Daily Devotional

  • Redemption & Relief – Christianity’s Purpose - Thursday, November 15th

    Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught because of what my enemy is saying, because of the threats of the wicked; for they bring down suffering on me and assail me in their anger. My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm .... As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. He rescues me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me .... Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. But you, God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of decay; the bloodthirsty and deceitful will not live out half their days. But as for me, I trust in you. Psalm 55:1-8, 16-18, 22-23

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We talked yesterday about the necessity of God's people having the kind of love and compassion that God does. We need to know the actual condition of our inner person and how what is going on in our own heart, mind, and soul affects the flow of love and compassion from us to others. Perhaps the key to getting in touch with our own mind, heart, and soul is found in our hearing directly from someone who suffered much and was thoroughly downtrodden. Today's passage allows us to see the inner workings of the Psalmist, who was such a person and very clearly reveals to us his mind, heart and soul. The impact of his words on you will reveal whether or not you are the kind of person who has care and concern for the suffering of others.

    The kind of person who has care and concern for the suffering of others is one who is able to have the kind of love and compassion God has for those who are suffering and downtrodden. We become this kind of person when God's mission for the world becomes our purpose for life and we are liberated from being driven by self-interest, self-preservation, and self-exaltation. This is the kind of person whose Christian walk matches their Christian talk. This is the one who is in step with God, hears his voice of leading, and springs into action and provides the kind of help that actually does something about alleviating the pain and suffering of those who are downtrodden in today's world.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I am telling you right here and now that I choose to be one whose purpose in life is the mission you have for this world. I lay myself bare before you and ask you to root out anything and everything within me that stands in the way of your using me fully for your mission for the world. Transform my mind, heart, and soul so that I am filled with love and compassion for the downtrodden. Show me what you want me to do today that will help alleviate their pain and suffering. Amen!

  • Redemption & Relief – Humanity’s Need - Wednesday, November 14th

    The Lord reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity. The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:7-10

    O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings! Psalm 61:1-4

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We have established that God has a two-fold mission of compassion for the world. Missions is all about joining God in his two-fold mission of compassion for the world by bringing the Gospel message of redemption to the world and caring deeply about the significant pain and suffering that exists in our world and taking helpful steps toward alleviating it. In regard to the significant pain and suffering that exists in the world we are going to zero in on one type of pain and suffering. We want to look at the pain and suffering involved in being a refugee.

    Typically, refugees are people who initially have no option but to flee from their homes and communities in search of refuge (few options) from powerful natural or human forces that come up against them. There are many examples in our world today of multitudes and multitudes of people who became refugees (often they have lost everything) because of natural or human forces. God cares very deeply about refugees and so should we. Our passage today not only shows us the love and compassion God has for refugees but it describes the amazing spiritual refuge he can be to those who have actually been forced to flee from their homes and communities. But what about the provision of actual physical refuge for refugees?

    Yes, God uses his people to bring the Gospel message of redemption to all people and for those who respond, he becomes to them a place of spiritual refuge. Yes, God uses his people to bring the Gospel message of redemption to refugees and for those who respond, he becomes to them a place of spiritual refuge. However, it is important to note that only God provides actual spiritual refuge for people. It is equally important to note that when it comes to actual physical refuge, God does not provide it directly apart from human intervention.

    There is a question we must ask ourselves, "Do we have the same love and compassion for refugees that God does?" Here’s a question to explore: if a refugee was at your door would you open your heart, wallet, and home to them? What would Jesus do? Would you even give them a cup of cold water in his name? Ponder this: if powerful natural or human forces came up against you and you had no option but to flee your home and community, what kind of openness of heart, wallet, and home would you like to see from those you flee to for refuge?

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, give me the resolve I need to be one whose Christian walk matches my Christian talk. Fill me with the love and compassion for refugees that I would want others to have for me if I were a refugee. Deal with me fully in regard to the issue of "openness" to being involved directly or partnering with others who provide refuge for refugees. Amen!

  • Redemption & Relief – Christ’s Example - Tuesday, November 13th

    The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come. Luke 4:18-19

    Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:35-38

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We have established that Missions is all about joining God in his two-fold mission of compassion for the world. This means then that Missions brings the Gospel message of redemption to the world, but it also involves caring deeply about the significant pain and suffering that exists in our world and taking helpful steps toward alleviating it. To gain the solid understanding of what it means to join God in these ways we need to look more closely at what God has brought about to make our joining him a possibility. At the very center of God's two-fold mission of compassion for the world is his beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

    When Jesus was here on earth, he cared deeply for the needs of people on every level. Through his healing ministry he did a great deal to alleviate the significant pain and suffering of people. Through his teaching ministry he taught about life as it was meant to be here on earth and how his kingdom was all about getting it right. Through his sacrificial ministry he paid the price of sin and opened the doors of his kingdom to everyone who is willing to respond to him in child-like faith. Christ calls all who enter the doors of his kingdom to join him in being co-workers with him and each other in his two-fold mission of bringing the Gospel message of redemption to the world, while caring deeply about the significant pain and suffering that exists in our world and taking helpful steps toward alleviating it.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, continue to develop in me the compassion needed for my full participation in the two-fold mission of touching my neighbors both near and far with your love and provision on every level of human need. I love you, Lord, and I bless your Holy Name today. Amen!

  • Redemption & Relief – God’s Mission - Monday, November 12th

    But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. He keeps every promise forever. He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. The Lord frees the prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down. The Lord loves the godly. The Lord protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows, but he frustrates the plans of the wicked. The Lord will reign forever. He will be your God, O Jerusalem, throughout the generations. Praise the Lord! Psalm 146:5-10

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The month of November is all about Missions. The goal of talking about missions is to raise our level of awareness, understanding, and participation. Last week was an introductory week. Here is some of what we covered: God's mission for this world is first and foremost a mission of Redemption. Redemption is a gift of compassion that God gives to a lost and rebellious world. The compassion with which God relates to us becomes the compassion with which we relate to others. When we relate to others with a compassion and love that comes out of the compassion and love we are experiencing from God, we become channels through which God brings his redemptive love and provision to a battered and hurting world.

    This is our second week of focusing on Missions. Our goal this week is to see that our mission of compassion is two-fold. Yes, Missions brings the Gospel message of redemption to the world, but it is also involves caring deeply about the significant pain and suffering that exists in our world and taking helpful steps toward alleviating it. We know that God is on a mission to redeem the world, but he is also on a mission to alleviate the significant pain and suffering that exists in our world. Today's passage speaks very clearly to the fact the God cares very deeply about human pain and suffering and that he truly seeks to do something about it. Notice the following: “He gives justice to the oppressed, he gives food to the hungry, he frees the prisoners, he opens the eyes of the blind, he lifts up those who are weighed down, he protects the foreigners among us, he cares for the orphans and widows.” Throughout the week we will explore more fully what it means for us to join God in his two-fold mission of compassion for the world.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I recognize that I can have this two-fold compassion for those who are my neighbors in the actual sphere of my own life. I ask that you develop this kind of compassion in me more fully throughout the week. Lord, I recognize that the world is my neighbor as well and that partnering with others is the key to being involved with your two-fold mission of compassion in places where I cannot go. Lord, I ask for your clear leading in regard to increasing my participation by partnering with others, like “Manna Worldwide.” Amen!

  • "Swift Kindnesses"- Inspirational Poem for Sunday, November 11th

    Swift Kindnesses
    By Wilhelmina Stitch

    "Swift kindnesses are best," I love this phrase.
    It argues healthy zest; enthusiastic ways.
    It wells up from the heart, not from the cautious mind.
    "To-day," it cries, "we'll start to be exceeding kind."

    "Swift kindnesses are best," Oh charming phrase,
    expressing love's behest - be swift to praise.
    It is a splendid race when word and deed
    strive for first place, responsive to grief's need.

    Proverbs, like fashions, alter; but not this one.
    Delay not, never falter when kindness should be done.
    For happy Christmas tide, no need to wait.
    A burdened heart has sighed? Then be not late.

    "Swift kindnesses are best." Brook no delay.
    Compassion in the heart has right of way.
    So practice not restraint; to prudence do not bow;
    the weary one and faint needs your swift kindness now.

  • God’s on a Mission: A World Fully Blessed by His People - Saturday, November 10th

    But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. Titus 3:4-8 (NIV)

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We have been talking about "Missions" this week in an introductory way. We have done this by taking the time to develop a full and accurate picture of God's purpose for the world. We began with the broad idea of the whole earth being filled with his glory and then moved to the specifics of God's mission for the world. The glory of God refers to the splendor of who he is and the marvelous impact he has on his creation when he is allowed to govern it, care for it, and make it flourish. We saw that the rebellion of mankind (Known as the "Fall of Mankind" in the book of Genesis and carried forward by everyone, generation after generation throughout history) is really all about removing God from the equation in regard to living life here on earth. God's mission of filling the earth with his glory has become a mission of putting himself back into the equation by redeeming people and filling them with his glory one person at a time. This is what the Gospel and the mission of spreading the Gospel are all about. God's provision of redemption through his Son, Jesus Christ, is an amazing demonstration of the love he has for a lost and rebellious world.

    In talking about God's mission concerning the world, we have addressed the ramifications it has for us. The ramifications God's mission have for us were clearly depicted for us in the story of the "Good Samaritan." Through the story, Jesus taught us that our neighbor is the one who needs us to be a neighbor to them no matter who they are. Being a neighbor to those who need a neighbor is at the heart of the ramifications God's mission have for us. This stands in stark contrast to how people caught up in religious systems relate to and treat others in the world around them. When we relate to others with a compassion and love that comes out of the compassion and love we are experiencing from God, we become channels through which God brings his redemptive love and provision to a battered and hurting world.

    Being a full recipient of God's redemptive mission should readily lead us to being agents of God's redemptive mission. This connection is wonderfully expressed in Today's passage of Scripture. What a beautiful and detailed description of God's loving and compassionate provision of redemption that has come to us. Then we have these vital words, "Stress these things, so that who have trusted in God (recipients of God's redemptive mission) may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good (agents of God's redemptive mission).

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I want to be a channel through which you bring your redemptive love and provision to a battered and hurting world. Show me the way and increasingly make it so, as I go forward walking with you and living out the love relationship I have with you. Thank you for bestowing your redemptive kindness and love on me and pouring out your transforming Spirit upon my life. Amen!

  • God’s on a Mission: A World Reached with Good News - Friday, November 9th

    But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8

    Today's thoughts from today's verse:

    We saw yesterday, through the story of the "Good Samaritan," the answer Jesus gave to the question, "Who is my neighbor?" In essence, we are told that our neighbor is the one who "needs" us to be a neighbor to them no matter who they are. Being a genuine neighbor to those who need a neighbor is what God's mission is all about. When we relate to others with a compassion and love that comes out of the compassion and love we are experiencing from God, we become channels through which God brings his redemptive love and provision to a battered and hurting world.

    It is crucial that we become convinced that we cannot bring to the world the love and compassion it needs to receive from us if we are not receiving and experiencing it ourselves in our relationship with God. In today's passage Jesus says, "You shall be My witnesses." A witness in a court of law is able to be a witness there only because they were a witness beforehand to whatever happened to necessitate the trial. Because we are witnesses of Christ (we are ones who behold the reality of who he is and the redemption he has accomplished), we shall be witnesses of Christ before a waiting and watching world.

    The impact that beholding Christ (on an ongoing basis) has on our lives is seen by the world (we witness by showing) and leads to opportunities to proclaim the gospel to the world (we witness by telling). But again it is only because we are witnesses (beholding Christ) that we are able to show and proclaim Christ to the world (you shall be my witnesses). There is nothing said here about "witnessing." We are Christ's witnesses. It bears repeating that when we relate to others with a compassion and love that comes out of the compassion and love we are experiencing from God, we become channels through which God brings his redemptive love and provision to a battered and hurting world. This is what it means to be a genuine neighbor and this is what God's mission is all about.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I understand that the more I know and experience you, the more you will transform my life and the more my life will impact my world. Fill me with your Spirit and give me a genuine love and compassion for others that translates into them seeing the reality of your presence in my life and hearing from me how they can embrace you for themselves as well. Amen!

  • God’s on a Mission: A World Attracted through Genuineness - Thursday, November 8th

    Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’ "Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” Luke 10:30-37

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We saw yesterday that those who allow religious practice to become their primary focus instead of a relationship of love and compassion with God, have little love and compassion for others. This is because the compassion with which God relates to us becomes the compassion with which we relate to others. Those who are caught up in a system of religious practice that is all about performance, following the rules, measuring up by being good enough, self-righteousness and pride, etc., miss God's love and compassion and become ones who look down their "religious" noses at others.

    This is very much what is dealt with in today's passage as well. Jesus shares the story of the Good Samaritan in response to the question, "Who is my neighbor," which a leader of the religious system had asked him. Through the story Jesus answers the question by saying that your neighbor is the one who needs you to be a neighbor to them no matter who they are. Genuinely being a neighbor to those who need a neighbor is what God's mission is all about. When we relate to others with a compassion and love that comes out of the compassion and love we are experiencing from God, we become channels through which God brings his redemptive love and provision to a battered and hurting world.

    Religion is a pseudo-response to God. It is a game of making it look like God is back in the equation. Religion is the product of sinful, twisted hearts that circumvent God's mission of redemption. It is religious flesh exalting itself in substitution for God, while all the while (deceptively) proclaiming all is for the glory of God. The collective impact of "religious" people is a world of unreached people who turn their backs on God because they assume God is as much without compassion as those who claim to love and serve him but turn their backs on the world. Religious people turn their backs on the world because they have (often unwittingly) turned their backs on God in favor of their system of religious practice.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I ask for a work of grace in my life that helps me die to sinful self more than ever and makes me wonderfully alive to you and the fullness of your love and compassion. As both recipient and agent of your love and compassion make me a genuine neighbor to those who need a neighbor. Deliver me and your people everywhere from all religious substitutes and perversions that nullify the redemptive mission you are seeking to accomplish with the world. Amen!

  • God’s on a Mission: A World Awakened by Compassion - Wednesday, November 7th

    Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:10-13

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    "Missions" is our emphasis over the next few weeks. This week, we have been talking about God's mission concerning the world and the ramifications it has for us. We saw that the rebellion of mankind is really all about removing God from the equation in regard to living life here on earth. God's mission of filling the earth with his glory has become a mission of putting himself back into the equation by redeeming people and filling them with his glory one person at a time. We saw yesterday that God's provision of redemption through his Son, Jesus Christ, is an amazing demonstration of the love he has for a lost and rebellious world.

    In today's passage Jesus says, "For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Jesus came to redeem sinners and we are all sinners in absolute need of redemption. Redemption is a gift of compassion that God gives to a lost and rebellious world. The compassion with which God relates to us becomes the compassion with which we relate to others. But "sacrifice" gets in the way of "compassion." When Jesus speaks of "sacrifice," he is speaking of the religious system of the day (rooted in the Old Testament system of animal sacrifice). It was a system of religious practice that was all about performance, following the rules, measuring up by being good enough, self-righteousness and pride, etc.

    When religious practice becomes our primary focus instead of the relationship of love and compassion we have with God, we will have little love and compassion for others. In a very real sense a "sacrifice" approach negates what God has done to put himself back into the equation of our lives. When this is our approach, we nullify the redemptive mission of God in our own lives, both in terms of the impact of his love and compassion on us and the impact it has on others through us. We become ones who look down our "religious" noses at others. Instead of loving the world, we hate it and fight against it. We see clearly in today's passage that this is not what Jesus did and we must not either if we are truly going to join him in his redemptive mission of reaching the world.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, deliver me and protect me from self-righteousness. I want you fully in the equation of my life. Please, help me to see always that anything and everything that is good and right in my life, is your doing. Remove religious ambition and pride far from me and fill me with genuine love and compassion for any, and all people. Amen!

  • God’s on a Mission: A World Redeemed in Love - Tuesday, November 6th

    “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. And, Love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27

    Today's thoughts from today's verse:

    We saw yesterday that God's mission for this world is that "the whole earth be filled with His glory." In the beginning, everything was under God's authority and in perfect harmony with God and his ways. However, mankind rebelled and a course for life on earth that excludes God was adopted. God's mission of filling the earth with his glory begins with the mission of redeeming people and filling them with his glory. Today's passage describes the life of a person who is under God's authority and in perfect harmony with God and his ways. Such a person loves God fully and other people fully. A world under God's authority and in perfect harmony with God and his ways is a world that is filled with his glory. It is a world where love connects everyone with God and each other in the beauty of relationships as they were meant to be.

    Because of our sin and rebellion, we have been rendered incapable of loving God and other people fully. This is the reason God's mission for this world is first and foremost a mission of Redemption. God's mission of redemption is a mission of love for a lost and rebellious world. We are told that "God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." We will never be ones who love God and others fully, until we respond to God's love and his provision of redemption through the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for your love and thank you for the gift of redemption. I pray that I will so know your love in my life that I will love you and others more fully than ever before. Take away my love for anything and everything that hinders you from filling my life with your glory and displaying it to the world around me. Amen!

  • God’s on a Mission: A World Restored to Glory - Monday, November 5th

    Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone works wonders. And blessed be His glorious name forever; and may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen, and Amen. Psalm 72:18-19

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Every once in a while, we need to stop and consider this big, old world we live in. Everyday multitudes of us take life at face value and go about business as usual. What is it really, all about though? What is the purpose of this world and all it holds? Notice these words from today's passage: "May the whole earth be filled with His glory." This is about the most broad-based statement of purpose for this world we can find in Scripture. We are talking about God, the creator of all things, filling this world with his glory. Sounds like a very lofty and significant purpose for planet earth, doesn't it?

    This is God's mission. But, what does it mean and what are the ramifications for us? We have all heard of "Missions" and the word conjures up various images and meanings for each of us. We need to have a full and accurate picture of God's purpose for the world. We begin with the broad idea of the whole earth being filled with his glory and we will move to the specifics of God's mission for the world which he has developed and unfolded over the course of time.

    Since God made the world, it would seem the world would automatically be filled with his glory. In the beginning, everything was under God's authority and in perfect harmony with God and his ways. However, mankind rebelled and a course for life on earth that excludes God was adopted. The glory of God refers to the splendor of who he is and the marvelous impact he has on his creation when he governs it, cares for it, and makes it flourish. So, filling the earth with his glory is the process of God putting himself back into the equation so that the earth becomes the amazing place it was meant to be.

    When we use words like redemption, salvation, restoration, etc. we are talking about God's mission of putting himself back into the equation. This is what the Gospel and the mission of spreading the Gospel are all about. God puts himself back into the equation one person at a time through the redemptive work of his Son, Jesus Christ. The work of making the world into the amazing place it was meant to be is secondary to the work of making people into the amazing people they were meant to be. When the fullness of God's mission of redeeming people and filling them with his glory is complete, he will then fulfill all the amazing purposes he has for mankind on planet earth and the world will be totally filled with his glory.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I join the Psalmist in saying that you alone work wonders. Only you can work the wonder of the mission of filling the earth with your glory. I bless you Lord. I bless your name forever. I give myself to you afresh and say to you, here I am, fill me with your glory. Fulfill in me all you have in mind for me as one who has received the gift of redemption through your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen!

  • "Chasms And Bridges" - An Inspirational Poem for Sunday, November 4th

    Chasms And Bridges

    By Ted L Glines

    Whether dancing the circle
    or sitting in the pews,
    the world is full of wonder
    and knee-jerk news.

    For those full of spite
    and woeful complaining,
    the world is full of darkness;
    no hope remaining.

    Diversity spawns,
    attacking spasms,
    elevating hate
    and deepening the chasms.

    You are who you are,
    smart as a fox;
    why confine yourself
    to a bleak little box?

    For those full of love
    and compassion caring,
    the world is full of brightness
    and warmth in sharing.

    Diversity spawns
    a chance to build bridges,
    elevating love
    and life privileges.

    You are who you are,
    smart as a fox;
    expressing yourself,
    you're out of that box!

    We can make this world
    a beautiful place
    if we toss away frowns
    and put smiles on our face.

    Abolish that burden
    of complaints you've been lugging;
    begin building bridges
    and get used to hugging!

  • "The Most Beautiful Flower" - An Inspirational Story for Saturday, November 3rd

    The Most Beautiful Flower

    The park bench was deserted as I sat down to read Beneath the long, straggly branches of an old willow tree. Disillusioned by life with good reason to frown, For the world was intent on dragging me down.

    And if that weren’t enough to ruin my day, A young boy out of breath approached me, all tired from play. He stood right before me with his head tilted down And said with great excitement, “Look what I found!”

    In his hand was a flower, and what a pitiful sight, With its petals all worn – not enough rain, or too little light. Wanting him to take his dead flower and go off to play, I faked a small smile and then shifted away.

    But instead of retreating he sat next to my side And placed the flower to his nose and declared with surprise, “It sure smells pretty and it’s beautiful, too. That’s why I picked it; here, it’s for you.”

    The weed before me was dying or dead. Not vibrant of colors, orange, yellow or red. But I knew I must take it, or he might never leave. So I reached for the flower, and replied, “Just what I need.”

    But instead of him placing the flower in my hand, He held it mid-air without reason or plan. It was then that I noticed for the very first time That weed-toting boy could not see: he was blind.

    I heard my voice quiver, tears shone like the sun As I thanked him for picking the very best one. “You’re welcome,” he smiled, and then ran off to play, Unaware of the impact he’d had on my day.

    I sat there and wondered how he managed to see A self-pitying woman beneath an old willow tree. How did he know of my self-indulged plight? Perhaps from his heart, he’d been blessed with true sight.

    Through the eyes of a blind child, at last I could see The problem was not with the world; the problem was me. And for all of those times I myself had been blind, I vowed to see beauty, and appreciate every second that’s mine.

    And then I held that wilted flower up to my nose And breathed in the fragrance of a beautiful rose And smiled as that young boy, another weed in his hand About to change the life of an unsuspecting old man.

    -Author unknown

  • Bending Low Before God and People – Freedom through Spiritual Healing - Friday, November 2nd

    I will give You thanks with all my heart; I will sing praises to You before the gods. I will bow down toward Yourh holytemple and give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth …. On the day I called, You answered me. You made me bold with strength in my soul …. For great is the glory of the Lord.  For though the Lord is exalted, yet He regards the humble, but the proud He knows from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me. Psalm 138:1-2A, 3, 5B-7A

    I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up, and have not let my enemies rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me. O Lord, You have brought up my soul from Sheol; You have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pit. Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones, and give thanks to His holy name. Psalm 30:1-4

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We began the week looking at the Divine solution to Naaman’s need for physical healing and his initial response to that solution. Naaman struggled with yielding to the Divine solution offered to him. In contrast to Naaman is David whose overall orientation (heart, mind, and body) to God was “yielding.” This made David a ready beneficiary of God’s solutions to all manner of life issues. Most of us are more like Naaman than David. We, too, struggle to yield to anything that comes to us from outside ourselves and does not originate with us. It is a struggle that all humanity shares and it comes into play both in our relationship with God and with the people in our lives. It could be that healing really is the focus of our considerations this week, but not like the physical disease from which Naaman was finally healed. Spiritual diseases (sin) of the heart, mind, and spirit cripple us in our ability to relate properly to God and the people in our lives. May we call on God for a touch upon our hearts, minds, and spirits and may we so yield to him that we are freed to be more yielding, gracious, and loving in all our dealings with the people God has placed in our lives.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I give thanks to your holy name. I call on you for spiritual healing. Touch my heart, mind, and spirit so that my overall orientation is “yielding “ to you. Make me a ready beneficiary to the solutions you have for all the issues of life I face. May my yielding to you free me to become more yielding, gracious, and loving in all my dealings with the people you have placed in my life. Amen!

  • Bending Low Before God and People – Choosing What Matters Most - Thursday, November 1st

    So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child’s, and he was healed! 2 Kings 5:14

    Then Jacob sent messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom …. The messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and furthermore he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him” …. Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord, who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will prosper you’ …. Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, that he will come and attack me and the mothers with the children …. Then Jacob lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two maids. He put the maids and their children in front, and Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last. But he himself passed on ahead of them and bowed down to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. Genesis 32:3, 6, 9, 11; 33:1-4

    Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Ephesians 4:1-7

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Up to this point Naaman’s desire to prevail overshadows his desire to be healed. The drive to win obscures the reality of the situation and causes him to set aside the provision for healing that has been offered to him. For the moment, things that shouldn’t matter, matter too much. The dynamic here would be similar to a teenage son wanting to borrow his father’s car for the prom but when an older family car is the only one he is allowed to borrow, he stomps off while spouting out that he just won’t go then. Going to the prom should matter much more to the son than how he gets there. Essentially, both the teenage son and Naaman have thrown tantrums in reaction to what has been offered them. It could be that resorting to a tantrum is a last ditch effort to prevail or win. In the case of Naaman, fortunately, he comes to his senses after the appeal of his officers. He makes the shift to viewing his expectations and plans for how to be healed as not mattering as much as actually being healed. Naaman then yields to the prophet and the instructions that were originally given and the result is Divine healing.

    Yielding did not come easily to Naaman. Perhaps if he had had the opportunity to read the example of Jacob yielding to his brother Esau in the Genesis passage above, it would have helped him with his struggle with yielding. It is certainly a great example for us. When it is coupled with the admonition of the Ephesian passage above, where the apostle Paul makes a thorough appeal to believers everywhere to be ones who are truly characterized by a spirit of humility and grace, we have ample encouragement for devoting ourselves to the pursuit of being ones who become more yielding in our relationships with other people.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, why do I allow things that shouldn’t matter, to matter too much and things that should matter, to matter too little? Help me to follow Jacob’s example of bowing low to his brother in my relationships with others. Help me to have a spirit of humility and grace so that I really become a more yielding person. Lord, I bow to you in worship and surrender. Amen!

  • Bending Low Before God and People – Our Relentless Need to Control - Wednesday, October 31st

    But his officers tried to reason with him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’” 2 Kings 5:13

    How can you think of saying, “Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,” when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. Luke 6:42

    Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, but humility goes before honor. Proverbs 18:12

    For I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked …. Therefore pride is their necklace; the garment of violence covers them …. They have set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue parades through the earth …. They say, “How does God know? And is there knowledge with the Most High?” Behold, these are the wicked; and always at ease, they have increased in wealth. Psalm 73:3, 6, 9, 11-12

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Why did Naaman’s officers have to reason with him? It wasn’t just pride, it was also a need for power; a need to be in charge and to call the shots. It is very likely that Naaman was used to commanding others routinely and was accustomed to having his way on many levels. He has reached an impasse with his disease – it is beyond him – it will not yield to him – he has no power over it – he must call on another for a cure. You can almost hear the cry of his heart, “Although I am to be cured by another can I not maintain some control and have it be that I am cured in a manner that I see fit?” Perhaps this is why God had the prophet Elisha prescribe the method he did – in order to accomplish the further reshaping Naaman needed in order to become a more yielding person.

    The wicked set themselves against God and His ways and many stay that way permanently. They remain unyielding and impervious to the reshaping that God desires for all people. They ignore the ultimate outcome that comes with being ones who remain unyielding. We are ones who have come to God through Christ for salvation and say we want Him to do a work of reshaping us into ones who routinely yield to Him. But are we learning to let go of our need for power; to be in charge and call the shots? If these things are still strongly in the mix of how we relate to God, it essential that we ask Him to reshape us. It will be because we are yielding to His control that we will be able to have relationships with others that are characterized by our ability to yield as well.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thanks for your faithful work of reshaping my heart and life. Sorry for being such a tough nut to crack in the area of control. I renew my commitment to be a more yielding person in my relationship with you are in my relationships with others. Show me specific ways today that I can forsake control in favor of putting you and others first. Amen!

  • Bending Low Before God and People – God’s Orientation to the Humble - Tuesday, October 30th

    But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me! Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage. 2 Kings 5:11-12

    We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. Proverbs 16:1

    Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. James 4:13-17

    And the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:28-31

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    That God uses physical infirmity to shape our lives is obvious to most people. Naaman’s condition of leprosy had already brought him to the spot where he recognized that if there was a solution for his condition it had to come from outside of himself. When Naaman heard there was a prophet in Samaria who could heal, he was off and running to catch up with the prophet. But as we see above, Naaman wanted the outcome of healing and not the method of healing the prophet prescribed. While his disease had reshaped him enough to be willing to yield to an outside source for the outcome of healing he wanted, he was still in need of some additional reshaping in order for him to be willing to yield to the specific method prescribed by the prophet for his healing. Naaman had his own expectations and he was planning on those expectations coming about – both the healing and the method of healing. It is not so much the plans and expectations of Naaman that cause the trouble, it is Naaman’s attachment to them. This is revealed in his anger and rage as well as his stalking away from the provision made available to him. Naaman thinks the method of healing prescribed is beneath him; it is not fitting for “who he is” in life. To him his own expectations and plans for his healing are the only right ones; the only “fitting” ones for Him. If this is how Naaman handled the collision of Divine plans with his own personal plans, it is more than likely that his pride and need to be right played a major role in his relationships with other people as well.

    There is a way that seems right to us and our pride keeps us holding on tightly to our own plans. Elsewhere in Scripture there is reference to “the boastful pride of life.” This is what the James passage is trying to steer us away from. In the 1 Corinthians passage Paul reaffirms the reality that God orients Himself toward those who are humble and not toward those who boast in themselves. When boasting, pride, and needing to be right are present in our relationships with others, the time is right to ask God to create in us a humility that allows us to yield to Him and to others.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I do ask you to create in me a humility that allows me to yield to you and to others. Boasting, pride, and the need to be right have certainly been a part of my personal struggle. Forgive me for my selfish attachments to my own self-serving expectations. I bow before you, Lord, releasing all my desires and plans to you. Your will be done. Amen!

  • Bending Low Before God and People – Our Struggle to Yield - Monday, October 29th

    The king of Aram had great admiration for Naaman, the commander of his army, because through him the Lord had given Aram great victories. But though Naaman was a mighty warrior, he suffered from leprosy. At this time Aramean raiders had invaded the land of Israel, and among their captives was a young girl who had been given to Naaman’s wife as a maid. One day the girl said to her mistress, “I wish my master would go to see the prophet in Samaria. He would heal him of his leprosy” …. So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and waited at the door of Elisha’s house. But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.” 2 Kings 5:1-3, 9-10

    Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion. Psalm 103:1-4

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The main Scripture passage for this week’s Devotionals looks at the Divine solution to Naaman’s need for physical healing and his response to that solution. The Psalm above reveals to us the orientation (heart, mind, and body) that David had before God that made him a ready beneficiary of God’s solutions to all manner of life issues. David and Naaman stand in contrast to each other which becomes evident later when our story reveals Naaman’s initial struggle to yield himself to the Divine solution offered above. It is this initial struggle that forms the basis for this week’s considerations. It is the struggle to yield to anything that comes to us from outside ourselves and does not originate with us. It is a struggle that all humanity shares with Naaman and it comes into play both in our relationship with God and with the people in our lives.

    The need for yielding in our relationships with other people is illustrated for us in the following story: “Two mountain goats met each other on a narrow ledge just wide enough for only one of the animals to pass safely. On one side was a cliff with a long drop to the bottom. On the other side was a steep wall. There was no way for them to squeeze past each other. If they acted like many people do, each one would have stood there refusing to move until the other gave way. Eventually they would have butted heads until they both plunged over the edge. But that’s not what happened. These two goats had more sense than that. One of them lay down on the trail and let the other literally walk over him. And then both were able to continue safely.”

    The focus of this week’s Devotionals is that of providing insight and help for our becoming ones who seek to “yield” to God rather than “rule” our own lives and seek to “yield” rather than “rule” in our relationships with the people in our lives.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I am so prone to ruling my own life. I struggle with yielding to you and it carries over into my relationships with others. I need your insight and help, Lord, so I can genuinely change. I want to be more like David in his dependence than like Naaman in his self-sufficiency. Amen!

  • "Guideposts to Peace" - An Inspirational Poem for Sunday, October 28th

    Guideposts to Peace

    To be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love, and to work, and to play, and to look up at the stars

    To be satisfied with your possessions, but not contented with yourself until you have made the best of them.

    To despise nothing in the world except falsehood, and meanness, and to fear nothing except cowardice.

    To be governed by your admirations rather than your disgusts.

    To covet nothing that is your neighbor’s, except his kindness of heart and gentleness of manners.

    To think seldom of your enemies, often of your friends, and every day of Christ.

    And to spend as much time as you can, with body and with spirit, in God’s out-of-doors.

    These are the little guideposts on the way to peace.

  • "Don't Quit" - An Inspirational Poem for Saturday, October 27th

    Don’t Quit

    When things go wrong, as they sometimes will
    When the roads you’re trudging seem all uphill
    When the funds are low and the debts are high
    And you want to smile, but you have to sigh
    When care is pressing you down quite a bit
    Rest if you must, but don’t quit

    For life is queer with its twists and turns
    As every one of us sometimes learns
    And many a failure runs about
    When he might have won if he’d stuck it out
    Don’t give up though the pace seems slow
    You may succeed with another blow

    Often the goal is nearer than
    It seems to a faint and faltering man
    Often the struggler has given up
    When he might have captured the victor’s cup
    And he learned to late when the night came down
    How close he was to the golden crown

    Success is just failure turned inside out
    The silver tint of the clouds of doubt
    And you never can tell how close you are
    It may be near when it seems so far
    So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit
    It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit

  • How God Communicates – The Decision Maker of Peace - Friday, October 26th

    Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

    Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Colossians 3:15

    Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:27

    These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    In the Colossian's verse the word “rule” means to arbitrate. So, in other words “peace” is the decision maker – it seals the deal. If we have the peace of Christ in a matter we can go forward and if we don’t have it we cannot go forward. However, there are several things we need to keep in mind. First, a “good feeling” is not necessarily the same as the “peace of Christ.” Such feelings are very subjective and can be extremely deceptive because our desires can dominate our decision-making endeavors. Second, the Lord does not separate Himself from His peace either. He doesn’t just disperse peace to you when your decision-making process lands you on the right decision. As you commune and fellowship with Him and your connection with Him leads to His revealing His will to you in a matter, His peaceful presence fills the core of your inner being. Third, His peaceful presence is an affirmation (seals the deal) that concludes a process He has guided you through as you have walked in communion and fellowship with Him.

    We have looked at “communication between God and us” in terms of the foundation on which it rests: our “relationship” with Him. “Being” with Him is the key to “hearing” from Him and this is what communion and fellowship with God is all about. This is not only the foundation for “communication between God and us,” it is the foundation for “living fully” for God because all true spiritual life is built on this foundation. And of course this includes the spiritual living we do in our relationships with other people. It is my prayer that God will wonderfully help us seek Him like never before and rely on Him to teach us how to “be” with Him – how to be vitally connected to Him in our actual experience so that we live the rest of our days in true “communion and fellowship” with Him.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, help me to want you more than what you can do for me. I know that I often look to you merely for the answers I hope you will communicate to me about how to proceed in some area of my life. I come to you today just to “be” with you in communion and fellowship. I do believe that everything else will flow out of our being together. I believe that in waiting for you and your special peace I will be led triumphantly. Lord, I exalt you and praise you. You are beautiful beyond description. You are mighty, wonderful, and amazing. I trust in you, yield to you, and rest in you. Amen!

  • How God Communicates – The Provision of Genuine Spiritual Counsel - Thursday, October 25th

    Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory …. Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed …. Listen to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days. Proverbs 11:14, 15:22, 19:20

    Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances. Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear …. Like a bad tooth and an unsteady foot is confidence in a faithless man in time of trouble. Proverbs 25:11-12, 19

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    If you were a participant in the religious system that existed when Jesus came into the world and you were looking for someone to help you hear from God, you would likely go to a religious expert steeped in God’s word and religious matters. However, if you recall, it is possible for someone to be extremely steeped in Scripture and religious matters and at the same time to have missed God. It is a person’s connection to God Himself that makes all the difference. I would rather find spiritual support from someone who is newer on their journey with Scripture and religious matters but has at the same time entered into the realm of communion and fellowship with God than with someone who has had a lifetime of involvement with Scripture and religious matters without a significant “communion and fellowship” connection with God.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I do not want to end up being pseudo-spiritual like the Scribes and Pharisees. Please guard me from the counsel of other people who are already in this boat and connect me to those who truly know and experience your presence consistently. I know that spiritual counsel from others is a part of how you work in my life. I know you will help me to be open, discerning, and receptive to the godly counsel of others. Amen!

  • How God Communicates - He Reveals His Open Doors - Wednesday, October 24th

    And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: “He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: I know your deeds Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” Revelation 3:7-8

    When they had arrived and gathered the church together, they began to report all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. Acts 14:27

    For a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. 1 Corinthians 16:9

    Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord, I had no rest for my spirit, not finding Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went on to Macedonia. But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 2 Corinthians 2:12-14

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    There are many directions we could choose to take that the circumstances of our lives open up to us. We often think of the opportunities that are open to us as open doors and opportunities that are closed to us as closed doors. However, our walk with God is a spiritual one and He is the one who opens and closes doors. The door to an opportunity is open when He tells us it is open and it is closed when He tells us it is closed. With God, an opportunity that opens up is not necessarily an open door and an opportunity that closes is not necessarily a closed door. As we grow in our relationship with God, whereby we commune and fellowship with Him on an ongoing basis, we will learn to see how He is at work in the world around us. We will see Him in the circumstances of our lives and He will guide us in the way that we should go as we remain close to Him and hear from Him in the midst of our communion and fellowship with Him.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, help me to recognize more readily how you are at work in the world. Draw me closer than ever to yourself and help me increasingly be in tune with you so that I hear your voice of direction in the circumstances of my life. I choose to live my life in a spiritual way under your full guidance and control. Amen!

  • How God Communicates – His Presence in Scripture - Tuesday, October 23rd

    All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

    But He answered and said, “It is written, man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." Matthew 4:4

    For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. Romans 8:14-17

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The Scriptures play a vital role in how God communicates wisdom for the life he has called us to. While the Scriptures are absolutely essential, they are not an end in themselves. They point us to Christ, the “Living Word.” Jesus once chided the Scribes and Pharisees about searching the Scriptures while thinking that such involvement would save them. He told them that the Scriptures spoke of Him and they were not willing to come to Him. God never separates Himself from His Word and we must not do it either. We easily fall into this trap when we merely use the Scriptures as a guidebook to help us with “our” decision making day by day. When we do this, we miss God Himself. We must learn to meet God in His Word for precious times of communion and fellowship. Communication between God and us – including instruction, guidance, correction, etc. – flows out of communion and fellowship with God and is the perfect blend of the relationship we have with both the living and written Word of God.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, keep me from becoming one of those people who have more of a relationship with Scripture than they do with the you, the one whose Scriptures they are. Help me to always meet you in your Word. You are in charge of my life and the one who manages my growth as a Christian. Forgive me for all the times I have missed you in your Word as I have been busy using Scripture to manage my own Christian development. I bow before you in surrender and dependency. Amen!

  • How God Communicates – The Foundation of Relationship - Monday, October 22nd

    What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete. 1 John 1:3-4

    Now we have received, not the spirit of world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. 1 Corinthians 2:12-13

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Our Devotionals are an attempt to help those who use them to explore Christian truth and go further in their walk with God. The idea of going further is particularly significant for this week as we explore foundational truth about communication between God and us. There is a foundational matter on which the communication between God and us rests: the “relationship” that exists between God and us. We have an inner connection with God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that makes it possible for us to “Be” with God in communion and fellowship. 

    The pursuit of communication between God and us wonderfully opens up when we enter the realm of “Being” with God in communion and fellowship and give ourselves to it fully and completely. Not only does communication between us and God open up as we learn to be with him in communion and fellowship, but as we give ourselves fully to this pursuit our lives are transformed. The quality of our relationship with God and the communication that flows from him to us is the key to the quality of our relationships with others and the communication that flows from us to them.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I have so much to learn about how you communicate wisdom for life to your people. More and more I am learning to be with you in an actual relationship of prayerful communion and fellowship. It makes a lot of sense that my relationship of being with you is the key to hearing from you. I am here before you with open ears, mind and heart. I want to be with you and hear from you more fully than ever before. Wonderfully transform my relationship with you and all my relationships with other people. Amen!

  • "Created" - Inspirational Poem for Sunday, October 21st

    Created

    © Lisa D. Scott

    When God created you,
    He knew what he would see.
    Someone that wasn't perfect,
    Or in heaven you would be.

    He put you here on earth
    To lead this life you live,
    Learning as you go,
    Giving what you can give.

    He knew that you would stumble
    And sometimes even fall.
    He knew that you would suffer
    And in Jesus Christ you'd call.

    Mistakes and bad decisions
    He knew you would make
    To live and learn from them.
    Sometimes more than you can take.

    He's had a plan for you
    From the very first day.
    Frustrating times will be,
    But soon you'll see his way.

    Love, hope, and faith.
    He'll give this all to you.
    Patience please, my friend.
    How only if you knew.

    The love you have inside you,
    All the good that you do,
    This does not go unnoticed,
    And he shall see it too.

    He'll carry you if he needs to
    And hold you when you pray.
    He knows the pain you carry
    Each and every day.

    What's brought you to your knees
    Some gave up on you.
    God will only keep around
    The ones that see it through.

    One day you will see
    What I've been telling you.
    The love that he's been saving
    He created just for you.

  • "Let’s Play a Game" - Inspirational story for Saturday, October 20th

    Let’s Play a Game

    One day, during an evening class for adults, the psychology Teacher entered the class and said, “Let’s all play a game!” The Teacher asked one of the students to volunteer.

    A lady, Aliza, came forward.

    The Teacher asked her to write 30 names of most important people in her life on blackboard.

    Aliza wrote names of her family members, relatives, friends, her colleagues and her neighbors.

    The Teacher told her to erase 3 names that Aliza considered most unimportant. Aliza erased names of her colleagues. The Teacher again told her to delete 5 more names. Aliza erased her neighbor’s names. This went on until there were just four names left on the blackboard.

    These were names of her mother, father, husband and only son.

    The entire class became silent realizing that this wasn’t a game anymore for Aliza alone.

    Now, the Teacher told her to delete two more names.

    It was a very difficult choice for Aliza.

    She unwillingly deleted her parent’s names.

    “Please delete one more” said the Teacher.

    Aliza became very nervous and with trembling hands and tears in eyes she deleted her son’s name. Aliza cried painfully.

    The Teacher told Aliza to take her seat.

    After a while Teacher asked “why your husband? Your parents are the ones that nurtured you, and your son is the one you gave birth to? And you can always find another husband!”

    Total silence in the class. Everyone was curious to know her response.

    Aliza calmly and slowly said, “One day my parents will pass away before me. My son may also leave me when he grows old, for his studies or business or whatever reason. The only one, who will truly share his entire life with me, is my Husband”.

    All the students stood up and applauded for her for sharing this truth of life.

    This is true. So always value your life partner, it’s not only for husbands but wives as well.

    God has united your two souls and it’s on both of you now to nurture this relationship above all.

    Anonymous

  • The Upward Call of God – Going Forward in Confidence and Victory - Friday, October 19th

    I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

    Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:29-32

    So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Colossians 3:12-13

    But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life …. Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:20-21, 24-25

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Oh, how much we need to let the words of these Scriptures soak into our souls! The problem of anger and rage really is greater than we think and runs deeper than we know. God’s provision of his wisdom and his Spirit should overwhelming convince us of the unequivocal desire and commitment he has for us to be delivered from anger and rage. Our subject this week, as they say, is not rocket science. God expects something different from us and we must come to Him, fall at His feet and let Him produce the difference he is waiting to bring about in our lives. This is the life he has called us to and now and always going forward we must heed the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for the encouragement of your Word. I want to reach higher and take hold of what you expect for my life. I choose to heed your upward call by coming to you, falling at your feet, and trusting you to make the difference that will give me the victory of compassion and gentleness instead of anger and rage in my life. Amen!

  • The Upward Call of God – Managing Your Anger the Right Way - Thursday, October 18th

    Later Cain suggested to his brother, Abel, "Let’s go out into the fields." And while they were there, Cain attacked and killed his brother. Genesis 4:8

    But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. Ephesians 4:20-27

    Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled. Hebrews 12:14-15

    This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. James 1:19-25

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    It is interesting that God tells us through Paul, not to let the sun go down on our anger. If Cain had followed this prescription history may have been very different. This time frame from God for dealing with anger is a profoundly simple solution. If when the sun goes down each day, there is no anger present we will be in good shape day by day by day. If we ignore this prescription, we will carry anger with us and we will become increasingly subject to feelings and outbursts of rage. The simple practice of coming before the Lord at the close of day can make all the difference. There in His presence we ask Him to reveal any anger we are not already aware of and then by faith we give it all to Him and we go into the night resting in the assurance our anger has been replaced by His peace and comfort.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I do not want to be a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer. Help me to follow your prescription for managing anger. I am committed to leaving behind the old life and forsaking the old self. I choose to put on the new self in my pursuit of the new life you have called me to. I choose to walk in your grace and leave anger and rage behind. Amen!

  • The Upward Call of God – Countering the Tactics of the Devil - Wednesday, October 17th

    You will be accepted if you respond in the right way. But if you refuse to respond correctly, then watch out! Sin is waiting to attack and destroy you, and you must subdue it. Genesis 4:7

    Be careful!! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

    For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in his mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. 1 Peter 2:19-25

    To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For, “The one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. He must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:18-12

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We know that anger and rage are not good and often make for messy situations and relationships. But they help make things happen and they help get us to where we want to go. We really don’t know how to live without them. We are convinced that life won’t work any other way. We need to look further ahead, as well as more closely, at what really is happening in our lives when the spirit of the world permeates us. Both examinations will reveal that we are not really achieving good results. Down the line, we will reach a destination of ruin and all along the way we will leave a wake of pain and turmoil. And in such living the enemy of our souls takes delight. You can be sure that when Lucifer rebelled against the Most High, his rebellion was fueled by anger and rage about not being in charge and having to submit to the authority of someone over him. And now as the arch enemy of God and instigator of sin, rebellion, and havoc, he is devoted to and delights in bringing others into his circle of anger and rage. We desperately need to comprehend the folly of our error and become tuned into the tactics of our enemy. At the same time, however, there is great hope because, “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I really do want to “give a blessing instead” of that which comes so naturally to me in my dealings with others. I really do want to live supernaturally so that the tactics of the devil are actually overcome in my life. Lord, I bow before you in surrender and reliance for the power and victory you are waiting to give. Amen!

  • The Upward Call of God – Renouncing Our Personal Will - Tuesday, October 16th

    Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked him (Cain). “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you respond in the right way. But if you refuse to respond correctly, then watch out! Sin is waiting to attack and destroy you, and you must subdue it. Genesis 4:6-7

    Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 1 Peter 4:1-2

    Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:11-17

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We are called to live for the will of God. He does not want us to follow in the way of Cain. So, first of all, God’s will has to do with our having lives that overcome anger and rage. You can call anger and rage whatever you want (mad, upset, frustrated, irked, irritated, annoyed, etc.) but still this type of stuff is not what God wants in our lives. Even God’s will as it unfolds around us day by day is often the very impetus for our anger and rage. We are so accustomed to being in charge and making things happen. How frequently we overpower and manipulate the situations and people in our lives to affect the outcomes we want and how often these moments are permeated by our spirit of anger and rage. Then, if our efforts are thwarted by others, circumstances, or unknown forces, our anger and rage become full blown. God is always at work seeking to affect His will in the situations of our lives. We are not in charge. We must walk in a spirit of submission to Him and His will. As we do so, He will replace the spirit of this world, anger and rage, with the fruit of the Spirit, love, kindness, gentleness, etc.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I know how extremely important it is to have your will come about in my life. I also know how easily my will gets in the way and how easily it leads to anger and rage. Help me to want what you want more than ever before so that your will truly becomes my will. I know your wisdom calls me to be filled with the Spirit and to yield to the power of the Holy Spirit who will manifest the fruit of the Spirit in me and through me. So be it. Amen!

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