dark and stormy? Have you ever played sports and had one teammate who you knew could win the game for you, no matter how far behind you were? Have you ever experienced someone meeting your biggest need when you least expected it?

Just when we think we are finished, God begins a new work in our lives. Just when we think we have made a mess not even God can clean up, He redeems our messes. 

God’s grace gives us confidence because He does things in our lives we could never do. He transforms and changes us into new people. He takes the messes we make and converts them into works of art. Suddenly, we are not helpless people, limping through life without hope or purpose—we are people with vision, racing down God’s perfect path for our lives.

Paul knew this as well as anybody. Before he came to Christ, he was a scoundrel, a murderer, and a hypocrite. He was full of the law and knew nothing of grace. But God so transformed Paul’s life that this pious aristocrat became God’s mouthpiece during the birth of the new church. Paul went from condemning Christians to walking side-by-side with them.

Today, as you think about the change God has effected in your own life, praise Him for doing what no one else could do. He rescued you from eternal death. He cleansed the stains of sin from your heart. And now He has an incredible plan for your future.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for bringing me from death to life. Your grace is more than enough to transform me. Show me places in my heart You desire to change in me today. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11).

 

Lessons from My Grandfather
1 year ago

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Deuteronomy 4:9

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Every generation is faced with the choice to live morally or immorally. For this reason, parents and grandparents have an awesome responsibility to pass down the biblical truths and principles that have guided their own lives. I can personally attest to the impact my grandfather’s words had in shaping the way I think.

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When I graduated from high school at the age of 17, I decided to visit my granddad, whom I had seen only two times in my life. I had an entire week to spend at his home, and all I wanted to do was listen to him. As he spoke to me, the thing that impressed me above all else was hearing him say, “Charles, obey God. If He tells you to run your head through a brick wall, start for the wall. As you go to put your head through, God will make a hole for it.”

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He knew a lot about brick walls and how the Lord makes holes in them. Though his youthful passion had been to preach, he’d had so little schooling that this dream seemed impossible—he didn’t know how to begin. But what my grandfather did was to get on his knees. Then he opened his Bible and learned to read well by practicing. And he began to preach by simply crying out to the Lord for help.

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From those humble beginnings, my grandfather began to minister, and he eventually established numerous churches as God presented opportunities. That week of visiting and sharing taught me that when you really want to do the Lord’s will, He will move heaven and earth to show you the way.

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Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

How to Stabilize Wavering Faith
1 year ago

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Matthew 21:18-22

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Allowing our faith to waver closes us off from God’s blessings. He cannot violate His own principle and answer a doubter’s prayer. In contrast, believers who have chosen steady faith can expect the Lord to give them what they ask—or something even better.

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Stabilizing unsteady faith requires two actions. First, decide to believe that the Lord is trustworthy. Insecure feelings are tied to our circumstances, but our mind and heart can be tethered to the Lord instead. “I refuse to doubt my God any longer” should become the battle cry for Christians facing difficulty and pain. When the Deceiver whispers discouragement, we can tell him that we know who our God is and that He will do what He promises. Satan cannot argue with steadfast faith.

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Second, get into God’s Word and meditate on His promises.When we ponder the Lord’s assurances, we absorb them into our daily life. As our mind and spirit fill with the Father’s thoughts, we begin to think as He does. Anytime we are feeding on Scripture, whether through a sermon, group Bible study, or personal reading, we should write notes and take time to meditate on the passage. Then, whenever harsh circumstances confront us and our faith begins to waver, we can recall God’s promises and stand firm in our decision to trust Him.

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Believers who stabilize their faith pray specifically, in accordance with God’s promises. And from the moment the first prayer goes heavenward, we can live in anticipation of how He is going to answer. Faith is a great adventure.

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Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

Wavering Faith
1 year ago

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

James 1:2-8

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The often-quoted first chapter of James teaches about responding appropriately to trials. In hard circumstances, the heart is purified and faith strengthened. However, in order to formulate a proper response, we must ask for God’s wisdom. James then slips in a principle: “But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind” (v. 6). In other words, believers shouldn’t vacillate between certainty that the Lord will respond as He has promised and fear that He will not. Wavering faith hinders God’s plan.

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Unacknowledged sin is often a cause of wavering faith, as is our tendency to focus on circumstances rather than on Christ. But uncertainty can frequently be traced back to our own weak prayer life. Far too many believers present unspecific requests: “Lord, You know what’s going on with me and what I need. Please give me what I need.” When a believer is unsure of what he is requesting, he simply cannot be confident the Lord will answer.

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Sometimes our need is obvious, and we can ask God for it by name immediately. In other circumstances, we must seek His will before we can know how to petition Him: “Father, You promised that if I trusted You and did not lean on my own understanding, You would direct my path. So, I am expecting to receive clear direction from You.” Since God longs for His children to make right choices, He has obligated Himself to show us His will when we ask. Whatever He impresses on your heart, begin to pray specifically and follow through faithfully.

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Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

The Risk of Obeying God
1 year ago

Monday, November 11, 2013

Luke 5:1-11

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As Christians, we can waste our lives standing on faith’s shoreline, never venturing beyond ankle-deep water. There we have little need for the Lord. 

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After all, we are safe on the beach, far from the danger of high waves and storms. But believers who release themselves into deeper waters of obedience need God desperately.

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By casting oneself farther offshore, the Christian relinquishes control of his life. No longer can he pretend to determine his own fate, whether in regard to career choices, financial decisions, or church involvement. God is Captain of the boat, whereas the believer is the obedient first mate. Will storms come? Yes. Will the Captain at times make difficult requests? Yes. Will the first mate sometimes feel scared? Yes. But the surrendered believer experiences Christ more intimately than someone on shore can; he receives a boatload of God’s goodness and blessings.

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Most churchgoers easily claim, “I’ve yielded my life to Christ.” To actually live out those words, however, is more difficult. We want to cling to a measure of control in case God doesn’t work events to our satisfaction. Too many Christians are content merely to dip their toes into faith because they fear life might not turn out according to their plan. But how much greater their loss will be if life doesn’t turn out according to God’s plan. He can do much more with a surrendered existence than a sheltered one.

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The Christian life becomes exciting when we wade into water so deep that our feet no longer touch the bottom. Then we must stand on God’s promises.

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Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

1 year ago

 http://www.lwf.org/site/R?i=1js-07zdWyxlljQyC545xA
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When Your Feet Are Slipping...

BIBLE MEDITATION:
"Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart." Psalm 73:1

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
Asaph, the author of Psalm 73, started his psalm by talking about the purity of a person's heart and the goodness of God. Then he says, "But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped" (Psalm 73:2).

He had the idea that when he got right with God, that he wouldn't have any more troubles. Are you sure about that? Yes! Psalm 73:13-14 says, "Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning."

He said, "I got right with God and I still have problems!" He had a false expectation that the Bible doesn't necessarily give. Christians are not due preferential treatment.

ACTION POINT:
Seek the Lord through His Word and in prayer. You will find the presence of God is enough, even in the midst of our trials.

1 year ago

Day 3 - The Spirit Moves

And the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters (see Genesis 1:2).

With the first mention of the Spirit, He was moving. The Holy Spirit is the agent of God who does the work. He is ever moving, working, and bringing forth the purposes of God. It is crucial for every Christian to know the Holy Spirit, and learn how to follow Him in all things. In order to do this, we have to keep moving. The nature of the Christian life is to be moving and going somewhere.

The Christian life is never stagnant, but flowing like a river. We have a destination and a work to accomplish with the Holy Spirit. In the beginning "the Spirit of God was moving," and the Spirit continues to move. That is why the River of Life is a river, not a pond or lake. A river is always going somewhere.

A river starts as a single drop of water, and then becomes a little stream. Next, the stream gathers with other streams from the country side, and the river grows until it reaches its destination. The Lord intends this for every life. We are called to a journey that grows continually in both life and power. If we stay on the course, Proverbs 4:18 will be true of us: "But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day."

We all begin as a single drop, a single soul among the teaming billions on earth. Then, "if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another" (see I John 1:7). Our journey is not alone. There is no other fellowship on earth like that which is found in the church of Jesus Christ. We are called to walk with other souls. If we stay on course, we will gather with many others who are going to the same destination. Our little streams should then join others, growing all of the time into a mighty river. The church is also a glorious gift. Each soul is a marvelous treasure to be discovered.

When the Spirit moved, life came forth. The formless void became a symphony of such harmony and beauty that we will for eternity continue to marvel at the wonder of His ways. The Holy Spirit still loves to take even the most desolate life and turn it into a glorious symphony of life. However, He also builds with permanence. Our God planned from eternity, and as King Solomon understood: "I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him" (Ecclesiastes 3:14). To the degree that we work in harmony with His plan, we will be used to do that which will last forever. This is called "having fruit that remains."

The church is the "new creation" of God. When we look at the beginning of the church, we are observing a second beginning with consequences no less profound than the first beginning. When the spiritual state of the earth was formless and void, the Spirit moved again and the church was born. All life springs from the Spirit of God, and we will only have true life when we learn to move with Him. As we behold His work, we learn never to be discouraged by the present state of things. The more desolate it is, the more glorious His work appears.

If our spiritual lives are not getting better day by day, and increasing in life and power, then somewhere we have missed a turn. If this is true for you, do not proceed any further along your present course, but return to your first love, your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. There you will find the Living Waters that can alone satisfy your soul and lead you to your destiny. Do not let petty differences with others separate you from those whose destiny is joined to your own. This is how many turn from the course. Stay in the River.

The Christian life is one of movement. However, it is not a random movement, but one with purpose. This purpose is still turning that which is formless and void into a glorious new creation. If we allow the Spirit to move through us, we will also be constantly searching for those whose lives are formless and void. We will become a bridge for them into the glorious, creative purposes of God. When we begin to see with His eyes, we will not see any person or situation as worthless, regardless of how empty and useless they may now seem.

When we begin to see with His eyes, we begin to see potential in people and situations that before were seemingly hopeless. He said in Jeremiah 15:19: "If you return, then I will restore you—Before Me you will stand; and if you extract the precious from the worthless, you will become My spokesman…."

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When We Are to Blame
1 year ago

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Luke 15:11-32

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As we saw yesterday, some needs are universal—necessities that are common to all people. Today, let’s focus on needs of a different kind: those that arise when we are to blame.

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Think about the prodigal son. This young man had everything he could possibly want...he lived in a beautiful home, had plenty of food, and was raised in a wealthy and popular family. However, he unwisely set his eye on the one thing he didn’t have: prestige. He wanted to be his own man and get out from under the shadow of his father and older brother. Despite having the finest things in life, he wanted independence.

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The result? This young man had a wonderful time, but only for a little while. He desired the joys that went along with success but paid no attention whatsoever to the responsibilities wealth required. Therefore, he drove himself into a world of pain and need that he’d never before experienced. And he had no one to blame but himself.

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Hurting, hungry, and alone, the prodigal knew full well how and where his needs would be met. Then, accepting the blame, he turned and made the journey home.

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When we are hurting, we often try to find someone else to blame. It can be heartbreaking to realize the fault is actually our own. When this describes your situation, can you, like the prodigal son, swallow your pride and turn back toward your heavenly Father? If you do, you’ll discover He’s already running out to meet you, ready to supply your needs again.

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Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

Our Basic Needs
1 year ago

Friday, November 8, 2013

Psalm 107:9

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Every individual is a beautiful and unique creation, complete with needs and desires that are specific to his or her own life. There are, however, a few necessities we call universal. They are things all people need in their lives:

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1. Sense of Belonging. Everyone yearns to “fit in” somewhere. The joy you feel when surrounded by intimate friends and family stands as a powerful testament to this truth. The discomfort associated with moving to a job or home where no one knows you also reveals how powerful this need is in our lives.

2. Sense of Worth. It is critical for all of us to be able to say, “I matter.” Yet, many people are not convinced this is true. They are overcome by a horribly disfigured self-image that is stealing the joy of the Lord from their lives.

3. Sense of Competence. We need to know for certain that we can accomplish the tasks God puts before us. A lack of confidence in His power and provision in our lives can be devastating.

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God responded to every one of these needs at the cross. We belong because our heavenly Father called us into His holy family. We have worth because Jesus paid such a great price for our salvation. We are competent because God has sent His Holy Spirit to indwell and empower us.

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A breakdown in even one of these areas will have a negative impact on your spiritual growth. Are you struggling with regard to any of them? Lay your needs before the Lord today, and trust Him to make you the complete person He designed you to be.

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Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

1 year ago

A Heart of Thanksgiving

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

As the enemy attempts to lure us subtly away from God’s best plan for our lives, we begin to compromise in many areas. And the trick that the enemy has used since the beginning of time is trying to convince us that we are getting a bad deal.

Human nature does not like to get taken by anybody or anything—and the enemy knows this. So, once Satan convinces us that God is robbing us of some of life’s greatest pleasures, we begin to plan and to plot how we will get what we think we deserve. It is dangerous to venture down such a path.

However, there is a way to combat such tempting thoughts. To have a heart of gratitude means that we appreciate what God has given us. In fact, life itself is a gift from God to us for our enjoyment and pleasure.

When Paul and Silas were tossed into prison, they sang praises and hymns to God. These grateful hearts prepared the way for God to do something incredible in that Philippian jail. Had they been murmuring and grumbling about how a loving God could let them land in such a place, they would have missed an opportunity to lead a man and his entire family to the Lord.

As we seek God more and more, we discover that for every temptation the enemy presents, there is a greater blessing God wants to give. We must remain faithful to the Lord in those trying moments, pressing ahead with the knowledge that God will not withhold His best plan for our lives as long as we are putting Him first.

Prayer: Lord, please help me realize when I have an ungrateful heart and give me a heart of thanksgiving. When I am tempted, show me how much greater Your plans are. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“The Lord is my strength. . . . My heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song” (Psalm 28:7).

Impacting Others for God’s Kingdom
1 year ago

Thursday, November 7, 2013

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Colossians 4:6

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In our desire to impact people around us, we often look to the example of individuals who have positively influenced our own lives. Many of us have known men or women who created a hunger in our soul to know God better. Seeing what a difference they made in our life, we may wonder if we could ever have that kind of influence on others.

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The answer is yes, because God’s Spirit indwells every believer, making it possible for any of us to be effective in significant ways. One way is by simply speaking words of kindness. When you notice that someone is depressed or deeply troubled over circumstances in his or her life, you have the opportunity to say, “I just want you to know that I love you and appreciate you. I know things look black right now, but I’m lifting you in prayer. You are going to make it.” It may not sound eloquent or profound, but just imagine yourself receiving such encouragement in a time of need. Then you’ll get an idea of how meaningful such comments can be.

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Another way to make a significant impact is through the church that you attend. Every week, when you contribute to the ministry of Jesus Christ in that fellowship, the Lord utilizes your offering in ways you’ll never be able to measure. He knows how to multiply your gift so it goes much further than you realize.

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Because God wants all believers to have impact for His kingdom, He expects you to use the abilities and opportunities He has given you. Where do you begin? Right where you are—start by brightening the corner where you live.

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Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

The Circle of Our Impact
1 year ago

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Matthew 5:14-16

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One of today’s great tragedies is that so many people live chaotic lives with no real purpose. We would expect this from non-believers, but Christians should live out the knowledge that God has a very specific purpose for each person. When we consider what He has invested in us, it is no wonder that He wants to see us bear fruit in the lives of others. We can powerfully impact those in our circle of influence, much the way a stone tossed into a pond will make expanding concentric ripples.

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In today’s passage, Jesus describes believers as light and calls us to reflect Him in a sin-darkened culture. Like the moon reflecting the light of the sun, we are to let the truth and beauty of the indwelling Christ shine out through our conduct, conversation, and character. In doing so, we must put away sin because it diminishes our light, as does soot on the globe of a lantern.

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Our influence on others should be purposeful rather than haphazard. We ought to ask ourselves which people we are impacting. Are we in fact making a difference in anyone’s life? The truth is, we can turn our “ripples” into powerful waves for God that affect wide circles of individuals. For instance, consider the impact of prayer. There’s no end to its possibilities—your influence can extend to the remotest places on earth when you are on your knees before the Lord.

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Don’t ever underestimate the scope and circle of your influence when you are obedient to God. By following Him, you live out what it means to be the “light of the world.”

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Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

Making a Lasting Impact
1 year ago

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Matthew 5:13

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All of us would like to be remembered as individuals who left a good and lasting imprint on the lives of others. The problem is that we tend to be so self-centered that few of us deeply impact even our closest neighbors.

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How well we succeed in touching the lives of others is usually determined by our character. And ultimately, it is our spiritual impact that our heavenly Father is concerned about.

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To illustrate the influence we should have on others, Jesus used the example of salt, a familiar household item that alters whatever it touches. The Lord taught that salt must maintain its purity and integrity in order to have lasting impact. In a similar way, we must guard our purity by walking in newness of life instead of loving the things of this world  1 John 2:15.

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Then, when people witness our transformed lives, they will be powerfully influenced.

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Salt flavors and preserves food. When we sprinkle it on something flavorless, the food becomes much more enjoyable. We’re to flavor the lives of people around us by using our actions and words to point them to Jesus. If we are just like them, we’re not going to have any impact. Salt doesn’t change itself. It enhances only that which is bland or void of any real taste.

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Never forget that you have an influence on others—either for good or for bad. Salt makes a positive difference on whatever comes in contact with it. Because we are followers of Christ, it is our job to flavor the world around us so it will be impacted in positive and God-honoring ways.

Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

God Reveals His Presence
1 year ago

Monday, November 4, 2013

Psalm 42:1-5

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How does the Lord make His presence known in the lives of His children? Although this question does not have a simple “one size fits all” answer, there are several general ways in which God chooses to reveal Himself.

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For example, He may wake you from a deep sleep in the middle of the night. Many times I have sat straight up in bed, knowing for certain that Jesus was right there with me, giving me answers to some serious questions from the day. Did I see Him or hear a voice? No. But did I know He was there? Absolutely.

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God also makes His presence known by giving instantaneous guidance. Each step of the way, decision after decision, He leads us where He wants us to go.

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And quite often the Lord will show Himself by giving such a clear word that you know beyond any doubt that it was from Him. How many times have you been reading a Scripture passage when suddenly a light seemed to flip on in your mind? God’s Holy Spirit can bring sudden understanding of a new truth, or clearly reveal the solution to a hard decision.

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Another way that God reveals Himself is through life’s tragedies. Can you think of a time when you were so sorrowful that you couldn’t even move—but then somehow found the strength and courage to go on, despite the pain? You may even have marveled at discovering your strength and wondered where it came from. It was from the One who is always within, always empowering. All we have to do is say, “Lord, I need You at this moment.” And He is there—always.

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Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

1 year ago

http://www.lwf.org/site/R?i=l7xjfj70RZOtGl6X2A_Afw
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Renouncing the Rebel Inside

BIBLE MEDITATION:
"Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." 2 Corinthians 5:20

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
Is there stirring in your heart a spirit of rebellion today? Maybe you don't even recognize it. But if you do, let me plead with you to do something about it right now.

Ask God to cleanse you from your desire to rebel.

Ask Him to root out the rebel in you. He is not going to remove it until you renounce it. It is your choice.

Ask Him to forgive you for the foolish and careless words you have spoken.

Ask Him to take out that spirit of rebellion against authorities.

Ask Him to teach you how to lovingly respect people when they are in the wrong.

Either you crown Jesus as Lord, or you crucify Him. Are you with Jesus today or are you against Him?

ACTION POINT:
Is there someone who has wronged you and you seek revenge? Do you have a need to have your rights exalted above others? Read and apply the truth of Philippians 2:3-11.

His Empowering Presence
1 year ago

Saturday, November 2, 2013

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Jeremiah 1:6-10

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When was the last time you felt God’s presence? I’m not talking about an intellectual understanding that the Lord is with you because He’s everywhere. Instead, what I’m asking is, When was the last time you experienced a heartfelt realization that He personally and intimately abides with you?

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If you’re like many believers today, it may have been a while since you really felt His presence. Too many people go about their daily life without a genuine sense of God’s closeness. What a tragedy!

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In the Scriptures, when God called someone into service, the first thing He did was to remind that person of His enduring presence. We see examples of this in the stories of Moses  Ex. 3:11-12,  Joshua  Josh. 1:1-9,  Gideon  Judg. 6:12,  and Jeremiah  Jer. 1:6-8,  to name just a few. Every time God called one of His servants into action, His message was, “You can be strong and courageous because I am with you. Victory isn’t about your abilities, your strength, your skill, your armor,  your gifts, or your dedication; it is completely centered on My presence. You can be strong because I will be strong in and through you.”

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God repeatedly assured His followers of His presence so they would remember the reason they could have confidence. And He wants to do the same for you.

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The Lord knows how difficult life can be, and He’s aware of the details of each struggle you’ll ever face. As believers in Christ Jesus, we can trust that our heavenly Father will keep His word. He is with us right now, and He always will be  Heb. 13:5-6.

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This post was modified from its original form on 02 Nov, 6:34
What Keeps Grace from Flowing?
1 year ago

Friday, November 1, 2013

James 4:1-6

We know from the Bible that God continually showers His children with blessings. However, most believers don’t always feel as though He’s pouring His favor upon them. What could be blocking the free flow of divine grace?

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Proverbs 6:16-19 provides a list of seven things that God hates. Certain attitudes and behaviors are categorized as detestable to Him, and the first thing mentioned is pride.

Nothing will interfere with spiritual growth as much as a proud spirit. That is why God considers it an abomination. Pride misaligns priorities in such a way that we—and not the Lord—become our own priority.

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We can find many examples of pride throughout Scripture. For instance, the serpent convinced the first woman that if she ate of the forbidden fruit, she would “be like God”  Gen. 3:5.  That sounded good to Eve, who apparently thought she deserved this high honor. So she and Adam ate the fruit, thereby bringing all manner of destruction and pain into the world.

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If you have been struggling to feel God’s hand of blessing in your life, a wise first step is to humbly pray and ask the Lord to reveal any hidden areas of pride in your life. His arms are full of blessings that He desires to give you. As the preacher D. L. Moody once observed, “God sends no one away empty except those who are full of themselves.” Will you choose instead to be full of God? You can start by laying your pride at the foot of the cross. Then your life can overflow with blessings.

 

Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

1 year ago

Praise: The Ultimate Cure for Pride

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Pride asks, “How do others perceive me?” and “What impression am I making on other people?” When there is pride in our lives, it makes us self-conscious. Pride wants to be praised.

While we all need encouragement, only God deserves praise.

Pride can blind us to any feeling of gratitude toward the Lord. Unchecked, it will ultimately separate us from God and those we love. The only cure for pride is surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ—making a commitment to Him and then choosing to let the Spirit of God work in our lives on a daily basis.

After David was anointed as king over Israel, he and his men brought the ark of God back to Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 15). David appointed musicians and singers, and the ark of God entered the city with shouts, trumpets, and the playing of harps. In exuberance and excitement, David took off his royal robe and began to dance before the Lord (2 Samuel 6:14). But his wife Michal watched and later criticized David’s actions. She was proud and thought David’s actions were not kingly (2 Samuel 6:20).

Placing undue importance on our self-images and the opinions of others are just two of the distractions that Satan uses to discourage us. However, God wants us to have healthy self-images based on His unconditional love for us. Once we accept Christ as our Savior, we become children of the King of kings and are made members of His royal family.

Praise frees you from the hold of pride. David was not concerned about his image. He was praising God. He was focused on the Lord and not on himself. Are you concerned about your appearance before others? Don’t withhold your worship of the Lord because of fear of what others will think.

Prayer: Holy Father, I want to be so satisfied in You that I do not need the praise of others. Today I humble myself before You, that you may receive glory, honor, and worship from me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“Those who walk in pride he is able to humble” (Daniel 4:37).

DAILY DEVOTIONS ~ NOVEMBER
1 year ago

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