Charles Stanley – Reaching Your Full Potential

 

The world may not recognize your potential, but the Lord does. He loves you unconditionally and wants you to discover His unique purpose for your life. God’s process of perfection has two facets:

  1. Teaching and Guiding

“Tutoring” is one aspect of the Father’s perfecting process. In many ways, the Holy Spirit is your teacher, and the Bible is His textbook.

Before Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world, the law was in effect. God designed it to instruct mankind—to provide a moral boundary and to serve as a “tutor to lead us to Christ” (Gal. 3:24).

Our goal should be total reliance upon the Holy Spirit for guidance in our lives.

Furthermore, we were all given an additional gift: the conscience. Romans 2:14-15 tells us that the Lord created the conscience to teach each person what’s right and wrong. In this way, even those without access to God’s commands would be “a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them.”

But after a person becomes a Christian and starts growing in faith and knowledge of the Word, God applies the law to his heart. The Holy Spirit will call to remembrance what the Bible says, or He will send people to teach or bring God’s commandments to mind. He also helps the believer understand scriptural principles and reveals the Father’s purpose and desires. You will never outgrow your need for the Spirit.

The law tells you that you must obey. And the Holy Spirit gives you the desire to do so. He works in your life continually to nudge you in the right direction. And like any good educator, He will test you to reveal areas of weakness and growth. The Spirit already knows your heart and how you will respond. The test is for your sake. God wants you to know yourself better.

  1. Discipline

Another way God leads us to our full potential is through failures and struggles. In allowing free will, the Lord gave you the freedom to fall short of His purpose for your life—to fail, make mistakes, or sin. But through these shortcomings, the Holy Spirit can mold you into the likeness of Jesus Christ.

Many people set unrealistic goals and, when they fall short, have a sense of worthlessness. Others decide on objectives but then never put them into a workable plan. When their goals aren’t met, they can feel frustration and self-doubt. God, however, has no responsibility to help people reach man-made targets. If you and I don’t allow Him to help us set goals, the Holy Spirit may rebuke us so that we choose to be guided by His will rather than our own.

Through teaching and discipline, the Lord molds and perfects us for His purposes.

Mistakes are innocent wrongdoings. In making a blunder, we have not willfully chosen to do wrong, although our actions may have terrible consequences. This does not diminish the pain mistakes cause. The Lord allows these types of errors as part of the teaching process. Ultimately, our goal should be total reliance upon the Holy Spirit for guidance in our lives.

Sin, on the other hand, is a willful act of disobedience against the Father, and it separates us from fellowship with Him. The Holy Spirit will prick our conscience with an ever-sharp needle until we acknowledge our rebellion. He will convict us repeatedly and with increasing fervor so that we might turn from wrongdoing and back to the Father.

Falling short of our potential means missing God’s unique destiny for our lives. Perhaps we don’t recognize what the Lord has created us to be, or maybe we resist cooperating with His plan—through neglect, lack of effort, or outright rebellion. The Holy Spirit is never satisfied with human preference for the status quo. He draws us to the full perfection of Jesus Christ and the hope of a bright tomorrow.

Your True Destiny

So, how do you reach your full potential? The answer is simple—it must begin with handing your life over to Christ. Through teaching and discipline, the Lord molds and perfects us for His purposes. The Holy Spirit works in our lives, changing us so we will accept and follow God’s will.

When you truly grasp the Lord’s commitment to helping you fulfill your destiny, hope is inevitable. Rekindle your passion today by regaining sight of your God-given capacities, as well as His promise to develop them. Our heavenly Father is in charge of fulfilling the potential He has given you—trust Him to do exactly that.

Adapted from “Discover Your Destiny” (1997).

Our Daily Bread — The Blame Game

 

Read: Leviticus 16:5-22

Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 13-14; John 12:1-26

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! —John 1:29

I’ve been blamed for a lot of things, and rightly so. My sin, failure, and incompetence have caused grief, anxiety, and inconvenience for friends and family (and probably even for strangers). I’ve also been blamed for things that were not my fault, things I was powerless to change.

But I have stood on the other side of the fence hurling accusations at others. If they had just done something different, I tell myself, I would not be in the mess I’m in. Blame hurts. So whether guilty or not, we waste lots of time and mental energy trying to find someone else to carry it for us.

Jesus offers us a better way to deal with blame. Even though He was blameless, He took upon Himself the sin of the world and carried it away (John 1:29). We often refer to Jesus as the sacrificial lamb, but He was also the final scapegoat for everything that is wrong with the world (Lev. 16:10).

Once we acknowledge our sin and accept Christ’s offer to take it away, we no longer have to carry the weight of our guilt. We can stop looking for someone to blame for what’s wrong with us, and we can stop accepting blame from others trying to do the same.

Thanks to Jesus, we can stop playing the blame game. —Julie Ackerman Link

Help me, Lord, to be honest when I am at fault and to confess that to You—instead of looking for someone else to blame. Thank You for taking my blame on Yourself.

Honesty about our sin brings forgiveness.

Alistair Begg – Courage and Triumphs

 

And the king crossed the brook Kidron. 2 Samuel 15:23

David passed that gloomy brook when fleeing with his sorry company from his traitorous son. The man after God’s own heart was not exempt from trouble; in fact, his life was full of it. He was both the Lord’s Anointed and the Lord’s Afflicted. Why then should we expect to escape? At sorrow’s gates the noblest of our race have waited with ashes on their heads. Why then should we complain as though some strange thing had happened unto us?

The King of kings Himself was not favored with a more cheerful or royal road. He passed over the filthy ditch of Kidron, through which the filth of Jerusalem flowed. God had one Son without sin, but not a single child without the rod. It is a great joy to believe that Jesus has been tempted in all points just as we are.

What is our Kidron this morning? Is it a faithless friend, a sad bereavement, a slanderous reproach, a dark foreboding? The King has passed over all these. Is it bodily pain, poverty, persecution, or contempt? Over each of these Kidrons the King has gone before us. “In all their affliction he was afflicted.”1 The idea that trials are an unusual experience should be banished at once and forever, for He who is the Head of all saints knows by experience the grief that we consider so peculiar. All the citizens of Zion must be free of the Honorable Company of Mourners, of which the Prince Immanuel is Head and Captain.

Although David was abased, yet he returned in triumph to his city, and David’s Lord rose victorious from the grave; so let us then be of good courage, for we also shall win the day. We will joyfully draw water out of the wells of salvation, even though we are presently faced with the harmful streams of sin and sorrow. Courage, soldiers of the Cross, the King himself triumphed after going over Kidron, and so will you.

1) Isaiah 63:9

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

Charles Spurgeon – Elijah’s appeal to the undecided

 

“How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him: if Baal, then follow him.” 1 Kings 18:21

Suggested Further Reading: John 13:12-19

I insist that it is your bounden duty, if you believe in God, simply because he is God, to serve him and obey him. I do not tell you it is for your advantage—it may be, I believe it is—but that I put aside from the question; I demand of you that you follow God, if you believe him to be God. If you do not think he is God; if you really think that the devil is God, then follow him; his pretended godhead shall be your plea, and you shall be consistent; but if God be God, if he made you, I demand that you serve him; if it is he who puts the breath into your nostrils, I demand that you obey him. If God be really worthy of worship, and you really think so, I demand that you either follow him, or else deny that he is God at all. Now, professor, if thou sayest that Christ’s gospel is the only gospel, if thou believest in the divinity of the gospel, and puttest thy trust in Christ, I demand of thee to follow out the gospel, not merely because it will be to thy advantage, but because the gospel is divine. If thou makest a profession of being a child of God, if thou art a believer, and thinkest and believest religion is the best, the service of God most desirable, I do not come to plead with thee because of any advantage thou wouldst get by being holy; it is on this ground that I put it, that the Lord is God; and if he be God, it is thy business to serve him. If his gospel be true, and thou believest it to be true, it is thy duty to carry it out.

For meditation: Four things God will not accept—hypocrisy (Luke 6:46), half-heartedness (Luke 9:59-62), double-mindedness (James 1:6-8) and lukewarmness (Revelation 3:15,16).

Sermon no. 134
31 May (1857)

John MacArthur – Making Worthless Things Valuable

 

“The names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-gatherer; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him” (Matt. 10:2-4).

In God’s hands you can be a precious and effective instrument.

The story is told of a great concert violinist who wanted to prove a point, so he rented a music hall and announced that he would play a concert on a $20,000 violin. On concert night the music hall was filled to capacity with music lovers anxious to hear such an expensive instrument played. The violinist stepped onto the stage, gave an exquisite performance, and received a thunderous standing ovation. When the applause subsided, he suddenly threw the violin to the ground, stomped it to pieces, and walked off the stage. The audience gasped, then sat in stunned silence.

Within seconds the stage manager approached the microphone and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, to put you at ease, the violin that was just destroyed was a $20 violin. The master will now return to play the remainder of his concert on the $20,000 instrument.” At the conclusion of his concert he received another standing ovation. Few people could tell the difference between the two violins. His point was obvious: it isn’t the violin that makes the music; it’s the violinist.

The disciples were like $20 violins that Jesus transformed into priceless instruments for His glory. I trust you’ve been encouraged to see how God used them despite their weakness, and I pray you’ve been challenged by their strengths. You may not be dynamic like Peter or zealous like James and Simon, but you can be faithful like Andrew and courageous like Thaddaeus. Remember, God will take the raw material of your life and expose you to the experiences and teachings that will shape you into the servant He wants you to be.

Trust Him to complete what He has begun in you, and commit each day to the goal of becoming a more qualified and effective disciple.

Suggestions for Prayer

Make a list of the character traits you most admire in the disciples. Ask the Lord to increase those traits in your own life.

For Further Study

Read 1 Timothy 1:12-17, noting Paul’s perspective on his own calling.

Joyce Meyer – Letting Go of Offenses

 

[You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a little while you may be distressed by trials and suffer temptations, so that [the genuineness] of your faith may be tested, [your faith] which is infinitely more precious than the perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire. [This proving of your faith is intended] to redound to [your] praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7

Understand that every time you are tempted to be offended and upset, your faith is being tried. Peter was saying, “Don’t be amazed at the fiery trials that you go through, because they are taking place to test your quality.” Every relationship test is an opportunity to glorify the work of God in you as a testimony to those watching you endure the offense.

There is a right and a wrong way to handle the storms of life. But until I was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to learn about the power that is available to me as a believer to do the right thing, I never handled offenses right.

Jesus’ economy is upside down from what the world teaches us. He says that we can have peace in the midst of the storm. Now just think about how awesome that would be, if no matter what happened, you could remain full of peace.

Jesus said that He gives us power even “to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses].” (Luke 10:19) He promised that nothing will harm us in any way. If we have the power over the enemy, surely we can overlook the offenses of others. He gives us the energy we need to treat people right.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – How to Stay Pure

 

“How can a young man stay pure? By reading Your Word and following its rules” (Psalm 119:9).

I can live a pure life if I follow God’s Word. That seems to be the clear import of the psalmist’s message in this verse. And if that is true – and I have no doubt it is – then certain things surely should follow.

I will begin today by determining to know His Word and to obey it. Simple logic would dictate that I cannot and will not obey His Word if I am not familiar with it.

In a day when immorality is rampant and divorce is becoming commonplace even among Christians, how important it is that I seek to keep my life pure. Surely I cannot expect to be used of God in a supernatural way to help fulfill the Great Commission unless I am pure. And there seems to be no better way to accomplish that desired end than by reading, studying – even memorizing – His Word, and then, through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, by claiming God’s promises and obeying His commandments.

Earlier (Day 18) we mentioned the importance of hiding God’s Word in our hearts, that we might not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11). Again I would emphasize the value of committing to memory many verses – and even chapters – from the Word of God. In that way, we will have them stored in our minds so that God can bring them to our minds in time of special need and can use them to enable us to live supernaturally.

Basic to living the supernatural life is this matter of spending time in God’s Word, which is quick and powerful.

Bible Reading: Psalm 119:10-16

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will spend quality time in the Word of God and begin to memorize favorite passages, especially Psalm 119.

Presidential Prayer Team; C.P. – God of the Big Picture

 

It’s easy to get in a dither thinking about all of the bad things happening in the world. People do unspeakable things to other people. As a parent it takes faith just to let your children walk out the door.

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.

Genesis 50:20

Jacob’s heart was grieved to lose his son Joseph. He thought he was devoured by an animal. That may have actually been easier to handle than the truth; his own sons sold him into slavery to a foreign land. Of course, you know it worked out in the end, with Joseph saving many people from his high position in Egypt. Joseph forgave his brothers by speaking today’s verse, one of the most memorable in Scripture.

There’s a similar promise in the New Testament. “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) No matter what is going on in your life, trust God. He hears your prayers, sees the big picture, and works all things out for the best. Pray, too, that He will move in this nation to turn hearts to Him.

Recommended Reading: Matthew 6:25-34

Charles Stanley – Draw Near to God

 

James 4:6-10

“Draw near to god and He will draw near to you.” That is an amazing promise! As we open ourselves up to the Lord, He opens up to us. If we come to Him in submission, repentance, and brokenness, He rushes in with forgiveness, love, and faithfulness. There is no room for self-sufficiency or self-protection in this interaction. Only in the humility of helplessness will we discover the sufficiency of His presence.

At first glance, it may seem that we were the ones who began the relationship, but in reality, God took the initiative; we merely responded to His overture (John 6:44). Many times He uses situations and difficulties to get our attention and stimulate our thirst for Him. What appears to be a painful or desperate situation is often His invitation to draw near.

Even our greatest failures and sins can lead us to Christ, as we seek forgiveness from the Father. With an attitude of humble repentance, we can enter into a more intimate relationship with God. However, if you and I continue living in rebellion and are unwilling to confess and repent, He will not reveal more of Himself to us. Sin always blocks our ability to know the Lord.

Have you allowed adversity or failure to pull you away from God rather than toward Him? To put distance between you and Jesus, Satan will misuse the very situations that the Lord can utilize to draw you to Himself. Don’t let the enemy win the battle. Instead, “resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

Our Daily Bread — The Gift Of Tears

 

Read: John 11:32-44

Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 10-12; John 11:30-57

Jesus wept. —John 11:35

I called a longtime friend when his mother died. She had been a close friend of my mother, and now both had passed on. As we spoke, our conversation slipped easily into a cycle of emotion—tears of sorrow now that Beth was gone and tears of laughter as we recalled the caring and fun person she had been.

Many of us have experienced that strange crossover from crying one moment and laughing the next. It’s an amazing gift that emotions of both sorrow and joy can provide a physical release in this way.

Since we are made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26), and humor is such an integral part of almost every culture, I imagine that Jesus must have had a wonderful sense of humor. But we know that He also knew the pain of grief. When his friend Lazarus died, Jesus saw Mary weeping, and “He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.” A short time later, He too began to weep (John 11:33-35).

Our ability to express our emotions with tears is a gift, and God keeps track of each tear we cry. Psalm 56:8 says, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” (NLT). But one day—we are promised (Rev. 7:17)—God “will wipe away every tear.” —Cindy Hess Kasper

Lord, You have made us to laugh, to cry, to yearn, to love—and to miss those who have gone before us. Help us to love even more deeply, confident in Your goodness and in the resurrection You promise.

Our loving heavenly Father, who washed away our sins, will also wipe away our tears.

INSIGHT: Not only did Jesus weep for others but also for His own suffering in Gethsemane. The enemy Jesus faced was death—both physical and spiritual. As the sin-bearer, the Lord Jesus Christ bore the full wrath of God for sinners (Isa. 53:4). He experienced a full range of human emotions so He could be a compassionate High Priest for us (Heb. 2:18).

 

Alistair Begg – Little Sins

 

Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards. Song of Songs 2:15

A little thorn can cause much suffering. A small cloud may hide the sun. Tiny foxes spoil the vineyards; and little sins do mischief to the tender heart. These small sins burrow in the soul and fill it with what is hateful to Christ, and thus our comfortable fellowship and communion with Him is spoiled. A great sin cannot destroy a Christian, but a little sin can make him miserable.

Jesus will not walk with His people unless they drive out every known sin. He says, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”1 Some Christians rarely enjoy their Savior’s presence. How is this? Surely it must be an affliction for a tender child to be separated from his father. Are you a child of God, and yet satisfied to live without seeing your Father’s face?

What! You are the spouse of Christ, and yet content to be absent from His company! Surely, you have fallen into a sad state, for the pure spouse of Christ mourns like a dove without her mate when he has left her.

Here is the question: What has driven Christ from you? He hides His face behind the wall of your sins. That wall may be made up of little pebbles as easily as of great stones. The sea is made of drops; the rocks are made of grains: And the sea that divides you from Christ may be filled with the drops of your little sins; and the rock that almost wrecked the vessel of your life may have been made by the daily working of the coral insects of your little sins.

If you would live with Christ and walk with Christ and see Christ and have fellowship with Christ, pay attention to “the little foxes that spoil the vineyard, for our vineyards are in blossom.” Jesus invites you to go with Him against them. He will surely, like Samson, take the foxes at once and easily. Go with Him to the hunting.

1) John 15:10

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

Charles Spurgeon – A present religion

 

 “Beloved, now are we the sons of God.” 1 John 3:2Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 13:1-8

We need not talk of walking righteously, and soberly, in the world to come—

“There all is pure, and all is clear, There all is joy and love.”

There will be no duty to discharge between the tradesmen and the customers, between the debtor and the creditor, between the father and the child, between the husband and the wife, in heaven, for all these relationships will have passed away. Religion must be intended for this life; the duties of it cannot be practised, unless they are practised here. But besides these, there are other duties devolving upon the Christian. Though it is every man’s duty to be honest and sober, the Christian has another code of law. It is the Christian’s duty to love his enemies, to be at peace with all men, to forgive as he hopes to be forgiven; it is his duty not to resist evil, when smitten on the one cheek to turn the other also; it is his duty to give to him that asketh of him, and from him that would borrow of him not to turn away—he is to be a liberal soul, devising liberal things. It is the Christian’s duty to visit his Master’s children when they are sick, so that it may be said to him at last, “I was sick, and naked, and in prison, and ye visited me, and ministered to my necessities.” Now, if religion be not a thing for this world, I ask you how it is possible to perform its duties at all? There are no poor in heaven whom we can comfort and visit; there are no enemies in heaven whom we can graciously forgive; and there are not injuries inflicted, or wrongs endured, which we can bear with patience. Religion must have been intended in the very first place for this world, it must have been meant that now we should be the sons of God.

For meditation: Faith in Christ is the qualification for a place in heaven; work for Christ is the qualification for rewards in heaven in addition to a place in heaven (Matthew 10:40-42).

Sermon no. 196
30 May (1858)

John MacArthur – Learning from Judas (Judas Iscariot)

 

The twelve apostles included “Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him” (Matt. 10:4).

God can use even an apostate like Judas to teach us some important lessons.

Judas is history’s greatest human tragedy. He had opportunities and privileges known only to the other disciples, but he turned from them to pursue a course of destruction. Yet even from his foolishness we can learn some important lessons.

Judas, for example, is the world’s greatest example of lost opportunity. He ministered for three years with Jesus Himself but was content merely to associate with Him, never submitting to Him in saving faith. Millions of others have followed his example by hearing the gospel and associating with Christians, yet rejecting Christ. Tragically, like Judas, once death comes they too are damned for all eternity.

Judas is also the world’s greatest example of wasted privileges. He could have had the riches of an eternal inheritance but instead chose thirty pieces of silver. In that respect he is also the greatest illustration of the destructiveness and damnation greed can bring. He did an unthinkable thing, yet he has many contemporary counterparts in those who place wealth and pleasure above godliness.

On the positive side, Judas is the world’s greatest illustration of the forbearing, patient love of God. Knowing what Judas would do, Jesus tolerated him for three years. Beyond that, He constantly reached out to him and even called him “friend” after his kiss of betrayal (Matt. 26:50).

If you’ve ever been betrayed by a friend, you know the pain it can bring. But the Lord’s pain was compounded many times over because He knew He would be betrayed and because the consequences were so serious. Yet He endured the pain because He loved Judas and knew that His own betrayal was a necessary part of the redemptive plan.

The sins that destroyed Judas are common sins that you must avoid at all costs! Use every opportunity and privilege God gives you, and never take advantage of His patience.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank Jesus for the pain he endured at the hands of Judas.
  • Pray that you will never cause Him such pain.

For Further Study

Read 1 Timothy 6:6-19.

  • What perils await those who desire wealth?
  • Rather than pursuing wealth, what should you pursue?
  • What attitude should wealthy people have toward their money?

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Walk in the Light

 

“Later, in one of His talks, Jesus said to the people, ‘I am the Light of the world. So if you follow me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, for living light will flood your path” (John 8:12).

The living room of our home was dark when I quietly slipped a key into the lock and opened the door one night, walking slowly and softly so as not to awaken Vonette and our sons who were very young. Though they had been trained to put away their toys, somehow in the rush to get ready for bed that night they had left cars and a train and other favorite play things scattered throughout the living room.

You guessed it! I stepped on one with wheels that almost threw me to the floor before I could regain my balance. Many a person has broken a leg or an arm under similar circumstances, and some have even fallen and hit their heads on sharp objects, resulting in a fatal accident.

So it is in the spiritual realm. If we insist on walking in the darkness, we will inevitably stumble and take risks that can greatly jeopardize our spiritual health and, in some cases, lead to our spiritual death by cutting ourselves off from God.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness.” In the first epistle of John we are told, “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not tell the truth. If we walk in the light, as God is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses [and keeps on cleansing] us from all sin.”

There is only one person who qualifies to be the light of the world. That is Jesus. So how do we follow Him? What does it mean to walk in the light? Basically, it means that there is no unconfessed sin. It means that we are filled with the Holy Spirit, that we are feasting upon the Word of God and obeying His commands which include sharing our love for Christ with others.

Bible Reading: I Thessalonians 4:5-8

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, I shall walk in the light with Christ who is the light of the world, and reflect His light in such an attractive way that those who walk in darkness will be drawn to the light as moths are drawn to a burning candle.

Presidential Prayer Team; A.W. – Hope of Repentance

 

In today’s verse, Jacob had called his sons together to bless them. Each blessing was a prophecy over their tribe’s future. Jacob’s words conveyed to his sons the impact of their actions and character. His prophecies reminded his children that if they lived godly lives, they would be a blessing to future generations – but if they were godless, their descendants would suffer the consequences.

This is what their father said to them as he blessed…each with the blessing suitable to him.

Genesis 49:28

However, they had hope. If they repented and changed their actions, God would listen to their prayers and relent concerning any calamity He declared He would bring upon them.

Know this…God wants to bless your future. Even if your attitudes and actions are not what they should be right now, prayer and repentance changes things. Intercede today that the American people would repent and turn from evil so negative consequences will not come to pass and the nation’s future will be blessed. Through your faithful prayers, there is still hope for America!

Recommended Reading: Jeremiah 18:1-10

Night Light for Couples – Taking the Plunge

 

“A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband.” 1 Corinthians 7:10–11

Divorce often looks like a “quick fix” for an unpleasant situation, but it is usually far more painful than advertised. Contemplating those on the verge of taking this drastic step brings to mind a documentary film made during the early days of motion pictures. It shows a self‐styled inventor near the top of the Eiffel Tower with a pair of homemade wings strapped to his arms. He paces back and forth, trying to work up the courage to jump. If the wings work, he’ll be famous. If they fail, he’ll fall to his death. Finally the “flier” climbs on the rail, wobbles for a moment, then jumps—and drops like a rock.

Depressed and hurting spouses who choose divorce are like that hapless man on the Eiffel Tower. They feel that they can’t go back, and they’re enticed forward by the lure of freedom—of soaring away, leaving the pain and disappointment behind. So they jump… only to find themselves tumbling headlong into custody battles, loneliness, bitterness, and even poverty. In time, the long‐term cost of their decision becomes clear. Some again see their mate’s good qualities, but by then it’s too late. They’ve already taken the plunge.

Just between us…

  • When have you jumped into a situation that you later regretted?
  • Has Scripture ever helped you avoid such a mistake? When?
  • What is the attraction, and danger, of “quick fix” solutions in marriage?
  • Why do you think God commands us to avoid divorce?

Lord of married lovers, You have called us to commitment. When forsaking our covenant seems easier than staying, grant us courage. Help us to recognize the deceitfulness of the divorce “solution.” Protect our marriage from every harm, including our own short-sightedness. Amen.

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson

Discovering God’s Design – Everything Is Mine!

Stewardship Study Bible

Psalm 108:7–9

God’s ownership goes hand in hand with his victory: “In triumph I will parcel out Shechem … Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine; … Moab is my washbasin … over Philistia I shout in triumph” (Ps 108:7–9). Wicked and disobedient people may prosper in the present life, but the psalms remind us over and over again of the truth: All the wealth of the world one day will be returned to its rightful Owner. “For from him and through him and for him are all things” (Ro 11:36).

Christian financial stewardship leaders Larry Burkett (1939–2003) and Ron Blue relate an anonymous tale. Despite its lighthearted tone, it is difficult not to squirm at its truth:

Mr. and Mrs. Thing are a very pleasant and successful couple.

At least, that’s the verdict of most people who tend to measure success with a “thingometer.”

When the “thingometer” is put to work in the life of Mr. and Mrs. Thing, the result is startling.

There is Mr. Thing sitting down on a luxurious and very expensive thing, almost hidden by a large number of other things.

Things to sit on, things to sit at, things to cook on, things to eat from, all shiny and new.

Things, things, things.

Things to clean with and things to wash with and things to clean and things to wash.

And things to amuse and things to give pleasure and things to watch and things to play.

Things for the long, hot summer and things for the short, cold winter.

Things for the big thing in which they live and things for the garden and things for the deck and things for the kitchen and things for the bedroom.

And things on four wheels and things on two wheels and things to put on top of the four wheels and things to pull behind the four wheels and things to add to the interior of the thing on four wheels.

Things, things, things.

And there in the middle are Mr. and Mrs. Thing, smiling and pleased as punch with things, thinking of more things to add to things.

Secure in their castle of things …

Well, I just want you to know that your things can’t last.

They’re going to pass. There’s going to be an end to them …

And someday, when you die, they only put one thing in the box.

You.

Think About It

  • What does it mean to you that God owns even the nations?
  • In what ways do you resonate with the story told by Burkett and Blue?
  • It’s likely the story reminds you of a truth that you already know. So why is it so difficult to prioritize life properly?

Pray About It

Lord of all, I praise you for your might and power. And I pray that I will be a good steward of all the things that you have given to me in this life.

Streams in the Desert for Kids – Diamonds in the Making

2 Corinthians 7:5

Carbon is a soft natural material, but it is also the raw material from which diamonds—the hardest substance on earth—are made. How does that happen? Diamonds are formed 75 to 120 miles below the earth’s surface. When carbon buried deep in the earth is put under extreme pressure, and when the temperature is at least 192 degrees Fahrenheit, the carbon changes into diamonds. Scientists discovered that there have been only three times during Earth’s history when diamonds were made, and the planet no longer makes diamonds as it once did. Diamonds are highly valued as jewelry. Maybe your mother or father has a diamond ring. Diamonds are also valued in industry. A diamond saw blade will cut through almost anything.

In the Scripture verse for today, the Apostle Paul describes being harassed, or troubled, on every side. He was under extreme pressure, but God used that pressure to change Paul from an ordinary person into an extraordinary man of God. And God can do the same thing for us. When we feel like everything is pushing on us so hard we cannot stand it, it could be that God is changing us from soft material into a beautiful diamond that he can use.

Dear Lord, I hate to be under pressure. Help me to understand, though, that you can use my troubles to create something new and beautiful in my heart. Amen.

Charles Stanley – The Power of the Holy Spirit

 

Romans 8:11-14

Yesterday’s reading offered scriptural proof that the Holy Spirit is a person. Yet there’s a persistent misconception that casts Him as some kind of intangible force. The underlying assumption is that “the power of the Holy Spirit” is something Christians wield for themselves. But in fact, the phrase refers to His work in the believer’s life.

Jesus was clear that serving God is not a one-man or one-woman show. It takes two—a believer and the Holy Spirit—to live the Christian life victoriously (Luke 24:49). The Spirit takes up residence in a person the moment that individual receives Christ’s forgiveness for sins. From then on, His job is to equip the believer so he or she can consistently model Jesus to the world.

When the apostle Paul said, “I can do all things through [Christ] who strengthens me,” he was talking about the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence (Philippians 4:13). What this means is that within the believer is an indescribably rich power source. The Spirit works through people to get done what is impossible for them to accomplish alone. In fact, the Bible says that He can do “far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). And Paul certainly proved that with his prolific ministry.

What is God calling you to do that’s “far more abundantly” beyond all you think you can achieve? Stop making excuses and get to work! Within you lies untapped potential—not your own strength and abilities, but the unlimited might of the Holy Spirit. His power will be unleashed in response to your acting on faith.

Our Daily Bread — Mysterious Ways

 

Read: Job 40:1-14

Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 7-9; John 11:1-29

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways. —Isaiah 55:9

When my son began attending Chinese language classes, I marveled at the papers he brought home after his first session. As a native English speaker, it was difficult for me to understand how the written characters related to the spoken words. The language seemed incredibly complex to me—almost incomprehensible.

Sometimes I feel the same sense of bewilderment when I consider the way God operates. I know He has said, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways” (Isa. 55:8). Still, there’s a part of me that feels like I should be able to understand why God allows certain things to happen. After all, I read His Word regularly and His Holy Spirit lives inside of me.

When I feel entitled to understand God’s ways, I try to recommit myself to humility. I remember that Job did not get an explanation for all his heartache (Job 1:5,8). He struggled to understand, but God asked him: “Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?” (40:2). Job contritely responded, “What shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth” (v.4). Job was speechless before God’s greatness.

Although God’s ways may seem to be mysterious and unfathomable at times, we can rest confidently that they are higher than our ways. —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Father, please help me to trust You even when I don’t understand why things happen as they do. Please comfort my heart and remind me of Your goodness and love.

If you know that God’s hand is in everything, you can leave everything in God’s hand.

INSIGHT: In trying to explain why he was suffering, Job argued that he had not committed any wrong deserving of such punishment. In so justifying himself, Job was in essence questioning God’s fairness and justice (40:8; see also Job 21,24). God confronted Job, asserting that only He is qualified and has the absolute power, wisdom, and ability to rule this world justly (40:15-24).