Charles Stanley – How to Give

2 Corinthians 8:1-6

The first-century church in Jerusalem was impoverished. Jews who became Christians were often ostracized, and their businesses suffered as a result. This affected local giving and increased the number of poor in the community. As the church grew, resources were spread thinner and thinner. So as he traveled, the apostle Paul asked his congregations to aid the mother church.

Many of these congregations were also in financial crisis, but they pledged to help Jerusalem anyway. The Corinthian church was among those that agreed to send support (2 Cor. 8:10). To inspire them to meet or exceed their goal, Paul described the Macedonians’ sacrificial giving as an example. He noted that despite being poor, that church managed to give beyond its ability—and did so with a heart of gratitude and joy. Like the widow whom Jesus praised for giving her last coins to the temple treasury, the Macedonians gave a gift that was liberal, compared to its resources (Mark 12:43). The congregation trusted that God would provide the gift and continue to meet their needs.

Modern believers have much to learn from the Macedonians’ example. The amount we donate towards God’s work isn’t as important as our feelings about giving. Generosity is a quality of the heart—an attitude that grows out of a believer’s thankfulness for the Father’s spiritual and material provisions.

God wants us to be givers because the act of charity spiritually enriches the benefactor. The Lord will respond to a generous heart by pouring out blessing, according to His promise in Luke 6:38: “By your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”

Bible in a Year: 1 Kings 6-7

 

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Our Daily Bread — Great Sacrifice

Read: Hebrews 10:5-18

Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 27-29; Luke 13:1-22

The Lord Jesus Christ . . . gave himself for our sins to rescue us. —Galatians 1:3-4

  1. T. Stead, an innovative English journalist at the turn of the 20th century, was known for writing about controversial social issues. Two of the articles he published addressed the danger of ships operating with an insufficient ratio of lifeboats to passengers. Ironically, Stead was aboard the Titanic when it struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic on April 15, 1912. According to one report, after helping women and children into lifeboats, Stead sacrificed his own life by giving up his life vest and a place in the lifeboats so others could be rescued.

There is something very stirring about self-sacrifice. No greater example of that can be found than in Christ Himself. The writer of Hebrews says, “This Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God . . . . For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (Heb. 10:12,14 nkjv). In his letter to the Galatians, Paul opened with words describing this great sacrifice: “The Lord Jesus Christ . . . gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age” (Gal. 1:3-4).

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – No Strange Land

Flannery O’Connor could not explain her fascination with peacocks. But she loved them. In fact, the southern writer of short stories lived on a farm where she raised near a hundred of them. She adopted her first peacock at the age of twenty-five, around the time she was diagnosed with a debilitating disease, and she could not stop looking at him. It was for her a sign of grace, and an image that silenced her. In an essay focusing on her fascination, she describes the bird’s transfiguration from fledgling to finery: “[T]he peacock starts life with an inauspicious appearance….the color of those large objectionable moths that flutter about light bulbs on summer nights.” But after two years, when the bird has fully attained its pattern, “for the rest of his life this chicken will act as if he designed it himself… With his tail spread, he inspires a range of emotions, but I have yet to hear laughter. The usual reaction is silence, at least for a time.”(1)

It is thus without coincidence that O’Connor used the peacock as a symbol for the transfigured Christ in many of her stories. Often cited is her use of the bird in The Displaced Person. In this story, the peacock is a main character of sorts, functioning for everyone else in the story as something of a spiritual test. Some never notice him; another sees the bird only as “another mouth to feed.” Still another liked to have peacocks around simply to signify his wealth; another is altogether besieged by the peacock’s splendor. With eyes locked on the regal bird poised in color and majesty, he says, overwhelmed, “Christ will come like that.”(2)

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John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Reaching Out to Others

“‘Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise’” (Luke 23:43).

The circumstances are never too adverse, nor the hour too late, to offer the gospel of Christ to someone.

Jesus was crucified between two criminals (thieves)—one on each side of His cross. At first the two men both joined the onlookers in hurling unbelieving rhetoric at the Lord (Mark 15:32). But one of the thieves obviously had a change of heart as the hours elapsed. He rebuked the other thief by pointing out Jesus’ sinlessness (Luke 23:40-41) and then expressed his need of salvation: “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” (v. 42). And Jesus graciously answered the thief’s request.

The dying thief’s conversion is an extraordinary story. At Calvary there was nothing convincing or favorable about Jesus. From man’s vantage point He was dying because He had been completely rejected; even the disciples had deserted Him. Jesus appeared weak, disgraced, and ashamed. When the thief uttered his plea for help, no one was pointing to Jesus and saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

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Wisdom Hunters – I Work for the Lord 

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24

She worked tirelessly, as she meticulously cleaned the hospital room. Every object shone brightly after her sanitized rag rubbed over the surface of the metal mirror frame, the elaborate bed support, the mobile meal table—all surfaces harboring germs. My wife Rita, recognizing the hospital attendant’s energetic work commented, “Teresa, you must sleep well at night.” Sincerely she replied, “I sleep well every night. The Lord gives me good sleep. I work for the Lord. I used to do those drugs and alcohol, but not for seven years. I was rescued and now I work for the Lord.”

Teresa continued, “I worked my way up to this job (custodian) and I am glad I can do good work for all these people who need me. Like your mother (Rita’s mom was very ill), she’s going to be ok, she is a good woman. Reminds me of my momma. My momma saw me work here for three years before she passed. Yes, momma saw me work for the Lord and not do those old drugs and alcohol.” Rita felt she was in the presence of greatness, a great woman who acknowledged and served her great God. Teresa’s gratitude was infectious, her work ethic for her Lord—worshipful!

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Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – An Appointed Way

Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:21

Recommended Reading

Psalm 85:10-13

One day in 1975, Reese Kauffman, an Indianapolis manufacturer, responded to the invitation at the end of a missionary service. Reese was a believer but felt something was missing in his life. He needed an outlet to serve the Lord with all his heart. A man named Roy Daniels met Reese in the prayer room and asked what decision he’d reached. “I don’t know that I’ve reached a decision,” said Reese. “I’ve just realized I want to do something for God.”

Roy’s eyes brightened and he asked, “Have you ever heard of Child Evangelism Fellowship?” The Lord had surely arranged that meeting and that moment. For many years now, Reese Kauffman has served as president of CEF, a ministry to children in more than 190 nations.1

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Joyce Meyer – You Can Win the Battle in Your Mind

Thoughts are powerful, and according to the writer of the book of Proverbs, they have creative ability. For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. As one who reckons, he says to you, eat and drink, yet his heart is not with you [but is grudging the cost]. (Proverbs 23:7)

In fact, you cannot have a positive, exciting life and a negative mind.

See, I spent a lot of years unhappy because the minute I woke up in the morning, I started thinking negative, sad, depressing things. Now I can truly say I am fully satisfied since the Holy Spirit has helped me operate out of the mind of Christ (the mind of the Spirit) that is within me.

Maybe you’ve spent years thinking wrong thoughts based on a warped, dysfunctional past, but that can change today.

Powerful Force

Continue reading Joyce Meyer – You Can Win the Battle in Your Mind

Girlfriends in God – What We Need The Most

God is love.

1 John 4:8

Friend to Friend

My mom tells a story that when I was a toddler, I used to push my older brother and sister off my dad’s lap so I could cuddle with him all by myself. I still do this with my kids and husband. It might look different today, but my goal is the same: I want more love. And I’m not above pushing someone else out of the way to move myself forward.

My love hunger stumps me. I’ve been a Christian since I sat on a little plastic Sunday-school chair and learned Bible stories from a flannel-graph board. If I’m so into Jesus—and I promise you, I am—then why am I still needy?

Why is my heart such a love vacuum?

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – His Rich Storehouse 

“However, Christ has given each of us special abilities – whatever He wants us to have out of His rich storehouse of gifts” (Ephesians 4:7).

Roger and Len read a popular book on spiritual gifts. Instead of being blessed, they were distressed. They came for counsel.

“What is our gift?” they pleaded, as though I had the ability to immediately discern God’s supernatural provision for them.

“First of all,” I explained, “you should not be exercised over the undue emphasis on gifts, which has been of somewhat recent origin. For centuries, until recent times, men did not make a great deal of that particular emphasis in the Word of God.

“The emphasis was on the authority of the Scripture, the lordship of Christ, the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Great servants of God were mightily used as preachers, missionaries, teachers and godly laymen, without ever being made particularly aware that spiritual gifts were something that needed to be emphasized. The feeling was, ‘Whatever God calls me to do, He will enable me to do, if I am willing to surrender my will to Christ, study the Word of God, obey the leading of the Holy Spirit, work hard and trust God to guide me.'”

Continue reading Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – His Rich Storehouse 

Ray Stedman – Dealing with the Leprosy of Life

Read: Leviticus 13

When anyone has a defiling skin disease, they must be brought to the priest. Lev 13:9

The purpose of this chapter is to enable the detection of leprosy. When the Bible uses this term, it is not merely referring to the disease that we call leprosy today, Hansen’s disease. That is included in the term, but the Hebrew word translated leprosy here also includes other contagious and infectious skin diseases. They all were recognized to be dangerous and damaging, a serious threat not only to the individual but to the whole camp of Israel, and so they were to be detected. The process of detection was prolonged and careful inspection. The priest was to look at the symptoms, then shut the diseased person up for seven days, examine him again, and shut him up for another seven days. At the end of that time he could determine whether it was leprosy or something less serious.

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Galilee

Read: Mark 16:1-8

But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him. (v. 7)

We don’t often think about biblical geography. But everything happened someplace and often the locations were significant. Or sometimes they were confusing. For instance, we know the angel told everyone to go meet Jesus in Galilee, but has that ever struck you as odd? After all, everyone was in Jerusalem at the time (the risen Jesus too). So why couldn’t they all encounter Jesus there? Galilee was 80 miles away as the crow flies and maybe 100 miles by road. Although today you could hop in a car and drive that distance in an hour or two, back then it took much, much longer. So why the journey?

Maybe because quiet, out-of-the-way Galilee fit Jesus better than glitzy, big-city Jerusalem. Maybe because even after being raised from the dead, Jesus still wanted to reach out to people in quiet, humble love. Had Jesus stayed in Jerusalem, maybe the disciples would have wanted to parade him in front of Pontius Pilate as a slam dunk way to say, “Thought you could kill Jesus, eh? Well, ta-da! Here he is again!”

But that was not Jesus’ way—not then, not now. He wants us to bear witness to him in humility, conviction, and with the power of the Holy Spirit. It is good to go see Jesus in Galilee—it’s exactly where you’d expect to find him even yet today.

Prayer:

Help us, O God, to witness to the resurrection in all of this world’s Galilees that all may truly see your Easter power.

Author: Scott Hoezee

https://woh.org/

Presidential Prayer Team; A.W. – Tomorrow Talk

Do you ever wonder what the future holds? Many do – so it’s not surprising that one of the most widely read sections of any newspaper is the horoscope section. Several folks make their decisions based on the information they read. Because people fear the unknown, they look for ways to figure out what will happen next.

Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.

Revelation 1:19

For Christians, there should be no fear of the future. Corrie Ten Boom said “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Today’s verse is from the book of the Bible that tells the future. Jesus provided a vision to the apostle John as a message to give to His followers about what would one day happen. Some are confused or frightened by the descriptions and imagery of Revelation, but because God has a purpose for everything, you can trust His plan for the future.

If you are concerned about what tomorrow holds – don’t be. Trust God to work everything that happens into His perfect will. Ask for His direction for your part of His plan, and then pray for the nation’s citizens and leaders to turn to Him for guidance.

Recommended Reading: Jeremiah 29:4-14

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Greg Laurie – The Surprising Truth about Idols

Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. —Psalm 115:4

We find the second commandment in Exodus 20:4–5, which says, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.”

The idea of worshiping an idol may seem alien to us today. But it shouldn’t. We can make idols out of people whom we admire. Have you ever heard of a sports hero? How about American Idol? We may use the phrase somewhat jokingly: “That person is a sports god” or “I idolize that person. He’s a guitar god.” But the way some people look at certain individuals, it could be they have made a person their god.

You may say, “Well, I’m not that way.”

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Kids 4 Truth International – God Shelters His Children

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1)

The weather was not what they had hoped for, but the Herbergers were determined not to let a little rain spoil their camping trip. They needed to put up their tent before the storm broke.

Hurriedly, they spread the canvas, hammered stakes into the ground, and raised the poles. Thunder rumbled. The children made one last dash to the van for snacks and flashlights. Just as they returned, the downpour began. Mr. Herberger zipped up the door of the tent and closed the vents.

For the next couple of hours, the family sang, played games, and ate popcorn and cookies together in the close quarters. Rain pounded on the tent roof and turned the dirt campsite into mud, but the tent kept the Herbergers dry and comfortable.

Like a comforting shelter, God wants to be our place of safety from the storms of life. He wants us to trust in His care. If we make God our “dwelling place,” He will not allow evil to happen to us (Psalm 91:10).

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The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Our Only Safe Response

Today’s Scripture: Romans 8:15

“You have received the Spirit of adoption as sons.”

Paul told us that God sent his Son “to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons” (Galatians 4:4-5, NIV).

This “full rights of sons” is a reference to the status of sons who have become full-grown young adults. We’ve not only been redeemed from a cell on death row but also brought into God’s family as fully adopted sons, with all the privileges included in that status.

All this is set against the dark background of the curse of the law for any disobedience, which, of course, affects us all. Just as the diamonds on a jeweler’s counter shine more brilliantly when set upon a dark velvet pad, so Christ’s redemptive work shines more brilliantly when contrasted with our sin and the consequent curse that was upon us.

Continue reading The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Our Only Safe Response

The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Following Jesus

Today’s Scripture: Matthew 1-4

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” – John 15:7-8

Once, when I was speaking to a group of people on what it means to be a disciple, I tried to boil it down to its absolute essence–following Jesus. When the meeting was over, a woman from the audience came up to me and said, “You know, I had no idea it was so simple. We tend to complicate it.”

In Matthew 4:19, we find these words of Jesus to His first disciples: “Come, follow me,…and I will make you fishers of men.” What did that mean to the people who heard those words? It meant to remain close to Jesus every day, walking with Him, talking with Him, obeying Him, asking questions, learning from Him, being led by Him. The invitation was easily understood. The Lord wasn’t talking to the priests in their long robes in Jerusalem, He was speaking to some fishermen by the Sea of Galilee. And in Matthew 4:22, we read that Peter and Andrew “left the boat and their father and followed him.”

Continue reading The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Following Jesus

BreakPoint – Why Modern Culture Often Misunderstands Christianity

The first week of April saw a social-media-driven panic sweep across the campus of Indiana University. Starting around 9:15pm, students started tweeting about a sinister character prowling about campus seeking whom he might devour.

One student tweeted, “[IU] students be careful, there’s someone walking around in [KKK] gear with a whip.” Another complained about the school’s failure to “make students feel safe.”

A residence hall advisor then fired off an email saying, “There has been a person reported walking around campus in a KKK outfit holding a whip . . .  I would recommend staying indoors if you’re alone.”

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – FREE FROM CONDEMNATION

Read Romans 8:1-8

Paul Geidel Jr. holds the record for the longest incarceration in the United States that ended with release from prison. Given a sentence of twenty years to life for second-degree murder in 1911 when he was 17 years old, Geidel was finally offered parole in 1974—and he declined. Having spent his entire adult life in prison, he wasn’t sure what to do or even where to go. At the age of 86, he finally accepted parole and is thought to have moved into a nursing home until his death.

For the next few days we’ll examine another feature of our identity as believers in Christ: we are free! Yet like Geidel, it’s tempting to remain imprisoned to our sinful habits and desires simply because they are comfortable and familiar. That’s why it’s so important for us to grasp what it means to be free in Christ.

Our reading today follows Paul’s extended explanation of the tension we experience as followers of Jesus who still wrestle with the temptation of sin (see Romans 7). If we are still struggling with our sinful nature, how can we possibly be free? The answer is that we’re now under a different legal system. We were under the “law of sin and death,” (v. 2), which condemned us to oppose God and pursue our own sinful desires (v. 7). But after salvation in Christ, we are under the “law of the Spirit,” which gives us new desires and sets us free to obey God.

Continue reading Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – FREE FROM CONDEMNATION

Denison Forum – WHAT DO THE BIBLE AND ’50 SHADES OF GREY’ HAVE IN COMMON?

The American Library Association has released its list of the ten “most challenged” books. A challenge is “a formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness.” A book that is challenged may or may not be censored by the school.

50 Shades of Grey made the list for obvious reasons: “Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group.” Eight other books were challenged for similar reasons: homosexuality, violence, and/or offensive language. But included on the list is “The Holy Bible.” The reason cited: “Religious viewpoint.”

In related news, a student at England’s Sheffield University has been expelled because he quoted the book of Leviticus in support of Kentucky clerk Kim Davis’s position on same-sex marriage. Social work major Felix Ngole’s Facebook post was private and could be seen only by his friends. Nonetheless, university administrators ruled that his post “may have caused offense to some individuals.” They determined that his Christian views regarding marriage would render him unable to serve as a social worker.

Continue reading Denison Forum – WHAT DO THE BIBLE AND ’50 SHADES OF GREY’ HAVE IN COMMON?