Charles Stanley – A Godly Heart

 

Psalms 37:1-8

The Lord promises to give us the desires of our hearts. But many people take this passage out of context, forgetting that their own mindset plays a vital part in bringing it to fruition. As my mother once said, “Where your mind goes, your feet go, so be careful what you think about.”

What is your responsibility when it comes to claiming promises from God?

Delight Yourself in the Lord (Ps. 37:4). Christians should rejoice in God and desire to walk in obedience. The Lord must have first place in your life before you can claim the promise in this verse.

Commit your way to the Lord (Ps. 37:5). Allow God to change any aspect of your ambition that is not His will. Remember that when He doesn’t answer a prayer as you wished, it is for a reason.

Trust in Him (Ps. 37:5). God is merciful, all-knowing, kind, and generous. You can trust Him with your hopes and dreams.

Rest in Him (Ps. 37:7). Resting in the Lord means trusting Him to answer prayers in His timing or transform your aspirations so they conform to His will.

Wait upon the Lord patiently (Ps. 37:7). Jesus waited three decades before beginning His three-year ministry on earth. According to His example, waiting is one of the key principles of Christian living.

Do your desires align with God’s purpose and plan for your life? He longs to give His followers abundant blessings and fullness of joy. So allow your dreams to be conformed to the Lord’s will, and follow His guidance faithfully. Only when you surrender to Him will you experience God’s best for your life.

Bible in One Year: Luke 4-5

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — My Brothers and Sisters

Read: Matthew 25:31-40

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 65-66; 1 Timothy 2

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.—Matthew 25:40

Several years ago when the Southern California economy took a downturn, Pastor Bob Johnson saw not only difficulty but also opportunity. So he scheduled a meeting with the mayor of his city and asked, “What can our church do to help you?” The mayor was astonished. People usually came to him for help. Here was a minister offering him the services of an entire congregation.

Together the mayor and pastor came up with a plan to address several pressing needs. In their county alone, more than 20,000 seniors had gone the previous year without a single visitor. Hundreds of foster children needed families. And many other kids needed tutoring to help them succeed in school.

Some of those needs could be addressed without much financial investment, but they all required time and interest. And that’s what the church had to give.

Jesus told His disciples about a future day in which He would say to His faithful followers, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance” (Matt. 25:34). He also said they would express surprise at their reward. Then He would tell them, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (v. 40).

God’s kingdom work gets done when we give generously of the time, love, and resources He has provided us. —Tim Gustafson

What lonely person is the Spirit bringing to your mind right now? Can you visit them, call, or write? What young person in your life could use some of your time and attention?

Giving isn’t just for the wealthy; it’s for all of us.

INSIGHT: Jesus’s theme of caring for others in need was part of Paul’s teaching and practice as well. In his letters, he encouraged the Gentile churches he founded to contribute generously to help meet the needs of the church in Jerusalem (1 Cor. 16:1-3). In fact, part of the purpose of his final journey to Jerusalem was to deliver those gifts. The call to share with those in need is still one of the ways we can impact our world. In showing love, concern, and generosity to those in need, it may provide an opportunity for sharing the message of the cross. Bill Crowder

 

http://www.odb.org

John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Dead to the Law

“Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ” (Romans 7:4).

The law can no longer punish those who have died with Christ.

It’s an axiomatic truth that laws don’t apply to dead people. No policeman would issue a ticket to a drunk driver who was killed in an accident. Nor was Lee Harvey Oswald tried for killing President Kennedy, since he himself was killed by Jack Ruby. In Romans 7:2-3 Paul uses marriage to illustrate that truth: “For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then if, while her husband is living, she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress, though she is joined to another man.” Paul’s point is simple: death ends a marriage because the laws regarding marriage don’t apply to the dead.

The same principle holds true in the spiritual realm. Since believers have died with Christ (Rom. 6:3-7), the law can no longer condemn them; it no longer has authority over them. Paul’s use of a passive verb (“were made to die”) indicates that believers don’t make themselves dead to the law; they were made dead to the law through a divine act.

The only provision for paying the penalty the law demands is the Lord Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. To the Corinthians Paul wrote, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). The apostle repeated that truth in Galatians 2:19-20: “For through the Law I died to the Law, that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God that you are no longer under the law’s condemnation (Rom. 8:1).

For Further Study

Read Romans 3:20; 7:12; Galatians 3:24-25. Since the law can’t save anyone, what is its purpose?

 

http://www.gty.org

Wisdom Hunters – Retain Relationships 

Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the LORD that if you don’t go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come upon you from your youth till now.  2 Samuel 19:7

Encourage your best people, and be careful not to take them for granted. It is tempting to give all of your attention to problems and leave nothing for those who have stood by your side. Just because a person requires little leadership does not mean they are not needy. Someone who seems okay may be suffering in silence; they may not want to be a burden, so they keep quiet. They know you are busy with bigger matters, and they don’t want to be a bother. But this lack of attention can only last for a short season. Everyone needs personal care and encouragement. Low maintenance people still need love and positive feedback.

Therefore, make it a priority to praise those who have been with you the longest. Love them or you may lose them. We all know our most fulfilling relationships are the ones that have stood the test of time. Something special happens relationally when you endure hardships together. There is a bond built that is hard to break, but even this quality of relationship needs nurturing. Old relationships become cold relationships, if they are not given attention. So take the time today and thank God for your most loyal friends and work associates. Pray specifically for their personal and professional needs.

Moreover, manage by walking around. Step into their offices and listen to them with no agenda other than to understand what they need to be successful. Be as engaged with their interests as you expect them to be with yours. This line of thinking and encouragement especially applies to your family. Go out of your way to be with your spouse and children. Love and respect your spouse in a large way, as a child’s love and respect for mom or dad will not rise any higher than the level they observe between their parents. Furthermore, make sure not to neglect your less needy child in favor of your needy one. Your compliant child still needs encouragement and her obedient heart needs reassurance. She needs to know she is doing well. Otherwise she will gradually grow discontent, and tire of being “the good kid.”

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

Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 20:7

If you set aside a certain amount of your paycheck to fund an emergency account—not to be used for anything else—you have consecrated that money. Are those dollars more crisp, more pristine, more valuable than the other dollars in your bank account? No. What makes them special is that they have been identified and set aside for a specific purpose.

Recommended Reading: 1 Peter 1:15-16

That is essentially what it means to be holy, or to be consecrated before the Lord. It means an otherwise normal human being steps out of one circle and into another circle. He steps out of the circle of worldliness and into the circle of holiness. Does that person look any different on the outside? Probably not, just as Jesus didn’t (Isaiah 53:2). But on the inside, the person is very different. He has committed himself to Jesus Christ and His kingdom. When the pressures come to be conformed to this world, he does not yield because he has set himself aside as “holy to the Lord.”

If you are a Christian, you have set yourself apart for Christ. Pray today that, come what may in the future, you will remain consecrated unto Him.

The root of all steadfastness is in consecration to God.

Alexander MacLaren

Read-Thru-the-Bible: Luke 3 – 6

 

http://www.davidjeremiah.org/

Joyce Meyer – Believe the Best

Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].- 1 Corinthians 13:5

If we want to love people, we must let God transform the way we think about people and the things they do. We can believe the worst and be suspicious of everything others do and say, or we can believe the best. Real love always believes the best.

What we think and believe is a choice. The root of much of our trouble in life is that we don’t control or discipline our thoughts. If we don’t discipline our thoughts, we will probably end up being suspicious and believing bad things that don’t glorify God.

The prophet Jeremiah asked the people this: How long will you allow your . . . grossly offensive thoughts to lodge within you? (Jeremiah 4:14). The thoughts the people chose to think were offensive to God. When we choose to believe the best, we are able to let go of everything that could be harmful to good relationships.

When people do something that hurts you, you can believe they didn’t realize what they were doing. If you do, you will save a lot of energy that you might otherwise waste on anger. When your feelings get hurt you will feel angry, but you can say to yourself, “Even though what they said or did hurt me, I choose to believe their heart was right.” Keep talking to yourself until your feelings of anger start to dissipate. Say things like, “I don’t believe they really understood how their actions affected me. I don’t believe they would try to hurt me on purpose. Maybe they are just having a bad day today.”

I know from experience that keeping mental records of offenses poisons our own lives and does not really change the other person. Many times we waste a day being angry at someone who doesn’t even realize they did anything that bothered us. If we are going to keep records, then why not keep records of the good things people do rather than the mistakes they make?

Trust in Him: Choose to believe the best in all people and trust God to deal with any offense. Doing so will help you enjoy everyday life.

from the book Trusting God Day by Day by Joyce Meyer.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – No Longer Slaves

“And you are My friends if you obey Me. I no longer call you slaves, for a master doesn’t confide in slaves; now you are My friends, proved by the fact that I have told you everything the Father told Me” (John 15:14,15).

How many really close friends do you have? Not many, I think you will agree, for a close friend is one in whom you confide regularly. who knows you just as you are and loves you just the same.

So it is with our heavenly Friend, the one who “sticks closer than a brother.” And how do we earn the right to become that kind of intimate friend? Simply by obeying His commands, “which are not grievous,” but really are necessary to keep us in the straight and narrow path and to give us a happy, blessed life.

In a sense, of course, we are still His bondslaves, His servants, but He deigns to call us His friends if we love Him enough to obey His commands. And He proves His friendship by sharing with us all that the Father has shared with Him. What greater friend could we have?

Jesus not only called His disciples friends, but He also treated them as friends. He opened His mind to them, made known His plans and acquainted them with the plan of His coming. His death, His resurrection and ascension. He followed this proof of His friendship with the actual title of friend.

Oh, that you and I might see Him today truly as our friend – one who sticks closer than a brother or sister or mother or father.

Bible Reading: John 15:11-17

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: As I take inventory of my real friends today, I will especially include the one Friend above all friends, the Lord Jesus Christ, the source of the supernatural life which God has commanded me to live.

 

http://www.cru.org

Ray Stedman – Headship

Read: 1 Corinthians 11:2-16

But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 1 Corinthians 11:3

When the apostle uses the word head here he is speaking figuratively of that which sits on top of the neck. Even in the ancient world, it was understood to be the control center of the body. That is what the head of our body does; it runs the body; it is in charge; it is the direction setter of the body. Used, figuratively, therefore, the word head means primarily leadership, and thus it is used in this passage. This is clear from the threefold use of it that the apostle makes here.

The first one is, the head of every man is Christ. There is the declaration of Christ’s right to lead the whole human race. He is the leader of the race in the mind and thinking of God, and ultimately, as Scripture tells us, there will come a day when all humanity, without exception, shall bow the knee and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord Romans 14:11, Philippians 2:11). So whether we know it or not, Christ is our head, and we are responsible to follow him. That is the whole objective of life for any person who wishes to fulfill his humanity.

Move down to the third level of headship mentioned here, the head of Christ is God. Here we have a manifestation of headship demonstrated for us in history. Jesus, the Son of God, equal to the Father in his deity, nevertheless, when he assumes humanity, submits himself to the leadership of the Father. Everywhere Jesus went he stated that he always did those things which pleased his Father. He even said, My Father is greater than I, (John 14:28). That does not challenge the equality of the members of the Godhead, but when Christ became man he voluntarily consented to take a lower position than the Father. It is in that sense he says, My Father is greater than I.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – Headship

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – The End of Life

 

READ: Job 19:25-27

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. (v. 25)

Unless Christ returns first, each of us will face the end of life through death. We are reminded of this regularly as we experience the death of a loved one, read an obituary, or drive past a cemetery. We may discover ways to live longer, but we cannot avoid the reality that someday we will die. Death is a result of living in a sin-tainted world.

Thankfully, God sent Jesus Christ to make an atoning sacrifice for our sin. He came to pay the debt for our sin so we could be made right with God! Those who repent of their sin and believe in Jesus will still physically die, but they will also be raised up and live forever with him. First John 5:11-12 reminds us: “God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

Job, in the midst of his earthly suffering, knew he would die and his skin would be destroyed. Yet, he also knew the hope of eternal life and that he would be raised up to see God with his own eyes. He knew that his Redeemer lives and in the end he will stand on the earth, forever defeating and overcoming death. We can have that hope, too. Do you?

PRAYER

Precious Redeemer, use me to share the good news so that many more can come to know and trust in you for eternal life. Amen.

 

Greg Laurie – “Oh, I Tried Christianity, and It Didn’t Work for Me!”

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.—Philippians 1:6

So, you say you tried Christianity and it didn’t work for you?

My reply: Nonsense!

Let me ask you these questions:

  1. After you were “converted,” did you begin to study and memorize Scripture? Psalm 119:11 (NKJV) says, “Your word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Paul exhorts us in 2 Timothy 2:15 (AMP), “Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved.”
  2. Did you actively and regularly get involved in a church? Not sporadically, but on a regular basis. We should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together (see Hebrews 10:25 NKJV).
  3. Did you get baptized? I’m not saying this is essential for salvation, but it is commanded in Scripture! “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized” (Acts 2:38 NKJV). Why would you not do what God has clearly commanded you to do?
  4. Did you turn from all known sin? “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Psalm 66:18 NKJV).
  5. Did you develop a prayer life? “Pray without ceasing . . . for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:17–18 NKJV).
  6. Did you deny yourself and take up the cross? Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23 NKJV).
  7. Did you keep His commandments? “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked”(1 John 2:3–6 NKJV).

If “it” didn’t work, it’s your own fault—because we’re not dealing with an “it” but a “Him.”

The Bible promises, “that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it” (Philippians 1:6 NKJV). Do you want your life to change? Jesus is saying to you, “Take your stand! Follow Me!”

“But I’ve tried and failed!” No, you haven’t. Jesus doesn’t work for some and not for others. He will change any person just as they are, immediately!

  1. K. Chesterton said, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and not tried!”

 

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Kids 4 Truth International – Jesus Christ Is Our Advocate

“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1)

Johanna was not happy. She and her sister Donna had gotten in an argument, and Dad had walked into the living room to find them standing on either end of the couch, yelling at one another. Both Johanna and Donna had been sent to their rooms to think about what they had been fighting over, and why they thought it was “so worth fighting for.”

But Johanna already knew it wasn’t worth the kind of meanness she had let loose on Donna. It had just started out as a tiny disagreement – about whose doll would get to wear a favorite outfit for that day. But this was not the first time Donna’s attitude had gotten on Johanna’s nerves, so Johanna had decided to tell Donna what she really thought of her – and her doll. She never intended to end up on one side of the couch, throwing pillows at Donna and yelling mean things at her. But that’s what had happened.

She already regretted it, even before Dad finally came in to punish her. If only it could be easier to remember that she loved Donna – right during that very moment when Donna was getting on her nerves! But those annoying moments seemed like the hardest times to remember love. Johanna could only think about herself when she started to get angry like that.

She picked up her Bible and looked at the verse she had just studied that morning. “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.” Well, I already blew that today, thought Johanna.

Continue reading Kids 4 Truth International – Jesus Christ Is Our Advocate

The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – God-Centered Holiness

Today’s Scripture: 1 Peter 1:16

“You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

If holiness is so basic to the Christian life, why do we not experience it more in daily living? Why do so many Christians feel constantly defeated in their struggle with sin? Why does the church of Jesus Christ so often seem to be more conformed to the world around it than to God?

Our first problem is that our attitude toward sin is more self-centered than God-centered. We’re more concerned about our own “victory” over sin than we are about the fact that our sins grieve God’s heart. We cannot tolerate failure in our struggle with sin chiefly because we are success-oriented, not because we know it’s offensive to God.

  1. S. Plumer said, “We never see sin aright until we see it as against God. All sin is against God in this sense: that it is his law that is broken, his authority that is despised, his government that is set at naught. Pharaoh and Balaam, Saul and Judas each said, ‘I have sinned’; but the returning prodigal said, ‘I have sinned against heaven and before thee’; and David said, ‘against Thee, Thee only have I sinned.’” God wants us to walk in obedience—not victory. Obedience is oriented toward God; victory is oriented toward self. This may seem to be merely splitting hairs over semantics, but there’s a subtle, self-centered attitude at the root of many of our difficulties with sin. Until we deal with this attitude, we won’t consistently walk in holiness.

Victory is a by-product of obedience. As we concentrate on living an obedient, holy life, we’ll certainly experience the joy of victory over sin. Will you begin to look at sin as an offense against a holy God, instead of as a personal defeat only? (Excerpt taken from The Pursuit of Holiness)

 

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The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – A Compass for Life

Today’s Scripture: Joshua 1-5

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. – Psalm 1:2-3

About all most people know of General Joshua is that he “fit the battle of Jericho, and the walls came tumblin’ down” (usually as sung by a male quartet). But the first thing we’re told about this man in the Old Testament was that he was on speaking terms with God.

Joshua 1:1 says, “After the death of Moses…the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide…” Here is what God commanded of his newly appointed leader: “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (1:8).

Joshua could have said: “What? Think about the words of the Bible, day and night? What about the invasion of Canaan? What about getting all these people across this swollen, rushing river?” But key to Joshua hearing the voice of God and getting his marching orders was his meditation on God’s Word.

Years ago, when I was asked to begin a campus ministry, I spent the better part of three weeks reading the Bible, praying, and seeking how God wanted to penetrate this campus with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Out of that time, I received a solid conviction and a strategy for effective evangelism and discipleship.

In our daily walk with Christ and in protracted times alone with Him, meditation on God’s Word is a key to opening the door of God’s guidance. Take another look at Joshua 1:8; memorize it, meditate on it, and claim it for your own life.

Prayer

Lord, I have no excuse for getting “lost” when Your Word gives such clear directions for daily walking with You. Amen.

To Ponder

Do you know how to get your direction from God?

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – PRODUCTIVE FAITH IN GOD

Read 2 PETER 1:5–11

A man in China was delighted to get two puppies from a local farmer. Several months later, however, the puppies were exhibiting unusual behavior. They killed and ate his pet chickens. They had an insatiable appetite. And they were huge—each weighed over 100 pounds. But not until the man saw a pamphlet on endangered animals did he realize that his beloved dogs weren’t dogs at all: they were Asian black bears.

Behavior and growth often confirm identity. Puppies grow into dogs; if they don’t look like dogs or act like dogs, then they probably aren’t dogs at all. In the same way, we expect those who identify with Jesus Christ and “participate in the divine nature” to grow more like Him.

The qualities listed in verses 5 through 7 remind us of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22–23). Here, the exhortation is to “make every effort,” a phrase repeated twice (vv. 5, 10). This passage is not saying that our effort brings about our salvation. Rather, these pursuits should claim our attention. And as we saw in our reading yesterday, it is through God’s power and promises that we are able to live this way at all. Our daily concern should be to participate in the work that the Spirit is doing within us to make our identity as the children of God clearly evident to all (v. 10).

Finally, Peter includes another reference to the spiritual abundance that contrasts with the evil desires. These qualities, self-control and godliness and love, grow in our lives “in increasing measure,” a phrase that connotes a lavish outpouring and overflowing of goodness (v. 8). We can experience these blessings now, while we wait for our “rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (v. 11).

APPLY THE WORD

Reflect on your life as a Christian, and consider how you’ve grown spiritually in these qualities. Do you see evidence of more self-control and perseverance? Do you have more love for God and others? Ask the Holy Spirit to convict and encourage you as you rejoice in His work in your life and continue to “make every effort” to be more like Jesus.

 

http://www.todayintheword.org

Streams in the Desert for Kids – God’s Friend

Genesis 18:22

Can you imagine what it would be like to be so close to God you were called “God’s friend”? That’s what Abraham was called. When God said to Abraham, “Take your family and leave the land of Ur,” Abraham gathered everybody up and started off to … well, he didn’t really know where. When he got to the land we now call Israel, he stopped and built an altar (which was often just a pile of rocks) to his Friend, God. God spoke to him and said, “I’m going to give you this land.” Then Abraham went on to other places and built more altars to his Friend.

Sometimes Abraham had a hard time trusting God, such as when God told him he’d become a dad at 100 years old. But Abraham’s faith grew until he trusted God completely. By the time God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac—the one God had promised him for such a long time—Abraham did not doubt God. He prepared to sacrifice his only son. Of course, God was only testing Abraham. The angel of God stopped Abraham from hurting his son.

Abraham was God’s friend. Would you like to be God’s friend? Friends of God can do mighty things for him. Friends of God can pray for others and see their lives changed. Friends of God trust him completely. Are you a friend of God?

Dear Lord, I’d like to be your friend. I know I will never be perfect, but I’d like to know you a lot better and I want my faith to grow. Teach me how. Amen.