Charles Stanley – What It Means to Follow Jesus

 

Matthew 4:18-22

We often refer to ourselves as followers of Christ, but what does that really mean? When Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, and John to follow Him, they physically left what they were doing to be with Him. The disciples had tangible evidence: They could see His direction with their eyes and hear His words with their ears. But how do we follow Jesus today? As we examine today’s passage, we’ll see four essential elements that show us how to be followers of Christ.

  1. The disciples heard Jesus’ voice.Today Christ speaks to us through His Word, giving instruction and guidance through direct commands and prohibitions, spiritual principles, and biblical examples. And within us, we have the Holy Spirit, who directs our path and corrects us when we go astray.
  2. They obeyed without delay.Once the disciples heard the Lord’s command, they immediately complied. Following Jesus requires that we not only do what He says, but also when and how He says to do it.
  3. They left something behind.To follow Jesus, the disciples abandoned the comforts of home and the security of a regular salary. Other believers might be called to give up something completely different.
  4. They pursued the higher purpose Christ offered them.Instead of simply making a living, Christ promised them a life with eternal purpose—becoming fishers of men for the kingdom of God.

Being a Christ follower is not merely an identification with Him; it’s a commitment of obedience that demands leaving behind anything that gets in the way of living fully for Him.

Bible in One Year: Acts 12-13

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Bound to Encourage

 

Read: Hebrews 10:19–25 | Bible in a Year: Lamentations 3–5; Hebrews 10:19–39

Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24

The Steven Thompson Memorial Centipede is a cross-country meet unlike any other. Each seven-member team runs as a unit, holding a rope for the first two miles of a three-mile course. At the two-mile mark, the team drops the rope and finishes the race individually. Each person’s time is, therefore, a combination of the pace the team kept and his or her own speed.

This year, my daughter’s team opted for a strategy I had not previously seen: They put the fastest runner at the front and the slowest right behind her. She explained that their goal was for the strongest runner to be near enough to speak words of encouragement to the slowest runner.

Their plans depicted for me a passage from the book of Hebrews. The writer urges us to “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess” (Hebrews 10:23) as we “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (v. 24). There are certainly many ways of accomplishing this, but the author highlighted one: “not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another” (v. 25). Gathering together with other believers as we’re able is a vital aspect of the life of faith.

The race of life can feel like more than we can handle at times, and we may be tempted to drop the rope in hopelessness. As we run together, let’s offer one another the encouragement to run strong!

Jesus, thank You for the hope You offer. Thank You for never discouraging us. Help us imitate You by encouraging each other today.

Encouragement is water to the soul.

By Kirsten Holmberg

INSIGHT

By the blood of Jesus our high priest (Hebrews 10:19–22) we can enter the Most Holy Place, that is, we can come directly into God’s presence. However, the author is using these two ideas—Jesus’s sacrifice and our access to God—in tandem. The point in this passage is not because Jesus sacrificed for us we can enter God’s presence, but rather because we have a path to God, we are now to act. We are to draw near to Him (v. 22), hold to our hope (v. 23), encourage each other (v. 24), and meet together (v. 25).

A significant aspect of this passage is the author’s repeated use of the first-person plural. Seven times the author uses this construction and three times it’s in the exhortation “let us” (vv. 22, 23, 24). The implication is that our salvation has a community impact. Together we are part of the body of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 12). The Christian life is to be lived in relationship with others, encouraging each other to be more like Christ.

J.R. Hudberg

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Joyce Meyer – Fear Not

 

No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. — Joshua 1:5

Adapted from the resource New Day New You Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

I have heard it said there are 365 references to “fear not” in the Bible. I know there are at least 355, according to Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, one “fear not” for almost every day of the year.

Do you really want to obey the scriptures and “fear not”? If so, you will be in good company because every person in the Bible who was ever used by God to any degree was told over and over by Him, “Fear not.”

One of those people was Joshua. Joshua, the man God chose to follow Moses, had a big job ahead of him: to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land.

God wasn’t telling Joshua to be like Moses, but that He would be to Joshua what He had been to Moses. God would not fail or forsake Joshua. He was saying, “Fear not, Joshua, I will be with you!”

When God tells you He will be with you, that means no matter what the circumstances are like, everything will work out all right because God will never fail you or forsake you.

Prayer Starter: Lord, I lift up all of my fears, worries and concerns to You right now. I choose to believe Your Word—that You will never leave or forsake me. Because of You, I don’t have to fear. Help me to keep moving forward, knowing You are with me every step of the way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Abundant, Supernatural Life

 

“Even so, consider yourself to be dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11, NAS).

My friend Randy had given up on the Christian life. He said, “I have tried, but failed so many times; nothing seems to work. God doesn’t hear my prayers, and I am tired of trying. I’ve read the Bible, prayed, memorized Scripture, and gone to church. But there is no joy and I don’t see any purpose in continuing a life of shame and hypocrisy, pretending I am something that I’m not.”

After listening to his account of his many failures and defeats, I began to explain the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He interrupted me with, “I know all about the Holy Spirit. I’ve read everything I can find, everything you and others have written – and nothing works for me.”

My thoughts turned to Romans, chapter 6. I asked him, “Randy, are you sure you’re a Christian?”

“Yes,” he answered. “I’m sure.”

“How do you know?”

“By faith,” he responded. “The Scripture promises, ‘For by grace are you saved through faith, that not of yourselves, it’s a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.’ I know I’m saved.”

“Why,” I asked him, “do you trust God for your salvation, but do not believe in His other promises concerning your rights as a child of God?”

I began to read from Romans 6 and reminded Randy that every believer has available to him the mighty, supernatural power of the risen Christ. With the enabling of the Holy Spirit, the believer can live that supernatural life simply by claiming his rights through an act of his will. The same Holy Spirit who inspired Ephesians 2:8 and 9 inspired Romans 6, and, by faith, we can claim that sin no longer has control over us and that the mighty power of the resurrection is available as promised.

That day, God touched Randy’s life, his spiritual eyes were opened and he began, by faith, to live in accordance with his God-given heritage.

Bible Reading:Romans 6:12-18

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today, by faith, I will claim the truths of Romans 6. As an act of my will, I surrender the members of my body as instruments of righteousness unto God, to live that abundant, supernatural life, which is my heritage in Christ. Enabled by the Holy Spirit, I will encourage other believers to claim their kingdom rights, and non-believers to join this adventure with the risen Savior

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Do You Doubt?

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Doubt.  He’s a nosy neighbor.  He’s an obnoxious guest.  He’ll pester you.  He’ll irritate you.  He’ll kick the stool out from under you and refuse to help you up.  He doesn’t offer solutions, he only raises questions.  Had any visits from Doubt lately?

If you find yourself going to church in order to be saved and not because you are saved, then you’ve been listening to him. If you find yourself doubting God could forgive you again for that, you’ve been sold some snake oil.  If you are more cynical about Christians than sincere about Christ, then guess who came to dinner?

I suggest you put a lock on your gate.  I suggest you post a “Do Not Enter” sign on your door. James 1:6 says, “Anyone who doubts is like a wave in the sea, blown up and down by the wind.”

Read more Grace for the Moment II

 

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Fighting fires and fighting dragons

 

The wildfires raging through California continue to dominate headlines today. As of this writing, forty-two were confirmed dead from the Camp Fire blaze ravaging the northern part of the state, while two more have perished from the smaller yet still devastating infernos to the south. All totaled, more than three hundred thousand people have been displaced, and, with roughly one hundred still unaccounted for, officials fear the death toll will rise over the coming days and weeks.

While the worst of the damage has come in the northern part of the state, hurricane-level winds are expected to exacerbate flames in the south as gusts pour over mountain passes in that region. Moreover, even those outside the reach of the infernos have suffered as the wildfires have sent up smoke and particles that pollute the air far beyond the scope of the blaze.

Yet despite, or perhaps because of, the dangers the wildfires pose, other news from the region has also struck a chord with people around the world. Stan Lee, creator and mastermind of Marvel Comics and its litany of superhero movies, passed away in Los Angeles on Monday at the age of ninety-five.

For the better part of six decades, he captivated the minds of children and adults alike through iconic figures such as Iron Man, Spiderman, the Hulk, and Thor. He pushed boundaries with characters like the Black Panther and took people on adventures across space alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Yet, the popularity of his comics and movies has as much to do with our society as his creativity. Whether it was the environment of the Vietnam War, the ever-present threat of terrorism following 9/11, the rampant cultural animosity of the last decade, or the litany of other events–like the California wildfires–that remind us that this world is a fallen place, people have often looked for a way to escape, even if only for a brief time.

But is that the correct response?

Killing our dragons

  1. K. Chesterton wrote, “Fairy tales do not tell children dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

Most people are fully aware of the dragons lurking around the corners of our lives. In fact, for many, the dragons seem so universally present that the hard part is finding a small corner where they don’t exist. This sort of escapism is often our natural response when the events of this life threaten to overwhelm us. After all, when was the last time you clicked over to your favorite news site and did not have to seek out something positive within the mass of negative stories?

Now, imagine what that would be like if you lived without the promise that God had already defeated your dragons (John 16:33Revelation 20:10). If the only hope you had in this world was that you, or some other fallen and flawed creature just like you, could come in and save the day, then perhaps you too would spend a bit more time around superheroes.

Fortunately, that’s not the case for us, and it doesn’t have to be the case for anyone else either.

Embracing your story

Throughout the gospels, whenever Jesus helped someone in their time of need, their immediate response was to go and tell others about what he’d done for them. Even when he instructed them to remain silent and tell no one, as with the leper in Mark 1 or the deaf and mute man in Mark 7, they couldn’t help but share their experience with the Savior to anyone who would listen.

That we are called to do the same is not a new concept for most of us. However, that we know we should tell others about Jesus but often don’t perhaps indicates that we’ve forgotten what a good story we really have to tell. I think one of the main reasons is that we’ve failed to make Christ’s story our own.

The people in Scripture who did the most for God were the ones who lived every day with an acute awareness of what he’d already done for them. Their sense of joy and gratitude to the Lord knew no end, and so their ministry didn’t either.

Have we forgotten our story?

The best superhero story ever told

Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with enjoying superheroes or escaping for a couple of hours to watch a fun movie. Not all distractions are a bad thing, and sometimes it does genuinely help to forget about our troubles for a time. But when we re-enter the real world, will we be like those living without hope, or will we model something better? Will they see in us the promise that a real Savior has come and offers the salvation for which their souls yearn?

The gospel is the best superhero story ever written, even more so because it’s true and the person he came to save is you.

That’s a story our culture could really use right now. Will you share it with them?

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/