Charles Stanley – God’s Ordained Authority


1 Samuel 15:1-23

God has our best interests in mind. His plans for each believer are meant to bring fullness of life. Yet He didn’t create us to be robots, programmed to blindly follow Him. No, the Lord grants us the choice of whether to obey Him. Our human nature tends to choose a self-centered path that turns away from God’s authority. But in doing so, we miss His best for us.

Consider the life of Saul. God chose this man to be king and provided guidelines for him to follow. Though Saul knew the Lord’s instructions, he chose to do things his own way. At times his sin was unquestionably deliberate, such as his attempt to kill David out of jealousy. At other times, however, his rebellion seemed less clear-cut. For example, despite God’s order to “utterly destroy” the Amalekites and their animals, Saul spared the best of the herd, with the justification that he intended “to sacrifice [them] to the Lord” (1 Sam. 15:3, 15:21).

The choice to disobey cost Saul the throne and eventually led to his destruction. He chose the road that he thought was best, but as we know now, the end result wasn’t worth it. We can learn from his mistakes. Partial obedience is actually disobedience. And any disobedience falls in the category of rebellion, which is sin.

Though our circumstances are different from Saul’s, we face the same types of choices each day. We’re just as vulnerable to the lure of temptation. But if we choose to live God’s way, the Holy Spirit will help us follow His lead and listen for His voice. And there we will find fullness of life.

Bible in One Year: Acts 10-11

Our Daily Bread — True Friends


Bible in a Year:

A friend loves at all times.

Proverbs 17:17

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 Samuel 18:1–4; 19:1–6

In high school, I had a “sometimes friend.” We were “buddies” at our church, and we occasionally hung out together outside of school. But at school, it was a different story. If she met me by herself, she might say hello; but only if no one else was around. Realizing this, I rarely tried to gain her attention within school walls. I knew the limits of our friendship.

We’ve probably all experienced the pain of disappointingly one-sided or narrow friendships. But there’s another kind of friendship—one that extends beyond all boundaries. It’s the kind of friendship we have with kindred spirits who are committed to sharing life’s journey with us.

David and Jonathan were such friends. Jonathan was “one in spirit” with David and loved him “as himself” (1 Samuel 18:1–3). Although Jonathan would have been next in line to rule after his father Saul’s death, he was loyal to David, God’s chosen replacement. Jonathan even helped David to evade two of Saul’s plots to kill him (19:1–6; 20:1–42).

Despite all odds, Jonathan and David remained friends—pointing to the truth of Proverbs 17:17: “A friend loves at all times.” Their faithful friendship also gives us a glimpse of the loving relationship God has with us (John 3:16; 15:15). Through friendships like theirs, our understanding of God’s love is deepened.

By: Alyson Kieda

Reflect & Pray

Who do you consider a true friend? Why? How is it comforting to know that God is our truest friend?

Heavenly Father, we long for friends. Please open up doors to true, lasting, and God-centered friendships.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – “Whatever Makes You Happy”


The following essay from Vince Vitale is an excerpt from Jesus Among Secular Gods coauthored with Ravi Zacharias.

Suppose there was a machine (maybe before long there will be!) that would give you any experience you desired. You could choose to experience winning Olympic gold, or falling in love, or making a great scientific discovery, and then the neurons in your brain would be stimulated such that you would experience a perfect simulation of actually doing these things. In reality, you would be floating in a tank of goo with electrodes hooked up to your brain. Given the choice, should you preprogram your experiences and plug into this machine for the rest of your life?(1)

I join philosopher Robert Nozick, who first devised this thought experiment in the 1970s, in thinking that we should not plug into this “experience machine.” And this suggests the falsity of hedonism, a view dating back over two millennia to the Greek philosophers Democritus and Epicurus. If all that mattered were pleasure (in other words, if hedonism were true), then we should plug into the experience machine and we should encourage everyone we know to plug in as well.

We rightly care about more than just happiness or pleasure. We want to not only feel loved; we want to actually be loved. We want to not only dream of accomplishing our dreams; we want to actually accomplish them. We want to not only feel inside as if we have made a difference in life; we want to actually make a difference. Hedonism is not the desire of our hearts; it is all that is left when every other “ism” has failed us.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – “Whatever Makes You Happy”

Joyce Meyer – Self-Acceptance


For those whom the Lord loves He corrects, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights. — Proverbs 3:12 (AMP)

Adapted from the resource Closer to God Each Day Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Perhaps you have been struggling with accepting yourself. You see the areas in yourself where change is necessary. You desire to be like Jesus. Yet it is very difficult for you to think or say, “I accept myself.” You feel that to do so would be to accept all that is wrong with you, but that is not the case. We can accept and embrace ourselves as God’s unique creation, and still not like everything we do.

God will change us, but we cannot even begin the process of change until this issue of self-acceptance is settled in our individual lives. When we truly believe that God loves us unconditionally just as we are, then we will have a closeness to Him, and we will be willing to receive His correction, which is necessary for true change.

Change requires corrections—people who do not know they are loved have a very difficult time receiving correction. Correction is merely God giving us divine direction for our lives. He is guiding us to better things, but if we are insecure we will always feel condemned by correction instead of joyfully embracing it.

God does not approve of all of our actions, but He does love and approve of us as His beloved children. Be patient with yourself. Keep pressing on and believe that you are changing every day.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for Your unconditional love and acceptance. Help me to receive Your love and truly love myself as Your beloved child. Allow me to always view Your correction as a sign of Your love and affection for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Wonderful Friendship


“God will surely do this for you, for He always does just what He says, and He is the one who invited you into this wonderful friendship with His Son, even Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9).

You and I do not always prove faithful, but the apostle Paul wants us to know, by way of his letter to the believers in Corinth, that our God will surely do what He has promised; in this case, make us “blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 8).

The apostle wants the Corinthians to know that they can depend upon the faithfulness of God, who had begun a good work among them, and certainly would see them through to the end. He did the inviting; He would do the keeping.

Christians are able to participate with Christ in several ways. First in His trials and sufferings, for we are subjected to temptations and trials similar to His: “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings” (1 Peter 4:13, KJV).

Second, in His feelings and views (Romans 8:9).

Third, in His heirship to the inheritance and glory which awaits Him: “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17, KJV).

Fourth, in His triumph in the resurrection and future glory: “Ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28, KJV).

Are you not glad for that kind of friendship?

Bible Reading: 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: When I look for a faithful friend, my first thought will be of Christ Himself, who truly qualifies as my very best friend

Max Lucado – A Recovering Prayer Wimp


Listen to Today’s Devotion

Yes, I’m a prayer wimp—but a recovering prayer wimp. Not where I long to be, but not where I was.  This simple, easy to remember, pocket-size prayer has become a cherished friend.

“Father, You are good.

I need help.

Heal me and forgive me.

They need help.

Thank you.

In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Jesus’ disciples faced angry waves and a watery grave.  You face angry clients, a turbulent economy, and raging seas of stress and sorrow.  Let this simple prayer punctuate your day.  “Father, you are good.”  As you commute to work or walk the hallways at school, “I need help.”  As you wait in the grocery line, “They need help.”  Keep this prayer in your pocket as you pass through the day!  Prayer is simply a heartfelt conversation between God and His child!

Read more Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.



Denison Forum – Karen Pence’s powerful analogy for religious liberty: How and why to speak the truth in love


Karen Pence is in the news as she increases her role in the 2020 presidential campaign. In an interview with USA Today, she was asked about her decision to resume teaching art at Immanuel Christian School, which doesn’t allow gay teachers or students.

The reporter suggested that “a gay person might say that your faith is attacking them for who they are.” Mrs. Pence replied: “I don’t make that connection. This country was founded on religious liberty. And I think we have to be careful about infringing on anyone else’s beliefs. I think that if you have someone who has a certain belief, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily judging you.”

She illustrated her point effectively: “For example, there are people who have certain dietary restrictions because of their faith. I don’t feel like they are judging me if I eat that food.”

She then added: “That’s unfortunate if someone feels judged. It certainly would never, ever, ever be my intention for anyone to feel judged by me. Definitely not. But I’m just a person who believes in the Bible, so it shouldn’t be right for someone to attack me for my beliefs.”

Ordering a cheeseburger in a kosher restaurant

Let’s work with Mrs. Pence’s analogy for a moment.

The website Dallas Kosher lists a large number of restaurants that serve kosher food in our city. If I walk past one of these restaurants while eating a cheeseburger (violating the orthodox Jewish interpretation of Exodus 23:19 and Deuteronomy 14:21), I cannot imagine that I would feel judged by those inside.

If they are observant Jews, they are simply following the teachings of their religion. As a Gentile Christian, I am following the teachings of mine (cf. Acts 15:19–20).

But imagine that I walk into one of these restaurants and demand that they cook a cheeseburger for me. I am asking them to violate their religious beliefs for the sake of my personal preference. I could order a cheeseburger at the McDonald’s down the street, but I insist that since this kosher restaurant serves the public, they must provide what the public wants.

If they refuse, I take legal action and the courts agree with me. As a result, a kosher restaurant has to prepare nonkosher food, violating its owner’s religious beliefs and practices, or close its doors.

This scenario seems ludicrous because it is. I am not aware of Nazi sympathizers who have successfully petitioned the courts to force Jewish bakers to produce cakes with swastikas on them. Or non-Muslims who have successfully required Muslim bakers to make cakes defaming the Prophet Muhammad.

But evangelical Christians are regularly asked to violate our religious beliefs by those who claim our rights are violating theirs.

Sharing truth with those who disagree with it

This subject is relevant as the follow-up to yesterday’s Daily Article, where we explored biblical teachings regarding premarital cohabitation. I outlined the nonreligious reasons why biblical teachings on sexuality and marriage are best for us. Then we explored God’s word on this issue and sought his forgiving grace wherever we need it.

Today we’ll pivot that conversation into a discussion of ways to speak biblical truth to those who disagree with its wisdom.

Richard Niebuhr’s classic Christ and Culture describes five ways Christians have historically interacted with culture:

  1. Christ against culture, where we withdraw as far as possible
  2. Christ of culture, where we follow the culture wherever it leads
  3. Christ above culture, where we live by both secular and spiritual values
  4. Christ and culture in paradox, where we engage cultural issues as a means to growing the church
  5. Christ transforming culture, where we seek to be salt and light through the transformational witness of the gospel.

Now let’s apply these to the issue of premarital cohabitation. The first approach would call us to retreat from such conversations; the second would endorse secular practice; the third could cause us to hide our Sunday values from our Monday friends; the fourth would stand for biblical truth but without working to change cultural values; the fifth would seek to change minds and hearts in alignment with God’s best for us.

How can we be catalysts for such transformation?

“And such were some of you.”

When we hear a convicting message, it is human nature to convict the messenger. That’s why, to be change agents in our secular culture, we must first convince others that our message is motivated by love for them.

Those who are living outside of God’s will for sexuality need to know that we care about them enough to share hard truth with them. The same is true for those who sin in any other way (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9–10).

It would be far easier for us to go along to get along, to tell people what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. But we are custodians of grace called to pay forward what we have received, giving others truth that transforms all who receive it.

We are to do so with humility and hope: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (v. 11).

The sins for which God has forgiven you may be the very sins he is now asking you to address with his truth and forgiving grace.

Where will you begin today?