Charles Stanley – The Pathway of Faith

Genesis 12

Faith is the foundation of our Christian life. Hebrews 11:1 gives us the biblical definition of this term: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

True belief is more than something we express verbally; it is a pathway you and I follow. Throughout life, our heavenly Father takes us on a journey, allowing us to experience a real relationship with Him as we face each circumstance. Today’s passage illustrates that God has a purpose for everything we encounter. The Lord promised Abraham descendants as numerous as the stars visible in the sky (Gen. 15:5). Then He directed His servant to obey several commands, such as moving from home. Abraham was not told the details of this plan but trusted God anyway.

We now know he was the father of the Jewish nation and his lineage included Jesus, the Savior of mankind. Though the patriarch didn’t obey perfectly, he did step forward in faith, trusting in God’s ultimate purpose.

We, too, can know with certainty that the Lord is weaving together a beautiful plan. He is not obligated to explain His reasoning or reveal every detail. Instead, God shows us what the next step will be (Ps. 119:105), and our job is to obey, even when it doesn’t make sense.

If you want to know what God is doing in your life, obey Him. Often, you won’t understand the intricacies of the plan, but you can trust the goodness of His heart. Rest assured that all He does is purposeful and for your benefit. So step forward in faith, and you will see His faithfulness.

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 36-39

 

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Our Daily Bread — The Price of Admission

Read: Romans 3:21–26 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 54–56; Romans 3

All are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:24

Every year some two million people from all over the world visit St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. It is well worth the admission fee to experience the magnificent structure designed and built by Sir Christopher Wren during the late 17th century. But tourism is secondary at this place of Christian worship. A primary mission of the cathedral is “to enable people in all their diversity to encounter the transforming presence of God in Jesus Christ.” If you want to tour the building and admire the architecture, you must pay an admission fee. But there is no charge to enter and attend any of the daily worship services at St. Paul’s.

How much does it cost to enter the kingdom of God? Entry is free because Jesus Christ paid the price for us by His death. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:23–24). When we acknowledge our spiritual need and accept by faith God’s forgiveness for our sins, we have a new and everlasting life in Him.

Jesus paid the price so we can enter God’s kingdom.

You can enter a new life today because, by His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead, Jesus has paid the price of admission!

You can invite Jesus into your life by praying something like this: Dear Jesus, I believe that You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I want to accept You as my Savior and follow You. Please forgive my sins and help me, from this moment on, to live a life that is pleasing to You.

Jesus paid the price so we can enter God’s kingdom.

INSIGHT:

What does it mean to “fall short of the glory of God”? (Rom. 3:23). The glory of God is the outward manifestation of God’s character, which, at the center, is holiness and love. In God’s plan of redemption, human beings are to share in this glory. Those who respond to Christ’s offer of salvation begin a process of reflecting God’s character (2 Cor. 3:18). In heaven multitudes will ascribe glory to God for His work of salvation (Rev. 19:1). In contrast, those who have rebelled against God have chosen a path that does not seek or reflect God’s holy love.

 

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John MacArthur – Strength for Today – The Blessings of Assurance

“For as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble” (2 Peter 1:10).

Assurance of salvation lets us enjoy earthly blessings.

It is encouraging that scriptural assurance results in specific, practical blessings in the Christian life. Here are six I’d like to share with you today.

Assurance makes you praise God. There is no way you can be filled with praise and gratitude to God if you’re not sure you’re saved.

Assurance adds joy to your earthly duties and trials. No matter what happens to you, you can be certain that all will work out well in the end. Difficulties are easier to handle when you know they’re temporary.

Assurance makes you zealous in obedience and service. If you’re doubtful about your salvation, you will be apathetic and discouraged. But if you’re sure, you will be hard-working and encouraged in serving the Lord.

Assurance gives you victory in temptation. When you are confident about your salvation, you can overcome the strongest temptation (see 1 Cor. 10:13). Even if you stumble occasionally, you will know that those events have not changed your standing before God. But you will be depressed and discouraged by temptation if you have no assurance. You’ll doubt your ability to cope with temptations and will wonder if falling victim to one or two will send you to Hell.

Continue reading John MacArthur – Strength for Today – The Blessings of Assurance

Wisdom Hunters – Drastic Measures 

We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. Acts 27:18-19

Some situations call for drastic measures, such that you cannot continue as usual or you will miss an opportunity to make major adjustments. Figuratively speaking, your boat needs to be lightened for you to stay afloat. This may apply to finances. Because of your increase in debt and your decrease in income, your spending must be drastically curtailed. Your lifestyle cannot continue to rise on the back of credit cards and equity lines. This straw house of credit will collapse one day under the weight of one small crisis. One misstep can cause everything to quickly tumble down.

God’s best is not for you to live on the verge of financial frustration and failure. Start now and pay down debt while you can. Your next job may not be as financially friendly. Prepare today for tomorrow’s turmoil. It is not a question of if things can go wrong, but when things will go wrong. Adversity has a way of revealing bad habits. Success can mask mistakes but failures bring them  front and center. Don’t risk your relational wellbeing for the sake of stuff. “Simple” equals “Freedom,” but “Complex” can be “Bondage.” Maybe you need to lower your stress by lessening your commitments.

Each season of life calls for re-evaluation of what’s needed. The needs of an empty nest marriage are much different than when the children scurried all through the house. This is especially difficult for a wife who has drawn emotional strength and security from the love of the children. She feels insecure and less significant when the kids are no longer under the roof, waiting to be mothered. Yes, she needs the love of her heavenly Father, but she desperately needs the love of her earthly husband. It is during this season of major transition in motherhood that a wise husband loves more. It may mean taking drastic measures in how you love your wife. She needs your love in ways that she defines as love. It probably means more communication, sensitivity, and service. Do not let her frustrations and anger make you defensive or cause you to shut down. She wants to connect. She is longing for love that only you can give.

Continue reading Wisdom Hunters – Drastic Measures 

Joyce Meyer – Kingdom Living

[After all] the kingdom of God is not a matter of [getting the] food and drink [one likes], but instead it is righteousness (that state which makes a person acceptable to God) and [heart] peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. —Romans 14:17

God’s kingdom is made up of things far greater and more beneficial than worldly possessions. God does bless us with material possessions, but the kingdom is much more than that: It is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Righteousness is not the result of what we do, but rather what Jesus has done for us (see 1 Corinthians 1:30). He takes our sin and gives us His righteousness (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). When we accept this truth by faith and receive it personally, we are free to live and enjoy the life Jesus died to give us.

Peace is so wonderful—it is definitely kingdom living. This is why we pursue peace, crave it, and go after it (see Psalm 34:14; 1 Peter 3:11). The closer we get to God, the more we understand that Jesus is our peace (see Ephesians 2:14). God’s will for you and me is to enjoy His peace that goes beyond understanding (see Philippians 4:7).

Joy can be anything from calm delight to extreme hilarity. Joy improves our countenance, our health, and the quality of our lives. It strengthens our witness to others and gives us a godly perspective on life (see Nehemiah 8:10).

It is clear in the Word of God: Seek God and His kingdom, and He will take care of everything else (see Matthew 6:33).

There is no better life than life in the kingdom of God.

From the book Closer to God Each Day by Joyce Meyer.

 

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Ray Stedman – The End of the Beginning

Read: Acts 28:30-31

For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ — with all boldness and without hindrance! Acts 28:30-31

This is what I like to call the end of the beginning. The book of Acts is just the beginning of the record of the operation of the body of Christ at work in the world since his resurrection and ascension. It is just the first chapter. We have come now to the last page of that chapter. The rest of the record is being written as history is being unfolded. Fresh and wonderful chapters are now being written in our own day, ultimately to be incorporated into this account. It is a tremendous privilege and joy to be a part of this divine record.

One of the most impressive things about this last section is the two last words. Do you notice how the book of Acts ends? With the word without hindrance. That describes the freedom of the gospel. Paul was hindered; still chained day and night to a Roman guard. But he could welcome friends in. He could walk around his house and yard, and he could minister and teach there. Paul never chafed under this restraint. His letters from this period are filled with joy and rejoicing. He never fretted about his condition, but he welcomed all who came and he sent letters back with them. It was during this time that he wrote Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, and the letter to Philemon. What tremendous truths are set forth in these letters which he had time to write because he could no longer travel abroad.

You and I can be grateful that God kept him still long enough to write them; otherwise we might have been deprived of these great messages which have changed history. Still, Paul had to appear before the emperor. In the next year or so, a great persecution broke out under the vicious Emperor Nero which was one of the greatest that Christians have ever experienced. But the Word was not hindered. No matter what the condition of the church, the Word of God is never bound.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – The End of the Beginning

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Crossroads

Read: Ephesians 3:1-21

I pray that you [may be] rooted and established in [Christ’s] love. (v. 7 NIV)

The central figure in this story is God. Jonah is fascinating (“villains” often are), but not nearly as interesting as the character of God revealed in his interactions with Jonah. The big fish interests people of all ages (like all monsters and miracles), but its role isn’t as astounding as what God does. Nineveh was important in the ancient world (this story highlights that history), but God’s plan of salvation for time and eternity (illustrated by Jonah) transcends an earthly empire.

Jonah struggles to overcome personal prejudices and preconceived ideas about God and the world. He runs on anger more than truth. He fails to grasp the centrality of God’s mission to the purpose of his life. He recognizes sin in others but not in himself. He fails to appreciate how God is able to bring perfect love and justice together, and what that means for his personal guilt, grace, and gratitude. We need to learn from Jonah. It doesn’t matter if we ever see a monster fish, but it matters terribly if we don’t apply the lessons of this book.

Did Jonah finally get it? Did he become a prophet majoring in God’s love, grace, and good news? Or did he stay an angry, bitter man, outside God’s mission looking in? The story doesn’t tell us, because the real point isn’t Jonah’s final response, but yours and mine.

Prayer:

Lord, I know Jonah’s struggles all too well. Open my mind to your Word and my heart to your mission in the world. Amen.

Author: Doug VanBronkhorst

 

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Kids 4 Truth International – God Answers Prayers

“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” (Jeremiah 33:3)

Kelly was in second grade. Her parents were teachers in a Christian school. They lived a happy life, serving God in their church and school. But all the sudden, something happened that changed their lives forever: doctors found a deadly tumor at the base of Kelly’s brain.

The students in Kelly’s school, people at her church, family members, and many others who heard about Kelly prayed for her. She had surgery, but the surgeon was unable to remove the entire tumor. She was a good girl with a bright smile and cheerful attitude through all the doctor visits, hospital stays, and extra attention she got from everyone. The family took a dream vacation so that they could have some wonderful memories with Kelly before she died. Would God answer many people’s prayers that Kelly would be healed, even when the doctors said it was hopeless?

Kelly’s parents showed awesome trust and dependence upon God, but doctors did not expect for her to live very long. Surgery and medication could not get rid of all of the tumor, and there was nothing else the doctors could do! But God stepped in and miraculously healed Kelly. Her health continued to improve, and years later, she is still doing well and is serving the Lord in full-time Christian ministry. She has been cancer-free for years.

God delights in answering our prayers, but He does not always answer them immediately or in the way we think they should be answered. In Kelly’s case, God chose to answer people’s prayers in the way they wanted Him to. Sometimes, God says “yes” to us; sometimes he says “no”; sometimes he says “wait.” We can always trust Him to choose the answer that will give Him the most glory and be best for us.

God answers prayer in different ways, but He always answers in a way that shows His power and His goodness.

My Response:

» Do I trust God to answer my prayers?

» What prayers has God answered for me lately?

 

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The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Two Are Better Than One

Today’s Scripture: Proverbs 27:17

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”

Because mortifying sins is difficult, we need the help of one or two friends to engage in the struggle with us. These friends should be believers who share our commitment to pursuing holiness and who are also willing to be mutually open with us about their own struggles. This principle is well expressed in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”

In the battle of putting sin to death, we need the mutual support of one another. In the New Testament we’re taught to admonish one another (Colossians 3:16), encourage one another (Hebrews 3:13), confess our sins to one another (James 5:16), bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), and pray for one another (James 5:16).

Although this principle applies to every aspect of the Christian life, it’s particularly helpful in the pursuit of holiness. We need at least one other person of like heart to pray with us, encourage us, and if necessary, admonish us. This person must be someone who’s also personally involved in the struggle to mortify sin, so that he or she can enter into our struggles and not be scandalized by the nature of our deepest sins. It’s said that the Puritans used to ask God for one “bosom friend” with whom they could share absolutely everything. This is the type of friend we should also pray for and seek out to help us in our struggle to mortify sin in our lives. Remember, however, it’s a mutual effort. Each one should be committed to both helping and receiving help.

 

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The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Listening to the Word

Today’s Scripture: Acts 2:42

But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does. – James 1:25

Think about the last airplane flight you took. When it came time for the flight attendant to impart the vital information about oxygen masks, exit doors, and the workings of your seat belt, how closely did you or your fellow travelers pay attention? Most people were probably knitting, reading, chatting–anything but listening to the attendant.

I’m usually just as lackadaisical, but there was one particular flight in which I hung on the flight attendant’s every word. I was flying from Bogota, Colombia, over the high, rugged peaks of the Andes Mountains, to Loma Linda, the Wycliffe Bible Translators jungle base. The airplane had gone into service in the 1930s and was not equipped with an automatic oxygen system for high altitude, so all of us on board were instructed in the use of the emergency oxygen system that might keep us alive. I not only listened and paid attention, I asked the steward questions to make sure I had it right.

In many ways, going to church on Sunday morning is like an airplane ride. You’ve heard it all before. You’ve sung the hymns a hundred times; the sermon topic is familiar. So your mind drifts, and you don’t really listen to the vital information passed along by the minister of Christ, the steward of the mysteries of God. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Ask God to give you the spirit of our early ancestors in the faith, who devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. Ask the Lord to give you the same hunger God’s people exemplified when they gathered together to hear the Word of God expounded and hung on to every word. Be one of those who truly hears the Word.

Prayer

Lord, only You have the words of life. As I sit in church this Sunday, give me a passion for what I hear, and keep me from taking Your truth for granted. Amen.

To Ponder

“The words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times” (Psalm 12:6).

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – FORGIVENESS: THE FINAL CALL

Read GENESIS 49:29–50:26

“Revenge is a dish best served cold!” Historians debate the origins of this quote, but the sentiment is unmistakable: rather than take vengeance while an insult is still fresh, better to wait so that the offending party does not see your revenge coming.

Jacob had died. Per his father’s last request, Joseph and his brothers returned to Canaan with “a very large company” (50:9) to bury him in the cave of his forefathers. Once they all returned to Egypt, however, the brothers’ fears about Joseph’s true intentions emerged. Perhaps Joseph had delayed vengeance only to serve it up now.

They concocted a story about Jacob’s dying wish was to have Joseph forgive his brothers. They threw themselves before Joseph, confessing their crime against him, and pledging themselves to Joseph as his slaves. Four times they mentioned their “sins” and “wrongs” committed against Joseph (vv. 15–17). They were repentant, but also worried about revenge.

But Joseph displayed no grudge at all. Upon hearing their plea, he wept and then spoke words of kindness and wisdom: “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good” (50:19–20). Following those words, Joseph pledged to provide for his brothers and their families. His deep sense of God’s providential goodness (even in harmful circumstances) led Joseph to exercise similar goodness and reconciliation with his brothers.

This was Joseph’s calling—to turn evil into a blessing for others. His only request in these last verses of Genesis is to have his bones returned to Canaan, knowing that God would one day return His people to the land of promise.

APPLY THE WORD

As we close our study of Genesis, we see how understanding God’s providence can lead to proper reconciliation. Where is God calling you to forgive and reconcile with someone who has harmed you? Ask God for the wisdom to see His hand in all things, and the grace to grant true forgiveness to that person in your life.

 

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