Serve with humility

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“True service is not something we do for the Lord, but something He does through us.  By regarding service [this way], we can have confidence – not in ourselves and our abilities, but in God, who makes us adequate for whatever He gives us to do.”

Charles Stanley

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Resisting Compromise

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King Solomon’s life illustrated the peril of compromise (1 Kings 11:1-7).  Concession begins in a seemingly insignificant way.  For instance, someone might want you to make a financial decision that you know in your heart is unwise.  But you go along with the plan because you don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings.  You have compromised the message of the Holy Spirit, who warned you.

Small compromises lead to more serious ones.  With each successive concession, our conscience is weakened.  Ultimately, whenever we give way to evil – whether we let go of a doctrinal belief or simply listen to music that taints our thoughts – we always lose.

We compromise for a variety of reasons.  Many do so from fear of rejection or of being unappreciated.  Some choose this route to avoid conflict.  Still others may begin to doubt God’s trustworthiness or goodness; as a result, they give up on Him, compromising their basic beliefs and undermining their reason for assurance.

To be men and women who are strong enough to resist making concessions, we need to develop some essential armor.  First, we must have strong convictions about the Bible and depend on it as a guide for daily living.  Next, we need to have faith in God’s promise to supply all of our needs.  Finally, we must find the courage to trust in Him, even when we are misunderstood, persecuted, or falsely accused.  When we surrender our life to God, He replaces enslavement to compromise with security in Him.

Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch devotional, January 29, 2018

Be Content

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Believers can be content in every situation because of this promise.  Five negatives are utilized in this statement to emphasize the impossibility of Christ deserting believers.  It is like saying “there is absolutely no way whatsoever that I will ever, ever leave you.”

Commentary from the John MacArthur study Bible, notes for Hebrews 13:5.

Happiness or Joy

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Though some people use the terms happiness and joy interchangeably, there is a vast difference in their meaning.  Both cause a pleasant emotional response, but the former relies entirely upon circumstances.  As soon as difficulty arises and pain intrudes, a person ceases to be happy.  On the other hand, joy is a gift from God that enables believers to find hope and peace – even when life seemingly falls apart.

At times, however, even Christians live joylessly.  Sinful behavior, of course, is one reason.  But there can be other causes, too, including regret about past failures, fear of future mishaps, or a pattern of discontentment that’s ingrained in one’s personality.

If you’re a follower of Jesus but lack gladness, take a moment to remember who Christ is and who you are in Him.  To begin with, you are saved eternally, and your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  The love of almighty God is unconditional, and His indwelling Spirit will never abandon you.  He understands everything you face and promises to provide for your needs.

When you stop to consider the blessings that are yours in Christ, gratitude will likely overwhelm you.  Sadness concerning circumstances may still endure, but the joy of the Lord will carry you through even the deepest pain.

Amid the ups and downs of life, does God’s joy sustain you? Or do trials leave you hopeless and discontented?  Our Father offers a higher way of living – not without pain but with strength to endure.  Continually remember the vast treasure you have in Him and His promises.

Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch devotional, January 20, 2018.

The first priority

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The Scriptures contain many cautionary examples of men and women who had misplaced priorities.  Often, these are the otherwise godly people who had a momentary lapse.  This should give every believer pause to consider the importance of taking captive detrimental thoughts and desires.

For good purposes or bad, we set priorities in one of three ways:  by evaluating which things ought to carry the most importance; by succumbing to pressure and letting people or circumstances dictate how we should prioritize; or by drifting into habits and modes of thinking that become a way of life.  Wise believers will certainly want to avoid the drifting option, as this approach accompanies a life that feels meaningless.  And priorities ought to be in place before we face trying circumstances and people – in that way, we can be steadfast in our commitment.  The only viable choice, then, is to prioritize deliberately.  We do so by setting a goal to live in accordance with God’s purpose and plan.

The priorities we choose are determined by what we value.  Sometimes, though, prioritizing can be frustrating since there are so many distractions diverting our focus.

If we consider a right relationship with God to be of utmost importance, then we will put first those actions and thoughts that strengthen our connection with Him.  We need to be disciplined in following our goals, because living purposefully is rarely easy.  However, the good news is that God knows our heart, and He will honor our sincere attempts to put Him first.

Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch devotional, January 18, 2018.

False teaching

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False doctrine – anything claiming to be the truth that is in fact a lie.  

False teachers typically claim to have the superior knowledge (as in gnosticism).  They claim to know the transcendent secrets, but actually are ignorant and infantile in their understanding.

Paul identifies 3 characteristics of false teachers: 1) they “teach otherwise” – a different doctrine, or any teaching that contradicts God’s revelation in Scripture; 2) they do “not consent to wholesome words” – they do not agree with sound, healthy teaching, specifically the teaching contained in Scripture; and 3) they reject “doctrine which accords with godliness” – teaching not based on Scripture will always result in an unholy life.  Instead of godliness, false teachers will be marked by sin.

Commentary from the MacArthur Study Bible, notes for 1 Timothy 6:3, 6:20.