30 Life Principles

  • Introduction - 30 Life Principles

    During his 50 years of ministry, Dr. Charles F. Stanley has faithfully highlighted the 30 Life Principles that have guided his life and helped him grow in his knowledge, service, and love of God.

    By practising these 30 Life Principles, you too can discover the richness of God’s truth and develop an intimate relationship with God Himself.

    1. Our intimacy with God, His highest priority for our lives, determines the impact of our lives.

    2. Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him.

    3. God’s Word is an immovable anchor in times of storm.

    4. The awareness of God’s presence energizes us for our work.

    5. God does not require us to understand His will, just obey it, even if it seems unreasonable.

    6. You reap what you sow, more than you sow, and later than you sow.

    7. The dark moments of our life will last only so long as is necessary for God to accomplish His purpose in us.

    8. Fight all your battles on your knees and you win every time.

    9. Trusting God means looking beyond what we can see to what God sees.

    10. If necessary, God will move heaven and earth to show us His will.

    11. God assumes full responsibility for our needs when we obey Him.

    12. Peace with God is the fruit of oneness with God.

    13. Listening to God is essential to walking with God.

    14. God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.

    15. Brokenness is God’s requirement for maximum usefulness.

    16. Whatever you acquire outside of God’s will eventually turns to ashes.

    17. We stand tallest and strongest on our knees.

    18. As children of a sovereign God, we are never victims of our circumstances.

    19. Anything you hold too tightly, you will lose.

    20. Disappointments are inevitable, discouragement is a choice.

    21. Obedience always brings blessing.

    22. To walk in the Spirit is to obey the initial promptings of the Spirit.

    23. You can never outgive God.

    24. To live the Christian life is to allow Jesus to live His life in and through us.

    25. God blesses us so that we might bless others.

    26. Adversity is a bridge to a deeper relationship with God.

    27. Prayer is life’s greatest time saver.

    28. No Christian has ever been called to “go it alone” in his or her walk of faith.

    29. We learn more in our valley experiences than on our mountaintops.

    30. An eager anticipation of the Lord’s return keeps us living productively.

    ==============================================


    Life Principle 1: Our Intimacy With God
    By Charles F. Stanley

    Our intimacy with God—His highest priority for our lives—determines the impact of our lives.

    Genesis 1:26

    One of our greatest needs is to know we are loved. Each of us has to feel certain, deep down in our hearts, that someone loves us, cares for us, and has our best interests at heart.

    That is how God designed us. He wants us to know He loves us with a passionate intensity too deep for words.

    God created human beings with fellowship in mind—first with Himself and then with others. But we cannot fully love one another until we have ourselves experienced the love of God. We experience His love when we willingly surrender to His call to be our Savior, Lord, and Friend.

    There are at least three reasons God seeks our surrender:

    He loves us and desires our fellowship and worship.

    As long as we hold something back from God, we cannot know Him completely or fully experience His love. When we surrender to Him, we get all of Him.

    He wants our service for Him to be effective and fruitful.

    The more we know and love Jesus, the more effective our service will be. The closer we draw to God, the more impact our lives will have. The more energetically we nurture our relationship with the Lord, the greater the positive mark we will leave behind.

    He waits for the freedom to bless us.

    God is omnipotent, but He will not violate His own principles. He draws us to Himself so we can experience His love and forgiveness. He asks for our willing surrender so that He can give us the best blessings He has to offer.

    So why do we resist? With all this in mind, why does anyone resist surrendering to God?

    Pride is the key reason most people resist surrender. They think they know better than God and that they can handle their lives better than He can, so they keep Him at a distance.

    Others do not surrender because they fear what God will do (or not do) for them. They think that if they give Him control, He’ll make them do exactly what will make them most miserable.

    Still others refuse to surrender to Christ because they believe Satan’s lie, which tells them God is judgmental and will punish them for their mistakes.

    All of this is completely false! God always has our best in mind. He will refuse us no good thing when we gladly submit to His will (Rom. 8:32). He tells us, “‘I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’” (Jer. 29:11).

    It only makes sense to surrender to God, because when we do, we grow close to Him, His highest priority for us—and we begin to have an impact on our world.

    Fulfil your destiny. Anne Graham Lotz once told an interviewer about the many trials she had faced in previous years, including her parents serious illnesses and her son’s battle with cancer. She finally came to the point where all she wanted was Jesus. “Just give me Jesus,” she declared.

    Anne realized that if she had a personal, intimate relationship with the Savior of this universe, then whatever problems she faced, He would face them with her. He would bring a sweet resolve and a peace to her heart.

    Is this the cry of your heart? Do you want to know the Savior and live in the fullness of His blessing each day? You can. David wrote, “They who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing” (Ps. 34:10).

    When you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, He not only forgave you but also made you into a new creature. You were no longer standing at a distance from God but were then able to draw near to Him.

    If you have drifted in your devotion to the Savior and feel as though you grow more distant each day in your relationship to Him, then pray that He will draw you near once more. He knows your weaknesses, and if you will tell Him you want Him to take control of your life, He will come to you in a mighty way and bring hope and light to your situation, no matter how dark and hopeless it may feel (Is. 55:6, 7).

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    =====================================


    Life Principle 2: A Life of Obedience
    By Charles F. Stanley

    Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him.

    Exodus 19:5

    Obedience can be a challenge, especially when we feel tempted to believe that we stand to lose more through our obedience than we might gain. However, obeying God is essential to pleasing Him—not just in times of temptation, but at all times.

    When God commands us to obey Him, He is giving us a principle by which to live. He is also setting a framework around our lives that forms a hedge of protection from evil.

    Can you remember the last time you felt tempted to do the opposite of what you knew God desired for you to do? Most likely, a struggle erupted within your heart. The questions arose: Will obeying God cost me more than disobeying Him? Can I experience greater happiness by committing this sin than I would by obeying God?

    When we choose to obey God, we take the way of wisdom. His promises of blessing for obedience far outweigh any possible consequences. He asks us to submit ourselves to Him and leave whatever happens to His loving care.

    As we grow in our walks with the Lord, obedience becomes the avenue by which we know Him better. When we obey Him, He pulls us closer to Himself and teaches us more about His precepts and His love.

    Disobedience sends a message to the Lord, declaring that we know better than He does when it comes to our lives and the circumstances surrounding them.

    God loves us and is committed to us. He commands our obedience, not because He is a strict taskmaster, but because He knows the devastating effects disobedience and sin will have on our lives.

    Satan, however, has another goal in mind. He seeks to tempt believers to disobey God, usually by telling them the Lord’s promises cannot be trusted and that we can enjoy life more if we ignore His commands.

    Remember, disobedience always has fierce repercussions—feelings of guilt, shame, and worthlessness, broken lives, destroyed marriages, and bitter disputes, among them. While sin can never change God’s eternal love for His children, it certainly disrupts our fellowship with the Savior and alienates us from His blessings. In times of disobedience, we become spiritually weak and unable to discern right from wrong. We sink deeper into sin’s grasp and find it impossible to reverse our sinfulness on our own.

    As we apply the following principles to our lives, we will begin to obey God with confidence and joy, knowing that He can be fully trusted to keep all of His promises:

    Trust God with your life and all that concerns you.

    There is no way to go wrong if you place your hope and trust in God. He created you and He loves you with an eternal love. Therefore, He will always lead you in the very best way possible.

    Wait on the Lord for an answer to your problem or situation.

    When in doubt, refuse to move ahead unless you know God is leading you.

    Meditate on God’s Word.

    When you saturate your mind with the Word of God, you gain His viewpoint. When a temptation comes, you will know right from wrong and can act accordingly.

    Listen to the Holy Spirit.

    God continues to speak to His people today. He speaks to us through His Word, the Holy Spirit, and through the words of a pastor or trusted Christian friend. We become sensitive to the Spirit of God by spending time with Him—praying and studying the principles in Scripture.

    Be willing to wait or walk away when the way before you is unclear.

    If you desire to please God above all others, obedience to Him will require you to remain firm. If you do not sense clear guidance in your situation, ask God to confirm His will to you in His Word. He will never contradict Scripture. His will for your life always lines up perfectly with what the Bible says.

    Be willing to endure conflict.

    When the nation of Israel entered the Promised Land at God’s direction, she had to face strong enemy opposition. God rarely empties our lives of trouble and conflict. If He did, we would not have any reason to depend upon Him. He allows enough difficulty to keep us turned toward Him.

    Leave the consequences to God.

    Obedience may not be easy—you may receive criticism from others or face fierce obstacles and opposition—but it will always put you in a favourable position before God. He will take care of all that concerns you. Stay on the path of obedience and leave the rest to Him.

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    ===========================================================


    Life Principle 3: Our Anchor in Times of Storm
    By Charles F. Stanley

    God’s Word is an immovable anchor in times of storm.

    Numbers 23:19

    The words of King Darius echoed through Daniel’s mind as servants lowered him into the lion’s den. “Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you” (Dan. 6:16). Workers then laid a heavy stone over the opening to the underground chamber.

    Even after assessing his dire situation, Daniel did not waver in his faith. The next morning, King Darius found Daniel untouched and proclaiming, “O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths and they have not harmed me” (Dan. 6:21-22).

    How did Daniel survive? Were the lions not hungry? Historians tell us animals used for such planned executions went unfed for days in an effort to ensure the death of the accused. But Daniel’s fate was never in the hands of men. His life belonged to God, and therein lies the victory. Daniel survived by placing his trust in God and his faith in the Lord’s promises.

    Each of us can remember times when we wished we had a sure word from God—something we could cling to when doubts and fears arose. God knows when we need encouragement, guidance, and hope. This is why He provides specific promises in His Word, that we might understand His nature and trust Him. In emotionally devastating times, God’s promises are essential to our spiritual welfare.

    His Word is therefore a compass, a guide, and an instruction book to life. Just as we use instruction manuals at work or in the kitchen, we are to use God’s Word as our resource for wisdom and truth. No one would think of baking a cake without a recipe, nor would a mechanic rebuild a car engine without a manual.

    Some of God’s promises are conditional, but we can stand in faith on all of them. It’s not a matter of naming and claiming a promise; however, promises should be coupled with prayer and an earnestness to know God’s will for our lives. While God wants each of us to experience His best, He also wants us to know and enjoy His presence in a personal way that best expresses His sufficiency. Claiming a promise without leadership from His Holy Spirit will lead to disappointment, disillusionment, and frustration.

    At times God brings a specific Scripture to mind that ministers His hope and reassurance to our hearts. At other times, He challenges us to pray and seek His wisdom on a certain issue. When we look to God in faith, He will lead us according to His will. Of course, this may not happen overnight. Many times God wants us to meditate on a certain Scripture over a period of time before He gives His guidance.

    When King David sought God’s heart regarding his desire to build the temple, the Bible says: “Then David the king went in and sat before the Lord” (2 Sam. 7:18). David didn’t order his men to begin construction. He waited for God’s leadership—and it was a good thing he did because the Lord wanted David’s son Solomon to do the job instead.

    God honored David’s attitude, however, and gave him a wonderful promise: “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever” (2 Sam. 7:16). The Lord always honors our desire to seek His guidance and wisdom. If we will come to God expecting Him to answer, He will never disappoint us.

    In Daniel’s day, God spoke through visions, dreams, and sometimes audibly. Today, He speaks primarily through His Word, since He never wants us involved in anything that contradicts Scripture. Any verse can be taken out of context and twisted. But if we are true to God’s Word and understand Scripture within its context, then we will realize how to apply His principles and promises to our lives—and find strength to cling to the Lord in the most difficult situations. Instead of being emotionally blown one way and then another, we learn to stand firm in our commitment and trust in Christ.

    Therefore, consider God’s promises your spiritual anchors. Once you learn to follow Him, pursue His lead wherever He goes because He never fails to keep His promises. Rather, He is teaching you to depend upon Him through meditating on His Word and listening for His voice.

    Are you willing to patiently wait for Him to fulfill everything He has promised you and rescue you as He did Daniel? Never try putting God on your time schedule. Instead, cling to Him, anchor your heart to His Word, and leave room for Him to bring everything together according to His plan and timing.

    You’ll be glad you did.

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    ===============================


    Life Principle 4: Energized by His Presence
    By Charles F. Stanley

    The awareness of God’s presence energizes us for our work.

    Deuteronomy 20:1

    How can you get the most out of your work? Here are three suggestions.

    1. View yourself as a servant.

    Jesus came to earth not to be served, but to serve—and He instructed us to adopt the same attitude (Matt. 20:25–28). Paul wrote, “Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord” (Col. 3:22).

    If Paul told slaves to do their work heartily (and they received no pay-check), then what about the rest of us who do get paid? “Well, they don’t pay me nearly enough,” you may say. Okay, perhaps you are not paid adequately—but taking longer lunch hours, clocking out early, or coming in late is not the way to even things out. If you are compensated for eight hours, you need to give eight full hours. Why? Because you are a servant of God, and as His representative, you have a responsibility to do good work.

    Besides, the best pathway to promotion is servant-hood. Whoever wants to be a leader must adopt an attitude of humility (Mark 9:35). A prideful employee is seldom seen as a candidate for promotion. Instead, it is the humble, godly worker who diligently labors that management sees as leadership material. Never doubt the impact of your attitude on everyone around you—the boss included!

    But who’s your real employer? That leads us to our second suggestion.

    2. Realize that you work for the Lord Himself.

    Your employer exercises supervisory authority over you, but Jesus Christ is your Lord. You work for Him: “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men” (Col. 3:23).

    If you are a Christian, Jesus Christ is the supervisor at your place of work—and He not only watches you from afar, He’s right there with you. You and I need to give a full day’s labor, regardless of whether we think management is fair. Jesus is ultimately the One we serve, and He’s always on site. You and I should do our very best because the Holy Spirit is present, equipping, and energizing us.

    We make a terrible mistake by segmenting life. We may think that Monday through Friday we go to work, Saturday we play, and Sunday we worship. God has not designed life that way. If Jesus Christ is our Savior, we can’t exclude Him from any part of life. It isn’t right to teach a Sunday school class with everything we have, then meander into work the rest of the week—we must honor and glorify Him in everything we do. It eliminates the temptation of doing our work merely to be seen by men when we commit ourselves wholeheartedly to Jesus (Matt. 6:24).

    Do I mean that your mundane job is also the Lord’s work? Yes! Ministry is not just what you do at church. You worship God every day of the week—on Sunday, you do so in church; on Monday through Friday, you show your devotion to Him by doing a good job at work. Your exalted status as a child of God dignifies your labor, and your office or place of employment should be better off because you are there.

    You serve the Lord Jesus Christ (Col. 3:24). Do you have a good testimony in the marketplace for Him? Are you one of your company’s most faithful employees because you serve God? Does your attitude reflect the joy you have in considering Him the real CEO?

    3. Realize your pay comes both now and hereafter.

    Paul wrote, “From the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance” (Col. 3:24). Of course, you must get paid now to take care of your household expenses. But if you have done your very best and given all you have, you will never really get paid all you are worth. The wonderful thing to remember is this: you may get insufficient wages here, but you will get rewarded beyond measure in heaven. God will much more than equalize everything in the Judgment (1 Cor. 3:11–15; 2 Cor. 5:9, 10; Eph. 6:7, 8), and He will certainly reward you justly.

    Do you see yourself as a servant? Do you consider Him your real Boss and work in a manner honoring to the Lord, no matter how menial or boring your job might seem? Have you realized that you have a tremendous reward coming later for faithful labor performed now? If so, you are getting the most out of your work.

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    ==============================


    Life Principle 5: The Unreasonable Will of God
    By Charles F. Stanley

    God does not require us to understand His will, just obey it, even if it seems unreasonable.

    Joshua 3:8

    Do you often find yourself wondering why God doesn’t answer your prayers or why, despite all your best efforts, the circumstances of your life still don’t work out? The answer could lie in your level of obedience to the Lord. Or waiting may be the result of God wanting you to be still, trust Him, and watch for His cue to move forward.

    Any area of disobedience needs to be addressed. Sin prevents us from experiencing His best. Perhaps God has asked something of you, and in response, you have either ignored His words or done only part of what He asked. True obedience to God means doing what He says, when He says it, how He says it should be done, and as long as He says to do it—regardless of whether or not you understand the reasons for it—until what He says is accomplished.

    Before you try to make a list of everything God has ever asked you to do or not do, consider this: Is there one particular area of your life in which you struggle to obey the Lord? As you read Scripture, does He continually bring a specific sin to mind? When you go to Him in prayer, does the same issue surface repeatedly? If the Lord is bringing something to your mind right now, consider this: It could be that you have been living in the same uncomfortable situation for years because at some point, you chose to do things your way instead of God’s way.

    Following His will instead of your own can make a tremendous difference in your life, which is why you must make obedience to Him your top priority. But to do so, you need to understand why submission plays such an important role in your relationship with God.

    An excellent biblical example to illustrate the point is Noah—a man who obeyed God, even when what the Lord asked him to do didn’t seem to make much sense. God called this man to build an enormous ark—something that seemed both impossible and illogical—and Noah complied without asking questions (Gen. 6–9).

    Will it always be popular to obey God? No. Will people criticize you? Probably. Will they think you do some ridiculous things? No doubt. Will they laugh at you? Yes. But think about this: Noah chose to walk with God in the midst of a corrupt society. In fact, it had grown so wicked that God determined to destroy every living human being on the face of this earth, with the exception of one family—Noah’s. We can only imagine what those evil people must have said to Noah as they watched him day after day. But soon after the raindrops started falling, all mocking stopped.

    Noah obeyed God despite what other people thought of him, and the Lord spared him from the great flood that covered the earth. If he had listened to his critics, Noah would not have built the ark, and he would have been swept away with everyone else. Instead, he chose to obey God, regardless of any misgivings he might have had.

    When we choose the path of obedience, we must be prepared for the negative responses we will undoubtedly receive, knowing that God has an excellent reason for His command and will help us in extraordinary ways. We must never focus on the things or the people who try to distract us from doing God’s will. The Holy Spirit enables us to obey every one of God’s commandments and always directs us in the very best way possible. Therefore, whatever He requires of us—whether it be painful or joyful, profitable or costly, reasonable or peculiar—our heavenly Father will give us the ability and strength to be faithful, regardless of what others think or how our circumstances appear.

    Obedience must be a priority in every believer’s life. It is the only way you will ever become the person God wants you to be and the only way you will ever achieve the things in life that He has so wonderfully prepared for you. It is the Holy Spirit who enables you to walk obediently before the Lord in His strength and His power.

    So choose to obey Him, even if you don’t understand why He asks you to do something. Have faith that His instructions are for your good (Jer. 29:11). That way, you can become the person He wants you to be, do the work He desires of you, bear the fruit He enables you to bear, and receive all the blessings He has prepared for you.

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    =================================


    Life Principle 6: The Principle of Sowing and Reaping
    By Charles F. Stanley

    You reap what you sow, more than you sow, and later than you sow.

    Judges 2:1–4

    Today is the father of tomorrow.

    What we are today is the result of what we have been thinking and the way we have lived in the past. Those who act wisely today will have wisdom in the future to make wise decisions. The same is true when we come to the subject of finances. Those who save wisely today will have plenty tomorrow. Those who spend everything they have today will have little or nothing in the future. It is a shortsighted person who thinks only of the now, doing as little as possible, for on payday he will have no way to avoid the poor quality and small quantity of his rewards. The nation of Israel had to learn this in a very personal way. Their waywardness and failure to do what God instructed them to do often placed them in a position where they would not have His blessings.

    The Lord gives principles in Scripture to serve as warnings and as an encouragement. His Word states, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Gal. 6:7). This is an unalterable law that affects everyone in every area of life, family, work, and pleasure.

    Every farmer understands the meaning of this principle: We reap what we sow, more than we sow, and later than we sow. Let’s look at each part of the principle to make sure we understand its full implications.

    1. The principle applies to everyone, both Christians and non-Christians.

    This principle is irrevocable; there is no escape, either for the believer or for the unbeliever. It is a law of life.

    Did you notice how Galatians 6:7 begins? It says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked.” Herein lies the root cause of the careless and indulgent lifestyle of many people. They are deceived. They either do not believe the truth, or they think they will somehow be the exceptions to God’s laws.

    To mock God is to turn up one’s nose at Him, to hope to outwit Him—a foolish thought, as 2 Corinthians 5:10 reveals: “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

    If you were required to appear before the judgment seat of Christ in the next five minutes, what kind of crops would you have to show?

    2. We reap what we sow.

    The fact that we reap what we sow is good news for those who sow good habits, but a frightening thought for those currently involved in ungodly activities such as promiscuity, drug and alcohol abuse, neglect of family, or mistreatment of others in order to climb the ladder of success. We cannot sow crabgrass and expect to reap pineapples. We cannot sow disobedience to God and expect to reap His blessing. What we sow, we reap. Let us not deceive ourselves: We will reap the harvest of our lives.

    3. We reap more than we sow.

    Why do farmers plant their seed? Because they expect to harvest a great deal more than they sow. A single seed that sprouts can yield dozens, scores, even hundreds of seeds. It is the same way with both sin and righteousness—a small decision to do either good or bad reaps a much bigger crop, for either joy or sorrow.

    Jesus used the picture of a sprouting seed to show that when we allow God’s Word to produce good things in us, the results multiply: “The one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty” (Matt. 13:23). On the other side of the ledger, the prophet Hosea describes what awaits those who choose to sow seeds of wickedness: “They sow the wind and they reap the whirlwind” (Hos. 8:7).

    4. We reap later than we sow.

    Some are deceived because their present seed does not appear to be producing an immediate crop. So they continue down their course, mistakenly believing that there will never be a harvest. But unlike the crops of the field, which get harvested at approximately the same time each year, there is no regular timetable for the harvest of life. Some crops we reap quickly; others take a long time. But do not be deceived—their season will come. And by going the second mile now and giving more than is required, we will reap rich dividends later.

    “For whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” What a comforting and assuring thought to those who faithfully labor under difficult circumstances. Faithfulness in such situations will produce a rich harvest in the future, for our heavenly Father always keeps His promises.

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    ================================


    Life Principle 7: The Dark Moments in Our Life
    By Charles F. Stanley

    The dark moments of our life will last only so long as is necessary for God to accomplish His purpose in us.

    1 Samuel 30:1–6

    If you want God’s best for your life and desire to be used by Him, at some point you will have to travel the road of adversity. This means that God can and will use adversity in your life for a good purpose—and yet, sadly, many people view adversity as only negative and defeating. But you don’t have to be among them.

    God has designed adversity, regardless of its source, to become a turning point from which you take your greatest leaps forward in spiritual growth. He allows adversity to remain in your life only until He accomplishes His purpose in you. He will not keep it in your life one second longer than is necessary.

    Some people are almost wiped out by trials, while others learn to stand in the confidence of God’s faithfulness. The latter have an overwhelming sense of stability and immovable strength. They weather the storms, heads held high, confident, bold, and not discouraged by any obstacle that comes along. They feel absolutely certain God is going to see them through the heartache and bring them out whole, joyful, and more mature on the other side.

    Adversity also shows us where we stand in our faith. Do we doubt God? Or do we thank Him for His faithfulness during the stressful, heart-wrenching times? Do we trust that He will never leave or forsake us? Adversity is God’s most accurate measure of our faith—it reveals our endurance level. None of us knows how much difficulty we can withstand until we are tried.

    Right now, right where you are, remember this: God has put a limit on all adversity. Because you are a child of God, the Holy Spirit is living inside of you, and He knows how much you can bear. The psalmist said: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Ps. 34:19). And, “Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust” (Ps. 103:13, 14).

    When we learn and mature in the midst of tremendous adversity, God is pleased because He sees His purpose being fulfilled in us. We are growing spiritually, becoming stronger in areas of weakness, and increasingly being conformed to the likeness of Christ. God is thrilled when we respond correctly to adversity!

    There are three principles we can learn when we face adversity:

    1. Adversity is God’s choice tool for building godly, spiritual character into our lives. Until we experience heartache, disappointment, and pain, we are not properly equipped for service (2 Cor. 1:3–7). He uses adversity to mold and shape us; He does not bring it into our lives without purpose.

    2. Adversity usually comes in the areas where we feel the most confident. God wants to break us of the idea that we are sufficient on our own. He made us for a loving, intimate relationship with Himself, and He uses adversity to remind us of the fact that we are dependent upon Him.

    3. God’s ultimate design is to conform us to the likeness of Jesus. Through adversity, God develops the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22, 23)—in us.

    God also accomplishes several goals in our lives by allowing suffering and heartache. Adversity:

        gets our attention.
        reveals our weaknesses and strengths.
        increases our aversion to sin.
        demonstrates His faithfulness.
        strengthens our faith.
        removes our pride and self-centeredness.
        prepares us for future service.
        enables us to comfort others facing adversity.

    Through adversity, God is molding you into a mature and effective servant. When you know Christ as your Savior, God sees you as a saint—sometimes struggling, sometimes falling, but justified, redeemed, forgiven, and reconciled to Him. He sees a person full of His unconditional love, indwelt by His presence, sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, whose name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. He also sees all of your potential—all the good you could accomplish for His kingdom. So take comfort—adversity won’t take up permanent residence in your life. But when it’s present, it can develop good things if you’re willing to trust Him. Therefore, no matter what dark moments you may walk through, be confident He’s going to bring you into the light. And when He does, it will certainly be worth it.

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    ===================================


    Life Principle 8: Fight Your Battles on Your Knees
    By Charles F. Stanley

    Fight all your battles on your knees and you win every time.

    2 Samuel 15:31

    The term resistance movement describes situations in which oppressed people rise up against their oppressors. Resistance fighters take the stance, “I’m not going to stand idly by and allow this evil to continue. I choose to resist the wrongs. Whether I live or die in resisting my oppressor, I will no longer live as I have been.”

    Resistance in prayer is the biblical approach to confronting and overcoming the devil. Peter wrote, “But resist him, firm in your faith” (1 Pet. 5:9). James echoed this teaching: “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7, 8). Both Peter and James make clear that we are to actively resist evil through our persevering prayers.

    On the surface, resistance may appear to be passive. In practice, it is anything but passive. It is an active stance, both intentional and powerful.

    What would you do if a weight began to press against you, attempting to push you off a position that is rightfully yours? How would you resist? You would lean into the weight and press back. The pressure you exert would equal or exceed the pressure exerted against you. That’s a posture of resistance.

    Resistance is first and foremost a firm decision to join the struggle against evil in prayer, rather than turning away, backing off, or retreating. Such resistance takes strength and courage. It also takes patience and perseverance. That’s why Luke includes a parable designed to teach us “at all times [we] ought to pray and not to lose heart” (Luke 18:1).

    Peter and James point to two key words at the heart of our ability to resist the devil through our prayers: submission to God and faith.

    Submission to God is saying, “I can’t, but You can.” In our battlefield prayers we might say, “Lord, I can’t defeat the devil on my own. But with You I can.” This is the position the apostle Paul took when he said, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

    James taught that submission occurs when we seek to develop a closer relationship to God. As we spend time with God, we get to know Him better and discover how He wants us to overcome evil and experience blessing.

    We draw near to God through prayer and by spending time in His Word. We draw near to God when we set aside time solely to listen to God and to wait upon Him for direction and guidance. We draw near to God when we periodically shut ourselves away, closing off all other influences that might distract us from knowing Him better. The better we know Him, the more we see His awesome power, experience His vast love, learn from His wisdom, and grow in our faith. We come to an even greater realization: “Yes, God can defeat the devil on my behalf. Yes, God will win in any conflict with the devil. Yes, God does want me to be able to overcome my adversary and to live in victory in Christ Jesus.”

    Faith is saying to God, “I believe You will.” In our battle to overcome the enemy, we might pray this way: “I believe You will defeat the enemy and cause him to flee from me as I resist him and put my trust in You.” Again and again, David made this declaration of faith to the Lord: “O my God, in You I trust” (Ps. 25:2; also 31:6; 55:23; 56:3; 143:8). Perfect faith views the battle as being done and God gaining the victory. When David said, “In You I trust,” he meant: “It is done. Lord, You are perfect in nature. You do all things well. And You have victory over all my enemies.” He had absolute faith in God’s ability. There was no hint of “I hope He will” because David knew it was as good as done.

    We grow in faith by exercising it, by trusting God in situation after situation, circumstance after circumstance, relationship after relationship. We develop a personal history in which we obey God and He remains faithful in His loving care of us.

    It is impossible for you to resist the devil for very long if you do not believe that Christ Jesus through you can and will defeat the devil. Furthermore, you can remain firm in your faith only when you completely submit to God—in all areas of your life. When you refuse to submit a problem or area to the Lord, you are saying, “I can handle this. I don’t need Your help.” That’s precisely what Satan wants you to do: trust your ability and not in omnipotent God. It is also the place where he will level his greatest attack against you!

    The good news is that God has given each of us a measure of faith to develop. He also gives us the ability to trust Him and surrender our lives to Him. We can stand firm and resist the enemy, but only by the power of God. He is the One who hears our prayers and rushes to our defense. When we pray, Satan flees.

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    ===================================



    The Thrill of Trusting God - Life Principle 9
    By Charles F. Stanley

    Trusting God means looking beyond what we can see to what God sees.

    2 Kings 6:17

    Staring across the Elah Valley into the eyes of Goliath, David recalled the times God had delivered him from the brink of disaster. God had always given him the ability he needed to triumph. Now he faced one of the greatest challenges of his life—a trained and well-armed warrior named Goliath.

    At some point, each of us will face what seem to be mammoth trials and difficulties. This is why we must know how to respond to every threat by laying hold of the kind of victorious faith that looks beyond what we can see to what God sees.

    The secret of David’s success was his ability to trust and obey God. Had he looked merely at the giant challenge facing him, he would have turned around and run away, as did the rest of the Israelites. But through faith, David saw what his countrymen did not.

    In times of extreme pressure, God stretches our faith and deepens our dependence on Him. Without a strong, abiding faith, we can quickly yield to temptation and fear, especially when the trial or difficulty is intense or prolonged. God developed David’s trust until it became unshakable.

    Whatever Goliath you face, you need to bury one truth deep within your heart: God loves you, and when you place your trust in Him, He will help you to triumph. You may go through times of failure. Life may not always turn out the way you planned. But ultimately, God will be glorified, and you will be blessed.

    Every challenge presents an opportunity for the Lord to display His faithfulness and love. Instead of yielding to thoughts of fear and failure, make a commitment to trust God, even when you do not know what the next day will bring. Train yourself to look beyond what you can see to what He sees.

    David founded his faith in the sovereignty of God; that’s why he knew he would not fail in his quest to defeat the Philistine giant.

    The Thrill of Trusting God

    How can you gain that kind of faith?

    Recall past victories. David recalled how God had delivered him from the paw of the lion and the grasp of the bear (1 Sam. 17:32–37). You first win spiritual victories in your mind. If you cave into feelings of fear and doubt, you will lose. When you focus on the truth of God’s Word, you win every time.

    Reject discouraging words. No one in the Israelite camp encouraged David in his quest to defeat Goliath. The soldiers laughed at him. His brothers felt embarrassed by his presence and urged him to go home. Even King Saul doubted David. If he had listened to their disparaging comments, he would have given up—but he turned his heart toward the Lord and there found the encouragement he needed.

    Recognize the true nature of the battle. David entered the battle shouting to his arrogant opponent the memorable words, “The battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands” (1 Sam. 17:47). What a victorious way to say, “God wins!”

    Respond to the challenge with a positive confession. David asked the fearful Israelites, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?” (1 Sam. 17:26). To Saul he said, “The Lord . . . will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (v. 37). To Goliath he said, “I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel” (v. 45). David firmly declared his belief that he could not lose because God was with him.

    Rely on the power of God. David did not need a spear or a javelin to defeat Goliath. He needed only his faith and a homemade slingshot. “That all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword and spear” (1 Sam. 17:47). God provided the victory, and He received the glory.

    Reckon the victory. Even before he stepped onto the battlefield, David knew he would not lose. He knew it wasn’t his reputation on the line, but God’s. He knew it wasn’t his strength or cunning that would win the battle, but God’s strength and wisdom.

    You can face any circumstance with confidence and hope, because it is not your strength, wisdom, energy, or power that brings victory. Triumph comes because of Christ’s ability, and when you place your trust in Him, you tap into an irresistible force that no one and nothing can successfully oppose.

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    =========================



    Life Principle 10 - God Will Show You His Will
    By Charles F. Stanley

    If necessary, God will move heaven and earth to show us His will.

    2 Chronicles 20:12

    God always wants the best for us, and He is committed to showing us how to follow the specific plan He has designed for each of our lives. He wants us to listen for His voice to hear what He wants us to do and how He wants us to do it (Is. 30:19–21).

    When we begin to wander from the course God has set for us, He will take all kinds of measures to capture our attention and protect us from harm. He has a wide variety of ways to help us to take notice, among them:

    1. A restless spirit

    Sometimes God gets our attention by making us restless (Esth. 6). If you experience restlessness deep within—something you cannot quite identify—then stop and pray, “Lord, are You trying to say something to me?” Each time God was about to move me from one pastorate to another, I became very restless.

    2. A spoken word

    God also gets our attention by using the words of others. The Lord gave a message both to young Samuel and to the old priest, Eli, through this method (1 Sam. 3:4–18). If several people in a short span of time begin telling you the same thing, then ask the Lord if He is trying to speak to you through them.

    3. An unusual blessing

    God may bless us in an unusual way to gain our attention. Of course, if you are an overly self-sufficient person, the Lord may use some other method to get your focus on Him. But remember that no matter which method He uses, it expresses His love.

    4. Unanswered prayer

    Sometimes God will answer a prayer with “No.” Despite David’s prayers for God to save his infant son’s life (the child born through the king’s adultery), the boy died (2 Sam. 12:15–18). The Lord may remain silent to our prayers as a way of prompting us to examine ourselves.

    5. Disappointment

    When the nation of Israel refused God’s instruction to take possession of the Promised Land, God judged the people for their unbelief. They quickly changed their minds and said they now desired to enter the land, but the Lord said no—it was too late (Num. 14). God got their attention through a tremendous sense of disappointment. In a similar way, the Lord may allow setbacks to keep us from charting our own course.

    6. Extraordinary circumstances

    Sometimes God will use unusual circumstances to get us to stop and listen. Moses saw a flaming bush that didn’t burn up. As he approached to investigate, the Lord spoke to Him from the fire (Ex. 3). You and I must learn to look for the presence of God in every circumstance of life. He leaves His footprints and handiwork all around us.

    7. Defeat

    God may use defeat to show us the truth. Following their stunning victory over Jericho, the Israelites approached a small town with overconfidence and neglected to do what the Lord had commanded (Josh. 7). God got Joshua’s attention by allowing the nation to suffer an embarrassing defeat. But even this can prove to be a great stepping-stone to success when we pray, “Lord, what are You saying? Help me to see where I have taken a wrong turn.”

    8. Financial troubles

    In the time of the Judges, when “every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judg. 17:6) the nation fell into idolatry and disobedience. God brought judgment through the Midianites, who devastated the land. Only when He took away every material belonging did they cry out to Him (Judg. 6:3–6). The Lord knew exactly what it would take to get their attention. When they did return to Him, He delivered them from their oppressors and blessed them.

    9. Tragedy, sickness, and affliction

    We should regard our tragedies and afflictions as reasons to inquire of the Lord, “What are You trying to say?” When King Hezekiah became prideful, God used illness to alert him to the problem (2 Chr. 32:24). Similarly, when Saul of Tarsus persecuted Christians, God struck him with blindness—a tactic that certainly got his attention (Acts 9:1–19)!

    The Father always knows exactly where you are in your journey of faith and precisely what it will take to get your attention. So stay alert; notice if any of these divine methods are occurring—or recurring—in your life. If they are, ask Him what He wants to tell you, and then listen, not simply to hear, but to obey.

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    =====================================



    Life Principle 11 - His Promise to Provide
    By Charles F. Stanley

    God assumes full responsibility for our needs when we obey Him.

    Job 42:7–17

    Do you really believe God is able and eager to meet all of your needs? Most people would say yes. But when difficulty comes, problems arise, and sorrow strikes, we often wonder where God is and how we can trust Him. But the Lord is not only capable of meeting all our needs, He also is able to satisfy the deepest desires of our hearts.

    Some question this reasoning. They say, “I know God is capable of meeting my needs, but will He? Doesn’t He know that I’m struggling?” The Lord knows the battle that is ensuing around your life.

    And while questions like these are asked by each one of us at some point, we need to learn a deeper principle, and that is how to focus on our faith when we are under trial. God is committed to meeting our needs, but first He wants to know that we are committed to living our lives for Him.

    Jesus told His disciple not to worry. He admonished them to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). This is a promise, a commitment, and a pledge of action that we can claim. God knows we have emotional and material needs—food, shelter, a sense of belonging, and clothing. But Jesus was telling His followers that the focus of their lives should not be set on material products or “feel good” experiences. Instead, they were to set their hearts on God and His kingdom, and then every need and desire they had would be met.

    The value of any commitment is based upon two things:

    1. The ability of the promise maker to fulfill the promise.
    2. The integrity of the promise maker, whether he has the character to follow through on the promise.

    God certainly qualifies on both accounts. He has all the wisdom, power, and ability necessary to fulfill His promises to us. He also has proven integrity—He always keeps His promises. He is utterly faithful to His Word. He is holy and immutable; He is unchanging. His commandments, statutes, and promises have not changed; they reflect our unchanging God. He is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

    When you have an unmet need, you first need to pray and tell the Lord what you are facing. Prayer is an act of faith. It declares your trust in God and His ability. Many times, He allows a need to come so that He can teach you to trust Him in a greater way. No problem is too complicated or too difficult for Him to handle.

    The real questions that we must answer are: “How are you responding in the midst of your circumstance or situation?” And, “Are you trusting Him or are you frantically looking for a way out of the difficulty without discovering what He wants you to learn?”

     

    Jesus pledged that God would meet your needs when you “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.” This means that He is obligated to meet your needs when you faithfully obey and trust Him. When you are walking in step with Him, He assumes full responsibility for the answer to your needs, problems, challenges, and circumstances of life. But there is a catch: He does this according to His will, purpose, plan, and timing. And meeting needs does not necessarily mean meeting every desire that we have. He may choose to answer our prayers quickly, or He may wait for a season. Regardless, when the answer comes, it will be perfect, and it will encourage us.

    One of God’s greatest desires is for us to learn to trust His wisdom and timing. Do you have a preconceived idea about how He must act to meet your needs or whom He may use to meet them? Many people have said, “Well, if this man would just do such and such or that woman would agree to do so and so, then my need would be met.” Or they have said, “Well, I did such and such and therefore God must do this and that.”

    Those who make statements like these may not be trusting the Lord. Rather, they are demanding that He exert His power on behalf of their wishes and commands. Anytime we “expect” God to move a certain way, we have missed the deeper lesson that He wants us to learn.

    Faith requires complete trust in Him, even when we do not understand why He has allowed circumstances to unfold a certain way. Think of all the people in the Bible who trusted the Lord and gained a wondrous victory: Moses, David, Esther, Jeremiah, Elijah, the disciples, Mary, and many more. We should never obey Him merely to manipulate our situation. God knows our hearts. When we are surrendered to Him, He sees our devotion and goes to work on our behalf.

    God calls us to trust Him, and Him alone, to meet our needs and to be our total source of supply. Furthermore, the Lord requires that we obey Him as part of our trusting Him. Therefore, tell Him, “Lord, I trust You completely to meet my needs in Your timing and according to Your methods. I want to lay down my selfish hopes, dreams, and desires. Mold these so that they represent Your will for my life. And I will continue to obey You, by the power of Your Spirit, believing that as I do, You will take care of me.” You can count on God’s love, wisdom, power, and grace. He has never failed you. He is the God who cares, and He will provide what you need at just the right time. And when He does, it will be abundantly beyond all you imagined.

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    ==========================



    Life Principle 12 - The Key to Continued Peace
    By Charles F. Stanley

    Peace with God is the fruit of oneness with God.

    Psalm 4:8

    Every now and then we do well to take stock of our situations, so I’d like to ask you to look around. What’s happening in your life and in your family?

    You may not be experiencing a difficult time. From your perspective, everything may seem sunny and clear. Storms come, however. At times, they roll into our lives with bounding blows. How do we maintain a sense of peace and spiritual balance when trials strike?

    The answer is found in a close, abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. The words of Helen Lemmel’s classic hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” contain a vital and exciting truth: an unshakable peace is available to all who turn the eyes of their hearts to Jesus.

    Chances are when adversity strikes, one of the first things you do is to wonder why. Then you may question what kind of impact it will have on your life. While reactions such as these are normal, we also need another response, and that is to turn to the One who holds all comfort and security firmly within His grasp.

    No one, outside of God, is equipped to handle our problems. He never meant for us to be strong on our own. He wants us to find courage, hope, and strength in Him and His Word.

    Many wonder what they can do to change the feelings of anxiety they feel when they come under pressure. One of the first steps is to recognize anxiety for what it is—the opposite of peace. It is the fan that flames the fires of doubt and confusion, and it has the ability to leave us helplessly bundled up in worry and fear. When we cave into thoughts of anxiety, we lose our spiritual focus and mindset. The key to overcoming anxiety is found only in the presence of God.

    Paul admonishes us: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6, 7).

    Accepting God’s timetable and the limitations He places on a given situation help to dispel rising anxiety. Therefore, let Him provide for you in His timing. When you accept life as a gift from the hand of God, then you will do what Helen Lemmel’s song says—you will turn your eyes toward Jesus. You will look full into His glorious face and there find mercy and grace, forgiveness and hope, peace and everlasting security.

    What would you give to experience the peace of God? Are you willing to lay down the anger that haunts your soul because someone has done something to wound you? God knows the hurt you have experienced. Will you trust Him in quietness, knowing He has not forgotten you but stands ready to heal you?

    God’s peace is unshakable because there has never been a time or an event when God has felt disturbed. His peace and presence are sure. They are immovable. You will accomplish many things—great and mighty—when you keep your focus on God.

    At one of the most difficult points in his life, David wrote Psalm 57, which begins: “Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by. I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me. He will send from heaven and save me; He reproaches him who tramples upon me. God will send forth His loving kindness and His truth” (vv. 1–3).

    How could David write such trusting words, especially with King Saul trying to kill him? David had a divine, unshakable peace within his heart that God would protect his life and fulfill His promises to him.

    The safest place for you when trials come is in the everlasting arms of Jesus. After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples and said to them, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19). This was not a trite greeting; the Lord had a specific purpose in mind. He spoke of God’s peace, immovable and eternal—the peace He had paid for on the cross (John 14:27; Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:13–16)—the peace you need today.

    Does something trouble you? Has a conflict, sorrow, or situation escalated beyond your control? Hear His word to you: “Peace be with you.”

    Let His peace invade your heart. Tell Him all you are feeling. He understands and knows life can be difficult—but He has a solution. Our peace resides in our Savior, who loves us unconditionally. He has promised to keep us and deliver us into the Father’s loving arms.

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    ==========================



    Life Principle 13 - Listening and Walking with God
    By Charles F. Stanley

    Listening to God is essential to walking with God.

    Psalm 81:8

    One of the most important lessons we can learn is how to listen to God. In our complex and hectic lives, nothing is more urgent, nothing more necessary, and nothing more rewarding than hearing what God has to say to us and obeying Him.

    A true conversation, of course, involves both talking and listening. Most of us do better with the talking part.

    At one point, I became so occupied doing the Lord’s work that I had very little time for anything else. I preached six times a week, taped two television programs, and was the senior pastor of a large church. We also were developing an international broadcast ministry. I spent a great deal of time talking to God, but one day I realized I was not spending as much time listening to what He was saying to me. I knew something had to change. If we fail to learn how to listen to the Lord, we will make some very unwise and costly mistakes.

    You may ask, “Does the Lord really speak to us today?” The Bible assures us that He does. The book of Hebrews opens this way: “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son” (Heb. 1:1, 2). Our God is not silent. Our heavenly Father is alive and active. He speaks to us individually and in a way that we can hear Him, receive His message, and obey Him. He is infinite, fully capable of communicating with each of us, right where we are—in the midst of our circumstances—in a very personal way.

    This may be one of the most important concepts you will grasp in learning how to listen to God. When the Lord speaks, He is speaking to you. The Word of God contains His truth; therefore, take it personally. Allow His Holy Spirit to open your heart so you will have a deeper understanding of Scripture. When you do, you can begin to claim His promises for your life. You also will gain a deeper understanding of His provision, care, and love.

    God is serious about His relationship with you. He speaks for your benefit, and it is important for you to listen to Him and respond in obedience. Sometimes He will challenge you to change your thinking or to release certain unhealthy feelings and opinions. Sometimes He will command you to change aspects of your behavior. Yet with every instruction He gives, you can be certain it is for your good. He desires to encourage and mature you so that you might live with greater joy and strength. He also wants to transform you into the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ—helping you to become the very best you can be.

    Learning to listen to God through the reading of His Word is the most important thing you can do because there is no other way to enjoy the amazingly wonderful abundant life He offers. Therefore, pay close attention to what He has to say, and He will certainly “tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jer. 33:3).

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    =========================



    Life Principle 14 - God Acts on our Behalf
    By Charles F. Stanley

    God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.

    Isaiah 64:4

    In this hurry-up world, waiting for anything can cause us to lose our temper and our good sense—more frequently than we care to admit! No one enjoys waiting in line. We don’t like waiting at stoplights. We don’t like waiting for dinner. We don’t even like waiting for good things, like for fish to bite. We want what we want right now.

    Yet the Word of God insists that we learn some of life’s greatest lessons while we wait. Waiting rooms can be hard classrooms, but God promises vast rewards to those who wait for Him. God plans to use the long pauses in our lives for our blessing . . . if we let Him.

    Why does God so often ask us to wait? Let’s consider five major rewards of waiting.

    1. We discover God’s will.

    “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him” (Lam. 3:25). God does not allow delays in giving us the desire of our heart to lead us along. Rather, we know that even as we wait, He is working all things together for our good and His glory (Rom. 8:28). Yet, as we eagerly anticipate His provision, we must keep our eyes on Him—listening for His voice and direction. In that way, we learn to do His will and our relationship with Him grows deeper.

    2. We receive supernatural energy and strength.

    God invites us to claim His promise in Isaiah 40:29–31: “He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”

    Just as God deepens our relationship with Him through times of waiting, He also increases our energy, faith, endurance, and strength. We grow in the likeness of Christ and all of His attributes—including in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22, 23). Surely, waiting on Him is never wasted time!

    3. We win battles.

    “Wait for the Lord, and He will save you” (Prov. 20:22). How wonderful to see the Lord rescue us and bless us with His favor. When we do things our way, in our own hurried time, we end up defeated. But when we wait on God and obey His commands, He ensures our victory and keeps us from foolish and precipitous acts.

    God Acts on our Behalf

    4. We see the fulfillment of our faith.

    “Those who hopefully wait for Me will not be put to shame” (Is. 49:23). In the end, we’ll never feel embarrassed for waiting on God; it’s always the smart thing to do. Although others may encourage us to forge ahead instead of waiting on the Lord, we must remember that He is the only One who can truly help us and that He will never let us down. And when we trust Him and obey, surely we will see the fulfillment of every hope we’ve entrusted to Him.

    5. We see God working on our behalf.

    Isaiah spoke of the God “who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him” (Is. 64:4). What a wonderful promise! While we actively wait, He actively works. Think of this: every single day, we have the greatest Mediator working on our behalf. Even when things seem to go wrong, He is making sure that everything works according to His purpose.

    Although waiting can be one of the more difficult things in the Christian life, it is not wasted time. God gives us instructions through periods of actively waiting. He may change our circumstances while we wait. He keeps us in step with Himself and prepares us for His answers. He uses the time to sift our motives and strengthen our faith. And when we choose to wait, God rewards us with blessings both large and unexpected.

    Think of waiting on God as something like planting a garden. You put a seed under the soil and water it. And then you wait.

    And wait.

    And wait.

    After the sun and rain nourish the earth, the seeds begin to grow; and one day, finally, you begin to see evidence of what you’ve planted. Now, suppose you had grown impatient and dug up your seeds because nothing seemed to be happening? You would have ruined your garden.

    Remember, some fruit takes a long time to mature—and the One who wants to bring it forth in our lives knows exactly how long we need to wait. Therefore, trust Him and be patient, because He is producing the most wonderful and precious fruit that you could ever hope for or imagine.

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    =========================



    Life Principle 15 - God’s Pathway of Brokenness
    By Charles F. Stanley

    Brokenness is God’s requirement for maximum usefulness.

    Jeremiah 15:19

    So often, Christians struggle to get to what they perceive as the top. They forge their long list of accomplishments, perhaps with the hope that they will one day be able to hand it to God and say, “See what I’ve done for You?”

    However, God never accepts us on the basis of what we’ve done; rather, He receives us because of what Christ has done on the cross (Eph 2:8, 9). This is why He instructs us to stop depending on what we can accomplish and instead rely upon Him (Prov. 3:5, 6). However, that’s not just for salvation but for every aspect of life. He calls us to repent of our sinful habits, self-reliance, and prideful desires until we can truly say, “All that I am and all that I have is God’s. He is in me and I am in Him, and that’s all that matters.”

    What is God stripping away from your life? What do you trust in more than the Lord? God will break your dependence upon anything other than Himself no matter how long it takes or how difficult the process may be. He is committed to bringing you to a place of wholeness and spiritual maturity—conforming you to the likeness of His Son (Rom. 8:29)—so that He can work through you and bring others to wholeness and spiritual maturity through your testimony (2 Cor. 1:3–7).

    Maybe you are facing a time of brokenness and it feels as though the emotional pain is more than you can bear. Or perhaps you are dealing with a series of disappointments that have completely undermined your sense of security. Instead of becoming fearful, ask the Lord to reveal what He is teaching you.

    God’s Pathway of Brokenness

    The apostle Paul faced such a time of suffering, and he wrote, “I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me” (2 Cor. 12:8). Although God did not remove the “thorn” from him, He did help Paul to understand that it was given to keep him from exalting himself and from relying on anything other than Christ (2 Cor. 12:7–11). The Lord also taught the apostle that His grace would always be sufficient for all of Paul’s weaknesses.

    The same is true for you. Whenever you experience brokenness, God’s grace can sustain and mature you. He will show you how to relinquish your reliance on earthly forms of security and teach you how to rest in His wonderful provision and love. In that way, you grow in the likeness of Christ and are prepared for future service.

    Peter wrote: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation” (1 Pet. 4:12, 13).

    Keep in mind that God uses brokenness to deepen your understanding in at least three ways:

    You gain a new perspective of His mercy and provision and learn to depend on Him more.
    You develop a more complete comprehension of yourself.
    Your compassion and understanding for others’ suffering grows.

    Are you facing a season of trials and brokenness? Then embrace the promise of Jeremiah 15:19: “If you extract the precious from the worthless, you will become My spokesman.” That is, if you trust in God and learn from Him through your trial, He will reveal Himself to you and work through you in wonderful ways.

    The Lord has one goal in mind for your brokenness: spiritual victory. Therefore, be confident that Jesus Christ can take your weakness and turn it into strength, hope, and honor.

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    ==================



    Life Principle 16 - When Plans Turn to Ashes
    By Charles F. Stanley

    Whatever you acquire outside of God’s will eventually turns to ashes.

    Ezekiel 25:6-7

    Some people think that God’s refusal to grant them some cherished wish would be the worst thing that could ever happen to them. They believe they will be truly disappointed and devastated if that deep desire continues unmet.

    So they pursue their desire, either in opposition to God’s will or in disregard of it—and end up truly disappointed, even if they get what they thought they wanted. They are like the Israelites in Moses’ day, who complained to God and insisted on having meat (Num. 11:4, 31–34; Ps. 78:27–31). Psalm 106:15 tells us, “He gave them their request, but sent a wasting disease among them.” The desire becomes a curse.

    G. K. Chesterton said, “There are two ways to get enough: One is to accumulate more and more, the other is to desire less.” While you can always collect additional possessions, relationships, success, etc.—there will always be room for more. And when there’s room for more, there’s room for wanting more. The cycle never ends.

    If you choose the second route of Chesterton’s advice, “to desire less,” the likelihood of living a fulfilling life increases. But how does one want less?

    By going back to the deepest desire present in every human heart—the one thing we’re truly longing for: to know God. Once we satisfy ourselves with His presence, we require far less of what the world has to offer.

    You may not understand the longing within you to be a desire for God—in fact, you may simply feel dissatisfaction with your life. Maybe the relationship you wanted and attained isn’t everything you thought it would be. Perhaps you have everything you’d ever wanted and yet still go through periods of longing, sadness, and loneliness.

    Dissatisfaction, unfulfilled expectations, and feelings of dejection and isolation originate from the same place: a raging hunger for God. Centuries ago Augustine wrote, “You made us for Yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.”

     

    There is always more we can learn about God—we will never fully know Him while we live here on earth (1 Cor. 13:12). But once we enter into a relationship with the Lord, He promises to reveal more of Himself to us as we fellowship with Him. Hosea 2:19, 20 says, “I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in loving kindness and in compassion, and I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord.”

    To fellowship with God—to talk to Him and listen to Him as you study the Bible, pray, and worship Him—is to get to know Him better. He has “betrothed” (or engaged) His people to Himself for one reason: to let Himself be known.

    When you develop your relationship with God and discover more about His holy character, He illuminates your heart and mind, giving you a greater desire to know Him more intimately—leaving your fleshly desires behind in the process. Your worldly desires simply cannot compare to the deep comfort, joy, and fulfilment that God offers you. Rather, you see the things that you acquire outside of His will turning to ashes, while the blessings He gives you endure and satisfy your soul.

    This process deepens:

    • Our humility. As we see God’s sovereignty unveiled, we more deeply understand our need for Him.
    • Our gratitude. Knowing that God’s loving kindness motivates His forgiveness, deliverance, and guidance gives us a thankful heart. Instead of coming to God with complaints about our unfulfilled, selfish desires, we come to Him with adoration and praise.
    • Our purpose. As the Holy Spirit sheds new light on verses we’ve read many times before, our quest for a relationship with Him becomes stronger, deeper, and more personal. Our appreciation of God’s Word gives us a more profound delight in studying and applying His truth.
    • Our reverence. Learning something new about our Creator reminds us that we don’t know everything about Him. As we come to terms with the depths and heights of God’s love, power, and wisdom, our awe of Him grows.
    • Our desire to please God. When we have a holy, respectful fear of the Lord, our desire changes from satisfying ourselves to serving our God. Pleasing Him is not a chore; rather, it becomes a joy done out of humility and thankfulness.
    Amazingly, as we pursue our desire for God, He fulfils the other desires He has given us (Ps. 37:4). And so we learn afresh that while acquiring anything outside of His will ultimately disappoints us, He fills us with truly satisfying “pleasures forever” (Ps. 16:11).

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    ======================



    Life Principle 17 - Standing Tall and Strong Through Prayer
    By Charles F. Stanley

    We stand tallest and strongest on our knees.

    Daniel 6:10, 11

    An older pastor got into the habit of challenging his congregation by quoting Jeremiah 33:3: “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Leveling his eyes at those gathered before him, he would say, “Try it. It works!”

    This is a simple thought, but it carries a tremendous truth: God wants us to call to Him. In fact, many times He allows disappointments and difficulties into our lives so that we will draw closer to Him in intimate communion.

    Prayer is a very powerful tool for believers—through it the Lord blesses us and frees us from bondage. In prayer we profess our need of Christ and ask for His solution to our problems. We also learn to worship Him and grow spiritually in His loving presence.

    As we spend time with Him, God lovingly teaches us how to communicate with Him and listen for His still, small voice. Through it all, we grow deeper in our relationship with Him.

    Several things are essential to establishing a powerful prayer life:

    1. Choose a definite time to spend with the Lord in prayer. Setting a time, whether early in the morning or late in the evening, is not the issue. Rather, consistency is the key. Ask God to show you the perfect time when you can be alone with Him.

    2. Select a place where you can be alone with Him. Although you may be limited as to where you can go to have time alone with the Lord, He will provide the perfect place for you to seek Him.

    3. Make the commitment to pray daily. This alone tells God that your heart is open to Him and that you want to learn more about Him and what He has planned for you.

    4. Keep a journal that contains your requests and how God answers your prayers as a continuing testimony of God’s work in your life. Remember to write down the specific verses that He applies to your situation and the promises He gives you from His Word.

    God honors the prayers of His people. If you go to Him—seeking Him earnestly and obeying His commands—He will provide all you need. So don’t worry about what to say; the Holy Spirit will show you. At times, tears are just as effective as words, and God is sensitive to every tear you cry. Just as He understands the hurt you feel, so He knows how to deal with and guide you through any trial you must endure.

    Therefore, whenever a trial strikes, turn to Him immediately in prayer. His presence will fill you with hope, and He will give you the strength and wisdom you need to face the situation with confidence. Throughout your lifetime, you may face many difficult situations. Some will be very exciting, while others may feel as though they will break your heart. No matter what challenges come, you can be sure God is in the difficulty with you. He enjoys seeing you rejoice over His blessings, but He also mourns with you when tragedy strikes.

    Always remember that God is bigger than any problem you face, and the distance between your success and failure or your victory and defeat is the distance between your knees and the floor as you kneel before your wondrous Lord and Savior in surrendered prayer. You are never taller or stronger than while on your knees! Why? Because He knows the way before you, and He can guide you through the difficulty if you will trust Him. And when you submit to Him in obedience, He applies His unlimited resources, wisdom, and power to help you.

    My challenge to you is simple: whatever you’re facing, trust God with it. Ask Him to take away the anxiety, fear, and feelings of frustration. Have faith in the Lord and rest in His care. You will never feel more accepted or secure than you do in the presence of God. Victory awaits, so come to Him.

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    ======================


    Life Principle 18 - Victim or Victor?
    By Charles F. Stanley

    As children of a sovereign God, we are never victims of our circumstances.

    Hosea 3:4, 5

    Life is not simple. We face many bumps and turns along the way. The race is real, the battle continuous, and the painful experiences may pierce our hearts. However, our circumstances should not define who we are or how we react. Rather, as believers our behavior in every situation should honor the Lord Jesus, and our identity should always be based on the salvation He has provided for us.

    Chapter 11 of Hebrews is populated with men and women who endured despite adverse circumstances. You may say, “Of course they persevered—God worked so powerfully in their situations. Look how their stories turned out!” Yet understand, just like you, the saints of old did not know how their stories would end, nor whether God would keep His promises to them. First Kings 8:56 reports, “Not one word has failed of all His good promise.”

    So how did they demonstrate such strong faith in God? They did so because they trusted in the fact that the Lord was able to help them and work everything out for their good (Rom. 8:28; Heb. 11:1). Even when nothing else made sense to them, they placed their hope in their sovereign Lord—and He rewarded them for their confidence (Heb. 11:6).

    In the fifth grade a young man, who is now a pastor, had to memorize the inspiring list of godly people in Hebrews 11—the faithful servants of the Lord who persevered in their great trials by trusting God. It was one of the most transformative lessons of his life. When he went through a rough time in the ministry, the Lord reminded him of these great people of faith, and gave him the confidence to endure as they did.

    When thinking about the Bible’s unseen cloud of witnesses (Heb. 12:1), we should likewise be encouraged by their testimonies. We should be heartened by the story of Joseph, who endured though life seemed so unfair (Gen. 45:4–8; 50:20). Or David, who obeyed God even though, at times, everything seemed to work against him becoming king of Israel as the Lord had promised (1 Sam. 23:14). Or Moses, who “endured, as seeing Him who is unseen” (Heb. 11:27) and led the people of Israel to the Promised Land. Or the disciples, who were desolated at the crucifixion of Christ, only to be strengthened, heartened, and filled with purpose at His resurrection.

    Had any of them considered themselves victims of their circumstances, they would have begun their journeys with God in defeat and discouragement. Instead, they focused on the almighty hand of the Lord and triumphed with Him.

    Likewise, we can say, “God, if they endured, so can I, because You are sovereign just as You were then, and You love me as You loved them. Therefore, I will not consider myself a victim of my circumstances. Rather, I will view every situation as an opportunity for Your glory to shine forth in victory.”

    God knows the Christian life is not easy. When you received the Lord Jesus as your Savior, He set you on your course. As your sovereign Lord, He mapped out all the bumps, turns, detours, hills, and valleys. He knew all the difficulties you would face. He understood that you would continually clash with the world, the flesh, and the devil until you were home with Him. Yet He didn’t merely set you on the path, hoping you would find your way. He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell you, guide you, and encourage you. Endurance requires something that doesn’t come easily—and that is trust in your unseen, sovereign God. However, with the Holy Spirit to remind you of His faithfulness and power (John 14:26), you can remain committed to Him.

    When the going gets rough—and it will—you can’t run away. You can’t quit. The longer you faithfully obey the Lord, regardless of the circumstances, the stronger your faith becomes. You are prepared for greater service and expanded ministry. You become strong, stalwart, and steadfast.

    The One who endured the cross lives in you, so that you are fully equipped for anything He calls you to do. If you stumble, He is there to pick you up. Just remember to always keep your eyes on Jesus. Don’t quit. Persevere.

    You aren’t alone—your sovereign Lord is with you in every situation. Therefore, call upon Him to infuse you with His power and wisdom, and obey anything He calls you to do. And remember that you are never a victim of your circumstances, for your sovereign God can use everything that happens to you for your blessing and His glory.

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    ====================

    Life Principle 19 - Holding Too Tightly
    By Charles F. Stanley

    Anything you hold too tightly, you will lose.

    Amos 6:6, 7

    In seventeenth century France, a humble church leader named François Fénelon wrote a letter of encouragement to believers who sought spiritual perspective during some discouraging trials. He said,

    Do not worry about the future. It makes no sense to worry if God loves you and has taken care of you. However, when God blesses you, remember to keep your eyes on Him and not the blessing. Enjoy your blessings day by day, just as the Israelites enjoyed their manna; but do not try to store the blessings for the future.

    Sometimes in this life of faith God, will remove His blessings from you. But remember that He knows how and when to replace them, either through the ministry of others or by Himself. He can raise up children from the very stones.

    Eat then your daily bread without worrying about tomorrow. There is time enough tomorrow to think about the things tomorrow will bring. The same God who feeds you today is the very God who will feed you tomorrow. God will see to it that manna falls again from Heaven in the midst of the desert, before His children lack any good thing.

    If we lived with faith of this kind, we would stop being so anxious and fretting about all our troubles. Will we humbly depend on God to provide?

    Admit it, in a tough situation, your first emotional response is to take control. We all want control. We want to live with the assurance that everything will be okay and that the things that aren’t right can be fixed with concentrated effort. Secretly, we often think, “If I plan carefully and labor enough, I can overcome any difficulty.”

    The problem comes when your efforts aren’t enough—the problem you face is greater than all of your resources or completely outside your scope of influence. God allows those trials for an important reason—He wants you to recognize that He is in control. Yet the Lord does not want merely to be the resource you call on when you’re in trouble. God wants to be your all-sufficient Lord and Master, Savior and Friend. He knows you intimately; He formed your very cells and fibers (Ps. 139:13–16); He has a good plan for every day of your life (Eph. 2:10), and He knows how to fulfill His purpose for you (Ps. 138:8).

    When you face circumstances that rapidly deplete your spiritual, emotional, and physical reserves, you may want to cling to something strong out of fear. The question you must consider is whether your worries drive you to the arms of God or to your own resources.

    Are you hanging on to something other than the Lord? Are you gripping some form of earthly security instead of trusting Him to help you? Remember, whatever you hold too tightly, you will lose. Whatever you are clutching for safety has become an idol to you—regardless of whether it is wealth, your giftedness, relationships, religious rituals, or what have you—and God is not going to allow you to keep it as your source of confidence—a role that rightly belongs to Him. Rather, He will allow it to fail you so you can see that He truly is your sovereign and unfailing Lord.

    God longs for you to release yourself into His control and eternal support. He will take care of all that concerns you in the best way possible, and He will also sustain you in the process (Phil. 4:6, 7).

    When you feel ready to yield wholly to the Lord, Psalm 56 provides a wonderful model prayer: “When I am afraid, I will put My trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?” (vv. 3, 4)

    Maybe to this point in your relationship with the Lord you have not experienced a trial so extreme that it caused you to assess the true foundation of your trust. God has blessed you with a time of quiet strengthening.

    But understand that He loves you too much to allow you any notions of self-sufficiency. He will test you in time, but always with the purpose of demonstrating His never-ending love.

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    ===================================


    Life Principle 20 - Overcoming Discouragement
    By Charles F. Stanley

    Disappointments are inevitable; discouragement is a choice.

    Habakkuk 3:17–19

    Everyone has known the ache of sadness that comes when life moves in an unanticipated, undesired direction. Disappointment may come as a result of a negative change in circumstances, a sudden reversal of plans, or a frustrating personal issue. If someone close to you behaves in a manner that lets you down, you may experience deep sensations of loss. For example, if someone works spitefully to thwart your plans, you may be tempted to lash out against them. Yet, regardless of what has caused your disappointment, the dream you once cherished seems to be in ruins. You may not know how to respond because it is difficult to sort through your emotions.

    Perhaps that was the case for Joseph, the Nazarene carpenter who was betrothed to the godly young woman named Mary. Like any Jewish man, he looked forward to the day when he would take a wife and start a family.

    Then the news came.

    Imagine the emotions of Joseph’s heart when he heard that Mary was pregnant. What a devastating blow to his hopes and plans, for, according to the Law, she deserved to be stoned (Deut. 22:23, 24). Not only would he have no bride, but his betrothed would be put to death. The disappointment must have been overwhelming.

    Matthew 1:19 shows that Joseph pondered a different course of action, perhaps trying to diffuse some of the terrible anguish of the situation: “Joseph her [betrothed] husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.”

    Yet, as we know, Mary had by no means violated the Law; and in fact, God had very special plans for that pregnancy (Is. 7:14; Matt. 1:18; Luke 1:26–38). The Lord’s angel told Mary, “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:31, 32).

    The Lord sent an angel to confirm His extraordinary plan to Joseph. He said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:20, 21). Joseph did not allow his initial disappointment to give way to discouragement. Rather, he accepted God’s will, obeyed the Lord, and brought Mary home to live with him, as a virgin, until the birth of Jesus (vv. 24, 25).

    The Lord has a unique plan for your life, too—one that does not change according to unexpected circumstances. When you confront a situation that does not line up with your understanding of how God wants your life to proceed, you must stop and look to Him for direction. Sometimes He allows disappointments to occur so that you will learn to rely on Him more fully—to walk by faith and not by sight. But never forget this: while disappointments are inevitable, discouragement is a choice. You should not allow the challenges that arise to steal your enthusiasm or confidence in Him.

    In the daily disappointments that threaten to consume your emotional resources and deflect your attention away from the Lord, you have real hope and a real choice for joy and abundant living in Christ. Circumstances do not control you; Jesus does. You never have to be the victim of your feelings. You can choose to look to God, listen, learn, and move ahead. As you do, the wounded, dejected places in your heart and the scars of old disappointments will melt away in God’s restoring love.

    God does have blessings for you—more than you can imagine. Let go of disappointments and the fear of hoping and trusting again. God holds your future in His hands, and you will never lose by looking forward to what He has in store.

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    ==========================


    Life Principle 21 - Obedience Always Brings Blessings
    By Charles F. Stanley

    Luke 11:28

    The Lord’s simple requests often serve as stepping-stones to life’s most wonderful blessings. Simon Peter illustrates what can happen when we say yes to God.

    One day a large crowd pressed around Jesus while He preached (Luke 5:1–11). The Lord wanted to use Peter’s boat as a floating platform from which to address the multitude, so He asked the future apostle to push the vessel out a little way from shore (v. 3)—not in itself a particularly remarkable request. But Peter’s compliance to His request paved the way for a life-changing blessing. From his example, we also learn how essential it is to obey God in even the smallest matters.

    The noisy crowd received the first blessing of Peter’s obedience; the people could now clearly hear Jesus’ words. At the conclusion of the lesson, the Lord said to Peter, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch” (5:4)—a second opportunity to say yes or no. But this time, Peter may have felt tempted to decline. After all, he was a seasoned fisherman. He had worked the entire night for a catch but had returned empty-handed. Now this young teacher—a carpenter, by the way, not a fisherman—was asking him to go fishing again?

    Peter’s reply demonstrates the beginning of a lifetime of faith in God. He said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets” (5:5, emphasis added). The soon-to-be disciple chose to obey the Lord and to leave the consequences of his decision to Him.

    But notice what happened as a result of Peter’s obedience—Jesus demonstrated His power and sovereignty. Peter and his partners may have started the day off thinking their efforts had yielded nothing. But they ended it in complete amazement because they pulled in not one but two overflowing boatloads of fish (5:7). Saying yes to the Lord’s request resulted in a miracle that transformed not only one fisherman’s life but the lives of the entire group.

    Consider three reasons why obedience is critical to the successful Christian life:

    1. Obeying God in small matters is an essential step in receiving God’s greatest blessings.

    Suppose Peter had said, “Look, I’m busy cleaning my nets right now. I can’t help You because I’m going fishing again tonight.” Or he could have said, “Why don’t You ask to use that other boat, over there?” Or, “I’ve already been fishing today; it would be a waste of time to go again.” If Peter had said anything other than yes, he would have missed the greatest fishing experience of his life. But because of Peter’s obedience, the Lord arranged a miracle that he would never forget.

    Often, God’s greatest blessings come as a result of our willingness to do something that appears very insignificant. So ask yourself, “Has God been challenging me to do something seemingly unimportant that I have not yet made an effort to accomplish? Is there anything I have rationalized by saying, ‘It’s too difficult,’ ‘I don’t want to,’ or ‘I have to pray about it first’”?

    2. Our obedience always benefits others.

    Think of how many people were blessed by Peter’s obedience. Not only could the crowd see the Lord and hear His lesson, but Jesus Himself also benefited—preaching from the boat enabled him to sit down in comfort while He spoke (5:3). Then, of course, Peter’s friends had a very profitable day—they took in two vessels so full of fish that both began to sink. More importantly, they had the opportunity to witness the Lord’s supernatural provision.

    God often rewards others—in particular, those closest to us—as a result of our obedience. For example, when a father obeys the Lord, his entire family reaps the reward of God’s blessings. Likewise, a child’s obedience will bless his or her parents. This does not mean that those who choose to disobey the Lord will escape His discipline because of someone else’s godly walk. His call to obedience always demands our response. However, when we live obedient lives, those who know and love us will sense the peace and joy He has given us. Instead of conflict, there will be contentment—and that is just one part of experiencing God’s goodness.

    3. When we obey God, we will never be disappointed.

    Peter no doubt assumed that Jesus’ fishing instructions would amount to a waste of time. But when he complied with the Lord’s simple request, Christ brought about a miracle that gripped the disciple with amazement. Jesus turned an empty boat into a full one. We, like Peter, must recognize that obeying God is always the wisest course of action. He can also take our emptiness—whether related to finances, relationships, or career—and change it into something splendid.

    Perhaps you have hesitated to obey God because you fear the consequences of your decision. But the Lord’s command is for you to fear Him above all else. The same sovereign, omnipotent God who keeps your heart beating and the planets orbiting is more than able to handle the results of your obedience. When He tells you to do something and you know without a doubt it is His will, then you need to obey based solely on who is doing the talking.

    When you choose to obey the Lord, He will bless you. This is because obedience always leads to blessing. I have always told people who say they do not understand why God is asking them to do a certain thing that if they will obey Him, He will reward them with a sense of peace and joy that compares to nothing this world has to offer. Therefore, set a goal to obey the Lord and watch Him work in your life.

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    ==============================



    Life Principle 22 - Walking In The Holy Spirit
    By Charles F. Stanley

    To walk in the Spirit is to obey the initial promptings of the Spirit.

    Acts 10:19

    Who do you turn to for daily guidance on how to live or what decision to make?

    Scripture tells us the only Guide worth trusting is the Holy Spirit. He is the One who knows our past completely, from the moment we were conceived to the present, and who also knows our futures, from this day to eternity. He knows God’s plan and purpose for us today and for each day of our lives. He also knows what is good and right for us.

    Jesus repeatedly referred to the Spirit as the “Spirit of truth.” Note what He said about the Holy Spirit’s activity in your life: “He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come” (John 16:13). The Spirit of truth is like an inner compass in our lives—always pointing us toward what Jesus would be, say, or do in any given moment.

    God desires to make His will known to you. He wants you to know what to do and when to do it. Therefore, you can trust the Holy Spirit to be your daily Guide! After the Lord poured out the Holy Spirit on the disciples, they found themselves led in profound ways by the Spirit. The verses below give just a few examples of how the Holy Spirit dealt with His people in ways that provided very personal and specific guidance. What He did for them then, He desires to do for you today.

    “The Spirit told me to go with them without misgivings” (Acts 11:12).

    “While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them’” (Acts 13:2).

    “They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia” (Acts 16:6).

    Walking In The Holy Spirit

    The leaders of the early church relied on the Holy Spirit to give them this kind of specific, personal guidance, and we are wise to do likewise. Both Romans 8:14 and Galatians 5:18 refer to our being “led by the Spirit”—the norm of the Christian life.

    You may ask, “Are there any conditions placed upon the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our lives?”

    Yes.

    First, we must stay yielded to the Spirit. We must say yes to the Spirit when He prompts us to take a certain action or say a certain word. We must give mental assent to the Spirit’s direction, and then we must actually obey His prompting and follow through by doing or saying what He has called us to do or say.

    The Spirit often speaks to us in the stillness of our hearts with a word of conviction or assurance. When the Holy Spirit is directing us away from something harmful, we very often have a heaviness, feeling of trouble, foreboding, or uneasiness in our spirits. When the Holy Spirit is directing us toward helpful things, we tend to feel a deep inner peace, an eagerness to see what God will do, and a feeling of joy.

    How can you know if you are yielded to the Holy Spirit? You are yielded to Him when you can say to Him, “Here is what I desire. But if Your answer to this is ‘no,’ it’s all right. I’ll do what You say.”

    Second, we must believe and obey His guidance. We are much more likely to hear what the Holy Spirit has to say if we are actively listening for Him to speak. We are much more likely to see the Holy Spirit’s direction if we are looking for Him. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that God is a “rewarder of those who seek Him.” We are to be diligent in seeking His guidance, asking for it, watching for it, anticipating it, and receiving it.

    The Holy Spirit has come to reveal the truth to us. He has come in His all-knowing ability to impart to us what we need to know in order to live obedient and faithful lives. Trust Him to guide you, now and always!

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    =============



    Life Principle 23 - You Can Never Outgive God
    By Charles F. Stanley

    2 Corinthians 9:8

    King David knew that God had prospered him and given him rest from all his enemies. One day he looked around at his comfortable home and said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells within tent curtains” (2 Sam. 7:2). He wanted to build a temple for God—no small undertaking.

    But God had a much bigger gift in mind for David. He said, “The Lord also declares to you that the Lord will make a house for you . . . Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever” (2 Sam. 7:11, 16).

    This story powerfully reminds us that we can never outgive God. While He invites our gifts and offerings, He will always give us far more than we could possibly give Him. He will never be a debtor to anyone.

    Jesus declared that anybody who gave one of His followers even a cup of water in His name would be lavishly rewarded (Mark 9:41). He once illustrated God’s generosity by describing how a wealthy “Lord” rewarded servants with multiple cities in return for their doubling the little bit of money he had given them. Peter once boasted to the Lord, “Behold, we have left our own homes and followed you” (Luke 18:28). He probably expected a pat on the back. Instead, Jesus told him, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life” (vv. 29, 30).

    In one of the clearest examples of this principle in Scripture, Jesus tells us, “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return” (Luke 6:38).

    It’s just a fact: you can never outgive God.

    The Old Testament prophet Malachi certainly believed this principle. Through him, God instructed the people to bring Him the full tithe and said, “‘Test Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows’ ” (Mal. 3:10).

    To tithe is to give ten percent of our income to God for His work. All that we have is a gift from God; therefore, a tithe is a mere portion of what He has already given to us. If we obey God’s Word and cheerfully give the portion He has requested of us, He will bless us and the work of His kingdom.

    Years ago, God led us to purchase property for the expansion of First Baptist Atlanta. We began to pray that He would provide the funds we needed.

    I also prayed specifically that He would show me what He wanted me to give. I had given financially but sensed there was something more that He was requiring.

    It wasn’t long before He began to impress upon me to give my camera equipment to the building fund. I love photography. It is my favorite hobby. However, God’s conviction was strong and to the point. There was no way I wanted to avoid making the right decision. I knew that my obedience would lead to blessing. If He wanted my cameras, I wanted to give them to Him. After all, He owned them anyway.

    A few days later, I sold my equipment and gave the money to the building fund. Many of the other members of our congregation also gave personal possessions and treasures. It was a great time in our fellowship for seeking God’s will with our finances and also allowing Him to prove His faithfulness to each one of us. When it came time to sign the paperwork for our new property, we had the money we needed and did not have to borrow a single, copper penny.

    Several months later, a woman rang my doorbell. When I opened it, I noticed she had two very large shopping bags. She asked, “Are you Charles Stanley?” I didn’t know what to think but I replied, “Yes, I am.”

    Then she said, “This is for you.” She set the bags down and turned and walked away. I looked inside of one of them and immediately recognized my camera equipment.  God had returned every lens and every camera body to me. Is this the way He works? I believe it is. Many times, He tests us to see where our true devotion is located. Is it in “things” or is it in Him?

    He challenges us to give Him the privilege to prove Himself and has promised to bless us in return (Prov. 3:9, 10). When we obey, He will protect our finances, just as He protected His obedient people in the Old Testament from the insects that otherwise would have devoured their crops.

    The psalmist asked, “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me?” (Ps. 116:12). The question could be translated, “How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness toward me?”

    The answer is, we can’t. No one can because nobody can outgive the Lord.

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    ========
    Life Principle 24 - The Key to the Christian Life
    By Charles F. Stanley

    To live the Christian life is to allow Jesus to live His life in and through us.

    Galatians 2:20

    Many Christians today seem content to live what they think is an adequate Christian life. They believe that if they go to church, read their Bibles occasionally, and say their prayers once in a while, they will be all right with God. Occasionally, they may be inspired to go above and beyond their normal routines and volunteer to serve others as ushers, members of a church committee, or even go on a short-term mission trip. Though they go through the motions of being a “good Christian,” they do not enjoy the power, peace, and joy that should come with the abundant life Jesus promised (John 10:10). Eventually, the counterfeit Christian life they are living becomes a burden and does not comfort them when the storms of adversity assail.

    This was not what you were created for. God does not call you or any believer to a marginal Christian life characterized by chores and rituals. He desires to have a daily relationship with you where you experience His presence and trust Him for wisdom, courage, and strength in all situations. With every step you take, decision you make, conversation you have, and thought you entertain, the Lord wants to glorify Himself through you. He desires to shine in your life—with His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control illuminating your unique talents, traits, and personality as you walk in obedience to Him.

    In other words, to live the Christian life is to allow Jesus to live in and through you. That is why Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20).

    How do you allow Jesus to do so? In what way does He live in and through you? If these two questions seem difficult or confusing to you, you aren’t alone. Many people never realize how powerfully Christ could demonstrate His life through them. This is because many believe that the key to living the Christian life starts with pious acts, when it really begins with a deep, intimate relationship with Him.

    Therefore, to answer the first question: How do you allow Jesus to do this?—you must realize the answer comes by working on your relationship with Christ. You do this through Bible study, prayer, worship, and fellowship with other believers. You not only learn about Him, but you must also listen to Him, because He will teach you how to love Him, live for Him, and walk in His ways.

    The answer to the second question: In what way does He live in and through you?—is as unique as each believer who follows Him. This is because He has a special purpose for your life, and the most important thing you can ever do is simply obey Him—no matter what He tells you to do. God will allow situations and troubles in your life that only He can solve. This is so He can demonstrate His glory, power, love, and wisdom through you.

    Is there anything distracting you from having an intimate relationship with the Lord? Have you failed to trust God’s sovereignty? Are you worried that you’re not doing enough to deserve a relationship with Him or that you could lose the eternal life He has given you? Then you need to return to the basic truth that your salvation is through faith in Christ and not by works. There is absolutely nothing you can do to earn it or be worthy of it. Therefore, there is nothing you can do or fail to do that would cause you to forfeit it either.

    The issue is not your salvation but the impact of your life for Christ and the joy and fulfillment you receive from Him. God does not call you to an adequate life—He wants it to be extraordinary. However, for you to experience the life He planned for you, you must stop being distracted by peripheral issues and focus your attention completely on Him. Can you do it? Can you trust Jesus to live His life through you and take care of all that troubles you?

    Of course you can! The God who redeems you can teach you how to live for Him. The Savior you trusted for your eternity is more than capable of taking care of all the matters that burden you daily and shining through you brightly so that others can know Him and be saved. Therefore, die to your notions of what the Christian life should be so you can experience true life in Him.

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009

    ===============


    Life Principle 25 - Passing on God’s Blessing
    By Charles F. Stanley

    God blesses us so that we might bless others.

    Ephesians 4:28

    How would you complete the following three statements?

    1.   God saved me because _________________.
    2.   God’s purpose for me is _______________.
    3.   I am most like Jesus when I ________________.

    This little quiz is not to put you on the spot, but it is to set the proper framework for this life principle:

    1. God saved me because He loves me.

    The sole reason God sent His Son to this world to die for our sins was because He loved us. When we acknowledge our sin and need for a Savior, He forgives us, grants us eternal life, and gives us the gift of His Holy Spirit out of His immeasurable love and grace. There is no other reason.

    Many people seem to believe that God saves a man or woman because of the person’s good works or service. Nothing could be further from the truth. No amount or type of service can earn salvation. The apostle Paul made this very clear when he wrote: “For 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” (Eph. 2:8, 9). Even the faith by which we believe that God forgives us and saves us is a divine gift that flows from His love!

    This point is critical to understand. Any good we do is in response to God’s gifts of salvation, eternal life, and the Holy Spirit—never in order to earn, win, or warrant salvation.

    2. God’s purpose for me is to bring Him glory.

    God saved you and me so that we would serve as examples to others of His love and mercy at work in and through a human life.

    Many people seem to think the only reason for salvation is so that a person will go to heaven when he dies. Eternal life is part of God’s plan of forgiveness, but that is not the sole reason for our salvation. God saved us so that we each might reflect His nature—that we might be His people on this earth, doing the kinds of works that Jesus Himself would do if He were walking in our shoes, through our world, during our lifetime. He desires to manifest His character through our personalities and giftedness.

    When we allow His Holy Spirit to work in us and through us to others, we become vessels of His love in action. We begin to reflect His compassion, love, and mercy to others. And in so doing, we become His witnesses. We bring credit, honor, and glory to Him.

    3. I am most like Jesus when I serve others.

    The foremost characteristic of the life of Jesus Christ was and is service. We are most like Him when we serve as He served.

    Many seem to think that a person is most like Jesus when he preaches like Jesus preached, teaches like Jesus taught, heals like Jesus healed, or performs miracles like Jesus performed miracles. They look only at the outward manifestation of a person’s witness and ministry.

    They need to look beyond the outer manifestation to the motivation for Jesus’ life. That motivation was always love. Jesus preached, taught, healed, and performed miracles in order to help others, never to call attention to Himself. He poured out His very life so that others might be saved. Paul wrote, “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).

    God calls us to serve one another just as Jesus did. He didn’t save you or call you to service so that you might be exalted, praised, glorified, or put on a pedestal. He saved you so you could serve Him and others. When we do this, we honor Him with our lives. The most important thing you can do outside of accepting Christ as your Savior is to give your life to Him and allow Him to lead you each day.

    Some mistakenly think that what we do is unimportant to God, but this is far from true. He has a plan for each one of us. When we make a decision to walk by faith, He will reveal it to us. And that plan always includes service and dedication to Him and to those He brings into our lives.

    God loved us so that we might love others. He blesses us so that we might bless others. That’s what the Christian life is all about.

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    ==================


    Life Principle 26 - Burden or Bridge
    By Charles F. Stanley

    Adversity is a bridge to a deeper relationship with God.

    Philippians 3:10, 11

    What is God’s goal in adversity? His basic objective is to draw us closer to Himself. He does not glory in pain or sorrow, but He uses these things to teach us about His love and faithfulness.

    The moment adversity comes our vulnerability increases, and we may find ourselves wondering why God has allowed us to face such difficulty. Pain, disappointment, and trial are effective tools that He uses to drive us to Himself and to the cross, where we discover our personal need for a Savior. We are struck with a defining thought: I need God. We need His strength, wisdom, and forgiveness.

    Whenever you are confronted by adversity, always remember that God has a purpose for allowing it to touch your life. He is never out of control. He has a plan and a goal, not just for this situation alone, but also for your entire life. In times of difficulty, He is your immovable strength (Prov. 18:10), and He has promised never to abandon you.

    What are you to do when adversity strikes? The Book of Hebrews encourages us by saying, “Do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised” (Heb. 10:35, 36).

    When adversity strikes, one of the first things we should do is turn to the Lord and ask Him to show us what we need to learn in the situation. We may initially battle feelings of disbelief or denial, but the overriding thought needs to be one of trust and faith in God’s ability. The second step is to affirm our commitment to Him and set our focus on Him—not our circumstances. We see both of these portrayed in the lives of the men and women of the Bible.

    Joseph’s life especially was a study of faith, trust, and victory amid adversity. As a young man, he trusted and watched God take the cruelest act and turn it into a blessing. Sold into Egyptian bondage by his brothers, Joseph spent years bound and confined to a life of slavery. Even when it appeared that he would gain a reprieve from danger and heartache, adversity struck a second time as he was falsely accused of a crime. Back to the dungeon he went, only this time with a stiffer sentence.

    We may be tempted to think, “Poor Joseph!” But actually, he was right in the center of God’s perfect plan. He may not have understood why he was in captivity, but he believed that he could trust God for his life and future.

    Adversity was a keen tool in Joseph’s life. The Lord used it to shape His servant for service. Joseph landed in a key leadership role that ultimately led to the preservation of the nation of Israel. Had he escaped from prison and gone into hiding, the entire nation of Israel would have missed God’s blessing. And without the training that came as a result of severe disappointment, Joseph may have become proud and self-reliant. Instead, God used this young man’s life to change the course of history.

    People often ask, “What is the quickest way through seasons of adversity?” Many times there just is no quick solution to the trials we face. There is one sure way through the difficulties of life, however, and that is through obedience and surrender of selfish feelings and desires.

    Adversity has a way of pushing us beyond ourselves where we find God waiting to gather us in His arms. It stirs us to pray like nothing else can. And it is in prayer that we find shelter from the storms of life. Held under the canopy of God’s presence, we discover a sense of security and hope that we thought had evaded us.

    Even when life seems emotionally and spiritually dark, He will be your light. You can be sure that God will use the trials you face to shape your life so that you reflect His love and care to others.

    Never forget that God knows the future! He understands the advantage of adversity and how it can be used to strengthen your faith, refine your hope, and settle your heart into a place of contentment and trust. Without times of adversity, you would miss the powerful experience of God walking with you through the valley times of life.

    Therefore, determine to keep the focus of your heart on Jesus. Don’t let the negative talk of others tempt you to get off course. Stay close to the Lord in devotion and prayer. Read His Word. He will guide you through the greatest difficulty, and then you will know what it means to live in a broad place of blessing.

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    ======================================



    Life Principle 27 - Prayer: Our Time-Saver
    By Charles F. Stanley

    Prayer is life’s greatest time saver.

    2 Thessalonians 3:1

    Change is never easy, especially when our choices affect other people. Change means important decisions will be made—which introduces the possibility of terrible mistakes and ongoing consequences. When we make those choices without seeking the Lord’s leadership, we are headed for disaster. But when we pray to God, requesting His guidance and committing ourselves to His will, He moves in astounding ways to help us.

    I remember the time when we needed to find a new property to house our “In Touch” television and radio ministry. Four months before we had to move, we found a building that we thought would be perfect. The only problem was that it cost $2.7 million. Several of our board members and executive staff felt good about the location and price, so they suggested we borrow the money for the property. Several others, however, rejected both the price and the idea of going into debt.

    One Wednesday afternoon after that, a group of us met for a long time to discuss the move but were unable to come to any consensus. It was as if we were in a fog. We needed divine direction, and I knew we were not going to receive any sitting around that conference table. I asked my secretary to call Unicoi State Park and book some cabins for the following week. I understood that to stay there, we should have called four to six months in advance—it was unlikely they would have space for us. Ten minutes later, however, she returned and reported that we were all set.

    On the morning we left for Unicoi, I asked a friend to negotiate with the owner to see if we could purchase the property for $2 million. I also asked our church administrator to see if we could possibly extend our stay at our current offices for six more months. Both told me they would do their best.

    During the two hours I drove from Atlanta to the cabins, I thought and prayed. And God brought Zechariah 4:6 to my mind: “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.” I took it as a sign that He wanted to do something that we knew nothing about. So I prayed, “Lord, whatever You have in mind, please don’t let us miss it!”

    For two days, we did very little talking and a whole lot of praying. We cried out to God in desperation, realizing that a deadline was looming while our peace and unity were missing. During one break, I called our administrator and discovered that we had been given an extension at our current location—we had six more months before we had to move. That was great news. Later, my friend called to tell me that the owner of the property had agreed to sell it to us for $2 million. There was only one problem. The building had a tenant who still had another six months on their lease. Moving them out early would cost us extra. We just kept praying.

    Prayer: Our Time-Saver

    When we left Unicoi two days later, we still didn’t have any clear direction about how to purchase the building, but we were committed to waiting on God. We were confident that He had something different in mind other than borrowing the money and that it had already been worked out.

    When I arrived home, I had a message to call a man I had never met. He was an “In Touch” viewer who was interested in helping the ministry. I called him back and he said, “Dr. Stanley, I have had you and your ministry on my mind the past several days. I notice that you never ask for money on the broadcast, and I was wondering if you had any needs.”

    I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I explained our situation and then told him about our prayer meeting. He asked how much the building cost. I told him I thought we could get it for $2 million. He said, “I think I can handle that.” And he did. We closed about 90 days later.

    Can you imagine the mistake we would have made if we had not stopped to seek the Lord’s guidance and had failed to trust in His provision? Can you imagine the time, energy, and resources we would have wasted if we had tried to acquire that property in our own strength instead of God’s?

    Prayer is always life’s greatest time saver. You may be facing a great change or decision that seems overwhelming to you. The Lord knows exactly what you need, and He will always answer your prayers as is absolutely best for you. Therefore, spend time listening to Him, receiving His wisdom and direction, and drinking in His presence and power. Be quiet before Him, rest in Him, and allow Him to order your steps. He will keep you from moving in the wrong direction or from wasting your time doing useless things.

    Are you willing to stop and listen to Him? Are you ready for Him to make you the most fruitful you can possibly be? Then no matter what you face, commit yourself to His schedule, wisdom, provision, and guidance through prayer. You’ll find that your time with Him is the best investment you make every day.

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    ======================



    Life Principle 28 - Together In the Christian Life
    By Charles F. Stanley

    No Christian has ever been called to “go it alone” in his or her walk of faith.

    Hebrews 10:24, 25

    The writer of Hebrews knew that his audience, made up mainly of Jewish believers who had just come to faith, was struggling with how to incorporate their Jewish heritage into their walk with Christ. The author therefore spends a great deal of time explaining that Jesus Christ prepared the way for uninterrupted fellowship with the Father. He is our great High Priest. His death provided the way for individuals to have personal access to God without going through a human agent.

    At times, this principle was difficult for the Jewish Christians to accept. They were accustomed to participating in a variety of ceremonial washings and offerings to be cleansed from their sins; immediate access to God apart from those things was something new. But the writer assured them that since Christ died for their sins and rose from the dead, they could now go directly to the Father with their prayers and needs. The author also knew the challenge facing these converts to remain faithful to their new faith. So he exhorted them to “hold fast … without wavering” (Heb. 10:23)

    He instructed his readers to help one another hold fast to their faith in God. He knew they would be tempted by trial and persecution to drift from the truth that God had plans for their lives. So he said, “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24). The Greek term translated “stimulate” literally means “to irritate” or to pressure one another to consider what the Lord has done in the past. He is faithful and does not abandon the work of His hands. We are His creations, and when we encounter difficulty, sorrow, rejection or any other distress, we can know without doubt that God will provide the wisdom and resources we need. Even in times of joy, He is blessed by happiness and contentment. In essence, the author was instructing his readers to spur one another along, to refuse to become ensnared by negativity, and to take responsibility for their lives in Christ as well as one another.

    With this backdrop, the author made it clear that they should not stop meeting together (Heb. 10:25). They needed one another, just as we need other believers. To give up meeting together would spell disaster because it would provide Satan an opportunity to draw them away from the Lord. In meeting together, they found the mutual encouragement to keep going. The same is true for us.

    God wants us to regularly meet with other believers. He wants His people in church! Many believers don’t take this admonition seriously because they don’t know the reason behind it. I have often heard this refrain: “I can worship God at home. I don’t need to go to church.” Many believers believe the sole reason we meet together is to worship—and understandably so. After all, we call it a worship service.

    If worship were the only reason we are commanded to meet, then those who claim they can worship at home would have a strong argument. But worship is not the sole reason. Nor is it so that we can be taught God’s truth. We can turn on our radios and televisions and hear good Bible teaching. On the surface, it seems that anything we can do at church we can do just as well at home, alone.

    So why are we commanded to meet? Why go to church?

    The writer of Hebrews says it is to safeguard against drifting. We are the body of Christ, and when we are with other believers, we are doing what comes naturally and what we will do for eternity—being together in His presence. We make up the church, and together we provide strength for one another through prayer, fellowship, and encouragement.

    Enemy forces are always at work around us, seeking to blow us off course. Sheer individual commitment is really not enough to keep us in line. We need the presence and accountability of other believers who love us and are willing to laugh, cry, and check on us. At times, when we feel as if our faith makes no difference—or we see no fruit in our lives, and we don’t think our testimonies make a difference—it does. When we surrender our lives to Christ, He uses us in countless ways, ways we may never know.

    In the atmosphere, worship, and fellowship in God’s house, we discover that we are not alone. We hear others talk about how the Lord has miraculously provided for them. One may describe the pain he has suffered as a result of a loss. A new believer may tell her story of redemption, rejoicing in God’s grace. As we listen to others recount God’s work in their lives, something happens inside of us. We are spurred on to faithfulness and to praising God for His goodness.

    The accountability and encouragement found in church anchor us against the tides that work to sweep us away. To neglect the regular assembly of fellow Christians is to miss out on this essential element in the development of our faith.

    Throughout the Bible, we find that one of God’s principle desires is to have a close relationship with each one of us. By becoming active in a local church, you safeguard yourself against missing out on all that God has for you. Your participation in a body of other believers safeguards your personal fellowship with God. Remember, when you drift away from the family of God, it is only a matter of time until you drift away from fellowship with God.

    Regular church attendance should never be viewed as something you do to gain God’s merit. We are not saved by good works. Instead, it should provide the catalyst for spiritual growth. Make sure the church you attend teaches the Word of God without compromising His truth. If yours doesn’t, I recommend you visit another church. Find one that accurately teaches the principles in Scripture while demonstrating God’s love, forgiveness, and grace. Remember that you also have a responsibility to actively use your spiritual gifts for the benefit of other believers.

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    =========================



    Life Principle 29 - The Valley Experiences In Our Life
    By Charles F. Stanley

    We learn more in our valley experiences than on our mountaintops.

    James 5:10

    Adversity, anguish, trials, tribulations, and heartaches operate as lessons in the school of experience. They bring us to a place of new insight and understanding. They can alter our perceptions of the world, our views of God, and lead us to change our behaviors. The Lord, of course, is the ultimate Teacher. He is the One to whom we must look for the meaning of any lesson related to adversity.

    God allows adversity for at least three reasons:

    1. God uses adversity to get our attention.

    The Lord uses a wide variety of methods to gain our attention when necessary—adversity is one of them. One of the best responses I know to adversity that strikes us suddenly (and yet obviously) with a God-intended message is to turn to Psalm 25:1–7 and make it our personal prayer:

    To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in You I trust, do not let me be ashamed; do not let my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed; those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed. Make me know Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day. Remember, O Lord, Your compassion and Your loving kindness, for they have been from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to Your loving kindness remember me, for Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.

    Don’t delay in responding to the Lord when He moves to get your attention. Respond quickly and humbly. Hear what He has to say to you.

    2. Adversity leads to examination.

    At times, God allows adversity to motivate us to self-examination. The winds of adversity blow away the surface issues and force us to cope with things on a deeper level. Nothing has the ability to drive us closer to God than tribulation. It removes the cloak of denial and reveals who we really are, as well as what we believe about God, His deity, and faithfulness.

    We need to examine both our faith and our levels of discipline. Are we committed to standing firm in our trust in Christ, or are we blown off course by every ill wind that blows our way? Paul encouraged the Corinthians, “But a man must examine himself” (1 Cor. 11:28). In other words, “Take a straight forward look inside and discover what is driving you, motivating you, and enticing you.” If it is anything but God, then it is not right. He needs to be your motivating factor at every turn in life.

    Those who have accepted Christ as Savior are the temples of the Holy Spirit, and He wants us to be clean and usable vessels. We have no reason to allow the rubbish of the world or our past failures to remain in the forefront of our lives. The Lord desires that we free ourselves of anything that might keep us in inner bondage, whether mentally, emotionally, psychologically, or spiritually. When we become complacent and accept the hurts of the past as a part of who we are, we have accepted the wrong view, the wrong definition, and the wrong game plan. We are new creations in Christ. There is never a point where we are separated from Him. He has sealed us with His Spirit. The old is gone; the new has come. And that newness of life is the very thing that gives us hope in hopeless times.

    3. The effective lesson leads to change in behavior.

    When we act like Christ, our true identity emerges. Teachers often prepare behavioral objectives for their classroom lectures. These objectives list in concrete and measurable form the behaviors that the teacher desires for a student to display as proof that the student has learned the lesson. The lessons that the Lord teaches us through adversity are ultimately for that very purpose: a change in behavior, including a change in the belief that prompted the behavior.

    It isn’t enough that God desires to get our attention or that we take time to look truthfully at our lives. We must allow His Spirit to have free access to every area. We learn to watch, listen, and look for His guidance and direction. We can see a problem or feel a flush of anger and think: How should I respond? We may make the wrong choice, say the wrong word, or ignore what we know He is telling us to do. Unless we change our response and behavior, we will never benefit from adversity or grow as a result of it. God provides a challenge, and we have an opportunity to obey or disobey Him. The choice is ours, and the consequences that come belong to us, as well.

    Jesus came to bear the burdens that plague our lives. He will help us carry our burdens to the cross and deal with them there, once and for all. He always has our best interests in mind. He alone knows that pain paves the path to complete spiritual healing and restoration.

    If you are willing to allow God to surface the inner rubbish of your life, and if you are willing to change what needs to be changed, you will emerge from adversity closer to Christ, more mature as His child, and with far greater potential to reflect the love of God to the world around you.

    Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.

    ===================


    Life Principle 30 - Anticipating The Lord’s Return
    By Charles F. Stanley

    An eager anticipation of the Lord’s return keeps us living productively.

    Revelation 22:12

    Throughout Scripture we find three admonitions given to us about the Lord’s return:

    Watch faithfully.

    Work diligently.

    Wait peacefully.

    1.  We are to watch. The Lord said repeatedly that we are to watch for His coming because we do not know the day or hour of His return (Matt. 24:42; 25:13). In Luke 21:36, Jesus gave this specific instruction: “Keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

    We are to do more than pray as we watch. We are to stand fast in the faith with courage and strength (1 Cor. 16:13). We are to watch soberly, arming ourselves with faith, love, and salvation (1 Thess. 5:8). As we watch, we are to remain especially aware of false prophets. We are to discern the spirits and to reject soundly all who do not confess that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh (2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:1–2).

    Jesus spoke to John in a vision and gave this great promise to those who remain watchful: “Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake” (Rev. 16:15).

    2. We are to work. Why does Jesus leave us here on earth after He saves us? Why aren’t we born again, then immediately taken into the Lord’s presence? Because we still have work to do!

    First, God calls us to win souls. We are to be the Lord’s witnesses—telling of the love of God and the atoning death of Jesus Christ. We are to testify about what He has done in our own lives, both with our words and by our example. So long as there remains a soul on earth who hasn’t heard the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have work to do!

    Second, we are to grow spiritually, developing an ever-increasing intimacy with the Lord. None of us fully lives up to our spiritual potential. We all have room to grow. In those areas where we discover we are unlike Christ, we must work with the Spirit to become conformed to His likeness. Our minds must be renewed (Rom. 12:1). Our inner hurts and emotions must be healed. We must grow in spiritual discernment and in the wisdom of God. Our faith must be strengthened and used so that our prayers and our actions more effectively build up the Lord’s kingdom.

    3. We are to wait. Waiting isn’t easy. Impatience often leads to frustration. Waiting can also cause a buildup of fear. The longer something anticipated doesn’t happen, the greater our concern grows with what will happen, which can degenerate into worry over what might happen. And fear is only a step away.