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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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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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Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest?  For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist,” Says the Lord. “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word.”
Isaiah 66:1-2

Believers are always under the canopy of God’s grace and love. Nothing we do can change that. At the same time, our behavior and heart condition do determine whether we receive the fullness of His blessings. Today’s passage teaches us how to experience the Father’s favor.

First, He desires that we have a contrite heart and a humble spirit (Psalm 51:17). For that to be the case, all aspects of our lives must be surrendered to Jesus. Yet some dreams, desires, and people are difficult to release into His hands.

Anything we do not give over to His authority is evidence of pride, the exact opposite of what our Father wants in His children. Remember that “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). Lack of submission proves that we think our way is better than His plan.

Second, God tells us to tremble at His Word (Isaiah 66:2). Scripture—the unfolding revelation of Jesus Himself—is living and powerful to teach and transform us. Consider how we treat this treasure. Do we devote time each day to know what the Bible says and how to apply its principles? Do we hunger for more of the Word in our lives so we can know its Author better? One measure of our reverence is obedience: to honor the Lord, we must obey Him.

We all desire God’s favor. Are you living in a manner that positions you to receive His full blessings? Prayerfully consider whether you have submitted all areas of your life—from finances and health to relationships and work habits—to Jesus Christ. Recognize His authority in all things, and revere His Word.

By Dr. Charles Stanley

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Read: Matthew 6:25-34

 Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?…..”

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.

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Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully.  And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’  So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’  But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’  “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16-21

We’ve all heard jokes about men who refuse to stop and ask for directions. But in reality, there’s probably a good bit of truth to the stereotype, and it isn’t limited to males. Plenty of men and women in this world zoom along without slowing down to ask for guidance.

If you were to look at the situation from a spiritual perspective, you’d see a world of lost souls desperately trying to save themselves. They think they can earn their way into heaven through hard work and the accumulation of good deeds. But they’re wrong.

Today’s passage from Luke describes a wealthy person who makes a lot of plans based only on his own thoughts, desires, and experience. Take the time to look at the passage again, and notice how many times he used the words “I” and “my.” What you’ll see is that his focus was squarely on himself. This parable is a sad picture of the self-directed man trying to make his own way and secure his own future with no help from anyone–including God.

The Lord didn’t mince words: He called the man “fool” (v. 20). Worldly wisdom amounts to nothing in the eyes of our omniscient, all-wise Father (1 Corinthians 1:20), and He expects His children to request and follow His guidance.

The message for us today is clear: When we figure out our own plans and take action with no thought about what God would advise, we are behaving like fools. The Lord has a plan for your life. He knows where you’ll succeed and where you’ll fail. Be wise and ask Him for directions.

By Dr. Charles Stanley

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Read: Psalm 139: 1-10

When God Looked at the World He’d Made, He declared it good.  Genesis 1:27 summarizes the crowning achievement of His creative work: “God created man in His own image.” Psalm 139 reminds us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (v.14).

The Lord has given each of His children great potential for service in His kingdom.  However,some of us have serious doubts that this is true.  When we compare ourselves to other people, we notice the things we lack.  At other times, we repeatedly criticize ourselves for mistake we’ve made.  How can we have awesome potential when we see so many ways in which we fall short?  Consider these biblical examples:

Moses appeared to have many advantages while he was growing up in Pharaoh’s household.  Then he killed an Egyptian and fled the country.  No longer did he seem a like candidate to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.  But God looked beyond what Moses had done and saw who he could become.

Paul, prior to salvation, had vehemently persecuted those who believed in Jesus.  Yet through God’s mercy, the apostle became a might evangelist and author of nearly a third of the New Testament.

Peter, was a simple fisherman who denied three times that he knew Jesus.  Still, the Lord chose him to become the leader of the Jerusalem church.

Our Father sees beyond our human frailties to the potential we have in Christ.  Because we were made in God’s image and His Spirit dwells in us, we have a great capacity for spiritual transformation and service than we could imagine.

Seek to become the person God has equipped you to be.

By Dr. Charles Stanley
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Luke 12:11-12

When conflict occurs, the natural reaction is to blame someone else and defend yourself. But believers must respond differently. Once, I was publicly chastised for a wrong I had not committed. Thankfully, the Lord enabled me to remain calm rather than react angrily. Praying first is always the best response in a crisis. When we do, God supernaturally provides that which we can’t muster up ourselves.

•    Spiritual discernment. The Lord, who perfectly understands the source of every problem, can give us insight beyond our limited perspective. Perhaps there’s been a communication breakdown, a feeling of jealousy on the other person’s part, or a mistake we unknowingly made. The Holy Spirit can show us how to approach our accuser and see beyond hurtful words or actions.

•    A quiet spirit. Our human nature wants to react quickly so that we can defend ourselves. That’s why we must first deliberately focus our attention on the Lord and experience the inward peace He alone makes available to us (John 14:27).

•    Wisdom. Jesus told His disciples the Holy Spirit would give them wise words to say when they faced hostile authorities. He’ll do the same for you. Ask Him to put a seal on your lips until He shows you what to say and when (Psalm. 141:3).

We don’t have to react to criticism with anger and self-protection the way the world does. Instead, we are called to represent Christ in every situation by depending on Him. In responding as He directs, we bring Him glory and cause unbelievers to want to know the source of our strength.

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Let me hear Your loving kindness in the morning; For I trust in You; Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul.Psalms 143:8

We’ve all seen some of the areas where insecurity shows up. Now we need to turn our attention to its effects.

To start, insecure people have difficulty establishing good, lasting relationships. They simply cannot see how they could add value to anyone else’s life. This is a tragic loss, because every single one of us needs deep and meaningful friendships to help us grow.

Also, men and women with insecurity are often seen as prideful or snobbish. Lack of confidence can cause them to withdraw from others, which can easily be mistaken for an act of arrogance. They can thereby give the impression that they simply don’t want to be around others.

What’s more, insecurity frequently leads to indecisiveness and fear. People can be so consumed with self-doubt that they can’t make any decision at all. They wonder, What if I make a mistake? Well, so what if they do? Making mistakes is one of the best ways to learn how to do something correctly. Don’t be afraid to try. Even if you don’t succeed, you can at least rest in the fact that you did your best.

After a while, insecure people typically get angry. When they go so long feeling so poorly about themselves, they start to resent the success and happiness of others.

Can you see how something as subtle as a lack of confidence can have a debilitating effect on one’s life? Don’t allow such devastation to affect your relationships. Pray for the ability to recognize areas of self-doubt. And then start to take control today by asking the Lord to heal your insecurities.

By Dr. Charles Stanley
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By Dr. Charles Stanley

Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you; O Israel, if you would listen to Me! “Let there be no strange god among you; Nor shall you worship any foreign god. “I, the LORD, am your God, Who brought you up from the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide and I will fill it. “But My people did not listen to My voice, And Israel did not obey Me. “So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart, To walk in their own devices. “Oh that My people would listen to Me, That Israel would walk in My ways! “I would quickly subdue their enemies And turn My hand against their adversaries. “Those who hate the LORD would pretend obedience to Him, And their time of punishment would be forever. “But I would feed you with the finest of the wheat, And with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” (Psalm 81:8-16)

Children have selective hearing, the ability to tune out an adult’s voice whenever they want. Either they are absorbed in their own activities and do not want to be disturbed, or they do not like what they are hearing so they ignore the voice. The adult is speaking, but you would never know it by the child’s response. At times we behave the same way toward our heavenly Father, don’t we?

The Lord speaks to us through the Bible today just as He always has. His Word contains the complete revelation of God and was written by His chosen people under the control of the Holy Spirit. (2 Timothy 3:16) If we are inattentive to the Bible, then we have turned away from our major source of hearing from God.

But if we open His Word, we will hear how much He loves us. God wants to fellowship with us, to express His love to us, and to receive our love in return. From Scripture, we will receive definite direction for our lives. (Jeremiah 29:11) God knows that the world, our own selfish nature, and Satan clamor for us to choose their ways over His. God wants to provide us with His wisdom so we will make right decisions. God also talks to us to give us the reassuring and comforting words we so desperately need. He sees our trials, our failures, our humiliations, and our sorrows and wants to speak words of loving truth to us. And His Holy Spirit helps us understand what He is saying.

God still speaks. The question is: Are you listening?

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************************************************************

Is God Still Speaking?” by Dr. Charles Stanley appeared in In Touch magazine,
March 2004.
Copyright. IN TOUCH MINISTRIES. P.O. Box 7900, Atlanta, GA 30357.
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