Matthew

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.

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A Saving Faith

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The greatest tragedy that can befall someone is to think he’s saved, only to discover after death that he isn’t.  We’d all like to believe the claims of those who say they’re Christians, but Jesus gives a harsh warning because He knows many will be deceived.  They will sit in churches week after week, professing that Jesus is the Son of God, but won’t ever really enter into a personal relationship with Him.

Intellectual faith isn’t the same as saving faith.  It’s not enough to know facts about Jesus or to believe He died and rose again.  Even demons believe that (James 2:19).  Salvation involves more than mere knowing.  It requires trusting that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for your sin, receiving His forgiveness, turning away from old sinful ways, and entering into a relationship with Him.  What matters is not what we say with our mouth, but what we believe in our heart.

Although you probably won’t understand all that happens at the moment of salvation, when Christ becomes your Savior, He also becomes your Lord.  As the Master of your life, He then has the right to govern what you do.  His Holy Spirit takes up residence within you when you are saved, and that means you will change – God’s Spirit continually works to remove sinful attitudes and behaviors, replacing them with His spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22-23).

We recognize a person’s salvation not by his profession but by fruit.  If you are truly saved, your character will become more Christlike over time, and your desire will be to obey the Lord.  This does not mean you’ll never sin or stumble, but overall, your life will be characterized by obedience.

Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch devotional, December 18, 2017.

Real faith


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Was Jesus recommending a passive and unthinking approach to life and the future?  Absolutely not.  He used dramatic rhetoric to highlight the inconsistency of claiming faith in God while remaining anxious about daily needs.  Jesus’ advice to sell one’s possession and give to the poor in Luke 12:33 fits into this context.  It is not an absolute command but an illustration of the kind of faith that trusts God more than worldly security.

Commentary from the HCSB Apologetics Study Bible, pg. 1539.

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.