Charles Stanley

Salvation and onward

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Our life is to be based on the atoning work of Jesus Christ, who died to redeem us from bondage to sin.  His precious blood paid in full the cost of all our transgressions – past, present, and future (Ephesians 1:7).  Upon acceptance of the Lord’s sacrificial death on our behalf, we experience a second birth and become spiritually alive (John 3:3).

At that moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us.  His presence is proof of our new position in Christ, as well as a guarantee of our future inheritance and our place in heaven.  As God’s children, we’re commanded to live a life of holiness, marked by a deep reverence for the Lord.

Our desire for holy living comes from knowing our Father’s character and understanding what it cost for us to be saved.

Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch Devotional, November 18, 2017.

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Assurance

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If you answer yes to every question, you can be sure that you are in God’s family and destined for an eternity in His presence.  If you answer no, you’ll know exactly which issue(s) to talk over with your pastor or spiritual mentor.

Do I trust Scripture?  Salvation is a one-step process:  “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).  Either we trust that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world (including ours), or we don’t (John 3:16).

Do I accept the witness of the Holy Spirit?  Anyone who believes in Jesus has the Spirit dwelling within his or her being.  That is, the Holy Spirit testifies with regard to our identity as God’s children (Romans 8:16).  It’s not about whether we feel saved; God’s Spirit offers an abiding conviction that we are.

Do I walk like a follower of Jesus?  Those who are in Christ are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).  If we have been transformed, then there are going to be changes in our life.  Simply put, true believers are creatures who seek the things of God – they desire to read and understand His Word, they want to gather with His people, etc.

Confirmed Christ-followers still sin.  Some even backslide for a time.  No matter how meandering our walk of faith may be, the Holy Spirit continues to convict.  He won’t allow us to be satisfied with wrongdoing.  That tug of guilt over sin is yet another assurance that you’ve placed yourself in God’s grip.

Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch Devotional, November 19, 2017.

Not By Human Effort

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The Bible speaks of times when God chose to be silent – to an individual or to humanity as a whole.  David cried out to Him but discerned no answer (Psalm 22:2).  Then there was Job, who must have felt the Lord had abandoned him (Job 34:29).  And during the gap between the Old and New Testaments, God had no prophet for 400 years.

We don’t always hear from the Lord when we expect to.  Sometimes we’re so caught up in the world and our own interests that we simply can’t detect His voice over all the noise.  There are also other reasons for His silence – He may be choosing to remain quiet because…

He wants our attention.  We can’t expect God to answer simply because we’ve summoned Him.  Perhaps He is reminding us that He is in charge.

There is unconfessed sin in our life.  When we’re willing to deal with our sin, God is ready to talk to us.  To continue living in sin, however, communicates that we’re not interested in His will for us.

We’re not ready.  If we’re doing our own thing and are unwilling to walk in obedience, God might be waiting for us to make up our mind to follow Him.

He’s teaching us to trust Him.  If we’re motivated to love God only when there’s indication that He’s listening, our relationship with Him is based on feeling rather than faith.

He’s teaching us to distinguish His voice from others.  When God speaks softly, we listen more closely and eventually recognize His voice better. 

Whatever the situation, we can be certain of one thing:  God’s quietness is always for our good.

Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch Devotional, October 7, 2017.

 

Obstacles as Opportunities

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Learning to see obstacles as opportunities takes time. 

Recalling certain truths can help our perspective:

GOD IS AT WORK.  As barriers remain in place and our situation seems unchanged, God is orchestrating people and events to move His plan forward.  He works silently, invisibly, and effectively.

GOD PREPARES THE WAY.  He has already decided in His mind which hindrances to remove and which to leave unaltered.  For the obstacles that remain, the Lord will arrange a way around them or fit them into His plan.  What He has determined will be accomplished.

GOD REQUIRES OUR COOPERATION.  He wants us to be ready to face difficult situations.  Through His Word, He communicates what we need to know and also equips us (Hebrews 13:20-21).

GOD IS PERSONALLY INVOLVED.  He wants to develop in us a greater sensitivity to His presence.  Through Scripture, prayer, and other believers, we can receive the assurance that the Lord is near.

GOD GIVES CLEAR INSTRUCTION.  He does not bring confusion.  Whether we receive His direction in stages or all at once, He asks us to trust in Him rather than our own thinking (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Facing challenges involves courage, patience, and faith.  It takes courage to accept the presence of barriers, to move in step with God, and to do what He asks.  Patience is required as we wait for Him to equip us and reveal His plan.  Faith is necessary for us to trust God with the outcome and to focus on obeying Him.

Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch devotional, August 15, 2017.

Overcoming Obstacles

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Nothing is impossible for the heavenly Father.  No obstacle confuses God or poses any kind of challenge for Him.  Though we know He is sovereign over every situation, we have trouble maintaining this perspective, just like the disciples in today’s passage-Matthew 17:14-21.  Too often when difficulties arise we…

EXPERIENCE A SHIFT IN FOCUS.  During trials, we tend to take our eyes off the Lord and instead see only our problems.  The longer we look at our circumstance, the larger it seems.  As we dwell on it in thought and conversation, our mind-set can become very negative.  Though God still has a direction for us to take, we are no longer concentrating on His purposes.

DEVELOP AN INCORRECT ASSESSMENT OF RESOURCES.  In our troubles, we start taking inventory of our own strength and abilities.  When they prove insufficient, we become discouraged.  The truth is that we don’t have what is needed for life’s trials – Jesus Himself told us that.  (See John 15:5.)  But God’s capabilities are unlimited, His power is never-ending, and His wisdom is complete.  We need to take stock of His resources, not our own.

VIEW OBSTACLES AS BARRIERS.  For the obedient believer, impediments represent opportunities, not problems.  The Lord can demonstrate His awesome power through our difficulties.  (See 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.)  At such times, we grow in our faith and learn more about our Father.  If we view hardships simply as troubles, then we can miss demonstrations of God’s love, power, and wisdom.  

Start each day committed to a Christ-centered focus, a dependence on His resources, and an “opportunity” mindset.

Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch devotional, August 14, 2017.

God’s Ways

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In Isaiah 55:8, God declared, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.”  And in fact, one of the biggest frustrations of the Christian life stems from a lack of understanding about God’s ways.  There are times when we could really use a miracle, but He does not come through for us the way we think He should.  Our unmet expectations lead to confusion, disappointment, and even anger.  We might think, Why did the Lord let me down?

Some people don’t believe God performs big miracles at all, while others are convinced that if He’s not doing the miraculous every day, then something is wrong with their faith.  Neither belief is true.  We need a balanced perspective, which we find in the Bible.

God works in both supernatural and ordinary ways, and He determines the method.  Elijah ate food miraculously delivered by ravens, but his water supply from a brook was completely natural.  When the water dried up, the Lord could have made more spring from the ground, but He didn’t.

Sometimes God uses ordinary means to move us in a new direction.  The curtailment of Elijah’s water supply opened the door for his next assignment.  When the Lord withholds miraculous intervention and lets your brook dry up, He has something else planned for you.

Seeing the work of God in the miraculous is easy.  But He’s just as involved in the everyday aspects of life as He is in any supernatural event.  Look for His fingerprint in the day’s mundane activities.  He is there, opening and closing doors, drying up one opportunity but initiating another.

Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch Devotional, August 2, 2017.

How to Bloom

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The pathway of faith has divine purpose, and we’re to obey the Lord, no matter what.  But even when God’s direction is perplexing, we can count on the fact that He is good.

Walking obediently with Christ doesn’t guarantee an easy life, which is obvious when we consider Paul.  He encountered all kinds of hardships, including shipwreck, persecution, and beatings (2 Cor. 11:23-27).  Keep in mind, though, that nothing can touch a child of God without the Father’s loving permission.  He uses difficulty to strengthen and correct believers – and eventually as a tool in achieving His plan.  Also remember that the Lord protects His followers in their suffering, just as He kept the apostle safe in situations that seemed impossible to overcome.

Adversity can tempt us to ignore the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  But we will ultimately regret such a decision, as God doesn’t spare us from the consequences of our sin.  However, He never lets go of His children, whom He will continue to protect and guide throughout life.

Walking in obedience and trust is the only way to true peace.  As Paul sat in an uncomfortable Roman prison where his life was in danger, he encouraged believers not to worry but to trust the Lord and pray with gratitude (Isa. 26:3; Phil. 4:6).  Doing so leads to experiencing His perfect peace.

The only wise way to live is to believe in almighty God and follow wherever He leads.  That is the road to contentment, fulfillment, protection, and peace.  Are you journeying on the pathway of faith?  Or is something holding you back from all God intended for our life?

Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch Devotional, July 28, 2017.

Our Unmet Needs

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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.