Charles Stanley – How to Set Right Priorities

 

Matthew 6:33

The Scriptures contain many cautionary examples of men and women who had misplaced priorities. Often, these are the otherwise godly people who had a momentary lapse. This should give every believer pause to consider the importance of taking captive detrimental thoughts and desires.

For good purposes or bad, we set priorities in one of three ways: by evaluating which things ought to carry the most importance; by succumbing to pressure and letting people or circumstances dictate how we should prioritize; or by drifting into habits and modes of thinking that become a way of life. Wise believers will certainly want to avoid the drifting option, as this approach accompanies a life that feels meaningless. And priorities ought to be in place before we face trying circumstances and people—in that way, we can be steadfast in our commitment. The only viable choice, then, is to prioritize deliberately. We do so by setting a goal to live in accordance with God’s purpose and plan.

The priorities we choose are determined by what we value. Sometimes, though, prioritizing can be frustrating since there are so many distractions diverting our focus.

If we consider a right relationship with God to be of utmost importance, then we will put first those actions and thoughts that strengthen our connection with Him. We need to be disciplined in following our goals, because living purposefully is rarely easy. However, the good news is that God knows our heart, and He will honor our sincere attempts to put Him first.

Bible in One Year: Exodus 7-9

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Dealing with Delay

 

Read: Genesis 45:1–8

Bible in a Year: Genesis 43–45; Matthew 12:24–50

So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.—Genesis 45:8

A global computer system outage causes widespread flight cancellations, stranding hundreds of thousands of passengers at airports. During a winter storm, multiple auto accidents close major highways. The person who promised to send a reply “right away” has failed to do so. Delays can often produce anger and frustration, but as followers of Jesus, we have the privilege of looking to Him for help.

One of the Bible’s great examples of patience is Joseph, who was sold to slave traders by his jealous brothers, falsely accused by his employer’s wife, and imprisoned in Egypt. “But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him” (Genesis 39:20-21). Years later, when Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams, he was made second in command in Egypt (ch. 41).

The most remarkable fruit of his patience occurred when his brothers came to buy grain during a famine. “I am your brother Joseph,” he told them, “the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. . . . So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God” (45:4-5, 8).

In all our delays, brief or long, may we, like Joseph, gain patience, perspective, and peace as we trust in the Lord. —David C. McCasland

Father in heaven, in all of our delays may we trust Your faithful hand of guidance and experience Your presence with us in every situation.

Confidence in God enables us to live out our faith patiently.

INSIGHT: When we are going through a difficult season, we can find comfort and encouragement by looking at how God worked in Joseph’s difficult—even seemingly hopeless—circumstances. We learn to ask the questions: Why does God have me here? What does He have in store for me or want to do through me? Joseph came to realize that it was God who had placed him in his situation (see Genesis 45:8; 50:20).

We also learn something about God’s timing. It only takes a few moments for us to read Joseph’s story, but his trial lasted for years. His imprisonment may have been to fulfill God’s purposes (interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams) but the timing was also God’s.

How does knowing that God is in control help you as you wait for Him to work?

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Portrait of a Soul

 

In the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde describes an exceptionally handsome young man so captivating that he drew the awe-stricken adulation of a great artist. The artist asked him to be the subject of a portrait for he had never seen a face so attractive and so pure. When the painting was completed, young Dorian became so enraptured by his own looks that he wistfully intoned how wonderful it would be if he could live any way he pleased but that no disfigurement of a lawless lifestyle would mar the picture of his own countenance. If only the portrait would grow old and he himself could remain unscathed by time and way of life. In Faustian style he was willing to trade his soul for that wish.

One day, alone and pensive, Dorian went up to the attic and uncovered the portrait that he had kept hidden for so many years, only to be shocked by what he saw. Horror, hideousness, and blood marred the portrait.

The charade came to an end when the artist himself saw the picture. It told the story. He pled with Dorian to come clean, saying, “Does it not say somewhere, ‘Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow’?” But in a fit of rage to silence this voice of conscience, Dorian grabbed a knife and killed the artist.

There was now only one thing left for him to do; he took the knife to remove the only visible reminder of his wicked life. But the moment he thrust the blade into the canvas, the portrait returned to its pristine beauty, while Dorian lay stabbed to death on the floor. The ravages that had marred the picture now so disfigured him that even his servants could no longer recognize him.

What a brilliant illustration of how a soul, though invisible, can nonetheless be tarnished. I wonder, if there were to be a portrait of my soul or your soul, how would it best be depicted? Does not the conscience sting, when we think in these terms? Though we have engineered many ways of avoiding physical consequences, how does one cleanse the soul?

Today we find a limitless capacity to raise the question of evil as we see it outside ourselves, but often hold an equal unwillingness to address the evil within us. I once sat on the top floor of a huge corporate building owned by a very successful businessman. Our entire conversation revolved around his reason for unbelief: that there was so much darkness and corruption in this world and a seemingly silent God. Suddenly interrupting the dialogue, a friend of mine said to him, “Since evil troubles you so much, I would be curious to know what you have done with the evil you see within you.” There was red-faced silence.

We too, face Dorian Gray’s predicament. Sooner or later, a duplicitous life reveals the cost. The soul is not forever invisible. But there is one who can cleanse and restore us. The Christian way gives us extraordinary insight into this subject of our soul-struggle, as God deals with the heart of the issue one life at a time. Indeed, in the words of the prophet Isaiah to which Oscar Wilde alluded: “‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (1:18). God upholds the solution asking only that we come “willing and obedient,” ready to “come and wash” (1:19,16). So come, willingly and obediently, and find God’s rejoinder to the marred portraits within. The greatest artist of all speaks even today.

 

Ravi Zacharias is founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Loving Without Getting Tired

 

Who executes justice for the oppressed, Who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets free the prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; The Lord loves the righteous [the upright in heart]. The Lord protects the strangers; He supports the fatherless and the widow; But He makes crooked the way of the wicked. — Psalm 146:7-9

God speaks frequently in the Bible of our responsibility to the oppressed, hungry, widows, orphans, fatherless and foreigners. He mentions those who are lonely, neglected, forgotten and devalued. He cares deeply for the oppressed and the hungry.

People can be hungry in many ways. They may have plenty of food to eat but still be starving to feel valuable and loved. God lifts up those who are bowed down with sorrow; He protects the stranger and upholds the fatherless and the widow. How does He do this? He works through people. He needs committed, submitted, dedicated people who live to meet the needs of others.

Mother Teresa once said, “Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.”

I have come to understand that many people we encounter daily are just trying to survive until someone rescues them—and that someone could be you or me. Let’s allow God’s love for the hurting and broken to work through us, meeting the needs of those who are hurting spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Let’s love without getting tired.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – To Keep You From Sin

 

“How can a young man stay pure? By reading Your Word and following its rules. I have tried my best to find You – don’t let me wander off from Your instructions. I have thought much about Your words, and stored them in my heart so that they would hold me back from sin” (Psalm 119:9-11).

Carl, a Christian leader who had made a mess of his life, wept as he shared his defeat. “As a young Christian, “he said, “I was warned that God’s Word would keep me from sin, or sin would keep me from God’s Word.

“For many years,” he continued, “I studied and obeyed God’s Word faithfully. A few years ago I became very busy and took less and less time for God’s Word. So when temptation came, I had no strength to resist. Now my life and marriage have disintegrated and I am thinking of committing suicide.”

If you do not already have a daily practice of spending time alone with God – studying, reading, memorizing and meditating on His Word, and spending time with Him in prayer – I encourage you to do so, beginning today. The spiritual food of God’s Word is absolutely essential for victorious, supernatural living. Great benefit can be found in listening to recordings of the Old and New Testaments, sermons and Christian music on your cassette player, in your home and in your car as you travel.

Scientists and health nutritionists confirm that our physical well-being is largely determined by the food we eat. For example, many people cannot tolerate high quantities of refined foods, such as sugar, white flour and chocolate. When they eat such foods, they become seriously ill physically, mentally and emotionally. Some have even been known to develop criminal tendencies because of what is often diagnosed as hypoglycemia, caused by poor nutrition.

In like manner, our spiritual bodies are influenced by what we absorb from God’s Word and other scripturally based writings. It is impossible to be happy, healthy, strong, virile and fruitful for God without a regular intake from the Word of God.

Bible Reading: Philippians 4:8,9

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will determine, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to set aside time each day to read the Bible and pray and wait upon God for His leading and maturing in my life.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado -Trust God to Lead

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Worrying is one job you cannot farm out—but you can overcome it! And there’s no better place to begin than Psalm 23:2.  “He leads me beside the still waters,”  David declares. He leads me! God isn’t behind me, yelling, Go! He’s ahead of me bidding, Come! He’s in front, clearing the path and cutting the brush. Standing next to the rocks He warns watch your step there.

Isn’t this what God gave the children of Israel? He promised to supply them with manna each day, but He told them to collect only one day’s supply at a time. Matthew 6:34 says to give your entire attention to what God is doing right now and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. God is leading you– so leave tomorrow’s problems until tomorrow.

Read more Traveling Light

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Bob Dole receives Congressional Gold Medal

 

Bob Dole received Congress’s highest civilian honor yesterday. The World War II veteran, longtime senator, and former presidential candidate was given the Congressional Gold Medal in a ceremony that included Republican and Democrat leaders, President Trump, and Vice President Pence.

Dole, who is ninety-four years old, can no longer walk. He sat in his wheelchair for the majority of the ceremony. However, when the color guard entered with the American flag and the flags of the Armed Forces, he gestured to an aide. A young man rushed to his side and helped pull him to his feet so he could stand to honor the American flag.

For many years, Sen. Dole has met visitors and fellow veterans at the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. In his remarks yesterday, President Trump noted that future generations who come to the Memorial “will hear the story of a great man who rose up from a small town in the heart of America to become a soldier, and a congressman, and leader admired by all. They will hear the story of Bob Dole. And in hearing that story, they will truly learn what it means to be a great American.”

In 1960, President John F. Kennedy quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson: “What we are speaks louder than what we say.”

You may not be able to quote a speech Bob Dole made or describe a law he helped pass, but you will always remember what he did for our country. His sacrifice as a soldier cost the use of his right arm and nearly cost his life. He served in the US Senate with transparency and integrity. He shows us “what it means to be a great American.”

What we do truly speaks louder than what we say.

Seeing Christ in Christians

I became a Christian because I saw Christ in Christians.

As a teenager, after I started visiting a local church, I began to see a joy and peace in the lives of other teenagers in our Sunday school class. One Sunday morning, I asked our teacher how I could have what they had. She led me to faith in Jesus.

Tragically, not every person has the same positive story to tell.

Mahatma Gandhi was a British-educated lawyer before he became a pioneer for independence in his native India. His philosophy of nonviolence and peaceful resistance influenced many in the American civil rights movement, most famously Martin Luther King, Jr.

Gandhi was a man of great personal asceticism, making his own clothes and living on a simple vegetarian diet. His personal integrity and spirituality were crucial factors in his work to help India gain her independence. He has been designated “Father of the Nation”; his birthday is celebrated nationally each October 2.

Gandhi’s relationship with Christianity has been much discussed. He read from the New Testament every day and often quoted from God’s word. As one version goes, Gandhi was once asked by a reporter why he had not become a Christian. Although he had spent years in dialogue with Christian leaders around the world, he replied, “If I had ever met one, I would have become one.”

Another version goes back to a time when Gandhi was exiled in Africa before leading the revolution in India. He was seeking the Lord and reading the New Testament. He became convinced that Christianity was the true religion and that Jesus was the Christ.

He chose to attend a church for the purpose of confessing the Christian faith. But because of his skin color, church members wouldn’t let him in. He then led 750 million people into Hinduism and said, “I would have been a Christian if I hadn’t met one.”

“They recognized that they had been with Jesus”

One of my favorite verses of Scripture comes after Peter made one of the boldest declarations in history. His statement was as controversial and countercultural in his day as in ours: “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

How would the authorities respond?

“When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus” (v. 13).

Let’s spend time with Jesus today and then live in such a way that others know we did. The next Gandhi we meet will be grateful.

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/