Daily Devotional



Friday, April 29

Listening with Purpose

1 Samuel 3:1-10

Yesterday we learned about hearing the Word with eagerness and attentiveness. Now, let’s think about approaching the Bible purposefully, expectantly, and prayerfully.

Christians study the Scriptures not just individually but also corporately to learn more about God and His ways. Underlying this simple concept is a big challenge. To gather biblical knowledge with purpose means determining in our heart to obey what we hear (Ps. 119:33). And to do so expectantly means we believe that the Lord is going to speak specifically to us (Ps. 25:4). Sermons, Sunday school lessons, and quiet times on our own are all things to be anticipated. God uses these to build us up, strengthen us, or offer us comfort—He certainly makes listening to Him worthwhile. And obedience is the only proper response to this kind of personal attention.

Approaching the reading of Scripture prayerfully prepares our hearts to listen well and ushers in an attitude of purpose and expectancy. Today’s passage tells the story of young Samuel’s first encounter with God. The priest Eli gives the boy valuable advice—that when the Lord calls, he should say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (v. 9). Pray those simple words with conviction before you open your Bible, and you will hear God more clearly.

If you want to experience God working in your life, come to Scripture with a prayerful, expectant, purpose-filled attitude. The mourner will be comforted. The weary will gain strength. Those convicted of their sin will repent and know peace. All will sense joy. Recognize what a gift God’s Word is.

For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit www.intouch.org.



Thursday, April 28

Developing Patience

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 (Rom. 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.

For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit www.intouch.org.


Wednesday, April 27

Following God's Schedule

Romans 11:33-36

Most of us enjoy feeling in control of our own schedule and grow frustrated when things don't go according to plan. Yet if we truly desire to walk in the center of God's perfect will, we must become willing to cooperate with His time frame.

Consider how you pray about situations in your life. Without realizing it, you may be demanding that God follow the schedule you've constructed according to your very limited human wisdom. Yet if we believe He is who He says He is, how can surrendering to His way not be to our benefit? Think about His unique, praiseworthy qualities:

  • His all-encompassing knowledge. Unlike us, the Lord has complete awareness about our world and the details of every individual life--past, present, and future.
  • His complete wisdom. God understands man's every motive, whereas none of us are able to accurately discern people's intentions. We make choices based on partial information, whereas He has the wisdom to take action based on truth.
  • His unconditional love. Our Creator is always motivated by love and constantly has our best in mind. Unless we trust His heart, our view of reality will be distorted.
  • His perfect sufficiency. At just the right time, God will provide us with everything we need to carry out His plan.

Submitting to God's timetable requires faith and courage. Believe in the goodness of His heart and His plans--and determine to wait until He gives the signal to move forward. Then, as you follow His schedule, you'll experience the joy of watching Him make all things beautiful in His timing.

For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit www.intouch.org.

Tuesday, April 26

Trained to Discern

Hebrews 5:11-14

In today's world, impatience is all too common a trait. We want food, help, and information fast. Just waiting for the computer to boot up or the "next avail-able agent" to answer our call can cause frustration. But the Lord specializes in slow, steady work. He's more interested in a quality outcome than a speedy process.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the realm of spiritual discernment. When we become Christians, we aren't instantly wise and knowledgeable. It takes a lifetime to grow to maturity. Some believers, however, don't seem to grow up at all. They get older, but their understanding of God's Word never goes very deep.

This lack of godly wisdom is caused by ignorance of the Scriptures, apathy and complacency about spiritual things, and a failure to apply biblical truths. Discernment requires time and effort. You can't simply move through life, thoughtlessly reacting to situations yet never learning from them. Take time to reflect on your responses and observe the consequences of your actions and choices. If you feel convicted by what you notice, let that motivate you to begin a lifelong pursuit of the Lord and His ways. Start reading the Bible regularly. And as you do, ask the Lord to open your heart and mind to understand what He's saying.

But just reading God's Word isn't enough. Without applying what you've read, all you'll have is head knowledge. Obedience trains us to discern good and evil. Through practice, we learn wisdom and develop spiritual maturity. If you'll begin today and patiently persevere, in time discernment will come.

For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit www.intouch.org.


Monday, April 25

Learning from Failure


Luke 22:31-34

The disciple Peter was a man of great faith and bold action. But as readers of the New Testament know, his brash style sometimes led him to make humiliating mistakes. More than once, this disciple had to wear the label of "miserable failure" rather than that of "obedient servant."

We can all relate when it comes to falling short of expectations. Obedience to God is a learning process, and failure is a part of our development as humble servants. When we yield to temptation or rebel against God's authority, we realize that sin has few rewards, and even those are fleeting.

Failure is an excellent learning tool, as Peter could certainly attest. Through trial and error, he discovered that humility is required of believers (John 13:5-14); that God's ways are higher than the world's ways (Mark 8:33); and that one should never take his eyes off Jesus (Matt. 14:30). He took each of those lessons to heart and thereby grew stronger in his faith. Isn't that Romans 8:28 in action? God caused Peter's failures to be put to good use as training material because the disciple was eager to mature and serve.

God doesn't reward rebellion or wrongdoing. However, by His grace, He blesses those who choose repentance and embrace chastisement as a tool for growth.

We would probably all prefer to grow in our faith without ever making a mistake before God's eyes, but we cannot deny that missteps are instructive. Failure teaches believers that it is much wiser and more profitable to be obedient to the Lord. That's a lesson we all should take to heart.

For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit www.intouch.org.

Used with permission from In Touch Ministries, Inc. © 2009 All Rights Reserved.
 

 


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