Charles Stanley –The Cost of True Discipleship

 

Luke 14:25-35

Unlike many churches today, Jesus was never interested in gathering crowds, nor did He make His message more appealing in order to gain a larger following. In fact, He consistently emphasized the high cost of discipleship instead of making it easy for people to follow Him halfheartedly. That’s because His goal was to make true disciples who were totally committed to Him—and this is the same charge He gave us in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20).

In contemplating what makes up the essence of a human being, we might think of an individual’s life, relationships, and possessions. Yet Jesus demanded that His followers surrender all three. In Luke 14, the Lord taught that to be His disciple, a person could not …

Love anyone more than Him (Luke 14:26). When Jesus used the word translated as “hate,” He wasn’t advocating animosity toward family members. Rather, He was emphasizing a commitment to place Him before any human relationship.

Love one’s own life more than Him (Luke 14:26-27). The image Christ used was that of carrying a cross. This symbolized death to our former sinful lifestyle and, if necessary, a willingness to die in order to remain faithful to Him.

Be unwilling to give up all possessions (Luke 14:33). This doesn’t mean we must live as paupers, but we should hold everything loosely, knowing that we are merely stewards of whatever God has entrusted to us.

None of us can fully live up to Jesus’ call. But by His grace, we can commit to Him all that we are and all that we have. This should be the mindset of those who enter through the narrow gate to eternal life (Matt. 7:13-14).

Bible in One Year: Job 1-4

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Objects in Mirror

 

Bible in a Year:2 Chronicles 15–16; John 12:27–50

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Philippians 3:7-14

“Must. Go. Faster.” That’s what Dr. Ian Malcolm, played by Jeff Goldblum, says in an iconic scene from the 1993 movie Jurassic Park as he and two other characters flee in a Jeep from a rampaging tyrannosaurus. When the driver looks in the rearview mirror, he sees the raging reptile’s jaw—right above the words: “OBJECTS IN MIRROR MAY BE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR.”

The scene is a masterful combination of intensity and grim humor. But sometimes the “monsters” from our past feel like they’ll never stop pursuing us. We look in the “mirror” of our lives and see mistakes looming right there, threatening to consume us with guilt or shame.

The apostle Paul understood the past’s potentially paralyzing power. He’d spent years trying to live perfectly apart from Christ, and even persecuted Christians (Philippians 3:1–9). Regret over his past could easily have crippled him.

But Paul found such beauty and power in his relationship with Christ that he was compelled to let go of his old life (vv. 8–9). That freed him to look forward in faith instead of backward in fear or regret: “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal” (vv. 13–14).

Our redemption in Christ has freed us to live for Him. We don’t have to let those “objects in (our) mirror” dictate our direction as we continue forward.

By Adam Holz

Reflect & Pray

How do Paul’s insights on Christ’s forgiveness of us speak into those issues in your life? If you’re struggling with a past choice, who might you talk to for help to “press on”?

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Streams in the Desert for Kids – Diamonds in the Making

 

2 Corinthians 7:5

Carbon is a soft natural material, but it is also the raw material from which diamonds—the hardest substance on earth—are made. How does that happen? Diamonds are formed 75 to 120 miles below the earth’s surface. When carbon buried deep in the earth is put under extreme pressure, and when the temperature is at least 192 degrees Fahrenheit, the carbon changes into diamonds. Scientists discovered that there have been only three times during Earth’s history when diamonds were made, and the planet no longer makes diamonds as it once did. Diamonds are highly valued as jewelry. Maybe your mother or father has a diamond ring. Diamonds are also valued in industry. A diamond saw blade will cut through almost anything.

In the Scripture verse for today, the Apostle Paul describes being harassed, or troubled, on every side. He was under extreme pressure, but God used that pressure to change Paul from an ordinary person into an extraordinary man of God. And God can do the same thing for us. When we feel like everything is pushing on us so hard we cannot stand it, it could be that God is changing us from soft material into a beautiful diamond that he can use.

Dear Lord, I hate to be under pressure. Help me to understand, though, that you can use my troubles to create something new and beautiful in my heart. Amen.

Joyce Meyer – Exceedingly, Abundantly, Above & Beyond

 

Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us. — Ephesians 3:20 (AMP)

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

When I pray about or simply meditate on all the people who are hurting, I have a strong desire to help them all. I sometimes feel that my desire is bigger than my ability, and it is—but it is not bigger than God’s ability!

When the thing we are facing in our lives or ministries looms so big in our eyes that our mind goes “tilt,” we need to think in the spirit. In the natural, many things are impossible. But in the supernatural, spiritual realm, with God nothing is impossible.

God wants us to believe for great things, make big plans, and expect Him to do things so great it leaves us with our mouths hanging open in awe. James 4:2 tells us we have not because we ask not! We can be bold in our asking.

Sometimes in my meetings, people will approach the altar for prayer and sheepishly ask if they can request two things. I tell them they can ask God for all they want to, as long as they trust Him to do it His way, in His timing. It is untold what people can do—people who don’t appear to be able to do anything.

God does not usually call people who are capable. If He did, He would not get the glory. He frequently chooses those who, in the natural, feel as if they are in completely over their heads but who are ready to stand up on the inside and take bold steps of faith as they get direction from God.

We usually want to wait until we “feel ready” before we step out, but if we feel ready, then we tend to lean on ourselves instead of on God.

Know your weaknesses and know God—know His strength and faithfulness. Above all else, don’t be a quitter.

Prayer Starter: Oh, Lord, help me to make you bigger in my eyes and believe You can do the impossible in my life. Help me to live with “God confidence,” and trust You to do things that are above and beyond what I even think I deserve. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Life-giving Fruit

 

“Godly men are growing a tree that bears life-giving fruit, and all who win souls are wise” (Proverbs 11-30).

“The monument I want after I am dead,” said Dwight L. Moody, “is a monument with two legs going around the world – a saved sinner telling about the salvation of Jesus Christ.”

When a young minister asked the Duke of Wellington whether he did not consider it useless to attempt to evangelize India, the Iron Duke sternly replied:

“What are your marching orders, sir?”

No doubt one of Satan’s greatest weapons of deceit in the world today is that of procrastination. Tomorrow I am going to become a soul-winner. Next month, after an evangelistic training program, I will become a great witness. As soon as I finish seminary or Bible college, I’ll begin sharing the good news of the gospel.

But “today is the day of salvation, now is the accepted time,” declares the Word of God. Sensitivity to God’s Holy Spirit – dwelling within to give me supernatural ability – will enable me to tell others what Christ means to me, and what He has done for me.

In God’s economy, the truly wise person, is that one who is redeeming the time, buying up every opportunity to share his faith, refusing to put off that which he knows should become a natural, every-day, moment-by-moment part of his life. Wonder of wonders, God even promises to put the very words in our mouths, if we ask Him, as we go in His name.

Bible Reading: II Corinthians 5:11-17

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will do what God leads me to do this day to bear life-giving fruit.

 

http://www.cru.org