Charles Stanley –Freedom and Responsibility

 

Galatians 5:13-15

Years ago a friend of mine made some decisions that changed the course of his life. He’d been a faithful pastor but became convinced that freedom in Christ meant he could do almost anything he wanted. I warned that such choices would come back to haunt him, but he refused to be held accountable and kept going down that path until he finally had to leave the ministry. He did exactly what Paul cautioned against: using freedom as an opportunity to sin.

The context for freedom in today’s passage is the Old Testament Law. Believers are freed from the demands of the Law—that’s because Jesus Christ fulfilled it by living a perfect life and paying the penalty for sin with His death on the cross. Our salvation is by God’s grace through faith, not by good works.

However, liberty doesn’t cancel out responsibility. For example, people are free to pursue different desires, but if we decide we don’t have to obey the law, we will quickly discover that we’re accountable to the courts for how we use our freedom.

Let’s examine ourselves to be sure an attitude of selfish freedom hasn’t crept into our thinking. A reluctance to be honest, an unwillingness to be held accountable, and a strong desire to have our own way could be indications.

If we trust Jesus with our salvation, we have been freed from slavery to sin, but we’re to use that freedom to obey Christ and serve others through love. Romans 14:7 puts it this way: “For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself”—that is, we’re accountable to both God and each other.

Bible in One Year: Leviticus 14-16

 

http://www.intouch.org/

 

Our Daily Bread — Ears Were Made for Listening

 

Bible in a Year:Exodus 31–33; Matthew 22:1–22

Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear.

Jeremiah 5:21

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Jeremiah 5:18-23

Actress Diane Kruger was offered a role that would make her a household name. But it required her to play a young wife and mother experiencing the loss of her husband and child, and she had never personally suffered loss to such a degree. She didn’t know if she could be believable. But she accepted, and in order to prepare, she began attending support meetings for people walking through the valley of extreme grief.

Initially she offered suggestions and thoughts when those in the group shared their stories. She, like most of us, wanted to be helpful. But gradually she stopped talking, and simply started listening. It was only then she began truly learning to walk a mile in their shoes. And her realization came by using her ears.

Jeremiah’s indictment against the people was that they refused to use their “ears” to hear the Lord’s voice. The prophet did not mince words, calling them “foolish and senseless people” (Jeremiah 5:21). God is constantly at work in our lives communicating words of love, instruction, encouragement, and caution. The Father’s desire is that you and I learn and mature, and we have each been given the tools, such as ears, to do so. The question then is, will we use them to hear the heart of our Father?

By John Blase

Today’s Reflection

Father, I believe You are always speaking. Forgive my stubborn tendency to think I have all the answers. Open my ears that I may hear.

 

http://www.odb.org

Streams in the Desert for Kids – When Life Gets Tough—Hang On!

Mark 4:37

Storms are scary. They are destructive and they can threaten life. When a huge hurricane named Katrina swept ashore in New Orleans, it just about ruined the city. Jesus’ disciples knew all about storms, so when they got caught in a furious squall on the Sea of Galilee, they were sure they were about to die. They expected their boat to be demolished by the storm. Jesus was asleep in their boat, so they woke him up and asked him to save them. And that’s what Jesus did. He spoke to the storm and told it to be quiet.

Tough times come to everyone. Sometimes someone we love gets sick. Sometimes a friend betrays us. Sometimes there are real storms like hurricane Katrina. There are lots of scary things that can happen, but just like the disciples, we have Jesus in the boat of our life. We just have to call out to him. He will help us find a way through the worst problems we could ever have.

Dear Lord, Thank you for being there through the good times as well as the bad. I know that with your help I can overcome anything that comes into my life. Help me trust you more. Amen.

Joyce Meyer – No Finding Your Destiny

 

w you [collectively] are Christ’s body and [individually] you are members of it, each part severally and distinct [each with his own place and function]. — 1 Corinthians 12:27 (AMPC)

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

We wonder, What am I to do with my life? What is my purpose here? Does God have a calling on my life?

God answers these questions through our natural gifts and abilities. He leads us to our purpose through the natural skills and unique talents He bestows upon us. God-given gifts are the skills a person easily performs without formal training. We derive great pleasure from doing what we are naturally good at doing.

If you aren’t sure of your purpose, just do what you are good at doing, and then watch God confirm you by blessing your endeavors. Don’t spend your life trying to do what you are not gifted to do. I tried to grow a garden and can tomatoes and sew my husband’s clothes. I wasn’t at all good at any of these things, and I even despised trying!

It was obvious that God wasn’t calling me to grow and preserve vegetables or to sew. But what if no one enjoyed gardening or canning or making clothes? God keeps our world in balance by giving each of us natural talent and pleasure in doing what needs to be done for the good of everyone around us.

We know we are operating in our gifts and calling when what we do ministers life to others. If what we do makes us miserable and fills us with a sense of dread, it’s possible we are not in God’s perfect will. God gives us peace and joy to let us know we are fulfilling His perfect plan.

I encourage you to look at what you enjoy, what you’re good at, and what God is giving you the grace to do—and then let God be God in your life. He wants to flow through you in many different ways, but it may not be the same way He flows through others. Trust His ability in and through you, and don’t be afraid to be unique.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for the special gifts and abilities You have given me. Help me to stay focused on what You have called me to do and use my gifts to bless the word around me. Help me to be myself—the unique person You created me to be. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Your Source of Strength

 

“……the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10b, KJV).

At a London train station one day, a woman was stopped by an elderly man.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” he said, “but I want to thank you for something.”

“Thank me!” the woman exclaimed.

“Yes’m, I used to be the ticket collector, and whenever you went by you always gave me a cheerful smile and a ‘good mornin’.” You don’t know what a difference it made to me.

“Wet weather or dry, it was always the same, and I thought to myself, “Wonder where she gets her smile from; one can’t always be happy, yet she seems to.’ I knew that smile must come from inside somehow.”

“Then one morning you came by and you had a little Bible in your hand. I said to myself, ‘Perhaps that’s where she gets her smile from.’ So on my way home that night I bought a Bible, and I’ve been reading it, and I’ve found Christ. Now I can smile, too, and I want to thank you.”

As you and I seek to be God’s witnesses today, in dependence on the supernatural power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we should be mindful constantly of the fact that the joy of the Lord can indeed be our strength. That joy inevitably will shine on our faces, regardless of circumstances.

In the words of an anonymous poem:

If you live close to God
And His infinite grace, You don’t have to tell; It shows on your face.

Bible Reading:Psalm 16:6-11

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will make a conscious effort to reflect the joy of my indwelling Lord in such a way that it will glow on my very countenance. While it is true that joy is a fruit of the Spirit, it is also true that the reflection of that joy is my responsibility. But I will go a step further. I will tell everyone who will listen about the one who is the source of my joy.

 

http://www.cru.org