Charles Stanley – The Rewards of Following Jesus

 

Matthew 19:16-29

No sane person would willingly and knowingly follow someone off a cliff, because this goes against the natural instinct of self-preservation. And if we do choose a path of self-sacrifice, there’s usually a higher good we seek to achieve. It could be some benefit we hope to enjoy in the end, an ideal we think is more important than our own life, or a way to help other people.

When a rich young ruler was challenged to give up what he most valued and follow the Lord, he was devastated because the price was too high. From his perspective, such an action was the equivalent of following Jesus off a cliff. He didn’t have eyes to see what Christ was promising him in exchange—treasure in heaven. He was unwilling to sacrifice his earthly security, comfort, and position in order to receive eternal benefits.

In contrast, the disciples had left everything—families, vocations, financial security, and positions in society—to pursue Christ, because they considered their Messiah more valuable. As they watched the rich young man walk away, Jesus assured them that their sacrifice for righteousness’ sake would not be overlooked. They would one day sit on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel in Christ’s glorious kingdom.

We serve a truly gracious Savior who not only saves unworthy sinners like us but also promises His followers rewards. Some of these benefits are available now in the form of Christ’s peace and joy filling our hearts, and the sweet fellowship of our faith community. But in eternity, He will give us much more than we have ever sacrificed to Him.

Bible in One Year: 2 Kings 1-3

 

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Our Daily Bread — God in the Details

 

Read: Matthew 10:29–31 | Bible in a Year: 2 Samuel 14–15; Luke 17:1–19

The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. Psalm 145:9

When my “chocolate” Labrador retriever puppy was three months old, I took him to the veterinarian’s office for his shots and checkup. As our vet carefully looked him over, she noticed a small white marking in his fur on his left hind paw. She smiled and said to him, “That’s where God held you when He dipped you in chocolate.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. But she had unintentionally made a meaningful point about the deep and personal interest God takes in His creation.

The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. Psalm 145:9

Jesus tells us in Matthew 10:30 that “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” God is so great that He is able to take infinite interest in the most intimate details of our lives. There is nothing so small that it escapes His notice, and there is no concern too trivial to bring before Him. He simply cares that much.

God not only created us; He sustains and keeps us through every moment. It’s sometimes said that “the devil is in the details.” But it’s better by far to understand that God is in them, watching over even the things that escape our notice. How comforting it is to know that our perfectly wise and caring heavenly Father holds us—along with all of creation—in His strong and loving hands.

Loving Lord, I praise You for the wonder of Your creation. Help me to reflect Your compassion by taking care of what You’ve made.

God attends to our every need.

By James Banks

INSIGHT

When Jesus sent out His disciples He assured them God was aware of their circumstances and would be watching over them. Jesus asked us to consider the sparrows, which are of such little value “yet not one of them is forgotten by God” (Luke 12:6). We are greatly comforted that “the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9). God is interested in every detail of our lives (Psalm 139:1–4) and knows what we need even before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8). We can approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, knowing He will help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

How does knowing that God already knows what you need help you as you pray?

  1. T. Sim

 

http://www.odb.org

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – IN HIM WE HAVE REDEMPTION

 

Ephesians 1:1–14

After a hit-and-run driver killed her son, Donna Holcomb felt God move in her heart to forgive the driver, Marvin Carter. As the young man left the courtroom, she promised to write to him in prison. “Someone has to start making a difference in his life,” she said. “More than anything, this is about understanding that holding anger or animosity isn’t going to do anything but hurt us.” Her willingness to forgive led to healing for both, so much so that he began addressing his letters to “Mama Donna.”

In our passage today, Paul says that repentance and forgiveness are given freely to us as children of God. In Christ, we have “every spiritual blessing” (v. 3). We are adopted and have become sons and daughters of God, who chose us before the creation of the world and loved us (vv. 4–5). Within this relationship we find lavish, unexpected, and complete forgiveness. No matter how terrible we may feel about our sin, God has the power and desire to forgive us and restore our relationship with Him.

And forgiveness is a part of God’s perfect plan, “the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” (v. 11). When we put our hope in Christ alone, our lives are transformed for His glory (v. 12).

Notice the words used to describe the security of our relationship with Christ: “When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance” (vv. 13–14). Our future is guaranteed. Our relationship with God is secure, based on a deposit and a promise. This transforms our lives into vessels of God’s love for His glory.

APPLY THE WORD

In your notebook or spiritual journal, go through the passage today and make a list of all emotions and actions attributed to God. For instance, He blessed and chose us and lavished His grace on us. After you’ve finished, use your list to praise and thank Him for who He is and all He has done for you. What riches He has given us!

 

http://www.todayintheword.org

Joyce Meyer – Enjoy the Reward

 

Men will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on the earth.” — Psalm 58:11

Taking time to enjoy the fruit of your labor is one of the main things that will keep you pressing on in difficult times.

God gave many men and women in the Bible difficult tasks to perform, but He always promised a reward. Looking to the reward helps us endure the difficulty. The Bible says in Hebrews 12:2 that Jesus despised the cross, but He endured it for the joy of obtaining the prize that was set before Him. He is now seated at the right hand of the Father.

I encourage you not to look merely at the work you do, but look also at the promise of the reward. Take time to be thankful for and enjoy the fruit of your labor and then you’ll be energized to finish your course.

Prayer Starter: Thank You, Father, that I can always look forward to Your reward in my life. I am grateful that difficult times never last forever, but I can learn from them and expect Your goodness in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – We Need the Word

“And you will need the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit – which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).

In my own life, as I have come to know God better and to live more fully in the power and control of the Holy Spirit, my daily devotional Bible reading and study is not a duty or a chore, but a blessing; not an imposition on my time, but an invitation to fellowship in the closest of all ways with our holy, heavenly Father and our wonderful Savior and Lord.

Remember, God delights to have fellowship with us. The success of our studying God’s Word and of prayer is not to be determined by some emotional experience which we may have (though this frequently will be our experience), but by the realization that God is pleased that we want to know Him enough to spend time with Him in Bible study and prayer.

Here are some important, practical suggestions for your individual devotional reading and study of the Bible:

  1. Begin with a prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you an understanding of God’s Word.
  2. Keep a Bible study notebook.
  3. Read the text slowly and carefully; then reread and take notes.
  4. Find out the true meaning of the text. Ask yourself:
    (a) Who or what is the main subject?
    (b) Of whom or what is the writer speaking?
    (c) What is the key verse?
    (d) What does the passage teach you about Jesus Christ?
    (e) Does it bring to light personal sin that you need to confess and forsake?
    (f) Does it contain a command for you to obey?
    (g) Does it give a promise you can claim?
  5. List practical applications, commands, promises.
  6. Memorize the Scriptures – particularly key verses.
  7. Obey the commands and follow the instructions you learn in God’s Word.

Bible Reading:II Timothy 3:14-17

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  With His help, I will begin to make time in God’s Word – quality time – a priority in my life.

 

http://www.cru.org

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Pastor and People

 

Read: Acts 20:17-38

And there was much weeping on the part of all. (v. 37)

Goodbye is a contraction of the phrase “God be with ye.” I remember standing in a circle under the wing of a small plane in the African bush. A missionary was saying goodbye to the little group of believers from the church he had planted in that tribe. When he finished speaking, we sang. “God be with you till we meet again . . . till we meet at Jesus’ feet.”

The tears shed on the beach of Miletus as Paul said goodbye to the Ephesian elders bear eloquent testimony to the love that can connect a pastor and people. They were “sorrowful most of all,” Luke reports, “because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again.” Of course, they would see each other again. But not until they met at Jesus’ feet.

The bond between this pastor and these people was deep. Paul invested more time in Ephesus than anywhere else during his missionary travels. He had spent that time preaching and teaching God’s Word to them—all of it to all of them. “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God” (v. 27). For Paul the ministry of the Word was the main thing.

In a day when churches are expecting their pastors to be many things—therapists, administrators, entrepreneurs, entertainers—it is good to remember the main thing. A pastor, after all, is a shepherd—that’s what the word means. And Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” —David Bast

Prayer: Good Shepherd, equip and empower my pastor to feed your sheep.

 

https://woh.org/

Wisdom Hunters – I Don’t Feel Heard 

I must speak and find relief; I must open my lips and reply. Job 32:20

Two-way communication is critical for the health of organizations and relationships. If I am so busy that I do not take time to talk through expectations, then I set up all parties for frustration. For example, I may expect a project to be due at a certain date, but if I do not monitor the progress along the way then the deadline may come and go unaccomplished. If, however, a system is in place for ongoing feedback, then everyone is clear on where we are and where we need to go. Two-way communication brings clarity.

What about our most important relationships? Do we take the time to interact so there is authentic understanding of each other’s needs? If we are not careful, we can take for granted the very ones we care for the most and, in a moment of misunderstanding, become angry in our disappointment. Two-way communication takes time to talk.

Communication that goes both ways requires knowledge and comprehension. If you speak out of emotion before you gain insight into the situation, then you only prolong a productive exchange. Suffering in adversity, Job struggled with this. “Job speaks without knowledge; his words lack insight” (Job 34:35). Two-way communication is a product of two people listening, understanding, and taking responsibility for the next steps.

Perhaps a weekly progress report on a present project at work is necessary to keep all team members accountable and up-to-date. At home you could incorporate a daily walk together just to catch up and hear each other’s hearts. Quality communication flows from quantity time to hear and to be heard. Slow down and make sure you speak up.

Most importantly, communication with Christ is your greatest opportunity to gain insight and understanding into His heart. If you are too busy to pray, you are too busy. The Bible is His love letter to you. As you read Scripture, do you fill in your name as you read its admonishments? Two-way communication with Him means you desire to learn.

“Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path” (Proverbs 23:19).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me a heart to help others feel heard and understood, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Application: Do I listen intently to the Lord? Do I honor others with constructive conversation?

Related Readings: Psalm 15:1–3; Proverbs 8:6–7; Ephesians 4:25; Jude 1:10

Worship Resource: 6-minute music video- Lily Cottrell: What a Beautiful Name

Taken from Seeking Daily the Heart of God v.2

http://www.wisdomhunters.com/