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Know what you believe

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~2 Timothy 1:12-14~

All people have a belief system whether they realize it or not.  Even those who claim there is no God have faith that He does not exist.  What we believe affects every area of our life and shapes each decision we make, yet few of us take the time to really think about what we accept as true.

All belief systems have a foundation.  Some people base their convictions on what fits their lifestyle, reasoning, and desires.  But that is not to be the case with Christians – Jesus calls His followers to adapt life to their faith in Him and the authority of His Word.

Anytime we add other philosophies or ideas to Scripture or pick and choose which parts of the Bible to believe, we create our own version of faith, based on personal reasoning.  God’s Word is the only true and reliable foundation for belief, because it contains the recorded thoughts of an eternal, omniscient God.  All other concepts must be measured against Scripture to determine their validity.

Knowing what the Bible says is essential for developing a sound system of beliefs founded on the truth and wisdom of the Lord.  This world offers many philosophies that sound good but are laced with lies.  A faith anchored in what Scripture teaches is your protection against deception.

Each time you face a problem or decision, search God’s Word for the answer.  Begin your day by reading the Bible and asking God to help you understand what He is saying.  He loves communicating with His children and as you spend time with Him, He’ll open your mind to know His thoughts.

Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch devotional, November 26, 2017.

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Complete faith

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Intellectual assent – agreement with a set of Christian teachings – is incomplete faith.  True faith transforms our lives.  If our lives remain unchanged, we don’t truly believe the truths we claim to believe.  Living the way God wants us to live does not earn our way into heaven, but it shows that our commitment to God is real.  Godly conduct is not a substitute for, but a verification of our faith in Christ.

Commentary from the One Year NIV Devotional New Testament, November 10.  Tyndale House publishers, Inc.  2003.

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.

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.