God's will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin.
—1 Thessalonians 4:3, NLT
When wildfires swept through Southern California one fall a few years ago, I noticed a photograph in the newspaper of an entire neighborhood that had been leveled by the fires. All that was left were the foundations. In the midst of all the burned, charred rubble stood one house that remained completely untouched, even by smoke. This gleaming white house stood in stark contrast to all of the ruin around it.
When asked why his house was left standing when all the others fell, the homeowner explained how he had taken great care to make his house flame-retardant. This included double-paned windows, thick stucco walls, sealed eaves, concrete tile, and abundant insulation. Firefighters said, "It made it clear to us that this would be a place to make a stand." This man went the extra mile, and as a result, his house survived when the fires came.
Satan, a master arsonist, is causing massive devastation today. Our country is being devastated by the wildfires of immorality. It destroys homes. It devastates families. And if we aren't careful, we could become its next victims.
The writer of Proverbs asked, "Can a man scoop a flame into his lap and not have his clothes catch on fire?" (6:27 NLT). The answer is no. Fire can burn out of control so easily.
If we as believers allow temptation to infiltrate our lives and allow our sinful natures to prevail, we could fall, as surely as a fire spreads by putting gasoline on it. But if we take practical steps to guard ourselves and to stay close to the Lord, then we don't have to fall.
Let's go the extra mile to protect our homes and our lives against the wildfires of immorality.
Today's devotional is an excerpt from Every Day with Jesus by Greg Laurie, 2013
A line of human thought that seems right to many people is the idea of self-redemption. Man thinks he must work at righteousness to save himself. After all, it was man who sinned and as we say, “God helps those who help themselves.” But a greater truth than this emerges from the Bible—the truth that God helps those who cannot help themselves. We cannot save ourselves. It is noble to be upright if we can. It is admirable to be honest, kind, and compassionate. It would seem that these characteristics would be sufficient to save our souls. But the Bible says that though this way seems right, it is wrong.
Father, I know that my attempts at living a good life are nothing compared to my beloved Savior, Jesus Christ; but because of Him I can come to You, knowing He has redeemed me. -Graham
The soul demands as much attention as the body. It demands fellowship and communion with God. It demands worship, quietness, and meditation. Unless the soul is fed and exercised daily, it becomes weak and shriveled. It remains discontented, confused, restless. Many people turn to alcohol to try to drown the cryings and longings of the soul. Some turn to a new sex experience. Others attempt to quiet the longings of their souls in other ways. Nothing but God ever completely satisfies, because the soul is made for God, and without God it is restless and in secret torment. The first step to God is a realization of your spiritual poverty. The poor in spirit do not measure the worth of life in earthly possessions, which fade away, but in terms of eternal realities, which endure forever. Wise is the man who openly confesses his lack of spiritual wealth and in humilty of heart cries, “God, be merciful unto me, a sinner.”
As I look to You, my Lord and my Redeemer, the strivings of my soul will be satisfied. You alone bring lasting joy. -Graham
Don’t rest on past reading. Read your Bible more and more every year. Read it whether you feel like reading it or not. And pray without ceasing that the joy return and pleasures increase.
Three reasons this is not legalism:
1. You are confessing your lack of desire as sin, and pleading as a helpless child for the desire you long to have. Legalists don’t cry like that. They strut.
2. You are reading out of desperation for the effects of this heavenly medicine. Bible-reading is not a cure for a bad conscience; it’s chemo for your cancer. Legalists feel better because the box is checked. Saints feel better when their blindness lifts, and they see Jesus in the word. Let’s get real. We are desperately sick with worldliness, and only the Holy Spirit, by the word of God, can cure this terminal disease.
3. It is not legalism because only justified people can see the preciousness and power of the Word of God. Legalists trudge with their Bibles on the path toward justification. Saints sit down in the shade of the cross and plead for the blood-bought pleasures.
So lets give heed to Mr. Ryle and never grow weary of the slow, steady, growth that comes from the daily, disciplined, increasing, love affair with reading the Bible.
"Do not think you are getting no good from the Bible, merely because you do not see that good day by day. The greatest effects are by no means those which make the most noise, and are most easily observed. The greatest effects are often silent, quiet, and hard to detect at the time they are being produced.
"Think of the influence of the moon upon the earth, and of the air upon the human lungs. Remember how silently the dew falls, and how imperceptibly the grass grows. There may be far more doing than you think in your soul by your Bible-reading." (J. C. Ryle, Practical Religion, 136) - Devotional by John Piper
Some years ago I heard about a clergyman who had a friend who was an actor. The actor was drawing large crowds of people, and the clergyman was preaching to a few in the church. He said to his actor friend, “Why is it that you draw great crowds, and I have no audience at all? Your words are sheer fiction, and mine are unchangeable truth.” The actor’s reply was quite simple. “I present my fiction as though it were truth; you present your truth as though it were fiction.” I fear that so often we Christians give the idea that the truth is fiction by the way we live and by the lack of dedication to the teachings of our Lord.
Lord Jesus, I would completely yield my life to You, so that others may know that the Savior I love and serve is the truth! -Graham
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 2 by Os Hillman
Friday, March 21 2014
"But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do" (John 6:6).
Jesus and the disciples had just crossed the Sea of Galilee and multitudes followed Him because of the miracles they saw Him do. He was about to speak to them when Jesus realized it was dinner time and the people would be hungry. There were more than 5,000 people who needed to be fed.
Jesus already knew what He was going to do in this situation. However, He was testing the disciples to see if they would think beyond themselves to find a God-solution to the problem. They failed the test. They immediately thought like most of us would think. The disciples looked in their pocketbooks and realized they did not have adequate resources to purchase enough food for the crowd. It is when we come to the end of our resources that God comes in with His resources.
When I first published volume one of TGIF in book form, I was required to order 1,000 copies from my publisher. We had very little distribution and sales of materials at that time. So, after a few months, we still had boxes and boxes of inventory in my basement. "These books are doing me, nor anyone else, any good in my basement," I said to a friend of mine who was with me. "I think we need to go downstairs and lay hands on the books and command them to leave based on Mark 11:23 which says we can speak to the mountain and have it removed." We walked downstairs and prayed, "In the name of Jesus get out of the basement and go be a blessing to someone who can benefit from these books!" Feeling very foolish, I walked upstairs. Two hours later I received a call from a Texas-based workplace ministry. They ordered 300 books! Until then, we had never sold more than a few copies in one day!
When a problem arises in your work life do you think only the logical thought? Perhaps God has created this problem as an opportunity to reveal His glory in the situation. Next time, go outside the box and see the glory of God manifested in your problem!
Mar 21, 2014
A Man Worthy of Our Hope
Read | 1 Peter 1:3-5
Christ’s resurrection is not open for theological debate. There are many people who think it’s sufficient to believe that Jesus lived and died. However, the Savior’s restoration to life is central to what He claimed about His identity and to Christianity as a faith. Picking up on our question from yesterday’s devotion, we must ask what kind of man is this who rose from the dead?
The answer is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who died for our sins and rose again because death had no power over Him. The resurrection validated Jesus’ entire ministry. All along, He said and did things to reveal that He was Lord. When the Lamb of God—the perfect sacrifice for sin—conquered death, He confirmed His identity. Who but the Creator could return to life?
We could also answer the question by saying that the kind of man who returns from the dead is one worthy of our hope. Since Jesus Christ affirmed God’s power to give His followers eternal life, their earthly existence is not marching toward an end; rather, it is the opening chapter of a beautiful and infinite relationship with God. The apostle Paul said that at death, Christians are absent from the body and present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8). So the best is yet to come!
Apart from Jesus’ resurrection, there is no hope. People who chase after their own version of immortality don’t have assurance of life after death, because there is none. Believers, however, face the end of earthly life with the confidence that nothing can separate them from the love of God. Death is just a short trip home. -Stanley
"Good people" don't get to Heaven, only saved ones do. Are you saved from your sins by true faith in Jesus Christ?