Saturday, March 10, 2018

God's Loving Rescue

1 John 4:7-10 

God’s Love and Ours

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  New International Version (NIV)
   Christianity is unique among world religions — the others all require certain behaviors for people to become acceptable to their god. Therefore, they must perform intense labor, undergo self-denial, or observe specific rituals. But none of us can earn a place in heaven, because we can never reach the Lord's standard of utter perfection and holiness.
   God has provided an entirety different way of salvation. In His wisdom, He reached down to us by sending His Son. Jesus came to live a perfect life and then, by dying on the cross, paid the penalty our sin deserved. Why did God choose to rescue us? The reason was not that we deserved it but because of His great love and mercy. Instead of punishing us for our sin, God poured out His wrath on His Son, thereby satisfying divine justice. Now all who believe in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross are forgiven and accepted as children of God.
   Becoming a Christian doesn't require working or pleading for the heavenly Father's acceptance. Our salvation comes through repentance of sin and faith in Jesus Christ — God's only begotten Son, who went to the cross to die in our place, thereby paying our sin debt in full.
   What do you believe about Jesus Christ? Choosing to trust in Him is the most important decision you'll ever make. After this life is over, all people will have to give account to God for their life. (see Romans 14:12.) There will be no condemnation for those who have received the Savior, but for anyone who has rejected Him, the outcome will be eternal separation from God.

Stanley, Charles F. "God's Loving Rescue." In Touch: Daily Readings for Devoted Living. March 2018. Atlanta: In Touch Ministries. page 14.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Finding Favor With God and Man

Proverbs 3:1-4 

The Rewards of Wisdom

My son, do not forget my teaching,
But let your heart keep my commandments;
For length of days and years of life
And peace they will add to you.
Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man. New American Standard Bible (NASB)

   One of our basic human needs is acceptance. Without it, we feel alienated or maybe even rejected. In the Bible, acceptance is often referred to as "favor." For example, when Joseph was sold into slavery, Genesis 39:4 says he "found favor" in the sight of his master Potiphar and was put in charge of the official's entire household. Joseph found acceptance and approval because of his exemplary behavior.
   Whose favor are you longing to receive? Do you desire God's approval? Today's text shows us how we can find favor with both God and man.

   FIRST, WE SHOULD VALUE THE LORD'S TEACHING. God blessed us by giving us HIs Word, but not everyone makes it a priority. We should recognize Scripture as our most valuable earthly possession because it is God's revelation of Himself and His instructions for us.

   SECOND, WE SHOULD MAKE OBEDIENCE TO GOD A MATTER OF THE HEART. Following His commands is about far more than just external rule keeping; it involves not only our actions but our attitudes and thoughts as well.

   THIRD, WE ARE TO LET KINDNESS AND TRUTH CHARACTERIZE OUR LIFE. When we are wholeheartedly living in obedience to God's commands, the effect will spill over into our relationships, as kindness and truth become the guardians of our words and actions.
   Although the Christian faith may evoke a negative response from some, believers shouldn't be discouraged. A life that reflects Christ pleases God. And in bringing light to a dark world, an obedient life will also bring the favor of many in its circle of influence.
Stanley, Charles F. "Finding Favor With God and Man." In Touch: Daily Readings for Devoted Living. February 2018. Atlanta, In Touch Ministries. page 35.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Encouragement in Every Season

Psalm 62:5-8 New King James Version (NKJV)

My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah
New King James Version (NKJV)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
   Maybe there's not enough money in the bank to cover that bill. Or a loved one died. Or your family is facing hard times. In difficult or painful circumstances many believers turn to the Bible in search of comfort and guidance. Within its pages, we find assurance that encourages us through every season of life: "The Lord's loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for HIs compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23).
   God truly is faithful. In other words, we can count on Him to be and do exactly what He says. For instance, the Bible assures us that the Lord is trustworthy, loving, and incapable of failure ( Psalm 37:5; Romans 5:8; Joshua 1:5). Out of deep love for us, He'll use any aspect of His multifaceted nature to provide exactly what He knows we need. He's our Savior, Comforter, and Discipliner, who safely guides us through life's changes and challenges.
   No matter what hardships we face, we can trust God because He knows all things. He's aware of the duration and intensity of our current season and uses his knowledge to offer us the best possible help and support. What's more, the Lord is all-powerful, which means He is more than adequate to meet needs and change circumstances according to His plan. And our Father is everywhere, including right beside us in whatever we face. He promises, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5).
   Difficulties may cause us to question God's dependability. But if we'll place our trust in our omniscient, omnipotent Father, we can begin each morning with a fresh sense of His faithfulness, which will carry us through the day.
Stanley, Charles F. "Encouragement in Every Season." In Touch: Daily Readings for Devoted Living. February 2018. Atlanta. page 18.

Monday, January 8, 2018

"The Treasure Principle" by Randy Alcorn

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 
Matthew 6:21

Randy Alcorn founder of Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM) writes from God's word and his heart. In his book, The Treasure Principle, the author offers six treasure principles. These principles are Jesus teaching on giving. "Open my eyes, Father. What am I holding on to that's robbing me of present joy and future reward?"

Then in 31 Radical, Liberating Questions to Ask God About Your Giving, the author reminds the reader to ask specific questions of God. "As God's children, we should ask Him more that just rhetorical questions... (Mathew 7:7) The Lord has no trouble handling our most challenging questions," page 97. On page 98, the reader is reminded, "God is the owner of all and we are His stewards, His money managers."

Before the reader can begin to understand and ask questions, I am asked to consider and sign My Giving Covenant based on the six principles. The covenant consists of six statements, example: "I affirm God's full ownership of me and everything entrusted to me" page 96.

Do you want an abundant life with Christ? Do you want an intimate relationship with our heavenly Father? Do you want more of Him? He wants all of you!!!

For helpful resources,read the endnotes. An example: Randy Alcorn, "Nineteen Questions to Ask before You Give to Any Ministry," Eternal Perspective Ministries, resources

Thursday, November 23, 2017

A Tough Command - give thanks

16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

    Many divine commands seem perfectly reasonable. With the Ten Commandments, for example, we easily understand why God forbids adultery, idols, and murder. But elsewhere He gives instructions that ostensibly make little sense. Let's look at why He calls us to the seemingly impossible task of giving thanks in everything.

  The Scriptures clearly teach that giving thanks is meant to be a way of life, not just a seasonal event (Psalms 92:1-2, Philippians 4:6-7). The problem is that we often do not feel appreciative, particularly when facing painful circumstances or faith tests. In fact, expressing gratitude for bad news seems irrational. What seems logical to the human mind, however, cannot compete with God's greater knowledge of what is best for His children. As a result, we live a successful Christian life only by choosing to thank Him for everything He sends or allows across our path.

   The Lord knows that gratitude powerfully impacts the believer. Trials can leave us feeling isolated, but thanking God for His ongoing care or provision reminds us of His constant presence. Equipped with the knowledge that He is in full control, we can submit our will to His. Though our circumstances may remain the same, our attitude is divinely transformed through trust.

   The Lord has a purpose for every circumstance He allows in our life, and thankfulness motivates us to seek His purpose. In God's perfect time, the divine plan is revealed, and then we can tell Him with sincere hearts, "Lord, thank You!"

 Stanley, Charles F. "A Tough Command," In Touch: Daily Readings for Devoted Living. 22 November 2017. Atlanta, Georgia. page 28.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Living in Grace

2 Corinthians 5:17

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
NIV Bible    

    Before the apostle Paul's conversion, if someone had suggested that he would impact the world for Jesus, he'd probably have laughed. In fact, his original goal was to rid the world of Christians (Acts 22:19-20).
   God's grace can impact anyone; no sin is beyond the reach of His forgiveness. This amazing gift of redemption changes lives. Contrary to what many think, being a Christian does not mean adding good deeds to one's life. Instead, by God's grace, believers receive forgiveness and a completely new nature. Our inward transformation results in obvious outward changes.
   The butterfly's metamorphosis can serve s an illustration to help us understand this. Once it's in a chrysalis, a caterpillar doesn't merely act or appear different from the outside; it truly has changed inwardly as well.
   Transformation for believers occurs in many areas. For example, our attitudes change—salvation by God's grace results in humility and gratitude. Out of thankfulness for this undeserved free gift, compassion for the lost flows, along with a desire to share the gospel with them. Experiencing Christ's forgiveness also results in a longing to serve Him. This does not need to be in a formal church setting; we serve Him by loving others, helping those in need, and telling them about salvation.

   While there are still natural consequences for our sin, God offers us forgiveness and redemption through Jesus. He made a way to restore our broken relationship with Him. What's more, our Father transforms our lives so we will become more like His Son and reflect His heart to others.
Stanley, Charles F. "Living in Grace." In Touch: Daily Readings For Devoted Living November 2016. Atlanta: In Touch Ministries. page25.

Monday, November 6, 2017

How Grace Changes Everything

1 Timothy 1:12-17

The Lord’s Grace to Paul

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.   NIV  Bible        

   Our life is hopeless without God. Because every person is born with a bent away from God, we continue to choose wrong paths throughout our days on earth. These unrighteous choices are known as sin, the penalty for which is death and eternal separation from God. No one is exempt from this biblical truth—and none of us can do anything to change the situation.
   Enter God's grace, His unmerited favor toward us. We can do nothing to earn it. He blesses us according to His goodness, apart from anything we've done.
  Consider the apostle Paul, whose original intention was to persecute anyone claiming to follow Jesus. He played a significant role in the unspeakable violence aimed at Christians and, in his own words, was the "chief" of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). Nothing he did deserved God's love.
   Divine grace led the Almighty to reach down and forgive this hateful zealot and blasphemer of Jesus' name. God lovingly transformed him into a man who dedicated himself to sharing the gospel message. Paul's life beautifully illustrates grace.
   We are unable to do enough good deeds to earn our way to heaven. Salvation is possible only because by grace, Christ died on the cross. The one who took the punishment for our sin deserves all credit for our redemption.
   Jesus' death covered the sins of the entire world. There is no transgression too great for Him to forgive. We can add nothing to His act of atonement; all we can do is receive this free gift. If we trust in Christ as Savior, God will save us, making us His children forever.
Stanley, Charles F. "How Grace Changes Everything." In Touch: Daily Readings For Devoted Living November 2016. Atlanta: In Touch Ministries. page 24.