Charles Stanley – A Balanced Schedule

 

Ephesians 5:15-17

We don’t think of seconds as very important. But they tick away into minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years. Look at it this way: A 70-year-old has lived the equivalent of about two billion, two hundred seven million, five hundred and twenty thousand seconds! While you were reading that last sentence, about five seconds of your life elapsed, and you can never go back and decide to use them differently.

Small as they are, seconds are precious because they are a creation and a gift of God. How we use even these small time increments is important because our heavenly Father has a plan for each and every life. Since we are to live it for His purpose and will, we must consider how He would have us spend not just years, months, and days, but even minutes and seconds. And the time to evaluate how we should use them is now, before any more of our life passes by.

Understanding the value of each moment, the apostle Paul urges us, “Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16). In essence, he is instructing us to take advantage of every opportunity the Lord gives us.

The heavenly Father is the one who opens doors for us to serve Him in a variety of ways, but if we neglect these opportunities, there is no guarantee that we will have a second chance. That’s why we must become aware of how we are using our time. Are we wasting it or redeeming it according to God’s will?

Bible in One Year: Exodus 25-27

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Big Deal

 

Bible in a Year:Exodus 9–11; Matthew 15:21–39

This is the kind of fasting I want: . . . Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people.

Isaiah 58:6 nlt

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Isaiah 58:6-9

A family member needed help with his December rent. To his family, the request felt like a burden—especially with their own unexpected expenses at year’s end. But they dug into their savings, grateful for God’s provision—and blessed by their relative’s gratitude.

He handed them a thank-you card filled with grateful words. “There you go again . . . doing nice things, probably passing it off as no big deal.”

Helping others is a big deal, however, to God. The prophet Isaiah made that point to the nation of Israel. The people were fasting but still quarreling and fighting. Instead, said Isaiah: “Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. . . . Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help” (Isaiah 58:6–7 nlt).

Such a sacrifice, said Isaiah, shares God’s light but also heals our own brokenness (v. 8). As the family helped their relative, they looked hard at their own finances, seeing ways they could manage better all year. This was God’s promise for being generous: “Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind” (v. 8 nlt). In the end, giving to their kin blessed them more. And God? He already gave His all—with love.

By Patricia Raybon

Today’s Reflection

Lord, light the path of generosity, helping us to give like You.

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Wings To Fly

They swooped in, a rush of wings, whirls, and whistles. Within a minute, they were gone. There must have been two dozen. I’ve not seen a single Cedar Waxwing since, but the sight some years ago of black-masked birds with beaks of berries has stayed with me. If I knew where to find these magnificent red-tipped creatures again, I would rush to catch a glimpse of them.

Their captivating visitation came to mind recently while reading of Zacchaeus in the Gospel of Luke. The name Zacchaeus means “innocent” or “clean”—and yet his life up to this point has been seemingly quite the opposite. While short in stature, his wealth and power are immense, for he is a chief tax collector. As such, he is despised. Zacchaeus not only collects money for the enemy Rome from his from fellow Jews but also profits from them by pocketing his own concocted commissions.

Jesus is passing through Jericho on his way to Jerusalem, just hours before his triumphal entry into the city and final week of his earthly life and ministry. Zacchaeus has heard about this magnificent Jesus, and he is determined to catch a glimpse of him, running as fast as his stunted legs can fly. Luke writes, “He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way” (Luke 19:3-4). Up in the tree, Zacchaeus is afforded a bird’s-eye view of Jesus approaching.

The animosity toward this tax collector is evident: even though he beats the crowds to Jesus, he still has to climb a tree in order to see him. He must have expected to be shoved to the back once the crowds arrived. A blind beggar sitting by the road faces a similar plight, and his story immediately precedes Zacchaeus’s. When he learns that Jesus is passing by, he cries out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Luke tells us that “those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’” (see Luke 18:38-39).

One is poor, another powerful. Both are shunned by their communities—by people who even try to thwart them from meeting Jesus. What a tragedy!

But Jesus sees them and stops, bringing them healing, salvation, and an invitation to intimacy: “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5). This is the way of Jesus; “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (verse 10).

And it is the way we are called to follow as followers of Christ: to love our neighbors as ourselves, whatever their place or race, and even to love our enemies. Only with God’s indwelling Spirit can we do this; only by his tender mercies and grace have we been given eyes to see, hearts to love, and wings to fly.

Danielle DuRant

Editor

http://www.rzim.org/

 

Joyce Meyer – Greater Things

 

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?…And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? — Matthew 6:25, 27

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

Satan is constantly waging war on the battlefield of the mind.

Our soul is the tangible area between our spirit—the place where God Himself lives—and our physical body. It is made up of our mind, will, and emotions—it tells us what we think, what we want, and how we feel.

When our mind is constantly stirred up with concern, worry, and anxiety, our God-given inner voice of insight and understanding becomes drowned out. In this unstable state, we no longer know what God’s will is regarding what we should and shouldn’t do.

When we allow the enemy to overtake our mind with worry and anxiety instead of following God’s Spirit, we are living the life of the flesh, and it keeps us out of God’s will.

Romans 8:8 says that . . . those who are living the life of the flesh [catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature] cannot please or satisfy God, or be acceptable to Him (AMPC).

This does not mean that God doesn’t love us. It simply means that He is not satisfied with, nor will He accept, fleshly behavior.

God cares about us and about our needs. He wants greater things for us than we want for ourselves. We must fight hard to resist the temptation to accept the devil’s endless lies.

When I finally got fed up with not having any peace in my life, I made a decision to do whatever I needed to do to get it. I asked God what I should do. His response was clear:

“Joyce, you need to begin living on a deeper level.” Eventually, the Lord made it apparent to me that the deeper level on which I needed to live was the level of the Spirit.

In order for us to truly enjoy the abundant life Jesus died to give us, we need to stop worrying about what we think we want and need, and start following the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

That’s the message against worry. It doesn’t matter if your need is food, a job, the right clothing, the best schools for your children, your future, or the future of your family—God knows and God cares. The trick of Satan is to whisper, “God doesn’t care about you. If God truly cared, you wouldn’t be in this mess.”

When we focus on ourselves—what we don’t have—we have little energy left to focus on others and reaching out to help them. We don’t give money freely when we’re afraid or worried that we’ll lose our job or not have enough to pay our own bills. But when we trust God to provide for every need, we are free to share what we have.

Let me encourage you to stop worrying about your own needs and instead focus on the Word of God. You might even need to say to yourself out loud, “God does love me, and nothing can separate me from His love. He has heard my confession of sin, and He has forgiven and cleansed me. God has a positive plan for my future because His Word says so” (see Romans 8:38-391 John 1:9Jeremiah 29:11).

Every time worry and anxiety come up to try and steal your righteousness, peace, and joy, find out what the Word of God says, and then open your mouth and speak the Word.

God’s ultimate goal is to get us to the point where no matter what is going on, we remain calm. Who is going to keep us calm? The answer to that question is the power of the Holy Spirit working on the inside of us. God wants us to develop the habit of running to Him for the grace to resist the lies of the devil. Eventually the truth will win out and change our life!

Prayer Starter: My heavenly Father, thank You for caring for me and for assuring me that You will provide for every need I have. Too often, I’ve allowed worry to creep in and steal my joy or my peace. Because of worries over little things, sometimes I’ve been unable to focus on the greater things in this life You do for me. In the name of Jesus Christ, free me from the things that bind me so I can be totally free to worship and serve You. Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Christ Our Attorney

 

“If anyone publicly acknowledges Me as his friend, I will openly acknowledge him as My friend before My Father in heaven. But if anyone publicly denies Me, I will openly deny him before My Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:32,33).

Some time ago, I challenged a famous and successful statesman to share his Christian faith.

“I believe that religion is personal and private, not something to wear on your sleeve,” he replied. “I am a Christian, but I don’t want to talk about it.”

I reminded him that Jesus loved him enough to die for him. His disciples were so convinced of the urgency of passing on to others the message of God’s love and forgiveness through Christ that they, and many thousands like them – though they died as martyrs – did not give up their efforts to get the message to us.

Further, I reminded him of the words of Jesus, “He that is not with Me is against Me” (Matthew 12:30, KJV) and the passage above from Matthew 10.

He was very sobered by my remarks. After a few minutes, he said, “I agree with you. I realize how wrong I have been. I had never realized how far off course I had gotten. I need to rethink all of my priorities and give Christ His rightful place in my life.”

“My challenge to laymen,” R. G. Le Tourneau, one of America’s leading industrialists and Christian statesmen, once said, “is that when Christ said, ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel,’ He did not mean only preachers but everyone who believed in Him as the Lord of glory…….My challenge to you is for a return to this first-century conception of Christianity where every believer is a witness to the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Bible Reading:Psalm 119:41-48

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Today I will publicly acknowledge my love for Christ, and through the enabling of the Holy Spirit I will live today so that others will want what I have, and I will speak so that they will know what I have.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Surviving Prosperity

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Are you “rich in this present age”?  Almost half the world lives on less than $2.50 a day.  If your income is higher, then you are rich, and your affluence demands double vigilance.

How can a person survive prosperity?  First of all, do not be haughty.  Do not think for a moment that you had anything to do with your accumulation of wealth.  Money is an untrustworthy foundation.  The United States economy endured ten recessions between 1948 and 2001.

Don’t trust money; trust God.  He owns everything and gives us all things to enjoy.  Move from the fear of scarcity to the comfort of provision.  “Do good … be rich in good works, ready to give and willing to share” (1 Timothy 6:18).

Read more Fearless

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Why is the media biased?

Savannah Guthrie, one of the anchors on NBC’s Today show, interviewed Covington student Nick Sandmann yesterday morning. I watched the interview, then watched the response. It was as though two completely different conversations took place.

Critics on the left lambasted the show for giving Sandmann a platform to tell his side of the story. Critics on the right castigated Guthrie for asking the young man if he felt he did anything wrong or owed anyone an apology.

Meanwhile, his Catholic school reopened later in the morning under extra security measures as the students face continued criticism and threats.

How the media covered the DC conflict

I described last weekend’s confrontation in Washington in yesterday’s Daily Article. One factor the conflict made clear is that media coverage of news events seems more biased than ever.

When video of the confrontation first emerged, it seemed to show white students wearing Make America Great Again hats instigating the clash. Liberal media outlets and celebrities were quick to brand Sandmann and his fellow students as racists.

When longer videos emerged that faulted others, conservative outlets and celebrities rose to the students’ defense and condemned liberal media for their earlier response.

Is this an isolated event, or is media bias real and growing?

Is media bias real?

Our ministry is nonpartisan and attempts to be as objective as possible. However, the facts indicate a clear bias in the media favoring liberal candidates and agendas. For instance:

Only 3 percent of major newspapers who endorsed a presidential candidate in 2016 endorsed Donald Trump.

A recent study found that over the last fourteen years, employees at Google gave 90 percent of their political donations to Democrats. Amazon, Apple, and Facebook employees gave to Democratic candidates at similar rates.

Social media companies use algorithms that seem clearly biased against conservative sources. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently admitted that conservative employees “don’t feel safe to express their opinions at the company.”

Even financial journalists, long considered the most objective members of their profession, are more liberal than many thought. In a recent survey, only 4.4 percent said they were “very conservative” or “somewhat conservative.” By contrast, 58.47 percent said they were “very liberal” or “somewhat liberal,” while 37.12 percent claim to be “moderate.”

In other words, the ratio is one conservative to thirteen liberal/moderates.

One journalism expert has classified eight different types of media bias, with specific examples of each. According to a Wall Street Journal reporter, liberal media bias has been an issue in America for more than five decades. Of course, liberals consider conservative media to be biased against their agendas as well.

Unsurprisingly, Gallup has found that 62 percent of Americans believe news media to be biased. Today, 66 percent of Americans believe most news media do not do a good job separating fact from opinion. In 1984, 42 percent held this view.

Why is the media biased?

Media bias is a large and complicated issue, but we can identify two trends that are relevant for Christians in our post-Christian culture.

One: Postmodern relativism claims that there is no objective truth, only “your” truth. In such a world, we interpret the news through the prism of personal security and fear. (A perceptive CNN article noted that “Our reptile brains were triggered by MAGA hat video.”)

Liberals fear that conservatives will force “their” morality on the culture. Conservatives fear that liberals will limit their freedom of speech, worship, and life. Thus, both are motivated to report and interpret stories that reinforce their bias.

Two: Information technology has remade the rules for the media business. Anyone can be in the media now (for instance, Apple says there are more than 550,000 active podcasts today). With so much content, platforms and consumers must segment what they report and we consume. We use technology to curate the news, limiting our feeds to the sources we want to hear or read.

Media outlets derive much of their income from advertisers. Advertisers know which market segments they want to capture. As a result, news outlets increasingly tailor their reporting to the biases and agendas of the markets their advertisers are paying them to reach. The result is the demise of objective reporting and the escalation of agenda-driven media.

Three steps to take now

The purpose of this Daily Article is not to condemn the media. Rather, it is to help us recognize media bias and understand the news effectively.

In today’s culture, discerning Christians can take three important steps.

One: Identify our beliefs and biases. They will influence our decision to consume or reject reporting and social media. We want to be sure we are seeking truth rather than reinforcing our opinions.

Two: Read across the spectrum and especially for viewpoints that counter our own. As we have seen, no news or social media platform is neutral. We need to know the agendas that drive the various outlets (click here for a helpful guide).

Then we need to seek out a variety of positions and to consider viewpoints that contradict our own. For instance, I read the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times early each morning, then check reporting on particular stories from sources as varied as The Blaze and HuffPost.

Three: Pray for the wisdom to interpret the news and world biblically. Scripture promises: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5).

Our goal should be to imitate our Lord, about whom even his enemies testified: “We know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances” (Matthew 22:16).

The tribe of Issachar included “men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chronicles 12:32).

Will you join them today?

 

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