Charles Stanley – Taking the Yoke of Jesus

1 Peter 5:6-11

Giving our burden to the Lord in order to take His yoke may sound like a contradiction. But the yoke of Jesus Christ is not some new kind of weight. In fact, it is a symbol of the believer’s transformation: Submitting our burden to the Lord means submitting our very selves to Him as well.

The only way that Christ can share our load is for Him to exercise control of our life. However, human beings are reluctant to give up authority over themselves. The illusion of having control of our circumstances gives us a false sense of security. But the truth is that until we allow the heavenly Father to manage our life, we will be managed by our problems—chasing after the quickest solution or the easiest escape from pain.

Sacrificing control means that we cannot continue to rely on our previous survival techniques. Instead, through prayer, meditation, and daily Bible reading, we must learn how to walk in the same way our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ did. As our steps begin to align with His, our new yoke shifts the weight of our problems onto His shoulders.

The most important concept we must learn is to trust God. If we’re certain He has a plan and purpose for our life, we can be confident that our burden—whether a troubled marriage, a child on drugs, or a harsh financial situation—will not drag us to the ground. Psalms 55:22 says, “He will never allow the righteous to be shaken,” which means He is faithful to carry the weight and show us how to care for those affected by our burden. Trusting Him lightens the load.

Bible in a Year: Proverbs 9-12

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Language of Love

Read: James 3:1–12 | Bible in a Year: Job 41–42; Acts 16:22–40

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. James 3:9

When my grandmother came to Mexico as a missionary, she had a hard time learning Spanish. One day she went to the market. She showed her shopping list to the girl helping her and said, “It’s in two tongues (lenguas).” But she meant to say that she had written it in two languages (idiomas). The butcher overheard them and assumed she wanted to purchase two cow tongues. My grandmother didn’t realize it until she got home. She had never cooked beef tongue before!

Mistakes are inevitable when we are learning a second language, including learning the new language of God’s love. At times our speech is contradictory because we praise the Lord but then speak badly of others. Our old sinful nature opposes our new life in Christ. What comes out of our mouths shows us how much we need God’s help.

May the words we speak point others to Jesus.

Our old “tongue” must go away. The only way to learn the new language of love is by making Jesus the Lord of our speech. When the Holy Spirit works in us, He gives us self-control to speak words that please the Father. May we surrender every word to Him! “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Ps. 141:3).

Lord Jesus, take control of my mouth today. Forgive me for careless, thoughtless, and angry words. Let my words bless You and others.

May the words we speak point others to Jesus.

INSIGHT:

A horse, though a very powerful animal, comes under the rider’s control with a small piece of metal—a bit—in the animal’s mouth (James 3:3). By means of the reins and bridle, the rider pulls the bit, which presses against the horse’s mouth. This causes the horse to stop or move in the direction the rider dictates. In contrast, no human can tame the tongue—a very small part of the body. However, the Holy Spirit can help us control our speech as we yield to Him.

 

http://www.odb.org

John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Fellowship with Christ

“What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3).

Enjoying communion with both God and Jesus Christ is solid proof that one’s salvation is real.

When we hold baptisms in the church I pastor, invariably every person who gives their testimony will describe the overwhelming sense of forgiveness they now feel and the new purpose they have for their lives. They are expressing a wonderful result of salvation in Christ, of which Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” (John 10:10). By saying that life could be abundant, Jesus was saying that salvation would result in more than a change of position—it is a change of experience! The Christian life is a rich life in which we are meant to experience joy, peace, love, and purpose.

The abundant life in Christ begins with a close communion and fellowship with the living God and the living Christ. The apostle Paul says, “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:9). In Galatians 2:20 Paul describes what that fellowship meant to him personally: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.” Great intimacy with Christ belongs to all genuine believers.

Have you experienced communion with God and Christ? Have you sensed Their presence? Does your love for Them draw you into Their presence? Have you experienced the exhilarating joy of talking in prayer to the living God? And have you experienced the thrill of discovering a new truth in His Word? If you have, then you have experienced the abundant life that Jesus promised to all who put their trust in Him.

Suggestions for Prayer

Much like God asked Israel to recount the great works He had done for them, meditate on the many ways God has made your life richer as a result of knowing Him.

For Further Study

Read Romans 8:15; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 5:19; Philippians 4:19; Hebrews 4:16; and 1 Peter 5:10.

  • What does each verse teach about your relationship with God?
  • In what ways is your life abundant as a result?

 

http://www.gty.org

Wisdom Hunters – Divine Direction 

I know, O LORD, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.  Jeremiah 10:23

We do not own our lives.  We have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20).  Jesus’ sacrificial blood purchased our freedom from the fire of hell, sin, and death.  By faith, He owns us.  A great exchange took place when you first believed in Jesus.  What’s yours became His, and what’s His became yours.  The life of Christ became your life. It is not your life to define, but His.  He has wrapped a wonderful definition around whose you are in Him.  You are a child of God.  You are secure because your Savior keeps you.  You are valuable because the Lord values you.  You are protected because the Almighty owns you.

The Bible is God’s glossary of how to define yourself.  Scripture gives you a family tree of faith for you to trace your religious roots.  It is a mirror of how God sees you.  He sees you as accepted in His Son, though you suffer rejection from others.  Cherish and enjoy daily the acceptance of Jesus. Moreover, your mistakes are His opportunity to affirm His acceptance.  There are still consequences to your sin, but He is always available to receive you back because you are His.  He accepts and receives back His own.

Furthermore, He directs His own (Isaiah 48:17).  God wants you to understand and follow His plan for your life.  Praise God it’s a step-by-step process and He directs your steps!  Some days you may feel like it’s three steps forward and two steps back, but do not be discouraged or dismayed.  God is still directing your steps, though at times they seem tedious and laborious.  The Lord leads you in lockstep with His steps.  In His steps is the wise way to walk.  Do not run ahead, thinking you have to set a record for speed or quickness.

Continue reading Wisdom Hunters – Divine Direction 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – We Are Held Securely

“No one who has become part of God’s family makes a practice of sinning, for Christ, God’s Son, holds him securely and the devil cannot get his hands on him” (1 John 5:18).

“I am enjoying my new-found liberty. I know that I am a Christian. I know that I am going to heaven, but for the moment I want to do my own thing. I recognize that the Lord may discipline me for the things that I am doing which the Bible says are wrong. I was reared in a very strict, legalistic Christian family and church and I have never enjoyed life before, but now I am having a ball. I don’t see anything wrong with drinking and sex and the other so-called sins that I have been told all my life were so terribly wrong.”

Do you believe that person is a Christian? Of course I have no way of judging, but according to the Word of God it is quite likely that this person has never really experienced a new birth. Can you imagine a beautiful butterfly going back to crawl in the dirt as it did as a caterpillar?

It is possible of course, for a Christian, one who has experienced new life in Christ, to sin, and even to continue in sin for a period of time, but never with a casual, flippant indifference to God’s way as this person expressed.

In the second chapter of the same epistle, the writer says the same thing in different words: “How can we be sure that we belong to Him? By looking within ourselves: are we really trying to do what He wants us to? Someone may say, ‘I am a Christian; I am on my way to heaven; I belong to Christ.’ But if he doesn’t do what Christ tells him to do, he is a liar. But those who do what Christ tells them to will learn to love God more and more. That is the way to know whether or not you are a Christian. Anyone who says he is a Christian should live as Christ did” (1 John 2:3-6).

Though it is not possible for us in this life to know the perfection that our Lord experienced, there will be that heartfelt desire to do what He wants us to do. Therefore, anyone who is a child of God will not make a practice of sinning. Those who are inclined should consider the possibility that they could be forever separated from God on judgement day.

Bible Reading: I John 5:1-21

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I am assured of my own salvation through faith in Christ which is demonstrated by the transformation of my attitudes and actions. I will encourage professing Christians, whose lives do not reflect God’s desires, to appropriate by faith the fullness of the Holy Spirit and His power in their daily walk so that they, too, can have the assurance of their salvation and their place in God’s special kingdom.

 

http://www.cru.org

Ray Stedman – More Noble

Read: Acts 17:1-15

The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. Acts 17:10-11

Luke carefully draws a sharp contrast here between the rabble in Thessalonica, whom Paul and his friends had encountered earlier in chapter 17, and these Jews in Berea, who were more noble. In what did their nobility consist? Well, not merely in receiving the word, but also in checking it out with the Scriptures. A noble person is one who has not only an open mind but also a cautious heart. He will not accept a teaching unless he checks it with the Scriptures.

That is what the Scriptures are for. They are your guide so that you can tell what is true and what is false, what is right and what is wrong. And unless a Christian does this, he is lost in a sea of relativism, where he does not know what is right or what is wrong. Your mind becomes confused and blinded and you can be misled and manipulated, as the rabble in Thessalonica manipulated the crowd there — unless you have the nobility to check things out according to the Scriptures. That is what these Jews did, and it was a tremendous help. They checked up on the Apostle Paul.

The value of this story to us, and the reason Luke includes it, is that by it we might learn the necessity of testing any man’s word. Do not listen to just one man’s tapes, or read only one man’s books or messages. It is a very dangerous practice. You will be misled by his errors and you will not know how to recognize them. Never give yourself to following a single man. Check whatever you read with what is in the Scriptures and with other teachers. Establish what the Word of God says. That is the authority. How delighted Luke is to commend these Bereans for their nobility in doing this very thing!

Thank you for your word, Lord. I ask that you give me a noble heart to study your word and take it and it alone as my guide and my authority.

Life Application

What characterized the nobility of the Berean Christians? Is it safe and/or prudent to follow one man’s teaching exclusively? What is a certain safeguard against possible confusion from teachings contrary to the Word of God?

 

http://www.raystedman.org/

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Children of God

Read: 1 John 2:28-3:10

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. (v. 1)

When you reach your fifties and sixties, you start to do some reflecting on your life. I remember a significant conversation I had with my mother somewhere in those years. She confided to me that if she would die then, she would have no regrets because she had been so richly blessed by God. She spoke of her family, her multitude of friends, her church, and most of all, the God who had lavished so many blessings on her. I know I agreed with her, because the truth of what she spoke was so evident. She was truly a joyful and grateful person.

This incident came back to me as I read the words of our key verse, 1 John 3:1. The word “given” or “lavished” (NIV) is the one that stands out in this verse. It means “to bestow something in generous or extravagant quantities.”

Looking back on my mother’s life, I know she wasn’t talking about wealth or great prosperity. My parents weren’t rich, but they had enough. And what we had went far beyond material things. It was the spiritual dimension of life—our relationship to Jesus and gratitude to God for what we had—that made life fulfilling. Indeed, it is a privilege and responsibility to be children of God.

Prayer:

Thank you, Lord, for the wonderful love you lavish upon us. Help us to respond in gratitude and service. Amen.

Author: John Koedyker

 

https://woh.org/

Kids 4 Truth International – God Desires You To Pray

“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

What are some of the things that you have been told to do this week? Maybe someone told you to clean up your room, or to look both ways before crossing the street. Maybe your mom told you to be nice to your siblings, or to help with the dishes after supper. You have probably been told by many people to do many things this week. But have you ever stopped to think about some of the things God wants you to do?

God tells you in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 that He wants you to “pray without ceasing.” What does that mean? To “pray” is to talk to God. But what does it mean to pray without ceasing? “Ceasing” means stopping. So, you are supposed to pray without stopping.

How can you pray without stopping? Does that mean you have to be praying to God every second of every minute of every hour of every day? No. This verse is saying that you always should be ready and willing to talk to God. Prayer to God should be natural, just like talking to someone who is in the room with you. When you have a friend over to your house to play, you do not have to spend every second of the day talking to them. You spend a lot of time talking to them because you are ready and willing to talk to them at anytime.

How can you “pray without ceasing”? Well, when you wake up in the morning, you could pray and thank God for the day. When you are ready to study for school, pray and ask God to help you concentrate. When you are going to get together with friends, pray that God will help you honor Him in your words and your behavior. When you hear a police car or ambulance go racing by, pray for them as they go to help someone in need. See? There are many ways that you can constantly be talking to God.

Some people think that when they pray, they must have long prayers using big words. Those prayers don’t impress God. God desires you to talk to Him throughout the day, even if each prayer is short.

God desires you to pray without ceasing.

My Response:

» How many times throughout the day do I think of praying to God?

» What do I pray about the most?

» How can I get in the habit of praying without ceasing?

 

http://kids4truth.com/home.aspx

The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Differing Opinions

Today’s Scripture: Romans 14:1

“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.”

The issue of differing opinions about certain practices has been around at least since the days of the apostle Paul. He devoted an entire chapter of the book Romans to this brand of legalism.

The crux of the problem is stated well by Paul in Romans 14:5: “one person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” People simply have different opinions about various issues. One person sees no problem in a certain practice; another person considers that practice to be sinful.

As Christians we can’t seem to accept the clear biblical teaching in Romans 14 that God allows equally godly people to have differing opinions on certain matters. We universalize what we think is God’s particular leading in our lives and apply it to everyone else.

When we think like that we are putting God in a box, so to speak. We’re insisting that he must surely lead everyone as we believe he has led us. We refuse to allow God the freedom to deal with each of us as individuals. When we think like that, we are legalists.

We must not seek to bind the consciences of other believers with the private convictions that arise out of our personal walk with God. Even if you believe God has led you in developing those convictions, you still must not elevate them to the level of spiritual principles for everyone else to follow. The respected Puritan theologian John Owen taught that “only what God has commanded in his Word should be regarded as binding; in all else there may be liberty of actions.” (Excerpt taken from Transforming Grace)

 

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The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Living for the Goal

Today’s Scripture: John 1-2

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. – 1 John 1:3

I always enjoy traveling with someone who knows where they’re going, don’t you?

John the Baptist knew exactly where he was going. He had a definite purpose in mind and knew exactly how to reach his goal. The message in the book of John is that he wants you and me to find life in Jesus Christ. Everything in his gospel points us to the saving grace of the Lord Jesus.

In John 1:7, we are introduced to John the Baptist and told that “he came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe.” The focus is not on the baptismal ministry of John the Baptist or his call to the nation of Israel to repent. He is presented primarily as a witness to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world.

Christian, when people observe your life, what do they see? A person frantically busy doing Christian activities? A person who says one thing and does another? Or do they see a person who knows where he’s going? Make it your goal today to point people to the Savior.

Prayer

Lord, today I need You to refocus my sight on the task You’ve given me to do. Amen.

To Ponder

Witnessing involves all that we are and all that we do.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – SIGN OF THE COVENANT

Read GENESIS 17

As an author said, “Impossible odds set the stage for amazing miracles.” By Genesis 17, Abram and Sarai surely felt the seemingly impossible odds against the fulfillment of God’s promises to them. Dare they hope for a miracle?

Abram was now ninety-nine years old and still without a child. In the previous chapter he and Sarai had tried to have an heir through her maid, Hagar. But the resulting child, Ishmael, produced strife, not family blessing. Now in today’s reading, twenty-three years after Abram first entered Canaan, God reaffirmed His covenant promises to Abram and Sarai. His word was clear: “I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you” (v. 6). The whole land of Canaan would be their possession, and the covenant would be “an everlasting covenant” (v. 7).

From a human perspective, things seemed impossible. But God’s promises never fail, and now God called Abram to prove his trust in two important ways. First, there would be a name change. Childless Abram would now be called “Abraham” (meaning “father of a multitude”), and Sarai would be called “Sarah” (meaning “princess”—a mother of kings). A change in name meant a change in reality, even if Abraham could not yet see it.

Second, God called Abraham to seal the covenant through the act of circumcision. All males under Abraham’s authority were to receive this sign, for “My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant” (v. 13). Circumcision signified that any who broke the covenant would be “cut off” from God’s blessing. In the end, Abraham’s laughter indicated his doubts. But notice his implicit faith as well: he called Sarah by her new name (v. 17) and then circumcised all males in his household as God commanded.

APPLY THE WORD

Like Abraham’s story, the Christian life is often a journey of faith mixed with doubt. What are the difficulties in your life that threaten your faith? Spend time in prayer today, lifting up those challenges to God. Then ask the Lord to strengthen your faith in His promise of provision and care, even in the face of “impossible odds.”

 

http://www.todayintheword.org

Streams in the Desert for Kids – How to Please God

Hebrews 11:6

When we are facing a tough, extreme, or tragic situation, our faith is either strengthened or destroyed. Consider the intensity of a fire. Most things can’t withstand its heat, as it can consume entire forests and neighborhoods in a matter of days. But the same fire doesn’t burn up gold. Instead, it purifies it.

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego faced the furnace, they confirmed they would praise only the living God. It was a death sentence. They could have decided to save themselves by doing what the king wanted, but their faith would have been unreliable—burned up in the midst of danger. Instead they went against the king by keeping their loyalty to the Lord. Their faith was purified. Whether God saved them or decided not to, their faith didn’t waver because the holy object of their faith never wavers. (And God did save them in the most dramatic way: after they were thrown into the fire, they walked out unharmed!)

In an impossible situation, faith recognizes that the only hope is in God. If you are facing a desperate time, remember that your faith is being purified. If you don’t know all the answers, your faith is being developed. You may be overwhelmed by uncertainty and doubt, but your faith is being strengthened.

Dear Lord, Because you are trustworthy, I have faith in you. When I am desperate, I will turn to you. Amen.