Total Pageviews

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Following God's Schedule and others

Following God's Schedule


Most of us enjoy feeling in control of our own schedule and grow frustrated when things don't go according to plan. Yet if we truly desire to walk in the center of God's perfect will, we must become willing to cooperate with His time frame.
Consider how you pray about situations in your life. Without realizing it, you may be demanding that God follow the schedule you've constructed according to your very limited human wisdom. Yet if we believe He is who He says He is, how can surrendering to His way not be to our benefit? Think about His unique, praiseworthy qualities:
  • His all-encompassing knowledge. Unlike us, the Lord has complete awareness about our world and the details of every individual life--past, present, and future.
  • His complete wisdom. God understands man's every motive, whereas none of us are able to accurately discern people's intentions. We make choices based on partial information, whereas He has the wisdom to take action based on truth.
  • His unconditional love. Our Creator is always motivated by love and constantly has our best in mind. Unless we trust His heart, our view of reality will be distorted.
  • His perfect sufficiency. At just the right time, God will provide us with everything we need to carry out His plan.
Submitting to God's timetable requires faith and courage. Believe in the goodness of His heart and His plans--and determine to wait until He gives the signal to move forward. Then, as you follow His schedule, you'll experience the joy of watching Him make all things beautiful in His timing.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~
____________________________________

Trained to Discern


In today's world, impatience is all too common a trait. We want food, help, and information fast. Just waiting for the computer to boot up or the "next avail-able agent" to answer our call can cause frustration. But the Lord specializes in slow, steady work. He's more interested in a quality outcome than a speedy process.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the realm of spiritual discernment. When we become Christians, we aren't instantly wise and knowledgeable. It takes a lifetime to grow to maturity. Some believers, however, don't seem to grow up at all. They get older, but their understanding of God's Word never goes very deep.
This lack of godly wisdom is caused by ignorance of the Scriptures, apathy and complacency about spiritual things, and a failure to apply biblical truths. Discernment requires time and effort. You can't simply move through life, thoughtlessly reacting to situations yet never learning from them. Take time to reflect on your responses and observe the consequences of your actions and choices. If you feel convicted by what you notice, let that motivate you to begin a lifelong pursuit of the Lord and His ways. Start reading the Bible regularly. And as you do, ask the Lord to open your heart and mind to understand what He's saying.
But just reading God's Word isn't enough. Without applying what you've read, all you'll have is head knowledge. Obedience trains us to discern good and evil. Through practice, we learn wisdom and develop spiritual maturity. If you'll begin today and patiently persevere, in time discernment will come.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~
_________________________________

Learning from Failure


The disciple Peter was a man of great faith and bold action. But as readers of the New Testament know, his brash style sometimes led him to make humiliating mistakes. More than once, this disciple had to wear the label of "miserable failure" rather than that of "obedient servant."
We can all relate when it comes to falling short of expectations. Obedience to God is a learning process, and failure is a part of our development as humble servants. When we yield to temptation or rebel against God's authority, we realize that sin has few rewards, and even those are fleeting.
Failure is an excellent learning tool, as Peter could certainly attest. Through trial and error, he discovered that humility is required of believers (John 13:5-14); that God's ways are higher than the world's ways (Mark 8:33); and that one should never take his eyes off Jesus (Matt. 14:30). He took each of those lessons to heart and thereby grew stronger in his faith. Isn't that Romans 8:28in action? God caused Peter's failures to be put to good use as training material because the disciple was eager to mature and serve.
God doesn't reward rebellion or wrongdoing. However, by His grace, He blesses those who choose repentance and embrace chastisement as a tool for growth.
We would probably all prefer to grow in our faith without ever making a mistake before God's eyes, but we cannot deny that missteps are instructive. Failure teaches believers that it is much wiser and more profitable to be obedient to the Lord. That's a lesson we all should take to heart.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Sunday, August 20, 2017

When Believers Die! - And Others

When believers die!

(John Newton's Letters)

"Father, I want those whom You have given Me--to be with Me where I am, and to see My glory!" John17:24

Health and sickness, life and death--will always be in the hands of the Lord.

When believers die
--whatever the accident or the illness may be--they are only the means, but not properly the cause of their death. They die because the time has come when He who loves them best, will have them with Him to behold His glory!

Until then, they are immortal. They recover from sickness, however threatening, and are preserved unhurt--in defiance of the greatest dangers! But when His appointed hour arrives--then they must depart. When He will have them with Him--we cannot detain them; nor ought we to wish it, though the flesh will feel the parting stroke.

None of us can be perfectly happy in this poor fleeting world. It is a state in which sin and sorrow will hunt us and pain us to the last step of life! Therefore, though we wish to keep those whom we love with us as long as we can--it is well both for us and them, that we cannot live here always. We are in the Lord's hands--and He does all things wisely and well, at the right time and in the right manner.

Death is but a temporary separation. Those who are gone before us, are waiting for us. Oh! It will be a happy meeting before the throne of the Lamb--out of the reach of sin and sorrow, to meet and part no more!

_____________________________________

Father knows best!

(John Newton's Letters)

"My times are in Your hands!" 
Psalm 31:15 

This world seems all uncertainty--yet all is under the unspeakably gracious and infallibly wise direction of our Heavenly Father.

Oh! This is the great thing to be desired--to be savingly interested in the promise which engages that all things shall work together for our good--to give us a fitness for the inheritance of the saints in light, so that at last we may attain to His eternal joy. That will make rich amends for all the trials we can meet with along the way.

Our heavenly Father knows best, what is good for us. Oh, for grace to yield ourselves simply and cheerfully to His wise management. Hitherto He has helped us, and all His paths have been mercy and truth. What reasons have we to praise Him for the past--and to trust Him for the rest!

The Lord knows, and He permits me to tell Him what I feel or fear or wish. But when I have done so, it befits me to submit all to Him and to say, "Not my will--but may Your will be done." I aim to say this from my heart, and to account it not only my duty--but my privilege to prefer His choice to my own.

The Lord graciously adjusts all our concerns--and it is our privilege to peaceably and thankfully submit to His judicious management. Our times are in His hands. Vastly more than we are aware of, depends upon the Lord's wise controlling of all our affairs. Is it not a comfort to a blind man, to have an unfailing guide whom he may fully and safely trust?

May we be willing to leave all our concerns in His skillful and faithful hands--to live to Him and for Him today, and to trust Him for the events of tomorrow. 

Oh how happy we are--when we can leave all in His nail-pierced hands!
____________________________________



Thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark, and there I will meet with thee.

The way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest. -- Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.

Having ... brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; ... let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. -- Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [mercy seat] through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. -- Through him we have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

EXO. 25:21,22.  Heb. 9:8. ‑Matt. 27:50,51. Heb10:19,20,22. ‑Heb4:16Rom.3:24,25. -Eph2:18.

EVENING

Faith as a grain of mustard seed.

Barak said unto [Deborah], if thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go. God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan. -- Gideon ... feared his father's household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, ... did it by night. And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand as thou hast said, ... let me prove, I pray thee. And God did so.

Thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. -- Who hath despised the day of small things?

We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly. -- Lord, increase our faith. -- I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.

MATT17:20.  Judg. 4:8,23. ‑Judg6:27,36,39,40. Rev. 3:8. ‑Zech4:10II Thes. 1:3. ‑Luke 17:5. ‑Hos. 14:5,6. 

~Samuel Bagster~

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Consequences of Drifting and Others

The Consequences of Drifting


Spiritual drifting--the gradual wandering away from God and His will--takes place when a believer ceases to steer toward the Lord. Like an empty boat set loose upon the waters, he or she makes a slow and lazy glide away from good practices like disciplined obedience, regular Bible study, prayer, and assembling with fellow Christians. And there are consequences for casting yourself on uncharted and dangerous waters.
A life adrift is outside of God's will and therefore in sin. The Holy Spirit pricks a believer's conscience to send a message when he is off course, but the drifter is prone to ignore such warnings. If a Christian continually excuses his wandering ways and denies sin, then his conscience gradually numbs. A person who becomes desensitized to wrongdoing has paved the way for more sinful behavior with less guilt. Can you imagine a more dangerous situation?
As the drifting believer's conscience becomes anesthetized, his spiritual ears are also deadened--truth cannot gain entrance because he has invited wrong attitudes and philosophies into his thinking process. What's more, his heart hardens to the things of God. Shrinking away from testimonies about divine power, grace, and mercy, he avoids situations that might reawaken the conscience and stir his spirit to repentance.
People drift from God in search of more--more freedom, choices, and pleasure. But since the consequences are a hard heart, a numb conscience, and dead ears, what they end up with is less. The drifting believer sacrifices the victorious life in Christ for an existence devoid of permanent satisfaction.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~
_____________________________________


Developing Faith through Adversity


It doesn't seem fair, does it? Paul spent his life serving Christ, and yet he experienced continual suffering. Why would God let one of His most faithful servants go through so much pain? This isn't just a question about Paul; it's an issue we face today. In our minds, the Lord should protect His loyal followers from hardships, but He doesn't necessarily do so.
Maybe our reasoning is backwards. We think faithful Christians don't deserve to suffer, but from God's perspective, suffering is what produces faithful Christians. If we all had lives of ease without opposition, trials, or pain, we'd never really know God, because we'd never need Him. Like it or not, adversity teaches us more about the Lord than simply reading the Bible ever will.
I'm not saying we don't need to know Scripture; that's our foundation for faith. But if what we believe is never tested by adversity, it remains head knowledge. How will we ever know the Lord can be trusted in the midst of trouble if we've never been challenged by hardship? God gives us opportunities to apply scriptural truths to the difficulties facing us, and in the process, we find Him faithful. For example, how would Paul ever have known the strength of Christ if he had never been weakened by pain, persecution, and adversity?
Depending on your response, trials can be God's greatest means of building faith or an avenue to discouragement and self-pity. If you'll believe what Scripture says and apply its principles to your situation, your trust in God will grow, and your faith will be strengthened through adversity.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~
______________________________________

Peace, Joy, and Contentment 


Discouragement can rob peace, joy, and contentment. But I have great news if you feel disheartened: You’re not stuck!
I’ve known people who appeared to be in an impossible situation. A few years later, however, they were in a terrific place, either in terms of their circumstances or their emotions. The reason? They never gave up. Instead of sulking in self-pity, they chose to believe God, step out in faith, and climb out of the emotional pit.
Nehemiah is a good example. He had every reason to feel defeated, because his people were in trouble. After receiving news that the city wall had been destroyed, this man of God acknowledged profound disappointment and grieved. Though pain flooded his soul, he didn’t allow himself to stay in that low place. Instead, Nehemiah cried out to God, seeking direction.
Sadness in the presence of royalty was punishable by death. But the Lord answered Nehemiah’s prayer with amazing power, prompting the king to notice his servant’s sad countenance and then toask what he could do to help. This miracle led to the rebuilding of the wall and the redemption of God’s people.
The Lord can take an impossible situation--no matter what it is--and move in ways mightier than you can imagine.
Do you live in eager expectation of what the Lord will do? Or have you chosen to linger in the depths of despair? Like Nehemiah, turn your disappointment into a petition for God’s help. He can restore your hope and prevent negative emotions from gaining a stranglehold on your life.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Friday, August 4, 2017

If That Man Had the Soul of a Swine!


If that man had the soul of a swine!

(Thomas Brooks)

No object is so suitable and adequate to the heart as Christ is. He is a portion that exactly and directly suits . . .
  the condition of the soul,
  the desires of the soul,
  the necessities of the soul,
  the wants of the soul,
  the longings of the soul,
  and the prayers of the soul.

The soul can crave nothing, nor wish for nothing--but what is to be found in Christ. He is . . .
  light to enlighten the soul,
  wisdom to counsel the soul,
  power to support the soul,
  goodness to supply the soul,
  mercy to pardon the soul,
  beauty to delight the soul,
  glory to ravish the soul,
  and fullness to fill the soul.

Health is not more suitable to the sick man,
  nor wealth to the poor man,
  nor bread to the hungry man,
  nor drink to the thirsty man,
  nor clothes to the naked man,
  nor balm to the wounded man,
  nor ease to the tormented man,
  nor health to the diseased man,
  nor pardon to the condemned man,
  nor a guide to the blind man--
than Christ is suitable to all the necessities of man.
This speaks out the excellency of Christ above all others!

There is no 'earthly' portion that can suit an immortal soul. He is a fool upon record who said, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years--take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry!" If that man had the soul of a swine--what more could he have said? For those things were more suitable to swine, than they were to an immortal soul.

Man's soul is a spiritual and immortal substance. It is capable . . .
  of union and communion with God;
  of a choice enjoyment of God here,
  and an eternal fruition of God hereafter!
"Yes, He is altogether lovely. This is my Beloved--and this is my Friend!" Song of Songs 5:16