Daily Devotional

  • True Greatness - Fruitfulness and Rewarding Sacrifice - Friday, October 20th

    Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds. Matthew 16:24-27

    I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    What a great summary our first passage provides for us. The sacrifice required for true greatness is worth it all. Making fruitful disciples in which Jesus Christ reproduces His life is why He came and is very much the “difference” He is waiting to make in each person’s life. According to our second passage, staying very close (abiding) to Christ is the key to his being able to reproduce his life in us and truly make us fruitful disciples. This is the most rewarding life possible and when all is said and done, perhaps we will come to realize that whatever is given up for this very special life is not really a sacrifice at all. Will the outcome for you in the end be the great, fruitful life God has in mind for you or will you settle for something less?

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I choose die to self and all its entanglements as an act of surrender to you and your claim on my life. I am alive to what you say is a fruitful life. I welcome the work of Christ in me and through me by the power of the Holy Spirit. I go forward living in the realm of Christ’s presence and his fruitfulness. I embrace the great life and welcome the greatness of Christ unleashed within me. Amen!

  • True Greatness - Fruitfulness and Regarding the Lowly - Thursday, October 19th

    Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.” Luke 14:12-14

    For though the Lord is exalted, yet He regards the lowly, but the haughty He knows from afar. Psalm 138:6

    Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Romans 12:15-16

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    It is an interesting phenomenon that as we become more and more accustomed to the path of humility and the great life in Christ that results, we become more oriented to the lowly, hurting people of this world. This is because not only do we become less oriented to the paths of greatness the world offers, but we become less oriented to the people who walk those paths. As a matter of fact we begin to see that much of the pain and suffering in the lives of the lowly is rooted in these so-called great paths and the so-called great people who walk on them. It only makes sense that if God regards the lowly so should we by going out of our way to associate with them and care for them in genuine and helpful ways. God does not leave room for haughtiness, does He?

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I guess I still need more humility because I continue to shy away from regarding the lowly through direct personal involvement and care. Lead me to some special person or family that I can befriend, accept, love and care for in ways that genuinely help and make a lasting difference. I truly want to be a fruitful person who makes a difference in this world for the sake of your kingdom and for your honor and glory. Amen!

  • True Greatness - Fruitfulness and Forsaking Honor - Wednesday, October 18th

    I do not receive glory from men …. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God? John 5:41, 44

    Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, “Friend, we have a better place for you!” Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Luke 14:10-11

    For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. Isaiah 57:15

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Having the foundation of humility in place that we talked about earlier makes all the difference. It happens when we come before the Lord and say, “yes, I choose to die to self so that my world is “Christ” and living life is all about Him rather than my world being “self” and living life being all about me. This initial surrender becomes an act of commitment to which we look back in order to be renewed in the humility we need for going forward with the great life in which the Lord actually produces genuine spiritual fruit. We won’t be exempt from self and pride, but we will be able to see a pattern of victory in our lives that leads to true and consistent fruitfulness. As we become less and less oriented to self and self-promotion, not only will the pursuit of honor disappear from our agenda but we will be able to handle graciously those situations when expressions of honor come our way from others.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I have made the commitment of initial surrender and I am seeking the renewal of humility I need for going forward with a zeal for exalting and honoring you and not myself. May genuine spiritual fruit pervade my life as I humbly walk with you and together we navigate the tricky path of human activity and relationships. Lord, I love you, worship you, and bless you. Amen!

  • True Greatness - Fruitfulness and Choosing Humility - Tuesday, October 17th

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Jesus noticed that all who had come to the dinner were trying to sit in the seats of honor near the head of the table, he gave them this advice: “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table!” Luke 14:7-9

    So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:2-4

    But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” …. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. James 4:6, 10

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Jesus saw people who were pursuing honor because they were not humble people. We have looked at the analogy of the seed and in essence we were looking at the foundation of humility for our lives. We will be able to be humble in social settings if the work of foundational transformation has already taken place so that our world is “Christ” and living life is all about Him rather than our world being “self” and living life being all about us. Getting out of the way and letting Christ be full and strong in us is how it works on the path of fruitfulness and a great life. This is a life that brings glory to God and pleases Him very much. We need to take an honest look at ourselves and determine accurately where we are with humility. We need to surrender fully to God and the transformation process He has in mind for us. We will then be able to see the fruit of humility in the multitude of settings everyday life brings our way.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I want my world to be you and my living life to be all about you and not me. Please forgive me for how much focus I put on me. Teach me humility and deliver me from myself. I see that fruitfulness comes from you and not my own efforts. I humble myself in your presence so you can lift me up above the world of me into the world of you. Amen!

  • True Greatness - Fruitfulness and Dying to Self - Monday, October 16th

    Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. John 12:24-26

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We can speak of many things that we are saved from because of God’s gift of salvation to us, but of paramount importance is being saved from fruitlessness. Our focus this week is on true greatness. Being fruitful is what true greatness is all about. Fruitfulness lies at the heart of the difference Jesus came to make. Do we really believe we have been saved from fruitlessness because of Jesus Christ? Do we really understand the process that is necessary for this to happen? The analogy of the seed (grain of wheat) offers to us some rather remarkable and helpful insight into this. 

    If a seed stays a seed there will be no fruit. But when it dies to being a seed, fruitfulness is unleashed. Just like the seed, we must die so we can become fruitful. We die to our claim on our own life. We die to what the world says is a fruitful life. We die to self and all its entanglements and then we surrender to Christ and His claim on our life. We become alive to what Christ says is a fruitful life. We welcome the work of Christ in us and through us by the power of the Holy Spirit. We live in the realm of Christ’s presence and we become fruitful. The result is a great life because of the greatness of Christ being unleashed within us.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, it seems like for so many of us as Christians our approach to fruitfulness is akin to hanging fruit in the barren branches of a tree. I suspect this has far too often been the case for me. I want the great life you want for me where genuine spiritual fruit is produced in my life. So, like a seed, I choose dying to self and becoming alive to you and the spiritual fruit you want to produce in my life. Unleash yourself in me fully and completely. Amen!

  • Embracing God's Supreme Agenda - Steadfast and Protected - Friday, October 13th

    Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by. I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me. He will send from heaven and save me …. My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises! Psalm 57:1-3A, 7

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    So, whatever adversity we find ourselves facing and contending with, God awaits to be a gracious covering to us until it passes by. God is the One Who accomplishes all things for us as he guards us through his protecting presence from alternative worldly agendas. Our lives will become what they were meant to be as He is free to pour out His love into our hearts and He is given free reign to provide for us and do His work on our behalf. This will necessitate that we choose the supreme agenda God has for us over the agenda we think will make for a good and successful life. However, it will take the power of heaven for this to happen. Once we make this choice through God’s enabling power, he will make our life here on earth a true success. As God’s power works for us in this way we will, like David, proclaim, “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for protecting me from myself and my propensity to rely upon alternative ways of managing my life in the middle of the onslaught of the world. I fully embrace you and your supreme agenda and know it begins with my prayer life where I consistently come before you and commune with you intimately. I seek you in this way now, Lord, knowing that everything you have in mind for my life today will wonderfully flow from my intimate connection with you. I choose to go forward steadfastly on this promised land path valuing it more than anything and everything the world has to offer. Amen!

  • Embracing God's Supreme Agenda - Resting and Partaking - Thursday, October 12th

    Then Moses told them, “Do not keep any of it until morning.” But some of them didn’t listen and kept some of it until morning. But by then it was full of maggots and had a terrible smell. Moses was very angry with them. Exodus 16:19-20

    Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, while it is said, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.” For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief …. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience …. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 3:13-16, 4:9-11, 14-16

    Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father …. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. Colossians 3:17, 23-24

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The generation of Israel we have been looking at spent 40 years in the wilderness and died there never having entered the promised land of Israel. This land was God’s provision of rest for His people but they were not able to enter because of unbelief. If they had believed and God’s placing them in the land had taken place in the way He had outlined for them, they would have found rest from contending with enemies, rest from the difficult labor of gaining food, shelter, and other physical provision, rest from conflict among themselves, rest from contending with the evil ways of other nations, rest within their minds and hearts because of God’s presence in their midst as the people of God under His loving and watchful care. God’s people today need to make certain that they enter God’s rest. How do we do that today? We have been delivered from the penalty of sin through Christ (extracting). On this basis Christ comes to live in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. By partaking of Christ (personal communion and intimacy) and giving Him full operation within us and through us, we are on a promised land path (placing) whereby we rest from our works in favor letting Him accomplish them for us. This is how God produces for Himself a people who truly live for Him and His kingdom. There is nothing this world has to offer that is more satisfying and fulfilling than a life so lived.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I get it but it’s hard to get there. I have so much more to learn about resting in you and letting you live in me and through me. Show me how to prayerfully come before you and commune with you intimately. I know that everything you have in mind for my life will wonderfully flow from this kind of relationship with you. Surely this is the promised land path you have for your people. How could I have ever valued anything life has to offer more than this. Amen!

  • Embracing God's Supreme Agenda - Peaceful and Trusting - Wednesday, October 11th

    So the people of Israel did as they were told. Some gathered a lot, some only a little. But when they measured it out, everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough. Each family had just what it needed. Exodus 16:17-18

    And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:29-34

    The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, for in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock. Isaiah 26:3-4

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Fear is a powerful force and it can affect us to the core of our being. Israel was afraid of dying in the wilderness and focused on the one place where they could at least survive, Egypt. This kept them from focusing on God and who He really was and the fact that He could take care of them no matter what. God’s provision of food in the wilderness was inescapable, so they did what they were told and partook of what He had provided. But they did not grasp within their minds and hearts a sense of context for what God had done for them. The severity of the wilderness and their perceived plight was more brutal to them than the sufferings of Egypt. They did not seem to have any sense of reality for the promised land of Canaan or God’s ability to get them there. God always takes care of His people and we must always live in the reality of who He is. When we do, He gives us perfect peace and we are able to walk in the fullness of His kingdom. With a deep “knowing” that God and whatever He provides is enough, success for us is now found in the quality of our walk with Him and how free He is to accomplish His purposes in us and through us. 

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, help me to be steadfastly focused on you. I see that the more I closely walk with you and stay focused on you, the more I will remain solid in my belief that you will take care of me no matter what. I also see that the more I focus on my agenda, my circumstances, and my sense of the things I need in life, the more that peace and trust will elude me. I trust you, Lord, and thank you for your amazing peace. I am free. Amen!

  • Embracing God's Supreme Agenda - Still and Focused - Tuesday, October 10th

    Then the Lord said to Moses, “I have heard the Israelites’ complaints.” Now tell them, “In the evening you will have meat to eat, and in the morning you will have all the bread you want. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.” That evening vast numbers of quail flew in and covered the camp. And the next morning the area around the camp was wet with dew. When the dew evaporated, a flaky substance as fine as frost blanketed the ground. The Israelites were puzzled when they saw it. “What is it?” they asked each other. They had no idea what it was. And Moses told them, “It is the food the Lord has given you to eat. These are the Lord’s instructions: Each household should gather as much as it needs. Pick up two quarts for each person in your tent.” Exodus 16:11-16

    So the people of Israel ate manna for forty years until they arrived at the land where they would settle. They ate manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan. Exodus 16:35

    For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.” Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 1 Corinthians 10:1-14

    God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear …. Cease striving (Be still) and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:1-2A, 10

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Our propensity for craving evil things is a bigger problem than we realize and often we do so unaware that we are deceived as we go about pursuing what we think is merely the meeting of legitimate needs. Our drive to succeed so that we have everything we believe we need, desire, and have a right to accomplish or gain is an extremely powerful dynamic in our lives. If we are thwarted in our efforts to succeed, have become miserable, and are grumbling and complaining, it is usually because we are not on track with God, His ways, or His purposes for us. The people of Israel got manna in the wilderness for 40 years. He provided this in response to their complaint, but could it be that if they had been on track with God, He would have quickly ushered them into the promised land of Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey. Choosing a promised land flowing with milk and honey over 40 years of manna in the wilderness seems like a no-brainer, but what lesser provision are we settling for in our lives because we are not on track with God, His ways, and His purposes.

    What promised land experiences are we missing because of a lack of faith, surrender, and dependence on our part that keeps us from co-operating with God and hinders His full blessing on our lives. If His people would cease striving (Be still), know and experience Him for the God He is, He would freely exalt Himself among the nations and throughout the earth. How is God being exalted among the nations and throughout the earth linked to his people ceasing to strive and truly experiencing him for the God he is? When God’s people have this kind of relationship with God they come to having amazing lives. And because the only explanation now for their lives is God, the waiting and watching world is moved and one by one they want and embrace the God who can make such an amazing difference in a person’s life.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I want you to make the difference that you alone can make in my life. Teach me to be still and focused so that I truly know you. Do it for your glory, the sake of the world, and of course for my good. Forgive me for all the ways I have pursued my own ends, in my own strength, and all for so much less than you are waiting to bestow upon me. I do want the only explanation for my life to be you so that you are fully exalted. Here I am Lord, abandoned to and your supreme agenda. Amen!

  • Embracing God's Supreme Agenda - Extracted and Placed - Monday, October 9th

    And the Israelites were sighing and groaning because of the bondage. They kept crying, and their cry because of slavery ascended to God. And God heard their sighing and groaning and earnestly remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the Israelites and took knowledge of them and concerned Himself about them. Exodus 2:23B-25

    Then the whole community of Israel set out from Elim and journeyed into the wilderness of Sin, between Elim and Mount Sinai. They arrived there on the fifteenth day of the second month, one month after leaving the land of Egypt. There, too, the whole community of Israel complained about Moses and Aaron. “If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But you brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.” Exodus 16:1-3

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Over 400 years earlier Jacob and his clan of about 70 people were the start of this vast community of Israel that complained against Moses, Aaron, and God in the wilderness. Initially, Egypt was God’s provision to preserve Israel from destruction by famine and then it became His means of building them into a great nation numerically. Finally, a king had arisen who did not remember Joseph. And so with all the benefits of that connection having become history and their size and power having made them an overwhelming threat, Israel became severely mistreated slaves in the land of Egypt. With great concern for the plight of His people, with great regard for His promises to them in the past, and with zealous intent for carrying out His purposes for them at this juncture in history, God set in motion a plan for extracting them from Egypt and placing them in the promised land of Canaan. God extracting Israel from Egypt has been accomplished but it seems Egypt has not been extracted from their minds and hearts. Thus, God placing His people in the promised land of Canaan becomes rather difficult because it requires a co-operation on their part that flows out of faith, surrender, and dependence. Instead, His people are a miserable, grumbling, complaining lot. Down through the ages God continues to be at work establishing for Himself a people who are distinctly His and it always involves extracting them from a path of living for themselves and placing them on a path of living for God. As His people today we often thwart what God is doing in our lives because, like Israel of old, we lose our focus when facing adversity. We fall into the trap of longing for that from which God has extracted us in the past, doubting God’s provision in the present, and forgetting about the glorious outcome He has in mind for us in the future. How often we choose the agenda we think will make for a good and successful life over the supreme agenda God has for us. This problem and the solution for it are the focus of this week’s Devotionals.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I see how I am so like Israel of old. I also know how quickly being able to see myself rightly slips away and makes it difficult for me to escape my living for myself and embrace my living for you. I really do want your supreme addenda for my life and not my own. Please make me into one who is distinctly yours by completely extracting me the path of living for myself and completely placing me on the path of living fully for you. Amen!

  • Good Stewards of God's Grace - Leading the Way, Supporting Others, Blessing with Love - Friday, October 6th

    We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father …. you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3, 7-8

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    It bears repeating: the centerpiece of God’s kingdom building plan is His people. God chooses to use those who are already reached for his kingdom to advance his kingdom. With every individual participating, God’s people function as a support system for each other that develops them into ones who reach additional people for His spiritual kingdom. There is no special class of people in God’s kingdom. Everyone is called to participate in the building of God’s kingdom. Being used by God for the building of His kingdom is our primary calling in life and it is a stewardship from Him that is incumbent upon us to fulfill. It is essential that we pursue with our entire heart and soul becoming good stewards of the grace of God so that in the end we are found trustworthy indeed.

    It is interesting to note that whenever our lives individually or collectively impact those around us for the kingdom of God, we are exercising leadership. Every kingdom member leads the way for others to respond to the Lord. We do this when we support other kingdom members by helping them stand tall or when we reach out to others who need to be reached for the kingdom. Either way we bless those around us with lives and words filled with love that tell the story of what great things God is doing for us. This is the heart of the stewardship God has given to us and we must embrace it and faithfully fulfill it more than ever before. God is doing great things for us as a church as well. His kingdom is being advanced in wonderful ways in our midst. Going forward, we have a developing stewardship that will increase our ability and responsibility to lead the way in our region for doing kingdom work that is truly in harmony with God’s kingdom ways.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I thank you again for your amazing grace that has provided and bestowed on me eternal salvation. What a blessing it is to be both a beneficiary and an agent of your amazing grace. Thank you for helping this reality become more central in my life this week. I am truly trusting that when all is said and done, I will be found to be a good and trustworthy steward who served the kingdom fully. Amen!

  • Good Stewards of God's Grace - Standing Tall, Sharing Your Story, and Having an Impact - Thursday, October 5th

    Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them. But all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Then the glory of the LORD appeared in the tent of meeting to all the sons of Israel. Numbers 14:9-10

    Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. Your children, however, whom you said would become a prey--I will bring them in, and they will know the land which you have rejected. But as for you, your corpses will fall in this wilderness. Your sons shall be shepherds for forty years in the wilderness, and they will suffer for your unfaithfulness, until your corpses lie in the wilderness. According to the number of days which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day you shall bear your guilt a year, even forty years, and you will know My opposition. I, the LORD, have spoken, surely this I will do to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be destroyed, and there they will die. Numbers 14:30-35They brought to the Pharisees the man who was formerly blind. Now it was a Sabbath on the day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also were asking him again how he received his sight. And he said to them, “He applied clay to my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” Therefore, some of the Pharisees were saying, “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” But others were saying, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And there was a division among them …. So a second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, “Give glory to God; we know that this man is a sinner.” He then answered, “Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” So they said to him, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” He answered them, “I told you already and you did not listen; why do you want to hear it again? You do not want to become His disciples too, do you?” They reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where He is from.” The man answered and said to them, “Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him. Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” John 9:13-16, 24-33

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Caleb and Joshua stood tall in the assembly of Israel by choosing to be faithful stewards of God’s promises even in the face of the opposition leaders who opposed them and the promises of God. God promised that the inhabitants of the land would become prey to the people of Israel if they would be obedient and enter and take possession of the land. Under the influence of the opposing team of ten, the people were terrified that their wives and children would become prey to the inhabitants of the land if they were to enter in and try to take possession of it. And in an ironic twist, an entire generation of Israelites, except for Caleb and Joshua, became prey to the wilderness because of their direct opposition and disobedience to God to enter and take possession of the land He had given to them.

    The blind man from the New Testament spoken of in the John passage above was faithful to the stewardship entrusted to Him as one who encountered Jesus Christ and had his sight restored by his healing touch. The blind man stood tall in the midst of opposition and had an impact on them and others around him as he carefully and simply told his story as a faithful kingdom member. How was he able to do all this so readily? It is because the reality of both his encounter with Jesus Christ and his miraculous healing dominated his mind, heart, and soul. In redemption we encounter Jesus Christ and receive the miraculous healing touch of his eternal forgiveness.

    This salvation experience with Jesus Christ could not be any more powerful and real an experience than if it had come about while being face to face with Jesus Christ like the blind man in our story. And this is just the beginning for us. Our salvation experience with Jesus Christ allows him take up residence in the core of our being where we encounter him and receive his healing touch over and over again. When our encounter with Jesus Christ and his miraculous healing touch (initial and ongoing) dominate our mind, heart, and soul, we will readily stand tall, share our story, and impact the people around us (opposition as well).

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you again for your amazing grace. Fill me with an awareness of your presence and healing touch that is full and all-encompassing. May I be a good steward of your grace this very day as I more readily than ever before stand tall, share my story, and impact the people around me. May you be honored and glorified in full. Amen!

  • Good Stewards of God's Grace - Co-operating with What God Is Doing - Wednesday, October 4th

    Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us--a land which flows with milk and honey.” Numbers 14:6-8

    Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' servant, saying, “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel.” Joshua 1:1-2

    So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them. Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt …. Then God said, “Behold, I am going to make a covenant Before all your people I will perform miracles which have not been produced in all the earth nor among any of the nations; and all the people among whom you live will see the working of the LORD, for it is a fearful thing that I am going to perform with you. Be sure to observe what I am commanding you this day: behold, I am going to drive out the Amorite before you, and the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite.” Exodus 3:8-10, 34:10-11

    Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?” …. “We hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.” But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day” …. “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know -- this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power” … “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ--this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:5-8, 11B-15, 22-24, 36-38

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The opposition team of ten through their impact of disobedience to God’s promise caused a delay in God’s people being established as the nation of Israel in the land. On the other hand the team of two through their impact of obedience to God’s promise was instrumental in eventually bringing God’s people into the land. In establishing His church on the day of Pentecost, God used a team of people to reach thousands of other people for His spiritual kingdom because they were obedient to God’s promises. God is wonderfully at work today clearly calling His people to join him in building His Kingdom. Wherever His people join together with Him as co-operative teams and engage in kingdom ways for building His Kingdom, great things take place. Unfortunately, many of God’s people are a part of opposition teams who are disobedient to God’s kingdom ways for building His kingdom, and the results are devastating.

    Notice the last part of our Acts passage above. It speaks of repentance, baptism (in the name of Christ), and the Holy Spirit. The kingdom is all about teams of people (churches) who pursue together a lifestyle of (1) repentance where they consistently renounce sin and self, (2) being immersed (baptism) in Christ where they consistently do everything in the name of Christ, and (3) walking in the power and control of the Holy Spirit where they are consistently led and enabled to do God’s bidding instead of their own. Unfortunately, there are churches everywhere who have forgotten that this is what the kingdom is all about. They, instead, go forward selfishly pursuing their own ideas of the kingdom, desiring their own satisfaction, and relying o their own wisdom and strength. The book of Acts was all about what God was doing and his people joining him in the amazing adventure of kingdom building. This is still what it all about and what a wonderful thing it is join God in the building of his kingdom in the middle of the world today.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for your patience and for the opportunity to join you in what you are doing. Grant me a spirit of co-operation. Help me to renounce sin and self. Help me to be immersed in Christ. Help me to walk in the control and power of the Holy Spirit. Please surround me with others who are pursuing you and your kingdom in the same ways. Amen!

  • Good Stewards of God's Grace - Embracing the True Kingdom of God - Tuesday, October 3rd

    Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness!” Numbers 13:30–14:2

    On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates: the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite …. I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” …. Then God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and He blessed him. God said to him, “your name is Jacob; but you shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” Thus He called him Israel. God also said to him, “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come forth from you. The land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give it to you, and I will give the land to your descendants after you.” Genesis 15:18-21, 17:7-8, 35:9-12

    But you are a chosen race, A royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. 1 Peter 2:9-12

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    With Israel of old God worked to build His kingdom by seeking to establish them as a model nation for all other nations. With the church God works to build His kingdom by taking individuals from all nations and uniting them in the body of Christ and using them individually and collectively to reach the world. Through the ages whenever and wherever God is at work building His kingdom, there will be those who co-operate with it and those who oppose it. One might suppose that all those who are in opposition are outside God’s kingdom and against it. However, often there are those within the kingdom who oppose the advancement of God’s true kingdom. Such ones don’t usually realize how they are coming up against God’s true kingdom while all the while supporting poor substitutes for the real thing. Also, it is interesting that there are sometimes those who are outside God’s true kingdom who are more in tune with features of the kingdom than many who are on the inside.

    We will explore more of all of this later. In the meantime, every one of us must realize that we will have an impact, but the question is will our impact be one of co-operation or one of opposition. Sometimes it is not clear how God is at work. For Israel God had made Himself very clear and there was nothing left to do but go in and possess the land. The author of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament speaks about this event and says that they failed to enter because of unbelief and disobedience. Every one of us needs to enter fully into to the true kingdom of God with its many amazing features (we will explore later) and then help additional people enter the kingdom as well. It is truly a matter of belief and a matter of obedience.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I want to be a believing and obedient member of your true kingdom. Show me the reality of your true kingdom with all its amazing features. Help me willingly abandon all the poor substitutes I have settled for and help me embrace fully every part of the real thing. Without this help and my good response to it, I can never serve your kingdom fully as a good and trustworthy steward of the your amazing grace. Amen!

  • Good Stewards of God's Grace - The True Calling of Every Believer - Monday, October 2nd

    Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. 1 Corinthians 4:1-2

    As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 1 Peter 4:10

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    One of the great and overarching spiritual realities of existence is the fact that all down through the ages God has been building a spiritual kingdom. The centerpiece of God’s kingdom building plan is His people. God chooses to use those who are already reached for his kingdom to advance his kingdom. With every individual participating, God’s people function as a support system for each other that develops them into ones who reach additional people for His spiritual kingdom. This calling God has for his people is often called the priesthood of all believers. There is no special class of people in God’s kingdom. Everyone is called to participate in the building of God’s kingdom.

    The impact God has for His kingdom people happens both on an individual and collective basis and has everything to do with why we are called the body of Christ. While each individual is used to build the kingdom, there are a multitude of ways that we do that in partnership with fellow kingdom members. Being used by God for the building of His kingdom is our primary calling in life and it is a stewardship from Him that each of us must embrace and fulfill. The apostle Paul reminds us that it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. Being helped to become good stewards of the grace of God is the focus of this week’s Devotionals.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for your amazing grace that has provided and bestowed on me eternal salvation. I need to have the reality that I am both a beneficiary and an agent of grace become central in my life. Please bring this about this week, Lord. When all is said and done, I want it to be found that I was truly a good and trustworthy steward who served the kingdom fully. Amen!

  • The Way of Love - Genuine, Brotherly, and Humble Regard for Everyone - Friday, September 29th

    Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Romans12:9-16

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    It is only by God’s mercy that we are saved and it is only by His mercy that we surrender. Through surrender God is able to take up His rightful place at the center of our lives and there He fills us up with His love which transforms us and then overflows into the lives of those around us. Since this is all God’s doing, it is only by His mercy that it happens. And if it is only by His mercy that it happens, then there is no room for boasting. And if there is no room for boasting, there is no room for anything but serving others with genuine love and acceptance. We must always remember that this kind of life can only come about if it is God’s doing in the outworking of the intimate love relationship we consistently experience with him on a daily basis.

    Today ‘sprayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, the “way of love” is the way I want to live my life. Teach me how to experience more fully our intimate relationship of love. May I regularly bask in your transforming love while all the while having a deep sense of surrender to you and an abiding sense of love for you. As I humbly regard and serve others, may they be so moved by the genuine love and acceptance that overflows from my life into theirs, that they are drawn to you and your amazing provision of eternal salvation. I humbly bow before you in worship, dependence, and amazement. Amen!

  • The Way of Love - Valuing Others Regardless of Merit - Thursday, September 28th

    Then Jonah went out from the city and sat east of it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city. So the LORD God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant. But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered. When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah's head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, "Death is better to me than life." Then God said to Jonah, "Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?" And he said, "I have good reason to be angry, even to death." Then the LORD said, You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?” Jonah 4:5-11

    Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the LORD endures forever.” And this is the word which was preached to you. 1 Peter 1:22-25

    But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:27-36

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Often our wrong attitudes and actions toward others are due to the simple fact that we think that we measure up and they don’t. We involve ourselves with those who merit our involvement and kindly treatment and we justify our non-involvement and mistreatment of those who fall short. God freely extends His love and forgiveness to all and welcomes those that know they don’t measure up and are in need of a Savior. And of course we must do the same and we will, if we let God change us from the inside out so that we value others in the same way He does. Once and for all, we must let it penetrate and settle fully and deeply into our hearts and souls that there is no measuring up in the sphere of God’s kingdom.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I guess I am more like Jonah than I realized. Whether it’s because of prejudice, pride, cultural conditioning, or just plain fear, there are those I write off just like Jonah did with Nineveh. Forgive me for all my wrong attitudes and actions toward others. Help me to value everyone regardless of merit. Thank you for valuing and regarding me freely just because you love me and because you want to. Amen!

  • The Way of Love - Christ Produces the Real Deal - Wednesday, September 27th

    He prayed to the LORD and said, “Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.” The LORD said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?” Jonah 4:2-4

    You have heard that the ancients were told, “you shall not commit murder” and “Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, “You good-for-nothing,” shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, “You fool,” shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. Matthew 5:21-22

    Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another …. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. 1 John 4:7-11; 20-21

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We often create standards for ourselves to which we think we measure up. This is particularly true when it comes to love and hate. We are able to justify our attitudes and behaviors towards others by adjusting what passes for love and what passes for not being hate. Jonah felt justified about his attitudes and actions toward Nineveh, but God questioned his reasoning. Perhaps our reasoning in these areas needs to be questioned as well. Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” He also said, “Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

    God’s standards are very high and that is why we need a Savior – to do for us that which we cannot do for ourselves. He gives to us the gift of forgiveness and the gift of Himself – so that He might reside in us and produce in us His own life of love and righteousness. The old saying goes, “One life and soon will pass, only what’s done for Christ will last.” Perhaps, it would be better to say, “only what’s done through Christ will last.” The Christian life is an “exchanged” life. Through surrender and dependence we exchange our own efforts for the work of Christ in us and through us. Only Christ can produce the real deal and only what he accomplishes will count in the end.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, it so easy to play games and I know I have. There is much I justify that allows me mistakenly to feel alright about things that actually need to be abandoned in my approach to Christian living. Forgive me for exalting myself above others through the pride of supposed accomplishment. Forgive me for usurping your role as the true source of my spirituality. Since it is all about you, there is no room for pride and since there is no room for pride, there is no room for anything but love and acceptance of others. Amen!

  • The Way of Love - Extended to All Equally - Tuesday, September 26th

    Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three days' walk ….when God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it. Jonah 3:1-3, 10

    But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. Jonah 4:1

    But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

    Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father …. Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. Colossians 3:17; 22-24

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    If you were to get a glimpse into heaven and were to see that Jezebel, Haman, Hilter, Jack the Ripper, Ted Bundy, Mae West and other similar characters were present, how would it make you feel? It is hard to think that God’s love and forgiveness should be extended to everyone equally, isn’t it? This is precisely how Jonah felt about Ninevah. We need to let God check our hearts to see if we have fallen into the same trap as Jonah. How easy it is for us to get terribly skewed in our perspective toward others so that we appear to be lovingly serving others, without our hearts being in it and without our even recognizing it. God’s love and forgiveness are extended equally to everyone.

    John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes him should not perish but have everlasting life.” “Whosoever “ means whosoever. However, not everyone chooses to believe in Christ with saving faith and turns from their sinful ways. Often those who are deeply mired in the practice of sin refuse to turn to Christ for salvation. But still, God’s love and forgiveness are extended to all regardless of the kind and extent of their sin. We must join our hearts with God’s heart so that we too truly desire his love and forgiveness be extended to all equally. Only then will we truly be on course with the way of love.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, honestly, I am so conditional in my treatment of others. Thank you for your unconditional love for me. Please change my skewed way of looking at others. I step out in faith and trust you for this change. At the same time, I choose to embrace wanting your love and forgiveness to be extended to all equally. Align my heart and life fully with the way of love. Amen!

  • The Way of Love - Surrendered, Filled, and Overflowing to Others - Monday, September 25th

    And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1:22-33

    He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. Colossians 1:15-20

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    In our relationship with God, if He is truly allowed to be first, then we are truly second. We have described this arrangement as God being at the center of our lives. If He is not in the center then it means that we are treating Him as if He exists for us rather than us existing for Him. God is in our lives, but we are still at the center and He is just one more component of our lives that needs to take its place in orbit around our self-occupied center along with all the other orbiting components of our lives. 

    The Lord saves us and brings us into relationship with Himself for the very purpose of being at the center of our lives. Salvation without this kind of surrender is a real dilemma. God calls us to love Him, but we will not be able to love Him truly if we are not surrendered. And if we do not love Him, we will not fulfill His desire for us to love others. When through our surrender, God is allowed to take His place in the center of our lives, we will be able to live our lives in loving service to others. Lovingly serving others out of our intimate love relationship with God is the focus of our Devotionals this week.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I truly want you to be at the center of my life so that you are first and I am second. I know this is the key to our having a full love relationship with each other. Forgive me for all the times I relegated you to second or even less. Show me how to genuinely surrender myself to you and your love. So, fill me with your love that it overflows from me into the lives of others. Amen!

  • The Way of Forgiveness - The Only Means of Heaven on Earth - Friday, September 22nd

    When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Colossians 2:13-14

    Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. Colossians 2:6-7

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Heaven on earth – it is all about surrender and dependence; it is all about confession and forgiveness; it is all about being transparent and current with God; it is all about walking in the kingdom as one who truly feels fresh and clean with a wonderful sense of spiritual vitality. God wants us to be a connecting point for Him to touch the earth with the wonders of heaven and He uses the open door of forgiveness and cleansing to bring it about. God is merciful and will give us the humility necessary for being able to surrender and depend on Him if we will only ask.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, how amazing: I am an actual “connecting point” between heaven and earth. As the wonders of heaven flow into me through your forgiving and healing presence, may they flow back out of my transformed life to touch and bless the earth and the people here who desperately need the wonders of God’s heavenly love and forgiveness. What a privilege and thrill is for me to be a part of the answer to the prayer, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Amen!

  • The Way of Forgiveness - The Open Door to Living Fully - Thursday, September, 21st

    Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.” John 8:10-11

    Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. Galatians 6:12-16

    Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin. Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:18-23

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The woman caught in adultery left the presence of Jesus with the opportunity to begin again. With the depth of forgiveness Jesus offered, she really could go forward and leave her sinful lifestyle behind. Can you picture yourself in this woman’s place? Would you have been able to walk away in complete forgiveness, feeling fresh and clean with a wonderful sense of spiritual vitality? With only a record of utter failure, without any proof that she could be trusted, she walked away with everything she needed to live victoriously. The only place where her past record and her untrustworthiness mattered were in the eyes of those around her. For Jesus and her, all that mattered was the gift of her forgiveness; for with the forgiveness of Jesus there is no track record and there is no untrustworthiness, just the open door of His kingdom and His righteousness.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I have heard so much about “living fully” and yet I have felt so far from the possibility of it. I think it all comes down to my having as real an encounter with you as the adulterous woman did. And I sense that you are just waiting for me to ask for it. So, “here I am, Lord, make yourself known to me.” I look into your eyes and find that in your presence there is no place for my past record and my untrustworthiness. I enter the open door of your love and forgiveness into your kingdom, righteousness, and living fully. Amen!

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