Charles Stanley – Watching God Work

 

Psalms 66

The Lord’s fingerprints can be detected all throughout history. At times His work is dramatically obvious—like parting the Red Sea—but other times, it’s unnoticeable to our senses. Our lack of perception, however, never impedes His activities. He keeps working whether we’re aware of it or not, and blessings await those who develop the spiritual discernment to see what He is doing.

Preconceived ideas about how the Lord works can be a significant hindrance to perception. When He answers our prayers, we rejoice and readily acknowledge His active intervention on our behalf. But what if He doesn’t give us what we request? Too often we then conclude He’s not doing anything. But in today’s passage, the psalmist recognizes that God works in a variety of ways—sometimes with a great deliverance (Ps. 66:5-6) and sometimes through painful situations (Ps. 66:10-12).

Another problem that can prevent us from seeing God’s hand in our life is inattention. The demands of a busy lifestyle claim our time and concentration, leaving little room for quiet moments in His presence. Without periods of meditation and prayer, our spiritual senses become dull. But those who read Scripture regularly will learn to recognize the Lord’s activity in their life, because He always acts in accordance with His Word.

Eyes focused on the Lord are open to a new perspective. Your faith will grow as you begin to discern His activity in your life. The joy and excitement of seeing His involvement in both big and small areas will motivate you to praise and thank Him, even in the hard times.

Bible in One Year: Zechariah 11-14

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Hold On

Read: Philippians 3:12-4:1

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 11-13; Ephesians 4

Stand firm in the Lord.—Philippians 4:1

Tianmen Mountain in Zhangjiajie, China, is considered one of the most beautiful mountains in the world. To view its towering cliffs in all their glorious splendor, you must take the Tianmen Shan cable car, which covers a distance of 7,455 meters (4.5 miles). It’s amazing how this cable car can travel such long distances and scale such steep mountains without any motor on the car itself. Yet it moves safely up these spectacular heights by keeping a strong grip on a cable that is moved by a powerful motor.

In our journey of faith, how can we finish the race well and “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called [us] heavenward in Christ Jesus”? (Phil. 3:14). Like the cable car, we keep a strong grip on Christ, which is what Paul meant when he said “stand firm in the Lord” (4:1). We have no resources of our own. We depend fully on Christ to keep us moving forward. He will take us through the greatest challenges and lead us safely home.

Toward the end of his earthly life, the apostle Paul declared, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). You can too. Simply keep a strong grip on Christ. —Albert Lee

We’re grateful, Lord, that while we aim to keep a strong grip on You, You always keep a strong grip on us! You are working in us and giving us what we need to continue trusting You on our faith journey.

Keeping the faith means trusting God to faithfully keep you.

INSIGHT: Philippians is a testimony to Paul’s joy in Christ. What is this joy? It is a sense of complete contentment in Christ that is dependent upon His presence in our lives. Our relationship with the Savior is the foundation for our joy, and we can have confidence He will bring us to this joy as we yield our hearts and lives to Him.  Bill Crowder

 

http://www.odb.org

John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Man’s Biggest Problems

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Sin is pervasive and deadly.

When the early church father Chrysostom remarked, “I fear nothing but sin,” he correctly identified sin as the greatest threat any person faces. Sin mars all the relationships people are involved in: with other people, with themselves, and, most significantly, with God. Sin causes suffering, disease, and death in the physical realm and also causes spiritual death—eternal separation from God in Hell.

Because sin is so deadly, we need to carefully define it, so we can understand and avoid it. First John 3:4 sums up the essence of sin when it says, “Sin is lawlessness.” Sin is refusing to obey God’s law; it is rejecting God’s standards; it is, in fact, living as if God did not exist.

In 1 John 5:17, the apostle John adds to his definition of sin, describing it as “unrighteousness.” James defines sin as failing to do what is good (James 4:17). Paul defines it as lack of faith (Rom. 14:23). Sin is the ultimate act of ingratitude toward the God “who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17).

Sin pollutes the sinner, prompting Paul to refer to it as that “defilement of flesh and spirit” (2 Cor. 7:1) from which sinners are in desperate need of cleansing. No amount of human effort, however, can cleanse a person of sin. Such self-effort is as futile as attempting to change the color of one’s skin (Jer. 13:23). Only through the death of Jesus Christ, the perfect sacrifice for sin (Heb. 10:12), is forgiveness and cleansing available (1 John 1:7).

Sin is the only thing that God hates (cf. Jer. 44:4), and so must believers (Ps. 97:10; Amos 5:15). The great Puritan writer Thomas Watson noted that a prerequisite for sanctification is such hatred for sin. Renew your commitment today to grow in your relationship with the Lord by hating evil (Prov. 8:13).

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for yourself and others that you would not be deceived by the subtleness of sin (Heb. 3:13).

For Further Study

  • Identify the sins you struggle with the most.
  • Using a concordance and other study tools, find out what the Bible says about those sins.
  • Form a biblical plan of attack to combat them.

 

http://www.gty.org

Wisdom Hunters – God’s Qualifications 

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”     1 Samuel 16:7

Sometimes we limit ourselves because we use the wrong measure of what is meaningful to God. What means most to our Master is what’s in our heart. Our heart is His measurement for potential. A heart after God has unlimited upside potential. Heaven hunts down a heart hungry for God to accomplish its purposes. We can wait for the right opportunity because He is in control, or we can spend an inordinate amount of energy arranging our lives, when ultimately God is the one who opens or shuts doors. God chooses who He wants to carry out His causes, and He first looks inward for a pure heart.

Therefore, a pure heart is our first step in doing God’s will, for the heart is where our motivations reside. Why we do what we do incubates within our heart. This is why it is imperative that the Holy Spirit rubs our heart with the oil of authenticity. He massages away toxic motives and keeps us honest. He is the best at calling our commitment into question. Am I serving Him for what I can get or for what I can give? He calls us to place the welfare of others above our own needs. The heart is where goodness grows, as it is nurtured in a heart with the Holy ambition of knowing the Almighty. Goodness is a natural outcome of a heart following hard after heaven.

Sometimes we attempt to compliment someone by saying he or she has a good heart. However, in some cases, our comments carry a tinge of condescension. We add a ‘but.” He has a good heart, but he gives no attention to details; She has a good heart, but she is not good with follow-up; He has a good heart, but he cannot think strategically; He has a good heart, but he is not an effective leader; She has a good heart, but she is not very smart; So, what do we really mean when we say someone has a good heart?

A good heart does not guarantee success in a certain skill set, but it does position us for success. Indeed, both character and competence are necessary for success. A superb salesman without a good heart should be shunned. A dependable manager without a good heart will bring you grief. A leader who gets results without a good heart will run off good people. Make sure to align goodness of heart with goodness in skill, otherwise this disconnect will erode your work or family culture. Require goodness of heart with giftedness.

Continue reading Wisdom Hunters – God’s Qualifications 

Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – If My People: Pray for Conviction

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.

Ephesians 1:18-19a, NASB

In the second century B.C. came the compass; now we have GPS. People today get in their cars and obey the directions of their GPS. With both the compass and the GPS, one thing is required: conviction.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 25:4-5

The same is true spiritually. In order to navigate through life’s difficult passages, we must grow in conviction that God is in control. We must believe that the directions He gives will lead to our destination. Paul prayed as much for the Ephesians—that the eyes of their hearts would be enlightened. He wanted them to know more and more of God’s calling, the riches of the inheritance God prepared for them, and of His great power toward them. We don’t get all of that the day we believe. We must grow in our spiritual conviction.

Pray the same for yourself today. Pray God would enlighten the eyes of your heart to see God more fully and clearly.

Day by day, day by day, O dear Lord, three things I pray: to see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly, day by day.

Richard of Chichester

Read-Thru-the-Bible: Malachi 1 – Matthew 4

 

http://www.davidjeremiah.org/

Joyce Meyer – Complete in Christ

And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.- Colossians 2:10 KJV

And you are in Him, made full and having come to fullness of life [in Christ you too are filled with the Godhead—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—and reach full spiritual stature]. And He is the Head of all rule and authority [of every angelic principality and power].— Colossians 2:10

Feeling that something is missing in our lives and not knowing what it is leaves us frustrated and continually searching. We become like the people God talked about in Jeremiah 2:13, those digging empty wells that have no water in them. We try first one thing and then another, but nothing quenches our thirst for whatever it is that is missing in our lives. We might describe our feelings as being incomplete; yet like the verse above says, we are complete in Jesus.

To be complete means to be satisfied, filled up, assured. Without Christ, people are always searching, looking for something. We all want to feel satisfied. We all want contentment. We all want to know we are loved and accepted for who we are. We may think acceptance and approval from people will make us feel complete. However, the Bible teaches us that when we trust in man to give us what only God can give, we live under a curse; but when we believe, trust in, and rely on the Lord, we are blessed (See Jeremiah 17:5-8). The joy, peace, and fulfillment we seek come from being filled with God, and nothing else.

From the book New Day, New You by Joyce Meyer.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Because You Believe

“You believed that God would do what He said; that is why He has given you this wonderful blessing” (Luke 1:45).

So much of the life you and I live as Christians depends on simple belief. Do we really trust God to do what He says He will do?

This particular verse, of course, concerns Mary. No doubt she was chosen to be the mother of Jesus because of the faith God knew she possessed. In any case, God honored that faith by bestowing upon her the highest privilege any mother could have.

Even taken out of context, the meaning is the same: If we truly believe God will do what He says, the wonderful blessing He promises will be ours. And that applies to every area of our lives – spiritual, physical, material.

What is your greatest need today? If you are a housewife and mother, it may be for patience and love. If you are a business or professional man or woman, it may be for wisdom or strength or courage. If you are a student, it may be for persistence, commitment, application.

In all probability, you cannot think of a circumstance or situation which is beyond the ability of God to control. The promises of God are both general and specific, so that they will meet the need of every heart and life.

We may expect a great blessing from God today. Why? Because we are going to believe He will do what He said.

Bible Reading: Luke 1:39-44

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: “Dear Lord, I will believe you for supernatural living in every situation and circumstance of my life this day.”

 

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Ray Stedman – Called Into Fellowship

Read: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9

God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:9

This is the key verse of First Corinthians. The rest of the letter revolves around it. It is a statement that God had called them to a very important relationship, and that this is the reason for all of the problems in the church. They had not understood the implications of their calling, and the relationship they personally had with Jesus himself. Instead, beginning with the very next verse, the apostle has to deal with divisions, scandals, lawsuits, immorality, drunkenness and quarreling. It is very clear that, despite the fullness of provision which they had received, they were experiencing a great failure in the church. They had all this ability to do all these mighty things in the Spirit, but not much was happening out in the city. Instead of making an impact on Corinth, Corinth was making an impact on the church. All these ugly attitudes and actions that were going on every day out in the city were beginning to infiltrate into the church, and instead of the church changing the city, the city was changing the church.

This reminds me of Peter Marshall’s very vivid description of contemporary Christians. He says, Christians are like deep-sea divers encased in suits designed for many fathoms deep, marching bravely forth to pull plugs out of bathtubs! What was wrong was the Corinthians lack of understanding of what it meant to have Jesus Christ living among them. The major struggle of most churches is right at this point. They have lost the sense that Jesus is among them, that they have an individual relationship to the Lord of glory himself. They no longer live their lives in the awareness and the excitement that they are partners with Christ in everything they do. When that begins to fade from the Christian consciousness, all these troubles that the Corinthians were experiencing begin to crowd in. This letter is written to call them back to an awareness of what it means to have fellowship with Christ.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – Called Into Fellowship

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Imprisoned Together

Read: Hebrews 13:3

Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them.

Like all the epistles, the letter to the Hebrews is best read as a letter. It’s urgent, practical, sometimes abrupt, written thoughtfully but in haste to spiritually needy people. It’s like the other epistles, too, in that it includes at least one terrifyingly hard command: “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them.” Prisoners need to be as real, as immediate to the rest of us as our breakfasts and shoes, as ourselves. How can we manage that?

When my wife was fifteen, her father went to prison. Like many prisoners’ family members, she struggled to stay tangibly present in his life and vice versa. One thing she did was to write to him almost every weekday for 20 years, till his release. Nothing fancy—just a quick rundown of her day, her thoughts and feelings, a reminder that she loved him.

There are many ways to remember those in prison: friendship, intercessory prayer, post-release support, and advocacy for better conditions and for communities mistreated by the justice system. Though my wife and I have done all these things at various times, our journey started with those humble letters from my wife to her father. They preserved her love and his sanity. And they reminded me that even the Bible’s most difficult-sounding commands can be obeyed, with a little will and imagination.

Prayer:

Lord, you were a prisoner once. Comfort all prisoners with your presence, and remind us to seek you among those in prison.

Author: Phil Christman

 

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Greg Laurie – Nothing New

History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. —Ecclesiastes 1:9

Joy Davidman, the wife of C. S. Lewis, made this insightful statement about the pursuit of pleasure: “Living for his own pleasure is the least pleasurable thing a man can do; if his neighbors don’t kill him in disgust, he will die slowly of boredom and lovelessness.” And that is true. It has been said that the only cure for hedonism is to try and practice it.

The pursuit of pleasure is nothing new. As Solomon reminds us a number of times in the Book of Ecclesiastes, when you boil it down, there is nothing new under the sun. Though our technology has changed and we have had certain advancements since Solomon wrote those words, the basic cravings of humanity have not changed, nor have the basic things we look to. The philosophy of eat, drink, and be merry has been with us for a long time.

When Solomon decided he would pursue everything this world had to offer, he was not considering God in all of it. He was living horizontally—he had adapted a worldview that omitted God. Eventually he came to realize there was nothing to profit from under the sun. It was only when Solomon looked above the sun and looked to God that he found the answers he was seeking. When we see God for who He is, we will see the world for what it is.

If you have a close relationship with God and are walking closely with Him, you will recognize philosophies, concepts, and ideologies being propagated that are contradictory to what the Bible teaches. When you are walking closely with God, you will see this world for what it is.

 

https://www.harvest.org/

Kids 4 Truth International – Jesus Is the Author and Finisher of the Faith

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)

“You built all this, Dad?” It was her first time visiting the site of her dad’s latest contracting job, and Elise couldn’t help but be impressed.

“You bet,” said Dad. “The docks, the shed, the cabinets, the rails. Our company designed and built the whole marina, from start to finish!”

Elise tried to think of something that she had been a part of from start to finish. Well, she washed a whole sinkful of dishes all by herself last week! – but, then again, the sink was almost full of dirty dishes again by the next day! Had she ever invented something, or designed something brand new? Had she ever finished something once and for all? Hmmm. She wondered.

As her dad walked her around the marina, pointing out little details about the structural choices and telling stories about the construction process, the question kept coming up to Elise’s mind: Had she ever thought up a new idea and carried it out to the end? She couldn’t think of one thing.

Have you? Human beings are very talented and gifted in amazing ways, because God made us in His own image, with imagination and affections and intelligence and creativity. But even the most amazing individuals could never do what Jesus Christ did, both physically and spiritually. Jesus was and still is 100% God and 100% human. He is the only One Who could have “designed” and “built” and accomplished the greatest plan in the universe – the Gospel.

Continue reading Kids 4 Truth International – Jesus Is the Author and Finisher of the Faith

The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Our Task

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 72:8

“May he have dominion . . . to the ends of the earth!”

As people believe the Gospel and are saved, the reign of Christ is established in principle in their hearts. They’re delivered from the kingdom of darkness and brought into the kingdom of Christ (Colossians 1:13). God’s will is that this process be carried out among every nation on earth.

This, then, is our task: proclaiming the Gospel in each nation so that people there will trust in Christ and be brought under his authority in their lives. We cannot quantify what it means for a nation to be “blessed,” nor what is meant by “all the families of the nations will bow down before him” (Psalm 22:27, NIV), but surely these expressions signify more than just a token few from each nation. Surely they promise a significant penetration of the Gospel among every nation, tribe, people, and language.

Vast numbers of people still live in spiritual darkness. There is yet much spiritual ground to be possessed. We find ourselves in a situation similar to the Israelites after conquering much of Canaan, when God said to Joshua, “There are still very large areas of land to be taken over” (Joshua 12:24?3:1, NIV). While we rejoice in the Gospel’s progress in many parts of the world, we acknowledge that there’s more work to do before we can say every nation has been blessed.

When Jesus commissioned us to make disciples of all nations, he clearly intended that we meet this objective. Furthermore, he has the power to ensure that we do. He’s not like a helpless football coach standing on the sidelines watching his vastly inferior team take a sound beating. While we don’t know the final score, we do know that Jesus’ “team” will eventually win. God will not be defeated by the powers of darkness.

 

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The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Love Means Listening

Today’s Scripture: Jeremiah 33:1-11

After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the synagogue rulers sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have a message of encouragement for the people, please speak.” Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: “Men of Israel and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me!” – Acts 13:15-16

How do you feel when you make a phone call, and a recorded voice answers and asks you to leave a message at the sound of the beep? Or when your phone conversation is interrupted by call waiting, and your party asks you to hold while he sees if this call is more important than yours?

What we really want is to have someone listen to us as if they care. You know what I mean. You call long-distance to the Apex Washer, Dryer, and Ironing Board Company. You call and call, and finally get through. An operator says, “Hold, please.” After a long wait, the operator comes on the line again and says, “May I help you?” So you tell the person you’d like to speak to Mr. Green. “Who’s calling?” You give your name. “Hold, please.” Finally you get Mr. Green’s office. “May I speak to Mr. Green?”

“I’m sorry, he’s away from his desk. May I take a message?”

Sound familiar? Think about that in light of God’s remarkable promise in Jeremiah 33:3: “Call to me and I will answer you.” No hold buttons. No busy signals. Never an interruption by someone more important than you. You have His attention every day, all day, day and night. Because God loves you, He pays attention to you. He listens when you talk to Him.

Friend, that’s the example for us with our families. When your child calls, answer. When your spouse wants to talk after you’re home from work, talk. And listen! It takes such little effort, and it pays such big dividends.

Prayer

Lord, thank You for inviting me to talk to You about everything. Give me keen ears to hear Your response. Amen.

To Ponder

God’s ear is always open to the person who seeks Him.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – SOURCE OF OUR SALVATION

Read 1 PETER 1:1–5

Poets who work in structured verse have to follow specific guidelines. A sonnet must have fourteen lines. Iambic pentameter requires strict adherence to a five-beat meter. A haiku has three lines: five syllables, then seven, then five. Every word has to be carefully selected for a poem to convey meaning and imagery within a limited space.

Today we begin a study of the books of 1 and 2 Peter. Just as with excellent poetry, each verse is filled with rich messages of truth and beauty. One scholar described 1 Peter as “the most condensed New Testament resume of the Christian faith,” and the great reformer Martin Luther believed that this short letter was filled with essential information for Christians.

In verse 1, we are introduced to both the author and the audience. The apostle Peter was writing to Christians in five regions that together would be nearly the size of California. This large area had a diverse population of local people and Roman colonists sent to settle there when the empire expanded. Peter immediately notes a paradox in the identity of his recipients. They are “exiles,” or strangers in the world, and “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God” (v. 2). Throughout the rest of this letter, we’ll see these two contrasting poles used to describe the identity of believers. In relationship to the world, we are strangers and exiles, people who don’t fit in. In relationship to God, we are chosen and sanctified heirs.

Peter’s focus in these opening verses shifts quickly from his readers to God, as he begins to introduce one of his key themes: our salvation. Notice the work of the Trinity in verse 2, and glorious hymn of praise that begins in verse 3. God is the source of our salvation, and worthy of our worship.

APPLY THE WORD

First Peter explores how our salvation through Jesus shapes our identity, especially in themes of what humility means in the Christian life and the work of the Trinity. Jot in a notebook all the action words used in these first five verses to describe God’s work for us; for example, we are chosen, given new birth, and shielded by His power.

 

http://www.todayintheword.org