Charles Stanley – Vision Without Boundaries

 

Luke 18:27

What do you think goes through the mind of runners during a marathon? It’s not unusual for them to think about crossing the finish line. If they let themselves dwell on how long, painful, or difficult the race will be, they could easily fail.

With regard to our aspirations, we would be wise to follow a similar thought pattern. If we permit ourselves to think about obstacles in our path, we are less likely to succeed.

God’s vision is for us to share His message of hope with all of the world (Luke 24:47). Like a marathon, it’s a huge task, and many Christians feel “all the nations” is too big of an assignment. Other believers stop because of a language barrier or a safety concern. And some just don’t know how to start, so they let insecurity deter them. But Jesus’ mandate must translate into our obedience, which means we must overcome any hindrances.

First, it’s important to identify limitations that exist in our minds. Second, God’s transformation of our own life should be a significant motivation. Third, we need to rely on Jesus’ promise of His presence and the Holy Spirit’s empowerment. Remember that the Lord said what would be impossible with man is possible with God (Luke 18:27). Once we break down our objections and obey in the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we’ll be amazed at what God will do through us.

What mental limitations have you put on sharing the good news of the gospel with the world? Ask for forgiveness, refocus on the goal, and tell the Lord that you are available to share and to serve.

Bible in One Year: Acts 8-9

 

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Bread!

Read: John 6:34–51

Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 51–52; Hebrews 9

I am the bread of life.—John 6:48

I live in a small Mexican city where every morning and evening you can hear a distinctive cry: “Bread!” A man with a huge basket on his bike offers a great variety of fresh sweet and salty breads for sale. I used to live in a bigger city, where I had to go to the bakery to buy bread. So I enjoy having fresh bread brought to my door.

Moving from the thought of feeding physical hunger to spiritual hunger, I think of Jesus’s words: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever” (John 6:51).

Someone has said that evangelism is really one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread. Many of us can say, “Once I was spiritually hungry, spiritually starving because of my sins. Then I heard the good news. Someone told me where to find bread: in Jesus. And my life changed!”

Now we have the privilege and the responsibility of pointing others to this Bread of Life. We can share Jesus in our neighborhood, in our workplace, in our school, in our places of recreation. We can talk about Jesus in the waiting room, on the bus, or on the train. We can take the good news to others through doors of friendship.

Jesus is the Bread of Life. Let’s tell everybody the great news. —Keila Ochoa

Lord Jesus, I want to be Your witness everywhere I go.

Share the Bread of Life wherever you are.

INSIGHT: Many items in John’s gospel combine Jesus’s works and His words. For example, He feeds more than 5,000 people with bread in John 6 and declares Himself “the bread of life.” Here’s the world’s superlative show-and-tell—He does what He is. In the ancient world of Israel, probably the number one food item was bread. In effect, it served as the staple food. Jesus said, “Man shall not live on bread alone” (Matt. 4:4). However, if we don’t live on some bread (that is, food), we won’t have physical life for long. Just as “bread” is what supplies us with physical life, Jesus is the One who supplies us with spiritual life. Jim Townsend

 

http://www.odb.org

John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Identifying False Wisdom

“This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic” (James 3:15).

True wisdom is from God; false wisdom is from the Devil.

Wisdom that is bitterly jealous and self-centered is not “from above.” Such traits constitute a wisdom that doesn’t come from God, the source of true wisdom (cf. 1:5, 17). Human wisdom, rather than being from above, is “earthly” (3:15). It is limited to the sphere of time and space and marked by the curse of man’s own fallenness, which is characterized by pride and self-centeredness. Everything the world initiates in the way of supposed truth is self-centered. Unregenerate man’s finite system demands an earthly wisdom and nothing more.

Man’s wisdom is also “natural” (v. 15), which means “fleshly” and refers to man’s humanness and frailty. First Corinthians 2:14 says, “A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God.” The natural man is sensual. All his feelings, impulses, and appetites are locked up in a fallen and corrupted system. All of man’s wisdom comes from his unsanctified heart and unredeemed spirit.

Besides being earthly and natural, human wisdom is “demonic” (James 3:15). This is the only place in the New Testament where the Greek word translated “demon” appears in its adjectival form. Human wisdom is actually generated by demons, who have been made captive to the same evil system as man. Satan and his agents disguise themselves as ministers of light when in fact they are ministers of darkness (2 Cor. 11:14-15).

The wisdom of the world is spawned by demons, reflects man’s humanness, and proceeds no further than the fallenness of mankind. Since that is so, be sure to “be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” (Eph. 6:10). Don’t let Satan and the world beguile you with their so-called wisdom.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray to be “filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” (Col. 1:9-10).

For Further Study

According to 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 and Colossians 2:8, how is the believer to fight against Satan and his demonic wisdom?

 

http://www.gty.org

Wisdom Hunters – Compounding Comfort 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Comfort is not a one-time act, it is recurring and compounding. It is a gift that keeps on giving, as it can cut through any calamity and bring healing and peace. It can transcend circumstances because it is the very nature of God. He is the God of all comfort, and no one is immune from His comfort. There is no trouble looming that can outpace God’s comfort. If you slow down and listen, His comfort will catch up and cover you. He is relentless in His comforting pursuit. He comforts the comfortless. Life may currently have you in a very uncomfortable place. You are a little embarrassed and a lot unsure of yourself, but one thing you can be sure of is the comfort of God.

Your situation is not unique, for He has been there before with His battalion of comfort comrades. Let Him in, and do not continue to wrestle alone in your discomfort. You were made to be comforted. It is not a sign of weakness to be comforted by God. On the contrary, it is strength and wisdom. He is your celestial comforter. His blanket of comfort is always available to bring rest and deep sleep. Do not toss and turn in your troubles.

No matter how terrible your circumstances, His comfort has you covered. His comforter of compassion and love compensates for adversity. It is a warm, soft, and soothing comforter that is tailor-made for your bed of life. Do not toss off its warm embrace; it is for your benefit, not your harm. Yes, it probably means slowing down so you can receive his calming comfort; so trust Him. Rest and relax in the arms of your heavenly Father.

Continue reading Wisdom Hunters – Compounding Comfort 

Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Blessed! Precious Is Our Faith

Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious.

1 Peter 2:7

The word “precious” crops up in unusual places, like in investment portfolios containing precious metals or jewelry stores dealing in precious stones. Or in the Bible—particularly in the writings of Peter, who used this word repeatedly while writing to “those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1).

Recommended Reading: 1 Peter 2:4-10

According to Peter, our faith is “more precious than gold” (1 Peter 1:7), for we’ve been redeemed by “the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:19). Jesus was “chosen by God and precious” (1 Peter 2:4), and He is our precious cornerstone (1 Peter 2:6). To us who believe He is precious (1 Peter 2:7), and when we display a gentle and quiet spirit, it’s “very precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:4). On top of it all, the Lord has given us His “exceedingly great and precious promises” through which we may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Peter 1:4).

How blessed we are! How precious our faith!

Precious Jesus, that is the name which calms my fears, and bids my sorrows cease.

Charles H. Spurgeon, in his sermon “Christ Precious to Believers”

Read-Thru-the-Bible: Acts 4 – 7

 

http://www.davidjeremiah.org/

Joyce Meyer – Control Your Mouth, Enjoy Your Life

For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies.” —1 Peter 3:10 NLT

The Bible says that we need to control our tongues if we want to enjoy life, and I believe we all want to enjoy life. I find that reading and meditating on what God’s Word says about the power of words is helpful to me. Here are some of my favorites:

Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything (Proverbs 13:3 NLT).

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my [firm, impenetrable] Rock and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14).

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless (James 1:26 NIV).

Look up these additional scriptures and meditate on them as you seek to live a powerful life: Proverbs 8:8; 11:9; 12:18; 15:4; 18:21. God’s Word has power in it that will strengthen and enable you to speak words of life that will benefit you.

Power Thought: I am careful and intentional about all that I say.

From the book the book Power Thoughts Devotional by Joyce Meyer.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Living the Godly Life

“As God’s messenger I give each of you God’s warning: Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you” (Romans 12:3).

A newly appointed director of affairs for our ministry came to me for counsel after being given his assignment. “Tell me,” he inquired, “what are the biggest problems that I will encounter in my new area of responsibility?”

“Three major ones,” I responded. “First, pride, the problem that causes Satan to seek a place of authority over God Himself, resulting in his expulsion from the heavenly kingdom. Since creation, man’s greatest problem has been pride – thinking more highly of oneself than one ought to think.

“Your second problem will be materialism – the desire to accumulate wealth, to live the good life, to keep up with the Joneses with better houses, cars, clothes, and security.

“And the third problem will be sex, the temptation to immorality. Man’s second greatest drive after self-perservation is sex. In the marriage bond, sex is one of the most beautiful of the God-given privileges. But out of marriage, it results in grieving and quenching the Spirit and, ultimately, in the discipline of God. Therefore, be faithful to the wife that God has given you and love her as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25).

“Keep yourself humble by God’s power. Seek the simple life and be motivated and constrained by the love of God for the souls of men, rather than for the good things of this world.”

This is my counsel to all of our staff. It is my message to all Christian leaders and to all who seek to live godly lives.

The highways and byways of the world are littered with men and women of great talent and ability who are no longer being used of God. The fire has gone out of their hearts; the smile is gone from their faces. They harvest no fruit for the kingdom. They have fallen, thinking more highly of themselves than they ought to think, after the example of Satan, the author of pride.

God’s Word admonishes us to think soberly, wisely, prudently and modestly. The faith which we each have is a gift from God, measure by Him. That fact alone should produce in you and me a true, humility, changing any feeling of pride to one of gratitude. The truly humble person regards God as the source of all blessings.

Bible Reading: Ephesians 4:1-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: When the temptation comes to think more highly of myself than I ought to think, with God’s help I will remember that everything I have is a gift of His grace. I will humble myself before God and man and, by faith, live a supernatural, godly life, dedicated to the extension of His kingdom

 

http://www.cru.org

Ray Stedman – Who To Bless

Read: Romans 12:14-21

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Romans 12:14

Paul describes the kind of love we should show to a non-Christian world. Paul gives some very practical help on this. Love speaks well of its persecutors. That is getting right down to where the rubber meets the road, isn’t it? That means you don’t go around badmouthing people who are not nice to you. You don’t run them down or speak harshly about them to others, but you speak well of them. You find something that you can approve, and you say so to others. I confess that is not my natural reaction. When somebody persecutes me, I persecute back! At least I want to. But this is what the Word tells us we don’t need to do and we should not do. This applies to such practical areas as traffic problems. Have you ever been persecuted in traffic? It happens all the time. Somebody cuts you off, and you want to roll down the window and shout at them. But according to this, you are not supposed to. Now, this doesn’t tell you what to call them, but it tells you to bless them, anyway.

In verse 17 Paul says, Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the sight of everybody. Later, in verse 19 he adds, Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written, It is mine to avenge, I will repay, says the Lord. Revenge is one of the most natural of human responses to hurt or injury or bad attitudes. We always feel that, if we treat others according to the way they have treated us, we are only giving them justice. We can justify this so easily. I’m only teaching them a lesson. I’m only showing them how I feel. I’m only giving back what they’ve given me. But any time you argue that way you have forgotten the many times you have injured others without getting caught yourself. But God hasn’t forgotten. This always puts us in the place of those Pharisees who, when the woman was taken in adultery, were ready to cast stones and stone her to death. Jesus came by and said to them, He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone, (John 8:7). That stopped them all dead in their tracks, because there wasn’t a one of them who wasn’t equally as guilty as she. They needed to be judged too. We must never carry out revenge, because we are not in the position of a judge. We, too, are guilty. We need to be judged. Therefore, Paul’s admonition is, Don’t try to avenge yourself. You will only make a mess of it. The inevitable result of trying to get even with people is that you escalate the conflict. It is inescapable.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – Who To Bless

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – The Blood of the Martyrs

Read: Revelation 12:7-17

They have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. (v. 11)

At Namugongo, just outside of Kampala, stands a memorial to the Ugandan martyrs. There, on June 3, 1886, the king of Buganda put to death 26 young men who had angered him by their Christian commitment. Some were cut to pieces, others were burned alive; all refused to renounce their faith in Christ.

The church in Uganda then was very small. The gospel had come there a decade earlier, when missionaries were sent from England at the invitation of the prior king. But the martyrdoms in Namugongo became a turning point.

The example of these martyrs, who walked to their deaths singing hymns and praying for their enemies, so inspired many of the bystanders that they began to seek instruction from the remaining Christians. Within a few years the original handful of converts had multiplied many times and spread far beyond the court. (http://churchofuganda.org/about/history).

Today Uganda has a higher percentage of Christians than any other African country. The Anglican Church of Uganda, Words of Hope’s partner in radio ministry, alone has more than 10 million members. And every year on June 3 hundreds of thousands of Christians, both Protestant and Catholic, walk to Namugongo from all over East Africa to honor the martyrs whose blood was the seed of the church.

—David Bast

Prayer:

I praise you for faithful witnesses. Strengthen those who face persecution today.

 

Greg Laurie – Forgiven People

Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.—Matthew 6:12

On December 1, 1997, about a dozen students were gathered together for their daily prayer meeting at Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky. As they said their final “Amen,” a 14-year-old boy suddenly walked up and opened fire on the group. Three of the students died, while five others were seriously wounded. The irony of the situation was that a number of these students had actually befriended this young man.

In the midst of this tragedy, an amazing story of forgiveness emerged. As she lay in the hospital, one of the injured girls—15-year-old Melissa Jenkins—was informed that she most likely would be a paraplegic for the rest of her life. Melissa wanted to convey a message to the teenage boy who shot her.

What do you think her message was? Did she say she hated him or that he would get his in the end? No. This is not what she had to say. This Christian teenage girl said she forgave him.

Only a Christian can do something like that. It is not a natural thing to do. Rather, it’s supernatural. That is one of the amazing things about true followers of Jesus: they have the capacity to forgive people.

Understand that if you are a Christian, then you—like Melissa Jenkins—need to learn how to forgive as well. In fact, to not forgive someone is an outright sin. If you don’t forgive a person who has sinned against you, then you are sinning against God. To say that you are a Christian, but that you refuse to forgive, is a contradiction in terms.

If you are an unforgiving Christian, then one must question how much you know about Christianity. Jesus constantly pressed this issue. His sermons, His parables, His private talks, even His prayers, were often filled with lessons about forgiveness. You would be blind to miss this point.

 

https://www.harvest.org/

Kids 4 Truth International – God Doesn’t Make Junk

“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14)

If you create something (whether it’s a picture or a paper airplane, a clay sculpture, or even a new cookie recipe), you have used your mind and your imagination, as well as your hands and tools and supplies. You can truly enjoy creating something – especially if it’s something that matters to you, and if you do a good job. It may never turn out as well as you had hoped back when you started; but after you are done, your project shows others something about you, the creator. It reflects your style.

When God finished making the world, it was perfectly good. (Genesis 1:31 – “And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.”) When we look at the world, we see God’s style, His creativity. We see colors and sounds and beauty. We see what He provides for us: food and water, rain and light. We experience a world of systems that work properly, whether it is the four seasons (always in the same order), or day following night, or gravity. We see animals and plants that are so unusual and fantastic that a human being could never have imagined them. Our own bodies are amazing systems that no computer could ever equal. Nothing that we as creatures could ever make would ever be as complicated and wonderful as God’s handiwork, because He is the Master Creator.

Once Adam and Eve sinned, God’s Creation could no longer be perfect. It was still good, but it had a curse on it. You may have seen this in yourself: You get sick, or things go wrong in your body, or you would like to change a part of yourself that does not seem right. God will take care of all these problems one day. If you are His child, you will be part of a new heaven and a new earth, with a new body that works perfectly at all times. But in the meantime, you are still “fearfully and wonderfully made.” For that reason, you can praise God, for it was He Who made us; not the other way around! (See Psalm 100:3.)

Continue reading Kids 4 Truth International – God Doesn’t Make Junk

The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Iniquity of Holy Things

Today’s Scripture: Luke 18:11

“God, I thank you that I am not like other men . . . or even like this tax collector.”

With whom do we identify, the Pharisee or the tax collector? The prodigal son or the older brother? Obviously no one wants to identify with the Pharisee or the older brother. But are we willing to identify with the tax collector and the prodigal son, as sinners deeply in need of the grace and mercy of God? Are we willing to say, “God, be merciful to me the sinner” or “I am no longer worthy to be called your son”? Are we willing to acknowledge that even our righteous acts are no more than filthy rags in the sight of God (Isaiah 64:6)?

John Owen, known as the prince of Puritan theologians, wrote these words way back in 1657: “Believers obey Christ as the one by whom our obedience is accepted by God. Believers know all their duties are weak, imperfect and unable to abide in God’s presence. Therefore they look to Christ as the one who bears the iniquity of their holy things, who adds incense to their prayers, gathers out all the weeds from their duties and makes them acceptable to God.”

Owen speaks of Christ bearing the iniquity of our holy things—the sinfulness of even our good works. As another Puritan preacher was reputed to have said, “even our tears of repentance need to be washed in the blood of the Lamb.” Our best works can never earn us one bit of favor with God. Let us then turn our attention from our own performance—whether it seems good or bad—and look to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is God’s provision for our sin, not only on the day we trusted Christ for salvation but every day of our Christian lives.

 

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The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Our Ever-Present Help

Today’s Scripture: Nehemiah 5-7

Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9

As Nehemiah struggled to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, one of his greatest enemies was fear. First, he had to fight it among the people. In Nehemiah 4:10, we find the warlike tribe of Judah about ready to throw in the towel, saying, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.”

They also feared an enemy attack while they worked. So Nehemiah prayed, posted a guard, and encouraged the people to remember God’s faithfulness. But after helping the people with their fear, the next attack came against Nehemiah himself.

Sanballat and Geshem tried to lure him into meeting with them in one of the villages. When he resisted their scheme, they created a false report about him and threatened to report him to the king. Then they tried to frighten Nehemiah into taking refuge in the temple to escape their threats of death. And was he afraid? Yes. But he didn’t show it. He was not controlled by the fear. And he asked God to strengthen him (verse 9).

Christian, we do not have to be under the control of our emotions if we walk under the control of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that one fruit of the Spirit is self-control, or self-discipline.

Paul wrote to his young friend Timothy, “For God did not give us a spirit of [fear], but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). The answer to fear is not denial. Like Nehemiah, admit your fear. That’s the first step. Then place your trust in the never-changing One who, right up to this day, has never lost a battle.

Prayer

Lord, when I am afraid, I will trust in You. Amen.

To Ponder

Walking in the Spirit is a daily decision to hand over control of our lives to God. When we do this, there is no room for fear.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – GOD PROVIDES EVEN WHEN WE’RE OVERWHELMED

Read JOHN 6:1–13

God promised Israel abundant provision for the Year of Jubilee. A single harvest would suffice for three years’ worth of food—the harvest year itself, the sabbath (seventh) year following, and the Year of Jubilee (every 50 years) after that. The Lord said, “I will send you such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years” (Lev. 25:21).

One of Jesus’ miracles in particular evokes this theme of abundant provision—the feeding of the 5,000. It’s the only miracle (other than the Resurrection) found in all four Gospels. One of its many lessons is that God provides even when we feel overwhelmed.

There’s no question that this situation was too much to handle by ordinary means. The crowd numbered 5,000 men, but including women and children it would have been much larger. Philip guessed it would take six months’ wages to buy enough food for them (v. 7), an estimate that may have been a bit low. Even if they would have had the money, they were not near a market. Instead, Andrew found one boy with one small lunch consisting of five barley loaves and two fish. “How far will they go among so many?” he asked (v. 9). Not far, obviously. Andrew’s question implied a request, made in faith, for Jesus to do something.

Jesus in fact already had a plan (v. 6). He miraculously multiplied the boy’s lunch into more than enough food

for all the people. There were even leftovers (v. 13)! One study Bible notes that at this time all Jews carried small baskets for picking up scraps after meals because wasting bread was seen as disrespecting God’s provision. Giving thanks for the food was not a mere ritual, but a way to honor and glorify God for this miracle.

APPLY THE WORD

You probably don’t have to feed a crowd of 5,000, but perhaps it feels like 5,000 bill collectors are knocking at your door! Commit to the Lord any overwhelming situation you’re facing, and read the rest of John 6. Though things look impossible, we can trust God to provide, and we already have the most abundant provision of all—His Son.

 

http://www.todayintheword.org

Streams in the Desert for Kids – No Stress

2 Corinthians 1:8–9

Today we call pressure stress. You hear many people talking about stress. Stress can be bad if all we do is worry. It can be good if it pushes us toward the only One who has answers for our stress—God our Father.

Once a stressful situation has passed, you come out of it with the ability to help other people. Think about the last time you had to study for a hard test. You probably felt pressure until you finished the test. But now when a friend talks about being stressed out about an exam, you know exactly how he or she feels.

Or do you remember a time when your mom got really sick or your dad traveled away for several weeks? Was it stressful for the rest of your family? But when the sickness or travel was over, you were relieved. Now, you can be understanding when others face a similar situation.

The most important thing to remember is that any time you face pressure, turn to God first. If you learn to rely on him, you will experience his peace and the stress won’t be as overwhelming. Then you will have a truly helpful answer to offer others—God’s strength.

Dear Lord, Everybody talks about being “stressed out.” I’m so glad you are the answer to all stressful situations. Amen.