Charles Stanley – Dealing With Debt

 

Romans 13:1-8

citizens have the responsibility to submit to governmental authority. Obeying the laws of the land that do not contradict scriptural commands is an essential part of honoring the Lord. Verse 7 of today’s passage says, “Render to all what is due them.” Just as we are obligated to pay our taxes, we’re also to repay all of our debts (Rom. 13:8).

The Lord expects anyone who borrows money to be respectful of his neighbor and diligently repay him. By withholding what is rightfully due, we are guilty of stealing from the lender, which can influence our testimony for Christ. Since defaulting on a loan is serious and can ruin relationships, we need to responsibly get out of debt and stay out.

Perhaps this is hitting close to home. As daunting as the task of debt reduction may seem, you are not alone. God wants you to be financially free, and He will show you the way. However, it’s usually not a fast fix but a slow and steady approach that will prepare you to avoid future debt. Confess that you haven’t been a good steward of your resources, commit to making some sacrificial changes, and consistently work toward your goal. But above all else, rely on the Lord, and He will be faithful.

Does your mountain of debt seem bigger to you than your almighty heavenly Father? If so, your focus is on your own inabilities instead of the Lord’s faithfulness. For those who turn to God in genuine repentance and surrender, He will supply the needed resources as well as the persistence to repay what is owed.

Bible in One Year: Judges 7-9

 

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Our Daily Bread — Keep On Going

 

Bible in a Year:Deuteronomy 26–27; Mark 14:27–53

By faith [Moses] left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger.

Hebrews 11:27

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Exodus 10:21-29

Working in the corporate world allowed me to interact with many talented and levelheaded people. However, one project led by an out-of-town supervisor was an exception. Regardless of our team’s progress, this manager harshly criticized our work and demanded more effort during each weekly status phone call. These run-ins left me discouraged and fearful. At times, I wanted to quit.

It’s possible that Moses felt like quitting when he encountered Pharaoh during the plague of darkness. God had hurled eight other epic disasters at Egypt, and Pharaoh finally exploded, “[Moses,] get out of my sight! Make sure you do not appear before me again! The day you see my face you will die” (Exodus 10:28).

Despite this threat, Moses eventually was used by God to free the Israelites from Pharaoh’s control. “[By faith] Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27 nlt). Moses overcame Pharaoh by believing that God would keep His promise of deliverance (Exodus 3:17).

Today, we can rely on the promise that God is with us in every situation, supporting us through His Holy Spirit. He helps us resist the pressure of intimidation and wrong responses to it by granting us supernatural power, love, and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). The Spirit provides the courage we need to keep going and to follow God’s leading in our lives.

By Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Today’s Reflection

What types of situations upset you? How can you rely on God?

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Remember Me

There is something comforting about the many characters in the Christian story of which we know very little. There was more to the story of the woman who knew that if she could just touch the fringe of Jesus’s robe she would be well. There was more to tell about the woman who anointed Jesus with a jar of perfume, or the thief who hung beside Jesus on the cross. Yet, we are told only that they will be remembered. And they are. However insignificant their lives were to society, they have been captured in the pages of history as people worth remembering, people who had a role in the story of God on earth, people remembered by God when multitudes wished them forgotten. It is to me a kind reminder that our fleeting lives are remembered by God long before others notice and long after they have stopped.

We know very little about the man named Simeon, but we know he was in the temple when he realized that God had remembered him. Reaching for the baby in the arms of a young girl, Simeon was moved to praise. As his wrinkled hands cradled the infant, Simeon sang to God: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation” (Luke 2:29-30).

Simeon uses the language of a slave that has been freed. There is a sense of immediacy and relief, as if a great iron door has been unlocked and he is now free to go through it. God had remembered his promise even as God remembered the aging Simeon. The Lord had promised he would not die before he saw the Lord’s salvation. Now seeing and holding the child named Jesus, Simeon knew he was dismissed to death in peace.

Marveling at the bold reaction of a stranger, Mary and Joseph stood in awe. Upon laying eyes on their child, a man unknown to them pronounced he could now die in peace. They were well aware of God’s hand upon Jesus; yet here they seem to discover that the arm of God, which is not too short to save, extends far beyond anything they imagined.

Simeon’s blessing and words to Mary only furthered this certainty: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2:34-35). To these words as well, Mary and Joseph stood in awe.

In this Lenten season, followers of Jesus recall the symbol of the cross, the sword that pierced a mother’s heart, and the passion of the one who will continue to be spoken against. An old man in the temple hundreds of years ago, through a fraction of a scene in his life, reminds us still today that to look at Jesus is to physically look at the salvation of God. Whether peering at the child in the manger or the man on the cross, the human heart is yet revealed in its response to him. This is, in fact, our most memorable feature.

Perhaps the small excerpts of the many fleeting lives we find throughout the Christian story were meant to capture this very sentiment. As the thief peered into the bruised eyes of Jesus, like Simeon, he saw the salvation of God. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). And it was so.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

http://www.rzim.org/

Joyce Meyer – Are God’s Thoughts Your Thoughts?

 

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. — Isaiah 55:8

Adapted from the resource Power Thoughts Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Whose thoughts are you thinking? If your thoughts are not God’s thoughts, I recommend changing your thinking! If we want to have what God wants us to have, then we will need to learn to think the way He thinks.

In Jeremiah 29:11, God says, For I know the thoughts that I think toward you… (KJV). God has thoughts for you. Do you think about you and your life the way God is thinking about you?

If you’re not thinking the way God is thinking, you are not going to end up with God’s plan for you. The Bible says in Proverbs 23:7For as he thinks in his heart, so is he… (AMPC).

You can stop God’s plan by thinking your own fleshly thoughts, or agreeing with others’ or Satan’s thoughts, or you can think God’s thoughts and believe and receive the good plan He has for your life. Who are you in agreement with?

Prayer Starter: Father, Help me to think positive thoughts today that agree with Your Word and the good plan You have for my life. Please help me to be more aware of the thoughts I think and the words I speak, knowing they have tremendous power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Supernatural Wisdom – by Faith

 

“If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask Him, and He will gladly tell you, for He is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask Him; He will not resent it” (James 1:5).

Often – many times a day – I need divine wisdom, not only in the multitudes of decisions that I must make daily, but also in the witnessing situations the Lord brings across my path. No doubt you recognize a similar need in your life.

All I have to do to have His presence guide me, if my heart is right with Him, is to ask in faith, and He promises the wisdom I need for each day and for each moment of the day.

If we are going to live supernatural lives, and if we are going to demonstrate to others that they, too, can live such a life, then we must begin to think and act differently. And that is possible only as we go to the source of all divine wisdom.

This verse from Scripture assures us that God’s ear is always open to this kind of prayer. And of course the wisdom to which James refers is more than factual knowledge. It is the light of life, in which we can walk without stumbling.

Why does one need to pray to gain this wisdom? Perhaps because prayer is humbling and involves an acknowledgment of our inadequacy. Prayer opens our hearts and lives to the transforming influence of the Spirit of God.

Bible Reading: James 1:6-12

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Knowing that I need God’s wisdom if I am to serve Him effectively and please Him today, I will obey Him – and claim His supernatural work in my life – by asking for His wisdom when I face a decision.

 

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Max Lucado – When You Are Out of Choices

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

In the fifth chapter of John we find the story of an invalid.  He couldn’t walk.  He couldn’t work.  He couldn’t even get into the pool of Bethesda.  He was out of options.  But God’s efforts are strongest when our efforts are useless.  Jesus told the man, “Stand up.  Pick up your mat and walk.”  And the man immediately obeyed.

I wish we would do that.  I wish we would take Jesus at his word.  What is this peculiar paralysis that confines us—this stubborn unwillingness to be healed?  When he says we’re forgiven, let’s unload the guilt.  When he says we’re valuable, let’s believe him.  When he says we’re provided for, let’s stop worrying.  When he says, “Stand up,” let’s do it.

Is this your story?  A gentle stranger has stepped into your hurting world and offered you a hand.  Now it’s up to you to take it.

Read more He Still Moves Stones

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – A massacre in New Zealand, fighting in Israel, and a redemptive lesson from an unlikely source

 

Forty-nine people were killed in shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, this morning. Twenty more were seriously wounded.

Four people, including three men and one woman, have been taken into custody. One man in his late twenties has been charged with murder. He reportedly posted a white-nationalist manifesto on Twitter.

This tragedy was the largest massacre in New Zealand history. It reminds us that Satan “comes to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). God is weeping with those who weep today and calls us to join him (Romans 12:15).

In other news, Israeli warplanes struck some one hundred Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip overnight, responding to a rocket attack on the Israeli metropolis of Tel Aviv. The fighting broke out as Egyptian mediators were in Gaza working to broker an expanded cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

In a world filled with violence and chaos, we can learn a redemptive lesson from an unlikely source.

“The Ides of March are come”

Today is known as the “Ides of March.” In the Roman world, the “Ides” was the midpoint of their months. The date we know as March 15 was marked by several religious ceremonies and was a Roman deadline for settling debts.

This day is especially known to history as the day Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC. The back story is remarkable.

According to the Roman biographer Plutarch (died AD 119), “A certain seer warned Caesar to be on his guard against a great peril on the day of the month of March which the Romans call the Ides; and when the day had come and Caesar was on his way to the senate-house, he greeted the seer with a jest and said: ‘Well, the Ides of March are come,’ and the seer said to him softly: ‘Ay, they are come, but they are not gone.’”

Later that day, Caesar was stabbed to death by as many as sixty conspirators led by Brutus and Cassius.

Most people know the story of his death. But why was Caesar murdered on this day?

And why is his death relevant to our broken world today?

An assassination and stray cats

The Roman Republic was founded in 509 BC. Governed by leaders elected by the people, their representative model influenced the founders of the American republic. Over time, however, the aristocratic leaders of the Republic became less focused on the people and more concerned for their own power and agendas.

Julius Caesar (100–44 BC) rose to power as an accomplished military conqueror. With chaos in Rome, Caesar led his army south across the Rubicon, the northern barrier of Italy, on January 10, 49 BC. By 45 BC, he had become the sole dictator of Rome.

Brutus, Cassius, and the senators who conspired to execute Caesar claimed they were liberating the people from dictatorship. He was killed in a place known as Pompey’s Theater.

The area fell into ruins over the centuries and is currently fenced off from the public and occupied by stray cats. However, the mayor of Rome announced last week that the site will undergo renovation and be opened to the public in 2021.

“We are all slaves of the laws”

What can we learn from the Ides of March?

Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell into Tyranny is a new history of the fall of the Roman Republic. Its author, Edward J. Watts, earned his PhD in history from Yale and has received numerous awards for his research and writing.

He notes that “the men who led the Republic in the third century [before Christ] also understood that their personal achievements had meaning only when they served the larger goals of Roman policy.” There was “a shared understanding that the Republic was a political system subject to no one but the community as a whole.”

To illustrate, Watts cites the famous statement by Cicero: “We are all slaves of the laws so that we might be free.”

Over time, however, Roman political life devolved into “a struggle among individuals seeking honor and power through the complete control of the city and the resources of the empire.” Eventually, Romans would have “a new sort of liberty . . . Freedom from fear, freedom from famine, and freedom from danger now all came from [Emperor] Augustus and Augustus alone.”

When churches and Christians plateau

When the Roman Republic became a means to the end of personal advancement for its leaders, its decline began. The same can happen to us.

When churches are started, they must focus on evangelism and ministry to their communities in order to grow. After a few years, many have gained so many members that some begin focusing on what the church can do for them.

Parents want better programs for their children; adults want programming focused on their needs. The church stops focusing externally on those it is called to reach and starts focusing internally on itself. And it plateaus and often declines.

The same can happen to individual Christians when we focus more on what Jesus can do for us than what we can do for him. We come to church and to God for what we can receive. And we stop fulfilling the Commission to which we are called.

How to experience the joy of Jesus

The good news is that what happened to Rome doesn’t have to happen to us. Churches can renew their commitment to serve the community they are commissioned to reach. Christians can renew our commitment to the One who came not to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45).

Every day, we must decide whether we will live for Jesus or for ourselves (Romans 12:1–2). The tragedies that fill each day’s news show us that this decision is urgent for us and for the broken world we are called to serve.

Here’s the paradox: when we serve God and others, we find a greater significance than we can ever experience by serving ourselves. The disciples received power from the Spirit so they could be witnesses for our Lord (Acts 1:8). When we share the joy of Jesus, we experience the joy of Jesus. When we bless others, we are blessed.

In terms of the Ides of March, we can be an Empire or we can be a Republic, but we cannot be both.

Which do you choose today?

 

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