Charles Stanley – How to Bear One Another’s Burdens

Galatians 6:2-5

Our quiet presence during someone else’s time of pain says more than any words of advice ever can. A grieving widow, for example, doesn’t need to hear our own tale of loss; she needs an arm around her shoulder so she realizes that she is not alone.

Think about the times that we bring our burdens before the Lord in prayer. Simply experiencing His presence lightens the weight we have been carrying. God’s response to our pain is a clear demonstration of how important it is to make ourselves available and listen to our neighbors. No matter how inadequate we might feel, we all can share a burden by spending time with a friend who is enduring hardship.

The Holy Spirit will let us know when words are not necessary and when it’s the right moment to speak. That oftentimes becomes our opportunity to share how the Lord has worked in our life during a painful period. When we give the Holy Spirit total control, He will bring to mind situations, emotions, and the ways God helped us. We can use those things to minister to others: Hurting people grab onto kindred stories as if to a lifeline. It gives them hope to reason that since the Lord shepherded one person through a valley of darkness, He will surely be faithful to do the same for another.

Our Spirit-developed compassion may require us to give our burdened neighbor other types of help—even material aid. It’s easy to pray for a f 0riend or share our story with a church member, but we cannot limit ourselves to those things. If we are willing to be used by our heavenly Father, we must be open to His leading about how to offer assistance.

Bible in a Year: Proverbs 29-31

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — The Gift and the Giver

Read: Luke 1:67–79 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 16–17; Acts 20:1–16

Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us. Luke 1:78 nlt

It’s only a keychain. Five little blocks held together by a shoelace. My daughter gave it to me years ago when she was seven. Today the lace is frayed and the blocks are chipped, but they spell a message that never grows old: “I ♥ DAD.”

The most precious gifts are determined not by what went into them, but by who they are from. Ask any parent who ever received a bouquet of dandelions from a chubby hand. The best gifts are valued not in money but in love.

Jesus, thank You for Your gift of forgiveness and life through You.

Zechariah understood that. We hear it in his prophetic song as he praised God for giving him and his wife Elizabeth their son John when they were well past their childbearing years (Luke 1:67–79). Zechariah rejoiced because John was to be a prophet who would proclaim God’s greatest gift to all people—the coming Messiah: “Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us” (Luke 1:78 nlt). Those words point to a gift given with so much love that it will even “shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death” (1:79).

The sweetest gift we can receive is God’s tender mercy—the forgiveness of our sins through Jesus. That gift cost Him dearly at the cross, but He offers it freely out of His deep love for us.

Jesus, thank You for Your gift of forgiveness and life through You. I receive Your gift with joy.

Jesus is both the Gift and the Giver.

INSIGHT:

Luke 1:67–79 is a great example of the complex literary structure of the Bible where poetry intertwines with prose. Luke is telling a story—actually two stories that overlap and interconnect: the angelic announcement and subsequent birth of John the Baptist and the angelic announcement of Jesus’s birth and Mary’s subsequent pregnancy. Each story includes a song (Mary’s—Luke 1:46–55; Zechariah’s—Luke 1:67–79). It is in response to the birth of his son and the coming arrival of the Messiah that Zechariah cries out, “The God of Israel . . . has come to his people and redeemed them” (Luke 1:68).

 

http://www.odb.org

John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Love For Other Christians

“The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him” (1 John 2:10).

Loving other Christians gives assurance to your own faith.

Loving fellow Christians is instinctive for genuine believers. Paul told the Thessalonians, “Now as to the love of the brethren . . . you yourselves are taught by God to love one another” (1 Thess. 4:9). He further encouraged them to “excel still more” in love (v. 10) because there is always room for believers to love one another more completely. Nevertheless, if we are truly saved we will show love, since love is inherent in our new nature (see Rom. 5:5).

Jesus said this about love among believers: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). If we are truly Christians, we will “fervently love one another from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22). Love is a test of our divine life and signifies that we have crossed over from darkness to light (1 John 3:14-15).

The apostle John goes on to define love as being sacrificial and practical: “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (vv. 16-18).

Therefore, you should ask yourself some basic questions: Do you care about other believers, or are you cold and indifferent? How do you respond to opportunities to give of yourself in various ministries? Do you look forward to having fellowship with other Christians—talking with them, discussing the things of God, studying the Word together, and praying with them? When you encounter a friend at church who has a need, are you willing to provide money, time, prayer, resources, service, or even a sympathetic ear?

If you can answer yes to those questions, you have great reason to be assured of your salvation. Like Peter, you can appeal to the love God sees in your heart (John 21:17). That love won’t be perfect, but it’s there and will manifest itself to others.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that your love will grow stronger and be more consistent.

For Further Study

Read John 21:15-17.

  • What should Peter’s love result in?
  • How does Galatians 6:10 support that?

 

http://www.gty.org

Wisdom Hunters – Responsive Heart 

Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people, that they would become accursed and laid waste, and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the LORD.   2 Kings 22:19

God responds well to a responsive and humble heart. It is guaranteed an audience with the Almighty. His heart is drawn to humility and commitment to obedience. He knows a responsive heart can be trusted with His truth. So when He finds someone responsive to righteousness, He has found someone who can be entrusted with His blessing. A responsive heart is teachable, tender to truth, and quick to obey. It is the opposite of a hard heart.

A hard heart stews in the juices of sin, while a responsive heart flees from sin’s appearance. A responsive heart is action-oriented and chooses to change for good. You may have an attitude of distrust or anger, but the Lord’s conviction penetrates your spirit. Instead of making excuses for this unacceptable behavior, a responsive heart seeks to become trusting and forgiving.

God and godly influences are constantly suggesting, teaching, convicting, and prodding you to conform to the character of Christ. His Word speaks to your heart and then your life responds to Him with appropriate attitudes and actions. Therefore, living for Jesus is an act of worship. Your responsiveness to truth is a testimony to the living God. As you obey God, others are drawn to Him and you. This is a wise habit to model for your children. If you can impart to them a tender and responsive heart to God at an early age, you have done them a great favor. Start young while the things of God are bigger than life. A youthful and responsive heart toward God has a better chance of becoming a responsive heart toward God during adulthood.

Continue reading Wisdom Hunters – Responsive Heart 

Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Summer Getaways—Quiet Retreats

Peace, be still!

Mark 4:39

Last year, officials of Washington’s Reagan National Airport received more than 8,600 complaints about noise. Imagine their surprise when they discovered 6,500 of them came from the same person! Some unidentified neighbor was incensed enough to call, on average, 18 times every day of the year.

Recommended Reading: Mark 4:35-41

Airports are some of the loudest places on earth, but they don’t have a corner on noise pollution. We live in a loud society and it’s hard to find peace and quiet anywhere. That’s why noise-cancelling headphones are so popular.

We need a quiet retreat—that is, we need to retreat to zones of silence every day. Zephaniah 1:7 says, “Be silent in the presence of the Lord God.” The psalmist said, “My soul, wait silently for God alone” (Psalm 62:5). Habakkuk 2:20 says, “The Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.”

It takes discipline to find a quiet place, turn off our electronics, and meditate quietly on the Lord. We have to work at quietness, but it makes “quiet” a difference in our lives. Our souls are strengthened by stillness and steadied by solitude.

Be still and know that He is God.

I cannot be the man I should be without times of quietness.

Charles R. Swindoll

Read-Thru-the-Bible: Isaiah 4 – Isaiah 11

http://www.davidjeremiah.org/

Joyce Meyer – You Are Everywhere You Go!

For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of] the righteousness of God [what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness].—Corinthians 5:21

What if everywhere you went, you ran into someone you didn’t like? Wouldn’t that be terrible? Oh no, you’d think, her again. You attend a party, and you have to endure her conversation and views. You go to church, and she’s sitting right beside you. What a bummer to have to spend so much time with this person, you think.

Then it gets worse. There she is at the dinner table with you! She’s lounging by the pool; she’s even in your bed! She’s everywhere! That sounds pretty awful, but it is the exact situation you find yourself in if you don’t like yourself, because you are everywhere you go. You can’t get away from yourself, even for a second, so you are in for a sad life if you dread your own company. That much is pretty obvious.

But believe it or not, even though we can all agree that it makes no sense to live your life this way, I find that most people don’t like themselves. They may not even realize it, but some genuine soul-searching reveals the sad fact that they have rejected themselves and in some cases even hate themselves. I’ve come across a lot of people over the years, through my ministry and in day-to-day life, and I’m amazed at how few are truly at peace with themselves. Instead, they have declared war on themselves.

God wants you to love yourself, not in some wrong selfish or prideful way, but in a healthy way that truly understands how special you are to Him. As you begin to see yourself as God sees you, then not only will you love yourself, but you will have the confidence and faith to be a powerful force for good in the world.

From the book New Day, New You by Joyce Meyer.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – No Hurt in Second Death

“Let everyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches; He who is victorious shall not be hurt by the Second Death” (Revelation 2:11).

I find great comfort in the promises of God’s word, and this is another that makes a positive assurance to use: we shall not be hurt by the Second Death.

But just what is meant by the term Second Death? It would seem to mean that the conqueror shall not have anything to fear in the future world. The punishment of hell is sometimes called death – not in the sense that the soul will cease to exist, but because death is the most fearful thing we know about, and there is a striking similarity in many respects between death and future punishment.

As death cuts us off from life, so the second death cuts one off from eternal life. Death puts an end to all our earthly hopes, and the second death to all hope forever. Death is accompanied by terrors and alarms, which are only faint emblems of the coming terror in the world of woe.

This promise of no harm for us in the second death really is all that is necessary to sustain us in our trials. Nothing else is needed to make the burdens of life tolerable but this assurance that the end of our earthly journey will bring us to the close of suffering. No power can harm us beyond the grave.

We have no promise that we shall not die, but we do have this glorious assurance that nothing beyond that will ever hurt us. Meanwhile, we are expected to listen – and to be faithful.

Bible Reading: John 8:21-25

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Knowing that nothing beyond the grave will ever hurt me, I will make this present life count for Christ and His kingdom.

 

http://www.cru.org

Ray Stedman – Fallen Asleep

Read: Acts 20:2-12

On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered together. And there was a young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep; and as Paul kept on talking, he was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor and was picked up dead. But Paul went down and fell upon him, and after embracing him, he said, Do not be troubled, for his life is in him. Acts 20:7-10

There are several very interesting aspects of this story. This is the first mention we have of the worship of the believers on the first day of the week, i.e., Sunday. This early in the Christian era they had shifted from Saturday to gathering on the first day of the week, the day of our Lord’s resurrection. They evidently had met here for a communion service, and the apostle seized the occasion to teach them from the Scriptures. In his last evening there, before they gathered at the Lord’s table, he took time to teach them further from the Scriptures. He went on at considerable length, prolonging his speech until midnight.

This has always been an encouraging passage to any pastor. It reveals that even the Apostle Paul had people go to sleep on him. Someone has said that the art of preaching is speaking in other people’s sleep. This was certainly the case here. At any rate, Eutychus fought a losing battle against falling asleep. Luke, with his physician’s eye, is easy on him. He tells us that there were many lamps in the upper chamber and each, of course, was burning up the oxygen. So, with the loss of oxygen in the atmosphere, and the late hour, and, perhaps, a long week’s work behind him, and given Paul’s long message, this young man was unable to hold out. He was seated in the window and fell into a deep sleep as Paul droned on, and so he fell from the third floor and was taken up dead.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – Fallen Asleep

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Jonah’s Story

Read: Matthew 12:38-41

No sign will be given . . . except the sign of the prophet Jonah. (Matt. 12:39)

I visited an old, abandoned church on the Turkish island of Cunda (pronounced JUNE-dah). It was a relic of the tragic aftermath of World War I when Greek Christians were either killed or forced to flee to Greece—while a similar thing was happening to Turkish Muslims in Greece. A man by the church door said I could “see the fresco,” for a small donation. On the church’s wall was a painting depicting Jonah. That story has always captured people’s imaginations, mostly because of that part with the really big fish.

Jonah’s “burial” in the sea and “resurrection” after three days was a sign, said Jesus, pointing to his own resurrection from the dead. And Nineveh’s repentance was important, too. The whole Jonah story, taken together, helps us better understand God and his ways, especially with sinful people. That’s where the Ninevites and their response come in, along with Jonah’s bad attitude.

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll look at seven sections of Jonah’s story from his point of view, and then from God’s perspective as “conversations” in Jonah’s head and in heaven (italicized), at least as I’ve imagined them. Only they know exactly what they were thinking. However, we can apply what they said and did in ways that will, hopefully, help us be more like God in our attitudes and behaviors, and (sorry to say) less like Jonah.

Prayer:

Lord, help me see my own heart, and make me more like you.

Author: Doug VanBronkhorst

 

https://woh.org/

Greg Laurie – Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Evening of Your Life Is Determined by the Morning of It

I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.—Deuteronomy 30:19

I committed my life to Christ at age 17. Did I miss anything? I suppose I did.

I missed a lot of parties, a lot of experiences that other kids my age had. Now, over 40 years have gone by and I look at what their choices and experiences have done to them. Some are in their fourth or fifth marriages. Some are still addicted, still living an empty life. When I think about those things I ask myself, Did I really miss anything?

For me, life has gotten better. Not easier or less complicated, or less pressured or more trouble-free. But definitely better, sweeter, richer, deeper, more satisfying. Every day, every month, every year of walking with Jesus gets better and better.

You might say, “Greg, that’s a nice, pleasant message to preach at a retirement center, but what’s it got to do with me?” The truth is, it’s a message that’s even more important for younger people. Why? Because you determine the end of your life by the beginning of it, the evening of your life by the morning of it. You decide today where you’re going to be 20 years from now, by what choices you make and what roads you take.

God says, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days” (Deuteronomy 30:19—20 NKJV).

 

https://www.harvest.org/

Kids 4 Truth International – God Made Me Unique

“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Psalm 139:14)

The Browning family has five children. Each one of them is different from the others. No one looks exactly like another, and no two have the same personality. One is a bookworm who could spend hours reading and thinking about reading. One is athletic and loves to bake. Another is shy and enjoys making up new games to play. One talks really fast and has a silly sense of humor. The littlest one, who is adopted, seems to love everyone. Each child is unique, and their parents love each one of them. No family is the same as another family, and no one person is the same. Being unique but yet also part of a united group is one of the things that is so special about the family. That is how God created families to be.

We believe that kids are different from each other, but what about animals – even tiny ones, like ants? Have you ever seen a long trail of ants? Do they all look identical (exactly alike) to you? Did you know that each of those ants is different from the others? God made each of them unique. Or snowflakes: Have you ever watched snow fall? The flakes flutter down onto the windshield of a car or onto the ground. Some flakes are big, and some are small, but every single one of those snowflakes is unique – none of them are alike.

Do you think the differences among people, ants, and snowflakes happened by chance? Not a chance! We have a powerful, awesome God Who has created everything. Each of us has been created unique. Not one of us is exactly like another person. Even if you are an identical twin, you are different from your twin. It may be that your hair is thinner, or you are slightly taller, or perhaps your teeth are straight but your twin’s are not.

God made each of the Browning kids unique. And God made you unique! The Bible says we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made.” God knows everything about you. He knows the number of hairs on your head – even if a few of them get pulled out somehow! He knows when you do right and when you do wrong. It takes an awesome, all-powerful God to create so many unique individuals and to know them so closely and personally.

Your awesome God made you unique.

My Response:

» What does God know about me that no one else knows?

» Do I praise Him for being the all-powerful, all-knowing Creator that He is?

 

http://kids4truth.com/home.aspx

The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – His Full-Grown Child

Today’s Scripture: Romans 8:15

“You have received the Spirit of adoption as sons.”

What does it mean to be adopted as sons by God? The adoption Paul refers to is not that of an infant or small child. In Jewish culture, it would refer to the status of those who had advanced from minors to full-grown sons. And in Roman culture, wealthy couples would adopt a worthy young man to be their heir and carry on the family name.

Even the brand-new believer comes into the family of God with the full rights of an adult son. Although this new believer is a spiritual babe and needs discipling from more mature Christians, he has all the rights and privileges of a full-grown son.

A good sense of this can be seen in the prodigal son’s restoration after his return from the far country (Luke 15:22-24). The father orders the servants to quickly bring the best robe, a ring, and sandals. The robe would have been a status symbol, the ring probably an indication of family authority, and the sandals a sign of sonship. This once-rebellious son is immediately restored to a position of dignity, honor, and full acceptance, and even becomes the guest of honor at a feast of celebration.

We should never lose sight of the fact that we were rebels, objects of God’s wrath, and on death row. The tremendous contrast between what we once were and what we have become by his grace makes our sonship so amazing. We have been redeemed from slavery to sin and Satan, clothed with the robe of Christ’s perfect righteousness, and given status as sons in the royal household.

I hope you’re encouraged to live as a full-grown child of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Excerpt taken from The Gospel for Real Life)

 

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The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – No Place for Pride

Today’s Scripture: 2 Chronicles 26-28

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. – Proverbs 16:18

In our city, the police cars all bear the slogan “Serve with pride.” Now I think that’s a positive thing, because it deals with dignity and self-respect. As Christians, we need to cultivate pride and self-esteem while avoiding the cost of egotism and conceit.

Much of my life has been spent in working with young men and women in a discipleship ministry. All along this narrow pathway lurk hazards to their growth and development. And one of them is the deadly sin of arrogant pride. Whenever I spot the warning signs of this kind of pride in the life of a person with whom I’m working, we stop everything and do a Bible study on 2 Chronicles 26.

Here we are introduced to King Uzziah, who was sixteen years old when he became king. As long as he sought the Lord, God caused him to prosper. He had victory in the battle against the Philistines, their ancient foe. He built mighty towers and fortified the city of Jerusalem. He had a great, well-equipped, standing army, along with war machines to shoot arrows and hurl large stones.

With all that going for him, you’d think he would be safe. But he wasn’t. The Bible says, “When he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction.” He fell, through the sin of pride. When he had grown great in power, popularity, and wealth, he did not lift up the name of God in gratitude. His prosperity puffed him up, and down he went.

I have seen this sin of pride, more than any other, take its toll in people’s lives.

Prayer

Lord, help me to see the warning signs of pride so that I can walk humbly with You. Amen.

To Ponder

Pride is one of the most subtle sins Satan uses to bring us down.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – DO NOT BE AFRAID

Read GENESIS 26

The saying “like father, like son” means that a child displays similar characteris- tics as his father. The expression has been around since at least the 1300s, but the sentiment is certainly older than that, as today’s reading shows.

As the Genesis narrative shifts from Abraham to the next generations, Genesis 26 is the only detailed material we have about Isaac. But the similarities between father and son are clear. Like Abram’s call from Haran, Isaac was called to “live in the land where I tell you to live” (v. 2). Likewise, God reaffirmed the Abrahamic promises for Isaac: His presence, land for Isaac’s descendants, offspring as numerous as the stars, and blessing for the nations. God’s covenant with Abraham was extended to his son Isaac as well.

Yet, like his father, Isaac lied about his wife being his sister. Rather than rely on God’s promises, Isaac demonstrated

fear in the face of uncertainty. Just as Abimelek, king of Gerar, admonished Abraham earlier (see Genesis 20), so again he chastised Isaac for the same deceit. The tension between them forced Isaac to depart, even as their servants continued to quarrel over scarce water wells. It would appear that Isaac’s duplicity had jeopardized his safety in God’s promised land.

But God did not abandon Isaac. Appearing at Beersheba, the Lord offered an encouraging word: “Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham” (v. 24). Later, animosity with Abimelek was exchanged for peace and further blessing. God’s covenant promise of blessing was not nullified by weak faith, and Isaac’s response was appropriate. He “built an altar there and called on the name of the LORD” (v. 25).

APPLY THE WORD

The contemporary song “Fear Not, For I Have Redeemed You (Isaiah 43),” by Esther Mui, puts to music God’s call in Isaiah 43:1 to put away fear in light of His faithful love. Listen to this song throughout your day as a meditative reminder that our fearful circumstances are nothing compared to God’s redeeming love and faithful promises in Christ.

 

http://www.todayintheword.org

Streams in the Desert for Kids – Water in a Pile

Joshua 3:13

The Jordan River was at flood stage. So did his people worry when God said, “Have the priests pick up the Ark of the Covenant and walk into the water”? Did the priests wonder if they could hold onto the Ark in the swirling water? Did they think they would be swept away and lose their lives? No matter, God told them what would happen when they did what he said. They had to have enough faith to put their feet in the water. And that’s when the miracle happened. Somewhere way up stream the waters were cut off and piled up. Even more miraculous, the ground in the river bed was dry. The priests walked to the middle of the river and stood there until all the people crossed over into the Promised Land.

When God is the architect, we are the workers, using our hands, our feet, our faith to help our heavenly Father. God directed the priests. Because they had bold faith, they followed directions. And God’s people passed safely, understanding his faithfulness and power.

As you carry your load, remember you have the living God with you. You are working for him. So be bold in your faith. Who knows what he will accomplish with it!

Dear Lord, I’m not sure what you can accomplish with me. But you are the master planner. Help me have enough faith to work for you through troubles. Amen