02-14-2017, 08:02 AM
No Greater Love
Perhaps the most intense love and protective instinct in the experience of mankind is that of parents toward their children. There is little that most mothers or fathers wouldn't do for a baby. If a truck posed a threat to the little one, it wouldn't surprise us if they jumped in front of the moving vehicle without a second thought.
Wouldn't you like to be cared for with this kind of intensity? You are. In fact, the Lord's love toward you is far deeper and more secure than that of even the most caring, tuned-in human parent. And what God did for us is proof. Romans 5:8 says that while we were living in disobedience, He sent His only Son to die on the cross for us.
Think about a father giving up his child for people who choose to rebel against him. What a tremendous sacrifice and cost! Jesus' death took the place of the punishment that we deserved. If we accept this gift and decide to follow God, He no longer sees us as guilty. Rather, He justifies us, makes us righteous, and changes our ultimate destiny: instead of facing everlasting separation from Him, we will enjoy His presence eternally. What's more, almighty God adopts us as His children forever. Our heavenly Father guides, protects, and counsels us as we walk through life—and promises us that we are secure in Him throughout eternity.
How incredible that the Creator of the universe would love you and me in this way! Do you know and experience the security and sweetness of His care? Gratitude and praise should flow from your heart. In turn, love others deeply out of thankfulness for the love that you have received.
02-15-2017, 07:21 AM
Saved From Our Troubles
"This poor man cried to the Lord -- and the Lord heard him and saved him out of his troubles" (Psalm 34:6).
It was a high-security penitentiary -- filled with murderers, drug pushers, bank robbers and others who had committed major crimes and many who would never see the light of day again outside those bleak, gray prison walls. At an evangelistic service, however, one inmate after another stood to share how Christ had forgiven him of his sins and how, even though he had committed murder or some other serious crime, he knew with assurance that he was now a child of God.
Many of these men expressed in different words, as I sat there listening with tears streaming down my cheeks, "I am so glad I'm in prison, for it was here I found Jesus Christ, and I would rather be in prison with Christ in my heart than to be living in a palatial mansion without any knowledge of God's love and forgiveness through His Son."
Often I talk with people - on planes, on campuses, at public meetings - who are poor, not only materially but also physically and spiritually. What a joy to be able to share with them the good news that God cares.
A "poor man's" first cry must be one of repentance and confession, so that a divine relationship is established: Father and son. Conversion must come by the Spirit of God, before deliverance can come in the less important areas of one's life.
But after the Father-son relationship has been established, how wonderful to be able to assure such a one that God truly cares - enough to "save him out of his troubles." Oftentimes that entails enduring such troubles for a time, but never more than we are able to bear. The supernatural life promises victory - in the midst of adversity.
Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:14-19
TODAY'S ACTION POINT: I will assure people whom I encounter today who are in trouble that God cares and promises deliverance. There is nothing more important that I could do for another person than to help him know Christ, so I will seek out those who are in need of a Savior so that they, too, can experience the liberating power of God's love through Jesus Christ.
02-16-2017, 02:50 PM
Accepting God's Gift of Love
1 John 4:7-12
Many people simply can't believe that the Lord loves them. Others believe that He loves them, but only when they are pleasing Him in some way. Why is it so hard for us to accept His unconditional love?
One reason is that we have a hard time loving others without condition. We might say the words "I love you" to our spouse, children, friends, co-workers, or fellow believers but all too often are calculating in our mind whether or not they've lived up to our standard. We sometimes excuse ourselves from loving certain people because their behavior upsets or annoys us. The fact that we place restrictions on extending favor causes us to wrongly assume that the Lord does likewise.
Another reason is poor self-image. Considering ourselves unworthy, we refuse to accept God's love. You know what? None of us are worthy of the heavenly Father's goodness and mercy—so you can let go of that excuse once and for all. We're not coming to Him based on our worth. Rather, we're coming to Him based on His grace, and our position is secure in Christ. To put yourself down as "beneath His grace" is to trample on His loving, generous gift. God arranged an awesome divine way for us to be reconciled to Him, and His greatest desire is for relationship with each of us.
If you feel unloved or struggle to accept yourself, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of our heavenly Father's love for you—and to sink it deep into your heart. Receive the truth that He reveals. It will be a completely different story about your value as an individual.
02-18-2017, 05:06 PM
Who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap. Mal. 3:2.
The people of Israel, because of their sinfulness, were forbidden to approach the mount when God was about to descend upon it to proclaim His law, lest they should be consumed by the burning glory of His presence. If such manifestations of His power marked the place chosen for the proclamation of God's law, how terrible must be His tribunal when He comes for the execution of these sacred statutes. How will those who have trampled upon His authority endure His glory in the great day of final retribution? . . .
When the divine Presence was manifested upon Sinai, the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire. . . . But when Christ shall come in glory with His holy angels the whole earth shall be ablaze with the terrible light of His presence. . . .
Never since man was created had there been witnessed such a manifestation of divine power as when the law was proclaimed from Sinai. . . . Amid the most terrific convulsions of nature the voice of God, like a trumpet, was heard from the cloud. The mountain was shaken from base to summit, and the hosts of Israel, pale and trembling with terror, lay upon their faces upon the earth. He whose voice then shook the earth has declared, "Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven." . . .
When Moses came from the divine Presence in the mount, where he had received the tables of the testimony, guilty Israel could not endure the light that glorified his countenance. How much less can transgressors look upon the Son of God when He shall appear in the glory of His Father, surrounded by all the heavenly host, to execute judgment upon the transgressors of His law and the rejecters of His atonement. . . .
But amid the tempest of divine judgment the children of God will have no cause for fear. "The Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel." The day that brings terror and destruction to the transgressors of God's law, will bring to the obedient, "joy unspeakable, and full of glory."
02-20-2017, 02:17 AM
The just shall live by his faith. Hab. 2:4
On one occasion, when meditating concerning the future, he said, "I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what He will say unto me." Graciously the Lord answered him: "Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. . . . The just shall live by his faith."
The faith that strengthened Habakkuk and all the holy and the just in those days of deep trial was the same faith that sustains God's people today. In the darkest hours, under circumstances the most forbidding, the Christian believer may keep his soul stayed upon the source of all light and power. Day by day, through faith in God, his hope and courage may be renewed. "The just shall live by his faith." In the service of God there need be no despondency, no wavering, no fear. The Lord will more than fulfill the highest expectations of those who put their trust in Him. He will give them the wisdom their varied necessities demand. . . .
We must cherish and cultivate the faith of which prophets and apostles have testified--the faith that lays hold on the promises of God and waits for deliverance in His appointed time and way. The sure word of prophecy will meet its final fulfillment in the glorious Advent of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, as King of kings and Lord of lords. The time of waiting may seem long, the soul may be oppressed by discouraging circumstances, many in whom confidence has been placed may fall by the way; but with the prophet who endeavored to encourage Judah in a time of unparalleled apostasy, let us confidently declare, "The Lord is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him." Let us ever hold in remembrance the cheering message, "The vision is yet for an appointed time . . . : though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. . . . The just shall live by his faith."
02-20-2017, 02:24 AM
<< In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley
Already Judged - In Touch - February 20, 2017
As a society, Americans are fond of their rights. We're very protective of our liberties, even when they might bring harm rather than good. That can be true of spiritual matters as well. For example, exercising the "right" to reject God's plan of salvation leaves a person in a condemned condition.
I have heard the following phrase often in my years of ministry: "I don't believe God is going to condemn me to hell." I agree, but not with the comment's intended meaning--that a person is worthy of heaven on the basis of his own merit. You see, it is true that the Lord doesn't condemn people to hell. He allows them to opt for that eternal destination themselves. They have a right to choose.
God says that those who do not believe in Jesus Christ have been judged already (v. 18). In other words, by rejecting--or politely ignoring--their need for a Savior, unbelievers have chosen to remain unsaved and unforgiven. Scripture teaches that there will one day be a judgment, but God has already determined that those who trust in Christ will stand with Him while the rest will be sent away (Matt. 25:34-46). An unrepentant man or woman is not condemned by God but, rather, has chosen to remain in the company of all those condemned by their own free will.
God desires that everyone come to a saving knowledge of His Son Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:9). To that end, He has granted each person the right to decide whether or not to follow in obedience. However, those who reject the Savior are forewarned that they have settled for condemnation.
For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit www.intouch.org.
02-20-2017, 04:19 PM
Yielding to the Master Potter, February 20
But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of Thy hand. Isaiah 64:8.
While the human agent is devising and planning for himself something that God has withheld him from doing, he has a hard time. He complains and frets, and has still increased difficulties. But when he submits to be as clay in the hands of the potter, then God works the man into a vessel of honor. The clay submits to be worked. If God had His way, hundreds would be worked and made into vessels as He sees best.
Let the hand of God work the clay for His own service. He knows just what kind of vessel He wants. To every man He has given his work. God knows what place he is best fitted for. Many are working contrary to the will of God, and they spoil the web. The Lord wants everyone to be submissive under His divine guidance. He will place men where they will submit to be worked into oneness with Christ, bearing His divine similitude. If self will submit to be worked, if you will cooperate with God, if you will pray in unity, work in unity, all taking your place as threads in the web of life, you will grow into a beautiful fabric that will rejoice the universe of God.
The Potter cannot mold and fashion unto honor that which has never been placed in His hands. The Christian life is one of daily surrender, submission, and continual overcoming. Every day fresh victories will be gained. Self must be lost sight of, and the love of God must be constantly cultivated. Thus we grow up into Christ. Thus the life is fashioned according to the divine model.
Every child of God is to do his very best to uplift the standard of truth. He is to work in God's order. If self is exalted, Christ is not magnified. In His Word God compares Himself to a potter, and His people to the clay. His work is to mold and fashion them after His own similitude. The lesson they are to learn is the lesson of submission. Self is not to be made prominent. If due attention is given to the divine instruction, if self is surrendered to the divine will, the hand of the Potter will produce a shapely vessel (
The potter takes the clay in his hands and molds and fashions it according to his own will. He kneads it and works it. He tears it apart and then presses it together.... Thus it becomes a vessel fit for use. So the great Master Worker desires to mold and fashion us. And as the clay is in the hands of the potters, so are we to be in His hands. We are not to try to do the work of the potter. Our part is to yield ourselves to the molding of the Master Worker
02-22-2017, 11:32 AM
God's Creative Energy Upholds the Universe, February 22
He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. Psalm 147:8, 9, NIV.
While the Bible should hold the first place in the education of children and youth, the book of nature is next in importance. God's created works testify to His love and power. He has called the world into being, with all that it contains. God is a lover of the beautiful; and in the world which He has fitted up for us He has not only given us everything necessary for our comfort, but He has filled the heavens and the earth with beauty. We see His love and care in the rich fields of autumn, and His smile in the glad sunshine. His hand has made the castle-like rocks and the towering mountains. The lofty trees grow at His command; He has spread earth's green velvet carpet and dotted it with shrubs and flowers.
Why has He clothed the earth and trees with living green, instead of with dark, somber brown? Is it not that they may be more pleasing to the eye? And shall not our hearts be filled with gratitude as we read the evidences of His wisdom and love in the wonders of His creation?
The same creative energy that brought the world into existence is still exerted in upholding the universe and continuing the operations of nature. The hand of God guides the planets in their orderly march through the heavens. It is not because of inherent power that year by year the earth continues her motion round the sun and produces her bounties. The word of God controls the elements. He covers the heavens with clouds and prepares rain for the earth. He makes the valleys fruitful and “grass to grow upon the mountains” (Psalm 147:8). It is through His power that vegetation flourishes, that the leaves appear and the flowers bloom.
The whole natural world is designed to be an interpreter of the things of God. To Adam and Eve in their Eden home, nature was full of the knowledge of God, teeming with divine instruction. To their attentive ears it was vocal with the voice of wisdom. Wisdom spoke to the eye and was received into the heart, for they communed with God in His created works. As soon as the holy pair transgressed the law of the Most High, the brightness from the face of God departed from the face of nature. Nature is now marred and defiled by sin. But God's object lessons are not obliterated; even now, rightly studied and interpreted, she speaks of her Creator.... The children and youth, all classes of students, need the lessons to be derived from this source. In itself the beauty of nature leads the soul away from sin and worldly attractions, and toward purity, peace, and God.
02-23-2017, 10:52 AM
A True Servant
Do you equate success with wealth, acclaim, and power? If we measured by these standards, then Jesus, who was rejected by His community and didn't even have a house of His own, was a failure. But, of course, we know that's not the case. So God must use something other than these worldly goals to define success. In fact, Scripture is clear that Jesus Christ is our example--we should strive to be like Him.
So, what exactly was our Savior's mission? In today's passage, we see the answer through His actions: He came to serve. The disciples, wanting recognition and reward, were arguing about who'd be the greatest in heaven. In contrast, Jesus took off His outer garment and performed the task of the lowliest servant: He washed the dirty feet of His followers. The next day, Almighty God was crucified by His own creation. In allowing this, He offered salvation to all--even those who nailed Him to a cross.
Jesus deserved glory but chose sacrifice and pain. And He asks that we follow His example of service. With the exception of Judas, His disciples obeyed. In fact, they all faced great difficulty and most died brutal deaths because of their faith. But they willingly walked the path of humility because of what Jesus had taught them: "The last shall be first, and the first last" (Matt. 20:16).
How do you spend your resources and time? And which topics dominate your thoughts and conversation? These are a few indicators of the driving goals in your life. You may long for worldly recognition, but God has a higher calling for His children. Ask Him to foster a servant's attitude in your heart.
For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit www.intouch.org.
02-24-2017, 09:37 AM
"So don't be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time" (Matthew 6:34).
The taxi driver who drove me from the airport to the hotel in Virginia Beach stated several times that he was having difficulty making ends meet for his wife and 2-year-old son.
He had two jobs and worked seven days a week. Even so, he could hardly get by. The rent was high; the utility bills were extravagant, and he was trying to save enough money so that he could move to another city where the hourly wages were considerably higher. There, he would be able to achieve a better way of life.
I asked him if he went to church.
"No," he said, "I don't have time. I'm too busy."
During the next 30 minutes we talked about the love of God, and God's purpose and plan for men which was revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ.
"I once went to church as a young man," he said," and my mother is very religious. In fact, she used to preach to me all the time. But somehow I have gotten away from God and from the church."
I shared with him the Four Spiritual Laws, and the prayer: "Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be."
By the time we reached the hotel, he was ready to pray that prayer in all earnestness, from the depths of his heart. So he offered the prayer, and I prayed with him. And it seemed as though, before my very eyes, the load he had been carrying for so long was lifted and that God, who had made the promise, had already begun to fulfill that promise.
Bible Reading: Matthew 6:28-33
TODAY'S ACTION POINT: Today I will ask God to help me forget the conflicts and unfortunate memories of the past: to take no anxious thought for tomorrow, and to joyfully live in the reality of His supernatural presence and provision.