Charles Stanley – Wandering Away From God

 

Luke 15:1-7

It would be wonderful if after salvation, our lives progressed in a straight line of uninterrupted obedience to our heavenly Father. But that is never the case, because we all stray now and then. Jesus told a story about a shepherd who went in search of a lost sheep. While this parable is about the salvation of a wayward soul, the lessons in the story can also be applied to those of us who belong to Christ.

Even though we are held securely in the Father’s hand and will never lose our salvation, we can drift in our obedience to Him (John 10:28-29). But why would believers wander away from the God who loves them?

If a sheep takes its eyes off the shepherd, it can easily meander toward a more appealing patch of grass and end up far afield. In the same way, we might see a path that seems to lead to better opportunities. But as we follow it, we grow further from the Lord. We may not notice the distance between us and our Savior until we find ourselves in trouble.

Other Christians willfully choose to pursue their own objectives. They know their choice is wrong, but they rationalize the decision or blame someone else for misleading them.

Regardless of how we end up outside God’s will, we are responsible for the action that put us there. Though another opportunity may look good, the only place believers will find true contentment is in a trusting, obedient relationship with Jesus Christ. Therefore, we must keep our eyes on Jesus and guard against pursuing anything except His will.

Bible in One Year: Joshua 10-12

 

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Our Daily Bread — Gentle Yet Powerful

 

Bible in a Year:Deuteronomy 5–7; Mark 11:1–18

Let your gentleness be evident to all.

Philippians 4:5

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Isaiah 40:10–11

As the enemy occupation of the Netherlands increased, Anne Frank and her family bravely prepared and then moved to a secret hiding place to escape the danger. They hid there two years during World War II before being found and sent to concentration camps. Yet Anne, writing in what became her famous Diary of a Young Girl, said this: “In the long run, the sharpest weapon of all is a kind and gentle spirit.”

Gentleness can be a complicated issue as we deal with real life.

In Isaiah 40 we get a picture of God that shows Him to be both gentle and powerful. In verse 11 we read: “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms.” But that verse follows this: “See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm” (v. 10). Full of power, but gentle when it comes to protecting the vulnerable.

And think of Jesus, who fashioned a whip and brandished it as He flipped over the money-changers tables in the temple but who also gently cared for children. He used powerful words to denounce the Pharisees (Matthew 23) but forgave a woman who needed His gentle mercy (John 8:1–11).

While there may be times to stand up with power for the weak and challenge others to pursue justice—we’re also to “let [our] gentleness be evident to all” (Philippians 4:5). As we serve God, sometimes our greatest strength reveals a heart of gentleness to those in need.

By Dave Branon

Today’s Reflection

How can you gently but firmly promote justice and mercy today? How does the Holy Spirit help us be both gentle and powerful?

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – At Ease or Uneasy

I found myself sighing with something like relief one day after reading a comment made by C.S. Lewis. He was responding to a statement made by a scholar who noted that he didn’t “care for” the Sermon on the Mount but “preferred” the ethics of the apostle Paul. As you might imagine, Lewis was bothered at the suggestion of Scripture alternatives between which we may pick and choose, and it was this that he addressed first. But his response also included an honest remark about the Sermon on the Mount as well, and this is what caught my attention. He wrote, “As to ‘caring for’ the Sermon on the Mount, if ‘caring for’ here means liking or enjoying, I suppose no one cares for it. Who can like being knocked flat on his face by a sledgehammer? I can hardly imagine a more deadly spiritual condition than that of the man who can read that passage with tranquil pleasure. This is indeed to be ‘at ease in Zion.’”(1)

To be “at ease in Zion” was the deplorable state of existence the prophet Amos spoke of in his harsh words to the Israelites hundreds of years before Jesus was giving sermons and causing commotion. Reeling in false security and erroneous confidence from their economic affluence and self-indulgent lifestyles, the Israelites, Amos warned, would be the first God would send into exile if they failed to heed his words: “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion… who lie on beds of ivory, and lounge on their couches… you have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood.”(2)

The Sermon on the Mount is equally startling. Lewis’s comparison of Christ’s words to a sledgehammer is not far off. Those potent chapters are not unlike the electric paddles used to shock the heart back to life, back to the rhythm it was intended to have.

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Joyce Meyer – Choosing to Persevere

 

That is why I would remind you to stir up (rekindle the embers of, fan the flame of, and keep burning) the [gracious] gift of God…For God did not give us a spirit of timidity…but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind…. — 2 Timothy 1:6-7 (AMPC)

From the book Closer to God Each Day Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

On difficult days, it is helpful to be reminded to persevere in order to fulfill the call of God on our lives. On those days when you feel like giving up, just remember that God has given you the power to hold on!

In the scripture for today we learn that Timothy was a young minister who simply felt like giving up. The fire that had once burned within him was beginning to grow cold. The church in those days was experiencing a great deal of persecution, and Timothy had some fears. Perhaps he felt worn-out and that everything was crashing down upon him. He had reached a place where he needed to be encouraged to stir himself up in faith.

Paul was saying, “Timothy, you may feel like quitting, but I am reminding you of the call on your life. Remember the power of the Holy Spirit that changed your life. He gives you a spirit of power, love, discipline, and self-control.” Paul encouraged Timothy to be stable.

If we have stability, we do what is right even when it is difficult and does not feel good. Be encouraged today that you can do whatever you need to do. In Christ, you’ve got what it takes!

Giving up is only an option for those who plan to fail in life.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for the power to persevere. Right now, I ask for Your supernatural strength, encouragement and peace to deal with every situation in life. Thank You for being with me every step of the way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Share His Treasures

 

“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).

You may cringe, as I do, at the thought of suffering for Jesus. As He reminds us in Mark 10, anything we ever give up for Him will be given to us a hundred times over, with persecution. Quite frankly, I have never relished the thought of being persecuted. Yet, again and again, in my own experience I have known the reality of that supernatural presence of God, that peace that passes all understanding, during times of suffering and persecution.

Our Lord Himself, knowing that He was on His way to the cross, spoke of peace, love and joy more than at any other time in His ministry. The apostle Paul knew all kinds of suffering. He was in prison frequently; he was beaten, and he finally died as a martyr for his faith. Yet, even while in prison, he wrote of joy and peace – “Count it all joy,” he said. “Rejoice ever more.”

Philippians 3:10 records the desire of his heart: “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death” (KJV). Apart from the fellowship of His sufferings, Paul knew that he would never mature and become like the Lord Jesus Christ. “Adversity is the touchstone of character.”

All men suffer; however, the disobedient Christians and the unbelievers suffer far more than the obedient, Spirit-filled Christians, because most of the problems of life are self- imposed and when they suffer, they suffer alone, for they are on their own. But the Spirit-filled, obedient, faithful servant of God always knows the reality of God’s faithfulness.

Bible Reading: Romans 8:18-23

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Since it is my desire to be conformed to the image of Christ, to share His glory and His treasure. I will gladly share His suffering, knowing that He will be with me, ministering to me, caring for me, enveloping me with His love and peace. And I will share this word of encouragement with others who may not understand the faithfulness of God.

 

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Max Lucado – Guard Your Attitude

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

The tenth chapter of Luke describes the step-by-step process of the sweet becoming sour.  It’s the story of two sisters.  Martha has things to do.  Mary has thoughts to think.

Martha is having Jesus and friends over for dinner.  She’s literally serving Jesus.  But she makes a common, yet dangerous mistake.  Her work becomes more important than her Lord.  Martha’s heart sours with anxiety.  And worry makes her forget who’s in charge, and she bosses God around.

Jesus points out that “only one thing is important.  Mary has chosen it.” God is more pleased with the quiet attention of a sincere servant than the noisy service of a sour one.  A bad attitude spoils the gift we leave on the altar for God.  So guard your attitude.

Read more He Still Moves Stones

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – Alex Trebek and Hailey Bieber: 2 steps to biblical courage

Alex Trebek has announced that he has stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

The legendary Jeopardy! host told his fans, “I’m going to fight this, and I’m going to keep working.” He added courageously, “With the love and support of my family and friends and with the help of your prayers also, I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease.”

On the theme of courage in the news, Martha McSally disclosed this week that she was raped in the Air Force by a superior officer. The ex-pilot and current Arizona senator told an interviewer yesterday that she made her announcement to bring attention to the problem of sexual assaults in the military.

Speaking to other sexual abuse victims, the senator said, “Don’t let your assaulter rob you of your future. Don’t do it.” She hopes that telling her story will “inspire others to get through their own dark times.”

Since the Pentagon recently reported that incidents of sexual assault at military academies are up by nearly 50 percent, Sen. McSally’s statement is even more significant and urgent.

Hailey Bieber’s life mission

Living as fallen people with other fallen people on a fallen planet requires courage.

Supermodel Hailey Bieber recently discussed her life mission, declaring that the “bigger purpose” behind her modeling career is “to be a light in this place.” She added: “I’m here to represent Jesus through me for other people—for His will to be done.”

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