Charles Stanley – The High Cost of Compromise

 

1 Kings 11:1-11

We all think there are certain things we’d never do: I’d never cheat on my spouse, I’d never steal from an employer, I’d never betray a friend, etc. While uttering the words, we’re confident that we’d live up to them. What believers often don’t realize is that the journey from “I’d never” to “I did” is made up of small steps, each one a compromise.

A young, spiritually fervent Solomon might have said, “I’d never be a lust-driven slave to false gods.” Yet he ended his life with a multitude of wives and lovers who demanded his allegiance to their deities. Neglecting the laws and principles of the true God cost him dearly.

Solomon knew the warnings against marrying foreigners: “They will turn your sons away from following [God] to serve other gods; then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you” (Deut. 7:4). But the political advantages of an alliance with Egypt convinced him to compromise those high standards (1 Kings 3:1). The fact that God didn’t instantly react to Solomon’s rebellion may have made rationalizing the next marriage even easier—after all, a nation was more secure if its king’s harem included daughters of potential enemies. But just as God foretold, Solomon’s thousand-strong harem lured his heart away. He broke a divine covenant and forfeited his family’s claim to Israel’s throne.

God’s commands are meant to protect us from sin and heartache. Compromise can look tempting and even advantageous, but taking one step off the high road makes the next step even easier.

Bible in One Year: Acts 8-9

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Our Blessings, His Love

 

Bible in a Year:

To him who led his people through the wilderness; His love endures forever.

Psalm 136:16

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 136:1–3, 10–26

In 2015, a woman discarded her deceased husband’s computer at a recycling center—a computer that had been made in 1976. But more important than when it had been made was who made it. It was one of 200 computers hand built by Apple founder Steve Jobs, and was worth an estimated quarter of a million dollars! Sometimes knowing the true worth of something means knowing who made it.

Knowing that it’s God who made us shows us how valuable we are to Him (Genesis 1:27). Psalm 136 catalogs key moments of His people—ancient Israel: how they had been freed from captivity in Egypt (vv. 11–12), journeyed through the wilderness (v. 16), and were given a new home in Canaan (vv. 21–22). But each time a moment of Israel’s history is mentioned, it’s paired with this repeated refrain: “His love endures forever.” This refrain reminded the people of Israel that their experiences weren’t random historical events. Each moment had been orchestrated by God and was a reflection of His enduring love for those He’d made.

Far too often, I allow moments that show God at work and His kind ways to simply pass by, failing to recognize that every perfect gift comes from my heavenly Father (James 1:17) who made me and loves me. May you and I learn to connect every blessing in our lives to God’s enduring love for us.

By: Peter Chin

Reflect & Pray

How can we better remember the Source of life’s blessings? What hinders you from doing so?

Heavenly Father, please don’t allow even one blessing that You’ve given pass by without me recognizing that it came from You, and You alone!

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Equal Disability

During a recent stint on jury duty, I had the unique opportunity to ride to and from the courthouse on public transportation—the Metro bus. I say unique opportunity because public transportation affords one exposure to the wide variety of people who live in the city and who make their way around its bustling streets and byways by taking the bus. In fact, a wide gamut of society rides together crammed on the Metro bus. Business people hurry to get to work, multi-tasking laptop, cellphone, and paper folders full of projects and to do lists. Students rush to get to school sequestering themselves from the world of the bus by burying their heads in books or tuning into their iPods. There are also many homeless individuals who ride the bus in the “free zone” downtown back and forth between stops, affording a movable shelter from the cold.

Sheer observation of this dynamic diversity was often the extent of my thoughts as I rode. One morning, a group of developmentally disabled students from the local high school got on the bus with me. I tried to engage in light conversation with the few who sat down next to me, asking where they were going in the city. One young woman just stared at me blankly; another, perpetually talking about absolutely everything and nothing at the same time tried to engage me, but not with an answer. Two other young men simply looked at me, offered a vacant smile, and then returned to fiddling with objects to keep their hands and minds occupied.

As the bus moved forward towards the next stop with our unique human cargo, I was overcome with emotion. I wasn’t crying because I felt sorry for these disabled students or worried about their quality of lives—although I do and I did that day. I wasn’t overcome as a result of my admiration for the adult workers whose vocation led them to care for these students who are often the least and the last—although I do, and I did. I was overcome with emotion because I suddenly identified with these disabled individuals. Though I appear “able” bodied—of sound mind and well put together—I realized that I am just like they are.

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Joyce Meyer – Reminders

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control]. — 2 Timothy 1:7 (AMP)

Adapted from the resource Battlefield of the Mind Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

It doesn’t matter what kind of problem we have in our lives, we need self-control and discipline to gain and maintain the victory. I believe this is especially true with regard to our thought life and the battle for our mind. What begins in the mind eventually comes out of the mouth, and before we know it, we’re telling anyone who will listen how we feel. We have to discipline our mind, our mouth, our feelings, and our actions so that they are all in agreement with what the Word of God says.

Every quality of God that is in you and me, God Himself planted in us in the form of a seed the day we accepted Christ (see Colossians 2:10). Over time and through life’s experiences, the seeds of Christ’s character begin to grow and produce the fruit of His Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (see Galatians 5:22–23).

I have found that it is virtually impossible to operate in any of the other eight fruit of the Spirit unless we are exercising self-control. How can you and I remain patient, for example, in the midst of an upsetting situation unless we exercise restraint? Or how can we walk in love and believe the best of someone after they have repeatedly hurt us unless we use the fruit of self-control?

As Christians, we have the fruit of the Spirit in us, but we must purposely choose to exercise them. Not choosing to exercise the fruit of the Spirit is what produces carnal Christians—those who are under the control of ordinary impulses and walk after the desires of the flesh (see 1 Corinthians 3:3). Whatever we exercise the most becomes the strongest.

Our thoughts and words are two areas in which the Holy Spirit is constantly prompting us to exercise self-control. The Bible says that …as [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he, and …out of the abundance (overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks (Proverbs 23:7Luke 6:45 AMPC). Satan is constantly trying to get us to accept wrong thoughts about everything from God’s love for us to what terrible thing is going to happen to us next. Why? Because he knows that once we start accepting and believing his lies, it is just a matter of time until we begin to speak them out of our mouths. And when we speak wrong things, we open the door for wrong things to come into our lives (see Proverbs 18:20–21).

What if, instead of allowing our minds to go over all of the things that have hurt us, we would remind ourselves to think about all the good things God has brought into our lives? When we allow Satan to fill our minds with worry, anxiety, and doubt, we wear out our ability to make good decisions. Worry is also thankless by nature. I’ve noticed that people who worry rarely see much good in life. They talk about tragedy, failures, sickness, and loss. They seem unable to focus on the good things that they still have in life.

Try this. Each day, focus on the things God has done for you in the past. This will make it easier for you to expect good things in the future. As I wrote those words, I thought of the memorials mentioned in the Old Testament. Often the people stacked up heaps of stones as reminders that God had delivered them or appeared to them. As they looked backward and remembered, they were able to look forward and believe.

The psalmist wrote, O my God, my life is cast down upon me [and I find the burden more than I can bear]; therefore will I [earnestly] remember You from the land of the Jordan [River] and the [summits of Mount] Hermon… (Psalm 42:6 AMPC). He was reminding himself of past victories. When he was having problems, he recalled God’s great work in the lives of the people.

When doubts try to sneak in, you can do what the psalmist did: You can look back and remember that God has always been with His people. All of us have had times when we wondered if we’d make it. But we did. So will you.

Prayer Starter: My great God, forgive me for allowing the little things of life to distract me and to take my thoughts away from You. Through Jesus Christ, help me always to remember that You are with me in the good times and in the bad times. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Satisfies God’s Requirements

 

“Love does no wrong to anyone. That’s why it fully satisfies all of God’s requirements. It is the only law you need” (Romans 13:10).

Early in my Christian life, I was troubled over the command to love God so completely, as I mentioned in yesterday’s reading. How could I ever measure up to such a high standard? Then He showed me how to love by faith.

We are to love God. We are to love our neighbors. We are to love our enemies. We are to love our family members. And we are to love ourselves with God’s kind of love, by faith.

Since the greatest commandment is to love God, we are to give Him our first love, never allowing anyone or anything to come before Him. And supernaturally, we are to express the agape kind of love to others – a love no less in its quality and magnitude than that which we express toward God.

In the same way, God loves all His children perfectly. He loves you and me just as much as He loves His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (John 17:23).

The person who has not yet learned to love God and to seek Him above all else and all others is to be pitied. Such a person is only denying himself the blessings that await all who love God with all their heart, soul and mind.

It is natural for us to fulfill the command to love our neighbors as ourselves if we truly love God in the way mentioned above. If we are properly related to God, vertically, we will be properly related to our fellow man, horizontally.

Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 13

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: By faith I will claim God’s love – for Him, for my neighbors, for myself, for my enemies – and as a result do only good, which is a result of supernatural living

 

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Max Lucado – God Changes His People Through Prayer

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

This much is sure:  God will teach you to pray.  Don’t think for a minute that he’s glaring at you from a distance with crossed arms and a scowl, waiting for you to get your prayer life together.  Just the opposite!  In Revelation 3:20 Jesus says, “Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and eat with you, and you will eat with Me.”

Jesus waits on the porch.  He taps…and calls.  He waits for you to open the door.  To pray is the hand of faith on the door handle of your heart.  The happy welcome to Jesus says,  Come in, O King.  Come in.  The kitchen is messy, but come in.  I’m not much of a conversationalist, but come in.

Before amen—comes the power of a simple prayer!  God changes His people through such moments.

Read more Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

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Denison Forum – More Americans have cohabited than married: The risks of disobeying Scripture and the promise of redeeming grace

 

For the first time in our history, more Americans have lived with a romantic partner than have married one. According to Pew Research Center’s new study, the number of those who have ever married has fallen from 60 percent in 2002 to 50 percent today, while the number who have cohabited without being married has grown from 54 percent to 59 percent.

The study also reports that 69 percent of Americans say it is acceptable for a couple to live together even if they don’t plan to get married. Sixteen percent agree with cohabiting if the couple plans to marry. Only 14 percent of us believe it is “never acceptable” for a couple to live together before marriage.

Here’s the irony: the more that Americans grow to accept cohabiting, the more we learn how detrimental such a lifestyle can be for those who practice it.

Are married couples more satisfied than those who cohabit?

One reason many couples decide to live together is to “test” their relationship to see if they should marry.

However, according to a Barna Group study cited by the Institute for Family Studies (IFS), couples who are “testing” their relationship experience higher levels of depressive symptoms, abandonment anxiety, and negative interaction. The IFS concludes that “if you are considering whether or not to move in with someone to test the relationship, it’s likely not the wisest thing to do.”

The Pew study reports that married adults are more likely than cohabiting couples to trust their partner to be faithful to them, act in their best interest, always tell them the truth, and handle money responsibly. They are more satisfied with their partner’s approach to parenting, the way household chores are divided, how well they balance work and personal life, how well they communicate, and their sex life.

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