Charles Stanley –A Debt Paid in Full

 

Colossians 2:13-14

Mankind has a debt problem. In the physical world, our desire for a higher standard of living and more stuff has led to burdensome credit card balances and unwieldy mortgage payments. The weight of what we owe can cause restless nights and the feeling that we’re trapped. We long for someone to rescue us from the mess we have made.

However, material indebtedness isn’t our biggest problem; our sin debt is. All of us were born with a flesh nature that prompts us to rebel against the Lord. Our rebelliousness is an affront to His holy nature, incurring a debt that we owe to Him. Until this penalty is paid, we are under God’s righteous judgment and remain spiritually separated from Him (Eph. 2:1-2). The trouble is, we are unable to pay what’s due. No amount of good works, self-sacrifice, or religious devotion will lessen what we owe.

So God, in His great mercy, sent His Son to rescue us. Jesus Christ left heaven and all of its glory so He could come to earth to live and die for us (Phil. 2:6-7). Although the cost to our Savior was enormous, He willingly paid the price we owed. He took our sins upon Himself, bore them to the cross, and discharged our debt in full. Hallelujah!

When we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior, His atoning work is credited to our account. We become children of God and co-heirs with Christ as we’re changed from debtors to inheritors. (See 1 Peter 1:3-4.) Let the knowledge of His sacrifice on the cross permeate every aspect of your life—your thinking, attitude, and choices.

Bible in One Year: Deuteronomy 15-17

 

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Our Daily Bread — Complete Access

Read: Ephesians 3:7–13

Bible in a Year: Numbers 15–16; Mark 6:1–29

Through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.—Ephesians 3:12

A few years ago, a friend invited me to join him as a spectator at a pro golf tournament. Being a first-timer, I had no idea what to expect. When we arrived, I was surprised to receive gifts, information, and maps of the golf course. But what topped it all was that we gained access to a VIP tent behind the 18th green, where we had free food and a place to sit. I couldn’t have gained entry to the hospitality tent on my own though. The key was my friend; it was only through him that I had complete access.

Left to ourselves, we would all be hopelessly separated from God. But Jesus, who took our penalty, offers us His life and access to God. The apostle Paul wrote, “[God’s] intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known” (Eph. 3:10). This wisdom has brought Jew and Gentile together in Christ, who has made a way for us to come to God the Father. “Through faith in [Christ] we may approach God with freedom and confidence” (v. 12).

When we put our trust in Jesus, we receive the greatest access of all—access to the God who loves us and desires relationship with us. —Bill Crowder

Father! Just being able to call You Father is an incredible gift. Thank You for Your Son, Jesus, who has made it possible for me to come into Your presence, to know You personally, and, yes, to call You my Father.

Because of the cross of Christ, we can become friends of God.

INSIGHT: Paul was humbled by memories that left him feeling unworthy to be writing on behalf of Christ and the community he once hated (Eph. 3:8). How could he ever forget the harm he had done to the people of Christ? (Gal. 1:13-14, 23). With his conversion, the Spirit of God gave Paul a heart for the Gentiles he once regarded as outsiders to Israel’s covenant of faith (Eph. 2:11-12). Paul and his readers could now celebrate together the honor of being accepted by God in the name of Christ. Do you wrestle with what it means to not measure up? To feel like an outsider, not welcome in the love of God? If so, then Paul’s letter has great significance. Together we can recall what it means to be welcomed into the presence of God in the full sponsorship of the Son—who lived and died to bring outsiders like us into His Father’s family. Mart DeHaan

 

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Joyce Meyer – No Condemnation

Therefore, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit.—Romans 8:1

I should have known better,” Cindy cried out to me. “All the signs were there that he wasn’t the man for me.” She had gone through two years of a painful marriage, of verbal and finally physical abuse. Then her husband left her for another woman. Now she felt doubly condemned—condemned for marrying him in the first place and condemned that she couldn’t hold the marriage together.

“If I had been a good Christian, I could have changed him,” she moaned.

I could have confronted her and said, “Yes, you did see the signs and you ignored them. You opened yourself up to this kind of treatment.” I didn’t say those words and wouldn’t. They would not have helped Cindy.

What she needed right then was for me to stretch out my hand and comfort her. She was so self-condemned that she finally asked, “Will God forgive me?”

At first, her words disturbed me. The Bible is clear that God forgives any sin. Cindy knew the Bible, so her question wasn’t due to a lack of knowledge; it was due to a lack of faith in a loving, caring God. She felt so dejected, and she didn’t know if God loved her enough to forgive her.

I assured Cindy of God’s forgiveness, but that wasn’t the real issue that troubled her. Satan had whispered in her mind for such a long time that she had failed God, that she had deliberately disobeyed, and that God was angry with her.

Continue reading Joyce Meyer – No Condemnation

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Great and Mighty Things

“Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (Jeremiah 33:3, KJV).

How long has it been since you have prayed for great and mighty things – for the glory and praise of God?

I find in God’s Word at least six excellent reasons you and I should pray for “great and mighty things”: to glorify God; to communicate with God; for fellowship with God; because of Christ’s example; to obtain results; and to provide spiritual nurture.

There is a sense in which I pray without ceasing, talking to God hundreds of times in the course of the day about everything. I pray for wisdom about the numerous decisions I must make, for the salvation of friends and strangers, the healing of the sick and the spiritual and material needs of the Campus Crusade for Christ ministry – as well as for the needs of the various members of the staff and leaders of other Christian organizations and the needs of their ministries.

I pray for the leaders of our nation and for those in authority over us at all levels of government. I even pray about the clothes I wear, on the basis of the people I am to meet – that the way I dress, as well as my words and actions, will bring glory to God.

But there is another sense in which there is a set-apart time each day for prayer – I often kneel quietly before the open Bible and talk with God as I read His Word.

Before I begin to read the Bible, I ask the Holy Spirit, who inspired its writing, to make my reading meaningful. Throughout the reading I often pause to thank God for His loving salvation and provision, to confess the lack in my own life revealed by the Scriptures, to ask Him for the boldness and faith His apostles displayed and to thank Him for new insights into His divine strategy for reaching the world with the gospel.

Bible Reading: Jeremiah 33:4-8

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will call unto God, expecting Him to show me great and mighty things beyond anything I have ever experienced, for His glory and for the blessing of those about me, that they may know that God does supernatural things in response to the faith and obedience of His children.

 

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Streams in the Desert for Kids – Tools of the Shepherd

 

Psalm 23:4

The rod and staff are tools of the shepherd. The rod is a club that the shepherd has carved from the root of a tree and fitted to his hand. The shepherd keeps the rod with him at all times and uses it as a weapon. When wild animals or snakes threaten the sheep, the shepherd takes aim and uses the rod to kill or drive off the intruder.

The staff is a useful and essential tool for the shepherd. Many staffs had hooks at the end for catching sheep that were wandering off, for lifting a lamb and putting it back beside its mother, and for pulling away thorny bushes the sheep might wander into and get caught in. Sheep fall over cliffs and have to be rescued. They get into weeds that will make them sick if they eat them. They must have a shepherd with them at all times to care for them and guide them. The shepherd uses his staff to assist the sheep. Sometimes he uses it to pull a sheep close to himself so he can inspect it for cuts and bruises.

So how are God’s rod and staff a comfort to us? They comfort us because God is our shepherd, guiding us day by day. Some days we may feel the hook of the staff around our necks guiding us back to the right way. Sometimes we hear the rod as it flies past our head to chase away something that would have hurt us. And sometimes we feel the staff of God’s love pulling us close to him.

Dear Lord, You are my Good Shepherd. Thank you for watching over me even when I am stubborn and foolish. Thank you for pulling me back in line and closer to you. Amen.

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – God’s Promises

 

Read: Genesis 28:10-17

For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you. (v. 15)

The key concept in the world of marketing is the idea of a “brand.” Brands, marketers say, are more than just recognizable product names. Brands ultimately are promises. Consumers have expectations, and we become loyal to those brands that reliably keep their promises. Think of the best-known brands like Apple, McDonald’s, or Toyota. All of those names mean something to us, and we have expectations of price, quality, and service from each. Brands succeed because they keep their implicit promises.

God has been making and keeping promises for thousands of years. “I will not leave you” (and its expanded version “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” Heb. 13:5) is perhaps God’s strongest promise. It was made first to Jacob in the book of Genesis but is repeated several times throughout the Bible. In one way or another, this promise recurs in the books of Deuteronomy, Joshua, Kings, Chronicles, Psalms, Isaiah, Haggai, Romans, Hebrews, and more. These promises aren’t just for the people in the Bible. They are for you and me.

Jacob declares, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it” (Gen. 28:16). There is no place we can go and no emotional state we can get into where God abandons us. When Paul says that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:38-39), he means it. This is a trustworthy promise. —Jeff Munroe

Prayer: Thank you for keeping your promises.

 

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Ray Stedman – What To Do While You’re Young

Read: Ecclesiastes 11:7-10

Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment (Ecclesiastes 11:9).

I am always amazed at the energy of young people. We have three grandsons living with us. When I come home, weary and tired, although they have been tearing around all day, they still want to wrestle with me. Sometimes I heave a sigh of relief when they finally give up and go to bed. George Bernard Shaw said, Youth is such a wonderful thing it is a shame to waste it on young people. God gives the gift of youth, so rejoice in it. Young people, for the most part, always believe that everything is going to turn out all right, so they energetically pursue things. This verse encourages that.

Youth is the time to plan, to try new things, to explore new opportunities, new adventures. In my twenties I had the opportunity, following the outbreak of World War II, to go to the Hawaiian Islands and work in industry there. Youth is the time to seize opportunities and to follow our desires.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – What To Do While You’re Young