Charles Stanley – God’s Way to Give

 

2 Corinthians 9:6-8

Our heavenly Father knows what our income is and how He would like us to spend it. He also desires that we demonstrate certain heart attitudes in our giving. These include faith, compassion, and generosity.

It takes faith to give before our own needs are met. In yesterday’s reading, the Macedonians were experiencing deep poverty, but they still longed to give. Their behavior revealed a deep trust in the Lord’s provision.

Compassion, or caring about others, is also vital. The Philippian church saw Paul’s situation and longed to help (Phil. 4:16). The Lord is pleased when we love one another and share what we have.

The Macedonian believers were generous as well. Though in great need themselves, they begged for the privilege of contributing to the collection for the Jerusalem church.

Consider how greatly we have benefited from the generosity of our heavenly Father. He provided His Son Jesus to take our sins upon Himself and die in our place. He has adopted us into His family, made us co-heirs with Christ, and prepared for us a permanent home in heaven with Him. And in this life, His Holy Spirit provides everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). As we make plans for Christmas, let’s be generous towards others, just as God has been to us.

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you learn biblical principles about handling money and put them into practice. Obedience to God’s Word will bring spiritual blessing (Luke 6:38).

Bible in One Year: Hebrews 1-3

 

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Our Daily Bread — From Shame to Honor

 

Read: Luke 1:18–25 | Bible in a Year: Amos 7–9; Revelation 8

[The Lord] has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people. Luke 1:25

It’s that time of the year again, when families gather to celebrate the festive season together. Some of us, however, dread meeting certain “concerned” relatives whose questions can make those who are still single or childless feel that there’s something wrong with them.

Imagine the plight of Elizabeth, who was childless despite being married for many years. In her culture, that was seen as a sign of God’s disfavor (see 1 Samuel 1:5–6) and could actually be considered shameful. So while Elizabeth had been living righteously (Luke 1:6), her neighbors and relatives may have suspected otherwise.

Nonetheless, Elizabeth and her husband continued to serve the Lord faithfully. Then, when both were well advanced in years, a miracle occurred. God heard her prayer (v. 13). He loves to show us His favor (v. 25). And though He may seem to delay, His timing is always right and His wisdom always perfect. For Elizabeth and her husband, God had a special gift: a child who would become the Messiah’s forerunner (Isaiah 40:3–5).

Do you feel inadequate because you seem to lack something—a university degree, a spouse, a child, a job, a house? Keep living for Him faithfully and waiting patiently for Him and His plan, just as Elizabeth did. No matter our circumstances, God is working in and through us. He knows your heart. He hears your prayers.

God, You are forever faithful and good. Help us to keep trusting in You, even when we experience heartache.

Keep living for Him faithfully and waiting patiently for His plan.

By Poh Fang Chia

INSIGHT

Zechariah and Elizabeth were descendants of Aaron (Luke 1:5). God had designated that only Aaron’s descendants could serve as priests (1 Chronicles 23:13). Israel’s priesthood was divided into twenty-four divisions, with each division rotating to serve in the temple for just two weeks every year (24:1–19). With so many priests, lots were cast to determine which specific priest would have the once-in-a-lifetime privilege to burn incense in the Holy Place. Coupled with the angel announcing the birth of a son despite their old age, this would have been the highest point of Zechariah’s life (Luke 1:8–13, 18). The same archangel Gabriel, who told Daniel the meaning of the vision that concerns “the appointed time of the end” (Daniel 8:19), now appears to Zechariah, whose name means “the Lord has remembered.” God remembered His promise to send the Messiah and now sets in motion the events of the end times.

  1. T. Sim

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Christianity Without Christ?

Paul Tillich, the noted existentialist theologian, traveled to Asia to hold conferences with various Buddhist thinkers. He was studying the significance of religious leaders to the movements they had engendered. Tillich asked a simple question. “What if by some fluke, the Buddha had never lived and turned out to be some sort of fabrication? What would be the implications for Buddhism?” Mind you, Tillich was concerned with the indispensability of the Buddha—not his authenticity.

The scholars did not hesitate to answer. If the Buddha was a myth, they said, it did not matter at all. Why? Because Buddhism should be judged as an abstract philosophy—as a system of living. Whether its concepts originated with the Buddha is irrelevant. As an aside, I think the Buddha himself would have concurred. Knowing that his death was imminent, he beseeched his followers not to focus on him but to remember his teachings. Not his life but his way of life was to be attended to and propagated.

So, what of other world religions? Hinduism, as a conglomeration of thinkers and philosophies and gods, can certainly do without many of its deities. Some other major religions face the same predicament.

Is Christianity similar? Could God the Father have sent another instead of Jesus? May I say to you, and please hear me, that the answer is most categorically No. Jesus did not merely claim to be a prophet in a continuum of prophets. He is the unique Son of God, part of the very godhead that Christianity calls the Trinity. The apostle Paul says it this way:

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Christianity Without Christ?

Joyce Meyer – Hang Tough

 

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. — Galatians 6:9 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Closer To God Each Day Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

In Galatians 6:9, “losing heart” and “fainting” refer to giving up in the mind. The Holy Spirit tells us not to give up in our mind, because if we hold on, we will eventually reap good things.

Think about Jesus. Immediately after being baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit, He was led into the wilderness to be tested and tried by the devil. He did not complain and become discouraged and depressed. He did not think or speak negatively. He did not become confused trying to figure out why this had to happen. He went through each test victoriously (Luke 4:1–13).

Can you imagine Jesus traveling around the country, talking with His disciples about how hard everything was? Can you picture Him discussing how difficult the Cross was going to be…or how He dreaded the things ahead…or how frustrating it was to have no roof over His head, no bed to sleep in at night?

Jesus drew strength from His heavenly Father and came out in victory. We have His Spirit dwelling in us and the strength available to make it through whatever we are facing.

We can handle our situations the same way Jesus did—by being mentally prepared through “victory thinking” rather than “give-up thinking.”

Prayer Starter: Father, I thank You for the power of Your Holy Spirit that strengthens me to keep pressing on. Please help me to not “faint” in my mind when things get difficult. Thank You that I will reap a reward if I keep moving forward and refuse to give up! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Rewards All Who Look for Him

 

“You can never please God without faith, without depending on Him. Anyone who wants to come to God must believe that there is a God and that He rewards those who sincerely look for Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

A friend of mine, one of the most dedicated men I have ever known, lived by a little black book. In this book he kept a careful record of all his activities, past, present and future.

In it he recorded the time he was to get up every morning, how long to have his devotions, how many verses of Scripture he should memorize that day, and to how many people he should witness. I was impressed; I wanted to be like him.

One day he had a mental breakdown, however. After he was released from the hospital, he said to me, “I was unable to live the Christian life. I tried to be a man of God by imposing upon myself certain rigid spiritual disciplines.

“Before they took me to the hospital, my last conscious act was to throw that little black book, which had become my god, into the corner. I never wanted to see it again.”

This man had to discover what I discovered with great relief some years ago: I will never be able to live the Christian life through my own self-efforts.

My only hope for victory, power and fruitfulness is to trust Christ to live His resurrection life in and through me. He and He alone can enable me to live the Christian life. It is faith, not effort, that pleases Him, though we should never forget that faith without works is dead. Genuine faith always produces action – good works that please and glorify Him.

Bible Reading:Hebrews 7:17-22

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today by faith I will claim Christ’s resurrection life, and since He alone is holy I will claim His power to live a supernatural life. Since He came to seek and to save the lost, I will claim by faith His ability to seek and to save the lost.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – You Need a Savior

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

If we could save ourselves—why would we need a Savior?  Jesus didn’t enter the world to help us save ourselves.  He entered the world to save us from ourselves.

As a Boy Scout, I earned a lifesaving merit badge.  The fact is, the only people I saved were other Boy Scouts who didn’t need to be saved.  During training I would rescue other trainees.  We took turns saving each other.  But since we weren’t really drowning, we resisted being rescued.  “Stop kicking and let me save you,” I’d say.

It’s impossible to save those who are trying to save themselves.  You might save yourself from a broken heart or going broke or running out of gas.  But you’re not good enough to save yourself from sin.  You are not strong enough to save yourself from death.  You need a Savior…and because of Bethlehem, you have one!

Read more Because of Bethlehem

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Miss Spain makes history at Miss Universe

The Philippines’ Catriona Gray won last night’s Miss Universe pageant. Steve Harvey hosted the event again; competitors from ninety-four countries and territories participated.

Among them was Spain’s Angela Ponce. She earned the title of Miss Spain in June, defeating twenty-two other competitors.

She is also the first transgender woman to compete in the pageant.

Emergency contraception in vending machines

I recognize that Jesus’ statement, “He who created them from the beginning made them male and female” (Matthew 19:4), is an unpopular position these days. Our culture celebrates the “courage” of those who “transition” from male to female or vice-versa.

For me to suggest that sex reassignment surgery (known today as “gender affirmation surgery”) may not be in a patient’s best interest is to risk being branded intolerant and prejudiced. This despite a review of more than one hundred international medical studies of post-operative transsexuals that “found no robust scientific evidence that gender reassignment surgery is clinically effective.”

The director of the study stated: “There is a huge uncertainty over whether changing someone’s sex is a good or a bad thing.” I could point to numerous other studies (such as this report) that suggest similar caution.

However, my purpose today is not to debate transgender issues. It is to note that engaging in such a debate demands a level of courage that was not necessary even a few years ago.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Miss Spain makes history at Miss Universe