Charles Stanley – Making Wise Decisions

 

Galatians 6:7-10

Much of our life can be summed up by the decisions we’ve made right until the present. This is why it’s so important to learn to make wise choices that lead to the life God wants for us. And the foundation for doing so is a firm conviction regarding the truth of God’s Word, which will ground us in every area—relationships, finances, work, church, and the use of our time.

The unchanging principle of sowing and reaping is one that should guide every decision we make, because a harvest will eventually result from the action we take. Paul contrasted two different ways Christians can sow—either to the Spirit or to the flesh.

There is a battle raging within us between the desires of the Holy Spirit, who has come to live within us, and the desires of our flesh—those sin patterns and self-serving tendencies remaining in us even after salvation (Gal. 5:17). Our goal should be to put our sinful, selfish desires to death so that we can follow the Spirit as He directs us according to the Scriptures. Therefore, the better we know and understand God’s Word, the more we will be able to discern the Spirit’s leading.

To make this practical, remember that every time you rehearse a wrong done to you, complain with regard to your situation, gossip about a friend, or indulge an addictive desire, you are sowing to the flesh and will reap more of the same later. But if you let the Spirit lead and empower you, you’ll be able to forgive others, be content in every situation, and acquire holy desires and the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 28-30

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — All for Nothing

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 49–50; Romans 1

Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.

Proverbs 7:27

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Proverbs 7:10–27

Heroin addiction is poignantly tragic. Users build tolerance, so larger hits are required for the same high. Soon the dosage they seek is more than enough to kill them. When addicts hear someone has died from an exceptionally strong batch, their first thought may not be fear but “Where can I get that?”

  1. S. Lewis warned of this downward spiral in Screwtape Letters,his imaginative look at a demon’s explanation of the art of temptation. Start with some pleasure—if possible one of God’s good pleasures—and offer it in a way God has forbidden. Once the person bites, give less of it while enticing him to want more. Provide “an ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure,” until finally we “get the man’s soul and give him nothing in return.”

Proverbs 7 illustrates this devastating cycle with the temptation of sexual sin. Sex is God’s good gift, but when we seek its enjoyment outside of marriage we’re “like an ox going to the slaughter” (v. 22). People stronger than us have destroyed themselves by pursuing highs that are harmful, so “pay attention” and “do not let your heart turn to [wrongful] ways” (vv. 24–25). Sin can be alluring and addicting, but it always ends in death (v. 27). By avoiding—in God’s strength—the temptation to sin, we can find true joy and fulfillment in Him.

By Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

When and where do you face temptations? How can you seek God’s wisdom and help in turning from them? 

Holy Spirit, I know that I am powerless in myself to resist temptation. I need You. Help me. For more on overcoming addiction, see When We Just Can’t Stopat discoveryseries.org/cb961.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Body of Hope

Dr. Paul Brand was an orthopedic surgeon who chose his patients among the untouchable. With his wife, who was also a physician, he spent a lifetime working with the marred and useless limbs of leprosy victims. In fact, he transformed the way in which medicine approached the painful and often exiled world of the leper. Whereas the disfigurements of leprosy were once treated as irreversible consequences of the disease, Dr. Brand brought new hope to sufferers of leprosy by utilizing the body’s capacity to heal. “I have come to realize that every patient of mine, every newborn baby, in every cell of its body, has a basic knowledge of how to survive and how to heal that exceeds anything that I shall ever know,” wrote Brand. “That knowledge is the gift of God, who has made our bodies more perfectly than we could ever have devised.”(1)

Philip Yancey was a young journalist when he first met this dignified British surgeon in an interview. He recalls a teary-eyed Brand speaking of his patients, describing their disease as if first hand: their unremitting suffering, experimental surgeries, societal rejection. Many memorable conversations later, Yancey would recall the healing presence this physician was to his own crippled and weary belief in God. To Yancey, Brand represented faith and hope in body, amidst nothing less than suffering and death and loss. His belief in Christ caused him to outwardly live in a very particular way. He worked to restore the image of humanity and the image of God in lives marred by disease, and so helped restore the face of God in the doubt-ridden world of a young author. As Yancey later would write of their meeting, “You need only meet one saint to believe, to silence the noisy arguments of the world.”(2)

Brand was for Yancey a physical reminder that Christianity is no mere system or organization, preference or thought process, but a way of life with one concerned as much with broken bodies as marred souls. In a 1990 lecture titled The Wisdom of the Body, Dr. Paul Brand said, “I pray that when my time comes I may not grumble that my body has worn out too soon, but hold on to gratitude that I have been so long at the helm of the most wonderful creation the world has ever known, and look forward to meeting its designer face to face.”(3) In a body like ours, God silences the arguments of a noisy world. Jesus approaches humanity as one of us, coming to make us well entirely—in body, mind, soul, senses.

Of the ten lepers Jesus healed on his way to Jerusalem, there was only one who stopped to recognize the significance of the man behind the miracle. For this one, it was not simply a life-changing moment of being healed of leprosy; it was a life-changing invitation into a kingdom and a community, into life as a new creation. Falling on his face at Jesus’s human feet, he saw the Son of God who made him well. And Jesus said to him: “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”(4)

 

 

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

(1) Paul Brand and Philip Yancey, In the Likeness of God (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), 16.
(2) Philip Yancey, “The Leprosy Doctor,” Christianity Today (November 2003), 112.
(3) Paul Brand, “The Wisdom of the Body,” Chicago Sunday Evening Club, Program 3428, April 28, 1990.
(4) Luke 17:11-18.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – God Hears and Answers

 

For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you.— Isaiah 30:19

Adapted from the resource Hearing from God Each Morning Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Our friendship not only benefits us, it also benefits those around us. When people come to us with needs or concerns, we may be able to offer some help, or we may not be able to meet their needs at all.

Even if we do not have what people really need, God does. When we are friends with God, we can say to people, “I don’t have what you need, but I know Someone who does. I’ll ask my friend! I will intercede before God for you.”

We know that God has the power to intervene in people’s circumstances, to help their children stop using drugs, to bring financial breakthroughs, to work medical miracles or to reconcile marriages.

The more intimately we know God, the more confident we are in His willingness and ability to help people. When they come to us, we can go to Him and know He will come through for them.

We can actually ask God to do us a favor and help someone we love even when we know that they don’t deserve it. We can pray with compassion out of a heart of love—and God hears and answers.

God loves you, and He loves the sound of your voice coming to Him in prayer and fellowship. Go to Him often not only for your needs, but also for the needs of others.

Prayer Starter: O, Lord, thank You for always hearing my cries for help. Today, I ask for Your supernatural help and intervention for the needs in my life. I also lift up the needs of my friends and family and pray for peace, provision, healing, wisdom and direction. Thank You for Your amazing love and for answering our cries for help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Everything I Need

 

“Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need!” (Psalm 23:1).

A minister telephoned his sermon topic to his local newspaper one day.

“The Lord is My Shepherd,” he said.

“Is that all?” he was asked.

“That’s enough,” the pastor replied.

The weekend church page carried his sermon topic as: “The Lord is My Shepherd – That’s Enough.”

Thoroughly satisfied with the meaning of the expanded title, he used it as his subject on Sunday morning – to the delight and great benefit of the congregation.

Surely the truth of this familiar verse, when properly assessed, should delight and benefit each one of us. Who but our wonderful Lord could serve as such a faithful shepherd? And what better description is there of His loving care for us than that which is implied in the word shepherd?

With Him as our Shepherd, what else could we possibly need? He has promised to be our daily provision, our healer, our all in all. Truly nothing happens to the genuine believer without the knowledge and permissive will of our heavenly Father.

Bible Reading: Psalm 23:1-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: “Dear Lord, help me to see You today as my Shepherd – gracious caretaker and friend, provider of everything I could ever possibly need.”

 

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Freedom in Confession

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

 

Confession!  It’s a word that conjures up many images—some not so positive!  Confession isn’t telling God what he doesn’t know.  That’s impossible.  It’s not pointing fingers at others without pointing any at me.  That may feel good, but it doesn’t promote healing.

Confession is a radical reliance on grace— a trust in God’s goodness.  The truth is, confessors find freedom that deniers of sin do not!  Scripture says “If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right.  He will cleanse us from all the wrongs we have done.”

Tell God what you did.  Again, it’s not that he doesn’t already know, but the two of you need to agree! Then let the pure water of his grace flow over your mistakes!

Read more GRACE

 

 

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Denison Forum – Shark Week to devour millions: What our rapt attention reveals about our spiritual condition

The lure of Shark Week

Sunday night kicked off Discovery Channel‘s thirty-first season of Shark Week, seven days of programming dedicated to the aquatic monstrosities that haunt dreams and make a day at the beach just a bit more nerve-wracking.

The programming is now broadcast in seventy-two countries around the world with just under thirty-five million people expected to tune in.

What makes this programming so attractive?

And what does it say about us as a culture that so many will dedicate their evenings to watching documentaries, movies, and celebrity dives with these beasts?

Are we shark-watching sloths?

Shark Week originally began as an effort to increase awareness about the importance of conservation while also tackling myths about sharks.

Given that the series began the year after the fourth film in the Jaws franchise hit theaters, that desire to set the record straight is understandable. And when you consider that roughly half the population of the Midwest is “absolutely terrified” of sharks despite living nowhere near the ocean, sharks clearly hold an outsized influence on our collective psyche.

What I’d like to discuss today, however, is less related to our fear of sharks than the way that so many will center their lives this week around watching them. It’s simply the latest—or perhaps most relevant—example of a larger trend often criticized but seldom truly examined: slothfulness.

When you think of slothfulness, your first thought might be related to laziness, perhaps in regard to binge-watching Netflix or endlessly perusing social media. That’s an accurate association, to an extent.

However, when Pope Gregory the Great first enshrined slothfulness as one of the Seven Deadly Sins back in the 500s, the concept had a much deeper meaning.

Slothfulness is more than laziness

The Greek term from which the idea of slothfulness finds its origin is akedia, the negative form of the word that refers to loving one’s family. As such, for the majority of Christian history, slothfulness has been seen primarily as a sin associated with the kind of loveless apathy and depression that would drive a person to seek escape from their obligations to those close to them.

As a result, slothfulness can appear in a wide variety of ways. For some, slothfulness may be as simple as losing themselves on Facebook when they should be working. For others, it could manifest as making sure the TV is on instead of talking with their family at the dinner table.

Yet, because the root cause of slothfulness is more about the selfish search for escape than the manner in which that escape takes place, even outwardly beneficial and praiseworthy behaviors can be sinful at heart.

For example, the most industrious workaholic you know could be guilty of slothfulness for the simple reason that they’ve chosen to arrange their priorities with little regard for those around them. They might justify the extra hours by saying they’re doing it to provide a better life for their family, which might be true in some cases or for certain seasons.

But I suspect that a great many of those who lose themselves in their work do so because it seems easier than listening to their spouses discuss the day or helping the kids with their homework.

So, how do we determine when our actions, whether centered on rest or work, are sinful versus when they are correct?

After all, that escape will not necessarily look the same for every person.

How to find purpose in every moment

A good way to tell if your actions are motivated by a spirit of slothfulness is to ask yourself two questions:

  • Does my current activity (or inactivity) serve a purpose?
  • If so, is that purpose good or bad?

Rest, for example, serves an important purpose. So does stillness and taking a real Sabbath day. Procrastinating because we can still find time to get the job done, regardless of the extra stress it may cause our loved ones, maybe not so much.

Ultimately, God has a purpose for every aspect and every moment of our lives, whether they are filled with work or rest, and we must learn to see each moment through that prism if we want to avoid the many ways we can fall into this sin.

Speaking about this perspective of intentionally pursuing God’s purpose, the apostle Paul told the church in Philippi that “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13–14).

I have a difficult time believing that Paul never took a lunch break or needed a moment to rest. But, even in those moments, he remained open to allowing God to direct his time and actions. That’s what the Lord needs from us, and it’s what the temptation to slothfulness most endangers.

It won’t be easy, though, and there is little in the culture that’s going to help.

D.A. Carson assessed our situation well when he described how “people do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.”

So whether you spend your time this week watching sharks on the Discovery Channel, scrolling through Facebook, or looking toward that next task at work, make it a point to grant God open and unending access to every minute of your day.

You will be amazed by what he can do.

 

 

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