Steps

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.

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.

The Testing of Our Commitment

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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.

Each Step

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And His sheep follow Him

because they know His voice.

John 10:4

When God speaks to you in a still small voice, listen carefully.  He is unfolding a plan for your life; and if you trust Him each step of the way, you will ultimately find peace and fulfillment as you follow Him.

Noah heard the same kind of voice when he was instructed to build the ark; and each step of the way, he trusted that God had a purpose for it.

Commentary from David Jeremiah’s Pathways Devotional, March 4.