Charles Stanley – Living in Grace


2 Corinthians 5:17

Before the apostle Paul’s conversion, if someone had suggested that he would impact the world for Jesus, he’d probably have laughed. In fact, his original goal was to rid the world of Christians (Acts 22:19-20).

God’s grace can impact anyone; no sin is beyond the reach of His forgiveness. This amazing gift of redemption changes lives. Contrary to what many think, being a Christian does not mean adding good deeds to one’s life. Instead, by God’s grace, believers receive forgiveness and a completely new nature. Our inward transformation results in obvious outward changes.

The butterfly’s metamorphosis can serve as an illustration to help us understand this. Once it’s in a chrysalis, a caterpillar doesn’t merely act or appear different from the outside; it truly has changed inwardly as well.

Transformation for believers occurs in many areas. For example, our attitudes change—salvation by God’s grace results in humility and gratitude. Out of thankfulness for this undeserved free gift, compassion for the lost flows, along with a desire to share the gospel with them. Experiencing Christ’s forgiveness also results in a longing to serve Him. This does not need to be in a formal church setting; we serve Him by loving others, helping those in need, and telling them about salvation.

While there are still natural consequences for our sin, God offers us forgiveness and redemption through Jesus. He made a way to restore our broken relationship with Him. What’s more, our Father transforms our lives so we will become more like His Son and reflect His heart to others.

Bible in One Year: Acts 23-24

Our Daily Bread — Skywatcher

Read: Isaiah 40:21–31

Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 11–13; James 1

He . . . brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name.—Isaiah 40:26

Unsettled by issues at work and at home, Matt decided to take a walk. The evening spring air beckoned. As the infinite sky deepened from blue to black, a thickening fog spilled slowly over the marsh. Stars began to glimmer, heralding the full moon rising in the east. The moment, for Matt, was deeply spiritual. He’s there, he thought. God is there, and He’s got this.

Some people look at the night sky and see nothing but nature. Others see a god as distant and cold as Jupiter. But the same God who “sits enthroned above the circle of the earth” also “brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name” (Isa. 40:22, 26). He knows His creation intimately.

It is this personal God who asked His people, “Why do you say, Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God’?” Aching for them, God reminded them of the wisdom in seeking Him. “Do you not know? Have you not heard? . . . He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (vv. 27-29).

We are easily tempted to forget God. Our problems won’t disappear with an evening stroll, but we can find rest and certainty that God is always working toward His good purposes. “I’m here,” He says. “I’ve got you.” —Tim Gustafson

Thank You, Lord, for a night sky that helps us glimpse eternity. We can’t begin to understand it fully, but we know it is there, and we know You are there. Help us trust You for what we don’t know.

We should give God the same place in our hearts that He holds in the universe.

INSIGHT: Isaiah’s reflections on the greatness of God are as powerful today as when penned centuries ago. Isaiah encourages the hearts of true believers to see the greatness of God in creation and how false, vain, and temporal substitute gods are. We are left with a wonderful awareness of our Creator’s nearness as well as His sustaining power to uphold us in trying circumstances. Dennis Fisher

John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Being Different from the World

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men,  but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15).

Living wisely will set you apart from the world.

Walking in wisdom is an element of the worthy walk that Paul has been describing since the beginning of Ephesians 4. He says in verse 1, “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” and then proceeds to describe this worthy walk with the following characteristics: It’s a humble walk (4:1-3), a united walk (4:4-16), a unique walk (4:17-32), a loving walk (5:1-7), an illuminated walk (5:8-14), and a wise walk (5:15-17). The point that Paul is making in describing the various elements of the worthy walk is that Christians are different from the world. The world can’t be humble because everyone is fighting for his rights. The world can’t be united because it celebrates and exalts differences. The world can’t be unique because it’s trapped in its own self-destruction. The world can’t love because it doesn’t have the life of God—the source of real love. The world can’t know light because it lies in the system of darkness. And the world can’t be wise because the wisdom of God is hidden from the mind of man. As Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:7, “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Realize that being different from the world is an asset to your Christian witness, not a hindrance. When others see you obeying Scripture—when they see you walking in wisdom—they’ll notice you’re not like them. That difference can create opportunities to tell them about your Savior. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Keep walking in wisdom, and let others be attracted to the light of Christ!

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to help you be a witness whose testimony shines brightly for Christ.

For Further Study

How does 1 Peter 2:12 say you are to live? Why?

Wisdom Hunters – God’s Payment Plan 

For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:30-31

Someone may be in debt to you. They may owe you money, a reputation, an apology, a job, or a childhood. But God is asking you to let go and let Him. Let Him handle this. He has a payment plan for those who are in debt to his children. It may mean He wipes their slate clean with minimal repercussions. It may mean their stiff neck forces God to bring them to the end of themselves through trials and tribulations. Or, it may mean that what awaits them is an eternity of reaping in hell what has been sown on earth. But God’s position is one of judge and jury. You do not have to carry this burden or responsibility. Your role is to forgive and to trust God with the proper judgment and consequence.

Life gets complicated and draining when we take on the responsibility of making sure a person gets what he deserves. This is arrogant and unwise on our part. How can we know what others deserve for their injustices, neglect, and self-absorption? Our role is not to play God, but to serve God. Playing God provides never-ending disappointment. We were not made for that role. Only the Almighty can fill those shoes. And He does have it under control. There is no indiscretion or blatant injustice that is off His radar screen. He picks up on every “little” sin.

So, rest in the assurance of knowing God will pay back in His good timing and His good way. Give this person or issue over to God. Do not bear the responsibility of executing payback time. Your role is to forgive and let go. God’s role is to establish a payment plan of justice and judgment. Yes, your parents may have blown it through their own selfish tirades. Their immature choices may have built up over time and led to divorce. Because of their indiscretions and unwise decisions, you grew up in a less than favorable home environment.

Continue reading Wisdom Hunters – God’s Payment Plan 

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

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.

Colossians 1:9

How do you pray for family members? Our families are our greatest blessings—and sometimes our greatest burdens. When we have tension in our marriages or homes, we suffer deep pain, anger, or anxiety. When we’re worried about a loved one, the distress can become obsessive.

Recommended Reading: Colossians 1:9-11

There are four things we can do in every circumstance: (1) Love unconditionally. Remember, loving someone doesn’t mean endorsing his or her behavior. (2) Model the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). When you’re loving, joyful, peaceful and patient, it always improves the climate. (3) As much as possible, keep open the lines of communication. (4) Pray. Convert the prayers of Paul into prayers for your family. For example, the churches in the Colossian region were troubled, but Paul prayed: “…that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord” (Colossians 1:9-10).

Our families are precious blessings that should be treated with prayer. Remember, God can do more with them than we can.

Jesus…is infinitely concerned about those we love and for whom we pray, and he wants to pray with us for them.

Jill Briscoe in “Prayer That Works”

Read-Thru-the-Bible: Acts 18 – 21

Joyce Meyer – Run to Him


For by the death He died, He died to sin [ending His relation to it] once for all; and the life that He lives, He is living to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him]. Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus.—Romans 6:10-11

The devil delights in reminding us daily of all our mistakes from the past. One morning I was spending my time with the Lord, thinking about all the areas in which I had failed, when the Lord spoke to my heart: Joyce, are you going to fellowship with Me or with your problems? It is our fellowship with God that helps and strengthens us to overcome our problems. Our relationship and fellowship is to be with God, not with our sins.

How much do you fellowship with your sins, failures, and weaknesses? Whatever time it is, it is wasted. When you sin, admit it, ask for forgiveness, and then continue your fellowship with God. We are alive to God, living in unbroken fellowship with Him. Don’t let your sins come between you and the Lord. Even when you sin, God still wants to spend time with you, hear and answer your prayers, and help you with all of your needs. He wants you to run to Him, not away from Him!

Lord, I want to live in unbroken fellowship with You. I consider my relationship with sin to have been broken at the cross and behind me. Amen.

From the book The Confident Woman Devotional: 365 Daily Devotions by Joyce Meyer.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Like a Sweet Perfume

“But thanks be to God! For through what Christ has done, He has triumphed over us so that now wherever we go He uses us to tell others about the Lord and to spread the Gospel like a sweet perfume” (2 Corinthians 2:14).

We can certainly learn a lesson from the apostle Paul. He frequently begins a chapter or a verse with a note of praise. To say that he had a thankful spirit would be understating the case. That perhaps is the key to victory in every area of our lives, to begin with thanksgiving.

It is God who leads us to triumph over principalities and powers. And in leading us to triumph, He is then able to use us to tell others of His love and forgiveness through the Lord Jesus. As we rest in His victory and in His command, with its promise of “Lo, I am with you always,” we spread the gospel like a sweet perfume.

In your own home and in your own neighborhood, perhaps, are those who need the sweet perfume of the gospel, that heavenly aroma that comes first from God, then through us as His servants, and finally in the message itself: the good news of sins forgiven and a heavenly home assured.

Around the world, literally, I personally have seen multitudes of men and women, old and young, become new creatures in Christ. The aroma indeed is one of sweet perfume, for tangled lives have become untangled to the glory of God, and joy abounds in hearts and lives where only sadness and despair had been known.

Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 2:14-17

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: “Dear Lord, help me to bear a heavenly aroma as I share the sweet perfume of the gospel with others.”

Ray Stedman – What Matters

Read: Romans 14:13-18

Therefore, do not allow what you consider as good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Romans 14:16-18

If you are going to create division by arguing so hard for your rights, or your freedom, then you are distorting the gospel itself. The word Paul uses for evil means blaspheme. You are causing the good news about Christ to be blasphemed because you are making too much of an issue over a minor matter. You are insisting that your rights are so important that you have to divide the church over them. That is saying to the watching world around that Christianity consists of whether you do, or do not do, a certain thing.

I heard of a church that got into an argument over whether they ought to have a Christmas tree at their Christmas program. Some thought that a tree was fine; others thought it was a pagan practice, and they got so angry at each other and even got into fist fights over it. One group dragged the tree out, then the other group dragged it back in. They ended up suing each other in a court of law and this was spread in the newspapers for the entire community to read. What else could non-Christians conclude other than that the gospel consists of if you have a Christmas tree or not?

That is wrong. The main point of the Christian faith is not eating or drinking or Christmas trees. The main point is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. A non-Christian, looking at a Christian, ought to see righteousness, peace and joy, not wrangling and disputing and fighting and law courts. That word righteousness means that, because of the death of Jesus for you, you are loved and accepted by him. The world ought to see you confident about who you are, with an underlying assurance that shows you have a basis of self-acceptance that the world knows nothing about.

Another thing the world ought to see is peace. That comes across visibly as a kind of calmness, an inner core of unflappability that is undisturbed by the minor irritations of the moment. It is that quiet and calm assurance that God is present in the situation; that he will work it out for his glory, and we need not get upset or angry. It is hard for the world to get that impression of peace and calmness if they see two people screaming at one another. That does not look very calm.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – What Matters

Greg Laurie – Waiting for the Rat to Die

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.—Matthew 5:7

It’s been said, “To not forgive is like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.” If there is one thing we all could use more of these days, it’s forgiveness and mercy. Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

In Jesus’ time, Roman culture did not value the virtue of mercy. A Roman philosopher said that mercy was the disease of the soul. The Romans glorified justice, courage, discipline, and power.

You may remember the scene from the film Gladiator where the Roman soldiers greeted one another with the phrase, “Strength and honor.” That is what the Romans valued: strength, force, and their own definition of honor. When a child was born into the Roman world, the father had the right of Patria Potestas. If he wanted the newborn to live, he held his thumb up. If he wanted the child to die, he held his thumb down, and the child was immediately drowned. Mercy was laughed at, mocked, and derided in that culture.

Our culture today does not really value mercy either. More often, we cry out for justice and, better yet, revenge. But God values mercy. What exactly is mercy? In Matthew 6:3, the word for mercy is used in the context of almsgiving. It means to help a person in need, to rescue the miserable. Mercy means, “A sense of pity, plus a desire to relieve that suffering.” It is not enough to simply say, “I feel your pain.” Mercy is meeting the need, not just feeling it. Real mercy is pity plus action! Anything you do that is of benefit to someone in need is considered mercy.

Again, Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. The more righteous a man is, the more merciful he will be. The more sinful a man is, the harsher and more critical he will be.

If I know anything of God’s forgiveness in my life, I will be forgiving. If I am not merciful, then one must question if I know anything of the mercy of God myself. Thomas Adams said, “He who demands mercy and shows none ruins the bridge over which he himself is to pass.”

Let’s try to show mercy to someone today.

Kids 4 Truth International – God Hears Prayer

“Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” (Luke 18:1b)

“Time to get ready for bed, Taylor. When you’re done, I’ll come pray with you.”

“Dad, does God really hear me when I pray?”

“Well, of course, Taylor. Why do you ask?”

“Oh, I don’t know. It just seems like a lot of the things I pray for don’t ever happen. Maybe I’m just not asking God enough times.”

“That reminds me of a parable in the book of Luke. Jesus used parables, or stories, sometimes when teaching His followers. The one I’m thinking of has to do with prayer. Jesus told a story about a judge and a widow. (A widow is a woman whose husband has died.) This widow needed help and the judge was the only one who could give her what she needed, but he refused. He turned her down. But this widow did not give up – she kept on asking the judge for help. After a while, the judge saw that this widow was going to keep on bugging him. He did not want her to bother him anymore, and he did not want others to think he was a bad judge, so he finally gave in and gave her the help she needed.”

“Oh. So I just need to keep on bugging God, right?”

“No, Taylor, because there’s a lot more to the story. Jesus explained that if even this unjust, uncaring judge would give the widow what she needed – then surely we can trust that God, Who is always just and caring, will give His children what they need. And He will do it right on time.”

Continue reading Kids 4 Truth International – God Hears Prayer

The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Everything for Us

Today’s Scripture: 1 John 3:16

“He laid down his life for us.”

The law of God set forth in Scripture is a transcript of God’s own moral nature. It’s the law that was fully imprinted on Adam’s heart as part of his being created in God’s image. It’s the same law that the apostle Paul said is still written on people’s hearts regardless of how obscured it may now be (Romans 2:12-16). It’s a universal law applicable to all people of all times.

The apostle Paul was referring to this universal moral will of God when he wrote that Christ was “born under the law” (Galatians 4:4). Jesus was born under the law because he came to perfectly obey it in our place. He came to do what we, because of our sinful nature, could not do.

There is, however, another significant dimension to Jesus’ obedience. As our representative, he not only was obligated to obey the precepts of the law, but also to suffer its penalty for our violation of it. This obligation he freely assumed in obedience to the Father’s will.

So Jesus not only obeyed the Father’s universal moral will, which we call the law of God; he also obeyed the Father’s specific will for him, namely to suffer the penalty for our sin. The writer of Hebrews referred to this specific will of God for Jesus when he wrote, “and by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10, NIV).

In recent years Christians have tended to focus on the death of Christ almost to the neglect of his sinless life. Jesus’ life of perfect obedience has been seen mostly as a necessary precondition to his death. However, Jesus not only died for us; he also lived for us. All that Christ did in both his life and death, he did in our place as our substitute. (Excerpt taken from The Gospel for Real Life)

The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Money Hungry

Today’s Scripture: Judges 17-21

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. – 1 Timothy 6:10

In Judges 18, a son steals money from his mother, but returns it for fear of a curse she pronounced on the thief. The silver in question is soon forged into the image of a pagan god, but in fact, this money had become a god in the lives of these two long before it took the form of an idol.

In chapter 19, we find the same theme, a Levite who cannot resist an offer of wages, clothing, and food. Clearly, these material concerns have crowded out his desire to serve the Lord. When a more attractive financial offer is made, he accepts it without seeking spiritual counsel or the will of God. If it would give him more money, that was all that mattered.

As the book of Judges ends, we see idolatry spread from this one household to an entire tribe. We are told that each man did what was right in his own eyes. The result? One of the blackest periods in the history of the Old Testament people of God.

When people leave the Bible and begin to make up their own rules, anything can happen. There is no sin too vile, no activity too foul. We can see it in today’s headlines. And if we look closely enough, we can see the same tendencies in our own hearts. We need to fall on our knees, plead with God for mercy, and rededicate ourselves to Him.


Lord, reveal to me if there’s anything that has become an idol in my life. Amen.

To Ponder

What is your attitude toward the things of this world?

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – WORRY CAN CHOKE OUT SEEDS OF THE GOSPEL

Read MATTHEW 13:18–23

Symbolizing the importance of agriculture to Nebraska, a massive statue of a sower scattering seed is set atop the state capitol building in Lincoln. The bronze statue weighs 9.5 tons, stands 19.5 feet tall, and is placed on a 12.5-foot-high pedestal molded to look like corn and wheat. The “Sower” took sculptor Lee Lawrie 13 years to create; it was finally installed in 1930.

From Jesus’ familiar parable of the sower, we can learn another significant lesson about worry. Among the four types of soil in this story, our focus is on the third: “Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants” (v. 7). Jesus provided the interpretation: “The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful” (v. 22). In a parallel passage, it “stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature” (Luke 8:14).

The “worries of this life” include food and clothing (see Nov. 1–3), employment, children’s education, and retirement. They’re normal and natural, but when they take over they’re nothing but “thorns.” The “deceitfulness of wealth” refers to the fact that money can make us feel in control, as a result of which we tend to put our trust in it (see Nov. 7–10). We are deceived if we think and act as if money can save us or is a worthy object of faith.

The consequences of worry are disastrous. It strangles trust in God. It makes us faithless and fruitless. We remain spiritually immature and fail to live out “the message about the kingdom” (v. 19), that is, the gospel. We become like salt that has lost its saltiness (see Matt. 5:13).


Despite Scripture’s clarity about it, we Christians are often culturally influenced to take worry lightly. For example, we might whitewash the sin of worry in the name of planning. Isn’t anxiety about a plan just natural? We must remember that our plans should be dominated not by worry or pride but by faith in and submission to the Lord (James 4:13–16).

Streams in the Desert for Kids – Night Songs


Psalm 77:6

Animals that are active at night rather than during the day are called nocturnal. For example, nightingales are birds that sing at night. That’s how they got their name. People aren’t like that: we’re awake and working while the sun shines, and we go to bed and sleep during the night.

Do you ever have trouble sleeping at night because you are worried about something? David, the man who wrote the psalm above, sometimes couldn’t sleep. While he was awake at night, he used the time to pray, sing, and think about God. In another place David says, “My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises” (Psalm 119:148). Instead of worrying about his problems, David took the time to think about God’s promises.

The next time you are lying awake, try singing a song from church. Or ask Mom or Dad to pray with you. Perhaps it would help just to remember that God said he would never leave you alone.

Dear Lord, Your promises are just as good in the night as they are in the daytime. Thank you for your love. Amen.