God has promised to supply all our needs, yet fulfillment is sometimes slow in coming. What could be the problem? Perhaps we are.
When our Father fails to meet our expectations, we generally look outside ourselves for the reason. But while God’s love is unconditional, many of His promises are not. For example, Philippians 4:19 is a “family promise” – it can be claimed only by those who rightly call the Sovereign of the universe “Father.” His unlimited resources are not available to men and women who reject salvation through Jesus Christ. Moreover, when we look at the whole framework of Scripture, we see that the Lord makes obedience a condition for fulfilling our needs. (See Ps. 81:10-12.) He will not condone sin by blessing us while we rebel against Him.
Think of yourself as part of an army at war – which is what you are, in a spiritual sense. A top military priority is to keep the supply line open, as victory is impossible if the soldiers are weaponless, cold, and starving. Our willful disobedience allows Satan to cut our supply line from the Lord. Restoring that connection is a matter of repentance. Those who walk in God’s way are protected, provided for, and satisfied (Ps. 81:13-16).
Taking a promise out of its biblical context is very dangerous. And expecting God to keep a conditional pledge when we aren’t meeting its requirements is even more unwise. The heavenly Father keeps His word but rightfully expects us to do our part. Thankfully, His expectations of us are not burdensome but reasonable: What He requires is that we simply love, honor, and obey Him.
Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch Devotional, July 7, 2017.
Take the actual steps laid out in God’s word to be nearer to the Lord-He wants to meet our needs. Taking any other steps are no steps at all.
God’s Spirit indwells believers at salvation, which means His power is available from that moment (Eph. 1:13). God created a simple way for us to access that strength every single day.
First, we must accept the truth that in and of ourselves, we are powerless to live out God’s will. No matter how capable we may be, our own strength and wisdom are insufficient. Sometimes Christians become prideful about the good they have done or the number of years they’ve been saved. Imagine how much more we could serve the Lord if we would humbly get out of God’s way and let Him work through us.
Second, we surrender our entire life to the guidance and governing of the Holy Spirit. In other words, we choose to conduct our spiritual walk – as well as our vocation, finances, family, and relationships – as God desires. His Spirit is not going to release supernatural power into a life that is continuing in rebellion.
Third, we exercise faith, which means demonstrating belief and trust in the Lord. Faith is the “switch” that releases the Spirit’s power. It’s like saying, “I believe You’ve got a plan, God, so I’m going to trust You to give me what I need in order to do Your will.” Then He will move heaven and earth to provide for your need, whatever it may be.
Merely memorizing and reviewing the steps isn’t enough. Instead, commit to these principles as a way of life. Get used to thinking, I can’t but God can – I’ll submit to His will because His plans are for my good and His glory. That’s the kind of life that overflows with the Holy Spirit.
Commentary from the In Touch devotional, by Charles Stanley, June 30, 2017.
In situations when God is testing us, He will teach us new and deeper truths about Himself, His purposes, and His promises. Though we feel stretched in painful seasons, such difficulties are always designed to be beneficial.
From a human perspective, times of testing can be baffling, because we don’t understand how anything good could result. Consider God’s command that Abraham sacrifice his long-awaited son Isaac. Abraham’s earthly viewpoint could have regarded this order as:
UNREASONABLE. “I cherish my son above all else. How could you ask this?”
UNTIMELY. “Why now, Lord? My son is still young. He is the one through whom my descendants are to come.”
UNFAIR. “It’s not right that You ask this. Haven’t I left home to follow You?”
UNBEARABLE. “This is too hard for me. I cannot take this pain.”
Abraham rejected that kind of thinking. Instead, he trusted God. The trial revealed Abraham’s unshakable commitment to the Lord’s plan.
Knowing which circumstances will help us grow, our Father asks us to exercise faith and choose His way. Recalling His unending love and wholehearted commitment to His children will help us do this. Be assured that God makes no mistakes in His dealings with us.
Imagine Abraham’s joy when the Lord provided a ram as a sacrifice in Isaac’s place. We will receive that same reward of spiritual joy when we remain steadfast.
Commentary from the In Touch devotional by Charles Stanley, June 19, 2017.
It has been said that “God prefers reluctant obedience rather than joyful disobedience.” But this statement is misleading. When we first learn to obey God, we sometimes do so reluctantly because we leave the familiar territory of doing as we please to discover the uncharted waters of yielding our will to His. But once we understand that obedience to the Lord produces joy in our life, we also begin to realize that there is no such thing as “joyful disobedience.” For, in fact, ignoring God’s directives is a joy stealer.
Alan Redpath states it this way: “When there’s disobedience in the Christian life, the fullness ceases. And you soon know when you’ve lost the fullness because the joy is gone.”
If you find that you are resisting obedience to God in some area of your life, ask yourself, “Is it worth it?” because no matter how vigorously you try to justify disobedience in your life, you can never replace the joy that is lost when you say “No” to God.
Dear Christian, run to do His will, and lay hold of the resulting joy that God has provided for those who obey Him. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain, for a joyful heart stems from an obedient heart.
“Obedient submission is the only way to joy.” Charles Stanley
Commentary from the Pathways devotional by David Jeremiah, June 9.
“No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life” (2 Timothy 2:4). The word for “entangle”, which also occurs in 2 Peter 2:20, means to be so wrapped up in something that movement is hindered. This is the term the Greeks would have used to describe a rabbit ensnared in a thorn patch.
Peter’s letter admonished followers not to return to past sins, but Paul was emphasizing a different lesson: He was warning Timothy against allowing essential daily pursuits to supersede a commitment to Christ. Paul himself at times worked as a tent-maker while carrying on with ministry; however, he realized there was potential for an occupation to become all-consuming, to the detriment of a person’s spiritual life.
Growing and managing wealth, providing for one’s family, and taking advantage of leisure time are important activities. In fact, God encourages all of them. However, these blessings are not to become distractions that draw believers away from church or regular prayer and Bible study. Nor are we to compartmentalize our life into “Christian ministry” and “regular work/play”. We are Christ’s soldiers, no matter where we are or what we are doing – there is no such thing as a part-time warrior.
It’s important for believers not to draw artificial boundary lines between the secular and the sacred. Everything God gives – from vocation and wealth to leisure activities – is to be used for His glory. By keeping priorities straight and activities in balance, you can prevent hobbies and interests from becoming a snare.
Commentary from the In Touch Devotional by Charles Stanley, June 7, 2017.
In 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, we learn that love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth” (v.6). This means believers aren’t to dwell on the harm others cause and write them off as hopeless, despicable criminals. Love enables us to hate the evil unjustly visited upon the innocent while valuing the one who committed the act. More simply, we hate the sin but love the sinner.
In spite of everything that seems apparent about someone who’s been driven to sinful actions, God has created him or her with the potential to be made into something good. Outwardly, it may seem as if a difficult upbringing, poor treatment, or negative influence has corrupted a person’s morality and worldview beyond repair. For such individuals, the capacity to love and rise above circumstances can get buried so deep that it may seem nonexistent.
God still considers the most evil and corrupt person worth saving. How do I know this is true? Because John 3:16-one of the very first verses we teach children-He said that whoever believes in God’s Son will have eternal life. Many of us are guilty of thinking we deserve His love because we look good compared to those we deem unlovable. But God doesn’t work that way. He loves every single person, no matter how awful his or her sin may be.
God doesn’t want anyone to mistreat others; such sinful action will bring repercussions or discipline. But the Lord does extend His care, mercy, and salvation to anybody who wants it. He keeps no record of wrongs. He loves without conditions. And He wants us to love in the same way.
Commentary from In Touch Devotional magazine by Charles Stanley, May 4, 2017.
Two sisters were busy preparing for Jesus’ visit. Upon His arrival, Mary turned her attention to the Lord. Meanwhile, Martha was distracted by the preparations (Luke 10:40) and became agitated that her sister was no longer helping. We may be thinking Martha was right-if there was still work to be done, her sister should not have been sitting down. Then we hear Jesus’ perspective. Observing that Martha was worried and upset about many things when only one thing was needed, He said Mary had chosen what was better (Luke 10:42).
There are some important lessons to be learned from this story. First, to have fellowship with Jesus, we may have to leave some things undone. Jesus knew how hard the women had been working and how much Martha longed to finish the tasks. But their greatest need was to spend time with Him. The sisters’ focus was to be on listening, learning, and interacting with Him.
The second lesson is that our choice to forgo an activity may be misunderstood. Martha certainly didn’t comprehend her sister’s decision. What’s more, if we fail to take time with the Lord, there may be unpleasant consequences. We see this in the way Martha’s distraction led to worry and agitation. Jesus invited her to choose the better way-namely, to be with Him.
Establishing a habit of communing with God is essential to our spiritual health. Even in our daily work, we can learn how to maintain an awareness of Him. So aim to choose the better way, as Mary did. Connecting with Jesus regularly will sharpen your focus on what is most important and help you distinguish what is good from what is truly the Lord’s best.
Commentary from In Touch Devotional Magazine by Charles Stanley, May 3, 2017.
Ending Gossip in Our Life-follow up to, “Not Sometimes, But Always”, May 16, 2017.
Spreading rumors about other people exposes little about their true nature but reveals quite a lot about the speaker’s own character. Such behavior shows a willingness to sin against the Lord by causing harm to someone else. Until a gossiping believer confronts his sin, he can’t progress toward becoming the person God wants him to be.
Confession is the first step in dealing with sinful speech. This should be followed by repentance-the pledge to turn away from opportunities to talk about others. A useful scripture for a redeemed gossip to pray daily is Psalm 141:3: “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”
Next, be on guard against temptation. Believers have a responsibility to set themselves apart from gossip in order to keep their thoughts and words pleasing to God. Being in the presence of one who spreads stories can tempt us to participate. In a situation where rumors are being shared, the best course of action is to speak out against the practice and then leave.
Finally, instead of talking about someone, it’s wise to pray for that person. Getting into this habit will help train the mind to replace sinful patterns with God-pleasing ways. The Bible teaches us to encourage and comfort each other, and prayer is a good way to obey that instruction 1 Thess. 5:11, 14).
A gossiping Christian dishonors God’s name-and his own. Instead of using words that disparage and injure, choose to speak well of everyone. In so doing, you will bring glory to the Lord.
Commentary from the In Touch Devotional by Charles Stanley, May 9, 2017.
Photo credit: T. Link