Charles Stanley –God-Pleasing Generosity

 

2 Corinthians 8:1-7

Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church praises the Macedonian believers for their generosity. Despite deep poverty and great troubles, they desired to bless others materially. From their example, we know that our Father is pleased when we give …

According to divine instruction. The Lord has revealed in Scripture how we are to live. He wants us to base our decisions on biblical principles rather than on our own natural, self-centered thinking. Looking solely at a paycheck or bank balance to determine the size of a donation is not trusting God.

Despite our own need. The Macedonians were poor, but they didn’t let that keep them from contributing. They gave out of the little they had. The book of Mark tells of a widow who gave her last two copper coins and was praised for her offering to the Lord (Mark 12:42-44). We don’t need to have extra money in order to give; we can trust that God is faithful to provide.

To those who spiritually nourish us. The Bible tells us to bring our gifts to the local church, where they can be used to further God’s work. The apostle Paul and others were able to evangelize because of the support provided by the church in Jerusalem. Recognizing that they owed those believers a debt, the Macedonian Christians desired to give something back.

Human reasoning tells us that we cannot part with our funds when debt seems too large or income too small. But the Bible tells us to trust the Lord to provide for our needs (Phil. 4:19) and to give generously. Are you living according to these principles?

Bible in One Year: Titus 1-3, Philemon 1

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — Mirrors and Hearers

 

Read: James 1:16–27 | Bible in a Year: Amos 4–6; Revelation 7

Whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it . . . will be blessed in what they do. James 1:25

When I emerged from my hotel in Kampala, Uganda, my hostess, who had come to pick me up for our seminar, looked at me with an amused grin. “What’s so funny?” I inquired. She laughed and asked, “Did you comb your hair?” It was my turn to laugh, for I had indeed forgotten to comb my hair. I’d looked at my reflection in the hotel mirror. How come I took no notice of what I saw?

In a practical analogy, James gives us a useful dimension to make our study of Scripture more beneficial. We look in the mirror to examine ourselves to see if anything needs correction—hair combed, face washed, shirt properly buttoned. Like a mirror, the Bible helps us to examine our character, attitude, thoughts, and behavior (James 1:23–24). This enables us to align our lives according to the principles of what God has revealed. We will “keep a tight rein” on our tongues (v. 26) and “look after orphans and widows” (v. 27). We will pay heed to God’s Holy Spirit within us and keep ourselves “from being polluted by the world” (v. 27).

When we look attentively into “the perfect law that gives freedom” and apply it to our lives, we will be blessed in what we do (v. 25). As we look into the mirror of Scripture, we can “humbly accept the word planted in [us]” (v. 21).

Heavenly Father, “open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law” (Psalm 119:18). Help me to order my life according to what You show me in Scripture.

As a mirror reflects our image, the Bible reveals our inner being.

By Lawrence Darmani

INSIGHT

What’s interesting about James’s definitions of good and bad religion is that they’re not simply opposites. James says bad religion is summarized by not controlling one’s speech (v. 26). Following that, we would expect James to say that good religion has something to do with taming our tongue. Instead, good religion is defined by looking after the helpless and needy and not being influenced by the ways of the world.

J.R. Hudberg

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Joyce Meyer – Why the Storms?

 

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation — Psalm 42:5

Adapted from the resource Battlefield of the Mind Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

As I think about the storms we all face in life, I can understand why people sometimes ask, “Why the storms? Why do we have so many problems and struggles in life? Why do God’s people have to deal with so much suffering?”

As I considered these questions, I began to see that Satan plants these questions in our minds. It is his attempt to keep us focused on our problems instead of focusing on the goodness of God. If we persist in asking these questions, we’re implying that God may be to blame. I don’t think it’s wrong to ask God why things happen. The writers of the psalms certainly didn’t hesitate to ask.

I think of the story of Jesus when He visited the home of Mary and Martha after their brother, Lazarus, died. Jesus waited until Lazarus had been dead for four days before He visited. When He arrived, Martha said to Jesus, Master, if You had been here, my brother would not have died (John 11:21 AMPC). She went on to say, And even now I know that whatever You ask from God, He will grant it to You (John 11:22 AMPC).

Did she really believe those words? I wonder, because Jesus said to her, Your brother shall rise again. Martha replied, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day (John 11:23-24 AMPC). She didn’t get what Jesus was saying.

I don’t want to be unkind to Martha, but she missed it. When Jesus came, she didn’t ask, “Why didn’t You do something?” Instead she said, “If You had been here—if You had been on the job—he’d be alive.”

When Jesus assured her that Lazarus would rise again, she didn’t understand that it was going to happen right then. She could focus only on the resurrection. By looking at an event that was still in the future, she missed the real meaning of Jesus’ words for the present.

But aren’t many of us like Martha? We want our lives to run smoothly, and when they don’t, we ask why? But we really mean, “God, if You truly loved and cared for me, this wouldn’t have happened.”

Let’s think a little more about the “why” question. For example, when someone dies in an accident, one of the first questions family members ask is why? “Why her? Why now? Why this accident?”

For one moment, let’s say God explained the reason. Would that change anything? Probably not. The loved one is still gone, and the pain is just as severe as it was before. What, then, did you learn from the explanation?

In recent years, I’ve begun to think that “why” isn’t what Christians are really asking God. Is it possible that we’re asking, “God, do You love me? Will You take care of me in my sorrow and pain? You won’t leave me alone in my pain, will You?”

Is it possible that, because we’re afraid that God doesn’t truly care about us, we ask for explanations?

Instead, we must learn to say, “Lord God, I believe. I don’t understand, and I could probably never grasp all the reasons why bad things happen, but I can know for certain that You love me and You are with me—always.”

Prayer Starter: Heavenly Father, instead of asking for answers to the “why” questions, help me to focus on Your great love for me. When Satan tries to fill my mind with troublesome questions, help me to feel the protection of Your loving, caring arms around me. Help me always to show my gratitude and devotion for all that You do for me. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Trusting an Unchanging God

 

“God also bound Himself with an oath, so that those He promised to help would be perfectly sure and never need to wonder whether He might change His plans” (Hebrews 6:17).

If there is one characteristic that might describe us all, more than any other trait, it would have to be that we are changeable and unpredictable. We are not dependable. How wonderful then to know and serve someone who never changes – who is the same yesterday, today and forever. We can know what to expect from Him in any given situation without fear of a sudden change in behavior, thought or purpose.

A scientist knows there are laws governing the universe and that those laws are inviolate. Thus, when President John F. Kennedy challenged industry to put a man on the moon, a mobilized army of scientists and engineers was able to accomplish the feat within nine years from the drawing board stage. When the assignment was given, no one knew what to do, and yet there were basic laws – dependable, trustworthy laws of the universe – on which they could build. Through much creative planning and thinking, the miracle occurred.

Today, it is commonplace to send men into space. God of the universe, who established the laws that govern all life, never changes. Our moods and our attitudes and actions vacillate, but God never changes. That is the reason we can absolutely, without question, believe His promises, and in so doing, release His mighty supernatural resources in terms of money, manpower and technology to envelop the entire world of almost five billion people with the most joyful news ever announced.

We are reminded in Hebrews 11:6 that without faith it is impossible to please God. Have you learned how to claim the promises of God by faith? When you do, you will learn how to live supernaturally.

Bible Reading:Psalms 102:24-28

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Realizing that God has bound Himself with an oath to keep His promise, I shall trust and obey Him no matter what happens, for this is the way to supernatural living. This is the way to maximize myself for the glory of God.

 

http://www.cru.org