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) www.biblegateway.com
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)https://www.biblegateway.com

    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 Gateway.com    

    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 Gateway.com        

   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.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Believer's Valley Experiences

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.   NIV  Bible Gateway.com

   Valley experiences are those where the heartache is so deep or the hardship so difficult that we find it almost impossible to stand. Like a six-foot wave crashing on the shore, such events can threaten to overwhelm us.
   Realistically, situations of this kind will at times be of our own making. When we disobey God, we can wander into a painful place, made worse by the knowledge that our fellowship with him has grown cold (1John 1:6). In other instances, the actions of others cause us to suffer - perhaps through unexpected job termination, marital infidelity, or betrayal by a friend. Then there are occasions when our heavenly Father Himself leads us into the valley. Although He could guide us around the hardship and suffering, He chooses not to. He has a purpose in mind, which would not be fulfilled if we took the easy way. Whatever the source, valley experiences are inevitable.
   Psalm 23 uses four words to describe this valley time: shadow, death, fear, and evil. These terms evoke images of oppressive circumstances, grievous affliction, deep discomfort, and great adversity. There is no way to hurry through an ordeal marked by emotional or physical distress. Both the trial's depth and length are determined by the Lord's will, but He walks with us and protects us through it.
   God promises that He will use every valley - even those of our own making - to benefit us. (See Rom. 8:28) Our part is to walk steadily, with eyes firmly fixed on Him, spirits attuned to His presence, and minds trusting in His promises. 
Stanley, Charles F. "The Believer's Valley Experiences." In Touch: Daily Readings For Devoted Living September 2016. Atlanta: In Touch Ministries. page 25. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Living Above Circumstances

Philippians 1:12-18

Paul’s Chains Advance the Gospel

12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,  NIV Bible Gateway.com        
   
   While under house arrest, Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians. The apostle could receive visitors but couldn't travel. Despite living in a home, Paul was more than likely chained to a Roman soldier 24 hours a day. Moreover, because he knew that a trial was years away, these were his living conditions for the foreseeable future—perhaps for the rest of his life. 
   Under such circumstances, Paul might have thought to ask the Lord to release him. After all, God had called him to preach, to disciple believers, and to reach the Gentiles. But he was stuck in Rome, unable to plant new churches or visit those whom he was nurturing by letter. Besides being unjust, the imprisonment, was keeping him from important work. Surely, if anyone had a right to gripe, it was Paul, who had endured persecution, shipwreck, and beatings for the gospel. Yet he never once complained. His letter to the church at Philippi is filled with rejoicing, as focusing on God let him live above his circumstances (Phil. 4:8).
    The more we talk and complain about a situation, the worse it looks, until the problem looms larger in our mind than our faith does. Conversely, carrying challenges straight to God keeps matters in perspective. The Lord is bigger than any hardship. On His strength, we rise above the difficulty.
   Problems can look so big and unwieldy that they distort our perspective. God invites us to live above our circumstances by fastening our eyes on Him. The trials of this life shrink when compared to our loving, powerful Lord, who exercises His might in defense of His people. 
Stanley, Charles F. "Living Above Circumstances." In Touch: Daily Readings For Devoted Living November 2016. Atlanta: In Touch Ministries. page 23.