Charles Stanley – Foundations for the Christian Life

Joshua 1:1-9

I learned a valuable lesson the night before I preached my first sermon. My mother shared a verse that God laid on her heart for me: Joshua 1:9. I memorized that scripture about courage just as fast as I could, because I was scared! Later, I read the whole passage and realized that strength and courage are tied to concentrating on God’s Word. For this reason, a personal time of meditation with God should be a priority in our life.

When we are in daily communion with our Lord, we can more easily accept that He is in absolute control of everything facing us. Whether we are pummeled by adversity or overwhelmed with joy, God has our circumstances well in hand. Spending regular time with the Father allows us to bring Him all of our concerns and feelings. Then He can rejoice with us or cradle us according to our need.

Praying through Scripture and asking God to speak to our heart about what we read is our privilege as Christians. When we’re quiet before the Lord, we have the opportunity to receive His guidance and power for navigating our circumstances. Consequently, God restores our weary soul and renews us for another day.

I personally believe that every morning when we roll out of bed, we should spend a little time on our knees. We ought to entrust each day to our heavenly Father, going over our schedule and committing the time to Him. The morning is like the rudder of our day—how we begin steers our course throughout. Are you ready to let God be your captain?

Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 23-25

Our Daily Bread — Good Imitation

Read: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

Bible in a Year: Psalms 140-142; 1 Corinthians 14:1-20

You became imitators of us and of the Lord.—1 Thessalonians 1:6

“Today we’re going to play a game called Imitation,” our children’s minister told the kids gathered around him for the children’s sermon. “I’ll name something and you act out what it does. Ready? Chicken!” The kids flapped their arms, cackled, and crowed. Next it was elephant, then football player, and then ballerina. The last one was Jesus. While many of the children hesitated, one six-year-old with a big smile on his face immediately threw his arms wide open in welcome. The congregation applauded.

How easily we forget that our calling is to be like Jesus in the everyday situations of life. “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:1–2).

The apostle Paul commended the followers of Jesus in Thessalonica for the outward demonstration of their faith in difficult circumstances. “You became imitators of us and of the Lord,” Paul wrote. “And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia” (1 Thess. 1:6–7).

It is the life of Jesus in us that encourages and enables us to walk through this world as He did—with the good news of God’s love and with arms open wide in welcome to all. —David McCasland

Lord Jesus, may Your words of invitation and welcome, “Come to Me,” be lived out through our lives today.

Jesus’s arms of welcome are always open.

INSIGHT: The church at Thessalonica was comprised of Gentiles who had been caught up in pagan idolatry before they came to faith in Christ. They were zealous in their witness and extended the gospel of Christ to neighboring regions. Paul applauds these believers for their lives of committed discipleship and effective witness to others: “You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath” (1 Thess. 1:9-10). This congregation exemplified what it means to follow Christ.

John MacArthur – Strength for Today – The Spirit of Transformation

“But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The Holy Spirit’s transforming work is a central part of the believer’s sanctification.

The children’s fable The Ugly Duckling wonderfully illustrates the Holy Spirit’s transforming work in believers. The story is about an ugly young bird who can’t fit in with any of the other animals. It’s not until he encounters the beautiful swans that his life starts changing. The swans are an irresistible attraction for the duckling, something he can’t forget after they leave for the winter. Finally he makes the amazing discovery the following spring that in spite of his feelings of inferiority, he is not a duck but a swan, just like those creatures he has admired.

The days immediately following our conversion to Christ are often similar to the ugly duckling’s final experiences. We have a great sense of sinful unworthiness and yet a powerful attraction to Jesus Christ. We respond that way because we now know that character-wise He represents all we were created to be. And we soon come to realize that it’s both a humbling and exciting process to be transformed into Christ’s image.

Today’s Scripture, my favorite verse, is an excellent short description of the Spirit’s transforming work. We won’t see the glory of the Lord perfectly right away, but we begin to see it with greater clarity once we know Jesus Christ by faith.

Paul is referring to our basic sanctification, which is a progressive process by which the Spirit changes us from one level of Christlikeness to another. The end result will be our glorified position in Heaven, which is the Holy Spirit’s goal for us and the reason for our hope. The Spirit reveals what we will be in Christ: “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2).

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that you would focus more on Christ and less on yourself as the Spirit transforms your life.

For Further Study

Read Psalm 40:1-10.

  • What general attitude does David have in that passage?
  • How many times does he mention God there?

Wisdom Hunters – Sworn Friendship 

Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD…”  1 Samuel 20:42

Sworn friendship in the name of the Lord is serious and based on faith. When Jesus Christ is the central figure in a friendship, there is fidelity. Loyalty based on the Lord is an extremely strong bond for friends. There is no wavering of commitment when Christ is central to the friendship. A friendship based on the Lord takes on the Lord’s attitude toward friendship. He sticks closer than a brother. He never leaves or forsakes His friends. Jesus personified friendship as He served His friends, forgave His friends, loved, taught, rebuked, prayed, and gave to His friends.

Sworn friendship is committed, especially during dire circumstances. There is a commitment to always be there for the other person. It seeks out the very best for a friend during hard times. This is when friendships require an exorbitant amount of time, money, and effort. They become high maintenance when they become caught in a crisis. The crisis situation may be of the friend’s own doing, or a result of forces outside of his control. Your friend may be on the brink of bankruptcy because of poor financial decisions. You serve him even though he suffers from self-inflicted wounds. Your friend’s health may be going downhill fast; if so, be there to listen.

Sworn friendship in the name of the Lord defends you to the point of risking a right standing with other respected relationships. Faithful friends will stand up for you even when it costs them. It may cost them their job. It may cost them misunderstanding. It may cost them a promotion. It may cost them financially. But, because they are invested in you unconditionally, they are honored to defend you, especially in your absence. They ask questions of your unseen critics such as, “Have you talked to them about this?” or “I’m surprised by what you say. There must be more to the story.” Friends stick up for each other in the face of caustic critics. Love is not silent; it speaks up.

Continue reading Wisdom Hunters – Sworn Friendship 

Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Back to Your Future—Back to School

How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.

Psalm 119:9

In his autobiography, Just As I Am, Billy Graham recalls growing up on a North Carolina dairy farm. “Our barns had tin roofs,” he wrote. “On rainy days, I liked to sneak away into the hay barn and lie on a sweet-smelling and slippery pile of straw, listening to the raindrops hit that tin roof and dreaming. It was a sanctuary that helped shape my character. Whenever I visit a bustling city anywhere in the world now, I like to retreat from noisy boulevards into an open church building and just meditate in the cool, dim quietness. At our home in the Blue Ridge Mountains, my favorite spot is a little path above the house where I walk alone and talk with God.”1

Recommended Reading: Psalm 119:1-9

As our children return to school this fall, let’s remember that God’s schoolroom is called meditation. It’s not enough just to read the Bible, or even simply to study it. We need to find quiet times to mull over its words, meditate on its verses, and ponder its truths. That’s what shapes our character. If you can’t find a barn with a tin roof, any quiet spot will do. Settle down, quiet yourself, be still, contemplate the Lord and His Word, and know that He is God.

By holy meditation the soul doth, as it were, breakfast with God every morning.

Thomas Watson, Puritan

Read-Thru-the-Bible: Ezekiel 31 – 35

Joyce Meyer – Think Before You Speak

Set a guard, O Lord, before my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips.- Psalm 141:3

Have you ever said something that hurt someone else…or perhaps caused unfavorable consequences for yourself?

I know I have. For years I just said whatever I felt like saying, but thank God I have learned that words are powerful. What you say has the power to impact your life—and the lives of others—for good or bad. So it is wise to think about what you’re going to say before you say it.

You should speak only words of encouragement that will build people up and make them feel better. You get many opportunities every day to put this into practice, but it requires real discipline and determination.

You may have been hurt by someone’s words…or perhaps you have hurt someone with your words. But you can change that, starting now. It will take prayer and discipline, but God will help you develop and exercise control over the words you speak.

From the book Ending Your Day Right by Joyce Meyer.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Not by the Law

“Now do you see it? No one can ever be made right in God’s sight by doing what the law commands. For the more we know of God’s laws, the clearer it becomes that we aren’t obeying them: His laws serve only to make us see that we are sinners. But now God has shown us a different way to heaven – not by ‘being good enough’ and trying to keep His laws, but by a new way (though not new, really, for the Scriptures told about it long ago). Now God says He will accept and acquit us – declare us ‘not guilty’ – if we trust Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we can all be saved in this same way, by coming to Christ, no matter who we are or what we have been like. Yes, all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious ideal; yet now God declares us ‘not guilty’ of offending Him if we trust in Jesus Christ, who in His kindness freely takes away our sins” (Romans 3:20-24).

One of my greatest concerns through the years, especially for those who are involved in Christian ministry around the world, has been the problem of legalism. In my opinion, legalism is the greatest heresy of Christianity. The reason legalism is so dangerous is that it is extremely subtle in its appeal. It is attractive even to the most sincere Christians, who are genuinely seeking to please God by determining to be “good enough” and to “earn God’s favor” through the good works of their self-effort.

How often there has been a tendency to forget “the just shall live by faith,” and “without faith it is impossible to please God.” There is a strong tendency to work hard in the flesh in order to please God. But if we trust Jesus Christ to take away such sins in our lives, He is faithful to do so, as He promised.

Bible Reading: Romans 3:25-31

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will remind myself often that the law is merely a way to show me that I am a sinner. By faith, I will trust Christ and accept His grace and forgiveness. By faith, I will draw upon the mighty resources of God to live the supernatural life, which is my heritage in Christ.

Ray Stedman – Suppressing the Truth

Read: Romans 1:18-23

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:18-20

Here we see the cause of the wrath of God. The apostle explains that it is the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness that causes God’s wrath. The tragic aspect of life is caused by the attitudes men have and the subsequent actions that follow. Notice the order of this — godlessness and then wickedness. It is the godless attitude that produces the wicked actions, and that is why the wrath of God is being revealed constantly from heaven against man. What is godlessness? Godlessness isn’t necessarily atheism, the belief that God doesn’t exist. Godlessness is acting as though he doesn’t exist. It doesn’t necessarily deny that there is a God, but it never takes any account of him; it doesn’t expect him to be active.

As a result of godlessness, there is unrighteousness or wickedness, selfish and hurtful acts of men toward one another. Why do we act selfishly? Why do we hurt each other? Because we disregard God, and expect there will be no consequences. That is Paul’s analysis. By means of these hurtful and selfish acts, the truth is suppressed.

Here we are in a world in which truth from God is breaking out all around us, but we are busy covering it up, hiding it, suppressing it, keeping it from being prominent and dominant in our thinking. The reason life has turned tragic in so many cases is because the world is deprived of the truth that is necessary for life and liberty and freedom and godliness, and it is hidden by men and suppressed by them. The nature of the truth that is suppressed is the existence of a God of eternal power and majesty.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – Suppressing the Truth

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Prayer

Read: Matthew 6:5-13

Pray then like this. (v. 9)

“Prayer” isn’t just the title of this reflection, or of this series of reflections. It’s also the title and the first word of a poem by George Herbert, who for the last three years of his short life at the turn of the 17th century pastored a congregation in a village just outside the city of Salisbury in southern England. Its 14 lines set before us a variety of ways in which we can ponder this all-important subject.

Young Christians are regularly encouraged to grasp the fact that prayer is not just a matter of asking for things. ACTS (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication) was a useful acronym proposed in my young days to give me a more rounded idea of what I was supposed to be doing when I prayed. Herbert would agree, but would encourage us to be a good deal more specific, more anchored in personal experience and practical daily life, than that. What is more, you can tell he is not handing down other people’s ideas, but telling us something of his own delighted discoveries in the matter.

As with the Lord’s Prayer, you could recite Herbert’s sonnet in thirty seconds flat. But (again like the Lord’s Prayer) every facet of this many-sided jewel has its own special luster. Each phrase may call to mind other parts of Scripture and the reflections of other poets and hymn writers. All of them will repay our attention and should stimulate us to frequent, regular, practical, Bible-based praying.


Continue reading Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Prayer

Greg Laurie – No Pain, No Gain

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials . . .”—James 1:2

Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer” (John 16:33 NKJV). Why? Because it is through storms, trials, and hardships that we enter God’s kingdom.

In Acts 14:21–22, we read, “They returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God'”(NKJV).

We don’t always like to read a verse like that. It’s probably not a passage we want to write on a plaque and hang by our front door.

We would rather the passage read, “Through many days of perpetual happiness we enter the kingdom of God,” but that isn’t Scripture, and that isn’t life.

If you want to “continue in the faith,” you will do so through trials and tribulations. There is no escaping them. Job said it well: “How frail is man! How few his days, how full of trouble!” (Job 14:1 NLT).

No one is exempt from experiencing storms in life. Good things will happen to us, as well as tragic and inexplicable things. Every life will have its share of pain. As much as we would like to believe otherwise, none of us can take an extended vacation beyond the reach of human suffering and tragedy.

We cannot always see the work that God is doing on the inside, but He can.

Kids 4 Truth International – God Is Good to All

“The LORD is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works.” (Psalm 145:9)

Trisha watched her friend Jillian Blair run to her mother’s car and jump inside. Through the window she could see Jillian’s mother holding up the bird mobile Jillian had made in art class, smiling and exclaiming over it. Mrs. Blair gave Jillian a hug before starting the car and pulling out of the school parking lot.

God is so good to some people, thought Trisha. Jillian has everything. She’s pretty, she has nice clothes, she has lots of friends, she’s good in art, and she has a mother who can come pick her up after school. Trisha thought of her own mother, who had worked a full-time job for as long as Trisha could remember. Trisha had to go to late-stay every day after school and wait two hours for her mom to get off work.

Trisha turned away from the window of the late-stay room and noticed another friend, Heidi, sitting at a desk with her Bible open. “What are you doing?” Trisha asked Heidi.

“Learning my Bible club verse. Can I say it to you? It’s Psalm 145:9.” Heidi handed Trisha the Bible and recited, The LORD is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works.

“That was perfect,” said Trisha. “Good job.”

Heidi smiled. “It’s true too,” she said. “God has been so good to our family, especially since my mom died. My grandma has been able to stay with us and help us out, and my Dad was able to finish paying all Mom’s medical bills. My little brother has even gotten over having nightmares!”

Continue reading Kids 4 Truth International – God Is Good to All

The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Deliverance from Sin

Today’s Scripture: Romans 6:11

“Consider yourselves dead to sin.”

The guilt of our sin in Adam resulted in our being given over to sin’s dominion as a penal consequence. When a judge sentences a convicted criminal to five years in prison, that sentence is the penal consequence of his crime—analogous to what God did to Adam and all his posterity. Part of the penal consequence of Adam’s sin was being delivered into sin’s bondage.

When the prisoner has served his five years, his penal consequences are over. The broken law no longer has a claim against him. In that sense he has ended his relationship to the law and its penal consequences. He must continue to obey the law in the future, but the particular offense that sent him to prison has been dealt with forever. To use Paul’s expression, he has died to the law and its penal consequences.

How does this apply to us? Let me paraphrase from the comments of John Brown, a nineteenth-century Scottish pastor, theologian, and author of several commentaries: “The wages of sin is death. Until the condemning sentence is executed, a person is subject to sin, both in its power to condemn and its power to deprave [or exert dominion]. But let the penal consequences be fully endured, let the law’s penalty be fully paid, and the person is at once delivered from sin’s condemning power and its depraving influence or dominion. It’s in this way that all that are in Christ Jesus, all that have been justified by his grace, have died, not in their own persons, but in the person of their surety. They are therefore delivered from the reign of sin—from its power to condemn, and therefore, also from its power to rule in the heart and life.”

The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – The Lord Delivers

Today’s Scripture: Acts 13-15

They called the apostles in and had them flogged… The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. – Acts 5:40-42

One of the most unusual and possibly confusing statements in the Bible is, “Out of them all the Lord delivered me” (2 Timothy 3:11, KJV). It was written by Paul about the events recorded in Acts 13-15. As Paul and Barnabas preached the gospel in Antioch, they had tremendous results. Acts 13:44 tells us, “Almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.” But the enemies of Christ stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and finally threw them out of town.

Acts 14:1-6 describes their next stop at Iconium, where they spoke boldly for Christ but were forced to leave when a murder plot was discovered. Paul and Barnabas escaped to Lystra but were followed by men from Antioch and Iconium, who stirred up the crowd against them. Acts 14:19 says, “They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead.”

Some years later, when Paul wrote to Timothy about these persecutions, he said this in 2 Timothy 3:11: “But out of them all the Lord delivered me” (KJV). What? He escaped at Antioch and Iconium, but not at Lystra. There his enemies stoned him and left him for dead. But Paul doesn’t say he was delivered two out of three times. He says, “Out of them all…”

Christian, if you’re feeling a bit bruised and battered right now, remember that God sometimes delivers us through the stones, not from the stones. Our choice is to trust Him in every circumstance so that we can echo the triumphant testimony of the apostle Paul, “Out of them all the Lord delivered me.”


Lord, You are my Strong Deliverer. Thank You for Your never-failing presence in my life. Amen.

To Ponder

Paul rejoiced that he was counted worthy of suffering for the Name. Does that sound like something you would say?

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word –AN ACT OF DEFIANCE

Read ESTHER 1:13–18

The Supreme Court was first assembled in 1790 as the highest court in the United States of America and initially was composed of one chief justice and five associate justices. Members of the court are appointed by the president and approved by the Senate. In 1869, the number of justices increased to nine. Their purpose at the Supreme Court is to interpret legislation to see whether it is consistent with the U.S. Constitution.

How would King Xerxes handle the direct and very public defiance of his queen? He decided to convene his own so-called Supreme Court to help him determine the most appropriate punishment. He selected seven nobles of Persia who were given special access to the king and held in high esteem (vv. 13, 14).

Their judgment of the facts of the case was simple: Vashti had clearly broken the law. No matter how sympathetic we might be to her decision, she had not obeyed the command of the king. Their judgment of the needed penalty was quick: The court of nobles agreed that her actions needed to be punished. If her act of public disobedience were left unchecked, it would undermine the king’s authority (vv. 16, 17).

But notice how their own self-interest influenced their judgment of Vashti. She should have upheld a standard for other wives to follow, and therefore she should be punished not only to maintain the king’s honor but also to keep their own wives from challenging them at home (v. 18). Their interpretation of the law was as much about preserving their own sphere of power as it was about adjudicating fairly.

The law was necessary to retain control and order, they said. King Xerxes had no choice, they said. He had to punish Vashti or else endure no end of “disrespect and discord” (v. 18).


Human laws are necessary for governance, but only the law of the Lord is perfect (Ps. 19:7). God’s Word reveals our sins of pride and temptations to pursue power, and it also offers us freedom from sin though accepting the forgiveness available in Christ. Spend time in confession before God today, and thank Him for His perfect law that restores us.