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James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings. Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.   And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  James 1:1-4

When people confide to me that they are praying for patience, I often ask what else they’re doing to acquire a calm and gentle heart. Patience isn’t so much something believers receive as it is an attribute that they develop over time and through experience.

Think of patience as a muscle that you have to use in order to see it build. To that end, believers should recognize difficulty as an opportunity to flex their patience. The human instinct is to cry out to God in bewilderment when tribulation comes knocking. We blame. We resist. We complain. What we don’t do is say, “Thank You, Father–it’s time to grow in patience!” People aren’t trained to think that way, but according to the Bible, that is exactly how Christians are to respond.

James tells us to consider trials a joy (1:2). But we often fail at this, don’t we? Humanly speaking, praising the Lord for tribulation is unnatural. However, doing so begins to make sense to believers when they cling to God’s promise that good comes from hardship (Romans 8:28). We are not waiting on the Lord in vain. We can praise Him for the solution He will bring, the lives He will change, or the spiritual fruit He will develop in us.

Accepting hardship as a means of growth is a radical concept in this world. Even more extreme is the believer who praises the Lord for the storm. But God’s followers have cause to rejoice. Tribulation increases our patience so that we can stand firm on His promises and await His good timing.

By Dr. Charles Stanley

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Read: Matthew 6:25-34

Fear obviously produces anxiety, but it also creates chaos in our lives and even affects those around us.

Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation. I have known talented people who procrastinate indefinitely rather than risk failure. Lost opportunities cause erosion of confidence, and the downward spiral begins.

Fear hinders us from becoming the people God wants us to be. When we are dominated by negative emotions, we cannot achieve the goals He has in mind for us. A lack of self-confidence stymies our belief in what the Lord can do with our lives.

Fear can drive people to destructive habits. To numb the pain of overbearing distress and foreboding, some turn to things like drugs and alcohol for artificial relief.

Fear steals peace and contentment. When we’re always afraid, our life becomes centered on pessimism and gloom.

Fear creates doubt. God promises us an abundant life, but if we surrender instead to the chains of fear, our prayers won’t be worth very much.

What are you afraid of–loss, rejection, poverty, or death? Everybody will face such realities at some point. All you need to know is, God will never reject you. Whether you accept Him is your decision.

The Bible tells us that God will meet all our needs. He feeds the birds of the air and clothes the grass with the splendor of lilies. How much more, then, will He care for us, who are made in His image? Our only concern is to obey the heavenly Father and leave the consequences to Him.

By Dr. Charles Stanley

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Read: Matthew 1:18-25

To find examples of wise, godly reactions to disappointment, you’re more likely to turn to Psalms than to Matthew. But the very first chapter in the New Testament tells the story of an upright man’s reaction to painful and disheartening news.

Joseph—Jesus’ earthly father—was a righteous person. A godly man wants a wife who shares his desire to honor and obey the Lord, and Scripture indicates that Mary was exactly that sort of woman (Luke 1: 45-55). So imagine how stunned Joseph must have been when Mary returned from a long visit with her relative Elizabeth and told him that she was pregnant. Moreover, she was claiming no man had touched her.

Any way Joseph looked at the situation, it appeared grim. And yet Matthew 1:20 says that he “considered”—in other words, he sought a wise, righteous response. God entered Joseph’s life in a dramatic way to confirm Mary’s story and put a stop to his “quiet annulment” plans.

The Lord turned Joseph’s mourning into joy. Mary had told the truth—strange and startling as it was. The couple would bear the intense public censure of an early pregnancy, but Joseph stopped thinking about what others would say. God had blessed work for him: to raise the Messiah alongside a faithful woman.

Followers of Christ should seek a godly response to disappointments they face. Since the Lord always has a plan, the wisest reaction is to anticipate the good He can do and await His timing. God certainly blessed Joseph for his willingness to “seek first His kingdom” (Matthew 6:33).

By Dr. Charles Stanley

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God is in control. Serene scene.

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29

Almighty God reserves the right to reveal some things and conceal others. Although we may not know why natural disasters occur, the biblical truths we do know with absolute certainty allow us to trust the Lord even in times of great suffering. These include:

1. God is in control (Psalm 103:19). Nothing in heaven or on earth is outside of His rule and authority. He does not react to events but sovereignly ordains or permits them to run their course. Although we cannot know for certain if He has sent a catastrophe or allowed it, we can trust in His goodness and wisdom.

2. The Lord loves people and wants them to be saved (John 3:16-17). Giving His Son for the salvation of the world proves without a doubt that He loves each person. This truth stands firm despite the fact that many reject the Savior. He cares for us, even when we can’t feel it or won’t accept it.

3. God ordains or permits events for His good purpose (Isaiah. 46:10). Though we cannot fully comprehend what He is doing in each incident, every disaster is a wake-up call for humanity. He is alerting us of the need to repent–so the lost can be saved and the saved can be revived to live totally for Him. Catastrophes open our ears to hear from the Lord.

The One who loves us perfectly is in full control, working everything out according to His good purpose. Knowing this should fill us with hope, even in the midst of crisis situations. The Lord even promises to turn disaster to good for those who “are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

By Dr. Charles Stanley

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Read: 2 Corinthians 11:23-30

It doesn’t seem fair, does it? Paul spent his life serving Christ, and yet he experienced continual suffering. Why would God let one of His most faithful servants go through so much pain? This isn’t just a question about Paul; it’s an issue we face today. In our minds, the Lord should protect His loyal followers from hardships, but He doesn’t necessarily do so.

Maybe our reasoning is backwards. We think faithful Christians don’t deserve to suffer, but from God’s perspective, suffering is what produces faithful Christians. If we all had lives of ease without opposition, trials, or pain, we’d never really know God, because we’d never need Him.

Like it or not, adversity teaches us more about the Lord than simply reading the Bible ever will. I’m not saying we don’t need to know Scripture; that’s our foundation for faith. But if what we believe is never tested by adversity, it remains head knowledge. How will we ever know the Lord can be trusted in the midst of trouble if we’ve never been challenged by hardship? God gives us opportunities to apply scriptural truths to the difficulties facing us, and in the process, we find Him faithful. For example, how would Paul ever have known the strength of Christ if he had never been weakened by pain, persecution, and adversity?

Depending on your response, trials can be God’s greatest means of building faith or an avenue to discouragement and self-pity. If you’ll believe what Scripture says and apply its principles to your situation, your trust in God will grow, and your faith will be strengthened through adversity.

By Dr. Charles Stanley

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Devotional God WORKS Within Us

Read: Ephesians 3:20-21

Let these words slowly sink into your understanding: “able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (v. 20). What an amazing description of God’s ability to work within us.

Yet so often our focus is mainly on what we want Him to do around us: If He would change this situation or fix that problem, then my life would be better. But He invites us to think and ask bigger—He wants to change us!

The Holy Spirit has more than enough power to transform lives from the inside out, but working change within is usually a slow process. Spiritual fruit takes time to grow and mature. That’s why we need patience and faith to believe He is working even when we don’t see the results right away. God is never in a hurry and will never give up on us.

The Lord has a purpose for your life, and He is constantly working to achieve it. Although He has an individualized plan for each one of His children, He also has an overarching goal—to conform every believer to the image of His Son Jesus Christ. In order to accomplish this, He may have to bring us through some struggles and heartaches. It might make no sense to us, but God knows exactly what He’s doing.

What would you like to see the Lord do within you? As you read the Scriptures, look for qualities that God considers precious, and ask Him to work them out in your life. Then rely on His wonderful promise to do even more than you have asked or imagined.

By Dr. Charles Stanley

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The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah  40:8

Jesus made it clear that we would endure hardship in this life. But God gave His children amazing tools to keep trials from overwhelming us. For instance, He placed His Spirit inside each believer to guide and empower. In addition, He gave us prayer so we could not only communicate and stay connected with our Father but also bring Him our requests.

Today I want to focus on yet another one of His marvelous gifts: the Bible. Scripture is the actual Word of God Almighty. It is truth. It never changes. It enables us in all circumstances, so we have a sure foundation on which to base our lives and decisions.

There are thousands of promises in the Bible–countless assurances that we can rely on with perfect confidence. God wants us to learn them so we won’t miss out on blessings He wants to give. And wise believers will turn His promises into prayers and the cries of their hearts.

Let me give you an example that relates to difficult decisions. Psalms 32:8 states, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” We can pray God’s words back to Him, saying that we believe He will teach us and reveal His path, while remaining by our side as our caregiver through the entire situation.

When hardships arise, we need a solid foundation on which to stand. Otherwise, our emotions could easily lead us astray through faulty thinking. God is faithful and unchanging, so we can trust in His promises, which enable us to rest confidently and act boldly.

By Dr. Charles Stanley

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devotional on heart of god

Read: 1 Corinthians 13:11-13

Most people long to be understood. We may have many acquaintances, but we all have a deep need to feel truly known by those we love most. This is because we were created in God’s image–He also desires to be intimately understood and loved by us.

Just as you don’t want to be known for only the superficial details of who you appear to be, it’s not enough to know about the Lord. He wants us to learn how He thinks and feels, what’s important to Him, and what His purposes are. Of course, it’s impossible for man to completely know the mind of the Creator of the universe. In Isaiah 55:9, He tells us, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” The depth and breadth of His mind is so great we will never be able to fully grasp it in this lifetime.

However, we can better understand God’s heart and character by seeking Him and learning day by day from His Word. If we genuinely desire to walk in His ways, we must first genuinely know Him. We come to know our friends better by sharing more experiences together. Similarly, we will also understand God better the longer we walk with Him and meditate on what He has revealed about Himself in the Bible.

God wants you to seek Him with all your heart, and He promises that when you do, you will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). So, the next time you’re feeling a need to be better understood, turn to the One who understands you perfectly. Even more importantly, ask Him to help you know Him better.

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devotional on truth

Read: Psalms 25:4-10

If we’ll let the truths of Scripture fill our minds, guard our emotions, and influence our conduct, God will richly reward us. I’m talking about spiritual blessings here (though He at times chooses to bless materially as well). By reading and meditating on His Word, you’ll learn to understand His ways. This isn’t something we can figure out on our own, because His ways are unlike ours—they are higher, bigger, and eternal.

Also, your relationship with the Lord will grow increasingly more intimate because He chooses to reveal Himself to those who seek Him and obey His instructions. When you see that God always keeps His promises, your confidence in His faithfulness will soar. No matter what the situation, you’ll know you can trust Him. Then He’ll transform your worries into joyful anticipation about what He’s going to do next in your life. Even if hard times await, you’ll be convinced that the Lord will work them out for good.

A life grounded in truth is powerful. Those who live by the Word develop spiritual discernment, which guides their choices and guards against deception. Because they demonstrate wisdom and godliness, the Lord enables them to impact others greatly. Since He knows they can be trusted, He also gives them greater responsibilities and opportunities for service in His kingdom.

With all this available to us, wouldn’t it be wise to invest our time and energy in building the truth of God’s Word into our lives? The other activities which clamor for our attention seem so important or pleasurable, but none of them can offer us the spiritual riches of a life grounded in truth.

By Dr. Charles Stanley

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devotional on fearBe anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;” Philippians 4:6

Not only is anxiety uncomfortable; it also leads to negative consequences. For example, reasoning becomes cloudy when permeated with worry.  So an anxious person will have trouble making wise decisions.  Fear of failure may also lead to procrastination or lack of productivity.

Apprehension can devastate personal and spiritual growth, relationships, and work. So conquering fear is important.

These four steps can help:

1. Identify The Fear. Ask yourself; What are the circumstances surrounding my feelings? What triggered them? What message am I telling myself?

2. Turn To The Lord.  Remember that God loves you and desires a close relationship with you.  He is in sovereign control of your situation, so bring your apprehension to Him.

3. Rebuke The Fear:  You have authority and power in Jesus’ name to reject what isn’t from Him.  Meditate on Scripture passages such as Matthew 10:31 and Proverbs 1:33.  Let God’s truth replace and wrong thinking.

4. Cling To Your Heavenly Father.  Take your focus off your circumstances, and look to the One who promises His help.  The Bible gives this assurance: “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  (Isaiah 41:10)

Circumstances are external and often beyond your control.  But your response originates within.  It’s amazing how fears diminish in the Father’s presence.

By Dr. Charles Stanley

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Read: Psalm 1

The Bible declares the Lord’s great power and majesty while also revealing His deep mercy and love. He is worthy of wholehearted, passionate submission, but He doesn’t often get it. Are you among the few who offer themselves to Him without reservation?

Complete obedience is a choice to follow God regardless of the consequences. This means that we obey the Lord even if our friends choose a different path or when suffering or embarrassment is guaranteed. Seeing His will done is more important than our own comfort or personal ambition. We commit the consequences to God and cling to His promises: He will never leave us (Hebrews 13:5), and He makes good out of every situation (Romans 8:28).

Notice the word ‘commitment‘ in the title of today’s devotion. I’m not writing about obedience that is born of the moment (as in, I choose to follow God in this instance) but about submission as a way of life. Setting restrictions on compliance is so tempting–we want to be able to change our mind when obeying upsets our lifestyle, the final result is unclear, or we’re just plain scared. But let me ask you this one sobering question: If Jesus is the Lord of your life, what right do you have to limit how and when you’ll do His will?

Believers have no right to set their own limits; their one criterion for making decisions should be, What does God want me to do? The answer at times may cause suffering, but obedience is always right. And following God in all things is the surest path to favor and spiritual growth.

By Dr. Charles Stanley

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“..but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8

God’s Spirit works in every believer. He does not limit Himself to pastors and missionaries. If you’ve received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, then residing within you is the same great power that raised Christ from the dead (Rom 8:11) The Holy Spirit pours His energy into creating godly character in all who follow the Lord.

The fruit of the Spirit is so named because it is the character and conduct that the Holy Spirit produces in believers. These are qualities that we can’t generate consistently on our own. The most powerful message we can give isn’t a testimony or sermon; it is the life we live when the pressure is on, temptation is tremendous, or we are buried under an avalanche of problems.

What the world most needs to see in this modern culture is godly families loving one another, business people working with integrity and frugality, and young men and women who choose moral purity. In a word, the world needs to be exposed to believers who are obedient.

By showing peace instead of anxiety or practicing patience rather than speaking a sharp word, a Christian bears witness to the beauty of the gospel. We attract unbelievers to Christ through our words and deeds. They may turn down a doctrine, but they cannot ignore a righteous life.

The strongest gospel message does not come from a pulpit. The most powerful witness for Jesus Christ where you work, where you live, and where you relax is you. Submit to the Holy Spirit’s work, and He will produce a great harvest of spiritual fruit in your life.

By Dr. Charles Stanley

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But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.  Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them.  The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court,  they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act.  “Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?”  They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground.  But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.  When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?”  She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.John 8:1-11

Guilt over doing something that violates the conscience is a normal emotion. However, living under a cloud of remorse for no discernible reason is not. The Lord designed feelings of culpability and regret to serve as a reminder that a person has done wrong and needs to repent. But Satan twists those emotions to imprison men and women: those living in shame are uncertain of God’s love and often lack self-confidence.

Good guilt–the Lord’s effective tool for prompting repentance–is a gift that helps us find the right path. However, the Devil encourages false guilt, which involves taking responsibility for things outside our control and then suffering self-condemnation for not changing the outcome. This unhealthy type of guilt is also a widespread problem for those in legalistic churches or lifestyles–certain behaviors or thoughts are labeled as wrong, and then people feel ashamed for doing or thinking those things.

Self-condemnation stunts a relationship with Jesus. Instead of enjoying the peace of God, people who are trapped by shame fear His rejection and feel driven to prove their worth. Trust is nearly impossible because they are waiting for God’s judgment to rain down. Their guilt even colors how they see themselves: rather than saying, “My action is wrong,” they say, “I am bad.”

Jesus did not come to accuse or condemn us. Christ restored our souls and made us righteous before God so that our guilt is removed. If our Savior forgave the woman caught in an adulterous relationship, just imagine how ready He is to take your shame away too (John 8:11).

By Dr. Charles Stanley

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devotional

Read: Romans 8:1-4

Some believers are plagued by feelings of condemnation. Either they think they’ll never live up to God’s expectations for them or they’re nearly drowning in guilt over past sins. These men and women cannot seem to shake the sense that God is displeased with their puny efforts at being Christlike.

The book of Romans confronts this lie head-on: “There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). When the Savior went to the cross on our behalf, He lifted the blame from our shoulders and made us righteous before God. Those feelings of condemnation do not belong to us; they are from Satan. He amplifies our guilt and feelings of inadequacy and then suggests that’s how the Lord feels about His “wayward child.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Our sins are wiped clean, and we are chosen and loved by God.

Condemnation is reserved for those who reject the Lord (John 3:36). Sin is a death sentence (Romans 6:23). Anyone who chooses to cling to sin instead of seeking divine forgiveness must pay the penalty, which is an eternity separated from God. Two synonyms of condemn are ‘denounce‘ and ‘revile.’ Those words certainly describe Jesus’ statement to unbelievers in Matthew 25:41 Depart from me, accursed ones.”

There is no condemnation for those who receive Jesus Christ as their Savior. The believer’s penalty for sin is paid, and he can stand blameless before God. Trust in the Lord’s love and let go of Satan’s lie. God’s beloved children are covered by His grace and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

By Dr. Charles Stanley

~~~~~~~~~~

Do you have that personal relationship with God? Is Jesus your Savior and Lord? You can begin this relationship today! http://www.thoughts-about-god.com/4laws/law0.html

But to all who believed him and accepted him, (Jesus Christ) he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn! This is not a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan—this rebirth comes from God John 1:12 (LAB)

You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer

Prayer is talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. The following is a suggested Sample Prayer:

“Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.”

If this prayer expresses the desire of your heart, then you can pray this prayer right now and Christ will come into your life, as He promised.

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devotional

Read: Romans 8:32-39

We all experience hardship, and trials can shake us unless we cling to truth. Let me share three assurances to remember when troublesome circumstances arise.

First, God will always meet our needs. This doesn’t mean He provides everything we want. Instead, the Lord will bless us with all that is necessary to fulfill His purpose for our lives. His goal is to sanctify us, not simply to satisfy each immediate desire.

Second, we’re never alone. God promised to be with us always (Hebrews 13:5). Loneliness often accompanies hardship, so we may feel deserted or opposed by family and friends. But our Father has sent His Spirit to be with us and in us, until the day He brings us to heaven (John 14:16-17). He is all we need–our advocate, guide, helper, and comforter. Recognizing His intimate presence gives us confidence in the midst of trials.

 Third, God’s love is eternal. Regardless of our circumstances or poor decisions, His care is unconditional–even when He reprimands us. Loving parents allow disobedient children to experience the consequences of wrong choices; they recognize the benefit of learning from mistakes. Of course, there are also times when we are negatively affected by others’ wrong actions. Even then, God is sovereign and allows only what will bring good in His followers’ lives.

In difficult times, we can remember that God will meet all of our needs, is always with us, and loves us forever. Though Jesus said we would face troubles in this life, He offered encouragement: The ultimate victory is His. So keep in mind that trials are fleeting, whereas our Father’s love is forever

By Dr. Charles Stanley

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