Charles Stanley – Responding to Hardship

1 Peter 4:12-19

When you face a trial, what is your first response? You probably would like to run away as quickly as possible to escape it. Though this is a normal feeling, God has a different way.

It is not the trials in your life that develop or destroy you, but rather your response to those hardships. How, then, should we react when difficulties feel overwhelming?

First, trust God. Believe His Word and reflect on ways He has been faithful in the past. He assures us that He limits our trials and enables us to endure.

Second, persevere. Even when we don’t understand and the suffering seems too great to bear, we should never quit. Continue seeking the Lord through His Word and prayer. Cling to hope in Christ, and praise Him in the midst of the pain.

Third, remember that our sovereign God is in control. He’s allowing this adversity for a reason and will demonstrate His sustaining power through it. Even though the pain might feel intolerable, the Lord will always prosper His children. Scripture compares our growth to gold, which is refined through fire (1 Peter 1:7). Often, I hear believers reflect on a difficult time and admit that despite the intense hurt, they wouldn’t change the situation. They see the beauty God created through the struggle and realize its value.

We will encounter difficulties—sometimes intense and painful trials that seem too much for us. Yet we can rely on our heavenly Father to deliver and grow us in ways we could never imagine. He doesn’t demand that we endure on our own, but He does want us to respond and trust Him.

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 4-7

 

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Free from Fear

Read: Psalm 34:1–10 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 33–34; Acts 24

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4

Fear sneaks into my heart without permission. It paints a picture of helplessness and hopelessness. It steals my peace and my concentration. What am I fearful about? I’m concerned about the safety of my family or the health of loved ones. I panic at the loss of a job or a broken relationship. Fear turns my focus inward and reveals a heart that sometimes finds it hard to trust.

When these fears and worries strike, how good it is to read David’s prayer in Psalm 34: “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears” (v. 4). And how does God deliver us from our fears? When we “look to him” (v. 5), when we focus on Him, our fears fade; we trust Him to be in control. Then David mentions a different type of fear—not a fear that paralyzes, but a deep respect and awe of the One who surrounds us and delivers us (v. 7). We can take refuge in Him because He is good (v. 8).

Ask God to free you from your fears.

This awe of His goodness helps put our fears into perspective. When we remember who God is and how much He loves us, we can relax into His peace. “Those who fear him lack nothing” (v. 9), concludes David. How wonderful to discover that in the fear of the Lord we can be delivered from our fears.

Lord, I’m aware of my worries and fears, and I place them in Your hands. Give me peace as I face the day.

Ask God to free you from your fears.

INSIGHT:

In the Old Testament, references to the nature of life after death are obscure. Therefore, the Israelites often struggled to reconcile the injustices of life, since they believed what happened beyond the grave was uncertain. Another belief that influenced Jewish thinking about the afterlife was the principle of retribution that taught God blessed the righteous and judged the wicked—but only in this life. Three psalms focus on this concept. Psalm 34 explains the basic principle. Psalm 37 offers counsel to one who suffers without understanding. And in Psalm 73, the psalmist himself wrestles with the problem of injustice but sees an eternal solution.

 

http://www.odb.org

John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Knowledge

“. . . in your moral excellence, knowledge” (2 Peter 1:5).

Moral excellence cannot develop in an intellectual vacuum.

It’s a frightening thing to realize the extent to which our culture downplays knowledge in favor of emotions. These days people are more likely to ask, “How will it make me feel?” instead of, “Is it true?” Sadly, the church has bought into the spirit of the age. Many people go to church, not to learn the truths of God’s Word, but to get an emotional high. The focus of theological discussion also reflects the contemporary hostility to knowledge. To a shocking extent, truth is no longer the issue; the questions being asked today are, “Will it divide?” or “Will it offend?” To ask if a theological position is biblically correct is considered unloving, and those who take a stand for historic Christian truth are labeled as divisive.

But knowledge is inseparable from moral excellence and Christian growth. It should be obvious that people can’t put into practice truths they don’t know; we must first understand the principles of God’s Word before we can live them out.

Peter knew well the importance of knowledge in developing a stable Christian walk and the assurance of salvation that accompanies it. Therefore, he urged his readers to add knowledge to their moral excellence. Gnosis (“knowledge”) refers to insight, discernment, and proper understanding of truth. Lacking such knowledge, believers become “children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14). The resulting turmoil is not conducive to spiritual growth or the development of a settled assurance of salvation.

The Bible commends child-like (i.e., trusting, humble) faith, but not childish faith. Paul exhorted the Corinthians, “Brethren, do not be children in your thinking . . . in your thinking be mature” (1 Cor. 14:20). “So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord,” urged Hosea. When we do so, “He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth” (Hos. 6:3).

Continue reading John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Knowledge

Wisdom Hunters – Secret to Success 

He [Uzziah] sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the LORD, God gave him success. 2 Chronicles 26:5

It should come as no surprise that success, as God defines it, comes from seeking Him. For the follower of Jesus, doing the will of God is the highest degree of success. As you follow God’s will, you are successful. Success is not something waiting for you sometime in the future. You have already achieved success if you are walking in step with your heavenly Father. If you’re not in step with Him, you may have an outward shell of success, but inwardly and relationally you are a failure. Seeking God is a volitional and relational act. It is consciously and regularly seeking to understand your Creator. Seeking God is to know Him. Seeking God is to love Him.

Seeking God is to praise and worship Him. Seeking God is confessing and crying out to Him. It is enjoying the comfort of your heavenly Father. It is practicing the presence of Christ in you. You seek God at church, at home, at work, and with your friends. There is no place where He is not sought, other than in hell itself. What a privilege and perk for Jesus’ people, anytime, anywhere, and for any reason, to be able to seek God. Therefore, seek Him just as aggressively during the calm as you do in the chaos. Jesus doesn’t want to just be your crisis manager; He wants to be your Lord, who leads you into wise living.

The Bible says, “…seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29).

You cannot seek God in isolation. This involves the counsel and advice of those much wiser—godly and mature believers in Christ.  Seeking God involves validation from the wise. In danger is the man or woman who attempts to seek God without submitting to godly teaching, mentoring, and discipling from gifted leaders of the faith. You learn to fear God from those who fear God; you learn to love God from those who love God; you learn to forgive from those who forgive; you learn to pray from those who pray; you learn to serve from those who serve. Seeking God comes from seeking the godly. Avoid hero worship. No one except Christ deserves this level of admiration. A wise way to understand God is to understand the godly.

Continue reading Wisdom Hunters – Secret to Success 

Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Summer Getaways—Starry Nights

He made the stars also.

Genesis 1:16

According to National Geographic, the most mind-boggling thing we can do is gaze into the starry night. On a clear night we might see 3,000 stars with the naked eye, but no one knows how many stars exist. Our universe probably contains more than 100 billion galaxies, and each galaxy may have more than 100 billion stars. What is 100 billion times 100 billion? We don’t really have a word for a number that large. We simply say ten billion trillion.1

Recommended Reading: Psalm 8

The Bible frequently tells us to stargaze. The Lord told Abraham, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them” (Genesis 15:5). He told Job, “See the highest stars, how lofty they are!” (Job 22:12) The psalmist praised God when he considered the moon and the stars, which God ordained (Psalm 8:3).

It’s harder than ever now to see the stars—we have too much light in our cities. But sometime during this summer, find a dark place, look up, count the stars, and praise the God who created them and who calls each of them by name (Isaiah 40:26).

I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, / Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Stuart Hine

Read-Thru-the-Bible: Isaiah 32 – 37

 

http://www.davidjeremiah.org/

Joyce Meyer – Need Some Help?

Behold, God is my helper and ally; the Lord is my upholder and is with them who uphold my life.—Psalm 54:4

There are many people who have received Jesus as their Savior and Lord who will live their Christian lives and go to heaven without ever drawing on the power of the Holy Spirit available to them, never experiencing the true success God intends for them. People can be on their way to heaven, yet not enjoying the trip.

We often look at people who have wealth, position, power, fame, and consider them to be totally successful. But many people who are viewed as successful still lack good relationships, peace, joy, contentment, and other true blessings that are available only in the context of a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Self-sufficient people often think it is a sign of weakness to depend on God. But by drawing on the ability of the Holy Spirit, they could accomplish more in their lives than they could by working in their own strength.

There are countless things we struggle with when we could be receiving help from the Holy Spirit. Many people never find the right answers to their problems because they seek out the wrong sources for advice and counsel instead of asking the Divine Counselor who lives within them for guidance.

I encourage you to lean on God for everything, and that means little things as well as big things.

Love God Today: The only way to experience the success God intends for you is to become totally dependent on the Holy Spirit.

From the book Love Out Loud by Joyce Meyer

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – We are His Friends

“And since, when we were his enemies, we were brought back to God by the death of His Son, what a blessing He must have for us now that we are His friends, and He is living within us!” (Romans 5:10).

Marilyn had a very poor self-image. She hated the way she looked and felt that her personality was so bad that she could never expect to have true friends. She was concerned especially about marriage. How could she ever find a man to love her since she was so unattractive (in her thinking).

I was able to help her see how much God loved her, and how great was His blessing for her as a child of God. The supernatural life-style was available to her, and she was the one to determine whether or not she would measure up, as an act of the will by faith, to what God had called and enabled her to be. Her part was simply to trust and obey Him.

With God’s help, she determined to be that kind of person, the kind of person God created her to be.

We who are Christians can see ourselves as God sees us and through the enabling of the Holy Spirit become what we are in His sight. With the eyes of love, He sees us covered with the blood of Christ, which was shed on the cross for our sins, and, as expressed in Hebrews 10, He sees us as holy, righteous and totally forgiven. He holds nothing against us. The penalty for our sins has been paid – once and for all. There is nothing which we can add.

Now we have the privilege of becoming in our experience what we are already in God’s sight.

Bible Reading: Romans 5:11-15

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, I will begin to see myself as God sees me: loved, forgiven, holy, righteous, spiritually mature, aggressive and fruitful for the glory of God. Today I will live by faith the supernatural life which is my heritage in Christ.

 

http://www.cru.org

Ray Stedman – Restoration!

Read: Acts 23:6-35

The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome. Acts 23:11

Literally, what the Lord Jesus says as he appears to Paul is, Be of good cheer. Cheer up, Paul. That is certainly a revelation of the state of Paul’s heart at this time. He is anything but of good cheer. He is defeated and discouraged, wallowing in an awful sense of shame and failure, but he is not abandoned. Isn’t it wonderful that the Lord comes now to restore him to his ministry?

I am sure that Luke does not give us the full account of what transpired between Paul and his Lord on that night. But there is enough here that we can see what our Lord is after. He restores Paul to usefulness. He promises Paul success in the desire of his heart, which was second only to his desire to win his kinsmen, i.e., that he might bear witness for Christ at the heart of the empire, the capital of the Gentile world itself. You remember that Paul had announced that, after he went to Jerusalem, he must go to Rome. And his prayer as he wrote to the Roman Christians was that he might be allowed to come to them. The Lord Jesus now gives that back to him.

And yet the very form which he employs contains a hint of the limitation which Paul had made necessary when he disobeyed the Spirit of God. The Lord Jesus puts it this way: As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also in Rome. In other words, the emphasis here is upon the manner in which this witness will go forth. In the way that you bore witness to me in Jerusalem, in that same way you must bear witness in Rome. And how had he testified in Jerusalem? It was as a prisoner — chained, bound, limited.

This encounter with the Lord Jesus must have been a wonderful moment in Paul’s experience. The Lord restored him to spiritual health, as he often must do with us. Have you ever been in this circumstance? Have you ever disobeyed God, knowing that you shouldn’t have but wanting something so badly that you’ve gone ahead anyway? How wonderful to have the Lord ready to restore us. I have been there too, so I know how God can tenderly deal with us and bring us back to a place of being yielded.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – Restoration!

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Jonah: Reluctant, Very Reluctant, Missionary

Read: Jonah 3:1-3, Matthew 28:16-20

I don’t know where I am, but I can feel the bottom . . . and see the shore! I’m not walking too well, but I’ll make it. That sun feels so good. But, Lord, now what?

I don’t know where I am, but I can feel the bottom . . . and see the shore! I’m not walking too well, but I’ll make it. That sun feels so good. But, Lord, now what?

Yes, I’ll go to Nineveh. It’s a long walk. It’ll be suicide to preach there, but I’m out of options. I know I can’t run from God, plus I don’t want to see the inside of that fish again! So I’ll go, and say what I’m supposed to say. It’s a big city, but I can cover it in three days. Those wicked people won’t get any encouragement from me, nor any enthusiasm or extra effort, either. What does it matter? They’re Israel’s enemy! They’ll probably kill me on sight. Is that the Lord’s plan? Well, what-ever happens, Nineveh will be destroyed. At least I can enjoy telling them that.

God, I do not understand what you are doing. Have I not been zealous for your law? These people represent everything contrary to it. Have I not hated your enemies? Nineveh does not belong to your covenant; they are not your people. I am here, I have your message, but why, God? I don’t understand. I should be with Israel, not these idol worshippers.

Prayer:

Lord, help me to believe I am blessed to be a blessing to others, and that your salvation is for all people. May I always be willing to joyfully obey your command to tell others this good news. Amen.

Author: Doug VanBronkhorst

 

https://woh.org/

Greg Laurie – A Lesson on Giving God the Glory from Billy Graham

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. —Colossians 3:17

Years ago I had the privilege to be with Billy Graham at a crusade he was doing in Portland, Oregon. It was an amazing crusade, with an almost revival-like atmosphere in that very liberal city.

I remember one night in particular, when God seemed to really bless Billy’s message, with many people coming to Christ. We left the stadium together in a car, with Billy’s longtime friend T. W. Wilson driving, while I rode shotgun. Billy and his son Franklin were in the back seat.

As we were pulling out of the parking lot, I leaned over the back seat and said, “That was a great message tonight, Billy.”

Billy looked at me with those steely blue eyes and said, “It’s just gospel.”

I turned back around, feeling a little awkward. I was just trying to be friendly. I remember thinking to myself, That didn’t go very well. I will say something else. Turning back around again I said, “Billy, I love the point when you said Christ will re-sensitize your conscience. That was a great point.”

Again, Billy looked at me and said, “Well, He can.”

I didn’t turn around again on the ride back to the hotel! What I learned that night was that you couldn’t pin a compliment on Billy Graham. It was like water off a duck’s back, and he really didn’t want to hear it. His attitude was, “I just did my job. I’m a delivery boy, and I gave the message. Now the results are in the hands of God.”

As God’s spokespeople, we don’t take the credit and we don’t take the blame. We just deliver the goods.

 

https://www.harvest.org/

Kids 4 Truth International – God Satisfies People

“As the hart [deer] panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God.” (Psalm 42:1, 2)

When you’ve been playing outside on a hot day, what’s the first thing you want when you come in the house? You want a glass of ice water! You grab the biggest glass you can find and fill it with ice cubes. Then you turn on the faucet, let the water fill your glass to the brim, and drink. You drink until you feel satisfied. You drink until your thirst has been quenched.

Did you know that you have a greater thirst than the thirst you feel on a hot day? You have a thirst only God can satisfy. David talked about that kind of thirst. He wrote in Psalm 42 that his heart thirsted for God the way that a deer thirsts for a drink from a water brook. It was not David’s body that was thirsty; it was his soul. And God tells us that the only One Who could really satisfy that kind of thirst is Himself. God “satisfieth the longing soul,” Psalm 107 says. He “filleth the hungry soul with goodness.”

God created us to be satisfied by God. But when Adam and the rest of our ancestors sinned against God, they started trying to be satisfied with things other than God. We see so many things that we think will make us feel satisfied. We think that toys or video games or vacations or cool friends will satisfy us. But when we get what we want, we just want more – or we decide we want something else. Our hearts are never truly satisfied by the earthly things we have.

But we do not have to stay unsatisfied. God says that He will satisfy us. He will give us joy. He will give us peace. He will give us contentment. He will meet every need. In Psalm 145, He says “He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.” Only God can quench the thirst our souls feel; only He can fulfill our longing for salvation. And He wants to do that! In fact, when Jesus was on earth, He offered living water to every thirsty soul. Here are Jesus’ words to you: “Whosoever drinketh of this [earthly] water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4: 13-14).

Continue reading Kids 4 Truth International – God Satisfies People

The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – With No Uncertainty

Today’s Scripture: 2 Peter 1:10

“Be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure.”

Life is filled with uncertainties, some major, some minor. But whether the issue is significant or trivial—waiting for the results of a cancer biopsy or wondering if you’ll make your connecting flight—no one likes uncertainty.

“How may we attain a right relationship with God?” is the most important question we can ever ask. That being true, it follows that uncertainty over whether that relationship is real has to be the greatest uncertainty of all. If a cancer biopsy rates an eight or nine on our stress scale, this question has to be off the chart.

God, however, doesn’t want us to be uncertain about it. As the apostle John said, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). God wants us to know we have eternal life. To some people the claim to know such a thing sounds presumptuous and arrogant. But if God wants us to know it, we’re only laying hold of what pleases him when we affirm our assurance of eternal life.

How then can I know that I have eternal life—that I’ve indeed come into a right relationship with God? The Scriptures show us three means by which God assures us that we do have eternal life: (1) the promises of his Word, (2) the witness of the Spirit in our hearts, and (3) the transforming work of the Spirit in our lives.

The unsearchable riches of Christ are a treasure trove of blessings given to us. Part of that treasure is the assurance God gives that we do have eternal life. Don’t stop short of availing yourself of his riches until you have that assurance.

 

https://www.navigators.org/Home

The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – An Unlikely Prospect

Today’s Scripture: Acts 8:29-35

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. – Colossians 4:2-4

When I stepped out in the backyard, there was this big, tough, mean-looking guy working on his motorcycle. We were in Auckland, New Zealand, and he was something equivalent of a Hell’s Angel in the United States. I walked over to him and said, “What’s wrong with your bike?”

“I dunno. I think the people down at the garage ruined it. I took it in to get it tuned up, but now it won’t even start.”

He asked what I was doing in New Zealand. I told him I was with a Christian group called The Navigators, and I was helping people grow in their knowledge of the Bible. “For instance,” I said, “do you know much about the Bible?”

“No,” he said, “but I’ve always wondered what it was all about.”

“I’ll mention that to the group that lives next door, and maybe one of them can sit down with you and help you get into a study of the Scriptures.”

“Man,” he said, “I’d like that.”

Continue reading The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – An Unlikely Prospect

Streams in the Desert for Kids – In the Storms

Matthew 14:24

This wasn’t the first storm the disciples had been in. Jesus had stopped the wind and the waves before with just his word. But this time Jesus wasn’t with them. The disciples were struggling alone.

And then Jesus came. Walking on water he said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

He says the same thing to us today when we are struggling during emotional storms of life. Jesus isn’t our security against the storms, commanding every cloud to go away. He is our security in them. It is when we are struggling that his comfort is the sweetest.

When Jesus climbed in the boat, the wind died down. He came alongside his disciples and they worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Dear Lord, Thank you for your sweet comfort in hard times. Thank you for the security of Jesus. Come close. Amen.