Charles Stanley – The Cost of Following Jesus

 

Matthew 16:21-26

Have you ever found yourself trying to follow two people at one time? This works only when they’re going in the same direction. But what happens if their paths diverge? For instance, imagine you’re on a hiking trail with friends, and you reach a fork in the road. If one person wants to go right and someone else thinks you should turn left, you must choose which one to follow.

This principle is also true for Christians, but now our choice is whether to follow Jesus or ourselves. Most of us will happily follow Jesus as long as He’s going where we want. But what happens if He leads us down a road of sacrifice, self-denial, suffering, or even death? Will we still trust Him and keep going?

This was the dilemma Jesus’ disciples faced. When they started following Him, they expected that He’d establish His Messianic kingdom, deliver them from Roman domination, and give them places of honor and authority. Thinking they’d soon be exalted in the kingdom, they were willing to suffer the temporary deprivations of home, security, and comfort. But then Jesus told them His path was leading to suffering and death, and if they wanted to follow Him, they too must deny themselves and take up their cross.

Many Christians today have the same expectation the disciples had—maybe not for a kingdom, but for a happy and prosperous life. However, this is essentially like inviting Jesus to follow us. Self-denial means giving up our right to lead and surrendering to Christ’s lordship over our life. Though His path isn’t easy, He alone knows the way to the Father’s house.

Bible in One Year: 1 Kings 20-22

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Anywhere

 

Read: Jeremiah 2:1–8; 3:14–15 | Bible in a Year: 2 Samuel 12–13; Luke 16

I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness. Jeremiah 2:2

As I flipped through a box of my old wedding photographs, my fingers stopped at a picture of my husband and me, newly christened “Mr. and Mrs.” My dedication to him was obvious in my expression. I would go anywhere with him.

Nearly four decades later, our marriage is tightly threaded with love and a commitment that has carried us through both hard and good times. Year after year, I’ve recommitted my dedication to go anywhere with him.

Dear God, help me to keep the promises I’ve made to You. I will follow You anywhere.

In Jeremiah 2:2, God yearns for His beloved but wayward Israel, “I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me.” The Hebrew word for devotion conveys the highest loyalty and commitment possible. At first, Israel expressed this unwavering devotion to God, but gradually she turned away.

Despite the undeniably powerful feelings in the early stages of commitment, complacency can dull the sharp edge of love and a lack of zeal can lead to unfaithfulness. We know the importance of fighting against such a lag in our marriages. What about the fervor of our love relationship with God? Are we as devoted to Him now as we were when we first came to faith?

God faithfully allows His people to return (3:14–15). Today we can renew our vows to follow Him—anywhere.

Dear God, help me to keep the promises I’ve made to You. I will follow You anywhere.

You don’t need to know where you’re going if you know God is leading.

By Elisa Morgan

INSIGHT

Jeremiah is sometimes known as the weeping prophet. He’s saddened by the messages God has asked him to take to the people of Israel. In essence, the Lord is asking the people of Jerusalem, “Why don’t you love me like you once did?”

Sometimes familiarity can create complacency. What can we do to keep our flame of passion for the Lord burning bright?

J.R. Hudberg

 

http://www.odb.org

Streams in the Desert for Kids – Believe!

 

Mark 11:24

A young boy who lived far away from his grandmother loved video games. His grandmother knew he loved to collect the different games and told him she would send him a special new game for his birthday. When his birthday came, there was no video game in the pile of gifts and no note from his grandmother saying she had changed her mind. When his friends asked him what he got for his birthday, he listed all the gifts he had opened and then he added, “And my grandma’s going to send me a new video game.”

His mother overheard him and asked him about it later, “The game from Grandma didn’t come,” she said. “Why did you tell your friends it was going to be here?”

“If Grandma said she would get it, she will. So it’s just the same as if I had it now.”

Days later when there still was no video game, he asked his mother, “Do you think it would do any good for me to email Grandma and ask her if it’s still coming?” His mother encouraged him to give it a try.

Grandma wrote back the same day she got her grandson’s message and said, “I haven’t forgotten your game. I have been looking everywhere trying to get exactly the one you wanted, but have not been able to find it. I’m sending you some money so you can buy it in Chicago. Would that be all right?”

This boy believed in his gift when he could not see it. He knew his grandmother would not let him down. She would keep her promise. That is what faith in God is all about. We know him and we know he will not fail us. We know he will keep his promises, and we live waiting for him to give us what we need.

Dear Lord, Help me to believe that you are at work even when I can’t see anything happening. I know you hear me when I pray. Thank you for listening. Amen.

Joyce Meyer – Quit Complaining

 

Who is wise? Let him observe and heed these things; and [thoughtfully] consider the lovingkindness of the Lord. — Psalm 107:43 AMPC

Today, thank God and decide not to complain about anything. Ask Him to show you anytime you are getting ready to complain, and to help you hold your tongue. Today, give thanks for what you have without looking at what you don’t have. Some people have the same problems you have, but they don’t know God. At least you can give thanks that God is in your life.

The Word says, “Let there be no filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting or becoming; but instead voice your thankfulness [to God]” (Ephesians 5:4 AMPC). Guard your tongue today.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for all of Your wonderful blessings. Please help me not to complain but instead voice my gratitude. I ask for Your help to continually focus on the good and view life from Your perspective. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – All Men Know What God Wants Them to Do

 

“But this is the new agreement I will make with the people of Israel, says the Lord: I will write my laws in their minds so that they will know what I want them to do without My even telling them, and these laws will be in their hearts so that they will want to obey them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people” (Hebrews 8:10).

Harry boasted that he was an atheist, that he could not believe in God – that there was no such thing as right and wrong. But as we counseled together, it became apparent that he lived a very immoral life, and the only way he could justify his conduct was to rationalize away the existence of God.

This he was unable to do. As God’s Word reminds us, His law is written in our minds, so that we will know what He wants us to do without His even telling us.

A very honest, frank, straightforward counseling session helped Harry to see that he was living a lie, a life of deceit and shame. All of this resulted in making him a very miserable person until he surrendered his life to Christ and became an honest, authentic, transparent disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Bible says that the mind of natural man is essentially disgusting (Ezekiel 23:17-22), despiteful (Ezekiel 36:5), depraved (Romans 1:28), hardened (2 Corinthians 3:14), hostile (Colossians 1:21) and defiled (Titus 1:15).

In contrast, the Scriptures show that the mind of the Christian is willing (1 Chronicles 28:9), is at peace (Romans 8:6), is renewed (Romans 12: 2), can know Christ’s mind (I. Corinthians 2:16) and can be obedient (Hebrews 8:10).

Our minds are susceptible to the influence of our old sin- nature and, as such, can pose some dangers to us. As soon as we get out of step spiritually with the Holy Spirit and get our focus off the Lord, our minds begin to give us trouble.

Bible Reading:Hebrews 8:7-13

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Claiming by faith the help of the Holy Spirit, I will discipline my mind to think God’s thoughts as expressed in His holy, inspired Word. In this way, I can be assured of knowing and doing His perfect will.

 

http://www.cru.org

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – THE GUARANTEE OF FORGIVENESS

 

Acts 3:11–26

The words repent, repentance, and repented are mentioned more than 100 times in the Bible, from the Old Testament to the New Testament. The practice of repentance involves more than just feeling bad about what we have done. It means changing our path. It requires both acknowledging what we have done wrong and turning in a new direction.

Today’s passage follows Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. Just as He promised in our reading yesterday (see John 20), we see the disciples exercising the power of the Holy Spirit, and it shocked everyone in attendance. Peter and John healed a lame man, a beggar at the temple gate (vv. 1–10).

Notice Peter’s response to the critics, “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you?” (v. 12). They should have recognized Jesus, since the prophets had foretold His coming. Peter made it clear that the power they displayed in healing this man did not originate with them; it came directly from Jesus, the Son of God. He directed their attention away from this physical healing to an even more important topic: their spiritual healing. Rather than being shocked at these miracles, they should recognize that this power to heal comes from Jesus Christ. Through the work of the Messiah, they could repent and turn from their sins.

Repentance before the Lord will result in two blessings. First, our sins are forgiven, “wiped out” from the ledger. Second, we will be spiritually refreshed from the dark, barren bondage of sin (v. 19). When we repent of our sins and turn to God, we have the testimony of the long line of prophets confirming that Jesus makes it possible for us to be blessed with fellowship with the Lord.

APPLY THE WORD

Do you long for a time of refreshing in your faith? Consider today if the issue is repentance. What sin are you holding on to, unwilling to take to God for forgiveness? We are instructed to repent from our sins and turn to God. Repent today and follow God’s leading in your life. Ask Him to renew you. You are promised a time of refreshing.

 

http://www.todayintheword.org

Wisdom Hunters – Holy Spirit Influenced 

Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.  Ephesians 5:17–18

Who is my number-one influencer? Is it my wife? Is it a friend? Is it my mom, brother, or mentor? All of these are important and influential, but I desire the number-one influencer in my life to be the Holy Spirit. He is the one whose advice is always full of integrity. When I am Spirit led, I can be confident of an outcome that mirrors God’s will.

It is easy to be influenced by a culture whose standards are below what is best. For example, the world may whine and say it is old-fashioned to have boundaries with the opposite sex. But, as believers in Jesus, we know it is wise to keep emotional distance from someone who is not our spouse. Spirit-led living does not linger long around unwise activities.

Who is your number-one influencer? Perhaps it is a coach, colleague, or counselor who gives you good advice. All of these have their place, but never allow an individual to replace the Holy Spirit as your most-important influencer. Sometimes a friend will suggest one thing and God’s Spirit another. Go with God! His promptings are meant to triumph any attractive offer that may tease your emotions. Trust the Spirit’s leading.

“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires” (Romans 8:5).

It may be hard for you to follow the influence of your heavenly Father because your earthly father may have abandoned his responsibilities. However, the Spirit of your Father in heaven is trustworthy and true. He never leaves you or forsakes you. His Holy Spirit is sensitive to exactly what you need, when you need it. He is reliable.

So, once you have confessed and repented of your sin, ask Him for the fullness of His Spirit to flood your soul. The Spirit of God flushes out the foolishness of the flesh and fills it with wisdom from the Lord. The Holy Spirit brings wholeness to your heart and truth to your head. Be intoxicated by the Spirit’s influence, and you will walk wisely.

“You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9).

Prayer: Dear Lord, I surrender my soul, fill me with Your Spirit and power, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Application: Do I submit daily to the Holy Spirit’s control? How do I know when the Spirit leads me?

Related Readings: Galatians 5:25; 2 Timothy 1:14; James 4:4; 1 John 3:24

 

 

http://www.wisdomhunters.com/