Charles Stanley – God’s Financial Plan

Acts 20:33-35

The Lord wants us to make wise decisions that are based on sound biblical principles. But choices that follow His will aren’t always compatible with the world’s way of doing business. For instance, some people may be surprised that the foundational concept of God’s financial plan is to give rather than to save or invest.

Give sacrificially. Typically, when people decide how much to donate toward charity or church, they consider their income versus their expenses and choose an amount that feels comfortable and doable. In contrast, a sacrificial offering can mean that believers follow the Holy Spirit’s leading to pledge resources beyond their means. Initially, some Christians may feel worried about exercising their faith in this way. But thankfully, God has promised that He “will supply all [our] needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19), and He is totally and completely trustworthy.

Give compassionately. Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it.” Believers with a generous spirit hold their material possessions loosely and desire to use their share of the Lord’s wealth to spread His blessing to others. A missionary, charity, or pastor does not have to beg them to part with their money.

God’s financial plan differs from any we will see in the world, but His principles have proven to be effective. The Bible and church history show that for thousands of years, Christ’s followers have chosen to give from a compassionate heart and a sacrificial spirit. And He rewards them with increased faith and enough material goods to meet all of their needs.

Bible in a Year: 1 Kings 8-9

 

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Our Daily Bread — The Apple of His Eye

Read: Zechariah 2

Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 30-31; Luke 13:23-35

Whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye. —Zechariah 2:8

A friend’s baby was suffering seizures, so they sped to the hospital in an ambulance, her heart racing as she prayed for her daughter. Her fierce love for this child hit her afresh as she held her tiny fingers, recalling too how much more the Lord loves us and how we are “the apple of His eye.”

The prophet Zechariah employs this phrase in his word to God’s people who had returned to Jerusalem after their captivity in Babylon. He calls them to repent, to rebuild the temple, and to renew their hearts of love for the true God. For the Lord loves His people greatly; they are the apple of His eye.

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Wisdom Hunters – High Places 

 

The people, however, were still sacrificing at the high places, because a temple had not yet been built for the Name of the LORD.  Solomon showed his love for the LORD by walking according to the statutes of his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.    1 Kings 3:2-3

High places haunt, hurt, and hinder your relationship with God because they are direct competitors with Jesus. They are altars of worship from your past that you never completely destroyed or removed from your life. You are deceived when you think they can coexist with Christ and not bring you harm. You tolerate them; even thinking your love for the Lord allows you to have this mistress, who in fact, derails you into not finishing well.

The wisest man in the world, next to Jesus, learned this the hard way. Solomon thought he was smarter than God (not so wise), and went to the high place of degrading marriage. But it blew up in his face by debilitating his family. His high place of pride kept him from experiencing God’s best and from finishing well. No one is immune from sin’s insidious outcomes.

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Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Spring Cleaning: Wash the Windows—See Others in Need

Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous.

1 Peter 3:8

Recommended Reading: Luke 6:41-42

The story is told of a woman who could look out her kitchen window and see her neighbor’s laundry drying on the line. But the woman continually complained to her husband about how dingy the neighbor’s laundry looked: “Doesn’t she know how to get her clothes clean?” But one day she announced, “Finally—our neighbor has learned to do her laundry! I wonder what has changed?” Her husband said, “It may be because I washed the outside of that window yesterday.”

Sometimes, our own impaired vision causes us to see faults in others. It reminds us of what Jesus said about removing the beam in our own eye before trying to remove a speck from someone else’s eye. And of how Paul wrote that we should focus more on the needs of others rather than our own needs. Jesus had the ability to see people as they really were—and His clear spiritual sight moved Him to compassion toward them (Matthew 9:36). We need to see with the eyes of Jesus.

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Joyce Meyer – Be Blessed

Her children rise up and call her blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied); and her husband boasts of and praises her, [saying], Many daughters have done virtuously, nobly, and well [with the strength of character that is steadfast in goodness], but you excel them all. —Proverbs 31:28-29

A virtuous and worthy wife [earnest and strong in character] is a crowning joy to her husband…(Proverbs 12:4). She enjoys the praise of her children and husband. They rise up to call her blessed. Her husband says that many daughters have been virtuous and noble but that she exceeds them all. In other words, he says that she is the best wife anyone could ever have. He applauds and celebrates her strength of character and goodness.

One year my birthday happened to be during one of our conferences, and my husband, Dave, stood up and read Proverbs 31 to me in front of a room filled with people. Then my children one by one rose up to say kind and edifying things to me. There is no better feeling than to spend years raising your children, and then have them tell you that they honor you, love you, and don’t believe they could have had a better mother. Or to have your husband say you are the best wife in the world. Those comments certainly were confidence boosters for me.

Lord, whether anyone ever gives me these commendations, I want to live my life in a way that brings joy and blessing to others. Build strength into my character. Amen.

From the book The Confident Woman Devotional: 365 Daily Devotions by Joyce Meyer

 

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Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – A Healthy, Growing Body 

“Instead, we will lovingly follow the truth at all times – speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly – and so become more and more in every way like Christ who is the Head of His body, the church. Under His direction the whole body is fitted together perfectly, and each part in its own special way helps the other parts, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (Ephesians 4:15-16).

I am concerned, as you no doubt are, that God’s ideal church, in which the whole body is fitted together perfectly, becomes a reality. And if that is to happen, it will mean that I must become a part of that perfect fit.

Within the body of Christ, each of us has a unique function. True, two people might have similar functions just as a body has two hands that function similarly. But those two hands are not identical. Just try to wear a lefthand glove on your right hand!

The hands have similar functions, not identical functions. You and I might have similar abilities, but we are not identical. We are unique creations of God.

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Ray Stedman – The Need for Cleansing

Read: Leviticus 14

The priest is to go outside the camp and examine them. If they have been healed of their defiling skin disease, the priest shall order that two live clean birds and some cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop be brought for the person to be cleansed. Lev 14:3-4

In Chapter 14 we move into a further development of this whole matter of handling leprosy. Here we have the cleansing of the leper. Notice that the leper does not go through all the ritual which follows in order to be healed; he does it in order to be cleansed. He is already healed. Healing is something only God can do. It is the sovereign act of God and it takes place in the inner life of a believer. His cleansing of a person allows the one who is healed to understand God’s basis and purpose for the healing. God wants the inner cleansing to be reflected in the outward life and actions of the person who is healed. That is the picture which is drawn here.

You and I can’t heal our leprous hearts. If there is some wrongful attitude within us, if we burn with envy or jealousy or resentment toward one another, if we are impatient and upset and angry at heart — we seldom see these things in ourselves until God puts us into circumstances where they are brought out — and then the only thing we can do is take them to him because we are helpless victims caught up in these dangerous attitudes. When you finally see yourself like that, then you can say, Lord, heal me! And God does! With a touch of his grace he changes our attitude. We stop being defensive about it and we admit it. And then the leprosy is arrested, its action is stopped, and we are healed.

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – A Word to the Wise

Read: James 1:1-8

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (v. 5)

For the next two weeks, we will dig deep into the letter written by James, who introduces himself as “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” James was a leader in the early church, and his letter was written as an encouragement to believers who were scattered around the Roman Empire. Even by today’s standards, it is a wise and practical letter. James often sounds like the writers of Old Testament Wisdom literature (Proverbs, Psalms, Ecclesiastes). James also sounds a lot like Jesus (see Matt. 7:7-11), probably because Jesus was his older half-brother. For pastoral wisdom about living the Christian life, you can’t beat James.

Today what passes for “wisdom” seems to be gathered and dispersed online. There’s a podcast or blog for everything now—from how someone overcame severe physical disabilities and climbed Mount Everest, to why dogs can understand quantum physics better than humans. And while the internet may have content worth sharing, I am not sure it all counts as true wisdom.

Wisdom is usually gained from experience, which is why older people are considered wiser than younger people. Yet James says that if we lack wisdom, we can ask God and God will give it to us! The key here is asking God, and trusting that God will answer. Just the act of asking is wisdom in itself!

Prayer:

Lord, grant us the wisdom to seek all of the answers in you.

Author: Susan Hetrick

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Presidential Prayer Team;  J.R. – Ballpark Variety

At a grand dedication ceremony on the afternoon of April 16, 1964, New York City’s Mayor Robert Wagner praised William Shea, a lawyer who had helped bring a National League baseball team back to the city and was now having the brand new, state-of-the-art ballpark named in his honor. The mayor proclaimed it the “world’s greatest stadium” and said that with his name on it, Shea was now “practically an immortal.”

His disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”

Mark 13:1

To paraphrase baseball great Yogi Berra, immortality ain’t what it used to be: Shea Stadium, old and outdated, was demolished in 2009 and replaced with a parking lot the city needed for the newer, adjacent Citi Field. Last year, the new park hosted the World Series.

Jesus understood, better than the disciples, that “wonderful buildings” have limited and distinctly short-term utility. “Do you see these great buildings?” He responded, “There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” (Mark 13:2) What are you building today? As you pray for America’s leaders, may you be focused on immortality – not the ballpark variety, but that offered by the eternal and loving God who offers those who love Him a hope and a future.

Recommended Reading: II Corinthians 4:13-18  Click to Read or Listen

 

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Greg Laurie – When Does Temptation Generally Come?

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”—1 Peter 5:8

When does temptation generally come? Answer: Often after great times of blessing!

When Jesus began His public ministry, He went to be baptized by his cousin, John the Baptist. The Holy Spirit descended on Him in the form of a dove. The heavenly Father proudly said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Then temptation came. Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert to be tempted.

After the dove came the devil.

It usually works that way in our lives as well. After the blessing comes the trial. The two often go hand in hand. Don’t be surprised if temptation comes to you, for instance, right after God speaks to you in church or in a time of devotion.

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Kids 4 Truth International – God Corrects His Children

“If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Hebrews 12:7)

It was August, and the Ellisons’ air conditioner had broken down. Mrs. Ellison called the repairman, who tested the unit and took it apart. To his surprise, he found large quantities of sand in the outdoor fan. Mrs. Ellison asked her children if they knew how the sand had gotten in. Sadly, they admitted that they and their neighbor friends had made a game of throwing sand into the fan and running away before it could blow back into their faces.

Mrs. Ellison reminded them of the rule they had broken: sand was not supposed to be thrown or removed from the sandbox. Because of the children’s disobedience, the family would spend hundreds of dollars to replace the broken fan. The Ellison children would do extra cleanup in the yard as punishment, and a trip to Six Flags would be cancelled so that the money could go toward a new air conditioner. The Ellison children learned to take better care of property and to obey authority.

Mrs. Ellison also asked the neighbor children not to throw sand into the new fan. She explained about the damage, but she did not punish them. They went to their own yards and threw dirt and sand into their air conditioning fans. Soon other families were calling the same repairman and buying new air conditioners.

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The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Specific Commitments

Today’s Scripture: Daniel 1:8

“Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself.”

In addition to an overall commitment to pursue holiness in every area of life, I find it helpful to make specific commitments in areas where we’re particularly vulnerable to sin. There’s great value in identifying those areas—either in what we do (for example, gossip) or in what we fail to do (such as loving our wives as Christ loved the church)—and then making specific commitments of obedience to God in those areas.

I urge you to list any areas of temptation wherein you need to make this specific commitment. Do you need to make a covenant with your eyes about what you look at (Job 31:1), or with your mouth about what you say, or with your mind about what you think? Is there a particular temptation or sinful practice that arises in your work environment that needs a commitment to fortify you against it? Write these commitments down on paper, for your eyes only, so you can review them and pray over them daily.

Perhaps there’s a particular area in your marriage or in your relationship with your children, your parents, a friend, or an associate at work where you aren’t demonstrating the Spirit’s fruit of love, patience, or kindness. Do you need to make a commitment that, in dependence on the Holy Spirit to enable you, you’ll seek to display that particular “fruit” toward that individual? If so, I urge you to make such a commitment. You may find the need to make several commitments—sins to put off or avoid and Christ-like traits to put on. If you don’t commit yourself to the pursuit of holiness in these specific areas of your life, you’ll find a tendency to vacillate in the face of these temptations.

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The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Love One Another

Today’s Scripture: Matthew 5-7

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. – Ephesians 4:15-16

My wife and I were in Great Britain on a preaching tour shortly after a violent windstorm had swept the land, flattening more than a million trees. An official investigation discovered that the trees had been planted just far enough apart that their roots were not intertwined with each other. Each tree stood alone, with no help from the tree next to it, and over a million were lost.

When we as Christians become estranged from each other, the whole church is weakened and becomes more vulnerable to the attacks of Satan. The only way we can stay together is to be constantly involved in the process of being reconciled to each other.

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BreakPoint –  What was the Secret of Jackie Robinson’s Greatness?

If you happen to watch a Major League Baseball game on TV tonight, you’ll notice something unusual about the players’ uniforms. Every major leaguer will be wearing the number 42.

That’s because 69 years ago today, Brooklyn Dodgers great Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.

It’s almost impossible for us today to imagine what Robinson endured as the big leagues’ first black ballplayer. But his ordeal is captured brilliantly in the biopic film “42,” which came out just a few years ago.

As good as the film is, it all but omits the most significant factor in Jackie Robinson’s ability to turn the other cheek; to endure almost unbearable insults and physical attacks on the field without lashing out himself. That factor was Robinson’s strong Christian faith.

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – NO BARRIERS TO GOD’S LOVE

Read Romans 8:28-39

Love—it has inspired music and poetry and countless fairy tales. Love is depicted as our greatest aspiration and most powerful force. As poet Maya Angelou said, “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”

Romantic love, parental love, friendship love—these all are indeed powerful feelings and motivations. Greater than any dimension of human love, however, is the love of God. And because of our identity in Christ, we are free to experience His love without hindrance or barrier.

Our text today describes the nature and action of God’s love for us. God gave His own Son to die for our sins and raised Him from the dead (vv. 32, 34). God has chosen, called, and justified us through Jesus (vv. 29–30). God continues to work in our lives to

bring about good that blesses us and glorifies Him, and Jesus continues to serve as our advocate in heaven (vv. 28, 34). God’s love is not simply passive feelings. His love is action that saved us and continues to bless us.

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