|5/22/2022||Colossians 1:19-20 “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself … whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the Blood of His Cross.”|
Only the blood of Jesus – only the blood of His cross – reconciles us to the Father. Only His blood makes peace between us and God.
When the Nile River turned into blood in the first plague of Egypt, every stream ran red and the water in every vessel in every home turned to blood. That blood did not save us.
When Solomon dedicated the Temple, he sacrificed 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. So much blood – but those offerings could not wash away their sins.
The Roman army surrounded Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The city was decimated, the Temple was destroyed, and over one million people, mostly Jews, were killed. Their blood could not bring us into right relationship with God.
The only blood that can remove the stain of sin from our souls is the blood of the Lamb of God slain for the redemption of many…With heaven and earth watching, Emmanuel bled His life away…From His head, His hands, His feet, His brow, and His side, His blood poured out for each one of us…Only His blood bought our forgiveness, our hope, our future, and everlasting life!!!
|5/21/2022||Hebrews 9:12 “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own Blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”|
A scarlet stream flows through Scripture. It begins at the gates of Genesis and courses through to the end of Revelation.
The stream was set in motion when Adam and Eve sinned at the beginning, and God shed the blood of innocent animals to provide covering for them (Genesis 3:21). Later, God accepted Abel’s blood sacrifice, but Cain’s offering was rejected (Genesis 4:5).
Six centuries passed, and the stream resurfaced when Noah’s first act following the flood was to worship God with the offering of sacrificial animals (Genesis 8:20). Years later, God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son. Even as Abraham lifted the knife, God spared Isaac and provided a ram for the altar instead.
Four centuries passed, and the stream rolled on in the story of Moses. On the night that the Israelites escaped Egypt, the blood over the doorpost of their homes spared their firstborn sons.
To usher in the new covenant, Jesus shed His blood once and for all…Destined to die from the foundations of the world, He became the scapegoat for our sin, the ultimate and final sacrifice…Today, we remember that crimson, cleansing tide every time we participate in communion…This we will do until He comes again…Only then will the scarlet stream reach its final destination!!!
|5/20/2022||Matthew 26:27-28 “Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. For this is My Blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.’”|
When Adam took of the forbidden fruit in the beginning, his bloodline was tainted with sin. He died from blood poisoning. Thousands of years later, the virus of sin still thrives in the blood of every person who has not come to Christ.
The only solution for eternal death is a Blood transfusion from the Savior of all humankind. When we participate in communion, we remember the sacrifice given to wash away our sins and initiate a new covenant and new way of living. We symbolically take in the supernatural, life-changing Blood of Jesus that drives out the virus.
When we participate in holy communion, Satan must hang his head…He knows that he has lost us to the Lamb…In the same way that the lamb’s blood over the Israelites’ doorposts forced the death angel to pass over those homes, the Blood of the Lamb over the doorpost of our souls makes us untouchable to the prince of darkness…When we come to the table with our brothers and sisters, the Blood of Christ unites His body…He mediated a new covenant so that we might receive the promise of eternal inheritance!!!
|5/19/2022||Leviticus 17:11 “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.”|
God instituted animal sacrifice to make atonement for the sinful souls of humanity in the Old Testament, but a river of blood from bulls, rams, goats, and turtledoves could not save us.
Christ alone redeemed us from the curse of the Law through the shedding of His Blood (Galatians 3:13)! Only His Blood could atone for us. We are not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold or the dead-end traditions of the past. No! We were bought with the priceless Blood of the perfect Lamb (1 Peter 1:18-19). The Innocent died so the guilty could go free!
In our physical bodies, bones, muscles, organs, tendons, and nerves are set in place…The blood, though, is ever moving…It circulates through the body about every 20 seconds carrying oxygen, nutrients, and cleansing power…Life is in our blood…When a nurse touches our wrists, she is looking for the pulse created by moving blood…No pulse indicates death…In the body of Christ, His Blood circulates to give us life, to connect and empower us individually and corporately…Without His Blood, we can expect deprivation and death…True life is found only in the Blood of Jesus!!!
|5/18/2022||Ephesians 1:7 “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace”|
We have been redeemed by the Blood of Jesus Christ. Our sins have been forgiven, and we are accepted in the Beloved. Oh, the riches of God’s grace!
Colossians 2:14 says that He “wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us.” The impossible-to-uphold Law is the handwriting that stands against us. One broken statute meant we were fully guilty.
“Handwriting” was the term used for the signature on an IOU, a document that acknowledged a debt we could not pay. But Jesus signed our IOU at the Cross.
An ancient method existed for indicating a paid-in-full debt. A person could cross out the writing on the IOU or strike through it with a nail. Jesus’ nail-pierced hands crossed out the judgment against us.
Picture your long list of sins written down for all to see…See the nail pounded through Jesus’ hand to your list of sins…See the stream of His Blood washing away the record that stood against you…Your sins never to be remembered again…Your name recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life…Your filthy rags traded for spotless robes of righteousness…Destined to live in a mansion prepared for you by the Architect of the Ages…Redeemed by His precious Blood!!!
|5/17/2022||Hebrews 9:22 “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.”|
Our generation thrives on power. We pay professional athletes exorbitant salaries to vanquish their competitors. The automobile industry builds stronger, sleeker vehicles. The military develops mightier rockets and weapons of destruction.
At Calvary, God unleashed the most extraordinary power the world ever had – or ever will – experience. There, Jesus poured out His Blood for the remission of all humanity’s sins, to cancel the debt against us. His atonement bought our redemption and reconciliation to the Father.
The power, purity, purpose, and protection of the Blood encompass the mystery of God’s salvation plan. The scarlet thread of blood runs through the Bible. When Adam and Eve sinned, they were naked and ashamed. In His mercy, God provided animal skins to cover them. The principle was established that blood must be shed to cancel out sin, that the innocent would suffer so the guilty could be set free.
Without the Blood of Jesus, Christianity is a powerless fraud…The church is merely a religious fraternity living in absolute deception…Our preaching is in vain, our worship a farce…We have ritual without righteousness, ceremony without conversion, and deception without discipleship…Because of His Blood, we have been forgiven, saved, and filled with the hope of a future with our Redeemer…It will never lose its power!!!
|5/16/2022||Psalm 78:4 “We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.”|
Many profess the promises of God, but they fail to possess them because they do not walk in agreement with the Lord.
If Joshua had proclaimed, “…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15), but his children had rejected that mandate, he would have been left with an empty profession – no possession.
God blesses unity…Our families must place Him at the center, take courage, and walk in agreement with His Word…As parents, we must be present to watch over our children, guide and teach, walk hand in hand with them…Talk to them about the wonderful works of the Lord, His faithfulness in the past, His promises for the future, His amazing gift of salvation, and the destiny He has designed for each one of them…From the time they rise in the morning until they drift off to sleep at night, teach them to love and walk in obedience to His statutes…Home is truly where our hearts are…Invest your love, time, and energies into the children whom God has gifted to us!!!
|5/15/2022||Amos 3:3 “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”|
Before the Israelite leaders, Joshua made this bold declaration, “…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua’s “me” was personal, but his “we” meant that he and his family were walking in agreement.
Agreement does not mean that we are all cookie-cutter versions of one another with no original thoughts. Agreement means that, in spite of our diversity, we understand the roles we are called to fulfill, and we sacrifice our individual plans to God’s greater plan.
Jesus did not pursue His own desires. He only spoke what the Father said (John 12:49). He only did what His Father showed Him (John 5:19). Dreading death on the cross, Jesus prayed for another way, but He ultimately relented, “…nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39).
Families must come into alignment with God’s plan…The husband submits himself to God’s plan and to his wife in the same way that Christ gave Himself for the church…The wife, in turn, surrenders to the Lord and submits to her husband…When the two walk in agreement, their children learn how mutual submission accomplishes the mission…Choose to walk in agreement with God…Submit to one another for the greater good of His plan and for the fulfillment of His mission!!!
|5/14/2022||John 16:33 “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”|
This world can discourage and dissuade us from being the people that God created us to be. In our key verse, Jesus encourages us to “be of good cheer” – to take courage, to be undaunted, even filled with joy!
We have all compared our lives to those picture-perfect social media families and realized that we do not measure up. Our families are imperfect, fractured, and dysfunctional. Well, take courage! We stand in good company.
God does not discount imperfect families. In fact, He has a long history of using very imperfect fathers, mothers, and children to bring about His ultimate plans for good.
He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah. Abraham fathered a child with the “other woman” – flawed. Isaac and Rebekah played favorites and created a family rift that lasted for decades – flawed. Jacob’s eleven sons ganged up on their young brother and sold him into slavery – flawed. Judah slept with his daughter-in-law because he thought she was a prostitute – flawed.
All broken down and messed up, but through the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah comes the very Son of God…Be encouraged…A perfect God will take what the enemy intended for evil in your family and turn it to great good when you submit your all to Him!!!
|5/13/2022||Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”|
Jesus summoned us to lay hold of the eternal, to pour our lives into things that carry everlasting weight and will endure forever.
We choose how to live today. Distractions and detractors may attempt to pull us off course. Obligations and appointments crowd our calendars. Good things can deter us from the “God things” – the plans that He has purposed for us.
With the power of the Holy Spirit, we can make choices that redirect us to Him, that guide us into truth. Let’s pour our lives into the divine purposes of God and our relationship with Him, into being about our Father’s business.
Let’s discipline ourselves to not just read His Word – but obey it. Let’s quiet ourselves to pray. Let’s practice the presence of God and living in the fullness of joy.
Individuals who prioritize the kingdom of God grow into Godly spouses who raise children in the nurture and instruction of the Lord. Those families build a church that welcomes the presence of God. Churches filled with the power and presence of the Lord build a strong nation. Those efforts do not begin at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. They begin at our own addresses, under our own roofs.
Determine to seek His kingdom and His purposes first and foremost…When we do, He will provide for every other need!!!
|5//12/2022||Joshua 24:15 “And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve … but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”|
Joshua threw down the gauntlet to the children of Israel. “Serve the Lord!” he challenged (Joshua 24:14). But he made it clear… the choice was theirs to make.
Before they weighed in with their decision, Joshua reminded them of the God he served. He was the One Who parted the Red Sea so they could cross on dry ground – then swallowed the Egyptians in the briny deep. He protected and guided them in a column of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. When they were hungry, manna fell from heaven. When they were thirsty, water gushed from a rock. He caused the walls of Jericho to crumble before their victory cry.
How could it seem evil to elect that kind of Lord? But He gave them the privilege of choice.
The choice of who you will serve stands today…A reminder is in order…This is the God Who loved you so much that He sent His only Son to die in your place…The lashes that He took across His back set you free from the shackles of sickness…When you need provision, He opens up the windows of heaven to pour out a blessing that cannot be contained…Choose whom you will serve…Make Him your choice!!!
|5/11/2022||Matthew 6:19-20 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.”|
Jesus encouraged us to stockpile treasures in heaven where moths couldn’t eat them, rust couldn’t corrode them, and thieves couldn’t break in and steal them. He knew that where our treasures are located is the place where our hearts are invested.
Over the last generation, a shift has occurred in our nation. Parents often are more interested in climbing the corporate ladder than building a Godly home. Fathers have abandoned their roles as spiritual leaders who train their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Mothers spend more time at the office than nurturing home and family.
In the Old Testament, Joshua issued an ultimatum to the children of Israel: “…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…” (Joshua 24:15). The Israelites had been ensnared by foreign gods in the nations around them, but Joshua called them to choose the Lord.
Joshua’s challenge still resonates today. Will we find our treasures in earthly pursuits or will we prioritize our eternal purposes? Large salaries and success amass material things and the semblance of significance, but those things are fleeting.
Instead of focusing on the bottom line, pour all of your heart and energy into influencing future generations with the truth of Jesus Christ…Lay up eternal treasures in heaven!!!
|5/10/2022||1 John 4:11 “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”|
The global crises we’ve faced over the past several years have given us the opportunity to rediscover what we truly love.
While countless immigrants are risking their lives and futures to come to America, unruly mobs are burning our flag in the streets, professional athletes are kneeling during the anthem, and Hollywood elites mock patriotism.
America has found itself in the greatest moral and political crisis since the American revolution. The media is more propaganda than truth. Socialism runs rampant, and one of its key goals is to shut down the churches in America! Our children are being taught “critical race theory,” which tells them that America’s laws, institutions, values, and traditions are racist and must be destroyed.
This is the time for the body of Christ to dwell together in unity…This is the time to come together under His banner of love…We need to demonstrate that we are united in one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one body, and one Spirit in one hope with faith in action…Our purpose is to love the Lord and to care for one another…Let’s be about the Father’s business!!!
|5/9/2022||Proverbs 18:10 “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”|
Throughout the Bible, names are often linked with the purposes of God. Abraham means father of multitudes. Eve was the mother of all who were living. God renamed Jacob, the deceiver, to become Israel, he who prevails with God.
When Moses asked God Whom he should tell the Israelites had sent him to deliver them, God responded, “I AM.” Day after day, He revealed more of Himself through miraculous exploits.
The current situation has driven us into our homes and to our knees. He is revealing Himself as Jehovah Shammah, the Lord Who is there.
When difficult circumstances drive us to our knees, He reveals Himself as Jehovah Shammah, the Lord Who is there.
When anxiety threatens to overwhelm, He is Jehovah Shalom, our Peace. He calms every fear and fills us with a peace that guards our hearts and minds.
Greater than any virus, sickness or disease, He is Jehovah Rophe, the God Who heals us. The stripes on Jesus’ back purchased our healing.
He is Jehovah Nissi, the Banner over us. When we align ourselves with God, we fight under His banner and with His help. The battle already belongs to Him!
There is a name above every other name…That name is Jesus…Call on Him in the day of trouble…He will answer and deliver!!!
|5/8/2022||Proverbs 31:25 “Strength and honor are her clothing…”|
On Mother’s Day, let us honor the ladies in our lives! Whether a mother or daughter, a wife or single, a stay-at-home mom or a career woman, you are precious in the sight of God and a marvelous part of His plan.
Throughout the Bible, God uses women to accomplish His purposes. Graceful Abigail saved her foolish husband with her intelligence and hospitality. Risking her own life, courageous Esther rescued her fellow Jews from certain death. Deborah – a prophetess, poet, and warrior – served as a judge in Israel.
In the New Testament, Anna, the prophetess, served the Lord ceaselessly in the Temple. Successful businesswoman, Lydia, was the first recorded Christian convert in Europe. Paul entrusted Pheobe, a deaconess in the church at Cenchrea, to carry his letter to the Romans.
Jesus emphasized the worth of women. He healed them–the woman with the issue of blood and Jairus’ daughter who was presumed dead. He defended them when He rebuked those who criticized Mary for anointing His feet with expensive perfume. He delivered them; Mary Magdalene’s life changed forever when He cast out seven demons. He provided for them; from the Cross, He charged John to care for His mother.
On this Mother’s Day we celebrate the dignity, intelligence, virtue, and Godly influence of the women in our lives…We rise up to call them blessed…In the immortal words of Solomon, “You are altogether beautiful…”!!!
|5/7/2022||Romans 8:37 “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”|
Paul assured the Romans that “…we know that all things work together for good to those who love God…” (Romans 8:28). Even as he penned those words, Paul understood the pressures and pains of this life.
He had been whipped, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, hungry, naked, and cold – all for the sake of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). He was not suggesting those things were good.
He was declaring that when we look at adversity through the lens of God’s goodness, it shapes and molds us. We see struggles as a season to gain strength. Rock-solid confidence pours into our souls that God is on His throne, and everything will work out for the best. We make the determination to rejoice in the day that God has made, to be glad right now (Psalm 118:24).
We are living in an unpredictable world…There are constant disruptions to our “normal” including sickness, relational discord, and financial hardship…However, we have a God Who is greater than these things and the chaos they create…Even in situations that Satan intends for evil, God will redeem them to bring about His good purposes…He has caused us to be more than conquerors…As the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write these words, his heart must have been singing as he smiled ear to ear…Determine to rejoice alongside him today!!!
|5/6/2022||Romans 8:31 “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”|
What hope resides in today’s key verse! When it seems that everything is working against us – a deadly virus, enforced isolation, supply shortages, loss of income – God is right beside us.
Not one ounce of defeat can be found in this verse or the ones before and after it. Paul agrees that yes, we will suffer in this world, but it is nothing compared to the glory that awaits. We look with eager anticipation for what God will do on our behalf (Romans 8:18-25).
Paul says that yes, we will experience weaknesses, but the Spirit will help us (Romans 8:26). His power shines through most brightly at those points (II Corinthians 12:9).
The Psalmist declared that it was good that he had been afflicted because he learned to trust in God’s Word (Psalm 119:71), to run to the secret place of the Most High, and to dwell under the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1).
The sun came up and we are breathing…God has a purpose for us…When you are feeling overwhelmed or defeated, turn to the Lord for His provision and peace…God is for us…God is in our corner…God is championing us…God has created us to be more than conquerors!!!
|5/5/2022||Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”|
Our key verse for today is an outlook indicator! How you read this verse determines your outlook. Your outlook determines your outcome in life.
In our current climate, we face unprecedented struggles. We are dealing with the unknown, with an uncertain future. Each of us has the opportunity to choose our outlook and to determine our ultimate outcome.
Some people will deny the power of this verse. In the crisis, they will argue that God has not worked things for their good. They will fix their eyes on a faltering business or an illness or a deficiency, and they will lose sight of a benevolent God orchestrating His plan for their lives.
Others stand on a weak theology that the Christian life is absent of struggle. That doctrine is not weathering the current storm well.
His Word says that we will experience difficulties in this life, that needs will arise, that struggles will come…It also assures us that, in the middle of the struggle, He is our Strength, our Provider, and our Healer…In the swirling uncertainty, we have a firm foundation, and Jesus is His name…Choose to believe, to know, that God is working for you…Allow this faith-filled outlook to determine your good outcome!!!
|5/4/2022||Psalm 119:89 “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.”|
Where do we turn in uncertain times? When life as we once knew it is no more, where do we look for stability and truth?
For the child of God, the Word of God has always been the place to turn. In its pages, we find God’s promises. It steadies our anxious hearts. It replaces fear with faith. It reminds us of the One Who swore to never leave us, that He would be our Defender.
In spite of how shaky the world may seem today, we can be certain that God Almighty still presides from His throne. Even though people may plot and plan and scheme, God will have His way (Proverbs 19:21).
We can be certain that He will provide for our every need…He will do exceedingly abundantly above what we can ask or imagine…The all-sufficient One is more than able…We can be certain that He will protect us…He has given His angels charge over us…No evil can come near us, and no plague can get through our door when God is our refuge…His goodness and mercy will follow us – chase us down – all the days of our lives, and we will dwell safely in His arms forever…Allow His Word to settle your heart once and for all!!!
|5/3/2022||Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”|
“Doing good” seems effortless when life carries on as usual, but it becomes difficult when a challenge throws your whole world into tumult. Simple tasks become a challenge, and normal routines are hindered at every turn.
Challenging seasons are a time to lean into the Lord and not into our own understanding. It is not a time to lose heart but to trust Him with our whole hearts. When we welcome Him into our situation, He will keep us on the right track (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Rampant uncertainty floods our planet as we continually face unprecedented obstacles. We have learned how quickly our world can change and how tenuous is our stability over the last several years.
The good news is that we serve a God Who is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in the time of trouble…Under His sheltering wings, we find protection…In the pages of His Word, we find the truth upon which to stand…In the family of God, we find the support we need…Don’t lose heart…Continue to do good…Even in times of uncertainty, He will cause us to reap a bountiful harvest!!!
|5/2/2022||Joel 2:13 “Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.”|
A story is told of a rebellious young man who broke the law and was sent to prison for several long years. He knew his father was greatly displeased and angry with him.
As he served his time, he believed that his father would never allow him to come home. He wrote to his mother to tell of his impending release.
He would take the train whose tracks wound around their farm. If she and his father would welcome his return, he asked them to tie a ribbon in the oak tree beside the tracks. If he saw that scrap of cloth, he would get off the train. If not, he would pass through and never contact them again.
On his release day, he boarded the train. With every turn of the wheels, tension mounted. Rounding the final bend, he could not bear to look. He asked the gentleman seated beside him to look for a ribbon in the tree.
Peering out the window, the man said, “I don’t see one ribbon. I see hundreds of ribbons tied to every branch, the fence, the clothesline, and the back porch. There are so many ribbons, it looks like it snowed. What does it mean?”
With tears on his face, the young man responded, “It means I’m forgiven. I’m going home.”
|5/1/2022||2 Corinthians 5:18 “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation…”|
Many of us have been abandoned, betrayed or abused. Actions taken against us left scars on our souls, continual anger or deep bitterness. Those offenses destroyed our peace of mind.
We have a Savior that we abandoned. We deserted our faith to chase after lesser things. We wounded Him and heaped up injustices against Him. Still, He emptied Himself of all heavenly royalty and humbled Himself to the point of death on the Cross…even while we were still sinners.
When we approached Him to plead for forgiveness, He opened up His arms and poured out grace…He reconciled us to God…He chose forgiveness, washed away the sins of the past, and refused to remember them anymore…He gave us the ministry of reconciliation…He healed our vertical relationship with the Father, so we can show others the way back to Him…Through Christ, our horizontal relationships with others can be healed too…He gives us the ability to forgive, the power to rise up and walk away free…He breaks the strangleholds of anger and bitterness…He alone brings the hope and healing, the reconciliation and restoration, the freedom and a future…He ministered reconciliation and charges us to do the same!!!
|4/30/2022||Luke 12:48 “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”|
Romans 3:23 reminds us that we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s expectations. We have compiled a long list of transgressions, proven ourselves incapable of living up to the glorious plans He has for us.
In His mercy, God sent Jesus to save us. His blood washed away our sins, and He adopted us as His own children.
Jesus told of a master who wished to settle his accounts. He summoned a slave who owed billions of dollars. His master commanded that his family and everything he owned be sold to pay the debt. When the servant fell down and begged for mercy, he released him and forgave the debt.
Afterwards, the servant found a fellow servant who owed him a small sum of money. He grabbed him by the throat, demanded payment, and threw him into debtors’ prison. When this news reached his master, he turned the ungrateful servant over to the tormentors until his debt was repaid.
Mercy and forgiveness are wonderful to receive but can be difficult to extend to another…Remember the great debt of sin that Jesus has forgiven you…Be quick to extend mercy to the one who offends…Much has been given…Much will be required!!!
|4/29/2022||Psalm 126:5 “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.”|
Peter Hulme left his village for the university, going on to become a famous architect. After gaining great wealth, he lost it all because of alcoholism.
He returned to his village with his wife and only child, a daughter on whom he doted. Their new neighbor owned a large, vicious dog. Although the townspeople had asked the man to restrain the dangerous dog, he arrogantly refused.
As Hulme returned home one day, he heard his daughter’s frantic screams. He raced to find her in the jaws of the neighbor’s dog. He managed to tear her from the dog’s teeth, but she died in his arms.
The town was outraged and shunned the owner of the deadly dog. He was a farmer, and no one would sell him seed for the next season. No seed, no harvest, no crop to sell, and he was broken. The act of unified revenge would drive him into bankruptcy.
But when spring arrived, the neighbors were shocked to see Hulme’s field was only half planted, and his neighbor’s field was also half planted. The evidence was obvious. Hulme had crossed the fence at night to sow seeds in his neighbor’s field.
We have not practiced forgiveness until we sow seeds in the garden of our enemies…In whose garden do you need to sow seeds of forgiveness today???
|4/28/2022||Luke 6:32 “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.”|
Most churches would have welcomed the Pharisees. After all, they tithed up to 30% of their income, knew the Scriptures backwards and forwards, fasted twice a week, and were very religious.
They were also mean-spirited, stingy, and self-righteous. They twisted the Scriptures – tested and questioned Jesus. They prayed loudly in the streets, so others would be impressed with their piety. They moped pitifully when they fasted, so people would admire their self-deprivation and discipline.
Jesus saw through their religious façade, and they hated Him for it. However, Jesus said that even the Pharisees – deceptive hypocrites that they were – loved those who loved them. And He challenges us today: if we only love those who are kindly disposed towards us, what credit is that to us?
The true test of love is when we are the first to forgive…when we seek to be reconciled to an enemy…when we do good to those that deceive and use us…when we lend to the needy with no expectation of return…when we treat others the way we wish to be treated…Jesus promises a wonderful reward when we act like our generous Father Who shows us how to be kind to the ungrateful and wicked!!!
|4/27/2022||Colossians 3:13 “…even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”|
Unforgiveness and bitterness harbored in our hearts can bring us to an impasse in our faith. They are toxic to our souls. Consider the true story of Adolph Coors IV.
On February 9, 1960, Adolph Coors III, heir to the Coors Brewing Company fortune, was kidnapped and held for ransom. His wife and four children hoped for his safe return, but seven months later, his body was found on a remote mountainside, shot in the back. Joseph Corbett, Jr., an escaped fugitive, was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison.
At the age of 15, Adolph Coors IV lost his father and best friend. He spent years hating Corbett. In 1975, he gave his heart to Jesus and divested himself of his interest in the family business, but he could not divest himself of the hatred.
Resentment and rage seethed within him and blighted his growth in faith, affecting every area of his life. His bitterness alienated him from God, and he began to seek His help to forgive Corbett.
His pastor later related: “Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Adolph Coors IV visited the maximum-security unit of Colorado’s Cañon City Penitentiary and tried to talk to Mr. Corbett, the man who murdered his father.”
Corbett refused to meet him, so Coors left a Bible with the following inscription: “I’m here to see you today and I’m sorry that we could not meet. As a Christian, I am summoned by the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to forgive you. I do forgive you, and I ask you to forgive me for the hatred that I have held in my heart for you.” In the same way that Christ forgave him, Adolph Coors forgave the man that murdered his father.
|4/26/2022||Mark 16:7 “But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”|
Who would roll away the large stone to allow them access into the grave? Very early in the morning, a group of women made their way to Jesus’ tomb. Shocked, they found the stone rolled away. An angel instructed them to tell the disciples – and Peter – that Jesus would meet them in Galilee just as He had promised (Mark 16).
Why did the angel specifically mention Peter’s name? Impetuous Peter – always running off at the mouth and making grandiose promises. After all, didn’t he fervently avow that, even if everyone else rejected Jesus, he would never disown Him? (Matthew 26:35).
Yet, a few short hours later, he denied even knowing the One he had promised to defend to the death – three times. Big promises, little performance.
But the angel mentioned Peter by name. Be certain that the one whose confidence was crushed, whose shame ran deep, whose self-recrimination threatened to overwhelm – be sure to let him know that Jesus wants to see him again.
No matter how you might have denied Jesus, His love will restore your shattered heart, His forgiveness will wash away all shame, and He longs to meet with you again…His arms are open, and He calls you by name…His forgiveness promises a new beginning!!!
|4/25/2022||2 Kings 2:9 “And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?’”|
Knowing that his time was limited, the old prophet, Elijah, looked at his soon-to-be successor, Elisha, and demanded, “Ask!”
Elijah had urged Elisha to stay behind at Gilgal, Bethel, and Jericho, but he would not be shaken. He refused to leave him. Now, Elijah asked what he could do for Elisha before he was taken away. This was their final conversation, and Elijah challenged Elisha. He had come this far … make it count!
Elisha did not hesitate. He did not ask for a strategic plan, the ministry manual or keys to the building. He wanted that same God that was at work in Elijah to work in him. In fact, He wanted a double portion of that blessing! God had empowered Elijah, and Elisha knew God would do it for him too.
Suddenly, a chariot of fire whirled Elijah into the heavens. As Elisha stared after him, he saw Elijah’s mantle drift to the ground. He picked up that symbol of prophetic authority, of connection between God and man. He returned to the Jordan, struck the water, and watched in wonder as the river parted.
What will you ask Jesus today…What needs to be imparted to your life…What river needs to part…Where do you need provision, power, healing, and victory…Ask!!!
|4/24/2022||2 Kings 2:2 “But Elisha said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you!’”|
Elijah and Elisha – the old prophet and his young successor – labored together in Israel. As Elijah’s life neared its end, he visited four significant places.
He traveled to Gilgal, the place where Joshua circumcised the Israelite men before crossing into the Promised Land. The covenant required the shedding of blood and the rolling away of transgressions. Our Gilgal occurred on Golgotha where Jesus’ flesh was pierced, His Blood was shed, and our sins were rolled away. Elijah urged Elisha to stay, but he refused.
They traveled on to Bethel, the house of God – where all newborns are nurtured and the saints are strengthened. When we plant ourselves in His house, we will flourish (Psalm 92:13). Even though Elijah insisted he remain, Elisha persevered.
They reached Jericho, a place of battle. As God’s children, we also engage in spiritual warfare. We endure hardships, knowing that no weapon formed against us will prosper.
Leaving Jericho, they encountered the Jordan River, the symbol of death’s rising tide. Elijah struck the water with his mantle. The river parted, and they crossed on dry land.
When we accept Jesus, He refuses to leave our sides…He walks us through every trial and every triumph…When we reach Jordan’s banks, He will usher us into everlasting joy…He will never leave us!!!
|4/23/2022||2 Corinthians 1:21-22 “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee”|
Elisha was Elijah’s successor – a man of God, handpicked by God, to do the work of God.
God commanded Elijah to anoint Elisha to be the prophet in his place (1 Kings 19:16). Elijah had no vote. Why is that important? If a man had chosen Elisha, he would have felt compelled to meet his expectations. When God picks and places someone, He anoints him to fulfill his divine destiny.
God sent Moses to anoint Joshua. God sent Samuel to anoint David. God, through Jesus Christ, chose Saul on the road to Damascus. If they would have been appointed and anointed by a mere man, they would have lived up to their human opinions and expectations.
However, they were empowered by God to do what no one else could do. When you are anointed by God, the walls of Jericho fall. You stand fearlessly in front of giants. You put pen to parchment in a prison cell to write, “In all of these things, we are more than conquerors through Christ…!”
You are appointed and anointed by God…His is the only opinion that matters…The only expectations you must meet belong to Him, and He has graciously equipped you for every good work…He has picked and positioned and prepared you!!!
|4/22/2022||2 Kings 2:14 “Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, ‘Where is the LORD God of Elijah?’”|
Like Israel, under the corrupt rule of Ahab and Jezebel, our nation has forgotten our foundation of faith. We tolerate anything but Truth, floundering in a sea of political correctness.
The prophet, Amos, envisioned a famine in the last days – not of bread or water, but of the words of the Lord (Amos 8:11). That famine does not mean that no access to the Word will exist, but that no appetite for the Word will exist. We echo the words of Elisha: “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?”
Where is that bold voice unashamed to declare the truth…Who is the person willing to announce to a lost generation that there is one true God…Jesus is not one prophet among many, a mere teacher of morality…He is our Redeemer Who now intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father…Our Sovereign God is on His throne…He needs no political party or slick candidate with proper speaking points to shift a generation back to Him…He needs an Elijah or Elisha to blaze brightly in a dark generation, to stand against the rising tide of evil, to speak life-giving words to change the world…We know where God is. Where are you???
|4/21/2022||Isaiah 6:8 “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.’”|
God sent Elijah to stand before the evil Israelite king, Ahab. At God’s prompting, Elijah boldly declared that no rain or dew would fall in the land of Israel until he said the word.
He threw down the gauntlet to a nation that served Baal, a god who purportedly brought down the rain and made the crops grow. Elijah challenged Baal and demonstrated the power of the one true God. Three and a half years later, drought had devastated Israel.
Elijah stood on God’s Word…He did what God asked him to do, and he made it count…No matter how difficult the task that God has given you, make it count…No matter how many or how few stand with you, make it count…If He sends you into political office, speak the declarative words of truth…He may send you to the PTA, your workplace or the community center…He may ask you to usher or sing in the choir…Whatever you do, make it count…Elijah stood in a generation where no one else was willing to speak the truth…When he did, a nation fell to its knees…Be willing to go…Be willing to stand…Be willing to speak…Make it count!!!
|4/20/2022||James 5:17 “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months”|
Elijah and Elisha were two men who served God and made every day count. When the whole world opposed them, they believed in the One Who called them. They shaped the world for the glory of God.
One day, as they walked along shoulder to shoulder, a chariot of fire drawn by horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah was caught up to heaven in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11). Elisha was left staring forlornly into the sky.
He must have thought, “Without this great prophet, what will become of us now?” We easily succumb to similar thoughts. When God moves powerfully in the life of one individual, we begin to believe that, as long as that person breathes, God can work.
God is no respecter of persons…He displays no partiality…He has purposes for each one of us…Elijah was a human being with the same kind of nature that we possess…When he prayed earnestly, God answered…Elijah was just like you and me…Like him, we can make every moment count…Like him, our prayers are powerful and effective…Like him, we can impact this world with the glory of God!!!
|4/19/2022||Ephesians 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”|
El Shaddai, the Hebrew word for God Almighty, signifies that He is the God Who is all-sufficient. He is more than enough.
Jesus Christ nailed your sin to the Cross. He nailed your past to the Cross. You are not a patched-up, somewhat-improved version of your old self. All the old things passed away, and He made all things brand new. You are a new creation!
He made a public spectacle of rejection at the Cross. The enemy attempts to use the past to bring guilt and condemnation. He sticks his finger in old wounds to resurrect the pain and shame. But El Shaddai is more than enough! The Cross represents our total triumph!
Satan believed that the Cross was the end, but Jesus was just getting started…When He declared, “It is finished,” Satan soon discovered that those words of finality ushered in a new beginning for us…Shackles fell powerless…Addictions were broken…Ruined lives were redeemed…Shattered hearts were restored…Broken dreams were revived…Every promise that He made, He has kept…Through every trial, He has been a Friend Who sticks close…He has never abandoned us in the difficult hours…He has met every deficiency…No need to ever wonder…He is more than enough!!!
|4/18/2022||Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”|
Jesus didn’t die on the Cross so He could condemn us. He came to save us and grant us the peace that surpasses understanding as we navigate life’s roads to the inexplicable splendors of heaven. The half of what we will see upon our much-anticipated arrival has not even entered our minds. But until that day when we meet our Savior face-to-face, we must continue to stay the course.
We were never promised a primrose path on this earth…We were promised that in Him we could find peace…If we will seek Him, Jesus will carry our burdens no matter how great our load and make a way where none seems to be…He knows our end from the beginning…Take it to the foot of the Cross and leave it there…Don’t carry part of the problem back home with you…Leave the entire burden with God, knowing that He will not only meet your need but give you sweet rest in the valley!!!
|4/17/2022||Romans 8:37 “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”|
The day Jesus died on the Cross looked like a day of total defeat, when in fact it was a day of total victory! From a human perspective, it looked as if the enemy had won. The soldiers were mocking Him. His robe was torn and sold. The sky was gray and dismal. All hope seemed lost.
What appeared to be utter defeat was actually the portrait of sheer victory on a grand scale that the world had never before seen. That was the day you and I were set free from death, hell, and the grave, from sickness and disease. It was the day we were liberated from the chains of the past, from addiction, from every kind of hindrance that would defeat us in our daily lives.
On this day, Jesus descended from the Cross into the bowels of the earth and shook His finger in the face of the prince of darkness. He gave us all authority, on earth and in heaven. No matter what we ask for in His name, we can now have it because of the complete victory that was won on the darkest day the earth has ever known.
Think of the chains that bind you today…Look in the mirror…You are now face-to-face with your worst enemy…The person you see in the reflection has been completely liberated, set free to live a life of abundance…Calvary made that possible…Whatever chains have shackled you to the past, whatever controls you and manipulates your life, keeping you from enjoying the goodness of the Lord needs to be let it go in Jesus’ name…You are more than a conqueror…Live like it…Act like it…Think like it…That is what Calvary did for you!!!
|4/16/2022||Psalm 118:24 “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it”|
To make it count, we must choose this moment that will never come back to us. Too often, we are tangled up in regret for the past or riddled with anxiety about the future, and we miss the opportunity of the here and now.
This day is not like any other. This is the day that the Lord has made. Before our eyes opened this morning, He went ahead of us to fill up every space. He saw – start to finish – and planned His purposes for us. Because we are His children, we can trust Him and rejoice and be glad right in the middle of it.
Bathe this day in prayer…More than a command to us, prayer is a conversation with the God Who holds the world in the palm of His hand…When we pray, we reach into heavenly places and pull down strongholds…We approach the throne to move mountains…Our pleas help shape the destinies of those we love…We bring down giants of fear…Prayer in Jesus’ name stirs up the gifts of God in our lives…It saturates our souls with the peace that passes understanding…It fills us with faith to face every moment…It kindles our hope…Live in this moment…Experience the wonder…Rejoice in it…Breathe in its gladness…Make it count!!!
|4/15/2022||Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”|
The Word of God is such a powerful weapon that, when spoken out loud, it makes demons run for cover. If you are looking for victory in any area of your life, I encourage you to start reading the Bible out loud. Read the promises of God, believe that He can and will deliver you in your day of trouble. No mountain is so high and no valley is so deep that the hand of God cannot reach down and snatch you out of harm’s way!
The Bible is God’s blueprint for our lives…You can have what this book says you can have…You can do what it says you can do…You have no limits as a child of God…Whatever you are looking for to fill that gaping hole in your life, child of God, pray and ask Him to bring it to pass…Call upon the Lord and you shall have whatever you ask in His name…His Word promises that we can achieve the impossible when we are holding God’s hand and He is walking us down the path toward our divine destiny…With Him, nothing is impossible!!!
|4/14/2022||Romans 6:18 “Having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”|
Are you saved but not free? Many people are controlled by the people around them or by religious rules—false doctrine that they’ve been taught their entire lives. I’m going to make it very simple for you: if it’s not found in the Word of God, toss it out! You have no use for it in your life.
If man made rules could pave the way to heaven, then Jesus died in vain. Look to the Cross!
The Cross delivers you from arbitrary rules for obtaining righteousness with God…It erases your past and give you a future full of promise…You don’t need anything but the Cross—the Blood of Jesus Christ—to be made whole and totally set free from any form of bondage…You might fear what the future holds or still harbor guilt from the past…Today, in Jesus’ name, and by His sovereign grace, you can be supernaturally set free…Let your past be gone…Leave behind every failure…The Cross has set you free!!!
|4/13/2022||Galatians 6:14 “God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”|
The Cross is the central theme of the Bible. Without it you have nothing. But the beauty of the Cross is that it is an open invitation for “whosoever will.” Jesus died on this Cross as a scapegoat, to redeem us of our sins. He took on our filthy rags so that we could be afforded opportunities that only the grace of God can provide. All we have to do is accept this gift, accept His love, accept Him as our Savior.
Once we meet Jesus at the foot of the Cross, our sins are washed away and our name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life…There is no symbol or theme more powerful in the life of a Believer than Calvary’s Cross…God loved you so very, very much that He sent His only Son to die in your place…You are a designer original; don’t live like a cheap knockoff…Make today your best day…Give it your all in everything you say and do…Live a life full of confidence, knowing that the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world is rooting for you every second of every day…Don’t listen to the negative things the world has to offer; keep your eyes focused on the Cross!!!
|4/12/2022||2 Corinthians 1:20 “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.”|
There are more than 3,000 promises found within the Word of God. Your daily provision comes directly from these promises, which hold the golden key to open the gates of heaven and close the gates of hell.
When you are needing a spiritual breakthrough in your life, call on the mighty name of Jesus Christ…He will give you a promise within the Scripture that will bring you out to rich fulfillment…When God gives you a promise, hold onto it…Rest on it, knowing that in due season this prophetic word for life will be fulfilled…It will probably not be done on your schedule, but when God deems the time is right, your promise will be completed…It isn’t difficult to have faith in a God who never fails…Faith is reaching out in the darkness and knowing that you will feel the hand of God reaching back on the other side!!!
|4/11/2022||Isaiah 45:2 “I will go before you and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze and cut the bars of iron.”|
Prayer doesn’t need proof, it needs practice. God is as close as your next breath. He has promised to never leave you nor forsake you. This means that when the dearest on earth have turned their backs on you, God sees. He knows your pain. And He wants to set things straight.
If you want to make a difference in your day, begin each morning with prayer. As soon as you start to pray, God releases His angels to meet your every need. Then get ready! Great and mighty things are about to happen!
Prayer is the weapon that God has given His children to wage war in the heavenlies…Put on the full armor of God and make it a great day…Satan is a defeated foe who has no power over you as a child of God…He cannot stop you when God is on your side…Run to the One who calmed the raging seas with three simple words: “Peace, be still”…If you feel like you’ve hit more bumps than usual on the road of life, look to the face of God…He has promised to lead you down a path that will grant you the greatest possible success…You need Him to make crooked places straight…Call on His name, then leave the driving to Him!!!
|4/10/2022||James 5:16 “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”|
The tragedy of our modern-day society is not unanswered prayer but unoffered prayer. God knows your every thought, need, and desire, but He is waiting for you to ask for great things. When you call on His name, do you ask God to help you find an umbrella for the storm ahead, or to help you build an ark? When you pray in faith believing, expect mighty things to happen.
The Word says all we need is faith the size of a mustard seed to move a mountain…Maybe the circumstance you are currently in looks like a mountain of impossibility…Pray in Jesus’ name…Have faith that what you are asking God for, He can and will do…Speak to the mountain with total authority and watch as the things in your life begin to line up with the Word of God…You will start to gain favor among God and men…This doesn’t mean that you will have sunshine every day, but it means that the Son will shine in your life and light your pathway…You will have the best of things in the worst of times as you trust the Savior to lead you in paths of righteousness…God is ready to remove the mountain of impossibility in your life if you will only ask!!!
|4/9/2022||Colossians 2:14 “having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the Cross.”|
Jesus Christ nailed them to the Cross – every charge that was stacked against you. Every sin, He covered with His Blood. He became the propitiation for you.
Jesus’ action at Calvary made peace between humankind and a holy God…He took our place and became the payment for a debt He did not owe…His act of obedience repaired the breach between us…He broke down the wall that separated us…When you accepted His invitation and welcomed Him into your heart, every accusation against you was covered in His Blood…Satan is the accuser of all believers…Satan points his finger at us day and night, attempting to bring up all those old allegations…Satan wants to drown us in shame and condemnation…But when you enter the throne room of His grace and approach the Righteous Judge, and He demands the charges against you, an Advocate will defend you…He will announce that all of your sins are covered with His Blood, plunged into the depths of the ocean to never be remembered again…Though your sins were as scarlet, He washed them white as snow…There are no longer any charges…He nailed them to the Cross!!!
|4/8/2022||Colossians 2:15 “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”|
When a Roman general marched an army off to war, he was bent on triumph. He was determined to decimate the enemy.
Only when his adversaries were soundly defeated did he return to Rome. On that day, cheering citizens lined the streets as the conquering general, astride a white horse, rode into the city through the Arch of Triumph.
The city celebrated wildly as the general was preceded by wagonloads of treasure plundered from the enemy. Following the wagons, the prisoners of war paraded in shame as the citizens looked on their defeated foes – the captured soldiers who dared to defy the Roman Empire.
Behind this sad procession came the king of the vanquished land. All of Rome looked on this defeated royal, bound in chains, destined for slavery in the emperor’s palace. What a public spectacle!
For those of us whose citizenship is in heaven, we have a conquering King…He marched out to battle against Satan at Calvary…He disarmed every principality and power, stripped away their ability to steal, kill, and destroy…He publicly exposed them as powerless…Like those long-ago citizens of Rome, let us lift up our voices to wildly celebrate our conquering Lord of lords and King of kings!!!
|4/7/2022||John 12:32 “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”|
Horses straining towards the fight, soldiers bravely brandishing their swords, and banners flying proudly in the wind – we can picture the battle scenes of old.
While the conflict raged and the ground was in question, no army hoisted its victory banner. But when one army vanquished another, when the enemy fell back in defeat, the conquering army planted its flag firmly in the dirt. No longer in question, the ground now belonged to the victor.
Before we come to the Cross, the ground of our soul is in question…Our eternal destiny is uncertain…Satan fights ferociously to capture and carry us to hell…Jesus was lifted up on the Cross, hoisted above the battle…His death means certain victory for all who accept His invitation for life everlasting…At the Cross, Jesus draws all people to Himself…No one has ever been rejected or turned away…Every single soul can find its home in Him…Satan may attempt to torment, but he cannot overpower us…He may attack, but he will not destroy us…He may come at us from one direction, but he will flee from us on seven different routes (Deuteronomy 28:7)…Let His banner fly over the soil of your soul…Let His victory flag be planted in the battleground of your heart…Let there be no question Who reigns over your life!!!
|4/6/2022||1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”|
How peculiar that the place where Jesus was brutally crucified has become a tree of triumph for those who believe! The Cross has become a beautiful symbol used in art, jewelry, and decorations.
To the first-century church, a cross was recognized as a tool of torture, a death sentence. Rome preferred this method of execution. Anyone who witnessed the gruesomeness of crucifixion realized that Rome was not to be resisted. Yet, Jesus’ followers took the Cross as their symbol of worship – foolishness to the unbelievers!
Graphic portrayals of Jesus’ journey to Calvary abound. He was arrested, taken, and crucified. However, Jesus made it clear in John 10:18 that no one took His life from Him. He chose to lay it down!
He was not arrested; He submitted…He was not taken; He gave Himself…He hung on a tree, but it was not nails that held Him there; it was His love for you and me…He could have called ten thousand angels to come to His rescue…More than a symbol, the Cross is our source of triumph…the Cross is our place of victory…The message of the Cross is the power of God to those of us who are being saved!!!
|4/5/2022||Galatians 6:14 “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world”|
At the top of Mount Moriah, God used a tree as a tool of redemption for Isaac. At the final instant, as Abraham raised his knife in obedience to the Lord, God provided a sacrifice instead of Isaac – a ram caught in the thicket.
Centuries later, Jesus became the substitute for us all on the tree at Mount Calvary…The only begotten Son of God was nailed to the cross…This tree is why He knows us, why we are united in the family of God, that we can create a habitation of praise for our Father, that we can go boldly before the throne of grace to receive mercy…Jesus Christ paid the price on that cursed tree…His blood reached us in our faraway, desperate state and pulled us near…Without the Cross, no grace or mercy is extended, no salvation is available…Without the Cross, we cannot be called sons and daughters of the Most High…Without the Cross, we have no reason to rejoice…Because of that cruel tree, we are grafted into every promise and covenant, sins washed away, lives made whole…We have a glorious future with the One Who loved us to the death…That cruel Cross became our tree of triumph!!!
|4/4/2022||Psalm 56:8 “You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?”|
How amazing to think of God bending low to collect the tears that slide down our cheeks!
In biblical times, mourners often caught their tears in small, glass bottles before placing them in burial tombs as a sign of their grief. In Civil War times, women collected their tears in bottles until their men returned from battle.
Not only does God collect our tears in His bottle, He also records them in His book. Think about the tears that you have cried: when failure disappointed, death shattered your heart, loss uprooted your life, your child deserted his faith, malicious words wounded. All those tears of grief, frustration, and distress trickled into God’s bottle, and He recorded each shimmering droplet.
Why is God so interested in our tears? In Revelation 21:4, He makes a promise He intends to keep. When we are united in the New Jerusalem, God Himself will wipe every sorrowful tear from our eyes. Because He has kept count, every tear will be wiped away.
In the darkest hour, when no one else sees, your Creator draws near to gently collect and count each tear…One day, He will remember and wipe away every one…Those who sow in tears will reap in joy!!!
|4/3/2022||Psalm 143:10 “Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness”|
As believers, we are enrolled in a continuing education program. We become lifelong learners as God opens His Word and speaks His truth.
We keep learning, growing, and maturing – making ourselves ready for the work that God has for us to do. The Lord will enroll us in classes that challenge and stretch us.
He will teach us to pray. Through problems that we are unable to solve, burdens that we are unable to bear, He will instruct us how to call upon Him so He can show us great and mighty things that we did not know before (Jeremiah 33:3).
He will teach us to give. Every perfect gift that we have in our lives comes from the Father of Lights above (James 1:17). Giving is not extraordinary; it is expected. When we recognize the abundance of His blessings, it will prompt us to give cheerfully and generously.
He will teach us to praise. He will take us to school about the power in praise – how it brings heaven down into the circumstances of earth. When God invades the atmosphere, mountains move, yokes break, and chains fall.
When we choose to listen and learn, He will teach us to do His will…Because He is good, the Spirit will lead us into all righteousness and truth!!!
|4/2/2022||Proverbs 18:9 “He who is slothful in his work is a brother to him who is a great destroyer”|
If we believe in something, we will bleed for it. We will sweat to succeed. Sweat demonstrates effort and hard work. Only in the dictionary does success precede work!
In Luke 22:44, Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, and His sweat poured out like huge drops of blood. Why? He believed in us, and He was working for us. Jesus bore the burden of our humanity, and in that moment, He struggled mightily.
He accepted a weight with which we are too familiar. Jesus, Who had never known sin, became sin, so that we could be made right with God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Our sin and shame rolled onto His shoulders, and He was separated from the Father – an agony that He had never experienced.
Hours before, He prayed of the beautiful unity that He and the Father shared. Hours later, He cried from the Cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34). He poured out His blood and sweat. He completed the work to pay a debt that He did not owe.
Invest your sweat…Be about the Father’s business…Faithfully and energetically undertake the work that Jesus commanded…Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature…Sweat comes before success!!!
|4/1/2022||2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?”|
Paul encouraged the Corinthian Believers to test themselves. Then, he gave them a one-question examination: “Do you not know that Jesus Christ is in you?”
It was not a matter of faith; it was a matter of acknowledging that Jesus was alive in them. Today, many of us struggle with the same dilemma! We easily believe in the free gift of salvation, but we disregard the power of a Risen Savior that takes up residence in our lives.
Christ is in us! The One Who walked out of the grave with the keys of victory in His hand lives in us. The One Who quiets the wind and waves with a simple command lives in us. Along with John, we can say, “…He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world!” (1 John 4:4).
If the Mountain Mover is in us, those obstacles will be removed…If the Commander of Angel Armies is in us, no weapon formed against us will prosper…If our Rock and Defense is in us, we will not be moved…Know that Jesus is alive in you…Square your shoulders…Lift your chin…You are a child of the King!!!
|3/31/2022||Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”|
Christ bled for you, because He believes in you. He planted great potential in you, and He believes in the person that He created you to be.
In spite of the wrong turns or poor choices you might have made, He died for you while you were still a sinner. He no longer considers your past sins; He hurled them into the depths of the ocean.
Jesus puts no stock in expert opinions, statistics, and analyses of how impossible your situation might appear. He already knows that you can do all things when He gives you the strength (Philippians 4:13).
When every door closes in your face, just keep asking and seeking and knocking…He promises that if you ask, you will receive…If you seek, you will find…If you keep knocking, He will open a door that no one can ever close…When you were at your very worst, He gave His very best…Jesus believes in your healing, because He took the lashes on His back to buy it…He believes in your redemption, because He won it at Calvary…He believes in your royalty, because He wore a crown of thorns to make you a child of the King…You will bleed for what you believe in, and He believes in you!!!
|3/30/2022||Luke 22:44 “And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”|
In the Garden of Gethsemane, hours before His death, Jesus knelt to have a conversation with His Father.
For 33 years, Jesus walked this earth. The Father’s mission was His exclusive aim. He only spoke and acted as His Father directed Him. As He anticipated the Cross, He pled with God that, if it was possible, if there was another way, to please let this cup pass from Him. If not, God’s will be done.
His agony was so great as He prayed that His sweat became like huge drops of blood dripping from His face. He bled for you because He believes in you.
At His Word, everything was fashioned…The sun rises in the east and sets in the west because Jesus instructs it to do so…The moon glows at His insistence…He has numbered and named the stars, commanding them to shine for His purpose…He formed every mountain with His hand…He carved every valley with His finger…He planted every flower…He designed every creature…Yet, He bled for none of them…He did not bleed for the trees or the birds…He did not bleed for the multitudes of angels…He bled for you because He believes in what He created you to be!!!
|3/29/2022||Colossians 1:29 “To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.”|
Sir Winston Churchill, the former prime minister of the United Kingdom, popularized the phrase “blood, sweat, and tears” in a rousing speech that he delivered three days after his election in 1940.
The first use of the phrase occurred in print in 1837 when Welsh preacher, Christmas Evans, expounded the extraordinary sacrifice of the Author and Finisher of our faith, Jesus Christ.
Our blood represents life. It contributes to all that we do. As long as it flows, our lives are sustained. If it ceases to flow, we experience a quick death. Leviticus 17:11 tells us the “life of the flesh is in the blood…”
Our sweat reflects the price that we are willing to pay to accomplish a goal. Nothing great is achieved without great effort. Sweat represents long days, hard hours, struggle, and strain.
Our tears water the passion that pushes us to persevere when giving up is the easier choice. God has promised us that weeping may endure for the night, but joy will come with the rising sun (Psalm 30:5).
The blood, sweat, and tears that we invest determine the quality of our families, careers, and our lives in Christ…If we lose our lives for His sake, we will save them (Luke 9:24)…Where are you investing your blood, sweat, and tears???
|3/28/2022||Proverbs 12:15 “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.”|
The leper, Naaman, took great offense when the prophet, Elisha, sent a lowly servant to speak with him. He was insulted at the humble cure that Elisha suggested.
He left his house in a rage. His servant wondered why he did not take the steps that the prophet recommended for healing.
His servants had traveled the long distance with Naaman, had suffered with him, dealt with his disease and his desperation. Most likely, they had helped him hide it and aided in the frantic search for a cure. They longed for Naaman’s healing too.
We often choose to deny that our sin is an issue. If we want the truth, we should talk with the people that live with it every day. Don’t have a temper problem? We should talk to the people we wound when we lash out. Don’t have a lying problem? Talk to the people who cannot trust a word we speak.
Naaman heard what his servant had to say, and it changed his perspective. He recognized that his disease impacted more than himself. Why not wade into the Jordan?
Our sin-sickness is a matter of life and death…Its lethal impact can infect those around us…Wade into the water to wash away its deadly damage…Come up clean and free!!!
|3/27/2022||Psalm 149:4 “For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.”|
When Naaman, the leper, arrived at the prophet’s house seeking healing, he stepped out of his chariot looking for the red carpet. After all, he was a celebrated war hero in his home country of Syria!
Elisha did not even come to the door. Instead, he sent his servant with a message for Naaman: if he would go dip seven times in the Jordan River, his skin would be healed, and health would be restored.
Naaman was livid! The prophet did not even deign to speak with him, important man that he was! He did not come out and wave his hand over the leprosy to heal it. He merely suggested that Naaman go jump in the dirty river.
In the middle of his rantings, Naaman’s servant dared to ask: “…if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it?” (II Kings 5:13). Naaman’s great, big pride was preventing him from taking a simple, small step that would make him whole.
We all have the leprosy of sin in our souls…One prayer can wash us clean…One step of obedience can set us free…Don’t let pride stand between you and the healing you seek…Run to the river and jump in with both feet to be made whole!!!
|3/26/2022||1 Peter 3:12 “For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers.”|
Naaman, the leper, received a message of hope – an Israelite prophet could heal him! He hurried off to Israel with a letter from his Syrian king.
When Naaman arrived, the king read the short note: “Now be advised, when this letter comes to you, that I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may heal him of his leprosy” (II Kings 5:6). The king tore his robes in distress. He had no power to heal Naaman of leprosy, and his resulting death would result in all-out war with Israel!
When Elisha, the man of God, heard the king’s dilemma, he sent a message: “Why have you torn your clothes? Please let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel” (II Kings 5:8).
The king had position, but no power…When faced with a cure-or-be-conquered situation, his royalty, army, and treasury were of no use…Elisha had power that did not arise from wealth, might or office…It was the power of the Most High…All of the capability and authority of His Father came to bear on the situation…When he hit his knees, all of heaven moved on his behalf…Just like Elisha, as God’s dearly loved children, we hold the position and the power to change the world!!!
|3/25/2022||Psalm 119:141 “I am small and despised, yet I do not forget Your precepts.”|
Naaman, the commander of the Syrian army, was a leper. He was desperate for a cure for his deadly condition.
Help came from an unlikely source. Syrian soldiers raided Israel and captured a young girl whom they brought back to become a maidservant to Naaman’s wife. Living in such close quarters, she must have seen Naaman’s dreadful disease and overheard the distressed and fearful conversations.
One day, she found the courage to say to her mistress: “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy” (II Kings 5:3). One small voice of hope spoke into Naaman’s misery and despair.
She is only ever mentioned in this one verse. She speaks her truth and leaves the scene. She walks in and out unnamed, but her message of hope changed Naaman’s world.
This maiden had every reason to stay silent. She was a young, foreign girl – small and despised in many eyes. For all of the reasons why she could not have said anything, she had some truth. When she shared the truth, it began to deliver Naaman.
What have you done with the truth you possess about Jesus Christ and His salvation…Your voice can offer the message of hope to change someone’s world forever!!!
|3/24/2022||Proverbs 28:13 “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”|
We do not talk about sin in America; we talk about the problems that it creates. We do not talk about the origin; we focus on the symptoms. Until we get to the root of the cause, we will never discover the cure for our condition.
Issues that we face around the world are not merely behavioral symptoms that can be treated with better education, new legislation or citizen organization. Humans have a sin problem!
Mass shootings are not a gun control issue; they are a sin problem. Four thousand abortions per day is not a political issue; it is a sin problem.
Adultery is not a momentary lapse of judgment; it is a sin problem. Lying is not a matter of perspective; it is a sin problem. Battering a spouse is not an anger management issue; it is a sin problem.
Until we have the courage to acknowledge that we have a sin problem, we will never address it…Until we confess our trespasses, we will never be cured…If we freely admit our sin, our faithful and fair God will forgive us, cleanse us from all evil, and give us brand new lives…We will look different, and our society will look different…First, we must get to the root…We have a sin problem!!!
|3/23/2022||Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”|
In 2 Kings 5, we meet Naaman, commander of the Syrian army, a great and honorable man. He led his country to victory against the Assyrians and was a national hero.
Though he was a mighty man of valor, Naaman had leprosy. One of the most feared diseases in that day, leprosy was almost always incurable and led to death. What began as a small spot would spread to cover the skin and deaden the nerves. Often, lepers were quarantined to live in colonies outside of the cities.
This sickness was so consuming that it did not matter how much influence Naaman wielded, the important people with whom he associated, or the wealth that he had accumulated. Naaman knew it was a matter of life and death.
No matter how well things are going for us, we all have a spiritual leprosy called sin…No natural cure exists, and it always leads to death…If left unchecked, it will consume us until our consciences are deadened, and we are alienated from those we love…The price for this sin-sickness is death, but God sent us the extraordinary gift of His Son to cover the debt that we owe…He washes us clean and gives us a new life with Him that will last forever!!!
|3/22/2022||2 Corinthians 3:18 “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”|
Our potential is determined by the characteristics of God that we develop and exhibit in our lives. If we truly belong to Him, and He abides in us, His characteristics will be our characteristics.
As long as we remain in contact with our Source, our life will explode in an avalanche of good things. When we are rooted and grounded in the Word of God, we have the same power that Jesus demonstrated.
God is faithful to keep His promises; His word is His bond. He always does what He says. Do you? God surrounds us with mercy. Do you do the same for others? God lavishes unconditional love on people who do not deserve it – like He did for you. Do you love in the same way?
God completely forgives a person’s trespasses and does not remember those sins anymore. Do you forgive those who trespass against you? Do you resurrect their shortcomings in moments of anger? He teaches with gentleness and humility. Do you?
Paul encouraged us to grow up in every aspect, to become mature, to be transformed into God’s image by the Spirit of the Lord…Little by little, look more like Jesus…Develop His character…Reach your God-given potential!!!
|3/21/2022||Psalm 78:41 “Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.”|
We can hinder the potential of God in our lives. We can actually limit the work that He desires to accomplish through us.
Two groups of people exist: those who make good and those who make excuses. When we blame someone else for our failure, we empower that person to control us. If we do not take control of our lives, someone else will.
Do you think you are too young? Jesus taught the rabbis when he was nine years old. Too old? Abraham fathered a child at 100. Not educated? A handful of unlearned fishermen changed the world. Not well-connected? You do know the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
Another way to destroy our potential is to demand instant gratification…We must submit to the plans of the Master Potter and allow Him to shape us into His image…It is a painstaking, time-consuming process, but He promises to be with us through the very end…We can also forfeit our God-given potential by expecting His benefits without assuming responsibility…When we fail to pick up our crosses and follow Him, we limit His work in us…We forget that if we lose our lives for His sake, we can reach the fullness of our potential…He will make us beautiful in His time!!!
|3/20/2022||Mark 11:24 “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”|
Our potential is activated by faith. It is not an option; it is a requirement for the child of God. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world (I John 5:4).
In Genesis, God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). The Hebrew word for likeness means “to operate like” – not to look like. How does God operate? He operates with faith. If we are not functioning like God in faith, we are malfunctioning.
For the believer, hope is based on the evidence found in the Word of God. Hope is based on the substance of what God has done in the past – knowing that if He has done it before, He can do it again in our lives.
Faith is not mystical; it is rock solid…It does not demand miracles; it creates miracles…Faith takes the first step before we know the outcome…It is not a leap in the dark; it is a walk in the light…Faith believes because of the proof in God’s Word…Because Jesus healed, the potential to heal is inside of us…Because Jesus worked miracles, the potential to work miracles is inside of us…Faith is fact – not fiction…As children of God, we have the potential to receive whatever we ask!!!
|3/19/2022||1 Peter 2:9 “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.”|
Let’s face it. As Bible-believing Christians, we are a little strange by the standards of this world. We live by another set of rules.
We feel supreme love for One we have never seen and talk to someone that we have not touched. We empty ourselves to become full, decreasing so that Christ might increase. We lower ourselves to become servants of all so that we will rise up as the first. When we are at our absolute weakest, He makes us strong.
When we are poor, we are very rich. We give our things away so that we may keep them forever. We deposit treasures in a heavenly bank that we have yet to visit.
We die daily, little by little, to lay down our lives so that we can live forever…Death is not a tragedy for us believers; it is a reward for the righteous…We perceive the invisible…He has given us eyes to see…We discern the inaudible…He has given us ears to hear…Because we are rooted and grounded in Him, He has opened our understanding to the Truth that this world cannot comprehend…In His upside-down, inside-out economy, the impossible is made possible for those who are odd for God!!!
|3/18/2022||Isaiah 40:29 “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.”|
The fact that we were born is proof that God knew that this earth needed our potential. He has ordained a special purpose for each one of us.
We all have potential! We can make no room for excuses – limited resources, lack of education, lies from the past. God will take the little bit that we offer to Him, and He will make it a whole lot!
In every seed, there is the potential of a great harvest. In every fish, there is potential for a school. In every bird, there is potential for a flock. In every man, there is potential for a nation.
Bethlehem’s manger was not a five-star hotel, but it changed the course of the world. One small stone killed Goliath and changed the destiny of Israel. Through one obedient maiden, a King was born Who has blessed the nations. Faith that is the size of one small mustard seed – as small as a BB – can move a mountain of impossibility.
God has given us the power to reach our potential…We must seize every opportunity to put the talents that He has given us to work…We must act upon the dreams that He has dropped into our hearts…Nothing is impossible to those that believe they can!!!
|3/17/2022||Philippians 3:13 “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.”|
Our potential does not lie in our yesterdays. It cannot be found in what we have already accomplished – that’s ancient history.
Many of us allow the past to sabotage our potential. We replay old regrets, are paralyzed at the scene of personal tragedy, and waste away our days on what-might-have-beens. We fail to move forward because we have not dealt with the wounds of the past.
Conversely, some of us destroy our potential by resting on the laurels of one shining moment in the past. Did your company break all sales records last year? Keep working hard or you could be looking for a job. Did you make honor roll last semester? Do your homework; the challenge is still in front of you.
Paul encourages us to stretch into the future, reaching for the things that are ahead…Our potential lies in the grades that we have not made, the promotions that we have not earned, and the souls that we have not won…The greatest tragedy is a life that fails to fulfill its God-given purpose and potential…Let’s forget about the things that lie behind us in the past to get moving towards all the potential God has packed into our future!!!
|3/16/2022||2 Timothy 2:15 “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”|
What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see your true potential? Or do you lack confidence for the future?
According to the Brain Research Institute at UCLA, our brains have the potential to create, store, and learn virtually without limit. Most of us could learn 40 languages, memorize a set of encyclopedias from A to Z, and complete the required coursework for 12 universities – in one lifetime!
The English language contains about 450,000 words, but linguistic experts estimate that we only use a mere 400 words in our daily conversations.
Why do most of us fall short of these amazing feats? Because the only way to attain these goals is to study. Paul encouraged us to work at laying out and living out the truth of God’s Word plain and simple.
David said that he hid the Word in his heart to keep from sinning against God (Psalm 119:11)…One translation of that verse is to read the Scriptures until they are memorized…His Word transforms our minds…It reveals who we truly are and Who God really is…As we are changed into His image, we begin to realize the power of the potential that we have in Christ!!!
|3/15/2022||Jeremiah 31:34 “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”|
Jesus taught us to love and forgive one another, and He taught us the pattern for doing both.
He instructs us to forgive immediately. If we are standing at the altar, and we remember that someone has an offense against us, we are to leave immediately to seek out that person. Stop praying! Do not sing another chorus! Do not conceal unforgiveness with religious ritual. Get forgiveness. Go, offer forgiveness.
He instructs us to be reconciled to the one from whom we are estranged. We must take the first step to reach out and set things right. With all humility and gentleness, with patience and love, we must strive to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:2-3). We are united as one.
He instructs us to forgive absolutely and completely…In the same way that Jesus is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9), we are to openhandedly forgive the one who offends, betrays or lies about us…When we take the step of faith to offer forgiveness and to seek reconciliation, we never go alone…The Prince of Peace walks beside us and gives us the strength to do all things!!!
|3/14/2022||Jeremiah 31:34 “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”|
Jesus taught us to love and forgive one another, and He taught us the pattern for doing both.
He instructs us to forgive immediately. If we are standing at the altar, and we remember that someone has an offense against us, we are to leave immediately to seek out that person. Stop praying! Do not sing another chorus! Do not conceal unforgiveness with religious ritual. Get forgiveness. Go, offer forgiveness.
He instructs us to be reconciled to the one from whom we are estranged. We must take the first step to reach out and set things right. With all humility and gentleness, with patience and love, we must strive to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:2-3). We are united as one.
He instructs us to forgive absolutely and completely. In the same way that Jesus is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9), we are to openhandedly forgive the one who offends, betrays or lies about us.
When we take the step of faith to offer forgiveness and to seek reconciliation, we never go alone…The Prince of Peace walks beside us and gives us the strength to do all things!!!
|3/13/2022||Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”|
Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch watchmaker in World War II. Her family helped many Jews escape the Holocaust by hiding them in a secret room in their home. Eventually, they were arrested and sent to a concentration camp.
Under the atrocious conditions, her aged father died. She and her sister, Betsie, were starved and endured dehumanizing abuse. Her sister died, but in a miraculous clerical error, Corrie was released.
Years later, while speaking at a church, a man approached her after the service. It was one of the cruel, vicious guards who had tortured her! He stood before her, hand outstretched, asking for forgiveness.
Coldness clutched her heart, but she later wrote: “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.” Out loud, she asked, “Jesus, help me.”
Woodenly, she grasped his hand. She recounted that the “current of heaven” raced from her shoulder, down her arm, and into their clutched hands. Flooded with a feeling of warm reconciliation, she heard herself say, “I forgive you, brother.” With clasped hands, the former guard and the former prisoner wept together.
She later said that she had never felt the love of God as intensely as she did in that moment: “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and to discover that the prisoner is you.”
|3/12/2022||Proverbs 28:13 “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”|
When Jesus forgives our sin, it is a full pardon, a fresh start, and a new beginning. It is the lifting of a heavy burden and the canceling of an enormous debt.
Make no mistake though: forgiveness demands change. God’s forgiveness is filled with compassion, but it demands a change in our conduct. To forgive us without demanding a change in our conduct would make the grace of God an accomplice to evil.
When the Pharisees flung the adulterous woman at Jesus’ feet, they demanded a decision. They knew the Law of Moses called for her death by stoning. But Jesus knew what was in their hearts. After kneeling to write in the dust, He challenged: “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (John 8:7).
One by one, they dropped their stones and slunk away. They knew what was in their hearts too. Turning to the relieved woman, Jesus instructed, “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11). The point is clear. Jesus expected her to change.
Absolute grace that allows people to sin indefinitely and to still be in the favor of God is not a doctrine found in the Bible…When we confess and forsake our sins, we obtain mercy…Christ makes us new creatures…He expects to see the change!!!
|3/11/2022||Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”|
The story is told that, as Leonardo da Vinci was deeply engrossed in painting “The Lord’s Supper,” he also was deeply embroiled in a feud with a fellow painter.
Da Vinci was so enraged that, when he began to paint Judas, he added his enemy’s face to the figure, so all of history would see that man as a traitor. When he moved on to paint the face of Jesus, he could not paint Him satisfactorily. Finally, he realized that his animosity towards his colleague was preventing him from painting Jesus’ face.
After seeking out his friend to ask his forgiveness, da Vinci went back to the work and changed Judas’ face. Only then was he able to paint Jesus – the Prince of Peace – and finish the now-famous masterpiece.
Forgiveness is an act of the will, a decision to extend grace and mercy in spite of our emotions…In the last moments of His life, as He hung despised on the Cross, Jesus breathed out the words, “Father, forgive them”…Who is it that you need to forgive???How is the refusal to forgive that person keeping you from the good works that God has ordained for you to complete???Forgive that person so you can get back to work and Christ can complete the good work He began in you!!!
|3/10/2022||Matthew 5:23-24 “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you … first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”|
Jesus practiced a principle that few of us wish to embrace. While we were still sinners, He laid down His life for our forgiveness. He went first.
When it comes to forgiveness, we need to make the first move. When an impasse occurs, we must take the first step to be reconciled to the person with whom we have a point of contention.
Jesus said that, if we come to His altar to offer up our prayers and gifts, and we remember that someone has something against us, we should stop. We should leave our gift lying on the altar and first make every effort to be reconciled to that person. Only then is God’s ear bent towards us.
Whatever grudge, resentment or anger lies between you and another person lies between you and God too…Your feet should rush to be first in forgiveness…Even if that person is not ready for resolution, you will be able to return to the altar with a clear conscience and a clean heart…Knock on a door, make a phone call or write a letter today…Apologize, shake a hand or shed some tears in the fight for reconciliation…You go first!
|3/9/2022||Ephesians 6:12 “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places”.|
There is no adequate explanation for what is happening throughout the world except that there is a moving of gigantic spiritual forces of evil that are gaining momentum and strength, and that behind these activities are the person and power of Satan.
Those who do not study the Bible cannot possibly see beyond human affairs. They see only the human actors in the drama of history. Wicked rulers, ruthless dictators, tyrants, oppressors, kings, governors and presidents are to them the only real characters in the drama of political life. They have no conception of the unseen realm of evil personalities that energize and motivate these human agents.
Nevertheless, the Bible is clear that the unseen personalities of the evil, supernatural sphere are just as real–and even more active–than their visible human agents. Any true interpretation of history must take into account this invisible demon activity and warfare that has been waged for centuries.
The Bible teaches that demonic activity has always been prominent in history, but as the age draws to a close, it will be intensified. God is permitting, under certain restrictions, Satan and his myriad demon helpers to work at his unholy ambition.
However, Scripture promises that Satan’s program is doomed to failure and destruction. This doom and destruction began at the cross, where Christ died for our sins. It continued with the triumph of the resurrection, and it is going to be culminated at the coming again of Jesus Christ. Satan’s destruction will demonstrate to the entire universe the folly of a creature acting in independence of and in opposition to God.
Though Satan’s powers are curbed by God, he nevertheless exercises tremendous authority and power today. Paul referred to Satan as the “prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). Jesus referred to him as the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31). The Bible teaches that those outside of Christ can be organized and directed by Satan in a great evil federation. Because the world system has rejected Christ, it furnishes an ideal sphere for the operation of Satan and his demons.
In order to oppose this violence, revolution and chaos throughout the world, spiritual forces must be employed. Some politicians say that the answer to our problems is to spend more money and build a bigger military machine. I warn you that this is a deception.
The world battle is being fought on a spiritual level. Our desperate need is for a spiritual counterrevolution that will throw back the forces of evil. I am convinced that on the spiritual battlefield, Christ has taken up His position and is summoning His followers to stand with Him.
God said in the Book of Ezekiel, “I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one” (Ezekiel 22:30). But we have such a One–Jesus Christ.
The people for whom God is waiting are men and women who have caught the vision of the battlefield with all its possibilities and perils, who are awake to the devices of the enemy, and who have set themselves in union with the living Christ to attack every position Satan occupies and give deliverance from his oppression.
There can be no victory while we depend on military power alone. There can be no victory as long as we depend on our wealth to buy more friends around the world. We will only be postponing the day of reckoning. Our only hope is that the remnant of God’s people will pay the price of intercession, prayer and obedience.
A few years after King Jehoshaphat came to the throne, a great multitude from beyond the sea came against him. There seemed no possibility of victory. There was only one way out of the difficulty, and he took it. Desperately he called upon the Lord and proclaimed a fast throughout all of Judah. A swordless victory was won because the Israelites first repented of their sins and sought the Lord.
On the spiritual battlefield today, the Lord is calling for volunteers who will pay the price to throw back the enemy. It is in prayer and obedience that we fight the battle. Because of the authority that belongs to the crucified and risen Son of God, situations on the earth can be controlled, forces in the unseen realms moved, changes effected, powers of evil dislodged and routed, and the purposes of God pressed forward to final triumph.
World leaders have asked me, “What is wrong with the world? Why can we not solve our problems?” Each time I have replied, “It is impossible for you to understand what is happening in the world until you understand that this is spiritual warfare.”
The Bible teaches that the whole human race has a spiritual disease, a disease called sin. It has gripped the human heart. Until we understand that man is sinful before God and that he has the possibility of being controlled by evil forces under the direction of Satan, we never will understand what is wrong with our world.
In this hour of the plight of the nation, we should not ignore the hand of God, which has worked miracles of deliverance when God’s people have understood that the problem is sin, repented of their sin and turned to God. The tragedy is that we have so few statesmen who understand what is actually happening in our world.
Let us stand together in prayer, making possible a release of divine power in this nation. The call to each of us who loves Christ is to pray for His intervening mercies.
Mere eloquence in prayer is without value. Moses stammered, but his prayer was answered. Hannah muttered words that men misunderstood, but she triumphed in her intercession. Her problem was physical barrenness; our problem today is that we are spiritually barren.
Oh, that Christians would cry with passion for the lost and unconverted, that they might be born from above. Oh, that the thousands of pastors might be heartbroken about the barrenness of their people.
Spiritual revival comes as a result of the broken and contrite church, bowed in supplication and intercession, distressed at the sight of perishing millions. They may wait for days, weeks and even months until the Spirit of God moves upon and through them, until Heaven opens in revival blessing and a nation is stirred and blessed and even saved. In our barrenness today, let us call upon God and believe He will give us fruit in this hour of world crisis.
Hell’s legions can be stopped and turned back…The invading heathen darkness can be hurled back…It is not too much to believe that the Lord can endow people with a baptism of the Holy Spirit for this end-time ministry as He did at Pentecost…Jerusalem trembled under the God-intoxicated men from the Upper Room…God can shake this nation in a matter of months but we must repent of our unbelief, weep over our unfruitfulness and take time to be holy!!!
|3/8/2022||Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”|
The quality of our lives, of our relationships with family and friends – even with God Himself – is captured in this one word: forgiveness.
Forgiveness allows the past to die and forges a new beginning. It is the key that unlocks the door of hatred and resentment and allows the fresh wind of love and acceptance to blow through our hearts. Forgiveness is the power that breaks the chains of bitterness and anger and allows us to walk away free. It brings restoration in our marriages, healing to our families, and unity in the body of Christ.
Forgiveness was one of the major themes of Jesus’ ministry. He showed us the lavish love and extravagant forgiveness of our Father, and He admonished us to be just as generous in our forgiveness of others. If we do not practice forgiveness, that refusal has the power to destroy the quality of our lives on earth and forfeit our invitation to enter through the gates of heaven.
Forgiveness begins as an act of our will whether we feel like extending grace or not…Following obedience to the Word of God, inner healing will come so completely that peace will be restored to you…Whom do you need to forgive today???
|3/7/2022||Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”|
Hope is rooted in substance and evidence – not wishful thinking. For the believer, hope is based on the evidence found in the Word of God. Hope is based on the substance of what God has done in the past – knowing that if He has done it before, He can do it again in our lives.
Our hope is anchored in the never-failing promises of God because His provision is in the promise. His Word is lassoed lightning when prayed out of our mouths under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
We do not hope that God answers prayer; we know that He does. When Moses prayed, the Red Sea parted. When Daniel prayed, God muzzled the mouths of hungry lions. Prayer is not preparing God to do our will; prayer is preparing us to do God’s will.
We do not hope God heals; we know that He does. He is the Great Physician – yesterday, today, and forever. We do not hope that God delivers; we know that He does. Three Hebrew children walked through the fiery furnace without a whiff of smoke on them.
Hope in God…Be fully confident of the things for which you hope…Be completely convinced of the reality of the things that you cannot see in substance and evidence!!!
|3/6/2022||Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”|
God’s Word – spoken by the mouth of a believer – is not a wish. It is a divine command of spiritual authority.
Before that command, demons tremble, angels bow, the waves obey, diseases are healed, poverty is crushed, darkness is defeated, and victory comes.
When we pray the Scriptures aloud, we come into agreement with His will. We do not need to wonder what to ask when we align our hearts to His purposes.
When we speak God’s Word, we acknowledge His wisdom for the issue that we face. 1 John 5:14-15 gives us confidence that if we ask anything according to the will of God, He will hear us and answer our petitions.
What role does the Word of God play in your life?
Satan is not intimidated by the believer whose Bible is covered in a layer of dust…The person whose Bible is falling apart has a life that is not falling apart…Newspaper editor and publisher, Horace Greeley said It is impossible to enslave, mentally or socially, a Bible-reading people…The Word of God is living and powerful…Study The Word and speak it!!!
|3/5/2022||Genesis 33:4 “But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.”|
Hugging has been dubbed a “miracle drug.” Medical science declares that hugs are a healthy way to boost the immune system.
They cure depression, reduce stress, and induce sleep. They are invigorating and rejuvenating with no unpleasant side effects, all-natural and organic. Hugs are naturally sweet, nothing artificial, and their ingredients are 100% wholesome.
Hugs are the ideal gift – great for any occasion. They show how much we care, are fun to give and receive, come with their own wrapping and, of course, are fully returnable. When we open our hearts and our arms, we encourage others to do the same.
Two decades had separated Jacob from his brother, Esau. Jacob had fled Esau’s murderous anger after he stole his birthright and blessing, but he was coming home. Esau came out to meet him with 400 men, but instead of the anticipated battle, Esau enveloped Jacob in a hug as he wept for joy.
When pain becomes unbearable, words are often futile…Your embrace can convey healing where mere words fall short…In times of extreme grief, we cannot say, “I know how you feel,” because we do not…We can only hold others close, cry with them, and allow the healing power of God to touch and minister hope and healing…
|3/4/2022||Colossians 1:27 “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”|
Christ inside of us brings with Him the hope of all the glorious things to come! Allow that hope to generate enthusiasm and excitement.
Hope produced a song that reverberated in the midnight hour in a Roman prison in Philippi. Paul and Silas had been stripped, beaten, and secured in stocks in an inner cell. Bruised and bleeding, they did not waste their time bemoaning the hardships of ministry. Instead, they began to pray and sing hymns as the other prisoners listened.
Suddenly, the glory of heaven invaded that space, a great earthquake shook the foundations, and all the chains were loosed. When the jailer realized that all the prisoners were inside, he shakily asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30).
They walked out of jail with the keys in one hand and converts in the other! In their darkest hour, they reflected the hope of glory, and others were drawn to His light.
You will face adversity…When you feel overwhelmed and overlooked just remember the Jesus in you is greater than anything in this world…He makes you more than a conqueror…He is the hope of glory!!!
|3/3/2022||Job 10:12 “You have granted me life and favor, and Your care has preserved my spirit.”|
God’s loving favor is better than silver or gold. One day of His favor can undo a lifetime of reversal. Does that sound too optimistic? Consider the story of Joseph.
Joseph was a dreamer – loved by his father and envied by his brothers. One day, they threw him into a pit before selling him to a passing Arab caravan. He became an Egyptian slave in Potiphar’s house. A vicious lie landed him in prison where he continued to hope in God and stay true to the mission before him.
For 12 years, Joseph languished in prison until the Pharaoh summoned him to interpret a dream. In one day, Joseph was promoted from a prisoner to a prince of the most powerful nation on earth.
Joseph’s adversity was the vehicle God used to bless the nation of Israel and to change the course of history. He saved the Gentile world from starvation. After 22 years of separation, he created a home in Goshen for his father and brothers where the nation of Israel was born.
From the pit to Potiphar to prison to the palace – Joseph’s hope was securely placed in God…Remember that the issue you endure may be the instrument God will use to undo a lifetime of reversal for yourself and your family…God’s favor is upon you!!!
|3/2/2022||Psalm 42:5 “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.”|
Hope in God! When the psalmist thirsted for God, when tears poured day and night, when he was discouraged, he commanded his soul to hope in a God Whose help was certain.
Hope is the companion of power and the mother of success. If we put our hope in God, we will never be ashamed or disappointed in the outcome. He has blessed us with a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).
God placed each of us here at this particular time with a specific assignment. You are here to do something that no one else can do – a divine destiny and unlimited potential because of the hope that you have in God and His word. Exercise hope to believe you can with God’s help.
People are not limited by their birthplace, social standing, or past mistakes….People are limited by the size of their hope…May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit…Not just a little bit of hope but so much hope that it splashes onto everyone that you meet…Venture out in faith on the wings of hope to do the impossible because it is God’s gift to you…Hope in God!!!
|3/1/2022||Hebrews 6:19 “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…”|
Hope is the confident assurance that anchors our souls so that they do not wander off course or shatter under life’s pressures.
Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible. The word “impossible” can be translated as “unwilling to try.” Impossible becomes possible when someone accomplishes it!
Consider Abraham’s impossible situation. He is almost 100 years old; his barren wife is 90 years old. God tells Abraham that he and Sarah will have a son of their own, that his seed will be as numerous as the stars in the sky and the grains of sand along the seashore. Impossible!
Yet, Abraham’s hope was unwaveringly placed in God’s ability and faithfulness. God quickened two elderly bodies, and Isaac—the son of laughter—was born. In time, Jacob was born to Isaac. From Jacob came 12 sons who produced the tribes that became the nation of Israel.
That nation produced the prophets, kings, and Jesus of Nazareth. Today, Abraham’s offspring are too numerous to count. Every nation on earth has been blessed because Abraham’s hope was securely placed in a God Who keeps His word.
Hope brings the brightest presence of God into your darkest day…When doubt might be easier, hope puts faith to work and anchors our souls until the answer arrives!!!
|2/28/2022||2 Corinthians 10:5 “…casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”|
Broken hearts leave us susceptible to runaway imaginations. Vulnerable and hurting, our minds can drive us to worst-case scenarios. We must keep our imaginations in check.
The Israelites experienced this situation as they prepared to enter the land that God had promised to them for 400 years. Moses sent in 12 spies to canvas the territory. Two of the spies returned and confirmed that Canaan was definitely a land flowing with milk and honey. They encouraged their fellow Jews to take possession of it because they were “well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30).
The other 10 spies verified the beauty and bounty of the land, but their imaginations got the better of them. They proclaimed that the people of the land were like giants, and the Israelites were mere grasshoppers who could not hope to be victorious over them. Imagination won out over their faith.
When we keep our imaginations submitted to God and His Word, no heartbreak exists that is too complicated for God to heal…All things become possible to them that believe…He will answer us with great and mighty things that we do not know…Take every thought captive to obey Christ!!!
|2/27/2022||Psalm 85:8 “I will hear what God the LORD will speak, for He will speak peace to His people and to His saints; but let them not turn back to folly.”|
When our hearts are broken and our lives are in turmoil, we long to hear the word of the Lord to us. We need to know how to gather up the pieces and move ahead.
Many times, God already has written down the answer for us. We simply need to open His book and obey His precepts.
If the enemy has attacked your family, the Word from the Lord is that “no weapon formed against you shall prosper” (Isaiah 54:17). If the enemy has attacked you with sickness, the Word from the Lord is that “by His stripes, we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). If the enemy has attacked your finances, the Word from the Lord is that “God shall supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
God will never whisper something in your ears that He has not clearly written in His Word…He is not the Author of confusion…Out of the mouths of two or three witnesses, a matter is confirmed (2 Corinthians 13:1)…If the Holy Spirit gives you specific direction, verify it in His Word…Then, confirm it with a spiritual authority – a pastor or leader…Let us hear only what God speaks!!!
|2/26/2022||Psalm 27:14 “Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!”|
When our hearts are broken, we should postpone important decisions while we are still picking up the pieces. We should wait until we are above it or have some distance for the opportunity to think clearly.
After David’s heartbreak, he strengthened himself in the Lord. Then, he inquired of the Lord; he asked for specific instruction about how to proceed. The enemy had burned his city to the ground, carried away the women and children, and stolen all of the valuables. David and his mighty men were brokenhearted at this deep loss.
When David went before the Lord, he asked a strange question: “Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?” (1 Samuel 30:8). David was a warrior. He had killed lions, bears, men, and giants. His blood was running hot, and he was zealous to recover the families. He knew what he wanted to do, what he was trained to do. But he did not want to pursue the enemy until God gave His permission.
He wisely waited to ask what God thought about his plan.
Before you use the instincts and intuition that God gives you to make decisions be sure to submit your carnal mind to His spiritual will…Before you make a decision that could result in death be sure to wait on The Lord…Wisdom lies in the waiting!!!
|2/25/2022||Psalm 103:1-2 “Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”|
Heartbreak will define us…if we allow it. Heartbreak will come to stay…if we let it set up camp.
David chose the better way in 1 Samuel 30:6. After his city was burned, its families carried into captivity, and his men threatened to stone him, David “strengthened himself in the Lord.”
The decision that we make determines a tragic or triumphant outcome. Sometimes, the most powerful motivational speeches are the ones that we speak to ourselves in our own mirrors.
The Bible encourages us to examine ourselves (1 Corinthians 11:28) – to honestly consider our spiritual, emotional, physical, and relational health. David rose to his best when he should have been at his worst. We can do the same.
We can look in the mirror and say to ourselves: “Self, we might be surrounded by bitterness, but bitterness will not get inside of us…We will stay hopeful…We may be pressed, but we are not crushed…We may be persecuted, but we are not abandoned…We may be struck down, but we are not destroyed…We will not give in to anger or anxiety…We will not whine; we will shine…As long as we have breath, we will praise the Lord!!!”
|2/24/2022||Proverbs 13:6 “Righteousness guards him whose way is blameless, but wickedness overthrows the sinner.”|
After heartbreak and a time of tears, each of us has a personal decision to make. We must reason it out to our own conclusion.
Is God’s Word true or is it not? If His promise is true, it will endure. If His Word is faithful, it will come to pass. If it is unerring, we must choose – in spite of our broken heart – to persevere and hold to God’s unchanging hand.
David and his mighty men faced the same dilemma in 1 Samuel 30. When their city was destroyed and their families carried into captivity, they wept bitter tears together. Afterwards, though, they made two distinct decisions. David sought the Lord, but his men began to look for someone to blame.
In their emotional state, they wanted to pin the fault on David. Why did he drag them off to war? Why did no one protect their own? Is he really the anointed king of Israel? And in their souls’ great grief, they decided to stone David.
We must take great care to guard our hearts in seasons of deep grief…Heartbreak will define us or we will define it…Our choices can drive us into the arms of our Redeemer or far away from Him…What we choose determines whether we will be a victim or a victor!!!
|2/23/2022||Ecclesiastes 3:4 “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”|
Heartbreak finds us. This truth applies to all of humankind. Some heartbreaks shatter our world suddenly. Some come after long seasons of rejection before the final abandonment. Some result from our wrong choices; sometimes, we have no choice at all.
David experienced the depths of heartbreak. He and 600 mighty men returned to Ziklag after waging war for Israel. As they neared the city, instead of happy families running out to meet them, they saw smoke on the horizon. Their joy turned to terror.
Inside the city, they found that their wives and children were kidnapped, their homes burned, and their possessions stolen. Their hearts were broken. These elite commandos lifted up their voices and wept until they had no more power to weep (1 Samuel 30:4). These valiant warriors, whose stories were still being told thousands of years later, cried until they could cry no more.
What do you do when your heart breaks? How do you react when the enemy has stolen all that you treasure and you sit alone in the ashes?
This is the time for tears…This is the time to lift your voice and weep until the tears run dry…The One Who has the power to help catches every tear in a bottle…He comes to comfort and console…For now, weep…
|2/22/2022||1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”|
As we go about the work of growing our marriage relationships and building strong families, we can take heart that our “labor is not in vain in the Lord.” Our work is worthwhile.
Consistency is key in our marriages. We must be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding.” To our spouse, we must remain dependable, trustworthy, and committed. We must be stubbornly and uncompromisingly devoted to the vows that we made before God and our family and friends.
Consistency compliments before it criticizes. Consistency appreciates instead of compares. Consistency yields instead of attempts to control. Consistency loves unconditionally. Consistency communicates instead of dictates.
Sacrificial love involves an act of the will, as well as the emotions…It is a decision to consider the needs of another person before our own…To take the necessary actions to benefit and bless our spouse…and to determine to protect and preserve our marriages…We have the ability to abolish the power struggles in our marriages…We may not be able to influence the political or economic power struggles in our culture today, but God has given us impact and influence in our homes…We must resolve to submit to God and to serve one another as we raise our children in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4)…This is worthwhile work!!!
|2/21/2022||Ephesians 4:32 “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”|
The Greek storyteller, Aesop, said, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” In marriage, we often see this proverb play out.
Husbands and wives live in close proximity. They witness the best in one another, but they also have a front-row seat to the regrettable weaknesses we all possess. If we are not careful, this close association can create a lack of appreciation – and even scorn – towards our spouse.
In our marriages, we must be mindful to extend continuing kindness to one another. When we are exhausted and stressed by daily demands, we are susceptible to irritability. Our tempers become short, and our words become hurtful.
We must keep our hearts sensitive to each other’s needs, preferring our spouse in love…When we choose compassion over conflict and harmony over hostility, we demonstrate sacrificial love…Love the other more than you want your own way…The currency of love is sacrifice…When divisions threaten, quickly restore the bond of peace in your relationships…Since Jesus so generously cleanses and accepts us, we must forgive and repair the rift…Healthy marriages make no room for cold shoulders, the silent treatment, or harsh accusations…Familiarity need not breed contempt…Let your marriage be marked by sacrificial love, gentle kindness, tenderhearted affection, and warm intimacy that grow through the years!!!
|2/20/2022||Proverbs 11:14 “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”|
“And the two shall become one flesh” is not without challenges! Many couples falter early in their marriages because they lack wise counsel when navigating the transition of two individuals merging to become one unit.
The friends that we choose at this important juncture have the power to determine our future. A source that shares good, Godly counsel can determine a successful outcome.
Good counsel can be found in those couples who have negotiated this process successfully. They possess the experience and expertise that comes from charting a path through difficult, unknown waters. They have trusted God to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18). They have held onto one another to discover the depths and richness of seasoned married love.
Titus 2 encourages the more mature women to be “teachers of good things” – to nurture the younger women so that they will know how to love their husbands and children well, create happy homes, and be good wives…The older men are exhorted to model dignity, wisdom, faith, and endurance…By following their example, the younger men will learn discipline…In this way, how we live will enhance – not detract – from the Gospel message that we carry…Seek out the Godly counsel that leads to success!!!
|2/19/2022||Hebrews 3:14 “For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.”|
Most of us know a for-better-or-for-worse couple who pledged their promises for the long haul. They are confident in their love and committed in their devotion to one another as they journey through life together.
Confident means “living with faith;” the Latin “con” means “with,” and “fideo” means “faith.” These couples live with faith in God and His Word. That faith comes through hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17).
They are intimately connected to God and have made His Scriptures the compass for their lives, marriages, and homes. This Word protects the vows they have made and preserves their relationships.
The confidence in God and the love He has bestowed between them keep a husband and wife committed to one another even in the difficult seasons. When walking out seems the easiest choice, they refuse to quit on their marriages. They will not quit on each other or their kids.
Marriage is not always convenient or carefree…When Christ remains at the center of this sacred union, He steadies and secures us through the rough patches…When we are committed to God and the vows we made before Him, the same confidence of our first “I do” will carry us steadfastly through the years!!!
|2/18/2022||Mark 3:25 “And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”|
In 1858, a young individual running on the Republican ticket for Senate made this statement: “A house divided cannot stand.” Though politically accurate, he was criticized for being too harsh.
To which Abraham Lincoln responded that he did not pen those words, God did; if they offended someone, he should take it up with the Author. Lincoln lost that Senate race, but he stood firm and eventually won the White House.
We must stand firm in guarding our families with the truth that convinced Lincoln. Power struggles and division cut to the heart of a family. They undermine the very foundation of the marriage relationship to destroy hope and, in many instances, the future of our children. A divided house is a doomed one.
God has given us the ability to choose….Like Joshua of old we must declare: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”…We must recognize the differences between male and female…We must appreciate the strengths that the husband and the wife bring to the marriage relationship…We must acknowledge the fact that God will use a devout spouse to speak His truth and His will to us…Together, we must stand united in the power of His might!!!
|2/17/2022||Psalm 8:5 “For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor.”|
God created us – male and female – to look and act just like He does. As the icing on the cake, he crowned us with glory and honor!
We did not evolve to be a little higher than an ape. A Divine Being designed us to be a little lower than the angels. If we debunk that “monkey business,” it changes everything.
Created a little lower than the angels in the image of God, we are not just a step above an animal. We have a different nature and character. It is not humankind’s nature to behave like an animal; we were created for more – to reflect the image of our Maker!
God created them male and female, equally valued and loved. Our differences allow the world to continue as God designed it. He instructed Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). That means kids – not cars or condos!
God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep and took a rib from his side to create the woman…He did not take from Adam’s head so that Eve would rule over him…He did not take from Adam’s foot so that he would walk over her…He took her from Adam’s side so that they would walk side by side to complement and complete one another!!!
|2/16/2022||Psalm 139:14 “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.”|
In the beginning, God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, a place of perfection and delight. They could eat the fruit from every tree in the garden – except one.
They chose their feelings over the facts God established, and it created a problem for all of us for all time. We still struggle between our feelings and facts, right and wrong, and selfishness and sacrifice.
We even experience an elemental power struggle between male and female. Modern activism has pushed the “anything you can do, I can do better” mentality to the extreme. This social movement can trace its roots all the way back to the Garden where God “created them male and female” (Genesis 5:2).
God designed us with significant differences that complement and complete one another…When sin and selfishness entered the relationship, Satan contorted these differences to become a source of contention and competition…No room exists in our marriages for this battle between the sexes…Lay down your weapons to prefer one another in love, to build up our relationships and families…Contention and competition run counter to all that Christ represents…He created us wonderfully and marvelously – each of us one beautiful, necessary piece of a much larger mosaic…Let us celebrate the differences!!!
|2/15/2022||1 Corinthians 16:14 “Let all that you do be done with love.”|
Even before the day that we say “I do,” we begin the work of building a good marriage.
Much like building a house, marriage requires dreams for the future, intensive planning, and lots of sweat equity. The process often results in dirty hands and bruised hearts. It demands much love and every resource that we possess. We must be all in!
And we quickly come to the surprising realization that our home is never really complete! That leaky faucet needs attention. That outdated wallpaper must be replaced. Why is the furnace making that noise?
Better than a contractor, we have an Advocate Who works alongside us! Jesus lives to make intercession for us. When we boldly approach the throne of grace, He promises to hear and work on our behalf.
Like every master artist, He pays scrupulous attention to detail…Every project is a labor of love…The tiniest task is done with the greatest of care…He never walks out in the middle of construction…He sticks close until the assignment is accomplished…Wherever you are in the process – just laying the foundation or designing a new addition – carry on with dreaming and doing, loving and laughing, planning and preparing…Believe with confidence that your Master Carpenter is creating a masterpiece in your marriage!!!
|2/14/2022||Song of Solomon 8:7 “Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it.”|
Red roses, sweet sentiments, and chubby cherubs with drawn bows abound on this “love-iest” of holidays!
Every human heart longs to be fully loved and fully known. Beyond the flutter of infatuation, Jesus calls us to a sacrificial love that demands the best of ourselves. The very definition of sacrifice tells us that we give up something valuable for the sake of something more worthy or important.
Paul encourages us to concentrate on harmony in our relationships, on ways to build up others and promote their spiritual growth (Romans 14:19). He urges us to not say or do things that would interfere with the free exchange of love. Put an end to selfishness, and consider another person’s feelings and preferences.
Speak words that are a gift of grace to the person who hears them…Appropriate words spoken at the right time are like apples of gold in a silver setting…Treat one another with deep affection…Prefer one another in love…Competition and comparison have no place in God’s family…Choose love above all else today and every day…Embrace the sacrificial love that Jesus modeled for us…In the same way He loves us, let us love one another!!!
|2/13/2022||Amos 3:3 “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”|
Great marriages do not just happen! They succeed because the husband and the wife invest 110% to create a relationship that does not just survive, but thrives!
A basketball player tosses up hundreds of practice attempts so he can sink that critical free throw in a game situation. Good musicians practice endlessly to perfect their sound. Luck has little to do with it. Couples must be deliberate about building Godly relationships and strong families.
They determine to serve Jesus – individually and together. They seek His way of doing things first, and they trust God for all the other things (Matthew 6:33).
Intentional couples carve out time for one another. External demands and obligations take a toll, so they seriously guard their intimacy and create space for just the two of them.
They cultivate authentic communication. Ten minutes of talk about to-do lists and daily details does not constitute connection. Genuine communication requires time, eye contact, listening, and conversing.
Intentional couples choose the priorities they build into their relationships. How will they serve together? Will their home be filled with music? Or will they spend every free minute outdoors? Who will be in their inner circle? When will they pray and study together?
Couples do not drift into great marriages; they take prayer, time, practice, and work. Heart-to-heart and hand-in-hand, they agree on how to walk together. They build intentionally!!!
|2/12/2022||1 Peter 4:8 “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins.”|
Every relationship suffers seasons of difficulty. All marriages experience wear and tear. It speaks to life and our own humanity.
Circumstances beyond our control set us reeling. The day-to-day chipping away at our relationships can leave us bruised and exposed. Two imperfect people in close proximity, struggling against selfishness, often hurt one another.
Jesus, our Prince of Peace, brings hope to re-establish broken borders in our marriages. The enemy breaches the walls to cause isolation, resentment, and pain, but Jesus raises up a standard against him. He carries the banner of love into battle to vanquish him.
When storms arise – as they inevitably do – we must assess the damage to our relationships. We must determine if we played a role in inflicting the hurt, and we must be quick to repent and restore. Was I kind or seeking my own selfish desire? (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) What action can I take to begin the rebuilding process right away?
When your spouse causes you pain be compassionate and forgive one another in the same way that Jesus has forgiven you…Confess your faults to one another and pray for one another and let God will bring healing and harmony…Love one another fervently and let the tender devotion pull up a quilt to generously cover all offenses!!!
|2/11/2022||Matthew 19:6 “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”|
God sanctifies our marriages. Are we fighting to protect what He has promised to preserve?
The Old Testament Israelites returned from captivity to find Jerusalem in ruins, the city walls demolished. The Israelites – not the invading Babylonians – caused their own downfall when they forsook God’s covenant. Their neglect of His principles allowed an enemy to swoop in, decimate the walls, and destroy the city.
When we forsake God’s covenant of holy matrimony, we open ourselves to the attack of the enemy. When we neglect our spouses, we allow the enemy to scale the walls to steal, kill, and destroy our marriages, families, and homes.
Many marriages are destroyed by outsiders. Families are ripped apart because people who have no part in that covenant relationship intrude where they do not belong and scatter it like straw in the wind.
Examine your marriage and family for gaps in the wall…See if the border been compromised…Do not be distracted by detractors…Be alert against the schemes of the enemy…Pull the border tight and protect it for your spouse, your family, and all the generations to come…Our commitment to our spouses and families impacts our homes, our churches, and our greater community…Focus on protecting what God has joined together!!!
|2/10/2022||Mark 10:8 “…so then they are no longer two, but one flesh.”|
When a man and a woman enter the marriage relationship, God declares that two separate, individual persons become one flesh – united spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Paul declared it a “great mystery.”
God has a plan for each husband and wife, but He also has a purpose for your marriage. This is the vehicle He has chosen to mirror His union with His bride, the church. Holy matrimony becomes just that – a divine covenant God sanctifies to use for His sacred purposes.
As two people come together, it requires more than the hazy infatuation of romantic love. It calls for an act of the will to submit to God and to one another. It demands discipline to set aside selfish desires and prioritize the benefit of the other person. It requires intentionality and determination. And as any spouse can attest, it is hard work!
Live together in unity…Let God command His blessing on you…God’s blessing will be visited upon any children or grandchildren whom He gives you…Build your relationship upon the foundation of Christ Jesus…He will prosper your family and determine your outcome…Commit yourself to the Lord and to the spouse whom He has gifted to you…Seek to outdo one another in sacrificial love…Yours will be a home filled with God’s presence, peace, and power!!!
|2/9/2022||Mark 10:6-8 “But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”|
God built all of civilization upon one relationship — marriage between a man and a woman. By His design, the family unit is the foundation of society.
At creation, God fashioned the male and female. The only marriage relationship that God endorses in Scripture is the union between a man and a woman. A man separates himself from his parents to be joined to a wife, and the two become one flesh.
Marriage and virtue are to be respected by all (Hebrews 13:4). Paul goes on to correlate the marriage between a man and a woman with the relationship that Christ enjoys with the church – a “great mystery” ( Ephesians 5:32).
Jesus calls each of us to honor one another…Wives should submit to and support their husbands in the same way that they defer to Christ…Husbands must submit to and go all out in love for their wives in the same way that Christ loved the church…Submitting, nourishing, cherishing, respecting, loving, are all words that should describe your relationship…Your marriage should reflect the monumental love that compelled Jesus to lay down His life for His bride!!!
|2/8/2022||1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”|
Are we – the corporate church in America – choosing daily bread or deadly bread?
Statisticians report that more and more churches close every year in this nation. Fewer people read the Bible, believe in God, or follow the Ten Commandments. More people claim that Jesus is not the only way to heaven.
Jesus declared that God’s Word is truth (John 17:17), but we have disconnected from the eternal source of our strength. We are not reading. We are not living. We are not standing on the eternal promises of God.
We have forgotten our freedom…We have debated – more than declared – His truth…We have argued our agendas rather than committing to the Great Commission…We have reduced the Gospel to a religion of rules rather than relationship…We have fought for preference rather than carrying out our purpose…More than relevance, we need to be filled with God’s revelation…We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, God’s own special possession…He has transported us out of darkness into His marvelous light for this purpose – so that we can proclaim His praises…Let us arise and shine again!!!
|2/7/2022||2 Corinthians 6:14 “For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”|
Give us this day our daily bread. Many Christians attend church on Sunday, walk out the doors, and do not partake of the “daily bread” again until next week.
They spend the other six days chewing on the deadly bread of this world. They mix it with the everlasting Bread of Heaven and come up with a toxic fusion.
In the physical, if we combine two foods that do not agree, it upsets our stomachs. Many Christians deal with upset spirits and unsettled souls because they continue to mix the worldly with the heavenly. Good and evil do not belong together. Light and darkness cannot share the same space. God and Satan cannot be partners.
We cannot eat deadly bread and have the power to shine as the light of the world for Him….We cannot expect God to erase six days of worldly impact in one hour on a Sunday morning…Examine your heart…It could be that you ingested something that is causing upset and turmoil…If you have welcomed something that has no business in your life seek His forgiveness and be cleansed by the washing of the water by His Word (Ephesians 5:26)!!!
|2/6/2022||Psalm 34:8 “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!”|
We have all seen someone bite into something that obviously does not taste good…and the grimace that immediately follows. What comes next? He attempts to entice you to try it too!
What you chew is up to you! No one can force feed you something that you do not desire. When a delicacy is offered, you may choose to refuse or to gobble it up with relish.
Today, David encourages us to taste and see that the Lord is good. No one can coerce you into a taste test. What you choose to take into your heart, soul, mind, and body is solely up to you.
Another person may attempt to persuade you. She may share Scriptures that have the power to help you see things in a new light. She may try to convince you with stories of God’s grace, how He scooped her up from rock bottom just in the nick of time.
Ultimately, though, what you chew is up to you. The Psalmist declared that God’s words were sweeter than honey in his mouth (Psalm 119:103). No one else can sample them for you.
Open up your mouth to taste…Open up your eyes to see…The Lord is good, and He blesses those who trust in Him!!!
|2/5/2022||Romans 4:20 “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God.”|
Abraham did not waver at the promise of God. He was fully convinced that what God promised, He would also perform.
Looking at his circumstances, who would have blamed him for doubting? But he was not weak in his faith; he was actually strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God!
He walked with God, recognized the sound of His voice, experienced His faithfulness, and knew he could stake his life – and his son’s – on the promises.
When your marriage dissolves into arguments and adversity, decide that no man can tear apart what God has joined together (Matthew 19:6). God came to restore relationships!
Do not despair at the doctor’s diagnosis. Hang on to the Word that He has sent to heal us (Psalm 107:20). He alone has the power to save from destruction!
When anxiety binds you in a stranglehold, declare that God has not given a spirit of fear; He has given a spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7). We can confidently stand on His Word!
Walk with God…Listen for the voice of our Beloved…Trust Him day by day to learn the rhythms of His faithfulness…He will make you rock steady…You will not waver at one of His promises!!!
|2/4/2022||Genesis 48:15 “And Israel blessed Joseph, and said: ‘God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has fed me all my life long to this day”|
How did Abraham walk with God? On a daily basis. God provided the daily bread that nourished and sustained him.
How could Abraham leave the only life he knew at God’s command? He moved from a prosperous city to a tent in the desert. He followed a God that no one else believed in or recognized.
How could he believe that he would be the father of many nations? He was an old man with a barren wife and no son. How could he gather up that miracle son a few years later to sacrifice him on Mt. Moriah?
Abraham fed on the daily bread of God. As he walked towards the place of sacrifice, he trusted a God Who had never led him astray, Who had always kept His promises.
Even as he bound Isaac to the altar, Abraham believed that God would honor the covenant between them…Knife raised, God sent an angel to grasp his wrist and provided a sacrificial ram instead…On that same hilltop, God sent His Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for us…The Bread of Heaven bought every promise found in the Word of God…Like Abraham, we can walk with Him and trust Him for our daily bread!!!
|2/3/2022||Proverbs 30:8 “Give me neither poverty nor riches—feed me with the food allotted to me.”|
Jesus instructed us to pray that God will give us our daily bread – not weekly, monthly, or only for Easter or Christmas.
Daily bread sustains us through today to give us what we need, when we need it, no more and no less, right on time. What if God had shared our whole lives with us in advance? If He had explained it all ahead of time, many of us would have politely declined. Being a wise and sovereign God, He simply asked us to believe Him for today, to trust Him with our needs for now.
And day after day, He proved that we could count on Him to lead us safely. How did we navigate the low valley of the shadow of death? With daily bread. How did He take us over mountains too high to climb? With daily bread. How did He lead us through battles we had no courage to fight? With daily bread.
This daily bread satisfies the hunger of our souls…It quenches the thirsting of our hearts…It heals the broken places in our lives…It brings strength to the weary and weak…It fills the frightened with courage and confidence…We can count on Him to feed us exactly what we need for today!!!
|2/2/2022||Matthew 6:11 “Give us this day our daily bread.”|
All of us crave the liberty and joy that can be found in relationship with Jesus Christ. Hiding behind that desire, though, we may harbor a taste for our old lives.
We long for Christ’s forgiveness, but we carry a grudge against another. We pray for the blessings of prosperity, but we seethe with jealousy when He blesses our neighbor. We relish the gift of grace, but we judge others instead of extending that same generosity.
We combine two things that do not mix – daily bread with deadly bread! We must choose between the daily bread of heaven that comes from God or the deadly bread of this world.
Our daily bread says that God is more than enough, while the deadly bread tells us that we need more. Our daily bread instructs us to love our neighbors and bless those who persecute us, while the deadly bread pushes us to seek revenge.
God has generously provided us with His daily bread through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit…From the pages of His Word springs the message of salvation, freedom, hope, and redemption…We must repent and cut away those cravings for our old lives—deadly bread—and the certain death to which they lead…We must embrace the daily bread given by a loving Father who satisfies our every longing with good gifts!!!
|2/1/2022||Isaiah 55:11 “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”|
Do not focus on any situation until you have focused your faith first on a God Who never fails. Circumstances can sink your best intentions. Despair can demolish your hope.
Discipline yourself to exercise your faith and feast on God’s Word. Instead of thrashing about in a sea of fear and doubt, ground yourself in His truth. Lift your eyes to discover where He is at work all around you.
Every line and letter that He has spoken over you was sealed with His shed blood. With complete certainty, you can declare: “The Lord is on my side” (Psalm 118:6).
When the river rises, it will not sweep you away…When the fire rages, the flames will not scorch you…When your world falls apart, even if the mountains crumble into the sea, you have no need to fear when God is your refuge…He is always present in troubled times…Focus first on God’s Word that never returns unfulfilled…His Truth always accomplishes the purposes for which He sends it and always completes the task to which He assigns it…Take Him at His Word!!!
|1/31/2022||Isaiah 43:18-19 “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing.”|
Have you ever known someone who had a great memory of a bad past? He experiences selective amnesia when it comes to the bleaker recollections
After a short while in the wilderness, the Israelites remembered the fleshpots of Egypt where they had eaten their fill of bread and meat (Exodus 16). They complained that God should have killed them there instead of bringing them out to starve.
Those pots that they recalled with such fondness were huge cauldrons filled with leftover animal carcasses discarded by the Egyptians. They remembered the sound of bubbling water, the smell of boiling meat, and the fullness of their bellies. But they forgot the cries of the oppressed, the odor of slave sweat, and the emptiness of lives with no liberty.
In unfamiliar territory, we often long for the familiar…When we cannot see the provision, we yearn for the predictable…Instead of pressing into God, we wish for the seeming safety and familiarity of our yesterdays…Do not fall back into the old life with its slavery and tears…When pressures loom, press into the promises of God…Instead of retreating into old habits, run to the Deliverer…Do not remember the former things; exercise faith for the future new things…Press in to press on!!!
|1/30/2022||Luke 6:45 “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil”|
The food that we put in our mouths determines how we address our bodies. Donuts now mean treadmill time later!
That principle holds true in our spiritual lives also. What we take in now decides our behavior later. And many of us are stuck on a treadmill.
We can get bogged down on a financial treadmill. Our focus becomes the love of money instead of God, our ultimate Provider. Instead of sowing into God’s purposes, we withhold our giving. We do the work but get nowhere.
Or, we find ourselves stuck in an endless loop of unforgiveness. We want to let go and allow God to heal our hearts, but we rehearse the arguments and offenses. Over and over, we replay the scenes in our minds.
The children of Israel could have crossed the wilderness in 14 days. Instead, they found themselves on a 40-year treadmill. Their doubt, disobedience, and distraction did not get them where they desired to go.
Examine the treasures you are taking in and storing up in your heart…See if they are worthy things that will cause you to bring forth good…Only you can control the input that will change the output!!!
|1/29/2022||2 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.”|
For 400 years, the children of Israel cried out to God for freedom. But when He finally delivered them out of Egypt, they could not get the Egypt out of them.
They had forgotten how to live in freedom. Pharaoh had dominated every aspect of their lives. He controlled where they worked, what they ate, where they lived, and even whether their children lived or died.
After God destroyed Egypt with the plagues, He led the Israelites out of the land. But three days into the wilderness, the children of Israel began to complain. After all the miracles they had witnessed, they began to question: Can God bring us water in the desert? Can God keep us from starving? Can God give us meat?
Have we, like the Israelites, been delivered from Egypt but still hold on to the Egypt inside of us? Do we still question His ability to deliver, to provide, and to satisfy us?
Know with complete confidence that God is able…Know with complete confidence that He has overwhelmed us with grace…Know with complete confidence that He has supplied all of our needs…Know with complete confidence that He has equipped us to do good works…Know with complete confidence that God can…Yes GOD can!!!
|1/28/2022||Psalm 57:7 “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise.”|
We all know a Negative Norman or a Debbie Downer, don’t we? Poor, pessimistic attitudes accompanied by a constant stream of complaints!
They dwell under a gray cloud and take great delight in raining on everyone else’s parade. They subsist on a diet of doubt and dissatisfaction, soaking up all the negativity around them. Their appetite for drama knows no end. Is it any wonder that their behavior reflects their consumption?
The Psalmist gave us a simple solution! When our hearts are fixed steadfastly on God, we cannot help but sing and give Him praise. Are we listening to the words of this world or the Word of God? Faith comes by hearing the Word. When we eat it up as a steady diet, we begin to crave it, and it begins to work its good purpose in us.
Where are we focused? The Psalmist wisely declares that he will set nothing wicked before his eyes (101:3). When our gaze is locked onto our God Who does not fail, we can exercise our faith even farther to believe that every letter and every line of His Word was written for us.
What we put in determines what we give out to others…Let’s set our hearts uncompromisingly on God so that we joyfully radiate His goodness and love!!!
|1/27/2022||Psalm 78:29 “So they ate and were well filled, for He gave them their own desire.”|
Today’s verse resounds with lip-smacking satisfaction. Or does it? God gave the Israelites what they wanted, and they gobbled it up with relish.
From the time they marched out of Egypt, the Israelites grumbled and groaned, complained and questioned. When they were thirsty, God caused water to stream from a rock. When they accused God of bringing them into the desert to starve, He rained down manna. Then, they demanded meat, so He sent a great covey of quail into their camp.
While the meat was still in their mouths, the wrath of God blazed forth, and the strongest men in Israel died – about 40,000 of them. God did not want to slay them, but He “gave them their own desire.”
Instead of focusing on the amazing ways that God had delivered them, they deceived themselves about what they needed and gave in to their fleshly appetites. Instead of trust and gratitude, they insisted on what they craved. Their diet ended in death. Their demands destroyed their destiny.
Staying in close relationship with Jesus diminishes the possibility that we will be deceived by our own cravings…The more we know of Him, the more that we hunger for His presence…His priorities become our own…Our desire is in Him and our desire is Him!!!
|1/26/2022||Romans 8:5 “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.”|
A great conflict exists in each one of us when our cravings run up against what we actually need. We wrestle with that pain daily.
Spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially – we long to pursue our own paths. Yet, at the same time, we long to do what God asks. Paul said that things he longed to do, he ended up neglecting; the things he did not want to do, he carried through to completion (Romans 7:19-25).
When someone offends us, we can “live according to the flesh” and plot our revenge or we can “live according to the Spirit” and pray for those who harass us. We might be tempted to splurge on ourselves, but God prompts us to help someone in need.
If we are carnally minded and pursue fleshly things, it brings death…If we are carnally minded and pursue fleshly things, we have no hope of pleasing the Lord…If we set our minds on Godly things, we enjoy life and peace…When we crave Him and the things of the Spirit, we get Him…When we long for His will, we receive His joy…When we crave His purpose and plan, we are rewarded with His peace and provision…Let’s set our minds on things above!!!
|1/25/2022||Psalm 34:8 “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!”|
Some of us are starving to death. On the outside, everything appears fine. But a black, empty hole gapes deep in our souls.
We have craved what the world offers. We have drunk what it said to drink, bought what it said to purchase, swallowed what it said to take, and followed many streets to their dead ends. And still, we starve.
David encourages all of us to place our trust in God, to taste and see that the Lord is good. Try out His words to find them sweeter than honey in the honeycomb. Feast at His banquet table to be overwhelmed by His loving-kindness that is better than life.
Drink from His living water to never thirst again…He pours out fresh oil and new wine…He rains down manna from heaven in the desert of our days…He satisfies our souls with good things until our hearts overflow…Take a taste test…We may have tasted misery, heartache, and sorrow in the past, but the Lord is good…He will never disappoint the person who trusts in Him and craves the things of God…He satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with goodness…Taste and see!!!
|1/24/2022||Romans 6:11 “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”|
God wove desires and cravings into our DNA. We cannot simply denounce our cravings and be done with them.
One of the first questions a doctor asks a new mother is: “How is the baby eating?” She wants to know if the child has cravings. A lack of craving indicates a serious issue, and she will quickly attempt to fix what is broken.
The dilemma is not whether we will or will not crave. It comes down to what we crave. Paul instructed us to reckon ourselves dead to sin. That does not mean that the capability to sin no longer lives within us.
In 1 Corinthians 15:31, Paul assured the believers that he died daily. He killed his cravings one day at a time. As long as his spirit was wrapped in flesh, he had to submit his carnal nature to the Word of God every day. He read, he prayed, and he gave thanks to God. And this daily dying awakened him to righteousness (v. 34).
When we submit to Jesus and His purposes, the desire to sin disappears…Our hearts are captured by a new love…All of our desires and affections are bent more and more towards Him…We are dead to sin, but alive to God!!!
|1/23/2022||1 John 2:15 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”|
Our cravings are created and controlled by the things that we see, hear, and experience.
The entertainment industry banks on our susceptibility to the images that it broadcasts: the miracle cream that erases wrinkles, the protein shakes that promise the perfect body, the happily-ever-after portrayed by the beautiful couple living in the huge house with the perfect children.
Where are our eyes focused? Are we looking at the distractions of this world or the Gospel truth? Are we listening to the opinions of imperfect others, or are we tuned in to the revelations of God? Are we experiencing the pressure of unrealistic expectations or the peace of His Spirit?
In today’s verse, we are warned not to love the world or its things. We must guard our hearts against its allures. Love for this world squeezes out our love for the Father. Demanding our own way, coveting the goods and gadgets, desiring to feel important – all of these isolate us from God.
Be careful what you crave most…Nothing must edge out God’s presence in our lives…Nothing should consume us more than our hunger for Him…Nothing else deserves our devotion and delight…Our priority is loving Him!!!
|1/22/2022||Psalm 42:1 “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.”|
Our cravings have the power to kill or cure us.
Our cravings can deceive us into believing that we must have the very thing that damages and destroys. When the drug addict craves the fix, when the married person craves someone other than their spouse, when the CEO craves the promotion over personal ethics – those things end in destruction and eventual death.
When our souls begin to long intensely for God, though, He becomes our cure. The payment for our sin is death, but Jesus took our place. His cure bought our pardon and everlasting life.
The lashes across the back of Jesus paid for our healing. He was wounded so we could be made whole. He was hurt so we could be healed. We are cured through His crucifixion.
When we crave Him, we find the confidence our souls lack…He does not give us a spirit of fear, but one of love and power and a sound mind…We can calmly rest in Him…When we pursue Him with passionate zeal, the presence of God empowers us to walk in a manner that is pleasing to Him…Our minds are conformed to His truth, and we are transformed to act more and more like Jesus…This is the craving that cures!!!
|1/21/2022||Luke 19:40 “But He answered and said to them, I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”|
When Jesus mentioned those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, He was not referring to those with a polite appetite – an invitation to brunch after church.
He was speaking of the attitude and actions of a person starving for even a morsel of food. The ravenous person does not graciously accept the plate, shake out her napkin, and delicately slice the food into bite-sized pieces. She grabs it greedily and buries her face and fingers in it, licking the last crumbs from her hands. She does not care how she looks or if it offends the onlooker.
When was the last time that the Church craved Christ in that manner???When was the last time that we were so hungry for the move of God in our midst that we did not care what the onlookers said???When was the last time that we so urgently wanted the lost to come to Jesus that we boldly declared the Gospel with no thought for what others might think???When we hunger and thirst for Him, fear is burnt up in His presence…When we are desperate in our pursuit of God, He will hear and answer…If we do not cry out for Him, the stones will!!!
|1/20/2022||Psalm 84:2 “My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”|
What do you crave? What do you need? Our cravings often have nothing to do with our needs.
That creates a dangerous dilemma for us. Our cravings can deceive and convince us that we absolutely need what we desire, but we crave things we do not need and do not crave things we need.
Our doctors claim that we need a big bowl of leafy greens, but we do not crave it. We want donuts! Our doctors insist that more exercise is beneficial, but we devise creative excuses to avoid it.
Our pastors get to meddling, too! They profess that we need a daily dose of God’s Word, that we need to spend time in His presence every day, listening and talking with Him. In spite of what we know about our need for Him, do we crave Him?
Do we hunger for more of His presence? Do we long to spend time with the living God? Do we experience a desperate desire for more of Jesus than we know right now? No excuse diminishes the truth that we need more of Him!
The Psalmist declared that everything inside of him longed for God…The only thing that would bring fulfillment was basking in the presence of the King…What are you craving???
|1/19/2022||Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”|
A tug-of-war exists between what we want and what we actually need. We often want brownies when we should choose broccoli! We desire things our way, but God asks us to submit to His will.
When these forces collide, we experience hunger pains. Sometimes, we long to give in to fleshly desires. Sometimes, we yearn to submit to the Holy Spirit. The one that we feed prevails.
How many are starving to death spiritually and do not even realize it? In America this year, 867,000 marriages will end in divorce, 46,000 lives will be cut short by suicide, and 68,000 people will die from accidental overdoses—famished for hope, relief from pain, and love.
The prophet Amos predicted a famine where people would long for the Word of the Lord. They would starve because they sought fulfillment outside God’s will. We have craved power and never been more out of control, riches and never been emptier, pleasure and never been more bankrupt.
The simple answer for this deep hunger is the Good News of Jesus Christ…He brings hope to the desolate… He breaks the chains of the addict…He redeems broken relationships…To the hungry and thirsty, come try the Bread of Life and the Living Water…He satisfies our longing and fills us with every good thing…His anointing truly does lift the burdens off our bowed-down backs and destroy the yokes of bondage…Pressed down, shaken together – our cups run over!!!
|1/18/2022||Psalm 23:5 “You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.”|
When the Lord anoints our heads with oil, our cups overflow with blessings. No need to tip them up to drain the bitter dregs at the bottom of our mugs. Our cups spill over with all the favor that He pours out!
We are vessels in the hands of a faithful Potter Who has plans to prosper us, to fill us with hope, to give us bright futures. He anoints us with the oil of gladness because we have loved Him and His righteous ways.
David assured us that goodness and mercy would follow us around all the days of our lives, that we would spend our days in the presence of the Lord where we will experience the fullest of joys. He pours out the anointing oil to the very brim – blessings that we cannot contain!
When others jostle us, His mercy and goodness will splash over the rim with contagious joy…Our God-of-more-than-enough throws open the windows of heaven to rain down blessings that soak us, our children, our homes, our workplaces and communities…Dance in the downpour…His anointing truly does lift the burdens off our bowed-down backs and destroy the yokes of bondage…Pressed down, shaken together – our cups run over!!!
|1/17/2022||1 John 2:20 “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.”|
Our natural minds are at war with the will of God. We often experience carnal thoughts in our new creation bodies.
Paul begged us to stop being conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds instead (Romans 12:2). Don’t be squeezed into the mold of this world; let’s fix our minds on Christ Who remakes and remolds—transforms—our way of thinking to be in alignment with God’s.
We are not left to figure out this metamorphosis on our own. We have an anointing from the Holy One! We can discern the lies of the enemy because the Holy Spirit teaches us and reminds us of all the things that Jesus taught us.
This anointing guards against error…The Holy Spirit will whisper the way that we should believe…The Holy Spirit will help us take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ…The Holy Spirit shows us the way to walk in order to live the life that God wants us to live…The Holy Spirit sets our pace and leads us in right paths…If we run ahead, just the sound of His voice will cause us to stop and turn around…He convicts us of sin and convinces us of God’s righteousness…He leads us into all truth (John 16:13)…We are renewed day by day!!!
|1/16/2022||Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted.”|
The Spirit of the Lord has sent Jesus to proclaim pardon for prisoners, to restore sight to the blind, and to liberate the burdened and the battered.
Before Jesus came, we sat in darkness, in the very shadow of death. We were bound in a cell of sin, confined behind iron bars. Our eyes were blinded by sin, our minds darkened by a heavy veil that kept us from understanding the things of God. Sin was our master, and we were enslaved to corruption.
But Jesus came in the power of the anointing; the Light dawned on us! We were translated from the kingdom of darkness into His marvelous light. The scales fell from our eyes, and He gave us eyes to see things as they truly are. He broke our chains in pieces, snapped the iron bars in half. We turned to the power of God to receive forgiveness and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith.
Our scarlet sins were washed white as snow by His crimson blood…We became brand new creatures in Christ…It is for freedom that He has set us free…When He makes us free, we are indeed completely free!!!
|1/15/2022||Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted.”|
The Spirit of God has anointed Jesus to break the yokes—the shackles of Satan—in our lives. When Jesus abides in us, the power of His anointing is brought to bear in our every need.
Jesus brings the gospel to the poor—not just those lacking in financial resources, but any of us who experience lack in our lives. Our bank accounts may be full, but our heart accounts can be empty.
Our All in All recognizes the places where we fall short and brings the good news of His sufficiency into the equation.
In place of turmoil, He gives peace. In place of doubt, He gives confidence. In place of exhaustion, He brings refreshing. In place of weakness, He grants strength.
Jesus has come to heal the brokenhearted. Our hearts are so susceptible to brokenness. They can be crushed through circumstances beyond our control, destroyed by decisions that we long to take back, or shattered by tragedies of the past.
With one touch of His anointed hand He can restore the splintered fragments…With one touch of His anointed hand He fills our hearts with hope again…With One touch of His anointed hand we sing a new song…With One touch of His anointed hand we learn to love once more…He is a God of second chances and new beginnings!!!
|1/14/2022||Isaiah 10:27 “And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing oil.”|
In today’s verse, Isaiah the prophet brought some exceptionally good news to King Hezekiah.
King Sennacherib of Assyria had set his sights on Judah. He captured her cities, demanded exorbitant tributes, and mocked the God they served. In desperation, King Hezekiah went to the Temple to seek the Lord’s assistance.
God sent a message through Isaiah: He would lift the burden under which Hezekiah bowed. He would destroy the yoke with which King Sennacherib had controlled and crushed them. And He would do so because of the anointing. God honored His anointing, His word, and His purposes.
Satan is the enemy of our souls…He has set his sights on us…He bows us down with burdens and lays heavy yokes across our necks—to steal, kill, and destroy us…When the enemy comes in like a flood, God raises a standard against him (Isaiah 59:19)…The anointing destroys the yoke…The anointing brings the power that mends broken hearts, resurrects dead marriages, restores broken homes, causes barren wombs to bring forth life, brings immovable walls tumbling down, and gathers the wandering to the cross…The anointing lifts every burden and destroys every yoke!!!
|1/13/2022||Psalm 28:8 “The LORD is their strength, and He is the saving refuge of His anointed.”|
The anointing of God distinguishes us from the world, activates His gifts in our lives, and empowers us to do His work. However, there are some things that the anointing is NOT.
The anointing is NOT a one-time event, a box that we check off on a spiritual inventory. Paul encourages us to be continually filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), to live in relationship with a God Who pours out His sufficiency like ever-flowing streams of water.
The anointing is NOT a get-out-of-jail-free card, a free pass from life’s issues. Jesus was anointed, and He was plagued and persecuted, debated and defamed, crucified and killed. The anointing is the power that pulls us through the trouble, the confidence that we never walk alone as children of the Most High.
The anointing is NOT optional. Anything that God uses for His purposes must be anointed. When Moses constructed the Tabernacle, he anointed all of it – the posts, hinges, curtain rods, bowls, every article of clothing, every person who entered, everything. If we desire the fullness of a relationship with God, we cannot forfeit the privilege of the anointing.
The ongoing anointing of God saturates our lives with His goodness…The ongoing anointing of God allows you to access His presence…The ongoing anointing of God allows you to experience His power…The ongoing anointing of God allows you to fulfill His purposes!!!
|1/12/2022||Psalm 92:10 “I have been anointed with fresh oil.”|
As we navigate the upcoming year, let us move forward in the power of the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
This anointing distinguishes us from the world and sets us apart for service to our King.
Consider how the anointing impacted David – the youngest of eight sons, forgotten by his father, and overlooked by his brothers. God saw his heart and commanded the prophet, Samuel, to anoint David as the next king of Israel.
From that day forward, the Spirit of the Lord came upon him (1 Samuel 16:13). Under that anointing, he vanquished a giant and reigned over Israel as the apple of God’s eye.
The anointing puts a finger on our God-given talents and activates them to accomplish the divine purposes God has ordained for each of us. It gives strength when we are weak. It swallows up fear with courage.
The anointing destroys the yokes of slavery and oppression. It lifts the heavy burdens. It makes crooked paths straight and causes our feet to be steady on the journey.
Ask the Lord to pour out the anointing that will activate the gifts of God in your life…Ask the Lord to pour out the anointing that will set you apart for His service…For all that the new year holds, we can face it in the power of His anointing!!!
|1/11/2022||Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”|
How often do we spiral down into the dialogue of doubt? Instead of holding fast to our confession of hope in a faithful God, we begin to question His promises and doubt His Word.
In the coming year, practice the priority of behaving as if it were so—as if the promise of God was an in-living-color reality in your here and now. Romans 4:17 assures us that God breathes life into the dead; He calls those things which do not exist as though they already do. Even when those dreams seem down for the count, be confident that He is at work.
Eliminate the “if God moves” or “if God answers” from your vocabulary. Instead, begin to thank Him for the fulfillment of the promise – that He heard your prayer, that He is making a way, that He is healing your body, that He is providing for your needs.
Behave as though the breakthrough has come…Confess your hope, your alert expectancy for all that God is doing…Declare that you will rejoice right now, that you are one day closer to the answer…Agree with Him that, even though it is not visible to you yet, the answer already exists in heavenly places…He is working everything out for good…Say it is so…Act like the answer has arrived!!!
|1/10/2022||James 5:11 “Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”|
God values persistence. He honors those who are faithful, who hang on to hope and continue to believe for breakthrough.
When we continue to profess God’s faithfulness, when we persevere with patience, and when we wait with hope, the mountain of impossibility begins to move.
The prophet, Daniel, exemplifies the supernatural law of breakthrough. After receiving a message from the angel, Gabriel, regarding the desolation that would besiege Jerusalem, Daniel began to fast and pray.
On the twenty-first day of his fast, an angel appeared. God heard the very first prayer on the very first day, and He sent an angel in instant response. However, the angel was delayed by a demonic force that warred against him until reinforcements arrived. Only then was he able to carry the answer to Daniel.
The response that was sent on Day One took twenty days to sort out in heavenly places. If Daniel would not have persevered through the twentieth day, the angel could not have prevailed to bring the answer he sought.
Make perseverance a priority…Continue on course in spite of difficulty or delay…Do not forfeit the blessings of God by bowing out before the breakthrough…Do not pack it in right before the promises become your reality!!!
|1/9/2022||Galatians 6:7 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”|
Are you looking for something to blossom and bloom in your life this year? Have you been praying for a breakthrough or hoping for an increase? Learning how to manage your seed can lead to exponential blessing.
When you plant a seed, two things happen. You reap a harvest, and you reap more seed. One seed of corn grows a stalk with several ears and multiple kernels.
2 Corinthians 9:10 tells us that God supplies and multiplies the seed that we sow to increase the fruits of our righteousness. We can enjoy the harvest and plant even more kernels to produce an even greater yield.
Sometimes, we make the mistake of eating our seed. We hoard it or waste it indulgently. When our harvest needs have been met, the seed is our opportunity to sow in the fields of others.
Are you praying for a stronger marriage, increased finances, or open doors of ministry? Sow your seed…Sow tenderness and acts of kindness in your spouse’s field…Plant generosity and helping hands at your neighbor’s home…Invest your time and money into a ministry that furthers the Gospel…Manage your seed well…He promises a pressed-down, shaken-together, and running-over blessing…When you spread the seed liberally, it will come back to you!!!
|1/8/2022||Revelation 3:19 “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.”|
Three basic truths come to mind when we mention repentance.
First of all, everybody needs it! The Bible clearly tells us that if we say that we do not have any sin, we only fool ourselves; we contradict God Himself (1 John 1:8). We are sinners, and God commands all of us everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).
Secondly, repentance is absolutely effective. Repentance is not a feeling; it is a fact. If we confess our sin, God is faithful to forgive us and make us clean (1 John 1:9). Many regret what they did, whom they hurt, and the consequences of sin, but true repentance involves confession to God and turning away from sin to follow His plan.
Thirdly, God assures us that He will rebuke and chasten every child He loves. He cares enough to correct us, to help us align our priorities with His. When He does convict and convince us, we must be eager and enthusiastic to repent. We discover why in Revelation 3:20.
He stands at the door of our heart and knocks…The longer we refuse to repent, the harder it is to hear His hand against the door…Repentance sweeps away the barrier of sin…We now hear His insistent knock and throw open the door to experience sweet fellowship with our Savior!!!
|1/7/2022||Acts 3:19 “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”|
Have you ever considered the beauty and power of repentance? More than a drag-your-feet action to be avoided, it is a miraculous gift from God!
Repentance is a rapid response to the sins to which we fall prey. It restores our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Sin separates us from God, but repentance sets us right again.
Proverbs 28:13 tells us that “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” The sin that we hide and harbor causes us to live in spiritual poverty. The sin that we confess and renounce gains us spiritual prosperity.
We need not be ashamed of our need to repent. That is why God sent His Son. He knew that we would need to repent, that we would need forgiveness, that we would need our sins to be washed away.
When we repent, times of refreshing will come…We will experience His joy in the dark times…We will experience His peace when chaos is all around…We will experience His strength to soar above the storms…If you long for thirst-quenching revival from the presence of the Lord, prioritize repentance…Be quick to seek forgiveness for the sins that separate…Dance in the refreshing that comes after repentance!!!
|1/6/2022||Deuteronomy 28:13 “you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.”|
Too many times, we wonder if God is on our side. We question His good intentions and doubt His love.
In Deuteronomy 28, God spelled out all of the ways He had determined to bless the Israelites—in the city and country, their children and crops, their land and livestock, their baskets and kneading bowls, their wombs and workplaces. He promised to pour out the rain and put their enemies on the run, to make them the head and not the tail.
This is the God we serve! He promised that those blessings would overtake those who took refuge under the name of the Lord Almighty. He longs to bless us—just like those long-ago Israelites. All those blessings are ours “if…”.
He only asks one thing: that we carefully listen and diligently obey the commands of God…The “if” is not in Him…He sincerely desires to give us the protection and provision He promised…The “if” is in us…If we desire the blessings of God to overtake us in 2022, we must answer the “if” today…Be willing to carefully obey His commands…If we are, the Lord will open up His good treasures to us (verse 12)!!!
|1/5/2022||Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”|
The priorities that you choose wield great power in your life. They determine what you do and where you go; they decide your “Yes” and your “No.”
Where are your treasures and your heart? Take a look at your calendar and checking account! Where do you invest your time and energy? Where do you spend your money? Those are the things you value most. Follow the treasure trail to find your heart.
God has mapped out the year before you. He has promises to fulfill, good work for you to accomplish, people for you to reach, and lessons to be learned. The priorities that you establish today will set you up to accomplish what God has ordained in every tomorrow!
Take hold of the priorities that abound in God’s Word…More than just acknowledging His truth, your willingness to obey places you in the proper position to receive His blessings…These tried-and-true promises come from a God Who never fails…Priorities are the keys to unlock the power and prosperity of God in every area of your life…Priorities apart from God are the keys that lock you into a penitentiary of what-might-have-been…Embrace the year that God has planned for you…The choice lies in the power of your priorities!!!
|1/4/2022||Psalm 50:15 “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”|
Every year holds blessings and burdens, sunshine and showers, dreams and disappointments. We each experience seasons of poverty and plenty, hurt and hope.
We can face the “day of trouble” with the absolute confidence that the Lord will deliver us. He loves us with an everlasting love. When struggles loom, they will not destroy us. What Satan intends for our demise, God will use for our good and His glory.
He knows how much strength we will need for every battle. If God is for us—and He is!—who can be against us? Every battle boasts a victor, and we claim that title. No enemy can defeat us when God is our Defender. We are champions because of Christ’s work on the Cross.
When trouble brews, the Lord encourages us to call on Him…Asking for help is not a shameful thing…Shouting out to God is a sacred privilege, a divine right…Independent of God, we will never be big enough, strong enough, or capable enough to meet the fiery darts that the adversary hurls our way…When we cry out to Him, we reach out to the only One capable of the impossible…We will do great and mighty things in His name!!!
|1/3/2022||I John 2:8 “Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.”|
Does nothing look different as you awaken to this new day at the beginning of a new year? The battles of last year left you exhausted and longing for a fresh start and a brighter future.
Take heart! He has not abandoned you to disappointment. The fight you face may look like the same old battle, but it is not.
Because God has changed you! Because you have endured hardship like a good soldier, you are stronger. In the darkest nights and the fiercest battles, God has revealed Himself to you in powerful ways, and you will never be the same. You have learned to don the whole armor of God and wage war in heavenly places.
It might look like the familiar fight, but you are a different fighter…It may look like one more chapter in a long war, but you are a different warrior…It might require one more lap, but you are not losing ground…You are laying claim to enemy territory…Every hard-won step brings you that much closer to a victory that is certain…The darkness is passing away, and a true light is already shining…You are well able to overcome!!!
|1/2/2022||Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”|
God is already in all of the tomorrows of 2022—working everything to your good in the new year into which you walk.
Many parallels exist between our lives and the story of Jericho. At the point that Joshua prepared to enter the Promised Land, he had been wandering in the desert for 40 years. He was eager to cross the Jordan and embrace the promises of God—new provision and new possessions. Instead, God instructed Joshua to do more of the same. Keep on marching!
You might be asking God to do a new thing in your life in 2022, but He is encouraging you to continue some old faithful habits:
God, please speak a fresh word to me.
Open up My Book!
God, pour out a blessing.
God, renew the joy of my salvation.
God, please send me a friend.
Be a friend!
God, I am searching for hope.
I am your Hope!
Like Joshua, when you are faithful to that which God has called you, He leads you into victory…When you continue to place one foot obediently after the other, He will cause you to walk out on the other side as more than a conqueror!!!
|1/1/2022||Isaiah 43:19 “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”|
Happy New Year! Stretching out before us are 365 days of bright promise and divine potential. How will we fill them up?
By diving in! Some approach the shallow end of the pool, hold onto the handrail, and ease into the water. Others run straight at the deep end, shrieking with joy, and cannonball in to splash up a massive tidal wave.
DIVE IN to 2022! Keep your head up and your eyes on Him, take a giant leap of faith (hold your nose if you must!), and anticipate the splash.
DIVE IN to Prayer! The Bible is crowded with people who needed Someone bigger than themselves, and it made them bold. Ask, seek, knock, and receive. Be audacious in prayer.
DIVE IN to God’s Word! This is the key way that He speaks to us. Discover Him and His will in those pages. He will show you great and mighty things.
DIVE IN to Service! You were designed to serve others, created with good works in mind. If the world will know us by our love, how is His love demonstrated in your life?
Experience refreshing joy and messy freedom…Everyone around you will get soaked…Your exuberance will encourage them to leap too…DIVE IN…The water is fine!!!
|12/31/2021||Luke 8:40 “So it was, when Jesus returned, that the multitude welcomed Him, for they were all waiting for Him.”|
Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus was met with mobs and meals (Lord, tell Mary to help me!), palm branches and parades, accusations and accolades, pointing fingers and perfume. His presence prompted a response.
Even today, Jesus demands a decision….and action. What we choose to do with Jesus and His cross is the primary and most pressing decision any person ever makes.
Instead of His death ringing with finality, it trumpeted a new beginning for all of us. His anguished cry, “It is finished,” actually means “paid in full.” He wiped away the enormous, insurmountable debt – the penalty for our sins – completely. How can we properly express our gratitude and devotion?
At midnight tonight, many will celebrate with confetti and countdowns, horns and hats, fireworks and food, remembrances and resolutions…We will usher in the new year with exhilaration and anticipation of good things to come…Plan how you will meet Jesus in 2022…Wait and watch for Him…Welcome Him with worship and adoration…Greet Him with gratitude and great joy…Truly honor Jesus in the coming year with whatever is the one thing that you can begin to do right now…God is ready…How will you usher Him in???
|12/30/2021||John 20:21 “So Jesus said to them again, Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”|
Have you committed to any New Year’s resolutions? Have you vowed to break a habit or initiate a healthy one? Our natural inclination is to get stuck in Neutral.
In our overcrowded lives, we assume that someone else will do what God actually is calling us to do. Someone else will witness to a neighbor or volunteer at a shelter or pray with a co-worker.
The Bystander Effect – a social psychological phenomenon – indicates that individuals fail to offer help when other people are present. The greater the number of bystanders, the less likely any of them will help. Everyone waits for someone else to come to the aid of the victim.
For someone in your life right now, you are God’s Plan A…Most likely, He is prompting you to do something you have not done before, to stretch beyond what is comfortable…Jesus is counting on you to listen to His voice, to obey His prompting, and to reach out to meet the need…He created you for this moment, this good work that He ordained, to be the answer to someone’s prayer…Ask God to reveal your 2022 mission…All around us, people need a Savior…YOU are Plan A for at least one of them…Resolve to intentionally serve Jesus and others in the new year!!!
|12/29/2021||John 10:28 “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”|
How comforting to know that God holds us securely in His hand, cradling us with great care and compassion. If you are exhausted at the end of a very difficult year, be assured of several things.
Every detail of 2021 was filtered through the loving fingers of our Father. Nothing and no one can tear you away from Him. He is not shocked or alarmed by the drama or tragedy in your life.
Whatever you perceive as your greatest weakness, whatever is lacking in you, in the place that you feel the most ugly and the least lovable…you are His. Now and forever. He will not disown or throw you away. You are precious in His sight.
He cannot wait to swoop you up and pull you in close. Zephaniah 3:17 says that He delights in you as He sings with joy. Imagine His lips on your forehead as He hums a lullaby. You belong to Him.
Run to Him as fast as your tired legs can carry you…Throw out your arms in complete trust…He will swing you up…He will pull you close…He will call you His own…He won’t give you up…He won’t give up on you…You are accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6)…He’s got you…Better things are on the way!!!
|12/28/2021||Luke 5:38 “But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”|
A certain satisfaction exists in closing the chapter on one year and turning a page to the new. Our ever-creating God has extraordinary plans for each of us in the coming 365 days!
Jesus once shared a parable with the religious leaders. He pointed out that no one pours new wine into old wineskins; the wine would spill out, and the wineskins would be ruined. New wine requires new wineskins.
Wineskins were goatskins sewn around the edges to create a watertight vessel. As new wine ferments, it emits gasses that cause the wineskin to expand. An old, rigid wineskin cannot withstand this process and will burst.
Jesus’ new teaching was so different from their old ways of thinking that it required a changed heart and a transformed mind. The new wine of the Holy Spirit could not be contained in their archaic system of laws.
As you anticipate what God has for you in 2022, prepare your heart…Is there anything rigid in me that would prevent the work God will do…Where am I resistant to His touch…Am I pliable to His direction…Open yourself to His possibilities in 2022…Listen for the fresh truths He will whisper…Expand your boundaries for the opportunities He will bring…Get ready…God has great aspirations for you in the coming year!!!
|12/27/2021||Philippians 3:13-14 “forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”|
Here at the end of the year, many of us may look back on a year marred by grief and disappointment.
Jesus understands the longing and necessity for new beginnings. For every person that comes to Him in brokenness, He washes away the old and makes a brand-new creation. He continues to mold us into vessels He can use.
Consider the man lying by the Pool of Bethesda who had been ill for 38 years. When Jesus asked if he wanted to be healed, his despair was evident.
Jesus gave three commands: Rise, take up your bed, and walk! If the man had remained on the mat, it could have tied him to his pessimistic state. He needed to get up and get moving forward.
Perhaps this year’s events have left you hurting and longing for relief…Hope, help, and healing are found in Jesus alone…His mercies flow anew every morning…Leave your burdens at the feet of Jesus…Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you…Let go of the things that weigh you down and prevent you from running your race well…Forget those things behind and walk into the new year with head held high!!!
|12/26/2021||Psalm 143:5 “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands.”|
As the year draws to a close, a wonderful opportunity exists to ponder the events of the past year and prepare for the promise of a new year.
Set aside some time to remember God’s faithfulness. Look for the places where His hand has been at work, where you have experienced breakthrough and abundance.
It is easy to see Him there in the marriages, births, promotions, and celebrations. How amazing to find His love shining brightly – maybe more so – in the disappointments, death, or divorce!
The Israelites insisted on remembering God’s enduring compassion and undying faithfulness. They established memorials to remind themselves and their children. They sang songs, designed dances, and penned poetry. They assembled altars, designated days of celebration, wrote in their record books, and offered oblations to God.
For them and the following generations, those memorials pointed to how the Lord delivered them from enemies, brought them through deep waters, and provided for every need.
Today, revisit the yesterdays of this year…Meditate and wonder at the work of His hands…Find a way to memorialize His goodness…Write it in your journal…Sing a new song of worship…Capture it in a photo….Tell your family and friends this is how God revealed Himself to you this year!!!
|12/25/2021||Luke 2:11 “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”|
Merry Christmas! Today, we celebrate the birth of Jesus – the moment when He put aside His robes of majesty, wrapped Himself in flesh, and came to dwell among us.
On that night, a star shone brightly. May the Light of the World illuminate your heart and your home this holy day. Like the shepherds, may you always follow that Light to bow quietly and reverently in His presence.
Unlike the innkeeper, may you create a sacred space for the Holy One to come and abide with you. May your heart always be open and receptive to Him.
Like the angels that poured light and song across the sheep-dotted fields, may you always be compelled to share the Good News of His coming with all people.
May the Bread of Life satisfy your hunger to fill you with every good thing. May He prove Himself to be more than enough in every situation.
Through that humble stable, the Lamb of God came to be with us…Immanuel brought us forgiveness, hope, restored relationship with the Father, and overcoming power to walk in righteousness…With angels, shepherds, and wise men of old, take time to acknowledge the wonder of a Baby born unto us – sent from our Father with unspeakable love!!!
|12/24/2021||Matthew 1:21 “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”|
In the most unlikely of places, in the most mysterious way, God blessed this world with an indescribable Gift. The Savior of all was born in an obscure town, in a crude stable, to an impoverished virgin.
God sent Jesus to destroy the works of the devil (I John 3:8). Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus undid the deeds with which Satan intended to steal, kill, and devastate. For the diseased, His touch brought healing. For the poverty-stricken, He proved more than enough.
For the oppressed, He broke off the shackles to give joyous freedom. At Calvary, He saved people from their sins. He bore our shame so we can go boldly to the Father’s throne to receive mercy and grace for our needs.
For His glorious Gift, our joy cannot be contained…This is not a treasure to be buried beneath holiday traditions or celebrated only one day a year…Because of the wellspring of His life in our inner beings, we pour out His praises…Like the shepherds on that Bethlehem night, we make widely known all that God has done for us…Like the heavenly host, we bring the good tidings of great joy…The free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ for all people!!!
|12/23/2021||John 1:29 “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”|
Many people have become so familiar with the Christmas story that they overlook the reason why God sent His Son into our world.
Many go to Bethlehem’s manger, peer at the baby, chuck Him under the chin and say, “It’s good to see You, Jesus! We’ll check back at Easter.” Merely recognizing Him does not equate to receiving Him.
Peter tells us that Jesus was ordained, from the foundations of the world, as the Lamb of God. Micah recognized Him as Ruler of Israel, future King of kings and Lord of lords.
The Lamb, born in a stable, grew strong in spirit, was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on Him (Luke 2:40). When John saw Him on the Jordan River bank, he cried, “Behold! The Lamb of God!”
John was baptizing for the remission of sins…Jesus waded into a current of judgment, was lowered into a sea of transgression, and was resurrected from the watery grave…God affirmed from heaven: “This is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.”…More than just the Babe of Bethlehem, He is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world…Do you recognize Him?…Have you received Him?…Accept this greatest of gifts!!!
|12/22/2021||John 6:51 “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever”|
In the Hebrew language, Bethlehem means “house of bread.” How fitting that God sent Jesus, the Bread of Life, to become the provision for all humanity there!
Wheatfields abounded in Judea. The threshing floors at Bethlehem provided a place where the wheat was separated from the chaff, the seed was ground into flour, and the flour made into bread.
In the Old Testament, Naomi returned to Bethlehem. Her family had escaped the Judean famine by going to Moab. While there, her husband and sons died, leaving her with no means of support. She heard that God had blessed His people with bread again, so she and her daughter-in-law, Ruth, went back.
While gleaning in Boaz’s fields, Ruth met her kinsman-redeemer. He covered her with his cloak and welcomed her into his family. She came to Bethlehem poor, alone, and outside the promises of God. Boaz made her his bride, brought her into the covenant, and enriched her life in every way.
The world was shaken when the Seed of Heaven fell to the threshing floors of Bethlehem…Our Kinsman Redeemer came to wrap us in His robe of righteousness, call us His bride, and extend His covenant to make us heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus…Through the Bread of Life, we will never hunger again…May the Lord bless you and keep you…May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you and give you His peace…May you never lose the wonder of the unspeakable love that sent God’s Son from heaven to earth…Allow that Gift to transform your life as you live loved in this blessed season!!!
|12/21/2021||John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”|
From the beginning of time, God planned and prepared a place for us to receive everything that we need for life now and eternally. He so loved us!
God always knew that He would do this for us. First Peter 1:20 assures us that, before God even laid the foundations of the world, His divine plan included Jesus. This was no afterthought.
Before He said, “Let there be light,” He understood that Adam would succumb to temptation and fall into sin. He knew that we would need a Savior.
Our sin would require a cleansing sacrifice, and the only remedy would be the blood spilled by His precious Son. He spoke all things into existence anyway.
At the right time, He revealed His plan in the sleepy village where the Treasure of Heaven came to earth…God did not send Him because we deserved it…He sent Him because He loved us so…Through a tiny babe born in Bethlehem, God demonstrated how absolutely, unconditionally, limitlessly, and incomprehensibly He loves us…Never doubt the depth of His love…Whatever burdens have buried the beauty of Bethlehem in your life, roll them back to remember God has provided all you need…Never allow these words to fall on deaf ears..For God so loved…you!!!
|12/20/2021||Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”|
The prophet Micah uttered these words that are planted like a gem in the Old Testament. God had a plan from the beginning of time that would change the world forever.
Mention of “Bethlehem” floods our minds with the familiarity of the Christmas story. From our current vantage point, we know that Bethlehem became holy ground that long-ago night when a baby’s cry rent the air, and God wrapped Himself in flesh to dwell among us.
When Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden, Bethlehem did not exist. But God knew.
When the children of Israel exited Egypt for a land flowing with milk and honey, they had no idea what would happen on a Judean hillside centuries later. But God knew.
When David sat on his throne in Jerusalem, and generations of kings descended from him, they had no understanding of a baby in a manger. But God knew.
When Micah spoke centuries before the blessed event, Bethlehem was a little-known town…But God knew…In an insignificant place on the map, an eternal Ruler would come forth…But God knew…Micah spoke…Seven hundred years later, the Messiah was born!!!
|12/19/2021||2 Corinthians 9:15 “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”|
With Christmas only days away, we are caught up in the holiday scramble! Halls to be decked. Carols to be sung. Presents to be bought. Boxes to be wrapped. Cookies to be baked. The list is long!
Over 2000 years ago, under Bethlehem stars, the greatest Gift ever bestowed was born of a virgin, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and nestled into a manger.
Angels illuminated the sky to announce His birth to humble shepherds tending their flocks in the open fields. A Savior was born! A world shackled in sin and condemned to die welcomed Emmanuel. God came to be with us.
The shepherds hastened to the crude stable where they found the promised Child. And when they discovered Him, they “made widely known” (Luke 2:17) all that they had experienced that glorious night. They could not keep it to themselves!
Be careful not to bury the greatest Gift beneath the twinkle lights and tinsel, the stockings and sleds, the elves and evergreens…Find a silent night to kneel before the Savior – the Babe of Bethlehem who became the Champion of Calvary…Make Him the center of every celebration this holy season!!!
|12/18/2021||James 1:4 “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing”|
How easy it is to become impatient in the maturing process! We want to hurry things along to the harvest, but growth requires time and patience.
God has a plan for carrying you to completion. He sends the sunshine and pours out the rain. He lifts up and prunes to produce much fruit. He plans to make every barren area abundant. His intention is not to harm, but to prosper.
Do not resent the growth process as some sort of intrusion in your life. Do not try to cut it off prematurely. Allow patience to do its work in you until you fully bloom and produce the fruit that God seeks.
Endure the season of sorrow because joy comes in the morning…Trust through the time of need because the righteous have never been forsaken…His children do not beg for bread…In the middle of the tempest, be assured that God rides on the wings of the storm…In the day of battle, find defense in our Shield and Defender…Even in the fiery furnace, He walks beside us through the flames…Trust Him as you allow patience to perform its refining work…Like those plump, purple grapes, your life will be a perfect thing of beauty in His hands!!!
|12/17/2021||Ecclesiastes 5:2 “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few.”|
How do we respond to the pruning from our Heavenly Father? Do we submit to His wisdom? Or, are we quick to complain and blame?
James encourages us to be quick to listen, but slow to speak (James 1:19). Do not be discouraged by the pruning process. The Lord disciplines the child that He loves. He corrects the one that He embraces. In the same way that parents discipline their children, He trains us to grow and produce fruit.
James also warns us to be slow to wrath. When the Vinedresser lifts us up and begins the process, our frustration will not hasten the work. James goes on to say that “the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” Our fits of temper will not bring about God’s best in our lives.
Our tongues have the power to speak life and health or poison and death…Do not cancel out the harvest by uttering hasty, rash words…When we undergo the painful pruning, we can rejoice that our Father loves us enough to work with us until we produce the fruit that He desires…We can yield to His tender touch… wait quietly on the Lord!!!
|12/16/2021||James 1:19 “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”|
When we fail to respond properly to the Word of God, the Vinedresser picks up His tools. He sees us in need of pruning.
Be swift to hear! Jesus said it this way, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Mark 4:9). He was emphasizing the difference between an auditory function and an action. “He who has ears to hear” indicates an auditory function. “…let him hear” indicates a heart function.
When we hear the Word of God and respond from our hearts, it carries impact in our lives. But we can be slow of hearing. When we hear and fully understand, but we debate it…our debate is disobedience.
When Jesus spoke to the people, He said, “…hearing they do not hear…” (Matthew 13:13). They had closed their eyes and stopped up their ears. Their hearts were dulled, their understanding dimmed.
Obedience to His Word brings the blessings of God into our lives…Even though we may not completely comprehend His commands, we can trust Him…Delay and debate bring about His chastening…It begins with a listening ear…When we hear it in His Word, let’s be quick to put it into practice…With our ears and with our hearts, let’s be swift to hear!!!
|12/15/2021||John 10:28 “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”|
If you are connected to Christ, you are in the hand of God. Whether you are the least productive or the most productive branch, He holds you securely.
No matter what burdens you carry or what blessings you walk in, God has His hand on you. No matter where you come from or where you are going to, God has His hand on you.
You can be in no better place. The same hands that fashioned man from the dust at creation hold you. The same hands that pushed back the Red Sea for Moses are making a way for you. The hands that defended Daniel in the lion’s den are protecting you.
They suffered blisters and splinters and carpenter calluses. They touched the leper. They held the little children. They were stretched out on a cross. They were impaled at Calvary. Those nail-pierced hands still reach out today in invitation: “Come unto me.”
His hands will never push you away nor leave you unattended or undefended…They move mountains of impossibility…They prepare a table before you in the presence of your enemies…Nothing and no one has the power to pluck you out of this safe and loving haven…You are loved, and you are held…You are in His hand!!!
|12/14/2021||Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”|
Every believer lives in one of two states. We are either being lifted up or we are being pruned. Why? Because God wants us to bear much fruit!
Our Vinedresser continually inspects the fruit that we produce. He is looking for love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). When He cannot find evidence of those fruits, He pays special attention to those branches.
God begins with a tender touch to gain our attention – the pastor will speak a word, a song will quicken our heart, or a friend will share a gentle rebuke. If we fail to respond to His tenderness, He will take tougher measures.
He will begin to cut away all of the things that do not bring forth good fruit…He will pull out all the debris that we accumulate until we are forced to put our trust exclusively in Him…We will find that when He is the only One left, He is all that we need…When He lifts us up, He does so with love…When He wields the pruning shears, He does so with great patience…No need to lose heart…We will reap a harvest of much fruit if we continue to trust in Him!!!
|12/13/2021||Matthew 4:4 “But He answered and said, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'”|
After Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness where He fasted for 40 days. At the end of that time, Satan appeared to tempt Him.
Satan waited for the fortieth day when Jesus was hungry and exhausted. Our greatest temptations come when we are emotionally, physically, and spiritually spent.
Satan tempted Him first by opening the door of doubt: “If you are the Son of God….” Sound familiar? “If you are really saved….” “If God really loves you….”
Secondly, Satan tempted Jesus by demanding: “Turn these stones into bread.” He pushes us to accomplish things in our own strength.
Jesus did not argue with him…He did not point out His ability to destroy Satan and his works…He simply declared, “It is written.”…He did something that we can do – even when we are at our weakest…We run to the source that declares us triumphant…Whether we are in a battle for our life, our business, or our family…it is written…When we speak the promises of God, they become the Living Word to bring us victory over the evil one’s intention to defeat and destroy…God has placed him under our feet…It is written!!!
|12/12/2021||1 Peter 2:2-3 “…as newborn babies, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”|
Before we sit down to eat, we must wash our hands. No filth from the outside should go inside. Once we are clean, we are free to enjoy the tasty dishes.
God desires to feed us with good things, but if we have unclean hands, we cannot receive the blessings that He has stored up for us. Our hands are cleaned by the washing of the water of the Word.
Peter encouraged the New Testament believers to desire the pure milk of the word so that they could grow in their faith. When we bring new babies home from the hospital, we feed them milk for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That is the only food they can digest.
As new believers, the only food we should desire and digest is the Word of God…It will cleanse and cause us to develop…Expect growing pains…When it reminds us to repent and change, we will be required to make choices…We must decrease so that He might increase…We must deny ourselves to follow Him…As we are washed, we can lift up holy hands without fear or doubt…He will pour good things into those clean hands…Taste and see that the Lord is gracious!!!
|12/11/2021||John 15:3 “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.”|
The Word of God is a cleansing agent in our lives. The water of the Word washes us from our sinful pasts and painful habits to make us clean and complete in Christ.
In Exodus 30, God instructed Moses to build a bronze laver for the Tabernacle. Before the priests could minister at the altar or enter the Holy Place, God required them to wash in the basin.
The laver was created from bronze mirrors, and as the priest washed, he could see his reflection. His image was a reminder that he needed cleansing from God.
When we read the Word of God, we look into a mirror…We see our reflection there…We read it, and – since the Word is alive – it reads us…If a woman looked into a mirror and saw smeared lipstick and smudged mascara, she would make the necessary repairs to be presentable again…We must do the same…We need cleansing…When we open God’s Word and see our flaws reflected there, we must seek forgiveness…With His help, we must make the necessary changes to come into alignment with what He requires…We must act on what we see…Do not glance in the mirror, walk away, and forget what the Word has spoken…Be cleansed by His Word!!!
|12/10/2021||John 15:7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”|
The living water of the Word of God is 100% pure and necessary for spiritual growth (Proverbs 30:5). Any religious source, word, book, doctrine or denomination that does not align with His Word is outside of the will of God and should be denounced.
The Word of God has been tested and approved. The youngest child can find instruction in its pages. Mature believers have learned that they can stand upon it solid and secure.
For its power to impact our lives, we must apply it. We must read it, speak it, and exercise it! Jesus told the disciples that He had applied the Word to their lives and had washed off the contamination of the world.
As we apply the water of His Word to our lives, Jesus washes us clean…He lifts us out of our sinful pasts and painful habits…As the written word takes root in our hearts, we begin to speak its truths out loud…When we speak it over situations, it becomes the living Word that transforms…When our desires are based on the living Word derived from the spoken Word based on the written Word, we can ask what we desire…And it shall be done!!!
|12/9/2021||2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”|
Spiritual growth requires being rooted in the Word of God. His Word proves 100% effective in every situation.
It underpins our doctrine, reprimands our wrong choices, points us to truth, and steers us back when we wander astray. Everything that we need to complete God’s will and His work can be found in its pages.
When we are lost and confused, His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. His words throw a beam of light on the path so we do not stumble (Psalm 119:105).
When we are surrounded on every side, the Bible tells us that God’s name is a strong tower that we can run to and find a place of protection and reprieve (Proverbs 18:10).
We need not live in fear…God’s Word assures us that He gives a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7)…The Holy Spirit emboldens us with wisdom and strength…If we lack wisdom, God encourages us to come to Him…He answers our questions without making us feel foolish or guilty (James 1:5)…His Scriptures make us wise and mature in every way, completely prepared to live for Him!!!
|12/8/2021||Romans 5:3-4 “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”|
Being grafted into the Vine does not guarantee eternal sunshine and storm-free days. On the other side of salvation, we often endure seasons of struggle.
We experience dry deserts and devastating storms. We endure the long winters and silence of delays. Be assured that hard times will bring a harvest!
If our life in Christ will mature, we must be willing to experience growing pains. Struggle is synonymous with growth! In the vineyard, every branch that produces clusters of glowing grapes has suffered pain to mature.
The seed planted in the soil has struggled to break ground. The plant has struggled to dig deep roots, to push out leaves, to blossom and bear fruit. We celebrate the harvest, but pain accompanies production.
By nature, we resist struggle…We prefer pain-free days…We long for the easy route, the results without the cost of growth…But we will not have the strength to sustain growth if we do not work for the outcome…where is our character developed?…The good days do not make us emotionally strong, expand our confidence, or establish our fortitude…Struggle makes us strong…We can glory in tribulations knowing that our perseverance produces much fruit!!!
|12/7/2021||John 15:9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.”|
As Jesus spent final, precious moments with His disciples, He spoke of abiding and how their point of contact determined their potential.
Vinedressers can attest that the point of contact – where the branch meets the vine – is where healthy, flourishing life begins. At that juncture, life-giving sap flows through to be delivered to the fruit growing on the branch.
If the branch has a large, unobstructed connection to the vine, the potential is great for a bumper crop – plentiful, luscious grapes. If the connection is poor, the fruit will be withered and sparse.
To abide means to remain, to stay closely connected, to settle in for the long term. Ongoing vital connection with Jesus directly determines the flow of His supernatural power at work in our lives.
In John 15, Jesus uses “abide (remain or dwell)” eleven times. John uses it 40 times in his gospel. To be productive, we must join with Him.
A branch, severed from the vine and lying in the dust, will not produce one leaf, one flower, one grape…Our connection to Jesus must be our singular priority…To remain in Him, we must set apart devoted time with Jesus…We must deepen our relationship by talking and listening to Him…Savor His words…Be attentive to His presence every moment…Abide in Him!!!
|12/6/2021||John 15:2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”|
Today’s verse sounds quite ominous to the “branch” that is not bearing fruit. However, when we examine it in the original text, a beautiful picture emerges.
Instead of “take away,” the Greek word “airo” can be translated “lift up.” John the Baptist exclaimed, “Behold! The Lamb of God Who takes away (airo) the sin of the world!” Jesus took away our sins and “lifted” them to the Father. Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up (airo) from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”
In a vineyard, grapevines grow upwards along a trellis, so the clusters of fruit hang freely. If branches grow along the ground, the fruit splits or grows moldy. They are never intended to exist there.
We cannot flourish where we were never intended to live…If we are connected to old behaviors or old ways of thinking, our ability to produce good fruit is severely limited…We cannot grow in the dark…Our tender Vinekeeper will come to “lift up” the branch that has fallen in the dirt…He will “take away” the dead foliage…He will prune it for optimum growth…He will wash it with the water of the Word to make it clean…With gentle hands, He will do everything He can to ensure that we produce much good fruit!!!
|12/5/2021||John 15:8 “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.|
God’s will for each of His children is that we bear fruit – and not just somefruit, but much fruit! God is a productive and producing God, and He desires the same attributes in us.
When do we start? Immediately! Fruit production is possible for every believer. From the moment we are grafted into the True Vine, His potential and power flow through us.
Where do we start? Here! Our mission field exists right where we live. We have great impact in the place where we are known the most.
How do we start? The Holy Spirit produces fruit in us as we submit to the Father. His good fruit grows in us, and we produce works as evidence.
When the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, they received power to become His witnesses in Judea – that was home. In Samaria – those were their neighbors. And to the uttermost parts of the earth.
Let’s produce good fruit at home – with our spouses and children…Let’s be productive in our witness to our neighbors…In the places where we are employed, let’s work with God-honoring integrity…Those who know us best must know how we love Him most…Start here…Start now…As you are nourished by the Father, may you flourish…Abound in every good work to produce more and more fruit!!!
|12/4/2021||Romans 11:17 “and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree”|
Many people claim a deep affiliation with religion, but they have no relationship with Jesus. Until they are grafted into the True Vine, they face death and the fire of judgment.
To graft a branch into a vine, the vinedresser cuts open the well-rooted, mature vine. In the fresh cut, he places the branch. He then ties the vine and the branch together.
As the vine begins to heal, the sap and nutrients from the root will feed the branch through the wound of the vine. This life-giving flow unites the branch and vine. Eventually, no one will be able to tell that the branch was once separate from the vine.
Before Calvary, we were outside of the covenant of God – a wild olive tree…When Jesus went to the cross, He was wounded for our wrongs, crushed for our evil…The judgment for our sin was placed on Him…He was pierced and broken for us…But when He cried, “It is finished,” His crucifixion pulled us into the covenant…Because we are grafted into Jesus, the spiritual DNA of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob now flows through us…We are His chosen and redeemed, fed by the richness of the True Vine!!!
|12/3/2021||Colossians 2:6-7 “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith.”|
Trees are known by their fruit. Apple trees produce apples; cherry trees produce cherries. We are known by the good fruit that we produce for His kingdom.
Without a root, though, no fruit exists. If we are not vitally connected to the Root of David, we produce nothing of worth. Jesus, the True Vine, stretches from the manger all the way back to Abraham. He connects the covenant of Genesis with the cross of Golgotha. He pulls us into every promise of God.
Before the cross, we were without hope outside of the covenants of God. Because we have been grafted into the True Vine, every promise is now “Yes and Amen” to us in Christ.
Those who refuse to abide in Him, who reject the Root of David, are branches disconnected from the life-giving source. They wither and die, are gathered up, cast away, and burned in the fire.
Those abiding in the Vine live as heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus…We build our lives in the One from Whom all blessings flow…Wrap your life around the Root of David…Abide in Him to be fruitful in every good work, increasing in the knowledge of God, and fully pleasing to Him (Colossians 1:10)…
|12/2/2021||John 15:16 “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit”|
Jesus and His disciples had just celebrated Passover. As they walked towards the Garden of Gethsemane, they passed through a vineyard in the Kidron Valley.
There, among the clusters of grapes, He taught them. “I am the true vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. You are the branches.” His further instructions extend to us.
He chose us. He appointed us. We are to go and bear fruit. He desires that we grow and produce good things for His kingdom. No matter if we have been a believer for five minutes or 55 years, God shows no favoritism or partiality.
The patient Vinedresser will come to inspect our branches and our baskets. For those of us producing fruit, He will prune us to help us grow even more. For those of us whose branches are bare, He will lift us up to cut away the loose ends in our lives and to help us produce.
He wants growth…If we are breathing, there is room for more of Him…He desires for us to grow more mature, stronger, deeper, wiser, more faithful, and more fruitful…Cultivate opportunities for growth…Everything that is occurring around us – and in us – works to make us that much more fruitful…Leverage it all for Him…Go, grow, and produce!!!
|12/1/2021||John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”|
Jesus knew what was coming as He gazed into the circle of dear, familiar faces glowing in the lamplight. These were the final words He would share before He was betrayed.
What a ragtag group they were – men with callouses on their hands and hearts, cheaters, liars, betrayers, and doubters! Jesus saw what others could not. His heart was tender towards these vagabonds who would undertake His earthly ministry to carry the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
The words that He spoke into their ears that fateful evening are the same ones He whispers to us today: “…apart from Me you can do nothing.” He wanted them to understand that if they chose to go it alone – to work hard to generate results on their own – all of their efforts would be in vain. No matter how well-intentioned, they would produce nothing of enduring worth.
How freeing to realize that it is not up to us…Only He is the Prince of Peace…Only in His presence can we find the fullness of joy…When the enemy rushes in like a flood, only He can raise a standard against him…Outside of Jesus is barrenness and brokenness…With Him, our lives blossom and bloom in the beauty of God!!!
|11/30/2021||Genesis 32:31 “Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip.”|
As Jacob wrestled with God, the sky began to lighten. God saw that He did not prevail against Jacob, so He touched his hip and threw it out of joint.
Jacob was forever changed. For the rest of his life, he leaned on God. When he escaped with Esau’s stolen birthright, he was proud and pompous. His shoulders were square; his chin was held high. His scheming deception had earned him what he wanted.
But after he wrestled with God, he was humble in heart. He carried himself slowly. With each faltering step, he recognized that his blessing came from God. His limp reminded him of his new name and destiny. He called that place Penuel, face of God.
Have you ever been through a trial so traumatic that you were changed forever?
The person you were before the crisis no longer exists…The new you recognizes that it is good that you were afflicted…Your prayers prevailed…His Word has settled in your bones like never before…You wrestled with God until the sun rose over you…He gave His blessing because you contended through the long night…you are familiar with His face…You know Him in a way that defies explanation…You will never be the same…
|11/29/2021||Isaiah 62:2 “You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD will name.”|
Jacob stubbornly wrestled with God. He would not let go until God gave him what he wanted more than anything.
God blessed him with a new name; He would now be called Israel. Jacob had struggled with God and man, but he had prevailed. His desperation for the blessing won out.
In an instant, he received a new name, a new character, and a new outcome. No longer was he known as Jacob – the heel catcher, deceiver, and trickster. God called him Israel, a Prince with God.
He had lived up to his previous name and fulfilled the expectations of that label. But when His Creator – the One Who formed and ordained – called him by name, he became the man God had designed. When his Maker told him what He saw and called out his true identity, Israel was born.
Many of us wrestle with who we once were…We are exhausted by the expectations and diminished by the doubters around us…Our Creator will struggle with us – just like he wrestled with Jacob – until we are in a position to receive the blessing…In a moment, He will call out the person He designed you to be…He will give you a new name, new character, and new destiny…One touch will change everything!!!
|11/28/2021||Psalm 148:5 “Let them praise the name of the LORD, for He commanded and they were created.”|
From the highest heaven to the lowest valley, all of creation praises our Father. He commanded, they were created, and they commend His efforts.
From above, the psalmist calls for the sun, moon, stars, and clouds to praise Him. From earth below, he calls for a response from the oceans, mountains, and forests. He commands the cattle, sea creatures, and birds to give thanks to their Creator.
At this beautiful time of year, all creation joins to magnify His name. The trees burst forth their riotous robes of color and clap their hands for joy as the wind teases their leaves. The mountains and hills sing in tones of aspen yellow and dancing goldenrod. The geese honk of His greatness as they wing their way south under a high, cloudless, autumn sky. The bountiful harvest extols His goodness in a cornucopia of pumpkins and produce.
All around us, creation reminds us to praise the Lord…The earth and His creatures know that they are created by Him and for Him – to point to and praise His majesty…The psalmist rallies us to praise too…From the tiniest babe in arms to the gray-headed elder, he summons us to exalt our God Who reigns over all…Join in the symphony of praise with all God’s creatures today…Praise the name of the Lord!!!
|11/27/2021||Psalm 150:6 “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!”|
Praise the Lord! Psalm 146 through Psalm 150 all begin with that resounding encouragement, and it echoes throughout the verses of these chapters.
These psalms tell us who should praise the Lord – everything that has breath. What should extol His goodness? Every creation above and below. When? Every single day forever and ever. Where? From the sanctuary to the quiet of our beds in the midnight hour. Oh, how these verses tell us why we should give thanksgiving to our most worthy Father!
Psalm 150 explodes in a symphony of praise! Blast the trumpets, crash the cymbals, shake the tambourines! That worship is also exhibited in the stillness where we know that He is God, in the soft strumming of stringed instruments, in the tears of gratitude in the comfortable silence between us. In every way we know how, every single being that has breath should praise His name!
How extraordinary that this continual outpouring of praise would bless God and would produce extraordinary results in us, too…Science has proven that this attitude of gratitude creates pathways of positivity in our brains that benefit our health in every way…These thoughts of thankfulness center our very beings on the One Who continues to gift us with spiritual blessings in a beautiful cycle of generosity…If you have breath, praise the Lord!!!
|11/26/2021||Psalm 149:4 “For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.|
What a beautiful picture the psalmist paints for us in today’s verse! The Lord has blessed and beautified us with salvation. He delights in us.”
When there was no good thing in us – nothing worthy of His attention – He took notice of our desperate state. While we were still sinners, He died for us. He stripped away our own filthy rags and clothed us in His holy robes of righteousness.
This kind of love merits a new song – not just melodies and harmonies droned out mindlessly, but a joyful river of Spirit-song flowing from a heart of inexplicable gratitude. Make those praises privately – and publicly – surrounded by other saints!
This unspeakable gift of salvation causes us to rejoice in our Maker and to be joyful before our King. Such love demands our deepest response of thanksgiving – praising Him with dancing, song, and playing of musical instruments.
Our hearts overflow with gratitude…The daylight hours will not be able to contain our praise…Even lying in our beds, we will keep up a constant flow of praise for the goodness of our God…Praise Him for the gift of His salvation…He has given us beauty for ashes and joy for mourning…Bask in His delight…Let all that is within you bless His holy name!!!
|11/25/2021||Psalm 30:4 “Sing praise to the LORD, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.”|
The first American Thanksgiving Day occurred in 1621 when the Pilgrims gathered to give thanks for surviving the long winter to reap their first harvest in the strange, new land.
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared an official holiday with the following proclamation: “I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”
Today, as you mark the Thanksgiving holiday, find a quiet moment to count the many gifts with which God has blessed you. Look back over the last year to recognize the evidence of God’s handiwork. Remember His arms carrying you through the difficult days, His provision and protection.
Thank Him for salvation today and bright hope for eternity…Praise Him for the blessing of living in a nation where peace predominately prevails…Express gratitude for the dear family and friends gathered around your table…May you be aware of His every blessing…May you acknowledge it as a good and perfect gift that has come from the Father of Lights above!!!
|11/24/2021||Psalm 147:1 “Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.”|
Again, the psalmist encourages us to approach the Lord with praise and thanksgiving. Throughout this psalm, he lets us know that it is good, pleasant, and beautiful to sing to God!
Other translations tell us that – not only is it good, pleasant, and beautiful – it is appropriate and fitting that we sing praises to Him. When we consider His goodness and glory, it is exactly right that we would burst forth into grateful song.
He created, counted, and called each star by name. He causes the grass to grow and feeds all the creatures of the earth. He keeps peace at the borders of our nation. He launches His promises to earth, and they accomplish His will here.
Closer to home, He puts good food on our tables. He pulls together the outcasts, heals their broken hearts, and bandages their wounds. He makes our cities secure and blesses our children.
In this season, consider the handiwork of the Lord…Take note of all His blessings to you…He delights in giving good gifts to His children…Allow the gratitude in your heart to spill from your lips in joyful worship…Sing a hymn of thanksgiving to God…The Lord strains to hear your upraised voice…your praises are music to His ears!!!
|11/23/2021||Psalm 146:1 “Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!”|
As Thanksgiving approaches, we are counting our blessings and singing God’s praises. We choose to give thanks every single day.
In our verse, the psalmist speaks forcibly to his soul, “Praise the Lord!” He seems to be waking up his sluggish soul and reminding it to give praise where praise is due.
A popular quote asks the direct question: “What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?” Ouch! How easy it is for us to get sidetracked by all the distractions that clamor for our attention. How quickly our world-weary souls bow under the weight of everyday pressures.
But the psalmist rings the alarm and shakes our shoulders: “Praise the Lord, O my soul!” And he proceeds to spell out all the reasons that those whose hope is in the Lord should be happy.
God always does what He says that He will do…He executes justice for the oppressed…He gives food to the hungry and freedom to the prisoners…He opens the eyes of the blind and raises up those who are bowed down…He watches over strangers, the orphans, and the widows – those who feel displaced and lonely…Today, rouse your soul…Wake it from its slumber…Remind it of all the reasons that God has given you to be happy…Count your blessings one by one!!!
|11/22/2021||Psalm 145:1 “I will extol You, my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever.”|
Thanksgiving is just a few days away! More than a one-day-a-year celebration, thanksgiving should be the everyday overflow of our hearts.
The psalmist gives us a great reminder. With sweeping passion, he declares that he will bless the name of the Lord forever and ever. Yet, the next verse draws it a little closer to home. He promises to bless the King every single day. Then, he explains how he might fulfill that vow in the rest of Psalm 145.
He promises to meditate on the splendor of God’s majesty. He will recall how He is gracious, full of compassion, slow to anger, great in mercy, and good to all.
He will declare God’s mighty acts, His wondrous works, and His glorious kingdom. He will remind others of all His blessings. His mouth will speak the praise of the Lord.
He turns his eyes expectantly to the Lord Who satisfies the desire of every living thing. This is our Savior Who draws near and preserves all those who love Him.
For the next week, bless your King every single day…Take time to meditate on all He is and all He has done for you…Testify to others about His overwhelming kindness to you…If we are to praise Him forever and ever, we should begin to practice now!!!
|11/21/2021||Hebrews 6:10 “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.”|
Not only does God remember you, He remembers the work that you do in His name. He promises a reward for those unseen tasks that no one else recognizes.
Something as small as giving a cup of cold water to a little one in His name does not escape His notice (Mark 9:41). He recognizes these tasks as a labor of love given out of our deep appreciation for all that Jesus has done for us.
Each of us has some ministry to fulfill for the Lord – no matter how small. The key is to do it in His name and for His glory. If we desire credit or recognition for our work, we are not doing it for His glory – but our own.
A labor of love is completed with excellence. We pour our very best efforts into every task we undertake. He is worthy of the finest we have to give.
Our verse today mentions the ministry to the saints in the past and the continued ministry in the present.
A labor of love is an ongoing effort…We must be committed to advancing the Kingdom…Keep up the labor of love for God…Even when no one else notices, He sees you there…He will not forget!!!
|11/20/2021||Psalm 139:1 “O LORD, You have searched me and known me.”|
God forgets no one. Over and over, Scripture declares that God remembered His promises to His people.
God remembered Noah, and He closed the windows of heaven and shut off the fountains of the deep so the floodwaters could recede. God remembered Abraham, and He made him the father of many nations with descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky.
God remembered the Israelites, and He delivered them from slavery in Egypt. God remembered Rebekah, and He took away her reproach by opening her womb to give her a son.
The Psalmist declared that we are continually on God’s mind. If we were to count the sum of His thoughts towards us, they would be more numerous than the grains of sand on the seashore.
He knows every idea that passes through our minds…He is aware of every word we will speak before it rolls off our tongues…He is acquainted with all of our habits…Every one of our days was written down in His book before we lived one…He knows us more intimately than anyone else ever has or ever will…and He still loves us so deeply that we cannot even comprehend the breadth or depth of His commitment to us…Even when you feel forgotten and deserted, He remembers you…God forgets no one!!!
|11/19/2021||1 John 1:7 “and the Blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”|
On the day that the flood of God’s judgment loomed, Noah and his family climbed aboard the ark, and God closed the door. The opportunity for mercy and grace was no more. As the lightning flashed and thunder crashed, Noah was sealed inside. God provided a way of escape from the watery grave outside.
Years later, the children of Israel hunkered in their houses on the first Passover night. The blood of a spotless lamb splashed over their doors turned away the judgment of the death angel as he passed through Egypt to kill the firstborn sons. He did not discriminate as he took the Pharaoh’s and the pauper’s sons. When he saw the blood, the Israelites’ sons were saved.
At Calvary, Jesus became the Ark of our Salvation…He hung between us and judgment…Sin, death, and hell had laid claim to us…Addiction and bondage tightened chains around us…By His stripes, Jesus paid for our healing…His crown of thorns bought our royalty…The Cross set us free…Now, no weapon formed against us will prosper…When fear lurks, when the past rises up to haunt, when old sins rattle their chains, the blood of Jesus stands against them…When they see that we are safe within the Ark, they must pass by…We are under the Blood – cleansed and set free!!!
|11/18/2021||Revelation 5:9 “And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”|
Two by two, male and female, animals from every species boarded the ark – from the mammoth elephant to the tiniest snail.
Jesus, the Ark of our salvation, provided a way of rescue for people of every kind. Through His sacrifice on the Cross, He welcomes “whosoever will” to join the family of God.
The Good News does not take your nationality, skin color, or social class into consideration. No one is disqualified by the sins of the past or the predicaments of the present. If you have a heartbeat and are breathing, you are the right kind of person to receive salvation through Jesus Christ!
One day, we will gather around the throne of God. Men and women from the whole earth will sing a new song to the only One worthy of worship. The redeemed from every walk of life – bakers and bikers, pastors and prostitutes, teachers and truck drivers – will eat together at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
Animals of every shape, size, and temperament marched aboard Noah’s ark. ..God sent His Son for you…Here is your invitation…He is waving you aboard. ..You are the right kind of person for Him!!!
|11/17/2021||Genesis 8:1 “Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark.”|
By faith, Noah built an ark that carried him through the flood of judgment to safety. He started out before he knew how things would turn out.
The waters of the flood prevailed on the earth. Noah and his family were adrift on a three-story zoo with no rudder, no sail, and no map. They had no place to dock, to plant a seed, to see a future for themselves. Noah must have felt forgotten and forsaken by God.
But God remembered. After 150 days, He closed the windows of heaven, turned off the faucets of the deep, and the floodwaters began to recede.
You may be weeks or months into your own flood. There is no let-up in the pouring rain. You feel alone and abandoned. The water has swamped the sunshine and drowned your dreams.
God knows when the first raindrop fell…He knows when the clouds will clear…He sees the beginning and the end…He is right beside you in the middle…He sees you there…No need to flounder in the floodwaters because He will never leave you…No need to feel alone because He will not turn away…No need to despair because He has given you a future and a hope…He remembers!!!
|11/16/2021||2 Timothy 2:13 “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.”|
Noah was a faithful man – a righteous man – but he was not perfect. We sometimes struggle to behave like we believe. Even though we are professing His promises, we waver over the “why’s” and stumble in the uncertainty.
Even when we fail, God does not. Even when we are too weak to go on, His strength will be perfected in us; His power will rest on us. When we are hurting beyond words, He will help us. We are such a part of Him that He could never disown us; it would be like denying Himself.
His love and mercy, His grace and provision are not contingent upon our perfection. When our flesh is weak, He says, “My grace is sufficient for you” (II Corinthians 12:9).
When the storm clouds begin to gather. When the rain begins to fall. When the fountains of the deep break open. When the flood begins to rise. We can enter the Ark of salvation and find the safety and shelter we need.
When we fail, He does not…When we cannot, He can…When we do not know, He does…When we are out of answers, He is the Answer…Have faith in God…His grace is sufficient….He remains faithful!!!
|11/15/2021||Proverbs 22:29 “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before unknown men.”|
Noah heard God’s warning. He believed what God said, and he went right to work. He did not stand in his living room and ask God to manifest the ark in his yard. He did not “name it and claim it” or “mark it and park it.”
Too often, people desire the convenience of the blessing but dismiss the burden of the work. God’s promise does not automatically entitle us to the blessing. We must act on the word that He gives. We take the step of faith that demonstrates our confidence in what He has said.
God promises us the power to get wealth, but He tells us that the person who will not work should not eat either. He promises that His Word will be health to our bones, but we must be good stewards of the physical bodies with which He has blessed us.
Our profession and our conduct must be in agreement. Noah scouted out the forest, felled the trees, sawed the planks, and hammered the nails. He put his faith to work.
God has a plan for our family’s future…Know when you need to pick up the hammer…Let’s behave like we believe…Let’s watch God’s promises come to pass…Let’s get to work!!!
|11/14/2021||Ephesians 6:1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”|
“You’re not the boss of me!” Sound familiar, parents?
We love them with all our hearts. We make sacrifices to provide for all their needs. We take them to church and practice our faith to be Godly, genuine examples. And yet?
Children have responsibility in this equation, too. God instructs them to honor their parents. Not a suggestion, this is a commandment that carries a promise. If they choose to obey, they will enjoy a long life in which things go well for them. For the child who treats his parents with contempt, God reserves a curse.
We must teach our children to take this responsibility seriously. We begin by honoring our Heavenly Father, demonstrating the reverence and respect that He is due. We also honor our own earthly parents – extending forgiveness for past hurts and practicing grace in the present.
And always, we must guard the authority that God gives us as parents – not pals. Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child (Proverbs 22:15), and we must administer the discipline, correction, and training that will help our children mature to walk in God’s commandments.
Parents, love your children…Train them up in the way they should go…Children, obey your parents in the Lord…This is right!!!
|11/13/2021||3 John 1:4 “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”|
After the animals paraded two-by-two into the ark, Noah’s family followed. By faith, they entered the boat that proved to be their salvation.
Noah’s wife must have supported him. When the rest of the world was against him, he needed someone in his corner. Because of their agreement, their sons believed and worked alongside Noah to complete the boat. Finally, they all climbed aboard and waited for the rain to fall.
When we are united in faith with our spouses, our children will follow. When they hear us talk about Jesus as our Best Friend, they will find the love and acceptance they crave in Him. When they catch us reading, reciting, and wrapping our lives around God’s Word, they will recognize its truth as the foundation for life.
When they watch us bow our knees, they will recognize prayer as a first resource – not a last resort. When they see us rely on Jesus to bear our burdens and to provide for us, they will comprehend that He is more than enough to meet every need.
As we persevere in this most holy faith, our children will see that a life in Christ is the only one worth living…As they climb aboard the Ark of salvation, we will know no greater joy!!!
|11/12/2021||II Peter 2:5 “…and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness…”|
Scripture does not celebrate Noah for his naval genius. While he was an impressive boat builder, he is remembered for something more world-shaking.
Because Noah believed God and behaved like he believed, his entire family was saved – eight people in all. That is worth celebrating!
Today’s verse refers to Noah as a preacher of righteousness. Where and to whom did Noah preach? Genesis never mentions him standing behind a pulpit. But every day, Noah shared a message with his life, when he moved in Godly fear to obey His commands.
What message are we preaching to our children? Does our behavior cause them to believe in the God that we serve?
While Noah’s sons may not have understood his actions, they trusted him and followed him into the ark. Our children may not understand why we pray or attend church, but if we set the right example, they will implement those same practices in their own lives.
Are we living consistent lives of faith…Are we beacons that light the way to Jesus in this dark world…If we set the right example, they will follow us into the Ark of salvation…We may not be impressive boat builders, but we will be remembered for something more world-shaking!!!
|11/11/2021||Mark 11:22 “So Jesus answered and said to them, Have faith in God.”|
What is the one thing in your life that opens up the door of opportunity for God to pour out His grace on you and your family?
It is not your works. All of our righteousness – the good things that we do in our own power – is like filthy rags in the sight of God. We cannot earn salvation.
It is not your monetary status. Your family may be held together with golden handcuffs of privilege, but finances will eventually fail.
It is not your educational standing. Even with prestigious degrees, you will collide with a question that no earthly wisdom can answer.
It is not your influence. No matter the awards you have achieved or the accolades you have received, God is not impressed.
Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord because of his faith. When the rest of the world thumbed their noses at God, Noah had faith. When they scorned him, he continued to hammer the nails. When they whispered as he walked down the street, he prayed harder and praised louder.
Even when it is not politically correct, have faith in God…Even when it is not socially acceptable, have faith in God…Your faith will open the door for God to pour out His grace on you and your family!!!
|11/10/2021||Luke 17:26 “And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man.|
God warned Noah of the approaching flood, and Noah heeded that warning. By faith, he began to prepare for the upcoming disaster. His actions saved his whole family.
By God’s divine design, Noah received everything that he needed to escape the coming judgement. He precisely followed God’s blueprint for the ark. He loaded up the animals and hurried his family aboard the boat. God closed the door behind them.
Noah was pressured by the same temptations and surrounded by the same wickedness that we face. And yet, he remained righteous. Because of his faith, his whole family came into the ark with him.
We are surrounded by widespread wickedness like the days of Noah…God has given us everything we need to escape the coming judgment…He gave His only begotten Son to be the Ark of our salvation…When we believe in the promise of God and enter in, we will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16)…Because of Noah’s obedience, those he loved the most followed him onto the boat…He did not win his neighbors, but his faith convinced his family to enter the ark…Are you doing everything in your power to reach your family for Christ???
|11/9/2021||John 14:29 “And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe.”|
Many people grow nervous when the storm clouds roll in and the thunder rumbles in the distance. Imagine how Noah must have felt when he looked up and saw a dark cloud forming on the horizon.
He had heard and heeded God’s instructions. For 100 years, he had worked and warned his family and neighbors. The rain was coming, and the flood would rise. He labored through day-after-day, building a boat for a flood in a world that had never seen a drop of rain.
When he drove the last nail into the final board and saw the storm clouds roll in, he did not get anxious about what was coming. He must have sighed in relief that his faith was fulfilled. He must have thanked God that He was true to His word.
Over two thousand years ago, Jesus assured us that He would return to earth as a conquering King. He made promises about perilous times and the pouring out of His Spirit, about disasters and dreams, about sorrows and signs in the sky, about tribulation and trumpets, about epidemics and the end.
Have you been working for His coming???Have you told your family and friends???God’s Word is true, and His timing is flawless…One day, He will split the eastern sky…His promise endures!!!
|11/8/2021||I Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”|
No matter what personal flood is swirling around you, be assured that God has placed someone in your life to throw out a line to you.
God created us for relationship with Himself and with one another. He made us family. He instructs us to look out for the interests of others; we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.
In the middle of strange waters, struggling to keep your head above water, be alert for the person that God has sovereignly placed near you. That is the person who will toss out the life preserver, that will remind you that God has not brought you this far to fail.
In the face of a frightening diagnosis, that brother will testify to Jesus’ healing power. Once drowning in a sea of debt, that sister will tell of a Provider Who is more than enough. She will remind you of His past faithfulness. He will encourage you to trust and persevere. They will stand beside you in the rain and pray for the sun to shine again.
Watch for the hand reaching down to pull you out of the waves…Listen for the life-giving words that will be breath to your lungs…Find hope in the friends that He will give you in the flood!!!
|11/7/2021||Deuteronomy 31:8 “And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”|
When we face a flood and are tossed about on waves of worry and woe, Satan whispers that God has abandoned us to sink like a stone.
In Genesis 7:11, the rain fell “in the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day.” God did not guess. How comforting that He knew exactly when and where the first raindrop would land!
We might not have seen our flood coming, but God was aware of the building clouds. He sees exactly what lies in our future, and He is already there awaiting our arrival.
From your mother’s womb, He knew that in your thirteenth year, in the second month, on the fifth day, you would need a friend that sticks closer than a brother. He waited there with open arms.
In your thirty-second year, in the sixth month, on the fifteenth day, when the doctor delivered the diagnosis, the Great Physician attended that appointment too. On the day that your heart was shattered, He captured every tear.
Nothing escapes His notice…No random events surprise Him…He holds you in the palm of His hand… Nothing can snatch you away…He is here for you!!!
|11/6/2021||Matthew 25:13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming”|
Armed with the blueprints of the ark, Noah went to work. In light of the coming flood, Noah did not delay to gather the gopher wood and get started.
Noah had enough faith to believe that if God said it, He would bring down the rain. He had enough reverence to take action on the plans God had given him.
He must have enlisted the help of his three sons as he built the mammoth boat that would save his family and the animals of the earth. Their father’s faith and fear must have been contagious. His devotion and determination convinced them.
Some have doubted the success of Noah’s ministry. All around him, his neighbors continued to eat, drink, and celebrate life’s events. How they must have laughed and scorned the crazy man whose whole life had been derailed by this building project!
But on the day that the storm clouds gathered, the people that Noah loved the most walked into the boat with him. God closed the door on the ark of their salvation.
Let’s believe in the words of God and get to work on the plans that He has placed in our hearts…Like Noah, let’s be undeterred in our work for the Savior…If we do not grow weary in doing good, we will reap a reward!!!
|11/5/2021||Hebrews 12:28 “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”|
The alarm beeps every morning. We hop in the shower, grab our coffee, and head out the door to beat the traffic. Our routines make us feel safe and in control.
When Noah was 500 years old, God showed up to shake up his routine. Life had fallen into pleasant patterns, but God was about to do something that had never been done before.
How do we respond to daily disruptions? What happens when the alarm fails to ring, when traffic comes to a standstill, when the principal calls, when the anticipated check does not arrive?
Noah responded with faith. He trusted in the word God spoke, and he was “moved with Godly fear” to gather the wood and pick up his hammer (Hebrews 11:7). He responded with faith…and fear?
This fear was not based in Noah’s anxiety for the future. It was rooted in his utter reverence and respect for his Sovereign Father. It moved him – caused him to take action. He did not rail against the disruption that took him 100 years away from his own plans.
When interruptions hijack your plans you should trust in God…He writes every single page of your story…Walk expectantly into the detour that He lays out before you!!!
|11/4/2021||Hebrews 11:7 “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household”|
God opened the windows of heaven, and never-before-seen rain cascaded from the sky. The fountains of the deep broke open, and water gushed forth. Noah faced a flood.
Floods are inevitable in our lives. Noah faced a flood of judgment. We may be overwhelmed by a flood of fear, financial lack, physical trial, or family torment.
By faith, Noah teaches us how to navigate the unavoidable floods. If we cling to our faith, God has provided an ark of salvation to deliver us.
God warned Noah of the impending disaster. Noah was unprepared for rain, arks, and zoos. This had never been done before! He had a decision to make. Would he trust in the word of God or in his own intuition that said this was foolishness?
How many times we have deserted our faith to flounder in dark waters…Faith is not faith until it is tested…When we are tried by sickness, God becomes our Healer by faith…In our hour of need, God becomes our Provider by faith…When the rains fall, when the storms rage, when the floods rise…face them with faith in the One Who will shut us in with Him and carry us safely to solid ground!!!
|11/3/2021||Romans 11:33 “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!”|
The wisdom and ways of God are simply over our heads. Impossible to figure out and beyond the realm of our ability!
At God’s word, Noah went to work for 100 years. He had no concept of rain because it had never fallen before. When he drove the final nail, animals arrived two-by-two to climb aboard until God shut the door behind Noah and his family. Unexplainable!
So many things are beyond our understanding. How did a holy God look into an abyss of blackness and say, “Let there be light,” and it came to be?
Why did He plan for His only begotten Son to be the sacrifice for sin from the foundations of the earth?
How did that Son come through the womb of a virgin to be crucified in our place?
We certainly cannot explain how, after three days in the grave, He burst forth to ascend to the right hand of God where He now rules.
How incomprehensible that, in the name of Jesus, we have access to bring our petitions to the Father…We have no reason for “exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ever ask or imagine” or “pressed down, shaken together, and running over”…Unsearchable and past finding out…He is the God of the impossible!!!
|11/2/2021||I Peter 4:7 “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers”|
Jesus Christ is coming soon! All around us, we see the signs of His nearing return.
Jesus warned us of these impending signs: wars, rumors of wars, disease, famine, earthquakes, deceivers who claim to be Jesus, increased wickedness, a lack of love, and a migration of Jews back to Israel. For anyone who watches the news, these are daily realities that cause us to look up, because our redemption is closing in (Luke 21:28).
His approaching return stirs a sense of urgency in our hearts. We have work to do before the trumpet blast and His appearance in the clouds! We must remain sober and alert because no one knows the day when He will descend to catch us away.
We are Christ’s ambassadors while we remain…He has given us everything we need to succeed in our mission…We must be devoted to prayer, good stewards over all the gifts He has entrusted to us…We will give an account for the ways that we manage all He has given…Watch and pray…Work diligently at the tasks that He places before you…Keep your eyes on the sky…We will not be caught off guard when we live in expectation of His return!!!
|11/1/2021||Psalm 127:4 “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth”|
They are exceptionally noisy and incredibly messy. They question our decisions and challenge our authority. They monopolize our days and keep us up at night. And we love them more than our lives – these children that God has given to us.
Our children are our legacy and future. We are commissioned by our Heavenly Father to raise up the next generation to follow Him, to thoroughly prepare them for a life in Christ.
As parents, we are charged with teaching them about this marvelous Savior to Whom we have devoted our lives. We must raise them up to love Him and fully embrace His Word and the power of the Holy Spirit.
They are like arrows in our hands – pointed and purposeful…We sharpen them to shoot them into the future, to carry the power of Jesus into the years beyond us…We must be intentional as we model and mold, train and teach, love and lead – always pointing them to Jesus…If we submit to the mission and the necessary sacrifices to pass this torch, our arrows will be pointed and prepared…They will fly true and straight to hit the mark of God’s purpose every time!!!
|10/31/2021||Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God”|
In our noisy and hectic lives, silence is scarce. Rest is rare. The idea of stillness actually fills some with dread and alarm.
And yet, God beckons us into stillness before Him. We often lament how distant – even absent – God seems, but we infrequently sit alone in His presence just to listen. We expect Him to catch us on the fly, to whisper life-altering truths in our ears as we frantically fit one more activity into our day.
Elijah stood on the side of a mountain, waiting to hear. A wind tore across it, so strong that it shattered rocks. Afterwards, an earthquake shook the ground, and a fire blazed through the trees. God was in none of those things. Then came a still, small voice that was so powerful that Elijah wrapped his cloak over his face. How often have we missed the still, small voice?
Jesus often stole away from the crowds and even His close-knit group of disciples. He sought the solitude of a garden or the Galilean hills to communicate with His Father. The instruction and encouragement He received in those hours fueled His earthly ministry. His example inspires us to do the same.
Being quiet takes discipline…It means carving out time and clearing away the clutter to sit in the presence of God…Find a place…Be still…Listen expectantly…Make room for Him!!!
|10/30/2021||Job 23:12 “I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.”|
Pastor John Hagee once told his son, Pastor Matt: “If you’ll take the time to dig into God’s Word and tell others what He says, they’ll come from all over the world to hear you. But if all you do is tell them what you say, they won’t cross the street to listen.”
While most of us will not become internationally-known ministers, the wisdom in these words applies to us, too. This world is perishing for a lack of knowledge. They have rejected God’s laws and are reaping the painful consequences of living outside of His will.
People need to hear the Word of God – not the latest self-help advice, psychological diagnoses, or our well wishes. So many are floundering – and even falling – because they have failed to get the Word into themselves.
Job said that he treasured God’s words more than his necessary food; they sustained, nourished, and gave life to his faith walk. There, he found strength to persevere.
Take time to read it, memorize it, meditate on it…Dig in…We may not have silver or gold, but we can share the riches of God with others…Out of the storehouse in our hearts, we can give the life and love found in Jesus alone!!!
|10/29/2021||Psalm 45:17 “I will make Your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore the people shall praise You forever and ever.”|
We are members of one, big, beautiful family! We count Christian brothers and sisters of all nations, tongues, cultures, and generations among our numbers. We are one family united under one Father.
As we submit to His Word individually and in the corporate life of our local assemblies, we sometimes overlook the greater, global church of which we are a part. Across the planet, believers cry out to the same God, apply the same beloved Scriptures, and believe in the same mission to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Each of us has a part to play as one generation shares the holy name of Jesus with the next. The older generation is charged with mentoring the younger ones. How rich are the testimonies of those whose faith was forged in the fires of perseverance!
For those in the middle generations, they must perpetuate the convictions and character of those who have gone before. The Truth that we have received transcends generations. They must pass the baton to those young ones who are listening and learning the love of our Savior.
Submission to the mission is how we accomplish God’s plans and purposes through every generation…He equips and empowers us to do His work in every age…What part will you play???
|10/28/2021||Philippians 2:3 “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”|
We move at warp speed, rushing through exhausting days to fall into bed with unmet demands still burdening our hearts.
With so many responsibilities and so much pressure to perform, it is easy to develop tunnel vision. We focus exclusively on ourselves and our dreams and desires. Others become resources to reach our goals or nuisances that impede our progress.
Jesus calls us away from a life of selfishness into a life of sacrifice. Following His example, we learn to look up and look around. When the disciples shooed away the children who clambered around Christ, He stopped them and pulled the children in for a blessing.
On a life-or-death mission, He stopped for the woman with the issue of blood. On the Sabbath day, while the Pharisees looked on scornfully, He healed the man with a withered hand.
In the middle of important work, He noticed and took time. In fact, the irritants and outcasts were His important work. Instead of pushing them to the fringes of society, He pulled in the prostitutes, swindlers, crippled, and poor.
Where can we swap our selfish ambition for sacrifice?…How can we exchange our conceit for concern?…In the middle of our important work, let us look up and look around!!!
|10/27/2021||Luke 9:23 “Then He said to them all, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”|
A war rages inside each of us. The desire to do right is at odds with the desire to do wrong.
We each struggle with the temptation born of our fleshly nature. Sin comes naturally to our “old man,” the person we were before we made Jesus our Savior.
When we come to Jesus, the Spirit of God calls us to be more like Him. We have been crucified with Christ – dead to sin and alive in Christ. We put off the former sinful conduct we once practiced with its passions and desires. We are no longer powerless slaves to sin.
If we go after Jesus, we deny ourselves – say no to the desires of our sinful nature. We take up our cross every day – put to death anything that would rise in opposition against God. We follow His example – in our attitudes, our speech, our actions.
Our old nature wars against our new…but we do not battle alone…The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in us now…He empowers us to put the old man to death…We need not fear that we will slip back into the bondage of sin…If God is for us, nothing can stand against us!!!
|10/26/2021||Isaiah 6:8 “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, Here am I! Send me.”|
Difference makers come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and cultures. They often do not possess extraordinary talents or special gifts that set them apart from others. The one thing they have in common? Willingness.
They have decided to live with an attitude of gratitude. They determine to serve Him as a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. They are simply willing to try.
In Isaiah 6, Isaiah had an awe-inspiring vision of God cloaked in glory and surrounded by angels. The Lord asked, “Who will go?” Isaiah immediately blurted out, “Here am I! Send me.”
He did not take an inventory of his skills, make a list of all his inadequacies, or spout excuses for why he could not volunteer. In complete surrender, he simply said, “Here am I!”
Differences are as unique as difference makers. It is the woman who rocks babies at the local hospital. Or, the man who drives the church van. Or, the person who serves meals at the homeless shelter. Or, someone who sends a timely text. It is as simple as seeing a need and stepping in to meet it.
God is still asking, “Who will go?”…Be brave enough to say yes…Be grateful enough to go…Be determined to make a difference!!!
|10/25/2021||Jeremiah 9:24 “But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth”|
Consistent prayer brings us into proximity with God. It develops intimacy and allows us to hear His voice when others might not.
Jesus is our true Shepherd, and we are His sheep. He calls us by name and leads us in His paths. We recognize His voice because we have spent time in His presence. His whisper has calmed our fears in the deep of night. His warning cry has kept our feet from the edge of the cliff.
People often say that they want to know the will of God, but they fail to ask Him. Or, they ask once and give up quickly. Jesus longs for us to pursue Him in prayer. More than the occasional try, He desires an ongoing and sustained effort.
Jesus is our Bridegroom, and we are the bride of Christ. This illustration calls to mind the rich love of a long marriage – the quiet conversations, hard questions, inside jokes, easy laughter, and vulnerable tears. He knows the lines of her face, and she recognizes his voice. Jesus yearns for that love relationship with us.
Unceasing prayer keeps us in His presence…As we learn the cadence of His voice, intimacy grows between us…May we glory in knowing and understanding Him!!!
|10/24/2021||1 John 5:14 “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”|
Prayer is a privilege. Prayer is powerful. It rearranges our attitude and pulls us into alignment with the will of God.
For too many, prayer feels like an awkward encounter with a stranger. But prayer can flow as easily as a comfortable conversation with an old friend. As natural as breathing in and breathing out, it runs like a current throughout our days and nights.
Communicating with our Father should become such a habit that we do not even realize that we are praying – a part of our very identity. This inhaling and exhaling of petitions is an open invitation to Jesus to breathe His life into every situation.
When you have an important presentation at work…Pray…When you need wisdom to parent an unruly child…Pray…As you talk with a friend devastated by a divorce…Pray…As you contemplate a financial investment…Pray…Nothing is too small to request God’s assistance…If He has counted the hairs on your head, He is in the details that seem insignificant to others…Nothing is too big to request God’s assistance…He specializes in impossibilities…Partner with God in prayer today…Listen for His still, small voice and watch for His answers in response to the constant outcry of your heart!!!
|10/23/2021||Colossians 4:2 “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving”|
Paul encouraged us to pray without ceasing. Do it all the time without letting up! Prayer aligns our attitude with God.
Prayer may be the most overlooked and underutilized gift that God ever gave us. What power we possess when we pray! How was the New Testament church built? Prayer. What healed the sick? Prayer. What brought revival fires in the past? Prayer.
Prayer is more than a nursery rhyme that our children recite at bedtime, a monotonous chant, or a religious ritual to check off of our to-do lists. Prayer is a privilege.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites did not have immediate access to God. They could approach Him through the priest, in a particular place on a particular day in a particular way. Only then could they make their requests known.
When Jesus died on Calvary, God tore the veil in the Temple from top to bottom. He ripped apart the barrier between us. Jesus, our High Priest, became our once-and-for-all sacrifice, and He now sits at God’s right hand to intercede for us.
We need only whisper His name to be ushered into the throne room where we can meet face-to-face…Call on Him at any time – all the time – with an attitude of expectancy…Cultivate a continuous attitude of prayer!!!
|10/22/2021||Psalm 34:1 “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”|
Praising God changes the atmosphere. Psalm 22 declares that God is enthroned in – inhabits – the praises of Israel.
When we are going through a difficult situation, our persistent praise is a personal invitation to the throne room of God. It welcomes Him to show up and demonstrate His power in our circumstances.
Consider Job who lost so much in one day – his ten children, business, and health. Kneeling beside freshly-dug graves, Job said, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:21). Job’s praise did not cancel the facts. In spite of them, he followed those words with: “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job was not in denial; he made a declaration.
God had been good to him in the past, and he could trust Him in the present. He had blessed him in the best of times, and He would not abandon him in the worst. God was too wise to be mistaken and too loving to be unkind. And even while walking through the darkest valley of his life…blessed be the name of the Lord.
God is consistent and constant…Praise Him…even in the middle of the storm…Your praise demonstrates your trust and invites Him to your side…Bless the Lord at all times!!!
|10/21/2021||Psalm 118:24 “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”|
Gratitude determines our attitude. The more thankful we are, the better our attitude – and our outcome – will be.
Rejoicing is a habit that we choose. It has nothing to do with the details of our circumstances but everything to do with a heart fixed on Him. And practice makes perfect!
When the alarm rings, thank God for new mercies every morning. This is the day that the Lord has made – choose to meet it with gladness.
Make work a sacrifice of praise to God. No complaining about overpacked schedules or unpleasant coworkers! Thank God for the means to provide for our families and for healthy bodies to accomplish all that is required.
As we drift off to sleep, thank God for our homes, for protection over loved ones, for the food that He gave us to eat today.
And always, thank God for the joy of our salvation! His Blood has washed us white as snow, forgiven us, and set us free. Even on rough days, thank Him for His sufficient grace that covers all imperfections. For protection and provision, bless His holy name.
Make gratitude your point on purpose…As we think on all He has done, gratitude swells in our hearts to overflow into our attitudes which change the atmosphere and our outcomes…Rejoice and be glad!!!
|10/20/2021||1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”|
Our attitude determines the difference we make. Our focus on God’s goodness factors into our ability to have kingdom impact.
People with the right attitude often do impossible things. Conversely, people with the wrong attitude do little; they tie their own hands.
In every circumstance, our attitude decides whether to name it a blessing or a burden. In every challenge, we choose whether to believe God for more or to become frustrated by the situation. Our attitude determines whether we will praise Him or whether we will dissolve into complaints and accusations.
Complaining cancels out the power of praise. God instructs everything that has breath to praise Him. Praise Him for His mighty acts! Praise Him for His excellent greatness! When we elevate our perspective, our attitude comes into alignment.
Our attitude is determined by three things: the gratitude that is in our hearts, how we praise God, and the time that we spend in prayer. We are not helpless victims of our emotions. We have the option to choose our actions and reactions. We get to decide!
Rejoice always…Pray without ceasing…In everything, give thanks…This is the will of God in Christ Jesus for all of us…These actions determine our attitude and the difference we make!!!
|10/19/2021||1 Corinthians 2:2 “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”|
No matter how insignificant we may feel, when we determine to proclaim Jesus, we make a difference.
Edward Kimball was a Sunday School teacher in Detroit in the 1850’s. When a young visitor told Kimball that he had no interest in knowing Jesus, he could not let it go. Kimball went to his workplace, purchased a shoe shine, and began to witness to him. Before he left, D.L. Moody received Jesus as his Savior.
Moody became a powerful evangelist who reached more than one hundred million people with the Gospel. Frederick Meyer’s congregation heard about the American revival and invited Moody to London. He preached three sermons, every one entitled, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” Revival swept through the church, and Meyer’s ministry was transformed.
J. Wilbur Chapman came to Christ in Meyer’s church and eventually moved to Chicago where he led Billy Sunday to salvation. Sunday became a great preacher, and Mordecai Ham was saved at one of his meetings.
Ham went on to become one of the first tent revivalists. One night in North Carolina, under Ham’s large circus tent where people stood shoulder to shoulder, a young man came to check out the spectacle. That night in 1936, Billy Graham came to know Jesus.
Because one seemingly insignificant Sunday School teacher was serious about winning the lost, generations of people around the globe were impacted by Christ. What you do for Jesus matters. Go and tell! Win the lost!!!
|10/18/2021||Acts 17:28 “For in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, For we are also His offspring.”|
Everything that God created, He connected to a source. As long as the created stays connected, it lives and thrives.
In the heavens, God placed the sun and stars. If a star falls from the sky, it dies; it has disconnected from its source. On the earth, God placed trees and plants. If we pull fresh flowers from the ground, they begin to wither and die apart from their life source.
When God made humans, He created us out of Himself. Made in His image, He breathed life into us. In Him, we live and move and have our being – we are His children! We have unlimited potential because our Source is limitless.
Sin created a soul-deep problem…Sin separated us from our Source…Every one of us has sinned and is dead in trespasses…Like a fish out of water, we flail and gasp for breath…We are not where we belong…We are outside of His provision and power…Without connection to our Source, we are dead men and women walking…Salvation through Christ reconnects us to our Source…We find life, wholeness, and abundance…Apart from Him, we can do nothing…Stay plugged in to stay powered up!!!
|10/17/2021||Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”|
We are God’s workmanship, and we have been created to do good works that God planned out for us in advance.
These are not good works that we perform for salvation. These are good works that we complete so others will be persuaded to receive salvation.
After the New Testament church received the Great Commission, they went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them (Mark 16:20-21). They took the Gospel into their homes, streets, and workplaces. They told friends, neighbors, strangers, and enemies what Jesus had done. And they turned the world upside down!
The Lord still works with us…When we do what He commanded us to do, He rewards us with His presence and power to accomplish His will…If we dedicate our homes to God, He will use them for His purposes…People will come in and experience the light and love of Jesus and will leave with the peace of God…If we dedicate our businesses to God, His unlimited resources become available to us…When our mission statement is His, He will open doors of opportunity and increase…When we are about God’s business, He partners with us…Let’s get to work so others will take notice and glorify our Heavenly Father!!!
|10/16/2021||Psalm 139:14 “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.”|
From the top of your head to the tips of your toes, God created the amazingly unique you.
You are His workmanship, created by God and for God. How easy it is, though, to be discouraged in the middle of the messiness – to feel unsaved, unworthy, and outside of His blessings. Remember that you are a work in progress!
Think about an intricate mosaic floor. From a distance, you appreciate the beauty of its overall plan. However, the closer you move towards it, the less you can comprehend the entire design. In fact, up close, you only focus on one broken shard of pottery. When all you see is brokenness, it is not impressive. It all comes down to perspective.
God is working on you. He takes this broken piece, that shattered moment, this unplanned event, that mountain, this battle. He pulls it all together one piece at a time, over days and decades. Step back and see where you once were and where you are now, and know that God truly has worked all things together for your good.
Take heart…He has been refining you all these years…He will not quit until you are perfect in every way because He always completes every good work that He begins!!!
|10/15/2021||Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”|
If anyone is in Christ Jesus, he is a new creation (II Corinthians 5:17)! The moment that we accept Jesus as Savior, we are made new.
The truth is that – until we come to Christ – we only have the ability to become a reformed version of our old selves. We can embark on a journey of self-improvement, but without Jesus, true change is impossible.
Too many believe they can grasp salvation in their own strength. They cease and desist sinning all on their own. Even if they have the self-discipline to do that, they still have a problem.
Their behavior has changed, but their sins have not been forgiven. They still need to be washed by the Blood of Jesus. Without the shedding of Blood, there is no remission of sins (Hebrews 9:22).
Grace – by faith – is what saves us…Grace is the work that God does, and He gives it to us as a gift…Faith in our ability does not save us; faith in His ability does…Works cannot save us – only His grace and Blood wash us clean…How liberating to trust in His promise and rest in the work that He accomplished…Grace is the gift that He gives!!!
|10/14/2021||Luke 14:23 “Then the master said to the servant,‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”|
To every Christian, Jesus has issued the order to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
Jesus spoke these words to a small group of faithful followers thousands of years ago, but this special assignment was not for twelve disciples alone. This commission was not isolated just to them. This special order was for every person who has ever received Jesus.
If you accepted him forty years or four days ago, you have the same commission. Go and tell someone else who Jesus is and what He has done. No need to memorize chapter and verse or pass a test. Just remember these three simple words: win the lost!
No matter your denomination or tradition, win the lost…No matter your age or generation, win the lost…No matter your unique gifts or the one thing to which God has called you, win the lost…No matter where you have been or where you are going, win the lost…If you are looking for a passion and a purpose, win the lost…This is how to make a difference…When you win the lost, you introduce the sinner to the Difference Maker, and He changes everything!!!
|10/13/2021||Matthew 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you”|
Members of the United States military have one commission to uphold: to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.
No matter the branch of service – Air Force, Navy, Army, Marines or Coast Guard – the commission is the same. No matter the generation, training or assignment, the Enlistment Oath connects every service person who has ever worn the military uniform.
Even when a Marine argues his superiority over an Army soldier – one commission. Whether a soldier engaged in conflict or did not – one commission. Regardless if a service person retired as a four-star general or was discharged as a private – one commission.
As blood-bought, Bible-believing followers of Christ, we have one simple commission: go! God has commanded us to go into all the world and preach the Good News to every creature…When Jesus redeemed us, we were drafted into the army of the Living God…We are united under His banner and have received our marching orders…When His truth is ignited in the depths of our souls, we are compelled to share the message of the gospel with those who are outside of His saving grace…We must go and tell the life-changing things that Jesus has done for us!!!
|10/12/2021||Ecclesiastes 4:9 “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.”|
We shine better together! Jesus looked at a group of people and said, “You are the light of the world.”
He spoke to each individual, since His light has taken up residence in each of our hearts. He also spoke to them as a group. Why? Because we shine brighter and better together!
Once we decide to try, to shine, to be difference makers, we must be willing to work with others. The church often suffers from an “I” problem – what “I” want, what “I” need, what “I” do. Instead, we must learn to ask how we can accomplish God’s plans together. How can we better reach this world?
How freeing to appreciate our differences! If we all are exactly alike, most of us are unnecessary. But He created us beautifully unique. Iron sharpens iron – one blade cuts against another – and friends hone the character of each other. In the places where one of us lacks, another comes to fill in the gaps; we come into agreement.
Under the cause of Christ, we unite to accomplish His purposes…Our God-given differences were made to complement – not compete with – one another…We are united in a purpose that is much greater than ourselves…Together, we will shine so brightly that His glory will pour out to flood the whole earth!!!
|10/11/2021||John 4:36 “And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.”|
We love to celebrate big things! We bestow huge awards on people who perform better than everyone else. Behind every person who reaps the recognition, though, someone else has sown the little things.
In 1970, Dr. Norman Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his extensive work in agriculture. Scientists estimate that his discoveries saved over two billion people who would have starved to death.
Along with Borlaug, we must recognize Henry Wallace, one-time Vice-President of the United States. As the former Secretary of Agriculture, he believed that if the world was going to be at peace, it needed food. He hired young Borlaug to study ways to feed the world.
George Washington Carver must receive credit, too. Before he became the genius of his generation, he volunteered to take his professor’s son on nature hikes. There, he taught young Henry Wallace how all plants were created by God and could be used for great reasons.
Before that, Moses and Susan Carver rescued George from a band of bushwhackers who murdered his mother and kidnapped him. To honor his mother’s memory, they adopted George as their own.
Do not despise this day of small beginnings…Only God knows what eternal fruit will grow from the seeds you plant today!!!
|10/10/2021||1 Timothy 6:18 “Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share”|
One person who sees a need and is willing to try can change everything. A simple willingness to try can make all the difference.
Over forty years ago, Pastor John Hagee invited a nine-year-old boy to church. The youngster responded that he would love to go to church, but he did not have a ride. Pastor Hagee promised to find a ride for him. When he asked the church for a volunteer, a teenage girl raised her hand.
Every service the boy could attend, that young lady made certain that he made it to church. From the outside, it looked like a little thing, a mere good deed. In reality, she was a world changer.
That nine-year-old’s path changed the moment He surrendered his life into God’s hands. The course of his family destiny was altered for eternity. He became a pediatrician who has treated thousands of patients. For twenty years, he has volunteered as a Cornerstone Church cameraman so people around the world can tune in to worship. Thousands of people have been impacted by Jesus because one young girl was willing to try.
You are not responsible for a whole eternal destiny…but you can meet just one small need today…What a difference you could make if you were only willing to try!!!
|10/9/2021||Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”|
You are not defined by your function. Who you are is not confined to what you do. You are a difference maker.
You might be a parent, a postal worker, a painter or a pediatrician, but that is not all that you are. Elevate your perspective: you are defined by the purpose for which God has called you.
As a parent, you impact future generations. When your children become tomorrow’s leaders, the difference they make will be determined by what you do today. More than having hot dogs with the kids, you are feeding a feast to future difference makers!
God told Jeremiah that He formed, called, and ordained him before he was even born. And God has a divine purpose for you! He prepared good works for you to accomplish today long before you arrived here – walk in them!
When every little thing that you do…wiping a nose…sliding a letter through a slot…splashing color on a canvas…making a diagnosis…is done in the name of the Lord Jesus with an attitude of gratitude, He infuses those actions with holy purpose…More than fulfilling a function, you are created to make an eternal difference!!!
|10/8/2021||Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”|
You never know the difference you could make until you try. Little things make a big impact.
Think of how your own life has been transformed by little things. A smile brightened your outlook on a rough day. A handshake welcomed you into a room filled with strangers. Three simple words – I love you – set your feet on the road to happily-ever-after.
The slightest bit of effort can change everything. Destinies have been changed by a little invitation to church. Lives have been impacted by a little word spoken in defense. Suffering has been eased by a little willingness to reach into others’ pain.
Do not disqualify yourself from the exact place where God wants to fit little you into His bigger plan. You may feel inadequate for the task to which He is calling you, but remember that it is His Spirit – not your might or strength – that empowers you.
Little things in the hand of an almighty God make a great difference…Give God a baby in a basket, and He will deliver a nation…Give God a shepherd boy with a slingshot, and He will bring down a giant…Give God five loaves and two fish, and He will feed 5,000…Never underestimate how little becomes much when God is in it!!!
|10/7/2021||Matthew 5:13-14 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? You are the light of the world.”|
We are the light of the world. We are the salt of the earth. We are the difference makers that change destiny.
If salt loses its flavor, it has no value. If light is hidden under a basket, no one will see it. Are we doing what we were created to do?
We are the light of the world. This is not a simple statement made by a common man. Jesus has expertise in light. He was there when the Father looked down into the void of darkness. When God commanded, “Let there be light,” Jesus brought light to form.
And when Jesus looks at you, He does not see an ordinary, everyday individual. He recognizes inside of you the same power that changed everything in Genesis. The change agent that God used to dispel darkness in the beginning is the same power that exists inside your soul.
When you shine, darkness flees…When you shine, light breaks forth…When you shine, the glory of God rises over the situation…When you shine, new life is born…Your salt and light can change destiny!!!
|10/6/2021||Esther 4:14 “…Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”|
“What difference does it make?” Have you ever asked yourself that question? Have you talked yourself out of taking action with that question?
You are a difference maker! Every day, whether you are intentional or not, you make an impact – for the good or the not-so-good. You decide the difference that you will make.
Instead of counting our blessings, we frequently choose to focus on things we would like to change. When it comes time to take the action that leads to change, though, we often throw up our hands and ask, “What difference does it make?” With that question, we discount any strategy, action, or outcome that would help us achieve our goal.
Do you wish your boss appreciated you more? Show up early. Stay later. Do a little more than what is required.
Do you wish you were in better physical shape? Put down the remote. Take a walk. Make healthier eating choices.
Do you wish that your family life was stronger? Spend time together. Look one another in the eyes. Talk about your accomplishments and challenges.
The power to make a difference lives in you…God has chosen you…He has inserted you into this moment in history to impact the world for Him…Live in wide-eyed expectation for the difference He will make through you today!!!
|10/5/2021||Psalm 146:7 “Who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The LORD gives freedom to the prisoners.”|
In Psalm 146, ten verses give us ten reasons to rejoice for His kindness. We have good reason to shout!
The Lord sets prisoners free. Freedom – true, meaningful, spiritual freedom – cannot be found outside of Jesus Christ. Only He can break our chains and release us from sin.
We once were slaves to sin, and Satan was our slave master. But Jesus came to dwell among us. What He came to do in His earthly ministry, He has done in each of our lives. He touched the sick and set them free from disease. He touched the sinners and delivered them from the shackles of their past.
He spoke the Word, and the dead came back to life. The same hands that reached out to the sick and the sinful in the New Testament are the same hands that reach from Calvary, through the crimson stream, to touch us today.
The Lord has set us free…Like Lazarus, we have walked from death into life…Like Zacchaeus, we have walked from sin into salvation…Like Bartimaeus, we have walked out of the blindness of our yesterdays to see God’s purpose in our lives…Cry out for freedom…Lift your voice to declare your liberty…Now is the time to shout!!!
|10/4/2021||Matthew 28:20 “…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.”|
God is our help in times of trouble. But if He promises to never leave us, why does He allow the terrible trials that we all experience?
God will allow us to go through difficulties, but He will never abandon us. He is beside us every step of the way through every circumstance.
A tangible example of this promise can be found in our long-ago experience of learning to ride a bike. When we perched on the seat, someone older and wiser than we were demonstrated how to peddle and taught us to steer. Before we pushed off, we said, “Don’t let go!”
As we peddled, they jogged alongside. As we mastered the balance and gained momentum, they began to run. Suddenly, they disappeared, and we were doing it! Until we realized their hand was no longer on the back of the seat. “Where did you goooooo?”
But they were there to pick us up, dust us off, dry our tears and tell us, “If you want to learn to ride this bike, I have to let you go.”
In order for us to learn what God wants to teach us, He will allow us to go through some challenging situations…When we fall, He is there to pick us up, brush us off, and encourage us to try again…
|10/3/2021||Ezra 3:11 “And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD…. Then all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD…”|
Have you ever met someone who was excited about the win before the game ever began? That attitude sums up the shout of praise.
The shout of praise is something that you lift up before you see the victory. It is a shout filled with expectation and the certainty that if God has done it before, He will do it again.
The shout of praise is not rooted in denial; it is grounded in faith. You see a problem, but you know the Waymaker. You need healing, but you know the Great Physician. You need a miracle, but you know the Mountain-mover. In spite of how impossible the situation appears, God specializes in impossibilities.
He is worthy of your shout of praise…His great displays of power prove that He is able to meet your every need…He will part the Red Sea…The walls of your Jericho will crumble in the face of your shout…He will walk beside you through the fiery furnace…From the ashes of those dead dreams, He will resurrect your life…In anticipation of the victory, raise a shout of praise…Your faith is the victory that overcomes the world!!!
|10/2/2021||Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”|
Whether it is a shout for help or a shout for joy, we know that it is not why we shout, when we shout, or what we shout. It is to WHOM we shout that makes all the difference!
We do not cry out to some unnamed cosmic force that is limited in strength. We do not plead with a disinterested power with no compassion for our plight.
We shout to the Creator of the universe, the One Who spoke the heavens and earth into existence. We shout to the One Who fashioned each one of us uniquely in our mother’s womb, Who knows the exact number of hairs on our heads, Who has designed our divine destinies, Who has been working on our behalf since the day we took our first breath.
He gently challenges us to call to Him – to shout out – and He assures us that He will answer…Not only will He respond, but He will reveal wondrous mysteries to us – things that were once hidden, that we were not able to comprehend…When we shout to God, He moves heaven and earth for us…When we shout to God, we lift our hearts and our shouts to the King of kings and Lord of lords…And HE makes all the difference!!!
|10/1/2021||Psalm 98:4 “Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises.”|
Sometimes, our “Hallelujah!” breaks out with ease. We remember what God has done for us in the past. We see all of the wonderful things He is doing in our present, and we anticipate sunny days ahead.
When the storms come or the unthinkable occurs, our natural inclination is to fall silent, to shut in our shout. However, our shout for joy is not based on our circumstances. They change in a moment. Our emotions waver wildly. Our moods swing with our situation.
Our joy, though, is not a byproduct of circumstances. Fullness of joy is found in the presence of God (Psalm 16:11). If He abides inside of us, His joy – no matter what the situation – resides deep in our spirits.
In our season of need, we remember the Lord is our Shepherd; we shall not want. In our season of trouble, we sense His presence as we walk through the very shadow of death; His nearness comforts us. In our season of confusion, we find clarity in our Light and Salvation; we have no reason to fear.
Everything in our world need not be perfect before we shout for joy…In our very core, we recognize the fullness of God and His all-sufficiency to meet whatever it is we face…From that absolute certainty, our shout of joy erupts!!!
|9/30/2021||Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”|
When we are overwhelmed, God is our safe place to hide. When we are in the grip of a crisis, He stands ready to assist. His ear is attuned to our shout for help.
In the middle of a storm, Jesus came walking on the water towards the disciples’ boat. Peter was the only apostle who had the courage to get out of the boat and walk towards Him. In a blink, he was drowning in waves he had been walking over moments before. As the sea crashed over his head, Peter shouted a short and powerful prayer, “Lord, save me!”
His desperation caused him to be blunt. Our humble “God, I need you” pulls Him into our situation. We will never be independent of Him, and grace says that we have no need to be. God wants us. His eyes are on us, and His ears are open to our cries.
If you are surrounded on every side, if you are going under for the last time, shout to Jesus for help…Your desperation may cause you to be blunt…Your despair may cause you to be bold in your request…But even as the cry is torn from the depths of your spirit, He will be there, leaning over with hand outstretched to catch hold of you!!!
|9/29/2021||Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”|
The apostle Paul is a good example. After his conversion to Christ, he immediately withdrew into the wilderness of Arabia before returning to Damascus (Galatians 1:17). In total, he ministered some fourteen years in relative obscurity before being embraced by the leaders of the Jerusalem church (Galatians 1:21–2:2). An even longer period of obscurity was endured by Moses—forty years as a shepherd in Midian before God called him to go back to Egypt to lead the Hebrews out of captivity.
Sometimes God sets us apart in order to prepare us for what is coming next…There is always a purpose in His plans…
|9/28/2021||Matthew 16:15-16 “He said to them, But who do you say that I am? Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”|
Jerusalem was abuzz with the question: “Who is this?” Who was this humble man riding on a donkey amid a cheering crowd?
Some waved Him off; it’s just the son of Joseph and Mary. Others shrugged; He is just another prophet from Galilee. Still others saw Him as their rebel hero arriving to overthrow their oppressors.
Earlier, when Jesus posed this question to the disciples, Peter did not mince words: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” How do we respond when others sense the Spirit of God in us and inquire, “Who is this?”
Do we make our faith something bland and boring? Do we portray Him as something they can ignore or do we proclaim Him in a way that they can never forget?
Because He is risen, we are alive…When we did not deserve it, He forgave us and showed us mercy…When we were alone, He called us His friends…When we were weak, He was strong…When we were abandoned, He showed Himself faithful and true…When we were in trouble, He was there beside us…There is no one like Him…Who do you say that He is?
|9/27/2021||1 Thessalonians 4:17 “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”|
Jesus is coming again! We can lose sight of this fact in the here-and-now directly in front of us, but every day brings us closer to His return. In the same way that He ascended to heaven after His resurrection, He will return again.
As the Day approaches, we will see signs and wonders: fire, blood, wars, and earthquakes. People will love themselves and their money. They will be disobedient and despisers of good, boasters and blasphemers, unholy and unloving.
But in the last days, He also will pour out His Spirit on all people. Sons and daughters will prophesy. Young men will see visions, and old men will dream dreams. Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. When we see these signs, we will rejoice for our Bridegroom is on the way!
Instead of a Suffering Servant, He will return as a conquering King. With a shout and the blast of a trumpet, He will descend.
No crowds will clamor for His crucifixion…No corrupt powers will sentence Him to execution…On that day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father…Our King is coming back!!!
|9/26/2021||Psalm 119:160 “The entirety of Your Word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.”|
All Scripture is God-breathed – inspired by Him – and is profitable for conviction, correction, and instruction. It re-sets the direction of our lives and teaches us to live in a manner pleasing to Him.
Our sophisticated world expresses skepticism about the veracity of the Bible; many even disregard the verses they choose not to believe. The Psalmist makes it clear though: all of His Word is true.
He always keeps His word. Always. Scholars count over 1200 prophesies in the Bible. Over 400 of those prophesies pointed to the coming Messiah. His life and death perfectly fulfilled every single one. Over 3000 promises beckon in the Scriptures. You can stand on every one.
The grass may wither, the flower may fade, but the Word of God stands forever (Isaiah 40:8). Every jot, every tittle, every comma, every period, every letter, every line, every word on every page will all be fulfilled. God has magnified His Word above His name (Psalm 138:2) and watches over it to be certain that it is fulfilled (Jeremiah 1:12).
The Word has been mocked by cynics, dissected by unbelievers, and diluted by frauds. Yet, for all the abuse it has taken, it still endures as a testament to His faithfulness. It is the whole truth of God!!!
|9/25/2021||John 4:24 “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”|
The atmosphere was electric! Jesus came riding a donkey into Jerusalem on His way to the temple. The frenzied crowd threw down their robes across His path. Others waved branches as they shouted exuberantly, “Hosanna!”
Was this true worship? Because a mere few days later, this same crowd shouted, “Crucify Him!” This was not the Savior that they expected.
Jesus had confronted the Romans and the corrupt Jewish leaders; in Him was a political opportunity to overthrow their oppressors. Jesus took two fish and five loaves to feed 5000; in Him was unlimited resources. He restored Lazarus from the dead; in Him was the ability to raise up their wounded. They could not lose in a battle with Rome!
When their hero was arrested, their “worship” quickly disintegrated into contempt. If He could not give what they demanded, He was dead to them. They wanted Jesus to give them what they desired – not to give Him what He wanted. It begs the question of why we worship.
Do we worship Jesus for the blessings that He gives…Do we offer up genuine praise…Does our adoration pour from a true heart of gratitude…Do we bring to Jesus what He requires…Let us bow down before our Maker to worship Him in spirit and truth!!!
|9/24/2021||Revelation 1:18 “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”|
Jesus is alive! In the middle of busy, complicated days, we often need a reminder. He lives to redeem our lives from destruction, to declare the good news, to heal the brokenhearted, and to deliver the oppressed.
Two thousand years ago, His enemies crucified Him at Calvary. But three days later, He rose – victorious over death, hell, and the grave. Because of Him, we boldly proclaim, “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (I Corinthians 15:55)
After His resurrection, He walked the earth for forty days showing Himself alive “by many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3). Then, He ascended into heaven to sit in power at the right hand of God. All angels, powers, and authorities have been made subject to Him.
And there He intercedes for us…He does not rest or sleep…He watches over us…He fills us up with His power and His presence…Whenever two or more of us get together in His name, there He is right in the middle…Take a moment to inhale the wonder of Him – as near as your breath…Close your eyes and see Him there at the Father’s elbow – continuing to plead your cause…All around us, He is at work…He lives!!!
|9/23/2021||Psalm 136:1 “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”|
God is good, and He is worthy to be praised! Not just on the days when the sun is on our faces and joy bubbles in our hearts. Even on the days when thunderclouds congregate and grief drives us to our knees.
Paul admonishes us to give thanks in everything “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thessalonians 5:18). But how is it possible to live with sincere gratitude in an often cruel world? Notice that he says to give thanks in everything…not for everything.
In the big moments – the salvations, the graduations, and births – give thanks…In the insignificant moments – a morning kiss, the first tulip of spring, a shared meal – give thanks…When we consider our past, thank God that it led us to Him…On the days we are overwhelmed, thank God that He walks beside us…In the face of a pink slip or a frightening diagnosis, thank God that He holds every tomorrow…that He holds us securely in His hand…Our gratitude demonstrates our trust in a loving Father…Our hearts are fixed unswervingly on a God Who is good to us in every season…No matter the circumstance, we believe that He is working all things to our good for His glory…We give thanks with grateful hearts!!!
|9/22/2021||1 John 5:11-12 “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”|
For those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, we should overflow with the life of Christ. Our pasts are washed clean by His forgiveness. Our present is filled with the joy of His presence. Our futures brim with hope.
In the Garden of Eden, God breathed life into Adam. After he bit into the forbidden fruit, we inherited death. But Jesus came to redeem our lives from destruction. We were dead in sin, but He came to dwell inside and breathe new life into us. We became new creations.
He has redeemed our lives from destruction and crowned us with loving kindness. Goodness and mercy follow us; the blessings of God chase us down and overtake us.
How can we not exude life if we are filled with The Life?
Jesus assured us that, for every person who chooses to believe in Him, rivers of living water will burst forth from their hearts…Jesus assured us that joy and exuberance cannot be contained…Allow yourself to be swept up in the river of the Holy Spirit…Splash that living water on those who are thirsty and long for life overflowing!!!
|9/21/2021||1 John 5:4 “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.”|
After we prepare for conflict, we need to get ready for victory! No need to debate what God has declared. Every step brings us that much closer to His promise.
When God promised Jericho to the Israelites, He instructed them to march. Every circle around the walls gave them opportunity to prepare for victory. As they marched in silence, they must have remembered God’s faithfulness to them in the past.
If God delivered them from Pharaoh’s brick pit, He was well able to give Jericho to them. If He pushed back the waters of the Red Sea, He could surely topple these walls. If He could be a fire by night and a cloud by day, He could lead them to victory. Manna from heaven, water from a rock…God was with them, and He was for them.
With every lap, their faith grew. A shout was building. They believed that on the seventh day, when they lifted their hands, when their shout erupted, those walls would come down. Victory belonged to them!
As you march around your Jericho, get ready for victory…Rehearse the things that God has done for you in the past…Faith will bring down the walls to reveal His promise!!!
|9/20/2021||1 Peter 4:12-13 “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”|
God sees us as victors! He expects us to win because He has already won the war. Before we are crowned as conquerors, though, we must prepare for conflict.
No one escapes this life without conflict. God gave Jericho to the Israelites, but after the walls tumbled down, the real hand-to-hand combat began. Victory was still assured, but they contended for the promise of God.
In today’s verse, Peter warned the church to expect the fiery trial – nothing strange about it. His next words were “but rejoice.” No whining in war, complaining in conflict, or bellyaching in battle! But rejoice!
If there is an enemy in front of you, rejoice that God is about to reveal His glory in you, and exceeding joy will break out. No one revels in a struggle, but we have this assurance: at the end of every conflict, glorious rejoicing awaits.
Do not fear the fight…Stand in the power of His Word and the authority of His name…The God that fights for you is greater than whatever fights against you…The battle belongs to Him!!!
|9/19/2021||1 Corinthians 4:2 “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.”|
Focus and faithfulness go together like faith and works. Without works, our faith is dead. Without faithfulness, our focus fizzles.
An overwhelming lack of faithfulness exists around us. Temporary commitments abound. We find a world grown weary of doing good (Galatians 6:9). The moment that faithfulness runs up against discomfort, it fades.
True faithfulness is demonstrated in the difficult times. God desires a people who are faithful to read and obey His Word. He desires a people who pray continually – believing that He will respond. He wants a people who serve faithfully in even the small things. He wants a people who are faithful to bring their hearts to enter His gates with praise.
Faithfulness comes easily when life flows smoothly. But on the hardest day of your life, how do you remain focused and faithful? When trouble looms on every side?
You may not see the way through…Take one more step of faith…You may feel absolutely alone…Take one more step…When the darkness presses in, take one more step…Remain focused on the promise that He made to you…Remain faithful to take just one more step…He waits with hands outstretched on the path that He opens before you…He has not abandoned you…He is working everything out for your good…Take one more step…
|9/18/2021||Hebrews 12:1-2 “…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”|
When facing our personal Jericho, we have learned that we must work while we wait. We must be faithful. While we are waiting, we must remain focused.
We all begin with energy and expectation, passion and purpose. But what do we do when those things begin to wane in the reality of our situations? When every step looks the same? How do we plow through the monotony?
For the Israelites, the solution was to have a vision. They saw their destiny up ahead – full of the promise and potential that God had stored up for them. They made it through day three – not because of the idea that they would do the same thing on days four, five, and six – but because they knew that day seven held the promise of a shout!
Some lose focus because of the pain in their past…Some lose focus because of the problem in their present…Some lose focus because of the fear of the future…Let us fix our eyes on Jesus; He is the Author and the Finisher of our faith…He will lead us to the joy that He has set before us…
|9/17/2021||1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”|
When God gave Jericho to Joshua, it did not come gift-wrapped with a pretty bow set on top. Instead, God told Joshua, “You will march.” If the walls of Jericho were to fall, work was to be part of the equation.
The walls of Jericho fell…by faith. And since faith without works is dead (James 2:17), we see that work was holding faith’s hand. Everywhere faith is found in His Word, work exists right alongside it.
After God gave Joshua his marching orders, he rose early the next morning. He did not delay to do what God asked. He did not waste time whining; complaint is a restraint. He put the plan into action.
Joshua was not where he wanted to be…yet. He went to work right where he was. He knew that God was too wise to be mistaken and too loving to be unkind. He worked while he waited for the fulfillment of God’s promise.
We work while we wait…We march around the walls…We speak His truth…We extend His heart…We put our hands to the task before us…Every step of faith brings us one step closer to the shout of victory…
|9/16/2021||Hebrews 11:30 “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days.”|
The daunting walls of Jericho stood between the children of Israel and the Promised Land. If not for God, those walls were their mission impossible.
You may face the walls of a personal Jericho that are impossible for you to bring down on your own. But remember! God’s power begins where your strength ends. Even though every step of every lap must be walked before the wall crumbles, you walk by faith in a God Who makes the impossible possible.
Rather than analyzing the issue from every angle, choose to address your Jericho. You cannot change what you will not confront or finish what you are unwilling to begin. The victory of day seven only occurs after a first step is taken on day one. By faith, take the first teetering step that leads to freedom and laying hold of the promises of God to you.
One step in front of the other…one day after another we walk on by faith…When we march in God’s truth and in His way, a revolution of righteousness swells to sweep away the stubborn walls and carry us to victory…Our God makes the impossible our reality…
|9/15/2021||Psalm 34:19 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”|
As the Israelites prepared to take possession of the Promised Land, they stared up at the walls of Jericho. But in the middle of today’s difficult circumstances, God had some good news for Joshua.
As Joshua stepped into Moses’ leadership shoes, God assured Joshua that He was giving them the Promised Land. Every piece of land where Joshua’s foot fell belonged to him. No man would be able to stand before him all the days of his life. Just as God was with Moses, He was with Joshua. He would never leave nor forsake him.
As you march around your personal Jericho, be encouraged by the Good News. The afflictions of the righteous may be many, but the Lord delivers us from them all. If your heart is broken, remember that He has heard every prayer and has captured each tear in a bottle.
Weeping endures for the night, but joy comes in the morning. No matter your affliction – physical to financial – God’s Word contains 3,000 promises that apply to you. He keeps His promises from generation to generation, and He will not fail you.
No matter how many laps you have circled around your Jericho, if you are walking in obedience and making every step one of faith, your shouting day is coming…One day soon, a roar will erupt…Your shout will go up…those walls will come down!!!
|9/14/2021||Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, Your God reigns!”|
We live in a complicated, fast-paced world that threatens to overwhelm and rob us of the simple joys in life.
Remember not to ignore the Good News when dealing with today’s news. Do not allow God’s promises to be overshadowed by the Jericho that you face. Remember to rejoice in this simple truth: you woke up this morning!
Your heart beats in your chest because He has a purpose for you. He has not forgotten you, and He will never abandon you. He loves you deeply and unconditionally. He has a plan for you. Even when life is difficult, be assured that a good God still sits on His throne. He is faithful to fulfill all of His promises to you. He will provide everything that you need according to His riches in glory.
The situation might look complicated in front of you, but God is not confused…He knows the path that you take…He has gone before you to prepare the way…He has moved the mountains of impossibility…If you need wisdom, ask Him…If you need strength, lean on Him…If you need joy He will be the glory and the lifter of your head…Whatever you face today, do not forget the good news as you deal with today’s bad news…God is on your side!!!
|9/13/2021||2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”|
For forty years, the Israelites walked in circles in the wilderness. God planned to take them straight from Egypt to the Promised Land, but their unbelief and disobedience left them wandering.
Joshua’s first task in the Promised Land was to take another walk. This walk, though, was one of faith and obedience. When we walk by faith, we make progress. When we walk in our own carnality, we create work and frustration.
As we take another lap, our Jericho may be the same stubborn issue that needs to be solved, but something begins to happen. We are not the same people that we were on that last lap.
Every day, we are just a little stronger. We are just a little wiser. We are learning to lean more on a faithful God. His Word is growing in us. Our legs are stronger. Our faith is bigger. A shout is building in our lungs. Every step becomes one of progress when we walk in obedience to God’s will.
Even if our enemies scoff at us from the top of the wall. Even if they tell us how ridiculous we look. We are not walking blindly; we are in step with God Almighty. Just keep watching.
Jericho, He has given you to me…Jericho, He has promised me a victory…Jericho, your days are numbered…Jericho, you may be greater than me, but you are no match for the One Who lives in me…One step closer to victory!!!
|9/12/2021||1 Samuel 15:22 “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice…”|
God promised to give Jericho into the Israelites’ hands, but when they would have marched into battle, He had another idea. Let’s spend seven days walking around this problem before we solve it!
We want to make progress, but God walks us in circles. We want to surge forward, but God forces us to take another lap. Why do we get so frustrated when we know that there is a lesson in every lap?
Our perspective of progress is nothing like God’s perspective. We measure success when we see what we want. God measures success when we are willing to do what He wants.
We want God to bless our businesses; He wants us to recognize Him as our Source. We want God to bless our marriages; He wants us to submit to one another. We want God to stamp out our tempers; He wants us to practice self-discipline. We want God to erase our hasty words; He wants us to control our tongues.
The next time God waves you on to another lap, stay alert for the lesson to be learned and for the wisdom He will whisper…Your willingness to put one foot in front of the other is better than any sacrifice you might make…The Lord delights in your obedience as you take another lap…
|9/11/2021||Joshua 6:2-3 “And the Lord said to Joshua: See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days.”|
If you have served God for any time at all, it goes without saying that His ways are not our ways. The path that He charts, the routes where He sends us are not normally the ones that we would choose.
Joshua must have felt the same way when God announced His plan to take down the walls of Jericho. Walk around the walls in silence for six days? What about weapons, battle strategies, and manpower?
In our spiritual lives, it often feels like we walk in circles around the same situations. However, God has built a lesson into every lap. When our common sense says that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, His is the path of righteousness.
We long for progress, but God gives us the opportunity to take another lap and learn another lesson. Our Jerichos are gifts – not burdens – so that we may witness the greatness of God and gain His wisdom with every step.
It might look like another lap, but God is leading us…He is growing us…He is demonstrating His goodness…When the walls fall flat, we will understand the lesson in every lap…
|9/10/2021||Psalm 68:1-2 “Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered; let those also who hate Him flee before Him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away; as wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.”|
When Joshua and the Israelites stood on the brink of the Promised Land, the intimidating walls of Jericho loomed between them and the land flowing with milk and honey.
What obstacles stand between you and the promises of God? Every one of us has cringed under the shadow of a stubborn wall. Whether it is emotional, spiritual or financial, they tower so high and so strong that trying to tear them down seems pointless.
Those walls that keep you from enjoying the fullness of God’s promise may be much higher and stronger than you, but they are no match for the God that you serve. He is higher and greater. He keeps His promises, and He tells us that we can do all things through Christ Who gives us the strength.
Your Jericho problem is no match for the Waymaker. Even if you must walk around the problem for a few days, He will walk beside you and whisper lessons in your ear that grow your faith and your determination.
That day will come when God commands, “Shout!” And with a voice of triumph and a roar of praise, the walls and the barriers in your life will fall down flat. Let God arise, and let His enemies be scattered!!!
|9/9/2021||Numbers 33:55 “But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell.”|
Joshua and the children of Israel stood on the brink of the Promised Land. The land flowing with milk and honey that God had promised to Abraham spread out before them. And yet…
There towered the walls of Jericho – mighty and intimidating. Joshua did not wish to deal with Jericho, but God made it clear: drive out all of the inhabitants in Canaan. If any were left behind, they would become a barb in their eye and a thorn in their flesh.
Jericho is not a problem that comes out to attack us. Jericho is a problem that shuts itself in and challenges, “Get rid of me if you can!” It is an issue that digs in, prevents us from seeing the goodness of God, impedes our progress, and causes us frustration on a continual basis.
In the same way that Joshua had to confront Jericho, we must address the painful issues that seek to take root in our lives…We must seek God’s face… We must listen for our marching orders…We must obey them fully…We cannot allow strongholds to diminish our faith walk…Whatever that stubborn situation, it must fall in the face of the God that we know…His victory allows us to forge ahead into the promises that He has waiting…
|9/8/2021||Romans 8:31 “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”|
The book of John tells us that there is no truth in Satan. When he lies, he speaks his native tongue because he is the father of lies. How easily we fall prey to his accusations!
Today’s verse stiffens our spines and raises our heads though. When we find refuge in God, He comes to our defense. When we suit up in His armor, the fiery darts of the enemy fall powerless.
What shall we say when condemnation crouches with all its guilt and shame? God is for us. Christ bore our condemnation – along with our sin – at Calvary. No more condemnation for us!
What shall we say when old temptations whisper suggestively in our ears? God is for us. We are dead to sin and alive to the righteousness of Christ. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead rises up inside of us to help us resist the devil.
What shall we say when fear threatens to overwhelm? God is for us. The Spirit confirms that we are the heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; all of Their sufficiency is ours.
God will turn the things that Satan intends for our harm to work to our benefit…Through it all, nothing will separate us from His great love…God is for us, and that makes us more than conquerors…
|9/7/2021||1 John 3:1 “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!”|
One of God’s most loving and enduring blessings to us is the gift of family. Through faith, we become sons and daughters of God – adopted into a diverse and loving family!
Membership in His family assures many benefits. We are always – fully and without question – loved by our Father. He gave everything that He had to adopt us as His own. In the household of faith, we are surrounded by brothers and sisters who love us with deep affection. We no longer are lonely strangers; we are accepted and beloved.
These brothers and sisters pray us to the finish line and celebrate our victories. They sit in the ashes with us when our hearts are broken. They gently admonish us when we wander off course. They offer hospitality and generosity when we are in need. They encourage us with songs, Scriptures, and wise words. We eat together, laugh together, grow together, and share our stories.
And when differences arise? We extend the same grace to others that Jesus lavishly pours out to us. We do not provoke others to anger, and we are quick to forgive. We insist that peace tie us together.
We are not created to go it alone…We are gifts to one another from our Father Who knew that we would need each other’s encouragement and love…Together, we are the King’s children and a family…
|9/6/2021||Psalm 90:17 “And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands.”|
Labor Day provides us the opportunity to honor the social and economic achievements of the American worker. Today, we pay tribute to the contributions that workers have made to the development, security, strength, and prosperity of our country.
As we celebrate, let us offer our gratitude to God for the gifts with which He has graced us in this country. Our Constitution names three inalienable rights available to every American: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our national and personal freedoms allow us the opportunity to chase our dreams and realize our goals.
Thank God for the breath in our lungs, the strength of our bodies, and the sharpness of our minds as we set our hands to the work that He has provided for us…Thank God for the jobs He has given so that we can provide for our families…Thank God for the value and dignity that He places on the work that we do…As we give thanks to our Father and offer up every word that we say and every task that we complete in the name of Jesus, we become co-laborers with Christ to achieve amazing accomplishments in this world…May the beauty of the Lord be on us…May He establish the work of our hands…
|9/5/2021||John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”|
At the border of the cross, God sent His One and Only Son to draw all people – whoever believes – back into relationship with Himself.
“Whoever believes” is more than an intellectual acknowledgment because even demons know about Jesus. This type of belief involves commitment, confidence, and identification with Jesus that leads to trust and obedience.
When the Light of the world came, He shone a light on our sin – not to shame or humiliate us – but to bring us to repentance. God goes out of His way to interrupt our lives to save us with limitless, unconditional love. Like all gifts, we have to reach out to receive it.
“Whoever believes” means that He allows us the choice. He is not a master puppeteer pulling our strings and forcing us to comply to His will. At the Cross, He lovingly provided a way home. He held nothing back; He gave all He could give. Now, it is up to you.
If you will choose to believe, He will give you a brand-new life…If you will choose to believe, He will lift the weight of your burdens…If you will choose to believe, He will break the chains that hold you down…If you will choose to believe, He will heal your broken heart…If you will choose to believe, He will give you a home and a hope. Will you choose to believe?
|9/4/2021||Mark 1:41 “Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, I am willing; be cleansed.”|
The Son of God – sent by love, motivated by love, and reaching in love. We often see Jesus with His hands extended, reaching out to touch a wounded world.
He demonstrates His love with actions – reaching beyond racial, cultural, and gender barriers, beyond sin, shameful pasts, and societal condemnation, beyond time and space to heal and restore.
Standing at a well in the midday sun, Jesus reached out to the Samaritan woman. Rejected by Jews and Samaritans alike, Jesus gave her living water so that she never need thirst again.
The scribes and Pharisees caught a woman in the very act of adultery. Instead of pointing an accusing finger, Jesus challenged the man who was without sin to throw the first stone. When they retreated, He sent her home to “sin no more” with no weight of condemnation.
When the disciples shooed away the children, Jesus took them in His arms and blessed them. When the blind man came seeking sight, Jesus took Him by the hand. When the leper begged to be made clean, Jesus reached out and touched his diseased body.
At the border of the cross Jesus still stands with hands extended…He longs to gather every person under the shadow and safety of His wings…May He teach us to reach with the same love that drove Him to the ultimate sacrifice…He is right beside you…All you need to do right now is drop to your knees in humble submission and He will show you the way…
|9/3/2021||1 John 5:11 “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.”|
Our words have weight. Our stories have significance. Proclaiming them holds power.
Romans 10:9 tells us that we must believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead, AND we must openly acknowledge Him with our mouths. Believing in our hearts makes us righteous before God; confessing it with our mouths confirms our salvation. Saying it out loud makes it so!
Overcoming power is found in sharing our testimony – the story of God at work in our lives. And that overcoming power is not just for us; it is for the people who hear our stories and are captivated by the ways that Jesus Christ has taken up residence in our hearts and has enriched every aspect of our lives.
When we say it out loud, we welcome others into hurts that we have experienced…More importantly, we point to a Healer that made us whole…We were dead in sin…but He has given us abundant life…We were lost and alone…but He adopted us into His family…He broke the chains of habits that diminished our lives…When we say it out loud, others are drawn to this lovely Light…They find reason to hope again…They find strength to fight another day…They find tools to try once more…They find a Savior Whose love changes everything…Say it out loud…Testify!!!
|9/2/2021||Ephesians 1:22-23 “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”|
For every person who has placed their faith in Jesus Christ, the cross is not just a border of salvation. It is a border of triumph!
When God raised Christ from the dead, He sat Him down in heavenly places and placed everything under His feet. Everything includes every ruler, every power, every authority, every name that is named, in the present age and in the ages to come…everything!
From His throne, Christ directs galaxies and governments, planets and politicians, countries and kings. Nothing is exempt from His rulership. From now and through forever, He is over all.
Today’s verse informs us that God set up Jesus as the head over everything for the church. We are His body. Christ – the One Who fills the whole, wide universe – fills us up in every way. He speaks to us and acts through us so that we are His love and message to the world around us.
When we are full of Christ, His power and authority have rulership in our lives…He crushes Satan under our feet…We no longer are slaves to sin in a lifetime of bondage…The cross opened the door to salvation and liberty…Thanks be to God Who always causes us to triumph in Christ…
|9/1/2021||Joel 1:3 “Tell your children about it, let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.”|
In our nation, we are suffering under the curse of division and discord. In the house of God, though, may we be the city on a hill that blazes forth the light of unity and love.
We believe that Jesus is returning soon for His bride. Until that day, we have a responsibility to work until He comes. While we remain, we must never stop telling our children about our Heavenly Father and the priceless gift of His Son.
We must show them how to love Him with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength. We must teach them the unshakable truth of God’s Word and the unsurpassed power of the Holy Spirit.
The next generation was created to worship Him. If we do not protect them, they could fall victim to the enemy. If we do not provide for them, they might seek out what they need in other places. If we do not prioritize them, who will?
May we give the best of ourselves to the kingdom of Christ…From father to son…from mother to daughter…from generation to generation…let our hearts be turned towards one another as we embrace the wisdom of one generation and the energy of another…Let us instruct our children to live for Jesus and teach the same to those who come after them…Let all of God’s children say, “Amen!”…