Charles Stanley – Enclosed in God’s Will

 

Psalm 139:1-12

We all have periods in life when it seems as if God’s plan has stalled or jumped the track. Perhaps you’ve prayed a long time for something or someone, but the Lord still hasn’t answered. Or maybe you asked Him to intervene in a situation, but nothing has changed. In times like these, it’s important to remember certain truths about your heavenly Father.

Even before you were born, God predetermined what He wanted to accomplish in, through, and for you. His plans for your life are guided by His wisdom as He directs events and chooses the precise timing to help you grow as a Christian. And His love motivates and propels everything He does in your life to make you more like His Son.

But from a human perspective, the heavenly Father’s plan may seem too slow or too hard to follow. For example, a husband and wife may become disillusioned with their marriage and decide to divorce, thinking that finding a new spouse would be easier than working out their problems. Or maybe financial pressures prompt someone to be dishonest on a tax return. These shortcuts demonstrate a lack of trust in the Lord’s ways and unbelief in His sufficiency.

It doesn’t have to be this way. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can hold fast during those periods when we want to direct our own life. By relying on God’s great wisdom and loving intentions, we’ll have confidence to rest in His care. Our path may seem dark to us, but in His light, the way becomes clear. All we have to do is follow.

Bible in One Year: 2 Samuel 10-12

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Fair Play

 

Read: Titus 2:7–8, 11–14 | Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 7–9; Luke 9:18–36

In everything set them an example by doing what is good. Titus 2:7

When Singaporean runner Ashley Liew found himself at the head of the pack during a marathon at the Southeast Asian Games, he knew something was wrong. He quickly realized that the lead runners had taken a wrong turn and were now behind. Ashley could have taken advantage of their mistake, but a strong sense of sportsmanship told him it would not be a genuine victory. He wanted to win because he was faster—not because those ahead of him had made a mistake. Acting on his convictions, he slowed down to let them catch up.

In the end, Ashley lost the race and missed out on a medal. But he won the hearts of his countrymen—and an international award for his act of fair play. It spoke well of his faith as a Christian, and must have prompted some to ask, “What made him do that?”

Live so that others will want to know Jesus.

Ashley’s act challenges me to share my faith through my actions. Little acts of thoughtfulness, kindness, or forgiveness can glorify God. As Paul put it simply, “Show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned” (Titus 2:7–8).

Our positive actions toward others can show the world that we are able to live differently because of the Holy Spirit’s work in us. He will give us the grace to reject ungodliness and wrong passions, and to live upright lives that point people to God (vv. 11–12).

Heavenly Father, may our behavior today cause others to ask us why we are different. We ask that we follow Your Holy Spirit’s leading as we explain to them the hope that is in us.

Live so that others will want to know Jesus.

By Leslie Koh

INSIGHT

In our passage today, Paul writes to Titus, whom he left on the island of Crete to guide the new churches they had planted there. The citizens of Crete had earned an especially bad reputation, and Paul saw fit to remind Titus of that (see Titus 1:12–13). The need for diligence in their service to the believers there was especially vital.

As Paul gave Titus directions about wise living, he highlighted God’s grace. We may tend to think of grace as giving us freedom—and it does. But God’s grace, through the work of the Holy Spirit, also instills a holy discipline in us. “It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives” (2:12). Or, as Paul phrased it in Galatians, “The Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires” (5:17 nlt).

 

The “secret” to living the Christian life isn’t to stress over not sinning; it’s to focus on the work of God’s grace in us.

Tim Gustafson

 

http://www.odb.org

Wisdom Hunters – Knowing God 

 

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:10–11

Knowing God is not for the casual Christian but for the committed one. This intimate relationship is forged on the anvil of adversity and expressed through the power of Christ’s resurrected life. Knowing God requires dying to self and coming alive in Christ. Resurrected living is the fruit of a faith that is not satisfied with surface Christianity.

To know God is to be loved by Him, to love Him, and to love for Him. To know Him is to behold Him in the glory of His holiness and to bow down in humble worship. To know Christ is to receive His comfort and to carry on a caring conversation with Him. It is going deep in knowledge and understanding of God so we can carry His character and faith far and wide. Knowing God leads to making God known with our words and deeds.

“Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” (Psalm 100:3–4).

Knowing God grows your character, as intimacy with Him influences you to be like Him. Christ’s character begins to transform your character. His influence in your life broadens your influence in other lives. Indeed, your depth of character determines your breadth of influence. Grow in grace so you can export grace throughout your circle of influence. But be careful not to compare your character standard to that of others or even other Christians. Comparison games are the enemy’s game plan to get you off track in trusting Jesus. Pride will puncture your ballooning influence when you begin to take credit for what only the Lord can do. The more you know God, the less you see of yourself and the more you see of Him and others. You know Christ in His death, accompanied by a radical resurrection.

How do you grow to know Him better? It happens in the margins of life, not in a packed schedule with no room for interruptions. A frantic pace lacks grace. A hurried life is tired and unable to trust or give back. Start by slowing down and calendaring time with Christ. Be with Him so you can hear Him, get to know Him, and be changed by Him. Then the depth of your character will grow the breadth of your influence—for His glory!

“For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God. Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (Psalm 86:10–11).

Prayer: Dear Lord, I want to know you intimately through my ups and downs, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Application: How am I growing in my knowledge of God? How is He transforming my character and broadening my influence for Him?

Related Readings: 1 Chronicles 16:24; Isaiah 45:24; Isaiah 54:11; Matthew 21:42; John 5:29

 

http://www.wisdomhunters.com/

Joyce Meyer – Accidental Mistakes

 

No one born (begotten) of God [deliberately, knowingly, and habitually] practices sin, for God’s nature abides in him [His principle of life, the divine sperm, remains permanently within him]; and he cannot practice sinning because he is born (begotten) of God. — 1 John 3:9 (AMPC)

I like to put it this way: I used to be a full-time sinner, and once in a while I accidentally slipped up and did something right. But now that I have spent many years developing a deep, personal relationship with God and His Word, I concentrate on being a full-time obedient child of God. I still make mistakes, but not nearly as many as I once did. I am not where I need to be, but thank God I am not where I used to be.

There are times when I accidentally make mistakes, but it is not the desire of my heart to do wrong. I do not deliberately, knowingly commit sin. I do not habitually sin. So, I don’t allow those occasions to make me feel insecure. I don’t do everything right, but I do know that the attitude of my heart is right.

I can be having an absolutely wonderful day, feeling very close to the Lord and quite spiritual. Then my husband, Dave, comes home and says he does not care for the outfit I am wearing, and I suddenly become angry and defensive, telling him everything I don’t like about him either.

I don’t intend for that to happen; in fact, I plan to be very sweet and submissive when he comes home. But, as Paul said in Romans 7, the things I want to do, I don’t do, and the things I don’t want to do, I end up doing. We plan for right behavior because our hearts are right, but like Paul our plans don’t always work. Thank God for His mercy that is new every day! (See Lamentations 3:22-23).

Prayer Starter: Father, Your Word says if we repent and confess our sins, You are faithful to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness (see 1 John 1:9). Thank You for Your great mercy. Help me to receive Your forgiveness and grace for my mistakes and move forward with confidence that You love me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – One More Reason to Praise 

 

“His presence within us is God’s guarantee that He really will give us all that He promised; and the Spirit’s seal upon us means that God has already purchased us and that He guarantees to bring us to Himself. This is just one more reason for us to praise our glorious God” (Ephesians 1:14).

To me, this wonderful verse means that, as children of God, we have the ability to obey God’s laws if we are filled continually with the Holy Spirit and refuse to obey the old evil nature within us.

In order to live the supernatural life which is available to us through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we must know our rights as children of God. We need to know our spiritual heritage. We must know how to draw upon the inexhaustible, supernatural resources of God’s love, power, forgiveness and abundant grace.

The first step is to learn everything we can about God. We also need to know about the nature of man and why he behaves as he does. The best way to learn who God is, who man is and about our rights as children of God is to spend much time – even at the sacrifice of other needs and demands on our schedules – in reading, studying, memorizing and meditating on the Word of God, and in prayer and witnessing.

Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome, “For His Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts, and tells us that we really are God’s children. And since we are His children, we will share His treasures – for all God gives to His Son Jesus is now ours too. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering” (Romans 8:16,17).

Bible Reading:Ephesians 1:15-23

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will acknowledge God’s presence, believe His promises and surrender to His special will for me, and thus will I praise Him throughout the day.

 

http://www.cru.org

Streams in the Desert for Kids – You Are Worth More than Flowers

 

Matthew 6:30–33, The Message

Have you ever wandered deep into the woods and found a beautiful flower blooming there? Ever wondered who, besides you, will ever see that beautiful flower? Jesus talked about that. He said that God gives a flower so much beauty and detail and then he may put it in a place where no one ever sees it. Why? It is because God makes everything perfect whether or not anyone notices. Everything he makes has a purpose. You have a purpose. And he didn’t make any mistakes when he made you. Even if you sometimes feel like you are hidden in the woods where no one notices you, God has a purpose for your life.

Because you are his child, God will take care of all your needs. Jesus told the people of his time to stop worrying about everything. He told them that God knew they needed certain things to live. He said that if God dressed the flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, God will certainly take care of his children—that includes you—who are much more important to him than flowers.

If you can understand that God loves you and wants to take care of you, life will be a lot easier. God knows what you need. God knows what your family needs. Count on the fact that God knows, and trust him.

Dear Lord, I know you love me and that you care about my needs. Help me to trust you to take care of me and my family. Amen.

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – THE PERFECT SACRIFICE

 

Luke 22:1–23

Jesus inaugurated the Lord’s Supper, also called the Eucharist or Communion, during His last Passover meal with His disciples. Today, Christians continue to observe the Lord’s Supper as part of corporate worship. Partaking together of the bread and the cup, which represent Christ’s body and blood, reminds us of our life together as the spiritual body of Jesus. This is made possible only because of who He is and what He has done for us.

Today’s passage describes Jesus’ final Passover meal with disciples in the hours preceding His death. It was the first day of Passover, also called the Festival of Unleavened Bread, which commemorated God’s deliverance of Israel from bondage in Egypt (see Exodus 12). As part of their rescue, an unblemished lamb had to be killed and its blood applied to the doorposts. The firstborns within houses with the blood applied would be spared from death.

The meal began with a somber announcement. Jesus declared that one of the Twelve would betray Him. Each of the disciples proclaimed his innocence, but Jesus persisted. Then, while they were eating, Jesus broke a piece of bread, distributing it to His disciples: “This is my body given for you” (v. 19). He distributed a cup of wine, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (v. 20).

Jesus was identifying Himself as the Lamb who delivers us from the bondage of sin. His blood would be shed, and all those who trust in His work of redemption will be saved from sin and death. Only through His blood can we find forgiveness (see Matt. 26:28). In an echo of Exodus 12:24, Jesus instructed His disciples to participate in this Lord’s Supper in “remembrance of me” (v. 19).

APPLY THE WORD

Participation in the Lord’s Supper is more than consuming the elements of the bread and the cup. We should remember that Jesus was the spotless Lamb who died in our place to save us. We should be thankful that the offering of His blood makes it possible for us to be forgiven. And we should renew our commitment to live as His body, the church.

 

http://www.todayintheword.org