Friday, July 29, 2016

David: A Model of Servanthood

2 Samuel 7:8-17

“Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. 10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.
“‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’”
17 Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation.
NIV from

    From his days as a simple shepherd boy to the time he was a heroic ruler, David served God in many capacities. By looking at the various states of his life, we can clearly see how his godly devotion allowed the Lord to use him mightily.
   SHEPHERD. David was anointed as king long before commanding anything other than sheep (1 Sam. 16:1-13). Shepherding was a job he took so seriously that he even killed a lion and a bear to protect his flock. During those days, he learned to be strong and brave, and to take care of creatures weaker than himself. An early life of obedience to his earthly father taught him the humility he would later need in order to depend on his heavenly Father.
   PSALMIST. David's writings reveal his hunger for God. He is open about issues such as fear, depression, defeat, loneliness, and sorrow. By describing valley experiences and communing with the Lord in the night watches, David provided us with intimate glimpses of the God he knew so well.
   LEADER. Following his encounter with Bathsheba, David's life was plagued by heartache, suffering, and conflict. He'd sinned greatly, but God forgave him and continued to use him as king and military commander. He ruled Israel for 40 years, and his people called Jerusalem the "City of David." His restoration teaches us about sin's consequences and God's limitlessness grace.
   King David served God's purpose when he lived, and his impact continues thousands of years later - every follower of Jesus Christ has been blessed by David's obedience, service, and literary skill. He is a great example of what God can accomplish through us if we yield our lives to Him. 
Stanley, Charles F. "David: A Model of Servanthood." In Touch: Daily Readings For Devoted Living. April 2016. page 24. 


Friday, July 22, 2016

The God Who Forgives

Matthew 6:9-13

“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.’ 
 NIV from

   Jesus gave his followers a pattern for prayer that includes seeking forgiveness every day. The invitation to regular repentance is not a means of renewing our salvation, but rather a maintenance plan for our fellowship with the Lord.
   The Lord's substitutionary payment for our transgressions means that we can look forward to an eternity spent in God's presence instead of getting the punishment we deserve. When we trust Jesus as our Savior, our sins are forgiven forever - the stains from our past, present, and future wrongs are wiped from our record. The tendency to sin, however, remains part of the human experience, though its influence decreases the more we're conformed to Christ's image.
   With the exception of Jesus Christ no person is perfect, so while on earth, we will all continue to deal with sin and its consequences. The Lord's admonition to seek daily forgiveness is a reminder to confess our sins and turn away from them because we are forgiven.
   God's grace is not a license to sin; instead, it's a reason to continuously pursue righteousness.  Bad attitudes, thoughtless actions, and unkind speech do not fit who we are as children of God. We're new creatures in Christ; we were bought for a price and set free to live as partakers of His grace.
   Salvation makes a way for us to enter God's presence, while regular confession and repentance keep the pathway well maintained and free of obstruction (1John 1:9). The 'sinner's prayer" need be said only once, but a saint will tap into God's forgiveness every day of his or her life. 
Stanley, Charles F. "The God Who Forgives." In Touch: Daily Readings For Devoted Living. April 2016. page 14.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The God Who Saves

Ephesians 2:8-9

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. NIV from

   Recently I was talking with a man about his spiritual live. When I asked, "Are you saved?" he answered, "No, but I'm working at it." When I pressed him, he explained that he was making some changes in his live. He had given up smoking and drinking, among other things. I knew I should help him understand a few important principles, as he was making some incorrect assumptions.
   This gentleman needed to realize that what we do or what we give up for Jesus dosn't amount to much. The Lord isn't looking for people who change a few habits by sheer forece of will; He's calling people to surrender themselves to Him. The only action God expects of a seeker is to believe in Jesus - that He is who He says, He will do what He says, He has the authority to forgive, and He will equip His people to live a godly life. Because of those convictions, a new Christian is empowered to turn away from his old life - in other words, to repent - and begin the process of becoming "a new creature" (2 Cor. 5:17).
   We don't evolve into a saved people by deleting old habits and instituting better religious ones; we are transformed by the saving power of Jesus Christ when we believe in Him.
   Since salvation isn't something we earn, no one can boast before God. All of our moral living, good deeds, and strenuous efforts to change bad habits amount to a pile of trash, compared to the holiness of Jesus Christ (Isa. 64:6). His righteousness can cover our sins and make us right before the Father.

Stanley, Charles F. "The God Who Saves." In Touch: Daily Readings For Devoted Living. April 2016. Atlanta: In Touch Ministries. page 13.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Overcoming Habitual Sin

Titus 2:11-14

11 For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men,12 training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, 13 awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior[a] Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds. RSV
   Sin does not play favorites. It works its way into everyone's life without regard to age, race, or economic status. Regardless of the form it takes, sin always tempts us to choose our own way over God's way. Rebellion is harmful and addictive, and repetitions of sinful behavior lead to more of the same, until the action is so ingrained in our lives that we cannot stop We become enslaved to it.
  The descent into a pattern of disobedience begins in our minds. Once our thinking is involved, the influence extends to our behavior, eventually progressing until we are more entrenched than we ever imagined. Deception permeates the whole process. We tell ourselves there is no harm in what we're doing - after all, other people behave the same way.
   Sin's demands keep increasing, and yet its benefits are only short-term. Eventually, we experience emptiness instead of satisfaction, pain in place of comfort, and loss rather than gain. Habitual sin splits our mind and emotions. Then we spend less time meeting our responsibilities and more time satisfying cravings. Our care and concern for others diminish, too. Over time, feeling of guilt and entrapment can take their toll and lead toward self-destruction.
   Faith in Jesus Christ sets us free from the domination of sin in our lives. Through the Holy Spirit, we have the power to say no to the habits that control us. The road to freedom starts with confession, followed by an admission that we cannot stop on our own. Committing to follow God's direction is next. The struggle may be fierce, but in Jesus, victory is assured (1 Cor. 15:57).
Stanley, Charles F. In Touch: Daily Readings for Devoted Living. February 2016. Atlanta. page 33.