Charles Stanley – What Is the Christian Life?


Titus 3:4-7

The Christian Life is just that—a life, not simply a set of rules. Sadly, a lot of churches preach Christianity as a list of dos and don’ts. Then faith looks like a formula: Jesus’ saving grace plus doing good things minus doing bad things equals righteousness. Most of us have enough problems without worrying about whether we’re following the extra-biblical rules of a church.

A man-made formula for righteousness runs counter to scriptural teaching. Not only did Jesus condemn the Pharisees’ heavy-handed religion, but He Himself offered liberty through grace (Matt. 23:1-4; John 8:36). Neither keeping God’s law by self-effort nor adhering to extra rules makes a person free. Legalistic believers are in bondage and growing ever weaker.

When a person accepts the saving grace of Jesus Christ, he or she receives a new life. (See Rom. 6:4.) This is not an uptight lifestyle of doing good works. A believer is a changed person—the same body but a transformed mind and heart. Christ lives through you. His Holy Spirit flows into your spirit just as sap runs in a grapevine. It’s like getting a spiritual blood transfusion! Strength pumps into places where weakness once prevailed. Why rely upon your frail self when the courage and power to follow God’s will are available through Christ?

I know what it feels like to burn out from trying to do good in my own strength. My desire for you is that you’ll surrender to the Lord. Depend upon Him to change you from the inside out, and trust that He will. Jesus is your life. He will never get tired of transforming you.

Bible in One Year: Micah 5-7

Our Daily Bread — Words That Matter

Read: 1 John 1:1-4

Bible in a Year: Song of Solomon 6-8; Galatians 4

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes . . . this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.—1 John 1:1

Early in my days of working as an editor for Our Daily Bread, I selected the cover verse for each month’s devotional. After a while, I began to wonder if it made a difference.

Not long after that, a reader wrote and described how she had prayed for her son for more than twenty years, yet he wanted nothing to do with Jesus. Then one day he stopped by to visit her, and he read the verse on the cover of the booklet that sat on her table. The Spirit used those words to convict him, and he gave his life to Jesus at that very moment.

I don’t recall the verse or the woman’s name. But I’ll never forget the clarity of God’s message to me that day. He had chosen to answer a woman’s prayers through a verse selected nearly a year earlier. From a place beyond time, He brought the wonder of His presence to my work and His words.

John the disciple called Jesus “the Word of life” (1 John 1:1). He wanted everyone to know what that meant. “We proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us,” he wrote of Jesus (v. 2). “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us” (v. 3).

There is nothing magical in putting words on a page. But there is life-changing power in the words of Scripture because they point us to the Word of life—Jesus. —Tim Gustafson

Thank You, Father, that Your Word is living and powerful!

Words that point us to Christ are always words that matter.

INSIGHT: In the Greek language in which it was originally penned, the verbs in 1 John 1:1-2 are in the perfect tense. They describe something completed in the past with abiding results into the present: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. . . . The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it.” These verses connect remarkably with John’s gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . Through him all things were made.”

John MacArthur – Strength for Today – The Need for Understanding

“‘These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming when I will speak no more to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father’” (John 16:25).

Jesus’ teaching in figurative language revealed the need for further enlightenment by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus left His disciples a storehouse of valuable information that would require additional teaching from the Holy Spirit to make it understandable. The “figurative language” our Lord sovereignly used was made up of many veiled but pointed statements, filled with rich meaning. Even Christ’s closest followers, when they first heard Him, often understood only the basics of His teachings.

Jesus used various veiled statements whose deeper meanings were not revealed until the Holy Spirit gave believers special insight. One such statement is John 2:19, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The truth that Jesus was teaching—His death and resurrection—became clearer later on. John 6:53-58 speaks of eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood. Many of the Jews took this teaching literally and did not understand that Jesus was referring to believers’ intimate, spiritual communion with Himself.

In addition to those and other figurative expressions (see John 6:35; 8:12), the Lord knew His disciples would not understand certain truths right away (John 16:12). They were spiritually ignorant and unable to grasp every teaching prior to Christ’s death. But once He died and rose again and the Holy Spirit came, they would understand Jesus’ teaching about His relationship to the Father, as the end of today’s verse indicates.

Whenever Christ used figurative language, it was clear enough to make it meaningful, but veiled just enough so the Spirit could reveal more profound truth later on. Having access to that unveiled truth is the blessed privilege we have today, thanks to the indwelling Holy Spirit who has come as our teacher, just as Jesus promised in John 14:26 and 16:13. We need to take full advantage of the Spirit’s teaching ministry every time we hear the Word expounded or read or study it for ourselves.

Suggestions for Prayer

When you study the Word, ask the Lord and His Spirit to help you see beneath the surface and understand as much biblical truth as possible.

For Further Study

Read John 6:32-58.

  • What does the Bread of Life provide?
  • How is it better than manna?
  • What made some of the Jews stumble at Jesus’ words?

Wisdom Hunters – Human Beings 

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.   Psalm 46:10

God created us as human beings, not human doers. Yet everything—from our culture to our career—defaults to doing. We are taught by western society that if we are not busy, we must be lazy. There is a contemporary guilt that keeps us on the go. We are driven to do by some unseen capitalistic force. We are so intent on getting things done that we forget why we engaged in the process to begin with. It’s all about progress and seeing it through to the end. It’s all about the results, making the grade, and exceeding the earnings estimates. After all, if you are really important, your cell phone will constantly vibrate and your e-mail will seduce you 24/7. This is the sad state of those of us who are trapped by doing. Like an alcoholic in denial, we are intoxicated by activity.

Our ego glosses over the need for God, as we justify driven behavior with bad theology. We act like the Almighty’s hands are tied and it is up to us to make things happen. But God is not limited by our lowly view of Him. He still governs the universe and our lives. Kings, presidents, and dictators are still accountable to the Almighty and His agenda. CEOs, entertainers, and athletes still have a higher power in Jesus Christ to whom they must answer. It is wise to get off our high horse of self-importance and be still before God. If we continue to race through life at a breakneck pace, we will break. Our health, finances, and relationships are fragile, and eventually they will fracture under the pressure of habitual doing.

We are humans in need—in need of being who God created us to be. Our God-given roles in life are a great place to cultivate our human being-ness. For example, when we take the time to be a respectful child who honors his parents, we are being. Visit, call, or write regularly and you will be the child your parents need. You honor God when you honor them. Above all else, be with God. There is a knowing and understanding of God that comes only from spending time with Him. In-depth knowledge of God is not derived from service only, but in sitting and reflecting on the Holy One being served. It is in your doing that you validate your being, and it is in your being that you purify your reasons for doing.

Continue reading Wisdom Hunters – Human Beings 

Joyce Meyer – Cooperate with God’s Plan


For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. – Jeremiah 29:11

God has a plan for every person and His Word clearly says it is a good plan. But Satan starts his dirty work early in your life, attempting to pervert and destroy God’s good plan. He arranges for all kinds of disappointing, discouraging, hurtful, and frightening events to take place. And often he does a lot of damage.

But no matter how much you have been hurt, God can restore you. If you experienced a bad beginning, do not despair. God is in the business of repair, and His repairs are better than new. However, this restoration will not happen automatically. You must believe the Word of God and fully cooperate with Him during the restoration process. Look to Jesus, the One who loves you unconditionally. He is the Author and Finisher of everything in you and your life.

From the book Ending Your Day Right by Joyce Meyer.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – We Can Obey All

” ‘Sir, which is the most important command in the laws of Moses?’ Jesus replied, ‘ “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. The second most important is similar: “Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.” All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets stem from these two laws and are fulfilled if your obey them. Keep only these and you will find that you are obeying the others'” (Matthew 22:36-40).

Steve came for counsel. “I want with all my heart to be a man of God,” he said. “Can you tell me how I can please the Lord and be everything He wants me to be? You have walked with the Lord for many years. Surely you have learned some lessons that would help me.” I turned to this passage, and we read it and discussed it together.

“Jesus has answered your question, Steve,” I said to him. “If you keep these two commandments, all the others and all the demands of the prophets will be fulfilled.” We turned to Exodus 20:1-17 and reviewed the Ten Commandments.

“You see, Steve, if your love God with all your heart, you will have no other god before Him. You will not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. You will remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you will honor your father and mother. You will not murder, commit adultery, steal, lie, or covet that which belongs to your neighbor.”

Think what would happen if every person who professed to be a follower of Jesus Christ would truly obey the two greatest commandments. Not only would the Ten Commandments be fulfilled, but so would the Golden Rule and every other command of God. The great miracle would result. The moral, spiritual and even the economical problems that plague the nations of the world would be resolved almost overnight.

This kind of love is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. For the supernatural love of God (agape) is spread abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. It is only as we walk in the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit, fully surrendered to the lordship of Jesus Christ, that we can fulfill these commandments.

Bible Reading: Mark 12:28-34

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Through the supernatural enabling power of the Holy Spirit, I will love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and my neighbors as myself, knowing that as I do so, I will be fulfilling and obeying all the other laws.

Ray Stedman – Assurance

Read: Romans 8:15b-17

And by him we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Romans 8:15b-16

What Paul describes here is our deepest level of assurance. Beyond the emotions, beyond the feelings, is a deep conviction that is born of the Spirit of God himself, an underlying awareness that we cannot deny that we are part of God’s family. We are the children of God. I think this is the basic revelation to which our emotions respond with the cry, Abba, Father. That is our love to him, but even more this is his love to us. It is what Paul refers to in Romans 5 when he speaks of the love of God which is shed abroad in our hearts by the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit which is given unto us, (Romans 5:5 KJV).

As I look back on my own life, I can understand how this is true. I became a Christian when I was about eleven years old, in a Methodist brush arbor meeting. I responded to the invitation, and, with others, came and knelt down in front and received the Lord. I had a wonderful time of fellowship with the Lord that summer and the next winter, and there were occasions when I just would be overwhelmed with the sense of the nearness and dearness of God. I used to sing hymns until tears would come to my eyes as the meaning of those old words reflected on the relationship that I had with God. Then I used to preach to the cows when I would bring them home. Those cows were a very good audience too, by the way — they never went to sleep on me. But that fall we moved from this town where I had Christian fellowship to a town in Montana that didn’t even have a church. Gradually, because of that lack of fellowship, I drifted away from that relationship with God, drifted into all kinds of ugly and shameful things — habits of thought and activity that I am ashamed of. I even developed some liberal attitudes toward the Scriptures. I didn’t believe in the inspiration of the Bible. I argued against it, and during high school and college I was known as a skeptic. But all through those seven years there was a relationship with God I could not deny. Somehow I knew, deep down inside, that I still belonged to him; and there were things I could not do, even though I was tempted. I could not do them because I felt that I had a tie with God. This is that witness of the Spirit. Calvin called it the testimonial of the Spirit, which we cannot deny and which is especially discernible in times of gross sin and despair. First John 3:20 says, If our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, (1 John 3:20a KJV). He knows all things. There is a witness born of the Spirit which you can’t shake, which is there along with the ultimate testimony that we belong with the children of God.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – Assurance

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – The Milky Way

Read: Genesis 15:1-6

Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able . . . So shall your offspring be. (v. 5)

The Milky Way, as such, doesn’t figure anywhere in the Bible. But perhaps it was that band of brightness across the night sky, where the stars seem most densely packed, that illustrated the mind-blowing fact that God brought home to Abraham in Genesis 15—innumerable descendants promised to a childless man. Why does Herbert link it with prayer, though?

There is a clue in another of his poems, “The Holy Scriptures (II),” not itself about prayer but about Bible reading. Here too he has a starry sky in mind: “Oh that I knew how all thy lights combine, / And the configurations of their glory! / Seeing not only how each verse doth shine, / But all the constellations of the story.” The apparent patterns the stars make should remind God’s people of the actual patterns he intends their lives to follow.

Concerning the night sky as a whole, not just the Milky Way, it is these constellations, as well as the immense number of the stars, that stargazers have always noted. In a similar way, to Abraham they represented a multitude of people who were not just numberless but also all related.

Consider this truth when you pray. All the people, all the things, that we talk to God about, and all the connections between them, are mapped out in his mind. He knows what he’s doing.

Here is the poem in its entirety:

Continue reading Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – The Milky Way

Kids 4 Truth International – God Loves Unconditionally

“He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” (1 John 4:8)

“Mom, Nate doesn’t love me! What am I gonna do?” Davey was fighting to keep back his tears. His little brother had been in such a good mood yesterday, but today little Nate did not seem to want to have anything to do with Davey.

“Oh, honey. Little Nate is teething. His gums hurt, and he gets really grouchy – really quickly.”

“But yesterday, he acted like I was his best friend!” wailed Davey. “He let me hold him, and he made all those vroom-vroom sounds he likes to make with my cars. Yesterday, we played all day together, and all I had to do to make him smile was just look at him! But today, he won’t even let me get near him! What’d I do wrong?”

“Davey, it wasn’t something you did wrong. Nate’s just a baby, and he has mood swings. But he doesn’t feel good. He loves you, and he’ll learn to love you even more. He just doesn’t like anyone right now.”

That is one hard thing about baby brothers and sisters. You never know from one day to the next whether or not they will treat you nicely. They are usually thinking about themselves, so their love for you is dependent upon how they feel that day. One day you might be on their “good side,” but the next day, you might be in big trouble with them.

Here’s some good news: God does not put conditions (rules) on His love. He does not stop loving His people for no good reason. In fact, even if we were to give God good reasons to change His mind, He would not. If you are God’s child, you can count on Him to keep loving you, no matter what.

Continue reading Kids 4 Truth International – God Loves Unconditionally

The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Submission to Our Father’s Discipline

Today’s Scripture: James 4:7

“Submit yourselves therefore to God.”

To gain the most profit from the discipline of hardship, we need to submit to it. The author of Hebrews said that if we respected our fathers’ discipline, how much more should we submit to God’s discipline: “We have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?” (12:9). Our fathers’ discipline was at best imperfect, both in motive and in application. But God’s discipline is perfect, exactly suited to our needs.

How do we submit to God’s discipline? Negatively, it means that we don’t become angry at God, or charge him with injustice, when difficult circumstances come into our lives. I believe even short-term anger toward God is sin, for which we need to repent. Though the anger may be an emotional response, it’s still a charge of injustice against God. Surely that is sin. It’s even more serious when someone allows anger toward God to continue over months or even years. Such an attitude amounts to a grudge against God and is actually rebellion. It is certainly not submitting to our heavenly Father.

Positively, we submit to God’s discipline when we accept all hardship as coming from his loving hand for our good. This means that our primary response would be one of humble submission and trust. As Peter wrote, “humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:6). We should submit to God’s providential dealings with us, knowing there’s still much in our characters that needs improving. We should trust him, believing that he’s infinite in his wisdom and knows exactly the kind and extent of adversity we need to accomplish his purpose.

The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – A Bold Witness

Today’s Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 1

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. – Romans 1:16

There is no evidence of timidity on the part of the Christians from Thessalonica. The gospel message did not tiptoe from their lips, nor was it whispered in the hope no one would hear. Having received the gospel, these people entertained no thought of keeping it to themselves. By word and deed they made it known to others. They followed the example of Paul, with a burning zeal that prompted them to proclaim what God had done for them. In 1 Thessalonians 1:5-9, Paul describes his ministry in that city. “Our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia…your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it.”

Paul was speaking of the gospel that came to them, and ultimately sounded out from them to all of Greece. The words sounded out are best described as the rumble of a tremendous thunderclap that reverberates long after its initial burst of sound. It pictures a bold, straightforward, continuing witness.

Friend, the message of the gospel of Christ, boldly proclaimed, can burst like thunder from your life today. And by the power of God, it will keep on rolling.


Lord, give me a fresh vision of who I am, and gift me to tell others that You have called me out of darkness into Your marvelous light. Amen.

To Ponder

If God has shed His love abroad in your heart, you will want to proclaim Him to everyone.

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – MORDECAI INCREASES IN POWER

Read ESTHER 9:1–4

In one miracle to bring His people into the Promised Land, God dried up the Jordan River, allowing the Israelites to cross safely to the opposite side. The Lord instructed the people to erect a memorial of twelve stones that would serve as a continual reminder to them of His mighty salvation. “All the peoples of the earth” would bear witness to His power (Josh. 4:24).

In today’s passage, we also see God’s power on display, bearing witness to people from every nation. The thirteenth day of the twelfth month had finally arrived. Originally, Haman had declared that the Jewish people would be killed on this date. Now, “the tables were turned” (v. 1). With the new edict, the Jews had the power to overtake their enemies and destroy them. So great was their force that Scripture tells us that “no one could stand against them” (v. 2). The people had organized and gathered not only to defend themselves and their possessions but also to go on the attack.

Word spread about the new edict and the newfound power of the Jewish people. So great was their influence that “the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them” (v.2). God had not only rescued them but also strengthened them. Mordecai, who once sat outside the gate in sackcloth and ashes, now had a prominent role in the government. “His reputation spread throughout the province, and he became more and more powerful” (v. 4). By increasing Mordecai’s power, God brought glory to Himself.

God’s hand had moved decisively throughout the kingdom. Haman was destroyed. The Jewish people were redeemed. Esther was saved. Mordecai was honored. God had not only delivered His people, He had gone beyond all expectations.


God can go beyond your expectations, too. Sometimes we go to God and ask hesitantly for small things. But we serve an all-powerful God. He can do far more than we would ever dream. Do not hesitate to bring big requests to God. Just as He redeemed the Jewish people in extraordinary ways, He can provide for you today.