Charles Stanley – Blessings of Obedience

Luke 5:1-5

In John 14:15, Jesus taught His disciples, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” He repeated the connection between love and obedience several times because of its great importance. (John 14:23; 1 John 5:3; 2 John 1:6.)

Following God’s agenda amounts to telling Him, “I love You.” Having the correct view of obedience—namely, that it’s an expression of love toward our heavenly Father—enables us to endure any difficulties in our life. And God also pours out His blessings on those who obey Him.

Consider Peter’s example. Jesus asked for use of his boat to preach to the crowd. Having been up all night without catching any fish, Peter might have given Jesus an excuse—too tired, too discouraged, a lot of cleaning up to do. Instead, he responded positively to Jesus’ request and took a step into a life of obedience and blessing. On the surface, lending his vessel and helping Jesus did not appear to be important beyond the moment. But God had more in mind than a one-time loan of a boat. He was going to use Peter’s life and make him a fisher of men (Matt. 4:19).

Because we cannot foresee what our Lord has in mind, we may not comprehend the importance of what He asks of us. We could be tempted to modify the request to suit ourselves, to delay until a more convenient time, or just to skip it all together. Such actions are always unwise.

God rewarded Peter with service in His kingdom. He wants to do the same for all believers. How is the Holy Spirit prompting you, and what is your response?

Bible in a Year: Judges 10-12

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Our Daily Bread — Deeply Loved

Read: Matthew 6:25-34

Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 28-29; Mark 14:54-72

Your heavenly Father feeds [the birds of the air]. Are you not much more valuable than they? —Matthew 6:26

Years ago I had an office in Boston that looked out on the Granary Burying Ground where many prominent American heroes are buried. There one can find the gravestones for John Hancock and Samuel Adams, two signers of the Declaration of Independence, and just a few feet beyond that is Paul Revere’s marker.

But no one really knows where in this burial ground each body is buried because the stones have been moved many times—sometimes to make the grounds more picturesque and other times so lawn mowers could fit between them. And while the Granary features approximately 2,300 markers, closer to 5,000 people are buried there! Even in death, it seems, some people are not fully known.

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Divine Decomposition

“God is dead,” declares Nietzsche’s madman in his oft-quoted passage from The Gay Science. Though not the first to make the declaration, Nietzsche’s philosophical candor and desperate rhetoric unquestionably attribute to its familiarity. In graphic brushstrokes, the parable describes a crime scene:

“The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. ‘Whither is God,’ he cried; ‘I will tell you. We have killed him—you and I! All of us are his murderers…Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder?…Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.”(1)

Nietzsche’s atheism, unlike many contemporary atheistic mantras, was not simply rhetoric and angry words. He recognized that the death of God, even if only the death of an idol, introduced a significant crisis. He understood the critical role of the Christian story to the very underpinnings of European philosophy, history, and culture, and so understood that God’s death meant that a total—and painful—transformation of reality must occur. If God has died, if God is dead in the sense that God is no longer of use to us, then ours is a world in peril, he reasoned, for everything must change. Our typical means of thought and life no longer make sense; the very structures for evaluating everything have become unhinged. For Nietzsche, a world that considers itself free from God is a world that must suffer the disruptive effects of that iconoclasm.

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John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Threats to Humility: Riches and Wealth

“Walk . . . with all humility” (Ephesians 4-1-2).

Our possessions and positions in life are from God; we can’t take credit for them.

Many today take pride in their economic status. They boast about their riches and trust their money, thinking they must be great for acquiring all they have. But remember what Moses said to the Israelites before they entered the Promised Land: “You may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth” (Deut. 8:1718). Everything you have, God gave to you. Don’t parade your possessions as if you obtained them through your self-created abilities.

A related area is pride in one’s class, which involves looking down on those in “lower” levels of society. Such people don’t want lower-class people in their neighborhoods and certainly wouldn’t invite them to dinner. If you are guilty of this sort of pride, keep in mind that God loves poor people. Jesus Himself was poor in this world and spent most of His time ministering to the poor.

Continue reading John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Threats to Humility: Riches and Wealth

Wisdom Hunters – Love Initiates Intimacy 

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. Revelation 3:20

Years ago, my friend Gale called with a passion to pray for me. He had attended a Promise Keepers event and felt compelled by the Lord to systematically petition heaven on my behalf. How refreshing! As a vocational minister of the gospel, I was normally the one offering prayers, but not this time. For a full year Gale called me every Friday. He asked for an update on my prior week’s prayer, what new needs I had and then he led us in prayer together. Wow, this man loved me in the most intimate, helpful way! I gained inner strength by his love that initiated intimacy.

Jesus vividly paints the picture of Himself standing at the door of any person’s life (‘if anyone’). The Lord is the gentle guest waiting outside, ready to come in and engage with the occupant. His generous company receives and gives hospitality. His holy presence offers prayers on behalf of all needy for His grace. His sacrificial life, death and resurrection introduce the gift of salvation to everyone who invites Him in and trusts Him wholeheartedly. Jesus initiates intimacy to those who need Him as Savior and to those who desire to grow in their relationship with Him as friend.

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Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – No Condemnation

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus

Romans 8:1

Recommended Reading

Romans 8:33-39

Statutes of limitation specify an amount of time (years) after which charges may not be brought against an alleged perpetrator of a crime. Part of the reason is to promote the speedy resolution of suspected violations of the law.

The Bible’s statute of limitations is spelled out in Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” That is, when a Christian sins, God does not have a certain time frame within which He must judge the sinner for his sins. Why? Because there is no judgment, and therefore no condemnation, for a Christian’s sins. The penalty for all our sins was heaped upon Christ in His passionate suffering before and during the crucifixion. Christ bore the judgment, condemnation, and penalty (death) for our sins. That is not to say our sins don’t matter—they certainly do. Our sins should be promptly confessed and fellowship with God restored. But there is no condemnation.

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Joyce Meyer – Eliminate Stress and Fill Your Life with God’s Best

Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.…—John 14:27

Nothing harms us emotionally the way stress does. We might say that anxiety is emotions out of control. When someone experiences anxiety, most of the time it’s because their emotions have been stressed to the point that they are no longer functioning healthily. There are many situations that cause anxiety. The death of a spouse or child, divorce, and job loss are major events; however, not all the reasons are that serious. A lot of anxiety is caused simply by taking on more than we can handle.

I used to feel constantly overwhelmed due to stress, but it was because my schedule was unreasonable. And—even worse—I thought I was doing it for God. It is amazing to me now when I look back at how deceived I was. Always remember that if Satan cannot get you to not work for God, then he will try to get you to overwork for God. He really doesn’t care which end of being out of balance we are on, because either one causes trouble.

Continue reading Joyce Meyer – Eliminate Stress and Fill Your Life with God’s Best

Girlfriends in God – More Than Enough

And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

Friend to Friend

How much is enough? How much money do we have to make to be contented or to feel financially secure? How much “stuff” do we have to own to consider ourselves a success? How much is enough?

I grew up in Texas where we lived in what some might call a “shack” on the edge of a small town. To me, it was just home. My amazing mother often worked three jobs to make ends meet but that “meeting” did not always happen. Looking back, I can honestly say that God always provided what we needed – when we needed it. He still does.

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Tried in the Test Tube

“These trials are only to test your faith, to see whether or not it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests gold and purifies it – and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold; so if your faith remains strong after being tried in the test tube of fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day of His return” (1 Peter 1:7).

A friend of mine has experienced great tragedy in his life – at least ten major things that seem to have gone wrong.

“I see you as a man of God,” I have said to him during several counseling sessions. “I see you as a man who loves the Lord Jesus with all of your heart. In light of all the things that are happening to you, however, I am prompted to ask, ‘Is there any sin in your life? Are you doing anything to dishonor the Lord?'”

“Absolutely nothing,” he said. “My life is transparent before God. He can do anything He wants with me. I have turned my back on business success [he was an outstanding businessman], and I have given everything I have to the Lord.”

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Ray Stedman – Helpfulness

Read: Philippians 2:25-30

But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. Phil 2:25

In verses 25-30 we meet Epaphroditus. Here is a man of different temperament from Timothy. Epaphroditus is the one who brought the gift from Philippi and the one who bore this wonderful letter back to the Philippian church. His popularity is evident from the fact that he was chosen by the church for this difficult task. We can gather from this letter that he was probably one of those affable, courteous, well-liked men whose natural disposition makes him popular and prominent in any group.

Paul says the quality he most appreciates in Epaphroditus is helpfulness. Notice he says, I am sending back to you … my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my need. All of this is spelling out a helpful disposition. Brother again speaks of that family life, a mutual source of life in Christ. My co-worker is a revelation of how they labored together in full fellowship and with a common interest. Fellow soldier is one who shares a common loyalty and adherence to the same cause as the apostle. He is the messenger of the Philippians. The word really is apostle. He is an ambassador, a representative of someone else.

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Jesus’ Prayer

Read: Matthew 6:7-13

Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (v. 8)

I like to be persuasive. If someone hears my argument but disagrees, I try again with a different approach. As my prayer journals attest, it’s easy to take the same approach with God: to try to pray as persuasively as possible and keep working the angles until we’ve got a clear shot at a ‘Yes.’ But Jesus says this is the wrong way to go about things. The reason for Jesus’ rebuke is a beautiful one: “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Maybe if you worship a powerful deity far, far away, you are left to scramble, cajole, or argue your way in. But that is a sad alternative to having a loving Father, who is attuned to all our needs, which is what the Heidelberg Catechism refers to as our “unshakable foundation,” the confidence of knowing that “even though we do not deserve it, God will surely listen to our prayer because of Christ our Lord” (A. 117).

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Presidential Prayer Team; A.W. – Pit Stop

In 2006, Mark Batterson published the book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. The book’s title is taken from an obscure passage in the Bible (II Samuel 23:20-21) where Benaiah, considered one of David’s mighty men, chases a lion into a pit and kills him. The theme of Batterson’s book is that perhaps your biggest problem, failure or fear is really your greatest opportunity.

They flung me alive into the pit and cast stones on me.

Lamentations 3:53

In today’s verse, the writer says he’s been hunted and thrown into a pit by his enemies. Although he felt all was lost, he still called on the name of the Lord. He was allowed that privilege, as every child of God is, because the Lord is faithful.

Perhaps you feel “in the pits” today. Whether you are there accidentally, as a consequence of your own actions, or because you charged into it head first, God knows you are there. Call to Him in prayer. Though all may seem hopeless, God can use your worst circumstances for His greatest glory. Pray also for His great faithfulness to be known to the nation’s citizens and leaders.

Recommended Reading: Genesis 37:18-28

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Greg Laurie – The God Who Suffers

He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief . . . Surely He has borne our grief and carried our sorrows.—Isaiah 53:3–4

When we think of God, we usually consider that fact that He is righteous, holy, loving, and good. But here is something else to consider about God: He is the God who has suffered. We don’t tend to think that a perfect Creator would experience such a human trait as human pain and suffering. After all, why would you suffer if you did not have to?

But God has suffered, and more deeply than any of us could ever imagine. In his book The Cross of Christ, John Stott said, “Our God is a suffering God.” And I think he is right.

Listen to Isaiah’s description of what Jesus (who was God) went through at Calvary:

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Kids 4 Truth International – God’s Stories Teach Us What To Do

“But be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22)

Tyrell and Tia couldn’t wait to get to Sunday School. Last week, the teacher, Mrs. Naginflagin, had told them that each person in the class could get up in front of the class and tell his or her favorite Bible story. So, all week long, Tyrell and Tia had been getting ready to tell their favorite Bible story.

Tyrell’s favorite Bible story was David and Goliath. Tyrell wasn’t very tall; in fact he was the shortest in his class–even the girls were taller than him! He liked the story of a small boy taking down a big giant.

Tia’s favorite story was about the birth of Moses. She loved the fact that Moses’ mother gave up her baby so that his life would be saved. She liked seeing how God made it possible for Moses’ mother to get Moses back, in a way. She got to raise her own son because Pharaoh’s daughter found him floating in the basket and wanted one of his own people to help her care for him.

Sunday morning finally came. As Tyrell and Tia took their seats, they looked around wondering what was everyone else’s favorite story would be. “Good morning, class,” said Mrs. Naginflagin. “Today, each of you will get to tell the rest of the class your favorite Bible story. Who wants to go first?”

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The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Planned Prayer

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 109:4

“I give myself to prayer.”

We need to set aside time each day for planned, protracted, persevering prayer. We need to lay before the Lord any areas of persistent sin in our lives such as gossip, irritability, impatience, lack of love, and impure thoughts. These sins need to be the object of earnest prayer that God would work in us and enable us to deal with them. We are the ones who must deal with these sins, but the Holy Spirit must enable us to do it.

Note the dependent discipline Paul teaches in Romans 8:13: “If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” There’s the discipline of putting to death the sins of the body, but we do this “by the Spirit.” This means continual, fervent prayer for the Spirit to enable us to do our duty. As John Murray said, “The believer is not endowed with a reservoir of strength from which he draws. It is always ‘by the Spirit’ that each sanctified and sanctifying activity is exercised.”

Continue reading The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Planned Prayer

The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Living Prayer

Today’s Scripture: Psalms 55-59

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. – Daniel 6:10

Can you picture this? Every day the chief executive officer of a large multimillion-dollar corporation goes into his office to tend to the business of the day. And every day, shortly after he arrives, one of the factory workers comes bursting into his office and tells the man his problems.

Again, at noon, when the executive is ready to leave for lunch, the factory worker comes in with a new set of problems. That night, after the executive has gone home, the factory worker comes charging into the man’s home and lays out a whole new set of difficulties and personal needs. The worker does this every day.

Continue reading The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Living Prayer

BreakPoint –  Summit Conference: A Way for Young People to Receive Truth and Build Relationships

If you’re a mom or a dad like me, your dearest hope is that your children will grow up to know and love God. To be followers of Jesus Christ, live out His call on their lives in a way that brings God glory.

But you also know that your kids live in a world that is, to put it mildly, no longer conducive to Christian faith. Distractions, temptations, outright spiritual assaults await them—whether at school, on their smart phone, or from their peers.

You do all the “ordinary” things. And ordinary is not a bad word. You pray with your kids. You take them to church and youth group. But these are not ordinary times. So please, let me suggest something extraordinary you can do for your child.

For 14 years, I along with other Christian leaders have committed part of my summers to teach at Summit Ministries. There’s no other ministry that does a better job training young Christians in Christian worldview and apologetics, and preparing them to live out their faith in this culture.

That’s why I tell everyone, if you have a son or daughter ages 16 through 22, send them to a Summit Ministries conference this summer.

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – JESUS, THE GREATER JONAH

Read Luke 11

In his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” Jonathan Edwards soberly warned people of the reality of hell. One congregant later recorded in his journal that before Edwards had finished, “There was a great moaning and crying went out through ye whole House . . .‘What shall I do to be saved?’”

The prophet Jonah is another preacher whose words caused people to turn to God in repentance and faith. Though Jonah initially ran from the call to go to Nineveh, capital of the Assyrian empire, he eventually obeyed. “Forty more days, and Nineveh will be overthrown!” he called out in her streets (Jonah 3:4). The king of Nineveh heard Jonah’s warning, repented, and proclaimed a fast for the entire city. The city of Nineveh was spared God’s judgment.

In our reading today, Jesus claims that He is a greater Jonah. Like Jonah, He is preaching a message of sin, repentance, and salvation. Unlike Jonah, however, He isn’t preaching to a foreign Gentile city; He is preaching to Israel, God’s chosen people. Moreover, He is preaching to God’s chosen religious leaders: Woe to you, you, Pharisees! Woe to you, experts in the Law! (vv. 42–52).

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Denison Forum – LAST NIGHT’S PRIMARIES: WHAT IS GOD SAYING TO US?

Donald Trump won Florida, Illinois, Missouri, and North Carolina last night. And Bernie Sanders won Missouri, delaying Hillary Clinton’s march to the nomination.

Six months ago, who would have imagined either outcome?

I attribute Donald Trump’s success to five beliefs: (1) immigration and foreign trade are costing us jobs; (2) Muslims hate and threaten us; (3) the religious liberty of Christians is in peril; (4) President Obama is a weak leader who doesn’t believe in American greatness; (5) politicians have failed us. Trump’s supporters view him as a strong, non-political leader who will build a wall against immigrants and keep Muslims out of America while renegotiating foreign trade and guaranteeing religious liberty for Christians.

I attribute Bernie Sanders’s success to two beliefs: (1) the “one percent” are ruining our economy for the rest of us; (2) America should increase the government’s role in providing health care, education, and social services. When George Stephanopoulos recently asked Sanders if he wants to turn America into Denmark or Sweden, the senator replied, “And what’s wrong with that?”

These political narratives and the circumstances that produced them have created the most polarized political climate America has seen in decades. How would Scripture advise God’s people to respond to these strident, chaotic days?

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