Charles Stanley – God’s Goal in Communicating

1 Corinthians 2:9-14

Whenever the Lord speaks to us, He gets straight to the point. He doesn’t dance around the issue, engage in idle chitchat, or talk just for the sake of talking. God always has something specific to say to us—and it is for our benefit. He says it precisely, and His message invariably speaks directly to our needs.

Therefore, if the Lord has something important to say, and if it is vital to a deep need in our life, then we must be clear in asking, What is God’s primary purpose in speaking to me? What does He want me to do as a result of what He has said?

First, God speaks so that we are able to comprehend the truth. That is, He wants us to fully understand His message and absorb it into our heart and mind.

Second, God speaks so that we may be conformed to the truth. Just knowing biblical principles is not enough; we must apply those guidelines to our circumstances and live out the life of faith.

Third, God speaks so that we can then communicate the truth. It is not enough simply to hear scriptural principles and then apply them to our own situation. Our Father wants us to share that life-changing information with others.

How can you better understand biblical truth? How can you more effectively apply God’s principles in your life? How can you best share them with others? The Lord holds us accountable for our answers. Open yourself to His message today, and then submit to whatever the Holy Spirit tells you.

Bible in a Year: Ecclesiastes 1-4

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — An Open Hand

Read: Acts 20:22–35 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 18–19; Acts 20:17–38

It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35

In 1891, Biddy Mason was laid to rest in an unmarked grave in Los Angeles. That wasn’t unusual for a woman born into slavery, but it was remarkable for someone as accomplished as Biddy. After winning her freedom in a court battle in 1856, she combined her nursing skills with wise business decisions to make a small fortune. As she observed the plight of immigrants and prisoners, she reached out to them, investing in charity so frequently that people began lining up at her house for help. In 1872, just sixteen years out of slavery, she and her son-in-law financed the founding of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles.

Biddy embodied the apostle Paul’s words: “I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35). Paul came from privilege, not slavery, yet he chose a life that would lead to his imprisonment and martyrdom so that he could serve Christ and others.

The open hand is blessed, for it gives in abundance even as it receives. -Biddy Mason

In 1988, benefactors unveiled a tombstone for Biddy Mason. In attendance were the mayor of Los Angeles and nearly 3,000 members of the little church that had begun in her home over a century earlier. Biddy once said, “The open hand is blessed, for it gives in abundance even as it receives.” The hand that gave so generously received a rich legacy.

Who in your life is struggling and could use a little help from you? How can you reach out to that person or family today?

The open hand is blessed, for it gives in abundance even as it receives. Biddy Mason

INSIGHT:

One of Paul’s longest recorded messages from his preaching ministry is found in Acts 20:17–35. His purpose was to share with the Ephesian church leadership what serving God from the heart involves. Paul’s message includes his example of service among them and his concern that false teachers might lead them astray.

 

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John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Answered Prayer

“And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22).

The answers to believers’ prayers bring assurance of salvation.

Another reliable way to know if you are a Christian is if God answers your prayers. The apostle John gives us the infallible reasoning for this statement. First, you can know your prayers will be answered if you keep His commandments (1 John 3:22). And second, John says the only way you can obey God’s commandments is if you belong to Him (v. 24). Therefore, an obedient believer proves He is abiding in Christ and receives further assurance when his prayers are answered.

However, the only prayers God answers are the ones prayed according to His will. If you are an obedient believer, you will fashion your prayers in line with what Scripture says about His will. The answered prayer that follows will bring you confidence and assurance (see 1 John 5:13-15).

Some believers miss out on that assurance because of their skimpy prayer life, which obviously results in few answered prayers. How sad for them, and how disappointing for God, because He would do so much more for those Christians if they would only ask Him.

What about you? Has it been a pattern of your life to experience answered prayer? Ask yourself questions like the following: Have you prayed for someone’s difficult situation and seen God turn it around to one of joy and blessing? Have you seen an unsaved person for whom you prayed come to Christ? Has God filled a void in your life after you prayed that He would? Have you ever prayed that God would help you in teaching His Word and then experienced much grace in presenting it with clarity? Have you prayed for boldness and power to proclaim the gospel and seen God work through you? Have you asked for contentment during a trial and received God’s peace? Have you known forgiveness and a clear conscience after you prayed to that end?

If you can answer yes to those questions or ones like them, you have good reason to believe that you belong to the Lord and He belongs to you.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord for His power through prayer and for the answers He’s granted you.

For Further Study

Read 1 Kings 17:1; 18:41-46.

  • What does the second passage reveal about Elijah’s prayer life?
  • How does that support James 5:16b-18?

 

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Wisdom Hunters – Resting Place 

God will speak to this people, to whom he said, “This is the resting place, let the weary rest”; and, “This is the place of repose”—but they would not listen. Isaiah 28:11b-12

Everyone needs a place to rest, a time to rejuvenate and restore your soul. A soul without rest is vulnerable to doubt, disease, and dread. Without soul care, you risk being ineffective for the long term. So, allow your soul to catch up with your activity through rest. A restless soul loses hope and perspective. Stop right now and take an audit of your soul. Is it strung out and anxious?

If so, rearrange your schedule for rest before it rearranges you. A non-restful pace is unsustainable, and a restful place is necessary to persevere. Do not fall for the false feeling that activity somehow equals progress or success. Without rest, you are going nowhere fast. If you intensify the pace, you are going nowhere, faster.

Rest allows you to recalibrate your priorities and replenish your cistern of creativity. Your work rhythms may require a day with no scheduled appointments. Indeed, each resting place looks different, depending on your need. For example, your resting place may be the quiet screened porch, where you relax with a cup of coffee and a good book. For someone else, a resting place may be a comfortable couch, where they nap to the steady beat of raindrops pelting the rooftop.

It can be the park where you walk with your best friend, a secluded drive in the countryside, or an adventurous exploration of the great Pacific Northwest. Whether your resting place is the beach, the mountains, or in front of a good movie, make time to engage with it. God speaks to you in your place of rest. This is one of His favorite spots to shape your soul.

Continue reading Wisdom Hunters – Resting Place 

Joyce Meyer – Go With the Flow

Brethren, for this reason, in [spite of all] our stress and crushing difficulties we have been filled with comfort and cheer about you [because of] your faith (the leaning of your whole personality on God in complete trust and confidence).—1 Thessalonians 3:7

Go with the flow, and stop being anxious about things that may never happen. If you really trust God, you don’t need a backup plan. Faith means that you have peace even when you 12 don’t have all the answers.

Life will always be stressful if you constantly try to rearrange it. For example, getting upset in a traffic jam doesn’t get you out of it any sooner. But planning for obstacles will inspire you to leave a little earlier for your appointments and keep you from hurrying. Grow in wisdom, and place high priority on keeping your peace in spite of any jams you get into today.

From the book Starting Your Day Right by Joyce Meyer

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Glory Will Be Ours

“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will give us later” (Romans 8:18).

In Sydney, Australia, a taxi driver to whom I witnessed became very angry.

“I was in World War II,” he exploded, “and I saw thousands of people die. I don’t want to have anything to do with a God who allows war.”

“Don’t blame God for war and the slaughter of millions of people,” I explained. “War is the result of man’s sin. Man does what he does because of his selfishness and pride. God does not desire that man should destroy men. God is not in favor of war. But sickness, death, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods are all a part of God’s judgement because of man’s sin, because of man’s disobedience to His commands.

The problem of suffering is a mysterious one, but for the Christian there is a good, logical answer. All creation waits patiently and hopefully for that future day when God will resurrect His children. On that day, thorns and thistles, sin and death and decay – the things that overcome the world will disappear at God’s command.

The world around us then will share in the glorious freedom from sin which God’s children enjoy. Even the things of nature, animals and plants which now suffer deterioration and death, await the coming of the time of this great glory.

We Christians – though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory – also groan to be released from pain, heartache, sorrow and suffering. We too wait anxiously for that day when God will give us full rights as His children, including the new bodies He has promised us – bodies that will never suffer again, and that will never die.

Bible Reading: Romans 8:24-27

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will rejoice in the certainty that glory is ahead for me as a believer, and as a result I am willing to joyfully endure whatever suffering comes my way. I will also encourage others in their times of sorrow to consider God’s love and plan for them, and will help them to understand the scriptural reason for man’s suffering.

 

http://www.cru.org

Ray Stedman – The Main Thing

Read: Acts 20:13-38

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. Acts 20:28

The primary responsibility of an elder or pastor is to teach the Scriptures, to feed the flock. If he is not doing that, he is failing in his job, miserably. It is the truth that changes people. If the Scriptures are not being taught then people are not being changed. They are struggling in their own futile ways and nothing is being accomplished. So the primary job of elders and pastors is to set the whole counsel of God before the people.

They are to begin with themselves, says the apostle, i.e., they are to obey the truth which they themselves learn. This is where their authority comes from. It is only as they are obedient to the truth which they teach that they have any right to say anything to anyone else. Even the Lord Jesus operated on that basis. He said to his disciples on one occasion, If I do not do the works of my Father, do not believe me… (John 10:37). That is, if what I am doing is not in exact accord with what I am saying, then don’t believe me!

Would you dare say that to your children? Or to your Sunday school class? Or to others who observe you as a Christian? If what I am doing is not in line with what I teach, then don’t believe me. I have no authority over you; I have no power over you. But if your actions are in accord with your teaching then power is inherent in that obedience.

So these pastors and elders are to begin with themselves, and to teach the Word. Their responsibility is to the Holy Spirit, not to the denomination, nor to the congregation. It is the Spirit who has set them in that office and has equipped them with gifts. He who reads the heart is judging their lives, so it does not make any difference what anybody else thinks. They are responsible to follow the Holy Spirit in what he has given them to do.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – The Main Thing

Kids 4 Truth International – God Is the Giver of Wisdom

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5)

Evan and Patience were best friends, oddly enough. They had only two things in common: They both loved being outdoors, and their moms were in the same women’s Bible study group. The other three ladies in the group did not have kids, so Evan and Patience had the church playground to themselves two Saturday mornings a month.

They were actually far too adventurous to stick just to the playground, and they were allowed to go anywhere, as long as they could still hear their moms call. So one morning, they started exploring the church graveyard. They knew that it was rude to walk right over the graves, so they walked through the aisles instead, squatting down every once in a while to read the name and dates on a tombstone.

And they walked along the fence, where there were some small trees. Evan was climbing one of these trees when he discovered a robin’s nest with three blue eggs in it! He looked around for the robin-eggs’ mom, but he didn’t see any birds at all.

“Look! There’s more!” cried Patience, pointing at a nearby tree.

“You thinking what I’m thinking?”

“We could collect some and take care of them until they hatch!”

Evan bunched up his jacket on the ground and they used that to hold their treasure. They climbed all the trees they could and plucked eggs from every nest they found. Altogether, there were 21.

When it was time to go home, they decided that Patience should keep the eggs because Evan’s family cat might want to eat the baby birds once they hatched.

“I just thought of something,” said Evan suddenly. “How will we keep them warm while we’re in school?”

Patience thought about it. “Maybe we should ask my mom to take care of them?”

Continue reading Kids 4 Truth International – God Is the Giver of Wisdom

The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Controllers

Today’s Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:21

“Test everything; hold fast what is good.”

“Controllers” are people who aren’t willing to let you live your life before God as you believe he’s leading you. They have all the issues buttoned down and have cast-iron opinions about all of them. These people only know black and white. There are no gray areas to them.

They insist you live your Christian life according to their rules and their opinions. If you insist on being free to live as God wants you to live, they will try to intimidate you and manipulate you one way or another. Their primary weapons are guilt trips, rejection, or gossip.

These people must be resisted. We must not allow them to subvert the freedom we have in Christ. Paul treated the legalism in the Galatian church as heresy, and he called down a curse on its perpetrators. I’m not prepared to go that far with our present-day legalists/controllers, but I want to tell you their actions are no incidental matter. Their presence in our evangelical ranks is much more than a minor irritant, like a fly buzzing around our heads. There are spiritual casualties all over our nation today because of the effects of legalistic controllers in their lives.

Controllers have been around a long time. More than three hundred years ago, the Puritan Samuel Bolton wrote these instructive words: “let us never surrender our judgments or our consciences to be at the disposal and opinions of others, and to be subjected to the sentences and determinations of men. It is my exhortation therefore to all Christians to maintain their Christian freedom by constant watchfulness. You must not be tempted or threatened out of it; you must not be bribed or frightened from it; you must not let either force or fraud rob you of it.”

 

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The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Leading by Objective

Today’s Scripture: 1 Timothy 1-3

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. – Philippians 3:12

Mention the great leaders of this century and Winston Churchill immediately comes to mind. During World War II, the people of England were blasted night after night by Nazi bomber planes. Yet Churchill was able to rally them to the cause of winning the war in spite of overwhelming odds.

You see, one thing a good leader does is help his people stay on target, so they give their lives for what really matters. That’s what the apostle Paul did in his relationship with churches, and with many individuals, especially Timothy, his son in the faith. Paul trained Timothy for a significant leadership role in the first-century church. In Paul’s first letter to Timothy, he gave him a clear picture of the goal: “The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5).

Paul reminded Timothy that when teachers wander from this central issue of love, their ministry soon degenerates into vain arguments and meaningless talk. His advice was to give no importance to those people who occupy themselves with useless speculations that promote controversies.

Paul’s instruction and modeling clearly has given all of us God’s standard for evaluating the direction and effectiveness of our lives. Christian, are you on target today? Are you growing in love, as Christ commanded?

Let’s make sure our lives are on target for Christ and that we love and lead others along the right way.

Prayer

Lord, help me to keep my focus on You and Your objectives detailed in the Word. Amen.

To Ponder

We can only help others hit the mark when we have taken correct aim ourselves.

 

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C.S. Lewis Daily – Today’s Reading

We begin to notice, besides our particular sinful acts, our sinfulness; begin to be alarmed not only about what we do, but about what we are. This may sound rather difficult, so I will try to make it clear from my own case. When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected; I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself. Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.

From Mere Christianity

Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis