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JFH Staff Blog | Charles Stanley

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Key to Making Wise Decisions

The Key to Making Wise Decisions

Practical Lessons for Understanding the Word of God

By Charles F. Stanley

How do you make significant decisions? Some people simply give in to the desire of the moment while others carefully consider the pros and cons to make the choice that seems most beneficial. But both of these approaches can be based merely on a person’s preference. The best way to make decisions is to rely on the principles found in God’s Word.

There are two fundamental foundations for making decisions. The first is principle—a fixed or predetermined mode of conduct. For a Christian, it is a moral rule based on the Word of God. That is why we should live by convictions that are grounded in Scripture. For example, the Ten Commandments tell us not to steal, lie, cheat, murder, commit adultery, or worship false gods. Issues such as these should be non-negotiable for believers.

The second source is preference. These are moral choices based on likes and dislikes—whatever seems best in the moment. A person who operates on this basis asks, “What is going to make me feel good, please me, honor me, or benefit me?” He or she is like someone speeding down a dark highway with no center line. Without clear boundaries, that person is in great danger.

Sometimes people fail to align their lives with the Word of God because they fear rejection. They think that if they go against the crowd, others won’t like them. Greed can also lead people astray. They are willing to be dishonest or unkind to make more money or get the promotion they seek. Others compromise. They rationalize sin, which is a quick route to bondage to it. These people fail to consider the long-term effects their choices will have for both themselves and others.

Instead of following our own whims, we should make choices based on indisputable biblical beliefs. Here are a few examples:

·        Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. He is more than a good man, a prophet, or a healer; Jesus is the only way to God (John 14:6). This principle should be at the basis of every decision.

·        The Bible is the inspired Word of God and, as such, is infallible and inerrant (2 Tim. 3:16). We can’t discount certain passages because they are hard to accept. All of Scripture is important and relevant to our lives.

·        Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). Believers should not abuse their bodies with destructive things such as drugs, alcohol, or immorality. Instead, we ought to treat them as tools for glorifying God.

·        Money is not a god. Accumulating wealth is not our highest priority (see Hebrews 13:5). Everything we have belongs to God, and we should be good stewards of it.

·        The proper place for sexual relations is marriage (1 Thess. 4:3-7). Any deviation from this principle will only lead us away from God’s will and create a stronghold for sin in our lives. 

Principle or preference—which of these best describes how you make moral decisions? My prayer is that you will choose to live your life based on the unchanging truths found in God’s Word. His guidelines will save you from many kinds of heartache. Will you still experience difficulty? Yes. But obeying Him always results in internal peace and joy, regardless of your external circumstances. Surrender your preferences to God, and let Him show you how to live by His holy, unchanging principles.

 

Copyright 2011 In Touch Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org

 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Revealing Response - Discovering What Christmas Means to You

Every December, we read stories, sing songs, and decorate our homes to celebrate the advent of Christ. But these things alone won’t bring us closer to God. Instead, we should consider how the Christmas story changes us and apply its true meaning to our lives.

Most people fall into one of three categories when it comes to the true meaning of Christmas. Some are neutral towards Jesus, interested in their own goals and unconcerned with the miraculous story of Christ’s birth. Others will be overtly hostile toward the name of Jesus and all He represents. Only a few will truly worship Him this season.

 Let’s consider these three reactions in light of the characters and events presented in Matthew 2:1-12.

 Indifference

 The Jewish authorities represent how most people feel about Christ’s birth—neutral. Many people expected a great leader would arise to deliver God’s people from Roman oppression. Although the authorities knew the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Matt. 2:4-5), they made no effort to find out more information from the magi or worship Jesus themselves.

Today, that’s how many people feel towards Christ. They ignore the true significance of His birth. At Christmastime, they talk about shopping, crowded malls, traffic, great sales, and their own wish lists—or they discuss their vacations, holiday meals, and good times they will enjoy as a family. They don’t feel antagonistic towards Jesus; their focus is just on other things.

Hatred

King Herod demonstrated the second type of response people can have regarding the Savior. Herod the Great was a shrewd, cruel Roman king. The Jews hated him for claiming to be one of them because he was an Edomite, one of their ancient enemies. He ruled as a tyrant, killing several of his sons, his wife, and anyone else who threatened his power. That’s why should come as no surprise that “he was troubled” when he heard of a new king (Matt. 2:3). When the magi didn’t report to him after visiting the Messiah, he ordered the slaughter of all male children under the age of two in Bethlehem and the area surrounding it (Matt. 2:16).


Today, there are still people who react with animosity towards Jesus Christ. Some fight to prevent manger scenes at Christmastime and to silence all mention of Jesus in the workplace, schools, or other public settings. Like Herod, they are motivated by fear. They are afraid of losing their liberty, so they strike out at godly people who want to live righteously under upright leaders. However, as you and I know, the only true liberty is to be released from the shackles of sin through Jesus’ death on the cross. That’s why followers of Jesus need to speak up. If we don’t proclaim the name of Christ, we will continue to lose our freedom to do so.


Worship

The magi represent a third group of people—those who choose to honor Jesus. Matthew 2:11 says, “After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him.” These wealthy, highly educated men believed Jesus was king of the Jews and fell on their faces in reverence. They brought Him gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matt. 2:11).

Gold was the most valuable metal of the time, a gift fit for a king. They also brought frankincense, which was used by the temple priests to sprinkle the altar of sacrifice. It symbolizes that Jesus came not to be served but to serve (Matt. 20:28). The third gift was myrrh. It was primarily used as a burial spice to mask the smell of decay (John 19:39-40). It spoke of Jesus’ divine mission—to give His life to bring salvation to humanity.

The magi’s last act of worship was to listen to and obey God. He warned them not to return to Herod, so they went home by a different route.

God still calls us to adore Christ today. True worship is primarily an attitude of the heart rather than outward actions. Therefore, this Christmas, make sure to take time to honor Him with your life and words, and let the beautiful story of Christ’s birth motivate you to worship the One who died so that you might have eternal life.  

 

Copyright 2011 In Touch Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Effectively Tackling a Prayer Burden: Praying With a Sense of Spiritual Weight

Have you ever witnessed sorrowful circumstances in someone’s life that brought you to your knees? Sometimes it’s not our own troubles that weigh most heavily on us, but rather the needs of loved ones that make us cry out to God and long to experience His comfort and direction.

When Nehemiah heard that his people lived in great distress and that the walls of Jerusalem lay in ruins, its gates burned and broken, he responded with prayer:

I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. I said, “I beseech You, O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night.” (Neh. 1:4–6)

Nehemiah was experiencing a prayer burden.

A prayer burden can be defined as a strong motivation to pray for others and to carry the needs of others before God in prayer until He responds.

The Bible has a great deal to say about burdens. We are to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). Likewise, we are to go the second mile in helping another person (Matt. 5:41). Much of our ability to overcome hardship is derived from developing our ability to carry spiritual burdens in prayer.

A sense of spiritual weight usually accompanies a prayer burden—a heaviness of heart, a spirit of mourning, or a feeling of restlessness. We can’t seem to shift ourselves away from a problem or need that has come to our attention.

This is what happened with Nehemiah. He prayed in faith that God would restore Jerusalem, and the Lord answered his prayer by sending him to the city to lead the effort of rebuilding the wall.

James 5:16 promises, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” If you feel burdened to pray for another person, commit yourself to wholehearted intercession, filled with thanksgiving and praise that God will act on that person’s behalf (Phil. 4:6, 7). Then listen and obey because the Father may work through you to provide His answer.

And like Nehemiah, you will be greatly blessed when you see God doing mighty things in response to your prayers.

Copyright 2011 In Touch Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Forgiving Your Friends

Friendships bring us great joy, but they can also cause immense pain when people we love and trust fall short. If you haven’t experienced rejection or betrayal yet, you will someday. Having a relationship with God doesn’t make us immune to the hurts of this life, but it does help us forgive those who cause us pain, including our friends.

We all have to deal with people who disappoint us. For example, the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them” (2 Tim. 4:16). Even though he felt betrayed and abandoned, he chose to forgive his offenders’ cruel actions.

It’s important that we learn how to forgive our friends. Harboring bitterness and resentment will only lead to more heartache, stress, and broken relationships. Also, the Lord holds us accountable. That is why Jesus said, “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matt. 6:14).

Let’s consider how Paul handled his disappointment.

~ He responded with forgiveness. Paul said, “At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them” (2 Tim. 4:16, emphasis added). Both Jesus and Stephen said something similar in the final moments of their lives (Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60).

~ He practiced what he preached. Paul wasn’t interested only in what he could gain from friendships. He knew he needed to be willing to “turn the other cheek” and help those who had mistreated him in the past. Waiting for a chance to retaliate or wishing them harm would only indicate an unforgiving spirit.

~ He affirmed God would never leave him. “The Lord stood with me,” he says (2 Tim. 4:17). Although Paul’s friends deserted him, he knew that the Lord remained. Christ promises all believers, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).

~ He trusted God for empowerment. Paul writes, “The Lord . . . strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear” (2 Tim. 4:17). He could rely on the presence of God to accomplish his calling—taking the gospel to the world (Phil. 2:13). Chances are, people will persecute you. In tough times, some of your friends will abandon you. However, God has promised that all adversity will eventually come to an end (1 Pet. 5:10).

~ He remained confident in the Father’s deliverance. The apostle closed his letter with the assertion, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom” (2 Tim. 4:18). Remember that the Father may deliver us from
hardship or through it (Isa. 43:1-4). He also rescues us by calling us home to be with Him. For Paul, God’s deliverance came by allowing Nero to execute him.

A Faithful Friend
What kind of friend are you? Are you dedicated to those you love, or do you often disappoint them? Perhaps you are faithful, but your friends consistently fail you when trouble comes. I urge you not to hold it against them.

Hurt and rejection are painful but unavoidable parts of life, but healing is always available if you are willing to forgive. You and I can take comfort in knowing that the Lord Jesus never leaves our side, even if everyone else does.

Copyright 2011 In Touch Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Help for the Days Ahead

God called me to preach when I was just fourteen years old, and immediately I began to wonder what that meant for my life.

At that time, my mother and I were very poor, so the cost of college seemed far beyond what I could hope to save. However, the Lord allowed that challenge in my life to show me how to pray and trust Him for all my needs. Through that struggle, He demonstrated His faithfulness-teaching me that He would enable me to do everything He called me to do by providing whatever I needed to do it.

God was rooting the promise of Proverbs 3:5-6 in my heart: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." I can honestly say that this is absolutely true-God has never let me down. The Father has always been faithful to keep all of His promises to me.

As 2011 begins and you think about the possibilities of the year ahead, what is it that seems impossible in your life? What has the Lord called you to do that appears to be far beyond your ability to achieve? You may not see how this situation could work out, but God does. He assumes full responsibility for your needs when you obey Him. But how do you remain obedient to Him so you can fully experience His faithfulness?

First, seek God's guidance. Living a godly life doesn't come naturally to any of us. But the Lord will teach us how to live in a manner that's pleasing to Him.

Second, listen to God. Paying attention to how the Lord is directing you is essential to walking with Him and remaining in the center of His will.

Third, watch for God's help and provision. The Father wants you to have faith in His faultless character and depend upon Him. So look for the ways He answers your prayers-the doors He opens and how He meets your needs step by step-and praise His intimate involvement in every detail of your life.

Fourth, keep your focus on God, not on your circumstances. Do not dwell on the problems; rather, cling to His promises. Knowing that He will never forsake you will help you face every obstacle with hope and perseverance.

Fifth, recall God's victories. It is important to remember all the ways the Lord has helped you so you can remain confident and courageous in the face of every obstacle.

Sixth, cultivate a godly life by meditating on Scripture. The Bible has the timeless principles you need to live in a manner that honors Him. Read it with joy, knowing that all He has done for His people in the past, He will do for you too when you trust Him and obey His commands.

There is no doubt that God is absolutely faithful to keep His promises. So as you face difficulties in the year to come, commit yourself to seeking Him, listening to His commands, watching for His help, keeping your focus on Him, recalling His faithfulness, and embracing His Word. Your heavenly Father has awesome blessings for you. Trust Him and stay in the center of His will, because that's how you'll experience life at its very best.

Copyright 2010 In Touch Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Gift Of Peace

Christmas sometimes passes like a red, green, and gold blur of lights, wrapping paper, and familiar carols. Bombarded by relatives, gifts, events, and special programs, there are times this blessed season hits as hard and fast as a Texas tornado. It commences whether we are prepared or not. And instead of joy, peace, and glory to God, it produces physical, emotional, and financial overload.

Often we submit to the overwhelming societal and commercial pressures because we truly want to make the most of the season. But in the midst of the hustle and bustle, what we actually need most-spiritually, emotionally, physically, and relationally-is to be quiet and observant. We gain the greatest benefit from being silent and tranquil-cherishing the opportunity to reflect on Christ's birth and what our Savior really means to us. It is amazing the blessings and sense of peace we miss when we don't take the time to be still and see how God is moving.

Think about the people who first missed Jesus' birth. The religious leaders of Israel didn't realize that the Father had sent the Savior, even though He announced through the prophet Isaiah, "The Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel" (Isa. 7:14). They envisioned the Messiah to be a mighty warrior who would free the nation, not that He would be born in a barn or that God's salvation would be accomplished on a cross.

Yet recall the people who did witness Jesus' birth. Luke tells us, "There were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:8-11).

It was in the stillness of that quiet night in Bethlehem that the announcement came. And because their ears and their hearts were open, the shepherds were blessed in an awesome way. The same is true for us.
I've often said, peace with God is the fruit of oneness with Him. Stopping in the midst of our hectic schedules and looking for ways the Savior is working is not only immensely important-it is downright indispensible. Through our time in His awesome presence, He settles our souls, fills our hearts with peace, strengthens us for the struggles ahead, and teaches us His ways-could anything be more satisfying, important, or powerful than that?

This Christmas, enjoy moments of silence and meditate upon God's gift of salvation, character, and Word. Learn to look for Him in the stillness of the day and to anticipate His glory in the most unexpected places. In doing so, you will strengthen the foundation of your growing relationship with Him-and that's the very best Christmas present you and I could ever receive.

Copyright 2010 In Touch Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Thankful in Every Circumstance

Have you ever noticed that some verses of Scripture seem easier to memorize than to put into practice? I certainly have. In fact, some of the passages I love the most appear very difficult to live out. A verse that immediately comes to mind-especially during the Thanksgiving season-is 1 Thessalonians 5:18: "In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." The word "everything" is challenging because there are situations when I do not feel particularly grateful. Perhaps you've experienced similar circumstances. There are troubles we face that negatively affect every aspect of our lives-stealing our joy and focus away from the Savior.

There have even been times over the years when I've walked out onto the platform as the church service began and my heart was somewhere else. I was as prepared mentally and spiritually as I could be to preach the message, but emotionally I was struggling with some devastating issue. It was through those moments that I experienced something extraordinary. As the orchestra played and the choir and congregation began to sing, my heart would respond to the words of those hymns. Giving thanks changed my focus from the difficulty I was facing to God's awesome character, provision, and love. Suddenly, my troubles did not seem so overwhelming.

Has this ever happened to you? As a believer, you know that the Lord is enthroned in your praises (Ps. 22:3). There is not anything better you can do than to give Him thanks, even in the most difficult situations. You've seen firsthand that even if everything seems contrary, when you submit to God-taking a leap of faith and expressing your appreciation to Him-the Lord blesses your obedience in ways you could not have imagined possible (Heb. 11:6).

This is why Scripture encourages us to always voice our gratitude to the Father, no matter what spiritual battle you or I experience. When we take our eyes off the problem and focus on Him, we realize He's already given us the victory. The challenge is in not straying from that attitude of gratefulness and appreciation.

Throughout the years, I've found that the best way to maintain a thankful heart is to recall the truth of God's Word-specifically all the great privileges we receive when we trust Jesus as our Savior. Although our loved ones, good health, and a successful career are excellent things to thank Him for, they may let us down at one point or another. However, His promises never fail and always give us reason to rejoice.

As you face challenges in the days, weeks, and months ahead, I pray that you will remember to give the Father praise in every situation and find 1 Thessalonians 5:18 more rewarding every time you live it out. May God strengthen your heart with thankfulness and fill you with joy as you continue to express your gratefulness to Him in each and every circumstance.  

Copyright 2010 In Touch Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Forgiving as Christ Forgave

By Dr. Charles Stanley

They beat Him unjustly, tortured Him, humiliated Him, stripped Him of His garments, and raised the cross so the Lord Jesus would suffocate to death by crucifixion. The Messiah—the Son of the Living God—came to save the world from its sin. Although His mission was the most wonderful, the most noble in all of history, how did the people repay Him? They falsely accused Him and sentenced Him to die the most horrible death known to humanity.

 It was absolutely unjust. Yet Christ’s response shows us the nature of godly love: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Do you know how Jesus was able to forgive through such intense pain? Hebrews 12:2 tells us that “for the joy set before Him, [Christ] endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus was able to forgive those who crucified Him because He was focused on obeying the Father and saving us—that was His joy.

 Christ’s forgiveness is like His love for us—unconditional. It’s not based on anything any of us can do; rather, it’s based on Himself. Jesus loves and forgives us because He provided for our forgiveness—not because we can earn it in any way. We can either accept this truth by faith or we can reject it outright through our unbelief.

With that being said, understand the enemy will try to convince you that the love you experience comes from somewhere else—from something or someone other than God. However, when you go looking for acceptance in the wrong places—expecting others to fulfill the needs that only Christ can provide for—you’ll find yourself empty, broken, and unfulfilled. It’s not the fault of others that your needs have not been met—no human being could ever meet all your needs. However, you may hold them responsible for hurting you just the same.

So much of the hurt we feel is because we either won’t listen to God or we ignore the fact that only He can truly satisfy our deepest longings of acceptance, belonging, and competency. But as believers, we always have the option of handling our hurt and pain in the right way—seeing everything we experience as either coming from the Father’s hand or being allowed in our lives for His eternal purposes. Of course, we may not feel like being caring and merciful. But we act in faith and obedience to the true source of love and forgiveness—the Lord Jesus Christ—knowing that He will produce them in us.

Can you do so? If so, then the next time someone wounds you, turn to the Lord for His comfort and wisdom, overcoming your angry emotions, and focusing on His will—which is to reconcile others to Him. Imitate the focus and passion that Christ demonstrated on the cross, which counted everything secondary and inconsequential to doing God’s will. And through your obedience, He will change the world.

You know that God is committed to forgiving you; therefore, be His faithful representative by doing likewise.  

Copyright 2010 In Touch Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

When Anger Becomes Unforgiveness

By Dr. Charles Stanley

Is there someone you need to forgive? Are there names or faces that spring to mind whenever you become angry or frustrated? Who is it that has wronged you—wounding you and causing you to be cynical about your circumstances?

At times we rationalize our inability to let go of the pain we feel and to forgive others. We think that if we don’t constantly call our anger to mind, the offenders will go unpunished. If we don’t replay the evil they’ve done, it will be forgotten. In a sense, we believe our resentment and bitterness free us, but they really imprison us because they keep us focused on the people who hurt us.

Friend, if the Holy Spirit has identified a person or group of people that you need to forgive, it’s because He wants to free you from the devastation of unforgiveness. By holding on to your pain, you are not punishing the people who’ve wounded you. Rather, you’re only making what they’ve done to you exponentially worse.

In fact, when you refuse to let go of your bitterness towards others, you can become so afraid of being wounded again that you isolate yourself and shut yourself off from receiving the love you so desperately need. You forfeit the peace and joy that should rightfully be yours as a child of God by allowing memories of that person’s actions to torment you repeatedly. It affects everything in your life and may even cause long-term illnesses, emotional problems, and terrible conflicts with the people who love you.

It may be completely understandable that you’re angry and that you desire to be cautious around the individual or group that hurt you. You don’t want to be in that situation again, and you don’t want anyone else to be either. But you must understand forgiveness doesn’t mean you deny what happened to you—and it certainly doesn’t mean you allow the person who harmed you to abuse you again. Rather, you give the situation to the Father. You allow Him to heal you and set up healthy boundaries in your life.

As a child of God, you have the freedom and the ability to walk away from hurtful situations through forgiveness. Release the offender to the Lord and step out of the bondage. Make the choice to forgive others so that God can begin freeing you of the terrible consequences of unforgiveness.

Are you willing? If so, pray and open your heart to the Father. Don’t hold anything back. Allow the Lord to give you the strength to forgive, and receive the healing He wants to accomplish in your life.

Copyright 2010 In Touch Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Influence of Our Prayers

By Dr. Charles Stanley

In July, I challenged believers across the land to join me in praying for the spiritual well-being of our nation. As God’s representatives here on earth, we must be serious about our commitment to the Lord if we truly desire our nation to change. We must be dedicated to interceding for the salvation of our fellow countrymen and being a light in our communities. But most of all, we must be devoted to obeying the Father out of sincere thankfulness for all He has done for us.
 

No nation on earth has ever been as blessed as the United States of America. I believe this is because our Founding Fathers understood that liberty is a gift from God—one that comes with a heavy responsibility. They framed our government and established our Constitution on the foundation of godly, biblical principles, making this great country unlike anything anyone had ever seen before. Never throughout world history had there been a nation founded by the people, for the people—with freedom of speech, religious liberty, and such confidence in the common man. This was because these men understood the powerful influence Jesus Christ could have on each and every person for good.
 

As Americans, we are called to protect the great blessing of freedom we’ve been given through honorable acts of citizenship and prayer. The apostle Paul wrote, ―I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth‖ (1 Tim. 2:1–4). The Lord Jesus has made it possible for us to influence any person, government, and nation in the world through our prayers—as long as we first acknowledge He is the source of our strength.
 

This is why I challenge all Americans—and especially believers—to stand for the truth and to intercede on behalf of our land. I hope you will join me and countless others who have committed to spending the next 140 days in prayer for the United States of America. No matter what our trials or difficulties, I am confident God can overcome them if we will seek Him and acknowledge that He is the only who can truly bless America. May you and your family experience the wonderful, absolutely life-changing liberty He created you to enjoy … and may He continue to shed His grace on this nation from sea to shining sea.

Copyright 2010 In Touch Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Liberated to Live

By Dr. Charles Stanley

Freedom is one of the most-prized human ideals, and as Americans, we are blessed to live in a nation where we can serve God with unreserved obedience. Throughout our great history, people have fought and given their lives to be liberated from tyranny. We know that the rights and privileges we enjoy today have come at an incredible price. So as we celebrate the 234th anniversary of our Founding Fathers signing the Declaration of Independence, I challenge you to consider both the freedom from oppression we enjoy in the United States and the liberty from sin we have through Jesus Christ our Savior.

These are important subjects to consider because as our nation enters another election season, we must be wise and watchful. The decisions being made and the direction the country will take in the months and years ahead are sure to impact many generations to come. If we make the mistake of surrendering control of our lives and country to those who act contrary to God’s Word, we will find ourselves bound by the same chains our forefathers cast off so long ago.

That is why it is critically important for all Americans to seek and obey God, because it’s only through Him that we have true liberty to live life at its best. Therefore, the first thing we need to do is make the choice to put the Lord first in everything we do. We must reject the destructive ways of the world and choose to live in submission to our heavenly Father (John 8:34–36).

Second, we must trust God to change the course and character of our nation. We are to be salt and light in our communities, stepping out in obedience with the faith that He will hear from heaven and heal our land (2 Chron. 7:14).

Third, we are to fight this battle for America’s future on our knees. It is our duty as Christians to pray for our leaders in the hope that they will turn their hearts to do the will of God. Only He can transform them into men and women who will truly honor Him (1 Tim. 2:1–4).

We may not know who will hold the seats of power across America months from now, but we do know the King of kings and the Lord of lords. So let us embrace the freedom He’s given us and thank Him for liberating us to live for His name’s sake—and may God continue to bless America.

Copyright 2010 In Touch Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

This Gift is Forever

By Dr. Charles Stanley

You and I do not have eternal life because we exhibit unwavering faith. We are saved because at a moment in time we expressed faith in our enduring Lord, Jesus Christ, and what He accomplished for us on the cross. The apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:8-9: “By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” The salvation that has been given to us is His loving, sacrificial gift to us—we can do nothing to earn it.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I have learned that a present that can be taken back is not really a gift at all. True gifts have no strings attached. Once we place a condition of any kind on a present, it becomes a trade—not a gift. To say that our salvation can be taken from us for any reason, whether it be sin or disbelief, is to ignore the plain meaning of what Paul teaches us in the verse above. Questioning the permanency of our salvation is equivalent to not believing Ephesians 2:8-9 or other passages where Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is clearly described as a gift.

What you do once you’re saved is another matter entirely. When you accept a present, it’s yours—like it or not. You can take it and bury it in the backyard, but it still belongs to you. You may say, “Well, what if I give it back?” You can only return a present if the giver accepts it back, and there is absolutely no evidence in Scripture that the Lord has ever taken back the gift of salvation once it has been given. His love keeps Him from doing so. Remember, Christ came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). Why would He take back what He came to provide?

“What about a wavering faith?” we may wonder. “If faith is our way of accepting God’s gift, can’t we lose our salvation if our trust in Him falters?” Though it is true that faith serves as our spiritual hands by which we receive the Lord’s gift, it is not necessarily a sustained attitude. We are reconciled to God the moment we accept what He has offered.

Has there been a time in your life when you accepted God’s free gift of salvation? If not, why not settle the issue once and for all right now? It’s really so simple. The Lord is not looking for a series of promises from you and is not concerned about what you can do for Him. Rather, He is more concerned about what you will let Him do for you. So have faith in what Christ has accomplished on the cross and accept His gift of eternal life. It is the one present you will never lose—it will truly be yours forever.

Copyright 2010 In Touch Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org

For more information on the topic of eternal security, please read Eternal Security: Can You Be Sure by Dr. Charles Stanley or to participate in an online discussion about this book, please visit www.intouch.org/bookclub

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Mothers - A Godly Example

By Dr. Charles Stanley

Mothers have an incredible opportunity to impact their children’s lives in amazing ways. Perhaps you’ve heard me talk about my own dear mother, Rebecca, and what a great example she was to me. Throughout scripture, we can easily see how mothers have influenced their children in profound ways—some for good and some for ill. In fact, one of my favorite Scripture verses is 2 Timothy 1:5, “I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” That is the effect godly mothers and grandmothers have on their children and grandchildren—their faithfulness to God leaves a lasting impression on the generations that follow after them.

Of course, some people do not have the blessing of a godly mother for one reason or another, and it affects their lives deeply. Our challenge as Christians is to reach out to them, providing a loving example to them and always pointing them to Jesus.

You can have a tremendous impact on the people around you. The only qualifications necessary are faithful love and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. My mother never taught a Sunday school class, never sang in the choir, and never held an office in church. She was a quiet, unassuming, humble lady. However, she was very wise because her focus was on God, and His Word was central to her life.

So how can you impact the lives of the people you know? First, teach them the importance of studying the Bible and meditating upon its truth. Answer any question asked of you as best as you can, reminding others how important it is to apply the principles of Scripture to their daily lives. Second, show them how to talk to God. You do this by praying with them—not just by telling them how they should pray. Third, demonstrate trust in the Lord for all of your needs, no matter how difficult circumstances become. You do this by not complaining and by being thankful for what you have. Fourth, teach others how to obey God by submitting yourself to Him in everything you do. When others see your faithful obedience and His awesome work in you, they will want to obey Him, too.

And finally, love others unconditionally—just as Christ would love them. No matter what happens or how others treat you, love them, serve them, and encourage them with the truth of God’s Word. Why? Because that is the way the Lord cares for you.

A godly influence is an awesome treasure, and the children in our world need believers to reach out and show them the love of God. You can impact their lives in an amazing way by the way you live, what you say, and how you respond to the trials you face. My prayer is that you will allow the Lord full access to your life so that He can continue to make you into the loving example that will have an awesome influence in others’ lives.

Copyright 2010 In Touch Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Right View of the Resurrection

By Dr. Charles Stanley

Have you ever considered how important our view of the resurrection is? Think about it: The disciples watched Jesus perform one miracle after another. He taught them how to pray, how to have a personal relationship with God, and how to serve. He also talked about the cross and His resurrection -- how He had come to forgive our sins and defeat the power of death. At first, they did not embrace the fact that He would have victory over the grave (Matt. 16:21-23). So when they saw the Lord nailed to the cross and dying that terrible death, all their hopes were shattered. All their dreams came to an end.

But you and I know it wasn't the end--it was just the beginning! When the disciples finally realized that all He had said was true and that He had risen from the dead after three days, it absolutely ignited them with courage, confidence, and a desire to tell the world the good news of salvation (Acts 5:28-32, 41-42).

Likewise, if you are a believer, you know that the resurrection is true; it is your assurance that every promise Jesus made to you will be perfectly fulfilled. But do you view everything in your life through the truth of the resurrection?

When you do, there is no reason for guilt because you have evidence that your sins have been permanently forgiven (Heb. 9:22-28). You have absolute proof that you've been given eternal life and a home in heaven (Rom. 6:8-10). You have no reason for loneliness because as your living Lord, He gives you His Holy Spirit to dwell in you, lead you, and empower you (John 14:16-20). And the resurrection also provides you the comfort of knowing you will see your believing loved ones again, even when they pass away from this life (1 Thess. 4:14).

In addition, the resurrection is evidence that no matter what happens, Jesus is able to lead you to victory. Is there any situation in your life that requires more wisdom, love, and power than was displayed when Christ was raised from the dead? As a believer, resurrection power is available to you (Eph. 1:18-20). So whenever you encounter situations that seem impossible, always remember Jesus' victory over the grave and trust Him. Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him, because He has promised to care for all of your needs as you follow Him. The empty tomb proves He is truly able!

Copyright 2010 In Touch Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org

Friday, March 19, 2010

How to Reach Your Full Potential for God

By Dr. Charles Stanley

Does something inside keep telling you, You were meant for more than this? Do you ever wonder if you are becoming all the Lord has planned for you to be? Many believers today struggle with discouragement, depression, and anxiety because they know there is much more that the Father has for them, but cannot overcome the disappointments and burdens of life on their own. So they settle for less than God’s best and never experience the joy and fulfillment that is available to them. Thankfully, you don’t have resign yourself to the ―settled-for life.

My goal with this new book, How to Reach Your Full Potential for God, was to demonstrate how our heavenly Father has worked in my life so others can look beyond their own mistakes, hurts, and failures to how He sees them—as a person full of possibilities and potential. This is because when we view ourselves as He does, we realize that He has gifted each of us with distinctive personalities, skill sets, abilities, dreams, and talents to achieve His unique plans for our life. As Ephesians 2:10 instructs, ―We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Our exciting journey to a wonderful life of purpose and promise begins when we understand and accept this.

God wants you to discover all the dreams and blessings He has for you, and He is willing to move heaven and earth to help you walk in His will. The Father sets you free from any remaining bondage to sin and despair, and reveals your wonderful identity as His child—full of hope and purpose (Rom. 8:18–21). How does He do so? By teaching you how to have a clean heart, a clear mind, a balanced schedule, a healthy body, right relationships, and the willingness to submit to His commands in faith.

Of course, there are many hurdles to overcome—issues we may deal with on a daily basis. Our inadequate perspective, feelings of low self-esteem, tendency to compare ourselves to others, self-imposed limitations, fears of disappointment or failure, and even laziness can hinder us from becoming all God created us to be. These are obstacles that we generally cannot overcome on our own. But the Lord can. And He will give us triumph over each one if we will trust and obey Him.

Are you in danger of living the ―settled-for‖ life? Do you continually run into the same conflicts and heartaches? Have you stopped progressing in your finances, relationships, or walk with God? The Father wants to help you surmount the hurdles and experience the extraordinary, victorious life you were created for. He ―is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us‖ (Eph. 3:20). So trust Him to help you reach your full potential.

Copyright 2010 In Touch Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org

 


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