Charles Stanley – Who Owns It All?


1 Chronicles 29:10-14

A serious error has made its way into the church. Some Christians think that their beliefs and their wallet belong in separate spheres. The truth is, obedience to God includes how we handle our finances. He owns everything (Hag. 2:8; Psalm 24:1). Cash, possessions, and ways to earn more are gifts from the Lord; we are simply stewards.

A steward oversees the use and care of someone else’s riches. A wise steward bases financial decisions upon the owner’s rules for using and multiplying material goods. In our case, God has woven financial principles into the fabric of Scripture. Since money touches nearly every aspect of life, it is mentioned hundreds of times in different contexts. For example, God urged the Israelites to stay faithful to His teachings and to avoid the trap of self-reliance. He reminded them that the power to make wealth resides with Him rather than in their own hands (Deut. 8:17-18).

The minute a steward presumes that he owns the money he manages, trouble is at hand. He stops consulting the Owner and spends as he sees fit. Even in trying to do good, the wayward steward is ruled by his shortsighted perspective rather than by God’s omniscient view and gentle guidance. He will suffer the consequences of choosing his own way over the Lord’s.

Faith and finances are intertwined. The bottom line is that we cannot keep our money out of God’s hand, because He holds it all—we simply manage it. And we are to do so in the way He directs us. A maturing believer trusts the Lord’s principles for using and growing wealth.

Bible in One Year: Deuteronomy 1-2

Our Daily Bread — Living Sacrifice


Bible in a Year:Numbers 1–3; Mark 3

I urge you . . . in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice.

Romans 12:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Romans 12:1-8

My great aunt had an exciting job in advertising and traveled between Chicago and New York City. But she chose to give up that career out of love for her parents. They lived in Minnesota and needed to be cared for. Both of her brothers had died young in tragic circumstances and she was her mom and dad’s only remaining child. For her, serving her parents was an expression of her faith.

The apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Rome urged Christian believers to be “a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1). He hoped they would extend Christ’s sacrificial love to each other. And he asked them not to think of themselves more highly than they should (v. 3). When they fell into disagreements and division, he called them to lay down their pride, because “in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (v. 5). He yearned that they would show each other sacrificial love.

Each day we have the opportunity to serve others. For instance, we might let someone go ahead of us in a line or we might, like my great aunt, care for someone who is ill. Or maybe we share from our experience as we give another advice and direction. When we offer ourselves as living sacrifices, we honor God.

By Amy Boucher Pye

Today’s Reflection

Lord Jesus Christ, You humbled Yourself and lay down Your life that I might live. May I never forget this most precious gift of grace and love.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – On Giving


At an open lecture in a leading software company, I made the comment: “Love is seeking the highest best of the other person; it is not about your own interests.” An employee caught up with me at the end and inquired: “Is that kind of love possible?” I gave her an illustration of a mother who takes care of an ailing child—sacrificing her own comforts and well-being to ensure that the child is comfortable. This young lady thought for a moment and quipped: “Perhaps the mother does it because it is her own child.” She was suggesting that the reason for the mother’s selflessness is actually self-centeredness. A few years ago, a leading magazine in India carried a cover page article titled, “Twenty-five ways to be happy” written by a well-known columnist. Her very first point was similar: “Be selfish.”

Khaled Hosseini, award-winning author of The Kite Runner, presents a darkly selfish story about a man who found a magic cup and discovered that if he wept into the cup, his tears turned into pearls. But even though he had always been poor, he was a happy man and hardly shed a tear. So he found ways to make himself sad so that his tears could make him rich. As the pearls heaped up, so did his greed grow. The story ended with the man sitting on a mountain of pearls, knife in hand, weeping helplessly into the cup with his beloved wife’s slain body in his arms.

On the contrary, it is heartening to read of many leading billionaires in the world who are setting a remarkable model on giving. Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates unveiled the largest philanthropic drive ever. They started a campaign to get the richest men and women in the world to give away fifty percent of the wealth to charity during their lifetime or after their death. Buffett has pledged to give away an unbelievable ninety-nine percent of his wealth.

With a similar altruism, the heroes and heroines of the terrorist attack at the Taj hotel in Mumbai were its employees. Putting their lives on the line, these men and women braved the attack, and although they knew where the exit points were in the hotel, they stayed back to rescue as many guests as possible. In the process, eleven of them paid with their lives. No wonder Professor Rohit Deshpande at Harvard Business School has made this example a case study on customer-centric leadership.

It appears that one camp seeks to be at the giving side and another prefers to be stay put at the receiving end.

The Bible says, “Greater love has no man (or woman) than that he (or she) lay down their life for their friends.” Jesus died on the cross in a supreme example of love for his friends, even friends who turned away from him, and ‘friends’ who had no awareness of what he was doing. He commanded his disciples to love their enemies and at a climactic moment near death, looked at his tormentors who crucified him and prayed; “Father forgive them.”

While we may all be guilty of self-centeredness, Jesus can make a change in our lives. Opening our hearts, he pours his love into our lives.(1) Jesus gave himself up for you and me and the best response we could exhibit is to give back our lives to him in gratitude, for it is far more blessed to give than to receive.

Neil Vimalkumar Boniface is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Chennai, India.

(1) See Romans 5:1-5.

Joyce Meyer – Your True Identity


…Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. — Matthew 5:48 (MSG)

Adapted from the resource Wake Up to the Word Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Identity: The distinct personality of an individual regarded as a persisting entity.

The best way to defeat a lie is to know and speak the truth. The next time the enemy lies to you about who you are and accuses you of being unworthy, declare your identity in Christ. Answer him by saying:

Those are just a few of the many things that identify you as a child of God. You are not identified by your background, your level of education, your mistakes, or your friends—you are identified by what God has done for you and in you.

Prayer Starter: Thank You, Father, that my identity is in You. In Christ, I am righteous, forgiven, and more than a conqueror. When I become focused on my own weaknesses or get discouraged about the things I’m not, help me to remember who You say that I am. Through the power of Your Word, change my self-image and help me to truly understand my identity as a child of the King. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Hunger and Thirst


“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6, KJV).

Do you hunger and thirst after righteousness, for the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit in your life? If so, you can claim that fullness and power right now by faith.

“The great difference between present-day Christianity and that of which we read in these letters (New Testament epistles),” declared J.B. Phillips in his introduction to the Letters to Young churches, “is that to us it is primarily a performance; to them it was a real experience.

“We are apt to reduce the Christian religion to a code, or, at best, a rule of heart and life. To these men it is quite plainly the invasion of their lives by a new quality of life altogether. They do not hesitate to describe this as Christ living in them.”

The disciples were used of God to change the course of history. As Christian homemakers, students, businessmen and professionals, we have that same potential and privilege today.

The amazing fact that Jesus Christ lives in us and expresses His love through us is one of the most important truths in the Word of God. The standards of the Christian life are so high and so impossible to achieve, according to the Word of God, that only one person has been able to succeed. That person is Jesus Christ.

When we receive Christ into our lives, we experience a new birth and are also indwelt by the Holy Spirit. From that point on, everything we need – including wisdom, love, power – to be men and women of God and fruitful witnesses for Christ is available to us simply by faith, by claiming this power in accordance with God’s promise.

Bible Reading: Romans 10:6-10

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: “Dear Lord, create within me a hunger and thirst after righteousness that is greater than my hunger and thirst for meat and drink for my physical body. By faith I claim the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit to enable me to live a victorious, fruitful life to the glory of God and to share this good news of the Spirit-filled life with everyone who will listen.”

Max Lucado – The Heart on Target


Listen to Today’s Devotion

Jesus’ heart was so focused that his last words were “It is finished.”  God wants us to have focused hearts like Jesus.  Here are four simple questions to help us stay on course:

1)  Am I fitting into God’s Plan?  His plan is to save his children, and we are to tell others about the God who loves them.

2)  What are my longings?  Our assignment is found at the intersection of God’s plan and our pleasures.  You are created to serve God in a unique way.

3)  What are my abilities?  Identify your strengths—and major in them.

4)  Am I serving God now?  As a young boy, Jesus sensed the call of God. But he went home and learned the family business.

Do the same. Go home, love your family, be a good employee. And get your life on course.

Read more Just Like Jesus

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

Denison Forum – One of the most moving articles I’ve ever read


Michael Gerson was President George W. Bush’s chief speechwriter and senior policy advisor and is now a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post. It was my privilege to meet him and to work together at a recent Dallas Baptist University event.

He has been named one of the “25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America” and is one of the most popular and respected conservative voices in American culture.

He also suffers from clinical depression.

Gerson preached last Sunday at Washington National Cathedral. His sermon was adapted into a Washington Post article titled “I was hospitalized for depression. Faith helped me remember how to live.” It is one of the most moving and illuminating articles I have ever read.

If you have time, I encourage you to stop and read it before continuing with this Daily Article. If you do not, I hope you’ll read it as soon as you can.

“Despair can grow inside you like a tumor.”

Gerson describes his disease: “The brain experiences a chemical imbalance and wraps a narrative around it. So the lack of serotonin, in the mind’s alchemy, becomes something like, ‘Everybody hates me.’ Over time, despair can grow inside you like a tumor.”

There are times when the body is incapable of healing without medical intervention. God calls medical professionals just as he calls pastors and missionaries. Faith is a key part of the solution, but depression and other clinical conditions require clinical responses as well.

That’s why Gerson offers this crucial advice: “I’d urge anyone with undiagnosed depression to seek out professional help. There is no way to will yourself out of this disease, any more than to will yourself out of tuberculosis.”

However, as he adds, “Those who hold to the wild hope of a living God” find help and grace in him.

I found myself wondering, are there resources the God of Scripture offers that no other source can?

Help for the past

Much of the despair of life comes from guilt over the past.

We know that we need forgiveness from those we have hurt. However, we don’t even know all the people we have hurt.

Nor can we ask forgiveness from everyone we know we have hurt. Some are deceased. Others might be injured further by our attempt to make amends (as Step Nine of the Alcoholics Anonymous “Twelve Steps” program notes).

But God is different.

David prayed after his affair with Bathsheba, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:4). He did not mean that his adultery with Bathsheba and the death of her husband were not sins against them. He meant that his sin was ultimately against the holy God who made him and who rules the universe.

The good news is that this God can and will forgive every sin we confess (1 John 1:9). He then separates our sin from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), buries it in the depths of the deepest sea (Micah 7:19), and will “remember [our] sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12).

No one else can make this promise.

Help for the present

Much of our discouragement comes from struggles in the present. We carry burdens too heavy to bear and face obstacles too high to climb.

But Jesus knows what you are feeling today. He was rejected by his hometown and mocked by his own family. He experienced overwhelming stress in the Garden of Gethsemane, horrific pain and torture after he was betrayed by his friends, and abandonment beyond anything we can understand (Matthew 27:46).

Now he is praying for us with empathy and passion (Romans 8:34) and assures us, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

No one else can make this promise.

Help for the future

Much of our despair comes from fears about the future. But God testifies, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come” (Isaiah 46:10 NIV).

Our timeless Lord sees tomorrow better than we can see today and promises to lead us “in paths of righteousness” (Psalm 23:3).

No one else can make this promise.

“My name is Lazarus”

Let me repeat Michael Gerson’s statement: Depression is a medical condition requiring professional treatment. But for those suffering from depression–and for the rest of us on this fallen planet–there is help and hope in Jesus that we can find nowhere else.

In testifying to the transforming power of his conversion to Christ, Gerson quotes G. K. Chesterton’s poem, “The Convert”:

The sages have a hundred maps to give
That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
They rattle reason out through many a sieve
That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
And all these things are less than dust to me
Because my name is Lazarus and I live.

Gerson then cites “God’s promise”: “That even when strength fails, there is perseverance. And even when perseverance fails, there is hope. And even when hope fails, there is love. And love never fails.

“So how do we know this? How can anyone be so confident?

“Because we are Lazarus, and we live.”