Charles Stanley – Principles of Obedience

Luke 5:6-11

Peter’s interaction with Jesus by the Sea of Galilee illustrates three important principles.

  1. Compliance in small matters has eternal significance and leads to blessings from God. As we read yesterday, a seemingly small act—loaning a boat to Jesus—resulted in Peter being called to become a fisher of men.
  2. Following Jesus is always beneficial to others. For one thing, Peter’s action made it possible for more people to hear Jesus’ words of truth and life. Later on, when Peter lowered nets back into the water at Jesus’ request, his obedience meant a big catch for his coworkers. In a similar way, when we live out biblical principles, our families will be enriched, and those within our circle of influence will be encouraged to follow our example. And as we share how God responds to our obedience with His goodness, others may be motivated to seek after His Son Jesus.
  3. God may tell us to respond or act in ways that make little sense. The Lord told Noah to build an ark, instructed Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, and directed Joshua to conquer Jericho through silent marching on six days and shouting on the seventh. All of these men agreed to God’s plan even though it did not make sense. Their trust in God overruled any concerns and led to great reward.

God has a plan for our eternal good, and it is foolish not to obey Him. Like Peter, we have no idea what God will do in and through us if we commit to living a life of obedience.

Bible in a Year: Judges 13-15

Our Daily Bread — Positive Repetition

Read: Deuteronomy 30:11-20

Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 30-31; Mark 15:1-25

I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him. —Deuteronomy 30:16

A journalist had a quirky habit of not using blue pens. So when his colleague asked him if he needed anything from the store, he asked for some pens. “But not blue pens,” he said. “I don’t want blue pens. I don’t like blue. Blue is too heavy. So please purchase 12 ballpoint pens for me—anything but blue!” The next day his colleague passed him the pens—and they were all blue. When asked to explain, he said, “You kept saying ‘blue, blue.’ That’s the word that left the deepest impression!” The journalist’s use of repetition had an effect, but not the one he desired.

Moses, the lawgiver of Israel, also used repetition in his requests to his people. More than 30 times he urged his people to remain true to the law of their God. Yet the result was the opposite of what he asked for. He told them that obedience would lead them to life and prosperity, but disobedience would lead to destruction (Deut. 30:15-18).

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Scandal and Mystery

As a young man growing up in Scotland, like many others, I was exposed to Christianity and the symbol of the cross. However, it was a point of confusion, a mystery at best, and at worst, an object of scorn and disgust. I did not know what it meant or why religious people thought it important, but I knew I wanted nothing to do with it.

Obviously, I have had a change of mind. Why? I’ll explain as we proceed, but first, some helpful voices. Alister McGrath, Professor of theology, ministry, and education at King’s College, London, writes: “Just as God has humbled himself in making himself known ‘in the humility and shame of the cross,’ we must humble ourselves if we are to encounter him. We must humble ourselves by being prepared to be told where to look to find God, rather than trusting in our own insights and speculative abilities. In effect, we are forced to turn our eyes from contemplation of where we would like to see God revealed, and to turn them instead upon a place which is not of our choosing, but which is given to us.”(1)

In other words, nothing in one’s history, experience, or knowledge can prepare us for God’s means of drawing near. At the cross, something we are not expecting is revealed, something scandalous unveiled, something we could never have articulated or asked for is given to us. Philip Yancey, the renowned author, offers more on this: “Here at the cross is the man who loves his enemies, the man whose righteousness is greater than that of the Pharisees, who being rich became poor, who gives his robe to those who take his cloak, who prays for those who deceitfully use him. The cross is not a detour or a hurdle on the way to Kingdom, nor is it even the way to the Kingdom; it is the Kingdom come.”(2)

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John MacArthur – Strength for Today – The Danger of Selfishness and Conceit

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself”

(Philippians 2:3).

Selfishness and conceit can prevent us from doing God’s will.

Selfishness and conceit are all too common among people today. It seems there is hardly a prominent entertainer or sports figure who doesn’t portray those characteristics to excess. Yet those traits are the very opposite of what should characterize the humble follower of Christ.

“Selfishness” in today’s passage refers to pursuing an enterprise in a factional way. It involves an egotistical, personal desire to push your own agenda in a destructive and disruptive way. “Empty conceit” describes the force behind such overbearing behavior—personal glory. A person driven by such motivation thinks he is always right.

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Wisdom Hunters – Undistracted Devotion 

Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. John 12:3

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to lose focus in our Christian lives? Sometimes due to the hardness of our hearts, we turn away from the Lord and pursue our own selfish desires in explicitly disobedient ways. Yet at times this distraction is far less intentional or obvious! Sometimes this distraction comes in the midst of good and holy things. We can volunteer at church, attend a small group, or read daily devotions, but we may still find ourselves distracted from our singular desire to know and love God.

It’s possible to do good things for God but separate them from an intimate and personal knowledge of Him.

In John 12, we meet a variety of people. We meet Martha who is busily serving dinner to Jesus and the guests. We meet Lazarus who is reclining at the table. And we meet Judas Iscariot, whose heart is so corrupt that he desires to steal money that was meant to be used to serve the poor. Yet none of these characters are the focus of this story. This story is told to direct our attention fully on Mary of Bethany and the love she has for the Lord Jesus.

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Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Divine Protection

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Romans 8:31

Recommended Reading

Psalm 124:1-5

Sometimes it helps to have an insight from Greek grammar to get the fullest meaning of a New Testament text. There are several kinds of conditional sentences in Greek: “if . . . then.” One kind, by its grammatical form, conveys that the premise (“if”) is understood to be true. This is the form that occurs in Romans 8:31b, which could be translated this way: “If God is for us—and He definitely is for us—who can be against us?”

This verse occurs in one of the most powerful passages in all of Paul’s letters: Romans 8:28-39. Paul has said that God uses everything in life (verse 28) to contribute to His purpose of conforming us to the image of His Son (verse 29). Given that fact, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us—and He definitely is for us as I have just said in verses 28-30—who can be against us?” This is the greatest form of spiritual security the Christian can have, both temporally and eternally.

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Joyce Meyer – People Are More Important Than Things

Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. —1 John 2:15

One day my previous housekeeper was cooking a roast for us in the pressure cooker. She did something wrong and the valve blew off the top, shooting steam, roast, grease, potatoes, and carrots straight up into the air. The ceiling fan above the stove was on full speed. It caught the food and grease and sent them flying all over the kitchen walls, ceiling, floor, furniture—and the housekeeper. When I came home from work, she was sitting in a corner of the kitchen, crying. She looked so bad I thought she had received some tragic news. I finally got her to tell me what had happened; and when she did, I started laughing. By the time Dave came in, she and I were both laughing hysterically. She said, “I’ve destroyed your kitchen!”

I remember telling her, “The kitchen can be replaced, but you can’t. You’re more important than the kitchen. Thank God you’re not hurt.” There was a time in my life when that would not have been my response. Before I learned that people are more important than things, I would have become angry and said things to make the housekeeper feel stupid and guilty.

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Girlfriends in God – Are You God’s Sparkler?

“You are the light of the world.”

Matthew 5:14

Friend to Friend

My brother was about four years old when he decided to grab a box of matches and a handful of sparklers to see how they worked. He had heard that sparklers worked best in the dark, so he went into the darkest place he could find at Grandma’s house…her wardrobe closet.

Stewart snuck into the darkness, crouched amongst the dresses and coats, and lit the first match. The sparklers immediately began shooting fiery sparks in all directions. Within moments, he noticed more than sparklers on fire. Grandma’s clothes were up in flames. (I’m happy to say that Stewart wasn’t harmed, unless you count the spanking he got from Grandma.)

Friends, we don’t have to go into a closet to find the darkness. It’s waiting for us the moment we step out the front door, turn on the television, or listen to the six o’clock news. The world is full of darkness at every turn. Satan is not our only enemy. The Bible tells us that our struggle is against the world, the flesh, and the devil.

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Do the Will of God

“And the world is fading away, and these evil, forbidden things will go with it, but whoever keeps doing the will of God will live forever” (1 John 2:17).

There are few questions more frequently asked of me than this, “How can I know God’s will for my life?” or “How can I know what God wants me to do in this particular situation?”

“When I was crossing the Irish Channel one starless night,” said F.B. Meyer, a saint of yesteryear, “I stood on the deck by the captain and asked him, ‘How do you know Holyhead Harbor on so dark a night as this?’

“‘You see those three lights?’ he asked. ‘All of them must line up together as one, and when we see them so united, we know the exact position of the harbor’s mouth.’

“When we want to know God’s will, there are three things which always concur: the inward impulse, the Word of God and the trend of circumstances – God in the heart and God in circumstance, indicating His will. Never start until these three things agree.”

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Ray Stedman -Rejoice!

Read: Philippians 3:1

Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! Phil 3:1a

I suppose if you wanted to sum up Christianity in four words this would be the best possible phrase you could use: rejoice in the Lord. This is the mark of spiritual life, of a truly spiritual Christian. It is the distinctive sign of a victorious Christian. It is the one attitude that invariably brings peace and contentment to the heart. Therefore, it is the one thing Paul repeats over and over and over again: rejoice in the Lord. He knows he has said this many times before, and he will say it two more times before he ends this letter. But it is so important, he says, that he doesn’t mind saying it as many times as necessary, and it’s safe for them to hear it.

As we saw earlier in this letter, Paul pointed out the opposite as well. The sign of unbelief in the Christian life is always grumbling and disputing. Do all things, he says, without grumbling and questioning, because that is the sign of an unbelieving believer, who doesn’t believe what God is telling him. The mark of one who has learned to believe is rejoicing. Remember that definition of a Christian we have given from time to time: one who is completely fearless, continually cheerful, and constantly in trouble. It is the continual rejoicing in the midst of trouble that marks the Christian life.

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Jesus’ Mission

Read: Luke 19:1-10

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. (v. 10)

The crowd in Jericho was not pleased about Jesus hanging out with the rich oppressor Zacchaeus. Jesus’ conversation with the little guy in the sycamore tree seemed off script from his usual talk of caring for the poor and needy. So here we must re-consider Jesus, who loved the oppressed and the oppressor in equal measure. He wasn’t content to leave anyone in their alienation or sin.

The grace of God entered Zacchaeus’ life with such powerful effect that no one needed to preach at him, saying, “Jesus did you a big favor, buddy. Now, here’s the Ten Commandments and the way we do things around here. Get busy living up to it.” Rather, the grace of God goes to work, and a sinner makes a new start. Zacchaeus pledged to go the distance and immediately did what it took, making past wrongs right (v. 8). A rich man thus entered the kingdom of heaven by the grace of God, which is the only way for any of us.

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Presidential Prayer Team; C.P. – Godsend

During the fifth century, Patrick was kidnapped from Britain and made a slave in Ireland for six years. He escaped and returned to his family. Years later, he felt God telling him to return to the very land where he was enslaved – and as he obeyed, many were converted to the Christian faith.

Even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.

Ephesians 2:5

Some may wonder at Patrick’s ability to return to Ireland, serve faithfully and preach the gospel, but he is an example of what Jesus did for all people. Today’s verse said that Christ died for those dead in their sins. He doesn’t wait for a person to get his act together to come to Him. Instead, when one comes to Him, He is the one who changes a person from the inside out.

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Greg Laurie – Wholehearted Devotion

Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene. . . .—Mark 16:9

Of all the people Jesus could have appeared to first after His resurrection, He appeared to Mary Magdalene. It is interesting to think about, because among the Jews of the day, the testimony of a woman was not held in high regard. In fact, some of the rabbis falsely taught that it was better for the words of the Law to be burned than to be delivered by a woman. Yet Jesus chose a woman to be the first herald of His resurrection.

It is also worth noting that women were the last at the cross and the first at the tomb. Mary had courage that many of the men did not have when Jesus was crucified. She stood by Him through it all. In fact, the Bible tells us that after He was crucified, Mary “observed where He was laid” (Mark 15:47). She watched as they took His crucified body from the cross and wrapped it and placed it in a tomb that belonged to Joseph of Arimathea. And Mary, along with the other women, was at the tomb very early on Sunday morning to demonstrate her love for Jesus by anointing His body with spices (see Mark 16:1–2).

And her love was rewarded. God said, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). God rewards the person who is diligent. And for those who will take time in their day to seek the Lord, for those who will take time to read His Word, for those who will take time to wait upon Him, He will reveal His truths to them.

Kids 4 Truth International – God Sees All Our Actions

“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3)

Carrie’s dad used to tease her that he had eyes in the back of his head. It seemed like he could be driving the truck or watching TV, totally paying attention to something else, but if she tried to untie his shoelace or sneak off with a cookie, he could always catch her in the act! Have you ever noticed that in your own parents? They might be cooking, cleaning or reading the paper, but they just seem to know magically whenever you are planning to do something you do not want them to notice.

God is our Heavenly Father, and just like a parent, He always watches over us. Even when you don’t think He sees you, He does! The Bible says “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” God is actually far more watchful and aware than your parents ever could be, because He is God! He knows everything. He sees everything.

God spots sin immediately. In the book of Joshua, God strictly forbid anyone from taking gold, silver or clothing from Jericho. But do you know that is just what Achan did anyway! Achan stole from God, thinking God was not watching or that God did not really mean what He said when He commanded them not to take anything. Achan buried his stolen treasure under the ground, in his tent, which was only one tent in the middle of the huge Israelite campground. Surely God would not see him there. Surely God would not mind that he took a few things and hid them away. But God saw. And God did mind. Achan had disobeyed and then tried to cover up his disobedience.

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The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Good News That Isn’t Good Enough?

Today’s Scripture: Mark 16:15

“Proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”

We’ve loaded down the Gospel of the grace of God in Christ with a lot of “oughts”: I ought to be more committed, more disciplined, more obedient. When we think or teach this way, we’re substituting duty and obligation for a loving response to God’s grace.

As one pastor expressed it, we often don’t make the Gospel “good enough.” We preach grace to the non-Christian and duty to the Christian. As Richard Gilbert has written, “It sometimes seems that there is plenty of grace for you if you are not a Christian, but when you become a Christian then there are all sorts of laws you must obey and you feel like you were better off before you were converted.” Even our terminology betrays the way we dichotomize the Christian life into “grace” and “works” compartments.

Continue reading The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Good News That Isn’t Good Enough?

The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Strength for the Journey

Today’s Scripture: Psalms 67-72

Hear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. – Psalm 86:1

I spoke at a conference of missionaries in South America, some serving in places where literally every day people were being murdered by drug dealers. There were political tensions, besides all the problems that come with trying to serve people and communicate Christ in a foreign culture. I sensed this was a gathering of wounded warriors who needed a time of refreshment and encouragement.

The first night they sang the whole time, choosing songs of comfort, encouragement, love, and faith. None of the songs had to do with marching to victory and charging the enemy. These people were trying to survive another day, and they needed the comforting hand of God.

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word –JESUS, THE MASTER

Read Luke 12

A fencing match begins when someone calls, “En garde, prêts, allez!” The first French term, en garde, literally means, “On your guard,” and it warns participants to take a defensive position.

In Luke 12, Jesus warns His followers to be on guard against four spiritual perils. We must take a defensive position in a world where God’s enemies and our own flesh would entice, entrap, and destroy us. First, be on guard against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees (v. 1). The Pharisees kept God’s rules diligently. By every appearance, they seemed to be extremely devoted to God. But Jesus warns against admiring and following them. They prioritized rules over mercy and love, focusing on outward deeds instead of inward hearts.

Second, be on guard against the wrong kinds of fear (vv. 4–7). Don’t fear physical harm. Don’t cower before violent men. Instead, fear the judgment of God, who,by righteous decree, can choose to punish you eternally for your sins yet loves and provides for your needs.

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President Obama has nominated Merrick B. Garland to be the nation’s 113th Supreme Court justice. In most years, this would be an historic but typical act for a president. But this is not like most years.

In coming days and weeks we’ll hear heated arguments from both sides in what promises to be one of the most vitriolic Supreme Court nomination battles in history. Republican leaders are already on record that they will not consider any replacement nominee from Mr. Obama. Democrats will counter that Republicans are violating their constitutional duty to consider the president’s candidate. They will likewise brand their opponents as obstructionists who put party ahead of the nation.

Republicans will counter that they have the constitutional right to respond to the president’s nomination as they wish. And they will cite a lack of precedent for a president to nominate a Supreme Court justice during the last year of his second term.

The crux of the issue, however, is simple.